After having sailed almost exclusively on HAL (with a few on NCL and RCI), we decided to "expand our options” and try a cruise on Celebrity. We chose the Century for 2 reasons:
• Itinerary we enjoy Hawaii and stay there often. While our favorite is the Big Island (Waikoloa Resort area), we have stayed on all of the major islands. When cruising we enjoy sea days, and this cruise had 10.
• Ship Size we are not a fan of large ships, so the Century, with approx. 1875 passengers, was right in our preference zone (while a smaller ship, similar in passenger size to HAL’s Vista Class).
Overall General Impression
The Century is an older ship (18 years old, launched in 1995). There have been a number of previous reviews that spoke of a ''"tired and old” appearance of the ship. We did not think that this was the case. While the ship is older, it is well maintained and cared for. The only things that somewhat stood out was the need for an exterior painting (rust stains visible on the white hull), and the tenders appear to be very worn. While I am sure that the tenders continue to meet all safety standards, they definitely show their age. For example the radar sending unit, which is mounted on a fold away aluminum tripod on the tenders, was duct taped to the deck of one tender, as one of the legs had eroded away, obviously some time ago.
Given the relatively small number of passengers, the ship still had a ''"crowded” feel to us in a number of the public areas. The only other ship with the approximate similar size where we also noted a ''"crowded” feel was the Norwegian Sun.
This was most likely due to the ship’s layout. The layout seemed strange in a number of areas, particularly in the lower public decks in the aft section by the dining room (decks 5 & 6), and the Rendezvous Square Lounge. Also, the number and location of the public restrooms was strange. Often passengers had to go up or down a deck to find a restroom. They were also not located where there were normal ''"congregation points”, such as exiting the main dining room, theater, and casino.
Officers and Crew
The Century Captain (Nikolas Christodoulakis), as well as Hotel Director (Daniel Simon) were quite visible and engaging with the passengers and crew throughout the cruise. Both would often stop and talk to passengers during their numerous walks around the ship. We commented to each other that we have never seen a more engaging and genuinely friendly Captain in our many previous cruises.
With the remainder of the ship’s crew, we noted the entire spectrum in the way of service ''" from great to terrible. Our cabin steward, waiter, and assistant waiter, were absolutely the best! They were friendly, extremely efficient and went out of their way to make our cruise experience enjoyable.
On the other end of the spectrum there were a number of bar tenders, servers and our Butler (more on our Butler later). With a few of the bar servers we noted that as they discovered that we had a premium drink package, they became ''"less than attentive” when we sat down at a table, or to offer to refill our empty glasses. These same servers were quite attentive to those who obviously did not have a drink package (having to sign for all drinks).
This was not all of the servers, but there were a few (especially in the aft deck lounge). As an example, on our first day I asked the bar tender there for a Dark and Stormy, he said "never heard of it”. I told him it was dark rum and ginger beer, on ice, in a pilsner glass. His response was ''"we have no ginger beer”. Fortunately, the bar manager (a gentleman from Jamaica, where the drink is from) overheard my request and the bar tender’s response and said ''"Of course we can make a Dark and Stormy, and yes, we have ginger beer”. He immediately went to a storage area nearby and brought back a 6 pack of Gosling’s ginger beer. He then proceeded to go behind the bar and show the bartender how to make the drink. The bar tender did not seem too happy about it, and any time after that when we went to that bar we were greeted with a scowl.
Back on the positive side, the service at the Cova Café was wonderful. All the staff was quite friendly and attentive, and the coffees were excellent. We made a point of coming here at least twice a day. This was also a favorite spot for the Captain and Hotel Director, as we ran into them there almost every day.
We were in a Sky Suite on the Century. On our previous HAL cruises we sailed in a Neptune Suite (Deluxe Verandah Suite) and on NCL in an Owner’s Suite, so our comparison of the Century is based on this.
In comparing the size of the suites, the Sky Suite on the Century felt about half the size of the suites on both HAL and NCL. The bed is located right next to the wall and leaves very little room for entry and egress (approx. 18 inches). There is a small love seat, a small table and a chair.
There was only one electrical outlet for the entire cabin! We had to purchase a power strip in our first port to be able to charge computer, phones, etc. On a positive note there are a large number of drawers in the various cabinets for storage, much more than in a HAL suite.
