We are experienced cruisers in the Premier class of ships. Our initial experience set the tone for the trip: as soon as we crossed the ship's threshold we were being sold water/beverage packages.
Reduced Cabin & Balcony Size:
Our Concierge Class cabin with a balcony was dramatically smaller than the same class of room in comparable ships we'd sailed on. The small balcony failed to provide the relaxing outdoor private space that we'd had in other ships.
Pay for Exercise/art classes:
Want to take a exercise class? Expect to pay for it. Want to take an art class? There's a fee.
Expect to wait for an treadmill or elliptical. Or, you can pay $15 to access a private one.
Essentially the same offerings at all three meal times.
Cabin attendant was hanging out on our balcony when we walked in. He said he was looking for a friend on the other ship. No apology was offered. He addressed us by our first names, as if we were his buddy.
Breakfast Room Service:
Timely diner class food. Want something a bit better for breakfast? Pay.
Live Music Offerings:
Limited compared to other ships in class.
$60 per person at Qsine. Fun presentations for food that almost makes it. Worth $30 per person
We learned that Celebrity's goal is to target 30-somethings from the hip urban cities, such as NYC, SF, LA, Miami, etc. (We know that young NY-ers are used to small living quarters and paying a premium for everything.) Their eventual plan is to offer only specialty dining, get rid of or dramatically reduce the buffet, and charge a la carte for everything. They pay $800 million to buy a ship, and then there are operating costs, so their costs are high and a pay to play business model may be a financial necessity. Because I have experienced, and very much enjoyed, the mostly all-inclusive nature of cruising, shifting to a model wherein I must pay for so many of the individual offerings doesn't appeal to me. [I am not referring to excursions here, as I do expect to pay extra for those.]