21st to 28th Feb - Our first time cruising and what a great and fun time it was. This grand old boat packs a lot into its newly refurbished interior and what a happy and hardworking crew they all are. Loads to do on-board with a service that was second to none. Its relaxed atmosphere set the tone and we loved the wraparound wooden promenade deck that gave the ship a slightly classical feel while having all the mod cons you would expect. This been our first ever cruise we were a little nervous about what to expect on-board, what to pack. The ship had a very mixed age range, a nice relaxed feel and it exceeded all our expectations. So here's our review.
The out bound flight over was on a new Thomson plane with a happy crew and good service. Sharm airport was good but crowed. For people cruising, you don't need to purchase a Visa. Thomson staff were well organised and the transfer smooth.
The boat is kept spotlessly clean with strict 'hand' sanitising in place to help prevent bugs and gems. This was reassuring and very much appreciated by people.
We were in 901; on deck one in bottom of the boat. It had not yet been refurbished but it was just great and comfortable. The lower down in a boat you are the less you feel any vibration and waves. We slept well and the room was very comfortable and well worth the money we paid. The Cabin steward was very efficient, happy to help and the room was spotless. The boat is currently been refitted but this hardly noticeable to guests.
Now this was real a good all-round effort by all the individual artists and exhibitions. The ships band worked hard and played lots of cool music. Meach and Pekles played a wide variety of music and were themed on the Beatles. They were very talented and enjoyable to watch and listen to. The stage company performed a different show every night and where a versatile and talented groups of performers. Ben did a great solo guitar and song slot one afternoon which showed off his vocal and still skills. I would buy his CD. Clearly the performers enjoyed their work and people enjoyed listening to them. The Horizons Bar was our favoured bar. It brought a relaxed easy listening and chilled atmosphere to us before we went off to dinner. It had several artists playing either classical, smooth or lap. The waiter service was just lovely in this bar. The afternoon play was fun. I'm not a fan of quizzes but the afternoon quiz brought a few smiles us. There were cooking and other demos which all added to the fun. All-round, there was something for everyone on this boat and did not get a chance to experience it all in our week. We enjoyed the Abba tribute and fabulous outfits boys!!!!! - LOL. Some very nice harmony vocals on slightly bouncy sea.
Ports and Tours
The ports were lovely if ya like looking at container ships and gravel ships!! Not pretty ports but still, interesting to see the life of industrials ports. This cruise was not about the ports of call but about the tours and ship. We did have a walk around in Acaba which felt safe and was hassle free in the main. Visiting Petra in Jordan was stunning, but not cheap at a whopping Â£120 each. Ya we might have saved a few ponds if we arranged it ourselves using local taxis but then it would not have saved that much. A ticket to get into Petra alone would have cost Â£50 each. We do recommend the Thomson tour with a good guide and lunch thrown in. Petra Tips -- It's cold, very cold so take warm clothing; Good footwear is essential for Petra as there is a lot of walking on rough ground, down and back up a steep hill. For the people who are less mobile there are hours and carts at Petra but the ride looks quite a wild one! Bring some water with you from the ship to drink. It was also very dusty the day we visited Petra so if ya use medications for Assma, take it with ya along with a scale to cover ya mouth. Can't comment about any other tours but heard people saying they enjoyed them even though some were fare away.
What can one say about this? It was very good with a mixed selection of foods which were well cooked and presented. Again the standard was high with a great service. We always requested a table for two and got what we asked for. Most people got dressed up for dinner, smart casual most evening and one formal night were 85% really made an effort with tie, shirt and many with tucks. Less formal was the pool bar and it had great burgers. I liked the salad bar which was just lovely and crispy fresh. The food in our opinion was excellent.
On Board Service
I thought the service was exceptional from the bar staff to reception, waiters, cleaners, stewards and entertainers. Friendly and helpful and 5* + from us.
A Few Tips/Comments --
On board currency are English pounds.
Tipping on board is included in your Thomson holiday purchase price but we still liked to reward good service personally by tipping. Smaller change can be difficult to obtain on board so bring it with you from UK.
If ya going shopping in Egypt get small denomination notes as you may find it difficult to get any change from a purchase. Always haggle on the price to half of what they first ask you for.
The ship has free laundry rooms for washing cloths so ya might bring some powers with ya!
Eating dinners later meant we could enjoy sunset, miss the crowds at dinner and get a table for two
The ships shop only seemed to open when sailing at sea. It seemed to be well stocked.
Sunbeds can be hard to find on a hot days. A 45 min rule is fairly applied to stop bed blocking by people leaving towels on them. So use them or lose them is fare. There is plenty of other outdoor seating.
Book Thomson tours on the internet to save a few quid and avoid queuing.
If ya like a drink or two get the drinks package as its very worthwhile and cost effective. Drink prices are equivalent to UK and individual purchases soon add up.
The ship seems to have good access for people with mobility issues.
The ship has an unusual tremor in some parts, even when it's in port. Lower decks don't experience this tremor. It wasn't a bad tremor and gave people a good talking point. Most laughed about it and then forgot about and simply moved to another location.
The on board internet service is not cheap with rates starting at Â£4 for 15 mins. UK Phone calling is expensive to. If ya got a Smart Phone, make sure you turn off your data roaming device or ya might get a financial shock. Alternatively just turn of ya Phone and enjoy the peace.
The ships shop seems well stocked with some good duty free deals and all the usual necessities.
We had a ball, met lots of people and totally chilled out. We will be back to cruise again with Thomson and would happily choose this ship again. Very well done to all the ship's crew including those we hardly saw but know helped to make this a holiday to remember.
Chow for Now ?
Karl Love & David Hill