A little about myself - I am a veteran cruiser, and this was my 22nd cruise on Celebrity, so to be fair I am probably a bit biased. At the same time, I like to call it as I see it so will try for a balanced review. I was cruising with my husband for a relaxing break.
Embarkation - We are tired of fighting the crowds to board early so we arrived at around 1:15 and were very glad we waited. There were still passengers from the previous cruise boarding taxis! We got lucky - due to our Captains Club status (Elite) our group was boarding just when we arrived. I felt guilty walking past those who had been there forever, but it is a perk I earned so I confess I was happy to use it. We were able to go right to our cabins, but as was said the buffet area was a nightmare for lunch. Despite Celebrity saying this was all due to "Customs", rumor on the ship was that there were a few passengers who were refusing to leave and they couldn't begin boarding until the ship cleared. Not sure what was true but it was a mess indeed.
Ship decor - I have sailed on all Celebrity ships except for the two newest, dating way back to the Horizon and Zenith. This ship tops them all in my opinion as far as sheer beauty. I was truly in awe of the amazing decor on this ship, and considering how beautiful all their ships are that is saying something.
Specialty restaurants - We decided to try the five dinner Specialty Dining package. It was for two nights in Tuscan, two in Silk Harvest, and one Murano. My only issue with buying the package is that we were not allowed to pre-book any but the first reservation. As the ship was completely full, we had a difficult time getting our preferred dining times once we boarded even though it was the first thing we did. This is wrong! People buying the most dinners should NOT get lowest priority for dates and times. Other than that, we were very pleased with the restaurants and the price discount was nice for the package. The food was excellent, and service overall was great with the exception of Tuscan, which was so-so. I had never been to Silk Harvest and was very pleasantly surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did.
MDR - We had just five of our meals here, due to our package. I thought the food overall was good to very good, and the service was excellent. We do not buy beverage packages for many reasons, but we did decide to try a 3 bottle wine package and were very satisfied with it. To save some $$, we asked them to bring our wine to the Specialty Restaurant we were dining at and they did that without an issue. We find the choices for wine in those restaurants to be above our pricepoint for the most part so we liked this feature.
Entertainment - I thought overall the entertainment on this ship was better than average. The guest performers were all very talented, and the production shows were extremely well choreographed - upbeat and lively, with a strong cast.
Casino - I like to do some casual gambling and was very happy to see that they have finally added the video keno game to some of their multi-game machines. Overall the odds were lower, but I was happy to see it after putting it on comment cards over and over again.
Captains Club events - We went to all of the Elite social hours, held in the Sky Lounge due to the large # of Elites onboard. My only real disappointment is that the hostess was really nowhere to be seen, other than occasionally "guarding" the door to the event. I enjoy the host/hostesses when they mingle and socialize - which unfortunately seems to be the exception rather than the norm these days.
Service - I thought the service overall was very good on this cruise. Some small issues in Tuscan Grill but other than that we had no complaints at all.
Disembarkation - I think people were spooked by what they saw during embarkation and half the ship wanted to self-disembark. From what I understand that created a nightmare again. We left at 9:15 or so and it took us 45 minutes to get to our taxi. Neither the best nor the worst I have experienced in recent years.
Overall impressions - As I mentioned, this is a beautiful ship overall. The design is pretty much the same as Solstice and Eclipse. I found the age range on this cruise to skew older than I thought it would. I know 10 day cruises tend to draw an older crowd, but as this was Spring Break, out of FLL, and leaving on a Friday (ie, fewer vacation days to take) I thought that it would not skew as old as most 10 days. I couldn't be more wrong. The average age was 65-75, with many wheelchairs, walkers and electronic scooters. There were very, very few people under the age of 21. Just an observation. Overall a wonderful cruise and I will continue to cruise Celebrity as my cruiseline of choice.