We decided to push the boat out (no pun intended) this year to take a two-week cruise on the Celebration to celebrate our Ruby Wedding, my wife's 60th birthday & my having cashed in part of one of my pensions & deciding ... Read More
We decided to push the boat out (no pun intended) this year to take a two-week cruise on the Celebration to celebrate our Ruby Wedding, my wife's 60th birthday & my having cashed in part of one of my pensions & deciding against the Lamborghini.
We've had cruises before on a variety of ships ranging from the quaint to one of the giant floating shoeboxes/towerblocks full of shouty Americans in little white socks & pushy Germans, so the Thomson Celebration was deliberately chosen, it being smallish, adults-only (we're not a fan of kids running around or screaming babies or sulking teenagers) & prefer the genteel intimacy of a smaller liner & its ability to dock at smaller ports. All the passengers were British too.
We chose the 'Grecian Legends' followed by the 'Adriatic Affair' itineraries, & had the time of our lives.
Flight on time, embarkation swift & smooth, luggage outside cabin door on embarkation: all this worked fine. We had an outside cabin on 'A' deck, level 3 (room 426) and it was superb. Clearly recently refurbished, very spacious and with much more storage space (there were 13 big drawers, I sadly counted them, but that's me), which was much more than most 4* hotels provide. Champagne, chocolate-coated strawberries & a large flower arrangement already in place on arrival ( our relatives had arranged for this to be delivered 3 days later, on our actual wedding anniversary, but no matter), as my wife was a bit hungry & very thirsty, so the Moet didn't last too long. Oh, & also breakfast in bed on one day when we had an early excursion start.
We didn't care how old the ship was, as long as it wasn't older than us, & it was in much better repair than us, being constantly cleaned & polished by the enthusiastic smiling staff. It wasn't very engine-noisy either, apart from when the bow thrusters were deployed, but I think you need a bit of realtime maritime noises on a cruise & we even love a bit of rough when in bed (weather & seas that is!) but sadly the Aegean & Adriatic were both smooth as a millpond earlier this month.
The passenger demographic:..........
I thought I was pretty old at 65 but We appeared quite young & sprightly in comparison to most of the passengers, & about 20 stone lighter, but this is to be expected on adults- only cruises. There was also a sprinkling of younger people.
The food on offer in both the Lido & Meridian reflects this demographic, being largely classic British, with one or two 'foreign' dishes, but at least they have proper back bacon & British sausages at breakfast, so you won't be frightened by imagining your food has been polluted by garlic or chillies or similar, unless you specifically choose the more mysterious dishes. The food served in the self-service Lido & the waiter service Meridain restaurants is largely the same, the only difference being in the Meridian it's put on a plate for you in smaller portions than you'd do yourself & served by a waiter.
We didn't try any of the other 'speciality' restaurants, as we object to having to pay extra on an All-INCLUSIVE trip.
There's a carvery in the Lido serving up slices of meat, & Thomsons have a note there saying that all their meat is cooked 'well-done' for health reasons, so forget trying the roast lamb or beef if you like it slightly pink inside: this is cuisine designed for octogenarian British folk. It's cooked to death IMHO, but that's just my taste. The gravy's very nice though.
You can get porridge at the porridge station in the Lido at breakfast, & sometimes freshly-cooked select-it-yourself pasta dishes or stir-fries for lunch, which are very nice.
If you want an alcoholic drink with your meal at the Lido, & ordering it when you've sat down, forget it until you've finished your spotted dick or jam roly-poly, as the wine waiters there are totally inept and extremely slow. Get it from the bar outside beforehand. In fact, get two if you're on AI. They're that slow, & tend to hide away so you can't disturb them.
UNLIKE the rest of the customer service crew there, who are very enthusiastic hard working lovely young people & an outstanding credit to Thomson & the 'Celebration'. A Special note to Ting Ting & Lynn in the Lido restaurant for being such bright charming smiling young ladies, consumately professional & fast in their service. Really brightened up our day, they were so nice. All the other ones are nice too, but they were outstanding. So was Gusti in the aft bar & Glenn as our cabin steward. To name but a few.
The in-house band, the 'Top Men', who played consistently throughout the cruise, are an absolute eye-opener for a cruise/hotel band, very professional & consummately impressive musicians & singers covering a wide variety of genres from the Beatles to Eagles to more progressive tracks, each handled with superb musicianship & as an extremely critical music lover I vote them the best cover-version band I've ever seen on an expensive holiday, land or sea based: they had a very hardcore following among the passengers, including us. Full marks to them. They are excellent, believe me.
Similarly, the theatre-based Thomson Broadway dance/cabaret ensemble on the ship were amazing in terms of professionalism, verve, imagination, singing & just electrifying stage magic, comparable to the best West End musical you've ever seen. And I wouldn't like this sort of show normally, being an old hippie, but these guys are simply amazing, so no complaints about the entertainment. Full marks: you won't be disappointed, despite being addicted to Pink Floyd or King Crimson like us.
I've already rambled on far too much, so I'll focus on the destination ports later, if possible, but all in all, this was a cruise to remember, if you like the things that we like.
We only did two of the bookable excursions on board, the passage through the Corinth canal & back (one of my wife's ticked boxes on her 'things to do before I die' list, for some reason) & 'Mysterious Delphi', as I'd always wanted to meet a hermaphrodite & get a prediction. Both were excellent, but very expensive. Which is why we only did two of them. As it was generally extremely hot ashore at most ports, we preferred simply to explore the towns by ourselves for a few hours & buy a fridge magnet & some water, which is much cheaper than buying a tiny bottle of water on board for £1.40. About 30 pence on shore.
Why Thomson should charge for a drinks package & then exclude water is beyond me, but then they charge eye-watering prices for every 'extra' on board, including the photographs the itinerant cameramen take without your permission & then try to charge 15 quid per print (no file copies so you can share them online). Fortunately our relatives' celebration gift to us included one free print, which was a very good one actually, & also a chocolate cake at the Captain's Champagne Reception & a pretend-mariachi band celebrating our anniversary & her birthday at the table, so at the price this was value for money, along with the champagne etc..
I think the other destinations have adequately been covered elsewhere, so I'll just conclude by saying we had a great time, lots of laughs & almost no complaints, so this is a recommended cruise. Read Less