Booked through an agency who were to supply airport to cruise port transfers. Unfortunately, they were very disorganized at the airport and people had to wait approximately an hour to even know what was happening. Every worker had a different story.
Checking in at cruise line was smooth with no wait. Unfortunately, we saw another couple turned away as they didn't bring their passports. It was a very sad moment for them. Passports are needed by all!
Room: We were welcomed with champagne and our inside room was available on the 9th floor. We had no guest rooms around us, and were located on a corner so we were looking forward to this, but unfortunately, we backed onto crew work areas, so it was rather noisy. We had requested an upgrade (it's worth asking) at the Guest Relations Desk upon our arrival, and although they didn't think it would happen, they called later that day and an oceanview was available, on the third floor, starboard. It turned out to be a great location, and was very quiet. Our room was almost the same as our inside room, but had a large rectangle window, approximately 6x4 feet high. We were high enough from the water that you could see it, but it never splashed that high, despite some rough winds. Our room was quite comfortable for two. Bed was very comfy and soft, although the duvet cover always seemed to be tucked in too much. Four pillows were provided. There was a firm couch that a third adult could easily sleep on. There was a small oval table, and storage drawers that held quite a bit, attached to a small desk containing a keyboard if you wished to connect to internet in your room (fee similar to using internet cafe). The double-wide closet was roomy and included two robes and an umbrella. There was also storage above the bed, but we never used it. The bathroom was well laid out - the shower was quarter-circle size with glass doors and a great pressure/temperature system. There was plenty of hot water and pressure - this received five stars from us! The toilet was standard. The counter top was limited, but held cruise-supplied lotions/shampoos/soaps/Q-tips/kleenex. There were drawers for guest supplies, and there was plenty of open shelf space for further supplies. Two drinking glasses were also stored there.
Our stateroom was frequently visited for bed-making, sheet turn-down, towel service, bathroom cleaning. Although initially we found the room not properly cleaned (unvacuumed), it was very promptly attended to when we mentioned it (within two minutes). We received a bottle of complimentary champagne for their error. Apparently, it had been chaos on the ship during the few weeks prior due to the Christmas holidays.
Food: We ate primarily in the Ocean View Cafe (buffet) and found it met our needs. Breakfast was great - made to order eggs including omelettes (longer wait time than previously on Celebrity), waffles/crepes/pancakes with fresh fruit and/or sauce, fresh fruit (only found blueberries and strawberries on two visits) - plenty of pineapple, six cereals, soy milk, yogurt, cold meats and cheeses, bacon/sausage, breads, smoked salmon etc.
Lunches included Indian food (great), Mexican (great), salad bar (fresh and pre-made), sushi (would make to order as well), pizza, pasta (made to order), carved meat, hot veggies etc. Desserts were okay - mostly squres, jello, cookies and pudding.
Dinners included the lunch items, plus more varieties in all areas.
Hard and soft ice creams with toppings were also available. The Ocean View Cafe had good hours, and you could always find something to eat.
We also ate at the grill outside - burgers/hot dogs/fries during the day. The fries were great. Unfortunately, the line ups and workers were somewhat slow (five minute wait).
We had lunch once at the healthy cafe in the solarium. It was simple with no line up. Had passion fruit and salad with bread stick. Juice/coffee/water available there all the time.
We did attend the Opus Dining Room brunch buffet and it was okay - lots of similar foods as buffet, but displayed with more pizzazz. Also had white and dark chocolate fruit fondues.
There were two formal nights, and we did not attend either, although it appeared that 90% of the guests did. There were numerous photo ops, but the photographers were not in your face.
Pools: Fantastic temperatures - all three pools were heated! There was one outside for any age, one outside for 16+, and one inside for 16+. This was very carefully monitored by pool butler Maurice - terrific worker! The depths were also great 4-6 feet and you could swim easily in them. They also had a chair lift for those who needed it, although we never saw anyone actually use it.
Hot tubs: Again, very clean and great temperature. Very easy to find a spot in them. Four outside, and two inside.
