19 Marella Cruises Marella Celebration Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Middle East

So here is my review of my first ever cruise on the Thomson Celebration (Mediterranean Sunrise). Obviously I have nothing to compare it with as I have never sailed before, but I have stayed in dozens of hotels worldwide so I will try to be ... Read More
So here is my review of my first ever cruise on the Thomson Celebration (Mediterranean Sunrise). Obviously I have nothing to compare it with as I have never sailed before, but I have stayed in dozens of hotels worldwide so I will try to be as honest as I can. Sorry it is so long, there’s so much to say, but I have subtitled each section for ease of reference. * Outbound Flight – We flew early morning from Manchester to Aqaba, Jordan and the 5 ½ hour flight was hassle free. We were only 30 minutes late taking off and they gave us breakfast an hour in. Complimentary drinks were plentiful and they didn’t dawdle when serving them either. All flight staff demonstrated great customer service skills, politeness and efficiency. We collected our suitcases quickly and the bus ride to the ship was only 30 minutes. My only gripe here was we hadn’t been told we were getting the meal and spent £25 on breakfast at the airport. That said we also ate the inflight meal (“coz we’re on holiday”, lol). * Embarkation - Our first ever experience of the embarkation/registration process was like being on the boat ride in ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’, but in a nice way. It was all so very quick and well organised like a conveyor belt moving us from photograph taking, form checking, medical declarations signed, debit card registration, optional dining extras and handing us our cabin keys with great efficiency. Everyone was very ‘happy clappy’, we loved the excitement of it all and we came out the other side like kids in a candy shop. We went straight to our room to change into clothes we’d packed in our hand luggage and our suitcases were outside our room when we left it 10 minutes later. * Cabin - Deck 6 cabin 207 (Deluxe standard) – Reviewed below. * Food – We ate in the Lido restaurant mostly and never had a single item that wasn’t delicious. Breakfast they have back bacon, eggs done to perfection, omelettes made to order and pancakes to die for. Lunch and Evening Meal were equally good. Food was mostly English fare. We tended to not have an evening meal though as we were too full to enjoy the evening festivities, so we took to eating at around midnight before bedtime when there were curries, pizza, burgers and chicken strips to devour from the Lido. We enjoyed a few meals in the Meridian where the meals were more set and this was a great way to meet other cruisers as we always shared a table (in the Lido you tend to just sit on your own). We paid £47 each to eat in the Hot Stone Terrace, Mistrals and Kora La. All 3 were fabulous, lovely food, great service and well worth the money we paid. But if you’re on a budget, you won’t feel like you missed out if you don’t do these. * Bars/Entertainment – We tended to go to Liberties in the evening and joined in many of the quizzes, fun and games. The entertainment team really are 1st class in our view. Adam, Chris, Luke and Shaneece made a great holiday even better. We went to some of the Broadway shows and loved them all, even the 2 comedians and Braximusic (those guys were amazing). So we didn’t miss out we also did Hemmingway’s 2 evenings and Horizons 2 days, as well as the Coffee Port afternoon. There really is a bar to cater for ever preference on this ship. Drinks were always good, we stuck to the AI drinks and we had more than our money’s worth on this holiday (had we have paid for it of course). * Staff – Amazing people! They work their socks off these guys. The Lido Deck and Liberties bar staff/waiters were super quick and attentive to when your glass was empty. The other bar areas were pretty efficient too, but just not a quick as Liberties, which made us feel as if we were not getting the best service from them. Every member of the service or cleaning staff said hello when you passed them and always had a smile. They are really a credit to Thomson. I’ve been told we had new starters learning the ropes as the experienced staff has moved to the newer ships, but you can’t tell. The crew and captain are also very friendly whether on or off the boat. The entertainment team tend to be less friendly when not on official duties, or rather less welcoming if you say hello. I couldn’t help but feel like I was intruding if we tried to talk to them when they were having a drink on the Lido deck after a show. * Pools/sunbeds – They were cold and only a handful ventured in. I presume this will improve later in the summer season. We didn’t struggle for a sunbed, but usually went to the Lido sun deck rather than the cushioned ones on deck 9 (got these on last day and they are amazingly comfortable). * Photographs - There was an offer on the 1st day on official photographs. £70 for every picture they take, so we couldn’t resist. Again we were like little kids queuing for the ice cream man whenever we got off the ship and went for our evening meal. We’ve got over 100 pictures and they’re brilliant. So that’s the parent’s Christmas presents sorted this year. * Shops – Only a small number of shops, with a good variety of items from tobacco and jewellery, to clothes and souvenirs. We had no intention of buying anything but couldn’t resist it as the prices were very good. The cigarette offer we got were £25 per 200, the same in UK would have been £85 per 200. We only purchased 800 (I know the limit is 200 each) and we were lucky we didn’t have any taken from us in the UK as I know others did. We didn’t bother buying alcohol as they were all glass bottles that have to go into your hold luggage and the savings were only a couple of quid a bottle. Prices on some items did get reduced later in the cruise, so wait if you can till the last day but make sure it will opens as it only opens when ship is at sea. * Wi-Fi – Costs a fortune! We just got free Wi-Fi in port in any coffee shop. From official Thomson card = 1 hour (max 75mb) £8 – 1 day (max 300mb) £15 – 3 days (max 800mb) £25 – 1 week (max 1200mb) £49 – 2 weeks (max 2200mb) £90. * Disembarkation/Malaga Airport – Every flight but 1 was early morning, however all passengers have to vacate their rooms at 7am. You can pay £25 to keep your room if you’re on a late flight. Our bus was 8.10am, so we ate breakfast at 6am when the Lido opened to beat the rush. We left the room at 7am and waited by the door on deck 4 to get off as soon as it opened. That meant we were on bus 1 leaving the port first. That also meant there were no queues at check in and as the Spanish don’t rush when checking you in, these can and did build up quickly. It also meant that we went through security without any delay either. The same cannot be said for anyone on buses 2 and above, they had a minor nightmare through check in and security, so I’m lead to believe. It wasn’t helped that we were all told to go to zone B for the gates, but the passport control box in zone B was unmanned for at the time we went through security, therefore it looked as though it was closed for the day. Luckily we knew this would open an hour before the first flight as we’d been through Malaga 6 months earlier, so we waited nearby and went through once it opened. Again we missed the major queues and our flight left on time from the gate announced. I appreciate others did not have the same experience, so can only attribute our luck to our early start before the masses and that our plane wasn’t delayed as others were. * Would I go again? – In a heartbeat yes. In short though I loved cruising and this won’t be my last. I will choose Thomson again and the Celebration will be top of my list. Why? The staff and other customers completely made this holiday the best I’ve ever had. Because the ship is not enormous we were able to meet many people who were so friendly. Of all the passengers we spoke to during our 13 days on board, only 1 couple said they wouldn’t do Thomson’s again and their reasons were that the food and entertainment is better on P&O. I would rather pay Thomson’s prices as I was completely happy with just about everything. * Excursions/ports of call Petra, Jordan – We did the Thomson excursion and it was worth every penny of the £120pp we paid. The bus ride took 2 ½ hours with one 15 minute stop off and you get 3-4 hours to view the site which is amazing, but a very long walk down to the main areas. We made it to The Treasury, Hadrian Gate and the Theatre and we walked for nearly 2 hours! There was lots more to see, but it would take us 2 hours to get back up to the entrance/exit, so we had to turn around and go back. If you stay with the guide it takes longer as they stop often to talk about everything. We followed another couple who’d been there before. You can get a horse or a pony and trap, but we slugged it out. The horses are whipped to death both up and down the hill and I didn’t trust the pony/trap drivers as there was a collision on the day we were there between 2 of these. You get a meal on this trip at a local hotel before you return home. It’s AI and satisfactory (but not a patch on the ship’s food). Chana, Crete – We did this ourselves using the map from Destination Services which is very useful. Short bus ride immediately off the ship’s gangway to the main street, then a leisurely walk around the harbour area and old town. Valletta, Malta – We did the 3 Islands tour with Thomson’s here. First off a speedboat ride over to Gozo. This was a white knuckle ride as the sea was choppy and it was pretty breezy. We loved it, but we’re 50 years young and there were people in their 80’s who weren’t as excited bouncing around at break neck speed. On Gozo we took to the road in jeeps, which were a little cramped in the back (I had a front seat lol). We visited some lovely areas, but The Azure Window (as seen in Game of Thrones) is no more as the sea took it away in early March. I was a little disappointed, but you can’t blame Mother Nature. We stopped at a beach café then back over to Malta, visiting the caves on Comino on the way. The weather was not good on this day, so this trip was slightly marred by that. However it’s still worth the £70pp we paid. Palma, Majorca – Again we did our own thing here. There is a ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus immediately off the ship here, but it has a long queue when everyone gets off the ship first thing. It costs 18 Euros per person with headphones and we did a full round trip taking pictures of sites along the way. We got off at the shopping centre and had some lunch at a local bar then walked back to the ship. Cartagena, Spain – This is a beautiful town and you can do it yourself here. The main places to see are within a 10 minute walk of the ship. We saw the Amphitheatre, the Castle of Conception and the Bullring. The buildings are all amazing here. It was Bank Holiday so we were also treated to a parade by the local children in band uniform. Delightful. I spent nothing here as I’d inadvertently left my purse of the ship, but only realised when we went to buy a coffee and get some free Wi-Fi, lol. Gibraltar, UK – We did our own thing here. We walked into town rather than wait for the shuttle as the queue was very long. We wanted to do the cable car to the apes so we ignored all the tour guides in mini buses (Gibraltar Rock Tours or something) as they started off quoting 35 euros each to take the tour of the rock, apes, St Michael’s Cave etc. They also told us the cable car had 45 minutes wait and we would only save a few pounds, but it would take us 3 hours to walk through the reserve to get to the apes. We thought they were embellishing the truth a little to get our business, so we walked 30 minutes to the cable car only to find they were indeed telling us the truth. So we went outside to the nearest mini bus and paid £25 each for the tour. It was brilliant, he talked us through all the areas and gave us interesting facts along the way. We passed all the cable car walkers on the way up and back down and completed the tour in 90 minutes. He even dropped us in town so we could shop and buy some fish and chips for lunch, yummy. Most of the shops were offering discount for Celebration customers and I got a Pandora safety chain for £45 instead of £60. TIP - Do your research and only do the Thomson excursions that you’ll find difficult doing yourself or where you are worried about getting back on time. Our friends did a few Thomson excursions where they paid £36 each and ended up doing what we did for next to nothing. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Retirement present for self and Husband. Never been on a cruise before, went with another couple who were seasoned at cruising. Staff on ship friendly, but lack of contact communication from Thompson reps, seemed to walk past the ... Read More
