After Thomsons initial attempt to step into the cruise market faltered, when rising fuel prices scuppered their plans in 1976, they have been a firm fixture on the cruising landscape since 1995. With a fleet of five ships, which include a few chartered from Holland America and Louis Cruises alongside some that they personally own, they offer sailings in the Mediterranean, Baltics, Canary Islands, Red Sea and the Caribbean.
The fleet includes four ships that are branded with the Thomson colours and logo, offering their excellent ‘Platinum Cruises’ around the world, and a further ship, the Island Escape, which is branded under Island Cruises (a line owned by parent company TUI). This fifth ship operates solely in Europe and offers a unique brand of all-inclusive cruising which tends to appeal to younger travellers.
Many of the cabins on Thomson’s ships have recently received a bit of a revamp in order for them to offer improved facilities and comfort. The cabin grades range from standard inside and standard outside cabins, up to deluxe cabins and then on to suites. Guests sailing on the Island Escape will also have a choice of a premier cabin if they like and Thomson Spirit even has a luxurious presidential suite available.
In the majority of cases, standard cabins either have two single beds, a queen-sized bed, or two upper and two lower berths in the cabins that accommodate four people. There’s also an en-suite with a bath and shower, a flat screen TV, two full-length wardrobes, hairdryer, and a personal safe that can be rented at a charge.
Deluxe cabins offer slightly more space with the addition of a minibar, a sofa in most cases and a picture window instead of a porthole.
Those opting for accommodation at the highest end of the scale will be able to enjoy a spacious suite that has an entirely separate sitting area. Some suites will have the addition of a balcony, whilst all but those aboard Thomson dream will provide a beautiful king-size bed for you to sleep in. Other suite facilities are similar to those in the rest of the cabins, however Thomson Dream does offer whirlpool baths.
All accommodation grades are air-conditioned and decorated in a contemporary style, and you can even choose your specific cabin number if you wish. Finally, by booking a suite on any Thomson ship you can receive premier service. This includes priority port check-in, express luggage delivery, breakfast in bed once a week and free clothes pressing to ensure you always look your best whilst on board.
Each Thomson ship offers a variety of different dining options to suit every guest’s culinary needs. There are buffet and a la carte restaurants on each vessel and you will also get to choose whether you eat somewhere which requires a reservation or somewhere that is slightly more relaxed. Throw in a range of lighter dining options, perfect when you want lunch by the pool or just a little something to keep you going until the evening, and you have something to satisfy those cravings around the clock. There is also the option to order room service but this does come at an extra cost.
No matter which ship you choose, there will always be a stylish main dining room which offers attentive waiter service and six-course dinners, a more intimate restaurant where you will need to make a reservation and pay a small cover charge, and then a range of further options where classics such as pizza, burgers and fish and chips are served in a relaxed and buffet-style environment.
There will also be a gala night on each cruise where specific meal times will be stipulated and guests can choose from either an early or later sitting.
Cruisers travelling on board Island Escape will also get to experience an all-inclusive trip. This will include all meals, gratuities, service charges and even most drinks options. This way you can relax and really enjoy yourself without having to worry about mentally calculating the costs along the way.
Whatever it is that you like to do in your spare time, you can be sure the facilities on board your Thomson or Island cruise will keep you entertained throughout your holiday. There are live performance lounges on every ship where you can spend the evening being dazzled by singers, dancers, actors and comedy performers as well as quieter areas such as the library for those who like to take things a little bit slower.
Other comfortable seating areas are dotted around the various ships to give you the perfect place to sip a cold drink or just enjoy the stunning scenery as it floats past your window. But if you would rather be a bit more active then there are plenty of sports facilities to get your pulse racing. With a fully-equipped gym or wellness centre on each ship, plus space for some basketball, 5-a-side football or tennis, you may forget all about the fact that you’re currently sailing the seas.
After all that physical exertion you may want to unwind, relax and take it easy for a while. And the perfect place to do this is the spa and beauty salon located on all five liners. Choose from a variety of different therapies or simply find a new look for your hair and nails ready for the evening’s festivities.
However, if you feel like your luck is definitely in then there is only one place to head. The ship’s casino will offer you the chance to win big on the blackjack, roulette or poker tables as well as providing some tempting gaming machines.
With swimming pools, late-night disco areas, lookout spots and even a cinema on some ships, you could fill your time with something different every day and still feel like there’s plenty more you haven’t done yet.
With all the facilities mentioned above, you may not even want to leave the ship, but with so much to offer in each port that you visit there’s no shortage of ways to explore when you do. Specific activities will always depend on where in the world you have decided to sail off to but you can book plenty of time in advance to ensure you get a place on the most exciting excursions.
Days out onshore will include a wide range of activities that suit those who want to take it easy and those who enjoy a bit more of a thrill. Some examples of what you could find yourself getting up to include cable car rides in Madeira, swimming with turtles in Barbados, bathing in the blue lagoons of Reykjavik, and exploring the ruins of Pompeii when the ship docks in Naples.
You can browse all of the excursions related to the destinations visited on your specific cruise and each one is labelled with how much walking there is involved and whether places are limited.