Having just returned from the Thomson Dream and reading all the bad reviews before I went I felt I should write an honest review of our experience on-board.
We flew from Birmingham on 24 Feb and check-in was a breeze, we attached our labels at Birmingham and didn't see our luggage again until on-board the ship in Barbados. The flight was fantastic as we had upgraded to premium, and this was definitely worth the extra cost! When we arrived at Barbados we walked off the plane and straight on a bus to take us to the ship, no need to go through immigration, so this saved a lot of time. When we arrived at the ship there was a bit of a tailback of buses as I believe some of the tour buses had arrived back at the same time, but within 15 minutes we were on the ship. We did encounter a slight problem on arrival because the check-in systems had gone down and needed to be re-booted so we all had to wait in the Theatre and wait to be called, but they were really quick and we were checked-in within 30 minutes and a friendly member of staff showed us to our cabin.
So far, so good - I kept sniffing the air for the whiff smells other people had described but luckily I couldn't smell any foul stench. Some of the carpets in the corridors are a bit worn and could do with replacing but this is to be expected when you've got so many people walking on them all the time. We arrived at our cabin, an outside plus on deck 6, and were pleasantly surprised with the amount of space inside, there were plenty of draws and hanging areas for the clothes and lots of room to store our luggage. The cabin was a bit warm for our liking but not unbearable - we did mention this to reception and they sent someone to look at it, it did seem a little cooler after that but not much. Our luggage was a bit late arriving so we had to eat in the Lido restaurant on that night, the food was good but I would have preferred to eat in the main dining room. We watched the ABBA Show that night which was brilliant, as was every show featuring the entertainment team (I have to say that they were the BEST entertainment team I have ever experienced on-board any ship!), then we went up to the sail away party on top deck before going to bed.
Day 2 we arrived in Grenada and as we were docking Thomson Destiny docked along side us, it was great to see the two ships together. We had a little explore of the market stalls at the port before heading off on an excursion hiking the rain forest to seven sisters falls. This was a great experience, it poured down the whole time, to be expected in the rain forest I guess, we got completely covered in mud but the view of the falls was amazing! When we got back on-board we got ready for dinner and eat that night in the Orion restaurant. We had lovely waiters, Lilik and Surahari, which we managed to have for the full duration of the cruise and our wine waiter, Allen, looked after us really well. We again watched the show after dinner and found that you need to be in the Theatre at least 30 minutes before the show to get a decent seat without a pillar blocking your view, towards the end of the cruise this tended to become an hour before the show as everyone else seemed to have the same idea! After the show we tried a few of the bars and found that our favourite was Ocean Bar, a fantastic team of bartenders served behind the bar (Leo, Ralden, Blanco & Rico were definitely the Dream Team!) and we enjoyed just sitting at the bar and chatting and laughing with them, and the waiter staff were really friendly and also joined in all the banter.
Day 3 we arrived at Margarita Island. We had booked an excursion to take in all the sights but on arrival had wished we hadn't as there was such an amazing beach opposite where the ship was docked. The excursion, Panoramic Margarita, was ok though and we did get see most of the island and some fantastic views from the lighthouse.
Day 4 we were at sea and thought we'd have a bit of a lie in. We did, but realised after that we had no chance of getting a sunbed, we did however find a nice area at the back of the ship on deck 8 with chairs and tables, it was shaded but we had a great view and could read our books, plus we only had to walk up one deck to get to the Lido restaurant or the bar. This was the Captain's night so our chance to put our glad rags on and meet the Captain. The captain was German and had a strange sense of humour, he told stories every day which made everyone laugh as they were so obscure - by the end of the first week you tended to look forward to the next day's story. We had our photo taken with the Captain but you're not allowed to shake his hand, not that I was particularly bothered by that. We left the cocktail party slightly early so that we could get to the restaurant early to get our usual table with our same waiters.
Day 5 we arrived in Curacao. We had been here before and got off the ship early to explore the city. We were back on by lunchtime and had a barbecue by the pool. We then set off on an afternoon excursion on the Trolley Train - this was a bit disappointing as it covered the same ground we had already done walking around in the morning, it was also more for older people.
Day 6 we were in Aruba. Again we had been here twice before so it was difficult to choose something different to do. I wanted to do the sea-trek but unfortunately due to a medical condition, unless I had a letter from my own GP stating it was ok for me to participate they wouldn't allow it (I will definitely bear this in mind if trying to do this sort of activity again and get a GP letter prior to travel!), so instead we did the De Palm Island snorkel excursion. This was mainly sunbathing on a beach but you had the use of the snorkel equipment (though the sea was really choppy that day so my partner couldn't do it) the good thing was that you had all meals and drinks included on the island.
Day 7 another sea day, again we couldn't get a sunbed but had already decided to make the most of what they had on offer around the ship such as the bridge tour, the backstage tour and even the afternoon play which was absolutely fantastic and something a bit different - the entertainment team were extremely talented people.
