Overall, I’m impressed with Celebrity. It seems a big step up from the mid-level lines like Royal Caribbean and NCL, though I’m sure it doesn’t compare with the super-premium lines such as Seaborne that get raves from our friends. I have only been on one other Celebrity cruise, a smaller ship, and that was about 10 years ago.
Our typical day on this cruise went something like this: Up at 7:30 or 8, have breakfast delivered to our stateroom veranda, then off to see the port of call unless it’s a day at sea, back in time for a salad for lunch, I work out for about 90 minutes in the gym, a cocktail or two in the quiet Passport Bar while reading a Faye Kellerman mystery, perhaps a short nap before dinner, pre-dinner drinks at the Martini Bar (my favorite bar, and I settled on the Bombay Sapphire gimlet, while my wife far preferred the Molecular Bar), dinner at 7:30 or 8:30 in either the main dining room or one of the specialty restaurants maybe part of a show, perhaps a stop at the specialty coffee shop and nightcaps at the Martini Bar or Molecular Bar before bed.
I was surprised by the diversity of the passengers on this cruise, especially in age and in country of origin. I had expected an older crowd, due to the fact that this is a somewhat longer cruise, and had expected mostly U.S. citizens. In fact, though, the passengers ranged from a few families with young kids to a lot of 30-, 40- and 50-somethings, plus plenty of older cruisers. I'm sure there were some first-timers on board, but we never met a single one. Most of the people we met had been on 10 or 15 cruises, and some were up in the high double digits. There were many Celebrity fans, with elite Captain's Club status, but also many who had cruised repeatedly with Holland-America, NCL, RC, Princess and others. Carnival was universally disparaged ("we'll never do that again"). One of our dinner companions said she would return to Princess because "their ships have washers and dryers on every deck."
Although Americans outnumbered others on this cruise, it was not by much. There were over 300 Brits on board, a large number of Canadians (especially French-Canadians), and many Germans, Latin Americans, some Australians and a surprising number of Russians and Eastern Europeans. All in all a more cosmopolitan and well-traveled. I would say the majority of passengers were middle-class, with a sprinkling of obviously well-to-do retirees. With a few exceptions, passengers did dress "smart casual" on most nights, with most men wearing dark suits on the two formal nights. Perhaps 10% wore dinner jackets or tuxedos.
The food on board, as many have said, is generally quite good on Celebrity, though not of gourmet quality. We had dinner (Select Seating -- anytime) in the main Silhouette dining room about half the time, usually choosing to share a table. The rest of the time we had dinner had the specialty restaurants. The Tuscan Grill (Italian-steakhouse) we thought was quite good, as was Murano. We were not very impressed the two times we ate at the Asian fusion restaurant and would not go back there.
The buffet breakfast and lunch at the Oceanview was always excellent, but at peak times it was EXTREMELY crowded, with scores of guests with their plates wandering around trying to find a seat. Celebrity either needs to expand this venue, or change the system. Many groups had one person hold three or four seats and then went to get their food, or else sat for a long time after the meal, making it difficult for other guests to find a seat. On a couple of occasions, we had to take our lunches back to our stateroom.
At some popular bars, such as the Martini Bar, there was a wait for drinks, but other bars, such as Michael's, were almost always deserted. The Molecular Bar, which my wife loved, needs better branding and a higher profile location.
Entertainment? I didn't care for most of it. The shows had people with talent, but the production values were low. There was an excellent classical trio that we enjoyed hearing play many times. The Sin City comedy show I personally thought was not at all funny.
I do want to compliment Celebrity and its Equinox designers. We rarely had more than a moment's wait for elevators, and all the public areas were attractive and well-maintained. The Celebrity art collection is a wonderful idea.