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Seeing St Petersburg and Tallin were on our wish list and with the ship sailing from North Shields (30 minutes from home), this was a no-brainer! Embarkation was a little chaotic with staff everywhere shouting out what to do and where to go. Hundreds of people milling around being told to 'move forward' over loudspeakers with no idea which line of passengers was being shouted at. A Thomsons flag outside the terminal suggested that we should use the right hand entrance which was entirely incorrect. From here cross the entire building through the hundreds sitting down, to join the end of the queue inside the other entrance. Bags were being taken at the end of this queue and boarding cards issued along with medical questionnaire. Fill in your medical questionnaire and cross the waiting hoards again to a desk to collect a coloured card. Then join the queue to hand in the questionnaire. Then find a seat and join the waiting hoards to be called via colour to the boarding desk. At least one desk could be eliminated. A family arrived at the front of the boarding queue to discover that they didn't have a coloured card because they hadn't handed in the questionnaire…. However, the whole process took under an hour so despite the confusion it was swift. Boarding and into cabin was done in the rain but that isn't Thomson's fault although the top layer in my suitcase got wet! I had two pieces of luggage. One was suit carrier because we fancied attending the Captain's Gala which we probably wouldn't bother with again because all the queuing and waiting around added over an hour to meal-time. So if you want to avoid dressing up you can eat in the Lido or if you want to dress up but avoid the waiting and photos you can book Al La Carte. The other suticase was way over the 23kg limit (only noticed when I read the rules again on the way back!) but no-one complained to me. The bags were all safely delivered to the room within 30 minutes of boarding. Cabin 145 is on the starboard side and is billed as a deluxe. I agree with many other comments that the ship is looking tired and old-fashioned but we have travelled on Celebration before and like it so knew what to expect. What I couldn't remember was the electrical socket layout so here is the definitive for this cabin: two sockets. One is continental round two pin at 220v and the other US two flat pins at (presumably) 110v. I presume this because a hair dryer ran much slower in the flat pin socket than the round pin. I believe the flat pin to be inherently less safe so I bought a 3 socket extension lead from home and used it with an adapter in the round pin socket. Cabin 145 is a deluxe cabin on deck 7. I booked it because of the position in relation to the rear staircase and deck 7 because it is not overlooked. Deck 6 is the promenade which is below and 8 the lifeboats. It is fairly large with a double rectangular window and was set up as a double for us. Plenty of storage with two wardrobes, 6 large drawers and bedside lockers with 2 drawers. There is enough spare room in the fridge for your own bottles. Tea and coffee facilites although never enough milk sachets, as normal. Fabulous service from Glenn, the steward who managed to tidy the cabin 3 times a day! The cabin does look a little tired now with brown and pine- fairly dark for today's tastes. But with the exception of the old-style radio built into the end of the desk, everything worked except the hair-dryer. We did not bother to report this because my wife bought one having learnt to never trust hair-dryers in ships and hotels!The TV reception is pretty poor in terms of picture quality but both Sky and BBC World news are available and normally the picture was viewable. The one fault that constantly annoyed me was the lack of of water pressure in the shower. Turning it full on and holding the head upside down resulted in a fountain less than an inch high...We spoke to other passengers and were assured that on deck 2 this was not an issue. The drain from the bath (shower is over bath) blocked one day and was cleared within minutes by an engineer. I would book this cabin again. We spoke to many guests who were in cabins on decks 1 and 2 and no-one seemed to have a problem with cabin size or facilities. One couple on deck 1 claimed to have more room because their cabin did not have a bath. Because of 'enhanced hygiene' the self service laundry was closed as was the library. Breakfast was served by staff at the servery rather than self-service. When we were last on Celebration