5 Marella Cruises Marella Celebration Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

Sorry for this being a long review but I tried to cover most of what we did and how we found it. The holiday started well at the airport, travelling premier class with TUI we were whisked through check in and security, it was the last ... Read More
Sorry for this being a long review but I tried to cover most of what we did and how we found it. The holiday started well at the airport, travelling premier class with TUI we were whisked through check in and security, it was the last we saw of our hold luggage until it arrived at our cabin. We were greeted on the plane with a glass of bubbly before take off, we were glad to have booked premier as it was a 9 hour flight the longest we have ever done. There was plenty of room to move around in your seat, video's to watch and plenty to eat and drink. On arrival at the Dominican Republic, going through security was just as fast as check in at home, signing in at the ship was fast and straight forward, if you can travel premier when with TUI it saves a lot of time at check in's and security. Marella Celebration had not changed much from our last cruise her in October 2016, new carpeting and seating in Hemmingways and Horizons lounges. The standard of food on board was very good it was well cooked and presented in The Meridian Restaurant, in the Lido Buffet the standard was just as good with plenty of variety to suit every one. We tended to have breakfast and lunch in the Lido Buffet where there was always a large selection of both hot and cold foods along with a plentiful array of fruit, we were able to have as little or as much as we wanted. Our preference was to have evening dinner in The Meridian Restaurant served by waiters Iasury, Jaydeep and Katerina and wine by Kumar who did an excellent job keeping the glasses full. Health and gluten free meals were available on request in The Meridian Restaurant and on display in the Lido Buffet to help yourself. It was definitely an excellent change to our eating experience on Marella Dream in September 2017 where the food was just about as god as pub grub and dolloped on your plate. Being repeat Marella (Thomson) cruisers we had seen most of the shows/guest artists on previous cruises, so it would not be fair to make comment on any of the shows we attended. Being a repositioning cruise the cruise itinerary had 8 port stops and 9 days at sea this made the cruise very relaxing. After our first day at sea we arrived at Curacao, where we did the Discover Curacao Island Tour which started with a visit to Curacao Museum in Otrabanda, one floor is kitted out like a 19th century Curacao mansion, then on to the Hato Caves which have about 50 steps to enter and exit the caves which are full of stalagmites and stalactites, next we were on to the Chobolo Liqueur Factory where you can see where the islands Blue Curacao Liqueur is made along with a tasting. The caves make this trip unsuitable for wheelchair users or those with waking difficulties. Our next port of call was Aruba where we did the Aruba Off Road trip, starting with a visit to Casibari Rock a formation that is the result of the island’s trade winds, then on to the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins which operated in the 19th century, next it was on to the ocean carved Natural Bridge, followed by the Alto Vista Chapel and the California Lighthouse which sits on the islands northwest tip, finally to the palm fringed white sands at Arashi Beach. This trip would be unsuitable to wheelchair users also those with back or joint problems and pregnant women due to the very rough and uneven terrain covered. Next was the island of Bonaire where we did the Bonaire Highlights & Culture Explorer tour. Our first stop was the village of Rincon at the Rose Inn to sample the locally Cadushy Liqueur made from cactus and lime, then on to the Mangazina di Rei Culture Park where The King’s Warehouse is the second oldest building on the island, finally to the Salt Flats and Salt Mountains where salt was mined by slaves in the 19th century, some of the old slave huts are still standing. This trip would suit most people looking for a relaxing non-energetic trip. Our second day at sea was a welcome break, there were plenty of activities organised if you were becoming bored with the sun bathing, but most cruisers were topping up on their sun tan. Our 4th port of call was Castries, St. Lucia, where we had booked the Scenes of St. Lucia tour, starting with a drive up the scenic Morne Fortune hillside, translated as “Hill of Good Luck”, it was a key battleground during colonial times, our first stop was at St Marks House, a colonial style house high in the hills where you have a panoramic view of Castries harbour and the Caribbean sea. Then it was on to St. Lucia’s one and only rum distillery, where you see how the spirit is produced, afterwards you have a chance to sample the produce, all 17 different rum’s, from double strength to crème liqueur varieties and it was help yourself, you were invited go round twice if you wanted, no one in our group was brave enough. Lastly it was a bit of retail therapy at Howelton Estate/Caribelle Batic which is famous throughout the Caribbean for it’s batic prints. This tour was easy on the legs and would be suitable for most people. The next port of call was St. John’s, Antigua where we went on the Highlights of Antigua, the first stop was The Blockhouse Fort ruins, perched 500 feet above sea level making it a great viewing platform for the island. Then it was on to Shirley Heights where during the 18th century soldiers used this as a lookout to spot their enemies and signal to near by forts. Finally it was on to Nelson’s Dockyard which is the world’s only working Georgian Dockyard still in use today, you are able to stroll through the Georgian buildings and visit the original Naval Officer’s house. This tour is not suitable for wheelchair users or those with walking difficulties due to the rough terrain under foot. Our final port of call in the Caribbean before 6 days a sea was Philipsburg, St. Maarten, where we did the Philipsburg by Trolley Train tour, our first stop was a short distance from the ship at a cheese outlet for free samples, most of the cheese on show was the same as home, but we did get a