I am not sure how we first thought to book this cruise for our holiday, the why was simple our original holiday booked for the Maldives and Dubai to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary, was 'lost' (along with our money) due to the agents going into administration. So what were we to do? A cruise has always seemed our idea of holiday hell, full of over-feds, newlyweds and nearly dead's and Holiday Camp entertainment, I will come back to that later. So why did I book this cruise you may ask? The itinerary.
It was only then that I started to do a little research on what we had booked, and on reading some reviews my worst fears seemed to be confirmed, but we decided that the itinerary was what we had booked for and we would use the ship as a floating Taxi and we would make the most of our holiday.
So on anticipating that we would be spending our time in our cabin escaping from the entertainment we upgraded to a suite and to make our holiday a little special decided to have a blessing at Sea.
Now on to the reality of our cruise experience, the boarding process was slick and efficient within 40 minutes of the aircraft landing we were in our suite along with our cases. The suite itself was spacious, comfortable and spotlessly clean and was kept that way all week by the Stewards. We also had the benefit of tea and coffee making facilities which was welcome first thing of a morning.
Food was far better than anticipated; we ate three times in Siroccos as it was worth the small supplement that they charge, once in the main dining room and twice in the Lido. The lido is a little canteen like, but that is just the design of the ship so little can be done to change that although it was nice to see table cloths and flowers out of an evening.
Much has been said about the age and condition of the Ship, yes the ship is not brand new but it is well looked after and kept spotlessly clean, a good comparison is your favourite piece of furniture, it might be old but you know how you love and care for it, and take great pride in it, that is how I would descried The Spirit, you can see the pride the staff take in looking after her and always trying to present her at her best. This ship has character, some of the larger vessels we saw seemed soulless in comparison.
Entertainment, this is the part of the cruise I was not looking forward to and expected to spend time in my cabin getting away from it. How wrong was I, there was plenty of things to do and join in with if that is what you wanted to do, equally if you just preferred you could sit in a bar with a cocktail and watch the world go by and be blissfully unaware of any quizzes and game show type entertainment happening elsewhere you could, so that is what we did, each and every night whiled away our time between Raffle's and Horizons and never did make use of that suite we upgraded to.
The Itinerary was fantastic, Kotor, Koper, Venice, Split and Dubrovnik and the sail into both Kotor and Venice was stunning. Again the disembarkation and embarkation procedures were slick and efficient no queuing and the Ship was berthed so easy access to all towns could be gained.
We were lucky enough to have our Wedding Blessing on our actual Wedding Anniversary, which coincided with the sail out of Venice; the ceremony was taken by the Captain on the Bridge. The organisation was taken care of by the Thomson Staff and the whole event was for us a wonderful occasion. All of the staff on this cruise are a credit to Thomson/Louis Lines nothing is too much trouble, the staff manage to be friendly without being over familiar and take great pride in their roles.
So we came expecting a good holiday because of the places we were going to visit and we would make the best of the Ship experience. So this is where I eat my Humble Pie, I enjoyed every minute of this cruise and I enjoyed the Ship experience far more than I ever anticipated. On this ship you can find something for everyone, its small enough for that personal feel but big enough to lose yourself on should you wish to do so. As for the over feds, yes, I think we all were by then end of the week, newlyweds we met one lovely couple, on their honeymoon and there were one or two nearly dead's (who had far more life in them than some of the younger guests!!). It was a good mix of all people of all ages.
Would I recommend Thomson's, yes but only if you are looking for a quietly sophisticated cruise with a personal feel, if you are looking for Flow riders, Rock Climbing walls, Atriums, Glass Lifts, Las Vegas Bling and 17 speciality restaurants and bars then this is not the cruise for you. Would I go on another cruise, yes in fact we booked immediately on our return and guess what, no suite this time and I may even take in a show.