This is our third cruise with Celebrity in two years - we feel a deep loyalty to the brand and we will continue to sail exclusively with Celebrity - we are, in fact, booked on three more cruises with them. Though this is our third Celebrity cruise, it is our first on a Millennium Class ship and our first booking Aqua Class. The central focus of my review will be about Aqua Class, pros and cons, overall, mainly pros. We loved the restaurant Blu - for those that don't know, dining in Blu is the primary benefit of Aqua Class, in our opinion and it is an excellent benefit. We LOVED being able to eat fantastic food, to eat this fantastic food at a different time every night with open seating allowing us great flexibility; precision service, and to be known and recognized by the staff of Blu even when in the streets of a town in port - but our stateroom service, yes, therein lies the rub for us. All of our Aqua Class cons center around our cabin attendant.
When we first entered our cabin, the sun was shining in, all was lovely, but our eyes instantly were drawn to the marble desk top which had perhaps a dozen splotches on it. We went right over to the desk and felt the marks, thinking that the splotches were perhaps stains, since when stone isn't sealed properly, liquid from glasses/vases can seep into the stone and permanently blemish it - but these marks were raised and somewhat crusty, marks that if you rub them with a cloth and a cleaner, come off - in other words, the stone desk top had not been cleaned properly. We were rather surprised by this, so when the attendant came to introduce himself, we pointed this out and he completely brushed us off by cursorily, with his sleeve, rubbing a few of them off and saying, 'oh, yes, well, whatever'. WHAT?? Very un-Celebrity-like, we thought. Otherwise, the room was extremely clean, well appointed, all very good - standard Celebrity high quality.
The next issue was when I had to call the stateroom attendant and ask to have my empty hair conditioner replaced, the problem compounded by that it was replaced with shampoo! Luckily, there was an attendant's cart in the hall, so I was able to grab a few bottles of conditioner for myself. But for us, the most irksome issue was our non-existent pillow menu. My husband and I love our pillows - we need 3 to sleep with, each, and one of them needs to be a Tempurpedic-style, one for each of us. On both of our prior Celebrity cruises, standard veranda class (thus no 'pillow menu') - we asked our attendant for extra pillows, 2 of them to be Tempurpedic-style, and the response was always, "NO PROBLEM, yes ma'am, right away" and magically, there were the pillows, 6 total, 2 of which were Tempurpedic-style. So, here we are in Aqua Class - remember, we are supposed to have a pillow menu but don't - I go looking for our attendant, he looks a bit concerned about our request for the Tempurpedic-style pillows but he indicates that he will get them. Later that night, we see him again, and he has delivered the requested pillows, but he launches into a rather long explanation of HOW DIFFICULT it was for him to get these pillows because there is some sort of inventory that is done on the pillows and blah blah blah I don't remember what all else he said. The bottom line is that a)there is supposed to be a pillow menu in Aqua Class and b)in the absence of said menu, our attendant at least should have brought the extra pillows without any issue - just like happened on the Equinox and the Solstice where our attendants, in standard veranda class, were peerless.
So, the next problem with our stateroom attendant was this: we used the two beach towels which are allotted to us, in St. Croix. We deposited them on the floor of our bathroom and expected later that night at turndown to have two clean beach towels in our stateroom for use the next day. But, no, no beach towels in our stateroom. So, we thought, hmmmmm, well, let's see what happens, we'll call in the morning if we have to. So I called the attendant at 6:45 am and again at 6:50 am - no answer and I let the phone ring quite a few rings. So now we are beginning to worry as we were going to go to breakfast and leave the ship directly from breakfast. So, we walked up and down the hall, found an attendant who serves a different set of staterooms on our floor, and asked very kindly, if he would mind getting two beach towels for us. We told him the story, of how we never got clean towels. He looked a bit annoyed, not with us, but seemingly with our attendant as he knew this was not acceptable - he wrote down our cabin number, went into the supply closet, and gave us two clean beach towels. I realize that in the grand scheme of life, this should be my biggest problem - however, this is Celebrity and this is Aqua Class - this shouldn't happen.
Then, on our last night on the ship - I still can't believe this: in Aqua Class, one of the special features is that you get a fruit basket and flowers. The last night, after we came back to our cabin from dinner, the flowers were gone, the fruit was gone, and really oddly, the leather Celebrity logo pen and paper holder small bedside holder thingie was gone - the attendant had taken away the leather thing but had left the pen and the paper - as if he thought we were going to steal the leather thing and take it home???? All of this, to me, is rather shabby. So, maybe the fruit and the flowers were removed because of some fear by the Agricultural Dept that we would smuggle the fruit and flowers out of Puerto Rico??? So what! If that is the case, at the airport in San Juan, all baggage is screened by Agriculture for that very reason, and I am not even sure they care about apples from our fruit basket! Regardless of whatever reason, removing some of the amenities that define Aqua Class from one night of a short seven night cruise, diminishes the total experience. And removing the leather paper pad/pen thing is frankly, insulting as the assumption is that we are thieves. Really?? Not cool at all.
So, that is my discourse on our cabin attendant who did not comport himself in a Celebrity-worthy way. The cruise as a whole was fantastic, though. We LOVED Qsine, and will go every time there is one on the ship. Normandie was to us, not as engaging. My lamb had to be sent back (supposed to be med-rare but it was nearly raw), and the panna cotta cream that went with my mushroom cappuccino soup was bewildering. The entertainment though top notch, during the day, was hard to find. The various musical performers such as the uber talented AquaFellas, the fantastic Spanish guitarist Nestor, the hip-swaying party band Fusion, etc - it would have been nice to hear them much earlier in the day, since we had many sea days on this voyage; in the Mediterranean with the Equinox and then again on the Solstice, from noon on, all of the acts were engaged at the various venues. The cruise director, Caissie, like all of the Celebrity cruise directors in our experience, was simply marvelous, but Caissie is also an INCREDIBLE opera singer! Celebrity got a 2 for 1 deal when they hired her! The production shows were of top notch quality as we have come to expect with Celebrity. We especially loved "Sirens", so clever, funny, amazing costumes - we especially appreciated the oh so clever River Dancing Pirates!!
We LOVED the shore excursion which we booked through the ship, ST63 Caribbean Sail to Christmas & Honeymoon Coves, out of St. Thomas, on the Bones Pirate Schooner - the crew was young, fun, informed and informative - we would definitely do this again. On St. Croix, we booked an ATV excursion on our own through Gecko's Island Adventures, and loved every minute of it, we would also do that again. On St. Maarten, we would definitely NOT do again what we did, which was take a cab on our own from Philipsburg, to Marigot, to Grand Case for lunch and back to Philipsburg. We would probably focus more on beach excursions, though we would return to the amazing French Patisserie, Sarafina's, in Marigot - spectacular.
We loved the cruise - the staff, the ship itself, the entertainment, the officers, the Captain's Club reception, the food, and we especially loved BLU, but we did not love our cabin attendant who did not deliver Celebrity worthy service, let alone Aqua Class level service.