Our family of five (2 adults, 3 older children/teens) all had a wonderful time on our first-ever cruise. We all had a few concerns prior to this adventure (i.e. would we have enough room in the cabin? would we like the ship/itinerary? etc, etc), but by the end of the trip, we were all cruising converts.
We were very pleased with the Family Veranda stateroom. There was plenty of space for all of us and all of our luggage. Beds were very comfortable, and our attendant was kind. The only negative was that, with that location on the ship, there was a LOT of noise during docking on the mornings we came into ports (i.e. up at 5:30 with no alarm clock!). Note that the 2nd bedroom is very small...perfect for teens or children, but adults would not be happy in there.
We took most of our meals in the Grand Epernay dining room. With the exception of a few mediocre salads, all of the meals were quite good. We enjoyed the variety of choices and the exceptionally attentive service. We chose the Select Dining feature and were glad we did (never had any problem being seated within 10 minutes). We did eat in the Oceanview Cafe for several breakfasts, lunches and snacks but preferred the Grand Epernay. Because we were traveling with our children we did not try any of the Specialty restaurants.
We chose to visit the smaller ports (Split, Kotor) and Venice on our own but chose RomeInLimo (private 7 passenger van) for our shore excursions from other Italian ports (Naples, Civitavecchia, and Livorno). We thoroughly enjoyed our tours with this company and felt that it was a much more comfortable, easy, efficient way to see the sights. We took a Celebrity excursion bus from the port of Toulon (into Cassis) and discovered that we did not enjoy seeing the sights by tour bus (too hot, too slow).
We were a bit worried about tendering into the small ports, but it was not too bad. The process was somewhat slow but well-organized. If you are in a hurry to get into port, I would recommend sending a family member to get in line for tickets as soon as the ship is docked. We were worried that we wouldn't have enough time to see the cities of Kotor and Split after our delayed departure from the boat, but there was plenty of time.
OTHER ACTIVITIES ON BOARD:
My husband, daughter and older son used the FITNESS facilities on a regular basis and were very pleased with them. The POOL/SUNDECK area was very nice but extremely crowded during sea days and later afternoons in port (my two complaints there: lots of all-day chair "saving," and I was surprised that glassware was allowed in the pool itself). Our three children all tried the KIDS AND TEEN CLUBS, and while my youngest thought it was just "OK," our teens became regular fixtures there every evening after dinner and made quite a few new friends. My daughter and I both used the SPA and thought it was quite nice...not amazing, but nice. My husband and I visited the CASINO and the SUNSET BAR at the LAWN CLUB on more than one occasion. The Lawn Club and Sunset Bar were my favorite areas for peace and quiet almost anytime of the day. The Casino staff was very welcoming and accommodating, but there is a lingering smoke odor there (assuming this is from previous years when smoking was allowed in there?) which kept our visits short. One of the main reasons we chose Celebrity was their restrictive policy regarding SMOKING, and we were pleased that smoke was really not a problem on this ship. It is allowed in a few areas, but they are fairly easy to avoid.
The embarkation process from Barcelona was simple and quick (probably 45 min total). Celebrity seems to do a good job in accommodating requests for disembarkation times, which I wish I would have known prior to the trip. Our return flight time was moved up to 12:30 pm, and I was concerned that we might not make it off the ship by 9 am in order to make it to the airport, so I changed our travel plans; however, this would not have been a problem. The whole process is very well-organized and efficient.
We all thought it was a fantastic trip and look forward to doing something similar in the future. We would certainly choose Celebrity again.