Indoor Solarium: Excellent!! Very quiet location with gentle music and water fall type noise. Comfy lounge chairs, usually readily available. Also had ball-like wicker chairs that held up to four people. Tons of towels avaible. Shower handy to rinse off. Two hot tubs were also available.
Lounge chairs: Lots available, even on sea days. Many different locations depending on noise, wind, sun etc. Solstice area on deck 16 was great - usually tons of empty chairs up there. It was generally very quiet. Had the best wicker beds with thick pads. One floor down had an area at the back of the boat where you had chairs with foot rests. It backed onto the basketball court and faced part of the running track, but it was very peaceful there. Around the pool, there was plenty of seating, although it was more congested there, so we tended to be in the outer chairs and under the roof where it was quieter. Again, there were a variety of loungers to choose. Most people were courteous in not saving spots. Judging by how many people were sleeping, it was a great place to be. There were big billowy curtains as room dividers in a couple spots, and some of the windows opened easily.
The pool decks tended to be busy, but not party-like, although they did have zumba classes and bands performing, but not on a continual basis. Children were not running around, although there were a number of families with toddlers.
There were a number of crew-only areas that were not yet labelled as such.
The lifeboat instruction was great - everyone went to the theatre, and your name was crossed off as you entered the room.
Activities: We enjoyed the ballroom dancing classes. We also attended karaoke a couple times - the first time they had great talent, and the second time people had had too much to drink, so it was not worth watching). Sushi demos. Cake decorating demos. Aviation and navigation lectures. Art auction. Fitness classes. Lots of musical talent throughout the boat. We attended two shows in the theatre - the illusionist was great and it was family-oriented. The other was a dance-type of show, and was not family-friendly. Both times we had no problems finding seats.
The ship itself was very bright and airy - we walked through the casino a number of times, and it wasn't in a dark pit. Most of the public places were open concept into the hallways etc. This included bars. The library was very well attended and appeared to have a good selection of material, although nothing for children. The games room was very busy (chess/cards etc), plus touch-screen table top games for adults and children, and also interactive between 2+ tables. Apparently, a group played cribbage daily. There were two real grass places on deck ?14. One was roped off for bocce ball etc, and the other was roped off for private cabana rentals (only saw them used one day), although they opened it up for music concerts in the evening, when blankets and back rests were available. Unfortunately, it was rained out the night we attended.
Internet: Internet cafe was very bright and staff was helpful, although a couple times there was no service. We were reimbursed for our time though. It cost $50/90 minutes (other plans available), and we used most of that. Service was still slow though - so type fast! People could also attend iphone and ipad lessons, plus Apple products were available for sale. You could purchase the same plan for your own computer to use elsewhere on the boat, and you could also use the internet keyboard in your room (attached to the TV screen).
Onboard shops: Jewellery stores. Souvenirs. Chocolate bars - apparently people still crave chocolate on board!
Smoking: Very little space for smokers - perfect!!! One area was near the pool with room for about 10. Another area was near the life boats with room for about 10, and then the last space was on deck ?14 near a bar with room for about ten. Did see someone smoke on the solstice deck. Obviously, very few smokers on board. No inside smoking locations.
There were only announcements at 10 am by the captain, and if we were ready to disembark.
Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was completely disorganized. We were to be off at 7 am and it was 7:50 am, only because we butted in at the front of the line. We had an airport shuttle to catch by 8 am and apparently many in line had no time schedule. There was a shortage of space for people to stand, and no staff was on hand to direct people or answer questions.
All in all, it was a perfect fit for us - looking for lots of Vitamin D on a tone-downed type of vacation. This was not a party boat. Majority of guests appeared to be 50-70 years old, with plenty outside of that age range. People were everyday kind of people - generally seen reading a book on the decks. Although it was definitely larger than anything we have been on prior, it was easy to get your bearings and not too far a walk to anything we needed. Three days at sea was perfect, even when we had one rainy afternoon.