Our first Celebrity cruise -- and it was great.
Pre-Stay -- flew in Saturday from Charlotte for our Sunday cruise. I got upgraded which of course meant Dottie got upgraded -- easy flight and we were picked up by the shuttle from the Courtyard Marriott Plantation. Nice place to stay pre-cruise -- restaurants within walking distance and they brought in an extra shuttle to get everyone to the port the next day.
Embarkation and Cabin-- we left for the port on the 10:00 shuttle because the rest were full. Everyone on the shuttle had received notification to arrive late regardless of the Cruise Line -- you can tell how well we all followed the instructions. We were at the terminal quickly, unloaded our luggage and were checked in within 10 minutes. We waited another 10 minutes and then we were on the ship...disembarkation would be another animal entirely. Our rooms were not supposed to be ready until 1:15, but I believe they had them available at around 12:30. We had 8348 -- a Sunset Balcony directly in the middle of the aft section. We loved the view and sound of the wake every night. The room was fine, and the cabin stewards were very efficient. I took the storage place over the bed, and I can see it would be an issue if you had trouble moving around and climbing on the bed. I loved the sliding glass doors on the shower. Dottie was not impressed with the hair dryer -- because she had to hold the button down...that was her only real complaint about the room.
Beverage package -- we had received the free classic package and upgraded to the Premium Package prior to arrival; I don't know if I will ever be able to cruise without one again. I did not pay for a single drink, and boy did I try a lot of stuff. When my wife reviewed our bill at the end of the cruise she immediately enrolled me in a rehab program. They scan your card for every purchase, and they show up as n/c items on your bill. Let's just say I got my money's worth and leave it at that. Also -- they pour very nice drinks on the Silhouette -- not a measurer was to be found the whole cruise. I loved the ice bar -- my Grey Goose Gimlets would have cost $30 back home the way they made them. The bartenders were very good about letting people know if there package did not cover the drink they were ordering. The bartenders worked very hard, and if anything they liked the beverage package because they don't have to print a receipt to be signed. The pool bars got busy at times, but that was to be expected.
Food and Service at Dinner-- I thought the food was very good -- much better than our Holland America TA cruise in October of last year. There were several lamb dishes in the main dining room during the cruise and I tried them all and they were all excellent. My wife said the steaks were flavorful, but not as tender as they could have been, but the prime rib was very good. The last formal night I had both lamb chops and a big lobster tail -- very tasty! The waiter and asst. waiter did a great job each night and were very accommodating. We did not try any of the Specialty Restaurants during this cruise.
Wine Service -- I thought the sommelier did a great job. He was very busy with all the wines by the glass, but he would bring me my fume-blanc every night, and ask me what I was having as my entree so he could choose a nice red for me.
Lunch and Breakfast -- we had breakfast in the dining room each day because that's what Dottie likes to do...I'm not a breakfast person, but she said it was very good. It was fun one day trying to tell a nice UK lady what a "grit" was...she kind of turned up her nose and went back to her blood pudding. Lunch was usually the grill or the Horizons buffet. The burgers were excellent -- the line sometimes was long but it moved quickly. They had all the beers available on the bar in two groups -- those under the classic were to the left and those under the premium package to the right...pretty smart! The buffet had too many different options to list -- the breads are very good and almost everything was tasty. They also had homemade ice cream available all the time.
Bingo -- our last two cruises had been very profitable bingo-wise, to the point that I thought we would just waltz in and they would hand us money. Bingo is played in the smaller theatre on sea days -- we only played twice. They use rigid boards instead of the tear-away cards and they are much better.
They must have not gotten the memo because they did not seem to recognize my mad bingo skillz! We could not hit anything. The last game was a coverall for a $1019 jackpot. Our best card still had 4 numbers to go when at least 8 people were one number away. They called a few more numbers and some idiot yelled "Bingo!" and went running down to the front hi-fiving people and acting like a general fool. No one else hit and so he got all the moneys, and went happily back to his wife, who looked sweetly into my face and said "idiot" while happily planning on how we were going to spend my -- I mean our -- jackpot winnings...three for three what can I say?
Casino -- my observations are limited to the Texas Hold-em Table, which has real dealers, not the electronic Poker-Pro tables. The staff were very nice and professional, and the Casino Hostess bought us a few rounds. The table started at 9:30 each night and the action was fast and furious. The rake is a ridiculous 15% up to $15, but the action made up for it. The table stayed full until around 2:00am each night. Drink service was also very good -- which I am sure contributed to my losing.
Chair Hogs -- they were out in force around the pool...the last day it rained in the morning and they still had chairs saved; my wife said they should be forced to sit in them while it rained. One nice touch about Celebrity -- the last day it was rainy and cold in the morning and the towel guy brought blankets around!
Disembarkation -- as bad as advertised. We had a flight the next day so no stress, but they called our group at 9:00 and we got in a cab at 11:00. The luggage pick-up interferes with the line of people going to customs -- you are almost forced to break in line depending on where your luggage is. They only had 4 customs agent working and it was slow.
It was a fantastic cruise and we will certainly try Celebrity again -- any questions feel free to ask away!