Everything from start to finish on this cruise was good to excellent!
Drinks & Service
We had the AI/Drink Package & were quite happy with the selection of drinks available. We had no real issues with the fizzy/canned drinks debate. Some days when we had been out on a long day, it would have been better to have a large can of drink rather than a glass of fizzy but we never had flat drinks, there was never a problem getting drinks around the ship; always a reasonable amount of bar staff around to serve and was quite happy to wait a few minutes if we had to. There were definitely less wine waiters in the Main Dining Room this year - we didn't see many at all but we were very well looked after by ours and our glasses were never empty!
We did not have a problem without water dispensers this year (didn't have them last year on Celebration either) Forewarned is forearmed so whenever we went off ship, we bought water to drink throughout the day and always took a large bottle of water back onboard for us for the cabin. The steward happily filled our ice bucket every day to keep the water bottle cool. We could always get a glass of water in the Lido too if we needed.
The entertainment was very good - too much choice! The Showteam were good & very professional; there were some very good lead singers; one slightly weaker than the others but they put on some great performances. Shows as follows over the 2 weeks:- "Modelled by Motown both first nights, Fairground Attraction - this was singing & acting - the singing was good but the acting & storyline was very cheesy; think they should just stick to singing! Guest Act Comedian (both weeks) Concerto (both weeks - very good - singing & dancing/movement), West End Wonders (Musical), Killer Queen (excellent Queen Tribute - the best show we saw in my opinion but unfortunately on both weeks), Cool Britannia, You Can't Stop the Beat, Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson tribute) & Mediterranean Nights.
We didn't go to as many shows as we usually do - we had actually seen a lot of them on previous cruises; it is a shame that there was not some more newer material but also a shame that they seem to have stopped the Les Mis show particularly after the popularity of the film this year!
There were the usual games, quizzes etc in Liberties and 2Intense in Horizons - a shame that they now start later at 8ish as we used to go to Horizons before dinner to listen to them but didn't this year as they weren't on although they didn't stop until later in the evening. This may be a reason why Hemingways was so busy early on; they had a great singer/guitarist Benjamin Moss and also a singer/pianist Guy Harris who played alone and together all evening in Hemingways from about 7pm. It was a very popular spot and difficult to get a seat, so too was Horizons after 9-10pm!
I do wish they could re-vamp the daytime entertainment/activities - after you've seen the Ice Carving a few times & the 'I'm an Entertainer', it does get a bit repetitive but we managed to find quiet sunbeds away from it all on Promenade Deck!
We were very satisfied with the food in all venues. We ate in the Lido for breakfast and lunch or afternoon tea and Meridian for Evening Meal and sometimes breakfast. We did enjoy the waiter service at breakfast in Meridian and the cooked food was good & nicely presented. We were very happy with the meals in the Meridian - plenty of food for us and a good choice of courses. We did eat in Mistrals A La Carte restaurant one evening and thoroughly enjoyed the meal and service - it was worth paying the extra for a special treat.
We had the same cabin as last year. Can't complain but it didn't really look a lot different than pre-platinum. The carpet had been changed & the top cover on the beds were a different colour and of course the flat screen TV & tea & coffee making facilities which we didn't really use a lot. The bathroom had had a full makeover - new tiles, sink, shower & toilet and the shower didn't flood all over which was good. We had the same wardrobes & I think the drawers had new fronts but no real major change in the cabins. We only had 1 towel animal for the whole fortnight!
We always managed to find sunbeds however we were up early on sea days and on days when we had been out, we avoided the pool decks and managed to find sunbeds on Promenade Deck away from the noise! On the sea days, they were putting tickets on the beds & we did see some belongings being removed but we also saw 1 person sat on 1 sunbed with about 8 empty beds all around him that he had reserved with towels and nothing was said or done there! Not sure if that problem will ever be resolved as you will always get the selfish ones who reserve the beds with towels then hardly use them
Thomson were not advertising or charging for "premium" seats in the show lounge - first come, first served and we always managed to get seats on the evenings we went in - the ship was sailing at full capacity.
Although the ice cream "bar" was open in the afternoons as usual, Thomson have now introduced an ice cream seller coming around the ship during the day selling Ice Lollies & Magnums, Cornettos etc - no idea of the price & no idea of the uptake; didn't really see anybody buy them.
Another thing Thomson have introduced is a "ship Tour" which is a behind the scenes 2 - 3 hour tour of the bridge, galley, engine control room, provisions area, deck department, medical centre & crew accommodation. This is priced at £59 per person and also includes a glass or 2 of bubbly & a photo. I would imagine this would be quite interesting however they were only offering it 1 day a week when we had other plans.
All the staff onboard were friendly, helpful, kind and couldn't do enough for us. Service was good and up to the Thomson standard that we have always experienced.
We have enjoyed all our cruises with Thomson but I think margainly this could have been our best so far! We would definitely cruise on the Celebration again but we have done all the ports of call that the Celebration now does so have chosen a different ship for next year