Background: My DH and I are in our 40's and this was our 5th cruise. We choose the ship for the ports and the because we wanted to try the Celebrity product. We got a great deal on a suite and decided to treat ourselves for our 20th anniversary. Our typical vacations involve renting a house or apartment for a few weeks and living like locals. We use cruises to explore areas where we may not want to stay that long - like the Greek islands.
Hotel: Stayed one night pre-cruise at Hotel San Giorgio in Civitavecchia. Rented a car at FCO with a one-way drop off. This was cheaper than a limo service and allowed us to stop at a grocery store the morning before we boarded the shop. Driving in Italy is not for the faint of heart! We have driven here before and always marvel at how anyone lives into old age with the crazy driving we see. Hotel was good. Found a good restaurant nearby to have dinner and enjoyed walking along the waterfront. Used the hotel shuttle to reach the ship.
Embarkation: Boarding the ship was a breeze. Basically no wait and we were enjoying lunch at Bistro on Five within a 1/2 hour of arriving at the pier.
Ship Info: The ship was beautiful. We were very happy with the layout of the ship and had no issues getting elevators or ever having to wait in long lines. All the areas we saw were well maintained and in good condition. It never felt like there were another 2,500+ people on the ship with us. The crew was very friendly. Loved, loved, loved the Solarium area and spent quite a few days just lounging and reading by the pool.
Activities: Due to a recent foot injury I could not take part in a lot of the activities I was interest in. However, we did watch a lot of the dance classes and everyone seemed to have fun. Also enjoyed the Behind the Scenes tour of the galleys and a cooking demo. There was plenty to do everyday especially days at sea.
Service: All of the service we received was excellent. We had a drink package and did not seem to have too much trouble getting service. Our butler and room steward were excellent. Overall no complaints.
Ports and Shore excursions: We do not feel like we have to see everything every time we travel and we like to be on our own instead of in large groups so we can meet local people and actually experience the culture of a place. Therefore we did not take any ship based shore excursions.
In Santorini we took a private excursion organized by someone our role call. We had a wine tasting, visited Oia, and watched the sunset before returning to the ship. Lovely island but very touristy.
In Istanbul we took the tram to the Sultanahmet area and visited the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the grounds of Topaki Palace, the Basilica Cistern and then went to the Spice Market. From the Spice Market we wandered the back streets and shopped and saw few other tourists. Enjoyed doner at a small food stall while watching the local people shop. We loved Istanbul (if you can ignore everyone trying to offer you tours or wanting to sell you something). We will return on a land vacation someday to spend more time in this fascinating city.
Kusadasi was an off day for us. We were talking to a private guide for a tour and before we paid we realized that we were exhausted and that since we were planning to return to Turkey that we would enjoy a slow day instead of heading to Ephesus. We just walked off the ship and kept walking until we were no longer being bothered by shop keepers. Then we relaxed and wandered around local shops, sat in a park, made friends with the owners of a gourmet food shop (they stuffed us with free samples of their food) and finally found a restaurant where we were the only tourists and had a late lunch. We rounded out the day by stopping in a grocery store and buying some Turkish food to bring home. A perfect day for us.
We did not get off the ship in Athens. Wanted the ship to ourselves for a day and we didn't regret having a full day to lay by the pool and read.
Mykonos - since we had an International Drivers Permit we decided to rent a car from Avis for the day and drive around the island. We left Chora and headed out to Paraga beach to have lunch at a taverna called Thassos. The beach was beautiful and the food was great. Everything we ate was sourced from the island itself and tasted wonderful. We then drove around the island stopping as we wanted to take pictures or shop. The cost was less than any tour and the roads were easy to drive compared to Italy.
For our last port - Naples - we really wanted to see Capri. After getting off the ship we purchased jet boat tickets. From the port we took the funicular to Capri town then took a bus to Anacapri. In Anacapri we enjoyed lunch then took the chairlift to the top of the hill. The views were amazing!!! It's worth the effort to get there. Getting onto the jetboat on the way back was a mess. There was a huge crowd and a lot of pushing - not sure why since everyone got on the boat and had a seat. A great but very busy day.
Cabin: We got a fantastic deal on a Sky Suite. The space was wonderful. We had enough storage space for all of our clothing. The cabin was under the Ocean View cafe and although we could hear carts overhead a few times a day it was not constant enough to be a bother. We would bookj a cabin on this deck again.
Dining: No complaints about the food on the ship. The buffet had special food a few nights related to the port we were visiting. We tried and liked all three specialty restaurants. Enjoyed breakfast in Blu. Quite a few nights when we were tired from the port we had our butler serve us dinner in our suite using the MDR menu to order. This worked well and we enjoyed all of our meals.
Disembarkation: Walked off the ship, found our bags and was in the van heading to the airport in 15 minutes.
Summary: Although we have traveled on Regent and Cunard we found the Celebrity product to be our favorite. We thought the value of the cruise and the atmosphere on the ship to be perfect for us. Although we prefer land based vacations we have identified a few more Celebrity itineraries that interest us and plan on sailing on X again in the near future.