I have cruised 11X but this was my 1st Celebrity experience. It did not disappoint. I was sharing a balcony room with my sister and two other gal pals were sharing an inside room on Deck 3.
We drove to the port and the process was quite smooth. There was a glitch in the computer system upon check in but even with that, it was fast and courteous. Loved the added touch of a welcome aboard glass of champagne.
The ship was lovely. Bright and more modern than other's I have been on. We had a centrally located room which was well laid out. The only problem we had was the lack of drawer and closet space. We stowed our luggage under the bed and requested extra hangers to hang clothes we would normally put into drawers. We did find and access over the bed cupboards, which were easier to get to as we had twin beds but I cannot imagine having to jump onto a double bed each time I needed something stowed up there.
I thought the buffet was the best at sea for me so far. The food was fabulous and the tea served each afternoon was a very welcome surprise after a hectic port day. We never ate dinner here so I cannot comment but the lay out, breakfast and lunches were really very good.
We had late night traditional dining. Our servers and sommelier were outstanding. Each went above and beyond to make sure that we were taken care of. Joseph the Maitre D' helped to change our table request the first night and came around often to ask if everything suited our needs. They all genuinely seemed concerned that we were enjoying ourselves and things were up to our standard. The food was good, not great here. We never did have a decent pasta througout the cruise but you could never go wrong with the steak or meat dishes. We did dine in Tuscan Grill which was over the top good. I would have enjoyed a second visit here but with the intensive ports and so many late nights, we never had the chance.
We did two ship tours. The Florence/Pisa on your own and the Rome tour with lunch. Both cities were far from port so we did not want to chance returning late due to unforseen mishaps. Both tours were worth the money and the local guides were knowledgeable, funny and courteous. Both required lots of walking but we had expected that and wore decent walking shoes and comfortable clothing. Both of these cities are so beautiful and impossible to appreciate in one day but we were happy to have taken the tours which allowed us to see those things at the top of our list.
We took the train in from Villefranche to Nice which was easy to do and quite cheap. In Malaga we did the hop on/hop off tour along with friends that met us there, picking us up right from the port. In Gibraltar we did not take the ship shuttle, it is unnecessary if you want to walk or hire a private car to take you to the top which is what we did. It was only 18 Euro each and it was a guided tour to the main spots and top of the rock. Well worth the money not to have to do the hike up. We did walk back to the ship which was quite do-able, if you allow yourself enough time. The other ports we spent touring on our own and either the hop on/hop off, which is a great way to take in most of the highlights crammed into a few hours, or a walking tour. Going under the Bridge into Portugal was quite the experience. We were on the top of the ship, which is always fun but noticed people below on the heli pad (front of the ship, deck 6) and made our way there. This was to be by invite only but no one stopped us from entering even though our white sea pass was worn openly. That was an experience in itself.
The entertainment on board was really quite good. Not shipboard entertainment but actual hired in professional performers. We made it to only four of the shows, with late dining we missed quite a bit, but there was always a party or dance show going on in the main atrium or up in the Sky Observation lounge so we didn't feel that we missed out on anything.
We did not purchase the drink package since we would not be on board most days and although we shared a couple of bottles of wine each evening and a few martinis most nights, it would not have worked out that we would have drank enough to make it worth our while. Had this been a Caribbean cruise or less port intensive, it would have been a great deal. We enjoyed our Chianti and wine in each of the ports as well as the local beer.
All in all, this cruise moves to the top of my list as a favorite. There really is nothing negative to say other than those few minor things mentioned. We all had a dream come true, once in a lifetime experience. Lots of giggles and laughs, great service and wonderful itinerary. As a matter of fact we enjoyed this ship so much, we are hoping to do the sister ship Equinox next year.