Ocean Majesty Ship Review
How can you get a day out, a full meal, a glass of wine and a visit to a Cruise Ship, all for a fiver? Travel Agents Page and Moy were kind enough to respond to my begging letter and invite myself and 35 ship-fanss onboard the Ocean Majesty, a ship which they regularly charter, in September 2005.
The visit did not start particularly well. When I arrived at the Harwich cruise terminal, the staff member on duty at the information desk appeared to have no idea that we were coming. They were obviously unaware of the numerous e-mails, phone calls and letters that I had generated over a three month period, to arrange the visit. Fortunately, there was a change of shift later and the replacement member of staff was fully aware of our existence.
The profile of ‘Ocean Majesty’ against the dockside is instantly recognizable as a ‘classic ship’, being far removed from today’s gigantic floating resorts. There was no wall of balconies which make all modern ships resemble office blocks, in my opinion. There are no ice rinks or climbing walls onboard this ship, either.
The ‘Ocean Majesty’ as built in 1966 in Spain as a Ro-Ro ferry and was converted to a cruise ship in 1994 She is a mere 10,417 tons and carries a maximum of 621 passengers.
Once our party had completed the I.D checks and had been issued our boarding passes, we were x-rayed and proceeded up the gangway. At the top we were asked to ‘sign-in’ using a hotel type register book, which is certainly a first for me onboard a ship. We were first led to the ‘Majestic Lounge’ for a glass of wine and a welcome from Tim Barnwell, Page & Moy’s Cruise Operations Manager, an ex-Rugby player, I believe?
My first observation was that the ship did not feel like an ex- ferry. Her interiors although a little dated in term of decor, were certainly warm, bright and not worn. There are six main public lounges and dining areas.
The ‘Majestic Lounge’ was probably the ships most appealing space. It was light and fresh. It had a bar and a piano. Directly behind it was the ‘Starlight’ show lounge. This too was attractive, but has the usual problems associated with such old style show lounges. It lacked a sloping floor, sufficient seats, and had several pillars to obstruct your view. Therefore early selection of seats is recommended pre-performance.
The dining room was located on the lowest passenger deck, amidships, the most stable part of any ship. The room had no windows making it a little reminiscent of the type of dining rooms found on the great Ocean Liners such as the SS France. However it was quite attractive in a retro style, with some interesting glass chandeliers. Dinner is normally served in two evening sittings. We had been warned that the meal would be ‘basic’ and not to the ships normal standard. Therefore we were surprised when we were served with six courses, which included salmon, prawns and steak. If was easily the best meal that I have ever had on a ship visit. In fact it was better than I have been served on many cruises, including some premium ships. If this was the normal standard, then the gym was definitely not going to be big enough.
The one other dining area was the informal ‘Lido garden’. It had a glass domed roof. Pink wicker chairs and green tables and décor. Once again this was a reasonably attractive a public room, but hardly breathtaking.
Forward of the dining room is the reception and shore excursions desk, a medical room, a few items of gym equipment, one sun bed and a small steam room, and a beauty salon. Once again the facilities were very limited compared to bigger ships, but they are probably adequate for the clientèle, who are unlikely to be looking for sophisticated facilities.
Forward on the upper deck is a small observation lounge, complete with a bar and a glass domed ceiling. This was also an attractive space. However it strangely had windows down its sides but not at the very front. Never the less some nice sea views were available.
The upper open deck space and small pool look very limited compared to modern ships, but let us not forget that this ship carries only 500-600 passengers. The funnel interrupts the upper deck space but has a unique arch so you could actually walk through it. The promenade deck which passes under the lifeboats is quite short, does not completely wraparound the ship, so does not offer much scope for long strolls.
In the very bowels of the ship was a cinema which curiously doubles as a disco. It was a cute little room with a small number of comfortable seating, which were slightly raked. There was a very small dance floor in front of the projection screen and a few coloured lamps suspended from the ceiling.
The ship has approximately 200 cabins, spread across all six passenger decks. There are surprisingly nineteen grades of cabin, although many of them were similar in design, layout and on occasions square footage. I assume the fare range is more closely linked to location than size. Although few of the cabins were exactly spacious by modern standards, all seemed to be perfectly adequate for a shorter cruise. Most have two twin beds, although there were a limited number of singles and doubles available. The bathrooms are the pretty standard modern ‘compact’ design with a shower. All cabins have air-conditioning, TV and telephone. The ship does actually have eight balcony cabins, on the uppermost deck.
In, conclusion I am always grateful to be allowed to visit any ship. The crew were charming, and Page and Moy’s excelled themselves with the onboard lunch that was served.
Ocean Majesty has all the advantages and disadvantages of a small cruise ship. There are only six main public lounges and dining areas. Although a limited choice, they are certainly adequate for a shorter cruise. She is in surprisingly good condition for her age and will surely offer an intimate and friendly experience. Ocean Majesty is exactly the type of vessel that ship-nuts love, therefore I’m sure that some of our party will be inspired to cruise onboard her in the future.