With the glorious, sparkling Aegean Sea, a cloudless sky and the heavy drowsy heat of a September afternoon, one might imagine pure peace, a glimpse of
Paradise, perhaps? Not quite.
The words sounded comical, were singularly inappropriate, as groups of elderly, international passengers queued up to be taken across to the island. Where they would spend about ninety minutes in fierce heat, trying to see something of the place, before being ferried back to the ship. Most had done another whistle stop ‘island excursion’ at the crack of dawn. Now, it was Santorini’s turn. Our restful cruise had turned out to be choc-full of early mornings.And it was all my fault... A lot of travel info drops into my inbox and last year, about this time, in the depths of winter, I did something quite mad. On a freezing morning, I booked us on a Greek Cruise without having all the details. And did this ‘made in haste’ booking give us a memorable week? It certainly did.
When the flight times were finally announced, I was thrilled to see 'departing
at 7.30pm'. Terrific! With a two hour flight to Toulouse , we would be dining, dancing and smashing plates on our first evening. The words ‘via Marseille’ suggested maybe dinner would be a bit later. Athens
We left our hamlet in the hills at twelve mid-day and enjoyed a sumptuous lunch in the fabulous ‘8ᵉ Ciel’ restaurant in Toulouse Blagnac Airport, where even the café merits a photo.
It proved to be exactly the right thing to do, since the in flight food consisted of a small, freezing cold white bread roll spread with something unknown, but hideous. Between the Marseille stop, (endless, claustrophobic time spent sitting on the runway) then on to Athens, baggage collection, meeting the reps, being divided into groups, directed to various coaches, we reached our particular hotel at two-fifteen am. We were then, to our delight, told by a jolly man at reception that we would be called promptly at six to be taken to our ship. Crestfallen wouldn’t describe me. Robbed of my first evening, no dinner, no dancing, no wine; I was hungry and cramped from sitting. Larry, absolutely bootfaced, punched his pillows into shape muttering ‘blasted cruises.’
It was lovely; a sense of Poirot as we dressed up and sallied forth. This was the best part of the trip for Larry - gourmet food in civilised surroundings.
The fantastic crew of the Louis Majesty; they couldn’t have been kinder and I found lots to like about the trip; the islands, seeming to float in the glorious blue Aegean Sea, the heat, the amazing sunsets, a bit of shopping on board. With five restaurants, many bars, shops, sundecks, cabaret, competitions, you could join in or not, as you please. Down a deck or two, one could sunbathe in perfect quiet, out of range of the speakers and the crazy music, more suited to wild ‘clubbing’ than a cruise.
On our last night, we settled in to enjoy more excellent food and wine in Le Bistro, followed by an essential early night as it had been announced (fresh horrors!) that we must leave the ship at seven in the morning for our hotel in Athens – this meant another six o’clock ‘wakey wakey’ call.
Halfway down a soothing bottle of wine and almost finished starters, in came a couple we had spoken to only briefly. The man, from another continent, on first seeing a woman dining alone, and then spotting us, began shouting to the astonished waiters 'Let’s set up a table for five over here’. Speechless, both of us inwardly seething with rage, we watched as our table was joined to another. I’ve seldom had a more appalling evening.
Next morning, we were brought to the ritzy beach resort of Glyfada, where we spent three days in a splendid, stylish area, eating stunning seafood - sometimes served with Greek cheese - and drinking jugs of delicious local white wine.
A direct flight back to
was a bonus end to the trip. But none of this was enough; Larry told me never, ever to book a cruise again, unless it contains one important word, Cunard. Toulouse
So this year, while we are snowed in, I am limiting myself to shopping for make-up, books, & the odd foray into the famous www.Brandalley.fr sales - not to be missed. But I am browsing the Cunard site; I have always wanted to arrive in
by liner... New York