My wife really pushed for this itnerary which included passage through the Panama Canal down the west coast of South America ending in Valpariso, Chile. I agreed because of the shore excursion in Arica, Chile to the Atacama Desert and Altiplano, which sounded fantastic (we both wanted to do the Panama Canal but I really wanted to end in San Diego to avoid the marathon plane flight back home).
Boarding was delayed by disinfection for norovirus on prior cruise but Aqua Class priority boarding was smooth and well conducted. Cabin was perfectly satisfactory, clean, generally well-designed storage, everything we needed for our 15 nights fit easily. However, we definitely prefer the cabins in Solstice class ships. Great cabin attendant service throughout the cruise.
Our dining venue was Blu. Excellent food, well-prepared and well-presented! Attentive, personable, service staff made our evenings and breakfasts a pleasure. Buffet food at Oceanview Cafe was good-quality and generally well-prepared. Beverage service and table clearing in Oceanview was hit or miss, sometimes fantastic, other times no beverage service at all and slow plate clearing. The line-type service in Oceanview was sometimes congested and cumbersome compared to the "island-type" layouts of the Solstice class ships.
Great speakers from Smithsonian and numerous activities made sea days a pleasure! Ship board musicians were satisfactory, not the best compared to other cruises but that can also be individual preference. Shows were ok, to very good.
A source of dissappointment was the fact that the ship was rarely on-schedule for sail aways. The only port from which departure was on time was Lima. At every other port we were late sailing away. Not a big deal, but I always like to be on deck for sail away. Hard to do when we were never on schedule!
Unfortunately, immigration issues and general port issues (at least according to Celebrity) led to major disappointments. In Lima, Peru we were forced to arrive at 3:00PM a day early instead of early the following morning to deal with passport stamping. No problem, except that when we finished our shore excursion, the ship was not in its berth. Celebrity had to move the ship (to make room for a Princess ship) so we spent an hour on the dock waiting to reboard the ship. Celebrity did a poor job of organizing the reboarding so it felt like being in a cattle stampede!
On to Arica, Chile. In the late afternoon the day before arrival we had a message from tour staff giving us some useful information about our next days tour. At 8:00 PM we heard a message from the Captain informing us that due to immigration issues we would not be able to leave the ship until 3:00PM the following day. However, the message was hard to hear. After dinner, we had a note in the program explaining that shore excurisions would be informing us of the status of our tour to the Altiplano. The tour of course was cancelled but no one from Celebrity actually fomally notified us of the cancellation. We ened up trapped on the ship until 11:30 AM (ultimately not the 3:00PM that was advertised but at that point of no use to us). Major disappointment! This completely defeated the point of choosing this itinerary and makes me wonder how Celebrity could not have figured out the proper procedures for immigration!
Next stop, La Serena. Another bungled shore stop. Originally, when we signed up for this cruise the ship was supposed to be docked. However, we ended up tendering while a Princess ship got to be docked. Tendering started over one hour late so even if you had a tender ticket to go ashore on your own that put a crimp in your time. So all-in-all another wasted port-of-call!
The supposed immigration issues and Celebrity's complete lack of any accountability for the totally bungled tour stops were highly dissappointing! After every cruise prior to this one, my wife an I couldn't wait for our next cruise. Now we are certain our next vacation will not be a cruise.