Having watched the recent 'Show Boaters' TV programme we wondered if we had made a mistake booking the Dream - we could not have been more wrong!
We spent the night before embarkation in Palma de Mallorca and were aboard by 10 a.m. Thomsons could do with some directions at the Port for people travelling independently - no-one in sight to point us the right way but we eventually found the Check In area where we were very quickly processed. Nice to find that our A.I. card was valid from teh moment we boarded despite our early arrival.
We were taken to cabin 7029 - an Inside Plus on the seventh deck. We had not pre-booked a particular cabin but had request4d a quiet room and this is definitely what we got. The cabin was much more spacious than we had expected with very comfortable twin beds pushed together to make a king sized double - good quality bed linen and towels. Adequate clothes hanging space with plenty of hangers and a small TV (BBC World, Sky News and Sky Sports News). The bathroom was 'bijou' but perfectly adequate - we were grateful to have seen a recommendation to take pegs to secure the shower curtain as we found these very useful; the bathrooms are in need of updating but we believe this is part of teh renovation project planned for later this year. The cabin was kept spotles throughout our stay - thank you Jimmy.
We had our first lunch in the Lido Self Service restaurant - food was very good but queues were horrendous and getting a drink was nigh-on impossible. From then on we ate in the waiter service Orion Restaurant where food and service were first class. We had pre-booked an A.I. drinks package (98 Pounds for the 2 of us) and, despite not being heavy drinkers, found this very useful and great value.
We saw a show 6 nights out of the 7 we were on board and all were very entertaining - some better than West End shows we have seen. Ashanti - winner of the 'Show Boaters' TV Show - was part of the team and has developed into a very professional performer. Stephen Guy - Cruise Director - ensured that everything ran very smoothly.
We were invited to join the Staff Captain and Social Hostess Laura for Dinner on the formal night and we must take this opportunity to thank them for a very special evening. We also had a reserved table for the rest of the evening in the Show Lounge arranged by Laura.
We booked 2 organised excursions prior to departure and enjoyed both immensly; Pisa and Wine Tasting from Livorno and Cassis from Toulon. Both local tour guides were excellent - especially Monica in Italy. We did our own thing at teh other three ports of call and really enjoyed wandering around at our own pace.
On our final day our flight did not depart until mid-afternoon and we were pleased to find that we could stay on board (+ eat and drink) as long as we wanted so didn't leave the ship until after a final lunch. After lunch we disembarked, found our luggage and were in a taxi back to the airport within 5 minutes - taxi fare â‚¬23.
All in all this was a wonderful holiday and we hope to return to the Dream in the not too distant future.
PORTS OF CALL
MONDAY - AJACCIO (CORSICA) - We docked just 5 minutes walk from the town centre. Excellent local market. Good value Coffee shops. Sadly the Bonaparte Museum is closed on Mondays so we couldn't visit this. Took a 65 minute open top bus tour along the coast - â‚¬10 per person - excellent value and highly recommended.
TUESDAY - LIVORNO (ITALY) - We docked a 10 minutes walk from the city centre and spent the morning wandering around on our own. Plenty to see here despite some reviews we read before the start of the holiday. Don't miss the indoor market. In the afternoon we took a pre-booked half day excursion to Pisa followed by a Winery tour and tasting. Can highly recommend this excursion.
WEDNESDAY - CANNES (FRANCE) - The only tender port we visited and the ship to shore boat took us very close to the town centre; tenders ran every 15 minutes early morning and late afternoon with a half hourly service in between. Cannes was preparing for next weeks Film Festival. We had been warned of very high prices in the town but found plenty of good value restaurants and Coffee Shops. Some passengers were disappointed that the planned coach excursions to Monte Carlo were cancelled due to preparations for the Grand Prix but there was a local bus and train service that took you there independently. A local bus also ran regularly to the perfume town of Grasse.
THURSDAY - TOULON (FRANCE) - We docked very close to the city centre. We had pre-booked a morning excursion to the lovely coastal town of Cassis and really enjoyed the trip that went via the spectacular Le Crete route. Toulon looked a typical large, modern naval port but we were tired after our excursion so didn't have chance to explore it properly.
FRIDAY - BARCELONA (SPAIN) - A city we know very well so we just wandered around on our own. We berthed by the World Trade Centre so only had a 5 minutes walk to the start of las Ramblas. Tip - go for Coffee at the large El Corte Ingles store at Plaza Catalunya; the 9th floor cafeteria has spectacular panoramic views over the whole city.
We hope that this review is of help.