This was our eleventh cruise overall, eighth on Celebrity, and first time traveling as part of a group larger than four, there were fourteen of us all together.
EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION -- This was the second time we had embarked from Vancouver Port, the first time being a nightmare because of two other ships embarking at the same time. This time around was quite the opposite. We arrived at the port at approximately 11:00AM and all fourteen of us were sitting at the bar at the back of the ship, enjoying our first cold one, by 11:30! Debarkation in San Diego was just as smooth. We were told to be in the Crystal Lounge by 8:00AM and we had our luggage, and were on our way to our hotel by 9:00! We stayed an extra two days in San Diego at the Embassy Suites Downtown and would highly recommend it for both value and location.
THE SHIP -- The Century is Celebrity's oldest and smallest ship in their fleet. If your idea of a great cruise ship is one of the new mega-ships that are actually floating resort hotels, you will be disappointed with the Century. However, if you like the feel of being on a vessel that is meant to sail the seas, the Century is for you. My wife and I loved it as did most of the people in our group. (Keep in mind that it is twice the size of the WWII battleships that were known as "the behemoths of the seas" during their time so it is not a small ship, just smaller than the new ones.) The ship is extremely well maintained and the crew can be seen cleaning and painting every day.
DINING AREAS -- The Grand Dining Room is somewhat smaller than those on the larger ships, but there is no sense of being crowded. The chairs were much more "user friendly" then the big heavy ones that were on the Silhouette during our last cruise. The Islands Cafe still uses the cafeteria style of serving which can get a bit confusing until you understand the layouts. We prefer the "stations" set up that the newer ships use for this type of dining.
STATE ROOMS -- We were in a concierge stateroom on the ninth deck. The cabin and veranda were considerably smaller then equivalent cabins on the larger ships. However, we found we had MUCH more storage that was MUCH easier to access then we had on our cabin on the Silhouette last year. We noticed that in concierge staterooms on other ships the veranda had padded chairs. The veranda furniture on the Century was adequate, but nothing more.
FOOD -- I should preface this section by saying neither my wife or I are fussy eaters. If someone offers us a number of choices of things to eat and then cooks it for us and serves it to us it is going to take some doing for us not to like it even if we are paying for it. With that said, we found the food in the main dining room to vary between good to excellent. The pork chops and lamb chops were excellent! The lobster tails served on the last formal night were gigantic by cruise ship standards and they were extremely tasty. The remainder of our meals were a little less in quality, but all were good and the one fish dish we ordered and didn't care for was quickly replaced by another entre. The food in the Island Cafe is pretty standard, but there are some gems to be found. The chicken salad served in the deli area is some of the best I have ever had. While not normally a sushi fan, there are some sushi items that come out around 4:00pm that are very good and should be tried. The hamburgers and hot dogs that are served at the poolside grill are outstanding. The pizza is good, but not "Jersey" good. We had breakfast in our room on the days we had early excursions and it was always served on time and warm. The coffee served throughout the ship remains hit and miss and for the most part, unless we were in the main dining room, it was a miss.
SERVICE/CREW -- The overall service Celebrity provides remains outstanding, but there is some rust on the armor. Believe it or not on several occasions we had difficulty finding drink servers in the lounges, pool and back bar area of the ship. On other occasions we were served beer that was only a little cooler then room temperature and we don't drink specialty brands that may require that serving temperature. Michael's Club and the Martini Bar consistently drew large crowds and yet on the times we were there they were consistently understaffed. It may have something to do with the drink packages that are available for purchase, but the servers we spoke with were friendly and professional, but seemed to lack the same zest for communicating with customers that was pretty much their trade mark in the past. Our cabin steward was on the last cruise of his current contract and he seemed more than ready to head home. Our cabin was always clean and well maintained, but we never saw him unless we went looking for him and we didn't even know who our assistant cabin steward was.
ENTERTAINMENT -- The Cruise Director, John, was outstanding. He exhibited a love for his job and the Celebrity brand that was contagious. The Celebrity singers, dancers and band were as good as any you will find in the cruise industry, but predicable with one exception. The lead male singer had an outstanding voice and will most likely find a career off the cruise ships. We always find the a cappella group very entertaining and the group on the Century was excellent. Celebrity brought on several guest entertainers that were outstanding. They included a pianist/singer, a comedian/magician and a singer/pianist/comedian.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: The itinerary of this cruise was what drew most people to it. Starting in Vancouver and going to Nanaimo (a great place that should be included on more ship itineraries), and Victoria, BC then on to Seattle, San Francisco, Monterey, Catalina Island and ending in San Diego provided plenty of opportunities for people to be adventurous-- or not-- in many different venues. Most people in our group had something planned for each port and I heard no complaints from anyone who took any of the Celebrity sponsored excursions. One slight glitch occurred on a wine tasting excursion my wife and several others from the group took. The excursion lasted six and a half hours and included quite a bit of wine tasting, but no food. This proved once and for all that people should never taste wine on an empty stomach, but it provided some interesting conversations between the excursionists and those who had not taken the excursion.
We try to cruise once every 12 to 18 months. When we cruise we look forward to having a great time with old and new friends, on a nice vessel, going to great places, eating good food and laughing as much as possible. We were not disappointed! Well done again Celebrity!