Posted January 12th, 2013, 08:47 AM
Last edited by John Bull; January 12th, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Hello, we are looking at a 7 da Thomson cruise on 3/13/13 that makes stops at Alexandria, Port Said and 2 nights at Ashdod. Heard all the bad news about Thomson, but figure the great port stops would be worth it.
Just come back from Thomson's Red Sea Magic, & had a great time. My second time on Thomson.
Broadly they're older ships, classic lines (think "Love Boat"), with none of the glitz or toys.
Buffet food (the Lido) is ok, though the surroundings aren't plush, main dining room & food & service are good, evening entertainment is way better than any other line I've sailed - including much much larger ships.
Staff are happy, friendly & hard-working - you'll have no complaints there.
Currency is GBP (don't let the ship convert to USD cos I'm guessing that like all cruise lines the conversion rates are poor. Instead, leave the charge in GBP & allow your credit card supplier to convert to USD at much better rates)
Tips are included in the ticket price, though at the end of the cruise most cruisers put their hands in their pockets for a bonus of around £20 per cabin per week (totally different tipping culture to the USA).
And no service charges on drinks.
On-board prices are way way lower than you'll be used to. For instance a bottle of the very drinkable house red is £11.95. On RCI & Princess cheapest was equivalent to £20 incl service charge.
Ship's excursion prices are mebbe 20% lower than most cruise lines, for exactly the same excursion via the same local providers.
So you'll find your on-board spend is refreshingly economical.
The only seriously bad news you should have heard about Thomson was Thomson Dream's first season - she was bought from Costa & had big big plumbing & aircon problems. Great sympathy for the thousands who were affected, but that was a couple of years ago & its now ancient hisory.
Two very very important matters:
They're very friendly ships - yes you can keep your head down if thats what you want, but you'll not be short of folk to chat to.
And the clientele is almost 100% Britis, announcements etc only in english. Might create a bit of a language barrier for you
- even I
need an interpreter when talking to a Scotsman or a Geordie
Brit cruisers are perhaps a bit more stoic than our trans-Atlantic cousins. In places which are often un-settled, like Israel or Egypt, Brit cruise lines don't cancel months ahead - if neccessary, they change itinerary late-in-the-day. That weekly Red Sea Magic cruise has carried on throughout without problems though on at least one occasion when tensions were high, at short notice Eilat was substituted for Sokhna (Cairo)
BTW, Alex and
Port Said seems a bit of a waste. Cairo is accessible from both, but Port Said itself is an absolute dump - so visit Cairo from there. Folk tell me that Alex isn't special but has a few places of interest. Possibly included for Brits who want to visit the WW2 Desert Rats battlefield of El Alamein (as Churchill said, before El Alamein we never won a battle, after El Alamein we never lost one)