This was one of the best cruises we have taken. The ship was generally wonderful, the crew was friendly and helpful without hovering, the food was some of the best we have had in some time, and even the fellow passengers were interesting and gracious. We liked it so much we booked another cruise in the Med and would definitely consider Celebrity for any future cruises.
Some small opportunities for improvement
The trip was not perfect, but much of that was due to circumstances beyond the crew’s influence. The weather did not cooperate until the last few days so it was not a cruise for sunning. The ship itself had no good dance space – there were dance sessions in the foyer but the space was small. I would rework the entire level 3 to have a large wooden dance area instead of an underused nightclub and ping pong tables that blocked the passageway from the theaters.
The low point was immigration in St. Thomas. The crew (and government officials) were ill prepared and it took many passengers over 2 hours to get through. The great majority of the passengers were UK citizens and it looked like maybe immigration was set up for mostly US citizens. The Captain apologized and extended our time on the island – but still, it was a mess.
But there were some things that could be changed.
Things to do at night - The evening activities were geared to the first seating of dinner – there was virtually nothing to do between 6pm and 7:30. The ship needs to consider that a large contingent has flexible dining times now and have something other than the casino for while the main dining seating are in session.
Shows - The evening entertainment ranged from OK to down-right awful. Frankly they could have skipped them all and it would have been no loss. Even the “cirque” shows were a couple people doing tricks while a bunch of others stood around looking bored. After about 10 minutes you couldn’t help think – great you can fold yourself in half, now what?
Spa - I have found that the spa on cruises has really gone downhill – especially for the prices. I did enjoy a “detox” package on board but we had a couples massage that really was not very nice and I had a manicure that was really a waste of money.
The celebrity chefs
By far the best entertainment was the culinary series – every sea day (9 on this trip) we had the best time with all the chefs – they could start their own comedy series. We even bought the cook book and they all signed it for my birthday. What a great souvenir from a great trip.
The food was excellent
By far the food on this cruise was the best we have had in many years. We tried all venues except for Blu (because we were not able to). Even the buffet was very good – with many things made fresh to order (which is saying a lot – I generally despise any buffet). We never had any trouble getting into the main dining room within minutes and met so many nice people at all three meals there. We had bought a 5-package of the specialty restaurants and ended up with an extra for booking cruise and a dinner at Bistro because it was my birthday during the cruise. Tuscan was our favorite but they all were excellent. Usually I do not find desserts worth the calories but these were not overly sweet and were just right at the end of every meal (but they did contribute to the 5 pound weight gain).
Believe it or not the only disappointment was the morning pastries – they looked so good but usually tasted stale. Mind you, that did not stop us from having 2 with our morning coffee at the Café but we were normally disappointed.
We were on the 123go package and had upgraded our package to premium so that we would have the maximum in choice (particularly for wine at dinner). We usually had 2-3 Café coffees or teas each per day, 2-4 large bottles of still water, a large bottle of Pellegrino with dinner and a couple small bottles of Perrier, a martini before dinner and then tried something new at the many bars (molecular and martini were the best), and then had wine with dinner. Most nights they opened a bottle and left it for us. Sometimes we had a glass of wine with lunch or had a Bloody Mary when we had late breakfast. A couple times I tried frozen drinks out on deck. In the end we had 5 pages of “0” and felt it was a great benefit – especially with the 123go package. Even without the package, it was worth it but we probably would not have had all those things if we were not on the package. However, we did not feel that we abused it and so can see ordering it again even if it is not during a 123go promotion.
My husband really enjoys the casino but on other ships I have to avoid it because smoke triggers migraine headaches. The prohibitions on smoking in general made the trip very enjoyable and kept us both healthy. We never had to worry about sitting of the balcony only to be overwhelmed by smoke from neighbors. The smoking areas on deck were well marked (and well used) so one could avoid them if needed. It would be hard to go back to lines that allow smoking in more areas.
Lawn club and hot glass show
I am on the fence on this one – it does seem like the space could be better used. However, the artists blowing glass were fascinating and I went for at least part of several shows. They raffled off many pieces but with baggage restrictions these days I am (almost) happy I didn’t win anything. Just behind, the lawn bowling was interesting and it was a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the pool areas. It was just a bit odd.
All the sea days
We had 8 straight sea days and then one more – in 13 days we only had 3 stops. For me we could have even skipped those – except that was a good time to enjoy a quiet and relaxing time on deck. It also might have been nicer to have one stop on the European side to break that up but the seas were rough so they may have had to skip it anyway (we heard that in previous years planned stops in the Azores had to be cancelled due to the seas). We got off for an hour in St. Martin but otherwise stayed on the ship. I do wish they had dining room lunch on those days but I understand that the crew needs a break too.
Future cruise sails
We can’t wait for the next Celebrity cruise – it would be hard to surpass this experience but we will sure try. There was a good deal onboard so we booked a Med cruise and got about $500 off the going rate (and another specialty dinner on this cruise). The consultant was very helpful without being pushy at all. (We have since changed that to the current 123go promotion). A summer Med cruise will always be more expensive than a transatlantic crossing but it is worth it. It will also be very different - very few sea days and mostly time on all the Greek Islands. But we are really looking forward to the experience as the Greek Islands is on the “bucket list” and next July is my husband’s 60th birthday.