Thomson celebration jan 31st -- feb 7th
Although a cruise virgin & nothing to compare with except for hotel holidays I can only say it was exceptional from start to finish.
Everything neatly planned by Thomson's at arrival in the airport to transfer to ship. A warm welcome with a band playing & drinks offered. Even our departure was fully planned -- we were not flying until 8pm but Thomson's gave us the option of a further excursion in sharm or to stay on the ship until 6pm when the coach left. They also provided a complimentary room for half hr sessions to get showered/changed before we departed ship (you have to give up your room at 9am)
All staff polite, helpful, always smiling & could never do too much -- drop a knife & they'll be there to pick it up for you. They clean the tables as soon as you leave so dining/drink areas always spotless -- you never sit at a dirty table, ever.
Food was fantastic throughout with a large variety from different restaurants to the outdoor food bar serving snacks throughout the day (food available 24/7) and always looked & tasted freshly cooked.
Never seen so much time & energy from the staff go into the Entertainment, right down from the rehearsals for the big shows to the comedian, the bingo & quiz competitions to name a few. Always something to do on-board, including lessons in the casino to learn how to play the various games. (The casino & on-board shops are only open when at sea).
The excursions were planned to a 't' -- never felt safer & didn't even think about any demonstrations or security issues -- only went to the pyramids & sphinx which were amazing with 1 beach excursion to a 5 * hotel which was great. Others said the valley of the kings was the next best (from Luxor) then petra (from aqaba). Long journey(s) but didn't seem to take that long to the pyramids (2.5hr) as there was always something to look at, ie cairo streets/buildings, going over the nile, points of interest.
Ship had two small pools (sea water) which were quite adequate & sunbeds never seemed a problem to get hold of, only occasion maybe when at see for a whole day, but I don't think they could physically fit any more sunbeds on. Deck 6 was a lovely decked area with sunbeds neatly put round the perimeter & you could run the entire deck 5 times I think to get a mile. Great experience at sea at the rear of the ship looking out at the wash & coast lines of the red sea (can see both sides for the majority & look spectacular.)
Weather started pretty average (approx 18 deg 1st day -- still t shirt on) then rose to a max of 27 deg by the time we disembarked. Even night times never seemed that cold. If you sat out side under the parasol it was lovely & warm all night or if you went up 1 deck to the rear there were ceiling bar heaters which were lovely to sit under (this was a smoking area thou) & if all else fails they did provide blankets to put over your shoulders. Sun comes up very early at about 6:30 & goes down around 5pm (sunbathing weather to around 3/4pm).
Ships bars were also nice, especially the horizons bar at top deck (if you can find it) looking out over the front of the boat in panoramic views (like the star ship enterprise)
Discos etc are also fun.
A few of the ports are industrial but this didn't put us off one bit - they were still clean areas with the mountains further out, so if you looked over the industrial areas there was still something to look at -- if you sat facing out to sea the views were magnificent. Even in safaga there was a sandy peninsula creating part of the port which looked lovely when the sun was glistening off it. -- don't be put off by the reports on the ports they aren't that bad & I still enjoyed pulling into them (I like to take my binoculars while on ship)
Did see large turtles swimming past ship while in port, which indicates sea nice & clear & not polluted.
Overall great value for money & would recommend to anyone (if you are flexible on dates may be worth booking last minute for cheaper deal). However you don't get the free drinks package inc. they charge Â£199 per person per room if you want the package last minute. Drinks cost about the same as an English hotel so don't worry too much about prices, we only spent Â£150 or so on drinks for week, but then not big drinkers -- free tea/coffee all day with fruit juices at breakfast. Also a few niceties was the 'tea room' where they served afternoon tea's & selection of cakes (exceptional) - Nice to get a few ice creams when open at lunch!
Rooms fine -- we got 2 single beds but don't know if that's the norm -- plenty of storage & cases fit under beds. TV with sky news & films.
No noise & slept well through out.