the area outside the library and card room was a sitting area with a piano. It has now been turned into a coffee bar (Coffee Port) and the excursions desk. The whole area has been done very well indeed and the coffee is Lavazza which was very welcome. Whilst it is a premium price anyone on the all-inclusive deal does get a discount and so 2 cups cost less than £2.50 extra. I am not a huge fan of the Meridian restaurant where I find the menu rather unadventurous. We therefore booked a meal in each of the Al La Carte restaurants. We were impressed with Mistrals last time so were looking forward to eating there again and had read good reports about the Asian restaurant. By Tuesday the enhanced hygiene was over and everything back to normal. On the Tuesday night we ate in Mistrals. We booked all 3 restaurants as there was an offer of all three for £47.95 additional charge. The standard of both service and food was very good.. A total of 7 courses, with an amuse bouche and sorbet not on the menu. I had comments only about the lobster, which I would not normally choose and I found tasteless, and the coconut crème brulee which had no coconut taste whatever. The rest was superb including the escargots and the fillet steak. A word to the wise here- if you are on the Al Inclusive tariff then wine by the glass is included. Don't buy a bottle- the waiter will fill your glass all night long anyway. Another night we ate in Kora La, the Asian Al La Carte. This was wonderful as the main course is specified by yourself in terms of both meat and heat. My Wife loved this. The quality was good and the service fine until it got busy and then slowed down to a crawl. We booked again in here for the final night and the standard of the chicken had plummeted. First time it was great- second time it was stringy and obviously leg/wing meat. This was raised with the Head waiter who told us that they do NOT use breast meat. Conclusion- we had been lucky first time! The Hot Stone Al La Carte is set up on the Lido deck each evening. A VERY hot marble stone is presented to you with a small selection of raw veg and the meat/ fish of your choice. You cook it yourself. This sounds great in theory but we couldn't see how it would work in practice. I like a rare steak- my Wife a medium. Surf and turf involved lobster tail so that would be a third cooking time. Whilst my steak would take 7/8 minutes plus 5 minutes standing time, what would happen with the chips which were hot when bought to the table? Other guests confirmed that the whole thing was just too much bother and created worry about raw food. So we accepted the option to have the chef cook our steaks and then used the stone to cook the veg whilst the steaks stood. Then the stone came in useful for warming the chips and steaks as we sliced it up- great! We also couldn't understand why the menu included a choice of 3 sauces- wasn't that going to create quite a mess? But then they came in little dishes so were more of a selection of dips than sauces. It does seem to be a rule that if you book early you get the All-Inclusive deal thrown in, if you leave it later then the price goes down but the AI cost goes up. To the point where it costs £400 if you leave it until boarding (£200 a week each!) AI is definitely worth if you get in early. Without the AI a cocktail costs £4.50. Some drinks (Pint of Heineken, premium cocktails) incurr a small charge even to AI customers. It wasn't until the last day that we worked out that we could have a coffee (outside the meals) on AI if we asked. It was perfectly acceptable coffee although not as good as paying a small premium in the Coffee Port. The entertainment was great. The showteam, a group that travels round the fleet 'filling in' for the other teams, were incredibly hard working. Not just learning 10 different shows but also all the routines within those shows. I wasn't impressed at first but realised later that I disliked the Queen show so much not because of the showteam but because I don't like Queen! As the time went on I became more and more appreciative of their skills. Their Tamla Mowtown show and Moulin Rouge tribute were the highlights for me. A particularly 'brutal' staging of Roxanne with the boys throwing one of the girls around the stage was both disturbing and skilful and bought the audience to it's feet. One show that didn't work at all for me was the 'International Music Awards'- if you are going to sing the songs of the most successful female artist of all time then you probably shouldn't change her music and words around- Adele