We have returned from the New Year 2012/3 cruise to the Canaries on the Thompson Majesty. The Majesty is Thomsons newest ship and having been many times on the other ships we were interested to try it out and see if it is better than the older ships, so when we saw it was in Madeira for new years Eve we jumped at the chance.
The Majesty despite being a 'newer' ship is still old and in need of updating and the numerous failed glazing units spoil the appearance and despite being purpose built the design is poor. There does not seem to be a heart or outstanding feature such as atrium or staircase. The ship vibrated really badly when at low speed - which was most of the time at sea - which you could feel and hear particularly in the Jubilee Lounge near the stage area and also in some cabins.
Although not a last minute booking all the outside plus cabins on decks 3-4 had gone so we had to take the basic outside cabin which is very small, but not as bad as we feared, just no spare space and have to take it in turns to move around. The cabin only had room for a 50cm wide chest of drawers and a single wardrobe, which was just big enough to accommodate clothes for a 1 week cruise. Although it could be configured as a double this would mean pushing the 2 beds together against the wall and climbing over each other so we left it as twin. The standard size shower room was fine. The safe took up valuable space in the wardrobe and the charge for this is excessive. I think the Plus cabins would be a lot better if you don't want to be so cramped. Our cabin was quiet and we had no problems with air-con, water temperature or blocked/delayed action toilets which plague the other ships but don't know if we were just lucky this time.
There are two main restaurants - the Seven Seas and the smaller Four Seasons, both had a buffet and waiter service at breakfast, lunch was waiter or buffet service in Seven Seas only, evening meal was waiter service only, the same menu in both. The standard of food was good, but was not exceptional, generally hot/luke warm (though unfortunately at the gala meals both the lobster and salmon were cold - should have sent them back), what you normally receive at 3 to 4 star hotel. You could upgrade to a steak for Â£10 or visit the speciality restaurant for Â£19 for a special meal, but we didn't try it. We used the Four Seasons for evening dinner on most evenings, going early to miss the busy time when guests often had to wait to get a table in both venues. Breakfasts had a good choice, especially if you like a full English. Lunch in 7 Seas was either served or take pot-luck on the buffet as not on menu, but always a good salad and hot meal. The service varied between barely adequate and good depending on table.
Other venues for food were the 24 hour Cafe Royal Buffet which changed the menu daily dependant on time of day, with a lunchtime grill serving outside by the pool. The Piazza San Marco Pool Grill open from lunch through afternoon serving freshly made pizza, and burgers, sausages and salads.
The main entertainment location is the Jubilee Lounge, not a theatre and no head room for the usual head-dresses and lifts in the dancing, so it is only suitable for cabaret acts and small group entertainments, so not the West End type entertainment which we like on the Thomson ships, though they did manage to stage a very good Moulin Rouge show. The stage is raised but there are a lot of support columns in the lounge to restrict a good view of the dance floor. The band which played before and after each show were quite good. Also UK comedian and a singer twice weekly, and professional dance couple, so there was plenty of entertainment. All the venues air conditioning seems to be set very cold especially here.
The Royal Fireworks Lounge had a small stage for band or singers and a small dance floor, this was also used for bingo and the usual quiz and light entertainment shows such as Mr and Mrs etc which are always fun, and a band plays in the evening.
There are other musicians performing around the ship. Plenty of bars and good service in the lounges. Drinks are not cheap - the prices steadily rise, but only about what you would expect to pay in a 4* hotel, and no 15% service + tip to pay makes them quite reasonable.
The ship was still nicely decorated for Christmas, including some huge gingerbread houses made by the crew. New Years Eve docked in Funchal Madeira with numerous other cruise ships was really nice and never to be forgotten, pleasant for wandering around and the Christmas Markets still in full flow. The ships all played a specially prepared ships horn tune in the evening, but we couldn't make out a tune, maybe onshore away from the ships. The gala meal menu was good (though no Haggis for New Year!), hats and balloons for everyone.
The Funchal New Years fireworks are rated amongst the finest in the world, and was about the best I have seen, the atmosphere on the ship was very good with explosions all around and a glass of bubbly provided, and mega part-poppers but despite the great efforts of the entertainments team round the pool the deck party after was a bit subdued with not enough room to dance and celebrate.
Most of the Ports in the itinerary were a bit of a walk away but still handy to wander around. The weather was not too hot but dry and was fine for January.
Good points - the Thomson formula that we like - maybe not the best but good atmosphere, good food, good entertainment, all Brits, good price - tips and service included etc.
Bad points - the ship just seems to be missing something, no wow-factor - there is no 'heart' or outstanding feature such as atrium or staircase.
Basic cabins are VERY small, and no balcony cabins
Dining rooms too small for open sitting, indoor buffet area too small for cold or wet days.
No room for a decent deck party or deck entertainment area, other ships have a stage and space to dance and to watch activities, no sunbeds round pools, and sunbathing area too small (which is always the case) and very cramped.
No theatre, Jubilee lounge has no proper stage and is too small to stage the big shows, and still lots of pillars to restrict view.
We enjoyed our New Year cruise and there is a good atmosphere on board, but overall I think the Thomson Majesty ship is the poorest of the Thomson fleet, we would go on her again, but only for a really special itinerary like this one and otherwise would choose to return to the other ships.