We normally book via internet but a new Thomson Hyperstore had just opened so could not resist a nosey. The staff were refreashingly honest and we were soon swopping stories about cruising experiences. To cut a long story short a member of staff asked us if we had ever tried a Caribbean cruise but as my husband was not keen on the long flight this was something we had not done. The 17 day trip included just the one long haul flight to Jamaica but because of the space as standard in the flight cabin and the television in the back of the seats showing plenty of films as well as access to activities such as Suduko and Millionaire meant that time passed very quickly. The Cabin service and food were excellent and adequate in that order.
We originally were booked into an inside Cabin on deck 5 which was clean and nicely presented although i would not recommend as it was a little stuffy- air con did not work very well even after prompt attention by the ship's support staff.
The ship itself was spotlessly clean and reminded me of olde world grandeur in reds and gold. The ship was decorated with some beautiful pieces of historical event memorabilia, Christopher Columbus maps, full size Cannon, paintings etc.
The eating experience was excellent and there was a great choice even in casual dining venues. The waiters were so helpful and fun, which made us return to the same table every night. We liked the idea of open dining as sometimes when tired returning from a hectic day out being tied to a specific time as some ships stipulate can be a bit of a bind.
Our waiter was headed by a lad called Alvis who had us all in stitches and was also a very talented performer of street dancing as seen on the crews excellent talent night performance(Can be seen on Utube under "Crew Cuts").
The entertainment was also as usual top notch, but this particular ship we enjoyed more as the shows were very professional and always exciting. The casual entertainment was also very good with more choice than usual. The show director was very 'hands on' taking part and went out of his way to speak to you around the ship. We also liked the main theatre Atlante much more than the other Thomson ships as it had more comfortable seating with more leg room and easier viewing.
The ports of call were as you would expect for the Caribbean all beautiful and had many different things to offer any visitor. The one that sticks out in our minds maybe because it was our first stop after setting sail was that of Catalina Island. Uninhabited but as the guide stated, it was just like a scene from Robinson Crusoe, white sand palm trees and beautiful warm clear water. The Dream anchored off shore and we were all ferried off to a reception of awaiting staff who pandered to our every request without hesitation with music to serenade us on typical oil drum combo. We spent the day being fed from the barbecue dipping in and out of the water and relaxing under the plentiful palm made parasols, all at no extra cost! We thought we had died and gone to heaven! This must have taken some organisation on Thomson's' part, so well done.
The only down side to the holiday was handled on the whole very well by Thomson staff. On the 5th day of our cruise we had a toilet 'malfunction' whereby the toilet just stopped working but staff were prompt to attend to the plumbing, sadly it happened the next day again but this time following repair, as i was finishing my shower the toilet flooded over the floor and feet included! Thankfully it was clean water!
We had not seen or heard of any bad publicity regarding any 'Which' programme so was oblivious to this being a previous problem until some of the other passengers informed us later.
I have got to say the Reception staff were really helpful and most apologetic. We were offered and helped to a more superior cabin on deck 7 which had more space and was cool and airy.
The rest of the holiday was fantastic even the Atlantic crossing was flat and beautiful weather- very relaxing. I was a bit apprehensive at the thought of the crossing and had packed jumpers and trousers, being March, but we were very lucky.
We had interesting visits to Madeira, Gibraltor and Cartagena before our journey on to Palma for a short flight home. This we found to be a great option as when you have completed your holiday the last thing you need is a long tiresome flight.
Overall i would rate the holiday as a 9/10 so much so i have just booked again to Sail on The Dream on her next Transatlantic crossing in April of 2012.