Red Sea Magic !: Thomson Celebration Cruise Review by r whiting

Thomson Celebration 4
r whiting

Overall Member Rating

Red Sea Magic !

Sail Date: February 2012
Destination: Middle East
Embarkation: Safaga
We did this cruise 9th-16th Feb 2012 on Thomson Celebration and enjoyed it very much. On Friday in Aquaba there is a courtesy shuttle to the town (local map available on board). It's an interesting place to spend a while strolling round. Very nice welcoming people and some good restaurants for lunch. It's a duty free zone. Exchange rate virtually '£1=1 dinar.

On Saturday the Petra trip ('£110) is a must (there were 12 coaches-650 people!) but do take heed and take layers of warm clothes as it can be very cold in the mountains. Depart ship 8.30 and arrive Petra 11.00 after 20 min comfort stop. The guided walk to the bottom takes 2 '½ hours at a leisurely pace (take good walking footwear !). The walk back to Hotel for lunch is about 1 hr. Very nice lunch if you enjoy the local cuisine (which we do). We departed at 4pm and back on board by 6pm.

Sunday-day at sea. Monday should have been Port Sokhna but a local industrial dispute in the port so anchored More at Suez and tendered ashore for excursions. Both Port Sokhna and Safaga are not places to get off ship and wander round. They are industrial ports with nothing nearby for tourists to see -- stay on ship! The Cairo museum excursion was cancelled due to problems in Tahrir Square but all others went ahead as planned.

Tuesday/Wednesday - Sokhna for Luxor. We would highly recommend the overnight Luxor trip. It's '£152 pp but better value as such than the day trip which is a long hard day. We left the ship at 12.30 and arrived at our fabulous 5* hotel at 4pm. It was the Sonesta St George and backed directly on to the River Nile. We had a king sized double bed and a Nile view from our balcony! TIP- take a swimming costume and use their pool ! TIP- take small coins for use of loos -- either 10p or 1 egyptian pound. After a splendid evening dinner there is the Sound and Light Show at Karnak temple. It's then an early night for a 7.15 start to the Valley of the Kings. Not too hot or crowded at that time. A fascinating guided tour ended back at the hotel about 1.30 for lunch then back to the ship arriving about 5.30. All a more leisurely pace than a rather rushed day trip! Those who also did the ballooning thoroughly enjoyed and recommended it (but it's a VERY early start !) The exchange rate in Egypt is '£1=10 Egyptian pounds.

In general the food and staff on ship are very good. Drinks are '£3.50 for a pint of beer/lager, '£3.90 for a glass of wine and '£4.35 for cocktails. If you are looking to buy cigarettes -- at East Midlands airport they are '£28 for 200 if you buy a 400 pack ('£35 for 200) in duty free. Then '£33 for 200 ('£43 for 400) on the flight and either '£17 on the ship (or '£14.50 in their sale). At Sharm airport they are about '£21 for 200 but cheaper if you purchase 400 or 600 packs. As opposed to an outward flight of about 5 hrs, the return flight was 6hrs 20 mins and really ought to be treated by Thomsons as "long haul". There was no entertainment available and seat space is cramped. Pre-ordered hot meals are no longer available. Overall a very enjoyable and interesting week. Less

Published 02/26/12

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