We have been on nearly a dozen cruises in total, across five different cruise lines. About 10 years ago we cruised on the Celebrity Horizon to Bermuda and had a fantastic time. This cruise, however, falls to the bottom of our cruise experiences. I SO VERY MUCH wanted to love this trip, but it just fell flat.
I don't know what is happening to the industry or if Celebrity has just changed so much.
I love cruising and I enjoy what the ships have to offer. But this time I found myself not doing much of anything because there really wasn't much to do. A lot of the "activities" were more sales pitches than anything else. Definitely lacked "family-type" activities. This just wasn't the right cruise to bring children. There were a few activities that we would have liked to do together as a family, but they were during port days so we were not on the ship during those times.
Embarkation: VERY easy! Got on board quickly, no line, was able to enjoy the buffet and go to our cabin.
CABIN: Our cabin steward was very nice and very helpful. We are used to meeting the cabin steward at the beginning and then they turn into little cleaning elves who do up our rooms when we are out and about. We almost never see them, and they would always come and turn down our beds while we were at dinner. This cruise, however, our cabin steward never seemed to remember that we had the late seating for dinner. Every day, he came for turn-down service as we were getting dressed for dinner. Every day we had to tell him to come back after 8:30 while we were at dinner. It took him five days to finally remember. Also, there were no towel animals like on past cruises :(. That was always fun to see what they could make out of a towel. Not on this cruise though.
FOOD: Food was OK. I've had worse, and I've had much better. I'm a dessert person and didn't find any of the desserts to be especially delicious. After the 2nd day, they all started to taste alike.
MAIN RESTAURANT: We had the 8:30 seating. The first night as always, there is a line to get in because people are looking for their tables and getting situated. Around 8:45, someone announced "tables 300 and up, please enter on the right." So now there are tons of people trying to switch sides of the ship to enter the restaurant on the correct side. We ended up waiting in line to get into the restaurant the first THREE nights of the cruise. I've never had to wait after that first night. It seemed as if they for whatever reason couldn't get the early diners out in time. Our table was near the entrance so we didn't really get to see the two-story dining room and all its grandeur. The ceilings at the entrance are low. Also, on the last night when all the staff parades through, they didn't come near our section. It was kind of a strange feeling for the tables in the "wings."
One night lamb chops were on the menu and out waiter said (and I quote), "You want to order them medium well. TRUST ME, you will love it." Everyone knows lamb chops are best cooked medium at most. But we trusted him! Well, they came out dry and tough and when we commented on it, our waiter told us that they were probably overdone. You think so? What happened to "TRUST ME?"
SERVICE: When we booked the cruise, we asked to celebrate a birthday on the first night. When we got on the ship, my husband confirmed that it would happen that night. Well, by 10:30 pm, we had finished our coffee and dessert and there was no sign of a cake with a candle. The next night, my husband confirmed it directly with our waiter who promised it would happen. We ordered our dessert, ATE our dessert, drank our coffee and got up to leave. As we were heading towards the door, our waiter stopped us and said, "Are you coming back? We have your cake." You'd think they would serve that WITH or BEFORE our dessert because at this point, we were full and had already eaten our dessert and were ready for bed. We stayed a few extra minutes while three guys brought it and sang to us, then we asked for it to go.
POOL: I don't know why the signs at the pool say "ADULTS ONLY." Where do they expect the kids to swim? I'm not talking about the hot tubs, the words "ADULTS ONLY" were on the "POOL RULES" signs. At one point there were adult games being played in the big pool and the activities director had to stop periodically and say, "All the children please get out of the pool." The kids all had to huddle in the small pool until the games were over. The pools close at 9:00, so no chance of any late night swims. On other cruise lines there is stuff going on at night (open pools, movies, etc). On this ship, the pool deck was dead by 8:00 each night. Nothing going on there!
KIDS STUFF: My child did not really enjoy the kids club. There weren't too many kids on this cruise and there wasn't much to do. Since she was 10, she was allowed to sign herself out. The free service ends at 10 and you have to pay $6/hour between the hours of 10pm and 1am. That's fine, but when you have dinner at 8:30 pm, it's impossible to finish and pick up your kid by 10:00. The first night, my daughter signed herself out at 10:00pm and went back to our room by herself. She wasn't allowed to stay past 10:00 because we hadn't signed her up ahead of time. So she kind of got kicked out at 10:00 and so she went back to the cabin and waited for us there. We didn't find this out until we went to pick her up right after dinner (already 10:30 pm) and learned she had already left.
If your kid doesn't like the kids club, there is very little else for them to do on the ship but swim or play ball. Thank goodness we had a huge balcony at the back of the ship because she spent a lot of time playing cards and reading or drawing at the big round table.
ACTIVITIES: If you want to call them that. Your choices were to do all kinds of alcohol tasting, listen to lectures about dogs or whatever the topic of the day was, or go to the SPA and "learn" about ways to detox yourself or how acupuncture can help you. Those SPA activities were really just an excuse for the cruise line to push their services and products. Nearly every activity scheduled had some type of sales pitch at the end. I guess they have to resort to this since the "art auctions" were revealed as a fraud.
ONBOARD SHOPPING: I bought a lovely necklace. I noticed there was a matching bracelet, but it cost MORE than the necklace. When I inquired about the higher price, the store clerk tried to convince me that it was because the bracelet was heavier than the necklace. REALLY? You should have seen it. The bracelet was EXACTLY the same as the necklace, only it was about 9 inches SHORTER. Later, I asked another sales person about it and she said, "We get them marked from the supplier and we cannot do anything about it." So I didn't buy the bracelet. I called the cruise line after I got home, just to ask why a bracelet would cost more than the matching necklace, and all they could tell me was, "if you find it for less elsewhere, we price match. Online vendors excluded." I could buy it directly from the manufacturer (Shablool) for less, but that doesn't count.
Lots of nice lounges and bars, but I guess you have to have them if most of what people do on this ship is drink, for lack of better things to do.
All in all, despite all my negative comments, we had a nice time. Bermuda is wonderful and the experience was enjoyable. I only wish the service and activities were better. We will cruise again, but definitely not on Celebrity. We've had such great experiences on other cruise lines and this one just didn't match up or even come close to them.