This was my first sea cruise. I was really excited to do it because of the Black Sea destinations and the rave reviews I'd read about small ships in general and Celebrity in particular. But, after 12 days of constant, overpriced 'up-selling' of everything, and nothing in the way of creating community among the other cruisers I realize I was just on an expensive floating hotel, and not a very good one at that.
There was a lot of herding up, right from the first day. We started out in a holding pen for hours while they cleaned the ship of infection that occurred on the previous sailing. This caused the staff to obsess over cleaning for the first 10 days of the cruise. This was OK, maybe a little over zealous but I could understand their concern. But the daily herding in the theatre each morning in advance of the sightseeing departures was wearing.
The really big frustration was the complete lack of any activities designed to help the other cruisers to come together. I concluded that they really didn't want to do that because they make a lot more in extras when the keep people isolated from one another. From start to finish it was 'every man for himself'. From the jockeying for a table at breakfast to the dispirited 'parties' at the end of the day, people kept pretty strictly to their original groups. There is so much good research out there in the travel industry about how to create community that I just can't believe this isn't a conscious management strategy. If they is no facilitating interaction, then it's much easier to sell the overpriced shore excursions and transfers. Exhorbitant prices for wifi at .75 cents a minute, and $3 for a bottle of water that can be had for .50 cents just off the ship just adds to the feeling of being constantly fleeced. An all inclusive it ain't.