Greece 2013 – Gatwick – Digitally Disconnected

20130929-150331.jpgSeems to have been a long time coming but we are finally away on what is our first ever two week holiday without the boys. One is now safely back at university and the other is left at home working.

This year we had decided to take a cruise around the Greek islands staring in Corfu. We have done a cruise once before, in 1990 for our 10th wedding anniversary, when we were not quite the youngest there but certainly helped to bring the average age down. I wonder whether much has changed in the intervening years.

The flight from Gatwick to Corfu was at 06:40 and so we elected to stay at a hotel on the airport the night before. Despite having four lifts to take guests from ground level to reception there was chaos as few seem to make it to our level and those that did were full. Looking back I suspect that the issue was that guests didn’t realise that you had to swipe you keycard in order to go to the floor you wanted and if you didn’t you were automatically taken to the basement. A case of a poor user interface I suspect.

The flight was short and uneventful. We were met by Thomson reps at the airport and transferred by coach to dockside where we were checked in and the obligatory cheesy photo was taken of us. That much hasn’t changed over the years – while the cruise is full board there are plenty of opportunities for them to empty your wallet and the photos are just one example.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the ship, which is much more ferry than liner but still very comfortable and well equipped. This time included the mandatory muster practice so at 7:45 we donned our orange life jackets (another photo opportunity) and made our way to the life boats. We were assigned to boat 12 that was manned by a guy with the best manicured eyebrows I have ever seen on a man. It would transpire that he was part of the boat’s entertainment team, more of which a bit later.

One thing that has changed from our last cruise is that dining is no longer at fixed sitting times. Now you can turn up whenever you like and be seated, although tables are for six so you are seated with others and therefore it suits the more social types. A cruise is a dieters nightmare as food is on tap literally 24/7 and there is something to cater for all tastes. So lunch was at the buffet and we stuck to cold cuts and salads but you could opt for a main meal. Dinner was a set menu and pretty good given that the kitchens are catering for 1,500 people.

Last time we were cruising we arrived being skeptical of the quality of the onboard entertainment but left thinking that it was pretty good. In fact we went every night bar the country and western evening. So this time we made our way to the onboard theatre for what was promised to be the music of famous contemporary pianists (think Billy Joel). It was camp and cheesy and populated by the sorts of people that SImon Cowell on X Factor condemns and says are only good enough for a cruise ship. However, it is included and is a fun way to pass 45 minutes. Each night has a different theme, usually musical, and one night there is a comedian.

I’m not sure what time the boat finally set sail but I was asleep by then and unlike our first night last time was so calm I had no sensation of being at sea at all.