Thomson Celebration Cruise ShipThomson Cruises
"Having read many of the reviews and also our dealings with Thomson ahead of the cruise/stay, I have to say I am facing this trip with huge amounts of trepidation.
Firstly we were "had" on the price of the holiday, the website and booking form stating our hotel room would be deluxe suite with garden views and balcony as it was the only room type left and given a price.... Then after we booked we realized they had added an extra £600 to the bill... Yes we should have been more careful and aware.... Don't do this late at night.
Today, I called Thomson to see if we could upgrade our seats on the plane to premium, it was fully booked but we understand that. However then came the hard sell...., " you haven't booked the drinks package madam, you really should as all drinks especially soft ones and bottled water are incredibly expensive on the boat". I said we didn't drink but this didn't stop the hard sell.... I put the phone down.
I am no longer looking forward to the cruise but more of a get it out of the way before we have our week in Barbados.
This is not how I want to feel ahead of a trip of a lifetime....allegedly ."
- Holiday details: Jan 2016, Booked Independently
1 reader found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Well, this is my 3rd cruise,my spouse's first. I had always bugged up cruises as a holiday and we were not to be disappointed. The staff were friendly, superb and attentive with a sense of humor. I must mention Haha our cabin steward, Agus the bar steward in the Broadway Theater and Hakiman in the Lido Bar for special recognition although everyone was amazing. Wouldn't hesitate to travel on the Celebration again which is a totally different experience to what my close friends suffered on the Majesty which had hired East European staff who were the total opposite apart from some Ukrainian bar stewards who were bullied by their Russian counterparts. Filipinos, Indonesian and North African staff on the Celebration couldn't do enough for their guests, Thomson please take note that it looks like the Majesty has a major problem."
- Holiday details: Oct 2015, Booked Independently
- Advice: Plan ahead and research the best ways to explore the ports of call.
- Good For: , City Breaks
5 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"My wife and I just returned from our 1st ever Cruise, on the Celebration, and we had a blast !
From the flight to coaches, pre-board, check in, to the cabin, food, entertainment, staff, fun and enjoyment all round...all elements were run very well and offered great value for money.
The staff in general were excellent, polite and professional.
BEN MOSS the singer is a WOW ! and Thomson are lucky to have him on board.. Keith does a superb job as well. Delfin in Hemming ways was such fun and these all helped make for fun nights.
ONE THING... the Coffee, is not good... maybe needs a change of brand.. aside from that... we'll be back !!"
- Holiday details: Sep 2015, Booked Independently
- Good For: Beach, City Breaks
11 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We were a party of four who all really enjoyed our weeks cruise from Dubrovnik, visiting Valletta,Messina,Brindisi,Kotor,Hvar & back to Dubrovnik.Great itinary,visiting some beautiful places,this was the reason for booking the Celebration.
Thompson should be really proud of their staff,they really do all work so hard. Every member of staff we came across from all departments always greeted you with a smile & a hello ( no mean feat after all the hours they work)
We really couldn't fault the food & service both in the Meridan Restaurant & The Lido.We had no complaints at all.It was lovely to see William again who we'd met on The Dream)but we all agreed that all the waiters & wine waiters as well were all excellent.
The entertainment team very all very good,especially the resident band The Peakles & duo Heart & Mind who played a lot in Horizons bar,all very talented.
Horizons Bar was our favorite bar,wonderful views from up there.
Special mention to David & his team especially Romeo & Matthias who made me some mean SingaPour Slings,always served with a smile & a joke.
Our cabin was always kept clean & tidy by a smiling Jane who even managed to find time to dance in the excellent Crew Talent Show.
Cabin 322 The Vibration- I'd read reviews about this previously & yes it was quite annoying & at times noisy especially when docking early,I went prepared & took ear plugs,but I did get used,after my initial negative reaction when we first arrived & I was tired after an early start from Bristol.
Walls thin so at times you can hear people in the cabin next door talking.
Twin beds at opposite sides of the room (frustrating as my husband was too far away for me to be able to dig him in the ribs when he snored one night).
But all in all the positives far out weigh the negatives & I'd go on the Celebration again if the Itinerary was so good as the staff helped to make it even more memorable."
- Holiday details: Aug 2015, booked with Thomson
5 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We have just returned from our first ever cruise which was on the Thomson Celebration. Our cruise was for two weeks, Adriatic Affair and Grecian Legends.
