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225 Marella Cruises Eastern Caribbean Cruise Reviews

This was a last minute booking for us so we didn't get to do a lot of research. We've cruised many times with larger cruise lines mostly American and family oriented. I am going to go over the first impressions first which ... Read More
This was a last minute booking for us so we didn't get to do a lot of research. We've cruised many times with larger cruise lines mostly American and family oriented. I am going to go over the first impressions first which weren't great but please read till the end. When we got to the ship we were really disappointed as it looked very dated. The cabins were small and my 14 year old daughter was upset as the average age of the vacationers on board was around 55 years of age. During the week we saw maybe 6 - 8 other kids who unfortunately were much younger. It was definitely an adult cruise. Not very kid friendly at all. No entertainment during the day or poolside. We initially considered leaving the ship before it left port and staying at a resort instead but that would have proved to be way too expensive so we stuck it out. I'm happy we did because we had one of the best experiences ever. The staff, the staff, the staff!!! I can not stress enough how amazing they were. From the waitresses, to the front desk, the waiters in the restaurant to the maintenance guys. Everyone was friendly, professional and helpful. They made us feel welcome and were there to help no matter what we needed. The big thing for me is that my daughter has a severe nut allergy. We are used to having to deal with this when we travel and when we mention it to those who deal with food services we get reactions from lack of understanding coupled with clumsy attempts to help to out right ignorance and lack of concern. This was the first time my wife and I were made to feel fully comfortable with entrusting the supervisors, chefs and food service personnel with the safety of our daughter. They asked the right questions, showed they were knowledgable and followed up with us daily on the breakfast, dinner and lunch menus. Making sure they made her food separately and had it preordered so there would be no issues. I want to specifically mention head waiter Svilin. Never has anyone done so much to make one little girls cruise go off without a hitch. In the end this ended up being one of our favourite trips and if they took this staff and transplanted them onto a more up to date ship this would have been a best cruise we had ever been on. Thank you Thomson staff and crew for saving our vacation. Other special mentions for excellent staff members our waiter Adan, Kadek his helper, our sommelier Alberto, our cabin man Yandy and once again the amazing incredible Svilen. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We have travelled on Thompson cruises many times and love the entertainment the food and service is always excellent and we find them good value. This time I needed my wheelchair for distances and rough seas. I found there were many ... Read More
We have travelled on Thompson cruises many times and love the entertainment the food and service is always excellent and we find them good value. This time I needed my wheelchair for distances and rough seas. I found there were many problems to overcome at the airport due to the help desk being a distance from the airport entrance and the Thompson desk the furthest away. Birmingham airport is inclined and sprawling not good when you have to wheel yourself until you can get rid of the cases.at the desk Thompson representatives were excellent so we're the air hostesses. Please note you have to use airport wheelchairs on arrival make sure you have a room number label and name on your chair it goes straight to the ship. On board the room was very spacious we do not need a special disability room but make sure you can climb in a bath for showers I needed to ask for a bath mat. The food and service was as usual of a high standard in the main restaurant but by the end of the holiday I was annoyed in the outside eating areas as they were so few staff tables were not cleared up to an hour after being finished with and the tables were rarely wiped clean. The staff did not point out the gel machines and many cruisers never used them The entertainment was as usual very varied and of a high standard. The show team produced some spectacular shows and worked very hard often doing further shows after the nightly spectacle On this cruise we had not realised that in 14 days there were 4 days at sea and several short visits making half day cruising. All this was made worse because there was nothing for us to do no films lectures or extra musical things to listen too. There was however 1 short play which we enjoyed Smokers are well catered for having ALL of one side of the ship which happened to be the sunny side of the ship most days causing non smokers less choice for sun beds. To make it worse smoking or vaping rules were not adhered to and vaping was allowed everywhere in the lounges dining room and swimming pools. Being in a wheelchair my husband had to help me down the steps to exit the ship we actually complained to the service manager because no one helped my husband to bring the wheelchair down and once the man at the entrance was cross and shouted at me to move when I had no chair and my walking stick was in the scanner I could not therefore move safely. After this they were better but still one staff member was miserable and unhelpful. I think maybe the staff who usually are full of fun and laughter either did not get on with each other ( there was more of a nationality mix) or were unhappy. We wondered if the ship was going to be removed from the fleet and they were worried or the number of staff employed had been drastically reduced. My final personal opinion is that I will have to seriously consider whether Thompson will be my choice for a cruise in the future if they are cutting everything down to the bone. The airport in Jamaica on the way home was difficult. The staff were rude and sharp my husband had to show all his credit cards and I was left ages in the chair waiting to be scanned. I finally was desperate for the toilet so my husband wheeled me to a handicapped toilet and I was told someone was in it. We waited 15 minutes until I was so bad my husband had to help me in to use an ordinary one where the floor was slippy and full of women. How embarrassing. In the mean time a young fit member of airport staff came out of the disabled toilet and when challenged accused us as having a problem with her because she was black!! There was no one to speak to and complain but we did leave a letter of complaint with the information desk. Surprise surprise no one has contacted us. Good luck to any people out there like me who have to suffer a disability and the humiliation that goes with it but I would like to say there were wonderful people on board the ship that were so kind and helpful to both my husband and myself and certainly the women in the airport is not a true representative of mankind Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Our first cruise to the Carribean. Good start to 2017. Ship was lovely with the Christmas trees , garlands, lights. Glass lifts. Really nice to look at. Cabin was on 3rd deck and was fine nice and clean and always nice to go back to after ... Read More
Our first cruise to the Carribean. Good start to 2017. Ship was lovely with the Christmas trees , garlands, lights. Glass lifts. Really nice to look at. Cabin was on 3rd deck and was fine nice and clean and always nice to go back to after Max the cabin stewart had been in. Food was good. Breakfast was usually in Islands Restaurant . Alway busy but cannot expect it to be any different from other self-service restaurants. Best eating places wa definately 47. Table service excellent by Allan and Rudi who welomed us with a smile and we enjoyed our hats with them. Twice we tried 47 Gallery / Italian. Sorry to say we did not enjoy the food as much as 47. Menu not great. Service was disappointing and not many happy looking waiters.. This is why we choe 47 as it was so much more enjoyable, better atmosphere. Entertainment , sadly to say was very disappointing. We have been on several Thomson cruise ships and and the entertainment on the Dream ,Spirit and Majesty was by far so much better. Broadway shows not the same. After reading reviews and speaking to some people on the cruise we all had the same comments. This is a bigger ship and I hope Thomson/Tui take on board how there valued customers felt with the change in there entertainment . We go with Thomson as we have always had great times onboard their other ships. Think some people might go elsewhere. Ports some not so nice St Maartens was the best .. We got taxi's in some ports which were good. Don't think I would rush back to the Caribbean ---- long flight etc. We are on the Disovery 2 in June 2017 and we hope that the entertainment will be much better .Like a lot of other couples its nice to get up and dance , enjoy the evening entertainment as this is a big part of the holiday as well. Thomson look at your other ships and see how much we enjoyed being on them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was a cruise anticipated to get our new year off to a great star but New Year's Eve on board was rather flat. There was the opportunity to celebrate two but nothing happened or was scheduled in the intinerary of events on the ... Read More
This was a cruise anticipated to get our new year off to a great star but New Year's Eve on board was rather flat. There was the opportunity to celebrate two but nothing happened or was scheduled in the intinerary of events on the night to acknowledge Big Ben striking in the UK earlier than Caribbean time ...some cruises seize the opportunity to celebrate both...Midnight arrived on board and with the Cruise director prompting us all to look at the funnel something BIG was anticipated but nothing mareialised other than a few balloons and poppers and a glass of fizzy plonk...this was an opportunity missed by the cruise director and his team to do something spectacular as other ships do. The Broadway Theatre hosts evening shows and the singers and dancers are the best on board...they are very good. Red Syndicate are not the best whilst Two Intense are much better. David Morgan the ships Steel Drummer has had better days and suggestion was that he ended up on the Dream as being the best of what was left. His songs are repetitive and he is a clock watcher... The cruise was not without its share of adverse weather, often arriving at short notice but nothing was in place to entertain passengers unable to take advantage of glorious sunshine and now housed indoors. Ample opportunity existed for a daytime dance/disco in the waters edge...maybe a beach party theme...Carribbean shirts and all that...something to get the party started so to speak...no...entertainment was lacking and the teams leader lacked imagination and creativity on these occasions. Same with sail always..they were flat too. These opinions were shared by many and not expressed in isolation. Those who had been on the Dream before felt the previous Director was better at creating the party atmosphere this cruise lacked. Accommodation was good. Housekeeping was of a high standard, towels changed on demand. Staff very friendly. Food was ok but has been better during a previous cruise on this ship. The Orion restaurant was very good and again staff attentive to detail. The Lido and Sirens restaurants are the buffet ones and selection was ok, nothing spectacular and presentation very basic. Waiter service in the public areas and entertainment venues is extremely slow. The waiters appear to take several orders at once, return to the bar with their orders and then you wait for all drinks to be prepared before they return to your table. This practice is preferred on board in favour of you visiting the bar to get your own drinks. I can appreciate the need to observe safety especially when the ship is rocking and many carrying glasses so this is something Thomsons need remain conscious of and ensure sufficient resources are available to prepare and distribute drinks in a much shorter time. Reception is another area that was often criticised. These staff have been selected for their ability to say No and to defend the many issues presented by the on board internet access and its excessive costs. Using this facility is very expensive and you need to ensure you fully understand its operation or be prepared for an inflated charge should you not log off correctly or its failure be apportioned to yourself. One cannot assume the Caribbean is where the sunshines continuously! This is not the case and it was confirmed during our cruise. Rain is essential to the beautiful scenery around you but downpours do occur so be prepared...some of lengthy durations too..Weather conditions quickly change and sailing time can encounter rough seas as was the case towards the end of our cruise. It deteriorated soon after leaving Havana and followed us back to Montrgo Bay via Cozomel where the sea was so rough excursions returning to the ship via a ferry needed to transfer back to the ship via a side access. The swell was such that the ferry was bobbing up and down excessively and transfer carried huge risks. It also delayed our departure by a couple of hours at least. The first Three stops on our cruise saw us drop into Roatan, Honduras, Belize and then Costa Maya where each port was like a shopping mall and the major stores existed at each. Unfortunately the ships Port shopping guide was given time to host presentations specific to items one could purchase on our travels and promoting the stores that carried Thomson recommendations! Something the port shopping Advisor omitted from his presentation is the fact purchases in Mexican governed countries benefit from a shopping and tourism money back initiative! An initiative that has been in place for some time that sees just short of 9% ....yes 9%... of total monetary spend on jewellery, diamonds and watches returned to your account within 60 days of purchase! ...so my advice is make your purchase in COZOMEL...not Roatan...not Belize...COZOMEL also has other outlets than those Thomsons promote that sell watch brands like Rolex and RADO too in addition to those available in Diamonds International... I am of the view we all want to save money and it's better in our pocket than theirs..my only thought as to why this initiative escapes reference during presentations is that it would compromise sales at ports where this initiative does not exist. Check it out...it's a GOVERNMENT initiative...and not something outlets subsidise. You stand to save a lot of money or lose it depending on place of purchase but ultimately it's your call. If you have any questions you think I may be able to help you with then please don't hesitate to ask. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I chose this cruise as I have cruised with Thomson twice previously in the Med and quite enjoyed it. This time I fancied seeing some of the Caribbean. I must admit I didn't research the ports of call much as this cruise was the ... Read More
