We booked this week long cruise on the Spirit way way back around April 2009! The mother-in-law wanted to go and we decided that since 2010 would be her 60th birthday and my dads 70th birthday the whole family would go. So there was me n the other half, my mum & dad, the mother-in-law and her hubby and my brother-in-law and his wife. Eight in total all though it was all booked independently. We booked through Thomsons by phone after shopping around and getting the cheapest price. Eventually our trip came round and we travelled down to Glasgow for our flight out. We had an early morning flight out at 0640 due to arrive in Corfu at 1215. We flew Thomson Airways and had no problems with the flight even arriving 15 minutes early. There was some confussion at the baggage belts. No one could tell us what belt our luggage would appear at. Then the luggage appeared on both belts! While waiting for the luggage Thomsons reps were in the reclaim hall with envelopes that contained your boarding card and boarding information. After about 20 mins the baggage appeared and once collected we went through into arrivals where we were guided to the queue for the cruise coach. This was outside and stretched the whole length of the terminal building in the baking heat! This was a really bad situation. Long queues for the cruise coach at the airport appear to be the norm for Thomsons. (We cruised with Thomsons before and the queue then was very long!) So we did what we did that time and paid for a taxi to the port. The taxi cost €15 and took just over 10 minutes. I do not know how long the queue for the coach at the airport took but I assume it would have taken us between 1 to 2 hours. Our feeling was why wait for hours in baking heat when you can be on board eating & drinking for free!! (we had the all-inclusive package included free) We arrived on the ship at about 1300 and were taken to our cabin by a member of staff and our baggage arrived within 30 minutes. We booked an outside deck 1/2 cabin and we were in cabin 658 on deck 2. This was mid-ship, in my opinion midships is the best position. Our only gripe with the position was that it was right next to the doors used when embarking/disembarking at each port and there was noise when they were setting up the gangway etc.
Ours was a good size. They I believe are bigger than comparable cabins on The Destiny. The beds were laid out in an L-shape style. There was a makeup desk with mirror above, three large drawers chair on one side on the other there was a smaller chest of drawers. there are table lights as well as individual reading lights and ceiling lights also. There is a TV with limited channels and a telephone which can be used for ship to shore calls or just for calling a different cabin or reception. There were two wardrobes with plenty hanging space and space below to stow your luggage. The life jackets are stowed in one of the wardrobes. The bathroom is small. There is surprisingly plenty storage space both on the surface by the sink and in the mirrored cupboard. The toilet works on a vaccum system and is noisy. This is the first cruise on which I have had any problem with the toilet. On both times it was fixed quickly and efficiently. The shower is triangular and has a shower curtain. The water was always hot and could be controlled easily. The shower curtain could be a pain either following you around the cubicle and sticking to you or flapping about and letting water out into the bathroom floor. You get two bath towels. two hand towels and a bath matt which are, if you wish, changed twice daily. Also in your cabin you get "orangey" coloured towels that are your pool towels. These are changed every day. Each cabin has a steward or in our case two. When you go out for breakfast the cabins are generally made up by the time you come back; beds made bathroom cleaned and cabin tidied. Then again when you go out for dinner your beds are turned down with a chocolate on your pillow and sometimes a towel animal on your bed.
Compass Rose Restaurant
This is the main restaurant on this ship. For breakfast i a choice of waiter service or buffet service. At lunch and dinner it is waiter service. Breakfast offers all the usual fare; continental through to full english, panckakes maple syrup the works! Lunch is three courses with wine/drinks. Dinner is more formal (only 1 proper formal night) still smart/casual no shorts or vest type tops. There are six courses with a wide range of choice for all tastes. (my dad is a very fussy eater and he always found something to his taste) Again plenty of wine/drink available. The Compass Rose does not have set dining. It has open dining and you dine when you want. We usually went about 1830 when it opened and never had a problem getting our usual waiting staff. Although when we left around 2000 there was always a long queue to get in. We found the food was good always plenty choice and you could always take say a pasta dish and ask for it as your starter and it would come starter sized. The service in the restaurant is FANTASTIC they cannot do enough for you. They know you by name and use it all the time, even if they have time off and see you walking about in a port. I was Sir Grant and my mum was mum Helen my dad being Scottish was Jimmy and they would try to speak Scotttish saying "hoots mon" "Och aye" and such like.
