Sept 8, 2011
R/T Port Liberty
Decision to take this cruise
My target was to visit Quebec. We had visited most of the other ports so these were not a factor. We had just returned from a Celebrity cruise on the Silhouette, despite a noro-virus problem that dampened the voyage, the ship proved to rekindle my affection towards the Celebrity line. Celebrity offered the best itinerary of those ships sailing out of the NYC area. And, the perks associated with the "Elite" class are outstanding. I would recommend that anyone close to "Elite" make it their goal to reach this milestone.
On our last Celebrity Cruise was in a Concierge Cabin. All I have to say the "little" perks associated with this class of cabin made the cruise very enjoyable. However, the price differential between an ocean view and concierge cabin was $1,200 PP. ($2,400 would give me another cruise) A balcony cabin, which represents the minimum that we will normally travel out as, was not that attractive because of the itinerary. Any Caribbean cruise deserves a balcony!
So PRICE was the primary factor in the cabin selection. We will see later in this review if this was a good choice.
Our cruise experience
In the last 15 years, the majority of our vacation experiences have been with deep water cruising (30+). We have done river cruising in Europe, land tours of Central America and the South West, all-inclusive vacations in Jamaica, D.R, and Mexico, a couple of vacations to each of the following - OBX, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Florida, a post cruise tour of Alaska, and a land visit on our second trip to Hawaii. As we are not wealthy, the best value for a buck is a major factor. Clearly, the best bang for a buck rest with deep water cruising. A good ship, good crew, and good food have consistently been our experience.
The cruise experience
Pre cruise planning
We selected My Time dinning and reserved a 6:30 seating. We also stated that we prefer a "large" table over a table for two. The time fit us the best by avoiding that "early" dinning time at the main seating. If we were able to share, this would add to our dinning experience. This time line fit in well with the Elite cocktail hour and the show times.
We arranged for a private tour on P.E.I. with others on this cruise.
Transportation to the port
For us, Port Liberty represents the idea cruise departure for NYC area. NO NEED FOR AIR LINES!!!!!
Parking -- There is a good system for parking. However, the cost @ $19/day, it is much less expensive for us to hire a car service to pickup and deliver us to the port. We've always used this type of service for both business and personal use without a problem.
Historically, the Port has presented minor traffic problems upon arrival. In this instance, there were no vehicles in our path from the beginning of the entry road until we reached our unloading bay. The sight of absolutely no traffic initially had me concerned that we were on the wrong day. It was a relief to see the Summit when we turned into the departing area. We left our home in Wayne, NJ at 10:40 AM and were in the entry scanning area by 11:20 AM.
The "Elite" line was much shorter than the regular line. The personnel were very friendly and efficient. We move quickly through the process and were enjoying lunch at the buffet at 11:50 AM
Once on board
We were met with the customary welcoming toast and preceded to the Ocean View Buffet. There was plenty of available seating and we partook in a light lunch. Our room was scheduled to be available at 1:30 PM but it was announced that it was a ready at 1:15 PM
Our Cabin 2089 Deck 2
Initial observation presented a room well appointed and spacious enough to meet the standards expected from Celebrity. As mentioned earlier, we chose to forgo a balcony on this cruise because of the itinerary and price difference. Although there were times that I missed the balcony, overall, in this particular cruise I believe we made the correct choice. I will say that, as long as I can afford it, I would choose a balcony on every warm weather cruise.
We had no complaints with the room's condition or size. There were no distracting noises except for one short period late on one night for about one hour. We encountered some very rough seas and this room was very stable and the rough seas went unnoticed.
From a very personable Captain to the bus boys in the buffet there was a consistent level of friendly, courteous, and efficient service. There were no exceptions. But there were exceptional levels of service that bear mentioning -- Selma the casino hostess and Lionel our Elite social gathering host
The buffet --
Breakfast offered a very nice selection including "made to order" poached eggs, omelets, and freshly cooked eggs. (All exceptionally good.) There were numerous other offerings.
Lunch had the usual flair of a wide variety of foods and had gourmet made-to-order sandwiches.
Dinner offered many choices. One was sushi which was quite good.
Breakfast, many times the meal arrived cool.
Lunch was OK
Dinner, the meals were exceptionally prepared with a great choice of offerings. I cannot say enough good things here. There was only one exception.
Pool side -
Lunch hamburgers and hot dogs were standard fare for cruise ships.
Bristol at Five
Any meal: Simply great. Do not miss this. ($5 cover charge worth it)
Generally there was a lack of ingenuity, imagination, and creativity by the cruise director in entertaining the guest while confined indoors on the sea days.
The facility for on board movies - UGH!
American football both college and pro was dominate on the air waves but not on the ship. To their credit they did arrange for some games. (I say thank you) The problem was you had to go to your room to have a game with sound or watch it in a venue without sound.
Very good mix of shows and performers.
The port of calls
We were met by a relative at the dock site. Very easy access for pick up and drop off. We took our relatives to eat at a local eatery called the Lobster Shack, a very popular tourist stop. Good meal at reasonable price. Just beat the rush of patrons. Could not enjoy the outdoor tables. It was just too cool. We also visited the 1,700 lb. chocolate moose, Lenny.
Bar Harbor, Maine *
Very picturesque area. Since we did tours on past visits we took the time to just enjoy this town. As a footnote- here you will find the best prices on shirts, jackets, and other gifts.
Halifax, Nova Scotia *
Interesting sites right along the waterfront.
Sydney, Nova Scotia*
See the giant fiddle and an easy walk into town.
'* We did not take any tours on this trip but would suggest taking a tour.
Took a tour to "Anne of Green Gables". Went on a private tour arranged before the trip. Six passengers in a van. Stopped to have P.E.I. mussels for lunch. Previous tours in Bar Harbor and Halifax better. This is a nice town to visit on your own.
Quebec City, Quebec
This was the prize jewel of this cruise. What a beautiful stop! Easy self guided walking tour. Take the EroBus (sp?) $1 charge to anywhere. Good to do before you venture out by foot. Recommend taking the horse drawn carriage ride. Well worth it. We got lucky and spent 3 days here and missed Gaspe.
Before you go check out TomsPortGuides.com -- great info no charge.
Saving the best for last Elite Perks
Absolutely the best! The Social Gathering was great. Little things like the flowers in the room mean a lot. Breakfast in the Normandie for Elite was super. Keep on Celebrity to reach this status. Well Worth it!