This was our first cruise with Thompson having been recommended by my mother who has over 40 cruises under her belt with virtually all the major lines, so I felt she was in a good position to comment. Having read the reviews it would appear people either love or hate Thompson so I did have some trepidation. We have cruised with other lines so it was always going to be a comparison with those (more expensive) cruises. What lured us apart from the recommendation was the price and the no compulsory service charge that most of the major lines seem to like expanding the price with. So a balanced review I hope.
The ship - yes it is fairly old, but not tired and tatty as some suggest, it does appear to be having an ongoing make-over and I believe it is going out of service for a few months before Christmas for a mini refit. The cabins were larger than comparable cabins on newer ships we have cruised on and everything was very clean and tidy. The variety of bars and lounges was limited but it is a much smaller ship than the modern giants, so no real surprise there. The pools were also small but re last statement. The plus side is that there are far fewer people on board and it feels like it. No disrespect to the passenger list but the majority of those on board did seem to like the rear of the ship where the pools, grill,sun,deck entertainment etc was, leaving the rest of the ship for those that are not fussed/interested in that nice and quiet. Onto the dreaded ships tremor, yes it did have a slight vibration from the engine, were we shaken out of bed, unable to eat our food, left shaking like a wet dog when we got off, of course not. If you are the worlds most sensitive sleeper/eater/human then it might bother you, for the majority it would not be a problem.
The Crew - Superb, by far the best service we have had on a cruise. Tips are not mandatory so we were able to tip for the excellent service we received not have our money taken daily whether we had good service or not like other cruises. There was no hard sell for anything and we were also allowed to purchase spirits on day one and take them away. The whole experience felt like they wanted you to have a good holiday not extract as much money as they could from you.
Food - Excellent in the waiter service restaurant and more than acceptable in the buffet. I can see where people make a comparison with a works canteen but if it's not what you want go to the waiter restaurant, simples.
Overall if you want the most modern of ships with all bells and whistles and don't care what it costs, Thompson probably isn't for you. If you want an excellent value for money cruise, give them ago, after all who hasn't tried Marmite at least one.