We went on the Thompson Celebration for a 7 day Red Sea Magic cruise with our 16 year old son. We have previously cruised with Princess and P & O and were advised that Thompson was a more 'relaxed' cruise company. We didn't think so. The majority of people dressed up in the evenings, and it was no more relaxed than the others.
The ship itself is in the process of being renovated and the crew were working their way through the ship. It really is looking tired so hopefully the renovations will make a big difference.
This was a quick and smooth process and we were not kept waiting for long. I was really impressed with it.
The staff were very friendly and we were pleasantly surprised by the 5* service we received. Water was free in the restaurants and on deck. The staff really could not do enough for you and the service we experienced on this trip was by far, superior to that we had experienced on P & O. It certainly made up for the tiredness of the ship.
The ports of call were industrial ports and providing you expect this then there is no problem. That means however that you are limited to the excursions you can go on. We went on three. The pyramids, the dead sea and the makadi water park. At first look I thought the excursions were expensive - they are certainly not cheap by any means but you do get a little more for your money that you think.
Most places take English pounds, American dollars and Egyptian Pounds.
The Dead Sea
We were each provided with a snack box for the journey. That contained a carton of orange juice, fruit, chocolate and crisps. A very nice thought. The entrance to the Dead Sea was through a hotel and we had access to all the hotels facilities. Lunch was provided which was a 4* 3 course, eat as much as you like buffet with tea, coffee and water included. Alcoholic drinks were available for a cost.
I would recommend this trip. it really was worth the cost we paid for it.
We choose to go to the Pyramids and Shopping trip. Our guide was exceptional. She gave us a commentary of Cairo and Giza etc on the way and provided us with handouts explaining the history of the pyramids. The only downside to the experience was the hassle we experienced at the Pyramids. they really don't leave you alone. There are some bargain gifts to be had from the sellers but be careful and take the advice of the guides. The sellers take English pounds and it would be far better for you to take coins or small notes. If you give a large note you will likely not get any change. Our guide was great and she got the best prices for the goods for us and sold them to us on the bus and handled all the money. That was such a huge help.
it was Â£6 to go into a Pyramid. This was just an empty shell and not recommended if you are in the slightest claustrophobic or have difficulty walking. You need to crouch all the way down and it is a little daunting.
Makadi Water Park
25 slides for adults and 25 slides for children. Really worth the money - Â£32. What we didn't realise until later was that the cost is all inclusive. There is a great variety of and tea coffee soft drinks which are all included in the price. This trip was supposed to have been four hours but we were given the option of staying 8 hours which we all agreed to do. It was fantastic.
The entertainment was OK. i think that more could be done. We only had a 'quiz' at the pool side and some sparse entertainment. I think that more could be done poolside to keep everyone entertained. The shows were good, not brilliant but they had a really good team and in fairness they were worth going to see.
In Cabin Films
Every day there was a choice of two films that you could watch in your cabin. These were recent cinema films and such a great thing to have. AT NO COST
there was a different film on each day at the cinema. Showing at different times of the day so you could choose when is best for you
There is a huge shortage of sunbeds but the waiters are tough when they see sunbeds left unattended and not a day went by when we did not see someones stuff being gathered up and taken away. They allow you 45 minutes to have food/swim etc before this. I think this is really fair and was good to see. If you want a sunbed you will need to get up early as they are gone by 9am!
There were previous reports of the Norovirus on board on an earlier cruise and I don't think that Thompson are to blame. They had hand sanitisers everywhere and were insistent that we used them. Some people were complaining that they could not help themselves to food. I would much rather that than have the sickness bug! Besides, if you wanted a bigger helping you could just ask. Nothing was too much trouble.
This was a relatively smooth process. All suitcases were taken off us the night before but we were able to access them the following morning to put anything into them before we travelled. usually with P & O. princess, etc we do not handle our own luggage so this was a little surprise to us but no hardship.
Notes: Take English pounds out with you on excursions. We only experienced one place where they were not accepted and all we spent there was Â£2!
Don't expect too much from the ports. This trip is really for tours unless you choose to stay on board. You will need to rely on Thompson excursions at all ports with the exception of Sharm El Sheik. There the beach is within walking distance.