We were aboard on the cruise departing 31st March 2011.
The cruise is described as Red Sea Magic.
And it was Magic. We had a fantastic time, met some lovely people and saw some amazing sights we would never have seen without this cruise.
The aircraft is the only disappointment of the holiday. It is definitely not suitable for the length of flight.
I am only 5' 10" but my knees were pressed right up against the seat in front. For a 5 hour flight it was very uncomfortable. Otherwise it was a standard Thomson's charter flight.
It's our 1st time on the Spirit and though small and old she was lovely to sail on.
we were up on Deck 7 living the sweet life in the Woburn Suite.
Our cabin was lovely and spacious with plenty of hanging room in the wardrobes and kept lovely and clean by our stewrardess. (Thank you Evgenia).
You can she she's an older vessel, but well maintained and kept spotlessly clean by the hard working crew who seem always at it. We never saw a dirty public area or toilet all week.
Yes, you can feel the vibration, or wobble, in several areas of the ship, especially the Horizons Lounge, but not noticeable in our cabin.
The only minor problem we had was a wobbly shower head in our cabin which didn't like staying in the place you pointed it.
We did speak to some who were on the lower decks and complained of a continuous noise like sleeping next to a washing machine, but again spoke to others who were amidships on deck 1 and were not troubled at all by it.
The food was good to excellent. Always excellent when we ate in the Compass Rose and good and plentiful in the Lido Buffet. The only thing about the buffet despite all the rest of the food being hot, we could never seem to get a hot slice of bacon at breakfast. And watch out for the black pudding, it's tasty but spicy. Not like Bury black pudding.
The meat described as Beef or Steak in the buffet tended to be tough, but the rest was good.
The weather was beautiful throughout and warm enough to eat your breakfast outside by the pool, when you're not up before dawn for big excursions that is. The only cool bit was on the shady side of the ship as we were rounding the Sinai Peninsula on the sea day, that was a bit breezy there.
All th e waiting staff were polite and cheerful, More reserved in the Compass Rose but lively and jolly up in the buffet.
The entertainment team were hard working and very good.
Not top notch West End Theatre, but when you're sat there in good company watching the singing and dancing of the Thomson Spirit Showteam with a cocktail in your hand they're not far off. They really worked hard to put on some fantastic entertainment for us. From the Sailaway party on the 1st night to the show on the final night which we dragged ourselves to after our 15 hour excursion to Luxor and Valley of the Kings.
Talking of cocktails, we didn't have all inclusive and spent about £ 200 on drinks for the 2 of us and didn't go thirsty. I haven't asked NO.2 son what his drinks bill was. But he seemed OK when he got his final statement. Didn't keel over in shock. That's why we had a suite, the 3rd bed is in the lounge area separated by a curtain. We didn't fancy him coming in at getting on for 4 a.m. and trying to climb into a bunk drunk.
The passengers on the ship surprised us in their age range, being the type of cruise it was we expected them to be older, but they ranged from tiny toddlers and primary school children with plenty in their late teens and 20's for our son to mix with. From what I've seen of his evening pics so far seem to show him in the company of no less than 4 females, all attractive and mainly blonde.
We did hear some complaining about the cruise, mainly from those who seemed to have booked it cheaply last minute and not researched it and got a shock on arrival in ports that are basic and industrial and nowhere to go if not on a ship's excursion.
One nice surprise we did have was a note on the last night saying we didn't have to be out of the suite until 1pm on leaving day, so no getting cases out by 2am the night before for us.
We did 4 excursions altogether.
The 3 big ones Petra, Cairo and Luxor, then we also did the Seascope submersible in Hurghada.
On all the excursions it was very hot and sunny and you definitely need plenty of water and sunscreen.
We also popped into Aqaba on the Friday afternoon on the free shuttle bus, It was like other Arab towns, but much cleaner than Agadir and Cairo. At least you do not get the bother in Jordan like the others by the peddlars, if you say "no thank you" they wander off to find someone else.
It was a 10 hour excursion leaving at 7.30 a.m. It took us 2.5 hours to get to Petra including a toilet stop just before arriving to save time on arrival.
It is a fairly steep gravel and sand path down to the entrance to the gorge into the site.
It took a long while to go down the gorge as we kept stopping to view the sights along it, like the shrines to the gods every few hundred yards.
the original large stone cobbled floor is still down in places and it makes it hard on the ankles and knees. And you have to stop to avoid the horse and carriages coming up and down.
