Thursday, 25 September 2014

On The Thomson Majesty

I've now covered all of the days and ports from our Italian Flavours cruise on the Thomson Majesty. So I'm going to finish off with a look at the ship itself.

Thomson's own page about the Thomson Majesty. It is a nice looking ship and in keeping with the rest of the Thomson fleet is not so huge as to look like a skyscraper on its side.

She dates from 1992, when she was built for the Birka Line, but due to rising costs they refused delivery and she entered service as Royal Majesty with Majesty Cruise Lines. At the time she was 32,396 tonnes. She was built with the highest grade of ice-breaking capabilities. Following her 1999 refit she now weighs 40,876 tonnes. Currently owned by Louis Cruise Lines, she was chartered to Thomson, becoming Thomson Majesty in 2012.

Anyway, let's have a look at her as she looked on our cruise. This is the Promenade deck which is on Deck 7 and goes round the entire ship so that you can just carry on walking round and round. Four times round is a mile. In common with many other ships, the lifeboats hang overhead here.

At the front of the ship there is plenty of room for sightseers on the Promenade deck. This is a popular spot when coming into a port. At sea, it can be a very windy spot!

From the front of the ship you walk under the side extensions of the bridge. Seen just behind the staircase on the next deck are several cabins with balconies.

Seen from a lounge window, the bow of the ship. Notice anything? No, me neither! A complete lack of all the winches, ropes and chains that usually occupy this space. They are covered and occupy the deck below. Even so, there is no public access to this area so anyone thinking they would like to do the flying bit from the film Titanic, should remember what that led to...

"I'll never let go..." immediately followed by her letting go and Leo blowing bubbles all the way down...

Rendezvous, a quiet lounge with a coffee and alcohol bar on Deck 5, forward.

Behind the bar and at the very front of the ship is a show lounge called Royal Fireworks. At night this is where the quiz and game shows are and also cabaret spots.

The Crossing, Deck 5 midships is an open space with seating in the centre around which are ranged the counters of Reception and Destinations Services. The latter is where you can book excursion tours for ports of call. A talk about the tours on offer will be given on the first morning which is normally the day at sea. It pays to do a bit of research before you get on the ship. Find out where tours go and what you want to see and also find out which ports allow the ship to dock so close to town that you can spend a day on foot by just walking off the ship independently. The first time you do this can feel like a big step into the unknown, but once you've done it and your confidence grows, you'll find it both exciting and relaxing at the same time.

Also in this area is the future cruises desk where you can book your next cruise, normally at a discount and the guide for the bike tours (the ship carries a whole fleet of mountain bikes which you can ride on a group tour). There are some sofas set down the side of the ship at this point also and we sat next to the side windows many days in the early evenings, watching people coming and going and reading our books or just getting into a conversation with other passengers.

The Jubilee Lounge is at the rear of Deck 6 and this is where the show team put on their extravaganzas every evening. It also hosts cabaret and dancing.

In front of the Jubilee Lounge on the starboard side (on the right when facing the front of the ship) is the Photo Gallery. Whilst you are allowed to duck out and whilst many squeal and squirm as though they were the ugliest beings on Earth, the ship's photographers will spare no effort in trying to capture your image several times a day. The crew will dress up in costume and be waiting as you walk off the ship, they will accompany some of the tours, they will be in particularly manic mode for the Captain's Gala Night, and you may find them in restaurants as well. Every night you can volunteer to have formal photographs taken against various backdrops and they all get displayed here, either printed and out on boards, or (we hadn't seen this before) on touch-screen VDUs which allow you to find yourself and order "online".

Incidentally, the ugliest beings on Earth may have been on the cruise... and are part of the fun of any cruise... Just be discreet ok? No shrieking with laughter and pointing... Especially if it's me that's caught your eye...

