Diary of a Thomson cruise: You’re here for a holiday
Thomson Cruises invited us along to try out their Thomson Dream cruise as it travelled the Adriatic coastline from Corfu to Koper, Venice, Split, Dubrovnik and Kotor. Travelling from Dublin airport we flew over Europe for the 3 hour 50 minute flight across the stunning Alps and down the Croatian coastline.
Arriving in Corfu airport off the Thomson flight was personally like stepping back in time to 30 years ago. It’s a very very similar looking Corfu airport to the one I passed through in 1986.
Everything was very easy and hassle free on arrival in Corfu, airport security was old school, flash them your passport over a crowd of people all doing the same thing and you’re in Greece. Collect luggage and into arrivals to find a team of Thomson reps directing everyone to their coaches. Transfer to the port and check in for your cruise. It’s all very easy, laid back, and welcoming.
Once on board the Thomson Dream we settled in to our surprisingly large room on the 7th floor before heading out to book tours and speciality dining. Tours and speciality dining are all extra costs, but after 15 cruises we’ve found that they always make any cruise a bit more special, especially the dining. Tours can often be too expensive and are often cheaper to book direct with the provider before you arrive in port, but it seems with Thomson they are much better value. Great news for cruisers!
Sailaway was at 11pm and the sailaway party which began at 10.15 was already in full swing as we left Corfu port. It was by far the most energetic and lively sailaway party we’ve seen in 16 cruises, although maybe the one leaving New York for New England was a close match. There was dancing, singing and a great conga snaking around the pool. Get ready to party because these cruisers are here to have an awesome holiday.
Relaxing in the sun with continuous cocktails being brought to us…can it get any better?
Mistrals for dinner takes Thomson Dream to another level of dining with a 6 course meal, amuse-bouche and palate cleansing sorbets. I always love it when at the start of a meal you are presented bread with a selection of salts. A Himalayan salt, a Portuguese Salt and a Hawaiian salt. Mistrals is £19.95 each extra, and worth the extra pounds for a special treat. We did have the best entertainment at dinner ever as one of the diners was serenaded for her birthday by a crazy waiter and his guitar.
Dinner was followed up with some ship entertainment in the rather large Medusa Lounge. Here all the ships’ entertainment came together to provide a Band Jam party. And that was some party, as again, much like the sailaway we’ve never seen a party at sea quite like it.
The best night at sea as Thomson continue to surprise us!
Introduction to Koper, Slovenia
Thomson Dream docked minutes walk from the old town. If you’ve chosen not to go on an excursion, you can disembark and take the short stroll and up 30 or so steps and you’re in Koper centre.
What a day though; the rain came, it wasn’t even a little rain, but a full on heavy downpour for all 3 hours of our walking tour of Koper. Our local tour guide Gorta/Gorty/Gordy (not sure!) was a character and she kept praising us for being so accepting of the horrendous wet weather. Needless to say we were soaked right through!
We did learn loads about Koper old town; it used to be an island; the city coat of arms is a yellow sun (ironic considering the weather) and a jellyfish; it used to be a walled city (like Derry/Londonderry) and Venetian painter Carpaccio was born in Koper.
At only £24 this guided walking tour is great value especially since you also visit a local shop to taste local wine and try local cheese and ham and enjoy bread dipped in delicious local olive oil.
Back on board, as the rain continued to bucket down, our afternoon was spent relaxing, eating, reading and the obligatory afternoon doze. We learnt quickly that to enjoy these mad fun party nights on Thomson Dream, a wee doze was needed in the afternoon.
Dining in the Hot Stone at The Terrace Grill
So, I’m not the biggest red meat eater in the world, I actually still have vegetarian throwback tendencies, meaning that the Hot Stone experience was always going to be a bit of a meaty challenge. But wow. What a meal.
I had the Surf n Turf, without the surf bit, meaning a Filet Mignon on its own was my main of choice. Arriving on a hot ‘lava stone’ to cook just how I like it, it was delicious and huge!
Hot Stone speciality dining surcharge is £15.95 for 4 courses.
Venice by bike
On our sea day at the start of the cruise we had met up with Liz, the hotel manager of Thomson Dream, and although a relatively new start to this ship (3 months in the job), she has a wealth of experience on cruise ships and it seems is a bit of an adventure seeker in life. Liz said Thomson are a little different, her motto is ‘You’re here for a holiday’ and that’s what everyone on board strives to achieve for the cruisers. And we have to agree, that’s the impression we got, they don’t need any thrills, attractions or extra things to do, because the team on board all seem to bring the fun factor and want you to have a great time.
Liz recommended a few tours and activities we should try out, and a cycling tour of Venice was one of those. And that time had come, Venice on a guided bike tour, or to be more precise Lido the island.
Thomson Dream has two resident cyclists and it’s own stock of mountain bikes on board and offers tours at most ports. Keen to get back into some kind of exercise routine again, we thought a day on a bike tour might encourage us to do it at home. What we didn’t expect was a 15 mile cycle round Lido. For £46 each we took a ferry to Lido, passing San Marco Square, and spent the next few hours cycling past little marinas, visiting beautiful villages, enjoying coastal views before stopping for a time on stunning Lido Main Street.
It wasn’t the leisurely cycle as advertised, I don’t think any 15 mile cycle would be leisurely for someone who hadn’t biked in a few years. But it was on the flat, and was hugely enjoyable to escape the crowd of Venice proper and see another side to the city. It’s definitely worth trying a cycle day on Thomson Dream. One other couple who were on their 2nd week on board had signed up for a bike tour every day, and they were 70!!!
Thomson continued to surprise us daily. I’ll be honest in that we had pre-conceived ideas about a Thomson cruise because of our previous package holiday experiences decades ago. But oh how we were proven wrong, as every day we were more impressed with the ship and its crew. It seems Thomson have overtaken some of our other cruise experiences (15 of them) and leapfrogged into our top 3 companies to cruise with.
Of course, the holiday wasn’t over yet and there’s too much for one post, you can read part two of our journey here.