My husband and I took the May 17 Eastern Mediterranean cruise out of Civitavecchia. This was our first cruise on Celebrity. We chose Celebrity due to great reviews by family members. We had cruised on Princess (twice) and Royal Caribbean (once) and wanted to try Celebrity. When we heard they had a new ship I checked the itineraries and found just what we wanted. The ports were all new to us and we liked the fact that there were only 2 days at sea. We booked a veranda stateroom very much in advance and got a very good price. The price continues to go up the closer you get to the sale date. Although other incentives were offered as time went on, they still did not make up for the difference in what we paid compared to the new prices with incentives.
Boarding: We used Roma Cabs to get from our hotel in Rome to Civitavecchia. This company is terrific. We highly recommend them. We arrived at the time the cruise lines said they would start boarding (11:30 AM) and it only took about 10 minutes to board. We got our stateroom immediately and were able to drop off our carry on luggage. Our other luggage arrived in the early afternoon. We went to the buffet in the Oceanview Cafe. It was not crowded. We were told only about 500 passengers had boarded so far so that might be why it wasn't crowded, since the ship was fully booked and holds over 3000 passengers. We were greeted at the buffet with complimentary champagne and mimosas. What a way to start off. The buffet surpassed the lunch buffet we had on both Princess and Royal Caribbean. The food was much more varied and a higher quality. There were many salad choices (both those you make yourself and prepared salads which varied every day). At all lunch buffets there is always Asian and other eastern cuisine, a pasta bar and pizza, a place to make sandwiches with cold cuts, soups, other hot entrees and lots of desserts including an ice cream bar with toppings (whipped cream, chocolate and vanilla sauce, M and M's plain and peanut, Reese's pieces, gum drops and jelly beans and sprinkles). The ice cream bar is there at dinner and after dinner as well. In the AM a waffle station with toppings is there in its place. There are also soft serve machines in the buffet and on deck 15.
We ate all our breakfasts and lunches (when on the ship) at the buffet except twice when we had lunch at the Mast Bar (deck 15 - very good hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries). We went to the dining room for 7 of the 10 dinners. The dinners were fabulous in the Opus dining room, but a few nights we just chose to eat at the buffet because we were tired from our excursions or just wanted to eat outside, since the weather was marvelous. There is ample outdoor dining seating just outside the buffet which is on deck 14 at the back of the ship. We did not eat at the specialty restaurants. There are many and they do look wonderful but we were more than satisfied with what was offered in the main dining room and at the buffet. Tip: The specialty dining costs are cheaper the first night on the ship (you can book when your board) or if you get a dining package. The prices for specialty dining go as high as $45.
Breakfast at the Oceanview Cafe was incredible. Carvery of ham every day, eggs and omelets to order, all kinds of cereals, fresh fruit, pancakes (2 kinds), waffles, blintzes with whipped cream, fruit and sour cream toppings, bananas foster, lots of breads and pastries, and many other items that appealed to the guests from other countries. The only 2 things that were not to our liking were the juices (the better juices were only available at an additional cost or part of a premium beverage package) and the bacon which was much too undercooked for our taste. Don't get me wrong, we were not disappointed with breakfast at all. There were plenty of delicious choices. The buffet in the evening had a carvery, several hot dishes, hamburgers and hot dogs, pasta, salads, fish and chips and other choices. The Opus Dining Room dinners were wonderful. We chose select dining and came to dinner at about 7:00 every night and we were always able to get a table for 2 and the same waiter if we wanted him. Note: The people who choose select dining have to eat upstairs. They cannot eat on the main (first level) of the dining room which is really the prettiest place to eat. However, if you are lucky enough to get by the rail, overlooking the main area, you can still enjoy the beautiful room. We felt the convenience of eating when we wanted to was worth this concession. The menu was varied, the food of the highest quality in taste and preparation and presentation, and the staff was amazing. There were also several appetizers including mushrooms stuffed with crab meat and shrimp cocktail, salads, entrees and desserts that were available everyday to please most people. Try the french onion soup - it was fantastic. Check out the website 'beyondships' for details on this ship including menus. A note to hearty eaters - the portions for many of the dinner choices, especially the appetizers and some desserts were small, and we are not big eaters. We were glad since it kept us from overeating and you can always ask for more. Better to ask for more than have a lot of food go to waste. The formal nights for this cruise were on the 2 sea days, but this can change since it is up to the captain. On the 2nd formal night we had a hard time choosing between lobster tail, beef wellington and duck a l'orange and other great choices. There is also a brunch that was held on the 2nd sea day on the first level of the Opus dining room from 10:00 to 1:00. It was gorgeous. Glass sculptures, fruits and veggies carved into flowers and birds, etc. The food included all the normal breakfast items plus many, many more including eggs benedict, quiches, a shrimp station, etc. There were also white and milk chocolate fountains with fruit for dipping. What a spread! The staff really worked hard.
Regarding the staff: classy, classy , classy and I do not mean stuffy. Everyone was so professional, spoke at least 2 languages including English, were very friendly, and just couldn't do enough for you. There was always someone to help you. By the way, the officers were also very friendly.
We are not drinkers so we did not visit the bars. We also did not visit the casino.
Onboard activities: We were very busy when in port and when at sea we chose to go to the pool (indoor and outdoor) so we did not partake in the onboard activities except for the shows in the evening. The Celebrity singers and dancers are phenomenal and they gave 3 performances at night and several more at different times in the atrium. The other entertainment was good but not quite as good as we expected. They had one great pianist. The other entertainers were good and we enjoyed them but not just as good as we had experienced on the Royal Caribbean mediterranean cruise we took 3 years ago. We went to the shows in the Reflection Theater every night except the last night. The entertainment at the pool, in the atrium and elsewhere on the ship was very good.
Our stateroom. We had an veranda 1a stateroom on the port side of the ship. Our stateroom was 8253. Our stateroom attendant Xavier was wonderful. He even got a maintenace man to fix one of my purses. The cabin was very roomy and had plenty of storage space. Note: Store your suitcases under the bed. Also, above the bed is a large storage area that really helps. The bathroom was roomier than I expected, also with ample storage space, toiletries, a foot rest for the ladies to shave their legs, etc. It seemed like every time we came back to the cabin (even when we were only gone 30 minutes) the towels were changed if used, the ice bucket was filled, etc. I don't know how they do it. If the stateroom steward was in the hallway he would open the door for us. He even greeted us by name the first day and we hadn't even reached our cabin. I do not know how he knew who we were. The balcony had 2 lounge chairs and a table and was quite roomy. There was a flat screen TV with movies and music. We also got candy on our pillow every night. How sweet!
I am not going to go into much detail on the ports. We only used Celebrity excursions which were all very good. We loved the ports. We were very lucky to have excellent weather. We did not choose excursions for Rhodes or Mykonos. Very easy to visit on your own.
We rate this a 5 star +. We will always choose Celebrity if there are itineraries that suit our needs. Thanks, Celebrity for a great time.