I booked the holiday approx. 8 weeks before departure having seen it advertised in a local travel agent at what I felt was very good value for money.
On arrival to Bournemouth airport we left the car and took the free coach to Southampton which was easy and straightforward and we even had time to have complimentary hot drinks and biscuits whilst waiting for the coach (much apppreciated following a 4 hour drive and a 5 minute walk from the carpark to the airport in the cold!).
Having travelled to many worldwide destinations on fly/hotel holidays this was by far the least stressful and most seamless transition to start our holiday as we only needed to take our suitcases a short distance from the coach at Southampton to the terminal before a very quick transfer through security and onto the boat. This was much appreciated especially as our daughter who is 16 years appears to always take enough clothes to last her a month!
Our cabin, 7046, was clean and more spacious than we expected. The cabin steward kept the cabin clean and tidy and it was cleaned twice and day, every day. The toilet did get blocked on one occasion but this was fixed within 20 minutes and being a boat owner myself I realise that these things can happen. We liked the little touches from the cabin steward, for example, leaving towels shaped like an elephant, swan, etc, folding back the beds sheets and placing a chocolate on the pillows every evening.
Unfortunately we did have one day when the weather was not very kind although this is well known around the Bay of Biscay. The two pools on the ship were not filled at this time due to health and safety reasons but I feel that you have to expect that this may happen on a cruise.
The food was excellent with each restaurant offering different dining selections ranging from buffet to sit down waiter service. The activities onboard were well organised, professional and varied each day. We found that there was always something for myself, husband and teenage daughter to do, even on the days at sea.
The crew and staff were exceptional and for us really made the holiday. The entertainment was excellent with a different themed show every night, the staff such as Manly, LLng, Bernard, Rusty, Oliver, Jodel, Emile, Andrew and Lito to name only a few who provided exceptional service. Tables were cleaned within minutes and queues were minimal at the restaurants although if people thought that a five minute wait was too long I would like to know where they go on holiday as I will book there immediately.
My negatives were manly the small minority of guests that constantly complained, and boy did they complain! This was not necessarily based on their own difficulties that they were experiencing but on those of other guests that they had met. Guests were complaining that other guests were in the older age group ranges but we felt that unless you go on a 18-30 holiday you cannot really expect to be on holiday with a particular age group. We have to say that we met some lovely people of ALL ages. Other complaints were that only one engine was working which delayed our arrival slightly at Porto although we arrived in the Caribbean early! Guests complained that we had too many days at sea but would this information not of been provided upon their booking. We also heard complaints from guests regarding the weather!! What are Thomson expected to do about this I don't know. I was also a little annoyed that complaints were made regarding flights back home on Christmas Eve, due to the snow in the UK. Umm tough one, stay on a cruise ship with warmth, cabin, shows, food, drink etc or wait in a airport for hours and hours!!Our family also witnessed fighting over seats in the Theatre and shouting and abusive language directed at cruise staff. I have to say that we were disgusted by the behaviour of some of the other guests. I even had a complaint on the flight home on putting my seat into the recline position to sleep on a night flight!
We cannot wait to return and are already planning another cruise on the Dream this year.