We chose this ship following the reviews as this was our first cruise (the wife does not really like sailing but willing to try) & this being the most convenient way to see the area's listed at the time we were looking. Thomson Spirit sailed from Newcastle which was the nearest port for us, so relatively convenient to travel to / from for us (Albeit a reasonable distance). Our experience at the port was 'fair' - it seemed quite spread out & seemed not to flow particularly well enough - although there were plenty of staff directing us around, so nothing too onerous (certainly nothing to put you off).
The luggage drop off was ok & was seemingly quickly put onto the ship so when we went onboard, the luggage was awaiting us at the door of the cabin. Once inside, there was plenty of room for storeage with two double wardrobes, two chests of drawers & plenty of room for two large suitcases under the beds (room for 4 cases easily). The cabins were fine although I would have preferred a larger window - not a porthole (but that is what we paid for). The bathrooms were fairly roomy but with a shower curtain you had to dance with when using that made it a bit unpleasant. You can plug a razor in the bathroom & there was a hairdryer in the drawer by the dresser, so no particular problems there.
The ship itself is definitely wearing well & certainly a bit aged now! Plus it is not particularly large once you get used to the layout ... that is something we would look at for another cruise - a larger ship for the days at sea which become tiresome too quickly. Food was reasonable & plentiful. Trips were poorly arranged & the actual time at each venue was quite limited - so not something I would encourage. Hygiene was not an issue - there was plenty of hand washing & a staff member was constantly moping down the handrails & area's you would normally touch.
The 'evening shows' were actually very good. The quality of those singing & dancing was 1st class but you had best pop your self down in a decent seat about 45mins before the show begins as it fills up quite quickly & there is very little choice left if you come later. There are various quizes / chats at other times, but these were not to our fancy at all. There is a cinema showing good / up to date films, so that was nice too. A small shopping area which seemed to be fairly pricey compared to the places ashore!
There were 4 main bars. All priced 'reasonably well'. No need to book a pre-paid-drinking package as there are a number of varieties aboard if you want them, so you can pre-pay at any stage! Personally we were happy to pay for what we wanted (It is all billed to your cabin account so no money needed on board - just register a card as part of your boarding procedures).
As someone previously said, the compass bar was worth a visit as it sits up front / up high on the ship, so enables you to view ahead ... but not something you would want to see in bad weather methinks! In any case, once you view this for half an hour, you have seen it. There is nothing to see when at sea unless you like to view water! Just an indoor place to see on arrival & departure at ports. Or if the weather is fine (as it was on our cruise, use the boardwalks). There are live singers - small bands - in these bars at various times, so you can be fairly decently 'entertained' at just about any time. The staff are very friendly but a bit too persistent at times when you just want to sit down & read a book or something.
As a negative - I would NOT buy any of the 10,000 'Lottery raffle tickets' that are constantly being sold. They are like a lottery ticket whereby you chose a set of numbers ... these numbers are drawn at MIDNIGHT on the last night of the cruise. If you are not able (or particularly willing to stay up this late on the last night as a lot of folk have a long journey ahead the next day) to be around the casino at Midnight on this last night, then you may as well just throw your money away ... there was nothing said the next morning on the tannoy system (which constantly gave info about disembarkation) & nothing in the casino which is closed in the mornings! Plus I am advised there is no record kept of the numbers & so, even if you had ALL numbers correct but disembarked (as you must) ... you could NOT claim as you had now disembarked!! A bit of a con I feel & a definite negative here. Why Thomson's cannot show the numbers on their website after the cruise I don't know (They merely refer you to the terms & conditions -which are not printed on the tickets- that are apparently shown in the casino itself). So, be warned about this aspect of the cruise.
Would we go again ... possibly. But definitely not on the Thomson line as their ships are not big enough & the shore trips were not good enough / long enough for the cost involved.