We sailed from Harwich UK but that is not in the list, so please excuse the Dover selection.
Due to bad weather the ship was late into the docks at Harwich which resulted in total chaos. We arrived at about 1200 hrs and were told to come back at 1300 hrs as they had not disembarked the last lot of passengers. When we arrived back there was a huge queue with one member of staff trying to direct 5 to 6 columns of traffic into 2 columns in alphabetical order, the result was total chaos, had this been done when we joined the columns rather then leaving it to just before the check in booths at the car park life would have been far easier!!
Once through the mayhem at the car park booths everything else with check in went smoothly, bags are left with porters prior to parking your car and a coach then takes you to the terminal where checking in is very easy and smooth. Just a word of warning the video camera recording the cruise for the cruise DVD is running in the terminal and a photo is taken before you get on board so be prepared to look your best!!
Our cabin was on the deck 3, was L shaped configuration beds, two wardrobes with hangers are supplied and room is adequate for a weeks stay, not sure if 2 weeks would be as much fun. The cabin was kept clean by Simona who was excellent and even made animals out of towels i.e Swan, rabbit and a crab which we found every night when we got back from the entertainment.
We ate in the Lido and the Compass Rose restaurants. Lido is very informal, choose your own table and can sit on your own, food is good and do an excellent afternoon tea with sandwhiches and cakes/biscuits. Compass Rose restaurant is more formal, smart casual no jeans, waiter service and can only get wine by the bottle unless you have the house wine which comes by the glass but is not great to drink! Waiter service and choice of food is excellent but be aware that you will be seated on tables with other people. We found this interesting as we got to talk to lots of different people and as this was our first cruise find out what other peoples experiences of cruises were and how this one compared to other companies and cruises.
The entertainment staff were excellent in relation to the Broadway lounge which is where all the shows were put on, prices for drink comparable to UK Pub prices (£2.50 for a pint and cocktail of the day £2.95). Wine by the bottle pricey most around the £17 to £19 bracket in the compass rose restaurant. Entertainment around the rest of the boat was good, classical trio in one area and Richard on the piano in the Raffles bar, there were quiz's in another area of the ship but only caught the tail end of these so can't really comment.
Fjordland Wonders Cruise - we missed Alesund due to bad weather on the trip out of Harwich and it taking 2 days to get to Norway so we went straight to Flam. The only downside to the whole trip was it rained constantly which apparently is not unusual for Norway, the guide even joked they only have 4 days a year where they would need air conditioning! So if you are going to Norway make sure you pack waterproof jackets, trousers and waterproof footwear(not just shower proof as it was torrential rain for most of the day and light rain for the rest of it, waterproof trousers would have helped a lot as our jeans were soaked!). If you are lucky to go on the 4 days that they have sun then your the lucky ones and if not you won't get drenched like we did.
Staff on board the Thomson Spirit made the trip, the waiters and bar staff try to entertain as much as the entertainment staff. Only downside for us was due to the weather being so poor it was hard to find somewhere on the ship away from the crowds and by the end of the week it felt very confined! Plus side is that if you are going on the ship in sunnier climbs you will have a great time, cabin immaculate, staff brillant, food good although sometimes not particularly hot and occasionally the meat and fish was overcooked.
This was our first cruise and we have decided that it is not for us as we prefer to do things on our own and explore and we found that a day in some of the places was not enough and some of the locations were limited on what you could do. In addition, we are fairly young and were told that the age range on this cruise would be more our age than older couples. Unfortunately this was not the case, however we had no problems chatting to the rest of the passengers and this did not cause too many problems to us but just to forewarn anyone else who has booked with Thomson after being told the same thing.
Disembarkation was a total mess again and we waited 2 hours to leave the ship and it took another hour and 10 minutes to get to our car in the car park after a lengthy wait to get a coach back to the car park.The Captains Gala Night was a slight joke as the Captain didn't turn up and we queued for about an hour had a photo taken, which we did buy a copy of and then had another photo taken with the staff captain, which we didn't buy!!!
Overall the cruise was good, staff excellent, what spoilt it was the embarkation and disembarkation. I would recommend this to others who wanted to go on a cruise, very chilled out, you don't need to dress up for dinner as you can go to the Lido if you want to, and its open 24 hours a day. I think Thomson are not sailing from the UK next year so the issues with Harwich may well be avoided!!!