Flights were on time and trouble free both ways but 5.5 hours into Sharm is a long time, and coming back my knees were touching the seat in front. I wish they would take a few rows of seats out, I wouold be happy to pay a bit more. Can't afford business class though, even if it had been available. Check in at Naples was very slow, they should have opened a few more desks to get us through.
Our second cruise (the first was Red Sea Magic Easter 2010 on this same ship). The old ship is still a bit shabby chic - our bathroom had seen much better days - but the public areas are good and the room was always kept clean by the lovely staff.
Check-in was pretty good although the queue at Sharm port was longer than I'd have liked - more staff at busy times would be good.
Because of the itinerary changes we didn't have time to do any port research, so it became a chillax cruise - we never left the ship in the end. We'd already seen the pyramids and know Barcelona so weren't really bothered, but there were quite a few whingers on board. I reckoned it was a good heads up that cruises don't always go according to plan, and I'll learn from it. February in the med isn't really warm enough for sight-seeing, and the only one we fancied was climbing the volcano. That day it was 10 degrees and windy even at sealevel, so we decided to save the trip for another time (summer preferably!). I curled up in a patch of sun in Hemingways, drank Tom Collins and read a book instead. On the two rough nights I took pills and slept - feel ready for an Atlantic cruise now! Husband first dragged me up to Horizons to see the prow crashing into the waves - somewhat unnerving but quite exciting!
Service onboard was nearly as good as last time although hardly any staff were the same, we heard they had all gone to the 'Dream'.
Food good. We started with breakfast in Meridian but found it was generally buffet and when it was waiter service it was pretty rushed, as though they couldn't get us out fast enough - not what we experienced last time. We soon decamped to the Lido which was more relaxed although then you have to do your own portion control which husband is pretty bad at!
We lunched in Meridian which was much more relaxed, especially on a port day when the ship was pretty quiet. Dinner also mainly in Meridian, mainly excellent. The chefs were especially good with fish and simple meat. Didn't go in the A La Carte restaurant - we did go in last year and found it no better than Meridian - maybe we made poor menu choices?
Drink - we chose the AI after some thought but might not next time. It's changed since last year. Draught cider was available this time, but they had taken all fizzy wines and also baileys off the AI which was disappointing (I lived off kir royale and baileys last time).
Captains night was a laugh, it's good to see (almost) everyone dressing up.
The showlounge entertainment was professional and well done but not really to my taste. Kearney Street were pretty poor except when they were riffing their own stuff. The various quizzes in Liberties were hit and miss. The classical duo were good. The main quiz (held over several days) was a laugh, and we also enjoyed the captains talk and a bridge tour. My husband enjoyed the comedian, I found him a bit Bernard Manning. It must be really hard to find the right entertainment balance tough, so all power to the team for trying.
Check out, especially getting on our coach in Naples, was a bit chaotic, you got a sense that we were not interesting any more, just to be got rid of. Shame - Thomson should pay attention to last impressions as much as first. And the less said about the in-flight meals the better. No way will I ever pay Thomson for one of those again.
All in all, we had a lovely relaxing cruise. You get what you pay for, and the downside of this less formal cruise is lower spec accommodation. Highlights for me were the suez, and at dinner sipping a glass of wine in the straights of messina while the pilot boat was surging up and down in the spray just outside my window, with the lights of sicily in the distance. Would I cruise on Celebration again? At the right price, unreservedly yes.