Thursday, 19 October 2017

Beginners Guide to Thomson Cruises

If you follow me on Instagram (or if you don't, get your ass over there) you might have seen that at the beginning of October I went on a cruise around the Mediterranean. It's not something that I had ever considered doing, but it was a special occasion and our original plans to go to Italy by train were kind of blown into the wind, so I just thought "what the heck", booked it and then didn't really know what to expect.
The Thomson Majesty harboured in Ajaccio, Corsica
When we got there, there were quite a few things that I kind of wish I had known about before we got there. Not necessarily because they were bad, but so that we could have been prepared for them.

1. The Cruise operates a cashless system

Note: Everything is sold in Pounds Sterling (£)

Your room card acts as your ticket on and off the ship, and you must show it everytime you want to spend money. There are two options to keep your card loaded with money:

  • You connect your debit or credit account to your card at check-in, and anything you spend will be charged to your card twice; once whilst you are away and anything remaining will be charged at the end of the holiday. Be careful that you don't overspend.
  • Or, you can pay cash up front (a minimum of £200 per cabin) that you can spend. When you run out of money, you just top it up with cash. This option is great if you are holidaying on a budget. Also, be aware that if you have any money left on your card at the end of your holiday (even if it is a matter a pence), you will not be able to leave the ship until it is settled. We had something like £3.20 left and opted to donate it to charity.
There are a few pros and cons for the cashless system. It was nice not having to carry money around, but it was also a pain because when you're on a budget, it can be hard to keep on top of how much you spend.

No matter which method you choose (card or cash), I definitely recommend either making a note every time you purchase something or head to Reception regularly to get an up-to-date print out.

2. Cruises are Expensive

This probably isn't a shock to anyone, whether you have done a cruise or not. However, although I was aware that the price of the cruise itself was expensive, I don't think I realised how expensive it was going to be, on top of all that.

Almost all of the staff will try to sell you something, whether it's encouraging you to buy their on-sale perfume, or lottery tickets, or products in the spa, or expensive hair accessories or trying to get you to attend a wine tasting that they won't tell you need to pay for.

The biggest expense, however, was the Drinks Packages, which brings me to the next one...

3. The Drinks Packages aren't what they seem

 I can imagine that most people booking a cruise will add a drinks package, thinking - as we did - "great that'll be one less thing to think about, right?".

Wrong.

The drinks available come in three levels:

1. Everything has a base price, which is generally expensive

2. If you pay for the initial Drinks Package, a few of these drinks are then free (although not many)
and the rest are available at a "reduced rate", so for the majority of drinks you will still have to pay something, which is generally around £1 - £2, which isn't a great deal but it adds up

3. You can upgrade your Drinks Package for £70 (£10 a day), which gives you everything for free except a few of the pricier options such as champagne and wine.

The Thomson Majesty harboured in Barcelona


4. Housekeeping Staff will enter your Room A LOT

I really don't know how Housekeeping on this cruise worked but they seemed to come in literally all throughout the day.

  • They make the beds in the morning
  • They also turn your bed down in the evening (this usually included a chocolate on the pillow)
  • They will come in to leave any communications with you
  • They will come in with a daily "Cruise News"
  • They may also come in to bring you towels....at 9:30pm...this one is no joke, it genuinely happened to us.

I think my biggest piece of advice if you go to your room to change or fancy an early night, is to make sure you hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door, and only take it off when you leave the room. It sounds overkill, but it saves a lot of hassle.

5. There is nothing more exciting than waking up each morning in a new location

I don't think this one needs too much of an explanation. But some pictures will show you what I mean...


Marseilles, France

Villefrance, France
 
Ajaccio, Corsica

Have you ever been on a cruise? What do you wish you had known? 

Or are you considering going on one, but have questions before you book?

Drop your thoughts, opinions and worries below :)
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