We have cruised enough with Celebrity to have reached Elite Plus status. We each have over 1000 cruise credits. Seven of our cruises have been Trans-Atlantics on several different Celebrity ships. One was on Azamara.
This cruise was different. The ship itself, is beautiful. It is being well maintained and we had no complaints about our cabin (A few minor things like a drawer that wouldn't open and a cabinet door that was loose were taken care of within hours.). Our cabin attendant and his assistant were outstanding. Everything we asked for was provided quickly. It was, however, obvious that cutbacks have been made. They are being asked to do more work in less time. Gone are the days of leaving for breakfast and coming back to a room that has been made up.
The place where the cutbacks was most obvious was in the Activities Department. This was a long cruise with many sea days. TWO people were expected to run the entire activities program. Pete and his assistant Martin did the best they could but it was obvious that they were being burned out. This is an unacceptable situation.
Our food was all good -- we ate all our dinners except one in the main dining room. We were on Select Dining and were able to keep the same table and same servers every night. Kudos to "Lee for Short" and Noor.
We did go to the Tuscan Grill one night when we were offered a special price of $25.00 per person. The meal and the service were incredible. Marie from Mauritius not only knew her food and wine but she also knew what gracious service is.
One other thing that could, if it continues, drive us away from Celebrity was the choice of music and the volume in just about every venue. Sadly, the Ensemble Lounge, which is a nice location for a pre-dinner drink, was turned into a VERY LOUD C&W bar. The music from the Grand Foyer -- best described as Asian Bar music was way too loud as it echoed through the Foyer. Conversation at the Passport Lounge, Martini Bar and Cafe al Bacio was just about impossible. Where are the a Cappella groups? The String Quartet? And, for that matter, the Celebrity Orchestra. I'd say there is more of a band now than an orchestra.
The cutbacks in staff also showed when it came time to do shore excursions. The first port, Funchal, there was what came close to being chaos. Instead of giving out stickers on the stage as is most commonly done they were being given out at the entrance to the Theater. This caused a line to back up in front of the elevators. Not only inconvenient but also unsafe.
All in all, we had a very good cruise. Not great, though. The ship seemed to have no "soul" or "spirit" and I believe that comes from the top down.