This was our first time cruising with Celebrity and first time on such a large ship (2850 passengers). We cruised the 350 passenger Paul Gauguin in October and have cruised Oceania (650)several times. Used to cruise Holland America but they've gone downhill. Wasn't sure we would like this experience but we were favorably impressed. First of all, all the staff on board did everything they could to provide exceptional customer service! Kudos to the Celebrity training staff. Ship was spotless, lots of hand sanitizers, lots of shipboard activities with plenty of variety, etc.
Why are the home offices/websites of cruise lines so uniformly frustrating? I tried to book shore excursions on-line with Celebrity and kept getting "kicked back" to the main menu- had to sit on hold 20 min. to speak to a real person - very helpful woman. Shore excursions are ALWAYS overpriced on cruise ships. It's the advantage of ship-shore-ship convenience/assurance vs. internet/take a chance better prices. Your choice. There's a reason the stateroom cost is so enticing..they're going to get you on the "extras" on Celebrity. To eat at one of the 2 specialty restaurants- Tuscan Grille or Murano-you must pay extra. For a suite guest you get 1 free meal per STATEROOM, not per guest, at each site. After that it's $30 per PERSON extra for Tuscan Grille and $40 extra per PERSON for Murano. Murano is worth it, Tuscan isn't. See below for details. To make day and time reservations ahead, you go on line. The website didn't factor in that we were in a suite and thus intitled to 2 " free meals"..I discovered I had been billed on my cc for all 4 visits- should have been billed for two. Home office said I had to resolve the issue on board or I'd lose my reservations. Said the butler could take care of it..Not. Then found out I could only get ship credit, not a credit to my cc. Again...they've got you.
Drink packages are a waste unless you're a boozer and don't much care about the quality of your libations. Figure out how much you'd drink each day to make the package worthwhile- remember, no sharing your card and you only get 1 drink at a time (these companies aren't dummies). No alcohol/wine allowed to be brought on board to drink- they'll hold it until you disembark.
No laundry room for guests- prices weren't bad for pants, shirts. Hand wash your undies/socks.
Sky suite stateroom: We were on Deck 12 (pool deck) and cabin was wonderful- large and best storage capacity, plenty of hangers. Teguh, Moses and Aren took great care of us! Note that mid/aft deck 12 stateroom balconies have an overhang from the Oceanview Cafe on next deck up. No real problem re view. Bed a bit soft.
Dining: First off, change your printed material and clarify your dining info. "Celebrity Select Dining" is too similar sounding to your Celebrity speciality dining options. Make sure your website can recognize by the booking number the suite status of a guest so they aren't overcharged.
The Grand Eperny main dining room gets no points for decor or food. Decor is white and silver- hard, cold and austere. Fix this! We avoided eating here at all costs! Main meal food here and in all but Murano specialty rest. was bland, overcooked, pedestrian. Clientele was mostly 60+ with few children so I'm sure they are listening to their guests but the food was mediocre. Our waiter, Petre, was very professional. Tuscan Grille menu and room was uninspired, maybe a 5 on a 10 pt. scale. We wanted lamb medium rare; waiter said chef recommended medium. I think so of your food (includ. pasta) is "pre cooked" for cooking/serving "convenience" but we sent back plates more than once. Not worth it! Murano was very good and Krassimer (sp) a wait captain (I think from Sofia, Bulgaria) , did everything he could to please us. He got extra tips. 8 out of 10 pts. Very lovely decor. Bar outside Murano and nearby Michael's Club was quiet and appreciated. The pool deck main buffet dining area tried to please everyone with food choices but overall the food was very mediocre, sometimes not as hot or cold as it should have been. Servers tried hard, busboys were slow. Beautiful wood aft deck for light meals. The gelato site and the crepe site charge extra for items- we didn't eat there.
Entertainment: Appreciated the variety of singing groups who moved from site to site each night. Liked the man/woman singing duo best. Lots of ballroom dancers on our cruise. Theatre entertainment had 3 revue nights which were worthwhile including a spectacular acrobat duo, a woman with hoops..dump the jugglier. Ditto the "comedian". Pianist/singer was OK. Cruise director, Ian, was very good- not too "smaltzy". Very good staff orchestra! On board naturalist, Milos, was well credentialed but did not focus on his announced topic very well. Good info on Sounds. Great Bingo guys.
Embarkation: Very nice touch to offer us a continental breakfast at a pierside restaurant in Sydney as we waited to board! Disembarkation went well.
Shore excursion/tender service: No gliches. Staff quick to please. Nix Chantal as guide in Sydney- she was awful. Rest, including drivers, were very good. Good choice of excursions but wanted to see sheep HERDING.