I too was sceptical after reading previous reviews, but having cruised with Thomson before on the Celebration and the Spirit I thought it can't be as bad as people say. Maybe in the past it wasn't good but I can reassure you we had an absolutely wonderful time, even my 21 year old daughter loved it and this was her first ever cruise, (she did have to take some travel sickness tablets a few times until she settled into it) but after she was fine.
We started out at Bristol airport, check in was quick and no delays, we had the back three seats on the plane, which were great no-one digging their feet in the back of your chair! Great flight into Palma airport where we quickly retrieved suitcases and headed to the coach, which was all signposted. Transfer only took about 20 minutes along the seafront, very pretty.
We entered the port where free juice was waiting for us before check-in. This was a simple procedure, just showing passports, debit/credit card and having photos taken for your cruise passport. The ship uses a cashless payment system, where you use your cruise passport to pay for everything from drinks to shampoo, to trips, all is paid on your card then settled with your credit card at the end of your cruise, you don't have to do anything it's all done automatically). Within 30 minutes we were being escorted to our room.
This ship is bigger than the other Thomson ships we've been on and we were well impressed with the size of the outside plus cabin with three proper size single beds. We had plenty of storage large wardrobe, open wardrobe with drawers under, two bedside tables and dressing table with drawers. There is also a digital safe and mini-bar. Two electrical sockets one european and one american. The bathroom included a small bath with a very powerful shower over. Plenty of white towels, soap and shampoo included, a shaver point and hairdryer as well. You also have your large pool towels in your room.
The choice of food is enormous and caters for everyone, from salads and fruit to cold meats, a choice of hot dishes with vegetables, soup and deserts, it's endless, then there's the pizza and hot dog counter out on Sirens deck next to the pool, as well as the two help yourself restaurants the Lido on deck 9 and Sirens up on top deck, we preferred to eat up here for breakfast and lunch as it didn't seem so packed, then we ate in the waiter service Orion restaurant for our evening meal, the staff are all so friendly and cannot do enough for you (special thanks to our waiters Tony and Dennis), then if my husband was still feeling a bit peckish after the evening entertainment (which was most nights) we went to the Lido which is open 24 hours! (beware my husband put on a stone)!!
The entertainment team were absolutely brilliant, always speaking, very friendly, getting you involved with activities if you so wanted, and I must admit the evening shows were on a par with my local Hippodrome, absolutely excellent. There are two shows per night and we always went to the later one, these are held in the Broadway Lounge, we preferred to sit upstairs and usually got there about 40 minutes before the show started to get the front seats. There are plenty of other lounge bars but we didn't go to any of these, we walked past the Medusa lounge every night, which was always packed, you needed to get there early to get a seat as this is where people go after the main show and the entertainment continues.
We went to the port showcase on our day at sea and it was very informative, Thomson do alot of tours but this can become very costly. We visited all our destinations by foot and felt there was absolutely no need to take a tour. We did opt at Civitticia (Rome) to take a trip to the castle where Tom Cruise got married, alright if you like looking inside an old castle, then took some photos outside which was very picturesque. This was then followed by a visit to some lakes, yes very pretty but we weren't there long. Cost £27 each but wouldn't bother again.
Unfortunately our flight back to Bristol was one of the last to leave the ship, which made us very depressed as we saw all the new people arriving for the following weeks cruise. Our departure was fine, but the coach was packed and the queues at the airport were ridiculous, but luckily they opened up a couple more desks and we sailed through to departures.
A couple of points to mention there is no laundry room on this ship and irons are not permitted in cabins, there is no cinema like there is on other Thomson ships, and if you are a smoker, although they have duty free shops on board, they don't sell big packs of tobacco or cigarettes. You could buy packs of 20 cigarettes from the bar but that was all.
This was our fourth cruise with Thomson and it didn't disappoint, we are already planning our next. Please don't be put off by bad reviews try it, you'll love it, we did.