Firstly should I state the good points, we had a direct flight to Barbados, the transfer to and from the ship was excellent and the itinerary was very good, this being one of the main attractions of picking the Thomsons cruise.
Also may I say that this is our ninth cruise, several with Royal Caribbean, P&O, Carnival & Air Tours our first with Thomsons, we always previously thought that anyone who complained about a cruise had something wrong with them, how wrong we were
Firstly we paid extra to reserve a cabin on a certain deck, not to high up the ship due to possible noise from above and not to far down as we didn't want that, we get a call from First Choice Travel 2 days before departure saying we've got a different cabin, we'll refund the reservation price full stop. After 2 hours of ringing and speaking to the most arrogant customer service operatives we've ever come across we still could not get through to them that we only booked the cruise because the certain cabin was available. Eventually we had no choice but to go on the ship, basically feeling already like a 2nd class passenger, we were given and apology from front of house manager and got to jump the queue to check-in, not my style and I don't like 100 people giving me dirty looks as to why is he going first etc
The Ship -- Didn,t expect "The Independence Of The Seas" which i have been on twice but this was very old, depressing decor nothing but a glorified overnight ferry, where the recent refit was done i don,t know, probably some carpet was replaced somewhere, the lifts were awful, no aircon, i got in one day to go from 8 to 11, after what seemed like an eternity i got out at 7, in need of fresh air and fed up of waiting for the doors to close, i walked up the stairs.
The cabin, as soon as we opened the door the stench of drains and sewerage hit us, I waited until we put to sea as thought it may get better, it didn't, the first night we would wake up breathing in the stench of sewerage, also next door we had the family from hell, who had 4 cabins in a row, with all the doors open, and yes you can guess there kids were put in the cabin next to ours, screaming and shouting and literally bouncing off the walls I complained about there noise and the smell 3 times in 24 hours, to reception and cabin staff, asking for another cabin, I was told there were none, not alot was done about the noise either, on the evening of the first day at sea, my wife is in tears, no longer wishing to be there, I trod on the carpet by the bed, my foot squelched in the wet sodden carpet, water running between my toes, housekeeping came in with a "Henry" wet vac, expecting me to accept that, I basically had to go to the reception and lose control of myself and demand someone of authority come down to the cabin immediately ,the front of house manager came down in her Captains Night dress etc, I was then given another cabin. Absolutely unbelievable what we had to go through and level of complaint we had to deliver before anything was done, the ship were quite willing for us to put up with that squalor for the entire cruise. Amazing where this cabin came from.
The Food, I cannot believe I've been on a cruise and not been able to eat a steak, there is a Grill restaurant with a 'Â£20 a head fee, this just offers more of the same "a la Carte" by the looks of it, apparently they have a steak night once a fortnight, thank god I was only on for a week, the Orion restaurant is utter chaos, waiters most of them very pleasant but running around like headless chickens, seems to be poor organisation and poor service from the kitchens, our first night, we sat down and asked for a jug of water, we were offered a 1.5litre plastic bottle of water that wasn't chilled for 'Â£1.75 and told we don't do jugs of water, unbelievable, we looked around the dining room and there were dozens of these plastic bottles on the tables, nice little earner for someone, most of the visits we made I came out more hungry than when I went in and I'm not that big of an eater, the last visit we sat for 90 minutes had a starter and a bowl of soup and what was called a gammon steak, more like the heel off a shoe, about the same size as well, it was inedible, we left it, the head waiter just came and collected our plates, proper canteen style, if you'd have left your main dish on a Royal Caribbean ship the waiter would have asked what was wrong, can we cook you anything else etc, here they just aren't bothered, we just got up, couldn't be bothered waiting any more for the sweet and went to the buffet, eventually we stopped going in and used the buffet, which wasn't that bad but have had alot better. Also the last two visits to the Orion, I had a breakfast, this arrived minus mushrooms and beans, we went in for lunch on day of departure both meals we had with chips, my wife's were hot mine were stone cold, may seem picky but this just does not happen on other cruise ships, its not what you pay cruise money for, this happens in backstreet cafe,s and takeaways. Enough said really.
I must say that we were offered a complimentary trip to compensate for the cabin farce, strange how they waited all week before offering, we chose a catamaran trip at St Lucia, this turned into a nightmare as my wife was sea sick, the crew onboard were not interested, one came up and offered a plastic bag, my wife being curled up and basically unwell, no one came to offer any advice or nothing, this was also commented to us by other passengers, after 45 minutes the host of the trip came to us and said there won't be long to go, I think we all gathered that as we could see the ship. My wife spent the rest of the day in bed, so the full day a complete waste, also if I'd paid 'Â£44 per head for that trip I'd have been seriously annoyed as it was nothing but a boat trip, cannot think what justifies that sort of fee.
There is alot of people onboard who thought there was nothing wrong with the cruise, but you then find out they,ve never been on other ships with other companies or it was there first cruise, so basically they knew no different, most people we spoke to who had done others thought it was awful, and it is, as for the entertainment, not in the same league as RCI but acceptable and what you,d have expected, may i suggest though that the cruise director and the men in suits get from up there own backsides and get out there and go on a proper cruise and see how its done.
Basically its just a 3 star European full board resort at sea, or Butlins as sea which is how one passenger described it to us, quite accurate i think ,