My wife and I have been on Celebrity several times over the past 5+ years. With the exception of the ancient Century, we have posted very positive reviews, especially the Equinox in March 2010, and the Eclipse in December 2010.
Those days of positive reviews are Gone!
Celebrity has been billing themselves as a "luxury" cruise line in recent marketing and advertising. Well, we just returned from a seven-day cruise to San Juan, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas on the almost new Celebrity Silhouette. The ship is only about a year old, but the longer we were on it, the feeling of sterility increased. There is no life on the ship! No soul! No heartbeat! No luxury feeling! Cost-cutting everywhere. Worst of all, the staff does not reach out to the guests.
Part of the issue may be the very large numbers of recently-hired Eastern European workers, almost all of whom are very dour, not conversational, and appear to be allergic to smiling. Our last Celebrity cruise, taken two years ago, we enjoyed a 100% better interaction between us and the ship's staff.
The staff is not the only problem.
The food in the main dining room was, for the most part, pretty awful. Example: on the first night, one of the choices was steak. People all around us were sending back the steaks, calling them inedible or worse. And so it went...night after night.
Portions were incredibly small...perhaps an unintended blessing.
On the sixth night of the cruise, lobster tails were among the dinner choices offered. Mine was rubbery in texture, and tasted as if it had been rinsed in a bleach solution. Other nearby guests could be overheard grousing.
On the last night of the cruise, we dined in the Tuscan Grille, something we have done before on every Celebrity cruise. This time however, the food was certainly not remarkable. Both my wife and I had to send the soups back because they were greatly over salted. My ribeye steak was average, but my wife's was 75% fat. The entrees, while better than the main dining room, were certainly not "special".
Breakfasts were much worse than we experienced on any other Solstice class ship.
One morning I ordered ham and eggs in the Grand Cuvee dining room. I'm not kidding when I tell you the ham looked like a piece of shoe leather. Aside from it being beige in color, I could not cut it with a knife. I tried hashbrowns twice. Both times they were burned on the outside and ice cold in the center. Additionally, no matter where we had breakfast, the fresh fruit, melons especially, looked pretty, but had zero taste and zero sweetness. One morning, in the main breakfast buffet area, they ran out of coffee at 9 AM, and they also couldn't find the skim milk supply.
If you like to remain hydrated, Celebrity gives you the "opportunity" to purchase bottled water -- for $12 per day per person !! That's $168 per couple per 7 day cruise!! Don't try to bring your own bottled water in your luggage, because they scan all luggage and impound any bags that have contraband such as water.
One night we were invited to a Captain's Club event to meet the Captain and officers. I cornered one of the officers and told him our impressions about the cruise. He seemed genuinely concerned, and asked for our cabin number so someone from senior management could contact us for additional details. We never heard from anyone.
As far as entertainment goes, we were fortunate on three earlier Celebrity cruises to enjoy a masterful cruise director named Dru Pavlov. On this cruise, we encountered a third rate Ryan Seacrest dullard named Stewart, who used the word "amazing" as a crutch at least a dozen times every evening. He tried some banter with the activities director, but laid a giant egg right on the stage.
The overall showroom quality was mixed -- -- there were a couple of Broadway type presentations that, except for the 1950s era burlesque band, were quite decent. The average age on this cruise was 60+, yet the band opened with an instrumental version of Lady Gaga's "I Want Your Love". This abomination had to be unrecognizable by 90% of the guests.
Oh, we almost forgot... The headlining juggler and the illusionist were unremarkable in every way. There was a female lounge singer as well as a four-person male a cappella chorus wandering the ship. I can't think of anything else to say about them.
This particular cruise doesn't arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico until 3:00 PM. Not enough time to visit either the rain forest or the beaches. The next day, we enjoyed quaint but touristy St. Maarten more so than the following day's tired, dirty St Thomas.
Embarkation was smooth for the most part, but I heard some people complaining that it took up to four hours to get wheelchair assistance in boarding. Disembarkation took 2 1/2 hours, but that may have been a function of a poorly staffed terminal.
During this trying experience, I did not encounter ONE COUPLE who were raving about the cruise. But I did encounter dozens who were complaining about it.
So let's see... Recap Time ...
Almost new ship...
Dull as hell...
Cost cutting very noticeable...
Pretty lousy food...
Overall, my wife and I, using 1 to 5 scale, KINDLY give this experience a "2." Once, not that long ago, Celebrity offered the panache and the upscale feel of fun cruising at a very reasonable price. That's gone now.
Our advice - try Princess. That's the one name we heard most praised on board.