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Celebrity Century Cruise Review by DrKoob: Not my favorite cruise


DrKoob
12 Reviews
Member Since 2004
4,605 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities 4.0
Entertainment 3.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 5.0
Service 5.5
Shore Excursions 2.0
Value for Money 5.0

Compare Prices on Celebrity Century Hawaii Cruises

Not my favorite cruise

Sail Date: November 2012
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: San Diego

As I start writing this it has been almost a month since we disembarked from Celebrity's Century in San Diego after spending 15 days on board sailing to and from Hawaii. This is not like me. Normally I want to write all about a cruise as soon as we are back but not this time. I have had the hardest time getting this one started for a lot of reasons. We came back three days before Thanksgiving so the holidays filled our days almost immediately. Then my buddy Mike Preisman got his review done with all his great pictures and I just decided that his was so good, I could just link to it (click here to read it). And to be honest, Mike was more excited about this cruise than I was.

Why wasn't I excited about this cruise and this review? First, we have been on Century three times in the last 16 months. First in September 2011 to Alaska, then in January 2012 sailing from Auckland, NZ to Sydney, AU and then this cruise, a round-trip from San Diego to Hawaii. I really didn't have More anything special to say about Century that hadn't been said before. We love the ship and we love her crew. But to be honest, we are kind of tired of her. We will be sailing on the larger Celebrity Eclipse in June and it is a port intensive cruise to The Baltic so I know I will be truly enthused about that one.

I think the other reason I didn't jump right in to write this review was that we were going to Hawaii. It needs to be stated here that I am one of the few citizens of the United States that had not been to Hawaii before this trip. My DW had been there in her previous, pre-me life but not me. Why? Just never interested me. And still doesn't. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the islands but for me this cruise was all about just being with our friends and having a great time which we did. I have to say that I really am totally ambivalent about Hawaii. Certainly parts of what we saw were beautiful but I am not a beach person and not a fan of the entire Hawaiian "hang loose" mentality. When I tour, I like to TOUR! I want to see it all. I don't think that's possible in Hawaii. Not without a long stay.

Another thing is my philosophy of being onshore when on cruises. One of my good friends with us on the cruise kept telling me that, "It's not a race." But for me it is. I think one of my biggest disappointments was what we didn't get to see. After we got back I looked back at our previous cruise to New Zealand and Australia. On that cruise when we hit a port, we HIT the port. We were off the ship as soon as we could be, jumped in a van with a tour guide and did an absolute ton of activities until we returned to the ship. When we were in Hawaii I felt like we got off late, by the time we had picked up our rental car and gotten back to pick up the rest of our party and got out on the road the day was half or more than half over. I learned something really important on this cruise.
Pre-cruise

We arrived in San Diego two days early so we could drive out to Palm Springs and see my father which we did. We did that and headed back to San DIego and arrived the day before the cruise. We had rooms reserved at The Holiday Inn on the Bay. If you are cruising from San Diego, this is the perfect hotel as it is across the street from the cruise port. (If you are thinking about booking this, make sure you get the Holiday Inn ON THE BAY and not the Holiday Inn BAYSIDE. The Bayside is near the airport, not the cruiseport.) We were actually able to walk to the ship for the first time ever. After we had checked in we found our other best buddies who had arrived from sunny Florida and headed out to look at some San Diego sights. We hit the Cabrillo National Monument first and the for a completely different view of the city, we headed across the big bridge to Coronado. After that everyone decided that even though it was early, we were all hungry (especially our friends who were still on East coast time) so we headed off to dinner at Tabule, a restaurant that my DW and I had been to on a previous San Diego trip. We had loved it, especially the service by our amazing waiter, Jorge. I could and would go on and on about Tabule, encouraging you to try a meal there (especially the raspberry-chipolte duck) but Jorge told us that it was their last night as a fine-dining restaurant. After more than 15 years, they were closing that night to reopen in a few weeks as a Sports Bar. How sad. But I understand, as that part of the Gaslamp district is more about bars and saloons rather than fine dining restaurants.