Retirement present for self and Husband. Never been on a cruise before, went with another couple who were seasoned at cruising. Staff on ship friendly, but lack of contact communication from Thompson reps, seemed to walk past the passengers without any communication. Cabin staff worked very hard, and keen to please, our. Cabin was on the outside, but spoiled by air conditioner and engine noise, and vibration at all times Fantastic food, available at any time Great not to have to worry about cash as all inclusive, but this lead to abuse of alcohol especially with youngsters. Great New Year Party organised. Despite an adults only pool, children were often the occupier of this facility. The ship did look dated and tired, but not too big which made getting about easy. Trips, especially the 4 x 4 into the mountains was a complete waste of money, -driver couldn't speak any English, and the entire journey was in silence, photo stop on way back for electric pylon!!- what is that about??- should have complained but just glad to get back to ship.Sight seeing trip in Dubai was also a disaster due to fog- in realty saw absolutely nothing- pity there was no provision when the trip organisers knew the weather was against what the aim was. Unsure if I would cruise again-didn't float my boat! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
My partner and I were lucky enough to have booked a two week 'cruise and stay' holiday, very last minute (less than one week before our departure!), with week one on the Thomson Celebration 'Red Sea Cruise' (from ... Read More
My partner and I were lucky enough to have booked a two week 'cruise and stay' holiday, very last minute (less than one week before our departure!), with week one on the Thomson Celebration 'Red Sea Cruise' (from Sharm-El-Sheik) and week two at Nubian Island resort in Sharm-El-Sheik. The whole experience was wonderful! Perfect weather every day, the ship was of a good standard, great food, we dined mostly in the Meridian restaurant and definitely worth a visit to the Mistral restaurant too. My partner is gluten free and he was very well catered for with his own menu at every meal. We did a lot of excursions the first week; Wadi Rum, Petra, Cairo (from Sokhna) Nile cruise, Giza, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, it was busy but very worth it! We spent about £700 (for the two of us) on the excursions, which seemed a lot, but it was definitely worth it. Yeah the ports are 'industrial' but your in the Middle East not the Caribbean! The staff are so friendly and I couldn't fault the experience. I had read some negative comments on cruise review sites before the holiday but I just thought they were about other peoples expectations and I'd go with an open mind and I wouldn't let it impact my experience, it worked for me. We are a gay couple and I had been slightly concerned about the possibility of other cruisers homophobic attitudes but this was mostly unfounded with most people being very friendly. We probably did stand out as the 'only gays on the ship' but it didn't affect our holiday at all. Most people were probably oblivious! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We have just returned from our first cruise, Thomsons "Red Sea Magic" aboard the Celebration. While this is not the largest ship out there, it is very comfortable, with a fantastically friendly yet unintrusive crew, who provide ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise, Thomsons "Red Sea Magic" aboard the Celebration. While this is not the largest ship out there, it is very comfortable, with a fantastically friendly yet unintrusive crew, who provide nothing but first class service and great food. Our outside cabin had two comfortable beds, a nicely fitted shower room, and loads of storage space with 2 full length wardrobes. We had a new flat screen tv, with movie and other channels, but didn't really make much use of it as we can watch tv at home! The ship is being upgraded to "Platignum" standard, but the work is not a problem for current customers and is due to be done by early May. This ship is aimed at a purely British clientele, so the food and entertainment is geared towards their tastes. We didn't have the drinks package, and although we never went without a tipple, we'd have been hard pressed to get our money's worth from it, so I can't recomment paying the extra £219 per head (all parties in a cabin have to pay for the package, so you can't just get one and share it!. If you have the package, you still have to pay extra for premium brands and there seem to be time restrictions too, as our friends had to pay for barista coffees before 10am (free tea and coffee are always available in the restaurants). The crew are mainly Phillipinos but all speak very good English, and have obviously been well trained to provide good service. The food is excellent, and there's always something new on the menu, with a choice of 3 restaurants and snack bars to choose from 24 hours a day. Sadly, the ports of call in the red sea are not much to write home about, being industrial raher than tourist ports, but that need not spoil the holiday, as there's always something to do on board, if you don't want to join an excursion or go exploring on your own. Altogether, a great experience, and we look forward to cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We booked this through a Thomson travel agency and never having cruised before decided to try a few upgrades. We upgraded to a suite, bought the drinks package (more later) and selected our seats on the flight. On arrival at the ... Read More
We booked this through a Thomson travel agency and never having cruised before decided to try a few upgrades. We upgraded to a suite, bought the drinks package (more later) and selected our seats on the flight. On arrival at the airport we were faced with a dilemma, hand luggage which was overweight! Allowed only 5kg but the paperwork states 7kg. After switching stuff around into main cases we proceeded. No in flight entertainment or meals as standard, this is not good enough for a 5 + hour flight. Arrived at Sharm el Sheik airport, no problems here other than chaotic with several flights arriving around the same time. Took a coach to the dock, could not call it a port. We had to queue for registration in a small hut, felt a bit like a refugee at this point. Eventually got on board and the suite we had (056 on deck 8) was fine, the bathroom had clearly been refurbished recently, although the description of the view was "partially obstructed", there was ample room to see past the lift boat arm and winch. The cabin steward could not have been better. Sailed to Aqaba (Jordan) where there were several excursion options. We went to Wadi Rum & Petra. Both were over priced although Petra is spectacular. The welcome back on board as we arrived from Petra was unexpected, the crew, mainly waiters formed a guard of honour, whilst others sang. Second port visited was Sokhna, very industrial area. We didn't do any trips from here, having visited the pyramids etc previously. Third stop was at Safaga, again very industrial port probably the worst surroundings as we docked right next to what looked like a cement works! From here we took a trip to Hurgarda and went on a snorkelling which was very good. Last night on board spent sailing back to Sharm El Sheik. Overall experience was fine, but the wobble on board ship which is ever present whether static or moving is annoying. The entertainment team were very good, stage show twice every evening, other groups entertaining around the ship at various times. The food was very good, although we did not spend much time in the Lido area, which was very basic and over crowded, we took all our meals in the Meridian Restaurant & did not try the al a carte Mistrals, but heard good reports. The waiters worked their socks off to make the experience a good one, they even turned their hand to entertainment, celebrating anniversaries, birthdays etc in song at table side. They even put on their own stage show at the end of the week. Hygiene was a major issue, with staff stationed at every entrance to all food outlets armed with hand cleansing spray, the cabins were cleaned twice daily and the public areas especially hand rails were constantly cleaned. There were no reports of any illness during the week. As mentioned at the start, we purchased a drinks package when booking, this was expensive and we were annoyed to find that the same package was on offer on board at a dramatically lower price, needless to say we have written to Thomson complaining. Other passengers had booked more excursions than us and they were just as annoyed when the found a special offer on board if three trips were purchased on additional was thrown in free. I think Thomson will be getting a few letters! As a first cruise experience we enjoyed the Celebration, it is a small ship & although some areas have been refurbished others are in need of some TLC. I'm sure if we had shopped around we might have saved on the overall cost, but we went for convenience via Thomson. Will we cruise again, probably, will it be with Thomson, not sure. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Thomson Calibration 21st to 28th Feb - Our first time cruising and what a great and fun time it was. This grand old boat packs a lot into its newly refurbished interior and what a happy and hardworking crew they all are. Loads to do ... Read More
