Written on: 15/11/2005 by Martin Waite (5 reviews written)
Very friendly, efficient, helpful, Great food, great Filipino crew, great entertainment, great Ireland's, and great tours.
Where do I start?
Get yourself a cup of tea this might take a while.
Thomson celebration. 4th November 2005 - 11th November 2005
This was our first cruise. My wife and son saved for months to pay for a holiday of a lifetime, as this was going to be my 40th birthday surprise.
We arrived at Tenerife airport (Sofia Riena) late afternoon. We had a good flight from Cardiff. Bags took 20 minutes or so, and we were out through the door looking for our Thompson rep. All the searching in the world couldn't find her. At last I noticed a short woman having a breather up against the exit doors, far right as you exit the baggage hall. Everyone else had a card held high; she didn't even look like our rep.
We boarded the coach and headed north. We had a quick journey to the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We were met by a young Thomson rep that boarded the coach and set out the following boarding procedure.
Things were looking up. He was friendly and precise, and pointed us to check in. We were met by a photographer, then passed onto the check-in girls (and very nice they were too).
We were given our boarding cards which would allow us to board the ship, and while on board would be the way to pay for all drinks, photos, excursions toiletries, buy chips in the casino (yes I was caught in there once, 04:35 isn't a good time to try and creep into your room), you must go and pay for all inclusive.
We walked a short distance to our home for the next 7 days and what a sight it was, "fantastic" my boy said out loud.
We were met by a load of boys off-loading our suitcases, all smiling, joking and very friendly (like to see that back home Ha!!!), the last we were to see of our luggage until we got to our room.
We I.D'd our luggage and was up the ramp onto the ship, through the airport type scanners and hand baggage conveyor belt. We were met by our escort who took us to the lift, deck 7 room 123, we had arrived.
Our bags were right behind us, within 5 minutes of arriving at our room Rio (as he asked to be called) introduced himself to us, "I am your room assistant for your stay, anything I can do to make your stay comfortable just ask"
WOW things are really good. Can this last?
We unpacked and decided to tour the ship, our first impressions were one of amazement, this was a ship impersonating a high street. Cinema, shops, bars, look out hear we come.
By now we were all very hungry, let's try the Lido restaurant AFT deck 5 (back of ship to you and me). Now this is where I always get disappointed on every holiday. Usually the food is good to not bad at all. Boy was I going to enjoy this holiday. Not to bore you too much (yer I know. Too late) the food throughout the ship was better than some 5 star restaurants I have visited (for you lot that live in Cardiff you'll know Gilby's Culverhouse or Porto's queen street), my boy hates food, but he liked the menu here.
After a bite to eat in the lido 24H restaurant, (yes 24 hour, try it I was eating a full chicken curry at 0300 one morning), we went out back (AFT) to see the Celebration leaving party. This was so exciting - singing dancing. I thought for a minute I was part of an MTV gig. The dancers were again fantastic (little did I know just how good they would be at the Broadway shows) after we left port, a quick pizza and a hot dog with my boy waving goodbye to Santa Cruz.
The first night was bad. Sorry Thomson not your fault, the Atlantic just wasn't on your side that night. We tried to sleep, or should I say my wife and I tried to sleep, as our little one was out of it all night every night without fail. You don't get sea sick, it's just the feeling that on deck 7 your moving around a bit, and this makes you disorientated, but it was soon to pass.
Saturday morning and what a sight. Looking out through our cabin window. We have arrived in Las Palmas.
After taking part in the safety rehearsal which is compulsory due to maritime law (my boy loved this, as you get to put on your life jacket and all hell breaks loose for 15 minutes).
We ate at the Lido restaurant, although you could have had waiter service in the Meridian restaurant (we only ate here once on the night of the captain's cocktail party, fantastic food and service).
Off to the beach. A short walk to a great beach, waves, food, beer and then off to the science museum opposite the port for an hour or two. Fantastic day out.
The evening was an eye opener. I posted last year a review of Alcudia's Condesa la Bahia. The shows reminded me of the Euro-vision song contest, no such rubbish here, FOSSE, WEST SIDE STORY, THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, DISNEY/LION KING STORY. We will never forget the professionalism, fun and excitement we witnessed from these extremely talented people.
Every night was as the last. We would have a fantastic meal, an option of at least 5 meals per sit in, and these changed throughout the day/night. An evening show in the Broadway show lounge deck 5, onto Liberties deck 6 for Bingo, Disco's, fantastic quizzes (I hate quizzes but even I enjoyed the fun here.
I am going to skip La Palma and Madeira, not because they weren't up to the standards set up to now, but because I have a very worrying message to get across.
DON'T GO. Stay on the boat. This place was so scary it effected the rest of our holiday. We had booked ourselves on many trips organized by Thomson over the last few days - all are highly recommended. La Palma's volcanic crater left us speechless; Madeira's Funchal is beautiful, relaxing, and what everyone should experience at least once. As for Agadir well!!!
