15 night from San Diego to Hawaii, and return. April 20-May 5, 2012.
I consider myself a seasoned cruiser, (20 something) but this was my first Celebrity cruise. I was automatically assigned "Select" with Captain's Club, due to my Royal Caribbean status.
I spent a couple days in San Diego pre-cruise at the Holiday Inn Express, downtown.....not much around that area....except hills. I did the Zoo, and some sight seeing. The (free) hotel shuttle service was excellent.
I took the shuttle to the port shortly before 11. Upon getting to the intersection at the pier the driver noticed a line of traffic, and that the gates were not open yet. He asked if he could make an airport pickup first, only 10 minutes away...no problem......After the airport pickup, we zoomed right into the port....so you're best off waiting till about 11:30, or so before getting to the port.
Embarkation was fairly quick at that time. After check in (Concierge Class 1) I was given number 8, for boarding. When I got to the boarding area, people sitting there told me they were up to number 22, so I walked right on. Mimosas, sparkling wine, or juice were being offered. I wanted to drop off my carry-on, with refrigerated meds, but when I got to deck 9 the corridor doors were secure. I went up to deck 11, and had a great burger, with crispy, and hot fries. I liked the way the buffet was set up, but wasn't real hungry. Finding a seat was a challenge, but always is on embarkation day. They announced that rooms would be ready at 1.....a bit later they announced there would be a slight delay. I think they were available about 1:30.
I went to the Cruise Critic gathering at embarkation, but it was too cold, and nasty out there, so I just walked thru, and met some other people inside. The sea day meet was well attended, and we got invited to do a bridge tour, to be announced. When we did the tour, our hostess was a "captain in training", and it was her first tour. She was nervous, and there was a language barrier, but she was gracious, and did her best. Thank you Cruise Critic! (and Celebrity!)
My cabin was about what I expected. The bathroom was bigger than other ships I've been on...especially the good sized shower. Lotion, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and bar soap...all lightly citrus scented , as well as q-tips, and cotton balls were plentiful, and restocked as needed. Although clean, the grout (caulking) in the shower, and around the raised sink was badly stained black....I don't think it was mold....but was unattractive for sure.
The balcony was small, and had only 2 straight back chairs, and a small dining height table...no lounger, or foot stool.....which due to the nasty sea day weather (just about every sea day) turned out not to be an issue. There was a bit of rust, but the railing was gleaming. The glass has a couple of left over stickers residue, and some permanent staining. The balconies were washed down a couple times during the cruise.
The cabin carpet was orange, and tan horizontal stripes, (yuck) that was really old, but clean. I noticed many other cabins had new carpeting installed.....which was much more pleasing to the eye. The cabin was well maintained by Malcolm, although at different times of the day. He did a great job, and was very accommodating, and eager to please. Some of the bed linens were stained, or yellowed, and the bedspread was stained. After one change of sheets, the bottom sheet was badly pilled (little bumps). Obviously old. The bed was a bit hard for me. I had a bunch of pillows to choose from. The cabin area was pretty quiet.
I loved the no smoking policy. I did talk to someone who "turned in" a balcony smoker.....after sighting the passenger after a few incidents. They were dealt with immediately. The whistle blower said they got a follow up call from Guest Services, the next day, to reaffirm there were no more complaints.....way to go Celebrity!
The Century is older....but for the most part well maintained, and kept very clean. I did see somebody walking around checking for dust in obscure places. The public restrooms I used were spotless.
My luggage didn't arrive till sometime between 6 and 8PM, while I was at dinner. (Despite Concierge Class priority luggage delivery)
The food was better than all the recent ships I've been on, and there was only one evening that I had difficulty finding something that appealed to me. Some table mates weren't too happy with the steak, but I didn't try it. The desserts were always really good.....and a lot of chocolate, too.
The breads, and rolls were excellent.
I had early seating (6PM).My table mates were a great group, and we had a lot of laughs. The first couple of nights we were served very late, and didn't get out of the dining room till after 8:15....but it improved, and we were getting out about 7:30 most nights. I have impaired hearing, and I found the dining room to be very loud, and it was difficult hearing the conversation, at times.
I tried the pizza which was also good, although I found it strange that the BBQ chicken slice had corn kernels, which I mistook for pineapple. The veggie slice was very good.
The buffet always had a great selection, and wasn't ever really over crowded. The only issue, as all ships, was that your food wasn't hot by the time you got a beverage, and a seat....but it was pretty good!
I was disappointed with the "call-in" room service, in the morning. If I hung out the room service tag it was right on time, but when I called 4 different mornings, about 7AM, for a pot of coffee I was told it would be 45 minutes. One morning I was told 30 to 45 minutes, and I said never mind and was asked if 30 minutes was too long, when I said no, but 45 was....he replied, well I can't guarantee 30 minutes....I didn't understand why he asked.
I thought the coffee was fine on board. The couple of mornings I had room service breakfast it arrived hot, and good.
The entertainment was good, with the regular array of magicians, jugglers, comedians, and singers. The production shows, although adequate, were somewhat lacking, compared to other lines. The scenery very limited, worn, and falling apart costumes, and weak, thin, sound. The live orchestra was good, but I think reduced to 7 pieces. One of the production shows, the last, maybe, was accompanied by canned music, and vocals, and sadly was better than "live"......and I love live music. The Cirque-type acrobatic couple were excellent, and impressive.....especially on a moving ship.
I attended some of the varied topics talks, which were good, and observed many of the ukelele, and hula classes....which had a joint recital on the last sea day before Hawaii.....very entertaining, and well performed! The lounge entertainers were also very good.
The weather in Hawaii was much better than the sea days. The last Hawaii day, I had scheduled a helicopter tour for Hilo....my noon time lift off was the first to go up that day due to rainy weather. We were unable to go too far inland, but it was an enjoyable experience, although expensive at $269 for 45 minutes of flight time.
The sea days heading to Ensenada were sorta rough, but I like the motion. We were told that we would be docking at 11PM rather than 6, as scheduled , due to the headwinds, and currents. Nobody would be allowed to disembark, that the officials would come on board, do their thing, leave, and so would we. From what I've heard....not much was missed. There was a large bunch of seals loudly barking at us, as we departed. We would still have to go through customs on our return to San Diego.....due to the "Jones Law".
Disembarkation was slow going. I was to be out of my cabin at 8, and in the Celebrity Theater to disembark at 9:15....which turned into about 10:20.....but once my number was called, I walked right off, got a porter to gather my luggage, and walked through customs.....no line, no wait, to a cab back to the airport....one of the best I've experienced.
I found a new favorite cruise line with Celebrity. The service is unequaled to what I have been experiencing with the other lines. The food was better, too. Now, if they can just get more comfortable furniture on the balcony.......and I'm sure if they could do something about the weather, they would have!