This was our first cruise, Thomson's being recommended to us.
Because we live quite close to Harwich International we decided to use the train, upon arrival it is a 4 minute walk to the cruise terminal (if you go by car, follow the signs to port, drop off luggage, park car and then it's a coach transfer to terminal). Here you drop off your luggage and pick up your boarding cards (these are also used for all spending on board, although the casino accepts cash). Then you check in. At this point your passports are checked and your credit or debit card are registered along with your boarding card as well as your picture taken. Next it's through customs and on board.
We fell in love with the Spirit almost immediately, she's not the newest or flashiest, but she has character and she was our home from home.
Life jacket drill takes place about 30 mins before sailing so check your muster point so this goes smoothly!
All staff were outstanding and a special thanks goes to our housekeepers Valentina and Alla who kept our cabin spotless twice a day.
Food was excellent, we ate in all three restaurants (there's a surcharge in Sirrocco's and booking at reception required) and enjoyed them all.
On board entertainment is unmissable, from the afternoon plays to the evening shows. We also watched two lectures which were very informative.
We pre booked only one excursion, this being the Flam Railway following a recommendation. Unfortunately, due to a fire in one of the main road tunnels this was cancelled so we went on a walk around Flam instead. The cost of this trip was automatically refunded.
There is an excursion showcase which gives a brief outline of what you can book for each port, so we opted to watch this before deciding what else to do. Stavanger and Bergen are easy to walk around yourself and within minutes of the ship so I would suggest getting some information off the net before going and decide whether its worth the excursion expense.
Geiranger is just beautiful so have your cameras ready. We booked a tour for this stop as we couldn't resist the coach trip up along 11 hairpin bends to the viewpoint :-)).
Personally, I would recommend taking a look in at the Casino. Some great nights here with good company (Mark & Debs, hope you're both well) and being looked after by Angel, Jackie and Nelma.
Now for some, I hope, helpful tips.
Remember the European adapter plug.
Television only has a few basic channels which are often lost in the fjords.
The lido restaurant has free tea and coffee 24/7 which you can take away.
A pint of beer in Norway is 10 and coffee not much less. A small bag of peanuts was 5.40!!
There are laundry rooms about the ship. You need a token from reception for the washing machine but the dryers are free. Irons are within the laundry room along with ironing boards also free.
Basic place maps are available from reception the night before port reached.
If you don't fancy sitting with others in the restaurants just ask for a table for two, its not a problem.
Tap water is available with meals just ask for it.
It tends to rain a lot, take some wet gear with you just in case!
A suit is fine for the gala night, but if you fancy the full bow tie and tuxedo...go for it.
You can drink the water in the cabins but it is chlorinated (we took our own supply of bottled water as its not cheap to buy on board).
Clocks go forward an hour when at sea.
So, would I have another cruise on the Thomson Spirit? ABSOLUTELY, I'm already looking for my next one.
Have a great cruise!