1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises)
  4. Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) Cruise Reviews
Sail Date: July 2019
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting ... Read More
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting Marella again was an easy choice. This time departure was from Newcastle so no flights and extra luggage allowance. Departure was fine. It took a little while and there was some queues but overall not a problem and thankfully the rain kept off. We had inside cabins on Deck 9. Excellent fit out with a good bathroom and shower. Cabin stewards attentive and helpful as were all the staff onboard. Cabins serviced twice daily too. The ship itself is good. There is a good selection of restaurants. Some you have to pay extra for but there is enough choice and variety if you don’t want that. Food quality good throughout. One shortfall is a general shortage of indoor seating which can create challenges when the weather is not so good. Bars excellent as is the range of all inclusive drinks.. there’s enough variety and choice.. if you do fancy an up market brand for a change then you can pay as you go for those adding it to your cabin bill. This works well and saves you going for the drinks upgrade package. The prices are reasonable too. Entertainment was a mixed bag. The shows and tribute act in the Broadway lounge were generally excellent and to a good standard. They certainly had the family looking forward to the next nights show. Otherwise it was a hit and miss affair with bands quizzes etc mainly catering for an older audience. This did get wearing after a while and we did crave something more up to date and modern after a few days. This was a particular issue for my teenagers who continually joked about this being a cruise for “old duffers”. This wasn’t the case although this perception can only have been exacerbated by the frequent and somewhat petty gripes of some of the more senior patrons on the boat. Movies were good with some up to date titles. Outdoor cinema was chilly at night so good that blankets were provided. It was the destinations that made this trip special however. Orkney - We took the tour to Skara Brae - A must for history buffs with a knowledgeable guide. Really excellent. Kirkwall was also fun to explore and there’s enough to do and see here. Aukeyreri was jaw dropping and the cascading waterfalls either side as we entered the fjord were amazing. We took the tour to Mvaytyn baths. This was a long ride on a coach .. over an hour but we got so see some of this fantastic landscape. The bath itself is quite an experience and highly recommended. The town is also fun to explore with some good shops. Isafjordur was a gem. There is so little there at first glance . I can imagine some people only spent an hour ashore. A helpful guide in tourist information provided an excellent walking map and a few hours later we were up amongst the ski slopes with a vista that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. Reykjavík is a funky place with lots going on. We self booked onto a whale watching tour which was excellent and we saw plenty of minke whales feeding. 2 days at sea then into Norway - Flam is so pretty. Everyone heads for the railway and it gets very busy . We didn’t pre-book so couldn’t ride. Instead we hiked and climbed up to see Brekfossen waterfalls which was spectacular. The old town of Flam is also worth an explore .Good walking here and plenty to see. Bergen is excellent and all the key sights are worth your time . Funicular provides great views and fish market is amazing. Eidfjord is also pretty and there is an excellent circular walk which takes a couple of hours if you take it slowly. But not much else other than that at the port. It seems this is a place to look at excursions or car hire. Haugesund was surprisingly fun. Great walks up the coast provided stunning views. Great town and shops too. Kristiansand was a wet day . There is a good nature park to explore at the back of the town and this town had some excellent shops also. Overall - The destinations provided an amazing holiday. The Marella Explorer is a good ship with an excellent crew. There’s little to complain about really and it’s good value for money. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
It is not often that you decide to go away with your elderly mother so you need to choose the right method of doing so. A cruise from Southampton is the obvious choice although selecting an itinerary and a cruise line is the challenge. ... Read More
