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Re-Introducing Thomson Celebration

The Thomson Celebration and Thomson Dream have just begun their metamorphosis into Platinum Cruise ships. Here’s the latest news from the front line of the chrysalis…

It’s not often that wheels get mentioned in a cruising capacity, but they’re well and truly in motion when it comes to Thomson Cruise’s Platinum makeover.

The grand plan was to refurbish 2 ships from the existing 4-fold fleet and give them some extra benefits – we’re talking furnishings with designer touches, flat-screen TVs and tea and coffee making facilities in cabins, and iPod docking stations in suites. To make the Platinum grade, the chosen ships already had to score ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ with 90 per cent or more of our customers.

Last week, work began on the Thomson Celebration. The ship docked in Limassol, Cyprus, and a team of 200 contractors, from firms all over the UK, were given the tight turnaround time of 10 days to makeover the ship.

screed removal in restaurantShortly after the workforce arrived, 30 containers joined the Celebration at dockside, filled with more carpet, furniture, wallpaper, tiles and worktops than a Homebase catalogue.

Since the renovation project started, passers-by in Limassol have seen some memorable scenes. Four cranes have been working over the ship with the synchronisation of Team GB’s swimmers. Plus, at one point, 1,000 unwanted chairs were lined up in single file along the port prom deck, ready to be recycled ashore.

RefurbThomson Celebration will make her maiden voyage sporting this new look in the public areas, on Wednesday the 7th of November. She’ll be heading to Sharm El Sheikh to start her winter Red Sea programme. On this selection of cruises customers can see the pyramids, Petra, and the Valley of the Kings in just 7 days. Soon after, the Thomson Dream will be pulling into Hamburg port, to begin its own transformation.

Renovations by numbers…

5 – the number of sittings needed in the restaurant to feed the workforce

3 – the number of times a day the workforce need to refuel

34 – the reading on the thermometer in the Broadway show lounge, when the temperature was turned up to speed the drying process of the new floor

20,000 – the number of plastic cups required for workforce water stations

300 – the number of plastic cups Staff Captain Nathan Mills was able to source, when he was sent out to buy 20,000 cups

Thomson Cruise Going Platinum – Read more here

17 – the number of minutes the 300 cups lasted

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468 Responses to “Re-Introducing Thomson Celebration”

  1. johnd921@gmail.com' Johnd273

    Over the course of the initial period, they began to flrm group identities. aeeedkbkdcge

  2. glorandjon@blueyonder.co.uk' gloria donovan

    My sister and I are going on the Celebration cruise on 25th August ,My friends are meeting us in Istanbul ,what is the name of the dock in Istanbul please ,Also I will be celebrating my 71st birthday the day after the cruise on the 2nd Sept .Might we be upgraded at all while were on the cruise ,Mnay thanks

    • Phil @Thomson

      Hi Gloria, The dock in Istanbul is called Karakoy. Also, if you could please email your query and booking reference to cares@thomson.co.uk, I can a note on your booking informing the staff of your celebration.

    • Daniel.Doubleday@thomson.co.uk' Dan @Thomson

      Hi Gloria, The port in Istanbul can vary from week to week, over recent calls we have docked in both Salipazari and Karakoy in Istanbul but this can change on the day.

  3. mick.mccolgan@ntlworld.com' Mick McColgan

    Hi we are traveling on the celebration leaving on the 25th august for two weeks the second weeks takes in Israel could you tell me if this will still be going due to the troubles there.

    • Phil @Thomson

      Hi Mick, We’re currently reviewing the cruise and are contacting customers as any changes are made to itineraries. Our Programme Change team will be in touch regarding this. Thank you for your understanding.

