Having spent many years resisting cruises thinking that I really wouldn't enjoy the experience, I finally relented and we booked a this Mediterranean cruise on the Thomson Dream. We picked this one as it was being marketed as being of Platinum standard and I thought the destinations would be good at this time of year. We flew from our local airport to Palma. The flight was at 6.00am and ontime and everything went smoothly. The food available to buy on the flight was rather disappointing and overpriced but that didn't really matter as the flight was only 2 hours or so. Once we arrived at Palma the organisation was exceptional. Check-in was swift and we were on the boat and in our cabins by about 10.30am. This gave us plenty of time to look around the ship and take in our new surroundings. Our cabin was on deck 9 where the Lido restuarant was and one of the swimming pools. We actually didn't use this deck much. Our cabin clean and tidy although rather dark owing to the wood panelling. Although the bedding was modern the cabin seemed rather old and in need of a spruce up along with the bathroom. However the towels and toiletries were all in place. There was a kettle but you had to move it to plug it in as the fridge plug was not of a high enough voltage. The picture window had seen better days as well and we overlooked the lifeboat deck. However we didn't spend a lot of time in the cabin as there was plenty of other things to do.
We generally ate lunch and dinner in the Orion Restaurant on Deck 4 which was waiter service. We found the food pretty good and plenty of choice. Neither of us are keen on buffets. For the first few days it seemed quite quiet in there but over the course of the week I think more people discovered it was a more civilised way of eating especially in the evening and it got quite busy. The service was very good. On the AI drinks package you are served wine by the glass but as the waiters get to know you they come around quickly to replenish. Allan was particularly noted for this service. Sometimes we sat with people and other times we were on our own. We usually had breakfast in Sirens on Deck 11 which is a nice bright self-service buffet where you can sit outside if warm enough. I enjoyed the variety of fresh fruit and the omelette station.
Most evenings we spent in the Medusa Bar where there is a bar with stools around it. This was always a great way of meeting people and many a long evening was spent working our way through the cocktail menu laughing with new found friends. Once again great service. We didn't really visit the shows although they seemed quite popular. Some of the entertainment in the Medusa Lounge was quite entertaining though.
The weather was sunny but not that warm although very nice to sit around the pool area which can get quite noisy on Deck 11 from midday onwards with the band, quizzes, towel folding and cocktail demonstrations. All good fun but not restful. Sometimes it was a struggle to find sun loungers but normally right up on the top deck some were available and there was bar service up there too.
I enjoyed two cycling trips. Marcus the Star Bike Representative is a great tour leader and ensured everyone's safety. Barcelona was fabulous for cycling around and should I do another cruise I would ensure that cycling trips were available as it's a great way to see a place and meet other people as well.
Two trips we booked were cancelled. One owing to lack of people and the other was because we stopped at Ville Franche instead of St Raphael as the weather was forecast to be bad. However, Ville Franche was a very pleasant place to wander around and the weather was fantastic. We went to Pisa on our own on the train which was very easy and inexpensive. We were back on the boat for lunch.
We had one bad night of weather which a lot of people were concerned about. However, I slept right through it all and didn't notice a thing.
The captain was very entertaining with his little stories which become a must listen to every night just before you set sail.
One of the highlights of the trip was the Sail Away party on the first night. This was great fun and a good ice breaker.
We tried the speciality restaurant one night which made a nice change. That night it was a French theme and it was very nice.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the week. I found it great fun and met lots of interesting people. The service of all the crew is excellent without exception as they go the extra mile to help.
There were some instances of norovirus on the ship but generally the staff keep everything spotless and insist on everyone cleaning their hands before meals.
The AI drinks package was good value for us as we only paid £69.00. We found that there was no problem with choice of drinks and plenty of cocktails. They were using branded spirits as well. I found the wine very acceptable but I drink cheap wine at home anyway. The only thing I didn't like was the hot chocolate which was too sweet and not hot enough.
A great first time cruise and I have had to admit that I was wrong and this casual cruising is for me.