Travel operator: thomson
the whole experience from going on board to comming off was so smooth.
ALL staff couldnt do enough for you. any thing you wanted to know if they didnt know they would find out for you
the intertainment staff were very good they dont have alot of room to do there acts but they manage very well indeed. we had a look around back stage and theres not alot of room there as well but asusal they manage no bother.
the waiting on staff and bar staff were the same couldnt do enough for you and always with a smile on there face.
all in all i think the WHOLE cruise was exelent and yes it is a lot smaller ship but it makes it more friendly than some of the other larger ships.
Travel operator: thomsons
Travel operator: thomson
It was our first cruise and we chose it for the itinerary. We were the only independent travellers on board, the rest all travelled by air from the UK with Thomson. This gave me a headache pre-cruise because the UK call centres could not answer my questions and insisted that they would be sending me tickets, even though I repeatedly explained that I would not be needing them as I was not flying to the embarcation port with them!! Once on board, the patient and well-informed information desk told me everything I wished to know! Well done them!
Very easy embarcation, with a genuinely friendly welcome. The friendliness of the crew regardless of their rank or department persisted throughout the week and was very positive when you were stumbling about in search of that essential early morning cuppa!
Cleanliness aboard was impeccable - I was particularly impressed with the public toilets which received heavy use all day and night, but still remained clean and fresh. Our cabin too was spotless, and our cabin steward,Henry, could not do enough for us. A real gentleman. We were on deck 3 in an inside cabin and the cabin was sufficiently generously sized so that we didn't have to play sardines! Loads of hot water, and clean towels were standard. It was good to be able to see outside by using the TV for a bridge camera view and also when docking! Loads of hangers (unexpected!) and a full length wardrobe.
The catering on board is done in one galley, for both guests and crew. The cruise director on more than one occasion apologied for the fact that 24 hour dining was not available on this ship, but quite frankly there was always something available to eat, and although it was mass-catered, the quality was good and the quantity copious. Tea, coffee and water plus fruit was available 24 hours a day, and the plastic beakers provided were large enough to give you a goodly amount if you took them on deck. The waiters and bar staff were quick and efficient, where ever you chose to dine and drink, and they were very good humoured.
I remember reading reviews before sailing and thinking cynically 'they must be all after tips' when I read about the friendliness of the Calypso staff. Well they WERE all friendly and tips had nothing to do with it!! All crew members from the Officers down to the Engine Room mechanics were very approachable, and it felt good when cheery voices asked after you, even when you got into the lift with 'below decks' staff.
But there are two groups of staff that I'd like to single out for particular attention. Firstly the multinational reception desk personnel who are on duty 24 hours a day, charming and gentle and cannot do enough for you, and the dedicated Thomson employees such as Paula ('destinations manager'), Debbie, her deputy and Lucy the social hostess.
But I cannot but express my admiration for the Entertainment Team, lead by the redoubtable cruise director Frank Hammond. These folk can dance, sing, act and teach (salsa, greek dancing and singing), AND they accompany excursions, greet you pleasantly at all hours of the day and night - they NEVER seem to be off duty - and play an important part in the Muster Drill. They work non-stop for 8 months and you would never know it, because they never put a foot wrong or sing a bum note! Frank is very professional, but friendly and approachable, and his commentary through the Dardanelles and during our passage through Istanbul at night was very helpful. His 'intellectual equal', a retired architect called Alfred Rowe, presented three excellent talks with slides about the Dardanelles/Gallipoli campaign, the Crimean War and the Mosques, Minarets and Mosaics of Istanbul. I found these very interesting, and they should become a regular feature on all cruises.
There were plenty of daytime activities - I even learned how to fold a napkin into various shapes with varying degrees of success ...... though I can't remember now, 5 days later, what I actually did!! I didn't use the gym, but my son who did, was very impressed by the variety of machines and that they all worked!! He also spent some time - and money - using the internet!!