I chose this cruise as I have cruised with Thomson twice previously in the Med and quite enjoyed it. This time I fancied seeing some of the Caribbean. I must admit I didn't research the ports of call much as this cruise was the only one that matched my availability, that was probably a mistake. some of them were very dumpy and they were all geared up to milk you for as much money as possible. The ship was quite nice, seemed pretty spacious and very nicely refurbished in the public areas but as others have said the cabins are still a bit dated although they are very clean and fully functional. I found all the food to be of a good quality, especially in the 47 deg. restaurant which also had fantastic service. My main gripe was boredom in the evenings as the entertainment was not what I have experienced before with Thomson. There was the usual show in the main theatre style show bar , which was pretty good but this was only 45 mins per night. The rest of the time entertainment was provided by a succession of solo artists playing to backing tracks. There was a Saxophonist, Pianist and a Steel Drum player who were all pretty good at doing their thing, but they were rotated through all the bars every 30 minutes playing the same thing each time every night. This got very tedious by night 2. There was no where to go and avoid it either, they seemed to pop up everywhere. The only place without entertainment was the one place I would expect it - outside on the pool deck - but there was only entertainment here on New Years Eve night and even then the band left at 10 past midnight ! There is a big TV on the pool deck that showed a different film each night but the volume was so low and almost inaudible. We flew Premium Club which I thought was worth it and had a suite at the back of the boat on deck 8 which probably wasn't a good idea as it rocked - a lot - when at sea and there was noise above during the night as staff moved the sun loungers about Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We boarded on Christmas Day, 2 adults and a five year old child. Food was really bland, son was ill after a few days and so many people had the vomiting bug in the second week including my wife. After upgrades of room etc this cruise cost ... Read More
We boarded on Christmas Day, 2 adults and a five year old child. Food was really bland, son was ill after a few days and so many people had the vomiting bug in the second week including my wife. After upgrades of room etc this cruise cost over 6000£ and we just wanted to go home. We felt conned by the company when we sent some clothes to the laundry service. They charged us per item, however on chatting with another couple found they were doing a set cost of £15 per bag with two bags it should have been £30.They charged us £70 for two bags. Went to customer services and effectively were told tough and that's the bill. On the end of the first week we got back into Barbados. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7 so stood there enjoying the view and reading a book. A few minutes later I was covered by water as they were washing the balconies on deck 8. I looked up and asked the chaps to be careful as I was in the balcony they just grunted at me in disgust. As my wife was in the shower I decided to go into the cabin and just read the cruise news. Less than a minute later the blind was flung open and the same chap burst into our cabin enraged. My wife having just come out of the shower was naked and he barged in without knocking and I felt he was coming to attack. I called the reception immediately demanding a manager came up and I made a formal complaint. I was told it will be investigated as there were cameras at the back, The manager never came back to me nor reported her findings. I saw her on our last day and tried to ask she turned round in the corridor and disappeared through a door.Food poor and lukewarm. No water free of charge so you need to get water in the cabin or in port.At least some of the staff smiled in this paid for blue hell. I have been on the Thomson celebration in 2015 and never had these problems, Thomson has a lot of work to do and I believe this is a management issue on board or the lack of it.One real positive was the New Years celebrations which were superb. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Having cruised with other lines,we wanted to try out Thomsons,this ship was with RC before and as such we knew what to expect.Our flight from birmingham went very smooth and at Barbados we were taken directly to the ship.Our luggage ... Read More
Having cruised with other lines,we wanted to try out Thomsons,this ship was with RC before and as such we knew what to expect.Our flight from birmingham went very smooth and at Barbados we were taken directly to the ship.Our luggage arrived promptly and the cabin was clean and spacious and was kept clean all through the trip,10 out of 10 for this. The food through out was also excellent with larger than usual portions,the soups and sweets deserve a special mention and other could learn from this.The down side of dinning was the crampt spaces between tables,some so close we could not even get into our seats and had to be moved !.The service,I am sad to say left an awful lot to be desired,we timed some of the meals and found that we had to wait as much as 35 minutes from the time our orders were taken to the time the starter arrived,another 15 before the main course arrived,there were times when we ordered coffee and left as as it never arrived,the average time for a three course meal was between two and a half to three hours.The dinning room staff,i am sure did their best but their English in most cases left a lot to be desired. The entertainment was very good but apart from a couple of shows by a comedian,it was the same song and dance troup,luckily they were very good.The onboard shops are very expensive with a standard tube of tooth paste costing £3 and a simple plug addaptor costing £7.95.!!.Only the Spirit and tobacco offers were worth considering.We also found that if one needs more cash/Dollars,they will only take cash on board and not on ones card as with other lines. Thomsons idea regarding dress code,may sound ok but in reality it was a complete mish-mash and they should decide one way or another,formal nights or not,the Ladies put most of the men to shame on these nights.They also need to enforce their rules regarding dress and behaviour on board as these were disregarded many times.We would like to travel with Thomsons again but we would hope that they could sort at least the dinning room problems out quickly.Disembarkment was not so good,having to leave our cabins at 9am and our homeward flight not until 6.45pm. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We are seasoned cruisers having enjoyed some twenty cruises with most of the big cruise lines. This was our first and last Thomson / TUI cruise. As soon as we checked in on line, we quickly discovered the first of many reasons why Thomson ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers having enjoyed some twenty cruises with most of the big cruise lines. This was our first and last Thomson / TUI cruise. As soon as we checked in on line, we quickly discovered the first of many reasons why Thomson /TUI is a cruise company to be very aware of. On the outward flight, we were allocated acceptable adjacent aisle seats, one in front of the other. The Dreamliner aircraft has 9 seats across which does not divide evenly into travelling couples, this. therefore leaves odd seats which we had and accepted. However, for the return flight, we were allocated unacceptable separated seats on opposite sides of the aircraft. Although on the seating plan our same outward seats were available. When we made a manual request to change our seats to the acceptable outward seats, up popped a £30 charge which we found infuriating and unacceptable. We rang Thomson / TUI to complain and was told that the administration cannot override the computer system. If we wanted to change the seats we would have to pay. We refused to pay this charge and wrote to Thomson /TUI to complain. Thomson / TUI did not have the decency to reply. However on the return journey our separated seats, as indicated on our boarding-passes, were surprisingly taken. As the same two acceptable seats were still vacant, we were allowed to sit in them anyway. The steward checked our status and told us we had the acceptable seats all the time. On the face of it, Thomson /TUI tried to sell us our own seats back for an extra charge of £30!! At the outward check in at Gatwick, I was misinformed by two check-in staff that I could not check in my wife's baggage without her presence. I arrived at the check-in early to beat the rush and my wife was still sleeping in the airport hotel. I was furious at the thought of having to return with my wife and join a long queue. Luckily, another check-in staff with common sense made an enquiry and confirmed that baggage can be checked in by a fellow passenger. The lack of training was obvious and infuriating. On to the ship we were offered, and turned down an all inclusive drinks package for a whopping £199 per person per week. The package must be taken as a travelling couple. You would need to be an alcoholic or at least a heavy binge drinker to get anywhere near a value return. It should be called an exclusive drinks package as beers quoted at the same price, if bought separately, were charged £1.80 extra on the inclusive deal. There was a daily inclusive special for one of these exclusive beers. These beers were also offered at a 40p discount of £3,50 instead of £3.90. John Smiths and Carling lager, both at £3.90, were the only beers available on the inclusive deal. In my opinion, Thomson / TUI encourage irresponsible drinking if you try to get money value for their drinks package. On the positive side, the drinks prices were reasonable, but surprisingly, most passengers were on the inclusive deal which must have heavily subsided the individual prices. We were offered and turned down a wine package of 7 bottles for £99. This equates to £14,14 per bottle of wine. Again, similarly priced wines were excluded from the package. However, I discovered that a bottle of good wine can be purchased at the table for £13.99. Interestingly, I noticed that the £13.99 wine was not included in the wine package and would be extra. Also there was a different wine offered at £13.99 daily. The wine package therefore offered a more expensive deal than buying individual bottles at the table, but you would not know this when you sign up. We purchased a late booking discounted junior suite, which is one and a half size of a standard balcony cabin, for the same price of a standard cabin. The cabin was spacious, had plenty of storage, a fridge and a bath tub. The downside was that clatter noise could be heard from the above main top deck during the early hours cleaning. We witnessed many complaints from other passengers about the standard balcony cabin having insufficient storage space and no fridge. We were told that clothes needed storing on a chair. We had one day at sea and thought that it would be a good time to have a 24 hour internet package for £15. Full credit for a reception member who advised me that it was a poor deal because it is limited by data use that quickly gets gobbled up. Another Thomson / TUI poor deal I could have got sucked into. Regarding the food. Breakfast choices were acceptable . The buffet lunch had adequate choices but no shellfish on offer that is usually normal on other cruise lines. There were plenty of unhealthy fast food choices. Regarding the evening waiter dining. The food was basic and given fancy names on the menu but was well presented. The menus were below the usual standard of other cruise lines. Steak was offered on one evening only in the two weeks. It was labelled as aged Angus steak. My wife and I chose this but it was poor quality and tough. For a quality steak, which is normally included with other cruise lines, you had to pay £25 per person supplement at the la carte restaurants. The singing and dancing shows were of a very good standard, On one night each week, there was a comedian. One told jokes we already knew, the other mumbled so much he was difficult to understand. We think he may have been drunk. All the shows were performed by the ship's singers and dancers. I did notice two obvious mistakes on my ships charge bill. Two drinks were overcharged. The first mistake was rectified no problem, the second took two visits to the reception to rectify. At the first visit I was told it would be sorted, but it was ignored. After the second visit a correction was made. With Thomson / TUI I would recommend that all receipts are kept in order to fully check your bill. I have never found a bill problem on previous cruise lines. Where the ship was berthed had a pattern such that we were always the poor relation. Our ship was either berthed outside of town in a container depot requiring a shuttle, or in a less central position requiring a lengthy walk, or anchored offshore requiring tenders. In all cases the other cruise ships berthed at the same time were in a central convenient position, whereas our ship was always in an unfavourable position. (obviously cheaper berths) I understand that from next year TUI Discovery will be all inclusive only. Whatever that means in reality given the excluded drinks. The TUI Discovery is an outdated Royal Caribbean cruise ship that has accommodation shortcomings. Probably why it was sold on to Thomson / TUI. Another old Royal Caribbean, identical sister ship, has also been purchased by TUI and will be named the Discovery 2. From speaking to a sample of fellow passengers, it strongly indicates that they are Thomson stereotypes who have stuck with the well known and popular holiday brand, but admit they have no other cruise experience to compare with. I would not cruise with Thomson /TUI again because of: - the poor deal profiteering methods one can easily get sucked into. - the second class treatment and facilities. - no response when you write to complain. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Unfortunately for Thomson my first cruise experience was on a sister ship to the Discovery but with Royal Caribbean earlier in the year. Had I not experienced their service, I may have been more generous with this review. The service ... Read More