  4. vodkasue@blueyonder.co.uk' Susan Dickinson

    Alistair , I have emaled and written to Thomson Cares and after Travel and also written several letters to the Managing Director , Fraser Ellacott and guess what , no one cares! All I ever get told is that…..Thomson are sorry they did not meet my expectations but do meet the expectations of the majority of people and that they take all concerns raised seriously and act on them. Not sure I believe that. 6 months after we cruised I am still seeing the same issues to service , illness and money grabbing procedures now implemented on board. Service and illness is a major concern, when you can not drinks which you have paid for in advance of your trip, and should we be paying to be ill and confined to cabins. How Thomson knowing they have issues on board still allow further customers to board . I have been with Thomson 6 times before and in the August of last year saw a down trend and in the Dec it was tragic. Not enough staff , staff are miserable due to being tired . There is more supplements going on the All Inclusive package, you are constantly hassled around ship to purchase things, food is served cold. No one not even Fraser Ellacott ever comes back to you with answers they skirt the issues. I truly hope that season travelers go elsewhere and you may learn a lesson. Thomson take hard earned money and give you a poor rate holiday. I was even told when I complained on the All inc package that drinks were of a poor quality ….Thomson have the right to serve drinks at the time to suit the environment and conditions ? What ? Never did I ever think I would be saying this, after so many cruises I loved Thomsons , no more as NO ONE CARES OR LISTENS !!

  5. dianegeorgina@hotmail.co.uk' Diane Ovenden

    My husband and I are travelling on Thomson celabraion in July on the black sea exsperiance and I’m very worried about the complaints that I have just read regarding health issues and service . We travelled on the Thomson spirit two years ago for our 25th wedding anniversary and it was a wonderful cruise that’s why we are doing another one . But reading all these concerns is now a big worry to us ..

  6. mo24751@yahoo.com' Maureen mcneill

    just returned on Monday 2 june2014 from one weeks cruise on the celebration. this was the coldest ship I have ever been on. the only warm areas were the toilets, the corridors and the lido restaurant everywhere else has cold air blowing. mealtimes were not enjoyable as the room was so cold,I complained daily but was just given a sarcastic grin by the maître de Franz.
    this ship did not live up to my expectations at all – not a patch on the Majesty for service and staff friendliness.
    unless you enjoy living in a fridge avoid this ship

    • Samantha.thorley@thomson.co.uk' Sammi @Thomson

      Hi Maureen, It’s disappointing to hear this. Since returning home have you raised your concerns with our After Travel Team?

  7. barbarasmith1946@icloud.com' Barbara Smith

    Have just returned from Colourful Coasts cruise leaving Tenerife on 28th March. This is our fourth cruise with Thomson . We arrived quite late on Friday evening and after the usual checking in formalities, we had to find our own cabin. We had paid slightly extra for outside cabin on deck 3/4 but found ourselves on deck 8 next to the beauty salon. The vibration in that room was terrible , making sleeping for the duration of the cruise a very uncomfortable experience. We went down to dinner in the Lido restaurant and were met by barriers across all food areas. Surly staff handed us our choice of food and for several days queues were long and very slow. Beverage queues were horrendous resulting in your hot meal being cold. Self service finally resumed on Tuesday evening and staff seemed a little more relaxed, but we still did not receive a service comparable to previous cruises. Hygiene issues were another concern. Plates were upside down and I noticed a plate with hardened egg yolk from the lip to the base of the plate. I picked it up and gave it to a senior crew member stood behind the food counter explaining that it was dirty. He looked at it and then proceeded to pick it off with his nail for several seconds before wiping it on the front do his uniform! He then put the plate back onto the area where the other plates were. I stood looking at him until he retrieved it again and gave it to a passing waiter. That member of staff would have fragments of egg under his fingernails and he was stood over and in charge of the cold meat selection. It is hardly any wonder there are health issues and not always from passengers bringing viruses on board.
    Reception staff let us down on the day of leaving. We requested an early morning call but did not receive it.
    On a positive note the entertainment was excellent, the service in all the bar areas excellent ,the cabin housekeeper brilliant and the Thomson staff very good.

    • Leanne.myers@thomson.co.uk' Leanne @Thomson

      Hi Barbara, It’s a shame to hear there were aspects of your cruise you weren’t happy with. Did you address these concerns at the time?

