Although I have never been in a Butlins camp before, I have seen TV footage and this cruise seemed to match it.
On a positive note, the ship was clean and we upgraded to an outside cabin which was impressively large for such a small cruise ship...yes that's it for the positive.
Negative: Everything else.
There was an area at the rear of the ship (called Lido I think), which was packed every day with a heaving mass of excess blubber sunbathing,and people drinking alcohol from breakfast to bedtime. (The Gym attendant told me that many people actually had the nerve to say the sun loungers were too small, only because they couldn't fit their bulk onto them!).... and yes, the Gym was always empty!
There was a dress code for the eating areas (cover up please)... which many refused to follow and the staff would not enforce. This led to us having to eat with half naked people who wouldn't look out of place in a rundown Seafront fish and chip shop. It's interesting to note that they all seemed to like it there.
Needless to say we very quickly learned to avoid that area.
There was a better restaurant in another part of the ship, and that was fine. The waiters were very cheerful and attentive, but that soon changed at the end of the cruise if no extra tip was forthcoming. (tips are included on Thomson cruises so they shouldn't expect more...but they do)
We were looking forward to the Captains cocktail party and had the required Dinner jacket and glittery dress for the occasion. BIG MISTAKE.
We expected the usual cocktail party with drinks and a mingle with staff and other passengers with gentle music playing in the background.
What we actually got was an hour of queuing to have a photograph taken with your partner. Then more queuing to have your photo taken with the Captain (why?...as we don't know him!).
Then in to the entertainment area to be given one drink (very strict on the ONE drink) and told to sit down.
When all guests were in, the Captain got on the stage and introduced the heads of staff for each department and it was over! We sat there waiting for the actual cocktail party to begin, until the place emptied and we realized that it was over. It was an outrageous joke and a complete waste of our time.
The entertainment was very amateurish and on par with a karaoke evening, even though it's advertised as similar to West End shows .... and I admit I have seen some very dire shows in the West End, but never as bad as they were.
The excursions were very expensive and very rushed. We particularly wanted to see the Pyramids, but they did not allow any time to wander around. The moment we arrived we were told to be back on the coach in half an hour. The whole Giza area is very large and needs at least 3 hours to appreciate.
Many people on cruises are elderly and cannot walk fast, therefore they hardly had time to walk to the nearest Pyramid before having to rush back to the coach.
Hint: Avoid the drinks package! Very expensive and to get value for money, you would have to get drunk every night. That might seem like an attractive proposition for some (and it was with many on the ship) but not us. The drinks are regular pub prices and easily affordable without having to skimp. We would have a bottle of wine with dinner and two or three Gin & Tonics, and the occasional cocktail every day.... and it still cost half of the drinks package deal for the week.
One strange and unexpected anomaly were the children on the cruise.... who turned out to be better behaved than the adults.
Now I do realise that there are some of you reading this who are thinking it all sounds great, and you will go and book a cruise on the Thomson Spirit tomorrow...... but this review is aimed at the majority who will hopefully be just as appalled as we were.
......And don't even mention the food on the plane which is over priced and underwhelming. Take sandwiches!
We would like to cruise again, but are now very wary, so will have to read many reviews before deciding.