Embarkation was smooth but as usual there was a certain amount of queuing to get through, we cleared it in under an hour. Some people say it was a long walk to the ship - this is only becaue the dock is much lower than the embarkation deck (deck five) for this port. We had to climb the quivalent of three floors and to make it easier for people with roll on cases and pushchairs etc. rather than steps there were ramps that looped back on each other at a getle gradient. It's maybe 300m in total and there are lifts available for those that can't (or won't try to) manage that.
Cabin was as we expected, exactly the same as everyone elses balcony (including for the most part aqua class and concierge) but more on this later. We had a 'partially obstructed view' meaning that the lowering mechanism for the lifeboats was in front of our balcony. No biggie, still got great pictures and could see the water.
Our stewards and dining room staff were excellent - nothing seemed to be a problem and full credit has to go to our original maitre d' who sorted out various problems with our table (table of eight, family of five didn't show up all cruise, one lady spoke no English and really struggled) with no fuss and once he'd found a suitable table for the other lady found us a table for two on the other side of the room. The food was on the whole excellent p, I had one dish that was too salty but they brought me another very quickly. Lots of variety in meat and fish, shellfish and vegetarian options (never repeated and at least one per course). We tried each of the speciallty restaurants. Tuscan grille was delicious, I wish a 'modern' Italian like this existed near home! Qisine was a lot of fun, four options between two of us and a desert each was more than enough. Murano can't be faulted in its food but we found it a little 'stuffy' for us - perfect for those thaty enjoy a formal setting though! We celebrated our anniversary in Murano and they presented a cake to us which looked lovely... Sadly, it never arrived in our state room as requested... I do hope someone else enjoyed it..! Perhaps we should have complained but well... It wasn't like we needed the extra food!
While I'm on the subject of making a complaint we never received our invite to the roll call get together and when we went to enquiry were told 'it just finished'. Celebrity didn't offer anything to compensate. Perhaps we could have kicked up a fuss but no matter, we enjoyed our holiday and met up with other CC's at other events arranged through the roll call forum.
Two events arranged through CC were a poker run (a lot of fun but terrilbly dangerous... ;) ) and a cabin crawl. The cabin crawl was interesting as actually, the cabins really are largely the same. Aqua class have funky showers and thick bathrobes, Concierge have fruit, cheap bubbly and thick bathrobes. We sailed concierge last time and now, having seen all the cabins in quick succession without the rose tinted specs I can see how similar they are. At suite level they are of course much bigger and have a bath... Nice for those who can :)
The ports of call were really good. In Rejkyavik we did the golden circle the first afternoon with an excellent company that was arranged by another CC member through the roll call. I believe they were called salty tours. Very informative, knowledgeable and friendly. Comfortable minibuses that could beat the crowds of coaches and see a little more. Such a spectacular country. The second morning we went to the blue lagoon, again arranged by another member through the roll call with Salty tours. Well worth the visit, a lot of fun!!
In Akureyri we went whale watching with a company based in Dalvik (again... Arranged through the roll call!) and we're very lucky to see Dolphins and two Humpbak whales jumping and performing for us from a smallish wooden fishing boat. On the return to harbour we all tried some sea fishing and then back on dry land the fish was grilled for us to eat. Possibly the best thing we ate all cruise - incredible. We spend the sail out in the sky lounge, beautiful. And more dolphins!
In the Faroe Isles we did a full days tour with a company called 62degrees north. An excellent and informative tour that combined two of celebrity's options for the price of one. A panoramic tour of the island with Lunch and a visit to an ancient Viking settlement with coffe and cake with a man who's family had been farming there for 400 years. The stories he told and information he could give us about the islands was even better than the very good guide.
Gerainger and Olden; we didn't book any tours here (we possibly regret not going to see at least one of their respective glaciers though) and opted to get off the boat and wander alone. We spent about an hour and a half in each port doing just that. Poking our head into the churches and a few shops. Just wandering. The shops and restaurants were (as expected) very expensive but both towns had a grocery shop where we bough ice creams and cold drinks quite reasonably. The sail out of Gerainger was spectacular (as was Olden) and the place to see this was the sunset bar where it was best to take photos without having to run from one side of the deck to the other!
In flam we took a ships tour, which was the only garaunteed way to get on the Flam railway. We took the hike down option which was a beautiful way to see the scenery and it is very steep in places but it would be suitable for most people who walk (hike) regularly and are in good health as it is a long a road (although a gravel one). In foam itself once we returned from our walk there time to see the small railway museum, eat an icecream, paddle on the beach, take photos and poke around the shops with over two hours to spare.
In Bergen we got of the ship as soon as we could (7am as was recomended by previous reviews and other passengers) and made our way on to the free shuttle. It dropped us in the city centre from where it was a short walk to the funicular which is a 40kr one way and 80kr return ride to mountaintop above the city. From here you get great views and a there is a lovely park to walk in. As a caution there is an automatic ticket machine that works from 7am for the 7:30 train, it only takes Norwegian kroner, no dollars, euros, pounds, Swiss francs or credit cards. The cashier opens just before 8 and will take credit cards but by then it can be getting busy. We walked down through the wooded park back to Bergen fish market and water front which were interesting to see - and free to wander around with free guide books available from the tourist information at the fish market.
There was plenty on during the sea days to amuse most people but we spent a lot of time reading or relaxing in the solarium. Children are allowed in for a few set hours each day and this was well publicised. It didn't bother us as it tended to be early morning and early evening when most adults had sleeping or drinking to do! The captains club get together (classic member) was in the sky lounge on the third sea day. We were a bit miffed that apart from one evening this space was reserved solely for elite members during sail out which when the wind is cold (as it was a couple of times) in these northern ports and whith such spectacular scenery seemed to benefit far too few passengers. Celebrity probably would have made a fair amount on the bar there too during sail way rather than offering free drinks to those few. Ah well. One day maybe we too will be invited...!
We saw most of the shows, a lot of comedians! A few musical nights, one 'spectacular' and a hypnotist. Steve Womak (comedian) was very funny. The rest were diverting.