We took the two week "Western Promise” repositioning cruise on Thomson Celebration from Marmaris across the Mediterranean to Portsmouth. As first-timers having read the negative comments, we weren’t sure what to expect but left impressed.
Everything was well organised by Thomson from day-before check-in at Gatwick to disembarkation at Portsmouth. The flight to Turkey was comfortable and worth paying for extra legroom.
The Celebration is a traditional ship that doesn’t look like a tower block, and has recently been refurbished. The boat is clean with comfortable beds and a friendly, very hard-working crew. Hygiene is taken seriously with sanitisers everywhere, and food is served by staff wearing gloves. Even so, there were rumours of a few passengers with tummy bugs.
We chose a Deck 9 deluxe cabin for the extra space and view but were kept awake by the Horizons Bar if doors were left open, then woken early when sun-loungers were put out above us. These cabins are getting balconies.
There’s a wide choice of good food to British tastes. Most people sit at shared tables in the Meridian Restaurant; there’s free seating in the Lido buffet. For a more intimate experience Mistral’s is worth the £20 surcharge.
The drinks package was a big bonus for booking early, with small supplements for "premium drinks”. Strangely, mineral water is excluded while alcohol is seemingly limitless.
Excursions were enjoyable, though pricy. One tour that was messed up by the local agent was immediately refunded by Thomson. There’s useful information on board to help you explore ports on your own.
The Celebration doesn’t make five stars as she’s showing her age. She judders and creaks, and there was no hot water at times. Some furniture and fittings were damaged in spite of the refurbishment. Sound-proofing in cabins could be better.
But if you want a good unpretentious holiday, you should enjoy a cruise on this ship.