My wife and I traveled on this voyage. We are mid-30s and have each sailed on a variety of different cruise lines. I have been on 19 cruises and my wife has done 8. We went into this cruise knowing that the Century was an older ship and would not have a lot of the amenities of some of the larger Royal or Carnival ships. We booked this sailing based on the itinerary, and knew that we would not be spending a lot of free time on board. Knowing that there have been a number of negative Century reviews lately, I actually started a thread on the Celebrity board asking why. I will provide details below, but in summary, there really isn't anything wrong with the ship itself. It was more an issue of what Celebrity has to offer for us. Keep in mind as you read this review, I am not comparing my experience to my normal life. A cruise on a ship with hardly anything to offer would still be a million times better than a week at work. Maybe that means I need to find a better job, but my point is I'm comparing my experience on this cruise to all other cruises I've been on.
We traveled to LA the day prior to embarkation for some sightseeing. I booked a 3.5 star hotel on Priceline and ended up with the Crowne Plaza LA Harbor for $75, which was a great deal. We rented a car through the LAX Thrifty for $63 which allowed us to return the car at the Long Beach location the next morning. Parking at the Crowne Plaza was free. On the morning of embarkation, I dropped the car off and ran the ten miles back to the hotel. I needed an excuse to eat multiple desserts every night ;) The hotel was perfect for us. We had one little issue at check-in. We were given two keys and a room number, but the keys didn't work. I returned to the desk and was told the keys were actually for a different room. At that point I was given the keys for a third room. Not a biggie, but given that it was 10:30 at night, it wasn't ideal. Otherwise, we had a nice room with a view of the water where we had one of the best sights - our cruise ship in port!
•Travel to embarkation Port
Since the Crowne Plaza is only about 8/10ths of a mile from the port, it was an easy walk. The hotel does run a shuttle, but if you are able, I'd recommend the walk. Embarkation was pretty easy. We arrived at about 1pm, and there was hardly a line. As usual, I was told by porters and dock workers that my large bag would not fit through the x-ray. And also as usual, I had no trouble getting it screened and through. I have just had too many first hand baggage issues and heard too many stories to leave my bag out of sight. Also, it allows us to unpack right away and not have to wait until staff delivers the bags.
As I had mentioned, there has been a lot of talk on the boards and in the reviews about the state of the Century. This was a concern of mine before boarding, but I wasn't going to let talk of worn carpet and upholstery ruin a cruise. I have never been on a bad cruise and I wasn't about to start now! :) Much to my surprise, I did not see any worn carpet or upholstery. Besides our bed pillows, which had seen better days, there were not any major condition concerns. Sure, there were scuffs and dings here and there, but is that really going to ruin anyone's vacation? Yes, but I feel sorry for those people.
Well, this was one area of failure. There just weren't a lot of things to do while the ship was sailing. Every day was a port day, but we were still at sea by early evening most nights. I don't recall any trivia sessions in the evening at all. This was also the first cruise I can remember where there wasn't a "Newlyweds" type game show. There really weren't too many options at night other than the evening theater show. There were a couple theme parties, but they were 50s, 60s, and 70s themed, which didn't really appeal to us. There actually was a 60s trivia one night, but it was called something like "Impossible 60s Music Trivia". Being that we weren't born for another decade from the end of the 60s, this didn't sound like much fun. Beatles trivia or some other type of trivia? Sure. But we knew we weren't going to know anything for this particular trivia, and it seemed to be the only one offered at night.
Service was excellent, but this was another area where the Celebrity credo just wasn't our thing. I will give you a few examples. Much of the hot food on the buffet line had to be served by crew members. This resulted in longer lines and also wasted food. You had to wait for each person in front of you to tell the crew member (where there was usually a language barrier, by the way) to make their selections and be served. Also, there was a large amount of food waste. Sometimes I just want to have a tiny portion of something (say, scrambled eggs). When I asked for a small amount, I was given the same heaping portion as everyone else without fail. Same goes for the waffle bar. I couldn't even get syrup without the server dumping a giant ladle full on my food. This is not better service, it is worse. Furthermore, a couple of the men's and women's bathrooms had restroom attendants. To my wife and I, this was highly unnecessary. As I mentioned, I've been on many cruise ships and never before saw restroom attendants. I don't recall ever using a dirty bathroom on other cruise ships. They probably have a roving person to clean restrooms. To have a person stuck in the bathroom for a large portion of the day seemed demeaning and unnecessary. While overall service from the crew members was very good, it wasn't anything special when compared to other cruise lines. Service from our dining room waiters Roy and Shunny was exceptional.
We were very pleased with the cabin overall. We had an inside room on Deck 9 and it had plenty of storage and was kept very clean by our steward Leonardo. There were three full closet sections (two had a rod and hangers and the third had shelves and drawers). There were lots of other drawers in the desk, nightstands, etc. On this ship, there is only one outlet. Not a pair of outlets, just one (well, plus the shaver only outlet in the bathroom). So you might consider bringing a power strip if you have a lot of electronics. The shower was much larger than any other shower I've seen in a standard cabin. The water pressure was also very good. Our toilet did not want to flush one day, but it was fixed while we were ashore and we never had another issue.
Food was largely very good. I would say it was comparable or a little better in quality than other ships, but only marginally better, if at all. There seemed to be a lack of options at the buffet at times. For example, when the salad bar was open after the normal lunch buffet was closed (usually after 2pm), there were no protein options for vegetarians (i.e. beans). One day we asked one of the supervisors for kidney beans, knowing they had been there before. He never returned to our table after 15 minutes. When I flagged him down, he made up some story that they looked for them but there weren't any. The next day they were there again during normal lunch hours.
The shows in the main theater lacked the grandeur of other ships because of the small size of the stage and the lack of good bass sound. The comedian and comic magician were both very good. The singers/dancers were comparable to other ships. We saw two of the three productions shows, and they were both good. On two of the nights, they used the lounge guitar player as part of the main theater entertainment. I had never seen this before on a ship - a lounge singer who normally performs for 10-20 guests is not suitable for main theater entertainment once, let alone twice. AND, he played the same song on each night. Really? Here again, Celebrity failed to be comparable to other cruise lines. By the way, there has been a lot written about loud music around the ship, but we did not notice this at all.
Disembarkation was a little flawed. We had bag tags to depart at 9am, but elected to carry our own off, so we did not wait for our number to be called. We were number 20, and at 9am they were only up to about number 14. Customs processing actually took place on the ship. Passengers were told to go to the Rendezvous Lounge to disembark, but not told which elevator to take. When we got off the elevator, we found ourselves "swimming upstream" to get to the end of the line, which was clear into the atrium. The line wasn't too bad though and we were off the ship in plenty of time to get on our SuperShuttle and to LAX on time for our flight.
While this cruise was a great experience, that was largely due to the ports. This was our first Celebrity cruise, and Celebrity did not show us anything extraordinary. Service policies (not the service itself), entertainment, and activities were all lacking. In the future, we would rather book on Royal, Carnival, or Princess. Each of these lines are comparable to Celebrity in most areas, and superior in others. For this reason, we would only consider a Celebrity cruise in instances of unusual itineraries.