    • vodkasue@blueyonder.co.uk' Susan Dickinson

      Hi, on every complaint people are asked if they had raised concerns at the time, did you contract Aftertravel or Thomsoncares on their return. To which we all can and many do contact so called Thomson Cares, to which I have to say should be called Thomson don’t care, to which you get no help or compassion or customer care. If as you say Thomson listen then why after 6 months since we traveled with you on our 7th cruise are you still experiencing the same issues. So all our raised issues, complaints go nowhere. It must be the only industry where you can take money from people and not sell them what is promised. People need to read cruise critic and holiday watchdog before paying out money .
      Oh and yes I am still very angry 6 months later at our holiday what should have been a fab Christmas & New Year aboard the ship was awful. Just cost saving penny pinching all the time with Norovirus thrown in for free ! Thomson def not Platinum by any stretch of the imagination. Thomson years ago made you feel special aboard, drinks and food was amazing, service was outstanding hence why we sailed 6 times before …never again …people beware

    • Alistair

      Hi Susan, I’m sorry to hear you’re disappointed with the service you’ve received and thank you for your comment. We do ask that customers direct or help them to direct their queries to the right department. Depending on the nature of the query or complaint, the department that it will be best sent to and able to be resolved by will change. Where possible we’ll investigate and answer the queries that come to us but this isn’t always possible. If you’d like to send your reference and booking details to cares@thomson.co.uk, I’ll do as explained and look into your complaint for you. We’re aware of a few isolated incidents of sickness onboard around Christmas and we take reports of such very seriously but this wasn’t suspected to be Nora Virus. I hope this has reassured you and I look forward to your email.

    • h12rsa@hotmail.com' Betty

      We joined the Celebration on 4th April having been on the ship last July and had a lovely week.
      This time was a different story and we agree with the comments above – as did other guests who we spoke to.
      The Lido restaurant became “service assisted” after 1 day as a “precautionary measure re winter viruses”. This led to long queues at even moderately busy times and more irritating, tables were very slow to be cleared – on a number of occasions, after complaints from passengers, staff were sent to collect used glasses/cups etc. as there were no clean ones in the restaurant.
      The Meridian also seems to have lost its way. We ate there every evening, except for the Gala evening, but were disappointed that the service was not a patch on last year and was very variable. We tend to eat later on in the evening and never had to stand and queue at the door but this meant that we were usually sat at an empty table which the staff then laid bit by bit – very annoying when you are sharing with strangers and are starting conversations that are continually interrupted.
      We were not on a drinks passage and so got given the wine list to choose from on the first night. After that we were just asked what wine we wanted without being given the list again. We did ask for the list on another evening but went back to our first choice for the rest of the week as we could order straightaway rather than waiting for the wine waiter to come, then go and get the list and then come back for our order. We ordered white wine on 5 nights, on 3 of which the wine was put in a cooler and 2 just left on the table. Swings & roundabouts whether you prefer that the wine is not kept chilled, but is on the table, or is kept chilled but out of reach!!
      These are just a few of the aspects that did not live up to our previous experience on this ship but maybe we were just lucky last year??

    • Daniel.Doubleday@thomson.co.uk' Dan @Thomson

      Hi Betty, It’s disappointing that there were some aspects of your cruise you didn’t enjoy and I’ll pass your feedback on to our Cruise Team.

  8. kaycartner@hotmail.com' kay cartner

    We are due to cruise on our much loved Celebration on may 26th for two weeks. The second week itinerary is to Sevastapol . Has this port been changed due to the crimea situation as we have heard nothing from our travel agent or thomson as yet. Thanks

    • Adam.staite@thomson.co.uk' Adam @Thomson

      Hi Kay, Can you please send your concerns and booking details to cares@thomson.co.uk and we’ll look into this for you.

  9. crothew@aol.com' Wayne Crothers

    Hi, I was on a cruise last year aboard the island escape, it was my first holiday solo, I stayed for 7nites in mallorca, then onboard the island escape the following 7nights, had the best time on the cruise and met so many friendly interesting people, the cruise was fully inclusive, im booked for june9th 2014 to go on the aegean/holy lands cruise, am joining friends whom I met on last years cruise, can someone advise me is it possible to buy a drinks package for my upcoming cruise?

    • Lisa-Marie @Thomson

      Hi Wayne, Have you got your booking reference so I can check for you?