I was impressed by the ship's photographer, who took 'meeting the Captain' and dinner table photos on the formal night, but there was no pressure to buy any of them, and his presence was blissfully low-key! I thought his pics were good, and of course bought them, but without any hard sell.
I would just add that I never got to visit Limnos. We hit rough seas and the Captain used his discretion and for safety reasons, decided to head back to Thessaloniki without trying to berth there. Very sensible, as it meant that we reached calmer seas much sooner than if we had moored there for the day, and the Entertainment Team rose to the occasion and provided a full day's varied entertainment programme almost at the drop of the proverbial hat.
I would certainly travel on the Calypso again - there were folk aboard who voiced their negative opinions about the smallness of the ship but I found it adequate and comfortable for my needs. Mind you, I was still getting lost on day 5 and met a lot of very friendly folk in the process! It was a relief to have no under 16s aboard, and thankfully no one seemed to be on a mission to drink the ship dry of alcohol. There was NO silly behaviour and everyone maintained their dignity but had a lot of laughter as well. And there was no need to 'reserve' a sunbed .... and there were always chairs available on deck.
I had a wonderful week that I will always remember with great pleasure (except for the choppiness on day 7) and look forward to cruising again on this ship.
Travel operator: Independent traveller
Our cabin was on deck 6 and alough small was very clean and well maintained, as was the whole of the ship.
Most passemgers were in the older age group and with minor exceptions very polite and well behaved. They could drink, but I suspect due to experience held it well.
The evening dining was fixed seating and we had some excellent dining companions for the week.
Food was OK, well served, but the dining room at the rear of the ship lacked a little natural lighting.
In respect of the ships staff these could not be faulted and most seemed to have a number of jobs. The staff were by far the most friendly of the Thomson fleet (we have travelled on all the other Thomson ships).
One extra on this trip was a guest speaker was well able to talk on the history of the area, and we had a very good talk when the ship passed through the fighting areas of the first world war. As my granfather had fought here with the East Lancashire Division it was even more relevent to me.
The on board entertainment was good with a variety of shows and a play.
The ship itself did not rock and roll, but to be fair we had few rough seas.
In all a good ship, with small cabins, able to reach a number of ports that other ships could not.
Reasonable value for money.
In the merger of First Choice and Thomsons the First Choice arm of Thomsons need to bring up the two Island ships up to the standard of the Thomson ships, but Thomson need to bring up the standard of Thomsonfly to that of Fisrt Choice Airlines. Prehaps then we can have the best of both forms of transport in a mass market.
Travel operator: Thomson
We had good Thomson flights both ways between Gatwick and Thessaloniki although they were a little delayed but nothing major. We were pleased to have 25 kgs luggage allowance which was a first! We have sailed with Thomson three times before and have always been very satisfied….we have also sailed with Princess twice, Costa twice and Discovery once and Thomson is by far our favourite.
The Calypso is an old ship, a converted car ferry, and the style is not the same as the huge modern ships….she is small, just 430 or so passengers (adults only) which gives an intimate feel to her. As we have found with all our Thomson cruises, the food was excellent with a varied and beautifully cooked menu served piping hot in the main restaurant, we mainly ate there rather than the Bistro buffet because there was more selection. There was also a grill with salads, etc on the open deck at the rear of the ship by the buffet. Plenty of fresh fruit available in the buffet to take away with you if you wanted…also tea (herbal, fruit, earl grey etc) and coffee available at all times as was cold drinking water. The staff were mainly Phillipino in the restaurant along with Eastern Europeans doing various jobs and some Greek staff as well. It is fixed seating for dining which we don’t mind, but there is the buffet option if you don’t like to dress up a bit. One formal evening per week but most men wore lounge suits and tie rather than dinner jackets.
