We had an early 6.40am flight from Glasgow. There was no queue at check-in and we boarded the plane and took off on time. The staff on the flight were very nice and the pilot made regular announcements about the weather and flight path to Corfu. When we came in to land he even told us that we would be banking left then right for our approach into Corfu. One person in our party is a nervous flyer and found this information very helpful in calming them as they knew to expect the plane to turn. We booked the meal on the flight and it was perfectly edible, as good as airline food can get really!
When we arrived at Corfu airport there was alot of other Thomson flights arriving at the same time and the queue for the bus transfer to the port was HUGE and we thought that we would be waiting ages before we could get a bus. Thankfully we only had to wait around 15mins, so don't be dismayed if you see a long queue at the airport - Thomson were very efficient at getting us all on buses. The check-in at the port was very quick, there was no queue and we were checked in and on our way to the ship within 10mins of arriving. The ship itself is docked a few mins walk from the terminal building, so you can either walk or get the shuttle bus provided.
Disembarkation was straight forward - you are given a coloured luggage tag which corresponds to the time you leave the ship, and you have to put your suitcase outside your cabin before 2am. From there it gets collected and lined up outside the ship. No announcements are made to tell you when to leave the ship, you are given a time the day before and it's up to you to be off at the correct time. We were able to walk straight off the ship, collect our cases and get the shuttle bus very quickly - whole thing took no more than 10minutes.
We were in an outside cabin on deck 3 and there was 3 adults sharing the same cabin. The cabin can accommodate 4 people, with two single beds on the ground, and two pull down bunk beds. We found the space to be adequate, and because there were only three of us in a four berth cabin we had an extra wardrobe that we could use! Coat hangers were a bit scarce even with the extra wardrobe, and we needed to bring some from home. One minor complaint was that our air conditioning unit didn't seem to work very well. No matter how high we turned the dial it was still cold air that came out. This wouldn't have been a problem had we been cruising mid-summer, but at the end of October it was a bit too cool for our liking.
We tended to eat breakfast and lunch in the Lido buffet restaurant and dinner in the Compass Rose dining room. There was plenty of choice at the buffet, and although the food tended to be warm rather than hot it was still very nice. The food in the dining room at night was exceptionally good. There was always plenty of choice and there was always one fish, chicken, meat and vegetarian option for the main meal. The dining room waiters are absolutely brilliant - we sat at Henry and Jerry's table every night, and we were very surprised that Henry even remembered us from a previous cruise we had taken over one and a half years earlier! I wish I had a memory that good! Despite how busy they were they always took the time to ask you about your day, and I really can't praise them highly enough for their attention to detail, professionalism and friendliness.
The show team was fantastic this year. Led by the lovely cruise director Ray Bauer, they put on a different show every night. The Moulin Rouge night deserves a special mention - the best show of the cruise in my opinion. Other special mentions should go to Topmen - a fantastic band who played a wide variety of music, and also to the classical group (whose name I can't remember!) who played some lovely relaxing music in the Explorers lounge every evening.
It was rather unfortunate that we were in this port on a Sunday as almost all of the shops were shut. The ship docks just a 5/10minute walk from the town centre so it's easy to reach. The town itself is lovely, it's a nice place to walk around. We went up the church clock tower which cost about 2 Euros, it's a fair climb up but the views were worth it - Word of warning it's best not to be up the top when the bell chimes on the hour as it can be rather loud!
When I imagined being in Venice I never in a million years imagined it the way that it was! For a start it was very windy and very wet. We were warned the night before that the weather was going to be bad, and that some flooding was expected - I didn't realise this meant the whole of the Piazza San Marco, the streets along from the Rialto Bridge, and lots of other smaller little streets where some of the poor shops had to close because of the flooding. We were on the Venice on your own full day excursion - so we were taken by water taxi from the port to the Bridge of Sighs. The full day excursion gives you around 6 hours in Venice - which would have been perfect if the weather had been on our side. But by the end of the day we just wanted back into the warm dry ship!
Unfortunately the weather deteriorated so much in Venice the Port Authorities closed the port so we were over 5 hours late in leaving. Then, because we were supposed to tender in Korcula the decision was made to miss the port and head straight for Dubrovnik. Whilst this was a disappointment most people accepted the situation and made the most of an unexpected extra day at sea!
The port itself is about 45min-1hour walk from the old town, but you can get a taxi for 10 Euros or a local bus. If you are planning on getting the bus they will only accept payment of Croatian Kuna, but shops and cafes will all accept the Euro. Dubrovnik itself is a beautiful city, it's a great place to just wander round, although even in October it was very busy with tourists, so I can imagine the summer would be even worse. It's worth taking a trip to the Defenders of Dubrovnik Memorial Museum, which gives you an insight into the War in Dubrovnik - it's only a small room but worth seeing. Sadly it was windy this day too so the cable car wasn't running to the top of the hill, had it been working we definitely would have done this.
A beautiful little town nestled in Europe's most southern fjord. The scenery is stunning and the people are very friendly. There are alot of shops hidden in the maze of old streets - if you're in to fashion you will find plenty of shops here for clothes and shoes! If you're feeling particularly active you can climb the hill behind Kotor up to the Fortress, I think it cost about 2 Euros but be aware that it is a big climb. Sadly I didn't do it as I didn't have appropriate footwear with me, you really do need grippy shoes, but the views must have been spectacular from the top so I was disappointed not to be able to do it. Try to be on deck as you sail away from Kotor if you want to see some fantastic scenery, or you could get up at 5am to watch the sail in!
The Thomson Spirit may not be new, fancy or packed full of amenities, but it has a home-from-home charm about it that people love. But the reason people go back on the Spirit time and time again is the staff. They really do go out of their way to make your holiday special and nothing is too much trouble for them. If you're thinking of doing this itinerary next year then do be aware that the weather in October can be hit or miss. Out of our 7 days we had 4 good days and 3 not so good, but this certainly didn't affect how great the holiday was. So would I go on the Spirit again? You bet I would - in fact I've already booked up to go back on the Spirit on the Pearls of the Aegean itinerary next July and I can't wait!