In June, we broke the bottle on TUI Discovery, our latest addition to the Thomson Cruises fleet. And, last week, we made waves again when we announced the launch of TUI Discovery 2 for summer 2017. Two members of our Editorial team were lucky enough to bag VIP tickets to the TUI Discovery launch. Here, they look back at their experiences…
“I’ve never considered myself a cruise customer before. If I was a hashtag, #NotForMe would probably sum me up perfectly…
But, the thing is, I’m not a hashtag and, what’s more, things promised to be different. This was a chance for a sneak-peek at our latest ‘liner in the line-up, TUI Discovery. There’d be the chance to see Palma, Majorca’s cultured capital. We’d have a day in Barcelona. And a special guest would be performing live, especially for us. I felt privileged. So, off we went.
The first night, we arrived late. The buffet restaurant was waiting for us, though, with plenty of tasty options to pile your plate high with – everything from spaghetti bolognese and chicken curry to fish goujons, soups and salads. We hit the bar for a quick night cap, then it was off to our cabins (roomier than I had expected and well appointed) for a good night’s sleep.
We began the next day with a guided tour of the ship, and I was really impressed. The choice of dining options was extensive, with an Asian fusion restaurant, Kora La, a contemporary Italian restaurant, Gallery 47, and the Surf & Turf Steakhouse, complete with its showpiece two-pronged fork (because the less metal that disturbs your meat, the better, apparently!).
Entertainment had been carefully considered, too. There was an outdoor cinema, a crazy golf course and a climbing wall to have a go at, as well as two detective-style break-out rooms where you had to piece together clues that would help you bust out. Everything had been thought of. I was beginning to like cruising.
Off into Palma next, then. With its Gothic-style cathedral, cobbled squares and friendly locals, the city exceeded my expectations. We lapped up as much history as we could, before whiling away the afternoon the only way the Spanish know how – with tapas and sangria.
That night was the big one, we were promised a star – but not before a dramatic Olympic-style ceremony. There was flag-waving, singing and dancing, all part of a dazzling celebration of Thomson Cruises’ ports of call. Then, it happened. Jess Glynne strutted into the spotlight to a crescendo of feverish shrieks, and she cycled through the hits as waiters shoved cocktails under our noses (it’d be rude not too, wouldn’t it?).
The next morning, we woke up in Barcelona. The magic of going to sleep in one city and waking up in another wasn’t lost on me, and I woke up feeling refreshed and eager to explore. We headed into the city for a whistle-stop tour of some of its famous sights, including the architectural charm of the Gothic Quarter, the sheer oddity of La Rambla and its street entertainers, and La Boqueria market, with rows upon rows of cured meat, cheese and fresh fruit stalls.
Back on board, the West End-style show was all a bit ‘Glee’ for me, but things picked up later on when a live reggae band took to the stage. And that’s just it – as with any holiday, there’ll be bits you don’t like. But there was so much more that I did. So, you know what? I think I’ve come full circle on cruising – it is for me. Next time, count me in.”
“It was my first time even stepping foot onboard a cruise ship, and TUI Discovery’s launch event was a great introduction to holidaying at sea. I knew entertainment played a big part on a cruise – especially because most Thomson Cruises only sail at night – so experiencing the after-dark scene was top on my to-do list. And I was blown away by TUI Discovery’s house band – a young, St Lucian quartet called Protégé, who had the crowd in the palm of their hands with their high-energy live sets of everything from Bob Marley to Bruno Mars.
Then, of course, there was the main event – the ship’s official christening party. After the bottle of fizz was ceremoniously smashed against the ship’s hull, one of the creative crews behind the London 2012 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies took us on a dance tour of TUI Discovery’s ports of calls. The showstopper was definitely the segment representing Spain, when dancers sashayed around the stage with a life-size puppet of a bull, à la War Horse. Afterwards, we were treated to a surprise performance by award-winning singer, Jess Glynne. I watched from the ship’s 10th deck as she belted out hits like ‘Hold My Hand’ and ‘Rather Be’.
On the second night of the taster cruise, we sat down to one of the ship’s 11 brand-new evening shows. It all took place in the fancy Broadway Show Lounge, which would be right at home among the West End’s theatres. The show – a summertime love story, played against a soundtrack of some iconic summer tracks – was just as good, too. We rounded off our nights with a cocktail or two in the Live Room. For me, this venue was one of the biggest surprises. It’s no secret that cruising is usually seen as quite a formal affair, but the Live Room is anything but. It’s a really chilled out spot, where you can order a flight of craft beers and relax to the sounds of a virtual band. And did I mention the neon-yellow piano in the middle?
TUI Discovery’s launch event not only whet my appetite for a holiday on the waves, it also gave me a first-hand look at the innovative steps Thomson Cruises are taking to modernise their fleet. I worked on Thomson Cruises’ brochure when the ship first went on sale, so to see it in the flesh was a real treat.”
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Author: Thomson Holidays
Published: July 29, 2016
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