This is the first time we have sailed on the Dream since the Platinum upgrade - we didn't notice much physical change - the cabin had a new carpet, flat screen TV and tea/coffee making facilities. There were new tables and chairs on the Lido deck and a sun canopy (not the Sirens deck which looked the same). Everywhere else looked the same as before to me.
We were on the Moorish Delights cruise. We had seen from the forum that Portimao had been changed to Cadiz as the Portimao tender situation was a farce. The cruise is also shown online as permanently dropping Portimao. When we arrived on board we received a letter saying the decision had been made to change to Cadiz for this cruise only due to predicted bad weather in Portimao for this week - ???! Communication problems again with Thomson I think.
The flight from the UK (Bournemouth), the transfer to the shop and embarkation process were all on time and efficiently handled. We were on our first G&T by 1pm :o)
Things that were great about this cruise were the weather, the layout of the ship (nice distinct areas and not 'bars in corridors' as per the Thomson Majesty). The service from all and friendliness was excellent as usual and very welcome. The entertainment (Bram Lorenz Cruise Director, Martyn, Viki, Sean and Mark and the wonderful show team) were spot on. We saw a few shows including the brand new Michael Jackson one 'Man in the Mirror' which was not to be missed. We saw the UK guest comedian, Maurice Grumbleweed over two nights and also a Medusa lounge unplugged interview session which was great. He would chat to folks around the ship and seemed a really nice chap. There were the usual quizzes throughout the afternoon and game shows too which were fun.
The kids club was nice - headed by Angela, Caroline, Amy and Houssem (who had been transferred from the Majesty for a week to work with the teens). There were generally 3 kids sessions a day which my son (10) enjoyed taking part in. Some older children (boys) may find it a little dull as there are no Playstations etc but my son liked most of the activities.
The table tennis table was nowhere to be found. The football tables on Sirens deck were also missing. Reception said the Table Tennis table was broken and it did not reappear for the whole cruise. This was rather duff as my family enjoy table tennis and even brought our own bats and balls!
The evening food in the Orion was pleasant. Steak is still not to be found here (you have to purchase it separately for an extra £9.95 per head). Service and drinks were great here. Steve, Jovvell, Eduard and Joseph really looked after us well here. The lunchtime food was poor. There was no 'help yourself' all week due to Norovirus so the selection seemed really limited and the counters on Sirens and Lido outside were never used apart from the annoying slow burger service (half hour wait in line anyone?). There were no jacket spuds or curry at lunchtime and the carvery options looked poor and weedy. I wrote a note of comment and was visited by the lovely attentive Maitre D who offered to make jacket potatoes available at each lunchtime - only for us though it seemed as they were not on general display. It's worth mentioning early on if you have a problem finding something suitable for lunch. We also received a fruit plate to our room by way of an apology which was a nice sentiment though not necessary (we just wanted better food at lunchtime for all!). There was also no deck BBQ during the week although the weather was perfect.
Some of the issues may have been down to Norovirus but these were not communicated. The library was closed for much of the time. The pools were not filled for two days and the jacuzzis remained empty for the whole cruise.
The ports were mixed - Gibraltar (great), Cadiz and Cartagena (lovely), Tangier (scary and smelly) and Motril. This is the first time the ship has docked in Motril. It's at the end of the longest jetty I have ever seen (20 mins walk and I am a fast walker). You can then turn left to a grey sand beach which looked a bit dead or right along a long road with no interesting points on it. After about 20 mins walking on this road we came to a roundabout where there was a sign saying 'Motril, left 2 kms'! We were tired and fed up at this point so we turned round and came back to the ship. There was a shuttle bus but only available for those with reduced mobility. You could get a taxi from the port (not sure of the cost) or a public bus from somewhere (not sure where). I would say if they do not offer a free shuttle bus and you are not going on an organised tour to Alhambra that you may be better off staying on the ship for this stop.
All in all a good cruise under some challenging circumstances (Norovirus) for the crew which were dealt with mainly well. This was certainly an issue as we saw signs of 'illness' in public loos, in corridors, stairwells and on deck which were then cordoned off and cleaned by teams wearing surgical masks. They need to communicate these difficulties better though. I would also say if possible to not use the public loos on ship. Apart from once I always went back to the cabin to use the facilities there. I think if there is a problem on board then this may help along with the very regular use of sanitising gel.