We chose our cabin on Deck 6 which was fairly small compared to lower grade ones on the lower decks which seemed more spacious…I shall be writing to Thomson to suggest they might reassess the grading of the cabins. We looked at some on Deck 3 which were very spacious and would be quite happy saving some money and having one of those next time!! However we were comfortable and the ensuite seemed quite new as did the soft furnishings…nice quality curtains and bed covers. We had a Ukranian cabin girl Olena who kept our cabin absolutely spotless and gave us the obligatory towel animals and chocs on the pillow!!! In spite of being on Deck 6 which is at the top of the ship, we had a very comfortable ride even in the choppy waters of the northern Black Sea!! My Stugeron remained in the packet. (had to take them on the Sea Princess which is 4 x the size, crossing the Bay of Biscay!!) The ship never felt crowded and there always seemed to be plenty of sunbeds available on the top sun deck. We chose to sit at the back of the ship or on the promenade deck.
The entertainment was superb considering the restraints of the ceiling height and small stage in the Festival Show lounge. The team put on some superb shows rangeing from Cole Porter to Abba, different every night for two weeks with two lighthearted plays on two of the evenings and a comedienne (Brenda Collins - excellent) and a comedian/magician on two other evenings….the remaining evenings were musical shows. The Cruise Director for the first week was Stephen Guy and for the second Keef Maynard…both excellent!!
The itineraries were both very good ….the first week calling at Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Mykonos and back to Thessaloniki and then the second week sailing through Istanbul at night (fantastic) then Nessebar, Bulgaria up to Sevastopol, Ukraine , back down to Constanta, Romania and then to Istanbul for the day. We finished up at Limnos another beautiful Greek Island before our return to Thessaloniki and the flight home. We chose the itineraries because we wanted to experience the Black Sea area and have a taste of Istanbul…although we probably wouldn’t want to revisit Ukraine or Romania it was interesting to find out a little of the culture and history. We loved Istanbul and would like to visit again. We didn’t do any organised trips on the first week as we felt comfortable ‘doing our own thing’ and it was easy. The second week we did excursions in Sevastopol, Romania and Istanbul.
The weather around the Greek Islands was absolutely perfect…the Black Sea was a bit changeable but only a shower now and again, nothing more than that. All in all we had a wonderful holiday on a lovely small ship, we had excellent service from a friendly crew and met some nice people.
Travel operator: thomson
Slight problem when we arrived in Thessaloniki - there was a coach waiting for us but whilst it did have enough room for everyone it did not have enough room for all the luggage. This caused about a 40 minute delay at the airport and for some people seemed to start their holiday off so badly that they never recovered. The usual embarkation formalities which were efficiently handled. The new Maitre'd this year is very personable but on first meeting him in the cruise terminal I (wrongly) thought he was a miserable so and so.
My cabin was again on deck 2 and I had the same cabin stewardess - Violetta. Now some people believe that on cruises you are forgotten the minute you leave your tips and leave the ship. On the Calypso this is not the case. I was being shown to my cabin by one of the staff and Violetta was coming down the stairs and even though I recognised her I didn't let on initially. However she did a double take when she saw me and it was hugs and she insisted on taking over the showing me to the cabin. I don't think I tipped to such an excess last year or made such an impression that she would remember. However this recognition continued throughout the cruise. On the night of the first Captain's cocktail party I was waiting to have my photo taken and Paula the Destinations Services Manager was managing the queue and she also recognised me as did George, one of the Head Waiters, a number of the other waiters and Francis, Fletcher, Tasha and Oliexiy (sp?) in the bars. They didn't all remember my name but they did recognise me 9 months on (and I don't have any distinguishing features that I know of).
