My girlfriend and I are first time cruisers, but we are both extremely well traveled in cheap and expensive accommodations, which include cheap and attentive service. I believe we both have classic taste and are a little snooty.
I'm leaving this review as a perspective of what to expect from a first time vacation if you're around 30 years old.
Celebrity Cruises - we booked with them because our travel agent told us it was a more serious cruise, which basically means fewer young children and alcohol youths. Celebrity's motto is that you're treated like a celebrity. We took that to mean good service. The cabins were exceptional - see the note below.
We thought that the service was polar - at times HORRIBLE and at times so AMAZING. For example: a waitress from a restaurant remembered us and always smiled and talked to us around the ship.
Another example: some staff member would shrug us off almost like they're having a bad day. But 50% of staff can't be having a bad day all week can they?
We saw our room steward 1-2 and his english was terribly hard to understand. I thought he wasn't helpful and his assistant was way nicer.
So i guess it's just good people = good time.
Ship - Ship was pretty old, but you couldn't tell because it was recently renovated. The renovations to me were a mix of classic design and materials budget. I thought the design was weird - sometimes it's like very beautiful wall coverings and a horrible chandelier that totally doesn't fit.
Food - Very strange. Typically guests have multiple choices for where/what to eat every day. There's basically always food around. Most of it is unhealthy but at times delicious! It's comparable to all-inclusive packages at similar pricepoints.
The buffet is always there and offers generic food from many kitchens. In other words, there's pizza but it's not amazing, there are burgers but they aren't amazing.
There were smaller buffets. We typically ate our breakfast and lunches at the semi-healthy place. Otherwise i would have gorged on mediocre pancakes and waffles every day.
The restaurant offers a prefix menu. We had conservative options such as salads and small meat dishes. However each dinner had the option of a crazy big steak or ribs. If I wasn't watching my weight or health, I could have gorged well on meat. There weren't many choices for fruit, cheese, greens. That stuff rots fast and hard to preserve.
There was also a european cafe that offered pretty good pastries and desserts. Again we were trying to be healthy since we were constantly overeating.
HOWEVER! on the last night, I asked for Russian food (we are Russian). And they delivered very well. We felt special and even though the food wasn't a 5/5, we were very happy that they were able to do prepare it special for us. We really felt special.
Alcohol - we didn't buy a drink package (~$400/person for all you can drink all the time). I would be hung over daily, so we kept it to around 1 drink a day. There's a bar called Martini that people go to because it's near the restaurant. I was surprised that when I ordered a Negroni the bartender didn't know what it was. It's one of the classic cocktails all bartenders must know. On the other hand all the drinks they mixed were very strong.
Stuff to do - We mostly just sat at the adults only pools. They were relaxing and nice. We tried to exercise but the facilities were so busy all the time, it wasn't fun. The saunas are VERY nice but not as hot as they should be traditionally. There's also a premium spa that costs $160 for 2 people for the whole week. It was nice but not worth the money.
Vacation for me means not doing a whole lot and that's what you can do on this. Pool chairs are full occupied at around 10am. Didn't really both us.
Other Passengers - Everyone 25+ was VERY friendly. We didn't really talk to
We had a problem that we booked an excursion that we thought was more than it was. We thought it was transportation and something else but it turns out it was just transportation and pretty expensive. The point is, we told Celebrity about it, and they did nothing. The back talk from the excursion director and her people was really frustrating and hurt our vacation. The immediate reaction we got from the staff was "this is your fault and we cannot refund your money." But we didn't request a refund and it certainly wasn't our fault that the description of the trip is misleading. The staff's condescending language like "it clearly says" was also not helpful. After 20-30 minutes of talking back and forth the staff told us that they'd talk to someone about it. We got a call giving us a 20-30% discount on a 50 minute spa service. It was the last day of the cruise and we really didn't want to do it. The point is - they were totally NOT ready to talk to customers about problems and that was a worse blow to us than the $50 loss on the bus tickets.
Summary and tips:
- If you live in NJ like we do, this is an easy cruise to get on and get off.
- Celebrity service is mixed and lame. You are treated great by great people, not by marketing.
- You will find yourself stuffed with food daily.
- Celebrity seems to be a good company if you're not single and don't have babies.