I should start by saying this was our first ever cruise, in fact we had never considered going on a cruise at all until we visited the travel agent to book a quick week away. Not being able to decide where to go the agent suggested we might like a cruise. Twenty minutes later we were booked on the Tompson Dream for a Colourful Coasts cruise around the Canary Islands. For reference my wife and I are 42 and 48, normal everyday people.
Later at home we gave things a little more considered thought than we had in the travel agents and I must confess I started to have concerns. Would it be too formal for us? Would it be a bit "low class" being Tompsons and not RCI/Cunard etc? Would we even like it? -- Well read on and find out.
The cruise was from Tenerife, then onto Gran Canary, Puerto de la Cruz, Madiera, Morroco, Lanzarote and finally back to Tenerife.
We had booked a Grand Suite (room 1105), this gave a few little perks such as VIP boarding, limited free ironing, canapes delivered to our room every evening, free Prosecco on the first day etc. All of this was very welcomed as we had no idea any of it was included!
The room itself was fantastic, separate bedroom, lounge, bathroom, walk in wardrobe and very large balcony with two chairs, a table and a sun lounger. Sure enough it was a tad dated in decor but very comfortable indeed and we were very pleased.
We settled into the whole cruise scene very quickly. Days and nights were so easily filled with plenty to keep us occupied.
The morning always started with a fantastic breakfast, choices ranging from a full English, to kippers, fruit, cereals etc.
We ate very little during the day as a good breakfast usually keeps us going, sometimes we have a few afternoon sandwiches in the Medusa lounge, or occasionally a burger from the grill on deck.
We ate in the main dining room most nights and found the food to be of a very good standard indeed.
We did choose to eat in the Sirens grill at a Â£20 supplement on one evening, and whilst the food and service were fantastic it lacked a little atmosphere as most passengers realised the main dining room was equally as good, hence it was a little quiet but worth the visit we felt.
After dinner we would have a couple of drinks in the Medusa lounge, followed by attending the shows most nights. The standard of the shows was surprising, very very professional and we thoroughly enjoyed them.
Later evenings consisted of a trip to the small casino, or just sitting and chatting to the few people whom we had met during the week. Normally we aren't night owls and are tucked up in bed easily before midnight. Surprising then that on the cruise, once we had found our feet, we suddenly realised that bedtimes were pushing 2am onwards! The time flew so fast, a sure sign that you are enjoying yourself.
We have visited each of the canaries several times each over the years, so on the more obvious stops like Gran Canary, Lanzarote etc we just got off the boat and did our own thing. On Madiera and Morroco we elected to take tours.
Madiera was very nice, we did perhaps the most obvious choice of tour, this being the cable car, the sledge ride down the hill and a visit to the botanic gardens. In truth I wish we had done it for ourselves as I found the tour a little too structured and the place seemed full of tour groups all being led by guides holding numbered batons over their heads and shouting "group 4 follow me". Still it was a pleasant day out and made a change.
Morrocco (Agadir) was a tour I will never forget for the wrong reasons. A coach trip up to a non existant fort where you were pestered heavily by the local tourist trap camel herders etc. Followed by another coach ride to a non spectacular show involving horse riders and acrobats. The tour culminated in us all being dropped off at the local Souk for an hour of free time. The Souk is a love it or hate it type of place and needless to say I hated it. One full hour of pure hassle later I could wait to get back on the coach.
Overall we decided that organised tours were not for us, and next time we cruise we would probably go our own way.
So by the end of the week we had answered many of our initial concerns. Was a Tompson cruise "low class" well we certainly didn't think so and despite docking next to some much larger and fancier ships it seemed many of the passengers on our ship agreed. We spoke to many people who have cruised with RCI etc all of whom thought the friendliness and warmth of the "old white lady" made up for the lack glitz the modern ships offer.
Did we like cruising?-- very very much so, we are off to the cruise show this weekend at NEC to have a look at next years offerings. It has opened up a whole new way of holidaying for us.
I think I have probably over done the waffle now so I will try and summarise.
The ship is a little tired but I believe it is in for a refit this December -- even so it was perfectly clean and comfortable. The staff are unbelievably friendly and hard working. The food was fantastic. The entertainment was of a very high standard and for us the whole experience was one not to be forgotten.