Ports of call on the first week were Zante, Corfu, Itea, Piraeus (for Athens) and Volos. At about 4pm on the day at sea we sailed through the Corinth Canal which was amazing. I had passed over the Canal many times on trips from Zante to Athens but to cruise through it was amazing. In Zante I just did my own thing - went to the Church of St. Denis and lit a candle for one of the dining room waiters on the Emerald who sadly passed away during the winter. In Corfu there was a public transport strike and so all trips were cancelled. One of the Costa Ships was berthed behind us and I heard them announcing the same thing but an RCI ship was also in port and they had buses to take them around causing many on the Calypso to think this was some sort of a Thomson foul up. In Itea I did the trip to Delphi - a wonderful day out. Its an UNESCO World Heritage site and naturally no smoking, food or drink (apart from water) is allowed on site. I was particularly disgusted to see that the guest lecturer on the Calypso who was travelling with his daughter and just behind me most of the day smoked and discarded his cigarette butts without any regard to the rules.
In Piraeus I just wandered around the city on my own. One great thing about the Calypso this year is that Thomson gives fabulous information on going it alone in ports of call. There is no hard sell on the trips and Paula (and her assistant - Debbie (I think)-are only too happy to tell you how you can see the areas of interest at the least cost. Volos required a trip to see Meteora - the amazing rock formations with monasteries at the top. This was a full day excursion and we visited two of the monasteries and had lunch with a 2 hour drive through lovely countryside each way. Others did the Mount Pelion steam train excursion which most enjoyed.
The second week was my rest week. On the day at sea we cruised past the monasteries on Mount Athos. Then to Aghios Nikolaos in Crete which is a very pretty little town with some lovely shops. Next was Rhodes and unlike on previous cruises we berthed about one mile from the entrance to the old town so there were shuttle buses laid on. Next day it was Santorini. Lovely port but some people did not heed the warning about the queue for the cable car and so had to stand for an hour in the sun waiting. There were many complaints that night at dinner. After that it was Kusadasi which I don't particularly care for so I stayed on board. This was followed by Mykonos - my favourite Greek port (probably the Shirley Valentine in me). Then back to Thessaloniki. If anyone needs information on the ports of call or the excursions available I still have all the copies of the Cruise News and the excursion guide.
Fellow passengers - well mostly in their late 50's - early 60's and mostly well behaved. That is apart from a group of my fellow countrymen. There were 8 of them on the first leg of the trip and 4 on the second leg and they tended to look down on everyone else. However some of the conversations I overheard at the outside bistro area in the evening would make any Irish person ashamed - the language, the personal details, the names two of them called each other - obscenities which should not be used but certainly not when other people are within earshot. Yet they thought they were above everyone just because they gave the odd euro to the bar staff when they got their drinks. Enough said - they were disgusting. I sort of sensed what they would be like when on the first day at sea I saw them on the sun deck and with their belongings spread on 3 loungers facing the other way - just so they would not have to move the loungers in the afternoon and the sun's position had changed.
The ship is very very clean and there is always someone cleaning something. However this year I did notice on 2 - 3 occasions a smell of raw sewage in my bathroom. There was also a smell (one of my table companions likened it to a stink bomb) in the lower end of the dining room a couple of times. At first we though we imagined it but then we saw one of the dining room waiters walking around the area with a can of air freshener under a napkin and trying (and failing) to disguise what he was doing.
Food once again was excellent. Its hard to believe that the budget per passenger per day is only 5 euro (so I was told by one of the most established waiters). However the additional items served in dining room at breakfast such as kippers and eggs Benedict seem to be a thing of the past. People did complain that there was not food available 24/7 but between breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea (except in change over days) dinner, midnight buffets (or pass arounds in the lounges)one did not have to wait for long.
The staff were (as last year) excellent. They cannot be faulted in any way. The entertainment staff were also (mostly) excellent. I did not attend any of the shows but the Cruise Director (Stephen Guy) was a very personable man and his announcements were informative. The Gemini Band played easy listening music in the Captain's Club every evening and the Albert Duo (on piano and violin) played in the Plaza and the Tropical Lounge. The only really poor performer was one of the male entertainment staff who had a solo set in the Captain's Club late one night and he could not sing for toffee - it was not just the songs the guy could not sing. A number of people commented on this - forced performance, wrong songs and singing flat but others seemed to enjoy it. Why is it that some cruisers think its OK to be critical of the ship in general, the ports of call, meals, cabins, bar prices but to criticise any of the entertainment staff is tantamount to heresy?
