We had cruised with Celebrity before, but it had been some years. What a wonderful ship, crew, and itinerary. The pacing of the itinerary worked well for us. It was port intensive the first four days (Villefranche, Livorno, Civitavechia, Naples). We toured intensively those days. Then we had a truly needed rest day at sea. After that, we chose to tour at a more leisurely, more independent pace in Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. We loved the relaxation of the 2 sea days on the way back to Barcelona. We would do this itinerary or one similar to it again, there is so much to see. This was our first cruise of longer than 7 days. I was concerned that the length would be too much, but the variety of ports and sights made all the difference. This was also the first time we had cruised in Aquaclass. We will definitely choose Aquaclass again! Loved Blu, the dedicated restaurant. Much to our surprise, we only ate breakfast at Blue once. It was excellent. We did not return only because on port days it was convenient to have a really quick breakfast at the Oceanview Cafe, and on sea days, we slept in late! We were fortunate to hook up with two wonderful Rome in Limo tours that Cruise Critic people had put together. The tours were great and our fellow Cruise Critic members were wonderful people. We took the Celebrity shore excursion to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. While a large bus tour cannot have the same charm as a small group van tour, we also enjoyed that bus tour. Celebrity did a great job on it and we had an included lunch at a restaurant with a fabulous view.
Here are some other observations, in no particular order:
I was thrilled to have excellent vegetarian and vegan options for myself at the Oceanview Cafe. Soy milk was available throughout the ship. The staff at Blu and at the specialty restaurants were incredibly helpful...well beyond anything I had hoped for. While I had notified Celebrity of my food preferences prior to the cruise, I'm not sure if that information was attached to my "file". I let the Maitre d'hotel of Blu know about my food preferences at the beginning of the cruise. He, his staff, and the chefs were fabulous about it. I enjoyed fantastic Indian entress at Blu for the first few nights. When I asked for a change to Italian entrees at Blu, they were also fantastic. Tuscan Grill made wonderful pasta for me. Murano's vegetable dishes were exquisite. My husband has more broad tastes and chose from the menu each night at each restaurant. He also found the quality, preparation and presentation of the food to be outstanding. We did not purchase a drinks or wine package, but we found the wine selection and pricing to be very good.
My husband used the Persian Gardens daily, really enjoyed it. I enjoyed relaxing in our cabin during those times. We attended two of the evening shows together, they were very good production shows, very enjoyable. My husband also enjoyed a third show.
We missed having a promenade deck for walks/exercise. The walking track on the upper deck was not conducive to exercise because of people enjoying the sun. I had planned to purchase internet time, but did not (vacation mode won out). The lack of movie variety and afternoon and late night show times was a bit of a disappointment, but the venue for movies was very nice. Cafe al Bacio was a beautiful space, with a great staff and lovely "treats", but the coffee sizes and strength/quality were somewhat lacking.
We have cruised in inside cabins, outside/window cabins, balconies, minisuites over the years and while we have enjoyed each for what it offered, I have to say that I am eager to cruise Aquaclass again. It really enhanced our cruise experience. The ship staff was terrific. They were professional, friendly and while I can not seem to find the correct words for this, I hope readers will understand my meaning -- I truly appreciated that staff members were not "fawning" or overly/artificially friendly or familiar. This also greatly enhanced our cruise. Embarkations and debarkations were handled extremely smoothly, and Barcelona was a great start and finish - easy airport to get to and use. As you can tell, this was a great cruise for us and we look forward to our next Celebrity cruise.