By John Honeywell, Cruise Critic Contributor
The newest, biggest and most luxurious ship in Thomson's five-strong fleet, 1,506-passenger, 53,872-ton Thomson Dream was originally built in 1986 at the Meyer-Werft yard in Papenburg, Germany, and named MS Homeric. It was the last ship built for the Italian company Home Lines before it merged in 1988 with Holland America. Under new ownership, the vessel was renamed MS Westerdam; in 1990, it returned to Meyer-Werft to be stretched with the insertion of a 36.9-metre (about 121 feet) mid-section. (From the quayside, it's easy to identify the newer bodywork -- the newer windows are larger than those on the rest of the ship.) The vessel was transferred to Costa Crociere in 2002 and renamed Costa Europa. Thomson took over the vessel in April 2010.
Originally designed and built for Home Line's regular service between New York and Bermuda, the ship still has something of the old-fashioned liner feel about it. Its profile is curvy, rather than boxy, the lifeboats are mounted higher than on today's larger cruise ships, and there are large areas of reassuringly solid teak on the Promenade Deck and the tiered after decks, which provide lots of lounging space on substantial steamer chairs.
The multimillion refit at the end of 2012 added a burger bar, new buffet line any canopy awning on the open deck aft of the Lido Restaurant. Other major changes included moving the spa from its out-of-the way location to a new, expanded central venue close to the shops. Soft furnishings and carpets in most public rooms and cabins were also replaced.
The mainly Indonesian and Filipino team on Dream are extremely loyal, many returning for contract after contract. Most importantly, the fact that passengers are not expected or required to pay gratuities makes no difference to the level of service delivered.
The act of applying the Thomson name across the bow of a cruise ship is both a blessing and a curse.
It's a trusted brand that means a lot in the British package tour industry. It's the UK's biggest tour operator, and customers who have never cruised before but who have travelled with the company to an all-inclusive resort in Spain or a villa in Greece feel comfortable booking a Thomson cruise because they know what to expect.
They know they will be getting value for money -- although they might not realise there are cheaper deals available on newer ships operated by the likes of Costa, MSC and Royal Caribbean. As a result, Thomson succeeds in squeezing better-than-expected daily rates from its pre-owned fleet.
On the other hand, people who think they know about cruising might well turn their noses up at Thomson simply because of that cheap and cheerful, curry-and-chips package tour heritage. They don't know what they're missing.
Thomson Dream Fellow Passengers
Passengers on Thomson Dream are almost entirely from the UK and from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, including young couples, working families with young and teenage children, and retired couples. Many are new to cruising, although a substantial proportion have cruised before, either with Thomson or with other familiar UK brands like Fred. Olsen and P&O.
Thomson Dream Dress Code
The dress code is casual during the day, predominantly consisting of jeans or shorts and T-shirts or sports tops. Smart casual is the most popular option in the evening. There is one formal night each week, usually the captain's gala cocktail party. Despite the restrictions imposed by baggage allowances on flights to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, the majority of passengers wear formal dress (tuxedos for men and long frocks or cocktail dresses for ladies).
Thomson Dream Gratuity
No gratuities are payable or expected. The onboard currency is the pound sterling.
Just returned from two weeks East & West Caribbean cruise on the Dream. This was our 2nd time on the Dream and must admit after being upgraded to "Platinum" there was not an awful lot of difference....
The ship has been revamped, ...continue
We have just returned from a 2 week cruise in the Southern Caribbean,aboard the Thomson Dream, sorry to say we will not be returning.
I have cruised on this ship on 2 previous occasions in the past three years, and have always felt ...continue
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This was our 10th cruise and our second for the caribbean.
We flew from Glasgow and on arrival were taken directly on to a bus so no waiting for us so we thought! On arrival at port we were guided into a large what looked like a metal ...continue