At the time of writing this, I have just returned after a couple of weeks break in one of my favourite places – the beautiful island of Madeira.
Each year we take a break at the end of February into the middle of March; the sunshine is a real tonic and on my return, I feel the winter has almost gone and Spring, with its new life and promise, is just around the corner.
Each day in Funchal (the capital city of Madeira), I wander down to the gardens overlooking the harbour to see which cruise ships are visitors. This year, as usual, many ships came and went, including MSC Magnifico, Thomson Majesty, Aida Blu, Aida De, Mein Schiff 2, Norwegian Spirit and Viking Star.
As readers will know, I am not a fan of modern cruise ships resembling as most of them do 'floating apartment blocks' fitted with engines (an opinion I obviously share with Peter Pratt of Tauranga, New Zealand – see Letters to the Editor, Sea Breezes, April 2017). Of the above vessels, however, the lines of Thomson Majesty and Viking Star were more appealing than the others.
The Thomson Majesty has an interesting history; she was originally ordered as the Birka Queen to be built at Wartsila Marine, but the shipyard went bankrupt in 1989. Masa-Yards took over the shipyard, but the price of the ship increased and Birka Line refused to take delivery. The build contract was then bought by Majesty Cruise Lines, but since then she has had several owners and operators.
Unfortunately, she has also had a few incidents. In June 1995, as the Royal Majesty, she grounded on the Rose and Crown Shoal circa 10 miles off Nantucket Island. There was no loss of life in this incident, but considerable damage to the vessel. More sadly, when sailing as the Louis Majesty on a Mediterranean cruise on March 3rd 2010, she was hit by what was said to be a rogue wave which killed two passengers and injured others.
In February 2013, I was holidaying at Las Palmas in Gran Canaria when I heard news of the Thomson Majesty. Whilst carrying out safety drills alongside in Santa Cruz de la Palma, five crew members were killed and three others injured when a lifeboat fell into the water. This dreadful accident again drew attention to the number of accidents occurring during lifeboat drills on ships. This quite rightly remains a real matter for discussion, concern and action today (as recently highlighted by Nautilus).