We are longtime cruisers, starting with the old Chandris Line, which eventually became Celebrity.
Chandris - 3 cruises
Celebrity - 15 cruises
Princess - 3 Cruises
Royal Caribbean - 2 Cruises
Carnival - 3 Cruises
Costa - 1 Cruise
Our travel to Miami for departure on this cruise, took place on April 20, 1 day prior to sailing as it is not possible to get from our home to Miami on the day of departure.
The Hotel we booked for the night was the "Hampton Inn, Miami Airport West", which is only a short distance from the airport. The courtesy bus picked us up and we were at the hotel by early evening. This is our 4th stay in this particular hotel....it is reasonably priced, clean, and has all the facilities we desire, plus an outstanding complimentary breakfast. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful.
We opted for the shuttle from the hotel to the port, having made reservations upon arrival at the hotel. The cost was only $12 per person, so not at all expensive, and it was very convenient.
Embarkation went smoothly, luggage was dropped off outside and we each took a small "carry-on" bag with us as we were being processed to board the ship. Within just a few minutes, the processing was done and we were on the ship.
Staterooms were not yet ready, but that allowed us to enjoy a bit of lunch at the cafe' buffet.
When we could enter our stateroom, which was on deck 9 forward, we found it to be excellent, as was our stateroom attendant, who promptly introduced himself to us. We had a couple of minor requests for the stateroom attendant, and they were promptly taken care of.
The ship itself was thoroughly clean and it was beautiful. We had previously sailed on the Equinox (as well as many of the earlier class ships), but felt this was perhaps the most delightful decor we had encountered.
Dining was a bit of a disappointment as we felt the quality was not quite up to Celebrity standards based on our past 15+ Celebrity cruises. This is not to say the food wasn't good, as it actually was....it just seemed to be slightly sub-standard by comparison. Our wait staff was very attentive.
Celebrity did a wonderful job of lining up speakers of interest for this long transatlantic cruise. There was plenty of activity to keep everyone busy for the many at sea days.
The Captains Club Elite events went very well in spite of the fact there were over 800 Elite members on board. The staff did an excellent job dealing with so many, and made everyone feel their continued loyalty was appreciated.
None of our shore excursions were booked through Celebrity, but the excurisions we took (booked at the ports) were excellent. In the Azores, we went with Ricardo on a tour of the green and blue lagoons...very nice.
In LaCoruna, Spain (our unscheduled stop), we walked from the port to the "Worlds oldest working lighthouse". It was an easy walk along a beautiful walkway lined with some of the most attractive street lights we had ever seen. The area around the lighthouse was very interesting, and we spent a couple hours simply walking and taking photographs.
At LaHavre, we walked to the train/bus station and took a bus across the river to Honfluer and had a wonderful day just visiting the village. It was very enjoyable and relaxing (in spite of the drizzle).
The PROBLEM we encountered was with Butler Tours of Cobh,(Cork) Ireland. Due to weather conditions the ship did not port at Cobh as scheduled. We, along with my sister and husband had pre-booked a tour with BUTLER TOURS. BUTLER TOURS states in their policy that a refund will be issued for the tour if the ship cannot port as scheduled. Butler did provide us (my wife and I) a refund, but denied a refund to my sister, and here is the reasoning.
Just a few weeks prior to sailing, my sisters husband was killed in a tragic accident. A week after the funeral, she wrote to BUTLER TOURS asking about their refund policy in an instance such as this, stating that "we (meaning herself along with her now dead husband) will not be taking the cruise". She was considering other options, such as bringing a son on the cruise with her, or transferring the tour tickets to me and my wife to provide to another couple on the cruise. The email was simply to inquire about refund policy. When BUTLER TOURS replied to her that no refund could be given, she wrote again the very next day, stating that she had determined that she would take the cruise and bring her son along with her, so that the tour tickets could still be used by her. Butler TOURS then replied stating that they had cancelled her booking and "given the tickets to another couple who had earlier faced a similar situation". NEVER had my sister indicated she had any intention of cancelling the tour - this was something BUTLER TOURS did on their own based on the comment my sister made when she indicated that "we" (meaning her and her now dead husband) could not make the cruise together. BUTLER TOURS failed to allow her to make other provisions or to transfer the tickets. Now, with the cruiseship not porting at Cobh (Cork), BUTLER TOURS did set about to provide refunds to those that had bookings as per their policy, but refused a refund to my sister. I am sure that all of us find this to be totally unacceptable....if anyone deserves a refund it is a widow faced with difficult decisions and unexpected issues. BUTLER TOURS is being brutal in their stand on this claiming an intent to cancel, which is not at all true.
I recommend that no one utilize BUTLER TOURS in Ireland.
Disembarkation went a smoothly as any we had ever experienced. Our thanks to the British government for placing customs agents on the ship to expedite the disembarkation process.
In summary, we were delighted with this cruise. This was our first Transatlantic cruise, but it has excited us to look into future Transatlantic and Repositioning cruises. Celebrity is to be commended for all that was in place for this cruise.