  10. fredovington@ntlworld.com' fred ovington

    Just back from two weeks on Celebration,Colourful Coasts. An excellent cruise start to finish despite some heavy weather. The upgrade has worked well in all places to my mind. The new Coffee Shop is great,lovely fattening cakes. Crew as great as ever,plus excellent shows as usual.First person we met at gangway was a waiter named Jomar ,who we have met three times now, it was if he was waiting for us.We have sailed with others also. May be doing Black Sea cruise in October on same ship. The only downside was price of drinks,these are becoming a bit high. Still enjoyed cruise,will be back.One of the highlights of our cruise was listening to the singing duo in Horizons Bar. they go by the name 2INTENSE,they were fantastic.

    • Adam.staite@thomson.co.uk' Adam @Thomson

      Glad you had such a great cruise and the entertainment on board. Thank you for posting your feedback and hope you enjoy the cruise in October just as much.

  11. arthur.butters1@ntlworld.com' Arthur Butters

    Hello, we booked for a cruise/stay holiday to Egypt and Turkey on the Celebration last year, for the holiday starting this year 5th May 2014.
    It was booked through Hays travel and paid for by January.
    Since then we have been trying to find out what trips we will be able go on. There seems to be a mix up between Hays and Thomson booking reference numbers so we couldn’t find out anything about the itinerary and book trips.
    Eventually, after numerous phone calls we were advised to look on the Thomson cruise website which we nothing about until then.
    There, we found our cruise and to our disappointment the itinerary had been changed to Aegean and Holy Land. It even includes Rhodes to where we have been before.
    We are aware of the trouble in Egypt so we can accept the change not to go there.
    What has been more disappointing and annoying is that we have not been informed about the changes. This is not the standard of service that we have come to expect from Thomson

    • Lisa-Marie @Thomson

      Hi Arthur, Are you able to provide me with your booking reference so I can look into this?

  12. mick.mccolgan@ntlworld.com' Mick McColgan

    Going on the Crimean discovery in 25th Aug for 2 weeks is there any updates concerning what is presently happening in the Ukraine as we booked this especially

    • Natasha.Malik

      We’re monitoring the situation closely and liaising with our local agents. We have contingency plans in place – with alternative ports outside the Crimean area – which will be activated if necessary.

      Your safety is our top priority and we always follow FCO advice.

    • mick.mccolgan@ntlworld.com' Mick McColgan

      As we have booked the Crimean discovery because of the intinary what happens if we don’t like or have already been to the places you may take us to

    • Leanne.myers@thomson.co.uk' Leanne @Thomson

      Hi Mick, It’s the customers responsibility to ensure they’re happy with the itinerary that they’ve booked, I’m sure there will be plenty of sites to see and enjoy.

    • mick.mccolgan@ntlworld.com' Mick McColgan

      Surely we can’t be responsible for something you are advertising but not delivering we were happy if the ship goes to where we booked but won’t be if we don’t by the way this is our 8th cruise with your company.

    • Lisa-Marie @Thomson

      Hi Mick, If there are any further updates we’ll let you know.

    • vodkasue@blueyonder.co.uk' Susan Dickinson

      Hi Mick

      I have done 8 cruises and this means nothing to Thomsons at all, it has a poor customer care policy. After care is more Dont Care …

  13. steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' steve h

    Can you please check a post made on 27/2.. This was a repost as original seemed to have gone astray. The new post has passed the moderation phase but there is no indication of any further action. Can you advise please. Repost was made as a reply to a ” Jonathan S @ Thomson” reply.


    Steve H

    • Samantha.thorley@thomson.co.uk' Sammi @Thomson

      Hi Steve, I’m sorry you’ve not yet received a response from us. Since returning home from your cruise, have you raised your concerns with our After Travel Team?

    • steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' Steve H

      Not as yet, but intend doing so as I think there are things which need to be addressed based on our experiences. My original post has been published but still no response, so I guess it has been reviewed by your team.


