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We had a party of 12 family members cruising the ‘Cities of Gold’ end of January / start of February. This included Dubai; Bahrain; Oman (Muscat and Khasab); Abu Dhabi and back to Dubai (with an overnight stay). We flew from Manchester on a 767 – comfortable overnight flight of just under 8 hours. When we checked in at Manchester there was a desk for cruise passengers providing luggage labels for cases and instructions confirming that we DID have to collect our cases from the carousel on arrival and transfer them to the coach. Would have been nice if they were transferred directly – but no big issues, and it was all made very clear. We flew to Dubai - Al Maktoum airport – which is about an hour outside of Dubai. Although the airport is brand new and state of the art, it still took 1.5 hours from landing to getting our cases. After loading cases to the coach the next we saw of them was when they were delivered to our cabins. This was really smooth – only about an hour after boarding. Check in at the cruise terminal was smooth. We were provided with our ship’s card, and waited no more than ten minutes to have a picture taken and provide credit card details. Actually – debt card – Thomson made it very clear that they charged a supplement/charge of 1.5% for credit cards. The straight onto the ship. And what a delight. Yes, the celebration is an older ship – she’s been around for over 30 years under various names and line. She’s “traditional”; teak promenade decks and a capacity of around 1200 – a change from my last cruise on NCL EPIC huge at over 4000 passengers and almost all decks surrounded with Perspex (great for stopping the wind, but deprived of that outdoor, cruising feeling of resting against a balustrade and watching the sea…..but I’m getting poetic!) Cabin. I had an interior cabin. Large, very comfortable double bed (and a proper double, not two singles stuck together); Desk/dressing table; tea/coffee facilities; mini bar; more than ample cupboard/wardrobe space and adequate shower room. All perfectly clean, comfortable and in good order. It was not the most modern room ever, and would benefit from some redecoration – but overall, a great room for my week’s cruise. The cabin steward, Joseph, introduced himself within minutes and was at always at hand for the week, if needed. He did a smashing job of keeping the cabin clean and tidy. He had the perfect balance of being available but unobtrusive. Thank you Joseph. There is one Main Dining Room – The Meridian. We had accepted that with open seating the chances of all of our party getting a table together was slim. We were wrong. On the first night we were asked if we would like them to arrange a table for 12 (yes please!). Not only that but they reserved this table for u all at the same time every evening of the cruise. Now that’s service. We can’t give enough thanks to Benji, our head waiter, and our main table waiters Noel and Patrick, for the superb service we received throughout the cruise. They made dining a pleasure. Well – the food also helped…this was excellent – not a negative comment all week. There was sufficient choice to suit a variety of tastes, and after soups, starters, main, deserts, cheese, and coffee (and of course sufficient wine to accompany the food) we were nothing but spoilt. We all left the cruise a good half stone heavier than when we arrived. There were two specialist restaurants positioned just off the MDR, but we didn't try these. With the quality in the MDR we didn't need to ! For breakfast and lunch we used the Lido buffet. Great selection of well-presented and tasty food. Just outside of the buffet on deck more food snack type food was available – e.g. pizza or panini. No-one went short of anything to eat all week. One evening we paid the (modest) extra amount – about £15 each) to have to experience of the ‘hot stone meal’ on the deck. This was an enjoyable evening – but we all drew the conclusion that having to cook your own food was not what restaurant dining is about. Fun – but the food didn’t benefit, so won’t be repeating. However, our waiters (Noel and Patrick) from the MDR came to see us on deck to say hello and make sure we were enjoying ourselves. How friendly – above and beyond what I would expect. Throughout the ship is a selection of lounges and bars which each have their own character. Some of the ones we visits were: Broadway show lounge – quiet during the day, big picture widows to the outside, can sit and relax. Sometimes could also watch rehearsals for future evening entertainment being conducted on the stage. At night there was a selection of musical revue style shows (e.g. a Michael Jackson show; and a show