Boarding at Southampton was very easy. A van awaited us on the car park and our luggage was loaded onto it to be taken to the ship. No lines and we were on the ship in 15 to 20 minutes!
The ship was in very good shape, beautiful and clean and the star of the ship were the crew; Smiling faces everywhere alongside excellent service and a keenness to please.
Our room was spotless and kept spotless by the team of Ketut, Edwin and Marian.
Dining ' we had an option to dine either in Blu or in select dining. The food in both was excellent, however we felt the atmosphere in Blu was a little sterile and didn't appreciate feeling hustled into deciding whether we were going to dine there every night. By contrast select dining was very welcoming with much friendlier service. There was a buzz of fun from the guests which wasn't there in Blu. We dined in Murano twice and found it absolutely excellent; Slick efficient service and superb food. Tuscan grill seemed somehow lacking this time around and it was difficult to understand why; the food was excellent but the experience didn't seem special. Qsine was well Qsine! We went in a group, had fun, made noise. The food doesn't really suit us; however we had a good time!
My daughter is diabetic so we appreciated the symbols on the dining room menus to guide us however the speciality restaurants didn't have this so it was more difficult for her.
Entertainment. We went to the production shows and enjoyed them all, with the enthusiastic cast giving their all. The Liverpool comedian was excellent but the remaining shows didn't really appeal to us. Club acts, some acts seen on previous sailings. The guitarist Charlie was great and entertained us at venues all over the ship. The Martini Bar was a lively venue with the bar tenders working hard to entertain us. We felt the night-time music was lacking around the ship compared to American sailings. We were told it was because British guests on previous sailings had complained about the music as they were reading. We came to Celebrity for a more international feel so it will be a shame if the line panders to these vocal guests. Many regular cruisers commented on the fact that they preferred American sailings on Celebrity!
Bruce, the Captains club host was charming and helpful. He organised events well and was always available at the agreed times. A bit of a hiccup with the dates and times on the events sheet, but he quickly sorted it out.
Ports ' Malaga. We took the shuttle bus and went around the Moorish citadel. An easy port to discover on your own.
Ville Franche. A tender port, but it was well organised and we got ashore pretty quickly. We used a private tour company to Monaco, Eze and Nice with 4 others. A fabulous day, wonderful views and a day for spotting some great cars!
Civitavecchia. We had been to Rome many times, so decided to have a rest day in the port. Great shopping, superb market and a lovely promenade. Easy to explore on your own with free maps handed out by the local tourist information at the dock exit.
Livorno. Again a private tour with 4 others to Pisa and Florence. It was many years since we had been so we enjoyed it thoroughly at a relaxed pace.
Genoa. We organised a tour with Umberto Catanni who took 6 of us to Portofino, Sta Margherita and other villages along the Ligurian Riviera and then to Genoa. We had a wonderful day and Umberto escorted us well very informative with suggestions of what to see and hosted a wonderful lunch.
Gibraltar. We took a taxi tour which we arranged as we arrived at the port. Lots of capacity so very easy. All take a similar route and have a set price per person. Shopping is great here and prices very good so make sure you have time. We bought drinks, jewellery and perfumes here! Shops take ' or Euros.
Lisbon We organised a tour with 'we hate tourism tours'. We read the website and knew we weren't in for the standard tour! We were very impressed. Miguel looked after us, bought us little surprises, pastries, cherry Brandy in chocolate cups, Belem pastries and we had a wonderful picnic lunch ' a real taste of Portugal! We visited Lisbon, Belem, Sintra, a Quinta and Garden and Cascais and Estoril. A fabulous day.
Engagement of Captain and his officers with guests was excellent. This is clearly a well run ship.There were wonderful treats like helipad arrivals and / or departures at some ports.
There were the usual grumbles and gripes from some passengers but there was never a line a guest relations ' a sign that problems were minor and very few indeed!
There were some very inconsiderate guests on board ' and sad to say they were from the south of England. The way the staff were treated by them was appalling to witness. More like aristocracy and the servant class than appreciating excellent service from professionals. Guests were treated no better by them; preventing people getting into half filled elevators, pushing into the front of the line when debarking at ports, and pushing past elderly and disabled people. Getting off the ship in Southampton I was elbowed in the ribs by a man whose wife almost knocked our disabled daughter to the floor. I was so ashamed and shocked by their behaviour. Maybe we should all be more vocal to stop this type of thing happening?
Overall a fabulous cruise. Thank you Celebrity for keeping up the standards we enjoy. Bring on the next one.