We are seasoned Thomson Cruisers, having been on 8 or 9 of their cruises, one NCL and once on the Oceana around 2 years ago, so you have an idea what we are comparing to....
The ship was very similar to how we found it 2 years ago, modern and new looking compared to the Thomson ships we are used to. The food was good, nothing spectacular, but good quality and well presented.
The weather was poor on the BOB crossing and to say we were in a force 9 at times the ship handled it well, it got better as we headed home. We were in cabin F229 (we did book late) which is right at the front, so some nights were sleepless. It was like being in a tumble dryer sometimes. The cabin was spotless and kept well by Joris our lovely Stewardess. The only good weather we had was in Casablanca, the rest of the ports having dull days. I would have to think hard about whether to do a similar cruise at this time of year again, the Canaries or Caribbean being a better option.
This was a Christmas cruise but it was no party ship. 12.30am Christmas Day and the ship was dead, they had all gone off to bed. This doesn’t happen on a normal Thomson ship night never mind Christmas. There was no atmosphere on the ship, this probably comes down to the entertainment team, they don’t mingle with the guests and get people involved in anything. After the main shows finish there is not a lot going on, no late night cabaret from the show team that gets everyone up dancing, the disco is quiet, it’s just a hot chocolate or horlicks and bed....
The acts performing were good, Lloyd the Comedian was good, Clem Curtis (singer ex Foundations) and Matthew McGurk the magician were excellent. Howard Hughes the Children’s Magician was also excellent, great shows and he along with his wife were wonderful company on the dinner table. However the rest of the entertainment left something to be desired. The headliners company could be considered to be OK as long as you have not been spoiled by Thomson show teams in the past. These guys probably work about a quarter of the hours the Thomson teams do, hence the atmosphere on the ship.... It was however good to have real life backing Musicians to the shows, they really are professional.
Having two good venues to perform in I found it strange that on some nights there would be one of the acts in one venue and a film being shown in the other, where were the show team?
In general the waiting on service was slow and poor. We waited half an hour one night for a drink, and the lounge was mostly empty, this was not uncommon. It took 1.5 hours to have Lunch in the MDR one day, and a lot of the evening services took around 2 hours. Again there is no atmosphere in the MDR, too few staff waiting on, most (but not all) are miserable, no groups of waiters going around playing guitars and singing if they a spare 5 minutes (which these guys do not have). I get the impression that the staff are told not to get too friendly or interact with the guests, just do your job with a stiff upper lip.
On Christmas Day the kids were all meeting Santa on his sleigh, parents were told they could not take their own pictures and were being turned on by the ship’s Photographers. Come on guys, we know you have a job to do but it’s Christmas Day for crying out loud!
One excellent service was the Eavesway coach transfer, they have been dropped by P&O as they want a large upfront payment to be the “preferred” provider. If you need a coach service to Southampton I suggest you take any OBC offered instead of the P&O coach service and give Eavesway a call, it will more than likely work out cheaper for a guaranteed quality service. There was a free WiFi connection on the coach back too.
Would we go back on P&O? Yes we would, as despite these little niggles we did have a good time, and a cruise is as much about the itinerary as the ship, and after all we wouldn’t get entertainment this good in a 5 star Hotel anywhere for the price we paid.
Still, glad I’m back on Thomson Majesty for my next cruise ;-)