Thomson Calibration 21st to 28th Feb - Our first time cruising and what a great and fun time it was. This grand old boat packs a lot into its newly refurbished interior and what a happy and hardworking crew they all are. Loads to do on-board with a service that was second to none. Its relaxed atmosphere set the tone and we loved the wraparound wooden promenade deck that gave the ship a slightly classical feel while having all the mod cons you would expect. This been our first ever cruise we were a little nervous about what to expect on-board, what to pack. The ship had a very mixed age range, a nice relaxed feel and it exceeded all our expectations. So here's our review. FLIGHT The out bound flight over was on a new Thomson plane with a happy crew and good service. Sharm airport was good but crowed. For people cruising, you don't need to purchase a Visa. Thomson staff were well organised and the transfer smooth. Hygiene The boat is kept spotlessly clean with strict 'hand' sanitising in place to help prevent bugs and gems. This was reassuring and very much appreciated by people. Cabin We were in 901; on deck one in bottom of the boat. It had not yet been refurbished but it was just great and comfortable. The lower down in a boat you are the less you feel any vibration and waves. We slept well and the room was very comfortable and well worth the money we paid. The Cabin steward was very efficient, happy to help and the room was spotless. The boat is currently been refitted but this hardly noticeable to guests. Entertainment Now this was real a good all-round effort by all the individual artists and exhibitions. The ships band worked hard and played lots of cool music. Meach and Pekles played a wide variety of music and were themed on the Beatles. They were very talented and enjoyable to watch and listen to. The stage company performed a different show every night and where a versatile and talented groups of performers. Ben did a great solo guitar and song slot one afternoon which showed off his vocal and still skills. I would buy his CD. Clearly the performers enjoyed their work and people enjoyed listening to them. The Horizons Bar was our favoured bar. It brought a relaxed easy listening and chilled atmosphere to us before we went off to dinner. It had several artists playing either classical, smooth or lap. The waiter service was just lovely in this bar. The afternoon play was fun. I'm not a fan of quizzes but the afternoon quiz brought a few smiles us. There were cooking and other demos which all added to the fun. All-round, there was something for everyone on this boat and did not get a chance to experience it all in our week. We enjoyed the Abba tribute and fabulous outfits boys!!!!! - LOL. Some very nice harmony vocals on slightly bouncy sea. Ports and Tours The ports were lovely if ya like looking at container ships and gravel ships!! Not pretty ports but still, interesting to see the life of industrials ports. This cruise was not about the ports of call but about the tours and ship. We did have a walk around in Acaba which felt safe and was hassle free in the main. Visiting Petra in Jordan was stunning, but not cheap at a whopping £120 each. Ya we might have saved a few ponds if we arranged it ourselves using local taxis but then it would not have saved that much. A ticket to get into Petra alone would have cost £50 each. We do recommend the Thomson tour with a good guide and lunch thrown in. Petra Tips -- It's cold, very cold so take warm clothing; Good footwear is essential for Petra as there is a lot of walking on rough ground, down and back up a steep hill. For the people who are less mobile there are hours and carts at Petra but the ride looks quite a wild one! Bring some water with you from the ship to drink. It was also very dusty the day we visited Petra so if ya use medications for Assma, take it with ya along with a scale to cover ya mouth. Can't comment about any other tours but heard people saying they enjoyed them even though some were fare away. Ships Food What can one say about this? It was very good with a mixed selection of foods which were well cooked and presented. Again the standard was high with a great service. We always requested a table for two and got what we asked for. Most people got dressed up for dinner, smart casual most evening and one formal night were 85% really made an effort with tie, shirt and many with tucks. Less formal was the pool bar and it had great burgers. I liked the salad bar which was just lovely and crispy fresh. The food in our opinion was excellent. On Board Service I thought the service was exceptional from the bar staff to reception, waiters, cleaners, stewards and entertainers. Friendly and helpful and 5* + from us. A Few Tips/Comments -- On board currency are English pounds. Tipping on board is included in your Thomson holiday purchase price but we still liked to reward good service personally by tipping. Smaller change can be difficult to obtain on board so bring it with you from UK. If ya going shopping in Egypt get small denomination notes as you may find it difficult to get any change from a purchase. Always haggle on the price to half of what they first ask you for. The ship has free laundry rooms for washing cloths so ya might bring some powers with ya! Eating dinners later meant we could enjoy sunset, miss the crowds at dinner and get a table for two The ships shop only seemed to open when sailing at sea. It seemed to be well stocked. Sunbeds can be hard to find on a hot days. A 45 min rule is fairly applied to stop bed blocking by people leaving towels on them. So use them or lose them is fare. There is plenty of other outdoor seating. Book Thomson tours on the internet to save a few quid and avoid queuing. If ya like a drink or two get the drinks package as its very worthwhile and cost effective. Drink prices are equivalent to UK and individual purchases soon add up. The ship seems to have good access for people with mobility issues. The ship has an unusual tremor in some parts, even when it's in port. Lower decks don't experience this tremor. It wasn't a bad tremor and gave people a good talking point. Most laughed about it and then forgot about and simply moved to another location. The on board internet service is not cheap with rates starting at £4 for 15 mins. UK Phone calling is expensive to. If ya got a Smart Phone, make sure you turn off your data roaming device or ya might get a financial shock. Alternatively just turn of ya Phone and enjoy the peace. The ships shop seems well stocked with some good duty free deals and all the usual necessities. Finally We had a ball, met lots of people and totally chilled out. We will be back to cruise again with Thomson and would happily choose this ship again. Very well done to all the ship's crew including those we hardly saw but know helped to make this a holiday to remember. Chow for Now ? Karl Love & David Hill Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Trip booked last minute, two weeks ahead, and wanted to try cruising and see 3 major sites of Petra, Pyramids and Luxor while it was cooler. Luckily for us it was also no children. Flights and transfers to ship, ported at Sharm el sheik, ... Read More
Trip booked last minute, two weeks ahead, and wanted to try cruising and see 3 major sites of Petra, Pyramids and Luxor while it was cooler. Luckily for us it was also no children. Flights and transfers to ship, ported at Sharm el sheik, were all fine and boarding process was no problem. Had cabin 898 which is level C and the lowest you can get (A and B are higher decks) and also at the rear of the boat. I liked the fact we were so close to the water, the port hole sometimes went underwater, but the engine noise can be very, very loud due to an auxiliary engine. After complaining was given earplugs but you could still clearly hear the engine and this badly affected my sleep. This did not go well with the early start and long trips. The cabin itself was perfectly fine and better than we expected. The ship itself is quite old and a bit tired but fine. The sports deck was closed, as we knew, but also a lot of refurbishment was going on, due to the ship going Platinum in May, which we were not advised of. Overall the food was good with a choice of eating places and varied menu. The entertainment was continuous with live music, games, quizzes etc. and the shows were the best quality I have seen as 'hotel' entertainment. It can be hard to get seating if you are late to a show. Restaurant and cabin staff were generally friendly and helpful. There can be a shortage of sunbeds/seats in sunny areas and the pool is really a plunge pool and was very cold. The tours were quite long coach journeys but the coaches were comfortable. There was a problem with our Petra tour, due to snow!! and an accident, which left us little time in Petra. This could have been handled better and an extra hour gained in Petra, especially given the price of the tours which do seem to be overpriced. Both the Pyramid and Luxor trips went with no problems and were very enjoyable if over priced. The ports we docked at were not particularly inviting and we only ventured out at Aqaba as there was a free transfer into a beach side town which was quite pleasant Unfortunately despite hygiene appearing quite high on board there was an outbreak of norovirus which gradually got worse during the week culminating in having to leave the ship early on the last day so it could be deep cleaned. This was inconvenient but we were sent to a good hotel all inclusive to await airport transfers. Since returning I have also had norovirus. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Thursday 24 Jan 2013 to Thursday 31 Jan 2013 Exceeded our wildest dreams Enormously helped by Sally at Thomson shop in Swindon who explained the language for Cruses, selecting cabins and most important the All Inclusive package at c. ... Read More
Thursday 24 Jan 2013 to Thursday 31 Jan 2013 Exceeded our wildest dreams Enormously helped by Sally at Thomson shop in Swindon who explained the language for Cruses, selecting cabins and most important the All Inclusive package at c. '79 compared to many on board who were quoted over '200. Flight Check in c.0730, after hearty breakfast at Cumberland House, Gatwick North went without queues or problems. There is a special luggage check in for Red Sea cruses so we couldn't check in the previous evening. Flight to Sharm El Sheik modern short haul 5 hours no films or meals the pilot tried to make up for this by pointing out Mount Blanc and other features along the route. Had a good read and snoozed waking to see Mount Blanc, may have snoozed for much of the Mediterranean. Transfer went without problems: 'Cruise admin marque with photo, and hand sanitization' completed, and then a welcome warm evening stroll to M.V. Thomson Celebration and the magic began.This was an adult only cruise, no children great. Cruise Dariusdave has never been on a salt water cruise, yes a Nile cruise a few years ago not the same. The good wife of 40+ years has taken her mother on a cruise from Falmouth to Madeira so has experience of Bay of Biscay. Our abiding memory after walking up the gang plank was the friendly greeting. This greeting set the tone for the entire cruise. Cabin 6224 We were escorted to our cabin by our Cabin boy. Horror of horrors our reserved double bed appeared as two singles with furniture between. Don't worry says our Cabin boy I will sort out while you are at dinner. Yes he did, friend for the entire cruise. We had accepted a telephone offer from Thomson Cruise to upgrade to a 6th deck cabin at a generous discount. Our cabin had the promised window with a good view of the promenade deck, so any walking by could look in. Hence we had to remember to pull the curtains when dressing or undressing. Sometimes it is difficult to remember this is a Motor Vessel Cabin not a hotel room. Well it was spacious, had plenty of the right furniture, chest of drawers and large wardrobe. Even better it scores 9.5 out of 10 for coat hangers, plenty of them and fine quality. A fair size digital safe was located in the wardrobe, large enough to take cameras etc. There were comfortable spacious arm chairs designed in a bygone age. A large television occupied the worktop adjacent to the bathroom wall. An unoccupied bracket and wires