We decided at short notice that we would try a cruise for the first time to celebrate my 60th birthday. As neither my wife or I had been on a cruise before we were unsure of what to expect, but thankfully were pleasantly surprised.
Booked up two weeks before departure date with cruisedeals on the internet. Managed to get a good deal for the Ottoman Treasures cruise with Thomson aboard the Celebration.
As it was short notice we could not get flights from Scotland but drove down to Manchester the day before, stayed at the Premier Inn for 1 Night including airport parking for the week for about £75. Good move as we had an early check in next day monday 5th July. Would use Premier again.
Airport carpark 2 minutes from hotel, shuttle bus to airport 5 minutes from carpark. Picked up tickets at Thomson desk Terminal 2 no problems.
Check in queue for Thomson at Manchester was very busy, took us over 1 hour to check in. They have express self check in terminals which you can use to avoid the busy queue, think it costs £5 or £10 per person. I did not notice this option until after I queued for 30 minutes but would have given it a go if I had seen it on entering the airport.
Flight left on time, arrived 30 minutes early. Baggage reclaim at Dalaman a bit of a scramble and clearing customs took forever. Almost 90 minutes from getting off the plane to reaching the bus park. My wife says I always pick the wrong queues. Anyway we are on our way.
Transfer from airport to Marmaris and check in at port took about 2 hours. This went very smoothly and your luggage is delivered to your cabin very quickly.
Booked a deluxe outside cabin on deck 8 - as first time cruisers we had nothing to compare it against but were more than pleased with space, facilities and cleanliness.
The ship itself is quite small compared to some of the giants we saw along the way, but a lot of the folk we met on board preferred the more personal atmosphere which seemed to prevail in all areas of the ship. At around 1200 passengers and over 500 crew you are well looked after.
Dining options were the meridian waiter service restaurant, or the lido self service restaurant. There was also the option of the Mistral for dinner which was available at extra cost, never used it but looked quite good. We ate mainly in the self service lido restaurant as my wife seemed to have plenty of vegetarian choices. I liked this style of dining as it was very relaxed and you could try a wee taste of different things. Again I cannot compare food choice or quality with other cruise liners, but you must be very hard to please if this does not impress you. Great value, good quality, plenty choice. Thanks to M&S for the expandable waist trousers.
Never really noticed much of what was going on as far as on board acivities although we took part in a quiz one day. We tended to go ashore early, and return to ship and sunbathe in the afternoon.
The crew on board the Celebration are in the main from the Philipines. Lovely people. We were treated like royalty and they just have a natural friendly nature which made you feel really welcome.
I thought before I went that I was in for the Holiday Camp cabaret but was quite surprised that I enjoyed all the shows I witnessed. The talent is of a high standard. On the downside I tried to watch a couple of world cup matches in the cinema. Signal problems and poor picture quality made it impossible to enjoy.
Never went on any port excursions, heard some folks say they were overpriced. We went ashore at all ports with the exception of Canakalle as it was raining. Most places you just need to get off the ship and wander around the local area. You can get off the ship in Istanbul and jump on a tram which takes you past the main tourist spots, blue mosque, grand bazzar etc. Really interesting city full of history, all you need is a nice smile and a few words of gaelic to ward off the carpet sellers.
Coming home again no problem from ship to airport. At Dalaman airport beware off rip off bar prices. No prices on display - gave me my drink then tried to charge £10 for a beer. Haggled the guy down to £7.50
Anyway we had a great time and our only regret is that we should have done this years earlier. Hoping to book another week october/november on the Destiny.