Unfortunately for Thomson my first cruise experience was on a sister ship to the Discovery but with Royal Caribbean earlier in the year. Had I not experienced their service, I may have been more generous with this review. The service was not great, I obviously acknowledge how hard staff work, but 30 minutes wait for a drink sometimes round the pool makes me wonder how much they save with their drinks package over a week with their overloaded with ice drinks. Bar staff not very happy in their work it seems. Waiters too busy for the volume of people in the 47 restaurant and god only knows why they have a whole floor made into an Italian restaurant, on the sister ship, this was the upper floor of the same restaurant. 30 minute wait to get seated, but always seats in the Italian, that is far too overrated and the food was very salty, we only ate there once. Limited menu in 47 and when my partner asked to see the wine list on our first night as we did on Royal Caribbean, a not so very happy Eastern European waiter told him he could have red, white or rose, so not a good start. Food was only ever hot once, when I had the 'crab' thermidor, which turned out to be crap stick thermidor (I'm not lying). Our room was kept tidy, nice girl Agnes cleaning for us. I have 'lost' my watch however, I have emailed Thomson to see if it will turn up, but somehow I doubt it. I cannot point fingers as we had a few cleaners on that floor and I only wore it once and assumed I would find it in my case when i got home, I didn't. Not overly expensive, but it was a present. Entertainment was a bit hit and miss, one trio were unbelievable, the karaoke singers were better, unfortunately someone passed away on our cruise and after the captain made an unscheduled stop, he made an announcement over the tannoy, we all guessed what had happened and unbelievably poor timing, their next song was Tragedy by the Bee Gees, I sat there open mouthed. Some of the stage shows were better than others, the quizzes were good and people joined in. The magician/comedian was funnier after his show, seeing him try to pick up women in the disco. We only did one excursion booked on the boat, that was the Rum Run on Grenada, I'd recommend that, it was fun. The ship was kept clean and the food in the buffet restaurant was good. Pool area was good, lots of sunbeds. It was nice to be on a cruise with 90%+ Brits, we had a laugh, but I might give it a few years before I do another cruise and when I do it won't be with Thomson, I'll try someone else. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and due to our friends not been to the Caribbean before so it was maximising the visit. In actual fact it is 2 seven day cruises back to back taking in 12 islands and 2 sea days. First impressions ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and due to our friends not been to the Caribbean before so it was maximising the visit. In actual fact it is 2 seven day cruises back to back taking in 12 islands and 2 sea days. First impressions not good with check in at the airport. Two members of staff who could not cope and our wait in the queue was over an hour. This was an all-inclusive package yet on the plane there were charges for little things like a bag of crisps! First impressions of the ship - lots of money spent on the public areas but the cabin was a let down. There is definitely not enough seats in the atrium area and it is badly designed despite the money spent. We booked a rear facing cabin 6122 and actually got slightly more space than some of the other cabins. Two sun loungers, inside sofa and table - there was a lot of cabin space but the shower was incredibly small. Our room was dated and lots of silly things in the cabin made me wonder about the ship and it's upkeep. Drawers had not been cleaned from the previous occupant - hair, dirt and a receipt from duty free still there. The coat hooks on the wall - both loose, the door lock falling out and the carpet was grubby. Veranda was filthy with cigarette ends from previous occupants not cleaned. Not a great start. Our first week things looked up. Throughout the ship all the staff were excellent and greeted us every day (apart from our steward who was sadly lacking by his constant absence). Special note to be made of staff throughout the ship - Aleksander (Glass House), Kenan - Head Waiter, Julia, Surf & Turf, Ganna - Head Waiter, Rafael - (the hot waiter!) (excellent with all customers), Serhil, Marco, Julio - Kora La, Frisian - breakfast waiter and Smezana 47 reception. Second week - apparently there was a new influx of staff and service levels definitely went downhill. We had lots of complaints at various meals and Kenan tried his best to sort things out - great credit to the ship. Other small things soured our impression of the cruise - charge for the water in the cabin?!! Ridiculous - together with an extortionate charge for wi-fi both of these free of charge on other cruise lines - not good Thomson. Positive notes abound though the TUI Discovery show team - Dan, Tom, Dylan, Jess, Harriet, Arnie, Amy and Adam - by far the best show team ever. Brilliant shows sometimes twice a day plus extra show times and events - boy did they work hard. They did a superb job and were brilliant - an excellent team and worthy of West End or Broadway. Some excellent shows including comedian - Carl Schofield and Steve Michaels from the Drifters - absolutely brilliant - well done Thomson. The Glass House was an excellent location - marred slightly by the rules not being enforced - no children allowed between 2 and 5pm yet they were in the room and staff did not tell them to leave - if you have a rule make sure it is enforced. We spent a lot of money to get away from kids so we definitely didn't want them there! Food throughout the ship was superb and all the restaurants were well stocked with fresh food. Great touches too throughout the ship for hygiene and cleanliness in the public areas was excellent. Overall this was a great cruise with some fabulous islands visited - see my Trip Adviser reviews for these! Not quite there Thomson but a good try. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We have sailed on all the smaller Thompson Ships and were looking forward to sailing on the Discovery. Unfortunately we were very disappointed. The dining room staff are not very happy. The Mix of culture does not work as the Eastern ... Read More
We have sailed on all the smaller Thompson Ships and were looking forward to sailing on the Discovery. Unfortunately we were very disappointed. The dining room staff are not very happy. The Mix of culture does not work as the Eastern European staff seem to think the other staff are beneath them. This causes bad feeling. The crockery dinner was served on often had chips in it. I feel that the personal touch was missing from all aspects of the ship my husbands description was ' there is no heart to the ship' a good description I thought. The evening entertainment was lacking and the shows of poor quality. A lot of time was wasted queuing in the hot sun for the tender boats but we had some long stays on the island which was good as we didn't need to rush. The trips were good although some were rather expensive. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
I chose this cruise to mark my retirement. We had looked at a number of other cruises but saw this as a late booking and liked the look of the itinerary. We booked a Junior Suite (8060) on the port side so we would have the sun on our ... Read More
I chose this cruise to mark my retirement. We had looked at a number of other cruises but saw this as a late booking and liked the look of the itinerary. We booked a Junior Suite (8060) on the port side so we would have the sun on our balcony during the 6 day Atlantic crossing. This proved to be very worthwhile as the usual sunbed reservation took place on the pool deck throughout the cruise. There were constant notices in the cruise news asking people not to do this but to no avail. It didn't bother us too much as I'm not fussed about getting a tan anyway but my wife enjoyed the sunbed provided on our balcony. The cabin was excellent with lots of storage a good sized bath room, with bath, and plenty of space. Our steward was excellent and very attentive. Overall we enjoyed the ship and the facilities, we mostly dined in Gallery 47, the upper level restaurant which has an Italian menu, it rotates between two daily menus but also includes a selection from the main 47 restaurant. We found that we got a table quicker there. We really liked the open airy feel to the restaurant, not buried down in the depths as on some ships we've been on. The food quality was generally good and service fine. Most of the crew were very friendly and happy to chat, there are a lot of East Europeans among the waiters. Also worth a try is the Glass House restaurant which is where the indoor pool is housed. It offers a Tapas and Pizza menu plus a hot stone option for which there is a cover charge of £9.50 (I think). This area is probably our favourite daytime spot, it is adult only 2 - 5, (this was an adult only cruise anyway which was another reason we chose it) and is nice and quiet to chill out in. They serve light snacks and salads during the day. We ate in the Surf & Turf a'la carte one night, the cover charge is £24.95 which seems a lot but my wife and I both agreed that the steaks we had were probably the best ever. The entertainment was generally fine comprising a range of music and dance shows in the Broadway lounge, we particularly enjoyed 'Starry Starry Night' 'Boogie Shoes' and 'Hot Summer Nights'. The final show 'Homeward Bound' based on Simon and Garfunkel songs was only marred by a jokey Elvis spot for Graceland. The alternative 'Venue' hosted a series of game shows and quizs which we didn't bother with, just not our thing. There were a number of bands performing around the ship plus some fly in performers, a couple of comics and singers. We particularly enjoyed 'Protege' 4 boys from St Lucia who were billed as the party band and Ben Moss. The crew put on a good Halloween party after we left Gibraltar with quite a few guests dressing up for the occasion too. We had wondered before about the 6 day crossing and what activities would be offered. These included a chance to learn the Ukelele, join a choir, have a golf lesson using a simulator. There was also a series of lectures on aviation from a former civil airline pilot. My wife and I joined the choir and took part in a concert on the last night before we got to Antigua and I also attended the aviation lectures, which proved quite popular. Everything was fine until we got to the Caribbean, we both had complained about waking up with very dry throats in the morning due to the air conditioning, which can't be turned off. My wife eventually lost her voice and we had to visit the medical centre, who were excellent, where she was diagnosed with a severe throat infection requiring intravenous antibiotics. As a result the last few days of the cruise were marred by this and we had to cancel some planned excursions. As I write this review we are back home and are both suffering from throat infections and are seeing our own GP. This spoiled what had been an excellent holiday and has made us think twice about cruising again for some time. Overall TUI Discovery is a pretty good ship which caters well for it's target market and I'm sure it will do well. The bulk of the guests were 40+ Brits, a few younger couples, maybe honeymooners, and quite a few elderly with mobility issues. There is something for just about everyone even if you don't fancy all that is on offer all the time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Ok, so we've been on a couple of cruises before (around the Aegean and Red Sea) and this was our 3rd time on the Celebration (have also been on the Majesty). We know what to expect on a Thomson cruise and we weren't disappointed. ... Read More
