This was our seventh time on a cruise ship and it more than met our expectations. We chose the Celebration on a nostalgic whim having sailed across the Atlantic seven years ago on the same ship when she was called the Nordam and was sailing under the Holland America flag. Mostly the bars were the same, only the names had been changed, the character remained.
We arrived at Sharm el Sheik after an uneventful flight (apart from the fact that we had booked extra leg room seats and didn't get them!) and were delighted to see the 'middle aged lady' (the Captain's words describing the ship) looking so spick, span and shiny in the dock lights. We were welcomed into the reception area on the dock and the process of creating our credit cards for the ship went smoothly and quickly. Soon we were shown to our cabin by a friendly steward and were very pleased with the one that we had chosen. It was spacious, very clean and the bathroom was bigger than we expected. The toiletries were a nice touch.
The storage space in the cabin was excellent and the 'dressing table' area was like that in a first class hotel.
After a quick drink outside Liberties Bar we made our way to the Meridian Restaurant and had an exceptional five course dinner. We were all inclusive and the meal was washed down with copious amounts of wine, the glass was never empty. Our waiter, JoJo, was very attentive and we booked to sit on his table for the rest of the cruise. Unfortunately he was taken ill in the middle of the cruise and had to be flown home but Michael Wright, his replacement was equally efficient. Leo, the assistant waiter, and Zenny the wine waitress (and Tony for the second week) were brilliant, efficient and friendly. We were very disappointed to find that the advertised Italian restaurant didn't exist and the alternative restaurant (you had to pay a bit more) had food that was no better than the Meridian. However, when we did eat in there and didn't enjoy it, we told our assistant waiter that we wished we had stayed in the Meridian instead and unbeknown to us he informed the Maitre d' who sent us a bottle of Prosecco and some chocolate covered strawberries with his profound apologies and the cover charge was waived.
That was a small example of how excellent we found the service in all departments. During the day we tended to eat in the Lido restaurant which was buffet style. The food was good and there was a huge selection including usually some food of local flavour.
The waiters throughout the ship were friendly and efficient and had learned our names by the evening of the first full day.
I did take advantage of the Spa facility on the ship and cannot commend the Spa staff enough for their efforts to make me beautiful for the Captain's Cocktail Party and for subsequently spoiling me rotten. My heartfelt thanks go to Erika, Chelsy, Pedrag and Grace for their friendliness and patience with me. I wish they could have come home with me!!
Having been on a ship before we quickly settled into the daytime entertainment, trivia quiz and bingo!, when we were'nt on a tour, and they were ably run by Anglela and Lee. The evening shows were not really shows but more like cabarets and the second week was better than the first as if they had had more practice! The highlight of our evening entertainment for both weeks was the Crew Talent Show and also the Sailaway Nights as we were leaving Sharm el Sheik. The band Ocean Vibe was excellent.
Because we had two weeks on the ship we did not need to do all the excursions in one week and we found spreading the load more relaxing. On the days when everyone else was away on excursions the ship was almost empty, very quiet and absolutely beautiful!