We just returned from a wonderful five night Pacific Coastal cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. We originally booked this cruise several months ago on a promotion through our TA and decided at the time to "keep it cheap" and book an interior room. As the months crawled by, the prices fell and we were able to upgrade at no charge to an Oceanview room. Three days prior to our cruise, I thought to check prices one final time...and was stunned to see a 2A Veranda being offered at only $80 more than what we originally paid for our interior. I couldn't call the TA fast enough and he made the change for us. It was the start of a perfect vacation! Minutes after the change, the balcony price shot up to $400 more than what we paid, per person! I have no idea how we snagged this deal of a lifetime, but I wasn't going to question it too much!!
We were sailing in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary, and decided that RELAXATION was the name of the game. And did we ever get it!!
We arrived at the pier at 12:00 and within 35 minutes we were on board. Embarkation was very easy and very efficient. I was planning to surprise my husband with the balcony upgrade - he still thought we were in the oceanview - but when I put my card into our door for the big reveal...nothing happened. And nothing happened when I tried his card. So...off we went down to Guest Services to stand in line to remedy our key issue. Apparently our keys were still coded to our "old" room number, and they were fixed within minutes. As you can guess...this sort of ruined my big reveal to surprise him...but oh well.
We were very pleased with our room on the starboard side of the ship, near the rear portion of the "mid-ship" area. While it was certainly the smallest room we've ever sailed in, the amount of storage was more than ample and we found the room very comfortable. The balcony had two chairs and a nice table, which would be used OFTEN in the coming week! My husband was thrilled with the balcony surprise and kept commenting on his shock!! It was so great! The one bad thing, was that the bed was about six inches too short for my husband - who is 6'3" - and his feet literally hung off the end of the bed, but it wasn't a deal breaker for him. The room was very quiet and in a perfect location to the rear elevators so that we could zip right up to the buffet and the Sunset Bar. Most days we made use of the prompt room service and enjoyed fruit and cheese plates and glasses of wine on our balcony in the evenings. We made good use (sort of abused) Celebrity's wine policy and brought on two boxes of Fish Eye Pinot Grigio and the refrigerator in the room was icy cold and held the two boxes with room to spare. Each box was equal to three 1.5L bottles (so we had equal to SIX 1.5L bottles!!), and while Fish Eye isn't my favorite wine...it certainly was plenty enjoyable and better yet...FREE!! Our ship board account was literally gratuities and a soda package - $140. We usually average a $500 bar tab alone, but with being allowed to bring wine aboard...it saved us a small fortune in alcohol. I purchased two Vino2Go plastic wine tumblers off Amazon and we would fill up our glasses before heading out to enjoy the view on deck or to grab a bite at the buffet.
All in all, we felt the staff was efficient and friendly. They went out of their way to smile and say hello when passing, asking how our day was going. Our room steward was very polite, but very quiet. His response to our requests was always immediate, and he had a knack of making the room up the moment we vacated it, without ever being seen! Once we left the room for less than ten minutes before heading out for the day, but decided to come back for a light jacket...and Poof! The room was made up. Being that this was our first Celebrity cruise, we were anxious to experience the "Celebrity difference" from Royal...but we honestly saw no real differences, no real "posh" feeling. This isn't to say it was lacking, but the service certainly was no clear step up from Royal. The ship had a very casual feel, and I'm sure that is in part to it's age and the style of cruise we were taking.
The Century is the oldest ship in the fleet, and we knew this going in. We did not have unrealistic expectations of new and flashy...so the "old school" feel that the ship has was charming and quaint to us. It never felt "old"...I would have to say classic is the correct term to describe Century. This was also our first time on a small ship, and while we noticed a lack of things to do and the quality of entertainment seemed less than what we were used to...it really didn't even phase us because we weren't on this cruise to be entertained. We were here to relax and just enjoy being together - with NO kids. :-)
We decided ahead of time that we weren't going to partake in the formal night of the cruise and decided to keep things strictly smart casual. We ended up eating in the buffet or via room service on the balcony for every meal. The made fresh wok dishes and pasta dishes were our favorites at dinner, very fresh and very tasty. For breakfast, hard boiled eggs were a nice sight - I'm used to strictly powdered scrambled gross watery "eggs" on RCI cruises...so REAL eggs were thrilling for me. Another favorite of mine were the delicious raisin scones with real whipped cream that were set out in the afternoons. What a treat. The several flavors of ice cream was also a nice change from the standard chocolate and vanilla soft serve we were used to on RCI. All in all, the food was very good. We never had a "bad" meal...even room service came piping hot and fresh and always arrived in far less time than we were told it would take.