free tub of ice cream which was delicious, the trolley train then took us on a natural, cultural and historic landmarks trip through Philipsburg, stopping at two venues for a quick taste of flavoured rums. We then had a 30 min stop for shopping etc. before returning to the ship. This was a short easy tour which was suitable for most people. Our next 6 days at sea were spent relaxing, attending some of the activities arranged on ship, but mostly finding a nice quiet place to sit and watch time go by. After 6 days at sea our port of call was Funchal, Madeira, where some cruisers could hardly wait to get on terra firma. We had booked the Taste of Madeira & Cable Car, after a short coach run to the cable car station it into the cable car for the ride from Funchal to Monte where the panoramic views are superb. It was then decision time, go back down by coach or wicker toboggan. The toboggan won, it was a great experience sitting in the wicker toboggan sliding down hill guided by two drivers using their rubber soled boots as brakes, then it was on to the Botanical Gardens, unfortunately the weather had been unusually cold this year and plants were about a month behind normal so there was not much to see. The toboggan ride costs 30 euro per couple or 25 euro single, well worth the experience. This tour is not suitable for wheelchair users and may cause problems for those with walking difficulties. Next it was our last lazy day at sea, by now it was a bit colder 18c and a bit chilly for sitting on deck. Our last port of call was Gibraltar, having been here many times we decided to do our own thing and walk into town for a bit of window shopping, have a coffee or two and people watch. Our disembarking port was Malaga, transfer from ship to airport was carried out very smoothly and efficiently, but not as quick as our outbound flight, overall it was another pleasant experience even though we had to carry our own cases this time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We had a lovely week in Montego Bay in the Riu palace, would defiantly give that a 5 star rating. We were advised by Thomson rep to stay at hotel first as we would be disappointed with hotel after the cruise, this I might add was ... Read More
We had a lovely week in Montego Bay in the Riu palace, would defiantly give that a 5 star rating. We were advised by Thomson rep to stay at hotel first as we would be disappointed with hotel after the cruise, this I might add was completely the opposite. We arrived at the Thomson Dream, first appearances, OK a bit tired, cabin was quite nice, no complaints there. The food during the day, somewhat poor 3 star cafeteria, the staff Wore dreary washed out Hawaiian shirts with personalities to match. We bought all inclusive drinks package, which a total rip off as the spirits they used were awful so we ended adding another 1.20 on to the bill for a decent drink, in the long run more expense The main dining room the service was pore but the food not so bad, nearly always cold though. The entertainment was really first class there was something for everyone to enjoy. Most people on the cruise were friendly. The theatre was quite nice. Carpets in corridors a bit grubby. Best was when we were told to leave our cases outside our cabin Monday night and we would pick them up in Manchester Wednesday morning, being women on our own we always worry about hauling heavy suitcases around. We got home ok. Opened our cases to find that someone had already been in them and stolen the duty free cigarettes we had bought for the family, informed Thomson, told to contact insurance company. Advise by suitcase with combination lock for cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
JOURNEY: very easy to check in online few days before and then just drop off bags-and not see them again until we got on board the ship-this was great and took away all the stress of travelling -The dream liner is a fab plane and a very ... Read More
JOURNEY: very easy to check in online few days before and then just drop off bags-and not see them again until we got on board the ship-this was great and took away all the stress of travelling -The dream liner is a fab plane and a very comfortable way to travel .I am glad that Thompsons offer complementary drinks with the service for long haul, just adds a personal touch instead of being appearing money grabbing like some airlines. SHIP: never been on Celebration before-lovely little ship –the Broadway showroom was like a traditional theatre with an upper balcony and had a nice feel to it. FOOD: Food was plentiful and sufficient variety to suit all tastes-my hubby is a keen meat eater –I prefer fish. We only had one evening when the food in the main restaurant was not very appetising and a bit cold but we came late and they were very busy. We ate once in Mistrals which was a lovely dining experience-because we went on the second night it was not busy and we have excellent service. You are asked if you wish to dine alone or share with others –we did both, it is nice to meet people from all walks of life. STAFF: what can I say 99% of the staff were warm and friendly and could not do enough for you-they appeared to love their job and enjoy meeting new people. They worked so hard to ensure we had a good time and it was lovely to see some greeting returning guests like lost family. ENTERTAINMENT: We did not attend much other than two shows in Broadway and one night in Liberties but everyone seemed to enjoy what was on offer-plenty to do day and night. ITINERARY: loved this-the ABC (Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire) islands were so beautiful, very clean and felt very safe. Castries; St Lucia Port was a bit grim (we were too tired on first day to do a trip) worth a visit but I did not like the constant haggling of taxi drivers and tour operators. The Market did not feel that safe. Grenada: lives up to its name of the Spice island- everywhere you went the air was filled with the most amazing smells and although there was some pressure selling it was acceptable-people just trying to make a living but were gracious when you said no. A must is the great rum punch in the market square but lethal so only have one. Curacao: What a pretty island-I was somewhat pressurised by the tours operators on the ship to do the Dolphin swim, but as I