This was my first cruise and it did not meet my expectations in any shape or form. I travelled along with other family members, some who were first-timers and a few which had been on the Thomson Island Escape cruise previously. Those who did previously cruise on the Island Escape had many positive things to say about it, so I expected The Dream to be even better and more exceptional. My expectations were however, a delusion.
Now where do I start?
Well, my family and I were told by Thomson staff that the The Dream was a completely new ship, when in fact it is an "old lady" still trying to stay on it's two-feet and is over 20 years old. That is anything BUT new for a ship! And it clearly showed how bad it was when we were cruising. The ship's stabilisers were clearly ruined and could not deal with the sea's waves making the journey to other islands a very unsteady and discomforting experience; put it this way, it was as though we were travelling in a rocking boat similar to that of The Pirates of The Caribbean.
The flight experience was not a good one at all. There was a flight delay due to some maintenance problems this of course was very typical of Thomson as they are rarely on time, I know this from my previous experience with them. So, therefore, we were 2 hours late when we arrived in the Caribbean, missing 2 hours of our holiday which could have been spent by visiting Barbados.
So the first port we visited was in Barbados, of course. Our experience in this port was nothing to boast about, being that we were literally pushed onto the ship due to flight delays stopping us from even experiencing anything off the port once we made our way there from the airport in Bridgetown, Barbados. The only thing I can say which was satisfactory, is that the ship left on time that night for its way to Grenada the following day.
Once my family and I were beginning to make our way to the ship, a whole heap of other passengers practically pushed their ways onto the ship as quickly as possible as if the ship would leave without them! There was no clear order for passengers to embark the ship, it was basically a "dog-eat-dog" moment.
When we finally got on to the ship we had to check-in and there was no clear order/queuing system in use, I was appalled by the check-in system as the check-in staff were allowing other passengers to push in front of others waiting before them and I happened to be one of those unfortunate people being ignored whilst other passengers were being told to come forward to check-in. Though, I believe it was due to my young-looking appearance (I'm 18), they maybe thought I was a kid in the way (so to say) but they could have inquired and not ignored me. There was definitely a lot of ageist discrimination from the staff on the ship (this excludes the cabin steward staff and MOST of the bar staff, not ALL). The check-in staff did not do their job well at all, when I finally managed to get someone who was willing to check me in along with some of my family, the check-in worker took a photo of each of us which would help to identify us with our security card we were about to receive however she got my sister and I's security/on board spend card mixed up and I didn't know of this until I was disembarking the ship one day where my card was scanned and my sisters image popped up instead for me and vice versa for her. This was very inconvenient as we got confused about who's card was who's and who had spent what amount of money on which card.
I was quite disappointed that there was no welcome meeting when we first entered the ship, we were just expected to know it all straight away. The only help we received was from the polite cabin stewards who directed passengers to their rooms.
There was nothing whatsoever for young children to do, particularly below the age of 12. The only area where children could play was in the dated games room which had mediocre old machine games which appeared as though they were saved from the 90's. Also I never heard, not even one announcement about children's activities. All the announcements I heard were for the Broadway Lounge's night shows which obviously was not aimed at young people but more specifically people over the age of 30 and particularly aimed at 50+ year olds. Announcements were made also for so called "Game Shows" and musicians in the Medusa Lounge, which again was aimed at an older group of people.
The best part of the whole cruise experience was getting off the ship to visit islands, though we had disruptions in ports we were visiting and the captain was making some very silly decisions about which order to visit ports as he was going back on himself visiting an island which he passed already the previous day.