We booked a Balcony Suite which was on Deck 9 and although this cost us quite a bit more we found it well worth the money.
The pools were constantly busy so we found the best time for a swim was later in the day. All the food was excellent and the A la cart restaurants were very good. The staff were very good. Cabins were well attended. All the shows were excellent and overall we had a great time and would recommend this holiday."
- Holiday details: Aug 2015, booked with Thomson
- Advice: The Broadway Shows were as good as any West End Show.
6 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Ship is fine,once you get used to the vibration .Staff are friendly and efficient,Cabins are fine along with a decent shower and kept immaculate. Entertainment is decent.
Thomson have now embarked on squeezing you for cash once on board ,from front seats in the theater to buses to take you out of port into town .
The food is now very poor however ,mostly cheap cuts and little or no variety takes ages to be served in restaurant with the food often congealing on plate.£10 Extra for a cheap supermarket steak with wait for it.....4 chips.
Breakfast is the same every day with poor selection of fruit on offer.
Lunch is again nothing to be excited about so don't bother.
Dinner although 4 courses any fatties you won't gain weight as portions are child like.Stews are often thick and cloying with the same gravy sauce used on most things .Soups are surprisingly good however.
Sweets are mostly manufactured elsewhere defrosted and again bland ,for a gastronomic experience give this a miss.
Plenty cocktails on menu but don't get excited, again they use the cheapest of ingredients to maximize profit.
Would we cruise with them again ......nah profit before customer one step to far on the catering and drink."
- Holiday details: Aug 2015, Booked Independently
- Advice: Leave your taste buds at home
8 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We cruised the Adriatic for two weeks with the Celebration from the end of July to the beginning of August. This was our first ever cruise and we can honestly say it was amazing. We stayed on level 2 and were pleasantly surprised how roomy the rooms were, we didn't feel claustrophobic at all. We couldn't fault the food as there was so much to choose from, from the buffet to the restaurants. It was also worth taking up the offer of the drinks package. The service from all the staff were amazing and friendly, from the Captain to the staff who did the laundry. You always had a good morning and a good evening. You could see that the staff were well cared for and it showed in the way we were looked after from the day we boarded until the day we left. The shows were very professional too, making sure we saw a different every night. My only criticisms were the photographs and the pool. The photographs were way too expensive and although we bought some, there were many we would like to have had. On the last day we offered to buy the rest at a cheap rate but were refused, so we would say.... Lower your prices and you may be surprised, you will actually sell more. The pool could have been a little larger so you could have a good swim and it was annoying that towels were left on sunbeds and not used, apart from that, we would certainly go back to the Celebration."
- Holiday details: Jul 2015, booked with Thomson
- Advice: Get envolved, enjoy every moment, watch the shows, see the sights.......
11 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Just returned from Thomson celebration ship, cant praise this ship enough,from the food which was excellent to the entertainment which was fab, everyone very pleasant and helpful, will certainly be booking again,cruised Dubrovnik,split Venice etc very interesting stops all easily accessible no problems getting to and from these destinations and a big thank you goes to all the appropriate people who helped us when we forgot our passports on the last day. To the Thomson staff, who where very very helpful and the Croatian staff at the airport well done to you all. Had a bad experience this year when we booked a cheap deal horrendous, so yes you only get what you pay for Thomson here we come."
- Holiday details: Jul 2015, booked with Thomson
- Advice: go to see the peekles group in the liberty bar
10 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"On my latest cruise 11/06/15 i was in cabin 820 the pillows were dirty stained yellow,and the mattress was stained with urine and menstrual marks,there was no protective covers on .this was reported and took 3 days when they returned with 2 single mattresses joined together so hanging over a5ft bed. I have done about 15 cruises with Thomson but no more standards are not as good as they used to be i am back to Royal Caribbean the beds and linen are immaculate THOMSON SHOCKING STANDARDS RECEPTION JUST SHAKE THEIR HEADS AT COMPLAINTS IS THIS THE WAY TO TREAT LOYAL CUSTOMERS WHO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY WITH YOU ??????????? NO MORE FOR ME I WILL NOT BE BACK."
- Holiday details: Jun 2015, booked with Thomson
- Advice: bring back the standards we were used to and stop having staff walking around in the sun selling other restaurants its sell sell sell
19 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Our biggest complaint was with reference to the food on board. This is the only ship amongst a number of cruises we have taken where we have not wanted to eat. We are not fussy eaters but we really DID NOT enjoy the food offered on this trip. Let’s start with the buffet/Lido restaurant.
