I was not going to do a review of this cruise but having read some of the comments on here felt that I had to. We have done 20 cruises on various cruise lines now but we started our cruise adventures back in 1997 on the Thomson Sapphire and over the years have done 9 Thomson cruises. Like every cruise line there are pros and cons but without any shadow of doubt the one thing that Thomson do better than any other is entertainment (IMHO). The shows put on by the show team were wonderful and the final show Africa honestly nearly brought me to tears it was so uplifting. These girls and boys have actual talent and could grace any West End theatre. On some of the American ships we have found the singers to be 'shouty and screechy' but these kids could sing and dance. I would certainly advise anyone going on a Thomson ship to see the evening shows. There are always things that could be improved and I was not really impressed with the idea of paying £8.95 to reserve a seat on the front row. We never did this yet every night we sat on either the front or second row. If Thomson intend to carry on with this reservation idea then they need to organise it better as we saw a few arguments caused by confusion with the system.
I would agree that the quality of food in the main restaurant has deteriorated since our last Thomson cruise - there was always something we could eat but the presentation and quality was sometimes quite poor. There is always the option of a steak on the menu but we were quite shocked that there was an additional charge of £10 for this. The food in the Lido buffet was excellent with lots of choice. I require gluten free food and this was catered for very well. For afternoon tea I was pleased to see a little section of GF food but the so called scones but unbelievable - like a little biscuit the size of a 50p with no fruit. My husband just had a word with Executive Chef Stuart and the next day I had lovely scones. That is a big well done for listening to passengers and acting accordingly.
There was a self serve laundry which was free to use - you do not find that on many other cruise lines. The ship does not have the wow factor of the bigger ships with their beautiful atriums but what it lacks in that area it makes up for in atmosphere. The staff on the ship are second to none in terms of friendliness and a desire to please and they take huge pride in remembering little details about you. The ship does have a constant vibration and whilst this did not bother us some did find it annoying. Browsers Corner has a fantastic range of books to borrow so you don't need to take any if you are a reader. The Spa does have some excellent offers during the cruise so don't book anything too quickly as it is better to wait and see what offers they do.
Our cabin was an outside (877). It was plenty big enough and I am very impressed with the storage - even I didn't fill it all much to hubby's surprise! The bed was comfy and clean and always made up morning and night - even a chocolate on the pillow. I do think that in this day and age there should be no plastic shower curtains as they are horrid. I also disapprove of the Thomson policy of charging for a safe in the cabin as that is poor customer care. There was tea and coffee making facilities - another thing not usually available on American lines.