Century is a classic. An old friend. We sailed with her in 2006, right before her dry dock refurb. She still looks good, with newer looking carpets, nice lounge areas, beautiful dining room- that's why I don't understand why some of the previous reviews have been so negative. Does she have rust? Yes, but you can see the crew hard at work scrapping and painting. There are a few areas in the back which might need to be addressed next year when Century goes back for another refurb- but meanwhile, the crew works very hard to keep the ship looking great. The trip we took to Hawaii was a great value and a wonderful experience.
DH and I chose this 15 night Hawaii Circle Cruise because we had never been to Hawaii and we also liked the idea of a long, relaxing voyage which included as many sea days as possible. We got that! We took the train into San Diego a day early. San Diego is a great port with lots to do including the Duck Tour, the USS Midway, Balboa Park, and lots of shops and restaurants downtown. You can even go to a baseball game during the summer.
Day one We boarded around noon. There was a line to get to the port personnel for clearance, after that it was smooth sailing. There was only a short wait in the Select/Elite line and then we were onboard. We only had to wait ten minutes for the announcement that the cabins were ready. We dropped off our luggage and left our four free items to be pressed on the bed and started to explore the ship. We had a brief muster drill at 4:15 and then got ready for main seating in the MDR at 5:30. We had requested a table for two when we booked the cruise, and we were thrilled to see our request had been fulfilled. Our waiter, Menino, and assn't waiter, Evgenia, were very nice, as was our assn't maitre d, Jerry. The assn't waiter who was a last minute replacement one night did a great job on his first assignment there!
Day two Super Bowl Sunday. There was a big event in the Celebrity Theatre for football fans. DH and I began our ukulele lessons. In just four days, we learned to play four songs. Lots of fun. At the end of our training, we performed on stage at the Celebrity Theatre. What a great experience! I hope Celebrity continues to offer the ukulele classes, as well as the hula lessons and the crafts classes in which we made necklaces and bracelets from Kukui Nuts, seashells, and ribbon.
Day three We learned to make necklaces from Kukui Nuts with June, our Hawaiian Ambassador. This was the first formal night. The first of three production shows was performed in the Celebrity Theatre. Before the show, there was a Captain's Gala Toast featuring soft drinks and cocktails. Unfortunately, "Dance Around the World" was the same show we had already seen on the Century and Mercury years ago. I am also sad to say that the same backdrop of a bull being tortured in a bullfighting arena is still being used. These are suppose to be family shows. I wonder what the kids say when they see that horrid picture of the bull with knives stuck in its back? Time to donate that abhorrent thing to Madame Pele and switch to some nice Spanish songs and dances that don't glorify the torture of innocent animals.
Day four June showed us how to make bracelets with nuts and seashells. The Beyond the Podium with Smithsonian Journeys speaker was Zo Webster who gave an interesting lecture: "Dark Nebulae and Stellar Nurseries". We missed the show due to DH not feeling well.
Day five June showed us how to make a necklace out of yellow ribbons. I got there late, so I didn't get a chance to make one- more on that later. Jay Mattioli from "America's Got Talent" was the performer. It was a good show. Select and Elite Captain's Club members were treated to a Senior Officer's Cocktail Party. It was very nice meeting some of the friendly officers.
Day six Violinist David Klinkenberg got a SO in the Celebrity Theatre. The Beyond the Podium speaker was Dr. David Piourd, who gave touching and informative lectures on the ocean and all of its vast occupants. Great stories!
Day seven Honolulu at last! We arrived at 7, and as soon as we cleared customs, we were allowed to walk off the ship. We decided to explore Honolulu on our own. We took the #3 bus to Diamond Head and hiked to the top. We then spent the afternoon walking back to the ship. We were looking forward to doing some last minute shopping and sitting down for some drinks at Aloha Tower, but we found out that many of the businesses, including Don Ho's restaurant, had gone out of business. There is a Hooters there, and a few shops were open. Downtown was a ghost town after sundown. We found out from the port employees that part of Aloha Tower is being turned in dorms. Make sure you shop/eat/booze it up before you get back to the ship.