above hinted that the flat screen era would soon arrive. I know not if this electronic contraption worked but it was there. However there were a few electric points and with a little trial and error I could run my sleep apnoea machine. Beds, pillows and covers suited us, were comfortable and we slept well every night. Bathroom was better than expected, a hot powerful shower morning and evening, basin with a bag of goodies and lovely soft fluffy towels. The loo reflected French build and design. Two fascinating features of the said loo it worked on the 'vacuum' basis so could be a little loud. Also, remembering childhood rail journeys and the sign about not pulling chain when in a station, seated in harbour, there was a certain noise and massage like vibration to the occupant. It seems the ships electric generator was not rubber mounted (or the rubber mounts had long worn out) and the whole ship vibrated which took a little getting used to. When at sea this was not a problem and vibration vanished. The Hemingway's Bar No point in wasting time waiting arrival of luggage to unpack and change. Time better spent exploring and locating the Cocktail bar. Oh for a guide or Tripadvisor review to alert one to the perils and dangers of the Thomson Cruise 'All inclusive' drinks system. We found the bar best described as long and thin. Main feature was the Grande piano. There were a few unoccupied tables and chairs. We were advised by bar staff to sit and await arrival of a drinks waiter. Now some tables had drinks menus and our table did not. Be warned not all drinks are all inclusive, if they are not be prepared for very expensive duty free snifters. Eventually a waitress arrived to log our Thomson Ship Credit Card info and agree that Mrs T might have a G & T but Dariusdave might not have a Cuba Libra, but he could order rum and coke. There is no doubt that Thomson make their profits from the bar, adjacent casino and shops aboard. All inclusive service belonged to the age before a red flag holder walked in front of a motor car. The bar area contained a section where drinks waiters processed orders on computer terminals whose technology predated Mr Gates Windows system. Dariusdave may be past 60 but has had a computer terminal on his desk for decades. The length of time it took waitresses to tap in orders almost made Dariusdave think Thomson were paying a staff bonus for the slowest servers. When orders were processed barmen would fill glasses (assuming there were sufficient clean empties available) then place the glasses on trays to enable the waitress's to deliver to rapidly dehydrating customers. Dariusdave is used to travelling All Inclusive and one accepts that 'local spirits' are not exactly Gordon's Gin. But after flight, Customs transfer and boarding our home for the next week a few cocktails would help us to relax and unwind from the strains and stresses of the journey. In fairness as we found our sea legs and discovered other watering holes we grew accustomed to the Celebration way. We have no memory of encountering the inebriated who take over our town and city centres at weekends, generally our fellow passengers were a friendly and very civilised group. This bar with grand piano had two part time musicians. The violinist (both Dariusdave's daughters play the violin and piano) was an enthusiastic entertainer who knew how to charm his audience. The pianist although proficient seemed a rather dour character. We enjoy live music and were frequently found here before dinner. It may be a little harsh but I 'm sure honest to say The Hemingway's Bar seemed a little below par for service compared to the rest of Thomson Celebration. Horizons Bar Found on deck 9 and what a find. A young lady sings a young man plays a grand piano (an electric box provides additional sounds) and all our favourite Carpenter's Songs float across this bar to our ears. Plus on evenings cruising close to shore lights of various resorts are clearly seen. Unlike Hemingway's Bar Staff are attentive to customers' needs, ambiance near perfect. Horizons Bar ticked all our boxes loved coming here after dinner. The Meridian Restaurant First night, long short haul journey, a few cocktails need to feed the inner man. Originally thought we would visit the buffet. But as we left Hemingway's Bar we paused to be greeted by fellow passengers who strongly advised we try The Meridian Restaurant a floor below. Thank heavens for their sound advice. Wow The Meridian became our spiritual home on this Cruise. Always make a show of sanitizing hands on entering this Restaurant, or you get sent back to do it again. We were greeted, escorted to a table with a panoramic window and view of docks. Just a tip the ventilation system blows very cold by these windows. Sharm docks are not a great sight best to sit away from windows. Our dedicated waiters presented us with menus. They asked to see our Thomson Cruse Credit Cards and as if by telepathy the thought entered my head that wine by the glass is AI, but bottles cost. The waiter team working system is so good our glasses were never dry. Plus our young waiters were anxious for us to dine in their zone at all meals and spoilt us. First evening menu had loads of choices AI, plus upgrade like steak for a supplement. In fact every meal breakfast, lunch or dinner had wonderful choices we were spoilt. Silver Service every meal, waiter would always pull out chair for good lady and we were always greeted as welcome guests. By very good team work every cooked plate reached our table hot. It was a privilege to wine and dine here. One lunch time we joined a Cruise Regular from bonny Scotland she seemed to know every waiter by name. Drinks flowed and we must have departed a good hour after other guests no attempts to suggest perhaps we would like to move to a bar. I will write later about Captain's Black Tie event. However here is the correct place to mention that wonderful Sunday evening dinner. Given several hundred guests descended on The Meridian at virtually the same time this was the ultimate challenge for The Meridian Team. There are many restaurants in Swindon that are good for a family of say six but can't cope with an office or club outing for say thirty. We were speculating as our food orders were taken in a calm and professional manner how they would cope. We need not have worried the Team were first class. Hot food was hot and properly cooked, waiting times were short, wine glasses were filled and an excellent evening was enjoyed in the right spirit. Dariusdave did pay for the Wine Tasting Lesson one afternoon at The Meridian, it was light hearted and good fun. They even presented a certificate as a memento. The Buffet Lido Restaurant The second morning with early departure to Petra we breakfasted at The Buffet. Perhaps we were joined by several hundred guests all seeking sustenance at the same time before our coach trip. Hygiene standards were high, there was no self-service. Rather like school dinner ladies items that might have been full English were ladled or slapped onto one's plate, no portion choice. But with long queues and almost every table occupied we were confused as to whether we were in a rugby scrum or sardine tin. If every meal had been endured at this location we would not have enjoyed this cruise. Captain Wojtek Ziolkowski's Gala Reception Love it or hate it every civilised cruise should have a Black Tie event. Yes it gives the Ship's photographic team a chance to earn their wages and yes Dariusdave was happy to buy a few photos next day. Celebration is as The Thomson Brochure suggests a smaller liner, nothing wrong with that. But dare Dariusdave suggest that not only were a very large number of guests participating in this ritual but most were over 60+++. Hence very long queues may have been good for photographers but not so good for ageing limbs and joints. Might Dariusdave suggest three or even four smaller sessions would have quicker shorter queues and less stressed participants? Dariusdave a mere 62 and fit for bowls was perhaps at the younger end of the age spectrum, but many decent 'Seniors' (who were too British to complain) found the long slow queues a great physical strain. Thomson please think outside the box and find a better way. Otherwise we enjoyed this ritual and can only praise the 'fine dining crew' for their exemplary contribution to a memorable evening. Ports of Call and Trips First stop Aqaba in Jordan, frankly the geography or environs of the port are of little concern. Any who have read their Tripadvisor know what to expect. First morning a little overcast but what a privilege we were to be entrained by The Jordanian Red Arrows who have appeared at The Fairford International Tattoo. It is a great advantage that they fly propeller aircraft so we may see and enjoy. Jet aircraft can be far too fast for the amateur photographer. Half an hour literally flew past I select a photo at the end of this review that I hope shares the joy of this first morning. A bonus that we were welcomed to Jordan by their 'Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.' Aqaba A shuttle bus was available to take guests into Aqaba. We availed ourselves of this free service after lunch. Aqaba was extraordinarily busy, we were informed later it was a National Holiday after their Election. Our mini-bus eventually deposited us at The Movenpick Hotel. Now as the seasoned traveller would expect there were many professional beggars, conmen and so called unlicensed guides plying for our generosity. Plus a few bedraggled horse and cart operators who reminded me of Steptoe. First foot forward we decided to walk into Aqaba to see and photograph the great flag. After half a mile or so Dariusdave spotted what he expected a genuine taxi guide dropping some Americans at a local restaurant? Conversation opened. The guide offered an exciting itinerary, Dariusdave armed with $ performed the mandatory haggle honour satisfied we boarded a very mature Toyota Corolla (the same model my daughter drove in her student days) and headed into town. Our guide explained how there was snow on the mountains near Petra as, like Joseph in the New Testament, he had returned to his home village to vote in the Election. Hence today was a National Holiday. Our guide showed us the public beach where many from Amman the Capital of Jordan were enjoying family day out. Yes we did observe many mothers wearing the 'Swimming Burkha' as they splashed around with their children. We stopped at the castle and various locations to photograph the Great Flag. The flag pole at 130 meters high is one of the highest flag poles in the world. Our guide explained it was not the Jordanian Flag flying (although it looked similar) but the flag for Arab liberation that dates back to the First World War and Lawrence of Arabia. We also visited various markets and saw real coffee shops. All too soon our journey was over and we walked back from the main market to rendezvous with our transport. A fascinating afternoon trip, a chance to see parts of the real Aqaba with a knowledgeable guide speaking impeccable English a bonus trip much enjoyed. Petra We choose this cruise so that we might visit Petra; attempts from Taba in October had failed. We regard Petra as one of the most important archaeological sites in the Middle East and many regard it as one of the remaining Wonders of The Ancient World it has long been on our must visit list. An early start, I counted ten coaches (there may have been more) so at least 600 guests were intending to 'walk the walk' each coach had a qualified guide. Points of interest along the