We had booked ourselves onto the bridge tour on Wednesday at 14:00 while docked in Agadir. We didn't have enough time to take a Thomson tour so decided to catch one of the many taxi's that wait for you to go ashore. I asked the Thomson rep if we should be careful of anything as I was going to take my wife and child to the market advertised in the "Cruise news" newsletter posted through the door every evening. I was told to make sure I agreed a price before entering the cab. We did this - 8 Euros to the market. On our way the normal thing to happen is for the taxi driver to offer you a fixed price tour of the local amenities, this isn't a problem on any other island on the trip, we were offered a trip to see the Kasba, the camel ride, and the grand souk market.
We agreed a price 25 Euros for a two hour trip. First up the video camera was out for the view of the beach from high on the Kasba, then a short trip up the road to the camel ride. We were told not to pay no more than two Euros for a camel ride (cheap I know, but that's what we were told). My son and wife boarded the animal after I had agreed a price of two Euros. and off into the sunset they went. I was the only European there. As soon as my wife and son were gone I was surrounded by 6 Arabs. All VERY intimidating, and demanding 100 Euros each for my son and wife to return.
Each Arab added his price. One for interpreting for the other. A simple glance of the video camera over the Arab with the snake allowed him to demand 50 Euros. The Arab with the post cards of Kasba in ruins demanded 100 Euros because I glanced at him, all this time my wife and son were out of sight. I had a snake thrown around my neck, and then a demand for another 30 Euros. If I hadn't threatened the taxi driver with NO MONEY, I don't think things were going to get better. I eventually got them to bring my wife and son back to the top of the hill, still surrounded by 6 Arabs ALL demanding 100 Euros, and change was no good as they cannot exchange it for notes, so on they went with the demands. I eventually parted with 50 Euros just to get my family out of there. And I have it all on video.
We eventually were taken to the market, although we insisted we go back to the ship. We were lead to the market entrance where we were leaped upon by a "Salesman". We wanted to have a quiet look around, but that was not to be. We were again the only Europeans in the place with about 15 Arabs all over us, which was very intimidating.
I wanted to buy my wife a Rug from Morocco as she had always wanted one, and as it was our anniversary the next day 9th November we were going to spend a bob or two. Only we were put under pressure the whole time. We parted company with the "salesman" £160 less than when we arrived, before we could get in the taxi another £20 was taken from me as a "thank you" for giving us a great deal.
We still could not get back to the ship. The taxi drivers have ports of call, friends that you ARE going to visit before you are taken back, each with a price before you leave.
We didn't believe we would be taken back to the ship, even when we could see the ship 500 metres from us. I won't go on. Just to add we were verbally shouted at as we pulled up at traffic lights, and I believe we are not guests as in other destinations, we are money fodder there for the taking.
Back on board I was told the only reason Thomson go to Agadir is so sewerage can be let loose off shore, as long as we ship brings tourists to the country. I don't know if that's true, but ask anyone on this cruise about the fly epidemic that stays with you for the rest of the cruise. I also witnessed the crew fumigating the ship while I was having a 03:00 drink that evening/morning.
Back on course we headed to Lanzarote - what a fantastic island. The volcano trip was magnificent, and the tour guide was extremely helpful and friendly.
The Filipino crew are the friendliest people I have ever met. They are a credit to their country. I could name so many of them, and they all contributed to a wonderful experience.
On to our last day, Santa Cruz Tenerife - another great day walking the streets of the capital of Tenerife, with warm weather, friendly people, and lots of interesting things to do.
The last day was as organized as the first, and we didn't have to see our baggage until Cardiff, which meant we could turn up at the airport 30 minutes before our flight home.
Day 1 Tenerife. Thomson you were fantastic, we were very impressed.
Day 2 Las Palmas - Fantastic.
Day 3 La Palma - Fantastic.
Day 4 Madeira - Again fantastic.
This is where Thomson have gone wrong... You leave Madeira around 20:00, and you are at sea heading for Morocco, Agadir all night on Monday. At sea all day Tuesday. At sea all Tuesday night, and wake up in Morocco Wednesday morning. We feel we would have had a better holiday staying with the Archipelago, and not spending all that time in on a very choppy sea to meet very dangerous people.
Day 5 at sea was very choppy, but the crew were fantastic as usual. There was loads to do and see, and the captain's cocktail party was brilliant.
Day 6 - HELL on earth - never again. I could have gone on about that day for ever.
Day 7, Arrecife Lanzarote. The tour of the volcanos was spectacular.
Day 8 Santa Cruz Tenerife. A great place.
My final thought... Thomson ditch the Morocco trip and take me to another island. I won't book this trip again, as I see two days plus the return journey from Morocco as a waste of my holiday.
Change the route and I would give this cruise 100%. Keeping it as it is, I would give 85%, which is unfair as this trip was fantastic.
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