      Steve H

  14. jim-allisonsmith1@hotmail.co.uk' Jim Smith

    I have contributed several times to the blog and honestly was really not looking forward to our two week cruise on Celebration which was our 27th cruise and the first with Thomsons. I now write to say overall it was a great cruise in almost every way and comparable with P&O in many respects. Yes the lady is getting on a bit but we found her to be ellegant and very fresh after her refit and retains a certain character not present among some of the new high rise flats ships that hold thousands with everything available.
    The negatives were ship vibration in some parts and unavoidable roll due to rough sea states at times. We had a great spacious cabin with balcony but there is not enough public room space especially at night and during sea days, areas such as the new coffee shop could be used better and the sports deck is a waste of space. The cabin safes are not secure as any key can open any safe so do not drop your cabin key which are not in the main numbered so okay that way.
    The positives are many.
    The food in every area was very good of a high standard with a wide choice at all times especially adding in the Lido outside presentation during the whole day and the pasta station at night. We had no issues at any time re service, quality, amount of food and never thought of paying extra for the alternative dining on offer.
    The all inclusive drinks package had some limitations but basically there is more than enough on offer without an extra payment to suit anyone and the measures are extremely generous. It also includes juices and sodas and there is no problem asking for water but if you wish you can take onboard your own bottled water from local shops. Ships tap water for use in the cabins onced boiled is okay for making tea and coffee or to drink when cooled.
    The entertainment was of a high standard in every area – the only down side for me was the new Cruise Director who was very enthusiastic but when he got a microphone in his hand was extremely loud and could be heard at the far end of the ship – louder than the 5 piece band! He would comment on locals looking out to see Celebration having a party – I would say it was more to find out where the noise pollution was coming from!
    The biggest Gold Star is presented to the staff who were numerous and simply brilliant in all areas – but a special thanks to the Horizon Bar team who were first class and our cabin steward was always very attentive and readily available. We will consider Thomsons again in our future plans as we found the whole package of flight choice, cabin, AI, tips included at not much more than £100 pp pn to be excellent value. Enjoy!

    • Samantha.thorley@thomson.co.uk' Sammi @Thomson

      Hi Jim, Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback with us. I’ll make sure this is passed on to our Cruise Team.

    • ivyeve@hotmail.com' Yvonne

      I have to agree about the Cruise Director and the loudness which my husband found annoying, but enjoyed his enthusiasm and his interview with Captain Hugh was very informative. The only negative thing for me was the lack of seating in all bars – I felt that the coffee bar could have been used in the evenings as another quiet bar – it would be easy to place a wine/beer bar there to provide extra seating. The lack of relaxing places to sit with a drink almost put me off the Celebration. My Gold Star goes to Captain Hugh – I have never seen a captain so in evidence in the daytime or evening and mixing with the passengers.

    • Zoelinton@yahoo.co.uk' Zoe Linton

      What deck are the balconies on?? Are they new, don’t remember there being any last year?? Also Cruise Director, are we talking Entertainment, do you remember name ? Was it Steve ?

  15. steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' Steve H

    Reposted the posting earlier today (27/2) but after showing the ‘awaiting moderation’ message it has once again disappeared.

    • steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' Steve H

      Hi. Thanks. The resubmitted post has been now been published as a response to Jonathon S @Thomson of 18/2. Sorry but forgot to say thanks and sign off at the end of it.


      Steve H

  16. fredovington@ntlworld.com' fred ovington

    Sailing on Celebration Friday 28th,Colourful Coasts. First time since ship upgraded. Have read lots of reviews,good and bad,but reserving judgement till cruise over. Having sailed on Dream in first season, we found a lot of comments then unjustified. There were some problems,but not to the extent of some reports. I think a lot of people are just after compensation. I’m not expecting any problems. Having sailed all over the world in M Navy i know the problems faced by crew.
    Fred Ovington Shellsailor.

    • vodkasue@blueyonder.co.uk' Susan Dickinson

      I sailed on the Dream and found it perfect and sailed on he spirit and again brilliant . I have sailed 4 times on the Celebration and the last two were poor esp the one in dec. I can easily say I was NOT after compensation, I wanted a good cruise, with quality food and a standard of service where I could be served. In no way is it the staff faults it is cut backs .

    • steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' Steve H

      Having recently cruised on Celebration I have to say I agree with the points made by Susan. The service in the restaurants and the bars wasn’t good and fell well short of the standards we had experienced on other Thomson Cruises. Over the last 9 years we have been on a fair few and it is a shame when standards drop. Not everyone is after compensation when they they raise negative and valid criticsms. Without such feedback the provider of the service thinks everything is sweet and then nothing is done to improve matters.


