When I made my notes for this review, I noticed a recurring theme: Whenever there were problems, the service was still excellent. We were on the same cruise as previous reviewers, Lizmit and Kelliepoodle. In fact, our large Cruise Critic contingent on board enriched the overall cruise experience for us. This is only the second Cruise my husband and I have taken on Celebrity, although we have sailed for years on Royal Caribbean.
Well, it's hard to break down two weeks in a few paragraphs, but here goes:
Embarkation -- the smoothest we've ever encountered in San Diego. After a short wait in the departure lounge, we were on board before 11:30 am. Luggage delivery, however, was another matter. Despite being Elite and sailing in a suite, neither of our bags arrived until after 6:30 pm! Our butler finally had to go track them down for us.
Ship's Condition -- I love old ships, and expect some wear-and-tear, but it seems that Celebrity has deliberately let Century run down. That outdated, stained, worn-out carpet has to go! I've heard recently that they are finally getting around to replacing all the leaking/cloudy windows in the Horizons lounge. But that really should have been done a long time ago. It was also hard (but not impossible) to get things that should have been in our Sky Suite when we arrived, like a lighted make-up mirror, blow dryer, and cushions for the (hard as a rock) balcony lounge chairs. Perhaps there is a ship-wide shortage of these things, which needs to be addressed. The first day, we also had to have a burned-out light bulb in the bathroom replaced, along with our TV remote -- which failed to work, even with new batteries. However, you can still tell that the "grand old lady" was spectacularly beautiful in her younger days, and the crew works tirelessly to keep her spotless.
Food -- For the most part, the food was excellent, all over the ship. We had a two-top in the MDR, with a great waitstaff and fabulous sommelier. It was a little difficult getting a rare steak the first night, but our waiter was very persistent in his search for one -- and after that, all of MDR meals were perfectly cooked. The AquaSpa Cafe had nice, light alternatives for breakfast and lunch. The poolside grill was a true "guilty pleasure". In the buffet, the stir-fry station was great for lunch, and the evening sushi-bar was delightful.
Sadly, the one disappointment was Murano. We found the wine list to be pretentious and over-priced, and the food was not as good as what we had in the MDR. We both ordered the surf-and-turf, and both of our steaks came out over-cooked. With great apologies, our waiter took them back. The new ones were cooked perfectly, but it became quickly apparent that the tiny lobster tails had been stuck in a warmer. They were so dried out and rubbery that you could have played raquet-ball with them! So, we sent those back too, and waited for replacements -- and more apologies. The one thing that Murano does excel at is desserts. Our heavenly Grand Marnier souffles almost made up for the needless waits for a properly prepared main course.
Hawaii -- The Islands were beautiful, and we were lucky to have good weather, except for some rain in Hilo. After reading previous reviews, we didn't have much hope for spotting lava on our midnight Kilauea sail-by. However, Captain Patsoulas was determined. He kept looking until some lava was spotted -- glowing faintly in the distance. He slowed down and turned the ship around so everyone would have a viewing opportunity.
Tendering -- This is where Celebrity really dropped the ball, and could learn some lessons from her sister-line, Royal Caribbean. Century used the ship's life-boats as tenders, and packed people into them like they really were lifeboats! Long lines to get aboard, and long periods of time spent tightly crammed into the wildly-rocking boats, made it a very unpleasant experience. Despite this, the crew members who participated in the tender process did work very hard to make sure that all the passengers got on and off the tenders safely.
Activities On Board -- Were varied and plentiful. Even with all the days at sea, we were never bored. Our Cruise Critic roll-call group also had activities planned, which all of us enjoyed. We used the gym and the Persian Gardens a couple of times, and found them to be pleasant and properly maintained. The pools and hot-tubs were very nice, when it wasn't too cold or windy to use them. Most days, you saw more blankets than beach towels, on the pool deck. Even though we are not big gamblers, the smoke-free casino was a treat. We love Celebrity's new policy of no smoking inside the ship, or on stateroom balconies. For us, it creates a much more pleasant environment, and will be a major factor in our choice of Celebrity for future cruises.
Disembarkation -- Since we have had previous problems disembarking in San Diego, we purposely booked a later flight, and were in no big hurry to get off the ship. We did have to make a trip to guest services that morning to get our final bill/invoice. Our butler said that none had been delivered to our floor, as they should have been. After a nice breakfast in the MDR, we found that our group was cleared, and walking off the ship at that point was a breeze!
Service -- I saved this topic for last. This is the one thing that keeps us coming back to Celebrity -- despite any problems we've had. Our butler, room steward, and assistant room steward took care of making sure that our cabin was very clean and comfortable -- and that we had whatever we needed. Our butler s was always very helpful in resolving problems that arose -- such as a particular issue we had with the laundry. As mentioned earlier, our MDR staff was outstanding. The Captain's Club hostess and her staff were always very helpful and welcoming. The bartenders in the Martini Bar were fabulous, and we found good bar service in all venues of the ship. Every crew member we met on board had a smile and polite greeting. They all work very hard at making sure that their passengers have an excellent cruise experience.