It is not often that you decide to go away with your elderly mother so you need to choose the right method of doing so. A cruise from Southampton is the obvious choice although selecting an itinerary and a cruise line is the challenge. I have cruised in the past with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, which have always been great. Last year my wife and I went with P&O which we thought was awful. That left me a little nervous of my selection of another English cruise company. Thankfully my fears were not to be compounded. I have never sailed with such fantastic staff before. Every single member of the team was happy, pleased to see you and went out of their way to say hello. The fact that they weren't reliant on gratuities seems to relax them. There is no big push trying to flog cocktails, trips or anything else and this makes for a great atmosphere. The food is not as good as you find on the US ships but is way better than that offered by P&O. Snack Shack is brill for mid afternoon arrivals after a day's touring; the two main restaurants are pretty good - the starters and desserts are better than the main courses; the buffet isn't bad at all (apartb from the soggy sausages at breakfast) and the two pay restaurants look lovely although we didn't go as my Mum didn't fancy. The standard all inclusive package offers almost every drink you could ever want. Bottled beers, as well as draught, is a big surpise. Premium is for those who are, perhaps, more discerning with their wine or for those who think that Lavazza coffee is worth an extra £7 or so per day. I, personally, didn't bother and wouldn't do so. The ship's entertainment crew are second to none. In all reality they are too good to be on a cruise ship. Six magnificent singers, who can all dance too. Add in extra talented dancers and the evening shows shouldn't be missed. The cruise director, however, minces around the ship like an anorexic Freddie Mercury and he can get annoying. Talking of which you must see one of the singers, Seb Mercury, perform his Queen tribute - his Barcelona duet with another of the singers, Freya Hawkins is the best you will ever see on a ship. The comedian, Anthony Scott, was awful and I think they knew it. Can't see him being booked again in a hurry. Because of my Mum's walking difficulties we had an Accessible Cabin. It was an incredible, huge space with a bathroom/wet room as big as some cabins. It was always spotless. Some nicer toiletries wouldn't go amiss. Our European Experience itinerary was good in places and poor in others. It felt slightly experimental on Marella's part and they didn't do well with the tours. Quite a few fellow passengers complained, particularly about Bruges. Talking of which there were no tours to Bruges suitable for wheelchair users whatsoever and that was a real shame as my Mum was really looking forward to going there. We visited Blankenberg, the local town instead, under or own steam, but it wasn't the same. Bremerhaven was surprisingly nice and Amsterdam was fab. Le Havre is about as exciting as a day out in Tilbury. Cherbourg makes up for it. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise as a bit of an experiment to see if we would like the kind of package provided. Price was good itinerary interesting and we thought why not? Good news is we are now avidly going through future cruise options with ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a bit of an experiment to see if we would like the kind of package provided. Price was good itinerary interesting and we thought why not? Good news is we are now avidly going through future cruise options with Marella who have just surpassed all the others as a favourite cruise line Reason? we liked informality, the genuine nature of the goodwill from all the staff and the relaxed feeling of fun that pervades everything. We were a little concerned that the ubiquitous all-inclusive drinks might create a Laddish or Hennish atmosphere. However this was not the case at all. Instead, the relaxed atmosphere really made the cruise one to remember. Okay maybe food didn’t quite match the heights we have experienced with other providers, but the friendliness of the staff and the like-minded passengers made dining a real pleasure supported by a more relaxed nature of the dress code. The ship felt younger even though many of the cruisers clearly weren’t. We really enjoyed the Broadway shows which were more modern and inventive than the predictable show songs often provided. even the comedian had appeared at the Edinburgh fringe. I have read in all the reviews that the stressful free for all in the islands restaurant has caused concern. Whilst I understand this and feel Marella like many other lines would do well to consider Fred’s policy of organising the seating by a maitre d approach, seems to me that cruisers need to be more prepared to politely share. When we have done this it has opened up a multitude of friendly interesting conversations. Of course this doesn’t suit everybody. Those who prefer their own company should consider other cruising options . With regard to the ports, Bremerhaven was a pleasant surprise. The Climate house was brilliant. Excursions were ok and relatively keenly priced. At the moment we are going off them if there is any feasible on your own option. One new idea was a port walk into the centre of Amsterdam ( free) which was greatly appreciated by the less confident amongst us. We like quizzes, but they can be spoiled by a level of seriousness above their station. Not so here. A right laugh. Anyone need a Marella luggage strap? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Embarking in Newcastle wasn’t good we were treated like hearded animals, once on board the staff were so friendly they actually made eye contact which is unusual. The ship was very clean, the seats in the communal areas very comfortable ... Read More