route were seeing in the distance Aaron's Tomb on Jabal Harun. (Author's note Israel also claims this tomb in an Israeli location) The return journey identified Wadi Rum where parts of Lawrence of Arabia were filmed. The landscape with snow topped mountains, arid plains and small villages was of great interest and comfort stops well chosen for the photographer. We arrived at The Petra Movenpick for comfort and coffee then our guide offered us the choice walk with him or ride. No choice we wanted the full guided tour. Wow it just got better as we approached The Treasury. Little glimpses at first through the Canyon then we were at the 1 Million $ Harrison Ford location. Our guide explained as part of filming for Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade the Queen of Jordan escorted Harrison Ford down The Canyon. At one point she asked 'If I show you the finest site in The World will you donate 1 Million $ to my Charity,' Harrison agreed and The Queen of Jordan asked Harrison to take one step towards her and he could then see The Petra Treasury, legend has it he paid up. There was a half hour break at The Treasury Site, where loud Bedouin Boys kept offering to sell us postcards and other items. Then Dariusdave and good lady happily agreed to walk on to Roman Petra. We saw the amphitheatre carved into the stone hillside and many more tomb carvings in The Pink City. Lunch time was approaching but Dariusdave agree to 'climb the climb' to see the 'tent' covering Roman mosaics. Another great wow experience. There is a mystery at the Roman end of Petra. Dariusdave was lucky enough to negotiate a horse and trap to return us to the entrance. We have never travelled so fast as taken by that Bedouin lad. However when we arrived back at the Movenpick, well shaken and stirred, our guide was waiting to take us to lunch. There must be a secret guide's short cut. Cairo Sphinx & Pyramids Given political problems it was no surprise that The Cairo Museum trip was cancelled. We had booked Pyramids Son et Luminaire with Nile boat trip and lunch. Our guide spent much of the desert crossing trying to sell 'Gold Cartouches' with your name in hieroglyphics. Like a good Boy Scout Dariusdave had ensured Good Wife Cathy was wearing her Nile Cruise Cartouche. We were a little surprised to be told it was real old gold (less than ten years old) unlike the ones on sale now. We were greeted at The Gates of Cairo by road blocks, armed soldiers and tanks. Travel around Cairo was fascinating paddy fields between blocks of flats. Our guide explained good Muslims were expected to have at least eight children, there was a population explosion and farmers were converting fields to flats built without planning permission or Western Building regulations. Most seemed unfinished and given visible lack of spirit levels in the construction one fears for any earthquake activity. We did witness mini-riots at fuel stations where mini-bus drivers fought for scarce supplies of diesel Our guide studying for a PHD who already had a Master's Degree. Explained Egypt needed to import fuel, lack of hard currency from reduced tourist numbers resulted in fuel shortages. We stopped for our boat trip and lunch. This was accompanied by a familiar face (see Dariusdave's review Sol Y Mar Taba) the Whirling Dervish and a traditional Egyptian Belly Dancer. Interesting to study the faces of The Egyptian Customers all dressed as affluent businessmen. Dariusdave wonders how much longer such entertainment will be permitted by The Islamic Government; our guide seemed surprised it still continued. However our friend the Whirling Dervish was as good as ever. There must be 1001 Papyrus shops within a mile of the Pyramids. Last time we visited one it was in Luxor, this time Cairo. Jolly good salesman, same old pictures, be warned if you enter you will be hassled till you buy. Son ET Luminaire Good old MV Celebration had provided blankets, much needed in the chill evening air. We think we were the only party and front two rows were enough. A really professional production, easy to hear and understand the voices. The lighting was fantastic we enjoyed every minute. Hope photos do justice to this historic evening. Must say compared to last visit a vast improvement. The area has been tidied up there is now a proper entrance to the Sphinx and a comforting number of Security Guards around for our protection. Return journey to Celebration there was one fascinating experience approaching Sokhna harbour we encountered a mammoth lorry queue at 'The Motorway Services' again we were told shortage of diesel. Hence great stacks of Chinese Containers at the port that could not be transported to Cairo. Diesel was reserved for tourist coaches we were very lucky to have made this trip. Back to Celebration, back to sea. All aboard, engines soon running and we were heading south through the night for Safaga. Safaga may be an industrial port but there were many trips available greatest was coach to Luxor and Valley of The Kings. We had stayed there as part of our Nile cruise and eleven hours aboard even an air-conditioned coach was a bit much for my knees. We could have tripped to local shops, stayed at a local hotel or had a boat trip. We decided to enjoy the facilities aboard Celebration and enjoyed countless entertainments. Patricia Colledge gave a fascinating Lecture 'The Valley of The Kings.' The Baked Alaska Parade through the Meridian Restaurant and at 11.30 The Crew Show in the Broadway Show Lounge were a grand ending to our first cruise. Sadly all good holidays come to an end and we were soon sailing back to Sharm El Sheikh . The departure from Celebration was very well organised as was the transfer to airport. Would we cruise again? Yes we have just booked MV Celebration Eastern Promise for 26 April 2014.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We have just arrived back from doing the red sea magic cruise on board the Thomson celebration ship and we had a fantastic time. we could not fault a single thing. All of the crew bar staff and the restaurant staff were so helpful and ... Read More
We have just arrived back from doing the red sea magic cruise on board the Thomson celebration ship and we had a fantastic time. we could not fault a single thing. All of the crew bar staff and the restaurant staff were so helpful and friendly and could not do enough for you. They would not even let us make a cup of tea without coming over and doing it for us. The ship itself is meticulously clean, and the staff are always around cleaning something. We even saw them with toothpicks cleaning the backs of chairs in the restaurants they were that good. All of the entertainment is of an outstanding quality and there is always that much happening in all of the different bars that you never know which one to go too. The drinks prices are very reasonable and water is free if you ask for tap water which we did. While we were on the ship they were currently painting and cleaning her up which was good to see. They are also in the process of refurbishing all of the rooms which are lovely as we were in one of the refurbished cabins. Everything is done to a high standard. The food that we received in all of the restaurants were of an outstanding quality and there was that much available we just ate all the time. Our cabin was always clean and tidy and our cabin steward was really friendly and always made sure that we were OK. The ports that you dock at are not the best they are just used for industry so can be noisy but you do get used to it and it did not spoil it for us. The weather we had was lovely and warm but you have to be very careful when you are at sea as it can be windy and we did get burnt on the first day because we did not use enough suncream. There is a large selection of shore excursions that you can do some of which are more value for money than others. They are very laid back with the dress style on a evening but if you want to dress up you wont look out of place. All in all we had a fantastic trip and we cant wait to do another of the Thomson cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We took the March 2012 Red Sea Magic cruise having booked late and at a very good discount. We'd read all about the vessel not being the largest or the newest on the seas and we really thought that this might be a no better than a ... Read More
We took the March 2012 Red Sea Magic cruise having booked late and at a very good discount. We'd read all about the vessel not being the largest or the newest on the seas and we really thought that this might be a no better than a 'Holiday camp on the seas' From the very start the crew impressed in every way - calm and professional service everywhere and always with a smile. Nothing seemed too much trouble and they made everything feel five star. Don't listen to the moaners; this ship and her crew offer a brilliant good value package - several fellow travelers told us they felt the cruise matched or bettered the offerings of very much dearer holidays and much more prestigious ships that they had experienced Our outside basic cabin was comfortable with an amazing amount of wardrobe space. The standard of housekeeping was superb. We didn't spend much time in our cabin - too much to do enjoying the excellent entertainment package and the very good restaurants. We went looking for a pleasant cruise without being too bothered about shore excursions - we've been lucky enough to enjoy some top class leisure experiences so are not easily pleased- this cruise left us smiling all the way. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We sailed on the 19th Jan 2012. After a quick transfer from the airport we were greeted by staff in a hut to check in and have photo's taken for ship id. There was a short walk to the actual ship (10mins max). We were greeted on board ... Read More
We sailed on the 19th Jan 2012. After a quick transfer from the airport we were greeted by staff in a hut to check in and have photo's taken for ship id. There was a short walk to the actual ship (10mins max). We were greeted on board and proceeded to our cabin which was given to us on arrival at check in at the UK airport. We were shown to our cabin which was number 201 on the 6th deck right at the front of the boat. The cabin was large, 2 single beds 2 day seats and a full bathroom with bath. It had 2 full length wardrobes with plenty of hangers and 2 bath robes. A tv which showed sky news and sports, cruise dvd which is available to buy, itinerary show on a loop, a 2 movie channels and radio channels. (the movies changed daily) The cabin was very clean and the bathroom was also clean, slight wonky tiles and very small mouldy bit which had tried to be removed with cleaning but still showed. Toiletries provided and plenty of towels. The Celebration is 100% better than the Island Escape. The ship itself was lovely. The staff very friendly and the shows excellent. Food: Lido restaurant was buffet service with plenty to choose from. Breakfasts was great everything you want and more, lunch great and dinners and late night snacks were fine too. On the lido deck, breakfast was also available as well as pizza and the best burgers I have had in a long time were available throughout the afternoon. Plenty of tea and coffee stations too. Plenty of choice of drinks apart from lager which is currently Heineken (sp) and 1 bitter john smiths, but the spirit selection is like a normal pub. Bottled water is not included on the AI basis but if bought after 10am you get it at £1.40. The ports of call on this cruise are pretty poor. You have to use there