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Cruise Ship Information
MS Thomson Spirit is a cruise ship owned by Holland America Line and operated under charter by the United Kingdom-based Thomson Cruises. She was built in 1983 at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in France for Holland America Line as MS Nieuw Amsterdam.[7] Between 2000 and 2001 she sailed for United States Lines, a subsidiary of American Classic Voyages, as MS Patriot.[2] In 2002 she returned under Holland America Line ownership and reverted to the name Nieuw Amsterdam, but was not used in active service. During the same year she was chartered to Louis Cruise Lines, who in turn sub-chartered the ship to Thomson Cruises, with whom she entered service under her current name in 2003.
Atmosphere on board
The longest-serving member of Thomson's four-strong fleet, Thomson Spirit started life in 1983 as Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam. In 2000 the vessel was taken over by the now defunct United State Lines and renamed Patriot, before being taken over by Louis Cruise Lines. Following a refit in 2002, Louis chartered the ship to Thomson and in May 2003 the vessel began sailing as Thomson Spirit.
As an older, mid-size ship Spirit has many of the trappings associated with traditional ocean liners -- all part of its appeal and one of the reasons it has built up a loyal following of repeat passengers. Features include good-sized cabins, a lovely wrap-around teak deck and spacious public areas, such as a surprisingly large reading and games room.
Another big draw -- particularly for first-time cruisers -- is the tried and trusted brand name of the UK's largest tour operator. Passengers who have gone on Thomson's package holidays can expect a similar experience at sea and a product that is firmly aimed at the British market, particularly on the food and entertainment front.
As a result the vast majority of passengers are British, although some cruises -- in particular shorter ones -- can attract people from other nationalities, such as the US, who might be on holiday in the UK and want to sample a British cruise experience.
Aside from a number of adult-only itineraries, Spirit has a very inclusive atmosphere and offers something for all ages, including multi-generational families, couples, single travellers and younger groups of friends, such as hen and stag parties. The wide range of bars and public areas -- along with a disco until the early hours -- means that even the most diverse assortment of passengers can happily co-exist side by side.
Spirit makes no bones about where it stands in the market, offering great value cruises with none of the bells and whistles or hot and cold running butlers associated with high-end cruise lines. That said, even seasoned cruisers would be wrong to be sniffy. By splashing out a relatively small amount of money on a cabin upgrade and choosing where you dine, Spirit offers a comfortable experience, along with some amenities you don't get on larger, modern ships.
A winter 2013/2014 refit saw balconies added to 19 suites and deluxe cabins on Eagle Deck 9. The facelift also included new decor in the cabins and upgrades to the Raffles Bar and Broadway Show Lounge.
Also new for 2014 are adult-only cruises and taster cruises, and next year will see a new homeport and itineraries for Spirit. For summer 2015 the ship will swap her ex-UK homeport for Marmaris, Turkey, providing six new ports of call for Thomson Cruises -- Bozcaada and Izmir in Turkey and Thessaloniki, Kavala, Chios and Patmos in Greece. Some of these destinations are included in the new "Undiscovered Aegean" itinerary. Two other new itineraries for 2015 are "Eastern Encounter", calling at Beirut, Larnaca, Ashdod and Haifa, and "Black Sea Explorer", with ports of call at Istanbul, Nessebar and Mykonos.
Deck 10 holds a glass-walled playroom, home to Palmy's Children's Club, which has three free-to-use, age-related activity programs; Palmy's Pals covers three- to six-year-olds, Palmy's Crew caters to kids aged 7 to 11 and Teen Club organizes events for older children, who have their own Action Zone arcade.
Opening htheys range from 8 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. (varying according to a weekly timetable) and activities include talent shows, mask-making, face painting, games and discos.
The ship also offers babysitting services (at an extra cost), and a nice touch is the Breakfast Club, a scheme whereby, on certain days, kids are collected from the cabins and taken off for a fun breakfast, leaving mum and dad to enjoy a well-deserved lie-in.
The kids are enctheyaged to make the most of their adventures ashore; the walls of the Palmy's Children's Club are lined with youngsters' drawings and accounts of their travels (sample: "I went on a coch (sic) and woke up in ROME!")
Past Passenger Programs
The Lookout Bar at the top of the ship on Compass Deck (11) was the old Viking Crown Lounge in the ship's Royal Caribbean days and is still very pretty, offering panoramic views, a central dance floor and fresh white and turquoise decor.
The teak-tabled Sailaway Bar to the rear is a good open-air vantage point and, as its name suggests, is particularly popular when the ship is leaving port. Another alfresco bar -- The Mirage -- overlooks the pool on Sun Deck. Drinks are also served in the large-windowed Bounty Lounge, a popular venue for dancing, and in the Ocean Theatre on Emerald Deck (7).
But for my money, the best watering hole is the cheerful Sundowner Bar on Deck 7, which lies opposite the ship's casino and just forward of the Ocean Theatre. Decorated in warm, welcoming shades of deep blue, brown and terracotta, equipped with a grand piano and embellished with eye-catching nautical memorabilia, this bar is divided into cozy areas (including a pub) and is the most popular place on the ship for pre-and post dinner drinks.
