We booked our holiday with our local Thomson agent who we have been with for some years, and we were treated, as always with complete professionalism at all times. We decided to book a taxi transfer as it offers more comfort than the transfer coach but we were actually picked up from the airport in a shaky old ‘mini-bus’. This did not bode well but on arrival at the hotel all was well and we had an enjoyable stay at the Gran Tinerf Hotel, the only downside to our two weeks was the awful entertainment which was definitely geared towards to the average of age of around 80. That said the food was good, fresh with plenty of choice.
On leaving the hotel we spoke with the Thomson Representative who informed us that the ship was undergoing ‘deep cleaning’ and that we should be pleased to be embarking on a ‘super clean’ ship. What he failed to mention was that the ship was being ‘medically cleaned’ due to an outbreak of the Norovirus. At this point I believe we should have been given the option of not going on the cruise, as the virus was still prevalent. We were again collected by a very old and worn out ‘mini-bus’ and the driver needed to stop at the airport to fill up with diesel, however she only actually put under a litre of diesel in the tank, so we were a little confused as to why the stop was necessary. When we did get to the port at 13.00 hrs. and were told that we would not be able to go on-board until after 16.oohrs. this left us with nothing to do on a very cold and windy day. If we had been informed of the problem we could have stayed in the resort where we had the comfort of the hotel, but instead we had to get a taxi into Santa Cruz and hang around in the cold (and then it started to rain) for 3 hours; my husband was suffering with a sprained ankle at this time and found walking extremely painful, it was a very long 3 hours.
When we were finally allowed on-board we were shown to our Suite No 123, first impressions were good, well laid out with plenty of space, but the brown sofa area had been darned with a red material, not the standard that we were expecting and underneath the dressing table area we found a plastic label from a pair of shoes, considering the ship had meant to be ‘deep cleaned’ this was somewhat disconcerting. When we sat on either the bed or the sofa there was a constant vibration, which made sleep uncomfortable. The ipod docker did not work, this was reported to the reception but was not fixed for the duration of our cruise and the TV choice was poor quality consisting of 2 news channels and 3 (repeated) films per day.
We went to Hemingway’s bar only to find that water was considered to be a ‘premium’ drink and considering that we had paid almost £400 for the drinks package for the week we found this to be inexcusable. We were told that some guests had had the drinks package included and some had paid just £69, we are loyal Thomson customers and this was a tremendous disappointment, we were very annoyed and felt that Thomson were just ‘ripping us off’. I would question the ‘drinks policy’ considering, for example, there was not a charge for Bombay Sapphire Gin and yet there was a supplement for a glass of cheap Cava. We honestly feel that we were duped and perhaps you should allow customers to see the additional charges before they purchase a drinks package and it was not value for money. Overall the drinks service was really slow and more often than not we had to go to the bar to get a drink and then the staff seemed to ignore you for a while before serving. On the day we left the ship there was one member of staff in Hemmingway’s Bar and he was very rude when I tried to order coffee.
The Dining Room was not altogether clean and many nights the table cloth was stained, if we asked to be seated on our own as opposed to sharing a table with strangers we were treated with disdain. The food was extremely disappointing and we had the need to send food back that was tasteless and burnt. The overall atmosphere in the Dining Room was not conducive to the ‘platinum’ experience that we were expecting but more associated to that of a cheap 3 star Butlins type of experience. The Lido Buffet was more likened to that of a staff canteen than that of a Platinum Cruise Ship, plastic trays, limited choice and low quality recycled food.
You were encouraged to sanitize your hands in many places throughout the ship and the one place where one would have expected some crew presence in the toilets was sadly missing as many guests failed to wash their hands after using the facilities. Although members of staff were constantly wiping tables and mopping floors we never saw them actually rinse the cloths in hot soapy water and the mops were very dirty looking. There were further outbreaks of the Norovirus and at one point we were seated in the Dining Room with a couple who had just been released from their quarantine of 3 days, this was most uncomfortable, and I feel they should have been seated on their own and whether or not this is related, I suffered for a day and a half with violent sickness and was not sure whether this was a ‘bug’ or sea sickness.
The dress code on-board was not enforced and generally many people were inappropriately dressed for the bars and dining areas, even on the Captain’s Night there were some guests in jeans! This was not the type of experience that one would expect from a ‘Platinum’ Cruise so if Thomson personnel are not going to enforce any dress code then this again lowers the standard of the experience. In my opinion this ‘formal night’ was to be the highlight of the cruise and I was left extremely disappointed, I would be hard pressed to give it a 3 star rating. The entertainment was generally abysmal with the exception of one night, and the overall theme of the entertainment would be more suited to a ‘Butlins’ style holidays not a Platinum Cruise Ship.
The trip to Agadir was cancelled because of bad weather but we found out later that two other cruise ships had in fact visited the port after leaving the same port as us, questionable to say the least since everything else on this trip was geared to penny pinching. We were assured that the refund for our shore trip would be automatically credited to the debit card to which it was originally charged, it is now February 5th and the money is still to be refunded.
The ship itself is tired and badly in need of either refurbishment or decommission. The Jacuzzi pool next to the adults’ only pool was covered with netting for the entire trip. The on-board gym was adequate but I was very surprised that there were additional charges for the Pilates and yoga sessions; I have never encountered such extra charges before.
On leaving the ship we were again collected in an old, tatty and dirty ‘minibus’ and not a private taxi for the shaky ride back to the airport. We had paid extra for seats with legroom (12D and 12E) on flight TOM6551 and we were freezing for the entire flight, we asked the stewardess if she could ask the Captain to turn the heating up and she explained that this was an old aircraft and if the heating was turned up so we would be comfortable then passengers at the rear of the plane would have been fainting. The members of the flight crew were extremely helpful and could not apologise enough, notwithstanding we were still freezing for the entire flight back to Bristol.
I received a telephone call from Thomson yesterday 24.02.14) basically saying how sorry they are for our bad experience but they had not received any other complaints and the outcome of the on board survey was, in their opinion, satisfactory, so they are not prepared to do anything about it. Service or what? Perhaps they have become too big and do not really care about customer satisfaction anymore! Thomson cruise in the future – I think not!!!!!