Sailed on the Spirit before and loved it. This Baltic tour lived up to its expectations for scenery and ports of call and the entertainment was first class. Richard has a great team and offers a really diverse programme, but this is a ship that is in need of an upgrade. It took 3hrs to park the car at Harwich it was complete chaos and no apology offered, not even a calming drink. The ship is spotlessly clean but its tired with frayed carpets on the stairs.
The drinks package is for those who consume very large quantities (e.g. the beer package is 75 cans over 14 days) and is simply over priced as are all the drinks on board. This never used to be the case but for tax and duty free drinks to be more expensive than in a UK pub they do appear to have become a little greedy. A very small glass of house wine (125ml) is now £4.40 and the cheapest beer £3.90. For tax free drink this is exploitation. The food was edible and enjoyable but rather plain. I had broccoli and carrots as the accompanying veg for 12 consecutive nights. Very nicely cooked but there used to be more variety.
We saw the captain on formal nights and he gave us a weather forecast every day but for the rest of the time he was invisible unlike previous tours when he was seen on deck every day. Embarkation was well organised but they encourage the use of the shuttle bus to town. Thomson appear to dock away from the centre as we always seemed to pass other cruise boats on our way to town. They also fail to tell you the the local bus or tram availability which was often just outside the dock gates. The shuttle ( at least £6) was often an expensive alternative. The contrast between this and our previous trip is marked and while I enjoyed the experience the value for money equation has changed. The initial purchase price looks good but add the cost of tours and the drinks bill and other cruise lines now offer better value and have newer boats. Perhaps Thomson could calm its corporate greed and adjust its on board prices which were one of the main talking points with travellers, everyone thought they had just pushed drinks prices up too far.