We drove to San Diego the day before our cruise from Phoenix. What a pleasure not to have to deal with flying. We stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn just a couple of blocks from the pier. Great location.
Boarding the ship was no problem at all. From the time we got to the pier it took maybe fifteen or twenty minutes until we were on the ship enjoying champagne.
We have cruised exclusively with Celebrity and while this was our seventh cruise in the last three years with Celebrity, this was our first on the Century. After reading many reviews we were a little apprehensive about the ship being an older ship in need of refurbishment. That was NOT our experience at all. The ship seemed to be very well maintained and our cabin along with the rest of the ship was in fine shape.
The staff was also up to the standards we have come to expect on Celebrity - always smiling and always willing to help. However, we did encounter a couple of nights in the MDR where the service could have been better. The food was always very good. My only other complaint about the MDR was that in the upper deck where the select dining was held, the tables were packed close together in certain areas of the dining room.
The activities on the ship were good. They had very knowledgeable speakers on the subjects of Hawaiian history and nature. They had an "Hawaiian Ambassador" who gave hula and Hawaiian craft lessons, as well as two ukulele masters who performed and gave lessons. All in all you really knew you were on an Hawaiian cruise.
The ports were very nice. We elected to pay a small premium and take the Celebrity shore excursions at each Hawaiian port. No regrets there.(We did not bother with Ensenada). The only problem was at the two ports where we had to take a tender from the ship. I can't explain why, but the tendering service was terrible. Long waits and crowded hot tenders. I don't remember ever having a problem with tenders on the other cruises I have taken.
All in all it was an excellent experience and we can't wait until our next Celebrity cruise.