The next morning I was up early to take our rental car back. We had rented a Hertz mini-van for our trip to Palm Springs and I had originally planned on taking it back on Saturday afternoon but decided to keep it so we could take our friends to see some of San Diego and go to dinner. One of the best things about San Diego is how close the airport is to the cruise port. That would be even more important at disembarkation (more on that later) but I was able to drop off the van and it was an easy walk for me back to hotel which was across the street from the cruise terminal where Century was moored. I met the other two guys in our party out by Century and we compared notes and discussed how we would get across the street with our bags to board. After breakfast and a short photo walk we went and grabbed the luggage and walked it over. I stayed with the big bags while the two guys went back to get the ladies and the carry ons (except for mine). Within minutes they were back, I ran back to the hotel and when I got back we all headed to check in. One of the best embarkations ever. Dropped the luggage, checked in (always fun to decide what is faster, the Elite line, the Suite line or just regular line) and waited about 30 minutes before we were escorted on board.

We dropped our carry ons in our cabins (suites) and headed to lunch in the buffet. I love Century's buffet because they still have trays! Some people say that because it doesn't have islands (like the Solstice class ships) it is slower but I never have any problems with it. I do a quick circuit around the entire food service area to see what's available. Then unless I want salads or the main courses I just grab what I am after. Most days, it's a salad (takes no time to grab that) and then some roasted veggies from the pizza station and maybe a piece of pizza. That's it. We didn't eat breakfast in the buffet once on this trip except disembarkation day. So we had no troubles with the Century buffet. It's one of our favorites.

After lunch we wandered around until our cabins were ready (around 1:30) and then we headed that direction. I need to mention here that for this cruise (thanks to our Florida friends booking late and letting us know about an amazing deal) we were in Sky Suites. For a cruise with this many sea days, it was wonderful to have this big a room (246 square feet as opposed to 175 square feet for our regular cabin). The suite also had a good size verandah (almost as big as our regular cabin would have been). Our luggage was a tad late in arriving (just before the lifeboat drill) and we unpacked quickly and got to the drill and immediately after to our sailaway party for our Cruise Critic group. (Folks we had met in an online forum just for this group.)

Stopped writing there and resuming the next day decided that I would cut to the chase. The good, the bad and the ugly. That and the pictures, should do it.

The Good
As usual with Celebrity (and especially with Century) just about everything fits in this category. Her officers (probably the friendliest group of officers we have seen on any cruise as a group), her crew and just about everyone associated with the ship. There were a few exceptions but not many. We got incredible service from Timothy, our assistant maitre'd, Fabian our waiter, Walter our butler (in a suite, you get a butler), Lennox in the Martini Bar and two old friends we saw from previous cruises Leximan and Aurelie who were sommeliers in the dining room. Of course there were lots of other people on the ship who took good care of us but these folks really stood out.

One of the big highlights for us was the night we were leaving Hilo, our butler Walter (with the assistance of our friend's butlers) served us a complete 5 course dinner on our verandah for just the six of us. They brought tables and chairs from other cabins and just treated like royalty. Now if you cruise with Celebrity, we made a promise to Jamie (the hotel director) not to spread this around since everyone would ask for it. So if you do ask for it, you didn't read it here.

The Bad (not really bad, just so-so)
I have very few complaints about X. (For new-cruisers, that's what we call Celebrity.) My typical complaints have been around for a while and apply to most X ships. My biggest one is the lack of silence or not really silence, just quiet. We ate in Murano (Century's alternative restaurant) one night and one lunch as Bob often says, he thinks the food in the dining room is just as good as Murano. While I may agree with the food being as good the dining room, the reason I love going to Murano or any of Celebrity's other alternative restaurants is a chance to eat (or just be) in a quiet environment. The two meals we ate in Murano (one lunch and one dinner) were so nice because we could actually hear each other talk.

And it isn't just the dining room. It's especially bad in the Martini Bar where some marketing expert in X HQ in Miami has decided that the best kind of music for a Martini Bar full of 50+ folks buying drink after drink is LOUD techno. Some of it was so bad that we kept joking that they had an old-fashioned record player behind the bar because it always sounded like it was skipping and repeating itself. This situation has been discussed in depth and the two areas I mentioned are not the only problem. It is very hard to find almost any public lounge that doesn't have music playing most of the time. And it is often at a volume that makes it difficult to talk. We cruise (especially this one) to socialize and when we have to yell to each other to be heard, that is just wrong.

My other moderate complaints concerned two crew members that bothered me a bunch. I know that it was just me but I felt that our assistant waiter was way too familiar with us. I have a really hard time with a person who is barely in their twenties acting the way that he did. On a number of occasions I felt like our waiter Fabian, had to take him aside and tell him to calm down. On one occasion he grabbed my friend's Canon DSLR and started taking pictures with it. I can tell you if he had done that to my Nikon he would have heard a lot more from me. My friend is a better sport than I am. I will admit that I am still kind of ticked at him for a lost night's sleep on the cruise. He served me caffeinated coffee and not the decaf I ordered one night. Seriously, that's all it takes for me. One cup and I am up all night. At home I can't drink anything with caffeine after noon so I always make sure to tell whoever is pouring (numerous times) that it has to be decaf.

