...we have taken enough cruises on various ships and lines to have done a better job of picking out a good stateroom location on this Celebrity Century liner.
We were impressed with the embarkation procedures and efficiency as we left Ft. Lauderdale for our 15-day cruise through the Panama Canal, with stops in Columbia, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico and eventual docking at San Diego. Our stateroom, while comfortable, modernized, spacious for our needs and spotlessly clean, was picked for its location aft and lower level in order to minimize any discomfort from the usual ship's rocking and rolling. Unfortunately, stateroom 4098 proved to be the "room from hell"! Beginning the first night, we were awakened after midnight by frequent and intermittent loud noises from above. At first we assumed we had some lively cruise mates above and the noise would eventually cease. Not so. The loud shuffling, rolling, bouncing, banging and running water noises persisted every morning between midnight and 5:00 AM - for the duration of the cruise. Some nights were better than others, but the end result was chronic sleep-deprivation and no satisfaction after three respectful complaints to Guest Services.
Even though we had checked the floor layout diagrams in the ship's literature before booking, we had no indication that the blank space shown directly above 4098 on the 5th. deck was the ship's galley. Obviously, the tile floor, metal workstations and early morning food prep by the galley crew would keep passengers directly below awake. Our complaints to Guest Services were acknowledged and recorded. The young folks were appropriately kind and concerned about our discomfort, but unable to do anything but ask the galley chief to have his crew work quieter. They claimed there were no other staterooms available to which we could be moved, but did make an insulting offer to give us earplugs. No one in higher levels of authority made any effort to apologize for the unpleasant experience or indicate they were looking at ways to resolve the excessive noise for future passengers in that block of rooms.
Aside from that "big" issue, the only other faults with the cruise were:
- Terribly uncomfortable pillows in stateroom.
- Cold food from Island Cafe, due to length of food service area & distance back to table.
- Requested table for 6 for formal dining, assigned to larger table. Request for reassignment landed us at a table for 2 with only each other to talk to the entire cruise! Our fault for not asking for a second change.
- Only one of six shore excursions did not live up to its brochure description. Most were reasonably priced and offered real value and unique cultural experiences in each country. The Puerto Vallarta city tour and shopping experience indicated a brief stop for light refreshments, but turned out to be an hour-long stop at an expensive restaurant, with no safe area for walking or exploring the beach for those not interested in paying the high restaurant prices.
- Long lines and delay at disembarkation -- not fault of Celebrity -- but due to unusual, on-board customs/homeland security procedures.
- Although, in general, the food in all restaurants was above average in quality, the desserts in the Island Cafe seemed to be more appearance than quality. Too much gelatinized, pudding and mousse filling. The bread pudding tasted more like custard. There was an abundance of white breads and rolls, but a rare showing of dark, whole wheat and healthier breads. The daily appearance of fresh fruits could have been improved by the occasional rotation of papaya and mango into the mix.
The positives about this cruise experience outnumbered the negatives, and would have convinced us to cruise with Celebrity again, were it not for the lack of any serious, professional response to our complaints about the stateroom noises. We would have been more impressed if we had been moved to another room, someone in real authority had offered a sincere apology for the sleep deprivation or if we had been offered even minor compensation or credit on our next Celebrity cruise. Which, regrettably, will not happen due to the ready availability of other attractive cruise line options with similar itineraries and prices.
In all fairness, however, my wife and I agree to being impressed with the following:
- The ship's crew, especially Activity Director, John, were exemplary.
- Entertainment was on par with our experience on other ships and generally enjoyable.
- The Captain's and Celebrity attention to sanitation and cleanliness were commendable.
- There appeared to be a genuine concern for the health and safety of all passengers shown by the ship's crew.
- Our headwaiter, Mandy, and his assistant, Allen, were exceptionally attentive to the two lonely passengers seated at the two-top in their area!
- We were blown away by the two on-board experts who conducted daily seminars and Q&A sessions on the Panama Canal and NASA's space shuttle and station program. Kudos to Uncle Marty and Larry Kusnitz for their knowledge, visual aids, communication skills and sensitivity in dealing with all of us who hung on every word.
- Century cruisers with a hearing impairment, will be pleased to know Guest Services will coordinate with the main theatre AV staff to loan hearing assist devises for the duration of the cruise. This service greatly improved my wife's ability to hear performers and guest lecturers in the theatre.
In summary, we were not thoroughly dissatisfied with our Century cruise. Perhaps our negative views were heightened by our sleep deprivation and frustration at feeling our complaints were not being taken seriously. This is, at least in our minds, a serious breach of a cruise line's responsibility to it's paying customers and bad public relations. Accordingly, we will refrain from using Celebrity cruise lines for future cruises.