The West

Chasing sun and Moorish delights
Dion and Wayne at the Moorish castle Alcazaba of Almeria. Their cruise ship is in the background. Picture: Jan Bromilow

Lunching in the local Dorset golf club with rain lashing at the windows, it seems like the perfect time to book a cruise to the sunnier climes of the Mediterranean.

My husband Dion and I are on our British summer holiday and the sun has simply refused to appear.

Our dining companions, Di and Wayne, are locals and seasoned cruisers. They are similarly sick of the rain. So, iPad in hand, the search begins. Di logs into a specialist cruise website (, punches in the dates of the very small window of opportunity we have and comes up with five potential cruises.

A secret ballot is taken and each of us has made the same first choice - a Thomson seven-night fly/cruise package called Moorish Delights at the cost of £739 ($1095) per person.

The main deciding factor is that we can fly from Bournemouth (Hurn) airport, which is 10 minutes down the road. A phone call later and we are booked to fly to Palma de Majorca and pick up the cruise aboard the Thomson Dream, visiting Tangiers, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Almeria and Cartagena.

The following week sees us on the short drive to the recently renovated and enlarged airport, with parking just a short walk from the terminal. Ours is the only flight departure at that time so we go through a relaxed and unhurried check-in. The baggage allowance is 20kg each with 7kg of hand luggage.

After a leisurely coffee, we board a plane crammed full of happy holidaymakers and overly excited children - but for the hour and 50 minutes' flying time, it is bearable.

Palma airport is a heaving mass of humanity. The tarmac is full of British budget holiday aircraft, including Ryanair, Flybe and Thomson, which must have all followed each other into Palma from all over the UK.

A word of warning here - non-European travellers will not be allowed to get off the ship at the various ports of call without an entry stamp in their passports. When the human tsunami that we are part of goes through immigration the officials obviously thought it best to disappear and we have to spend a considerable amount of time going back and being treated with deep suspicion before my husband's passport is eventually stamped.

After collecting our bags and easily locating the Thomson representative, we board the coach that transports us on the short drive through Palma to the cruise terminal.

The cruise itself is fun. The food on board is unremarkable but plentiful, the cabins very comfortable and the crew - from the entertainers to the waiters - professional, friendly and fun.

In fact, we enjoyed ourselves so much - and found booking so easy - that we are planning on doing another cruise next year.

The West Australian

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