with selections from the musicals produced by Cameron Mackintosh). Coffee bar – bright and modern seating area proving coffee and cakes. There was an extra charge for the coffee here – but it was modest – and certainly less than most high street chains Horizons – probably my favourite. At the front of the ship (and took a little finding) on deck 9. Lots of wing chairs facing picture windows so you can watch out to see. During the day, very quiet and peaceful. In the evening the bar had live music (e.g. vocalist/pianist) and became a classy cocktail bar – ideal for a pre-dinner drink. Lovely. Liberties – we only went here in the evening. Late night cabaret/night club. Loud, but good atmosphere – nice way to end a good night out. Service at all of the bars was excellent. We were on an all-inclusive drinks package (highly recommended) – but the drinks were at a very reasonable price for those who were paying on the ship. Ports of call Bahrain – nice to say I’ve been! Could have been any town in that part of the world. For me, had little character and I won’t be hurrying back Muscat (Oman) – what a delight. A free courtesy bus takes you to the port gates then a five minute walk from the port takes you to the town. We walked around the bay, the main roads were planted with an abundance of colourful flowers. In the town there a wonderful souk. And everyone was so friendly. Everywhere we were greeted with a smile and warm welcome. Some of our party hired a minibus/taxi at the port gates and paid for a two hour tour around Muscat. Cheap way to do an excursion – and comes highly recommended. Khasab (Oman) – a free tender from the ship takes passengers to Khasab – then a 15 minute walk to the town. There is very little here, except a fort (with museum – which was really interesting), and a huger hypermarket (bizarre, middle of nowhere, no one around, but a massive shop!). However, I was lucky enough to get the last place on a Thomson organised cycle trip from the tender port. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the week. The tour gave the opportunity to go up into the stunning mountains and ravines, see wonderful lakes, tiny villages, cave paintings, beaches, and travel back down to the town to visit the fort (and the hypermarket!). This was well organised with frequent stops and an informative and personable guide. You’d need to be a reasonably proficient cyclist. I would definitely take another cycle tour. Brilliant day. Abu Dhabi – We took a Thomson excursion of a city tour and a visit the Grand Mosque. What a stunning place. There were dress restrictions (strictly enforced) so everyone complied with the cultural requirements of the mosque – and we had been informed of these when we booked (e.g. long trousers, long sleeves, and ladies covering their hair). The Mosque can hold 40000 worshipers – you can imagine its size. Wonderful building in white marble. Breath-taking and very spiritual place – and as with everywhere we visited, a warm and friendly welcome. Our coach took us along the promenade in Abu Dhabi – this looked delightful walk (I’d have liked another cycle ride down here), but we didn’t get a chance to get out. Perhaps another visit is calling! Dubai – Huge sprawling city. The buildings are spectacular and completed to standards approaching perfection. We visits a 5* hotel from a family birthday meal – what wonderful experience that was. This place is about money. And displays of money. Decide for yourself if that’s for you. Other comments Some other reviews had mentioned things like ‘the dreadful vibration’ of the ship. Nonsense. You could tell you were moving – same as you can in a car or a plane – but that’s never described as a dreadful vibration. It was actually a bonus; it made you feel like you were cruising, not just in some isolated floating hotel. It had no negative impact at any time, and in no way affected sleep. Cabin walls might have been thin, or the people next door had load voices and an inability to speak quietly and respect their neighbours (I expect the latter) - and I could hear pretty much everything next door. Sunbeds. Barely enough and the sun decks got very packed. There must be some way to stop the sunbed hoggers who put towels on the beds then disappear? The ship is in excellent order, spotlessly clean and the public rooms welcoming and well decorated. Overall – a wonderful cruise. The Celebration might be an old lady of the sea, but let’s think of her as motherly. The staff were warm and friendly. I would be more than happy to cruise with Thomson again…might try the Discovery. A slightly larger ship, with perhaps more sun beds would be great. But I will take with me fond memories of a terrific week on Celebration.

