75mm ISO125 1/500 f/8
Since I’ll be posting pictures for a while about my Greek cruise, I thought I’d post these too. They are the entries in a blog by a British couple about their experiences on the same cruise. One a day, of course. The whole blog can be found at
Milan to Athens
On Sunday morning we were awakened ominously by a ring on the hotel phone at 8:00 am. It was the minibus driver letting us know that it was very foggy outside, so he wanted to leave half an hour early. We roused ourselves quickly and had time for an excellent buffet breakfast before joining the driver outside the hotel. He managed to transport us through the fog to the airport without incident.
However, when we arrived there we encountered complete chaos. No flights were arriving or leaving due to the fog, which also appeared to have paralysed the communication systems, as there was no information available about anything. Milan’s Malpensa Airport is not one of the worlds most comfortable and has a serious shortage of seats, but after it was announced that a number of flights had been cancelled completely, we were able to find a couple of seats close to the EasyJet check-in desks.
Things finally began to calm down and our flight finally took off three hours later than scheduled. We weren’t too worried by the delay, as we’d allowed plenty of time to get to our cruise liner, which wasn’t due to depart until 4:30 am. After arriving on schedule at Athens Airport, we quickly caught thee express bus to the Port of Piraeus, two hours journey away on the other side of Athens. The journey cost us 3.20 euros each (about £2.40) – British airport authorities take note!
Our liner didn’t depart from the main port area, which is immediately adjacent to the railway station, but from Marina Zea, which is in the next bay, about 5 km away. A quick look around the railway station area didn’t produce anything particularly inspiring in the way of eating places, so we decided just to eat on board. Another quick taxi ride took us out to Marina Zea. (Ted)
Dinner on Board
Tired and somewhat weary, but with that sense of satisfaction that comes from having arrived, successfully checked in and settled into our cabin, we sought physical nourishment from the onboard bar-restaurant. After being greeted by a smartly-dressed maître d’ (far smarter than either of us) we were led to a corner table, where we waited about ten minutes for a menu or a drinks waiter, but none appeared.
As Ted went up to the bar to order the first ouzo of the trip, three people settled into the next table. The same maître d’ bustled around them serving red and white wine. When a waiter brought them menus a few minutes later, we requested some and he asked a waitress to bring them to us.
While Ted was ordering a second ouzo, starters began to arrive at the next table and several more people joined them. There was more deferential plodding about with bottles of wine as the rest of the customers grew hungrier and more and more annoyed. Determined not to moan on holiday, I swallowed my ouzo along with my irritation and waited and waited, but still no-one waited on us. After another couple of nudges to the maître d’ we finally got a menu and placed an order.
We continued to wait. After we had been in the restaurant for an hour, three things happened, more or less simultaneously: the people at the next table received their second course, a waiter brought us the bill for the food we hadn’t seen yet and I blew my top.
The maître d’ rushed over to find out why we wouldn’t pay, and, nearly in tears I tell him that we haven’t had anything to eat yet, despite waiting well over an hour, with numerous reminders. A look of shock and horror crossed his face, not because of what had happened to us, but because the big guy at the next table has noticed that something is wrong and has come over to investigate.
I repeated my tale of woe and he reached out and lifted the bill from the table saying “This should not have happened. This is our fault and we are very sorry.” He handed s a copy of his business card and it turns out that he’s Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the man behind EasyCruise, EasyJet and the other EasyGroup companies.
His companion, who told us her name was Penny, asked what they could do to make things right. We said we’d be happy simply to receive the meal we’d ordered and she assured us that it would be there within 10 minutes and at their expense. Within a few minutes a complimentary bottle of red wine appeared. It was excellent, which was just as well, as it was another 20 minutes a waitress arrived carrying our main courses. She was devastated to hear that we hadn’t yet received our starters.
After nearly two hours of waiting, and another bottle of wine, the starters finally appeared, followed rapidly by one main course. Yes, one, as the Moussaka was now finished! So were we, so we declined the offer of an alternative main course. The sweets arrived without incident and after finishing off with a couple of digestifs we were beginning to see the funny side.
So full marks to Stelios for intervening and sorting out the bill, but if the restaurant doesn’t get its act together it’s going to be a major problem. Admittedly, it was the first cruise of the season, with a new and inexperienced staff. They were mostly Rumanian, and all very pleasant and eager to please, but there was a total lack of organisation. Breakfast the next morning was another shambles, with the staff unable to cope with serving most of the passengers between a safety drill at 8:45am and an excursion departing at 9:45 am. (Karmanie)