probably knows what she is doing. Ian Bagshaw, the Cruise Director is also a very fine magician! (But terrible comedian!) Showtime is ruined some nights by the people in first sitting simply not leaving. Those who come in for the second show have quite a problem finding seats on popular nights. We had a fascinating series of lectures by Robert Simpson about The Russian Romanovs and history that we greatly enjoyed. Robert is obviously very learned and didn't shy away from giving his opinions. He seemed permanently surprised to find himself lecturing to full houses and received gratitude with humility. Even if you think lectures are not for you this series was great background to what we were going to see in St Petersburg and the contrast between Robert's true and historical representation of the facts (Catherine The Great was really quite ruthless) and the glossing-over of the facts by our Russian Tour Guide was marked! As far as te guide was concerned the 1917 revolution was just a natural course of affairs- Robert's depiction of the Tsar's incompetent governance explained it and even hinted at how it might have been avoided. Well done Thomson for having him on. I can't judge Liberties or Hemingways at all- we never went in there! I did try the casino for the first time in my life and left with a 50% profit on the roulette... £5! We love Horizons and an ideal evening would be meal>show>Horizons Cocktails. Truth is we had such a laugh with the fellow cruisers that we ate with at the 'Captains Table' that we often ran out of time. It was incredible how many of our fellow passengers were repeat cruisers, and the majority on Thomson ships. The reason is the staff and crew and the training that goes into making them friendly and approachable. No passenger seems to treated differently. Deck 1 to deck 8 is all the same to the crew and no passenger gets priority over another. In this way there is no 'pecking order' such as on ships with exclusive restaurants for high-paying passengers. Thomsons acknowledge repeat passengers with a Captain's Reception and a little badge- just a 'thank you'. A quick summary of the ports (we did only 1 Thomson excursion- Copenhagen); Fredrickstad- Nice. Local people had set out a trail of yellow stars into town to their craft shops and cafes. Fabulous photo opportunities around the star-shaped town moat. Not a lot of chance to spend money! Walk in. Aalborg- 'Europe's Happiest City'. Well, yes, I'm sure it is. We walked to the Modern Art Museum which was fabulous. Stockholm- We got the free shuttle in and then joined the mile long queue for the free shuttle back as all those who hadn't paid used it to get back to the ship. Stockholm is lovely and perfectly walkable. We did the Vasa Museum (like the Marie Rose but better!) and then walked through the City centre. Tallinn- Unbelievable old town. Could not be more attractive if purpose built by Disney. Again, perfectly walkable from the port and no need for excursions at all. St Petersburg- Having checked out the Thomson excursions we realised that to see everything would be extortionate. So after some intense research I booked a 2 day tour with Alla Tours. Do not believe Thomson's constant lies about 'you are only covered by a group visa if you book with Thomson'. 'Your head will explode at immigration if you do not book with Thomson'. All rubbish! All you need is your passport and a valid excursion ticket. The guide then meets you on the other side of immigration and, in a party of just 16, you set off with your headsets for the most intense 2 days of sight-seeing ever! Full review on TripAdvisor! Helsinki- Why? I mean, why Helsinki? When the highlight of a 45 minute cruise around the bay is Finland's last remaining submarine (in dry dock) and the ice breaker ships (moored up and tied together, it being summer) and highlight of the market square outside the parliament is a line of ladies knitting hats, then you know that your City is maybe not a tourist hot spot. Copenhagen- Yes! Bloody difficult to get to from Kalundborg where the ship berthing fees are obviously much cheaper. Thomsons can then also get passengers to pay £6 each for a seat on a shuttle coach and make a profit on that as well. 90 minutes there and 90 minutes back. Once there we found that 14,000 passengers from 3 giant cruise liners had moored next to the Little Mermaid and blocked the streets with their coaches before we got there. Very inconsiderate. But the Havyn area for a meal (£48 for lunch....) and a wonder around was fabulous. Wouldn't do a 'tour' if there again.