Total Enjoyment and Excellent Value

Marella Celebration Cruise Review by MarkCheshire

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We had a party of 12 family members cruising the ‘Cities of Gold’ end of January / start of February. This included Dubai; Bahrain; Oman (Muscat and Khasab); Abu Dhabi and back to Dubai (with an overnight stay).

We flew from Manchester on a 767 – comfortable overnight flight of just under 8 hours. When we checked in at Manchester there was a desk for cruise passengers providing luggage labels for cases and instructions confirming that we DID have to collect our cases from the carousel on arrival and transfer them to the coach. Would have been nice if they were transferred directly – but no big issues, and it was all made very clear.

We flew to Dubai - Al Maktoum airport – which is about an hour outside of Dubai. Although the airport is brand new and state of the art, it still took 1.5 hours from landing to getting our cases. After loading cases to the coach the next we saw of them was when they were delivered to our cabins. This was really smooth – only about an hour after boarding.

Check in at the cruise terminal was smooth. We were provided with our ship’s card, and waited no more than ten minutes to have a picture taken and provide credit card details. Actually – debt card – Thomson made it very clear that they charged a supplement/charge of 1.5% for credit cards.

The straight onto the ship. And what a delight. Yes, the celebration is an older ship – she’s been around for over 30 years under various names and line. She’s “traditional”; teak promenade decks and a capacity of around 1200 – a change from my last cruise on NCL EPIC huge at over 4000 passengers and almost all decks surrounded with Perspex (great for stopping the wind, but deprived of that outdoor, cruising feeling of resting against a balustrade and watching the sea…..but I’m getting poetic!)

Cabin. I had an interior cabin. Large, very comfortable double bed (and a proper double, not two singles stuck together); Desk/dressing table; tea/coffee facilities; mini bar; more than ample cupboard/wardrobe space and adequate shower room. All perfectly clean, comfortable and in good order. It was not the most modern room ever, and would benefit from some redecoration – but overall, a great room for my week’s cruise.

The cabin steward, Joseph, introduced himself within minutes and was at always at hand for the week, if needed. He did a smashing job of keeping the cabin clean and tidy. He had the perfect balance of being available but unobtrusive. Thank you Joseph.

There is one Main Dining Room – The Meridian. We had accepted that with open seating the chances of all of our party getting a table together was slim. We were wrong. On the first night we were asked if we would like them to arrange a table for 12 (yes please!). Not only that but they reserved this table for u all at the same time every evening of the cruise. Now that’s service.

We can’t give enough thanks to Benji, our head waiter, and our main table waiters Noel and Patrick, for the superb service we received throughout the cruise. They made dining a pleasure. Well – the food also helped…this was excellent – not a negative comment all week. There was sufficient choice to suit a variety of tastes, and after soups, starters, main, deserts, cheese, and coffee (and of course sufficient wine to accompany the food) we were nothing but spoilt. We all left the cruise a good half stone heavier than when we arrived.

There were two specialist restaurants positioned just off the MDR, but we didn't try these. With the quality in the MDR we didn't need to !

For breakfast and lunch we used the Lido buffet. Great selection of well-presented and tasty food. Just outside of the buffet on deck more food snack type food was available – e.g. pizza or panini. No-one went short of anything to eat all week.

One evening we paid the (modest) extra amount – about £15 each) to have to experience of the ‘hot stone meal’ on the deck. This was an enjoyable evening – but we all drew the conclusion that having to cook your own food was not what restaurant dining is about. Fun – but the food didn’t benefit, so won’t be repeating.

However, our waiters (Noel and Patrick) from the MDR came to see us on deck to say hello and make sure we were enjoying ourselves. How friendly – above and beyond what I would expect.

Throughout the ship is a selection of lounges and bars which each have their own character. Some of the ones we visits were:

Broadway show lounge – quiet during the day, big picture widows to the outside, can sit and relax. Sometimes could also watch rehearsals for future evening entertainment being conducted on the stage.

At night there was a selection of musical revue style shows (e.g. a Michael Jackson show; and a show with selections from the musicals produced by Cameron Mackintosh).

