Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Final Round Up on Thomson Celebration

Our holiday around the Aegean and the Holy Land is coming to a close, so here's a chance to have a look around the Thomson Celebration cruise ship.

This is our cabin for this trip - 086 on Deck 8. The majority of cabins have twin beds but there are a few with doubles. The Celebration has had a bit of a makeover since we were last on her - and is due in dry dock anytime now for more refitting.

Looking from the bed. A new flat screen TV is mounted on the wall and the bathroom has new fittings. There's a fridge under the TV, a sofa against the wall and the wardrobes are behind Fran.

Thomson Celebration as seen in Rhodes on our first day of cruising whis week. Not the brightest of days... Thomson Celebration is a smaller ship than many these days, but I rather think that touring round in a floating skyscraper is defeating the purpose a bit. I want to know that I'm on a ship. Someone in the restaurant one day moaned that there wasn't enough deck space on her, but he couldn't have looked very hard... We saw lots of empty sunbeds even on the day at sea. We've encountered quite a few moaners on different ships and as far as I'm concerned they either spoil their own holidays or they just simply like moaning. There's been nothing to object to on any of the ships I've been on.

So let's have a quick look round parts of the ship. Deck 5 is where you'll find most of the lounges and the show theatre. We tended to spend evenings in a cabaret lounge that we'll see later. This shows part of a corridor near the shops that holds a number of stalls when the ship is at sea. Shops and the casino are closed whilst the ship is in dock and only open once the ship enters international waters. Each day special offers are laid out on the tables. One night it will be jewellery, another night perfumes, another night handbags and accessories etc. There isn't a night for train sets, Scalextric or guitars...

The main general shop taken through the glass doors when it was shut. It sells books, sunglasses, clothes, souvenirs, sweets, tobacco, spirits, sun creams etc. Spirits can be bought but will be kept until you leave the ship. Buying to avoid the bars is not allowed.

The main corridor is called Broad Street. It runs down the port side of Deck 5 from the self-serve restaurant at the rear, through the show lounge, past the shops to a quieter lounge towards the front of the ship which offers access to a library and Internet station.

It is seen here during the day, so not many people here. This is where you can be served afternoon tea and the entertainment is a refined violin and piano duo. At the far end on the left you can see a couple of VDU screens in the Internet area.

Deck 5 has the large self-service restaurant at the rear and a grill selling pizza, hotdogs, burgers and baked potatoes on the open deck at the stern. There's a pasta station there also. We are looking now into the Meridian Restaurant which has waiter service and is found one deck down on Deck 4 from the midships staircase. We ate in there for both breakfast and evening dinner, using the self-serve only for lunch. At the rear of the Meridian is Mistrals, where for a reasonable extra charge you get silver service and special menus.

In the Meridian, it's worth staying with your favourite waiter and his team. They get to know you and your tastes and will help you feel relaxed and help by suggesting things that they know you will like. Once we found Manny was onboard, we simply asked for him by name on entering the restaurant and the Maitre D' and his staff waved us towards his "station", where he kept our usual table waiting for us. The photo was taken on the final night when the Parade of the Baked Alaska is held, this being a fun event for both passengers and crew.

Manny (right) and his team - Zar on the left was his Assistant Waiter and Lito was the Wine Waiter. We tend to remember our waiters and it's always great to see them again. Manny had served us earlier in the year on Thomson Dream. He had been home, got married and came back to Thomson Celebration in the interval! We see two or three waiters a year, so they are easy enough to remember. How they manage to remember us out of all the hundreds or thousands of people they see every season never fails to amaze me. Mind you... that could say something about me perhaps - I'm not a shrinking violet!

Manny surprises Fran with a delicate thrust of the baked alaska towards the camera! The waiters parade through the restaurant in line holding the flaming delicacies aloft and a roar of approval comes whenever one of them passes their own group of tables or station.

Deck 6 is the Promenade Deck. This is an open deck that goes all the way around the entire ship. Joggers and exercising power walkers can circle it five times to cover a mile. The rest of us saunter innocently into their path and look at them in sympathy. There's also a fully equipped gym with treadmills for those who are too focussed on their walking to risk open air and distracting sights...

Fran at the rear of Deck 5 one morning with a Danish Pastry. She asks me to point out it was the only morning she had one... I resisted. Manfully. Not even a bite of hers... Behind the self-serve restaurant the open deck has a number of tables for al fresco dining, or just sitting and reading if you don't want to sprawl on a sunbed. This is where many of the daily demonstrations are held also. Towel folding, napkin folding, cocktail making/bottle juggling, fruit and ice carving are carried out by the crew. Some passengers carry out demonstrations of gluttony, sunburn, and peevishness to fellow man. These can be just as entertaining...

Then as we move from the tables towards the very rear, or stern, of the ship there is the swimming pool, one of two - there's another pool on the rear of Deck 7 which is adults only. At the very rear is a stage area where the entertainers do lunchtime or afternoon concerts.

In this case it's our friends Tomas and Maris, who go by the stage name of 2 Intense. From the Philippines, we met them several years ago and try to meet up at least once a year.

Their stint of work finished, they join us for a while at our table and we undertake the gruelling mind-taxing afternoon quiz. There's one of these every day for those who congregate on the rear of Deck 5.

Our favourite spot for the second half of the afternoon is the Horizons Bar. This is situated on Deck 9 right above the bridge and there's a fabulous view from the window over the bow of the ship. It's the same view that the Captain has and there's an old binnacle in the centre before the window, holding a compass so you can stand and play at driving (nautical term) the ship. The seats are comfortable and there's a bar. We find it a great spot to read, to relax and on occasion in port I can sketch in comfort from the side windows.

At night it's a cabaret bar. Thomas and Maris do their thing, and they are very good at it too! It's usually a fairly quiet place until the main show lounge theatre show finishes and then it rapidly fills up.

Maris: "I see Tomas has a fuschia tie!"
Tomas: "Oh... how do you spell that?"
Maris: "Pink..."

It's our last night. We take photos and say our goodbyes until the next time. The ship is heading back to Marmaris where we shall have a coach ride for around an hour and twenty minutes to Dalaman Airport for our flight back to England.

On the last night cases must be packed and placed outside the cabin door for collection by the crew. Passengers remove their clothes, pack them and open the door a crack then, the coast being clear, scurry out, leave the cases and go back into their cabin for bed. In the morning they get up and realise they've no clothes to put on...

Monday 7 October. Marmaris, Turkey. A gorgeous day. We've never had chance to look round this gorgeous port and today is no different. We look out over the side and watch the port workers loading rows of suitcases onto a lorry to take them to the Port Authority building. All we have to do is have a leisurely breakfast, have a second cup of coffee on the back of Deck 5 and then it's time to get off the ship and start our journey home.

We walk down the quayside to the Port Authority buildings and turn to take a last photo of the Thomson Celebration. Then our landing card is stamped by the Port Authorities and we find and take our luggage to the coach for the airport. The Thomson Celebration disappears as we turn round the bend on the climb up the hillside from the port. It's ok. For another month (well... less two days!) I'll be sorting through my photos and writing blog entries and I do know one thing... It won't be our last trip on the ship, or with Tomas and Maris! (But you'll have to wait until April 2014 to hear about that!!!)

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1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that and looking at the photos. Thanks for sharing John, you have a way of writing that really takes you there.


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