This was my fifth celebrity cruise to the Caribbean. I have also sailed on the QE2 transatlantic. As we have done in the past, we sailed with a family in five cabins, people ranging from their mid-twenties to early 60s. We sailed on Dec. 28 from Ft. Lauderdale to Kew West and Cozumel, returning on Jan. 2.
Much of what we have come to expect from Celebrity was there. The ship was in excellent condition, service in the state rooms and at meals was impeccable, and the food was sumptuous and of good quality. The price, however, was very high (New Year’s Eve), and we all wondered what Celebrity would do to step it up for the premium price. In fact, we got less than we have on cruises costing one-third the price. For example, the embarkation for those who arrived at peak time (around 2:00 pm) was a disaster. The lines were marshalled by old men who seemed checked out and indifferent. One line would move at twice the speed of another, and when I mentioned this, I got a sarcastic, snide remark from a guy who looked like a retired NYPD. Once aboard, there were none of the usual welcome ceremonies of a glass of champagne and music.
On one of the sea days, we attended the Captain’s Club reception, which in our experience has always been a tasteful, elegant afternoon reception with a generous buffet and classical music. This time there was no buffet. Instead they were passing around nasty little plastic cups of three different bite-sized morsels. The music was a string trio. But the played over a loud, raucous sound track.
The entertainment at that reception was typical of the whole cruise. The stage shows had zero live music. Everything was pre-recorded tracks. Karaoke cruising at its finest! There was no a cappella group. No classical guitarist. But there was a crazed DJ who held forth every night in the grand foyer blasting his music mixes over three floors. (He was also the focus of the New Year’s Eve celebration on deck, which was fine there, and only there.)
The cruise director crossed the line between the usual exaggeration and camp into the realm of the crass and silly. We were repeatedly ordered to shout louder and clap longer, all for really second rate acts, most of whom were lip-syncing.