Fantastic. What isn't there to love about Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and even Ensenada?
For Santa Barbara we had no plan. We came ashore off the tender boat and walked along the ocean walkway and made our way down the pier towards some restaurants and some shops. We came upon a fantastic second floor wine store that had tastings on their roof top patio. For only $10 a person, you get a flight of five wines and the sunshine and views are thrown in for free. We spent a wonderful couple of hours up on that patio, just talking and watching the yachts and smaller boats come into the harbor. Oh, and we both got a cup of ice cream from a little sweet shoppe! Back on board time was 3:30, but I could have spent DAYS in Santa Barbara.
San Francisco started off with a bang when we sailed under the Golden Gate on our way into the harbor. We made our way to the very front of the ship and were treated so such amazing sights. We had amazing views of Alcatraz, Sausalito, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf, downtown, etc. I had purchased tickets to an Alcatraz tour on line and as soon as we walked off the Century, we made our way next door to get in line our our tour. The pre-purchase/will call line was empty...but the line to purchase tickets was at least 75 people long. We were so glad we purchased the tickets in advance as it saved us a good 45 minutes waiting in line. Alcatraz was amazing...if you've never gone I highly advise you go and for sure get the audio tour. It is totally free to get the audio tour and it is narrated by former prison guards and prisoners, themselves. Simply amazing. We spent a good three hours wandering around The Rock before we made our way back to shore. We decided to walk back onto the ship for a late lunch at the buffet (why pay for something we already paid for?), and then came back ashore to walk along Pier 39. We came upon a glorious little fire pit on the patio of a bar called Wipeout and we were lucky enough that it was vacated just as we were walking up. We enjoyed a few drinks around the fire pit and passed a couple of hours talking to a nice man who was in town visiting Giant stadium and watching a baseball game. He was from Boston and his "bucket list" is to watch a ballgame in every major stadium around the country. He was such a fun guy to sit and talk to. We didn't have to be back on board until 10:45 PM, but we decided to head back around 9:30. The sail back under the Golden Gate at night was simply amazing...what a gorgeous view we had from our balcony.
For Ensenada we had purchased the winery tour offered through Celebrity. For the amazingly low price of $30 a person, we were taken to two wineries and given full tastings along with some of the most amazing heavy snacks that truthfully felt more like a lunch. Homemade breads, olive oil, fresh olives, organic cheeses, stone-ground crust pizzas with organic veggies and homemade creamy cheeses....it was truly an amazing day. The countryside was simply gorgeous and nothing like what I expected the Baja area to look like. Miles and miles of rolling hills and we passed one vineyard after the other. It was something we both really enjoyed. My husband has been to Baja before for the SCORE Baja races, so he was anxious so show me how beautiful the area was. L.A. Cetto winery was fantastic and we only brought back three bottles of their amazing Viognier...and sadly it's already gone!! We should have brought back as many cases as was allowed. Simply delicious wine. Dona Luna winery was rustic and organic...the wines were a bit sweet for our taste, but they were fun to taste and the real star of this place was that pizza they had for us all and their homemade jams and dressings. Delicious! After our return, we dropped our goodies off on the ship and took the $3 round trip shuttle back to downtown where we sat at a street-side bar and enjoyed ice cold Tecate and fresh guacamole and chips.
Our day at sea was spent almost totally in our room and on our balcony, save for a couple of hours on deck at the Sunset Bar. The sunshine was blazing and the wind was totally calm and we saw dozens of dolphins, seals, even whales.
SEAS AND WEATHER:
The seas were the calmest I've ever sailed, save for the Inside Passage. The ocean was an almost earie flat, glassy surface the entire cruise. The ship barely moved an inch the entire time! The weather was beautiful...foggy mornings what would burn off after a few hours and gave way to cloudless skies and warm sun. San Francisco was a bit on the windy side, but with a windbreaker jacket we were more than comfortable.
Loved every second of this cruise. We came home wishing we were still on board. Yes the Century is older, yes the carpet is a tad warn, but the ship is immaculately clean. The staff is gracious and friendly. The food is fantastic. What could you possibly have to complain about? If a few rust spots or faded fabrics ruin your cruise...well, I truly feel sorry for you. You're missing out on quite a lot. :-)