My other problem was with a member of the activity staff who did some of the trivia contests. If you are at any of them you will know who I am talking about if I tell you that he always said the prizers were "UNBELIEVABLE." That wasn't my problem. My problem was his constant reference to guests on board as "rich people." If you were sitting in the back of the room you were "rich people who didn't like being in the front." If you came in late or left early, it was "There goes the rich people," or "Here comes the rich people. they can always be late." It got very irritating the longer it would go on. By the last sea day I was skipping trivia (which I really like) because this guy was so offensive. I also had decided to discuss with John (our cruise director) but he was ill the last couple of days of the cruise so I wasn't able to do that.

I don't think this young man deserves any punishment, just someone to take him aside and tell him what is and isn' t appropriate. Every time he would say "rich people," it almost came out as an insult.

The Ugly-Disembarkation
OK, I will admit part of this is my fault because I booked a flight home at 10:00 am but I had reasons for doing that. One, we had disembarked in the port of San Diego two years earlier from HAL's Oosterdam and not been in the first groups to get off and we were still able to be in Palm Springs at my Dad's house by 11:00 am. That's an almost three hour drive plus time to rent the car.

Second, the airport is close. A 7 minute cab ride away.

Third, I was ugly because I just got fed up. I was nastier than I have ever been on a cruise. Not with X for the delay. The delay was due to Customs taking so long to clear the ship. We saw the Customs inspectors leave the room where they had been checking in non-US citizens at 7:45 and yet they did not clear the ship until almost 8:45. That is ridiculous. I got mad at X for a different reason. They had NO ONE SUPERVISING the huge group of people waiting in line to be released and that meant that even though we were in a line, people would just walk by with the excuse that they were going to the restroom or back to their cabins on a higher deck and then we would see them cut in line in front of us or just stand there and take up space that would later be filled people trying to get off. It was ridiculous. X needed to have security in those hallways leading to the gangplank to keep people in a line and tell others to go around or on another deck or to another restroom. Poor planning on their part.

I will say that we did make our plane by literally 3 minutes. When we got to the airport the person checking bags told us that we had made it with three minutes to spare. Had we been three minutes later we would not been able to board and would have had to standby and pay $100 per person to change our tickets. It was a totally frustrating end to a really great cruise and X could have made it work much better. But I am willing to take some of the blame and the Customs people ought to be reprimanded and/or fired. The entire Customs/ICE process in San Diego is ridiculous. We have sailed to Alaska out of Seattle and been off the ship by 7:30. How come our Customs/ICE people can do it better here than there.

The Ports
There were four ports of call on this cruise. Two (Hilo and Kona) on the big island of Hawaii then a day each on Maui and Oahu. We did not have specific plans for each island and I am here to say that not only was that mostly my fault but IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN! Either we are doing nothing or we have a full day plan. Including where to have lunch.

My notes on them are in the Port Reviews section. Since this applies to all our ports, I wanted to add it here: Originally I had rented all our cars through Hawaii Car Rentals (http://www.hawaiicarrentals.net). They are a rental consolidator that allow you to book all your rental cars for all the islands on one website. Looked great. So I booked. Got really nice pricing and an e-mail back from them that said, "Please e-mail us with any questions. This e-mail address is monitored by a human." Well that human must be asleep because every time I would e-mail them for info I NEVER heard back from them. Finally I got so fed up I cancelled all our cars with them and rebooked them. I am really glad I did. For instance, on Maui they had us going all the way to Maui's main airport (Kahului Airport) to pick up our car. We found out from the folks who we rented a GPS from (more on that later) that we should not take a 45 minute drive in each direction (in a cab, on our own dime) when we are going to pick up and drop off the car. We ended up renting (with the other company) at Lahaina's small airport, only a 10 minute shuttle away.

There were other problems but suffice it to say we were NOT happy with them. We were happy with Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. (http://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com) They do exactly the same thing but they do it with GREAT customer service. Even after Celebrity changed our itinerary which forced us to rebook all but one of our rentals, they were OUTSTANDING! I would definitely use them again. They were totally responsive and got us great deals on our minivans. That is not to say that all was perfect on the rental car front. Just on booking them. I will cover that later as I get into each island. Less


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Cabin review: Celebrity Century Sky Suite Sports Deck (12) 1229

Our Sky Suite was great. Lots of room. Only real problem was toilet placement in bath. Could not open door all the way. Could not be used by handicapped.

