Our first cruise with Celebrity, after 3 Caribbean cruises on Princess.We were surprised by some of the negatives and although they didn't ruin our trip, we all felt like there was much to be improved upon. Our fellow cruisers were a mix of ages, probably the largest majority 45+, but there were lots of younger people too. In terms of children, quite a few teens, and a few babies all pretty well behaved.
We arrived in Barcelona on the morning of our sailing. We had purchased the transfer from the airport, and even though it was more expensive than taking a taxi, it was VERY convenient. we were at the port by 10:30 and on the ship by 11. Check in was very simple and quick. We were able to purchase our beverage package upgrade right at the port, which saved us the trouble later. There was a small duty free shopping area at the port after check-in, but before we actually boarded the ship, which was nice if someone wanted to purchase wine to take aboard. We didn't purchase anything in this area. just past that was the first photo-op, as is usual. Once we got to the ship we were greeted with champagne (or OJ) and lots of smiles! Our only issue with embarkation was that our luggage didn't make it to our rooms until nearly 6:00 pm-- we would have liked to have had some time in the afternoon to unpack and get settled. Apparently this is a common thing when you arrive early, your luggage gets put to the back and comes last :( Overall though, it was a good experience with no huge issues.
Just beautiful. Easy to maneuver, our first time on a Celebrity ship and we found everything simple and easy to get to. I was surprised that the photo gallery was so out of the way. I don't usually buy more than one photo on a trip, and since I never saw most of them it was easy! The public spaces, lounges etc. were all nicely decorated and spotless. The public area rest rooms were always well maintained never saw one thing out of place. The rest rooms weren't always well marked-- for example it took us 3 days to find out that there were 2 ladies rooms near the pool area-- for 2 days we kept going out of the pool and up a floor to find the rest rooms. I was disappointed by the pools. They were nice, but far too small for the number of people on the ship. The 3rd pool -- the solarium-- we nice enough, but it's a quiet area and everyone in there was sleeping --- or maybe worse---- so much that it was uncomfortable even to have a quiet conversation with my husband. We didn't stay in there long. The main pool area was, 2 pools, one shallow and one about 6 ft deep... both very tiny. I was shocked when they commandeered the deeper one (usually older teens and adults in that one) for several hours for a volleyball game -- which of course meant it wasn't usable for anyone else. I was also very surprised given the limited seating that they took over one corner and had shirts and things to sell on the sea days... they could have set up anywhere, but took out lounge chairs!! Lots of music and entertainment, all pretty good, and the drink service was decent during the days we were out there.
Stateroom Deck 10 1409: The stateroom was fine. we were in a CC aft stateroom -- nice location, VERY quiet. the balcony was big enough to just barely fit two chairs with footrests and a small table -- that was fine since we didn't spend too much time on it. Made for some fantastic views coming and going from our many ports. The bathroom was pretty generously sized, lots of cubby spaces for toiletries. Shower was small, but fine. The room was nice, although I felt because of the set up it was a bit cramped (bed was near the slider door to the balcony- so it closed the room up a bit.) There was enough storage space, more than I've found on other ships.
Dining, Service and Food: We had 8:45 traditional seating in the Silhouette dining room, although I don't think we ate there more than 6 times for reasons I'll explain below. We were a group of 7 and they squeezed us into a table for 6 in an already very very overcrowded room. we had a hard time going between chairs to get to our table somewhere in the middle, and the servers and assistants had a hard time getting around everyone--- I think all of us got bumped on a regular basis. Although our server and assistant were very nice, there was a language problem, and we all felt that the staff had not been well trained. The food-- well-- I was greatly disappointed in the food in the MDR---the menu seemed like it was trying too hard-- duck, lamb, veal... the standard left side menu didn't even have a simple pasta on it to choose. Too fancy for my (and the rest of my family's ) tastes and what we did select was often bland. The sauces in particular were a problem.. just no flavor. Overall the menu felt like it was thrown together with no plan in mind..I don't understand why if there is a baked chicken or steak on the standard menu, there is the same thing on the day's special menu with almost no variation. For that reason, we ate 3 times in specialty restaurants-- Murano, and Tuscan Grill-- which were amazing-- food, service, wonderful wine list! The other nights we ate in the Oceanside Cafe or ordered room service. The Cafe was a pleasant surprise, I usually hate buffets, but it was very good. Room service was just ok. The difference between the specialty restaurants and the MDR was extreme. I don't believe it makes sense to have to pay extra to get good food and service. This was the one area that I really felt will probably keep me from sailing again with Celebrity.
Excursions: We did a tour from the ship in Croatia that was very nice, well organized good stops. Our ship tour from Venice on the first day was good, and gave us the highlights along with Murano and a gondola ride, and the 2nd day we wandered the streets ourselves which was fun. Our other ports in Italy we did private tours and we found them to be less expensive with far better itineraries (we set them of course!) and great service from the 2 companies we used.
Debarkation: Went smoothly, had transfer for an early (10:45 AM) flight. We were supposed to have a special lounge area-- some members of our group got the notice, some didn't. It required us to go to the lounge (Silk Harvest) 30 minutes before our debark time, so we just slept longer and went to the theater with everyone else. 6:15 was way too early! Once our bus was called it went quickly. No issues.
Couple of other notes:
If you get an internet package to use wireless, it's easiest to go right to Celebrity Online and have them set up your mobile device, they were fantastic.
There didn't seem to be a Sommelier on the ship.. there were people who claimed to be, but they were barely wine servers who were not well trained. If you want good wine, I think you might need to check out Cellar Masters-- all of the lounges and restaurants had different wines, and most of the servers had not one clue about wine. We didn't go to Cellar Masters since we had the premium bev package and it's not included, seemed silly to spend more money in that area.
The beverage package was a nice thing-- no slips to sign, and I think a good value for us personally.
The casino was ok-- I did well on the machines. I was shocked that when I won what I thought was a rather significant jackpot that I didn't hear from the casino host there encouraging me to play more :) The reward credit program isn't explained at all-- for every 75 pts you earn you get $1 to play with, but ask the cashier and they can help.
Bingo was expensive ($39, $49 and $59 packages) 3 games were played and overall they paid out about 1000 to the 3 winners... just seemed like a bit of a rip off. I expected more games than 3 for sure.
I never went to a single shop on board. Others we were traveling did, and got a few good buys, but nothing special. Typical cruise ship shops and normal prices.
Overall: We had a great vacation-- the itinerary was very busy, some very long port/excursion days, but it was such a beautiful area we didn't mind a bit :) The problems with the MDR certainly didn't ruin our trip, but it was the one area that I was very surprised since we had been told of Celebrity's strength in that area.
Happy to answer any questions for those of you headed out on Equinox soon!!