Embarking in Newcastle wasn’t good we were treated like hearded animals, once on board the staff were so friendly they actually made eye contact which is unusual. The ship was very clean, the seats in the communal areas very comfortable and clean. The cabin very clean the shower was compact but practical, the bed a single was comfy sheets very clean. The cabin attendant was absolutely brilliant called shwadi top class.The entertainment being an 80’s cruise was very 80’s pink leg warmers beads big hair amazing music the onboard acts were extremely good. Restaurant food amazing well cooked well plated well served. Restaurant staff very attentive extremely knowledgeable about the food, Damnjan Pelivanovic our head waiter was extremely kind and friendly he took time to speak to us all, we deliberately asked for Damnjan each time, this young man will go far within the company. Amsterdam was our first excursion the place was beautiful the architecture first class Brugge was our second excursion again beautiful buildings beautiful shopping but having to get on busses trains and taxis to get into both city centres were expensive. Disembarking in Southampton was smooth. This cruise was over 18’s. Internet was the only disappointment it was expensive. Out of 10 if give it 9.9. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise on Discovery partly because we wanted to sample one of TUI's newer ships as they're finally retiring Marella Spirit later this year and because we wanted to visit Iceland. We had read numerous reviews ... Read More
We chose this cruise on Discovery partly because we wanted to sample one of TUI's newer ships as they're finally retiring Marella Spirit later this year and because we wanted to visit Iceland. We had read numerous reviews about Discovery prior to the commencement of our trip and the seemingly general negativity of a fair number of those reviews concerned us. We are pleased to say that we needn't have been too concerned. It is almost always possible to find things that displease you anywhere and there were some things that didn't appeal to us but having some previous experience of the service trade we try to keep an open mind. We arrived at Newcastle as early as we could without staying nearer to Newcastle the previous night. Unfortunately England's World Cup quarter final appearance probably gave a goodly majority of our fellow passengers a similar idea so that they could see the match once on board. As a result we had an extended wait to finalise the documentation that would let us board. We're not football fans so the match was of no real import to us so we headed for the first eatery that we came to for something to eat. Unfortunately we either found the wrong place - not uncommon for us - or all the eateries had stopped serving lunch. We did manage to find something and afterwards took a whirlwind self propelled (and self guided) tour of the ship. At first glance it certainly seemed big. Our fear that the friendly nature of the on board staff that we enjoy so much on Spirit was non-existent soon proved unfounded as virtually every member of staff that we encountered from the moment we embarked until the moment that we dis-embarked went out of their way to be friendly. There are some things that we were overly fond of but that is down to our personal preferences and it is humanly impossible for something as big as Marella Discovery to be all things to all people at all times. We also recognise that there will be occasions when even the things that we like aren't as good as they could be. We're not ones to sample each activity that is provided and generally kept ourselves to ourselves. However, we did attend nearly all of guest lecturer Cliff Jones's presentations, we didn't miss a show in the Broadway Show lounge and we tried to partake of the after lunch trivia quiz when we could. we generally spent the rest of our time either ashore, where we didn't wander too far from the ship (or for too long) or were in our cabin reading. There were some of the shows that didn't appeal to us but the majority did. That is not to say that any show was below par, without virtually any exception they weren't. The show team take full advantage of the larger stage and the extra depth thereof with the opportunities for changes of scenery during shows taken full advantage of. This was our first experience with TUI/Thomson/Marella of an English Captain and many of the senior staff. The ongoing interaction between the Captain and Cruise Director appealed