had done on in the past am glad I held out my ground to do the observation only at £25 it was very affordable ,do not be told you will not see or hear anything-I got the best photos and was up close and personal –you also could walk around the rest on the sea life centre and also access the Mambo beach, which was stunning-as get transported there and back-well worth doing. Aruba: Beautiful beaches-we took a local bus $7 return to Eagle beach-took 20 mins and paid a further $15 each for the day for a sun bed each and palm tree shade and table, there are toilets and a couple of beach bars and water sports activities if you wish-very relaxing and busses run every 15-20 mins Bonaire: what can me say-little Holland-it looked like a beautiful brightly coloured toy town-there was a children’s carnival in progress and the atmosphere was so happy, there was no touting, hassle free .I took a long walk along the Harbour /Marina front alone and felt completely safe. Barbados: Sadly for others the day to Barbados falls on a Sunday when all the shops are shut but for us it was fine as we have friends who live on the island so we spent the last day with them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
At the end of this cruise the 3 first time cruisers in our family group were impressed with the whole thing. We would aĺl certainly use Thomsons again. Dreamliner flights were great- on time, good food and catered for food allergies ... Read More
At the end of this cruise the 3 first time cruisers in our family group were impressed with the whole thing. We would aĺl certainly use Thomsons again. Dreamliner flights were great- on time, good food and catered for food allergies well. Complementary drinks are a good feature. Organisation of embarkation excellent. Straight from plane to ship. No waiting for luggage! Our cabin layout was not as expected - check carefully with pre-cruise services if this is important to you! Cabin was clean and restocked regularly. There was a vibration but we soon got used to it. Food was excellent in Meridien and service very attentive. A big thank you to catering managers in both restaurants and our waiter (Manny)in Meridien for their help with menu choices for my daughter who has food allergies. We felt confident that they were on the ball and so could relax and enjoy our meals. The Lido was good in terms of quality of food and choices. Tables are regularly cleared and clean and staff are helpful. Our personal choice for evening meal was Meridien because we found it a bit hectic in self service. Outside areas :It would have been nice to have a shady part of the upper deck as on Thomson Dream where the sun lounge has a choice of beds in full sun or light shade. However there is usually a quiet sun bed on the promenade deck for people who want to read a book or watch the flying fish in peace! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This is my 7th ever cruise and 2nd Thomson's. The itinery was Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia, Bequia, and Dominica. Only one day at sea compared to many caribbean cruises of 3 days at sea over a week. Thomson's is a mid ... Read More
This is my 7th ever cruise and 2nd Thomson's. The itinery was Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia, Bequia, and Dominica. Only one day at sea compared to many caribbean cruises of 3 days at sea over a week. Thomson's is a mid priced and mid standard cruise. Strengths are the medium to small sized ships, fantastic night show entertainment, good food and service and friendly, unintimidating approach of crew and staff. I travelled with my 23 year old son in a superior cabin that had two windows, good space, a kettle and a bath. This cost £350 more than the most basic accommodation for a week. In my view worth it, but these cabins can sell fast. For instance, many months ahead all the balcony cabins had sold out. We purchased the £10 drinks each package which was worth it as we reckoned we knocked back £25 worth a day each. The trips were as usual about twice the price but a lot less hassle than doing your own thing in port. This is a compromise only you can judge. We went walking in a rainforest and saw a big green kingfisher and a bright yellow crab. Not your usual wildlife in Scotland! We went river tubing twice, it was that much fun. We saw Harrison's Caves and St Lucia's amazing Pitons. I visited Carlisle Bay as well. The last three venues had featured on some workout videos I had so I was keen to see them. Thank you Mr Motivator and Kelly McDonald! We dined most of the time in the formal Meridian restaurant. The meals were all great and even when the steak was cremated I was offered and was thankful for a substitute of perfect prawns. The house wine is good although the cocktails are dilute. Most guests are as described, middle aged to getting on Brits and were seasoned holidaymakers who can converse with ease across all age groups. After a waiter served breakfast, my son and I usually went on some sort of active trip at a different island every day, returned to the ship for a beautiful lunch, and then went into port for a walk about/ shop. Thereafter we retired to the shady side of the ship for reading on the loungers and a cocktail. After the sun went down we got ready for a pleasant meal followed by the early show at 8.30pm. This was up to West End standard and usually featured singing and dancing. The last evening can-can was as good as I have seen at the Moulin Rouge. After this we usually went to Hemingways bar or Horizon bar and then retired for the night. The great thing about having the middle aged, middle class Brits on board is that there is NO noise at night. Everyone is so terribly well behaved. And this is fantastic for a great nights sleep. Well done Thomson. This was even better than my last cruise on the Spirit around the Canaries. I'll be back. No idea what enrichment activities are ? gambling ? the spa ? other people's cabin security. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Marella Celebration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 3.8
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.5
Family 3.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.6
Enrichment N/A 3.3
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.9

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