Yes I will sail on the Calypso again. I believe Thomson are only chartering her for another year so I have booked for both June and October next year. I'm still trying to get another week this year in either August or September but flights are not just suiting at the moment. However as I only returned yesterday and will talk to my boss tomorrow about the extra day or so off work it might be OK.
The Calypso is small, she is old, she does not have the bells and whistles of the huge modern ships but she does offer a fantastic holiday to beautiful ports with staff and crew who are a joy to cruise with.
Travel operator: Thomson
Travel operator: thompson
but an old ship and noisy
some of the fellow passengers were rude, but we enjoyed it.
Travel operator: thomson
We sailed from Thesaliniki after a flawless journey from Manchester, first stop Nauplion, not a lot here though very pleasant and clean.
Next we stopped at Tinos, again very clean and apparently a very holy place; there are a lot of shops selling religious items and general tourist tat. Nice church at the top of the hill.
Same day we arrived at Santorini or Thora as it is now called, and wow, this is the most dramatic landscape I have ever seen, you actually sail into a caldera, or an extinct volcano, there were about 5 other ships in there as well, Santorini town was up on the side of the cone of the volcano, the only way to get up it though is either walk, ride on a donkey or up on a cable car, the cable car having a 1 hour queue, but worth it.
The town up there is breathtaking as are the views over the volcano, and we saw the most dramatic sunset ever, there are plenty of restaurants which actually hang on the very edge of the long drop down, yikes!! Coming down was so funny, we decided to walk because of the queues, it took an hour to get down in the dark and walking slowly through masses of manure, I was picking up pensioners left right and centre, who were slipping over everywhere, oh and you had to run to one side when the huge donkeys came running up and down, one woman screamed all the way down on the back of a donkey, so funny.
Next stop Marmaris, Turkey, very nice, lovely marina and harbour, but beware you will be pestered from the beginning, relentlessly, they must rub their hands when they see a cruise ship coming and they are experts at extracting money off you, do not stop to talk or accept any offers from anyone, they will be ripping you off, watch for the grapes seller he will place trays of grapes and ask for money then give you change in Turkish Lira to confuse you, just ignore him and walk past.
This place has many shops and bazaars, markets to us, but remember it is all fake and generally rubbish, so haggle, offer at least a quarter of the asking price.
Next is Kusdasi, slightly better than Marmaris, but we went horse riding to the beach here which was fantastic, well worth doing.
Last but not least, Mykanos, we have stayed here for week once and we really like it, not much to do but it is very pretty, can be windy and the prices of the bars is very high, expect to pay 6 Euros for a beer and about 5 for a coffee.
We got back to thesaloniki and spent a few hours there; it is a very big noisy city but has some very chique shops and bars, quite nice really.
About the Calypso, it is very small but this did not deter us from having a great cruise, it is old but I like older ships they have character and charm and the staff are great.
The cabin was a superior outside (506) but had a restricted view, be careful of this you need to specify this when booking, they will charge you to pre-book it, a bit naughty really, and I have sent a letter of complaint about it.
The food, entertainment, all good, good tip though if you are getting a hot buffet ask for a hot plate as there are a lot of salads and the plates are cold.
Frank Hammond is the cruise director, a nice chap from Sheffield; he is married to Dominique, one of the entertainers. These 11 entertainers really need a mention, they can all sing, dance, act, and they perform plays, and do all the evening shows, nothing too glamorous because the stage is so small, but they are all very talented.
The “Happy band” play easy listening music in the captain’s bar, which is quite pleasant.
One let down is that there are no deck parties because of the lack of space, I like having a boogie on the deck in the evening, so I missed this, the pool is so small it is unusable really, but all in all it was a great cruise and I would recommend it to anyone.
Travel operator: Thomson
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