Embarkation: Dreadful. No other way to put it. The terminal in Buenos Aires is not equipped to handle three ships at once, and when the Immigration computers went down, everything came to a standstill, with no explanation why. No place to sit, no facilities, no crowd control. Chaotic luggage check-in. No Elite check-in, no handicapped check-in. Worst embarkation in 30 Celebrity cruises.
One of the new Ocean View Staterooms on Deck 3, put where the conference room used to be. Terrific location. Large, round, picture window. New fixtures, including a higher toilet than the regular rooms. Everything clean, everything in working order, comfortable bed. These rooms have a small loveseat which folds out to a single bed. Would be tight for three passengers but not impossible.
Lots and lots of sea days. The days spent cruising around Cape Horn, viewing Antarctica and viewing Elephant Island are really sea days. Only four ports: Ushuaia, Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), which was the only tender port, Puerto Madryn, and Montevideo. Seeing Antarctica was an emotional high. Weather was very foggy, which also meant that Drake Passage was very calm, so it was a tradeoff. Those who wanted to see penguins had several opportunities and were not disappointed.
We were very lucky not to have howling winds and high seas. Visibility wasn't always very good, but the temperatures were very tolerable and everyone seemed very prepared. Port Stanley actually was the bigger weather challenge, with some rain and some wind during the day. Enrichment lecturer was very interesting.
Best steaks on any Celebrity cruise so far. Do miss some of the items taken off the everyday menu last year, including the Caprese Salad and the baked potato. Almost all food on this itinerary must be shipped in from the US, so some freshness issues were evident -- bananas were only on the buffet about every other day, and alternated between fairly green, then fairly brown. Fresh strawberries were served three or four times at the Elite breakfast but never saw them any other place. No Philadelphia cream cheese and the replacement offered was more like sour cream than cream cheese (picture this on a bagel == yuck). No little sandwiches at Cafe al Bacio, but all the sweets there were very good, especially the coconut cake and the black and white cookies.
A waiter who was leaving the ship at the end of this cruise and had mentally "checked out" meant that dinner service wasn't up to standards. But all other service was very good, especially the bar service at the Elite cocktail hour. Stateroom attendants were efficient and friendly.
Cesarios (guitar player) and Will Foraker (piano and vocals) are outstanding. The Classical string players were much appreciated. No A Capella group on this cruise. Stage shows were all very good, especially the Pampas/Tango show. Alejandro (Cruise Director) was funny, witty, and very entertaining. With no movie theater on board any more, there were no movies and they were missed. Very good enrichment lectures about famous crimes involving celebrities in California from a former Los Angeles DA.
There were approximately 1000 Americans, 200 British, and the remaining passengers included some very large tour groups from China, Germany, and elsewhere who were mostly non-English speaking. Surprisingly, given the length and the particulars of the itinerary, there were quite a few children, and even a few toddlers and babies in strollers. Very few mobility impaired -- this itinerary seemed to attract a rather more vigorous crowd.
Other than the hair salon, didn't use any facilities in the spa. The T-Pool was very warm, more like hot tub temperature, some days. T-pool was opened to families two hours a day, due to the inclement conditions outside. So few children on board that this never seemed to be a big problem.
Difficult. So many flights to the US leave after 9 p.m. so it seems like a good idea to take one of the Shore Excursion transfers that include lunch, but ours left so early in the morning that basically not much was open at our sightseeing stops, and lunch ended up being at 11;00 a.m. Then, on arrival at airport at 1:00 p.m., several people's suitcases hadn't made it to the airport. The luggage delivery system seemed about as chaotic as the luggage check-in had been two weeks prior. Can't recommend this Shore Excursion. But the difficulty remains that there's not enough seating at Buenos Aires airport, you can't check in until around 3.5 hours prior to the flight, and there's basically nothing to do there. It made for a very long day.