They claimed on board that Celebrity cruises were voted the best premium cruise line of the year. It's hard to see why based on this recent cruise. But it was good, a good ship and a good cruise. The itinery for a Christmas and new year cruise was interesting enough starting in hong kong and finishing in Singapore via three ports in Vietnam.and supposedly Bangkok. Checkin was very easy and efficient and everybody received a glass of champagne on boarding. Nice touch.The ship is ten years old but still presents as a modern style cruise ship. External condition was very good and well maintained. Inside was also in good condition if somewhat plain decor.
We had an Aqua class cabin on deck 11 which was at the aft end on the upper most deck. Cabin was well prepared and pretty standard layout and size for a balcony stateroom. Only thing to criticize was the small balcony all these cabin balconies are about half a meter narrower than your usual balcony. This meant it was a squeeze to move around with a table and two chairs. Cabin was well fitted out including a pair of binoculars and all equipment worked except the thermostatic ac which despite being reported was never able to comfortably control the cabin temp. Too cold or too hot.
Dining was good and we had excellent and friendly service at our table. The menu was always good but never great. They skimped on the seafood especially shellfish which were minuscule and rare. Steak dishes were ok but nothing to write home about. We were entitled to dine in the Blue restaurant due to our Aqua class booking although it was more fancy the food was the same. There was five speciality restaurants which cost up to US $30 per person but we did not use. There was excellent wine selection and knowledgable wine waiters. There was no hustling from the drinks waiters any where on the ship to buy more drinks which is refreshing in fact there was little pressure to make purchases apart from acceptable promotion. Drinks were expensive over us$7 for a beer $10 for a glass of wine.
The formal show entertainment was superb the cruise director friendly and he struck just the right balance. The guest entertainers were all very good and a Russian acrobatic couple were exceptional. So full marks there. Pool facilities were good with three pools available, the hot indoor pool, outside pool at a comfortable temp and a well positioned family pool. There were few other facilities available. There was one downside in that the designated smoking area was supposed to be at three areas along the port side two in the pool area near the kids pool and table tennis area. Inevitably the smokers extended to well outside of these designated areas and no control was applied by the pool staff. This was a real failing by the vessel management and was frequently commented on by other passengers. The bars around the vessel were average but found the music provided to be average to poor and hardly played for long including around the pool.
There were 340 kids on board and our granddaughter really enjoyed the kids club which was very well run by a very professional staff. Full marks here. Santa arrived on schedule and all kids received a present. We took the Halong bay tour which cost US$46 ($18 if you booked ashore) the tour was somewhat diss appointing and certainly didn't show off the area to its full potential. We were offered a drink on the tour boat and then found we had to pay for it on getting off the boat.
A feature of this cruise was that in all the ports overnight stops were planned which certainly made for a relaxing experience as there was no need to rush. Due to bad weather locally we had to bypass Da Nang so spent the extra day/night in Saigon. In both Saigon and bangkok the vessel docked at remote industrial ports which required long expensive coach trips to visit those cities. Eg our Saigon trip took over two hours to get there and three hours to get back. There were many on board who were happy to endure this so each to there own. A number of passengers stayed overnight in those cities. So it was quiet and relaxed on board and all services were maintained. Our departure in Singapore was unhurried and did not leave the vessel until 9.30am which is a nice change as past experience is they want you gone ASAP usually by 7.30am. Before departure they did not provide an itemized account of on board expenditure so at this time I have no idea of what I spent or more importantly what I was charged. This is very poor form and will be contacting them for an explanation. So a good cruise yes a great cruise no.