Ok, so we've been on a couple of cruises before (around the Aegean and Red Sea) and this was our 3rd time on the Celebration (have also been on the Majesty). We know what to expect on a Thomson cruise and we weren't disappointed. Some aspects were brilliant, others less so but our overall feeling is that we had the best holiday of our lives. Like some previous reviewers I will split comments into various categories. Departure Airport and Outbound Flight. Flew from Birmingham, no problem, flight left a few minutes early. Dreamliner is a nice plane but to be honest service and facilities/entertainment not as good as Virgin or BA transatlantic flights. Choice of films/touch screen entertainment not as up-to-date or intensive as other airlines though I still found enough to keep me entertained for the 8 hour or so flight. Cabin stewardess were a little miserable and I was disappointed with the meagre volume of tea I was served. It was in a tiny plastic beaker and only filled 1/2 way. When I asked if it could be filled up more I was told this was not possible due to overspilling of hot liquid if plane suffers from turbulence. Ok - fair enough. When I asked if I could have an additional cup this was refused, nor did the cabin crew come round and replenish. Felt this incredibly stingy. Disembarkation at Barbados, transfer and embarkation on ship. Excellent, straight from plane onto awaiting buses. About 30 minute ride to docks. Bit of a queue to check in and get room / key cards etc.. but no problem there. All in all no more than an hour from leaving plane to sitting in our cabin. Food and Drink The food is great! I don't get what some people complain about. There is enough variety to suit all tastes and diet, the only concern is that there is too much! This is not Heston Blumenthal cuisine, it has to cater for over 1200 guests for best part of 20 hours per day. if you are used to dining out, spending £50+ per head then you'll be disappointed, it is not that standard. However if you like your chicken, beef, lamb then there is enough choice with accompanying vegetables or salad to keep you more than satisfied. We ate in the Lido (self service restaurant) for breakfast and The Meridian (waiter service) in the evenings. The choice is generally the same in both restaurants, though in The Meridian it is generally presented and served in a more polished fashion. Also with a 4 course menu (3-4 choices within each course), there is no danger of you piling your plate upto the heights of Mount Everest that you tend to do in the Lido! We didn't upgrade to the drinks package but instead took advantage of the 5 or 7 wine bottle offer, mainly because we didn't really like the 'house' wines and preferred something better. One gripe I've heard is that you have to pay for water. You can if you want to, but try to be a bit smarter. Water is served with your evening meal in The Meridian and in the Lido it is available from dispensing machines as well as being brought round by the dozens or so catering staff. Though you are requested to otherwise, fill up a small plastic bottle (or 2 or 3) from the dispensing machines and take out with you on tours!) Finally we found the service in both the Lido and Meridian excellent. Entertainment Highlight of the day revolved around the showcase team in the theatre for the 8.30 and 10.15 shows. These kids are talented, no doubt with incredible effort and choreography. Clearly there are 6 better singers and 4 better dancers but they are all very versatile. Some shows were better and some songs were a bit duff, by hey Adele can have a bad night or two can't she! Elsewhere and throughout the day there are quizzes, carpet bowls and all sorts of stuff going on. It's a bit Hi-De-Hi at times but no pressure to partake at all. Finally, big thumbs up to the resident band 'Protege' who played in Liberties throughout the evening. Very, very good, especially their more upbeat songs! Cabin We had an outside cabin on deck 3 with a porthole. Could have been bigger but we are only there to sleep and get washed for the morning and evening. I looked at one of the deluxe suites etc.. why would you want a settee and armchair - and pay £500+ more for the privilege! Cabin stewards (we had 2 over the 2 weeks) were excellent. No complaints whatsoever. Tours/excursions Apart from the photography, this is the key area where Thomson try to make their money! Simply you have a choice. Pay their rather exorbitant prices but be assured that you are on a professional (and slightly plastic tour) that will do what it says on the tin and get you back in shed loads of time. Most of these trips were 3.5 to 4 hours only though. The other choice is to take a local tour. This represents far greater value for money, tends to be a bit more personal, certainly more fun and we felt gave us a greater flavour of the island and local people. BUT!!, you'll have to put up with incessant harassment from tour guides and taxi drivers at most port you dock in. This can be quite unpleasant. If you can hook up with another couple of 2 and negotiate a good price then you're laughing. What we did was to get a DK book on the Caribbean, read up on the island you're visiting the next day. Look at the Thomson excursions to see where they are going and read up on the cruise news the night before. Once you've made a plan on where you want to go, if your not willing to pay Thomson prices, go to the local tourist office (located in practically most ports) and ask their advice. On 3 occasions, we got the local buses and had the best 3 days of our trip! On Grenada for example, we did everything we could have done on a combination of 2 Thomson excursions and cost us about £20.00 between us. (Well over £100.00 through Thomson!) Of course it isn't all about the money we saved and you do need to be a little bit savvy, but the locals are incredibly friendly and helpful with no hint of crime that we came across. If you are to visit one place on one island, an absolute MUST SEE is the resort of Papillote Rainforest Restaurant and Gardens in Dominica. Hot springs in the middle of the rainforest so take your swim stuff (far better than Trafalgar Falls). BREATHTAKING. Get there early, ask at Dominica's tourist office and the lady gets her brother to take you on a tour. (Don't think Thomson go there). Photography Sorry, rip off. Even the offers they occasionally come up with are not attractive. Stupid really, with the 1000's of glossy photos they must print off each week of which they probably rip up 800, they could save so much money and make more attractive offers for their customers. Someone with a bit of nous needs to sort out this 'department' as its crazy. (In fairness, it's been like that for over 4 years now!) Blimey, I've been writing this for over 2 hours now and lost the will to live so will stop now but the islands are incredible, people amazing, sights breathtaking. If you are of the inclination where you want to find something to moan about or criticise then you'll find plenty - there always is. We found some but to us it really wasn't that important. Enjoy, relax, take everything for what it is, embrace the ship, crew, facilities, food etc.. and have a great time! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our second cruise, both with Thomson, the first being on the Thomson Dream last February. I'll break my review down into the following sections so you don't have to read it all if you don't want to (it's ... Read More
This was our second cruise, both with Thomson, the first being on the Thomson Dream last February. I'll break my review down into the following sections so you don't have to read it all if you don't want to (it's long but hopefully informative and funny in places): 1) Overall comment 2) Travel to and from the ship 3) The ship in general and its crew 4) Cabin 5) Dining and drinks incl packages 6) Entertainment 7) Port and shore excursions 8) Photography 9) Pre-travel Services from Thomson 10) Individual excursions 1) Overall Comment (4 stars) We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The Celebration is 31 years old but it has character and is well looked after. The Dream probably gets the edge as it is slightly larger which makes some of the public areas better. If you want a cross between battery hen living and a shopping trolley on water, then go for one of the huge liners. They're not for us. Going as a couple and not a group, you do people-watch more and it's quite fun! You could divide the cruisers into many groups but I think five groups covered most people - a) the friendly, polite, nice people who either want to keep to themselves or chat every so often. b) the professional cruisers / Thomson regulars who tend towards being boring know-it-alls. c) the groupie - kling-ons who have to hang around Thomson employees, particularly the entertainment team. d) the loud-mouths, some with added alcohol, some without e) the downright obnoxious, arrogant, self important types who deserve a spell on a life-boat being dragged behind the ship. Fortunately, the majority were in Group A, we were amused by and learned to avoid those in Groups B,C and D and only came across three in Group E - two incredibly rude, pompous mature ladies and one teenage brat who has got a lot of growing up to do. All in all, the Celebration came through for us and provided a great holiday. If you want to see the Eastern Caribbean Lesser Antilles Islands, this is a recommended way to do it. 2)Travel to and from the ship (5 stars) We flew from Birmingham. Got there early, baggage taken from us. Next time we saw it was outside our cabin. Embarkation on the ship took about 30 mins from arrival at the port. All in all - excellent Homeward bound - cases had to be left outside your cabin by 2am on day of leaving. Next time we saw them was on the carousel at Birmingham airport. You had to be out of your cabin by 9am but a few rooms were made available for changing in. Coach pick ups suit your flight time or there is an option to go on the "Farewell Barbados Tour" which lasts about 4 hours, costs £45 and drops you off at the airport. We went on the tour which took us around the centre of the island, included 3 overly long cultural stops and lunch - personally we would rather have seen more of the island. All in all - apart from the turbulence on the plane flight home, excellent organisation by Thomson. 3) The ship in general and its crew (4 stars) For us, the ship was well looked after and the crew / waiters / cabin team were polite at all times. Some of the Entertainment, Destination Services and Photographic staff could learn from the crew etc although I can understand why the Entertainment Team do shy away from talking to the Cruisers some of the time. If they didn't, they'd get no peace. The Captain had a great sense of humour and did two Q/A sessions while we were there. Mark, the "stand-in" Cruise Director took a bit of getting used to but when you got the hang of him, he was a credit to Thomson and hopefully will get a permanent senior position in due course. Due to the size of the ship, we felt certain public areas were limited. For us, the Broadway Show Lounge was very small, there was no large open room (with windows) to sit in and the Meridian Restaurant just didn't work for us. The Dream was better for all of these. 4) Cabin (4 stars) We were on Deck 3 with a porthole. There were two wall-hung beds in our cabin which suggests it could be used for a family. We had a double bed and plenty of storage. Our Cabin Steward was excellent and kept the room spotless - cleaned twice per day. Only negatives were that the toilet and shower curtain were incredibly close which sometimes proved challenging for the fuller figure and the "cistern" on our toilet was forever failing but was always fixed quickly by the maintenance dept. 5) Dining and Drinks incl packages (4 stars) Essentially, if you couldn't find food you enjoyed somewhere on the boat everyday, you need to get a life!! Food was available for the best part of 20 hours per day with different options and different restaurants (some at extra cost). We did not like the Meridian, many did though. We stuck to the Lido restaurant most of the time, only venturing into the Meridian for the Captain's Dinner. We never had a bad meal anywhere. We had the wine package at £99 for 7 bottles which appeared reasonable value for money. We did not take up the Drinks package as it was so expensive for limited drinkers. However, there were those on board who got it free in their overall package, others got it at less than a third of the price we were offered. One for Thomson to think about! 6) Entertainment (4 stars) There was always something happening somewhere and the entertainment staff really worked hard to provide a great deal of fun and enjoyment. The evening shows in the Broadway were a bit of a mixed bag, some excellent, some average but never was there a lack of effort. Most of it was down to the choreography, not the dancers etc themselves. Of all the shows though, a comedian called Carl Schofield was in a league of his own. He did two timetabled shows and some "off the cuff" singing and jokes sessions in Hemingways. Absolutely brilliant. Watch out for Hazel in the Crew Show. What a voice! 70 Port and Shore Excursions (2 stars) We had three excursions cancelled (the last three of our cruise). The one that we were most looking forward to was cancelled the night before. You must, therefore, read this section appreciating that we are not best pleased with those involved in this aspect of the Cruise. The Thomson excursions that we did will be rated individually in section 10. Thomson Cruises are basically not cheap but suit those who have concerns about going it alone. If you're happy to go it alone, value for money is generally better but you may miss out on some of the highlights of an organised tour. The Destination Services Team on the ship are very helpful if you are booking a tour, lack interest once you've booked it and have no real interest in your feelings when you've had a tour cancelled UNLESS, of course, you elect to book a replacement one. Whether this department is self-managing or is controlled from the UK, it needs to get its act together. PLEASE NOTE - if you do prefer to go it alone, be wary of the taxi drivers in Tobago. They are very "in your face" but we understand you can get good deals 8) Photographic (0 stars) Overpriced. Package deals are confusing. Photographic staff should join the pompous mature ladies mentioned above on a day trip on a lifeboat - perhaps Destination Services could organise this and charge them an arm and a leg so they can appreciate what it's like to bankrupt yourself buying one photo!! On a serious note, they need to stop taking photos of people who don't want them, stop printing off thousands of pictures and fridge magnets and concentrate on finding ways to reduce costs and therefore prices. Maybe showing photos to individuals on computer screens in lieu of printing them all off might help costs and prices. This system is used at other events I have been to. My score of one star for "enrichment activities" below is for the Photographic department. 