Review: Thomson Dream
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
Thomson Cruises Atlantic Explorer, (Thomson Dream)
162 people found this review helpful
We had an overnight stay at the Novotel on Birmingham airport. We found the Novotel comfortable and quiet considering its location right outside the terminal, not a sound was heard from the aircraft. We stayed here as part of a deal with APH who provided us with 20 days parking + the overnight accommodation with breakfast included, the cost a paltry £ 136, be aware though that dinner with wine can work out expensive. All in all though no complaints.
This was our first time flying from Birmingham and we were very impressed. A clean well organised efficient airport for both our departure and later our arrival after the holiday. We will certainly not think twice about using Birmingham again. At just over 2 hrs drive from Grimsby, Birmingham is an excellent alternative to Manchester. Doncaster is our preferred choice when available.
Our aircraft was a Boeing 767-300 and there were only 132 passengers on board. The flight, the in-flight entertainment, food and drinks provided was excellent. The aeroplane was a little dated yes and the seats did get uncomfortable on the bum after a few hours but we departed on time and got to our destination on time arriving a Bridge Town Barbados 8 ½ hours later at 2:30pm local time. A short 30 minute transfer from the airport to the port on a Coconut Tours mini bus. At the port we were processed and received our ships passes. What was odd was that we never needed to show our passports at immigration. Once on board the ship we were able to explore the ship whilst we waited a short time until our luggage arrived. The last time we saw the luggage was at check in at Birmingham, to have it delivered direct to our cabin was a real treat. The compulsory muster station briefing was given to all new arrivals, we then attended the sail away party. We managed a couple of hours but retired to our bed at 10pm tired, it was after all 3am in the UK and we had had a long day.
Monday 14th April Arrived at Castries, St Lucia. A hot sunny day. We opted for a 3 ½ hour panoramic tour of the island. Visiting an old colonial house name St Mark’s House which had excellent views of the bay, next a visit to Caribelle Batik (apparently famous throughout the Caribbean) to see how Batik printing was carried out, next visit was to Castries only rum factory where we were shown how rum is made and we then sampled 17 different types of rum, (yesh it was vehy good). A few more stops for photographs of Marigot Bay at scenic points and finally to a small fishing village where we had a short walk about. We managed to find the local Rasta tramp calling himself Robert Bruce aged 58, an ex. fisherman with a few tales to tell. Why is it me who always gets caught? Our afternoon was spent relaxing on the sun deck, we made a start to our suntan.
Tuesday 15th April St John’s, Antigua. Another very hot and sunny start to the day. After a hearty breakfast we took a stroll into the town. A small but busy town. It appeared to be infested by lots of taxi drivers all wanting to take us on a tour of their island. We found them all polite enough and they didn’t pester when we declined their offer, no like some other places we’ve been to. During the afternoon we had opted for an excursion, horse riding + beach. Pretty daring for us having never ridden a horse in our lives. This was an enjoyable hour’s ride but I don’t think I’ll be too upset if I never ride another horse. I ended up a little sore between the legs, the old meat and veg took a bashing when we started a fast trot. After our ride we took a dip in the Caribbean Sea, absolute magic. The evening entertainment on board ship was a comedian, this guy was absolute rubbish, we along with many others walked out of the show and found other entertainment, the fact he was rubbish was proved a few days later when the same comedian put on a second late night cabaret, only 38 people turned up in the show lounge for his show. I’ll bet Thomson don’t employ this guy again. I won’t mention his name in full but his Christian name was Andy.
Wednesday 16th St Kitts, Basettierre. We took a trip on the St Kitts scenic railway. This was pretty good as the train took a slow 18 mile ride across the island. What made the trip apart from an on board choir and the scenery were the complimentary drinks, a good selection from plain water, rum punch, Pina colada and many more. There were two complimentary drinks during the trip. Following the train journey was a coach tour and our driver certainly appeared to know his stuff. I don’t think he stopped talking from starting the tour to ending the tour. Maybe too much information but he meant well I’m sure. One very interesting point was when a lady on our coach asked our driver if he would stop in a small village so she could look at the small church. It turns out that her great, great grandfather was the clergy man at this church when it was built in the 1800’s. All in all a good trip and recommended. The afternoon and evening was quiet, we listened to a musical duo “Heart & Soul” in the Ocean Bar.
Thursday 17th Road Town, Tortola. Today was a special day for us. Today we swam with dolphins. We got to touch the dolphin, belly swim and dance with the dolphin. Dolphins are very soft to touch, did you know that the dolphin replaces the outer layer of skin every two hours? We would recommend this excursion but there is also a down side. The amazing morning was spoilt by the excessive cost of any photographs you wanted as a memory of your swim. A single photo would cost $50, two photos $70 or a DVD plus two prints cost $130.
Another lazy afternoon in the sun followed by an evening show where we heard a very talented young singer named Benjamin Moss. Only 19 years old but he was very good.
Friday 18th & Saturday 19th At sea, as we made our way to Bermuda. We had an unexpected surprise today when we received an invite to the Captains table for dinner. An honour indeed, our thanks to Vicky Johnson the Future Cruise Advisor for the invite.
Sunday 20th & Monday 21st Navy Dock, Bermuda. An overnight at Bermuda. The day started overcast with a cool breeze. It did warm up slightly but the breeze increased and was with us all day.
