We just returned from an amazing 13-day Hawaii cruise onboard the Celebrity Century, and we can sum up our experience to one word, "WOW". My husband and I have cruised several times before with various cruise lines--Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity, and this cruise was by far the best. Most important to us when choosing a cruise are itinerary, food and service; to that end Celebrity Century definitely did not disappoint.
The itinerary is excellent with 1 day in Kauai, 2 days each in Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. We had been to Oahu and the Big Island before, so this trip we did not take a lot of excursions. While in Oahu, we walked around the pier, went to Chinatown and took Bus 20 to the Aloha stadium swap meet. If you are planning to take the bus, the fare is $2.50 per person and do ask for a transfer ticket. You can take the same bus (#20) back to Pier 11 using the transfer ticket if it is within 3 hours. It was interesting to shop at the swap meet. One can find many inexpensive souvenirs/gifts. We bought seven t-shirts for $20 and some local handicraft. Wish we had gotten a cheap collapsible carry-on bag though, it would have come in handy in the following ports of call.
In Kauai, we joined the ship sponsored tour to visit Waihmea canyon. The canyon does look like a green miniature version of the Grand Canyon. DH took some awesome pictures. After visiting the canyon, our talented, Ukulele playing bus driver drove us to see a blowhole at a beach. The blowhole was just okay since we have seen many before, but it was nice to see green sea turtles in the cove and wild chickens running around all over. Kauai is a lot more laid back than Maui and Oahu. It is a beautiful island, but there are not too many shopping areas by the pier.
For Maui, we rented a car the first day and drove half way to Hana. The zigzagging road and one-way bridges do offer some interesting drive, and the Twin Falls on the way is a must see, but I feel the Road to Hana wasn't very scenic. On the way back, instead of taking the same Hwy 30 back to Lahaina, we took Hwy 340 from Kahului through the north shore back to Lahaina, and we were glad we did it. The road is paved but many sections are one-car width and often with no guard rails and steep cliffs. It was quite a treacherous drive but the breathtaking scenery is way worth the trouble. However, I wouldn't recommend anyone driving on this road in raining days or right after rain. It can be dangerous.
In Kona, DH joined the whale watching tour and took some really close-up pictures of the whales. I didn't' feel like getting into a small boat, so I just strolled down the historical part of the town and soaked in the sun and did my part to support the local economy, of course. The next day at Hilo, we went on a volcano viewing excursion and hiked 4 miles down to the basin of a volcano crater and climbed back. It was a very satisfying hike because I got to work off some of the calories I consumed the previous nights. If I had any complaints, this is probably the only one I have. The ship advertised this excursion as lava viewing hike and seeing red lava was not guaranteed. The language seemed to imply that there may be a remote possibility to see the red lava. In fact, there was no chance at seeing any lava, close or afar. We were too far from any flowing lava to see even a red glow. DH was quite disappointed that we didn't get to see any lava.
Food: Although taste is very subjective but after spending a 7-day cruise with the "Fun Ship" last December where food was a hit and miss, I can honestly say that I much prefer Celebrity's food. In my opinion, Celerity's dishes are far superior in taste and presentation than many of its competitors. The food portion is also very generous, including the lobster tails. The MDR menu had escargots, shrimp cocktail and crÃ¨me brulee daily, three of DH's favorite. He had them almost every day. I am sure both of us tipped the scale quite a bit after this cruise. The island buffet offered a good variety of food and treats at lunch. It had Asian stir fry, pasta and pizza stations as well as grilled hamburgers/hot dogs by the pool. There was also a homemade ice cream station where the flavors changed daily. The rum raisin ice cream was outstanding. If one prefers lighter meals, there is the Aqua Cafe which is a hidden gem. It's situated right by the Aqua Spa and offers lighter, healthier menu with made-to-order grilled chicken, tuna, and salmon. DH and I love their seared tuna but the portion was often too big for one person. The Cova Cafe offers delicious desserts (fruit tart was my favorite) during the day and tapas at night. There were also a champagne brunch one morning and a dessert extravaganza one night where decadents treats and chocolate fountains were placed in many public areas...there was even a cotton candy machine as well!
Service: The service onboard the Century is beyond excellent...bar none. From room steward, dining staff to the entertainment crew, everyone we encountered would go out of their way to please us. Our room steward and his assistant, Jose and Mohammed, always kept our room clean and ensured the ice bucket was filled. With the Select Dining, our dinner time varied, it's amazing how they were able to keep up with us and tidied the room without being intrusive. They were always courteous and carrying out their duty with a smile. The dining room staff was amazing as well. The dining room hostess remembered our name after the first night, and we never had to wait long for our table. After trying out several tables at the Select Dining, we found Stanley to be most attentive, so we requested his table for the rest of the cruise. He and his crew took extremely good care of us. This is the first time we have Select Dining, and it worked well for our schedule, but I am not sure if we would continue in the future. Just like a restaurant, patrons are coming in at all times, so the staff was extremely busy. I don't think one would get the same level of service as in set dining despite the Select Dining staff's best effort. This is just an observation, not a complaint. As matter of fact, in all our cruise experience, we have always found Celebrity's service to be a notch above others, and this time is no exception. The outstanding service can be seen throughout the ship. In the Island Buffet, each section (10+ tables) was assigned a designated waiter, and he or she would serve the customers in their section. They were all quick to clean the tables and always ask if the customers wanted anything, i.e., coffee/juice refill. For those in need, there were also waiters to carry the trays and locate a table. We liked to dine at Mandiantara's section, and he treated us like royalty...just like Celebrity's commercial. The minute we sat down, he would ask if we wanted coffee, juice or tea and brought us whatever we requested and always came back with refill. One time he noticed I forgot the spoon for my oatmeal, and he went and got the spoon for me. One other time we couldn't find a table in his section, so we sat in section next to his. He came over and asked if we needed anything else. He was absolutely the best!
If you are expecting a lively night life, then this cruise will probably disappoint you. Century does not have loud disco lounge at night, it offers a more subdue entertainment--production/comedy shows, piano and string music at various bars. All the shows we saw were absolutely wonderful. The singers and dancers were fantastic. One cannot expect Broadway level production shows but the Celebrity shows were actually really good. During the sea days, there were guest lecturers who offered interesting and educational classes on sea life, astronomy, Hawaii volcano, etc. There were also hula dance, Ukulele and lei making lessons, line dancing, trivia...and many others. There was so much to do during the sea days that we hardly stayed in our cabin during the day.
In all, it was a very relaxing trip and we had a blast. There are many little niceties that make this trip so special and the cruise line stands out amongst its peers. Here are a few examples.
1. Free welcome champagne or juice when one boards the ship the first time.
2. Cold towels, juice or water for those who return from their day of sightseeing at each port.
3. Clean clothe hand towels in each public restroom...less paper waste.
4. Free champagne/mimosa for the galley tour and brunch.
5. The shampoo and conditioner bottles are replenished daily.
6. For Cruise Critic member who registered for the meet and greet, we all received an invitation to a Sail Away Party at the bow. We were greeted by the ship's officers and waiters offering free champagne, mimosa, orange juice and hors d'oeuvres. It was an awesome experience watching the captain maneuvered the huge ship through the tiny harbor. He did an outstanding job. Later in the week, we also received a private invitation to tour the bridge. It was a very interesting experience as well.
What an amazing time we had, and we can't wait to go on our next Celebrity cruise.