9) Pre-travel Services from Thomson (1 star) I asked one question needing limited research by Thomson. After weeks of repeatedly asking, I was still being fobbed off except for one young member of staff in Thomson's Welsh Office who did his best to help me. I wrote to the Head Office and got a phone call back. I was given an answer which had no research behind it at all. This item was really concerning us but Thomson's Head Office made no effort to reduce this concern. Worse was to come - the lady running customer care services on the ship was apparently also unaware of what I was talking about. As soon as we went on tours, we were told what had been happening by the tour guides and locals. Fortunately the problem never affected our holiday. It just needed a bit of time and research by Thomson to allay our fears. Not too much to ask really. 10) Individual Excursions (our opinion) Pigeon Point Beach Break, Tobago - a lovely beach but with limited swimming areas due to water sports. You would not want to be on this tour if there is a second cruise ship in. The beach is small and they were running out of umbrellas with just our ship in port. Cruisers who ran the gauntlet of the taxi drivers got good deals to this beach. (3 stars) The Spice Island, Grenada - this is all about seeing the people, the island and some of its heritage and specialities - spices and rum. It's not about beaches and shopping at all. A meal in a wonderful location is included. Our tour guide was Rooster the Rasta - he was brilliant. Not a cheap tour but so enjoyable - maybe that was down to Rooster? (5 stars) Bequia Coastal Cruise - the best snorkelling we did on this cruise as part of a tour. Princess Margaret Beach and the meal we had there were very enjoyable. Bequia is a lovely island with limited commercialism and no dock for the ship so they use the lifeboats as shuttles. The tour was not cheap but made for a good day out. (4 stars) Dolphin & Whale Watch, Dominica - expensive for a 3 hour trip especially if you didn't see any wildlife. We were very fortunate to see about six whales, some breached and some dived showing their tails for the necessary photograph. The lads on the boat were very knowledgeable and made a lot of effort to find whales for us. No dolphins were seen. Recommend sea sick tablets for those who need them! NOTE - the International Jewellers shop in the port do some great deals - I bought a watch for a lot less than in England.(4 stars) Time at the Beach, St Lucia - you are taken by coach to a very nice beach (Reduit) where you are left for about 2.5 - 3 hours. You are given sunbeds and one free drink each but the umbrella costs $10. There are quite a lot of beach sellers here that do become a pain so prepare yourself to deal with them. The swimming area is again limited by water sports etc. Our tour guide on the coach was permanently stressed but kept telling us to "chill". Her only aim was to get us back to the ship. Not much fun. Consider a taxi to this beach (or another one if you prefer) but remember that you will have to pay for sunbeds and umbrellas if you want them. (2 stars) Carlisle Beach Break, Barbados - a 20 minute coach trip takes you to this beach where you get sunbeds, umbrellas and a drink for £20 per person. You're on the beach (with limited swimming areas) for about 2.5 hours. I went on a snorkelling trip organised at the beach. This was $25 for one hour. We swam around two ships wrecks where there were plenty of fish and then we swam with turtles. Best snorkelling I did. If you don't use sunbeds etc, probably best to consider a taxi.(3 stars) Tortola by Land & Sea - this was a 4 hour trip - about 2 hours on a boat where we saw many of the British Virgin Islands (not Necker - Richard Branson's Island) followed by half hour shopping in Soper's Hole and then 1.5 hours on a coach seeing the sights of Tortola. I would recommend you ask the driver which side of the bus gets the best views of the Atlantic Ocean - they are stunning. Not bad value for money. We preferred the time on the boat. (3 stars) Golden Eagle Catamaran Sail & Snorkel - about 4 hours including snorkelling, rum, swimming, rum, watching the planes pass low overhead into the airport, more rum etc. You get the gist. Although there was a sunken ship and helicopter where we snorkelled, it was such a limited area that it wasn't very enjoyable. The catamaran could not pull onto the beach where we swam so you had to be a reasonable swimmer to get there (or use buoyancy aids). The beach was very nice though. It was good to see the planes flying so low overhead but, in hindsight, I would either have taken a taxi to the airport beach or gone on a tour if it was available. That would have been excellent. (3 stars) St Kitts Scenic Railway - booked after the beach trip was cancelled. You are taken on a 45 minute coach tour of part of the island upto the start of the train trip. Once on the train, get on the upper level and make sure at least one of you sits on the coastal side of the train. The rum flows!! Non-alcoholic drinks available. The train trip is about 1.5 hours and goes through lovely parts of the island with locals all waving at you and the train. Very enjoyable and welcoming. The coach picks you up at the train terminus for a 10 minute trip back to the ship. (4 stars) Catamaran Cruise and lobster lunch, Antigua - booked when our tour to Crusoe Island was cancelled. If you like beaches, music, lobster, rum, dancing, laughing, go on this day out. It's not cheap but it's 6 hours of fun. The crew on the boat were excellent and we went to Deep Bay Beach which is the archetypal Caribbean beach. Best tour we went on by far. (6 stars) Aqua Terra, St Vincent - booked when our tour to Mustique was cancelled very late in the day and for all the wrong reasons. Quite honestly, this tour was a rush from beginning to end. The other half of our group were late back and delayed the ship from sailing. The trip involved a stomach churning 2.5 hour tour of the west coast of the Island on a coach, a very enjoyable drenching under a waterfall if you like that kind of thing which I do, lunch, a 2 hour trip back to the ship on a catamaran which included a quick visit to a black sand beach for a swim / snorkel. Not a great day. (2 stars) Farewell Barbados - I've made most of my comments earlier in this review. It got you off the ship on the last day but the structure of the tour was poor (2 stars) In summary, our holiday on the Thomson Celebration was really enjoyable. Yes there were moments, people and activities that could have been better but looking at the overall picture, we had a great time and we'd do it again happily. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We decided to try a cruise for the first time as we wanted to see more of the Caribbean, having loved Jamaica and Barbados when we had stayed there. I admit we were apprehensive, not about being at sea (I love the sea) but about being ... Read More
We decided to try a cruise for the first time as we wanted to see more of the Caribbean, having loved Jamaica and Barbados when we had stayed there. I admit we were apprehensive, not about being at sea (I love the sea) but about being restricted and regulated. This review can be split into two really: my opinions of going on a cruise and my opinions of the Thomsons Celebration ship and cruise. So first of all, this was my first cruise and will most likely be my last! All my misgivings proved to be true. Old people! I’m 60, and felt young! No disrespect to older people, as I am one of that group, but they were in the majority by far and that has an overall effect on general atmosphere. Lack of personal space! Just too many people, and particularly when getting on and off the ship. As far as the Thomsons Celebration Cruise is concerned, its saving grace was the staff, who were all really helpful and friendly. The islands we visited were brilliant and we loved each one of them, and our room was pretty good and kept spotlessly clean, but that’s about it. The food was very poor with the self-service feeling like a motorway service station and the main waiter service restaurant food was only marginally better but dressed up a bit. The bacon for breakfast in both restaurants was the fattiest I have ever had anywhere! Sunbeds and loungers were uncomfortable and on the sundecks they were reserved early, although we weren’t particularly bothered. Pools were very small and uninviting. Bar service was patchy, sometimes great and sometimes wait for 10 minutes to be served. Air conditioning was patchy too varying from non-existent to arctic chill. We had the all inclusive drinks package (not premium) and the drinks included were very limited, although house wines were reasonable. Wi-fi was extortionate! There seemed to be endless possibilities for Thomsons to make money out of its captive holiday makers i.e a trip behind the scenes of the boat (can’t remember exact price, but around £40 pp), towel art – we got back to the room one afternoon to find a towel monkey hanging from the ceiling and thought very nice and funny, then find a towel art book in the room which we could buy for £4.99!! We didn’t try the a-la- carte restaurants as we didn’t expect them to be much different from anywhere else on the ship but maybe even more pretentious, and of course cost extra. Entertainment was ok if you liked musicals etc, but we did enjoy the staff talent night. Gala night was ok if you want to dress up for no reason other than to have your picture taken with the captain! I don’t want to sound as though I am a grouch, I love to have fun at anytime and particularly on holiday but this just didn’t do it for me, and I am so glad we were going to spend a week in Barbados after our week on the ship. The excursions we booked through Thomsons were good, and suited us well and the transfer of luggage was efficient, although we were transferred to our hotel in Barbados for an arrival about an hour and a half earlier than check-in! I know lots of people love cruises, and perhaps it just wasn’t for us, but it could have been made a lot better! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Some friends asked us if we would like to cruise with them to the Caribbean . My partner had always said he would never ever cruise unless it was to the Caribbean . So we agreed to go , although it was 9 months away I was counting down ... Read More
Some friends asked us if we would like to cruise with them to the Caribbean . My partner had always said he would never ever cruise unless it was to the Caribbean . So we agreed to go , although it was 9 months away I was counting down the days (like a kid at Christmas ). It was decided to go with Thomson Cruises. For a first time cruiser it was brilliant . From flying with the Dreamliner , fantastic !! from when we left the plane to when we got to our cabins it was no more than 40 -45 minutes . The cabins were clean & tidy if a little tired, but there was plenty of space for clothes and everything you needed to hide . The food was top notch in the restaurants.All the staff were all brilliant , and everyone smiled at you no glum faces any-where. The entertainment was very good and the staff productions were brilliant . We only used taxies what ever port we stopped at , they took you wherever you wanted to go (normally the beach ) for a fixed fee of 14 dollars . On the day of departure our plane was not due to leave un till 6.00 p.m .but we were allowed to stay on board until we were due to leave for the airport .,which I thought was very good customer service. For our second cruise we wanted to try a bigger ship, so we are going NCL Epic at the end of September for a Mediterranean Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My wife and I have just returned from a stay/cruise at Sandals Barbados and the Thomson Celebration cruise ship. We booked this separately because Thomson do not do a cruise/ stay with Sandals and I can see why. After a stay at Sandals you ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from a stay/cruise at Sandals Barbados and the Thomson Celebration cruise ship. We booked this separately because Thomson do not do a cruise/ stay with Sandals and I can see why. After a stay at Sandals you will never cruise with Thomson again. Let me explain. Everything at Sandals was excellent and all in. All premium drinks, certain water sports, two or three trips out and even a free room safe to the extent that we didn't spend a bean in the resort. Not a penny. Compare this with the Thomson Celebration. Now we hadn't booked the Royal Yacht Britannia but from the very outset the Thomson staff were squeezing us for money. I spent £15 on a cabin safe before we even embarked. Our stay wasn't improved by the pokey cabin, the inadequate cabin air conditioning, the lack of sleep from the constant noise and vibration of the ship (when one lady complained about the noise she was offered a set of ear plugs), the smell from the cabin bathroom and the ship toilets backing up. We complained about certain things but to no avail. Then we get to the on board drinks. If you aren't offered the drinks package for free then don't get it. It's a rip off. A glutton couldn't get his moneys worth. An example being, a bottle of Corona on board was £3.70 without the drinks package, £2.00 WITH the package. You could get a bottle on shore at most bars for 2$US (£1.40). And watch what you are doing when it comes to the trips. We booked a Sun and Rum trip in Antigua for £27 each because we had booked it before and enjoyed it. Previously we had been taken to a lively beach ironically with a Sandals hotel on it but this time we were taken to a deserted beach that we had walked from the port to before. We ended up paying £57 for two plastic chairs (umbrellas were 10$US extra) and half a dozen cups of cheap rum punch.Rip off. It's not just the £54 that matters but the fact that we wasted a day of an expensive holiday. If somebody hadn't been to Antigua before and were taken there then they would never go to the island again. We will probably return but not with Thomson. As I said, I never spent anything at Sandals but I was spending nearly £100/day on the ship. You may pay a little more for a stay at Sandals but my view is that when I travel all the way to the Caribbean I would like a bit of quality and when you take everything into account Sandals doesn't work out much more expensive anyway. I suppose i shouldn't be annoyed with Thomson because I was becoming a little tired of cruising anyway and they have just made my mind up for me. And so from now on it's bye bye Thomson, hello Sandals for me. Much better value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
