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Marella Spirit Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
365 Reviews

Great Value Cruise to the Canaries on Thomson Spirit

Marella Spirit Cruise Review by Lov3Cruising

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Nov 2016
  • Destination: Canary Islands

SHORT VERSION

Thomson Spirit is an old ship but with a fantastic crew, great food and offers very good value – including an “all inclusive” option which includes house wines, some beers and standard spirits. All prices in sterling, no service charges or taxes.

Entertainment good for the size of the ship especially the musicians.

The age of the ship does mean it looks tired in places and expect some “creaks and groans” especially in lively weather. As long as you are not expecting a sparkling new ship, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

LONG VERSION

The Spirit was launched back in the 1980s and this shows in its traditional layout (prom deck), smaller size (1200 passengers) and dated looks. It has been part of the Thomson fleet since the 00s and is virtually identical in layout to the Thomson Celebration. Virtually all guests are from the UK.

Positives for us:

Smaller size than the new giant ships which means less walking plus can berth in ports where the mega ships can’t.

Very friendly and hard working crew and lots of them. Your food is served quickly, never a queue to get a drink and drinks waiters making regular circuits around the main deck areas and entertainment areas during evenings, rarely a queue at reception etc. Apart from the entertainment team very few British staff – mainly Eastern European, Filipino or Asian. Ship’s Officers mainly Greek. All speak great English.

Wide selection of buffet food for breakfast and lunch. In particular we appreciated the “chef’s corner” on the pool deck offering fresh omelets at breakfast and things like enchiladas for lunch.

Dinner is available in the buffet restaurant but most eat in the main restaurant which offers waiter service. Good quality simple food and not tied to set dining times – which is brilliant.

We opted for the speciality restaurant for two meals £20 supplement each but lovely food – 8 courses with options like Lobster and Rib Eye Steak.

Excursions are reasonably priced – c £35 pp for a half day coach trip with guide.

Two house bands and two pianists. All very capable musicians so there is live music available in at least three locations each evening as well as at times during the day.

The shows each evening are well delivered with 8 main performers but performed to recorded music, no live musicians. Usually two chances to catch shows – 8.30 and then 10.30.

The ship’s currency is £sterling so protected from currency fluctuations plus no additional service charge or tax. The price printed is what you pay.

We had an all-inclusive package (virtually all guests did on our cruise) and this covered house beers, house wine by the glass, basic spirits (e.g. Gordons Gin), selection of cocktails and soft drinks. Some brands (e.g. Bombay Sapphire Gin) incurred a supplement. Typical prices if you were paying were £3.70 for beer or wine by the glass. The house wine is reasonable – looking at £20-£25 for a better quality bottle if you are fussy.

Cabin reasonable size – loads of space for clothes etc.

Ship is kept very clean in all areas.

Reasonably spacious around the ship. The cruise was full but we were never stuck for somewhere to sit during the day on deck and there are lots of quiet areas if this is what you want. In the evening always able to get a seat in the show lounge or in our favourite bar (Horizons).

The cruise we booked was great value at around £700 pp for all inclusive with flights, transfers etc.

We could fly from a nearby regional airport at ideal flights times – flew out 12 noon on a Saturday.

Safes in each room but a £15 charge (charge a bit unnecessary we thought).

Reasonably well equipped gym although not open until 8am – 7am would have been better for me. Not greatly used so always loads of space.

Negatives

The ship is quite old so don’t expect a shining new ship with modern cabins and walls of glass everywhere. If this is what you want, opt for a new ship.

Again because of the older design, there are far fewer cabins with balconies. Cabins on the mid decks (deck 6) have windows onto the prom and views can be obstructed by lifeboats.

Our cabin (and all others we saw on deck 3) had two single beds either in an L shaped or either side of a built in unit.

Although our cabin was spotlessly cleaned, there are marks accumulated over the years plus at some point many years ago it must have been a smoking cabin as it retained a very faint smell of cigarettes.

The free dining in the main restaurant is brilliant but if you are couple then expect to be asked to share or wait for a 2 table which could mean 5 mins wait.

Engine noise whilst underway is quite pronounced esp towards the back of the ship on lower decks. In rough seas quite noisy towards front of ship too as the bow crashes into waves. If you are a light sleeper upgrade to a higher cabin or as a minimum pay a surcharge (c £45) to chose your exact cabin and get up as high as you can and amidships.

The two pools are not large and seemed unheated so very cold for our cruise around the Canaries in November.

In summary – a great value cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed. Wonderful staff. Just understand that it is an older ship and priced competitively so not the most luxurious.


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