April 20-May 5, 2012
Round trip from San Diego to Hawaii and back.
This was our fifth cruise with Celebrity. We were somewhat apprehensive about this cruise, because we had problems on our four previous cruises with this company. Most were minor, but not the types of things that happen on other cruise lines. We had decided to give the company one more try and decide after this cruise whether we would be going back for more in the future. We just completed a cruise on a Princess ship the week before we started this one and I found myself constantly comparing the two ships.
We flew from San Francisco to San Diego. We had an early flight and were somewhat concerned about arriving at the ship too early. We arrived in San Diego at 9:40 AM and took a taxi to the ship. We were there by about 10:30. As soon as we walked up to the entry gate, we were escorted into the pier building where our bags were taken from us. We then were taken to the check-in counter were we received our room keys. The process took less than ten minutes. After that, we were asked to take a seat in the waiting area where we stayed for about 30 minutes. Then we were told we could board and go directly to our room. We dropped our carry-on bags in our cabin and were off to have lunch by 11:30 AM. The whole process was very efficiently handled.
We were very impressed with the cabin compared to other ships we had recently sailed on. The large bed had night stands on each side with adequate reading lamps and two drawers. The vanity had six good sized drawers and one of the three closets had three additional drawers and several shelves. There was enough room on each side of the bed to enter and leave. There was a flat screen TV and frig. Celebrity is known for its large showers and the one in this bath was more than adequate. It is approximately twice the size found on most other ships. There was more than enough shelf space in the bathroom for personal items needed by two people.
The cabin, (8014) on Panorama Deck, was located above the Celebrity Theater, but we were not bothered by show noise from below. We were asleep by 9 PM on most nights even though the second show of the evening was going on just below us. Some cabins located at the front of the ship will hear the waves banging against the bow, but this only happened a few times and was not bothersome. The only thing I don't like about the cabin configuration is having the head of the bead against the window. To look out, one must climb on top of the bed. This is not the best situation.
Because we have more than 10 cruises with Royal Caribbean, we qualify as Elite members of the Celebrity Captains Club. This comes with a number of perks. Probably the best ones are the "coffeehouse style breakfast and evening social hour" in the Hemisphere Lounge on deck 12 forward. A Captain's Club representative is always there to greet you as you enter the room. All morning coffees and evening drinks are free for two hours. They also provide a short period of free time on the computers and some free laundry. They are not as generous with these latter perks as Princess, but the evening social hour somewhat makes up for that. Also, there are no self-service laundry facilities on the Century. The Star Princess had a laundry on each deck. The other perks are about the same as other cruise lines.
There are some surprises for Elite members such as a bouquet of flowers that appeared in our room one day. We felt that was a nice touch.
The ship has a lot of large public rooms considering that this is not a large vessel. They are well maintained and somewhat attractive. Most were used frequently by guests reading or playing cards. It the evening, most of the public rooms had live bands or other musical groups performing. There are two computer areas and they seemed to be adequate for the number of passengers using them. The dining room is very nice.
The outside deck areas are showing signs of wear and rusting. Repairs to the deck were going on during the cruise and painting was constant. The dark blue color on outside walls is rather depressing. A lighter color could liven up the ship's appearance. There are two pools outside, but no enclosed pool. The water in the pools is not heated and they got very little use. One pool was frequently left empty. Adjacent to the pools are four spas. They were in constant use. It was windy during most of the trip, so most people had to collect on the deck surrounding the pools. The upper deck above the pools got very little use except by walkers doing laps. There are plenty of bars on the outside decks. In the early morning, the pool attendants put a rolled towel on each lounge around the pool. Plenty more are available close by. Blankets were also available. Princess provides one pool towel per person in the cabins and it is tough to get a dry one after they are used.
When Celebrity began, it was their intention to build their reputation on the quality of the food. We took four cruises with them and found the food to be no better than Royal Caribbean, Princess or Holland America. On our fourth cruise, I had a conversation with one of the head waiters about the food quality. He said we were a couple of years too late, because the line had lowered their standards to compete. However, he did say that we should stick to beef in the main restaurant, because Celebrity specialized in quality beef. I usually prefer fish on cruise ships, but had a couple of mediocre meals and decided to take his advice and go with the beef. I was not disappointed on this cruise. Every beef entree ordered in the main dining room was excellent. The fillet mignon was one of the best I have ever had. The vegetables were equivalent to other lines. Some of the deserts were quiet good. Most were just average.
The food in the upper deck buffet was quite poor at dinner. The quality of the beef items did not come close to the main dining room. The chicken items were overdone and tasteless. Stews were very tough. Breakfast and lunch were a little better. We tried to stay away from that restaurant as much as possible. We did have a couple of hamburger lunches at the grill by the pool and they were excellent. The hamburgers were juicy and the fries were hot.
We took three ship tours and found each to be fun and informative. Each of the bus drivers was very knowledgeable about their area and maintained a running commentary as we proceeded to our destinations. Returning to the ship by tender was a problem. At the two places where we did not dock, it was necessary to wait up to 45 minutes to get on to a tender. It seemed like they were not using enough tenders. Also the Century tenders are very uncomfortable and difficult to enter and leave. Any tall person must stoop to walk through the units. I have not found this to be a problem on other ships.
The entertainment was about the same as Princess, but far below Royal Caribbean. We are not fond of production shows, but did attend a couple of them. They were both well done, but did not excite us. One couple that did an acrobatic dance was excellent. The comedians and other single acts were just average or below. The passenger and crew talent shows were very well done and great fun.
Celebrity has always received high ratings from professional critics. I have often wondered why. I once wrote to one critic and asked him why he consistently gave them higher ratings than other similar lines. I mentioned that I could not find anything to support his ratings. He responded by saying that much of what made Celebrity better was "behind the scenes." That may be true but I have no access to what goes on behind closed doors so can't let that influence my rating of a ship. I would say they are on a par with Princess, Holland America and Royal Caribbean. What they lack in one area they make up in another. Fortunately, we had no problems on this ship like those we experienced on other Celebrity ships. We even booked a cruise for next year on one of their other ships.