And sadly this one didn't quite live up to the previous two. Following the recent "upgrade" for the ship I was expecting better things. In my opinion the cabins are drab. The golden damask type curtaining has gone only to be replaced with drab grey woven material. The matching gold bedspreads have also gone and in their place a dark orange covering. Nice to see a new carpet and TV but the main place which really needed upgrading was the bathroom. Sealant missing and chips in the sink remain. Also, as a parent of a child I was shocked at the choice of film that were being shown. We only had the TV on while we were getting ready for the evening but I found that films of an inappropriate nature (language) was being shown (it would be nice to be warned of this, or steered away from a particular channel).
The bar waiters seem to have been drastically reduced and many more people were having to queue up at the bar. I saw some waiters carrying up to what looked like 20 drinks on a tray and by the last day of our cruise the bar waiters had given up coming around the Sirens pool deck altogether.
On arrival on ship none of the pools had any water in due to an outbreak of Norovirus on the previous weeks cruise. This I don't have a problem with but the net covering the empty pool on the top deck was entirely unsuitable with huge gaps at the side - it may as well not have been there. Thankfully by the second day the pool was filled (albeit with freezing cold sea water!!), the kids didn't seem to mind even having to come out with their teeth chattering, and there were a few brave (or daft) adults who had a dip. The jacuzzis remained empty for the whole week.
Also if you don't relish a good queue for food this isn't the place for you. Again due to Norovirus, we were served food in all the buffet restaurants. Again, if it stops the spread of disease, I am all for that but even by the end of the cruise this was still going on and I hadn't heard of anyone even being ill.
We did the itinerary which covered Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco. Gib was great, although we did our own thing. We hired a driver/guide with a people carrier from the main square who charged 22 euros per adult and nothing for our child. With Thomsons this would have cost 33 pounds per adult and 18 pounds for our daughter (a bit greedy, Thomsons!). We went to St Michael's Cave, to see the apes and the WW2 tunnels. Adrian, or guide was absolutely fantastic. Cadiz was a change in itinerary as we should have gone to Portimao, Portugal. A shame as I really wanted to go there. Tangiers was a bit of a horror story for those doing their own thing ashore. If you do go ashore here you WILL get hassled. I did not hear one positive from anyone, although we walked on to the fish quay and were not bothered by anyone at all. Motril was a dump with a half an hour walk just to get off the port, but I think it was the nearest port for those doing trips to Grenada. The last day (or half of it) was spent in Cartajena, a lovely town. Sadly due to a 1pm departure was had to be back on ship for 12.30pm and didn't really get a good look at it.
Now the good things:
Embarkation - Smooth and hassle free
Staff - Remain very friendly and work constantly and tirelessly to keep the public areas of the ship absolutely spotless.
Kids Club Staff - Excellent
Environment - Thomsons are committed to protecting the environment which is great.
Afternoon Tea - My favourite meal of the entire trip. Missed it one day as the Spa were trying to flog me products following a massage - Gutted!!
I know I seem to have moaned, but the cruise is still good and we will give it another go, although as Dream is doing this same itinerary next year we will have to try another ship. However, this is Thomson's last chance. If standards fall again we will not be booking again, as the prices are increasing.