to our sense of humour although we believe that one guest voiced an exception to it - one out of eighteen hundred plus - isn't bad! There were times when we had to share (or seek to share) a table in Islands - the buffet area - but we never had a problem being seated quickly nor did we have to make use of the open deck seating areas instead. Our cabin was compact and clean. Alright it wasn't spotless or as new but it was OK for us. We had to report a rattling balcony deck door that was soon quietened (we presume with a large hammer on the metal work!) once we reported it. There were a few other "niggles" that we chose to accept rather than report so subsequent users of the cabin can blame us for not reporting them rather than blame the staff for not mending them. We'd actually prefer staff not to routine open each door and drawer on a daily basis to see if it still works but how else do they discover these problems if they're not reported by guests. there's only so many spare parts that a cruise liner can carry! We chose not to take advantage of most of the tours so can't comment on them and we had no complaints about the two tours that we did do. We weren't too happy about missing the (paid for) ship's tour but that was down to us not staking our claim to a position on the tour early enough. We could go on but whatever we might write would certainly be mostly positive. Would we cruise on Discovery again? Too right and once all our (crew) friends on Spirit isn't there to accommodate us any more we'll certainly be looking to try each of Marella's newer ships although we beginning to run out of ports that we haven't visited given that we won't venture too far from the mother land because we don't find long flights comfortable. We won't give the ship or the cruise 100% for everything as that is virtually impossible to achieve but we'll certainly give them 100% for trying their hardest to make the cruise a pleasant experience for all their guests. It is a pity that the scores on the doors aren't out of 10 or 20 as dropping one point is only a 5 or 10% reduction, whereas dropping one point out of 5 is 20% down and too harsh. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because of its itinery. An eclectic mix of Northern Europe (Belgium, France and Ireland) and the warmth of Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar. To that end we thoroughly enjoyed the destinations and would do a similar ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its itinery. An eclectic mix of Northern Europe (Belgium, France and Ireland) and the warmth of Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar. To that end we thoroughly enjoyed the destinations and would do a similar itinery again anytime. However the ship is very old and tired. We have been on a few Thomson cruises before on the Dream and the Majesty and hadn't really had cause for concern. But our 2 previous cruises were on Royal Caribbean and Cunard so I guess we've maybe been spoiled. We could see that Thomson had tried to tart up the ship but the cabin was small with nowhere other than the bed to sit. Also our room attendant had a real attitude problem. The 2 issues we brought to his attention were both met with "This is your fault" rather than with an attempt to fix them. The most serious fault was our cabin toilet barely working throughout the cruise. We have been on 8 cruises so we know what you can and can't flush down one. Eventually they replaced the whole toilet unit and gave us a bottle of wine as a goodwill gesture. I would have been happier if the attendant had just believed us in the first place! The food is good in the specialty restaurants is good and you get a great level of personal attention in them but you do have to pay between £15 and £20 each to use them. The food in the main restaurant was nothing special and in the buffet was absolutely terrible! The entertainers tried hard but were not that great and the 2 comedians that came onto the ship would have been far more at home in a working man's club than a cruise ship. I have always stood up for Thomson cruises in the past when people have referred to them as "Butlins at Sea" but I think that description sadly is true. We may possibly try their newer Discovery ships at some point in the future but frankly, I think we'll save our pennies and stick to the more prestigious ships. On a more positive note, at only £818 each for 13 nights the basic price was very good value but you do have to add your drinks, excursions and the nice restaurants onto the price. Also, with only 2 proper bars on the ship, other than the show lounge there was nowhere to sit in an evening as the bars filled up very quickly. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
The Ship was very comfortable and the cabin was good for the price we paid as we had little choice because we were not able to book sooner. I wanted to go to Iceland so choose Fire and Ice We had 3 ports in Norway, 3 in Iceland, ... Read More
