We booked this cruise because of the itinerary. We are not wine lovers and we didn't see much evidence of wine events. We saw this cruise listed in local newspaper, booked late, but were able to get one of the few balcony cabins left. The cabin was on Deck 9 forward and was between the overhangs from Deck 10 and therefore we were not in the shade. This is the first Celebrity cruise for us in recent times. We cruised on the Horizon and the Meridian in the 90's. We have cruised the last 5 times with Royal Caribbean and are Platinum members. Because of this, Celebrity gave us Select status. We also used Choice Air for the first time. It was nice to have airfare, pre and post hotel arrangements done, although if we use it again, we will do some advanced research prior to accepting everything they arranged.
We wanted an extra day at each end of the cruise because, being from the East Coast, we didn't know when we get to the West Coast again. We left Philadelphia at 5:35 AM, changed planes in Houston and arrived in Vancouver at lunch time. A quick taxi to the hotel and we had the rest of the day to explore. Vancouver is a vibrant city with plenty to see. The next morning we taxied the 4 blocks to Atlantic Place. We were warned by the cruise line that there would be 3 ships in that morning. We arrived at the pier around 11AM and turned our luggage over quickly. The area was bedlam. There were at least a thousand persons waiting for taxis to go out. The Security line for processing in was set up for all of the ships, 2 Royal Caribbean and the Millennium. Just as we arrived, they started a separate security line for the Millennium. This is where the problems referred to in an earlier review started. It was not the cruise line's personnel that were dis-organized, it was the PUSHY PEOPLE trying to be processed ahead of those already in the various lines. These peopleseemed to think they were entitled and ignored the cruise line personnel directions and barged into lines to be processed. Enough said about that. We were processed in less than an hour and were eating lunch by 12:30 and in our cabin by 1:30. Can't complain about that.
The ship was supposed to leave around 4:30, but since we were not going too far to the next port, the captain made the decision to wait for some late arrivals. We left around 6PM. We went to Nanaimo, took a walking tour, then went to Victoria the next day. Since we had been to Victoria before, we took the shuttle bus and walked around. The next day was at sea and then the next day we arrived in San Francisco around noon. There was a Customs delay of several hours, but we had an evening excursion scheduled, so it didn't affect us. We spent the rest of the day and the next day in San Francisco. We took a cable car ride, which broke down, switched to another line and went to Union Square. It was a nice day. By the way, except for the fog on the first at sea day, the weather was perfect for the whole cruise. The next day, we tendered into Monterey and took a bus tour through Pebble Beach and into Carmel. The tender used was the ships lifeboat and going back, the bay was really rough. A different experience. We had another sea day with plenty of sun and arrived in San Diego. Because we had a hotel reserved and didn't need to get off the ship rapidly, we were given a later time. The process went so smoothly, they moved up the times and everyone was off the ship before 9AM.The luggage pickup was the most organized we have ever seen. We had a bus ride to the hotel which was further from the center of activity than we had realized. It was a taxi ride every time we wanted to go to downtown San Diego from the hotel. This is why we will do more hotel research the next time.
We enjoyed San Diego, but after almost 2 full days, there wasn't much to see. We took the "red eye" back to Philadelphia through Charlotte. Not our most favorite way to fly.
The ship was in excellent condition and the crew were the friendliest ones we have encountered in a long time. Our Cabin Steward, Luciano, was always around and was very friendly and very capable. Our Waiter and his Assistant, Ari and Moni knew what our needs were after the first day. We never had a bad meal. We had late seating and met a nice couple from Ireland. We wandered around the ship daily and it never seemed crowded. Even at the pools, we could get a chair in the sun (and the towels were plentiful). We ate once in the Bistro on Five. This is a gem. It was never crowded. It was open from early morning to very late at night. We think the $5 cover turns everyone off. I am a Starbucks fan and found the Latte's at Cafe al Biaco to be better than Starbucks. The waitstaff there were very friendly and capable. We went to most of the shows which because of the late seating were never crowded. They were good and entertaining. Because we were Select Captain's club, we were invited to a very nice full buffet and plenty of drinks.
We hope this wasn't too wordy, but we rely on other peoples reviews to help us plan our future cruises, so the more you write, the more we know.