My husband and I were on the Celebrity Century February 17 to March 4, 2013; we had a very enjoyable cruise, though the Century will not be my first choice of ships the next time. That being said, I found the ship to be clean, the staff and officers to be friendly and accessible, so our overall experience was positive. However, this older ship's amenities, schedule of activities on days at sea as well as its nightly entertainment simply didn't do it for us. We appreciated the staff making the most of what they had to work with, but after all was said and done, we now know we prefer Solstice class ships more.
This was cruise #10 with Celebrity; however we are not all that loyal to one cruise line or another. Because we do cruise a lot, we are Diamond Plus on Royal Caribbean, Platinum with Princess, and with 24 cruises on Carnival ships, we are at the top of the food chain there too. With the best past guest program (in my opinion), Celebrity is usually our first choice when it's just the two of us. We booked this cruise at the last minute; with less than three weeks before sailing, we got a killer deal we couldn't pass up, just in time to celebrate our birthdays!
We are from Northern California, and decided to drive to San Diego. We parked our car at a friends lot, booked an inside stateroom with pre-paid gratuities and received a generous shipboard credit. Basically, we were able to coordinate time off from work and take advantage of a 15 night cruise at bargain basement pricing.
San Diego is an interesting port, in the middle of town. Embarkation was quick and easy. We arrived at the pier around 10:30 and an hour later, we were on the ship with a glass of champagne. Though the staterooms were not ready, we had no trouble dropping off our carry-ons before heading up to the buffet for lunch. Our luggage arrived around 3pm.
Stateroom 9093 on Vista Deck
We booked an inside guarantee and assigned cabin 9093 which was located between the forward and middle bank of stairs and elevators. I found it to be a good location; the cabin itself was smaller than we are used to (since more often than not, we book a balcony) however, we got a great deal at the last minute. Given our days at sea were so cold, I doubt we would have used a balcony much, so we were content.
The room itself was tastefully decorated, but the bed was in bad shape, so we requested a mattress topper, which helped. The pillows were old and thin -- they also had an odor, so I requested newer down filled ones and got them. There was a lot of storage, which at first we didn't realize was there, till we started to unpack. The fridge was not a cooler -- it was a real fridge and we had to be careful, as small things would actually freeze if we left them inside for too long.
It's obvious that the ship is need of a facelift -- there were stains in the bathroom shower, the rug was worn in places and the furniture had issues. Our stateroom aboard the Eclipse was larger (with a balcony), it had a way-better bathroom and had better bedding; however, our room steward on the Century was so attentive and accommodating, I can't find anything she didn't do to make our cruise more comfortable.
Public Areas of the Ship
Common space was always kept clean and tidy by staff that were constantly cleaning, wiping down or picking up after passengers. I have never been on a ship where the public bathrooms were consistently kept spotless. That said, the carpets and furniture looked tired. I also didn't like the layout of the ship, as there was no Centrum-like area and there was no comfortable area where you could enjoy a drink and listen to the live classical guitar player or the string quartet. I loved the live music, but sitting at small tables (at Cova's) around the railing isn't my idea of cozy. I totally get there wasn't a choice, but I found myself drawn to the music with no place to comfortably sit and listen -- very frustrating.
Other areas throughout the ship were fine. Interesting to note on our voyage at around 9:30pm, the place was dead -- bars and even the casino with only employees, no passengers.
Not much to speak of during the day. There were ukulele lessons and Hawaiian crafts, (which I did before Hawaii) and these were repeated on days at sea after Hawaii (which I didn't do). There were two guest lecturers onboard; one was a natural history graduate student, who had never done this sort of thing before and the other was a retired professor, who reminded me of a class I had to take to graduate, that I didn't like. Were it not for the Cinema showing mainly movies I had not seen, I would not have been happy. But as it turned out, I found all the down time to be relaxing; I read a couple of books, took naps, went to the gym everyday and enjoyed the Elite Happy Hour 5-7 everyday. I got into a relaxing routine on days at sea that included a light breakfast, a chance for my husband to play his guitar and for me to read and journal. Then it was off to the gym, an early lunch, then a movie. In the afternoon, I would often read my book, take a nap or go to the spa; then it was off to happy hour to catch up with people we met on the cruise. After happy hour, we would head to dinner, then check out what was happening in the theater. Sadly, we walked out of nearly every show within 10 minutes. Then we either walked around the ship, went to the Jacuzzi or Casino. Then it was off to bed around 11pm. Don't laugh...but we did something we seldom do -- spend quality time together!
This cruise was a test -- we wanted to see how we would do on a voyage with many days in a row at sea; I am happy to report, we loved it! But I really missed the fine entertainment found on Solstice and Millennium class ships.
Select Dining & Muranos
We had select dining and loved it -- we always headed to dinner after the Elite Happy Hour ended at 7pm and never once had to wait. Food was very good at dinner. With the 15 night cruise, only a few items were repeated; the menu was different every night but one (and I couldn't tell you which night). Lunch in the dining room on days at sea was usually good but dinners were better. Service was outstanding.
We ate twice in Muranos; it is $40pp and though it was very nice, I felt that other Celebrity ships do a slightly better job. Same menu fleet wide, I think, but different chefs. Excellent service, nice people, but we've had better cuisine before. We went more for the venue than the food, as the main dining room was great.
Ports of Call
Weather going to and returning from Hawaii was cold and wet, but the islands were great. We went scuba diving in Kona -- a ship's tour I can't recommend. We went snorkeling and to Pearl Harbor on our own while in Oahu and walked off the ship in Maui and in Hilo. We have been to these islands Hawaii many times, so about the only thing we wanted to do this trip was to see Oahu and go diving in Kona.
We sailed by the volcano, but we never got all that close. Somewhat disappointing, but understandable.
It struck me as odd that so many people on the cruise thought that sailing in Pacific waters is like the Caribbean! Many were expecting lots of sun and warm temps on days at sea which was not the case. We knew a head of time that the Pacific Ocean in February through June is colder, deeper and prone to large swells and bad weather (overcast skies, fog, gale force winds and rain). One reason why so many on the ship said they would NEVER do this cruise again! Well, let this be a warning to those of you who plan to sail to Hawaii on the Century! It is true that you could luck out and end up with more sun and calmer seas than we did, but it's not going to be warm like it is in the Caribbean! We had a couple of sunny afternoons, and the closer you get to Hawaii the warmer it will be outside. But it's not the same.
Helpful hints and tips
1. Regardless of where your cabin is located, be prepared for rough seas. Don't forget your seasickness meds. I never needed them, but most people we spoke to said they felt a little sick a day or two while cruising the cold Pacific.
2. Pack for summer and fall weather; ship is kept cool, so a pair of warm-ups or a comfy sweater became my friend on days at sea. Days in port -- in Hawaii -- in the winter and spring are in the high 70's -- in the 80's in the summer. Bring rain gear for Hilo, though there will be umbrellas in your stateroom.
3. Pack a strong pair of binoculars for volcano viewing.
4. Ask about port discounts in Muranos; we got 2 for 1 on two nights in port. They have a 20% off first night promotion -- I think the 50% off promotion in port is better! To know for sure if they are offering this special price (according to staff it's up to the Hotel Manager after reviewing the projected revenue for the voyage) ask the last day at sea before Hawaii; then reserve asap. Please don't tell them I told you!