The 1st glimpse you get is the Treasury from inside the gorge.
Then time outside it to view it before continuing down the valley viewing the other tombs and the ampitheatre.
You can go alone or with the tour guide as long as you are back at the hotel outside the entrance gates before 3pm for the buffet lunch.
We went most of the way down the valley. There are clean toilets down there.
It took us 25 min at family walking pace to walk back up the gorge and then another 15 min up the gravel path to the entrance gates and the hotel for lunch. The walk up the gorge is fine as the slope is not too steep and shaded, but the gravel path is steep and all in hot sun.
Lunch was buffet in the hotel and plenty to eat. We were able to go back for 2nds.
They must have passed the word on about us to the other hotels with the lunches included in Cairo and Luxor as they whipped the cutlery and plates away as soon as we'd eaten.
We were back on the ship by about 5.30p.m.
We did the Pyramids and Tombs tour.
After a 3 hour trip to Cairo,( the traffic is horrendous when you get there), we 1st visited the Step Pyramid of Zoser and the tombs next door. We went inside the tomb. This you can walk into easily, no bending or crawling and then closer to the Step Pyramid for a better view.
We managed to get lost in between the tombs and were the last back on the bus. We are never last.
Then we went to the giant statue of Ramses and the minature Sphinx at Memphis.
Next we had lunch, main course was OK, but the desserts were to die for. I made sure i got plenty of them. The tea and coffee tasted like TCP
Then up to the Giza Plateau to the Pyramids and Sphinx. Anthony went inside the Pyramid (extra cost) but it was dark and plain and not much to see. It involved a lot of bending and not recommended for those of us with back and joint problems.
As always you never get enough time up there, but as we had been before we could look at them unrushed, but not in peace and quiet. As some of the first Western tourists back in Egypt the peddlars are desparate to sell to you and would not leave you alone.
Cairo was a real culture shock for those who had not been before and some could not believe the hassle they got from the sellers everywhere and also the state of the city. Cairo is Cairo and full of rubbish both on land and in the waterways including dead animals, with people living in poverty in between.
If you're an animal lover you have to bite the bullet and take the state of and treatment of the horses and donkeys.
This was a 12 hour excursion and we were back aboard by 7 p.m.
Seascope and Hughada
We did this on the Tuesday afternoon after arriving in Safaga.
This was both the best and worst of the excursions we'd done up to now. This is unlike the glass bottom boat as it is a partial submarine and you can see out on the lower deck through big glass windows while sitting on revolving stools.
We do not snorkel and it was amazing to see the sealife down there on the coral reef .
Then we went to a fixed price shop where we could browse in peace and the prices were reasonable .
The excursion is described as a 5 hour excursion and we should have gone back aftter here. But when we 1st started off on the coach the guide said we weould not be back till 7p.m.
We were expecting a nice afternoon excursion to be back by 5.30 according to the description, both on board and on the website, just nice to be packing and enjoy the evening. (We did not want to pack on Wednesday night after the 15 hour excursion).
So instead of coming back to the ship we were tken to the normal shooping area in the town centre and the usualltraders were at us like vultures. I said to DW to go straight to the cafe in the square by the bus where the guide was, but no she insisted on giving it a go up and down the street. I know it's their way of life but we don't like it and felt that this was forced on us not by our choice. If we had known that they were going to take us there we would not have gone on the excursion.
This is a really early start, 6.30 a.m. It was 3.5 hours straight to the West Bank of the Nile to the Colossi Of Menmon Valley of the Kings.
BE WARNED no cameras are allowed inside the valley anymore and you have to leve them on the coach.
In the valley we visited 3 tombs and the artwork on the walls is fantastic. They are quite easy to get inside with steps and handrails.
Then the Temple of Hatchepsut just the other side of the mountain from the V.O.T.K.
Then on to lunch via the Alabaster shop.
The hotel was lovely on the banks of the Nile with nice gardens and a floating pool on the river.
But the lunch here, while not bad, was the worst we'd had out of the 3.
Then the final stop at the Karnak Temple. This is 64 acres approx and is fantastic. I just can't describe it, you need to experience it yourselves. By now though we were really flagging having to cram at least a week's worth of sightseeing in 1 day. But we would not have missed it.
We arrived back on the ship about 9 p.m.