Have just returned from a week's Adriatic Explorer cruise on the Thomson Spirit. The staff are very friendly and efficient in the restaurants, except for one waiter in the Compass Rose who wouldn't let the four of us sit on our own at an empty table, saying in a very abrupt manner, "No. Someone is sitting there" and we were directed to another table at the other side of the room!. Apart from him, the rest of the staff were excellent. The food is very good in the restaurants, with plenty of choice for even the fussiest of eaters but the coffee is not so good! We found the reception staff could be abrupt at times but pleasant at others.
We had booked a trip to Dubrovnik but I was unable to go because of pain in my leg and was told we couldn't cancel unless I was seen by the doctor. There is a minimum charge of £30 for a consultation and we were concerned there might be a further charge for him signing a certificate, so decided not to see him. We also weren't told if they would refund my husband's ticket as well, so we lost a considerable amount of money by not going on the trip. I do think that Thomson should accept that you are unable to go on a trip without having to prove you aren't well enough and don't consider this good customer relations.
We did go on trips to Venice and the islands and Split. The trip to Murano was spoilt, because when we arrived we had to wait outside the glass blowing area in the heat for at least 30 minutes and then watch a very short demonstration. Many people on the trip were unhappy with this. We then went to the shop area, where the guide gave a talk, all the time checking his watch, obviously thinking about the next group of people waiting to come in. After looking for a few minutes round the shop, there was then about 10 minutes left before we had to leave for Burano, so there was no time to look round the town. Burano is a beautiful, unique place to visit but again there was not enough time there.
We went to the Captain's party. This wasn't what we were expecting at all. Everyone had to queue for ages whilst people were having their photos taken. The photographer took about four photos of everyone, we had to wait again and round the corner there was another photographer, again taking about four photos. You were told you could walk past and not have this photo taken, which quite a lot of people did. There was then another queue, as people had their picture taken with the Captain. We eventually got a table and had to listen to the Captain give a speech and introduce quite a large number of staff. Eventually, we escaped into the restaurant for the meal. We spoke to other people later in the week, who said they avoided all this by just going straight into the meal, as they had experienced it before on previous cruises. This is obviously for the sake of selling photographs but is a bit tacky.
We all enjoyed our cruise and the weather was brilliant and the sea was very calm throughout. The last day, though, was spoilt by our journey home. I don't know if other companies do this but we had to leave our cases outside the ship all day until we left at 7.30 p.m. with no-one to guard them. The rep came but people couldn't hear what she was saying about which coach to get on, as she would start speaking and then turn her back half way through, so quite a lot of people had to go up to her to ask again which coach to get on and it turned out we could on either of them, anyway!
We arrived at Corfu airport and had to queue outside for approximately 30 minutes. The temperature that day had been 32C and this was very uncomfortable for everyone. When someone asked the Thomson rep what the delay was she said, "I think it's because they haven't open the check in desk yet". Someone remarked "That's a well informed rep!". We eventually went into the check-in hall, 10 people at a time, and then had to queue again to check in. What a shambles! We all said we would never fly to or from Corfu again.
To sum up, the cruise was very good with a few disappointing aspects.