As a couple in our 30's, this holiday suited us brilliantly. This was our 2nd visit on the Celebration. Yes, the ship is tired in places and doesn't have many venues to spend the evenings, but I'd recommend the ship to ... Read More
As a couple in our 30's, this holiday suited us brilliantly. This was our 2nd visit on the Celebration. Yes, the ship is tired in places and doesn't have many venues to spend the evenings, but I'd recommend the ship to family and friends. Our Steward, Jaya, was pleasant and helpful, friendly and very good at not disturbing us during our stay. The cabin was cleaned daily and couldn't fault his hard work. We ate mainly in the Lido and the food is varied, plentiful and the buffet was open 19 hours daily. Rey/Ray who manages the Lido, works extremely hard making sure the restaurant was clean, tables cleared and working like clock-work. Well done Ray!! Paul Evans, the Cruise Director, made us laugh every day and we always looked forward to his announcements and good Bolton humour. We only wish he had have participated in the 'male ballet dancer' section of one the shows, it would have been more funnier!! Paul get your tights on next time!! Excursions are very expensive and not really good value for money, much cheaper to organise taxis. Having said that, Thomson run trips take away the stress and hassle. In conclusion, we're currently looking for Christmas cruises on the Celebration for next year Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I was not going to do a review of this cruise but having read some of the comments on here felt that I had to. We have done 20 cruises on various cruise lines now but we started our cruise adventures back in 1997 on the Thomson Sapphire ... Read More
I was not going to do a review of this cruise but having read some of the comments on here felt that I had to. We have done 20 cruises on various cruise lines now but we started our cruise adventures back in 1997 on the Thomson Sapphire and over the years have done 9 Thomson cruises. Like every cruise line there are pros and cons but without any shadow of doubt the one thing that Thomson do better than any other is entertainment (IMHO). The shows put on by the show team were wonderful and the final show Africa honestly nearly brought me to tears it was so uplifting. These girls and boys have actual talent and could grace any West End theatre. On some of the American ships we have found the singers to be 'shouty and screechy' but these kids could sing and dance. I would certainly advise anyone going on a Thomson ship to see the evening shows. There are always things that could be improved and I was not really impressed with the idea of paying £8.95 to reserve a seat on the front row. We never did this yet every night we sat on either the front or second row. If Thomson intend to carry on with this reservation idea then they need to organise it better as we saw a few arguments caused by confusion with the system. I would agree that the quality of food in the main restaurant has deteriorated since our last Thomson cruise - there was always something we could eat but the presentation and quality was sometimes quite poor. There is always the option of a steak on the menu but we were quite shocked that there was an additional charge of £10 for this. The food in the Lido buffet was excellent with lots of choice. I require gluten free food and this was catered for very well. For afternoon tea I was pleased to see a little section of GF food but the so called scones but unbelievable - like a little biscuit the size of a 50p with no fruit. My husband just had a word with Executive Chef Stuart and the next day I had lovely scones. That is a big well done for listening to passengers and acting accordingly. There was a self serve laundry which was free to use - you do not find that on many other cruise lines. The ship does not have the wow factor of the bigger ships with their beautiful atriums but what it lacks in that area it makes up for in atmosphere. The staff on the ship are second to none in terms of friendliness and a desire to please and they take huge pride in remembering little details about you. The ship does have a constant vibration and whilst this did not bother us some did find it annoying. Browsers Corner has a fantastic range of books to borrow so you don't need to take any if you are a reader. The Spa does have some excellent offers during the cruise so don't book anything too quickly as it is better to wait and see what offers they do. We did not do any excursions as we had visited all the islands before so were confident about doing our own thing. The people of the Caribbean are wonderfully welcoming and take such pride in showing off their beautiful islands and we always feel very safe there. One of the things we really appreciate is that there are no compulsory 'gratuities' as these are always a bone of contention on other lines. Also good is no added service charge for every drink you buy - this is an extra 18% on many lines. I do think that the drinks packages are shockingly priced but as we are not really drinkers we never bother with these. So would we do Thomson again? If the right deal to the place we want to visit comes up then yes definitely Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first cruise and I was a little apprehensive but there was absolutely no need. Thomson could not have looked after you better. Yes the décor is a little dated and could do with a refurb but it still has a certain charm. ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I was a little apprehensive but there was absolutely no need. Thomson could not have looked after you better. Yes the décor is a little dated and could do with a refurb but it still has a certain charm. The food was exceptional and you will grow outwards! The choice and variety each day was amazing. Look out for the fruit and veg sculptures! The puddings were beautiful and you couldn't ask for anything more. You have the choice of 3 restaurants - we tried Meridian and the Lido. The staff work incredibly hard and are a real credit. Now the entertainment team - Jake, Jack, Keiron and Laura are a certain phenomenon!! They bounce of each other very well and are cringingly funny. Again very hard working, friendly and engaging. We loved the different bars and areas you could sit. If you wanted to sit quietly, you could. The shows in the Broadway bar were good although a couple could have been better. The comedian was very good. The band Protege who played mainly in Liberties bar are wonderful and how they haven't yet made there own CD I don't know. If you worry about feeling sea sick - don't be. The only night it was a little choppy was the last night but nothing major and apart from a gentle rocking, you don't really know you are on a boat. The Caribbean is absolutely stunning. We booked 3 excursions. The first was the glass bottom boat at Pigeon Bay. The bay itself is stunning BUT the boat leaves a lot to be desired. A small fishing boat with a bit of glass in the hull. It was quite choppy in this and a few of us felt quite unwell. We were allowed to snorkel further out but when you try it was really too choppy and dangerous. A lot of money for what it was. We hardly saw any fish and would have preferred to stay on the beach. Our next trip was the Rum Runner. If you do one trip - you must do this one!! It was fantastic! Plenty of rum, an amazing funny crew and a beautiful beach to stop and snorkel from. Sean even bought us rum whilst we were swimming. There was a great calypso band and an attempt at limbo dancing. A really great fun trip. Our third trip was to Trafalgar falls - which is a bit of a walk but worth it. We visited Tobago. St Vincents, Grenada, Dominica and St Lucia. Just be aware if you choose to walk around the towns, not to go too far off the main roads.A little disappointed that we didn't see any of the beaches in St Lucia but this was due to the port stop and taxis charging $25 each way but the shops are quaint and lovely. Thank you Thomson for such a great holiday where we truly felt rested and looked after. The organisation is second to none. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
What a dissapointment. My husband and I have been on many cruises, with lots of different cruise lines. Expected this cruise to be high up on the list. Mr Thompson you set mediocre standards and fail to attain them. A glorified rust ... Read More
What a dissapointment. My husband and I have been on many cruises, with lots of different cruise lines. Expected this cruise to be high up on the list. Mr Thompson you set mediocre standards and fail to attain them. A glorified rust bucket, you even had to pay for the water on fully inclusive package ! The food served in the Orion Restaurant was bland and sometimes cold, the showers were dangerously hot and the toilets which were not plentiful were often blocked. The lifts were extremely slow, the air con in our room didn't work, and embarkation was at a snails pace, a lot of passengers were getting irate as they were hot and thirsty, but no welcoming glass of water available. There was only a handful of positive views on this cruise, the first being the fantastic crew, without these lovely people the ship would sink ! This ship apparently had a refurb last November, but honestly, I think it had a slight lick of paint and lots of silicone. The whole ship is in a bad state of repair, loose decking, loose toilets, shabby carpets and curtains. On the drinks package I could have got a pint glass of spirits at no cost, but yet, had to pay for a bottle of water. Not logical! As soon as you get on the boat they want your money. The one day it rained, the tried to sell flimsy bin liner type ponchos for £3.50! Cheek. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My partner and I have cruised with several holiday companies before, both separately and together, so this is a reasonable and comparative review of our Thomson Celebration experience. Our intention here is to be fair and honest, ... Read More
My partner and I have cruised with several holiday companies before, both separately and together, so this is a reasonable and comparative review of our Thomson Celebration experience. Our intention here is to be fair and honest, explaining why certain aspects of the holiday were good and why others were appallingly bad … and ultimately why, taken as a whole, we would never consider buying another Thomson cruise package again. Everything that disappointed us during our holiday was entirely within Thomson’s control, which means they failed to meet our expectations on many occasions due to blatant incompetence, poor management, an inconsiderate attitude and a driven desire to put profit over customer satisfaction. The Holiday Booking Experience We booked our April 2015 cruise through a local Thomson travel-agent within six weeks of our departure date. We were informed we could pay extra there and then to book our seats on the airplane, but that we could also do it ourselves online from 14 days of departure. We weren’t bothered about getting premier extra-space seats, so chose to wait and do it ourselves later. This was a mistake! When we went online at the 14 day stage there weren’t any seats left where we could sit together. So, we were destined to undertake a 9 hour flight sat apart. We feel the booking agent failed to explain adequately that this could even happen, and she seemed rather more keen to stress we could pay for extra baggage allowance, travel insurance and extra leg-room, if we wanted. When we talked about the ship and cabin-type we wanted, we stressed we wanted to have a window or port-hole (an outside cabin), a cabin with a double bed (or twin beds that could be pushed together) and that we wanted to be on an upper deck away from the ship engines. Past experience has taught us inside cabins can be claustrophobic and lower deck cabins too close to the engines can be very noisy. The travel-agent explained we could pay substantially more for a balcony cabin, if we wanted, but as that wasn’t necessary for us, she booked us an outside cabin on deck 1 or 2 (she explained the actual cabin would be designated once we boarded the ship). This sounded fine – so we booked it. Another mistake! When we eventually boarded the ship, we were indeed given an outside cabin on deck 1, which we had assumed was the top deck. It wasn’t. It turned out the ship’s top-deck was deck 9. The one we were booked on was actually the bottom deck