BOOKING - Booked this trip with Thomson via the website and it was a nice painless experience. I booked within a week of sailing and although I did not pay to choose a room I phoned up and spoke to someone who said they would put through my request for a queen bed instead of 2 singles. On arriving at the port in Marmaris there were signs up saying that they were sailing at capacity and no room changes were possible. Did not hold out much hope for getting my request. However, surprisingly on walking into our cabin it was a queen bed which I was really happy about. THUMBS UP!
ROOM - I was on the lowest deck (C) in an inside cabin. It was kept clean, it was very quiet and not a lot of motion. I was surprised that so many complained about feeling vibrations. I am a light sleeper and wasn't bothered by the motion at all. From my bed it felt a bit like a slow heartbeat...very relaxing...Yes, the ship is a bit tired but I knew ahead of time that it is going to get a makeover at the end of the year so wasn't too worried about seeing cracks and holes in the laminating etc. In general, THUMBS UP!
FOOD - Not happy with the options available for veggies/vegans. Plenty of cold salad options if you like that sort of thing but not so much if you like hot food. If you are a healthy vegetarian that's not easy either. Most of the 'veg' options I've seen are fried - potato croquettes, chips, onion bhajis, roast potatoes (which look fried) etc. ALL of the fish is battered (usually with a very eggy batter). The grilled veg are heavy on the olive oil and light on the grilling so it seems like eating a bucket of grease. Tea and coffee are freely available but water is not and I felt like they were giving people who paid for drinks preference in service. I never drink anything other than water with my meals on a normal day at home anyway and really missed my water intake. I don't drink tea or coffee and felt that a basic drink like water should be free and they can charge for a premium drink like tea/coffee. THUMBS DOWN!
EXCURSIONS - Went to excursions in Cairo and Israel. The actual excursions were really good. The one in Israel much better because the guide we had was so much better and pointed out things along the way as well as talking on the site stops. The guide in Egypt was just happy to sleep along the way and give a cursory explanation of things. Also, meals in Egypt were rushed. People on another group as well as mine complained that they did not get enough time to eat. We are told 45 mins for lunch but all of the separate trips seem to stop at the same hotel which means a long time queuing for food and no time to eat when you finally get it! What Thomson can look into is better planning. The trip into Cairo is about 3-4 hrs from the Port and that means a really early start. We are meant to gather at 6 but food is not available until 05:30. Seeing as we were told over 400 people booked for the trips, how are we all supposed to queue up, get food and eat in a half hour? Not practical! THUMBS UP for the excursions, THUMBS DOWN for the planning!
SERVICE - There were a few genuinely friendly people but I could do without the 'enforced' cheery good morning that they shout at you before breakfast. It was badly fake enough before arriving at Cairo but I heard a member of staff tell someone off for trying to get a box of cereal before the trip. It was a sort of "NO! We are not ready for you. Come back at 5:30!!!" It's not like they tried to get into the hot food or disturb anything but then in 5 mins the same person "put the game face on" and was all "Good Morning! Good Morning!" to everybody. Annoys me no end. Just let staff be natural and the fakeness won't show so much. HALF & HALF on service.
ENTERTAINMENT - Musicals were better than expected and fun to watch. Comedian was lame but you could make a joke out of that and have fun anyways so all in all not bad. It's clear that the entertainment staff work really really hard. THUMBS UP!
ALL IN ALL it was a great time for 2 first time cruisers and the best value we could find for a nice short break at short notice. I would (and have) recommended to a friend.