A big thank you to all the staff, officers and crew of the old lady Thomson Celebration. Everything was organised to within an inch of its life and staff were so willing to please.
The flight from Newcastle was comfortable (but we had paid for extra legroom), a shame that there was no in-flight entertainment, food and drinks reasonably priced and OK. As we were transit passengers in Turkey (ie passing through to board the ship) we did not need to pay the 10 visa on arrival, instead we were given a white card to fill in and hand over when we embarked at Marmaris (sadly several people did not listen on the plane and the border guards at Marmaris where not best pleased as they had discarded their cards somewhere between the plane and embarkation!) We also had to fill in a slip regarding any illnesses and sickness etc and hand this in on embarkation, a good idea but of course this relies on everyone being truthful.
It was so exiting to board our coach at the airport with its sign To the Ship and then our first sight of Celebration as we came down into Marmaris. Check in was so well organised with our ship cards, luggage lables etc all waiting and ready for us. A short walk through the terminal to the ship (a minibus is available if you need it) and then on board and escorted to your cabin.
As this was a special occasion we had booked a suite, and the Celebrate in Style package while not cheap, we paid 89 for the package we thought it was excellent value, a bottle of Moet, a massive flower arrangement, chocolate coated strawberries waiting for us in the suite and then during the week a room service breakfast (which would normally have cost 10 for the two of us) a photo from the gallery and a celebration cake.
The suite was very comfortable and (considering we were on a ship) huge. We had a massive bed, more than enough drawers and wardrobe space, and a seating area with settee, coffee table and two chairs. Bathroom was reasonable with a bath, a cabinet for all your bits and pieces and Elemis shampoo etc which was replenished as fast as you used it.
Our luggage was delivered withing about 20 mins by Jumari, our steward, who introduced himself. What a wonder this man was. He never imposed himself on us, but was always around (as if by magic) if we needed anything and was always more than willing to help.
The ship is just so charming. It is not big or flashy, but it is a proper ship, with a wooden deck you can stroll right round and sun chairs to lounge on, it felt like being on an old fashioned stylish cruise.
The entertainment on board is fantastic, the entertainment team are so talented and professional, and the shows by far the best standard we have ever seen on holiday. The Queen show was better, in our opinion, than We Will Rock You, the Queen musical in London. We found that we always had entertainment to go to, as one show finished we always found another bar with something going on until the early hours.
We were all inclusive for our drinks and found that the selection, including things like Smirnoff vodka and John Smiths was good. Wifi on the ship was 18 for 3 hours, which at 1 for 10 mins is on a par with airports etc, and dont forget you are in the middle of the sea, so the fact that you have Wifi at all is amazing, the speed was not the fastest but we managed to speak to our daughter by Skype so it cant be that bad.
Food was lovely, the Meridian restaurant, waiter service, is very good. Only spoiled by the two snotty couples, who for what ever reason, rudely blanked us when we where taken to sit on their table at dinner, the two couples had obviously only just met but totally refused to let us join their conversation , (you know who you are, I am sorry if we did not meet with your approval). Happily this did not put us off eating in the Meridan restaurant and the next night we sat with the most charming gentleman and his wife who told us all about their adventures in Istanbul and Turkey on a touring holiday in 1969! A real pleasure and in complete contrast to our rude dining companions of the previous evening. Lido restaurant, buffet style and less formal, was good too, Lunches where always great, very English shepherds pie, casseroles along with more exotic cuisine, and all really tempting and delicious. Mistrals is the small, intimate fine dining restaurant and is lovely for a special treat, the surcharge of 19 per head is reasonable as a one off.
Ports of call all good apart from Constanta (dont even get off the ship) nothing to see, the tour guide kept telling us we needed to use our imagination, (indeed we did!) Nessabar is quaint and pretty, there is a wait for the tenders but it cant be helped, you cant all get off at once and again it was really well organised and as quick as possible. Sebastapol is very interesting and Istanbul was the highlight of the trip, and very quiet as some tourists have chosen not to come due to the recent trouble. We saw no trouble and in fact felt very safe.
The sail through the Bosphorus on the morning going into Istanbul was amazing (we saw either dolphins or porpoises) and the passage of the Dardanelles both interesting and very moving.
A big thank you to Sue Steward (Hotel Manager) and Susie Ball (Social Hostess) along with all the staff we met for making our stay so special, I was treated like a princess for a week and was devastated to leave the ship when the time came. A wonderful holiday, a wonderful ship and wonderful people.