above the engines. Furthermore, we had been given a cabin with twin-beds that were on opposite sides of the cabin, bolted down (so unmovable). We feel the travel-agent seriously let us down on this as she clearly didn’t know what the layout was of this Thomson ship and consequently we ended up on a deck and with separate beds, both elements being things we had stressed we didn’t want. We weren’t the only ones to be severely disappointed about this … the reception area on the ship was swamped with hoards of disgruntled passengers that felt they had been sold something other than what they were getting, including a couple on their honeymoon that (like us) had actually been designated twin beds. Reception proved to be completely unhelpful, with some staff only just able to speak English. We were told by one of the reception staff that only about 10% of all requests made at the Thomson travel-agent booking stage were ever met … so bare that in mind if you make any special requests to Thomson before you leave for your holiday. We spoke to one passenger also at the Reception Desk who had paid an additional £1,000 for a balcony cabin, only to be given an outside cabin with no balcony – so even paying for the extras clearly doesn’t always prove fruitful. The Flight to Barbados We were lucky to be on one of Thomson’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft for the long haul flight. Despite the general monotony of such a long flight, this trip was actually bearable thanks to relatively comfortable seats, complimentary drinks, a decent meal (for me at least) and excellent in-flight entertainment via head-seat LCD displays. BUT .. my partner is vegan and we had booked a special vegan diet for the flight with Thomson and double-checked this requirement was recorded and confirmed on our booking E-ticket. When an ordinary meal was served to my partner, he explained it should be a vegan meal. The flight attendant investigated and returned some minutes later, somewhat embarrassed, saying there had been an error and there was no vegan meal on the airplane. He was then given an apple, a plum and a dry bread roll (there was no soya spread on board either). By pure chance, the cabin crew’s own meals were suitable for vegan and one of them consequently gave up their own dinner so my partner wouldn’t have to go nine hours without eating. This error by Thomson is quite unforgivable, but it pales into insignificance when all the other errors are stacked alongside it. Ship Embarkation The embarkation process was extremely poor. We were effectively corralled from the airport shuttle coaches into an open warehouse at the port side and then left to queue in twisting rows until a member of staff was free at the makeshift front desks. This process seemed to take forever and needs improving, particularly as most of us had just endured a very long day and a long flight. Eventually, we were issued with our ship boarding pass and were then left to our own devices to find our cabin. There was no one to show you your way, so most new passengers spent their first hour on board walking aimlessly up and down corridors deep in the heart of the ship. The Cabin The first impressions of our cabin (after the disappointment of finding it on the bottom deck) was that it was clean and of an adequate but not spacious size, but it looked ‘tired’. We were already aware the Thomson Celebration was an old ship (first launched in 1983). The Thomson website says this ship’s cabins have ‘a smart, contemporary edge’, which is stretching the truth somewhat. The laminated surfaces in our cabin (813) were worn and cracked, small sections were missing or otherwise needed replacing and the pop-up sink plug didn’t work. Other than that, it had everything we needed, including a flat-screen TV and a kettle with an adequate daily supply of tea, coffee and milk. Unfortunately, the TV was fairly useless, because the only channels available were SKY News and one other channel that occasionally showed films in English. One of the first things we wanted to do was plug in and charge our electric toothbrush into the socket in the shower-room, and the socket fell out of its fixing as soon as we tried. By this stage, we had just about given up complaining. Our expectations were lowering by the minute. The port-hole was at sea level and so far into the ship bulkhead that we had to climb onto a shelf above the bed to see anything out of it. We have already mentioned about the twin beds … while these appeared clean, they were also fixed into their position, so they could not be converted into a double bed (as some of the Thomson literature and promotional material suggest). There was a safe in the room – which you had to pay extra for, if you wanted to use it – but no fridge (as a diabetic carrying insulin that needs to be refrigerated, this was again very disappointing). There was a also a mini-bar of water, alcohol and chocolates. It rather surprised us that everything that made-up the mini-bar was charged as an extra, even though we had pre-paid for the optional all-inclusive drinks package at over £330 each. Clearly, if we wanted a drink, we would have to ascend 6 decks to get to one of the bars or pay extra on top of the drinks package fee if we wanted to use the mini-bar. The drinks and brands were the same, so we cannot understand why Thomson choose to charge for this convenience, other than to profit from it. The Celebration Ship itself The ship is old and was last partly refurbished in 2013 (mostly the public areas, not all cabins). It is small by comparison to many others sailing around the MED and Caribbean, but at face-value, its amenities seemed adequate for the 1,250 passenger capacity. In reality, Thomson’s bad management often means the ship is artificially reduced in size, because passengers find areas are closed off so they can be painted and/or varnished, which causes a shortage of sunbeds or drinking tables while everyone scrambles to find themselves a place. The small size of the ship does allow passengers to get to know one another much easier. We often found ourselves sat with people we had met a couple of times before and this made conversation easy and the atmosphere on-board quite sociable. Unfortunately, this close proximity and limited space also meant tempers and arguments sometimes erupted once large amounts of alcohol had been consumed. We witnessed at least one alcohol-fuelled near-brawl by passengers in Liberties on deck 6 one evening, reminding us that this was far from a 5-star cruise. The Dining Experience With four restaurants the ship offered a wide variety of cuisine, though two had a cover charge (so these were not really part of the all-inclusive facilities). We tended to use either the self-service Lido buffet-style restaurant or The Meridian, which is waiter-service. The ship also offered food and snacks throughout the day and evening and more than enough variety to satisfy anyone’s palate … unless, that is, you happen to be vegan. Since coming off the ship, my vegan partner has said he is probably the only passenger to have lost weight as a result of going on this cruise. His experience of the dining amenities was extremely disappointing. During the first two days he discovered almost all of the dishes on offer were made with meat or fish or included cream, eggs or other dairy or animal ingredients. He was therefore resigned to fruit, salad greens, rice or chips. Most of the pasta dishes had cream or other dairy or animal ingredients and the soups always had cream added. Although the ship carried soya milk (which had to be asked for), it didn’t have any soya spread for bread rolls at night or for toast in the morning and no soya meat substitutes of any kind for alternative recipes. The language barrier also made life difficult for my partner, because the mostly Filipino waiters and servers only had a command of tourist English. Asking what the ingredients were in each dish proved completely pointless, because they would simply point to the card in front of each dish that said “Lasagne” or “Stroganof” or whatever the meal happened to be. By the fourth day, my partner decided to try and talk to Reception to see if the head chef could prepare and make available at least one vegan dish for evening meals. The disappointing result of this meant a somewhat strange and largely inedible concoction of dishes became available (one each evening). These were invariably boiled rice or pasta based with a few rare exceptions. For example … spinach, mushrooms and sliced fried garlic combined together as a main meal and a bizarre baked dessert made up of sweet corn and flour. Given the number of chefs on the ship … these offerings seemed to lack any skilled knowledge about creating special-request dishes. What they prepared always seemed borne from panic and desperation with no consideration for presentation or taste. So, if you are vegan or have a dairy or other allergy … don’t expect a gourmet experience on Thomson Celebration. Actually, we advise taking 14 days worth of packed lunches, just to sustain you during the trip. The Drinks Package Like most cruises, there are no cash transactions allowed on the Thomson Celebration. At embarkation guests register a credit card, which is then linked to your boarding-card. This card is then used to buy everything you need on-board, whether it’s a drink from one of the bars or a hair-cut in the salon. Past experience has taught us the bar-bill can come as quite a shock at the end of a cruise, because drinks are always sold at premium prices and not many people maintain a running check on what is being spent as the days roll by. Although we are not big drinkers, we figured the 6-day transatlantic section of the trip (without being able to go ashore) might be costly, because we would have to use the ship’s bars for all refreshments during the day and night. The Drinks Package cost us a further £678 (£339 each), but seemed reasonable, given the circumstances. Not all branded wines, spirits or cocktails are included in the drinks package, but there was more than enough variety on offer to satisfy our needs. We had some suspicions about the quality of some drinks at one bar in particular (outside on deck 6), where some liqueurs seemed exceptionally thin. I am familiar with the taste and viscosity of Mallibu, for example, and my partner has 23yrs experience as a bar and restaurant manager, so he also knows when a particular drink doesn’t look or taste as it should. Maybe it was the heat of the Caribbean, maybe the Mallibu (like the gin) had been affected by other unknown factors … or maybe someone was watering bottles down or passing-off original quality liqueur for a substandard brand at this particular bar. We also witnessed staff at this bar regularly pouring short measures from virtually empty bottles, without changing the bottle beforehand (a practice that is illegal in the UK leisure trade). We really only have one major complaint about how the Drinks Package facility was operated by Thomson, which we believe means we ended up paying for some of those who had not purchased a Drinks Package. When anyone approaches a bar or asks a waiter for a drink, they present their boarding-card so the price of the drink can be recorded on their account. Those with a Drinks Package are not charged (unless it’s a premium chargeable drink), while others will find the cost on their account at the end of the cruise. We found it strange that – as a couple – we always ordered two drinks, but we were only ever asked for one boarding card to record the order. By day three, we became aware this was happening with everyone. As guests got to know one another, they started to form some large groups, particularly at the bars during the evenings. Some were ordering 2 drinks at a time for people in their party – but the bar-staff only asked for a single boarding-card from the person getting the round of drinks in. It quickly became apparent that many in the “group” of friends were on a pay-as-you-go regime … and were consequently getting their drinks “free” through Drinks Package passengers. So, one couple in a two-berth cabin would have two Drinks Package cards and each would use them to buy two drinks on each card … one for themselves and one for a “friend” (without a Drinks Package card). We reported this to the Reception staff … but the situation never changed, even up to and including the last day of our cruise. We believe this almost certainly creates an inflated Drinks Package price, because some of those like us that had it are clearly subsidizing some that don’t. Thomson could easily rectify this by insisting on a “one drink – one card number” rule and save honest customers a small fortune by slashing the Drinks Package cost. Sunbeds The Thomson Celebration has enough sunbeds for all 1,250 passengers … unfortunately, this doesn’t mean we always had a sunbed available when we wanted one. Thomson managed to obstruct hundreds of paying guests from this pleasure by undertaking a maintenance schedule during the most ridiculous times of day and on days when they knew sunbeds would be at premium demand. The (presumably routine) painting of railings and maintenance of deck timbers meant Thomson chose to close off one of the decks (sundeck 8) for almost the entire cruise, which meant all the sunbeds on that deck were stacked and unavailable. This wasn’t a huge problem while the ship was touring the Caribbean islands, because some passengers were off the ship on excursions or out roaming around the tourist areas. However, during the six days we were crossing the Atlantic, all passengers were on board – and that meant we all wanted to relax on a sunbed, if only we could all find one. Once the first deck had been completed, everyone sighed in relief … but this was short lived, because then more than half of another deck was shut off (deck 6). This occurred during the daytime. Passengers already settled at tables or on sunbeds were unceremoniously evicted from their