We chose a transatlantic cruise for our first ever cruise. Liveaboard offshore cruisers for 10 years, the Atlantic was the only ocean we had not crossed on our own bottom. And what a great experience it was!
Embarkation at the Port Everglades Cruise Terminal was a breeze and took all of 20 minutes. Similarly, disembarkation in Barcelona was equally efficient although somewhat longer.
This is an absolutely gorgeous ship, beautifully maintained, wonderful spaces and a crew that puts nothing above the goal of a successful cruise for every passenger. The Captain, in particular, but all of the officers and crew, were always very approachable. The Cruise Director was first rate and the lectures and entertainment were really quite special. The gym is very well equipped and we made use of it every day.
As first time cruisers we mad a couple of serendipitous choices....Celebrity Select dining which allowed us to dine when we wanted with different dining partners every night; and the premium drinks package. We met more interesting people at dinner every night than we ever could have imagined and the drinks package enabled us to sample the higher quality wines which we prefer. Conversely, we could easily have done without the extra cost of Concierge class as we really made no use of the services available. On our next cruise, we'll just book a regular verandah stateroom.
The cabin steward and crew serviced our cabin at least twice a day yet we rarely saw them except when they took the time to make sure we were happy. And the cabin itself was lovely.
I think the most unexpected experience we had was participating in "the Celebrity Equinox Choir". This was the brain child of an acapella group, North by Northwest, who were part of the onboard entertainment. They put out a call for anyone interested in participating in a choir and 50 people showed up. Most, if not all of us, had participated in other choirs so this was right up our alley. The boys put us through 6 rehearsals on 4 songs. The result was really very surprising. We performed on the second to last night of the cruise at the bottom of the atrium with an audience that watched from as high as 4 decks up. I don't thing any of us ever expected to find that kind of opportunity on a cruise ship.
I cannot comment on the shore excursions from personal experience because we didn't purchase any of them. Our preference was to make our own arrangements for our shore time. I will say, however, that we talked with many fellow cruisers who spoke very positively about their experiences.
The bottom line for us that we loved the Celebrity experience, we loved the transatlantic crossing and we intend to do it again with Celebrity in 2014.