I stayed on the Thomson Celebration for 7 nights in an inside cabin located on Deck 3.
The Thomson Celebration is one of the smaller ships in Thomson’s fleet, and was refurbished in 2012. It has 10 decks, 632 cabins, 5 restaurants, 6 bars and 2 swimming pools.
I personally love the Thomson cruises because all of the tips are included, generally everyone on-board is from the U.K., and they’re all super friendly. It is a nice relaxing atmosphere. That being said, I have only ever cruised with Thomson and Cruise and Maritime so it’s hard to compare this cruise operator to some of the larger cruise operators.
On 25th August 2016, Lloyd and I flew on the Thomson Dreamliner aeroplane to Dubrovnik, Croatia to start our ‘Croatian Classics’ cruise. We had an early morning flight, so we had landed and embarked onto the ship by 11am. We freshened up and went out to explore Dubrovnik.
We caught the local bus from just outside of the port into the city centre and went to find Dubrovnik Cable Car, which takes you 405 metres above sea level to the top of Hill Srd. After spending some time taking in the magnificent views, we took the cable car back down to the bottom. If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk down Hill Srd instead of taking the cable car, but we thought it would be too hard in the August heat.
We then walked to the Old Town where we walked the famous city walls for a small fee. The city walls surround the Old Town and are 1,940 metres long. It was great to see the fortresses. Make sure you take a bottle of water with you before you start the walk though! The Dubrovnik city walls have become popular since Game of Thrones, and you can take GoT tours from the Old Town.
We had to be back on the ship in time for the muster drill so we got the local bus back to the port.
Day two was our day at sea and we spent the majority of the day on deck 9 at The Sun Lounge. We had a double sun bed to ourselves which was lush. A day at sea means there’s not much else to do other than relax in the sunshine. I absolutely love looking out and seeing nothing but blue skies and blue sea.
In the evening it was formal night and it was nice to get a bit dressed up for dinner. On this ship there’s no pressure to take part in the formal nights; if you don’t want to then you can eat at a different restaurant which is more relaxed.
On day three we woke up in Trieste, Italy. We were going to book an excursion through Thomson to the Slovenian caves, but I had read online that you could take a tram to Opicina which sounded great. We found the place to pick up the tram, but we were told it wasn’t in service at the moment due to an accident that had happened 10 days ago! So we were left walking around aimlessly regretting not booking the excursion. I probably should’ve researched Trieste a bit more beforehand, but we found a tourist information centre to get a map and got them to highlight the points of interest.
We spent the morning walking around the city before making our way back to the ship for a late lunch and a dip in the hot tub on Deck 8.
In the evening we watched a lovely sunset. I can’t agree more with the phrase ‘the best things in life are free’ – sunsets are definitely one of these!
On day 4 we woke up in Venice, Italy. We woke up early to experience the sailing into Venice which I had heard was really good to witness. Although it was good, most of the people on the ship had also decided to do this so it was quite cramped up on the deck – and chilly! I was pleased that I had booked the VIP sail away party for the evening.
We’d booked the ‘Gondola & St Marks Full Day’ excursion through Thomson, which included a privately chartered launch into the heart of the city, a 30 minute gondola ride and a return back to the ship. I had read online before I went that the queues for gondola rides can get busy, and as we only had a few hours in Venice I wanted to guarantee a ride.
Venice was extremely hot, and busy. But it was still a beautiful, picturesque city. We spent the day exploring and saw St Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco. For lunch we ate pizza, and in the afternoon we cooled down with some gelato.
Back on the ship, we’d paid extra for a VIP sail away party, and it was really worth the money. Especially as we didn’t have an all-inclusive drinks package. We were given prosecco, canapés and our own little private section on top deck with amazing views of Venice.
On day five we woke up in Rovinj, Croatia. At this port, we needed to tender to shore so we took a smaller boat from the ship to land. We’d booked the ‘Rovinj Bike Tour’ excursion through Thomson. The bike ride lasted 4-5 hours, and we cycled 15 miles. I was worried that I wasn’t going to keep up with the rest of the group, but it was a nice leisurely ride. The ride started through the town centre, through the cobbled streets and pastel coloured buildings. We then went under Balbi’s Arch, the last remains of the old town walls, and past the 17th-century clock tower in the main piazza. We left the town behind and headed into the countryside. Quiet roads led us to the seaside, where we had free time to swim in the sea and grab a drink. Make sure you swap your Euros from Italy over to your Croatian Kuna – we made the mistake of forgetting, and as it was a small café they couldn’t accept our Euros.
After we had completed the bike tour, we stayed in the old town to explore further. We paid 20 KN each to climb the 61 metre bell-tower at the Basilica of St. Euphemia for spectacular views across Rovinj. This three-nave church was built in 1736, and the bell-tower resembles the tower of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
We walked through a local food market before taking the tender back to the ship.
On day six we arrived in Hvar, Croatia. We also had to tender to shore here. Instead of booking an excursion, we decided to explore Hvar by ourselves. We started the day off walking to the top of Fortress Fortica Španjola, which was hard work but totally worth it as it gave us fantastic panoramic views of the city, its surroundings and the Pakleni Islands. The fortress was built in the 16th-century, and added to by the Austrians in the 19th-century.
After taking in the views, we made it back down to the bottom in search of a beach. We followed a road round for a couple of miles, and ended up on a little beach – perfect. The water was crystal clear, but the beach was full of pebbles so it was uncomfortable to lay and walk on it. If you’ve got waterproof sandals, make sure you wear them! We spent a couple of hours here, but I wanted to stay longer.
On our way back to the main square, we stopped at a restaurant next to the sea for some lunch. I was excited to try some local food so I ordered the Dalmatian style risotto which was very tasty.
We walked around the main square before taking the tender back to the ship.
Day seven, our last port of call before heading back to Dubrovnik, was Bar, Montenegro. I was debating between two Thomson excursions for this stop; the ‘Skadar Lake Cruise’ and the ‘Budva & Sv. Riviera Cruise‘. We opted for the latter one, and picked up a boat from the port and set sail along the Montenegrin coastline. We sailed past the stunning Sveti Stefan, a small islet and 5-star hotel resort, before stopping in the old town of Budva.
We explored the old town and surrounding beaches, and came across a lovely little art gallery located in the Church of Santa Maria in Punta. It is one of the oldest pre-Romanesque churches in the coastal region, and is currently used for art exhibitions and concerts for classical music.
We walked down the cobbled streets and stopped off at a restaurant near to the Church of St John for a drink to cool us down.
On the way back to the ship, we stopped off at Sveti Stefan for a photograph.
We spent the rest of the afternoon back on-board the Thomson Celebration to make the most of the sunshine before heading back to England the next day.
The next morning, we awoke back in Dubrovnik and started our journey back home.
Thank you Thomson Cruises for another fabulous holiday!
Have you been on-board the Thomson Celebration, or visited any of these places? Please leave your comments below.