Port and Shore Excursions


(3)
Hilo Our day in Hilo was for me, actually the best and most organized. we only had around 6 hours and wanted to go up to see the Volcano National Park (http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm). Before the cruise I had rented cars in every port. I will tell you that this was both a good and bad experience and I definitely have some recommendations. Originally I had rented all our cars through Hawaii Car Rentals (http://www.hawaiicarrentals.net). They are a rental consolidator that allow you to book all your rental cars for all the islands on one website. Looked great. So I booked. Got really nice pricing and an e-mail back from them that said, "Please e-mail us with any questions. This e-mail address is monitored by a human." Well that human must be asleep because every time I would e-mail them for info I NEVER heard back from them. Finally I got so fed up I cancelled all our cars with them and rebooked them. I am really glad I did. For instance, on Maui they had us going all the way to Maui's main airport (Kahului Airport) to pick up our car. We found out from the folks who we rented a GPS from (more on that later) that we should not take a 45 minute drive in each direction (in a cab, on our own dime) when we are going to pick up and drop off the car. We ended up renting (with the other company) at Lahaina's small airport, only a 10 minute shuttle away. There were other problems but suffice it to say we were NOT happy with them. We were happy with Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. (http://www.discounthawaiicarrental.com) They do exactly the same thing but they do it with GREAT customer service. Even after Celebrity changed our itinerary which forced us to rebook all but one of our rentals, they were OUTSTANDING! I would definitely use them again. They were totally responsive and got us great deals on our minivans. That is not to say that all was perfect on the rental car front. Just on booking them. I will cover that later as I get into each island. Getting back to Hilo, we arrived on time, thankfully we were docked and not tendering so we took the shuttle to pick up the rental at the airport (you could see the ship from the airport, that's how close it is) and then went back to pick up the rest of the group and headed off to see the volcano. Our rental car that day was from Thrifty at their airport location and they did great. Quick pickup, easy drive, plenty of people at the agency to check us in and a clean, good looking mini-van ready to go. Kilauea was much more interesting than I thought it would be and we ended up seeing a bunch of the volcano as well as a walk through a lava tube and we finished the day with a quick stop at the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory. Strange that they call it a factory. I thought nuts were grown, not manufactured.
Read 269 Hilo Reviews

Oahu-Honolulu Early the next morning we sailed into Honolulu. Took lots of pictures as we sailed in. To start with we ended up docking at the industrial pier instead of the one regularly used by cruise ships at the Aloha Tower Shopping Mall. We don't know why but it did cause us to have to walk a whole lot farther just to get anyplace. Bob and I got off early and went to get the rental car. We were shuttled by Thrifty to their office at the airport. It's quite a ways away. It took us about an hour to get back to the Aloha Tower Mall where we were meeting everyone else and the people with GyPSy for Oahu. We got the GyPSy hooked up and we were on our way. Kind of. Unlike the GyPSy on Maui which covered the entire island, the GyPSY only covered two very specific routes on Oahu and neither one of them were near where we were at the time. I don't fault the GyPSy people for this but I do blame them for not meeting with us a paper map that would get us to the start of one of their routes. Once we got to the first route, it was pretty much a day of beaches and views. That's about it. And to be honest, beaches and views of trees and water don't do that much for me. There were some beautiful scenery but a day doing that is just not my idea of fun on vacation. Especially driving through holiday traffic to see it. That's about it for me on Oahu. I wasn't impressed. I can honestly say that I would not go back to Oahu. I might try Kauai or maybe even Maui again but there is no way I would go back to Oahu.
Read 264 Honolulu Reviews

