My DH and I have just returned from 7 nights on the Celebration. As per the title, we have mixed feelings about this trip.on the Celebration.
A little about ourselves, we are early forties and this is our 10th cruise. we have sailed this ship before, along with Spirit and Island Escape. We have also cruised with Carnival , NCL, MSC and Princess. We have a cruise in September coming up on Oasis of the Seas.
We booked this cruise primarily for the itinerary, but also because of the drink package. We like to manage our costs in advance, so don’t like to book on a line now that does not offer a drink package - the package does not have to be free, we are happy to pay for it.
Flight and Embarkation
we flew from Manchester to Dalaman with Thomson, no problems at all. check in and security was easy. Embarkation was not quite so easy. after a nearly 2 hour transfer we were stuck on the coach for a further 45 minutes because the lines to check in and collect luggage were so bad. We did not get on the ship until nearly 7pm - which gave little or no time to change for dinner after luggage had been delivered.
We went down to dinner at 8pm - but had to leave it half way through for the muster drill. I don’t understand why the restaurant was open if diners were going to have to leave their dinner half way through….bonkers…
First thoughts of the ship were that it was much smaller than I remembered and that the size of the coffee port is a complete waste of space and I could not see where the platinum upgrades were. Also , at this point I must mention the vibration - it really never stops and is very strong in some really unusual places, for instance near the pool on deck 6 and in Mistral's. Luckily we did not experience it much in our cabin.
We had cabin 306 an inisde on deck 4. it had an L shape twin bed configuration. appalling planning as the tv was directly above one bed, so i could not watch tv. The beds were the most uncomfortable I have ever slept on on a ship or in a hotel. a solid wood frame with a thin foam mattress. Awful, my hubby and I had really bad back ache by the end of the week. Our cabin steward, Leah, was excellent – apart from never changing our pool towels for the week, even though we left them on the bathroom floor to be changed.
In terms of the food, it was just fine, other than the desserts, which were awful. Portions were very small, but you could ask for more if you wanted it. We only visited the buffet once, and stuck to the main restaurant in the evenings and the lido grill during the day. We only did breakfast on debarkation day which was in the main restaurant. No issues with the food in the main restaurant. We had chicken from the deck bbq on the day at Marmaris – this was raw in the middle and bleeding so I could not eat it.
We ate in Mistral's twice, which was lovely. My hubby had to send his steak back on our second visit as it was underdone, however this was quickly rectified. It really is well worth the additional charge.
We also did steak under the stars, which was a disaster. We both ordered a filet steak, medium. I got sirloin, rare, and DH’s filet was so overcooked he could not cut it. This got sent back and the replacement was just as bad. At this point, Franz the head maitre’d was making his rounds and asked us if we were enjoying our dinner – we explained to him what had happened, he went to see the chef and that was it, no feedback, no apology or anything – really poor customer service. We were really disappointed with the food and his lack of response.
The entertainment was really good – we last sailed on Thomson’s 5 years ago and we remembered the entertainment as one of the high points, it was just as strong this time, plenty of variety and the music acts through the ship were great. It was also nice to have everything in English. Our last two cruises have had everything repeated in about six languages…..
The main issue on this cruise for us was the drinks package. I enjoy cocktails on holiday and DH is a wine drinker. We took the package so we could control costs – the quality of the drinks on the package was really poor. The cocktails were all premixed and very low quality. The house wine, which is the only wine included in the package was horrible, literally undrinkable. We ended up spending circa £30 per day on a couple of bottles of wine that we had not budgeted for and not expected to have to buy. The only time you could guarantee a decent drink was if you had a straight spirit with a mixer. I love to have martini’s and different drinks on holiday, but not on this cruise, so many drinks tasted almost the same and the rest were just plain nasty. Very disappointing.
We only got off the boat once, in Israel. We did the ships tour to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the tour was good, and we really enjoyed both stops. This stop was the main reason we did this cruise and it did not disappoint. We did not get off at any other ports, as we just wanted a really relaxing holiday – apart from which we were not sleeping well due to the beds, so needed to catch up on our rest!
To summarise, we had a lovely holiday, it was relaxing and we met some really lovely people and we enjoyed the entertainment. However, it would have to be the deal of the century to get me to go on a Thomson ship again. The ship is just too small and I felt a little claustrophobic by the end of the week. Also, for me, the food and drink provision has really gone downhill – this trip was not cheap even when you consider the drinks package was included. By the time we added on what we spent on wine etc we could have gone on a Carnival, RCI or NCL cruise and taken the drinks package and had a much nicer ship, with a comfortable bed and no vibration.