We have sailed with Tui (Thompson) on a number of occasions and spent a week sailing around Spain and Portugal on Discovery 1 last October so knew what to expect. This was a trip a long time in the planning. It had been our dream to do the Atlantic crossing for many years. The crew and staff on board are excellent and cannot be praised highly enough. They go all out to ensure guests enjoy their stay on board. Dining can, it is fair to say, be a bit haphazard. We avoided the buffet restaurant for the reasons given by other reviewers. However. we never experienced any problems with getting a table for 2 at either breakfast or dinner in the main dining rooms. We did not mind sharing, if it came to it. The a la carte restaurants are very good, food is to a high standard. The real issue we found was repetition. We were aboard 17 days and there was simply not enough variety. Some of the restauarants, such as the Glass House Hot Stones restaurant for example, do not change their menu, it is fixed. Others, such as Gallery 47 and 47 only change about once a week, and even then some of the dishes remain the same. Entertainment was varied. The guest UK artists were a mixed bag. The entertainment team do a good job in trying to put on variety shows that appeal to the masses but sometimes it just looks all a bit amateurish. That may be a bit harsh, but after 17 days, again it began to get a bit samey. We did take part in a few quizzes and game shows which were well organised and fun. We also booked a number of shore excursions, again with a mixed result. The beach trip to Bonaire was awful. The sea could only be reached via a moving pontoon as the shoreline was covered in dangerous rocks. We complained to TUI and got a 50% refund. Some of the ports were no where near any shops or decent activities, and you needed a taxi to reach anything remotely interesting. By the time we reached Aruba we were a bit stir crazy and went off and did our own thing, catching a bus to the local beach, then spending the afternoon shopping and having a meal out. It was very liberating. Most of the time your time onshore is limited as the ship will depart around 5-6pm. We had decided given the length of the cruise to upgrade to a cabin with more space and a floor to ceiling window. This was on deck 8. We were to live to regret this decision. Although there was nothing wrong with the cabin itself, its proximity to the atrium meant that we were constantly subjected to noise travelling up from the atrium bar, the Live Room and indeed the disco up in Bar 11. Also, as we were just below the pool deck, at around 4:30am each morning, no exaggeration, we were awoken by guests on deck, moving and securing their sun loungers. I didn't get a nights uninterrupted sleep once. So please, do think ahead when you book and have a good look at the floor plan to see what's around the cabin you are booking. This can make a huge difference to your holiday. TUI (Marella) has now gone all inclusive and this will I think impact on future bookings.It certainly had a different vibe to other cruises we have been on.
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