The Ship was very comfortable and the cabin was good for the price we paid as we had little choice because we were not able to book sooner. I wanted to go to Iceland so choose Fire and Ice We had 3 ports in Norway, 3 in Iceland, visited the faros and Shetlands. Excellent. choice. of excursions the scenery was stunning. Entertainment on ship was enjoyable and professional. The food was very good for breakfast and lunch in the buffet and excellent evening meals in the restaurant. the spar was worth a visit. I didn't receive an email from the ship to complete but wanted to say how I enjoyed the trip. The email would have enabled me to mention on person who stood out in their roll. I would like to recommend the lady who was in charge of the ladies toilets; her name was Digna and she was so enthusiastic about her job always a smile always happy and loved to converse with the ladies that she met she should have a gold star. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We embarked from Corfu for this cruise and were recommended by friends. Big mistake we had cruised before on Princess and Royal Caribbean and found the Thomson Celebration a very, very old ship. The Ship The rooms were very dated and ... Read More
We embarked from Corfu for this cruise and were recommended by friends. Big mistake we had cruised before on Princess and Royal Caribbean and found the Thomson Celebration a very, very old ship. The Ship The rooms were very dated and the bathroom horrible although clean. The towels were awful, thin and grey. Very noisy in our cabin too from above deck and vibration on the ship. The deck space was inadequate for the amount of people and sunbeds were at a premium on a cruise day. The swimming pools very small and really unhygienic for the amount of people using them. The public rooms were adequate although the stage had limited viewing unless you were right at the front or on the balcony (which had less seating. We were very disappointed as we booked a supposedly deluxe room at the top of the ship they fell far short of deluxe. We though we would not miss a balcony (there are none on this ship) but it also was a mistake we missed it greatly especially on sea days. Entertainment The entertainment was good although a little Butlin like. The entertainers worked very hard with an old format. There was a differently themed show every night but all mostly based on stage musicals. A very good comedian on two nights. Service You can only say the service from the mostly Filipino staff was fantastic, although they seemed to work them to death. 11 hour days we were told some not looking too happy. They were attentive, never rude, made us laugh and feel comfortable. I think Thompson has let them down with this ship, put them on a newer one and what a fantastic cruise you would have. Food Every meal we had was excellent and a good choice of dishes especially in the buffet restaurant. We dined in the service restaurant in the evenings and that also had a good choice. Excursions Our excursions were OK not the best we had been on. Our guides all seemed to have very accented 'English' so sometimes it was hard to understand. We went to Ephesus which was fascinating (could have been better with a clearer guide). Panoramic Crete was OK. We never got to Santorini going the Samos instead. Apparently it was to risky to use the tenders there. Samos was a lovely little day stop so no complaints. Panoramic Athens was a complete waste of time. We stopped at the old stadium in Athens then seemed to skips everything in-between. ending up at the bottom of the acropolis no time to go up to it and then were dumped in a shopping area for an hour where the shops were mostly closed anyway. I have to recommend the Museum and winery tour in Katakolon Greece. We saw a fantastic museum in the little village of Olympia were the games first started and then on the a lovely old vineyard where we toured the plant and then sat on the back lawn with tapas and wine we could have sat there all day, this guide was excellent! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Interestingly this cruise was booked at the shortest notice that I've ever given (about one month ahead) and was the cheapest fare that I've ever paid. The ship is in very good condition although many of the public rooms still ... Read More