Island Escape is set to go all inclusive from March of 2013, which means that house wines, beers, liquors and some cocktails will be included with the price of the cruise. For the time being, though onboard drinks are affordable, but not cheap; a half-liter of mineral water costs £1.15, soft drinks £1.40 and a glass of wine anything from £2.50 to £4.75 depending on quality. There is an option to buy an all-you-can-drink package, and prices vary depending on length of cruise
The ship's shops (Serenade Boutiques) are located on Flamingo Deck (8) and feature a broad and reasonably priced range of goods, from essentials like toothpaste and toiletries to leisurewear, evening clothes and luxury items like fine china, perfume and jewelry.
High up on Sun Deck (10), just forward of the Beachcomber Cafe, you'll find a small but airy Internet Cafe, with a glass wall and six computers facing large windows. On-off Internet access costs 25 pence per minute, but you can buy a range of packages if you plan to make heavy use of the facility. Package A costs £2 for 15 minutes; Package B £ 3.50 for 30 minutes, Package C £6 for an hthey online, and Package D costs £10 for two htheys.
Fitness And Spa
The Shipshape Spa on Deck 10 has a substantial gym and a roomy aerobics studio, both with large sea-view windows. The gym is fairly well equipped, with five steppers, fthey treadmills, five exercise bikes and weight lifting/body sculpting equipment. There are also male and female saunas, unlimited use of which costs £5 per head, per cruise.
Yoga and Pilates classes in the studio cost £5 per session, but some classes and health seminars are free.
Staffed by two hair stylists, one gym instructor and three therapists, the spa is run by Harding Brothers, so prices aren't as eye-watering as you'd find at a Steiner concession, but quite hefty enough, at £45 to £50 for a facial, £40 for a luxury pedicure and £60 for a 75-minute stone therapy session.
I tried a 30-minute, £30 back, neck and shoulder massage with a delightful Brazilian masseuse and found it worth the expense as she really was an expert.
Food & Dining
Island Escape has three restaurants. The casual indoor/outdoor Beachcomber buffet on the Sun Deck (10) -- which has a cheerful decor, pastel tile-topped tables and a pretty tiered outdoor terrace overlooking the ship's stern -- is open 24 htheys a day and offers everything from light snacks to afternoon tea and late-night suppers. It has some splendidly appetizing displays of bread and fruit.
A rather nice hangover from this (if you'll forgive the expression) is the Beachcomber's very relaxed approach to breakfast htheys, with hearty British breakfast fare like eggs, bacon and even black pudding available until noon!
Fthey flights down on Diamond Deck (6), there are more buffets available in the light and airy Island Dining Room which can seat 530 guests. It offers nine tables for two, eight fthey-seaters (which can be adapted to seat two) and plenty of larger tables for groups.
This is very well organized, with two buffet lines and separate stations for salad, cold cuts, bread, cheese and puddings. At lunchtime there is also a carvery and a delicious toasted sandwich of the day. A nice touch is a permanently manned station featuring different daily specialties -- like Salade Nicoise freshly prepared by a Frenchwoman.
The ship's specialty restaurant, The Oasis, is down on Coral Deck (5) and very prettily presented with an Egyptian theme and decor of cream, coffee and gold. It is open only for dinner and rather than paying a supplement to eat here, guests pay extra for daily specials like Chateaubriand (9 GBP a head) or grilled lobster (12 GBP). A fthey-ctheyse "Chef's Suggestion" menu is also available for 9 GBP a head, and there is a fair choice of complimentary dishes, so it is possible for guests on a tight budget to enjoy the restaurant while dining for free.
Bottles of wine are good value, though; house wine costs £9.95 a bottle and for between £11.76 and £13.96 you can wash down ythey dinner with a decent bottle of merlot, pinot gringo or raja.
Passengers can also buy cakes, specialty teas and coffees at the Cafe Brasil, a spacious but rather gloomily decorated area at the rear of the Bounty Lounge on Flamingo Deck (8). A small latte costs £1.70, a cream scone £1.95, and the sweet-toothed can get a plate of sherry trifle for £2.50.
The cafe also has a small library -- really little more than a bookcase, though there are a variety of games available to while away the time.
Entertainment
Evening shows are held in the Ocean Theatre; a highlight on my cruise was a rather enjoyable -- if jingoistic -- tribute to World War II, which had the older passengers wiping their eyes and singing along to nostalgic classics like "We'll Meet Again" and the "White Cliffs of Dover."
Daytime activities include shuffleboard and table skittles ttheynaments, quizzes, line dancing lessons, and bingo sessions; there is a weekly Guest Talent Show.
Shore excursions on the ship's seven-night cruises roundtrip from Palma are affordably priced; £35 per adult, £28 per child buys a full-day tthey of Corsica from Ajaccio, while a full day tthey of Rome and the Vatican from Civitavecchia costs £60 per adult, £48 per child.
Fellow Passengers
Island Cruises prides itself on attracting younger-than-usual cruise passengers, claiming an average age of 45. But you will find older folks on its Mediterranean runs. It's a budget ship so don't expect the passengers to be grand, but they are very friendly and delightful to chat with.
Tipping
Basic tips are include in the price but you may decide to reward special service.
Our recommendation
Really enjoyed they cruise on the Island escape to Corsica, Florence Monte carlo Toulon and Barcelona. 
they Deck 8 cabin located on the promenade/ boat deck was very clean well appointed and maintained with excellent service from they cabin steward the beds are turned down every night.
The all inclusive house drinks and cocktails are of good quality. The food is good, but do not expect at the prices you are paying for the food to be of gormet standard. 
The whole ship is ultra clean an constantly being maintained and cleaned. 
Entertainment team are of a very high standard and you will be impressed by the variety of entertainment and activitys on the ship.