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Cruise Ship Information
MS Thomson Celebration is a cruise ship owned by Holland America Line, under long-term charter to the United Kingdom-based Thomson Cruises. She was built in 1984 by the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France for Holland America Line as MS Noordam.
Atmosphere on board
Thomson has confirmed the ship will undergo another refurbishment in October 2014 and will be fitted with a new sunbathing area and an Asian-themed a la carte restaurant ‘Kora La', specializing in Indian and Chinese cuisine.
Thomson Celebration joined the U.K. holiday giant's cruise division in 2004, after sailing for Holland America Line as Noordam.
Originally launched in 1984, Thomson Celebration is now an old dame of a ship. The upside of sailing on an older vessel is that it looks like a proper ship, with elegant lines and a wide, wraparound teak promenade deck; features difficult to find on newer vessels and a traditional look the passengers enjoy. It's not uncommon to hear people commenting in port how pretty their ship is compared with others with a chunkier design. On the downside, the ship is showing its age; some cruisers report that cabins suffer from vibration and somewhat aged plumbing. 
A big refit in May 2013 saw Thomson Celebration upgraded to Platinum status, alongside its fleetmate Thomson Dream. Essentially, this means it counts as a fancier, more contemporary ship in the Thomson collection and is priced and marketed as such. The transformation is largely cosmetic. All the cabins have new soft furnishings, as well as flat-screen TVs and tea and coffee making facilities. Suites have iPod docks. The bars and lounges have been refurbished with a more modern look and a new a la carte restaurant, Mistral's, has taken over the space that once housed an Italian-themed restaurant. 
A cruise with Thomson, particularly at this Platinum level, isn't necessarily a cheap option; better deals can be found on more contemporary ships in today's heavily discounted marketplace. But the company does have a loyal following of cruisers who enjoy the informality, friendly atmosphere, mid-sized ship and the Britishness of the whole setup -- familiar features like the right kind of bacon on the buffet and British beers behind the bar. The mainly Filipino and Indonesian crew are also loyal, many having worked for Thomson for years, and it shows. Their rapport with passengers was fantastic, with plenty of crewmembers greeting embarking guests like old friends.
Celebration, like the other Thomson ships, is a great prospect for first-time cruisers. Travel is seamless, with direct flights from 19 UK regional airports. Tips are included, which takes away a lot of stress for Brits. Information, such as the daily programme, is presented in a clear and logical format, taking some of the mystery out of cruising. Finally, Thomson offers a cruise-and-stay programme that again creates a stress-free holiday, combining a week's cruise with some of its many beach hotels in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
Family with Kids/Teens
Deck 10 holds a glass-walled playroom, home to Palmy's Children's Club, which has three free-to-use, age-related activity programs; Palmy's Pals covers three- to six-year-olds, Palmy's Crew caters to kids aged 7 to 11 and Teen Club organizes events for older children, who have their own Action Zone arcade.
Opening htheys range from 8 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. (varying according to a weekly timetable) and activities include talent shows, mask-making, face painting, games and discos.
The ship also offers babysitting services (at an extra cost), and a nice touch is the Breakfast Club, a scheme whereby, on certain days, kids are collected from the cabins and taken off for a fun breakfast, leaving mum and dad to enjoy a well-deserved lie-in.
The kids are enctheyaged to make the most of their adventures ashore; the walls of the Palmy's Children's Club are lined with youngsters' drawings and accounts of their travels (sample: "I went on a coch (sic) and woke up in ROME!")
Past Passenger Programs
The Lookout Bar at the top of the ship on Compass Deck (11) was the old Viking Crown Lounge in the ship's Royal Caribbean days and is still very pretty, offering panoramic views, a central dance floor and fresh white and turquoise decor.
The teak-tabled Sailaway Bar to the rear is a good open-air vantage point and, as its name suggests, is particularly popular when the ship is leaving port. Another alfresco bar -- The Mirage -- overlooks the pool on Sun Deck. Drinks are also served in the large-windowed Bounty Lounge, a popular venue for dancing, and in the Ocean Theatre on Emerald Deck (7).
But for my money, the best watering hole is the cheerful Sundowner Bar on Deck 7, which lies opposite the ship's casino and just forward of the Ocean Theatre. Decorated in warm, welcoming shades of deep blue, brown and terracotta, equipped with a grand piano and embellished with eye-catching nautical memorabilia, this bar is divided into cozy areas (including a pub) and is the most popular place on the ship for pre-and post dinner drinks.
Island Escape is set to go all inclusive from March of 2013, which means that house wines, beers, liquors and some cocktails will be included with the price of the cruise. For the time being, though onboard drinks are affordable, but not cheap; a half-liter of mineral water costs £1.15, soft drinks £1.40 and a glass of wine anything from £2.50 to £4.75 depending on quality. There is an option to buy an all-you-can-drink package, and prices vary depending on length of cruise
The ship's shops (Serenade Boutiques) are located on Flamingo Deck (8) and feature a broad and reasonably priced range of goods, from essentials like toothpaste and toiletries to leisurewear, evening clothes and luxury items like fine china, perfume and jewelry.