excursions for piece of mind. We did go alone to Aqaba into the town and felt ok there. Nothing to do but shop though! We did the Petra trip which was fine, didn't meet expectations though...didn't know what to expect, but didn't have enough free time to explore when the tour in Petra finished. Be wary if your not active walker as can be very hard going. The walk back to the town after Petra can be difficult and long. But we were glad we did it. Port Sokhna for Cairo: We did the mohammed ali mosque, lunch on the nile and the pyramids. Again a long coach journey (2.5 hours) Mosque was rather uninteresting, nile lunch food fine and belly dancer and local music played. trip on Nile only an hour or so which included your eating time. View from Nile is not pretty. Pyramids I hated because of the constant hassle. We did venture in a pyramid for extra 22euros......don't bother all walls are stone, nothing else. Be warned the entrance down to the tomb was very hard I am 35 and struggled. (my legs still ache now because of the position you have to take to get down) so I personally wouldn't bother. coach continues to Petra which was better. Then onto 2 shops which was just tat in my opinion. was glad to get back to the ship. Also the roads in Cairo are scary and dangerous, close your curtains on the coach! We cancelled our last trip to the valley of the kings as it was a 15 day trip, we were sick of the coach journeys. So did a submarine trip in Hurghada instead....again time wasted been driven to the town and tatty shops. If the trips were not so long, it may have made the day trips more bearable and fun. However, I must say the guides and the armed personnel are great. Now back to the ship, the celebration is a great family friendly boat, we met some great people on board and have surely made friends for life. The entertainment was excellent, singing great and the comedian Bernie Flint was very funny and he didn't swear once! (he was on opportunity knocks for 15 weeks!) The cruise director was a great guy very chatty and fun to drink with! A great time to be had on the Celebration, I would recommend this ship....but not this cruise stops. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We booked this cruise as my mother had always wanted to visit the pyramids and being very relgious also the Holy land,being 75 this year we thought it a good present. My wife and mother in law and two other relatives made it a party of ... Read More
We booked this cruise as my mother had always wanted to visit the pyramids and being very relgious also the Holy land,being 75 this year we thought it a good present. My wife and mother in law and two other relatives made it a party of six. The flight from Edinburgh to Dalaman was uneventful, the food onboard at £15 each is not really worth it, especially on the return flight. The focus is on selling drink & perfume. Thought the aircrew to be fairly poor, people left standing in aisle for 15-20min when going to/returning from toilets as the trolleys slowly progressed through the plane.Not really customer focused.The baggage allowance was 23KG which is very good - especially for 1 week. We are normally over the normal 15-20kg with our purchases, but this allowance was excellent. On reaching Dalaman you basically head outside where there are desks for the different tour companies, There is one specifically for Thompson Cruises. They will tell you which bus to go on which is fairly close by. The bus transfer to Marmaris - leaving and return port - takes about an hour and a half.When you get there you take your cases through a check-in terminal. Staff give you an envelope with your door key, ship id card, stickers to put on your case(s) and you give your credit card details so you can get billed for all the additional purchases you make that are not included in your package. We went fully inclusive with the drinks package.(£200 each). So it was really just the excursions and duty free on top of the cruise cost.You get itemised bills at stages of the cruise to keep you informed of your purchases. You get this even if you are fully inclusive, they just don't charge the included items on your credit card. Now.... this was the first really annoying thing to happen & a bad start to the cruise- You label your cases outside the check-in terminal with the stickers you were provided with.Then you leave them to be transported the 3 minute walk to the ship for you. BE PREPARED FOR A LONG WAIT TO SEE THEM. I phoned up reception after ONE and A HALF HOURS to find out where our cases were- it seems they try to get your case to you within TWO HOURS. So take the opportunity to remove items from your case, toiletries, change of clothes etc. We had travelled since early in the morning and really needed to shower and change. My own personal opinion on this is that they sort the cases out relevant to the room you are in, those that pay more get their case first. The whole onboard service works that way.Get an expensive room and you will be lorded over - literally, buy one in steerage and you go down like the titanic- service wise!After two and a half hours I found them in the common stairway and took them to the room myself! Not a good start. My mother was over three hours waiting for hers - in her cabin - upsetting her quite a bit as she needed items from the case. She was on the floor below me. Point proved. The rooms are floor 1 & 2 very basic, try and get a room with a porthole, it does make it a bit better to see the sun rise /set. Our room was 80's style. i worked offshore for 12 years and the rooms were similar although the toilets smaller. We had a double bed and the room was spacious enough. In cabin entertainment is very poor, but then it shouldn't matter.The rooms were very well maintained with nice touches - beds turned down, chocolates on the pillow etc. Plenty storage space for clothes. The ship itself has several lifts allowing easy access between floors. The food is excellent, we only ate in the Lido self service restaurant. We had intended to use the other two, but were happy with the convenience and food so didn't bother. The other restaurants are more formal with waiter service in one and a charge of £19 each for a seven course meal in the other.The table waiters in the Lido were excellent. We only had to get water for ourselves once. The Bar Waiters though are absolutely hopeless, run by an extremely poor Bar Manager. After four days of really poor service I went to reception to ask why. The Bar Manager was called and I explained the problem, he gave the impression he wasn't bothered.This could just be that he thought we were looking to claim against thompsons so I made it clear that that wasn't going to happen, I would just let others know how bad the bar waiting service was and let others decide if paying £200 each a week for horrendous service was ok. Well it worked in the bars - for the half hour he was present in the bar that evening - once he left it was dead slow and stop again. I could name the worst (rude, arrogant,ignorant, - thats not their names:)) , and believe me they deserve it, but that's not what these reports are about. Noticed other bad reports on the same thing on here so I think the poor bar service is a commercial deliberate choice. The less drinks you get the more Thompsons make -simples. If everyone got the same service then it wouldn't be so annoying - Money talks and your card - which you need to obtain all purchases- has your room number on, so the waiting staff know who to focus on. We were asked in the restaurant from then on if we wanted a drink from the bar with our meal, so something came out of the complaint I think. Remember to bring along your best suit - you will need it to be thought of as worthy to meet the Captain at the Captains Ball! What century is this? !! Personally I don't agree with this sort of snobbery and didn't bother. Surpising how many court affection though. Its a cruise ship thing I think! The Entertainment team are exceptionally good,good variety of shows to a very high standard, something for everyone.They are a massive plus onboard the ship. The Excursions - We went on the Alexandria museum trip, Cairo museum and the Giza pyramids, Bethelehem and Jerusalem trips. The Alexandria Museum trip wasn't all that good, the tour party was too large, you couldn't hear what the guide was saying as the museum was too small for the busload to circle around the various items of note. If you are next to the guide- then great, if your older and struggle with stairs etc you'll be on the outskirts and missing out.You don't really get time to explore yourself its a school type expedition - as they all are really. The Cairo Museum is a must, there is so much to see that you could spend two days in there. you get a couple of hours in a packed inferno of commotion. You are supplied with 'whispers' radio headphones and the guide therefore has your ear at least. Far too rushed and chaotic, you are told when you can pee and when you cannot - I'm not joking! You get 10 min to do your own thing- that includes the toilet and the optional mummy tours that cost an extra £16. These exhibitions are at opposite sides of the museum ( 2 displays). Well worth seeing- even if you are 5 min late to get back! Astonishing to see these preserved icons of Egyptian history. Giza pyramids follow on from the Cairo tour. Well worth a visit, I went inside one to have a look and feel of the internal atmosphere, cost an extra £7 but worth it to me. You need to be able to negotiate a steep ramp stairway while bent over, only takes 10min but you see internal chambers, and a segregated tomb section.surprisingly cool inside. Jerusalem - our tour guide Adrian would have put Bethany Hughes to shame! We got a non stop class in the origins of religion -as the world knows it, very convincing, bit much for me to listen to so much as I tend to want to spend my time exploring than in the sun being tought, but he knew his stuff and it was very interesting.Lots to see here but not enough time in this tour to see it. I will definately go back. Good tour good guide, just not my cup of tea. Bethlehem - guide was a character - Ramsey. will sell you candles in the nativity church and sand to the arabs! Make sure you go downstairs to the birthplace within the church, I didn't know it was there as ramsey was selling candles, found out afterwards what we missed. I'll go back when there is more time to appreciate it. My mother did very well, Jerusalem is a stairway nightmare and she struggles with her knees ( ops) but still managed.This tour was different, the tickets prior to it had our bus number on it and we had travelled together. On this trip you get on the bus first come first served. They got on a bus as we were changing money and we only caught a fleeting glance of them on another bus all day. Stick together on this one. That is the whole tour experience - rushed, crushed and flushed. It lets you know where to go back to and where not to. I won't do a cruise again, not for me, seen enough to return to some places - Alanya is a future holiday destination now as well, so learnt plenty. The only BIG BIG downside is the bar/waiter service, they really are very poor, dont expect it to get better, not if thompsons are gaining finincially from it. :) Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
What a complete waste of money. The tour itinerary was changed multiple times before we sailed due to the problems in Egypt. The ship is old and shudders the whole time whether in port or at sea. The cabins and common areas are shabby - ... Read More