(3)
Kona The next morning we were off the shore of the Big Island but on the other side off Kona. We had no real plans for this side and it was a tender port. So two of us got off early and went to get the car while the rest of the gang finished breakfast and followed a few tenders later. Today's rental car was from Enterprise and I can't say enough bad things about this experience. We were picked up in a timely manner and when we got there we filled out the paperwork quickly and expected them to hand us a key and we would be off. But that was not to be. We were told we would be called when someone (one person for the whole agency) could walk us out to the car and show it to us. What that person (25 minutes later) really wanted to do was up sell us (at the car) more insurance, GPS and all kinds of other stuff. They stole almost an hour of my time and that ticked me off. I will never rent from Enterprise again (no matter where) and I suggest you don't rent from this one. I should also mention that Enterprise has no shuttle after noon so that meant that after I dropped off the car, I walked the 3 miles back to the pier. Not bad for me but if you aren't a walker, it may present a problem for you. I could have taken a cab but it's hard to find one and I would have had to wait a while. Once we had the car we headed back to pick up the rest of the gang and head out. Since we didn't have a specific place we wanted to go, Bob just drove us along the beaches and we looked at the pretty water. We had found out that the big attractions (if you weren't doing helicopter flights to the volcano or whale watching) were the City of Refuge and the Painted Church so we headed in that direction. We also hoped to stop by a Kona coffee plantation if we had time. The City of Refuge is where the first Hawaiians came ashore from Polynesia. And before we went there Bob took us to a lava (not molten) covered beach. You can see it all in my Kona pics. Then we stopped at the City of Refuge and then up the hill to the Painted Church. Would I go to any of them again? Nope. Pretty but not that interesting. After the Painted Church we hit the road back and started looking for a coffee plantation. Saw one that said that was what they were and that they had a small cafe where we could get lunch but that wasn't the case once we stopped the car and got out. What was the case was that Bob walked across the highway and found Jakes BBQ which was an outstanding place to have lunch. We all got Jake's Special Pulled Pork sandwich. Yummy. Then we headed back to the town of Kona where we shopped at the Farmer's Market and the downtown shops (including the place I hit in every port--Crazy Shirts) before everyone else went back to the ship, Kathleen waited by the tender for me and I took the car back and walked back down to meet her.
Read 164 Kona Reviews

(4)
Maui I liked Maui best of all. We did not go to Kauai and every tells me I would like that better and I will probably be talked into going there someday but until then, Maui provided the best experience. It was a tender day so that meant taking the tender in. But once in our rental car company that day was Dollar and they did a great job of picking us up and getting us back out on the road in our promised mini-van. I can't stress enough that you should rent your cars in advance. We saw many people trying to squeeze six people into a compact car because that's all was left since they didn't have a reservation. We picked up the car and then back downtown to pick up the rest of the gang and then we had also rented a very special GPS from GyPSyguide. (http://www.gypsyguide.com) We picked up this special GPS unit in downtown Lahaina and it was installed and we were on our way in no time. Why is this such a special GPS? Because it doesn't just tell you where to go but what's interesting as you are getting there and then some history and geography facts on the way. For instance, it not only tells you directions but tells you what's around the next corner and that there's a beach you should see coming up in a few minutes. Or that this is your last chance for gas on the Road to Hana. We rented one of these on both Maui and Oahu. I will talk more about the one we got on Oahu later but I can say that the one we got on Maui was amazing. I highly recommend it. I would love to go back to Maui, rent a car and this GPS for three days and see the WHOLE island. It was outstanding. And funny. At one point we came to a corner where we had three possible turns. It told us that if we turned right, we would go to Hana, if left the Iao Valley and "going straight, goes nowhere." Funny, I bet the people who lived and worked in that direction didn't really think of it as "nowhere." As soon as we had the GyPSy we headed north to drop off Bob and Jude who had decided they just wanted a day on the beach. After we had done that, we were headed to the Iao Valley with a great many stops and info from the GyPSy on the way. The Iao Valley and the Iao Needle were beautiful and interesting. After seeing the Iao Needle we decided to head up the Road to Hana but only got as far as Paia before we stopped for lunch at a little place called Charley's. Good sandwiches but not as good as Jake's BBQ the next day. Stopped at a few beaches to take some great pictures of wind and kite surfers. Then we headed a short distance up the Road to Hana and stopped at the first waterfall that the GyPSy recommended. We were going to walk the 40 minutes in to the waterfall but some folks coming out told us the water was so low that it really wasn't worth the walk unless we were going to swim, which we weren't. So we jumped back in the car and headed back to Lahaina. Got back there in about an hour, returned the GyPSy and the car and then walked around the lovely village of Lahaina. They have an incredible banyan tree that sits in the middle of the town. It is truly amazing. See my pics. There was a holiday craft sale going on under the tree as it was a Sunday. We did some browsing, hit the Crazy Shirt shop and then got back on the tender to head to Century. Our best day in Hawaii. Tomorrow on Oahu would be the worst.
Read 262 Maui Reviews

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