Apart from Deck 5 and the open air decks, there are some cabins on every other deck. This is the corridor along Deck 8 which is entirely given to cabins apart from the very front of the ship where the Bridge is. This isn't a narrow humpty-back thing leading from one area of the ship to another, but is the control room where the Captain sits getting sloshed on rum and saying "Blimey it's getting rough isn't it...?" to his Mr Mates and engineers.

Cabin 954 on Deck 9 is where we called home for the week. Smaller than the cabins on the other Thomson ships, but unless you are in the habit of inviting friends and holding parties, we've never found this to be much of a problem.

Full length wardrobe space is quite limited however. Just something to be aware of. There is only the one formal night during the week, though many people like to look smart during the evening. Women certainly generally make an effort and the majority of us chaps. There are always a few slobs embarrassing their wives and with some you can just tell they are enjoying a bit of reverse snobbery and sneering at the conformists. People watching - a wonderful sport...

If the cabins are small, it follows that the bathroom facilities are going to be a touch on the cosy side. We had no bath, just a walk - in shower separated from the rest of the bathroom by a curtain. Toilets onboard use a vacuum system rather than flushing with water. Putting normal flushing toilets onboard a ship can turn them into giant siphons leading to the ship getting very very wet inside before it hits the ocean floor.

During the week you may find your room occupied by swans, chimpanzees, elephants... If you're anything like us you tend to put them somewhere "safe" and then wonder why you can't find a towel when you're wet through...

The entrance to the Seven Seas Restaurant at the rear of Deck 5. We ate breakfast in there every day. Whilst breakfast is available from a buffet, a section of the restaurant is reserved for waiter service and I always enjoy a bit of pampering when on holiday. As you enter, waiters will wave you towards a table, so if you want waiter service, just say "Waiter service?" and they will point you towards that area.

There are some very clever people amongst the crew on any cruise ship! Meal times can be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!

As well as the Seven Seas restaurant, which at night features waiter-service throughout, there is a second restaurant on Deck 5 which is open at night only and called the Four Seasons. This features exactly the same menus as the Seven Seas restaurant, but it is a little smaller. It copes with the fact that more people like waiter service at night than do at breakfast. On Deck 10 there are self-service buffet-style restaurants at either end of the ship, Piazza San Marco at the rear and the Cafe Royal at the front. We used them for lunch and for the odd coffee or tea during the day, but they also serve full meals at night and breakfast in the mornings.

The above photos show the Four Seasons restaurant and the Parade of the Baked Alaska, a highlight of every cruise week. Some of the waiters will also play guitar and almost every night someone will be serenaded - you can almost guarantee it by mentioning any birthdays or anniversaries to your waiter. Nearby waiters will all join in as their duties allow.

When the ship is at sea, the shops open. There are several shops located on Deck 5 forward and at night promotional items occupy tables near the Crossing. This particular night was handbag night. Fragrances, watches and jewellery will all get their own night's promotion.

If you climb high enough on any ship, you inevitably come to the open air. On the Majesty, this is reached on Deck 10 and then there is another deck running around like a balcony from where I took this photo on Deck 11. This was our day in Sorrento when we could take things easy before getting off the ship due to Sorrento requiring tender boats to get to shore.

We went up on deck before breakfast for an early morning coffee and whilst it cooled I trotted round the ship with the camera. Miss Franny is sitting at the table just to the left of the chap in blue in the shadowed area. One side of the ship on this deck is a designated smoking area. Smoking is not allowed inside the ship. Incidentally butt ends and matches must never be thrown over the side as, apart from any environmental considerations, the wind at sea can easily draw such items into any open window on a lower deck with disastrous results. At sea there is no congregating on the other side of the car park...

There are two swimming pools, one an adults only pool, two jacuzzi pools and a bar servicing the open air areas. At lunch times there is a grill with pizzas, hot dogs and burgers and baked potatoes.

Thomson Majesty sitting off Sorrento in the Bay of Naples.

We will be back onboard Thomson Majesty with David and Miss Jeannie next year in June but for now this is the last entry in this series about our cruise, Italian Flavours.

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