Great cruise on the 'national treasure actress' of the cruising world

Marella Celebration Cruise Review by Feenee

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Seeing St Petersburg and Tallin were on our wish list and with the ship sailing from North Shields (30 minutes from home), this was a no-brainer!

Embarkation was a little chaotic with staff everywhere shouting out what to do and where to go. Hundreds of people milling around being told to 'move forward' over loudspeakers with no idea which line of passengers was being shouted at. A Thomsons flag outside the terminal suggested that we should use the right hand entrance which was entirely incorrect. From here cross the entire building through the hundreds sitting down, to join the end of the queue inside the other entrance. Bags were being taken at the end of this queue and boarding cards issued along with medical questionnaire. Fill in your medical questionnaire and cross the waiting hoards again to a desk to collect a coloured card.

Then join the queue to hand in the questionnaire. Then find a seat and join the waiting hoards to be called via colour to the boarding desk. At least one desk could be eliminated. A family arrived at the front of the boarding queue to discover that they didn't have a coloured card because they hadn't handed in the questionnaire….

However, the whole process took under an hour so despite the confusion it was swift.

Boarding and into cabin was done in the rain but that isn't Thomson's fault although the top layer in my suitcase got wet!

I had two pieces of luggage. One was suit carrier because we fancied attending the Captain's Gala which we probably wouldn't bother with again because all the queuing and waiting around added over an hour to meal-time. So if you want to avoid dressing up you can eat in the Lido or if you want to dress up but avoid the waiting and photos you can book Al La Carte. The other suticase was way over the 23kg limit (only noticed when I read the rules again on the way back!) but no-one complained to me. The bags were all safely delivered to the room within 30 minutes of boarding.

Cabin 145 is on the starboard side and is billed as a deluxe. I agree with many other comments that the ship is looking tired and old-fashioned but we have travelled on Celebration before and like it so knew what to expect. What I couldn't remember was the electrical socket layout so here is the definitive for this cabin: two sockets. One is continental round two pin at 220v and the other US two flat pins at (presumably) 110v. I presume this because a hair dryer ran much slower in the flat pin socket than the round pin. I believe the flat pin to be inherently less safe so I bought a 3 socket extension lead from home and used it with an adapter in the round pin socket. Cabin 145 is a deluxe cabin on deck 7. I booked it because of the position in relation to the rear staircase and deck 7 because it is not overlooked. Deck 6 is the promenade which is below and 8 the lifeboats. It is fairly large with a double rectangular window and was set up as a double for us. Plenty of storage with two wardrobes, 6 large drawers and bedside lockers with 2 drawers.

There is enough spare room in the fridge for your own bottles. Tea and coffee facilites although never enough milk sachets, as normal. Fabulous service from Glenn, the steward who managed to tidy the cabin 3 times a day! The cabin does look a little tired now with brown and pine- fairly dark for today's tastes. But with the exception of the old-style radio built into the end of the desk, everything worked except the hair-dryer. We did not bother to report this because my wife bought one having learnt to never trust hair-dryers in ships and hotels!The TV reception is pretty poor in terms of picture quality but both Sky and BBC World news are available and normally the picture was viewable.

The one fault that constantly annoyed me was the lack of of water pressure in the shower. Turning it full on and holding the head upside down resulted in a fountain less than an inch high...We spoke to other passengers and were assured that on deck 2 this was not an issue. The drain from the bath (shower is over bath) blocked one day and was cleared within minutes by an engineer.

I would book this cabin again. We spoke to many guests who were in cabins on decks 1 and 2 and no-one seemed to have a problem with cabin size or facilities. One couple on deck 1 claimed to have more room because their cabin did not have a bath.

Because of 'enhanced hygiene' the self service laundry was closed as was the library. Breakfast was served by staff at the servery rather than self-service.

When we were last on Celebration the area outside the library and card room was a sitting area with a piano. It has now been turned into a coffee bar (Coffee Port) and the excursions desk. The whole area has been done very well indeed and the coffee is Lavazza which was very welcome. Whilst it is a premium price anyone on the all-inclusive deal does get a discount and so 2 cups cost less than £2.50 extra.

I am not a huge fan of the Meridian restaurant where I find the menu rather unadventurous. We therefore booked a meal in each of the Al La Carte restaurants. We were impressed with Mistrals last time so were looking forward to eating there again and had read good reports about the Asian restaurant.

By Tuesday the enhanced hygiene was over and everything back to normal.

On the Tuesday night we ate in Mistrals. We booked all 3 restaurants as there was an offer of all three for £47.95 additional charge. The standard of both service and food was very good.. A total of 7 courses, with an amuse bouche and sorbet not on the menu. I had comments only about the lobster, which I would not normally choose and I found tasteless, and the coconut crème brulee which had no coconut taste whatever. The rest was superb including the escargots and the fillet steak. A word to the wise here- if you are on the Al Inclusive tariff then wine by the glass is included. Don't buy a bottle- the waiter will fill your glass all night long anyway.

Another night we ate in Kora La, the Asian Al La Carte. This was wonderful as the main course is specified by yourself in terms of both meat and heat. My Wife loved this. The quality was good and the service fine until it got busy and then slowed down to a crawl. We booked again in here for the final night and the standard of the chicken had plummeted. First time it was great- second time it was stringy and obviously leg/wing meat. This was raised with the Head waiter who told us that they do NOT use breast meat. Conclusion- we had been lucky first time!

