We were on the February 2 cruise to Hawaii on the Century, and even though there have been several excellent reviews about that cruise already, I thought I'd share my personal reactions and impressions. First of all, I want to say right up front that we had a wonderful two weeks.
We've taken many cruises (on Carnival, NCL and, mostly, Holland America)but this was our first on Celebrity--chosen mostly for the itinerary. I know the Century is not typical of Celebrity, but we learned a lot about Celebrity's way of doing things, I think. For instance, they still greet passengers with a glass of sparkling wine as you board--a nice touch. They keep loudspeaker announcements down to a minimum. They have a lot of live music on the ship, including a string trio that plays classical music.
I really liked the look and layout of the Century. It's a "small" ship by today's standards, but there are lots of venues for music and entertainment, and they basically make good use of them all.
Our "oceanview" stateroom was tiny, and extra cramped because it had bunk beds folded up against the walls above our bed. I had read some people's complaints about uncomfortable beds, but we thought our bed itself was just fine. The bathroom was also tiny. It was always very clean, but had seen some hard wear. The TV reception was very good and reliable, with a good choice of news, sports, movie channels and ship promotion channels. No DVD player. They did offer pay-per-view movies in addition to the two or three "free" movie channels.
I thought the food (and service) in the main dining room was just outstanding. I didn't order anything that didn't arrive hot (or cold), delicious, and cooked to perfection. There were lots of tempting menu selections. The food in the buffet area was more ordinary and rather repetitive. But there was always cooked-to-order stir-fry or pasta. That's enough to make my husband happy. The buffet was seldom crowded, and the lines weren't long (except at the ice cream counter). We ate hamburgers or hot dogs at the grill out by the pool a couple of timdes, and they were great. The French fries were especially good. They also have a "Subway-type" sandwich counter in the pool area, and I wasn't so impressed with it. I stood in line a long time there one day, and by the time I got to the counter they were all out of the good bread I had my eye on. (They were down to just one kind.) And I had difficulty communicating with the poor harassed man trying to fix my sandwhich. There weren't many choices of things to add to the basic meat and cheese.
This particular cruise has a lot of sea days, but we were never bored. There were activities with something for everyone. There were very popular craft classes and ukulele lessons and zumba and trivia and lectures and dance lessons....
The main theater had lots of good seats. We went to all the evening shows and enjoyed them all--some more than others, of course. The singers and dancers did three big production shows. The two main male singers were especially talented. The two featured girls were a little harsh and loud. The second "production" show was kind of ho-hum, but the last show was really stand-up-and-cheer terrific. And each production show featured a husband-wife acrobatic team who were unbelievable.
I mentioned that I enjoyed the variety and quality of live music on the ship. They had an a cappella quartet of young men from Sweden called "Trocadero" that were just amazing. They developed quite a little fan club among the passengers.
Unfortunately, the first two days out and all the sea days coming back were too cool for much lounging about the pools. But the four hot tubs were well used. I liked it that the pools and hot tubs were open early in the morning until late in the evening.
(By the way, speaking of cool weather--I didn't bring enough long sleeved shirts and sweaters to "layer". Be advised.)
We were blessed by wonderful weather on all our port days in Hawaii. We chose ship excursions for Oahu and Kona, and rent4d cars on Maui and in Hilo.
I had read complaints about the "tendering" process at Kona and Maui--and I have to add my two-cents worth to that. Very tedious! I'm not sure why. We've tendered ashore many times before on other lines and I always thought it was kind of fun, despite being time consuming. But both places it just seemed to take forever. They seemed intent on cramming as many passengers on each boat as possible and it took a long, long time to get on and off. I happened to get a seat in the sun on the tender to Maui, and I was very hot and uncomfortable. The first on were the last off. I really got kind of claustrophobic. Then in Kona we had a ship excursion booked for mid-morning (glass bottom boat) that we almost didn't get to. They didn't start the tendering process until about an hour late for some reason. And then they didn't have our excursion group meet in the lounge and go together, but rather had instructions to meet ashore. After the first excursion groups filled up the first few tenders, we got caught in the rush of "independent" passengers. We arrived at the meeting place on the dock about a half hour late. They were waiting--and waited for about another half hour and then left with about 8 passengers not yet accounted for. (I hope they got to go later.)
Our excursion on Oahu was a bus tour of the north shore. Very pleasant overview of some of the scenic areas. The glass bottom boat in Kona gave us a good look at life in the coral reefs without having to snorkel.
We were glad we rented cars in Maui and in Hilo. We got to see and do the things most important to us at our own pace. However, be warned: In Maui the rental places are a few miles north of the dock in Lahaina, and traffic moves at a snail's pace! There was a handy shuttle to take us to the rental office, but it quit running at 4:30. They told us we could return the car to the lot and call a taxi if we got back after that. Since we were getting a late start and the ship didn't sail until late, we didn't scramble to get back by 4:30. It turns out that the taxi charges by the minute, and in all that traffic it ended up costing us over $25 to travel the 5 or 6 miles back to the ship!
We used the car to drive up the coast, stopping for some terrific whale-watching along the way. Then we went to Iao Valley (beautiful!) We ate some giant burritos at a touristy little sandwich shop at Haiku before doing as mmuch of the famous "Road to Hana" as we could. It was a lovely day.
In Hilo we drove up the coast to Akaka Falls, then stopped at the Hawaii Tropical Botonical Gardens.
In both places we rented a GPS system that had a built-in commentary that told about scenic and historical points of interest.
One of the reasons we chose Celebrity and this particular itinerary was that the Century sails past the Kilauea volcano at night. I knew, of course, that there was no guarantee that the volcano would be putting on a show. As it turns out, we could see a kind of throbbing red glow up on the mountain--but not much else. It just happened to be the windiest night of the cruise, and we were all just about blown off the top deck as we strained to see the glow. Memorable, nevertheless.
Yes, the whole cruise was memorable. Wonderful, accommodating staff and crew, friendly fellow passengers, great food and all the entertainment you could ask for. All in all, a great vacation.