This was my second cruise. The first for our honeymoon, and this one for our 10th anniversary.
Unlike some other reviewers I am not a "seasoned" cruiser, but I do know what works and what doesn't in general terms, so here goes. My wife however is a seasoned cruiser, traveling on Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Carnival. The only line she will not return to is Carnival.
Embarkation was not without its flaws at Bayonne. The plus was we were registered to stay in a Celebrity suite, so didn't have to join the huge queue of passengers, and immediately were pointed to a much smaller line. That is when things went slightly downhill. My wife had booked 3 drink packages. On our first cruise years ago on Holland America Line beverage packages were not being offered. Now that Celebrity is offering these, we decided to go for it. We had a non-alcoholic for our 8 year old daughter, the same for my wife, and the Classic Package for me. Prior to arriving at Bayonne, we had received confirmation of the beverage package purchases and they were incorrect. My wife spent a great deal of time on the phone correcting this problem, so to arrive at embarkation and discover they were still in disarray was a huge letdown. They did correct the problem immediately, but we did have issues with the cards scanning for the first two days. This led us down to deck 3 Guest Services on more than one occasion. My wife is in sales and her comment was that if Guest Relations knows her name (which they did after multiple trips there) it's not a good sign. Additionally it's important to note that my wife travels extensively for her career, and has a vast understanding of expected perks for frequent travelers.
Once on the boat, we headed to the Oceanview Cafe on deck 10 for lunch. Unlike many other reviewers I found the food very palatable, and traveling with an 8 year old, the casual cafeteria style made it easier than fine dining for the bulk of the week.
By 2pm we were in our suite. The luggage was another issue. We had 4 checked bags. They all arrived at different times. My bag arrived last after 6pm. However, our Butler's assistant Michael was extremely active in tracking it down. He found it on deck 9, and we were staying on deck 6. Guess they inverted the 6? Mistakes happen, and again, the effort Michael showed in locating the missing bag was really above par.
Speaking of the suite, our main butler Orlando was really fantastic. His every response ended with "It is my pleasure." Plus, he seemed to genuinely love what he was doing. Terrific attitude, and never seemed stressed. If we called his extension, it never rang more than once! Fantastic! Promote this guy!
As we were in a suite, we had a complimentary meal voucher for one of the specialty restaurants. We chose to dine at Normandie on the first night. It is French cuisine, and I didn't particularly enjoy it. Please note this is strictly personal taste, and not a commentary on the food itself. Later in the week we dined at the other offering "Qsine" and it was more up my alley. Truly fun and delicious all at once.
As this was our 10th anniversary, we wanted to have a couple of date nights. Celebrity offer babysitting services in your cabin. We used this service twice, and our daughter loved the attendant (can't remember her name), but she was great. Each babysitting session was approximately 2 hours in length. We went to Qsine by ourselves one night, and on the other to see the adult's only comedian Louis Johnson.
My wife and daughter are not real sun worshippers, but I do love to hang out by the pool. This was interesting to say the least. Not being a seasoned cruiser as I mentioned earlier, I was not aware of the constant battles over deck chairs. Chairs are all marked with the Celebrity policy of not reserving chairs, but this was to no avail. However, my routine while at sea was to go to the main pool area around noon hour and walk around until I saw someone leaving. This took on average 5-10 minutes, so not a big deal to get "one" chair. One day I was sitting beside these 2 teenagers. Out of nowhere comes this guy (50ish in age) screaming at them to get out of the chairs. He claimed they were his, as he had staked claim to them at 7a.m. earlier that day. The two boys were polite, and said they got the chairs from an elderly couple an hour earlier. This was confirmed by yet another older couple in front of me. He didn't accept their response, and then demanded to speak to their father. The boys pointed out their father about 20 feet away, and he then marched over for yet another confrontation. It went nowhere, but did provide me for a great idea for a new TV Reality program. I would call it "Chair Wars."
The pool area was very busy while at sea, and the "Pool Butlers" had a lot of trouble keeping kids out of the adult pool, and this was frustrating. I say frustrating because this system just didn't work. The kids' pool was very small, and less than ideal given the number of kids trying to have fun. Not to nitpick, but this configuration could be better, but let's face it, this ship is at sea and well beyond the initial design phase.
Now onto beautiful Bermuda. The weather was very hot, so we didn't venture much beyond the Dockyard area.
My wife and daughter booked the dolphin swim excursion. It was very expensive, but we knew this going into it. Located in the Marine museum, it was not even a ten minute walk once off the ship. It was very well organized, and they both had a wonderful time.
One of our days in Bermuda, we took a taxi to "Seaglass Beach." It was fun to explore, but not a place to lay down a towel and spend a day at the beach. We walked back from there to the ship, and the total time to walk it was about a half hour. I purchased some souvenirs, and then it was back on the ship.
Back to the ship, and one of my few complaints. Yes, I have a few complaints as already mentioned. However, in the greater scheme of things these complaints were very minor. I had the Classic Beverage package as I do enjoy my beer. This Package covered basic beer brands such as Heineken, Budweiser, etc'Mixed liquor drinks such as Vodka/tonic, Rum/Coke were also included in the Classic Package. I hit every bar on this ship, and they are all different in what they offer. That is, Rendezvous is more of a night spot vs. The Mast Bar by the pool deck. The main issue I had was the speed of service, and from listening to other bar customers, my complaint is far from unique. All of the servers are slowwwwwwww. I mean inattentive, slow, and lacking personality in general. Seriously, I am not asking for you to make me a blender drink with a PHD in chemistry. Just crack open a cold one and hand it to me. There, I am done complaining.
The entertainment on the ship might appeal to some, but I am not a real song and dance/Broadway show type of guy. My wife and daughter enjoyed the shows, but I really found Jason Bishop, the "illusionist", to be fantastic. I would pay to see him perform at any venue. His performance was outstanding. I've seen David Copperfield perform, and Bishop's approach was almost better with the addition of a lot of humor coupled with the amazing illusions.
Still on the topic of entertainment, the ship had a house band called "Flava Party Band." They were really great, and I literally followed them around to the various spots on the ship to catch their sets. The lead singer was a real character, and they were fun to watch. They did mostly Reggae tunes, but did some 50s and 60s covers in the Rendezvous lounge in the evenings to cater to the older crowd. I am mid-40s so don't consider myself quite there just yet!
Finally, we were told that Celebrity Suite guests would have preferred disembarkation. We registered for this preferred service, and arrived at the assigned time on Deck 3, and it was a total cattle call. We were told it would be 150 guests and 15 minutes. Instead, I counted close to 450, and waited almost an hour. We also had to carry 4 suitcases down from Deck 3 to Deck 1 for our final exit off of the ship. This annoyed my wife more than me, but still the situation was unnecessary. We registered for early disembarkation to avoid this kind of thing.
Overall, and by the end of our cruise I found myself wishing I could go back on this ship again soon. My family had a really great vacation, and I struggle to think of a higher quality week I've experienced.