The Hot Stone Al La Carte is set up on the Lido deck each evening. A VERY hot marble stone is presented to you with a small selection of raw veg and the meat/ fish of your choice. You cook it yourself. This sounds great in theory but we couldn't see how it would work in practice. I like a rare steak- my Wife a medium. Surf and turf involved lobster tail so that would be a third cooking time. Whilst my steak would take 7/8 minutes plus 5 minutes standing time, what would happen with the chips which were hot when bought to the table? Other guests confirmed that the whole thing was just too much bother and created worry about raw food. So we accepted the option to have the chef cook our steaks and then used the stone to cook the veg whilst the steaks stood. Then the stone came in useful for warming the chips and steaks as we sliced it up- great! We also couldn't understand why the menu included a choice of 3 sauces- wasn't that going to create quite a mess? But then they came in little dishes so were more of a selection of dips than sauces.

It does seem to be a rule that if you book early you get the All-Inclusive deal thrown in, if you leave it later then the price goes down but the AI cost goes up. To the point where it costs £400 if you leave it until boarding (£200 a week each!) AI is definitely worth if you get in early. Without the AI a cocktail costs £4.50. Some drinks (Pint of Heineken, premium cocktails) incurr a small charge even to AI customers. It wasn't until the last day that we worked out that we could have a coffee (outside the meals) on AI if we asked. It was perfectly acceptable coffee although not as good as paying a small premium in the Coffee Port.

The entertainment was great. The showteam, a group that travels round the fleet 'filling in' for the other teams, were incredibly hard working. Not just learning 10 different shows but also all the routines within those shows. I wasn't impressed at first but realised later that I disliked the Queen show so much not because of the showteam but because I don't like Queen! As the time went on I became more and more appreciative of their skills. Their Tamla Mowtown show and Moulin Rouge tribute were the highlights for me. A particularly 'brutal' staging of Roxanne with the boys throwing one of the girls around the stage was both disturbing and skilful and bought the audience to it's feet. One show that didn't work at all for me was the 'International Music Awards'- if you are going to sing the songs of the most successful female artist of all time then you probably shouldn't change her music and words around- Adele probably knows what she is doing. Ian Bagshaw, the Cruise Director is also a very fine magician! (But terrible comedian!)

Showtime is ruined some nights by the people in first sitting simply not leaving. Those who come in for the second show have quite a problem finding seats on popular nights.

We had a fascinating series of lectures by Robert Simpson about The Russian Romanovs and history that we greatly enjoyed. Robert is obviously very learned and didn't shy away from giving his opinions. He seemed permanently surprised to find himself lecturing to full houses and received gratitude with humility. Even if you think lectures are not for you this series was great background to what we were going to see in St Petersburg and the contrast between Robert's true and historical representation of the facts (Catherine The Great was really quite ruthless) and the glossing-over of the facts by our Russian Tour Guide was marked! As far as te guide was concerned the 1917 revolution was just a natural course of affairs- Robert's depiction of the Tsar's incompetent governance explained it and even hinted at how it might have been avoided. Well done Thomson for having him on.

I can't judge Liberties or Hemingways at all- we never went in there! I did try the casino for the first time in my life and left with a 50% profit on the roulette... £5! We love Horizons and an ideal evening would be meal>show>Horizons Cocktails. Truth is we had such a laugh with the fellow cruisers that we ate with at the 'Captains Table' that we often ran out of time.

It was incredible how many of our fellow passengers were repeat cruisers, and the majority on Thomson ships. The reason is the staff and crew and the training that goes into making them friendly and approachable. No passenger seems to treated differently. Deck 1 to deck 8 is all the same to the crew and no passenger gets priority over another. In this way there is no 'pecking order' such as on ships with exclusive restaurants for high-paying passengers. Thomsons acknowledge repeat passengers with a Captain's Reception and a little badge- just a 'thank you'.