positions, told to move to another part of the deck, sunbeds were stacked and ropes were quickly tied to cordon off the area. Thomson now had hundreds of unhappy customers scrambling for complaint forms, again!!! It is fair to say that we only ever had a sunbed in the sun for perhaps two hours a day, mostly towards the end of each day when other passengers were going back to their cabins to prepare for their evening meal. We may well have got more sunbathing done in our home town of Blackpool than on this cruise. Entertainment The entertainment on board was an odd mix of some excellent and highly professional theatre and deck-stage shows, combined with random and very basic Butlin’s style game shows and quizzes lending themselves more to a local pub than a cruise ship. Part of the attraction for us for this cruise was the “Motown and Soul” theme, which had been used to promote it. Roy G Hemmings (once of The Drifters) and his band and backing singers were on the ship and they put on three superb nights of Motown entertainment. Unfortunately, these were just about the only “Motown and Soul” entertainment evenings we had. Passengers were sufficiently disappointed to start a petition that went around the ship … when it was handed in, it transpired that some of the entertainment staff didn’t even know this was meant to be a themed cruise. What became very apparent very quickly was that the entertainment staff (mostly English) worked their socks off to try to keep everyone happy and occupied during the long days and nights of the transatlantic crossing. I cannot fault their efforts or their talents, but I do feel Thomson let us (and therefore them) down by not making the so-called Motown theme more prominent. Cabin Staff As on many other cruising ships, the cabin staff were mostly Filipino and were the hardest working and the friendliest of all staff on-board. No matter what time of day or night we went back to our cabin, our cabin-steward was always there on the corridor with a friendly smile asking if we had enjoyed our day or evening. Our beds were always made during the day, the cabin cleaned or tidied and our beds turned down at night usually with chocolates placed on our pillows. Thomson need to recognize the value of these staff members much more and reward them, because they rarely seemed to get any free time (other than to sleep) and were not apparently permitted on the upper decks. Flight Home Our last day on the cruise was expensive. Our Thomson flight wasn’t due to leave until 8pm in the evening, but the letter pushed under our cabin door the day before told us we were expected to vacate our cabin at 8am on departure day (our suitcases had to be packed and left for collection outside the cabin by 3am). So, we spent some hours trying to organize ourselves, keeping back some shorts for the daytime heat and a change of clothes for the flight and unhappily facing having to carry all remaining bags and possessions around with us for 12 hours. Reception explained that we could keep our cabin (or be issued with an alternative one) until 4pm on the last day… but it would cost us an extra £35 for the privilege. We resorted to paying the extra for the convenience (to be honest, we were by now getting used to Thomson fleecing us for more money at every opportunity). We also wanted to enjoy the “80s disco” in Liberties Lounge that evening without thinking about having to get up before 8am the next day to vacate our cabin, but as it turned out – the 80s disco was cancelled on the night in favor of allowing a member of staff (who was leaving the ship) to sing his favorite songs on stage. It was only after guests’ complained that anything was done to stop him singing and get the disco night reinstated. The flight home was just about the worst flight we have ever taken and a complete contrast to the outbound flight. The airplane was a standard 737 (not the nice shiny new Dreamliner that brought us out). During the four hour flight there were no meals served, no complimentary drinks and no entertainment systems operating. There was only one trolley service of drinks, tea, coffee or sandwiches throughout the uncomfortable flight – all charged – and nothing suitable for my vegan partner. Although this was a much shorter flight (4 hours from Tennerife) than our outward journey, it felt ten times longer. The impression we got was that Thomson had received our money, the holiday was over – and they just wanted to honor their obligation to get us home quickly and cheaply by offering as little as possible. In Conclusion In recent years, many people have opted to try cruising as a holiday. Unfortunately, Thomson seems to be trying to reduce the cost of these so-called luxury holidays and are putting profit over and above meeting the expectations of their customers. I would place the Thomson Celebration Transatlantic Moments cruise in the standard 3-star holiday bracket, according to our experience with other companies and other cruise ships. The ship is too old and too small and needs scrapping. The add-on costs are excessive and relentless. The cuisine variety is good, but only for those that do not have any special dietary requirements. Thomson’s management, maintenance and operational systems on-board need a complete rethink. Reception staff on-board need to be fluent in English and need the power to rectify problems on-the-spot, not just offer a complaint form to be handed in after the holiday is over (by which time the holiday is ruined). Neither I nor my partner would consider going on another Thomson holiday, based on this experience … we therefore could not recommend them or the Thomson Celebration ship to others. This was a very disappointing and expensive holiday (costing £3,000+ for two of us), occasionally enjoyed only because of some of the staff and the people we shared it with. We feel Thomson let us down from the moment of booking this holiday right up to and including our flight home. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
6 friends went on Dream as we loved the itinerary to Cuba! We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise we all went on the Dream last April and loved the improvements, crew were brilliant and always smiling, we loved the new subbed area and well ... Read More
6 friends went on Dream as we loved the itinerary to Cuba! We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise we all went on the Dream last April and loved the improvements, crew were brilliant and always smiling, we loved the new subbed area and well done to Thomson crew for removing towels on longer than 45 mins, we never had a problem with beds, but we were always up later so by lunch time, loads of free beds! A nice touch thomson recognised us as returning customers and gave us 2 for 1 meal in lovely Asian restaurant. Entertainment was best ever dancing and singing was on a par with west end London! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have just returned from a lovely holiday in the Caribbean aboard Thomson Celebration. We flew out on the Dreamliner and enjoyed the flight. The extra legroom and wider seats really make a difference, after a long flight we still felt ... Read More
We have just returned from a lovely holiday in the Caribbean aboard Thomson Celebration. We flew out on the Dreamliner and enjoyed the flight. The extra legroom and wider seats really make a difference, after a long flight we still felt quite perky after an eight hour flight. Yes the Celebration is an old ship, she cannot match up to the newer more modern ships, but you are not paying their prices. We have sailed on Celebration several times and this cruise we thought that Thomson had upped there game. You could not fault the cleanliness of the ship in all areas, the public areas and cabins were spotless. The staff are wonderful they always have a smile for you and leave you feeling that nothing is to much trouble. We were on deck 6 and did not experience any cabin noise or any nagging electrical faults. The food this cruise was very good both in the Meridian restaurant and the Lido self service restaurant there was plenty of choice to suit all tastes. The entertainment team did a good job and Ben Moss the very talented singer in Hemingways was excellent. We booked two trips with Thomsons and they may be a bit over priced but we did our own thing and saved money on other days. Transfers to and from the port were excellent with no delays. We thoroughly enjoyed this holiday. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We returned a couple of weeks ago and I'm still kind of upset about how badly we were treated whilst on board. The ship is a little down in the dumps and could likely do with some work. The information on the ship is pretty shoddy ... Read More
We returned a couple of weeks ago and I'm still kind of upset about how badly we were treated whilst on board. The ship is a little down in the dumps and could likely do with some work. The information on the ship is pretty shoddy really, they did not tell us that half the space for sunbathing and sitting would be out of order due to 'refurbishment' of an outside deck into a sun lounge whilst we were on board. The port and Shore excursions are what has me most upset however. We booked brought eight trips before we left the UK with our Thomson rep at home, a lady we happen to trust because she's been doing our holiday booking for a long time. But this has by far been the most disappointing and unhappy time we've ever had while on holiday with Thomson. The Excursions team were rude, dismissive and in one case very condescending. The problem is that we missed a tour departure time in the morning from the port. We mistook our time to leave on one trip towards the end of our holiday, but having been on several trips by now it shouldn't have been that big of a deal. We'd waited around for half an hour after our departure time once for missing people. But when we got to the dock side, the rep there told us we'd missed our tour by an unbelievable one minute. Because the tours only ever waited five for people and we were six minutes late. The rep was condescending and blamed us for not checking our tickets properly with a shrug. When we later complained at the excursions desk the rep told us he'd seek out his manager, basically to get rid of us so people wouldn't hear us complain in public we presume, then we got a letter through the door that stated verbatim what that rep had told us to our face. That Thomson wouldn't be giving us our refund, that we were 'seven' minutes' late- which was an added minute they seem to think makes it better for them leaving us behind- That they were sorry we'd missed out tour but basically tough luck we've got your money and we're not giving it back. To say we were unimpressed is an understatement. We explained to the excursions team about how we waited well passed the five minutes every single time we went on a tour with them that fortnight, this being the last day it was not an exaggeration. They told us blatantly lying to our faces that this wasn't possible because they never waited passed five minutes for people. To compound our disgust in the excursions team we then found out while talking to people we met onboard that they too had problems with the excursions team. They went on a tour to a 'closed' attraction and were told they would not be getting a refund despite the fact that they were taken someplace closed and then brought back to the ship. I don't know what sort of scam Thomson are playing on people, but this is by far the most disturbing and absolutely disgusting experience I've ever had with them in my many years travelling with them. If it were just the excursions though i could let it go, I'd just go on hols with them and avoid their trips. But it wasn't. We encountered unhelpful staff at Reception who didn't seem to care if we were left stranded with no money as long as they didn't have to lift a finger, an entertainment team that has probably been targeting college drop outs because the performances were not exactly what I would call professional level. I'm not a very good judge of musicality but even I cringed when the guy croaked and cracked his way through Adele. There was also a disappointing lack of anything to do besides wallow through their shows of an evening. The ship is small I give them that, but surely they can think of something to do for entertainment that doesn't involve singing or bingo? As for the other facilities on board, well extortion is clearly a main motivator, because the photographers are either con artists or delusional about what their services are worth. I feel bad mostly for the service staff and the cabin stewards who are truly the only thing the floating help has going for it. We had a wonderful cabin steward and our waiters were always happy and helpful. I'm sure that they must be an aberration for this ship because they are certainly the only people who seem to know what customer service is. The only other comment I can really offer is that several people we spoke to questioned just why this was a so called "platinum' cruise when clearly it was bog standard and a little limp and lifeless. If it wasn't for the places we actually disembarked the entire thing would have been a holiday from hell. Thank God the Caribbean is a wonderful lush place full of life and excitement or I may have thrown myself overboard. I know at one point I certainly contemplated the chances of getting an earlier flight home. It makes me kind of angry when I look at this review because I sound like a horrible sarcastic person. But I work in the Hospitality business and I am very forgiving of most problems because I know what it's like not to be able to do anything with a bad situation. But I honestly can't even justify half of what went on with these people. I can think of absolutely no excuse for their lack or care or abysmal attitude. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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