We caught the "Drums of Polynesia" show poolside. Great fun!
Day eight Lahaina, Maui. This is a tendering port. On our first trip over to shore for our excursion first thing in the morning, we had an okay crossing; not so for our afternoon return to Lahaina. Unfortunately, the Harbor Master favors locals over the cruise ship passengers, something we found out the hard way when we got stuck in the bay for at least 10 minutes on a boat while tendering back to Lahaina. We watched as locals were ordered by the Harbor Master to cut the line in front of us time and time again as they went to and from the harbor. When we were finally allowed to come in, we ended up following another larger boat too closely and as a result, there was a big wave that came straight at us, knocking a passenger over who injured her arm in the process. A female passenger who got off ahead of us said, "This is all your fault" to the Harbor Master rep. DH told him, "You have an opportunity". It seems since we cruise ship passengers are not a priority to the Harbor Master, perhaps cruise ship companies should tell the Lahaina Harbor Master that they will go elsewhere where we will be made to feel welcome. Nothing like lost revenue to prove a point.
On a happier note, there are great little shops there to buy gifts, including Hilo Hattie and ABC. Hard Rock Cafe and McDonald's are great places to stop for snacks or something to drink. We had a great time on our trip to Lanai to snorkel there. We saw a dozen whales and a pod of 200 spinner dolphins. Rough seas returning to Maui, however. We sat inside the boat and still got wet. Not recommended for people who get sea sick.
Day nine Kona. Another tendering port, but this time all went well except for a passenger who complained of being unable to breathe. It appeared that she had to be taken to the hospital. We had a shorter time here- only 8 to 6. Our excursion to Red Hill for snorkeling with Body Glove was even better than the previous one to Lanai. Only saw a few whales on the way back to the dock, though. No dolphins. Enjoyed Kimika in concert in the Celebrity Theatre.
Day ten Hilo. At Hilo we once again docked. The port area is located in an industrial-type area. There are free shuttles to the shopping mall featuring Hilo Hattie, otherwise it is a long walk to get somewhere tourists would want to go. We went on the tour to Volcanos National Park. What a thrill! We got to see the world's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, at a distance. We stopped at Mauna Loa Macadamia Factory and Gift Shop on the way and bought out the store (or so it appeared to DH). Great place to pick up gifts for all of your friends (and yourself!).
We got back to the ship at 1:30. Too late to catch a shuttle, so we went back onboard. Would have liked to see more of Hilo, but we had to leave at 4 en route to Mexico. Why? Would have preferred to spend less time in Mexico and more in Hilo. Oh, well. Time to bid Hawaii aloha.
It was our second formal night. We skipped the show, "Liverpool Knights".
Day eleven Another sea day. Delightful show with Band Artistique in the Celebrity Theatre. Another Beyond the Podium with Dr. David Plourd, this time on dolphins. Once again, heartfelt stories you won't forget.
Day twelve Captain's Club Celebration Cocktail Party. Captain George went around the entire Crystal Room speaking with everyone individually. DH complemented the captain on being the most visible captain he had ever encountered. Some captains you only see once during a welcome onboard-type event, but not Captain George! He even used the PA system one day to announce that whales could be seen from the ship! Very thoughtful.
Day thirteen Valentine's Day. Our third, and final formal night. Another Beyond the Podium with Dr. David Plourd regarding the formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Lelani Marrell belted out some great songs in the Celebrity Theatre. Unfortunately, no mention was made of the buffet in MDR for the following day, so we missed it. It was mentioned in "Century Today", but we were used to announcements for it since it is a fairly big deal given that there are no longer anymore midnight buffets of old. Oh, well. Can't say that we didn't eat enough anyway.
Day fourteen Dr. Plourd gave a lecture on whales with touching stories I will never forget. The show, "A Touch of Broadway", sounded very familiar to us, and we were afraid we were in for another repeat; however, they have re-done the show, featuring new songs from newer musicals, so that was worth watching.
