Our embarkation in Singapore was very smooth until we got onto the ship. The cabins were not ready and we had to wait three hours until they were cleaned. This was presented to us as a huge opportunity to explore the ship and also to buy drinks at the bars. The ship looks like a tired 1980's mall. The areas that have been refitted are the bars and one restaurant. Everything else looks very dated. As I walked down the hall to our cabin, I noticed the carpet was wet and squishy.
The lifeboat drill was the worst this side of the Titanic. We never did find our group leader or exactly where we should go in case of an emergency. The captain speaks English with a very heavy Greek accent and is difficult to understand. We have lived outside of the US for many years and are used to different accents, but this one had us stumped. We also noticed that many of the crew seemed to lack basic English skills and this was also worrying.
We had a cabin on the Aqua Deck. This entitled us to two dubious privileges - use of the Blu dining room and use of the Persian Garden steam room and sauna. Three S's describe the food at Blu - salty, slow and surly. The service is very poor and the food is overly salted. This is too bad because it is a physically beautiful room and could be a fantastic place. The Persian Garden is actually an indoor space, which is very dark and smells of mold. It is an insult to both Persia and gardens in general.
I promised some good in this review and the good was our hardworking and kind cabin steward and his assistant. The good was also the waitstaff at the main dining room, the Metropolitan. The good was also the extraordinarily talented musicians, dancers and singers and the marvelous show put on by Mario, the guitarist. If you are going on this ship, I suggest you do not waste your money and time with their internet package.
Unless you have some compelling reason to check e mail daily,skip it and use the Wi Fi at the ports.If you do purchase a package, you are going to be very frustrated. They have a beautiful room with new Apple systems. However, everything is very slow and it cost me $16.50 to send a four line e mail with no attachments. The staff is not very helpful. The manager is always on the phone with someone else, one employee's fingers are fused to his own phone and is very distracted when you ask for help. There is only one employee who is friendly and willing to help. It is very interesting to note that there was one day when, due to a port change, the internet was free. When it was free, everything was very quick and worked perfectly. One employee actually admitted to me that they slow down the systems to produce more revenue.
Other reviewers have done an excellent job with the various ports. I basically agree with the majority of the writers when they state that Lompoc is simply not ready for large groups of tourists and Bali is very crowded and the traffic is overwhelming.
We enjoyed seeing the Komodo dragons and this shore excursion was well run.
The Phuket Cave Adventure was certainly an adventure and not in a good way. The tour was very oversold and there were three people in a tiny plastic raft suitable for one person in a home swimming pool. By the time we finally reached the caves, unbeknownst to us, the tide was rising. The tour had so many people that there was two way traffic in a very narrow cave. The tour escort from the ship, who was an employee of the shore excursion desk, jumped into a canoe alone and sped off. We had no safety briefing or any idea of what to expect. My husband was sitting with his knees up and the cave very soon did not allow enough clearance. The boatman did not understand any English, I reached up and stopped the boat so he could reposition himself. The caves are coral and scratches and scrapes can be a serious problem. I had to remove my sunglasses or they would have been scratched by the low clearance.
In the end, the boatman had to let most of the air out of the boat so that we could escape. We are both on the small side and a large person probably would not live to tell the tale. Many people on our group were very upset and when we voiced these concerns to our tour escort, she was not the least bit interested and dismissed our complaints. She also told me that I should have known that the water was very high at this time of year. She then spent the rest of the afternoon listening to music and ignoring us. I feel this was a total disregard for our safety. I also spoke with Joey, who is the assistant excursion manager. He said they would have safety briefings in the future, but he does not accompany the tours and does not have that much control.
Another passenger has already detailed the problems with tendering. I understand that it is sometimes windy and the waves are high. However, 20 minutes to tie up a tender is calm seas is ridiculous.It was a great relief when we finally returned to Singapore. It will be the last time I will cruise with Celebrity and I certainly would not want anyone else to be stuck in the caves, the Persian Gardens or in Blu.