Day 8 Jamaica, again having been here twice before we wanted to do something a bit different and booked the bobsled and zip-line excursion but unfortunately this got cancelled due to the lack of passengers wishing to participate, I think this is because of the higher age range on the ship that these activities are not what they want to do. But we did manage to get a place on our second choice excursion, the Black River Safari. We were driven through what I would call the real Jamaica and got to see how they really live before arriving at the Black River for our boat tour. We got to see crocodiles in their natural habitat and close up, this was followed by a visit to the crocodile nursery and then for lunch before heading back to the ship.
Day 9 we were in Grand Cayman, and yet again we had been here twice before so we decided to do a bike ride. The ship carries it's own fleet of bikes and you get taken on a guided tour by Alex, approx 15 miles, this also includes a stop at the beach for 1hr 30 mins. A fantastic way to see Grand Cayman and the tour is suitable for anyone as it is all on the flat. We got back to the ship in time for afternoon tea in Sirens restaurant - we tended to try and get back in time for this every day rather than having lunch as they put out nice sandwiches and scones with jam and cream.
Day 10 at sea - we spent the day relaxing in Ocean Bar with our books and working our way through the cocktail menu. In the evening after the show we had a look around the shops and bought some aftershave and perfumes but be careful because they advertise 10% off when purchasing 2 x 100 mls but only give you 5% off until you ask for the manager. We also noticed that the put the prices up on the system the second week but had not changed the prices on the bottles, so again we made them honour this.
Day 11 we arrived in Roatan, we had booked an excursion to an Island Retreat but this was another trip that got cancelled due to lack of people interested. Unfortunately we didn't find out about this until 1am that morning when we arrived back at our cabin and our tickets were there with a letter saying it had been cancelled. We needed to do an excursion this day as there is not much around the port apart from duty free shops, so we had to take the only excursion that was available which was the West Island & Semi-Submarine tour - it turned out to be fantastic, we got to see the whole island, also taking in the butterfly and bird farm, got to see the marine life and experience one of the best beaches on the island.
Day 12 we arrived in Costa Maya, Mexico. Purpose built for cruise ships it had lots to offer including shops, bars, restaurants and even a swimming pool. However we wanted to see something historical so we went on the excursion to Dzibanche and Kohunlich Mayan ruins - this was well worth the trip as we felt they were far better preserved that Chichen Itza.
Day 13 we arrived at Cozumel. Having been here before we went on the ferry over to the mainland and went to Xel-Ha, an eco park were you can snorkel or swim with Dolphins, Stingrays and Manatees. We had been here before and loved it, all your food, drinks and snorkel equipment are included in the price. The ferry just got us back to the ship in time, but as this was a Thomson excursion the ship wouldn't set sail without us - a good reason to book the excursions with the ship!
Day 14 we finally arrived at the highlight of the whole cruise, Havana. It was well worth getting up early to watch the ship come into Havana, the views were absolutely amazing and we docked right in the center of the city. We booked to go on the Havana highlights tour were we got to see most of the city including some of Ernest Hemingway's old haunts and also Revolution Square, Romeo & Juliet cigar factory and Havana Club Rum Museum. The cigars and rum were slightly cheaper here than at duty free in the airport. We got back to the ship in time to get changed and have dinner before heading out on our evening excursion, Tropicana Cabaret in Classic Car. We set off in our classic car along the Malecon to El Floridita, one of Hemingway's old haunts for a daiquiri, then we set off along the Malecon again heading for the Tropicana Cabaret, we were in the car for about 30 minutes but was definitely worth paying the extra to do! At the cabaret the men were given a cigar and the ladies a programme. We had great seats and it included a welcome glass of bubbly and a quarter bottle of rum to enjoy with the show.
Day 15 unfortunately it was time to depart, we had to put our cases out by 3am with all the security tags on as we wouldn't see them again until Birmingham. We decide to stay on the ship in the morning rather than get off but there was a place to leave your hand luggage if you waited to get off and explore some more. We boarded a coach when our flight was called and were told that although we had boarding cards already we had to get another one from a desk at the airport but this was fairly straight forward. The worst part at the airport was going through to the departure lounge as you had to go through immigration and it took forever considering you were actually leaving the country I didn't see the need for it. Our flight had 45 minute delay but we had a tailwind on the return so we were only 15 minutes late arriving back at Birmingham.
This is the third Caribbean cruise we have done after also cruising with Royal Caribbean and P&O but this was by far the best. I would have no hesitation in going back on-board Thomson Dream if it was doing the right itinerary. Like I said earlier the entertainment was the best I've ever experienced, the food was great and the staff were amazing. I would definitely recommend this ship to anyone - the ship itself is old but it has character and there is always plenty to do, my only criticism is the lack of sunbeds and people reserving them, but you get this on any ship, I do feel that Thomson should enforce a 30 minute rule on the reserving of sunbeds as P&O do.