Interestingly this cruise was booked at the shortest notice that I've ever given (about one month ahead) and was the cheapest fare that I've ever paid. The ship is in very good condition although many of the public rooms still have a 'retro' look, even though the carpets and soft furnishings are contemporary. As you would expect there is no big atrium to greet you on boarding. For those of you worried about the small ship experience, please rest assured that Celebration has all of the public rooms and facilities that most passengers will ever need. Accommodation It's important to note that all older ships do have their design and operational quirks. However these are often outweighed by the intimacy and charm. All of the cabins have a 'dated' look. This is because much of the fitted furniture such as wardrobes, dressing tables, wall and table lamps etc. are original dating back to 1984. The mattresses of the two twin beds in my cabin: number 476 (basic outside, deck three, amidships, one porthole) were very comfortable and obviously newish. The two beds were arranged in an L shape, one under the porthole and one along the length of the rectangular cabin. Some inside cabins also had the same layout. This is quite a common layout on older ships. The chair in my cabins, which could have easily been an original, was quite large for the room, heavy (so difficult to move) and its upholstery was looking a little tired. The bathrooms dEcor of pink tiles also looked original and tired, although the toilet was probably newer. The sink and toilet worked well. The shower was a little bigger than many on modern ships; therefore the shower curtain did not stick to your back. The shower controls were old and quirky, but they worked. Thomson provides complimentary tissues, bottled shampoo, soap bars and shower cap (non-branded), which is a nice touch for a 'budget' operation. A chocolate is still left on your pillow each evening, so no cut-backs there, either. To use the cabin safe, a 'special' electronic key has to be obtained from reception and a charge of £12 per week is added to your onboard account. Personally I think that making a profit from passenger's security is a little below the belt. Inconsistent air-conditioning on older ships is common. The air conditioning in my cabin worked to a fashion, but it was not very adjustable. A visit from an Engineer did not fully resolve my cabin air-con issue completely. The sound insulation between cabins is not great. It is possible to hear voices, the toilet flush or the TV from the adjacent cabins. The heavy draws and wardrobe doors can be heard slamming at times, too. In my experience, older ships always have some engine noise. Some quite obtrusive engine/generator noise could be heard at the aft end of each passenger corridor of decks 1, 2, and 3. This was present even when in port. I'd be amazed if at least some of this noise could not be heard within certain aft cabins. Entertainment The main two entertainment venues of the ship are the 'Broadway show lounge' and 'Liberties'. Although the lido deck and the Explorers bar were also used on occasions. The 'Broadway show lounge' is located on deck 6 with both fixed seating and many moveable tables and chairs. There is no raked seating and there are a number of columns, so sight lines were variable. There was also an upper mezzanine level with additional seating and a bar, which tended to get rather hot as the heat from below rose. The show lounge reminded me of the QE2's a little. Unfortunately just like the QE2, corridors passed thorough both levels of the lounge. However the doors were shut during show times to discourage passengers just passing through. Even though there were two performances of each show at 8.30pm and 10.30pm, you needed to arrive at least 15 minutes early in order to not get a restricted view seat. On a positive note the room was atmospheric, not being over large. The sound quality was always reasonable. 'Liberties' is a cabaret lounge located on the uppermost deck, deck 6. Although not a particularly attractive room as such, it was a functional one. It is a medium sized room with a bar, small stage and dance floor, which helped to make it quite an atmospheric room at times. Various quizzes, games shows, dance tuition, bands, singing, Karaoke and a disco all took place there regularly. Thomson's onboard entertainment team of ten young performers provide virtually all of the entertainment in the 'Broadway Theatre'. This is in contrast to most other cruise lines that hire an array of guest artists with just a few production shows per week. On Celebration the on board team provides six shows, with a guest magician on my cruise providing the seventh evening of entertainment. The team also performed an afternoon play and offered several 'sail-away' deck parties. In addition selected members often sang in 'Liberties' cabaret lounge late evening. The team were obviously very enthusiastic and energetic. However I though the team that I saw a on the 'Red Sea Magic' cruise (2006) were stronger in the vocal department. Unfortunately all of the music accompanying the performers was pre-recorded, rather than using a live band, although I doubt if there was much room on stage for a band, anyway. The ships lido deck is quite wide and there is a permanently located covered stage, behind the pool. This was used by bands and entertainment staff for participation games and quizzes. The cinema is a nice touch and is surprisingly large with proper raked seating. New releases are repeated three times per day. The same movies also appear on the cabin TV at times during the cruise. However the quality of the data-projection, is a