Two weeks aboard Thomson Dream . A total of 11 really good Ports of Call using 2 of Thomson itineraries - the Roman Epic and the Mediterranean Medley.
We arrived at Palma and everything was very organised and we were soon in our pleasant twin cabin on Deck 5.
The cleanliness of every surface, nook and cranny is impressive and the very hardworking Philippino and Indonesian staff never seemed to stop working.
Having cruised on Celebration and Destiny, it's hard not to compare and I foolishly thought that as Thomson declare the Dream as their flagship, it would be of a higher standard than the others. Unfortunately, Thomson Dream did not live up to expectations. Many passengers felt the same and for first time cruisers, many were put off cruising completely.
The structure of the Dream means you frequently walk the length of the ship and most places to go to are on decks 8, 9 and 11. Not all lifts go to all floors but external steps will get you there quicker than internal corridors.
Forward rooms have the anchorage noises on arrival and leaving each port. Aft has excessive engine noise and vibration. Reception and other help desks are midship, yet some vibration can still be felt.
We enjoyed the cruise itinerary and all ports really were great. We booked a few of the Thomson tours and, although the same trips can be booked much cheaper by going independent, we still found the tours good. We also did our own exploring in other ports and every day was very enjoyable.
Thankfully, there was only one day at sea which was just about bearable. The sun beds are taken up from 8am - yes, 8am! Books and towels are placed as markers and no-one removes them even if unattended for hours.
It would be better for a sun bed attendant to man the area and give out towels when needed and also clear the unused sunbeds. At one point, the cruise director actually gave an announcement for those people not lying on a sunbed to remove their towel to give others an opportunity to sun bathe. I did feel this was laughable, surely Thomson should ensure they don't cram in as many customers as possible without provision of sufficient seating and sunbathing areas.
Although I will not board the Dream ever again, it did serve the purpose of it's itinerary. Hopefully, you will find the following info useful.
The package does not include the bottle of water in the cabin. As it's the first drink you see after arriving from the airport, the charge of Â£1.75 for a bottle of water came as a shock to the All Inclusive guests. Also, charges are incurred for anything taken from the mini bar in the cabin. All bottles of wine have an additional surcharge as do other drinks that are not part of the 'standard'.
Lido Pool Deck - Deck 9
The small but adequate swimming pool of sea water is emptied, cleaned and refilled every night. There is a small paddling pool at the side. Although sun beds are crammed around the lido area, unfortunately, the position at the back makes engine noise and vibration uncomfortable.
Main Pool - Deck 11
Our experience showed it is impossible to navigate around the crammed sunbeds, literally touching sides with no room to manoeuvre. After searching for somewhere to sit, climbing over obstacles and tripping several times over legs, bags, chairs etc (no alcohol consumed), we left it to the masses.
Sunbeds on Aft Deck 6.
This area appears to be in full shade, hence not many people go there, but it gets very sunny depending on position when docked. It was also a good place to spot dolphins and porpoise leap around in the side wake of the ship on our journey to the next port.
The Orion restaurant, on Deck 4.
Waiter service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A head waiter sends you to various tables with options to share with others or simply have a table for two. However, the descriptive menu exaggerates the actual food received. For example, a Greek Salad in the Orion restaurant consisted of 5 lettuce leaves and a teaspoon of dressing. At the self service Lido, we ensured feta cheese, black olives and sun dried tomato accompanied a Greek Salad.
The Lido, deck 9 or Sirens deck 11.
Although self service, the food is at least varied. A downside is very long queues at main mealtimes forming due to the poor layout. Also at The Lido, there are 3 stations for freshly cooked food of a stir fry, pasta dishes and hotdogs/burgers. Jacket potatoes, sandwiches are regularly available. Afternoon tea with warm scones is served at Sirens.
Standard of food
No meal was delicious, all was edible but only nutritious via our own self serve salad from fresh ingredients. Still, the upside is I lost 5 pounds on this 2 week cruise due to the food & the exercise from all the walking around the ship.
A 'Cruise News' paper is delivered each night and gives timetables of what's on and where.
The Broadway show lounge
Two tiers with spacious, comfy seating. We saw most shows and enjoyed them. The standard was mainly good but after a week the jokes wore thin and what appear to be ad hoc quips were repeated several times so were obviously delivered without sincerity.
Over the fortnight we saw two comedians, both of whom were funny and held the audience with a good atmosphere.
The Medusa lounge
Holds quizzes and bingo. Reminiscent of a good old Pontin's holiday, which was great in the 70's. Karaoke is held here too.
The Ocean bar has a band of musicians and most people enjoyed dancing, ages 40 - 80 but no younger music. This bar can get busy and seats not always available immediately but we didn't usually wait long.
The Delo bar has a pianist playing a mix of classical and popular songs of the 50's and 60's.
The passengers ages varied from 1year to 90years - the entertainment, music and activities seemed geared to age 65 and over.