Departure date October 5 2012. This was our fifth Cruise and our second to Hawaii. We had booked months in advance to ensure cabin of choice.
The itinerary shown on the "Guest copy" of the booking confirmation showed stops at Honolulu, Kauai (Nawiliwili), Lahaina, Hilo, and Ensenada, with one port of call per day in the Islands.
When my final receipt arrived, Nawiliwili was no longer shown. Instead we were to spend two days in Lahaina and no stop in Kauia. On checking with Celebrity, our travel agent was advised that the ports of call had indeed been changed. Even though this would take us to one less Island, and in spite of the fact that I had been looking forward to visiting Kauia, we confirmed the cruise.
I should note that the first luggage tags provided to my travel agent were plain paper, photo copy quality, cut-outs that the instructions said to STAPLE around your suitcase handle before arriving at the cruise ship terminal. Finding these flimsy and of poor quality my travel agent called Celebrity and complained. She was then sent the regular adhesive type tags that we were used to with other cruise lines.
We flew Air Canada Direct to San Diego where we spent two nights at the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina on Shelter Island on San Diego Bay.
We had a Queen room with a Harbour view in the new Casa Marina building. The room, the food, the view and the service were all above expectation. They provide free airport, and Cruise terminal shuttle service. An Excellent experience.
Our cabin was Concierge class balcony 9111, mid-ship, port side, on the Vista deck of Celebrity Century.
Concierge class cost a bit extra. However the benefits seemed to justify the added cost. The perks shown on Celebrity's website included priority check in, express luggage delivery, personalized concierge service,priority disembarkation, complimentary shoeshine service, access to the "Exclusive concierge pre-departure lounge", restaurant preferred seating times, expanded room service menu, a welcoming bottle of sparkling wine in your cabin on arrival, pillow menu to suit you sleeping preferences, daily afternoon delivery of "Savories", fresh fruit and flowers,special toiletries, plush frette robes, personalized stationary, use of binoculars, use of a golf umbrella, extra hand held hair dryer and Celebrity tote bag.
The perks were OK. We boarded in record time. We did not need, nor did we see an "Exclusive Concierge class pre-boarding lounge" Our luggage was delivered to our cabin mid afternoon. This is the earliest I have ever experienced.
We never did find our personal Concierge. We found the shoeshine bag in the closet on day 5. Room service breakfast was really good, calling before they arrived and always on time.The concierge class room service menu included a Fruit smoothie that made you want to come back for more.
The sparkling wine was there on arrival and was nice. Fresh fruit and flowers were provided on day one and only changed when fully consumed or rotting. The personalized stationary was one note pad sized piece of paper for each of us with out name printed on our sheet. The binoculars were small opera glass size that sold for about $20.00 in the photo shop. They were not functional. The golf umbrella, tote bag and hair dryer were as promised. Priority disembarkation for us was 10:am.
The cabin was average size. The balcony had a table and two chairs on it. Great for in room breakfast. It was difficult to store our bags under the bed due to the type of legs that supported it. However, there was plenty of closet space to compensate. The bed appeared old but was fairly comfortable.
We never did see a "Pillow Menu". It was only on our way back that my wife complained about her pillow. She was given a new one. But still no "Pillow menu"
The Flat Screen TV actually had TV programming available.
The bathroom was average size with an annoying little tulip sink that was just too small for anything. The Hansgrove shower head was a plus. The shower curtain was a pain.
Cabin Housekeeping was average.
Announcements were not broadcast into cabins or over TV channels so one had to open the cabin door and listen in the corridor when they heard the tone.
There were lots of activities during the sea days. Many had some sort of fee attached to them.
Entertainment in the ship's theater was better than some cruises we have been on and not as good as others. It was, for the most part entertaining, and perhaps better than average. Sight lines from the balconies left much to be desired and drink tables did not appear to be cleaned properly.
Food in the main dining room was "Cruise ship average" at best. There were no Gourmet dishes as shown on websites.Our table for two was small, and tightly arranged in a row of closely placed tables for two.
Chilled soups were runny like fruit juice. Meats were huge portions that were rarely cooked the way one asked them to be cooked. Desserts were simply excellent.
Instead of a midnight buffet, or chocolate buffet there was a buffet brunch in the main dining room. So instead of adding a special culinary event, this line eliminated a seating by combining breakfast and lunch.
The Island Buffet was also average with sections opening and closing at various times of the day and night. Tea and scones in the buffet was a nice touch.
The Poolside grill served up an excellent burger and the galley produced Ice creams and sorbets at the Ice Cream Stand were excellent.
As with most ships, after theater snacks were very limited with only the pizza section of the buffet remaining open until almost midnight serving pizza and cookies. Iced Tea and coffee were available 24 hours a day at the self serve station in the buffet.
We did not try the Murano specialty restaurant. With the quality of food in the dining room we felt it unwise to gamble $40.00 each to possibly experience the same quality at the Murano.
Alcohol was more expensive on this cruise than any other we have been on and we were constantly being badgered to buy alcohol from the bars and waiters.
We did take advantage of the two bottle (Bring your own) wine only take on board allowance at San Diego.
Formal nights(Three of them) were fairly informal with sports jackets, suits, sweaters and tuxedos all evident in the dining room.
"Customer service" was evident as every crew member we passed smiled, and said good morning / good afternoon. The waiters and head waiters in the dining room worked at providing a great experience with less than outstanding food and menus.
Century is a small ship that is in less than pristine condition. Rust is visible in most of the outdoor areas. Balcony rails finish is wearing through. Some have been re-coated others not. Repair crews were evident through the entire cruise fixing electrical issues, repairing infrastructure and painting. One night we were informed that "All water" in the ship would be turned off for several hours for "Routine maintenance"
When the lifeboat outside our cabin was lowered to be used as a tender, there was a loud screech of metal on metal. We went out to see what had happened and were disturbed to see a great deal of rust on the cables and structure that held / launched the lifeboat.
Shore tours were average...Just OK. There was no sail past of the Lava flows into the sea as with our previous cruise to Hawaii on Princess. For those who may have run out of staples there are free shuttles to Walmart at most of the ports.
There is no "Do it yourself" laundry on this ship as there is on many Princess and Holland America ships and the laundry service provided by the ships laundry was very expensive.
For those using wheelchairs,electric scooters, walkers etc, this ship is well equipped with lifters to assist getting into pools and hot tubs, and an area on deck five with extra wide corridor to facilitate storage of scooters etc.
Speaking of pools there is a pool patrol that actually keeps folks from hogging lounges all day.
When we claimed our luggage on the pier in San Diego, we noticed that my wife's suitcase had been seriously damaged on the trip from corridor to pier.
The demographic on this cruise was, for the most part, Mature to Senior adults.
My personal observation was that this is a small ship that is getting old and needs another rebuild or replacement.
On our return to San Diego we were whisked back to the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina by the amazing shuttle driver, who offered to take us anywhere we would like to go... "Just call me"
Our hotel room was ready for us even at 10:30 am. The room was outstanding and the food was so much better than what we had endured during our cruise.
Special thanks to Brittany who, when asked if there was someone who could do the check in for our flight next morning, responded with "May I see your paperwork?". She then keyed our data into the computer and handed us our boarding passes.
SUMMING UP: Average cruise on a ship I will not cruise on again, with a cruise line that does not seem to be as upscale as I suspect they would like us to think they are. Very Disappointing! .
A great hotel stay at a property I would strongly endorse and at which I would stay again.