EMBARCATION: We went aboard at about 11am and it went smoothly. At that time there were no lines, so our concierge priority boarding wasn't needed. The lounges were available immediately. The staterooms were ready at about 12:45pm.
Decor was subdued but very nice. Everything was kept clean and was in good repair. Glass elevators facing the exterior were nice with views of the ports.
CABIN 8139: concierge class
Our cabin was very pleasant and a decent size for a cruise ship. The balcony was small but nice. I wish it was large enough for a lounge chair so you could stretch out. There was a reasonable amount of drawers for a 7 day cruise, but it might be tight for a longer cruise. The location was close to midship and that helped reduce feeling the movement of the ship. It was close to the library and elevators but not so close as to hear people or mechanical noise. The sound proof was adequate with quiet neighbors but you could hear thumping. The curtain in the shower constantly stuck to our legs and the water temperature varied. The concierge class was not much of an advantage and I would not pay for it again. The robes were nice, but not used much. The fresh flowers were very plain (not a bouquet). The daily canapes were repetitive and just average. The "enhanced" room service menu was only for breakfast and not very impressive. There is no way to find the enhanced menu on your own. It is on a separate folding card stuck in the back flap of the general information book. The page for regular room service doesn't direct concierge class guests to the enhanced menu and I had to call guest services to find out about it.
As a cabin, I give it an A minus, but I wouldn't do concierge again, just a well located balcony cabin next time. Having a balcony is worth the upgrade price and is a must for us. Sitting outside on sea days and views of the ports when you wake up---priceless.
Celebrity deserves its reputation for above average food. I have been on Holland America, Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean and the food on Celebrity is noticeably better. Every dish in the main dining room was very good and some were excellent. On the second formal night, the lobster tails were divine. Every night there we had a dessert that was at least "very good."
The quality of the food in the Ocean Cafe was better than other cruise lines, but leaned towards spicy dishes so I didn't have many choices to my taste. My husband found many items that he liked. The pizza and burger stations were about average for cruise food. At peak times, the crowds were daunting and the lines were not well managed for traffic logistics.
Cafe Al Bacio had complimentary snacks that changed at different times of the day. The lunch time mini sandwiches were EXCELLENT, fresh, tasty and made from high quality ingredients. I would ask for a platter of these as a substitute for lunch in the Ocean Cafe. Delicious! I didn't try the breakfast pastry or late afternoon/evening desserts but there was an impressive variety available for no extra charges.
Since it was our honeymoon, we splurged and tried almost all the specialty food venues. The Bistro on Five (crepes for $5) was terrific. An EXCELLENT value. The food was yummy and it was a great substitute for the Ocean Cafe. Everything in Bistro on Five was delicious.
SS United States restaurant was disappointing. The room is plain and does not set an impressive tone. The starters were delicious. We chose lobster for the main course and it was unpleasant. Both my husband and I crunched into at least 2-3 bits of shells amongst our lobster bites. The sauce detracted from the flavor of the lobster and it was overcooked and therefore rubbery. The desserts were average for a decent restaurant at home. The cheese cart was impressive and delicious. Overall, not at ALL worth the $40 per person, it didn't exceed the satisfying quality of food in the main dining room.
This is a wacky restaurant that is edgy and fun. The concept is to look over a set of about 20 dishes that will come in tapas size portions. You can eat as much as you want. Each dish is a clever set of tastes. We tried five items and liked them all. Some were good and some were excellent. My husband the sushi fanatic said the Sushi Lollipops were the best he had had in his life. I loved the cupcake kit for dessert. This was worth the $40 per person extra charge because of it was an unusual experience in addition to good food.
For the first time, I did the Cruise Critic roll call and welcome party on the first day of the cruise. I am very glad I did. We met a lovely couple from Wales and a family from Chester England. Several times during the cruise, we ran into them again and they were great company.
The Celebrity Today newsletter listed a fairly typical set of activities. The Trivia hosts were energetic and fun. They varied the type of trivia offered. The prizes were the average cruise stuff of key rings and luggage tags. We teamed up with our new friends from cruise critic on several occasions and had a good time.
We didn't participate in some of the other activities but we saw an interesting variety. They set up a Kinetc video game and had team bowling and dance games. The officers versus guests Family Feud looked fun and had interesting props. We heard good things about the Dancing with the Stars parody activity. Our new friends saw the naturalist Brent Nixon and said he was a bit wacky but very interesting.
We saw three of the shows on board. They were fine, but not thrilling.I'd give it a grade of B. Good value because they are free, but if I had paid theater ticket prices I would have said "eh". There was a very good variety of performers in the various shows. The Newlywed Game is not exactly a show, but it was silly fun to watch.
It would have been good to know about several activities a day or two in advance so that we could decided to arrange our schedule to catch things of interest- like the Iron Chef type demonstration. Also, I wish that there were more activities after the second seating of dinner. There was always lounge music, but a late night trivia or naturalist talk would have suited the fair number of night owls who didn't want to party.
The staff was very good. Everyone was very friendly and went out of their way to greet guests and be talkative. We had Select dining and the waiters treated us well despite our not assigned to them for the week. They were not motivated by expectations of tips, they did a good job for everyone.
The only concern about the hotel services wasn't about staff. The logistics for several things needed to be worked out better. At one point in mid day at Ketchikan, both gangways were being run in the same direction. We wanted to get off and had to stand and wait for 10-15 minutes while they figured out that one of the gangways should be "leaving" and one should be for "returning". The loading of tenders with shore excursion groups was a little bumpy. Lines for leaving the ship at port were also poorly managed. The Ocean Cafe design does not lend itself to handling peak time crowds and so some staff should be assigned to help direct the flow of traffic. Basically, send the managers to Disneyland to learn how to manage large groups of people with minimum frustration.
VICTORIA as a PORT:
The timing of the visit to Victoria is just dumb. We arrived at 6pm and stayed until midnight. Unless you booked an excursion, this is a lousy time to see this lovely place. There are nice museums and tourist attractions in Victoria, but they are closing as you arrive. Even the souvenir shops shut up at about 9pm. We had an AWESOME dinner at a local restaurant called Nautical Nelly's.
We went to guest services and had no trouble getting an earlier time for leaving the ship. Our luggage was taken off promptly and the process was well organized.