The bathroom was very small for a suite, which leads me to believe that bathrooms in the remaining cabins must be truly tiny. The configuration was a single sink and a tub/shower combination. The door to the bathroom could only be opened part way as the toilet was in the way. There were NO electrical outlets in the bathroom.
The ventilation and air conditioning did not function efficiently. The suite was quite often "stuffy”, and we noticed a loud whistling noise coming from the vent near the door to the cabin. This was reported to our Butler who said ''"Oh yes, that is very loud. I will call engineering.” Nothing was done by the next day, so we reported it to Guest Services. They checked and said it had not been previously reported. Someone from engineering came to our suite a short time later and changed a VERY dirty filter. The noise was lessened, but not eliminated, and the cabin remained somewhat stuffy.
On a number of days there was also a strong sewer odor in the hall outside our suite as well as in the suite itself. While this odor did not persist throughout the day, it was noticeable more than once.
Celebrity provides a Butler for their suite guests. HAL does not have butlers, but does have a dedicated lounge with Concierges for their suite guests, and NCL also provides a Butler.
Unfortunately, this was our worst experience with a Butler/Concierge in all of our sailings. Our requests for our butler/concierge have always been simple. Generally the requests involve booking shore excursions, specialty restaurant reservations, the daily snack/tea service, and an occasional meal on our veranda.
On the first day of the cruise, our butler came to the cabin and introduced himself. He was VERY soft spoken and we had to ask him to repeat himself after almost everything he said. We made no immediate requests of him at this first meeting but did tell him, in general, they kind of requests we would typically have during the cruise. We did ask him if he would find out when the sign up for the ship’s ''"Behind the Scenes Tour” would be. He said no, we should ask ourselves at the shore excursion desk. I asked, ''"Do you make shore excursion reservations?” He said ''"Yes, but I am new to Celebrity, and don’t know what that is.” No offer to find out, just a ''"do that yourself” response. I also asked if Celebrity offered a "luggage valet” service in San Diego. He again said he never heard of the program and we should check with Customer Relations. At this point we felt he was not very well trained.
Over the remaining 15 days, he would come to the door several times a day and knock very softly; even though the suite door had a doorbell (he never rang the doorbell). My wife and I said to each other ''"do you hear something” and before we could react he would open the door and come in. Several times we were in the process of dressing/changing clothes. As a result whenever we were in the room we would post the do not disturb sign on the door. The next day when he noticed the sign on the door, he phoned and said ''"I saw the sign on the door and wanted to know if you needed anything”. We told him NO, if we need anything we will call YOU.
Food is quite subjective. Given that, our subjective opinion was that the food was somewhat below average, on the whole. As an example, steak was served on several of the 15 evenings. We dined at a table for 8 and all of our table mates agreed that the steaks were a lower quality than a cheap supermarket steak. The New York strip was tough and tasteless, and the Rib Eye steak was no more than ½ inch thick! Our waiter genuinely seemed embarrassed, and did NOT recommend any of the steaks thereafter. On the other hand, the Prime Rib (served 3 times) was excellent, as was the Lobster Tail. Escargot was available as one the daily choices and was quite good.
The Entre selection appeared to be somewhat limited. There was always one vegetarian selection, usually a chicken selection, then a beef, fish or lamb selection. If memory serves, during the 15 days, lamb was offered on at least 9 days.
We ate in Murano’s one evening. First let me say the restaurant manager, our waiter, and the tableside chef were wonderful! They were all very attentive, engaging and sincere in their efforts. As an example, our reservations were for 7:30pm. We arrived on time however there was no table available for us. The manager, Dimitri, asked if we would please wait for just a few minutes in the lounge outside while the diners finished their meal and a table was cleared. A few minutes later Dimitri came by with a bottle of sparkling wine and apologized once again. During our dessert, Dimitri brought us a bottle of ice wine, again complimentary. During the remainder of the cruise any time he would see us he would greet us by name and ask how everything as going.
The food itself served in Murano’s was average at best. We both had the lobster, prepared tableside. The preparation was quite impressive; however it was not as good as the lobster tail that was served in the main dining room.
As stated in the beginning, our favorite cruise line is Holland America, and that fact still remains. It was our hope that we would enjoy our experience on Celebrity, and add them to our options when looking for a cruise. While we did enjoy this cruise and the overall experience was pleasant, given the above we will most likely not choose to sail with Celebrity again.