The breakfasts and afternoon teas were very repetitive and with little variations. The food was often oily, with the eggs being either over or underdone and only warm. The bacon and sausages tasted cheap. The cereals were mainly of the cheap sugar laden variety while the fruit was consistently melon and pineapple.
Lunchtimes fared little better. The salad was only ever the following:- lettuce, cucumber, radish, grated carrot, sweetcorn, tomatoes, watery silver skin onions (no vinegar) and cheeses with no variations. The salad dressings on offer were poor, heavily oily and poor in variety. The mixed salads on the appetizer counter were laden with mayo or looked revolting. Hasn’t the chef heard of pulses, a variety of salad leaves etc. The main courses were equally bad in their look, smell and taste. So much so lunch often became hot dog and chips from the snack bar by the pool – something we never eat at home or on holiday. The sugar free sweets were also poor in variety, being mainly a creamy mousse or pastry with fruit, not helpful if one doesn’t like creamy mousses and can’t eat pastry! Additionally the sugar free was rarely labelled as such and one had frequently to ask if there were a sugar free.
Afternoon tea was the same every day, sausage rolls, small sandwiches, trifle (not sugar free) scones, cake and biscuits (none of which were sugar free). In fact the sandwiches were often the best food of the day. The scones were also acceptable if one ignored the too high bicarbonate taste, but couldn’t cheese scones have been served occasionally too? The biscuits were the worst we have tasted – dry and tasteless regardless of flavor, too much flour and not enough fat to make them flavorsome and ‘short’ in consistency, in other words, they were cheap!
Drinks in the Lido – the coffee was dire, bitter and totally unacceptable. My wife drank only tea for the duration of the cruise whereas I don’t drink tea, coffee, milk or alcohol so my choice was nil, bar water, for the cruise bar water since no alternative drink was on offer, unlike other cruises which still offer juice and iced flavored teas at all meal times.
Let’s now look at the food in the Meridian Restaurant.
Breakfasts: Firstly, fruit juices served at breakfast were far too sweet. We think that they were fruit concentrates which hadn’t been diluted. We had to dilute it by 1/3 or ½ to make it drinkable. May we suggest money is being wasted here. The fish for breakfast was often unrecognizable as such being dry and much over-cooked, so much so we stopped choosing the fish dishes before the end of the first week. The omelet I tried after the fish was almost inedible too, the taste and texture weren’t good. My wife concurred on the only day she chose omelet too. The yoghurt with fresh fruit was always sugared therefore problematic for my wife, also the choice of fruit was always melon unless we stipulated otherwise and when we did ask for alternatives the waiters always looked surprised, although we did get our choices. We asked for water, only wholemeal toast and sugar free conserve each day, yet we always had to ask several times for what we required and sometimes it wasn’t listened too or took far too long to get. Many people gave up without a second tea, coffee or whatever. The staff weren’t particularly helpful or friendly.
To be honest, I ate Weetabix followed by toast for the majority of the cruise. My wife by contrast resorted to porridge followed by Egg Benedict when available. Note I said egg not eggs Benedict – most ships give two, on this ship only one was ever given. Breakfast was probably our best meal of the day!!!!
We didn’t eat in the Meridian for lunch.
Dinners: The service was appalling. Several times we waited between 1hr and 1hr 30mins between the starters and the main courses and complained about main dishes being cold on more than one occasion. One day we actually saw the chefs, waiters etc. and baked Alaska presentation TWICE, without receiving our main course! The main course were poor in quality, often way too salty, bloody meats, lacking taste, having a horrible taste etc. etc. My wife refused even the Spaghetti Bolognaise. It looked like a poor tin or packet mix – short lengths of spaghetti mixed with the ragout sauce, not at all like proper Spaghetti Bolognaise. It tasted like it had lots of chemicals in it – really horrible, it was sent back, she was offered a second choice but by then she didn’t want to wait again and was put off by the first offering. A couple of evenings later we went to the Kora La, hoping for a better experience. My wife ordered the Beef Rending and I ordered the Stir-fried noodles. Were these any better? Not on your life! Both dishes were so excessively salty we had the head waiter and the chef attend our table. We were offered alternatives but by now we were not in the mood to try yet more, rather we felt ill and disappointed. NEVER have we had such experiences on a ship.