What a complete waste of money. The tour itinerary was changed multiple times before we sailed due to the problems in Egypt. The ship is old and shudders the whole time whether in port or at sea. The cabins and common areas are shabby - the sealant around the bath was black, rust around the windows, damaged furniture and badly stained carpets to mention a few. Relaxing on the sun deck was akin to being in a sardine tin. The entertainment was like Butlin's of old. There were some good individual singers but they did not harmonise together at all and their dancing was questionable to say the least. The food was ok but there was no allergy advice on any of the buffet food. The waiters were good most of the time but there were one or two that really let them down. The itinerary was changed multiple times before we sailed which was annoying and there were not enough additional excursions offered. We spent the last 2 days of the cruise in Sharm El Sheikh and the only excursions were the glass bottom boat or quad biking. I'm sure Destination Services could have been a bit more creative and found some extra excursions. In short this was not worth the £2,000 that we paid for the cruise and this goes down as the worst holiday ever. If we could've got an earlier flight home we would've done. Thomson should've done he honourable thing and cancelled the cruise when all the Egypt troubles started but they obviously put shareholders before customers. This was my first sea cruise and will definitely be my last. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our first cruise so we didn't really know what to expect but we were not disappointed. The ship was clean and comfortable although beginning to look it's age and some area's could do with refurbishment. Our ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we didn't really know what to expect but we were not disappointed. The ship was clean and comfortable although beginning to look it's age and some area's could do with refurbishment. Our cabin was at the rear (sorry - stern !) of the ship just above the water line and we did find it to be a little noisy at times (engines) and throughout the ship, there seemed to be a constant vibration from the generators even when alongside the dock. The accommodation was very good and was kept very clean by the steward. There was plenty of storage space in the cabin. The bathroom facilities although functional, could do with an update though especially the grouting in the shower. The bed pillows were a bit small and the towels have seen better days but were clean. The food was very good indeed with something to suit every taste even if you are very picky like me. English style sausages, bacon and beans for breakfast was a bonus too and a baked sponge pudding every lunchtime ! I preferred the buffet style restaurant as you can choose what you want and also the quantity but we did try the waiter service restaurant and found that to be very good too. I have read reviews moaning about the fact that all the waiters and bar staff were Filipino but we found them to be all really good and they looked after us very well. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for them. As for the entertainment, we can't really comment as we only managed to fit in one show as we were tired after long days ashore on excursions and virtually went straight to bed when we got back. There was so much to do on board the ship, I don't know how people managed to fit it all in. Because of the Political situation that arose in Egypt after we had booked the holiday, it was obvious that we wouldn't do the published itinerary, which was a disappointment, but it was not Thomson's fault and they did a marvellous job at organising other trips and threw in a free trip to Jerusalem & Bethlehem for those who wanted to go. It was a very long day but very enjoyable. Under the circumstances, I think Thomson did a sterling job ! At the time we booked the holiday, we opted to pay extra for the 'all-inclusive' drinks package which in hindsight was a mistake as although we like to have a drink (or two), we probably didn't get our money's worth, but that was our mistake and it did save us getting a nasty drinks bill at the end ! Bottled drinking water was NOT included in the drinks package nor was the cabin 'mini-bar'. Also the safe in the cabin has to be paid for if you want to use it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
we boarded the celebration at sharm after first spending a weeks all inclusive at the savita hotel & spa (review can be read on trip advisor)the crew were doing a quick re paint and grout of the swimming pool on the lido deck when we ... Read More
we boarded the celebration at sharm after first spending a weeks all inclusive at the savita hotel & spa (review can be read on trip advisor)the crew were doing a quick re paint and grout of the swimming pool on the lido deck when we wandered down there but was filled and ready for use the next day, after a good wander around the ship we were impressed,out of the 3 restaurants on board we only used the self service restaurant the lido so i can,t comment on the others but we found this one fabulous and lots of variety, everything in general was fresh clean and well presented the crew and entertainments team are excellent, the trips are quite expensive we only did the one which was the pyramids,Nile lunch,mosque,loads of hassle at pyramids the best thing is don,t buy anything its all tat anyway,on the return to ship we were greeted with the crew singing, with hot flannels and a cold drink a nice touch we thought,we had booked a deluxe cabin on deck 6 a lovely unrestricted view the cabin was roomy clean but with its decor showing its age, the bathroom also was in dire need of refurbishment with ageing pink mosaic tiling and shoddy grouting, also there was no tea or coffee making facilities,the television should have been thrown away ten years ago, all in all i don,t think deluxe should have applied to this cabin,we also paid £25 to have a cabin on our last day {you have to be out of cabins for 9am on last day)we got the cabin next door which also was a de luxe and that was slightly shoddier than ours,The drinks were we thought quite pricey the draught beer was john smiths which in my opinion was awful,and the larger Heineken was also awful both went flat minutes after been served both were £3.25 each a can of coke was £1.60 and a bottle of water £1.70 the all inclusive people will have a shock when they find out they have to pay for water ! all in all we had a great week of food and entertainment and for our first cruise was fab ! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I booked the holiday as I wanted to see Egypt and thought staying on a cruise ship would be safer - it was!! The room - I was surprised that the bed was a double and the room was very spacious. Loads of storage space, flat screen ... Read More
I booked the holiday as I wanted to see Egypt and thought staying on a cruise ship would be safer - it was!! The room - I was surprised that the bed was a double and the room was very spacious. Loads of storage space, flat screen tele and of course shower room. The only critisim I have is that the shower area was a little tired. However the room was fantastic. I opted for a port hole and was not disappointed with the view that I had. The dining area. I opted for most of my breakfast and dinners the main restuarant. You would not be disappointed. William (the head waiter) and Chris (appointed waiter) always greeted me and asked if I wanted to be on my own or with people - they always found me lovely people to sit next to and found I was sitting there for about 2 hours - chatting!! I did go into the buffet area one evening and found it very quiet but did opt for my lunches in there and found it sufficient. The free ice creams for every one were fantastic and the outside burgers/chips were great (although i did not try them). The upgrade restuarant I never opted for as I found the standard of food was fantastic. Celebration package. I had flowers, champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries in my room when I arrived - fantastic. They were there to greet me and the champagne was Moet and in an silver bucket with ice - very welcoming. Breakfast. They did unfortunately forget but once I rang I to the main reception I had the main reception and waiter come to my room with my order and apologised for the delay. They later rang to see if I wanted anything else. Reception - fantastic. Very helpful. Solo breakfasts. I think the main receptionist was called Gemma. She informed us of how the ship works and general information. The best thing was she remembered us. Staff. ALL staff were very friendly but not gorping or seedy. It felt if you asked for anything they were only too happy to help. Spa. I had 3 treatment in the spa area and loved every single one of them. Only downside is if you have caught the sun having a massage can hurt a little but they do direct you. Ladies evening. I think this was only £10 and was fantastic. We had a bottle of champagne and the spa lady showed us their ointments and applied. Only downside was I was covered in oil and had my hair in conditioner - downside was I had to glam up for dinner! Swimming pool. Not many people were in the swimming pool which was diappointing. Sunbeds. What is it with the English. There were enough beds for those sunbathing as there are loads of decks. Either that or just sitting by the railings reading a book was just as good. Excursions. This was where I was worried about but found that I didnt need to be. There was a tour guide, armed guard (just for safety) and sanitisation crew. The tour guide was very informative and if we had any problems he sorted it out! The ship arranged for snacks and drinks enroute plus on full day excursions we had lunch in a 4 star hotel! When you come back from a full day the waiters greet you with their live band and you have sanitisation crew with hot cloths and drinks - you go through the scanner and checked back in on the ship. A few of us ordered some jewellery which arrived alongside the ship. We felt safe as security were aware and kept an eye on everyone - so safe and not over the top. Other passengers: I found they were so relaxed I made friends with loads of people. People were looking out for each other too - even one lady gave me some of her sun lotion. Others we took turns in taking photos and one offered to lend me some money when I was on a trip to Petra so I could buy a book. So you see everyone was so relaxed but still looking out for eachother it was very comforting. Captains night. I offered to go with another single passenger who wasnt too keen to go. Unfortunately he stuck to me all evening but soon got the message. Afternoon Tea: well you can eat and eat and eat. They do mid-afternoon tea with cream cakes etc... if you go into the library/quiet seating area you get a waitress. Cinema - has fresh hot popcorn waiting outside. Cabin Stewards - Fantastic job and very helpful. Dress code: in the main restuarant it is just smart except for the Captains evening. If you didnt want to opt for that then the buffet area you could wear whatever you want - although they do ask that you cover up. Ship condition. Well it was my first cruise and loved it! I could not grumble about anything and loved it so much I have booked another - albeit with someone else - to get the variety. I think that was all but as you can see I loved my trip. I will definitely do it again as I didnt opt to do all the excursions as I didnt want to cram it all in plus gives me an opportunity to do the trip again!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The ports of call are not attractive and I do not recommend this as a first cruise, we were very disappointed that it was not easy to get off the ship and explore on our own. This is a cruise for people who plan to get off the ship on ... Read More
