Friday 29 August 2014. We set off from home at 2:30am in a taxi for Manchester Airport. We will be cruising for a week on the Thomson Majesty for a cruise called Italian Flavours. So where are we flying to to join this cruise around the west coast of Italy? Er... Corfu actually...!
Our flight leaves Manchester at 6:00am and by 11:30 (Greece being two hours ahead of us) we are landing in Corfu and on a coach to the port. Thomson Majesty is sitting in a familiar spot. We have previously joined Thomson Celebration and Thomson Spirit from this spot and called mid-cruise on Ocean Village II.
First we have to register in the cruise terminal at Corfu with the ship. We confirm that we have no deadly lurgy or other contagious diseases and we get our onboard cards. These are used instead of cash onboard and are also your key to getting on and off the ship in each port. On the Majesty, they are also your cabin key. It's also our first brush with the ship's photographers who will be capturing our image at every opportunity during the coming week!
From the open deck of the ship - the Promenade Deck is on Deck 7 and the pools on Deck 10 and 11 - we get a good view of Corfu town and its fortresses. This is the "Old Fortress", the site of which has been a fortress since the 6th century. It withstood three siege attempts by the Ottoman Turks in 1537, 1571 and a seven-week siege in 1716. Two years later lightning struck, blowing up the ammunition dumps which destroyed pretty much all the buildings within the fort and many buildings in the town also.
After the siege of 1537 the ruling Venetians decided to build a new fortress a little way along the coast. 20,000 houses were flattened to make way for the new fortress, which despite being over 500 years old is still known as the "New Fortress". Each forttress had a governor who, as part of their swearing in ceremonies, gave an undertaking not to communicate with each other during their two-year governorship. This to prevent them colluding in any rebellion.
Our cruise will take us from Corfu to Valetta, Sicily and from there to Civitavecchia where we will travel into Rome for a full day excursion. Then a hop down the coast to Sorrento and from there back to Sicily to Messina on the strait between Sicily and mainland Italy. Then the return trip to Corfu in a week's time. Tomorrow will be a day at sea as the ship sails from Corfu to Malta around the bottom of Italy.
Please note my colour co-ordination with the deck... The lengths I go to for this blog are extraordinary...
We'll have a look inside the ship in a later article. Just now we are on the Promenade Deck and I have noticed a complete lack of winches and cables on the bow. These are housed on the deck below and cables fed out from there. There is no access however and my impulse to do the "Titanic pose" remains unfulfilled...
Our cabin is behind one of the hanging lifeboats for this trip. I've never considered this a problem as we use the cabins for sleeping in rather than for taking in the view. You can see over the top of it, but it does restrict the view a little. In the background the bow of MSC Fantasia is sticking out. Sticking out from behind our boat, I should add - it hadn't collided and come straight through...
And finally before we close for now, there is the safety exercise to be undertaken before we set sail. This is important and serious and you should not make fun.