Let’s move to our cabin. To be fair our steward, Apol, was very friendly and helpful so no complaints here. Yes, the cabin was small but as we booked very late, this did not surprise us. However, what did surprise us was the lack of a refrigerator in the cabin. All of our previous ships have had in-cabin ‘fridges and we didn’t even consider the possibility that there wouldn’t be one. A ‘fridge is important to us since my wife has medication which needs refrigeration, so every day she had to go to reception to get and return her medication to them, waiting in sometimes long queues to get and then to return it – what an inconvenience!
The television in our cabin was of poor quality, poor reception and a general lack of stations to watch.
The safe had to be paid for separately! Never have other ships charged us for in-cabin safes because this is for your benefit as much as ours – shocking and expensive!
The facecloths in particular, were often grey and unhealthy looking. There was no complimentary dressing gowns and you operate an elitist system for beach towels too – pale blue for the cheaper cabins, medium blue as one moves up the decks and royal blue, plush ones, for the better cabins. We were really disgusted at this – deliberately singling out what class of passenger one is – shame on you Thomson! This too NEVER happens on other cruise lines.
On the subject of sunbathing, we have a further complaint. The front of the top deck of the ship was often closed off due to ‘high winds’. Frequently this wasn’t the case but still we couldn’t use that area. The middle section was currently being refurbished; I say currently but in fact no work was done on this section all the time we were on board. We were all jammed on a small section, jammed in like sardines on the two sea days, most unpleasant. Why wasn’t the center section opened up? We have since heard this section has been shut since the start of the season. Furthermore, there are no toilets in this area. Lastly, the deck hands were regularly clearing away the sun loungers by 5pm even though the sun didn’t go down for another hour to hour and a half. They often asked passengers to get up so they could pack away. How unwelcoming! Of course this also meant there were no seats outside if one wished to sit out and peruse the stars on the warm Caribbean evenings. We’ve not seen the like of this previously either.
Our final complaint is in regard to returning to the ship after a day on shore. Actually, the staff on duty at the gangplank both going and coming, were humorless and unresponsive. There was no canopy on the pier, no welcoming drink, indeed no welcome. We were the poor relations of the cruise world as compared to the other ships we were docked alongside. Lastly, the security on board was a laugh, we could have brought all sorts on board. They rarely had the X-ray working.
Is this a Platinum Cruise as you advertise ? – No way!!!! We consider it to be a poor cast iron level. Would we cruise with Thomson again? A resounding No! We’re so pleased we got a cheap, last minute deal. If we had paid the brochure price we would have been stomping by now and probably we be consulting with a solicitor. A shockingly, bad experience and one never to be repeated.
To make matters even worse, the Thomson complaints form never works and when you write to complain they give you a courtesy letter but then don't do any more. Hugely disappointing. Don't use Thomson Cruises."
- Holiday details: Mar 2015, booked with Thomson
- Advice: Don't go!
- Good For: Beach
15 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"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 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 new 787 Dream liner 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.
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 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-fueled 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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."
- Holiday details: Apr 2015, booked with Thomson
- Advice: If you have any special diet needs, take packed lunches with you, because you'll not get anything to eat on board this ship.
22 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Just back from Croatian cruise on the Celebration. Could not fault it. Fantastic time. Bar staff in Horizons bar made our holiday. They were our friends. Cabin, food, entertainment all excellent.wonderful weather and ports. This was our first cruise. we will be back."
- Holiday details: May 2015
- Advice: Go to the Meridian and share a dinner table. You. Make lots of new friends.
15 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
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Top traveller tips for Thomson Celebration Cruise Ship
" Do the Excursions.....they may be expensive but the sights you see are priceless "
by Toldo west yorkshire
" pay for a cabin upgrade if you can afford "
by Gwen Taylor
" Bethlehem is a wonderful experience and Alanya is so inviting. The celebration gives the whole day for us all to enjoy the... "
by Ayrshire Team
" Enjoy all the destinations Istanbul and Izmir very different and city stops - Mykonos and Rhodes and Marmaris Kusadasi great... "
by Jacki Thew
" Make a sunbed reservation very early in the morning as no one sticks to the rule of not reserving. "
" Use a Credit Card to pay on board expenses instead of Debit Card,You get a month to get over aditional expenses trips etc.If on... "
by Sue Hennedy Smallshaw
" prepare in advance for the captains night, we didnt and regretted it. "
" Liberties entertainment was good "
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