OK, but not Platinum: Thomson Dream Cruise Review by eyecon
Overall Member Rating
OK, but not Platinum
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
First impressions of the ship were good - still in quite good shape considering its age, and (like the Spirit and Celebration)still hosting many of the features of its time as an upmarket Holland America ship, including some outstanding Dutch paintings and objets from the East Indies. Cabin was good, fairly spacious and well equipped; but the standard cheap Thomson toiletries and rough old towels begged the question as to what "Platinum" actually meant. New curtains? New sheets? That's just routine renewal, surely.
Our expectation that "Platinum" might be reflected in the food also turned out to be unfulfilled. We usually prefer the buffet generally, but ate in all the restaurants. Standard Thomson fare, though dumbed down from More the standards we recall on the other ships in earlier years, with fancy(ish) presentation attempting to mask basic bad cooking standards and cheap ingredients. Puddings unrecognisable, cold meats of the worst possible standards, no fruit selection or cheese in the evening or lunch buffets (unless you made a special request; the crew member disappeared and returned with a shrivelled orange which had been chilled into oblivion); vile custard. Little better in the main restaurant, but the speciality restaurant did achieve better food standards. The fact that the buffets were not self-service (said to be for noro-virus reasons although there was none on the ship that we knew about), plus the complete lack of table linen even at dinner (paper napkins that would have disgraced a kitchen roll) made the whole buffet experience irritating and disappointing, and not at all Platinum.
Lastly, and most surprisingly considering Thomson's reputation and our experience on the other ships, we detected a surliness and lack of engagement among the bar and restaurant service staff (though not our cabin steward who was excellent). Staff in the buffets seemed to resent being asked for food; we were not once approached to ask if we wanted a drink with a meal; coffee served cold; long wait to order drinks in a bar while the waitperson was gossiping. We learned that our perception reflected a real lack of morale - and presumably leadership - among these crew; a situation not found on the Louis Cruises' chartered ships we had been on (Destiny, Spirit).
Having said all that, we still enjoyed the week aboard the Dream, just not as much as we were expecting. Less
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