This is the alternative to The Compass Rose. it serves buffet style 24/7 breakfast starts at 7am straight through to lunch, then afternoon tea. For dinner you get table clothes and cloth napkins. from 2330 through till 7 there are midnight snacks. The service here is still great though not as personal. The dress code is very simple; cover up when inside. There is also a poolside cafe serving pizza, hotdogs, chips and such like from about 1100 to 1600 .
There are five bars on board all with there own entertainment. I can't remember most of the performers. However two do stick in my mind. Firstly there is Topmen they perform on Lido deck in the afternoon and in HIgh Jinks in the evening. They are very good they sing everything from golden oldies to more upto date tunes. Secondly there is Gayle in Raffles bar. She plays the piano and sings and will take requests. Again she is very good and a friendly chatty person from the USA.
Broadway Show Bar
This is the place to be to see top notch high quality West End style shows. The Thomsons show team put on an excelllent show. I could not begin to describe how good the show is. You have to see them to believe them. You will see numerous reviews on here about the shows I really don't need to go on...do I? The first show starts at 2045 and is repeated at 2230. Every week there is a guest comedian we had Phil Doyle. Unfortunately I think they bring the standard down a little. Maybe it is my age. I might be a but too young or sophisticated for the comedian (I have yet to find a really funny comedian on a cruise ship) The other passengers did find him funny and did laugh loudly at his humour but most were as old as his jokes! That apart he did have some jokes I laughed at.
Like all other cruise ships there is a casino on borad (open only when at sea). This I found to be quite small and on this trip quite quiet. Maybe it's a sign of the times. It adjoins the Raffles Bar. I did have a flutter but lady luck did not shine on me this time.
Shops on Board
There are a few shops (open when at sea) they sold cigarettes, perfume, jewellery, some clothes and company branded gifts.
Manned 24/7. Only had to use a couple of times and the problems were sorted out quickly and without any fuss, but then I always find being nice helps.
There is also a library/reading room/card room. Internet access. Ocean Spa with treatments at extra cost and Oceans gym. There is also a cinema on board and a night club. For the children there is Kidzone to keep the little darlings occupied. There are photographers all around the ship taking pictures at every opportunity. These are available to buy and are displayed at the photography area There is no hard sell and if you don't want them then don't buy. There is also a videographer going about and there is a video available to buy if you wish.
There are two pools on the ship one on deck 5 with a paddling pool the other is on deck 8 with a jacuzzi. They are both quite small and might get taken over with children in the height of summer but in September when they are supposed to be in school it was fine. There is only one deck that goes right around the ship, promenade deck 6, five times round this equals 1 mile!
This is a smaller ship than The Destiny although there is a cinema and night club extra. I found the ship to be a bit tired in places. However the ship was always spotlessly clean. There are hand sanitisers as you board the ship and at each entrance to the restaurants and the staff remind you to use them. The public toilets were always clean with plenty soap, toilet paper and paper towels. I found the ship to be very stable. for the first few days I couldn't even tell we were moving. One night we were warned that it would be choppy and there were plenty sick bags placed around the ship. You certainly know you were at sea that evening! But it was fun staggering about as if you were drunk!....thinking about it maybe I was!! That all-inclusive package is G-R-E-A-T especially if you get it free! The ship is cashless and everything is charged to your cabin. Remember that as you can forget how quick it mounts up. Excursions, photos, drinks, casino, spa treatments and shop purchases.
Ports of call
Fly to Corfu - Day at sea - Piraeus (Athens) - Santorini - Mamaris - Aghios Nikolaos - Agostoli - Corfu Fly home.
Highlight of the ports - riding a donkey up the hill from the port to the centre of Santorini just €5 for 20 minutes. Or pay €4 and take the cable car. DO NOT attempt to walk up the hill. I walked down and it nearly killed me. Also you have all the donkeys and donkey dirt to avoid!
My biggest disappointment is that they no longer have a Gala Midnight Buffet and have not for about 3 years. That is a big black mark for me as the buffets were a major part of a cruise a cruise tradition and a major part of the cruise for me.
Would I book again?
Yes, with Thomson Cruises. My first choice would be on The Destiny but would consider this ship, The Spirit, if the itinary was right or perhaps the price was good.
I hope this review helps. I have not reviewed the ports as I just want to review the ship. We only went on the one excursion for Athens and was a little disappointed with Athens so that scores lower.