Background Information-16th Cruise on Celebrity, 2nd Transatlantic, Single Traveler
Pre Cruise Hotel Info -Stayed in a Great Hotel in Rome the Hotel 47, much more spacious then I was used to on previous visits to Rome, reasonable in price, and superb location
Embarkation-Was part of the Cruisecenter group and travel agent arranged private transfers to the pier. We did a tour of the Vatican in AM, then headed to the ship around 1PM, we were onboard the ship, about 20 minutes after arriving pier side
Ship Info-Gorgeous ship, loved the details on it. I'm a fan of the Solstice class, and this was the best I've been on of the three Solstice ships I've sailed (Solstice, Equinox, and Silhouette). Was (and am) a huge fan of Millenium class as well, but have learned to appreciate the Solstice class more, and actually feel it's a better designed, more functional ship, with a better use of its space.
Activities-Here's where I thought they needed work. Found the Cruise Director to be quite lackluster, don't even recall seeing him the first 7 or so days. Activity's Manager I enjoyed, seemed real enthusiastic, and genuinely enjoyed his work. He seemed to stay rather busy throughout the voyage. Kind of expected more activity's on our sea days then they delivered. Just had the feeling the cruise director was burned out, maybe then end of his contract, not sure
Service-In a word extraordinary. Service in main dining room was superb. Had a top shelf Turkish waiter, who did every thing in his power to please, with Maitre'D checking on our table at least a half dozen times during the cruise to make sure service was up to our standards. Probably the best waiter I ever experienced, he and his assistant were always smiling, giving suggestions, and trying to please. One night I had ordered Prime Rib Medium Rare and it arrived a bit rarer then I expected, I didn't say anything, but only ate about 1/3 of it. Waiter instantly recognized that I didn't seem to be enjoying it and asked me for the opportunity to make it right, I told him it wasn't necessary, but he insisted it was. He made it right, and must of informed Maitre'D as well, since he came to make sure everything was perfect as well
Port & Shore Excursions-Did a beautiful private Florence Tour and a Segway tour of Barcelona that we had organized here on Cruise Critic, that was spectacular. Our travel agent (Aquafest) also arranged a great tour of Genoa which I really enjoyed. The rest of the ports kind of just putted around
Stateroom-Was lucky on this cruise and booked a W Suite Guarantee, and ended up getting a Celebrity Suite. Stunning room. We did a cabin crawl of the cruise critic people onboard, and every man who passed through was in awe of the 50" TV in the living room, and the 42" TV in the bedroom. Every woman seemed to like the additional storage and bathroom. I liked it all Not a huge fan of the shower in the tub, as prefer a separate shower, but the way they situated it was well thought out. I'm 6'2" and could stand up fully in the tub without the top of my head touching the shower head. Service in the suite was beyond any expectation I had. A butler named Jesus and a cabin attendant named Sim (both from the Phillipines) were two of the most genuine, hardest working people I met onboard. They went out of their way to achieve perfection. One day I mentioned to the butler about the cabin crawl and that people would be passing through, he offered to set up food/beverages for the passenger coming through. I returned to my cabin about an hour before the scheduled start and he had set up shrimp, cheese, snack platters, two bottles of Champagne, and one bottle of wine on ice for their arrival, and stayed to serve them. I really could not thank them enough for all their hard work
Dining-Think I tried most all of the specialty restaurants onboard. My favorites in order of personal preference
Lawn Club Grill-Food, service, quality and attention to detail at its finest. We had an 8PM reservation, and they were jammed when we arrived. They offered to let us have a drink in one of the cabana's while we waited. Maitre'D came over and apologized for the inconvenience, and said if we liked, we could dine right in the cabana, which we did. Really appreciated the quality and preparation that went into each course. Meats were cooked just right, seasoned so no additional condiments or salt & pepper were necessary. Veggies were fresh, crisp, and full of flavor. Was too full for desert but took waitresses suggestion of trying the chocolate chip cake, while my companion had the carrot cake. Chcolate chip cake was heavenly, and ended up eating all the carrot cake, and asking for one to go. Delightful meal.
Murano-Visited twice, first time a home run, second time second base.Visited first time about 4 days into voyage. Appetizer was good (scallop dish), but nothing to write home about, Main course was probably the best lack of lamb I can remember in years, perfectly cooked, tasty crust flavored with herbs. Accompanying vegetables were cooked and seasoned to perfection. Grand Marnier chocolate souffle melted in my mouth. Service was what I would expect in a Michelin two star. Great attention to every detail without being overbearing. Second visit was also at 8PM , I was a bit underwhelmed, service was above average but not great, felt rushed. My companion had the sole prepared tableside, and it was good but not memorable, I had the filets (set of three each the size of large spool of thread), found then kind of grainy but tasty
Qsine-Liked the novelty and the conceptual idea, but execution seemed a bit twisted. We had a party of 8 at our table, all selected our 'favorites' on the IPAD's that were handed us, then waiter came over to help us through it. It was kind of weird that he comes over with a pad/paper and has no idea what we chose, so then he kind of suggests items for us to order. Couple of people at our table we're peeved, as their feeling was, what's the point of selecting things on the IPAD if you're not going to actually going to be ordering it. The food though was quite good, with wonderfully fresh presentations
Entertainment-What I would call typical cruise fare as far as entertainment. A couple of comedians that really were to politically correct so not to offend, to really make them funny. A few singers that were destined to be cruise ship singers, a magician with a few forgettable tricks. Celebrity dancers and singers were good, and they had some Beatles tribute foursome that as long as they sang they were fine, they just need not to talk.
Disembarkation-Smooth as silk. The hotel director Sue was kind enough to help get me assigned to one of the first groups getting off the ship at 7. Picked up luggage within about 10 minutes, Customs/immigration took about 25-30 minutes, was in a car on the way to airport by 7:45, arrived by 8:15
Staff-Was a really pleasant bunch of people. Captain was charming and funny. Hotel Director, was a true pro, kept the overall flow of the ship from bottling up during the voyage. Really enjoyed the talk I had one day with Brad the Onboard Revenue Manager. Simona the guest relations manager was outstanding, as I noticed here handling a few things during the voyage with other passengers, and she really has a natural gift for the job. Did get the feeling that the staff seemed fragmented. Didn't see the camaraderie you sometimes seem with certain crews. Everyone did their jobs nicely, efficiently, but not working together more as separate entity's
Summary-Of course you can knitpick and say I wish I had this Captain from this ship, with the Hotel Director from Solstice, Food & beverage Manager from Century, the cabin from Silhouette, the balcony from Infinity, The Acapella bgroup from Equinox, the magician from the Constellation to try and dream up a 'perfect' cruise, but there is never such a creature. Overall I would say the cruise and staff were outstanding. Provided great value for the money, and really treated me as a guest rather than a passenger, and for those reasons I will be sailing Celebrity in the future.