3rd celebrity cruise (Looking forward to our 4th in November, Reflection T/A),
This review is may be more relevant to previous celebrity cruisers. Since there have been many online discussions as to whether things have or are changing due to cut backs?? I have made comparisons to our previous Celebrity Solstice class cruises.
A breeze as usual. Well managed although the "Welcome" part of the welcome on board was missing. A few waiters standing around with the usual Champagne or Mimosa, but no one to actually say "Welcome On Board".
Our Cabins 9194 & 9155.
Our first time staying in one of the angled bump out cabins. We love being on Deck 9, and are usually a little farther forward (9136 area). Both of these cabins have larger balconies with 9155 being MUCH larger. (I would say 3 times the size). I have heard it described as the Tunnel balcony, but it really did not feel too tunnel like, and you still got good sun over the same size area you would on the normal balcony, just did not reach all the way back.
As always cabin service was excellent. We really never saw our cabin steward, but everything was kept pristine, and I really did not notice any wear and tear from a year ago when we were last on the ship.
We were traveling with older relatives so opted for more sedate tours than we would normally have taken.
San Juan -- We took one of the bus tours from the dockside at $20.00 pp. Not the best tour we ever had, but good value.
St Thomas -- We did the St John island tour. (Bus tour only no beach.)Very nice, good A/C in the van, good tour guide.
St Maarten -- We did the combination catamaran/Bus tour and shopping. Again a nice tour. Shopping in St Maarten was nothing special, but the overall tour was good value, and all these tours were OK for those who are less mobile. In St. Maartin there was a little shuttle for $1.00 to take those who had trouble walking to the end of the pier where the boat departed from. This would have been nice in the other ports for those with mobility issues.
Overall better than OK, but room for improvement. Late night, (As late as you get on Celebrity) comedian and Lindsay Hamilton were excellent. The production shows were OK, but seemed to be missing the specialty acrobatic acts that we saw last time we cruised. The party band with singers, were not as good as the last time we were on the Eclipse a year ago. I did not care for the guitar act. Classical trio were good. A cappella group were OK, but did repeat them selves. Need to expand their repertoire. After just hearing them in the show, they immediately did the same set in the Ensemble bar, and we heard the same routine earlier in the week.
Many of the acts performed on deck 3. It seems Deck 14 sky bar was not utilized as much as on previous cruises, maybe because of private groups, of which there seemed to be quite a few. This is a shame. They also would get a good crowd up there for the Karaoke for example, but no music afterwards. Left a crowd of people hoping for something more.
Lisa -- A nice change of pace. A little different approach than on previous cruises. We felt we had more contact with her (and Maria) on this 7 day cruise than we did on last years 13 night cruise. She was very approachable much more visible, while still being professional. I give her an A+.
My husband and father in law enjoyed the lectures. We all enjoyed the game show type activities. Corny and predictable, but still enjoyable.
Despite a full ship, lounge chairs were still available around the ship. Maybe not always next to the pool area but I prefer solstice deck anyway. Unusually the solarium was not overcrowded, but this cruise seemed to be a younger demographic than previous celebrity cruises we have been on so maybe that played a part in this.
The menus have changed. I am not sure if this is because of cut backs, which have been mentioned on previous posts, or in order to cater to all the specific dietary needs people have. Each menu item now indicates with symbols whether it is Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Vegetarian or Vegan. I do think you cannot be everything to everyone, and in trying to do this, creativity may be sacrificed. As mentioned by others, the escargot are gone.
Buffet -- Was very good as always. Great variety and I think overall better than on previous cruises. One thing of note however was the lack of fresh spinach. I even ordered a spinach salad in the MDR, and when it came, it was a mixed green salad with maybe one or two spinach leaves thrown in, not a spinach salad. If that's the biggest problem I saw, life is good. Everything was kept exceptionally clean, and despite a full ship, always somewhere to sit.
MDR -- Late sitting. The first night we were sat way in the back in a hidden corner next to a family with a small child who banged on the table throughout the entire meal (Sometimes with the silverware) and whose parents seemed to think that was acceptable. I have no problem with children, and have cruised with my own. This however was unacceptable behavior for a formal dining setting, when others are looking forward to a romantic dinner in an upscale setting. That's what the buffet is for. There were other small children traveling with well behaved parents, who proved no problem.
I almost never complain, but rather than deal with this for the entire cruise, which I know would have upset me, and spoiled my and my family's enjoyment, I mentioned it to the Ma'tre D. He could not have handled the situation any better. He was understanding, apologetic, not at all on the defensive, and immediately moved our table for the remainder of the cruise. Our service from thereon out was impeccable. I think probably the best dinner service we have had on any cruise. I work in the hospitality industry, and I give him a big A+ for the way he handled this.
We have done select dining previously, on both celebrity and RCCL and I think after this cruise I may opt for late sitting again. It was nice to have the same waiter and table each night, and the sommelier was more attentive. Select dining had a line waiting to be seated at all times. Our last time on the same ship with select dining we could almost never get wine service with dinner, and took to bringing a glass of wine in to dinner from the bar with us. This cruise we had barely sat down when bar service was offered, and by the end of the cruise my husband did not have to even ask for his baileys to go with the coffee. It was just there. We both had drinks packages, and the service was never compromised because of this. Select dining has become just too popular.
Food -- Overall very good as expected on Celebrity. As I mentioned the menu has been tweaked a little. I found the lamb to be excellent. A fish en Papillion one night was exceptional. I had the salmon twice (First and last nights) which was also excellent. My least favorite was the steak, which I would say was lower quality meat and a little over done (I ordered rare and it was more of a medium). The only other comment was that the food was a little to heavily seasoned. Over salted consistently throughout.
Having done Qsine (Twice) last cruise and Tuscan Grill, we opted for Murano again. Fantastic. Food, service etc.
Truly felt spoiled. I had the Dover Sole de boned table side. DH had the veal. Don't pass up on the cheese option.
From soup to nuts it was a superb meal.
Also did the high tea again. It's not about the food. You can get the same finger sandwiches and scones upstairs at the buffet. It is about the white glove service and pomp and circumstance of it all. Live string trio playing in the background. It's just a little bit of extravagance I enjoy. Not for everyone.
Busy as always but most people were observant of the 20 minute rule on the treadmills so you never had to wait too long. No staff really to help with questions, and I saw quite a few people looking for assistance. One staff member hanging around in one of the exercise rooms, but not really eager to help anyone. Otherwise, clean, well stocked with towels etc.
Had a manicure. Nice girl. OK manicure but did not last through the cruise. Felt it was a little too expensive. Would probably get one before going next time. Another family member used the hair salon. Very nice stylist, and they were very pleased with the time she took with them and the results. Used their services twice.
Again, another great Celebrity cruise. Looking forward to the next.