A quick summary of the ports (we did only 1 Thomson excursion- Copenhagen);

Fredrickstad- Nice. Local people had set out a trail of yellow stars into town to their craft shops and cafes. Fabulous photo opportunities around the star-shaped town moat. Not a lot of chance to spend money! Walk in.

Aalborg- 'Europe's Happiest City'. Well, yes, I'm sure it is. We walked to the Modern Art Museum which was fabulous.

Stockholm- We got the free shuttle in and then joined the mile long queue for the free shuttle back as all those who hadn't paid used it to get back to the ship. Stockholm is lovely and perfectly walkable. We did the Vasa Museum (like the Marie Rose but better!) and then walked through the City centre.

Tallinn- Unbelievable old town. Could not be more attractive if purpose built by Disney. Again, perfectly walkable from the port and no need for excursions at all.

St Petersburg- Having checked out the Thomson excursions we realised that to see everything would be extortionate. So after some intense research I booked a 2 day tour with Alla Tours. Do not believe Thomson's constant lies about 'you are only covered by a group visa if you book with Thomson'. 'Your head will explode at immigration if you do not book with Thomson'. All rubbish! All you need is your passport and a valid excursion ticket. The guide then meets you on the other side of immigration and, in a party of just 16, you set off with your headsets for the most intense 2 days of sight-seeing ever! Full review on TripAdvisor!

Helsinki- Why? I mean, why Helsinki? When the highlight of a 45 minute cruise around the bay is Finland's last remaining submarine (in dry dock) and the ice breaker ships (moored up and tied together, it being summer) and highlight of the market square outside the parliament is a line of ladies knitting hats, then you know that your City is maybe not a tourist hot spot.

Copenhagen- Yes! Bloody difficult to get to from Kalundborg where the ship berthing fees are obviously much cheaper. Thomsons can then also get passengers to pay £6 each for a seat on a shuttle coach and make a profit on that as well. 90 minutes there and 90 minutes back. Once there we found that 14,000 passengers from 3 giant cruise liners had moored next to the Little Mermaid and blocked the streets with their coaches before we got there. Very inconsiderate. But the Havyn area for a meal (£48 for lunch....) and a wonder around was fabulous. Wouldn't do a 'tour' if there again.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 0145
Cabin 145 is on the starboard side and is billed as a deluxe. I agree with many other comments that the ship is looking tired and old-fashioned but we have travelled on Celebration before and like it so knew what to expect. What I couldn't remember was the electrical socket layout so here is the definitive for this cabin: two sockets. One is continental round two pin at 220v and the other US two flat pins at (presumably) 110v. I presume this because a hair dryer ran much slower in the flat pin socket than the round pin. I believe the flat pin to be inherently less safe so I bought a 3 socket extension lead from home and used it with an adapter in the round pin socket. Cabin 145 is a deluxe cabin on deck 7. I booked it because of the position in relation to the rear staircase and deck 7 because it is not overlooked. Deck 6 is the promenade which is below and 8 the lifeboats. It is fairly large with a double rectangular window and was set up as a double for us. Plenty of storage with two wardrobes, 6 large drawers and bedside lockers with 2 drawers.

There is enough spare room in the fridge for your own bottles. Tea and coffee facilites although never enough milk sachets, as normal. Fabulous service from Glenn, the steward who managed to tidy the cabin 3 times a day! The cabin does look a little tired now with brown and pine- fairly dark for today's tastes. But with the exception of the old-style radio built into the end of the desk, everything worked except the hair-dryer. We did not bother to report this because my wife bought one having learnt to never trust hair-dryers in ships and hotels!The TV reception is pretty poor in terms of picture quality but both Sky and BBC World news are available and normally the picture was viewable.

The one fault that constantly annoyed me was the lack of of water pressure in the shower. Turning it full on and holding the head upside down resulted in a fountain less than an inch high...We spoke to other passengers and were assured that on deck 2 this was not an issue. The drain from the bath (shower is over bath) blocked one day and was cleared within minutes by an engineer.

I would book this cabin again. We spoke to many guests who were in cabins on decks 1 and 2 and no-one seemed to have a problem with cabin size or facilities. One couple on deck 1 claimed to have more room because their cabin did not have a bath.
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