This is my first cruise. My wife and I travel frequently and have stayed in several 5 star hotels. So, correctly or not, we had high expectations for this cruise and this ship given it's high rating. Boy were we disappointed.
All 5 star ratings are not created equal, and you definitely do not want to compare this to a 5 star hotel.
I will start with the negatives. First, the food. I would say the buffet (where you have to eat most meals) is comparable to what you'd expect at a work conference at a Sheraton, or a Hilton. And that's being generous. It's basically a floating Hometown Buffet. I had a hard time finding any item in the buffet that wasn't of below-average quality.
The planned dinners in the main restaurant were pretty good, but the buffet was gross. The food quality is poor, and to be blunt, the environment among fellow travelers was poor.
But what really shocked me was the noise level in the rooms. I could hear every word of every conversation in the rooms next to me. And the doors all SLAM shut with enough force to remove a finger. So if anyone 5 rooms away in either direction closes the door, it will wake you up. It literally shakes the walls. It is senselessly loud. We had very very rude and loud neighbors on both sides of us. For the most part, the travelers were what I'm used to seeing at low end motels, not "5 star" cruises. But that isn't the cruise's fault, but just be aware. We had to call security 3 nights to get the rooms next to us to quiet it down, after 1am every night. And the one room had the requisite two year old that had zero discipline and just ran around screaming all night. And given the rooms had apparently no separation, you hear it all.
There is zero excuse for a modern boat having such awful noise separation. I chatted with folks who've cruised other lines and none complained of being able to hear neighbors so easily.
We ordered room service 4 times. They got it right once.
And forget about ever having a beverage with your meal. Forget about it. It will not happen. Even a coke. Apparently only certain people are permitted to use your card to get a beverage, even a Coke or Latte. We were finished with most meals before we could ever even track someone down to get us a drink. It was a joke. Beyond horrible service. Celebrity should be embarrassed. This excludes the main dining room where service was excellent consistently. But only one meal out of 3 was had there.
There is also only one coffee shop and getting service there is impossible. If you go to the counter they rudely tell you to sit down and they will serve you. The only problem is - they never do. You will sit there forever.
Embarkations were also needlessly challenging. Again, the sheer quantity of the carts for the morbidly obese slowed us all down, but I can't cite Celebrity for that. But I did find it disappointing to get on the boat only to learn our room isn't ready and find 3,000 people just milling about with nowhere to go.
Now for the positive - this boat was CRAZY CLEAN. I mean you couldn't find a single spot anywhere, even the public bathrooms. I have never seen such clean public spaces. It was the only 5 star part of the ship.
So overall I would say this "5 star" cruise has the room quality of a Holiday Inn Express, the food quality of a Hometown Buffet, the environment of a Walmart and the meal service of a... I don't know. I can't think of anything that bad.
Alaska was beautiful, and I'm sure cruising is the way to do it, but just set proper expectations for yourself. This is NOT a floating Four Seasons.