Thomson Cruises is hailing its newest ship TUI Discovery as a game-changer – and it’s ideal for families and younger cruisers, says Sara Macefield
The newest ship from Thomson Cruises previously sailed as Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas. But while the impressive grand atrium and imposing climbing wall remain, TUI Discovery has been given the Thomson treatment following a multi-million pound refit to appeal to British tastes.
The previously large casino has been shrunk and incorporated into a stylish new lounge bar called the Live Room, where a resident pianist bashes out tunes on the banana yellow piano and a virtual band plays on a large live screen overlooking the dancefloor.
The swish contemporary feel and hi-tech twists are echoed throughout the ship, with touchscreen desks where users can book excursions, spa treatments and check their onboard account. It is part of Thomson’s bid to engage social media and attract a younger crowd of families and couples – and TUI Discovery would suit them well.
A novel new attraction taps into the adult puzzle craze with two “Break Out” escape rooms, where teams can spend an hour plotting their way out of a locked room – paying £75 for the privilege. The theatre-style Broadway Show Lounge, seating audiences 800-strong, offers a more traditional style of entertainment, though this has also been upgraded with 11 new West End-style shows.
Youngsters haven’t been forgotten, either. In addition to the children’s club, baby centre and teen room, a new children’s show called Splash Live! has been added to the line-up.
With eight bars and lounges and seven restaurants (five of them included in the price), TUI Discovery will appeal to a variety of appetites.
The light and airy main dining venue, called 47˚ (reflecting the co-ordinates of where it was built in France) focuses on international and British dishes, while directly upstairs is Gallery 47˚, serving reasonable Italian cuisine.
Gourmet treats are reserved for the à la carte pan-Asian restaurant Kora La, where dishes including duck and watermelon salad and Thai green salmon curry are drawn from a menu
overseen by celebrity chef Ian Pengelley.
This is one of two restaurants carrying an extra charge of £19.95pp, the other being the Surf & Turf steakhouse, which prides itself on 28-day aged Angus beef and Dover sole filleted at the table.
Adults who wish to escape to child-free zones can visit the deli/juice bar at The Glass House, situated around the covered pool (there’s a second pool on deck nine) that, at night, becomes a bistro-style tapas restaurant.
Another cool touch is the blissful adults-only – and complimentary – Veranda deck area, where remote call button devices enable sun-worshippers to summon waiters within seconds.
A big plus is the number of balcony cabins, pleasantly decorated in burnt sienna and chocolate brown. On TUI Discovery they account for nearly 40 per cent of the accommodation, but are few and far between on Thomson’s other ships.
It’s a telling sign of how upwardly mobile Thomson Cruises is becoming and, with three more ships due over the next few years, it’s a trend that looks set to continue.
GETTING THERE A seven-night Cosmopolitan Classics round-trip cruise
on TUI Discovery, departing from Palma on October 8, costs from £799pp, including flights (0871 230 2800; thomson.co.uk/cruise).
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