Don't try to embark too early at San Diego on a Sunday. Until stevedores arrived and started to take luggage it was backed up traffic on the street and bicycle carts trying to get you into the boarding area. Once the bags were deposited the boarding process went smoothly with the immediate attempt to sell wine pakages and the "boarding" photo with many people passing on the opportunity. Like others have stated the Celebrity champagne was most welcome.
We were very hopeful that the unexpected upgrade to a family veranda at the rear of the ship would be great. Well, we didn't find out that our preference for early dining was not honored and over two hours of waiting through the boat drill only to have the "line" to speak with the maitre d not being honored. It took until late afternoon on the next day to get a new assignment.
We met with "Freddie" the room attendant and gave him an extra $20 thinking this would get us to prompt service. Never again. No extra bath towel(only two), no taking the beverages out of the refrigerator to make room for the wine we brought on and an inaccurate description of the "stick" that was next to the veranda door. The "stick" we were informed was so children did not get out of the room. It turned out it was there because the veranda door was broken and would roll open and closed unless when you were out on the veranda you stuck the "stick" in the track of the door. We found this out on the second sea day when the door rolled open when I was out on the veranda and Freddie banged on the door and when it was answered shouted at my wife that the door had to be closed.
By this time I had tried to take a shower on the first sea day to find the drain was backed up and flooded the bathroom floor. Checking all the things to try to "fix" the situation, I tried to call Freddie. No answer. I tried another number in the directory with no answer before finally connecting with guest relations. A plumber was promised. Two hours later he arrived and mercifully accomplished his task. From other guests troubles with toilets, drains and brown water was the rule of the ship. We were told that are brown water was because of the rough seas. I thought that excuse most inventive. But, by the fourth time of the brown water plague I knew we had the old and dirty ship. Every venue had hand grease marks on the furniture. It stood out the most in the martini bar with white fur like material on the sides of the leather seats having turned grey.
Other reviews have said that these verandas at the back of the ship get ash from the diesels. I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself and an officer admitted that a lower grade of oil is used when at sea. Don't ask Freddie to clean it up. The veranda was very large and could only have been better with clean furniture and warmer weather. We were also given the opportunity of having the veranda walls painted. That takes an entire day and when done, the window had paint on it and the remnants of the chemical used to try to clean off the paint. Didn't ask Freddie to clean it.
The food in the MDR was less than Celebrity quality. The executive chef for the line was on this cruise. That fact in the past while on HAL resulted in great food. This time it was clear that the exec was more a problem. On Celebrity Summit there is a great eggs Benedict station. On Century the exec happened by when I was asking the attendant if there was lemon in the hollandaise sauce. The exec answered for him and said that wine reduction and vinegar were used. I said there has to be lemon in hollandaise. The exec questioned the attendant who agreed that there should be lemon. Enough said. The hollandaise and the bearnaise sauces on this cruise were a gold liquid not tasting like lemon or tarragon. Escargot is now gone from the line. The reason given was that the product is not available. I anticipated that the beef offerings were to be superior. Tough T-bone and dry sirloin. The lamb was a different story. Very good lamb in the MDR and on the buffet. The "stabilized" eggs used for the scrambled eggs left them very watery. I don't know what is in the eggs, beside eggs, but something was there. MDR service caused us to be the last or nearly the last out of the facility each night, even if we were first to arrive. The table for ten did have one guest get sea sick. Two nights later a guest at the table next to ours got sick. The crew did act quickly to strip the entire tables, moved the rest of us, and worked to get up all the harmful material. This type of clean up also was seen out on the deck areas with a steamer being used at the end of the process. We laughed as to which of the ten guests at the table got the chair that felt like it was going to break.
The buffet lines all hid the butter. You had to ask for butter with your toast, it was not available for you to take. As others on previous reviews have said the temperature of the buffet food was warm to cool.
The weather was cold with rain when we were at sea. The pool did not have to be there. Very few people if any could use it. The television channel from the bridge showed the wind at 66 mph. This is part of a cruise and we have had worse weather. Bring warm clothing. Laundry charges are extremely high. There is a 50% surcharge on the laundry. Long sleeved shirts and sweaters for the men would be appreciated. I contracted a lower respiratory infection on the way back from the islands which still stays with me.
The live entertainment was good. Comedian Al Ducharme was extremely good. The casino has not been modernized. No communications between the machines. Cash out with your bucket. The television offered only one free movie channel in English. There was another in German. Why German? We only met two passengers from Germany. It maybe that nothing has changed in the 17+ years since the ship was built in Germany. Of course you could pay $9.98 for a pay per view movie. No free Wifi, no news channels in port. Bring books on your ipad.
We warmed up in Honolulu. The Arizona is impressive and well worth the $33 taxi fare. (each way). We spent the rest of the day getting to and from Duke's on the beach, a great place for food, drink and watching the beach.
Lahaina was our first tender port. Other reviews have said that Celebrity should learn how to tender passengers. Well, Captain Latrou was there at the top of the gangway. He must have watched as 4 or 5 large chests were loaded on the tender. This is while hundreds of passengers are waiting to get off the ship. These chests apparently hold the cold towels and beverages for the passengers' return to the ship? No one was directing the filling of the tender. This cruise had an abundance of wheelchairs, walkers of numerous descriptions and canes. Getting these passengers on the tender was a task, but not directing the seating of the passengers on the tender caused numerous delays. We were some of the first to get on the tenders along with the cold towels. The whales saved the trip. Whales everywhere. Great show. Good port to shop til you drop.
Hilo was the next port. It receives over 130 inches of rain per year. Needless to say it rained most of the day. Celebrity must have its own security company. It was the same in each port and in each port we had to go through security 3 or 4 times. But Hilo was the worst. Not since 1970 in East Berlin did guards come on a tour bus that I have been on to check ids. Here in Hilo on the tours sold by the ship, "American" security demanded to see your sea pass and picture id. This was the first of four security stops before being allowed to go to your cabin. If this is a dangerous port, I did not see the presence of the U.S. Coast Guard.
By far the most dangerous part of the cruise was in Kona. Before people were tendering off, the crew dropped one of the life boat tenders, destroying it. This was blamed on the wire rope that led from the davit giving way because of rust. It was announced it was inspected the day before. The Century has had repair problems with their tenders before this. But an empty tender being dropped without any additional weight from passengers was and is frightening. The tender was dragged to shore, stripped of all salvageable equipment and towed away as the ship was leaving. Again, no Coast Guard presence in the harbor.
These tenders show a capacity of 150 passengers. Approximately 80 people were on each when tendering. If these lifeboats had to be utilized to hold 150 souls and then lower them into the water I would bet that more than one wire rope would fail. I have computed lifeboat capacity to number of passengers on other cruise ships, but never had a reason to worry until now and so soon after the Carnival Triumph situation. The Century is as much as 1100 nautical miles from land with a dependence on this worn out ship and its tenders.
Celebrity had been my cruise line of choice. I hope this ship is not becoming representative of the line.
A very fast debarkation in San Diego was met with six Coast Guard personnel going on board.