Day 1: Another daring, well for us a daring excursion. Kayaking in glass bottomed kayaks. This turned out to be very good indeed. A pleasant boat ride to a secluded bay where the kayaks were stored. The idea was that as a group we would kayak along the sea front calling at other secluded bays along the way. For me personally the first half hour things went well but I then began to struggle. Being a sufferer of C.O.P.D. (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) things got tough. I was having breathing problems due to life jacket the strange sitting position was not helping because my chest felt so restricted. As a result we turned back and with my wife’s help we managed to paddle back to the start cove where we waited for the others in the group to return after completing their excursion. So C.O.P.D. sufferers be aware, know the risks before you book a kayaking excursion. Our evening entertainment was listening to Cruise Director Stevie Jay Johnson sing Neil Diamond. Stevie was very good and we enjoyed the evening.
Day 2: We sailed at 4pm so our day was a walk into town. Considering it was Easter Monday the locals did us proud many of them turning out to open their shops and services for us. An enjoyable day was had but one thing we did learn was that Bermuda is an expensive place to shop. On board ship and the show tonight was another excellent show themed on Pirates.
Tuesday 22nd, to Saturday 26th. Ship at sea as we sailed for the Azores. During our time at sea the entertainment team put on many activities to keep everybody occupied. Thursday night entertainment was especially good when a guy named Richie Sampson gave a Motown and Soul show. Richie put on a great show. The one suggestion I would make to Thomson is employ Richie Sampson again and team him up with another great singer named Steve Michaels, together they would be a really great team and the Motown and Soul would be even better still.
Saturday 26th Azores, Horta. Our excursion today was a 4×4 jeep safari across Faial. Another excellent choice spoilt only buy the weather for the first 1 ½ hours when it was too cloudy to see much from the mountain top. Things did improve and we got to see some spectacular views later in the day. Of great interest was seeing how much ash had fallen when the island last had a volcano eruption in 1957. This was seen when we saw the tops of roofs of buried houses and when we visited a disused light house where the first floor accommodation was buried. The light house was abandoned because it was no longer near enough to the coast due to the land rising from the sea. A new automated lighthouse was built. Tonight we booked a special meal aboard our ship in the a la carte restaurant. Lobster Thermador served as part of an eight course meal, it was excellent, much, much better than the fare served up in the other restaurants on board the ship.
Sunday 27th Azores, Ponta Delgada. Today our excursion was a long affair, 7 ½ hours. We took in a scenic tour stopping at various quaint small villages, visited hot water geysers, springs and the finale was our meal sat in a restaurant inside a volcano at a place called Furnas. Lunch was a selection of meats and vegetables that had been cooked in cooking pots lowered down into a hot well from the still active volcano. A really interesting day out. Back on board ship we took in a late show by Richie Sampson. He was brilliant again.
Monday 28th & Tuesday 29th. Two more days at sea as we sailed for Gibraltar. The ship again put on some excellent entertainment including a cabaret by Fogwell Flax, comic, impersonator and singer.
Wednesday 30th Gibraltar. (Little England in the sun) What can I say about Gibraltar that isn’t already known? Probably nothing. One thing we did do during this visit was to go to the top of the rock. We had been to Gibraltar several times over the years but never ventured up top. We decided to walk to the cable car thinking this would be a good way to get to the top. Once we got there and saw the queue for the cable car we had a rethink, we hired a local taxi to take us to the top. This was probably our best decision of the day because not only did we get to the top but we were taken to each of the tourist attractions at the top and this saved us a lot of walking. After visited all the attractions I don’t think I would have seen everything if I’d used the cable car (too far to walk) so the taxi was good value and it cost only £22 per person, good value when you consider the cable car would cost £16 and then you had to walk to and pay to enter the attractions. So my advice, take the taxi you’ll save in the long run.
Another attraction now at Gibraltar is a Morrison’s Store, yes a Morrison’s and its exactly like those at home, This was a great attraction for the ships British crew who were able to purchase those items that they missed from home, many took advantage of this store for their chocolates tea bags and other goodies that they were pining for.
Thursday 1st May Cartagena, Spain. We arrived late 11:30 am and having seen the town from the ship we decided to stay on board. Cartagena was a small town plus it was a bank holiday so we had a lazy day on board topping up our sun tan.
Friday 2nd Valencia, Spain. We berthed a long way from the city; approx. 5k so walking to town was out of the question. Thomson had laid on shuttle buses and charged £4 for a return journey. Valencia is a big, busy, vibrant city with lots of tourists about. Many beautiful buildings including a cathedral and a palace. And when you’ve had your fill of visits and shops not forgetting a huge indoor market, Valencia is a really nice city to sit down at a café with a beer and watch the world go by.
Saturday 3rd Arrived at Palma Majorca. Today we flew home, only 2 ½ hours from Majorca to Birmingham.
Conclusion. We had a really good holiday. Our first experience of the Caribbean followed by the leisurely cruise across the Atlantic has been worthwhile. Thomson ships may be old, the food is possibly mediocre compared to some cruise ships but we find the entertainment is excellent and the ship’s crew without exception are exceptional everybody is so friendly, they make the holiday. We enjoyed this cruise so much that we have already booked a similar cruise for next year on the same ship but this time instead of a 20 day cruise we will do 26 day cruise, take in a few more Caribbean islands plus Mexico and an overnight in Havana Cuba. We will look forward to that.
162 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.