After cruising 17 times with Royal Caribbean, we decided to try Celebrity. Our research found several "west coast" offerings, which would be so convenient, as we live in Las Vegas; and east coast departures often require preceding-day travel. The 11-Nights Wine Cruise appeared terrific! Celebrity Century is older, smaller, and less "flashy" than the newer ships . In addition, this itinerary included ports such as Astoria, OR and Monterey, CA that we would not necessarily visit otherwise. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, this cruise proved to be the worst of our 18 experiences.
Positives first: Because we normally book junior suits on RCCL, we accepted the fact that our C2 cabin (1025) would be much smaller. However, the cabin was neat, had adequate storage, was very well maintained, and supplied plenty of high-pressured hot water. Our stateroom attendant was excellent, as were the amenities. Secondly, Celebrity is known, supposedly, for a higher-quality dining menu. We found the dinner meals to be different from those on RCCL; but in terms of higher-quality, we saw no difference. However, as compensation, the dining room is beautifully appointed, and our waiter was second to none.
From there, everything was downhill. Cabin 1025 is partially situated just beneath a storage area/cooler for the poolside bar. We were awakened between midnight and 12:30 AM the first two nights by heavy pounding, rolling, and scraping noises from above, which lasted about a half-hour. On the third night, we reported the problem to the concierge, who immediately sent an officer to our cabin. We explained the situation, and all was rectified. The next afternoon we found a bottle of wine in our cabin. On the fifth night, we experienced rougher than normal seas. Something fell from a shelf in that area above us and rolled back and forth for some time. Reluctantly, we just dealt with it. "Morning announcements" were frequently made between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM--obviously, we missed most of them!
What a disappointment the buffet turned out to be! For starters, there was no coffee for five of the mornings. Most mornings had no mugs--paper cups had to be used. This was most startling, considering the fact that patrons were encouraged to use trays since plates were considered too hot to handle. What's hotter than coffee/tea in paper cups! On two occasions, I had to argue with personnel about carrying my own plate without a tray. On a third occasion, I was not handed my bacon and eggs without a tray. During most of the lunches we had on board, only one of the four ice machines dispensed any ice. The line for ice cream was often 15 to 20 people long, and the line for pizza was most baffling. Despite line length, fresh pizza was not placed into the oven until the last baked piece was distributed. This, I learned, after a really bazaar experience: One afternoon, I asked a chicken-caesar salad. There was no romaine lettuce. A request had been sent to the chef. While I waited, the buffet director strolled by and asked what the problem was. After talking to the salad maker, the director called someone on his cell phone. Ten minutes later, no lettuce and I walked away and went poolside to get a hot dog. There were six people ahead of me in that line when I heard the cook tell the first person in line that her hot dog/hamburger would be another 5 minutes or so. As such, I went back into the buffet for some pizza. The specialty of the day was pepperoni, and there were three people ahead of me, and no pizza under the warming lights. A pizza was shortly pulled from the oven and cut into six small pieces, two each to the three individuals ahead of me. At that point that I became number one in line, and a fresh pizza was put into the oven. Not wanting to wait any longer, I went back to the chicken-caesar preparer only to learn that he was still waiting for the romaine. He apologized, and after several minutes picked out romaine from the larger bowl of mixed greens and made my salad the best he could. However, the plat de résistance was one morning when the buffet had no cups, plates, bowls, flatware. Employees just stood around and said, "we have no...."
Speaking of employees, at no time did any of the cruise staff smile and ask if we were enjoying our cruise--something unheard of on RCCL. The cruise director was horrendous, and was only most enthusiastic about promoting his past working experiences with the late Steve Irwin. Activities were minimal during the day, and nearly nonexistent in the evening. We frequented the "Martini Bar" after the show each night. Our server from Ukraine--her first cruise--was an absolute charm! She had more enthusiasm and pleasantries than all the other staff combined. However, the bartender was more concerned with his imitation of Tom Cruise juggling unopened liquor bottles--dropping and breaking three of them in our presence alone--than he was doing his job. Each evening, we had to request the piped-in music to be toned down because we couldn't hear one another. As "Elite" level members, we attended the predinner cocktail event the first two evenings. The lounge was so short staffed that we had to obtain our own drinks from the bar. Apart from that, we were unaware of any other "special events" for "Elite" members.
Guest entertainment was very good, with the exception of a trite magician; but the production numbers were mediocre.
Embarkation was smooth. Leaving/reentering the ship at the various ports was often slow and problematic. Metal detectors were much too sensitive, going off for no reason and holding up the lines. In Astoria, while reboarding, 217 (I stopped counting) stood in the misty rain for almost a half-hour waiting for cruise personnel to come down the gangway assisting an individual in a wheelchair. We stood, despite the fact that a second gangway was set up and operational; but personnel were shorthanded and believed the second gangway to be too steep. Disembarkation was crazy! We requested 8:00 AM departure, but received 8:30 tags. Although the ship was to be cleared by 10:00 AM, cabins had to be vacated by 8:00 AM. We found little, if any, breakfast and insufficient seating capacity in the assigned lounges.
In summation, on our last RCCL cruise, we booked an Alaskan cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. Having convinced friends of ours who have never cruised before to join us, we made reservations for them the second night about the Century. Needless to say, when we got home, we cancelled both reservations and booked an Alaskan cruise on Princess.