A great middle aged lady: Thomson Celebration Cruise Review by Patsmak

Thomson Celebration 5

Overall Member Rating

A great middle aged lady

Sail Date: November 2010
Destination: Middle East
Embarkation: Aqaba
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 More 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! Less

Published 12/04/10
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: DLX053

We pre booked our cabin purposely as the deluxe cabins on the two upper decks are great but this particular cabin had a double bed. It was very spacious, particularly for an older ship, spotlessly clean and comfortable. There was more than enough storage space and the bathroom was a good size. It was in a quiet location (next to the officers' corridor) because there was no through traffic and although on the plan it looks as though it is on the stairs it is actually separated from the stairs by a wall. We had a great view, with no obstructions from lifeboats or their structures. The steward tidied our cabin and cleaned the bathroom, giving us clean towels, twice a day which we heard they didn't do in regular cabins.

Port and Shore Excursions

Aqaba was the port for the lost city of Petra, the eighth wonder of the ancient world. We had already been told that this was a not to be missed excursion and we were very pleased that we took it. It was a long day but worth every minute. Our guide, Sammy, was informative and knowledgeable with a wicked sense of humour. this excursion involves a lot of walking up and down hill and is not at all suitable for people with any sort of walking difficulties. However, there are horse drawn carriages or horses to take you some of the way. Having walked all through the beautiful site with its ancient tombs and dwelling places cut into the mountains, it became a challenge to walk the rest of the 13km back to the hotel for lunch. The first beer didn't hit the sides!! Lunch in the hotel was pleasant with a Jordanian flare and we thoroughly enjoyed the day. It should be mentioned that we were waved away from the ship by some of the waiters and welcomed back to the ship with a crew band, hot towels and orange juice along with some of the waiters and even some of the chefs lined up there. A very nice touch that we had not experienced before on any cruise line.

Read 44 Aqaba Reviews

Safaga has to be the ugliest of all cruise ship ports but it is the gateway to Luxor. There were also several excursions to Luxor and we chose the overnight stay. The day trip was extremely long (15 hours) and we found that for the very little extra we had to pay for the overnight we got much more than our money's worth. We left the ship shortly after lunch and arrived in Luxor some three hours later. Our guide, Mohammed (what else!!), was again very knowledgeable and informative and prepared us well for our visits to the temples and the Valley of the Kings. We stayed in a five star hotel, the Steigenberg, in Luxor which was clean, smart and extremely comfortable. We had a three course dinner which was very tasty and then climbed back into the coach to go to a Sound and Light show at the Karnak temple which was amazing. The single fact that blew my mind there was that I was walking on the same paving stones that Tut ank Amun had walked on four thousand years ago. When we returned to our hotel afterwards we sat in an indoor piazza area and watched some arabian dancing which was entertaining. We had an early start the next day which was good as it meant that we arrived at the Valley of the Kings when it was still fairly cool. With all the knowledge that Mohammed had given us we were well equipped to appreciate the four tombs that we were allowed to enter. We had to pay a little extra to enter the tomb of Tut ank Amun, but we felt it was worth it to see his mummy. Never having seen a mummy before it was quite an experience and you could clearly see what he would have looked like before he died as a young man. We were told that the tomb will only be open for a short time more as even people breathing destroys the artefacts and heiroglyphics. We went to an alabaster factory which was interesting as I had no idea before how alabaster looked in its raw state. We also went to the temple of Hatchetsup which is amazing in the way it has been preserved over the centuries. By this time though, it was very hot and we couldn't wait to get back to the coach. We lunched in the hotel in which we had spent the night and then began our journey back to the ship which we reached at about 6.30pm. a long day but not as long as those people who had left the ship at 6.15am and would not return until after 10pm.

All in all the whole cruise was an amazing experience for sightseeing and winter sun. The best ever!!

Read 47 Safaga Reviews
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