Saturday, 18 August 2012

Adriatic Explorer

I suppose technically this is not a food review though I am going to mention food in the course of the blog. This is my thoughts on cruising and in particular the cruise we have just returned from on the Thomson Majesty, the newest addition to the Thomson Cruise fleet.

We left Cardiff Wales Airport at 8.15am on Friday 10th August on a 3 and a half hour flight to the island of Corfu. As with most holiday airports Corfu is nothing to write home about and therefore I wont change that except to say it was small and hot!

Thomson Majesty

Transfer to the ship took only twenty minutes and to be fair our room steward had our luggage delivered to our cabin before we arrived. I say cabin more of a 10 x 8 box with 4 beds in it, never mind this was home for the week but we knew it was only going to be used for sleeping.

So Thomson Majesty, 10 decks with accommodation on 9 of them, two swimming pools, 4 restaurants 3 bars, 3 entertainment lounges and a casino. All in all not a bad place to spend the week. We set sail at midnight and had a day at sea on the Saturday. I think this is a good idea as it gives you a chance to acclimatise and to get your bearings. It also gave me a good chance to look at the various food options on board.

Breakfast. This was served on the sun deck and in the Royal Cafe. It was a buffet style and unfortunately much of it was suffering from the usual over stewing of the food. On a positive note eggs were cooked to order and the egg Benedict was particularly good.

Lunch. This is where the choices really started but again because of the buffet style of all but one of the eateries some of the dishes did not stand up too well to the hot plates. However should you wish there was a sit down option in the Seven Seas restaurant with waiter service. More on this later when we discuss dinner. Lunch was not bad with a great selection of salads and cold cuts or meat and fish dishes with a choice of potatoes, rice of pasta. For those that way inclined there was also a burger and hot dog station. The children seemed to particularly enjoy this

Dinner. For me this was the highlight. Waiter service in the Seven Seas with exceptional staff and an excellent wine waiter. He really knew his stuff and was always ready with a recommendation for each night. The Chemin Des Pape Cote Du Rhone was a delight. Dinner each evening consisted of 6 courses plus coffee and we were free to mix and match as we chose. As you can imagine your glutton here went for all six and delicious they were too. One evening stood out for me when I started with a seafood timbale served with red and black caviar followed by an exquisite Lobster Themadore. A tip at this point is to tell the waiter how fantastic the lobster was, it got me a second portion!

So all in all if this were purely a food blog I would probably score the food 3 T's overall but the sit down service would score a 4.5.

After the day at sea our first port of call was Koper in Slovenia. A lovely small town in the far north of the Adriatic it was a place that I had not heard of before but was very pleasant. The central town square has a bell tower  with 242 steps to the top (I know because I climbed them). After a walk around the town the afternoon was spent swimming in the sea. All in all a great day out.

Day three. For me what I was expecting to be one of the highlights of the trip, Venice. Of the whole day one of the best parts was rising early to see the ship sail into the port. Truly breathtaking.

Venice from the Thomson Majesty
With a temperature of 37 degrees and five cruise ships in the port it was never going to be a quiet day but I must say despite the crowds this placed did not disappoint. The architecture is wonderful and the only thing that left me feel a little deflated was he amount of graffiti particularly around the Rialto Bridge. Still you cant have it all and to be fair the sail away with opera classics being played over the ships tanoy was something I will remember for a long time to come.

Day 4. Split. Another town, another bell tower. By this time I realised it was either the view or my heart and I'm afraid the heart won the day. The palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian was a sight to remember and that fact that it had stood for so long and was still in use today was a testimony to the builders.

There is a lovely swimming area just outside the town where we spent a lovely afternoon. On a note of caution if you do as we did and rent a pedalo then make sure you have another member of your family to help with the pedal bit and watch out for the current there was a point when I wasn't sure we were going to make it back to shore!

Your intrepid explorer checking the sea temperature.
Temperatures during the week rarely dipped below the 34 degree mark and the crystal clear Adriatic waters were a very inviting way to cool off.

All the family enjoyed the opportunity to take a dip.

Day 5. Dubrovnik. This place quite simply took my breath away. It's stunning old town is surrounded by the most amazing city walls which are almost two miles round and take a couple of hours to walk around. We chose the option to walk half the walls and come off them at the harbour from where we were able to charter a small boat which took us out to sea where we were treated to some spectacular views of the old town.  Although Euros are widely accepted in Croatia you need to be aware that to visit the city walls in Dubrovnik you need to either pay be credit card or have some of the local currency.

One word of warning for those of a nervous disposition the boat trip also manages to give you a very impressive view of one of the many nudist beaches! You have been warned.

If you have the time, and I would suggest you try to make time. There is a cable car system which will take you to a mountain above the town and give you the most stunning panorama of the are. Of everywhere we visited during our week this is the one place where both myself and Mrs T said we would want to visit again. It is the kind of place that would be fantastic for a three or four day romantic break.

There is a picture taken in the old town of the beautiful Jilly being accosted by a Macaw. However, should you wish to see it I'm afraid you need to visit my face book page as she has told me not to post it on here.

I don't know why she is so worried about it to be honest I think the video footage is much more amusing!

Day 6. Kotor, Montenegro. The bay in Kotor is known as the worlds most southerly Fjord. As you will see from the photograph below it is well named. The views as you sail into the bay are wonderful and it was well worth another early morning to enjoy the arrival.

Kotor has a fort high above the town, when I say high I am not kidding. You need to be very fit to get all the way to the top, I am not and only got about half way before I managed to convince other families members that they wanted to get back down, thus making it sound like they had brought he trek to an end rather than me.

Entertainment on board the ship was very good with a musical show each evening in the Jubilee Show Lounge and family fun in the Royal Fireworks Lounge. All of the crew of the ship should be commended for their attention to detail and for the effort they put in to make sure we had the best possible time.

Matthew with members of the show team
So to sum up would I go again? Most definitely. One of things we particularly liked about cruising with Thomson is the informality. It works well if you are going as a family and there is plenty for the children to do to keep them amused, in fact one of our problems was getting them off the ship.

If you have never been on a cruise before and are thinking about it then this could be the introduction you are looking for.