little substandard. I'm please to say that Thomson have preserved many of the cruise traditions and manage to pack them all into one week. The amount of different activities and games offered daily was very impressive, these included: a crew show, Captain's cocktail party, midnight buffets, Gala diner, buffet magnifique, baked Alaska parade, two sail-away parties, six production shows, one play, DVD Concerts, new films in the cinema and on TV, quizzes, game shows, dance classes, napkin folding, bingo, spa seminars, port talks, fashion show, carpet bowls, fruit and vegetable carving, ice sculpture, various deck sports, carpet bowels, scrabble, jigsaw, bean-bag boules, bridge, cards, Captains Q&A, cocktail demonstration, Wii games, deck quoits, and more. Dining There are four locations to dine onboard the Celebration. The Meridian dining room is the main dining room and it has plenty of space between all of the tables and chairs, which were very comfortable. The Meridian provides waiter service for breakfast, diner and evening meal. Open seating is offered at all times, and the dress code is smart-casual, apart from the formal Captain's 'Gala Diner' once per week, where guest are assigned an early or late sitting which ties in with one of two Captain's Cocktail party (held in the Broadway show lounge) and the after diner show. However, Brits being Brits, some passengers dressed up a little every evening. The waiter service was efficient and unobtrusive and the food was excellent. I don't know how Thomson achieved it, because the quality of dining room food definitely exceeded the fair that I paid. The meals had five courses. Luxury Items like Lobster Tail, veal, salmon, pork loin and beef were offered daily. The menu's also contained interesting international dishes such as paella and vegetable samosa/curry. As a comparison, the food was better than I had experienced onboard NCL's 'Norwegian Jade' (in the no-fee dining rooms) and better than the QE2 (Mauritania grade). The food was certainly no worse than I have experience with RCI and Fred Olsen, in fact many of the dishes were probably better. Once per week the Meridian hosts the 'Buffet Magnifique', a midnight food extravaganza complete with ice sculptures and fantastic vegetable and fruit carvings. The prices of the wines on the list were very reasonable, starting from around £10. Likewise the prices of bar drinks were on a par with the average UK pub. Thomson do NOT add a 15% service charge to drinks as many cruise lines do. An alternative dining option is 'Zilli's', which is an intimate 40 seat room at the rear of the starboard side of the Meridian. The dEcor is tasteful and modern. Booking is recommended and it carries an additional fee of £12.95 per person, for two courses and £16.95 for three courses. Zilli's menu is the same daily. I decided that I must try it. Being much smaller, the waiter service was more attentive than it the Meridian. The portions appeared to be minimalist, but the presentation was like a work of art. The appetizer: sautEed Mushroom with goat cheese was superb. The chilli Penne pasta appetizer was very passable, but not exceptional. The main course of lamb chops were excellent - in fact it was some of the best lamb that I have ever tasted. After finishing the second course I was surprisingly satisfied, so I passed on the deserts. So was the experience worth £12.95 each - yes it probably was. The Lido restaurant (a self-service buffet) is the other main dining option. The buffet was a true 'Lido' with doors that opened onto the stern of the ship. There were plastic tables where one could dine on deck, overlooking the pool. Pizza and burgers were also cooked and served from a small 'Terrace Grill' offering a third dining option. There was also a Lido bar which served this area. This deck area was very popular with the smokers. The 'Lido Restaurant' worked very well and had a right and a left entrance with duplicated food on both sides. Queues of more than a handful of passengers were rare. Even at it's most crowded one could easily find a table, unlike 'King Court' onboard the otherwise breathtaking Queen Mary 2, for example. There was a free 24 hour self-service tea/coffee station in one corner of the Lido which had the most comprehensive range of Tea bags that I've ever seen at sea, plus coffee. The Lido food was truly a 24 hour service. Breakfast began at 6.00am and merged into lunch, afternoon tea, then dinner, then midnight buffet, then the late night menu, through to 6.00am again. Diner theme nights were offered: 'Spanish', 'Italian' 'Great British' and 'Indian'. There were always a range of reasonable self-service food choices in the lido, although the variety was not as great as on a mega-ship. Soup, salad, breads, cheese, meats, vegetable dishes were always on offer. What was not usually on offer were the more exotic meats and seafood that you would expect to find on premium cruise lines. The sweets (or should I say 'puddings'), were very British and