We are elite level Captain's Club, traveling in concierge class with an interesting group. Overall, we found the experience not near what we have previously experienced on Celebrity. This was not a premium cruise, and not close to luxury. However, this review will show both the unexpected above and beyond responsiveness of the crew to some truly adverse conditions.
First, a weird gout-related condition requires that I consume black cherry juice every day, accompanied by another weird combination that required mixing ingredients in our cabin. The staff provided it and delivered everything I needed to my cabin. Yes, it was pre-arranged, but it still stands out and needs to be mentioned because this was above and beyond the call.
We had a very few problems in other aspects of the cruise, most of which were easily and promptly resolved. The entertainment was very good to superb, particularly the pianist Brooks Aehron and the string quartet. Superlatives are inadequate, but I recognize that quality classical music is not everyone's taste in entertainment. The stage shows were entertaining, but within the realm of what we have come to expect: very good quality. Unfortunately, our pleasure was impacted by a cruise director who focused on himself, instead of the entertainment of the passengers.
There were serious problems, all of which adversely impacted the quality of service and food on-board. First, there was a major outbreak of respiratory ailments, followed by an outbreak of the dreaded noroviris. Thus, Food & Beverage Dept was forced to eliminate self-service in the Oceanview Cafe. Passengers were handed their eating utensils; normal condiments (salt & pepper) were no longer seen; and crew did their very best to control the outbreaks. It was clear that crew were over-stretched trying to sterilize all surfaces while they were being used.
The weather did not help. After beautiful skies in the Aegean Sea and Istanbul, we suffered across the Black Sea, again as best that could be done by crew. The itinerary was changed to try to avoid a major storm. In Odessa, all we got was showers and cold. Sevastopol was fine, if a bit cooler than expected. At Yalta, a couple of tenders were able to reach port, before the port master told the ship's captain to cease tender operations because the sea was too rough. Thus, we were forced to wait around until the passengers who were able to get off returned late in the afternoon. Again, crew did their best in an ugly situation, and again, lunch meals were difficult. Substitute entertainment did the best possible, but it just wasn't fun. Due to the weather, external pools were closed.
"Solsticization" from my perspective is solely a way to generate more income. It's real world impact: on formal nights we weren't able to use the main dining room; there was little variety in the Oceanview Cafe; and "Bistro on Five was similarly limited. Specialty restaurants were crowded with formal night lovers.
A positive note: "anytime dining" works!! It is a choice if you prefer options. In addition, it was a relief to the normal over-burdened eating experiences on the Black Sea.
"Enrichment" has been better on almost every cruise; port previews left something to be desired. Very little beyond the Greek ports and Istanbul.
In prior cruises, the daily calendar of activities listed all events, including religious services, AA, LGB, etc. This is no longer done; it only lists "officially sponsored" activities. Several friends, all "elite level" experienced travelers, missed events because they were only listed at Guest Relations. It was an unexpected "hiccup" when we were expecting notice of group meetings.
Prior boarding for concierge and "elite" level worked very well.