Apparently it’s the done thing to review various aspects of your cruise; so here are a few thoughts about our week on the Thomson Celebration (and I promise to keep it serious)….
As we flew into Dubrovnik, we saw the ship, dwarfed by the two giant cruisers berthed either side. It may have looked small from the air and in comparison to the other vessels, but we loved the Celebration. Even on the hottest afternoons, we were able to find somewhere to relax and enjoy the sun, the pools are small, but ideal for cooling off; and the interior of the ship was always clean and welcoming (thanks to the hard work of the staff). There were a couple of shops (which we ventured into) and a spa (which we didn’t) and any number of bars (including a coffee bar) in which to sample the cocktail menu. The ship sailed smoothly up and down the Adriatic; sometimes you had to check to be sure you were actually moving… we would definitely have no hesitation in booking a holiday aboard the Celebration again. 9/10
The outside cabin was, as expected, small, and the two beds were in an L shape so we were forced to sleep separately on our first ever child-free holiday, but that apart the cabin was perfectly comfortable. There was plenty of storage space, the bathroom was a bit cramped but fine, and we were very well looked after throughout the week. 9/10
It is hard to be anything other than general when there are several hundred staff on board, and pretty much everyone with whom we came into contact was great. Some were more friendly or outgoing than others, but that’s not a criticism; the staff were helpful and professional throughout and the only reason the mark is not a perfect 10 is that the bar service in the show lounge became a bit of a lottery when the room was full. Otherwise, fantastic. 9½/10
The ship had a large buffet restaurant (Lido) with various “stations” for pasta, pizza, burgers and the like. The breakfasts were excellent and the evening meals we had were pretty good too. We dined twice in the Meridian Restaurant and we enjoyed both meals, although be prepared to be seated alongside passengers who you don’t know. The highlight was the Kora La Restaurant. The food is mainly Indian with Chinese influences and it is superb. Jing and his team were wonderful hosts and you shouldn’t begrudge the additional cost (roughly £20 per head even if you are all-inclusive)… it was one of the highlights of the week. Lido 8/10, Meridian 9/10, Kora La 10/10 - Overall 9/10
There was no shortage of entertainment on board the ship. There were two singing duos, a pianist and a resident band who churned out perfectly pleasant middle-of-the-road covers for the passengers. Not really my type of music, but that’s hardly their fault! There was an entertainments team who looked after the daily events (quizzes, bingo and the like) perfectly well, rather than particularly memorably. If you wanted spectacular, then you needed to watch the show team. Ten young men and women, who performed a series of impressive shows during the week (interrupted by one fantastic–and very un-PC—routine from stand-up comedian Paul Eastwood). What stood out for me were two genuinely amazing voices—belonging to Emma Mawdsley and Chris Lafferty… the latter’s rendition of “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera” earned a thoroughly deserved standing ovation; and the very obvious dancing talents of Charlotte Turrell. Collectively the show team could not be marked at anything less than 10/10. My subjective view of the other entertainment would be 7/10, but maybe that’s a mark short of a fair objective assessment. Overall it’s 9/10… perhaps it should be 8½ but I’ve added the extra half mark because Emma and Chris really were outstanding.
The cruise began and ended in Dubrovnik, a lovely city that is well worth exploring, but you don’t really get the time on this particular itinerary. The first port of call is Koper in Slovenia; it is only a short walk to the pleasant town centre, but there isn’t a great deal to see or do—a visit to Piran is certainly worth considering. Our main aim in Venice was to sit down and enjoy a pizza in a local café, which we did… and it was great. Watch out for the little birds which have no fear in taking leftovers after you’ve finished! If you want a trip on a gondola, book on board the ship, as it’s expensive otherwise and if you want to venture inside any of the historical buildings in or near St Mark’s Square, expect a lengthy queue.
Rijeka has a large pedestrian-only shopping area and there is a relaxed feel to the city centre and a gentle buzz of conversation from the many cafes and bars. We popped in to the Church of St Mary of the Assumption and the adjoining leaning tower (it only leans a little bit); the church interior is stunning. Korcula was probably the highlight of the five destinations; it is a beautiful island, with wonderful scenery and architecture, which also lays claim to being the birthplace of Marco Polo.
Sadly Durres in Albania has very little to recommend it, but plenty to suggest it should not be on the itinerary. Clearly the country is keen to develop a tourist industry, but some potentially interesting history is totally outweighed by beggars, buildings that are in as poor a state of repair as the partially excavated Roman amphitheatre and some seriously bad drivers.
Koper 8½/10, Venice 9/10, Rijeka 9½/10, Korcula 10/10, Durres 3/10 - Overall itinerary 8½/10
The Overall Cruise – 9/10