This was our third Celebrity cruise in 4 years (previous were Constellation and Solstice).
We wouldn’t normally take a summer holiday so late in the year so whilst the weather was perfect for sightseeing we didn’t have the usual wall to wall sunshine and blue skies every day. The Captain however, commented the weather we did have was the best he’d seen in the Mediterranean for some time (from his seafaring point of view).
Nevertheless the cruise was excellent, except that 10 nights was just not enough. I would however recommend the itinerary (embark Civitavecchia, then Messina, sea day, Athens, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, sea day, and Naples before returning to Civitavecchia).
Whilst the ship was the same as Solstice there were some subtle differences. Some good; some not. The Lawn Club grill was a great replacement to the glass blowing gallery. The Sunset bar layout was far superior to the one on Solstice and was a very popular place each early evening. However the reduced space in the Sky lounge due to the additional suites on the port side ruined the venue. No bands were allowed to play because of their noise and proximity of those suites. The place was therefore under utilized. It also doubled up as a night club in the evenings as the Quasar club had been replaced by a conference room.
There were changes too to the Grand Foyer resulting in even less space for dancing. The giant red rose statute was positioned in a most stupid place.
We had a stateroom on the 9th floor, six rooms from the Bridge on the deck above. This meant we could see the Captain and fellow officers very clearly on the Bridge wings when standing at the balcony rail but they could not see in once seated behind the partition. Any closer to the Bridge then you are quite exposed. For us this room was an ideal location for the evening activities.
Apart from the lack of proper (Ballroom) dancing opportunities the onboard entertainment was mostly excellent. Praise firstly goes Damien (cruise director) and his excellent activities team headed by Drew. Special praise goes to Valentina who seemed ubiquitous around the ship day and night, and held very popular Zumba classes on the pool deck most days.
The guest entertainers and the A Cappella boys were particularly good too but the ship’s own singers and hence the production shows were a bit lack lustre, despite the efforts of the band. There was also late night adult only comedy in the Celebrity Central venue and the two comedians were brilliant. These Sin City shows were packed out on all four occasions not just for the humour but also for the sexy burlesque dancer!
Food is another subjective area, and I’m no “foodie” either. Overall I’d say the food was generally the best I’ve had on recent cruises. Qsine was an experience and well worth the supplement as was the Lawn Club Grill. I did however miss the Silk Harvest restaurant that was on Solstice. One point worth making was that my food was always hot. I can’t stand luke warm food and would have complained had it been so.
We chose late fixed dining on a table of ten so had a perfect location just beneath the central staircase. Only once however was our table complete as we all on different nights chose to eat elsewhere. A shame, as the table lost its buzz when seats were empty.
As expected on a Mediterranean cruise there was a great mix of nationalities. Mostly North American and British with a noticeable range of other Europeans headed by the Italians and Spanish. There were also people from Australasia and Japan. So much better than being on a ship full of fellow Brits!
With the exception of Messina we had been to all the ports before so we made the most of the ship’s facilities when most passengers had gone off on excursions. Having the ship practically to ourselves was just great, but even on sea days finding a sun bed wasn’t a big deal.
Memorable moments were dining in Qsine, climbing all 588 steps on Santorini (again!) whilst dodging the donkeys, and taking part in the Pool Olympics with my son. Our Commonwealth team (UK & Canada) came second, but we beat USA, much to their disappointment. I also did the 3 hour behind the scenes tour of the ship. This was a fascinating experience including a Bridge visit. To my surprise on the Bridge is a leather sofa and matching lounge chairs overlooking the ship’s bow!