We have been on 20 Carnival cruises, 1 RCI and this is by far one of the best experiences so far. We decided to drive and leave our car at the cruise terminal and not do the park-n-ride places. We are glad we did because there were some people that had to wait over an hour because the van was always full. So, embarkation was okay... The people at the terminal were not the most pleasant. They seemed to check our passport and boarding documents at every checkpoint there was. No one was nice, didn't speak to you at all. So that was not a good first impression. We stood in a long line to check in, not a problem but the lady at the counter wasn't very nice either. So I wasn't impressed so far and thought we would be in for a long journey. But we got all of our cards and were sent directly to the ship. Was I impressed when there was a guy standing at the entrance with a platter of champagne glasses. Yes, sir, I will be happy to take one of those. There was a guy right there taking reservations for the specialty restaurants and we were able to book the times we wanted right away.
The ship was simply amazing. It really didn't feel like we were on a ship but in a European hotel. We went to our room, even though we weren't supposed to, but we just HAD to drop off our carry-on luggage. I couldn't bare to lug that stuff around with me everywhere. We did get stopped by someone but after I explained what we were doing they were fine with that.
So we aren't big buffet people so we ate at the Bistro on 5 restaurant. It was quite a treat and well worth the $5 extra cover charge. The crepes were outstanding and we were so full that my husband and I split the dessert crepe and we were glad we did. After lunch we were off to explore the ship. We went to the bar that was outside the guest relations area and met Branko. He was very nice and reminded me of the tall lanky chef from Ratatouille. We had the premium drink package so the sky was the limit for us. We will only get this from now on. We were able to drink more water this cruise too since that was included. I wish we had gotten more coffee but we were drinking too much to do that. We did go once to the Cafe and it was wonderful. My only complaint about the bars were there weren't any bar waiters. If you wanted a drink you had to go to the bar to get it. It is kinda discouraging when you are sitting comfortable in an area and you have to get up to get your own drink, let alone have to make sure your stuff doesn't get taken.
Our room was perfect 9144. We have never booked an inside room but since Celebrity was a little more pricey for us compared to Carnival we decided we aren't in our rooms that much let's just go for an Inside. No complaints here. We brought an alarm clock with us so that we wouldn't oversleep. We have had balconies before but we would always end up beside someone that is noisy on their balcony or would make noises that would irritate me and we would always end up going back in our room. So what is the point of spending the extra money when we could just go on deck in a private location where no one is around you. Our room stewards were very good. I did have a question because the first night we had a dirty glass and it was not removed. We went to the cruisecritic meet and greet and the head of housekeeping was there. I asked him the simple question of if we did something wrong and he immediately wrote our cabin number and addressed it right there. I was kind of embarrassed. He said the glass had to be empty and I don't think it was. Later in the cruise, I did mention this to our room stewards and they seemed okay with it. Everything was so classy in the room. Loved the shower doors and not the curtain. I did however fall in the bathroom so watch out for the metal casing on the shower. I'm glad I have a big butt or else I would have broken a hip or something.
The food was by far fantastic. Like I mentioned before I'm not a buffet person because I have a tendency to get everything in sight and then not eat any of it. And I hate long lines and impatient people. Well I have to say that I did not mind this buffet at all. There were so many healthy options. It was also nice to see the head chef watching to make sure everything was going good. There were never long lines because everything was centrally located and multiple spots for the same thing. We didn't mind having breakfast or lunch here at all. I loved that as soon as you entered they had hand sanitizer people ready to squirt you. We ate at all of the specialty restaurants. I have to say I did not like how close the tables were. I hated having to hear people's conversations or someone leaning over to me asking what I was eating. The Lawn Club grill was okay. I would not do it again. My husband enjoyed tossing up the dough in the air for our flat bread. The steak was good but not great. And it was way too windy up there and a little chilly. We did this on the first night for my husband's birthday. No one ever acknowledged it was his birthday which was a little disappointing considering we completed this information when we booked. But oh well, I told him to wear his birthday boy pin but he forgot it. The Murano restaurant was by far the best meal I have had in a long time. I got the lobster that they cook table side and it is to die for. My husband got the lamb chops and he said they were good but he would get the lobster next time. The service was outstanding and we even left extra tip. The tables here weren't close together either. The Tuscan Grill was okay but once again, didn't like that they crowd people right beside you. Food was good but nothing to jump up and down about. Service was very good as well. The Qsine restaurant was not bad either. Service outstanding. We loved the sushi that was coated in Doritos. Great idea. I think our dining experiences got ruined by the Murano because nothing could have reached that high standard. We really could have eaten there every night. The dining room was not bad. Once again, didn't like the tables right on top of each other. One of the maitre'ds was fabulous and remembered our name each time. We only ate in the dining room on formal nights and a couple of lunches. Food was not bad at all. Everything had so much great flavor.
Bars - We visited every bar on the ship except the one beside the burger grill. The people at the Sunset bar weren't bad but weren't great either. The ensemble bar was nice to hang out at since it was right between the specialty restaurants and seemed to be away from everything. The martini bar was not bad. There seemed to be a little tension between some of the waiters there. I didn't think this was professional at all. I did see a lot of bickering that I thought as a guest I should not have seen. I also saw this in the jewelry shop. But I've noticed on other reviews people were complaining about the music of the martini bar. It really wasn't that bad and didn't last long. It was a typical Miami club and the DJ did an outstanding job. The Molecular bar was okay. We went there once and wasn't thrilled about the drinks. The bar waiter was very nice and talked to us which was really nice. I think our favorite bar was Michael's Club. We loved Ramona. We saw her on the first day and she looked really frazzled because there were so many people in the bar because of football but after that she was very nice. We went there probably every night the second half of the trip. I wish we had gone there every night.
Activities and staff - They had Zumba twice a day on port days and once when we were in San Juan. It was really awesome. I just hated that it was out by the pool because so many people were videoing us. That is kind of annoying. I don't want to be a part of anyone's memories at home. I'm glad I'm not in the witness protection program. The activities were okay and the staff was okay as well. The cruise director wasn't too bad. He was kind of funny. He did bring a smile to my face. All the other staff were so nice and always out and about. I met the food and beverage man and he was really nice and approachable. The shows were not bad. I didn't care for the magic act and we sat up front so I could see what he was doing. That was disappointing and not very magical for me. The production shows weren't bad and the singers were really good.
Getting off the ship was a breeze for us each time we got off board. We didn't have any excursions so we were pretty leisure about everything. St Thomas and St Marten we just got off for a little while and got back on the ship since we had already been there a lot. We loved having an empty ship and were able to utilize the solarium finally. Debarkation was also fantastic. We decided to take our bags off ourselves and were glad we did that because it was a breeze to get off and through customs.
We utilized the Hideaway which was really nice and quiet until a group of 6 people decided to sit there and talk very loudly. The library was perfect for some good piece and quiet. There is a little lawn on the top deck that was good and away from everything.
Overall, we are very pleased by our first cruise on Celebrity and we have already booked our cruise in September to the Mediterranean.
Sorry for a long post but I'm detailed. :)