Having sailed on a 'mini cruise' on the P&O Ventura 3 weeks prior to this cruise we were told not to expect anything like the size and extravagant ship for the Celebration but had been advised that the service and the atmosphere will be great, and we were not disappointed.
Having only been on the Ventura before we found ourselves comparing many aspects of the Celebration to it and to be honest many times Thomson came out on top!
We landed on the 11.40 flight from Birmingham after a slightly delayed departure around about 20 Min's early into Sharm el Sheik Airport. Having only been to countries inside Europe before I found it pretty daunting with the immigration procedure being disorganised but as soon as we got through it and onto the coach the transfer and check-in procedure for the ship were smooth and very friendly.
We boarded the ship and were shown to our cabin by a very happy cabin steward, on the way we saw our suitcases so we grabbed them but I'm sure they would have been taken to our cabin very promptly. Once in the cabin there was a knock on the door and our cabin steward that would be looking after our cabin introduced himself. The lifeboat procedure followed and after that we went off to explore.
Our first thoughts of the ship were that it was small and slightly dated but it was very clean and everyone that we had come into contact with was friendly.
By this point it was about 10.00pm and we were very hungry so we decided to go to the 24hr buffet in the lido restaurant. We were certainly not disappointed. Every time we went into this restaurant there was a large and different choice with a different themed night every night and the quality of the food was good too.
That evening there was a sail away deck party out on the Lido pool deck involving a combination of singing by the ships on board band, 'Top Men' and the entertainment team as well as plenty of dancing from crew and guests! The entertainment team were great! Throughout the cruise the entertainment team put on plenty of shows including west-end style shows and TV game shows including Mr and Mrs which was hilarious! They also had a UK guest comedian.
Throughout the cruise we did plenty of sunbathing and we always managed to get a sun bed, but only on deck 8, i imagine to get one on the lido pool deck then you'd have to get up early! Although we did manage to get sun beds on deck 6 one day! To stop the unfair reservation of sun beds, If you left your sun bed for more than 45 minutes then your belongings would be removed and taken to reception. We saw this happen and it was particularly fair during our day at sea as everyone was on board.
During the holiday we did two excursions, we were booked to do 3 but our final one to the Ras Mohammed reef was cancelled due to a sandstorm that started the previous day. Our first trip was to the Sol Y Mar beach on Tuesday which was a nice change to the ships swimming pools with a private beach, we did get asked a few times by a few of the hotels staff trying to sell us massages and spa treatments but we told them no and they seemed to leave us alone.
The other excursion we went on was the trip to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. It was a long day with an early start, leaving the ship at 6am and not returning until 8.30pm. It was a good day and the guide had good English and plenty of knowledge about each of the stop off points and the history.
We found the drinks slightly more expensive than the P and O cruise but not ridiculously for alcoholic drinks but we begrudged spending 'Â£1.70 for a can of coca-cola, 'Â£1 more than were used to paying at home! For a 200ml glass of wine it was 'Â£3.90 and for a 500ml can of John Smiths it was 'Â£3.50
In the Meridian restaurant (the formal dinning one), if you bought a bottle of wine and didn't drink it all they would label it with your cabin number and save it for another day.
The food throughout the cruise was very good, I would go as far as saying the best food I've had on a holiday outside the UK.The buffet restaurant always provided a good range of food and as said previously themed nights every evening. The meridian restaurant offered a 5 course menu each evening but you could have as few or many courses as you wished. You could also eat in the Meridian and have waiter service at lunch times and breakfast although we didn't bother.
Thomson are planning to refurbish the Celebration along with the Dream and class them as 'platinum' cruise ships to run alongside their platinum hotels. Although the ship could do with this, I hope it doesn't spoil the incredible atmosphere they have on board at the moment as this really was a cruise for everyone!
Overall we really enjoyed the holiday and the ship. As a couple we wasn't struck on Egypt but that is just a personal preference and the ship and it's crew certainly mad up for it!
From this holiday, I would recommend Thomson cruises to all and say that as soon as you get past the look and the size of the ship you will have a great time! I hope Thomson continue what they're doing as from speaking to other guests on-board everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves!