We are experienced cruisers (16 cruises over 6 different lines) and wanted to try Celebrity. Since we are Diamond on Royal Caribbean, we would be Elite on Celebrity.
We booked late and at the time of booking, regular balcony cabins were about the same as the Aqua Class cabins. We weren't very familiar with Aqua Class but figured, why not? Well, now we are hooked. If we ever cruise Celebrity again, and we hope to, it will be in Aqua Class.
When we arrived at our cabin, there was a bottle of sparkling wine chilling in the ice bucket. We also had fresh fruit and flowers. Our cabin, 1107 was very close to the exterior door which opened onto the outside deck so it was extremely convenient to get to the deck. If your turned right when exiting the cabin and went out that exterior door, you were right above the Sunset Bar outside the buffet. Extremely convenient, just down a quick flight of stairs to reach the bar or buffet.
Each day at a designated time, the cabin attendant would bring by afternoon canapes. It was small but pleasant. A dollop of hummus with a few tortilla chips, a small assortment of olives, a few cubes of cheese, a slice or two of fruit. Not a big deal but a nice touch.
For us, the HUGE surprise was Blu. We were wildly impressed. We usually find cruise food in the main dining rooms to be edible but rather boring. Mazy, the Maitre D', was incredible. Polished, but not stuffy. Professional with a great sense of humor and a memory beyond belief. He will be moving to Revelation (I think) shortly so look for him there. Seriously, he made a huge impression on us and after 16 cruises, that's not an easy thing to do. The dining room is beautifully decorated and intimate. Most table has a good, if not great, view of the water.
Most will not be interested but for those that are, we had Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb (which also had braised lamb wrapped in phyllo dough...yum, short ribs (I think this was our favorite), an entree salad with lamb chops with balsamic glaze, Veal loin, surf and turf and braised lamb shank. The portions were all manageable so you could get an appetizer and not feel like it was too much. They had no trouble accommodating special requests (such as gluten free)and were able to make helpful suggestions.
For Blu dining, you just show up any time between 5:30 and 9:30. We were always seated immediately and the restaurant was never full until the last two nights. I think the suite guests realized they could eat there at this point. It is my understanding that suite guests do need to make reservations and there is a $5 per person charge but I have no first hand experience.
Breakfast was also served in Blu and it was consistently good. They had the usual selections plus a variety of smoothies.
Since we were Elite, we did try the Elite breakfast in Normandie once. It was very nice but we preferred the greater selection in Blu. On our last sea day, we had breakfast in Blu and then went to the Elite breakfast for Bloody Marys. Nice.
We used the Persian Gardens a few times and it was something different. I would not deliberately pay extra for access. The gym was well appointed and we had no trouble finding cardio machines when we were there.
Once in Bermuda, we rented "pedal" bikes near the pier and rode (by way of the railroad trail) to Paget. I do recommend this however, we really didn't have enough information. The trail tends to end and then pick up a short distance away and it wasn't always obvious. However, it is a great way to see the island and escape the crowds. In our 4 or 5 hours, we passed just two other groups that were cycling. If you do rent, you need to request "pedal" bikes. We paid $30 each for the day and returned them in Paget and took the bus back. If I did it again, I'd take the bus to Paget and return the bikes at the dockyard location.
At one point, we exited the trail and rode to Church Bay beach and took a swim.
Late one afternoon, there was no hot water. I phoned guest relations to see if they had any idea when it would be turned on. I was just trying to figure out if I needed to bite the bullet and take a cold shower (which I did) or just give it time. It really wasn't a big deal. That evening, when we returned to our cabin, there was a bottle of wine and a note of apology. I thought that was a very nice, and unexpected, touch.
The last day, we went for a long walk into Somerset and ended up at Woody's, a local bar/grill. What a treat! Everyone was really friendly and seemed happy to answer all our questions about life in Bermuda.
Our cabin attendant, Eliseo, was very good and extremely efficient.
All in all, our first experience on Celebrity was a good one!