The ports of call are not attractive and I do not recommend this as a first cruise, we were very disappointed that it was not easy to get off the ship and explore on our own. This is a cruise for people who plan to get off the ship on Thomson Excursions to Luxor and Cairo and not a itinerary for those who want to try out cruising for the first time just to be on the ship for the experience.
The ports are scruffy and very industrial, Only Agaba was the close to being a nice place to berth, the last port at safga is next to a cement factory and we were berthed that close we could of crossed over and started work. We had this view for 2 days However these are the nearest ports to do the tours of cario and luxor unless you cruise the Nile. Thomson do need to advise you in there info that you cannot walk on some of these ports, nor can taxi's come into the ports, so you are stuck unless you use their transport or excursions
The pools are small, the sunbeds are very close to each other and when at sea, a seat was very hard to find, never mind a sunbed,people were saving the benches & chairs with their towels!!! folks do save sunbeds with towels from early morning and because the sun is usually only on one side of the ship it can get busy on the top decks, but there is no shade on the top deck..so if one of your party is a sunlover and one needs the shade, there is not a happy medium and you end up sunbathing in different places
Because thomson sell the All Inclusive drinks package from rates of £49 per person to £160 per person there is alot of choice of branded drinks on offer on the all inclusive,
The problem is that EVERYONE has to use the boarding card to order a drink, the waiter takes your card, takes your order and then disappears for up to 20 mins...you cannot get up and walk to another bar because without your boarding card you cannot get a drink. This spoilt our enjoyment of this service and don't ask for a latte in Liberties, the bar staff do not want to serve you this, even though the machine is next to them, I had my boarding card thrown at me to sign a few times for daring to ask for a latte.
The problem is that the drinks waiters do not just take your order, go and get it and bring it back. they walk around taking lots of orders, so if you ordered first, you can be waiting for a long time to get your drink because the waiter than has to go and get All the drinks, print out the receipts that match the cards, bring the drink, you have to sign for the drink and they hand you your card back...
This system slows the service down and creates frustration.. we often ordered our drinks when we sat down in the restaurant to have them delivered by the time we had our sweet...in the end we admitted defeat and went to the bar ourselves and took our drinks to our table and then got up and went to the bar if we needed another one inbetween courses
On the last day in safaga the crew decided they would paint the ship so moved some of the sunbeds on deck 6 at 9am - you just got yourself comfy when another crew member came and said they were closing Deck 6 for a drill at 10am - which actually began at 10.40am..by which time they cleared the sunbeds into stacks including the guests belongings in between each bed...this went on until around 12pm, by which half the ship were waiting to get a bed in the sun...so I had no chance of regaining my sunbed and ended up sitting in the shade all day.
On the same day, they started to close part of deck 6 at 5pm..moving all the chairs and beds out of the area, then they closed some of the bar area while they lifted crates down to store our luggage..which was due to be stored at 2am???
This last day was very frustrating and seemed to disturb the guests quite alot..plus dont forget were were on a port next to a cement factory and no where to walk to.. I have since learnt that there was a public beach 15 mins away, why couldnt they have put on a shuttle bus to there? I would of paid had I the option a small price, they were charging £20 each to transfer to a hotel for 4 hours to use their pool/beach...no drinks or food were included.
We had to have our luggage ready for collection by 2am, outside your cabin door, this was then stored overnight on deck 6. We could hear the crew members during the night transporting the luggage. We had to be out of our room by 9am the following morning. You could pay for the use of a room between 10am - 4pm for £25.00
A few guests asked reception for complaint forms and were given a blank piece of paper to fill in, I was told I would be given a form to fill in - it was a standard survey that wanted to know when my internet expired, who my car insurance was with - not exactly a complaint form.
The food is excellent and a choice to suit all in tastes in the different restaurants. The ship is clean and our cabin was lovely and spacious, we had a deluxe cabin on the 7th deck. Everyone seemed to enjoy the musical entertainment, but they were not shows as such, just songs from shows that have been on the west end??
you will make lots of friends and will never be lonely, lots to do on the ship even if they don't do everything they advertise.. I am still waiting for my popcorn from the trip to the cinema and if you won a competition this week, no chance of a prize because they hadn't been delivered...
The captains cocktail party was worth the queuing up for, you have to pass 3 lots of photographers with different back drops before you allowed into the cocktail party..the photographers didn't really care if you had your eyes open or shut and our photos were poor standard. You then sit in the broadway show lounge for an hour with a drink, listen to the band and then the captain does his speech, introduces everyone in his team and then you go to the Meridan for a gala dinner, the food and service in the Meridan was excellent.
Photos are from 10.99 to 20.00 and there is a Cruise DVD for £24.00 which was on one of the tv channels while it was being made so if you spotted yourself on it, you could order it.