Coffee bar – bright and modern seating area proving coffee and cakes. There was an extra charge for the coffee here – but it was modest – and certainly less than most high street chains

Horizons – probably my favourite. At the front of the ship (and took a little finding) on deck 9. Lots of wing chairs facing picture windows so you can watch out to see. During the day, very quiet and peaceful. In the evening the bar had live music (e.g. vocalist/pianist) and became a classy cocktail bar – ideal for a pre-dinner drink. Lovely.

Liberties – we only went here in the evening. Late night cabaret/night club. Loud, but good atmosphere – nice way to end a good night out.

Service at all of the bars was excellent. We were on an all-inclusive drinks package (highly recommended) – but the drinks were at a very reasonable price for those who were paying on the ship.

Ports of call

Bahrain – nice to say I’ve been! Could have been any town in that part of the world. For me, had little character and I won’t be hurrying back

Muscat (Oman) – what a delight. A free courtesy bus takes you to the port gates then a five minute walk from the port takes you to the town. We walked around the bay, the main roads were planted with an abundance of colourful flowers. In the town there a wonderful souk. And everyone was so friendly. Everywhere we were greeted with a smile and warm welcome.

Some of our party hired a minibus/taxi at the port gates and paid for a two hour tour around Muscat. Cheap way to do an excursion – and comes highly recommended.

Khasab (Oman) – a free tender from the ship takes passengers to Khasab – then a 15 minute walk to the town. There is very little here, except a fort (with museum – which was really interesting), and a huger hypermarket (bizarre, middle of nowhere, no one around, but a massive shop!). However, I was lucky enough to get the last place on a Thomson organised cycle trip from the tender port. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the week. The tour gave the opportunity to go up into the stunning mountains and ravines, see wonderful lakes, tiny villages, cave paintings, beaches, and travel back down to the town to visit the fort (and the hypermarket!). This was well organised with frequent stops and an informative and personable guide. You’d need to be a reasonably proficient cyclist. I would definitely take another cycle tour. Brilliant day.

Abu Dhabi – We took a Thomson excursion of a city tour and a visit the Grand Mosque. What a stunning place. There were dress restrictions (strictly enforced) so everyone complied with the cultural requirements of the mosque – and we had been informed of these when we booked (e.g. long trousers, long sleeves, and ladies covering their hair). The Mosque can hold 40000 worshipers – you can imagine its size. Wonderful building in white marble. Breath-taking and very spiritual place – and as with everywhere we visited, a warm and friendly welcome.

Our coach took us along the promenade in Abu Dhabi – this looked delightful walk (I’d have liked another cycle ride down here), but we didn’t get a chance to get out. Perhaps another visit is calling!

Dubai – Huge sprawling city. The buildings are spectacular and completed to standards approaching perfection. We visits a 5* hotel from a family birthday meal – what wonderful experience that was.

This place is about money. And displays of money. Decide for yourself if that’s for you.

Other comments

Some other reviews had mentioned things like ‘the dreadful vibration’ of the ship. Nonsense. You could tell you were moving – same as you can in a car or a plane – but that’s never described as a dreadful vibration. It was actually a bonus; it made you feel like you were cruising, not just in some isolated floating hotel. It had no negative impact at any time, and in no way affected sleep.

Cabin walls might have been thin, or the people next door had load voices and an inability to speak quietly and respect their neighbours (I expect the latter) - and I could hear pretty much everything next door.

Sunbeds. Barely enough and the sun decks got very packed. There must be some way to stop the sunbed hoggers who put towels on the beds then disappear?

The ship is in excellent order, spotlessly clean and the public rooms welcoming and well decorated.

Overall – a wonderful cruise. The Celebration might be an old lady of the sea, but let’s think of her as motherly. The staff were warm and friendly.

I would be more than happy to cruise with Thomson again…might try the Discovery. A slightly larger ship, with perhaps more sun beds would be great. But I will take with me fond memories of a terrific week on Celebration.
MarkCheshire’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 0607
Some comments included in http://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1803243&page=14

Great room. Quiet. Large. Spotless. Very comfortable bed. Loads of storage space. Could do with some updating.
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