We are 60, married 35 years and have not been on a vacation alone since 1994. Pathetic, isn't it?! That's not to say we haven't been on vacations, but they have been with other people or to visit other people, so we were happy campers to be away together. This was our 15th cruise; we have sailed on Princess, Holland America, Carnival and Celebrity, on the Equinox.
We started cruising with inside rooms years ago then moved to balcony rooms. On this cruise we economized on the room and did the Premium Alcohol package. We were in inside cabin 7044, which was okay. It has a different configuration, with the bed on the right and the bathroom on the left, vanity straight ahead. There was plenty of storage space...lots of extra spots and drawers...so no issues with where to put everything. Suitcases fit under the bed. My husband brought his golf clubs, so they stood in a corner with the coffee table against them to keep them stable, which worked until the last night. More on that later! I will say that we normally get up every day at 4:30 a.m. to go to work...we had no trouble sleeping until 8 and 9 a.m. in that room due to how dark it is.
The one issue I had with the cabin was small but an off note that I found startling. The cabin was in great shape except for the shower. The wall around the shower head was rusted and spotted; the grout around the white tile was grey/brown and dirty looking. I'm sure earnest effort was put into trying to make the shower look better, but it was yukky, which I found odd, given the recent dry dock upgrades. An economizing step, I'm sure, and a small thing, but it felt like we were getting in a dirty shower. Otherwise, I thought the ship was in great shape. Having been on the Equinox, we knew what to expect with the "Solsticizing" and thought the dry dock upgrades were very nice.
Our room stewards and really, the whole staff were just great. We thought the personnel on the ship were unfailingly warm and professional and eager to please. We didn't meet a single soul who was not everything we would want and expect from Celebrity, starting with the Captain, Theodoros Zakkas and Sue Denning the Cruise Director. They both came to the CC Meet and Greet, along with other officers, which I thought was a lovely touch. We were supposed to have a much larger group, but relatively few actually showed up, which was a shame since Celebrity went to the trouble to have pastries and coffee and the officers scheduled their own time to be there.
Embarkation was relatively easy. We flew into Newark and shared a cab to the ship with another couple. Though we could see the ship we went from the luggage drop to the ship by bus, a quick transfer. We arrived at 1:05 and the check-in process took 40 minutes. They opened an additional line, which helped speed the process.
We went to Bistro on Five, which was quiet and a great spot for a nice light lunch. We ate there twice, and had crepes both times; also really enjoyed the caesar salad. Nice wines available, too!
We ate twice in Normandie and once in Qsine and recommend both. We especially enjoyed the lobster, fixed table side, in Normandie and the service and warm personalities of the staff made the experience even better. Qsine is fun and different and unlike anything you'd encounter anywhere else....we had heard it was best for groups but we had a great time and enjoyed everything about it. We were careful with what we ordered and didn't walk away stuffed, but I can certainly see how that could happen!
We enjoyed the casino...primarily because of the lack of smoking. We certainly stayed longer and gambled more due to not being chased out by cigarette smoke! I have heard people say that smokers gamble more and lack of smoking means lack of revenue, but whenever we were in the casino, it was packed. We had fun with some of the penny slots, a new experience for my husband, and he won $260 in the first slot tournament, so we were very lucky. Of course, we gave it all back eventually, but had fun in the process!
The lack of smoking on the ship is definitely one of our primary reasons for sailing Celebrity, along with the service and the amenities. We had coffee each morning and afternoon in Cafe al Bacio and enjoyed the service and staff, especially Yuniari Komang. Having previously fought with the coffee served in the buffet area we didn't even attempt it. We have never found cruise ship coffee to be palatable and have found it to be appalling on every cruise line we've tried! We also visited the Martini Bar each evening and had a great time...great service from Igor, Elene and Jennifer! My husband is not usually a martini drinker but he enjoyed the "20 Year Martini"...and I thought Igor's dirty martini was the best I've ever enjoyed!
We did Select Dining and it worked very well for us. No issues with being seated quickly and had good service wherever we were placed. On the Equinox we did Select Dining and found the tables pretty close together; found that to be less of an issue on the Summit, though we enjoyed talking with nearby diners on both cruises. The food was pretty good in the dining room; one formal night I had the lobster; my husband had surf and turf; both were very nicely done. Usually lobster is overcooked, but not this time! I had an excellent pork wellington one night, an overcooked drum fish, and a nice vegetarian curry the last night. My husband got a veal dish the last night that was overcooked and tough and had no problem asking for an alternate dish. The head chef came through the dining room and it was nice to meet him.
We did the premium alcohol package and found it to be a lot of fun. We weighed the pros and cons and talked ourselves into and out of it several times prior to the cruise, but are glad we stuck with it. As others have said, it is just relaxing to not have to think about cost and to not finish a drink if we didn't want to. We got water whenever we wanted, speciality coffees twice a day, frou-frou drinks or wine with lunch and in the afternoon; martinis before dinner, wine with dinner, and my husband had port and cheese each evening. Did we drink WAY more than usual? Absolutely! Was it fun? Absolutely! We tracked what we would have spent and came out ahead every day, so for us, it was a good value. It was also nice to not feel we had to finish a drink if we didn't want to, or to order something else if we weren't crazy about what we ordered. So, we would recommend the premium package, though it's a different value for everyone.
We didn't attend any shows...not our thing, but the shows appeared to be well-attended. We enjoyed Nestor Santurio and Joe Nagy, very entertaining and talented--both played before and after dinner. The deck party leaving Bermuda was fun...watch for the officers on the second level doing the line dance..very cute, and they've got it down!
Bermuda--the weather was more cooperative than we'd anticipated...windy and cool for the beach from our perspective, but I know lots of our fellow travelers enjoyed the beaches. My husband played golf at the Port Royal course and loved it. Met a wonderful Bermudian member and played with him, which added tremendously to his enjoyment of the course. We wandered around the dockyard area, took the ferry to Hamilton, which we found to be just a nice shopping area like any you can find in the Caribbean, so didn't stay long. We opted to take the bus to St. George's, which we enjoyed. We wanted to see some of the interior of the island, and it was a nice way to see more than the coastline. St. George's is charming; suggest you spend some time there. We also walked to Sea Glass Beach and enjoyed wandering up and down and collecting...I had thought I would walk there by myself when my husband played golf...I'm glad I didn't. It is a somewhat isolated walk, so I was glad he was with me. Perhaps it is perfectly safe, but there were very few people around and it is about a 25 minute walk both ways. All the Bermudians we talked with were very nice, helpful and welcoming.
We encountered the edges of a tropical storm on the way back and the next to last night the ship was rocking and rolling, so it was a poor night for sleeping! The golf bag fell over in the middle of the night, sounding like a sonic boom and causing us both to levitate out of the bed. I felt badly for the people below us. So sorry, whoever you are! The next day continued the roll and sway and by late afternoon I was seasick...which is a negative for an inside cabin...once I staggered upstairs and could see the horizon and get some fresh air things improved.
Disembarkation was easy...we had breakfast in the buffet/lido, and went to our spot to disembark; we were off the ship at 8:20, found our luggage easily, got a shuttle to the airport. Very painless.
We love Celebrity and this cruise was all we'd hoped it would be. We put a deposit on a future cruise...nice to have a little carrot out there! Makes it a little easier to leave when you know there's another ahead...