New itinery cruise that needs more thought by TUI
Having returned from our TUI Marella Discovery Cruise, enjoyable but with mixed issues. The good and enjoyable parts of our Eastern Sunsets1 cruise of which there were many. Our captain Chris Dobbs, what a great guy, friendly, approachable laid back and funny with it. You will see him all times of the day and evening wandering his ship. Out on dock seeing passengers on and off the ship at times, with enjoyable, funny tannoy announcements, some with the cruise director, Gavin. This attitude rubbed off on his crew and officers, who made it a happy ship to be on, with great service most of the time. You will always get an odd blip, wrong order, a bit of a wait, etc. These waiters and barmen work long and hard hours, so patience at times is called for. The balcony rooms are an adequate size, and the cabin crew keeps them well cleaned. The food is very good be it a restaurant or buffet. The shows are well performed as is the crew show, some real hidden talent. The downside of this cruise, being the first time of the ship's itinerary, the lack of maybe knowledge, must be taken into consideration. The ports of call docking area were far from the best, if not on a ships tour, then taxies and Tut Tuts were the main sources of travel into the towns and cities with some a very long cab ride. We docked at one port opposite a coal delivery area and distribution centre. A ship was being unloaded the whole time we docked with many lorry's and JCB's unloading and stockpiling the coal. Unbeknown to us, until we got showered and dressed to go out, that the chairs, table, and handrail were all covered in black coal dust. We had to re-shower and change our clothing as we had sat on the balcony having a coffee prior to going out for the evening. When on the second day in Cochin, we stayed aboard, and twice the ships chimney was either cleaned out (engines), and pumped out the soot that landed in the swimming pool and sun deck area left the pool sun deck stained and also landed on the sunbeds, towels, and clothing, etc. The wind, though very little wind, may have changed, thus blowing it over the pool deck areas. The Andaman islands was a nightmare, some had full India visas which allowed them ashore, many others had e-visas which didn't. An arrangement was made when docked at Port Blair for the e-visa passengers that wanted go ashore to pay 32 each which would allow them to. Some had paid 500 - 600 for a full visa others had traveled miles in the UK to get these from the Indian embassy. A lot of disgruntled and some reasonably happy cruisers. Was the island worth all the hassle and upset, NO? The return home transfers and flights were a total disaster. No assistants or TUI reps at the airport in Dubai. This at the chartered flight terminal that TUI uses, away from the main airport. Passengers were told to go in one queue then back to another. Going through security and passport control was a nightmare. Safety first, but this was over the top. It left us no time to shop, then we were left on the transfer buses by the aircraft as we had been sent out prior to the cleaning of the aircraft had been completed. The TUI flight captain did come aboard the transfer to aircraft buses to apologize. This not TUI's fault but that of the Dubai airport authorities. We arrived fifty minutes late back in Gatwick. Enjoyed the cruise, glad I have done India, etc., would I do it again, no thanks.
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