Day fifteen Ensenada. You could sure smell it. We were last in Ensenada 19 years ago, and the place sure has changed. Very developed now. We got off to buy a gift for DD, and then quickly returned to the ship. There was a farewell show featuring Tocadero, the A Cappella group from Sweden (fabulous singers!), and Lelani Marrell. There was suppose to be latin music featured in the Hemisphere at 11, however, we found only two other couples milling about with techno music playing, so we left. We had better luck in the Rendez-Vous where they were dancing to a good band playing there.
Day sixteen San Diego. Farewell. We left at 10, and caught the train home at noon. BTW, on this last day of the cruise- which is also the first day of the cruise for the next set of passengers- you are charged $11.50 pp for tips which will appear on your credit card statement when you get home- separate from the payment for tips which is charged to your sea pass daily. In other words, it is the day the crew members receiving tips get paid twice- probably as a reward for the harder work of getting things cleaned up quickly in the morning of disembarkation.
Favorite moments: Cruise Critic get-together. We had a group of 120, so Century put us up in the Rendez-Vous and served snacks. Captain George was there along with some of the officers, and when Rich, the cruise director, asked if we had questions- I asked if we could have a bridge tour. Captain George agreed! It was a great tour; thank you, Captain George.
Of course, the ukulele lessons. All the great food. Great Ports. My day in the Persian Garden. But most of all, getting a chance to see DH relax and not have to worry about work.
And of course, formal nights. Congrats and thank you to those of you (and you know who you are) who dressed up in a tux, evening gown, cocktail dress, or suit and looked great!
Less than favorite moments: Cabin Crawl that went bust. We waited to no avail for the Cruise Critic members to arrive at our cabin at the scheduled time/day. I was so late to the crafts session with June that I didn't get the materials. Judging from the frustration everyone was having trying to turn a brunch of ribbons into a beautiful necklace, I was probably better off. However, if you are interested in participating in a Cabin Crawl, please pack a clipboard, some paper, pens, and take charge yourself. Lesson learned.
As mentioned, tendering was a challenge in Maui, and just in general for elderly passengers (some in wheelchairs) who needed help getting in and out of the tenders. As DH surmised, if people can't get around by walking on their own on land, what makes them think they can get in and out of a boat which is rocking back and forth rather violently due to rough waters? One passenger questioned whether people were told about the challenges facing the infirmed at the time of booking? Or perhaps people eager to take the cruise just simply don't think about it ahead of time.
More vegetarian entrees made available in MDR would be welcome. I didn't mind skipping the entree at dinner because I was already eating more than enough, but our waiter really wanted to make sure that I enjoyed an entree every evening. I know that Celebrity wishes to serve gourmet meals each evening, but it would be helpful if pasta, sandwiches, or pizza were available for kids and adults in the MDR on a routine basis who just want something simple due to dietary restrictions or because they just don't want a fancy meal that night. It would make things easier for everyone.
Also, too many people ignored the dress code. There were people with jeans and t-shirts on Smart Casual nights. I get the "casual", but where was the "smart"? On formal nights these people wore a shirt and pants. Really, people? You can afford a 15 night cruise, but you can't afford decent clothes? Come on!
Funny moment: Those of us celebrating an anniversary, as well as honeymooners, were invited to an event in the Crystal Room. Each couple was served a slice of cake with two forks. Mine you, the cake on display was a big cake. Enough for everyone to have their own slice. Then, the cake was quickly whisked away. Was the rest for the crew? Odd. Some guests also received a chocolate cake and a song in the MDR. The cake I saw at our waiter's station looked good.
I would sail on Century again. I would also take this cruise again. One of the best! Irfan and his assn't always kept our cabin spotless and we were well taken care of. The food was very good and if you didn't care for one venue, there was always another to try. From pizza and afternoon tea in the Islands Cafe to Baked Alaska in the MDR- loved it all! Lots of great memories to last a lifetime.