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.
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!
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.
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).
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