Good: Very pleasant crew; good itinerary
Bad: Worn stateroom
Really Bad: Broken pieces of glass in dessert
My wife and I took the Celebrity Century on a Panama Canal Cruise. We booked a Sky Suite, Room 1075. This was our first Celebrity cruise, having traveled on Holland America for our three previous deep water cruises.
In-processing in Ft Lauderdale was quick and easy. Unfortunately, boarding and room access was delayed because of the need to sanitize the ship as a result of intestinal problems suffered by the passengers on the in-bound cruise. Once we were allowed to enter our rooms, it was also clear that the crew lacked the time to personalize the room with items we had ordered in advance. After my request, they did get it together after a couple of hours.
Our Sky Suite was reasonably large and the veranda was quite big. The room was very "tired" however. The furniture and linens were worn and stained; the bathroom sink was cracked from the drain to the top; a cupboard door in the room sagged with a loose/broken hinge, the refrigerator was missing the door handle (making it tricky to open), and the closet door refused to fully shut and creaked all night. There was also a lot of rust in places on the veranda. I cannot say the room was "immaculate", although it was adequately cleaned-- part of the dingy feeling could just be the age of everything. I did note the the clear glass paneling on the veranda had not been cleaned--which completely obscured the view while sitting on the veranda during our departure and over the first two sea days. A few days later, at one of our ports, the glass was cleaned. The veranda itself, however, I do not think was cleaned during the entire trip. We had our breakfast on the our veranda almost every morning - and we would notice the same crumbs on the floor from the days before. The room had lots of storage, but the drawers were shallow (only about 3 T-Shirts high, 2-3 inches). Half the number of drawers at twice the height would have been much more usable.
Celebrity advertises many "extras" that come with a Sky Suite - but not all of those apply to the Century (to include the "free" dinners at the Lauderdalecialty restaurant). However, there were other advertised perks that did not seem to be present. For instance, we were never offered Reserved Theater seating ("on formal nights only"). Also, many of these special services involved "butler service". There is no way the butler helped with packing and unpacking (and I don't see how he could with the number of guests under his responsibility); if there was a shoe shine service, it stayed a well kept secret; and any espresso and cappuccino service available in the room in the evening were not apparent. In our case, butler service seemed to actually interfere with timely room service. The butler relayed to us, twice, that our room service orders had been delayed because he had not been notified to pick them up. The butler, however, was very pleasant, did take care of our dinner reservations, brought us a wine bucket of ice each evening, and was otherwise responsive to our needs. Finally, the advertised special bath products were provided - but would only be renewed upon specific request. I would have thought when the bar of soap had almost disappeared it would have been routinely replaced. Suites cost more than other rooms and guests in Suites also pay an additional "tip" charge of $3.00 - $3.50 per day per person. What was provided fell well short of what was promised - and what was being paid for.
The room has only one electrical outlet with two plugs. One is the round, recessed, two prong, 220 volt European style and the other is a standard U.S. 110 volt plug. Given all the electrical and rechargeable items most people have today, such as I-Pads, phones, and cameras, we brought a power strip and a European-to-U.S. converter plug with us. These proved very useful. Except for the system being broken for the first day or two, and a couple of outages during the cruise, I could receive wireless Muranoet in the room (available at a charge).
We did coordinate with Celebrity in advance for my CPAP; and they provided an extension cord and a bottle of distilled water at no charge. (The electrical plug is as far from the head of the bed as it could be - thus the extension cord). We also ordered a bottle of liquor as a bon voyage gift to ourselves and were allowed to bring two bottles of wine on-board at departure (although it did not appear you could bring any wine (or other liquor) to your room that you acquired while visiting the various ports on the itinerary). You could purchase bottles of wine under the Celebrity program for dinner and bring what remained in the bottle back to your room. We found it very convenient to have some wine and liquor in the room for an evening cocktail on our veranda.
We ate our dinners in the main dining room, The Grand Restaurant, except for three nights when we dined at Muranos. The food in Muranos is very good and the service is outstanding. The menu does not vary and there are limited choices. It, however, does cost $40 per person per night to enjoy this luxury. The food in the main dining room was also good, but not always consistent. My wife and I could have the same entree - one veal chop was great while the other was just OK. The waiters would have been happy to get a different entree if we had asked, however. Most of the meals were a little bland. The chefs seemed to go light on the seasonings - even with dishes that should be somewhat spicy by nature.
Our worst experience was the night the main dining room served their best desert, a chocolate souffle'. My wife and I each ordered it and were talking to the waiter as we began to eat. My wife's was crunchy and at first she thought it was caramelized sugar. Soon, however, she began to pull broken pieces of glass from her mouth. The waiter immediately notified more senior dining room staff. Despite this obvious problem, the kitchen continued to serve the souffles to other passengers. The rest of our night was spent with guest relations; the medical clinic for an X-Ray and discussions with a doctor; and providing statements and talking with the ship's safety officer. It did not appear that my wife suffered any physical harm - but it was not a good experience. The ship later determined that a tempered glass serving piece had shattered in the kitchen and a shard of glass had flown many feet across the kitchen and ended up in the one souffle that was served to my wife. OK(?). The following day the restaurant manager did give us a private tour of the kitchen, I suppose to reassure us that the food was safe, and they did pay for one of our meals at Muranos. While they were very nice, it was a gross health and safety risk that should never have happened.
There were other safety issues that arose. They removed the wood railing from our veranda to refinish it during the cruise. They left one rusty screw pointed up through the metal frame for the railing. I found it only by leaning on it. And, thus another trip to guest relations. Also, we were chased out of our room on two occasions by strong and noxious paint or varnish fumes that came out of the air handling system into the room.
The nightly entertainment in the ship's theater was pretty good and the performance times nicely fit our evening schedule. The production numbers were probably the best, but some of the individual performers were also good. There is a DVD player in the room, but it will only play commercially recorded DVD's and would not play DVD-R's that you might bring from home. The closed circuit television had a variety of shows, but I am not sure why the movies on the internal Celebrity Movie Channel were all in German or German dubbed.
On the whole, we enjoyed our cruise. The crew was very nice; the food was varied and overall good; the ship's activities/entertainment were fine and the itinerary was well planned - but the problems we experienced make it hard to rate the trip very high. The Century is Celebrity's smallest ship; maximum passenger load of 1,800; which, for us, is as large as we like. It is, however,also their oldest ship and it needs refreshing. On the whole we did not feel our Celebrity experience was as good as our travels on Holland America.