High up on Sun Deck (10), just forward of the Beachcomber Cafe, you'll find a small but airy Internet Cafe, with a glass wall and six computers facing large windows. On-off Internet access costs 25 pence per minute, but you can buy a range of packages if you plan to make heavy use of the facility. Package A costs £2 for 15 minutes; Package B £ 3.50 for 30 minutes, Package C £6 for an hthey online, and Package D costs £10 for two htheys.
Fitness And Spa
The Shipshape Spa on Deck 10 has a substantial gym and a roomy aerobics studio, both with large sea-view windows. The gym is fairly well equipped, with five steppers, fthey treadmills, five exercise bikes and weight lifting/body sculpting equipment. There are also male and female saunas, unlimited use of which costs £5 per head, per cruise.
Yoga and Pilates classes in the studio cost £5 per session, but some classes and health seminars are free.
Staffed by two hair stylists, one gym instructor and three therapists, the spa is run by Harding Brothers, so prices aren't as eye-watering as you'd find at a Steiner concession, but quite hefty enough, at £45 to £50 for a facial, £40 for a luxury pedicure and £60 for a 75-minute stone therapy session.
I tried a 30-minute, £30 back, neck and shoulder massage with a delightful Brazilian masseuse and found it worth the expense as she really was an expert.
Food & Dining
Island Escape has three restaurants. The casual indoor/outdoor Beachcomber buffet on the Sun Deck (10) -- which has a cheerful decor, pastel tile-topped tables and a pretty tiered outdoor terrace overlooking the ship's stern -- is open 24 htheys a day and offers everything from light snacks to afternoon tea and late-night suppers. It has some splendidly appetizing displays of bread and fruit.
A rather nice hangover from this (if you'll forgive the expression) is the Beachcomber's very relaxed approach to breakfast htheys, with hearty British breakfast fare like eggs, bacon and even black pudding available until noon!
Fthey flights down on Diamond Deck (6), there are more buffets available in the light and airy Island Dining Room which can seat 530 guests. It offers nine tables for two, eight fthey-seaters (which can be adapted to seat two) and plenty of larger tables for groups.
This is very well organized, with two buffet lines and separate stations for salad, cold cuts, bread, cheese and puddings. At lunchtime there is also a carvery and a delicious toasted sandwich of the day. A nice touch is a permanently manned station featuring different daily specialties -- like Salade Nicoise freshly prepared by a Frenchwoman.
The ship's specialty restaurant, The Oasis, is down on Coral Deck (5) and very prettily presented with an Egyptian theme and decor of cream, coffee and gold. It is open only for dinner and rather than paying a supplement to eat here, guests pay extra for daily specials like Chateaubriand (9 GBP a head) or grilled lobster (12 GBP). A fthey-ctheyse "Chef's Suggestion" menu is also available for 9 GBP a head, and there is a fair choice of complimentary dishes, so it is possible for guests on a tight budget to enjoy the restaurant while dining for free.
Bottles of wine are good value, though; house wine costs £9.95 a bottle and for between £11.76 and £13.96 you can wash down ythey dinner with a decent bottle of merlot, pinot gringo or raja.
Passengers can also buy cakes, specialty teas and coffees at the Cafe Brasil, a spacious but rather gloomily decorated area at the rear of the Bounty Lounge on Flamingo Deck (8). A small latte costs £1.70, a cream scone £1.95, and the sweet-toothed can get a plate of sherry trifle for £2.50.
The cafe also has a small library -- really little more than a bookcase, though there are a variety of games available to while away the time.
Entertainment
Evening shows are held in the Ocean Theatre; a highlight on my cruise was a rather enjoyable -- if jingoistic -- tribute to World War II, which had the older passengers wiping their eyes and singing along to nostalgic classics like "We'll Meet Again" and the "White Cliffs of Dover."
Daytime activities include shuffleboard and table skittles ttheynaments, quizzes, line dancing lessons, and bingo sessions; there is a weekly Guest Talent Show.
Shore excursions on the ship's seven-night cruises roundtrip from Palma are affordably priced; £35 per adult, £28 per child buys a full-day tthey of Corsica from Ajaccio, while a full day tthey of Rome and the Vatican from Civitavecchia costs £60 per adult, £48 per child.
Fellow Passengers
Island Cruises prides itself on attracting younger-than-usual cruise passengers, claiming an average age of 45. But you will find older folks on its Mediterranean runs. It's a budget ship so don't expect the passengers to be grand, but they are very friendly and delightful to chat with.
Tipping
Basic tips are include in the price but you may decide to reward special service.
Our recommendation
Really enjoyed they cruise on the Island escape to Corsica, Florence Monte carlo Toulon and Barcelona. 
they Deck 8 cabin located on the promenade/ boat deck was very clean well appointed and maintained with excellent service from they cabin steward the beds are turned down every night.
The all inclusive house drinks and cocktails are of good quality. The food is good, but do not expect at the prices you are paying for the food to be of gormet standard. 
The whole ship is ultra clean an constantly being maintained and cleaned. 
Entertainment team are of a very high standard and you will be impressed by the variety of entertainment and activitys on the ship.