We pick our cruises for their itineraries and as I've always wanted to go to Istanbul, Ephesus and Athens, this seemed ideal. We were dubious about travelling with Thomson as I associate them with family resort type holidays of the 'Benidorm' variety but friends of ours, seasoned cruisers, had stayed on the Celebration before and recommended it. The price also seemed too good to be true. So we booked it through an agent saying we wanted an outside with an unobstructed view but I should have been more attentive when he said we would be close to the lift,as close we were. Why do lifts go bing bong when they reach a floor. You know you're there because the doors open. Why do they have to announce that fact!! For most of the trip,night and day those doors were going bing bong. We were also close to the door that leads out to the sports deck so we had kids and staff in and out slamming the door all day as well as the staff phone about 6 feet from our door that used to ring as early as 6.45 am even though there were no staff about to answer it.
The cabin was described as de luxe but was far from that. It was like stepping back into the 70s with dated furnishings and lighting and had obviously been altered several times with defunct switches and a mini bar fridge area that was cobbled together. The veneer on some of the furniture had chunks missing,the curtain linings were badly damaged and the blind was stuck together with gaffer tape. The enamelled basin in the bathroom was badly chipped, the toilet bowl marked and stained, the tiles around the bath were mildewed and the floor tiles were lifting. The toilet vacuum system was something else. Either it filled with water to the brim before flushing or you could push the button wash and dry your hands and leave the room or even the cabin before it flushed. The boat suffered a lot of movement and vibration even on the 9th deck and this made the cabin door rattle so badly we had to stuff it with paper to stop it every night. When we mentioned the toilet and the door to our cabin steward he said this was normal however they did fix a leak in the ceiling though they didn't think that was a problem either!
The food was fair though not outstanding and was obviously done to satisfy quantity rather than quality. There was quite a choice at all meals but I don't eat anything that I can't identify and as most of the dishes were minced mashed or disguised with sauce or gravy [so much gravy!!] I was stuck with bread and cheese several times. Even a mixed grill came awash with gravy. Most nights in the lido buffet were themed nights i.e. Indian, Tex Mex, far eastern, etc. There was often a choice of a carvery joint but this wasn't all the time.
The main entertainment was a twice evening show in the Broadway Lounge and this was excellent for a boat this size. The show team were quite young and extremely talented and put on a completely different show each evening and all of them were well rehearsed, terrific shows. Ocean Vibe, the ship's showband were also very entertaining but I didn't see much of the other musicians to comment.
The public areas of the boat were spotlessly clean and all the staff were warm friendly and helpful. In fact the staff and crew are far better than this ship, or Thomson's for that matter, deserve.
So much for the ship now for the journey home. Our flight with Thomson's was due to leave Dalaman at 15.00pm so we left on the connecting coach at 11.15am for the 1 1/2 hour journey to the airport. When we got there we headed for the security scanners heaving our cases onto the rollers and disrobing the getting our cases off again and redressing and then went to check in joining the queue of 300 passengers. after about 20 minutes we heard the rumour that the flight would be delayed by 11 hours and we would be taken to a hotel - 1 1/4 hours away! So we all piled back on the coaches and headed off without the chance of a drink or using the toilet when we finally got there we herded into reception and waited to be booked in which took an age then we went to find our apartments. It wasn't a hotel but a family resort and the apartments were in various blocks scattered around the complex that seemed to be built on the side of a cliff. Getting to these apartments involved climbing up and then down, then up again a lot of steps even a funicular railway was involved for some blocks so it was more suited to mountain goats than the elderly and infirm passengers on our boat. They brought our cases up to the end of the paths by the blocks but we still had to lug them up and down flights of winding steps to get them up to the apartments very nearly killing some of the older folks and putting my back out. You must bear in mind as well that these blocks were up to a mile away from the main reception area and there was no transport for the older infirm people. The stay was inclusive which proved a problem as a lot of drink was consumed mainly by older passengers I have to say and a fight broke out between 2 men in their late 60s early 70s which was disgraceful but inevitable given the sort of people that this cruise liner obviously appealed to. We were finally shipped out to the airport again around 10pm and flew out of Dalaman at 2am. We landed at Gatwick at 4am, 24 hours after we got up the previous day. 24 hours in transit. 24 hours with no sleep. All because our plane was stuck at Sharm El Sheikh with a technical fault the day before. They knew that plane wouldn't be there the night before we left, confirmed by a notice on the wall in the hotel saying as much yet they still got us off the boat even though it wasn't going anywhere for 3 days due to a review before sailing down to the Red Sea for the winter. We could have stayed there or gone straight to a hotel. Why mess us around with all that driving about. I can guarantee we'll NEVER EVER use Thomson again. This week has been a total fiasco. The old saying 'you only get what you pay for' could have been invented for Thomson's or you could have 'you get more than you bargain for' either way Thomson's are a total joke. All the effort their staff put in [apart from the surly reps they sent with us to the resort] is wasted by Thomson's need to cut corners with their infrastructure. Their boats,planes and chairman should be dragged out to the middle of the ocean and scuppered!!!