The ports of call are not attractive and I do not recommend this as a first cruise, we were very disappointed that it was not easy to get off the ship and explore on our own. This is a cruise for people who plan to get off the ship on Thomson Excursions to Luxor and Cairo and not a itinerary for those who want to try out cruising for the first time just to be on the ship for the experience. The ports are scruffy and very industrial, Only Agaba was the close to being a nice place to berth, the last port at safga is next to a cement factory and we were berthed that close we could of crossed over and started work. We had this view for 2 days However these are the nearest ports to do the tours of cario and luxor unless you cruise the Nile. Thomson do need to advise you in there info that you cannot walk on some of these ports, nor can taxi's come into the ports, so you are stuck unless you use their transport or excursions The pools are small, the sunbeds are very close to each other and when at sea, a seat was very hard to find, never mind a sunbed,people were saving the benches & chairs with their towels!!! folks do save sunbeds with towels from early morning and because the sun is usually only on one side of the ship it can get busy on the top decks, but there is no shade on the top deck..so if one of your party is a sunlover and one needs the shade, there is not a happy medium and you end up sunbathing in different places Because thomson sell the All Inclusive drinks package from rates of £49 per person to £160 per person there is alot of choice of branded drinks on offer on the all inclusive, The problem is that EVERYONE has to use the boarding card to order a drink, the waiter takes your card, takes your order and then disappears for up to 20 mins...you cannot get up and walk to another bar because without your boarding card you cannot get a drink. This spoilt our enjoyment of this service and don't ask for a latte in Liberties, the bar staff do not want to serve you this, even though the machine is next to them, I had my boarding card thrown at me to sign a few times for daring to ask for a latte. The problem is that the drinks waiters do not just take your order, go and get it and bring it back. they walk around taking lots of orders, so if you ordered first, you can be waiting for a long time to get your drink because the waiter than has to go and get All the drinks, print out the receipts that match the cards, bring the drink, you have to sign for the drink and they hand you your card back... This system slows the service down and creates frustration.. we often ordered our drinks when we sat down in the restaurant to have them delivered by the time we had our sweet...in the end we admitted defeat and went to the bar ourselves and took our drinks to our table and then got up and went to the bar if we needed another one inbetween courses On the last day in safaga the crew decided they would paint the ship so moved some of the sunbeds on deck 6 at 9am - you just got yourself comfy when another crew member came and said they were closing Deck 6 for a drill at 10am - which actually began at 10.40am..by which time they cleared the sunbeds into stacks including the guests belongings in between each bed...this went on until around 12pm, by which half the ship were waiting to get a bed in the sun...so I had no chance of regaining my sunbed and ended up sitting in the shade all day. On the same day, they started to close part of deck 6 at 5pm..moving all the chairs and beds out of the area, then they closed some of the bar area while they lifted crates down to store our luggage..which was due to be stored at 2am??? This last day was very frustrating and seemed to disturb the guests quite alot..plus dont forget were were on a port next to a cement factory and no where to walk to.. I have since learnt that there was a public beach 15 mins away, why couldnt they have put on a shuttle bus to there? I would of paid had I the option a small price, they were charging £20 each to transfer to a hotel for 4 hours to use their pool/beach...no drinks or food were included. We had to have our luggage ready for collection by 2am, outside your cabin door, this was then stored overnight on deck 6. We could hear the crew members during the night transporting the luggage. We had to be out of our room by 9am the following morning. You could pay for the use of a room between 10am - 4pm for £25.00 A few guests asked reception for complaint forms and were given a blank piece of paper to fill in, I was told I would be given a form to fill in - it was a standard survey that wanted to know when my internet expired, who my car insurance was with - not exactly a complaint form. Good The food is excellent and a choice to suit all in tastes in the different restaurants. The ship is clean and our cabin was lovely and spacious, we had a deluxe cabin on the 7th deck. Everyone seemed to enjoy the musical entertainment, but they were not shows as such, just songs from shows that have been on the west end?? you will make lots of friends and will never be lonely, lots to do on the ship even if they don't do everything they advertise.. I am still waiting for my popcorn from the trip to the cinema and if you won a competition this week, no chance of a prize because they hadn't been delivered... The captains cocktail party was worth the queuing up for, you have to pass 3 lots of photographers with different back drops before you allowed into the cocktail party..the photographers didn't really care if you had your eyes open or shut and our photos were poor standard. You then sit in the broadway show lounge for an hour with a drink, listen to the band and then the captain does his speech, introduces everyone in his team and then you go to the Meridan for a gala dinner, the food and service in the Meridan was excellent. Photos are from 10.99 to 20.00 and there is a Cruise DVD for £24.00 which was on one of the tv channels while it was being made so if you spotted yourself on it, you could order it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My fiance booked this cruise by chance - we needed a holiday - he'd just come into some compensation, so we thought we'd try something new. We chose the red sea as I am a bit of a sun worshipper and wanted somewhere still hot ... Read More
My fiance booked this cruise by chance - we needed a holiday - he'd just come into some compensation, so we thought we'd try something new. We chose the red sea as I am a bit of a sun worshipper and wanted somewhere still hot around the time of the cruise! Our cruise was a fly cruise from manchester, I wont go into details about the flight as I am not good with flying anyway, but things ran smoothly, with no delays (we usually have the worst of luck with delays). When we arrived at Sharm el Sheik airport there were thomson reps guiding us to the bus. It was probably an hour- 2 hours from landing until we were onto the ship. However the only complaint we did have was that we had put all our spending money onto my fiance's card as it uses a cashless system (a good idea) but when we went to register his card they advised us they didnot accept visa electron, so we then had to register my vard which had no money on it, and then had to phone home to get my parents to transfer all the money in his account into mine, as the ships internet connection didn't work on the first day! But once onboard our cabin was spacious and clean, with flowers, chocolates and champagne in there as it was my birthday mid cruise! They didnt cost the earth either as on some of the cruiselines. The decor and clenliness on ship was spot on too, it was like a 5* hotel!! Ages ranged from children to couples in their 70s+. What i particually liked was that there was an all inclusive option on drinks which we added at the time of our booking for about £100 for a week, which included most drinks apart from bottled/ imported beers. But there was always something to drink!! We are going on a princess cruise and are already weary of the price onboard, as an option like this is not fully available on the princess liners. The excursions were brilliant. Being in Egypt we had to go to Cairo and the pyramids and sphynx. We chose not to go in the pyramids just look outside which i regretted. It was good to see them and the sphynx - however dont think id go again, as they were a bit bland (what you see in the pictures is what you get!) But definatley worth going just to say youve dont it!! Also a word of warning: locals try and sell you things and buy you! My fiance was offered 2million camels and a chicken for me, which I found amusing although a bit intimidating when they tried stroking my hair!! Cairo museum is amazing, apolutly packed but well worth the visit! You need a few days to go round it though! We also went to Petra - again brilliant, i had no idea what to expect but i thoroughly enjoyed it! We also did quadbiking when we returned to sharm el sheik which was good through the desert! Dining was ace with a wide range of options, however we chose the buffet most nights as we are fairly fussy eaters and the restaurants are rather upper class, and felt we may not fit in, however when we did dine there we did feel very welcome! I would recommend Thomson to anyone, the service we recieved was on par to the bigger more expensive cruise lines at half the price. As i previously mentioned we are going on a princess cruise in october, and are already a bit nervous. But Thomson were brilliant!! Well Done :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
The embarkation process was quite slick and organised and we were on the ship in no time at all being promptly escorted to our cabin on Deck 2 - luckily on the same deck where we accessed the ship. The cabin was of an excellent size ... Read More
The embarkation process was quite slick and organised and we were on the ship in no time at all being promptly escorted to our cabin on Deck 2 - luckily on the same deck where we accessed the ship. The cabin was of an excellent size which we were expecting as we'd paid an extra £35 to select it. It was very clean with an acceptable bathroom however the dEcor was a little tired. The only issue we had was with the air conditioning.... It didn't work! We reported it several times but they were unable to fix it - as an apology we were give a bottle of champagne and chocolate - nice touch! The entire ships dEcor was a little dated. Having said that though the ship was lovely as were the staff on board - always polite and attentive and happy to help. The food was excellent with plenty of varied choice (especially the midnight buffet) and drinks on board, including cocktails, were very reasonably priced. We went on excursions to Petra (this is a must) and visited Cairo and the Pyramids both were well organised and value for money. We decided against the trip to Luxor in view of the extremely long coach transfer. Again we felt that the trips offered were definitely good value for money. Overall, this was an excellent first cruise, not stuffy or formal with a great atmosphere..... Good old Thomson! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
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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