We had an uneventful flight on a Monarch operated plane from Edinburgh to Palma arriving ahead of schedule. This was a no frills operation with little legroom and refreshments only if you paid for them. One frustration though was having to wait about an hour for our cases at Palma airport. The coach due to take us to the ship was however ready and waiting for us.
Arrival at the port terminal building and processing through the embarkation process was speedy and efficient. Our cabin was ready for us when we boarded the ship and our luggage arrived within 15 minutes. After freshening up we were able to go ashore and explore Palma. We made the mistake of taking a taxi and not understanding that a supplementary charge would be added to the metered cost because the pick up point was at the port. This seemed unreasonable as the taxi was already waiting for passengers at the designated point, we did not call for it. We should really have waited a few minutes and taken the bus which was much, much cheaper.
Our cabin more than met our expectations and it was always cleaned to a very high standard by Dhani, our cabin steward. While there wasn't tea/coffee making facilities in the cabin such refreshments were always available three decks up in the Lido restaurant. We understand that the ship is going into dry dock later this year for refurbishment/upgrading and installing refreshment equipment in all cabins is on the list of things to be done.
Dinner onboard in the Orion Restaurant on the first night was a bit of reunion for my wife as our waiter, Fernando, was the very same person who had served her and her father during their cruise on the Thomson Dream last year. He and his team of Rod and Joseph served us admirably throughout the week, we cannot praise them highly enough for their efficiency and friendship. Dinner was always something to look forward to as there was always something on the menu for each of us. I'm however a great fan of cheese instead of pudding for dessert which I had on the first night but unfortunately the selection of 'Continental cheeses' was boring in the extreme served with some basic ordinary British crackers. Breakfast was always a good start to the day which we took in the waiter served Orion restaurant but I think that the catering staff should ditch the dreadful poor quality black pudding and tinned mushrooms from the 'Full breakfast'!
Sunday was a bit of a rough day and we heard that numerous people, including some of the crew, suffered from sea sickness but thankfully we were unaffected. For the rest of the week it was plain sailing. From Monday onwards we were always in port somewhere and we were ashore at every destination. These were Ajaccio in Corsica, Livorno in Italy, Cannes and Toulon in France, Barcelona in Spain then back to Palma in Majorca.
The entertainment on board ship was always excellent. On TV shows such as 'X Factor' you often hear the judges' saying that such and such an act is perhaps good enough to be on a cruise liner in somewhat dismissive terms. Well we would say that such comments should actually be regarded as very high praise indeed because the level of talent and energy displayed by the onboard entertainment team especially in the Broadway Show Lounge which presented a different music and dance show each evening was extraordinarily high. We also really enjoyed the classical piano and violin duo who played in the Argo lounge. Fogwell Flax a British comedian presented a very amusing and witty show one evening. Special mention should also be made of the talent show put on by members of the crew. In particular, mention should be made of the stunning voice of Ray, the Maitre D of the Orion Restaurant.
Other On Board Issues
Our only criticisms of the ship were the staff at the Reception desk who were rarely helpful and really didn't appear to be willing to find out the answer to questions if they didn't already know the answer. We were also disappointed that there was no longer a shop onboard the ship selling alcohol to take back home as presents. However we rectified this latter shortcoming at Palma airport.
If there was a negative element to our holiday it was the journey home. We were due to leave the ship at 10.40 am for the flight from Palma to Edinburgh at 13.20 pm. The 60 people on the ship flying to Edinburgh were advised about 10.00 am that the flight was delayed until 10.30 pm and that we would be leaving the ship at 7.00 pm. We were all allocated temporary cabins for our hand luggage as we had surrendered the cabins we had during the cruise. We decided to go ashore for an extra day in Palma. That turned out to be very enjoyable as the weather was lovely unlike the previous Saturday. We got back onboard the ship for a quick dinner and collect our possessions and then finally left it at 7.00 pm. However the bus taking us to the airport didn't turn up for another hour. When we got to the airport we were told that boarding time would be 10.00 pm but this time got put back and back. I think that the plane, again a basic cramped Monarch jet eventually took off from Palma at midnight local time. We had a quick flight back to Edinburgh, about 2 hours 20 minutes. Prior to boarding the plane no-one was able to give us any accurate information on the reason for the delay which we discovered was due to the scheduled plane developing a technical fault while at Tenerife the previous day. It would have been a nice gesture given the inordinate time that we had spent at Palma waiting on the plane if free teas and coffees had been provided but no if you wanted these you had to pay for them. So much for good customer relations!
All in all we had a great holiday and are already thinking about another 'Dream' cruise next year.