We took this cruise (Venice to Rome) for its itinerary and in that respect we were not disappointed. We were also curious to try the new class of ship and to test the Celebrity standards of food and service which in our experience had declined in the past few years.
Embarkation was OK although the People Mover signs were difficult to find and elevators were defective. Signposting at Venice port for luggage drop-off was confusing.
In the evenings we ate mainly in the main dining room and found the food generally good and the service too. Our table was in a strategically poor location next to the serving bays but we stayed put because we enjoyed the company of our table companions. The serving staff were attentive and made heroic efforts to manoeuvre in the narrow space between the bays and our table. We also found that the Ocean View cafeteria had a good variety and standard -- we particularly liked the Indian food for lunch and the excellent breakfast selection. But the lack of trays to carry your complete meal to the table was a major handicap. Bring back the trays! We ate one meal at the Murano -- the food was excellent and the service superb. But not worth the $40 pp plus the missed meal in the main dining room included in the cruise fare.
Our balcony cabin was an excellent deal and a fair compensation for being originally located below the noisy discotheque on deck 4 that thumped loud sleep-disturbing music until the small hours. We travel light and didn't find the cabin space a problem. The rounded bed is not a great idea for those over 6 feet tall though. Our cabin stewards were excellent; helpful, efficient and courteous.
Our main criticism, and we take this seriously, is the poor and inappropriate way in which the public space in the ship has been allocated. The design of the ship realized a large open central space (atrium) running vertically from deck 3 to the top of the ship. Overlooking this space are the main elevators, stairs, library, hideaway lounge, (the latter 2 without a wall between them and the atrium) and internet room. Perversely on level 3 a small dance floor is located and a bandstand. When live music is being played on level 3 the amplification of the sound throughout the atrium is deafening. On the two occasions I visited the Guest Relations desk on level 3 while music was performed, both the staff and I could not have a conversation without constantly having to repeat ourselves. Reading a book in the library became impossible and the hideaway a hell. Even casual users of the elevators and stairs were subject to this loud music. And who wants this? The handful of couples dancing on the miniscule dance-floor on level 3 perhaps? Markedly, the revenue--generating internet room has a sound insulating wall.
A lower level of noise is a problem in all other public areas. A constant stream of muzak is broadcast almost everywhere on the ship. Even if one wants to hear music everywhere all the time, the muzak versions of e.g. Amy Winehouse or Beatles songs I heard were third rate.
We did not sample any of the gimmicks on the ship. We have over three hundred days a year to enjoy a lawn ashore and don't need one on a ship on water. We don't want to pay to cook our own food when we can get it cooked for free by someone else on the ship. What we missed was more space to quietly enjoy the basic pleasures of cruising without hard sell intrusions or noise. This space which existed on earlier Celebrity ships has been significantly reduced even though this new class has more space in total.
The captain was by far the star entertainer on this cruise. The few formal entertainment evenings we attended were average but the dancing in the shows was good.
Disembarkation was effortless and Celebrity provided coaches to the port gates of Civitavecchia. It should be emphasized that in the eight years that we have been cruising Civitavecchia has failed to provide adequate transport from the port to Civitavecchia railway station from where a fast train takes one to the centre of Rome in 40 minutes. There is no bus service and taxis refuse the trip, only being interested in taking passengers directly to Rome. One is obliged to walk about half a mile with luggage.
In summary, Celebrity has missed an opportunity to create a really class cruising environment on this new ship through a more fitting allocation and use of public space despite a clean modern luxurious design and an excellent level of service and dining. These shortcomings are a matter of management choice and can be corrected if Celebrity wishes to do so.