Cruise name: Pride of Panama
Ship: Thompson Dream
The information on this page focuses on the ship. Details of the destination above
are outline on their individual pages. Information on our excursion can be read on the individual countries blog page. Click on the country links above and read about our experience.
Starting out of our usual haunt the journey begins at London Gatwick. Travelling as part of a package deal with Thomson Cruises (Now Marella Cruises) we also brought Nana along for the adventure.
Due to her limited mobility (she would never admit this), we always utilise special assistance whenever Nana is with us. They are always very friendly and helpful and take her from the main waiting area to the gate.
The flight was much the same with the vegetarian option being cheese, cheese and more cheese and eating Deli noodle boxes to go.
Due to Nana’s special assistance we remained on the plane and were whizzed through customs. As it’s a cruise you don’t go through usual customs, instead your ushered through a little side door where you board a coach. You are then driven to port where you embark the ship.
The hotel experience
This was the first-time Nana had ever been on a cruise ship and she was terrified. I don’t know what her ‘Island-self’ was thinking a cruise ship looked like, but her face was a picture the whole journey.
Nana grew up with the doctrine “Waata, nuh ‘ave branch”, so for those who don’t understand what that means, it’s basically that there’s no way of pulling yourself to safety in water as there are no branches, and therefore why risk your life? We tried to explain that it’s like a hotel on water, but this little lady (our nickname for her 5 foot nothing self) would have come backs like “Hotels are brick and mortar” or “the Titantic was also a hotel on water”.
Whilst driving alongside the ship for approximately 30 seconds we asked her if she could see it. She very stubbornly and anxiously responded ‘No’. When we pointed it out and she was blown away by its size. In typical Nana response the next words out of her mouth was ‘Woooow – ah dat?’ before covering her opened mouth with her hand.
Boarding was simple, taking our picture for the ID boarding card and setting up an account for the cruise duration.
The only disappointment with this ship/itinerary was it not being disability friendly. Nana uses a 4-wheeled walker and she/we had to bump this up and down steps to embark and disembark this ship. We also overheard another disabled cruiser stating she had been stuck on the ship for the whole week as none of the excursions had been equipped for wheelchair users. Please bear this in mind when travelling, to avoid disappointment. The best thing to do is call Marella cruises to ask all these questions before booking.
We had opted for the Suite Cabin room and whilst it didn’t have a balcony we thoroughly enjoyed this room. It was 35m2 with a separate bedroom, living room with 2 sofas (that doubled up as an additional bedroom – with foldaway wall bed), walk in wardrobe and bath-sized walk-in shower. Truly unexpected luxury. You only have porthole windows, but for Nana’s first Voyage this was perfect. She kept looking out to the ocean and would wake up early to stand by the window and see the sunrise.
As always, the housekeeper was lovely and always helpful.
We received a complimentary upgrade to All inclusive which was handy for an indecisive Nana. She’s more of a picky eater than we are, so we found the main buffet was the best option. The main buffet restaurant is quite small compared to the Celebration and Discovery, but there is another Buffet restaurant on the 10th floor with the outdoor pool which isn’t as busy.
Things to do
There is the usual Broadway show lounge and regular hourly entertainment. Expect to be involved and entertained by everything. Not as much to do as on the Discovery, but with the use of a DVD in our suite and a surplus of movies, I had no complaints.