very popular, such as 'Bread & Butter' pudding, 'Pear & Apple Crumble' and 'Rice Pudding'. The cakes were particularly nice and included sugar free options. Porridge and American pancakes were often available for breakfast along with the de rigueur bacon, eggs and pastries. A self-service afternoon tea with delicious freshly baked scones, cream, preserves and finger sandwiches was held most afternoons. Room service is 24 hours and unfortunately carries addition fees, unlike most cruise lines where it is free. A continental breakfast, for example, is £4.50p. For this reason I did not see it being used very much compared to other cruise lines where it is free. Ports of Call In most cases the ship berthed near a town at each island, so it was possible to simply walk ashore. In Funchal, Madeira, I walked to the cable car in the bay and ascended to Monte, visiting two very extensive and very beautiful Botanical gardens. I took the traditional way down, riding a wicker sledge. Morocco was one port where I'd definitely recommend an excursion. Unfortunately, the Marrakech option involved a four hour journey on poor roads, which I considered too far in a day. (A new road will cut this time in half by 2010). Therefore I choose a shorter trip to 'Taroudant', an ancient walled city. Although only four hours flight from London, Morocco's 'souks' selling exotic spices, complete with donkeys pulling carts, felt like I'd travelled back in time. Tenerife had a very good Museum 'Museo de la Naturaleza y E Hombre' (Natural History) as well as much modern shopping. In Lanzarote I took a tour of the amazing 'Lunar Route', a road cut through the volcanic lava and rock. It was truly amazing and really did resemble the moons surface. Summary The internet is full of five star reviews of Thomson cruises from very satisfied customers. Cynical commentators have suggested that Thomson passengers are generally easily impressed because they are either cruise 'virgins' or have never cruised with other line to draw a comparison. Well there may be an element of truth in this, but this cannot account for all of the positive reviews. I have cruised with most of the major lines and I'm not easily impressed. Thomson's food and service is as good, and sometimes better, than many other mass market cruise lines. Thomson are not about impressive state-of-the-art ships. They focus on the onboard experience. If you are looking for a more intimate British experience with food and service at a quality which often seems to exceed the fare paid, look no further. Malcolm Oliver, April 2009 Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
I should first of all inform you all that as veteran cruisers on many other cruise lines my wife and I have never found the need to put pen to paper in order to complain until our experience on the Thomson Celebration. Our cabin ... Read More
I should first of all inform you all that as veteran cruisers on many other cruise lines my wife and I have never found the need to put pen to paper in order to complain until our experience on the Thomson Celebration. Our cabin number 817 was at water level on deck 1 or deck C. The two different names for each deck we found very confusing, but the problems on this deck are: when the ship is moving you cannot see anything other than frothy seawater over the porthole. also we experienced persistent loud banging of the wash against the outer shell of the ship when the ship was moving at 14 knots or more overnight. This resulted in five sleepless nights out of the seven of our cruise. This double bedded cabin was quite spacious but very-very dated. We did on the second night move the bed-head away from the outer wall in an attempt to reduce the noise levels of the ship crashing though the waves. On doing so we revealed indescribable dirt and filth, toe and fingernails, human hair of all descriptions along the wall and floor. Photos of the mess will be found on the cruise photo page of this site should the powers that be allow publication of them. The air conditioning in our cabin was stuck on cold, in the evenings it was like living in a fridge. On complaining the first attempt to repair this was to block the vent with two layers of foam. This of course resulted in us unable to breath when the cabin door was shut. On the third repair attempt, we had no access to our cabin for a whole day at sea whilst it was fixed properly. The saving grace of the cruise was the high standard of the evening theatre entertainment and the friendliness of the restaurant and house-keeping staff. We found the attitude of the senior staff when we had the audacity to complain very rude and complacent. Sorry Thomson my wife and I know that no-one is perfect but your very poor and dismissive response to our letter of complaint through Cruise.co.uk will result in our determination never to use you again and we will inform others of our bad experience. We are The Paxtons Isle of Wight. Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise