I should preface this letter by noting that our party consisted of three very experienced cruisers, and one novice recreational cruiser, who happens to be a retired USN Commander. I and my partner typically cruise about six times a year, a few on Norwegian, mostly on Carnival. We are members of both Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. My experience with Royal Caribbean is limited to two prior cruises within the past two years, one on the Monarch of the Seas, and one on the Independence of the Seas. The experiences while on the Monarch were adequate, service, facilities, and such, while our experiences on the Independence were nothing short of spectacular. I might add that my experiences with Carnival and Norwegian also vary from good to spectacular, generally leaning toward the latter. Carnival has always been very consistently great.
Now we come to this Celebrity cruise, which was also a birthday present for an individual in our party. We arrived early, as we typically do, around 11:30am for a 5:00pm departure. We had to wait for about a half an hour, no problem, before we were asked to get in line to board. The line was VERY slow, and took at least another 30 to 40 minutes while we wound our way onto the ship. While we finally approached the gangway there was a VERY strong smell of some type of petroleum based solvent. Well, probably routine maintenance or touching up the paint. No problem at all. After we got past the first check point, we approached the open doors about 25 meters down the outer walkway of the ship. The smell was almost overwhelming, and one of us slipped on a puddle of something. The puddle was caused by one of the lifeboats which are stored above the walkway. There was a rag stuffed behind the propeller which was so completely saturated and was dripping of solvent. There were no cones or warnings of any kind, we were lucky it did not drip on our clothes. I was very surprised such a safety hazard was not addressed, and I brought it to the attention of a member of the welcoming crew who barely acknowledged my observation. (Not my problem)...
Well great!!! We are on board!!! Time to relax with a cocktail!!!! We proceeded to the pool bar where a young bartender was presiding. I decided to have a bushwhacker, a drink prominently offered on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean. He quickly stated I donâ€™t know what that was and walked away. I was sure he was busy setting up his bar, so I pulled up the recipe in my phone and asked him on his next pass by all of us if he could make this cocktail. He looked and said NO...he was only allowed to make drinks which were found in his drink menu book. OK, I was surprised by his answer and attitude, but we just got on the ship and I was going to make the most of it. So I asked if I could pick out a frozen drink from what he was allowed to make from the menu book. "I don't have one", was his answer and he walked away again. I should also note that one of my fellow cruisers ordered a Bud Light, which was served in a glass bottle. I noted that it appeared all their beer was served in glass bottles the length of the cruise, this being around the pool bar. Later, on Coco Cay, the Bahaman Police Patrol noted the glass bottles, and made everyone pour their beers into plastic glasses.
Annoyed, but still determined to have a good time, I asked him if he could make a rum runner. "Of course" he snapped back. My frozen rum runner, no he didn't ask if I wanted it frozen, consisted of about 1/2 a shot of rum, and a 1/4 shot of raspberry mix. My frozen concoction was virtually clear, and tasted awful. The other cruisers in my party had already walked away from this bar without ordering anything, and when I caught up with them they asked me what was in my glass. I told them it was a Celebrity rum runner....they thought I made it up. Still determined to have a good time I set this "drink" down, and we proceeded to the rear of the ship where another bar was VERY busy. No problem, but the pina colada's were so weak we went back to the bar and ordered shots of rum straight up to add to our drinks at the table. Trust me, we are not kids, I am a senior. I ordered another simpler drink with a lime, and was told they had run out at the bar, but sent someone to get more. No problem. But the waiter came back and told the bartender the entire ship had no lemons or limes, but would have some the next day. Really???
The lines for the food that afternoon were the longest and slowest I have ever encountered on a cruise ship. The food looked good, but it wasn't worth standing in line for 30 minutes or more to me. After a few hours we started to explore the ship and found the Martini Bar. Incredibly friendly, professional bartender...I felt I was on another ship. The ice on top of the bar was not turned on, no one knew why, but the drinks and attitude of the bartender really helped change our attitudes that perhaps we had made a mistake booking on Celebrity.
After watching us leaving the port and after a short nap, I walked by the dining room to discover another VERY long line to get in. I did have anytime dining but once again, I did not want to wait in line for a long time. Well, no problem. So I went back to the room and ordered room service. I did not leave my room that night, and the food never came. At the time, I did not know that my two fellow passengers in the next cabin also had the same experience at the dining room, went back to the room and also ordered room service. Their food was also never delivered.
The next day we arrived in Nassau. On the television in the room which worked intermittently, as did the one in my friend's cabin, I was going to order some coffee and a muffin. I thought I might have better luck using the TV instead of the telephone. When the screen finally came on for room service...NO room service until after 10; 30am.
We all left the ship and ate lunch in Nassau. We arrived back on the ship around 1:30pm and encountered another VERY long line to get back on the ship. When I finally got up to the x-ray scanner, I put my packages on the belt. The woman who was watching the screen stopped the belt and went to talk with a fellow crew member. They were laughing and joking about something, and after several minutes the woman who was using the body scanner yelled out "X=Ray, we need you over here!Â The x-ray woman sighed loudly, walked back over, turned on the belt and resumed her duties. This occurred while there was a VERY long line behind me leading well off the ship. I said something like wow to the scanner woman; she just shook her head and said 'yeh".
My friends smoke cigarettes and we walked over to the smoking section next to the pool bar. We were surprised that the ashtrays had not been touched since the early morning, were completely full, and the tables were filthy. We asked for a wet rag from our favorite bartender to clean the table, he complied with no spoken reply.
We went exploring the ship, and discovered the large bar club area at the front of the ship. Like the martini bar, the bartender and the waiters were just great...friendly and professional. After another nap, lol, we all were getting ready for dinner. I knew it was formal night, but after speaking with several people on the phone with Celebrity before we left, we decided to leave our formalwear at home for such a short trip. The other members in our party were still napping, and I decided to go to dinner early by myself. I dressed in dress black jeans with a long sleeve shirt, but no tie. When we got up to the podium in the dining room, I was told to sit with six other people who were already half way through their dinner. They had a horrified look, as the waiter pulled out my chair. I told them I was not about to interrupt their dinner and told the waiter this was not acceptable. We went back to the podium where I was told my clothes were not acceptable. I asked why they were acceptable 2 minutes earlier. A manger was called and he took me through the entire dining room, up the stairs, to ANOTHER line where there was a manager sitting at a desk. I asked what this line was for and he told me we needed to wait for this manager to reassign my seating for the evening. By the way the people waiting in this line were definitely not pleased either. I told the manager who walked me through to forget the whole thing. He suggested I go through the buffet line if I wanted to eat dinner.
I went to the martini bar, had a drink, went to the large bar forward, had another drink, calmer by now, and went back to the cabin. I didn't order room service, why bother?
The next day we were blessed with perfect weather at Coco Cay. We arrived on the island about 11:00am, and settled down on the beach. A drink sounded good about an hour later, and discovered they had forgotten to bring vodka to the island. They had also forgotten to bring Bud Light beer. I couldn't make this up. They said they would go back to the ship and get the beer and the vodka, but it would take a little while. The vodka and beer appeared around 1; 30pm as promised and the waiters and bartenders were very nice and friendly. We continued to enjoy the water and the sun, and decided we would get something to eat around 2; 30pm. Nope. No food. All gone and put away.
During the day we had met some other people from Europe and had an outstanding time. Having spent the month of November in Europe on an extensive river cruise, we had much to talk about and we had such a good time we all decided to meet for dinner. We met at the smoking area next to the pool bar, yes; it was still filthy, ashtrays full. We made our way to the dining room; they led us to a lovely table large enough for our party. Everyone was sitting down when the waitress informed me I would have to leave. I was wearing dress shorts and a polo shirt. Everyone wanted to walk out, but I convinced them to stay and enjoy their dinner. I went back to the martini bar, and met my friends at the bar forward.
They told me dinner was just okay, I don't know if that was to make me feel better, lol, we had several drinks and went back to our cabins. I am not much of a gambler, but one member of my group is, and he spent virtually no money on the ship. No smoking in the casino? That was a first. They also told him he could not use his E cigarette. This was a first on any cruise ship we have ever been on.It is extremely unlikely I will ever sail with Celebrity again. I sincerely hope my cruise from Panama next month on RCL will not be a similar experience.