Don't even get me started on the food! The food was nothing short of horrendous. Lacking taste and texture. The self service food on Deck 9 and 11(in the day) we're anything but tasty, you could be fortunate to find one thing at least that you may like but don't be expecting to like the majority. The Orion restaurant on Deck 4 looked the part but was very misleading as there was a high quality decor of the restaurant, leaving you to believe you were in for a treat but the food was very low quality and at times inedible. Also the stench on Deck 4 of raw sewage, added insult to injury when eating. Though, in the Orion, you won't be losing any money because thankfully it is free and so I should think so, due to the money put into the holiday in the first place! Now we take a worse turn with the Grill restaurant on Deck 11(at night). This is the paid restaurant of £20.00 per person. My family and I booked a table for the night and was completely disgusted with the food presented to us (and we were expected to pay for this rubbish!), 2 members (out of 11) of the family were physically sick and had to sleep it off, whilst others were just feeling nauseous. The outdoor eating area was also a big disappointment (outside Deck 9 & 11), the chefs were very impatient when making up cheeseburgers for customers so the meat was very rare and therefore not safely cooked, but if you look around the area where the food is served, it has a notice stating that as a UK health and safety issue the meat has to be wholly cooked, this of course was completely ignored by the chef when cooking burgers. I checked my own cheeseburger and noticed it was very pink so that of course was a waste of my time and a waste of food as I had to tell the chef to cook my meat thoroughly with a fresh new burger and this outdoor food area is aimed at young children! I would hate to think of any young children falling ill due to the impatience of the outdoor chef. As a summary for the food I will say: if anyone thinks the food on the ship tastes great, they clearly can't detect quality food.
The cabins on the ship were very small along with VERY SMALL beds. The toilets were VERY easy to block with a slight amount of tissue and had to be fixed every 2 days, there were however fixed very quickly when reported to at reception.
The entertainment on the ship is very dull and I don't recommend it to anyone who is used to viewing quality performances. The current actors and actresses are not very believable and appear to have as much knowledge on drama as a high school student for the first time. The game shows are very cheaply put together as a tacky slide-show and does not appeal to most as I could tell from my experience on the ship.
Children's safety was not fully protected as a group of school children from Montego Bay (around 14-16 years old) came on to the ship snapping pictures of people which did include young children and is not acceptable as I was told by a rep on the ship that people younger than 18 cannot have footage or images of them taken without the permission of an adult if the footage/images will distributed outside the ship. I was very disappointed in the way the situation was dealt with as no one did anything to stop them taking pictures and I have no idea what could happen or be done with the pictures being taken without permission.
The port and shore excursions were unbelievably expensive and not worth it. The locals on the islands pressure you into going somewhere just so they can get money and more than half of them cannot be trusted so you have to watch out who you decide to go on an excursion with. I wouldn't pre-book for a TOUR excursion from home because you can pay for them when you get to the island and it may be cheaper. I was not satisfied with most of the ports at all, for example we were at Montego Bay port at the wrong area, so you couldn't walk past the port area without having to be pressured to pay a large sum of money to go to the city area of Jamaica. Also it was free for the ship to dock there due to it being such a bad area for tourists. It was basically: the cheaper Thomson can dock for, the less suitable it was for it's customers. All Thomson are thinking about is how much money they can take from their customers and how much money they can save by docking the "Thomson Dream" ship in bad areas where there are little shops for tourists.
Disembarking the ship was always a problem as I said earlier my sister and I's security/on board spend card was mixed up with the wrong picture for each others name. We reported the fault to reception but they had no clue what was going on. Though after 5 days our cards were fitting the same image for the same person's name, miraculously, but it wasn't the end of the card problem. When I finally was about to leave the ship for good (Thank God) my card was scanned and it showed up on the computer as "bill not settled" so I apparently owed money for something. The same thing happened with another family member of mine. We were both charged for drinks we did not consume, so be warned for the possibility of card cloning or incorrect bills being signed in your signature's font by the bar waiters. And make sure cabin stewards report to reception that you have removed all drinks from your mini bar in your room (if you choose to do so).
The captain Torston Olbrich was anything but interesting when he droned about his sea stories. He was in his element when we were at sea and the sea was rough but not everyone was enjoying it, also he would slow down to make the journey longer so we were at sea longer which was very annoying. Most of the staff on the ship were friendly but there were the odd few who got impatient at times and could not handle serving 2 drinks for one on-board spend card which I found to be very inferior of skills. So if you wanted to order yourself and a friend or family member a drink from your on-board spend, the bar staff would be very confused in handling the situation. Don't get me wrong though, there were some very nice bar staff but then you had your stone-faced ones too. I'd say the male bar staff were much more kinder than the women with the exception of Monica, Cieva and Andrea who were very nice. The male bar staff who I found to be the most kind were: Lito, Mohammed, Benjamin, I Made, Enrico and Blanco. That's about it I believe or I have forgotten names but most of the ones I haven't mentioned, particularly the women did not have nice attitudes. To end it on quite a good note my cabin steward Ronald was exceptionally kind and attentive. I hope he gets paid enough for his hard labour.