Thomson Celebration Cruise Review by Jag500: Way Above Expectations - Choose to Cruise!!
Way Above Expectations - Choose to Cruise!!
We did the Thomson Celebration Red Sea Magic out of Sharm el Sheikh (not shown in the departure listing so I've put Safaga) at the end of November 2010. We were a bit wary as had cruised on the Destiny and were bitterly disappointed with the standard, but the Celebration Team changed our minds and we would certainly go on this ship again.
The cabins are basic but comfortable and the bathrooms clean and functional. We are not talking high luxury here (such as on P&O, Carnival, Royal Caribbean etc) but everything worked and we spent so little time inside that it didn't really matter.
Let's get the gripes out of the way up front and then move onto all the good stuff. The towels were rubbish - I'd have discarded the towels for dog-drying long before Thomson obviously do. They were thin, scratchy, stained and greyish.
All flights etc. were great - no hold ups to speak of. Easy embarkation. Staff of course lovely.
Generally this was a great week, More although it was tiring with 3 long trips which had you out of bed at 6.00 a.m. or earlier. The shows were really good; more singing than dancing, and don't miss the Crew Cabaret - it was fantastic. Watch out for the two main singers - they should be in the showteam! The restaurant was a hundred times better than on Destiny. Ask for the wine list rather than the wine of the day which tended to be a bit expensive. Dining is 'freedom' style so that you sit with different people every evening which we really enjoy as you get to meet lots of interesting people.
We normally like to do plenty of dancing on cruises, and this was the only cruise where we didn't really get to do much. There was ballroom early evening (not for us) but then a big gap between end of show & start of disco, which because of the early starts you couldn't be bothered to wait for. The DJ was okay, but didn't really seem to read the crowd that well. Most of the passengers were 40 - 60 and a lot of the time the music was definitely not suitable for this age group. Lots of quizzes etc. if you're into that kind of thing.
A final point - we got stuck in Sharm after the cruise because of snow in the UK. The ship staff and Thomson generally were great. Information was pretty good; I think they didn't know what was going on, so couldn't tell us really. Anyway we had a great final day on board, used one of the courtesy cabins to shower and change ready to travel, and then got bussed to a fabulous 5* hotel where we spent 2 days all-inclusive soaking up the sun. We were really well looked after, the rooms were very comfortable and the food/drink all free. It was a nice relax after the long trips whilst cruising.
Do note that the loos at Sharm airport in T2 are horrendous. Perhaps Thomson could have a word!!!
Would we cruise with Thomson again - Yes. Would we advise other people to do this cruise - Yes.
One of the nicest touches - the greeting of hot towels, juice and the crew band waiting on the quayside when you got back from EVERY trip. Less
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Although we had an outside cabin, the porthole was tiny so we could have saved our money and gone inside. Also all the ports are cargo ports not places to visit. They are gateways to other things so nothing to see much anyway. We had side-by-side beds which were quite a long way from each other, but preferable to the L-shape configuration. Hanging space was fine. Loo packed up a couple of times but maintenance were there in less than 10 minutes and got things sorted. There was a hum/vibration on the whole ship all the time, even in port, so you could feel yourself being gently vibrated asleep!!
Port and Shore Excursions
If you are of a sensitive disposition, beware that Cairo is pretty much all slum and there are some unpleasant sights out there. The pollution is thick - both in the air and on the ground, and especially in the Nile and its canals.
The trip to Luxor from Safaga is even longer so take pillows if you can. You get a picnic box on all the trips (even though you get a proper lunch), so water/drink, nibbles etc. are to hand. This is a 3.5 hour drive EACH WAY - take books, iPod etc. as some of the landscape is boring. Luxor was great. Valley of the Kings is the pinnacle so if you don't do any other trips do this one. Karnak also amazing.