      Steve H

  17. mj_surridge@yahoo.com' Barbara Surridge

    We are going on colourful coasts on 28Feb from Tenerife. We need to know when free tea coffee and water and juice will be available or do we have to pay for allof these?
    Also are there mini fridges in the room. I need to cool an ice pack for my knee. We will be on deck 1/2. Will workmen be working in that area ?
    Many thanks

    • Adam.staite@thomson.co.uk' Adam @Thomson

      Hi Barbara, Tea, coffee and water are included with all meals and there are tea and coffee making facilities in every cabin.

  18. steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' Steve H

    Posted comments about recent Thomson Celebration cruise last evening. Comment appeared as awaiting moderation but is not now displayed, can you advise please.

    Previous posts have continued to show posting as awaiting moderation up until the point it is responded to.



    • Jonathan S @ Thomson

      Hi Steve, I’m not sure what’s happened here. Can you re-post your query again so we can assist you?

    • steve@steptran.freeserve.co.uk' Steve H

      Having returned from the Colourful Coasts (7-14/2/2014) cruise on Thomson Celebration I decided to check out the’ blog’ as some aspects of the cruise fell well short of our expectations. In the main the issues raised were similar to those raised in some of the postings.
      To put this into context we have taken at least one cruise each year since 2005, mostly on Thomson ships and, therefore, consider ourselves reasonably experienced cruisers. However, our recent experience on Celebration does make us wonder if Thomson have lost their way a tad. To put it into perspective, we did enjoy the cruise, the various ports of call and the entertainment which was excellent. Our main concerns relate to the level of service and the quality of the food in both the main and buffet restaurants – The Meridian and Lido respectively.
      On each occasion that we dined in the Meridian (every evening) we found the service slow and the food not particularly hot. We ate at different times but by and large the result was the same, except on the last evening when the service was somewhat closer to our expectations based on previous. It certainly felt as though the staff were under pressure and didn’t have the time to observe or interact with the guests; thereby losing to a lesser or greater degree some of the friendliness which has been a particular feature of previous Thomson cruises.
      We suspect that the service levels in the Meridian may have been caused in part by the Norovirus countermeasures that were being taken on board. The main impact of these measures was apparent in the LIDO buffet restaurant where the self service option had been removed both at the serveries and the tea /beverage stations. Instead of the normal and preferable self-service, guests were being served by staff behind or adjacent to the serveries/beverage stations. This inevitably led to delays and also meant that you didn’t always get exactly the choice of what you wanted either in quantity or quality – an example of this would be salad where the where on at least one occasion the variety of lettuce wasn’t that which was required and the quantity put on the plate was too much.
      It is also reasonable to say that food wasn’t always placed on the plate and items were often dumped on top of other items, which wouldn’t have happened in the self-service scenario. Maybe it would but then that is the guests choice. We did comment that it was thrown on the plate. We also felt under pressure to accept something which was not necessarily our choice because to do otherwise would just add to the delays.
      At breakfast I had to ask every day for the cereal of my choice – tied to a diabetic condition. But other cereals were on display in portion size packets and guests could at least help themselves to these. Because of diabetes my choice of cereal was Weetabix – but obviously this was too expensive and a cheaper alternative was the offering. However even the cheaper version wouldn’t sit happily in the provided bowls – more of a small dessert bowl than a cereal bowl. They would take the portion packets – but then there wasn’t a lot room for the milk as my wife discovered. It never used to be like this – could this be an element of cost cutting on the part of Thomson Cruises it certainly felt like that.
      Finally, why did the Norovirus countermeasures last for the duration of the cruise when the incubation period is only a couple of days. Yes – it is sensible and acceptable to have these measures which are aimed at ensuring an outbreak doesn’t take place. This ensures that guests are safe and comfortable and not inconvenienced. However, was it really necessary to have them in place for the full duration? It became very tedious and frustrating. A friend returning from a recent Thomson Caribbean cruise commented that the measures were only in place for the first two days of their cruise. That is something that we experienced when there was an outbreak on the cruise the week prior to ours a few years ago.
      Thomson appear to aspire to being a 4* cruise line. However our recent experiences, including those on a recent rival cruise line with absolutely no complaints, show they a falling short of that mark.

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