Tuesday 14 September 2021
Well here I am on my second cruise since the Covid restrictions were eased . The first one which was in July was a pretty restricted one along the coast of the UK with no way to get off the ship unless you were on a ships excursion and even then the guests were pretty much herded together . I decided not to go on any of the excursions, therefore the cruise was pretty much like being incarcerated on a luxury prison ship.
So , here I am bobbing up and down in the Mediterranean heading for Croatia where the bulk of the shore visits are to take place, on the good ship Venus of the Viking line.
My latest trip started on Sunday with an extremely early rise of 2 am to catch the airport bus outside Mal Maison Hôtel in Union Street Dundee.
Pickup spot on 03.00 and a one hour 10 minute journey to Edinburgh Airport. Now I had already checked in on line with British Airways for the first leg of the flights to Malta where the cruise was to leave from, but couldn’t check in on line for the next leg, so assumed I would be able to do this in Edinburgh Airport, Unfortunately, this was not to be, as the check in for the next flight was not open yet in Heathrow. This created a potential problem as I had to change terminals in Heathrow and there was not a huge amount of time between flights.
Ok. so arrived in Heathrow a little early, so far so good, and changed terminals without a great deal of fuss meanwhile the clock was ticking to my next flight. Once in terminal 2, I found a desk with ( among others ) Air Malta, problem was that there was quite a queue , so I fell in line and after half an hour eventually got to the desk, only to be told that I was at the wrong desk. I politely pointed out that the sign above the guys head was stating quite clearly that this was the desk for Air Malta. He was very dismissive and said that I would have to check in at the gate.
Problem was that he didn’t know what gate it was to be and the gate number had not came up on the screen and it was stating that the gate number would be announced just 35 minutes before the flight time. Now with Covid regulations meaning that there was a plethora of forms to be carried and the possibility of one if these forms being filled out wrongly, this did not give ne a good feeling and once I told this guy what I really thought of his attitude I set of finding the routs to all the gates, some if which could take 15 minutes to get to.
In the event the gate was announced early and I managed to get there in time and boarded the plane in good time.
An uneventful flight and an on-time landing in Malta. I then took one and a half hours to get through the airport’s procedure including customs and passport control together with Covid checks on paperwork. At this time I would like to thank the mindless Brexiteers for the unnecessary time wasted in the non EU line of people.
From exiting the airport the procedure was flawless in the hands of Viking staff and transport to the ship and again, boarding was smooth and efficient.
Now, at this point I should explain that Viking is not a cruise line I would normally choose and indeed this is the first time I have cruised with them, However Moira ( my travel agent) was able to obtain an exceptionably good rate for this cruise and an excellent veranda cabin for around about a third of the normal price for a single occupancy cabin.
Once settled in, I headed into the beautiful town of Valletta with its impressive fortified structures built directly off the cliff faces surrounding the harbor. The colonial past of Malta very prevalent in the grand buildings that are generally built by colonials powers, in this case Britain, in an attempt to overawe the local populace and convince them of the benefice of their colonial masters. The benefice of course generating in the opposite direction in reality, as all of these grand buildings together with the administration that went with them was financed through the rape of the countries’ assets by the colonial power.
Malta has long been a crossroads of Mediterranean trade and culture, shaped by countess civilizations . The Harbor at Valletta was built by the Knights of St John who defended the island against the ottoman empire in the 16th century.
In more recent history the island was laid siege to by the Axis powers in the second world war, and I had a longish visit to the underground headquarters of the joint services group from where they planned the response to the forces laying siege to the island .
So after a longish walk a stop for a beer before heading back to the ship and a nice meal in the World Cafe which is ,under normal circumstances the buffet but because if Covid restrictions it is served up to your choice . An excellent band ended the night but unfortunately and again because of Covid precautions, no dancing.
Sunday, and again a walk into Valletta to explore the harbor area and the narrow but in the main, straight streets of the town itself and a chance to indulge in what I have been missing the most ,during the pandemic, sitting at a street cafe, enjoying a capachino and watching the world go by, bliss. Then back to the ship for dinner which was exceptional.
I had the Oriental style Scallops with Lobster, delicious. Then watched as the ship slipped out of the harbor and set a course for Dubrovnik.
The evening ended with some good music from the band in the Torshavn lounge , thinking of a small independent island at peace with itself, Goodnight Malta, I will be back