The magic of Celebration

//The magic of Celebration

Thomson Celebration is not the newest or the glitziest cruise ship afloat, but it certainly lives up to Captain Roy Dearman’s claim to be one of the friendliest at sea.
Originally launched in 1984, as Holland America’s Noordam, the ship gives away its age in significant design features, a complete absence of balcony cabins, for example, and a maze of corridors, some apparently going nowhere.
There are small details, too; when did you last see a toilet roll holder with a built-in ashtray? They are particularly redundant – the ashtrays, I mean, not the toilet rolls – now that smoking is banned throughout the vessel, except in specific areas of open deck.
It’s in deck space that Celebration scores over many of its newer competitors. There’s a broad, wraparound Promenade Deck, with real teak – none of your modern plastic here. Five times round is a mile for the joggers and power-walkers determined to work off some of the excess pounds gained in the restaurants.
There’s ample sunbathing space around the two small swimming pools aft of the funnel, and on the Sun Deck towards the bow. And there are almost enough sunbeds for each of the 1,250 passengers. Midships, there’s a netted-off sports deck suitable for five-a-side football, basketball, table tennis and other activities.
The selection of shops in Broad Street on deck 5 sells everything from travel essentials to the usual (but I never know why) gold chains by the inch. Duty-free prices for drinks and cigarettes are better than those at airports.
Food and drink are, of course, the main requirements of cruise passengers, and there’s plenty of everything to choose from on Celebration. The main restaurant, Meridian, provides waiter service breakfast, lunch and dinner, and operates on a turn up and sit down basis – there are no pre-assigned seatings or tables, and dinner is available any time from 6.30 until 10.00.
In one corner of the main restaurant is Mistral’s, perfect for a special celebration. The lobster Thermidor and the tournedos Rossini are a match for any food I have eaten at sea, and if you can hide your embarrassment, the serenading waiters are a delight. Well worth the £20-a-head supplement (or less on quiet nights).
Buffet meals are available round the clock in the Lido restaurant, and pizzas, burgers and hot dogs are on offer by the pool.
The main bar, Hemingway’s, also contain’s the ship’s small casino area. There’s always plenty of activity in Liberties, whether it’s a quiz or a game show, or dancing to the ship’s versatile band, Ocean Vibe. More relaxing music is provided throughout the evening in Horizons cocktail bar, overlooking the bow, and a duo plays classical favourites every evening in the Explorers’ Lounge.
Bar prices are reasonable: £3.90 for a pint of Stella or Boddingtons; £3.15 for a glass of house wine; £3 for spirits, and cocktails for just £3.40 (or £2.95 for the cocktail of the day).
Song and dance shows are performed by an enthusiastic troupe every evening in the Broadway show lounge, which is also the venue for visiting comedians and tribute acts. It’s not the multi-level West End theatre that newer ships can boast, but more of an intimate ’70s cabaret venue.
People, of course, are even more important than the facilities, and the crew on Celebration are as warm and friendly as anywhere. Passengers are a mix of the well-travelled cruiser (many veterans of Fred Olsen and :P&O) and the new-to-cruise, who will no doubt be back. Even though it was term time, there was a sprinkling of children – who were catered for in the Kids’ Zone – and many three-generation parties with mum, dad, kids and grandparents.
Many were staying on in Sharm el Sheikh for another week in a Thomson hotel – not surprising in view of some of the deals available. I saw one this week for £799 for the seven-night cruise plus seven nights all-inclusive in a hotel.
For the rest, including me, our week of Red Sea Magic is over, and we’re flying home today. There’s no doubt plenty of cruise news to catch up on, and I’ll be back with a round-up tomorrow.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:33+00:00 28 January 2010|Cruise Ships|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. Char 28 January 2010 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    A strange coincidence that I only booked this cruise today to sail in 3 weeks time and yet found a review written today. This is essentially a great review and is very helpful, particularly to two first time “cruisers”. If its as good as Mr Honeywell says it is i’m sure we’ll have a fantastic time.
    Thank you for your help.

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