Friday 25 October
Late afternoon flight from Malaga to Palma. Spent the night at the excellent - although only 2 star rated - Hotel Horizonte where our balciony looked right onto the berthing spot of the Dream. We were up early on Saturday morning and saw the ship sail in which was a lovely sight and really got us into the holiday mood. Would highly recommend this hotel for anyone wanting to spend the night in Palma before sailing.
Saturday 26 October
After a leisurely breakfast the hotel called us a taxi to take us down to the cruise terminal. 5 minute journey with a fare of just 7 Euros. We arrived at the cruise terminal at 10.15 and were just beaten by the first coach load from the airport! Check-In was quick and easy and we were on board and in our cabin by just gone 10.30 a.m. Our luggage arrived within the hour and we were able to use our A.I. facility as soon as we boarded. We had a lazy day on board with lunch in the Orion restaurant then, after an early dinner again in the Orion, we had the Safety Drill that seemed much better organised than last year. We went up to deck 11 for the ´Sailway Party´ but decided that it would be more peaceful to watch us leave port from deck 9; a glorious evening weatherwise and a lovely way to start the cruise. After a relaxing Hot Chocolate - we are NOT party owls!!! - we returned to the cabin and, after enjoying our pillow top chocolates, had a wonderful nights sleep on the most comfortable beds we have experienced for a long time. Just before going to sleep we read the ´Cruise News´ where I was astonished to se that my husband had arranged for a Birthday greeting to be inserted for the following day!!!
Sunday 27 October
My 54th Birthday - and what a lovely way to spend it!
This was our full day at sea and, after lunch, we joined up with fellow CruiseCritic members in the Argo Loungs - we had an extremely pleasant couple of hours with them before my husband, who has serious health issues, had to retire for an afternoon sleep. We were booked in for the second sitting of the Captains Reception and Dinner so had plenty of time to get glammed up. We queued to pose for piccies with Captain Maynard - who was Staff Captain when we were on the Dream last year - as I have lost a lot of weight this year and fancied some ´new me´ photos; we also had some formal shots taken of just the 2 of us and a further photo was taken of us in the restaurant later that evening. All in all, a lovely day.
Monday 28 October
Our first port of call was Trapani in Sicily. After breakfast in the Orion we went ashore and took the Open Topped Bus tour that you book in the cruise terminal - fare 12€ per person. To be honest, we didn´t think much of the tour and anticipated returning to the ship when it finished as it made Trapani seem very uninteresting. However, as we got off the bus, we saw a sign for the Historic Centre and, following this, found ourselves in a maze of streets not accessible by bus. We enjoyed a leisurely coffee and Amaretto before visiting a stunning Church and doing some essential Pasta + Herb shopping before returning to the ship for lunch.
Tuesday 29 October
Sorrento. This was the day we had really been looking forward to as we had pre-booked the Amalfi Coast tour. As we had an early departure we had Breakfast in the Lido restaurant where the buffet was excellent but the queue extremely slow moving and finding an empty table difficult. At 7.30 we assembled in the Medusa Lounge where we were told which staircase to take to our Tender station. We were on the first tender and, once ashore, were quickly directed to our shuttle bus that took us up to Sorrento main coach park where our bus was waiting. The journey along the coast was absolutley spectacular and we had a couple of brief photo stops before descending into Amalfi. The guide then told us that there was little to see in Amalfi and, as we had a 3 hour stop there, we would be best advised to follow her onto one of the local pleasure boats. Hating to be ferried around like this we decided to do our own tour of Amalfi and found more than enough to occupy us for the 3 hours. The trip returned to the ship via the Milky Mountains - altogether a wonderful day out.
Wednesday 30 October
Civitavecchia today - and the majority of passengers were off to Rome. Due to Hubbys health isues we decided to stay in Civitavecchia and went ashore once all the excursion guests had disembarked. We took the free shuttle bus into town where it took us no more than an hour to see everything (only interesting place we found was the market); we then took the shuttle bus back to the ship (30 minute wait for a bus) and enjoyed a relaxing day on board - as most guests were on trips it felt as though we had the ship to ourselves. Due to the few people on board the Orion was closed at lunchtime so we had the buffet lunch at the Lido - lovely food but very slow drinks service.
Thursday 31 October
Another tender port - Calvi in northern Corsica and what a gem it was! We were on one of the first tenders and I started by climbing the Citadel that was an amazing area with stunning views; Hubby relaxed and waited for me at the bottom of the hill. We then wandered int the main town and enjoyed a leisurely Coffee and Brandy at a back street Cafe before looking at the Church and boats moored in the Marina. We returned to the boat by 1 p.m. just in time for lunch.
Friday 1 November
Our last full day - Palamos on the Costa Brava - and another much anticipated excursion to three Mediaeval Villages with a lovely little ´train´ trbypassing the Rice fields. All three villages were spectacular and the trip really memorable; highly recommended.
Saturday 2 November
As the ship was re-positioning for a weeks overhaul, all passengers had to be off by 09.30. We were ashore by 09.15 and got a taxi to our Majorcan hotel whee we spent the following 7 days.
Apart from one breakfast and one lunch we ate in the Orion each mealtime. ¨We had different tables at each meal but never had to share. We thought generally the food was better than last year and service was slick and professional.
We booked the cheapest option - deck 4/5 inside cabin - but did pay to pre-book a quiet cabin; thank you so much Geomagot for your help in deciding which to book. We had fellow passengers on one side - never heard a murmer from them - and the Stewards locker room was on our left with no noise from there either. 2 doors away was a staircase/lifts - quick access to upper decks but no direct access to deck 4 (Orion Restaurant and gang plank). Plenty of storage space in the cabin - bathroom no different from the pre-Platinum days of last year so glad we took our pegs to secure the shower curtain again! Cabin kept spotlessly clean; chocolates on pillow every night but no towel animals this year. We will definitely book this cabin again and can highly recommend it to anyone wanting peace and quiet with no engine motion.
First class! I have just read a recent review on here from someone who compared the entertainment to Butlins - well either Butlins have wonderful shows or they were not on the same ship as us!!! We say 6 shows of which 4 - We will Rock You (Queen tribute), Dance Dance Dance, Man in the Mirror (Michael jackson tribute) and the Cabaret/Chicago/Les Miserables show were superb; we also thoroughly enjoyed the guest Comedian /´Magician´ André. We didn´t overrate the Songs of New York production but that may be just due to personal taste. Bram was a first rate CD.
What can you say? The hardest working, most pleasant bunch of people you will find anywhere who go out of their way to make your holiday special. Our thoughts, prayers and blessings are with them all at this terrible time for their country.
A fantastic week. All I have to do now is persuade Hubby to let me book the next Thomson cruise!!!