Boarding On arrival at the cruise port, our van driver took our bags out and stayed by while riders decided which bags to entrust to the porters. We were directed to the rear of a line that wound about like a ride at Disney World only it moved much faster. In-processing was quick and painless. Once aboard we were directed to the Cafeteria on deck 14, where food was plentiful but seating was not. Understandable, considering we were toward the end of the boarding window and just before the cabins were available.
Our cabin was on deck 6. These veranda cabins have “partially obstructed” views in that the floor is about even with the top of the lifeboats. The davits stuck up a couple feet more but the view was only minimally “obstructed”. There is an atrium a bit aft of center that extends from deck 3 to deck 14 and is bordered by elevators on either side. A small band was stationed at the base of the atrium and their music easily filled the open area to the top deck. If noise bothers you, avoid the staterooms near these elevators.
Passengers. The average age was probably late sixties; there were lots of wheel chairs and scooters. Celebrity seems to appeal to an older clientele; even more so for a transatlantic. There is a wealth of travel knowledge among this set we got many useful tips about traveling in Europe.
The main dining room is located aft on decks 3 & 4. Breakfast & lunch are open seating. Supper offers the traditional two seatings as well as a “select” seating option. Passengers choosing “select dining” are charged $12/day gratuity when the cruise is booked. They may reserve a seating time by dialing 3000 anytime after 9:00am on the previous day. Unscheduled diners may arrive any time but should expect to wait 15-20 minutes during busy times (6:30 – 8:00pm). Celebrity has a dress code that they claim to enforce but I saw shorts and T-shirts on a couple occasions.
The Oceanview Café on deck 14 is open 18 hr/day and offers an extensive buffet. Selection is diverse and the food is well prepared. There is lots of seating and we rarely had a problem.
Premium dining is available in four restaurants. Prices range from $35 to $45 per person. This is a sharp increase from the $20 to $25 on my last Celebrity cruise in Dec 2011. Additionally there are 2 lunch / grill areas where $5 will get you a crepe, salad or panini. A curious addition is the restaurant called “Blu” which is exclusively for passengers in “Aqua Class” cabins. Is this industry about to come full circle to a system of First & Second class passengers; can steerage be far behind?
There’s an interesting development regarding the soft drink package. On my last few cruises, I’ve purchased a package deal which typically cost about $5/day. For that you got an insulated plastic glass w/closable top which you could fill at any bar. Typically, the barkeep would do the McDonald’s routine, (i.e.) pack the glass with ice and add 4oz of Diet Coke. I found myself returning 2 or 3 times just to wash down a poolside burger & fries. That could add up so the package deal made sense. Not on this trip. The package is now $8/day and the bars have switched to 12 oz cans. At $2.50 each, I’d need to drink four cans/day to make the package deal worthwhile. I will pay by the can next time.
Our cabin was modern and well equipped. It measured about 8’ wide and 22’ long with the bathroom taking the first 10’ as you walk in. Including the veranda, the cabin is about 225ft2. The HVAC was efficient and worked well.
Storage could be better. There are only 3 small drawers for clothing and they’re only 12”deep; they could have been 3”deeper and still fit the cabinet. Each is about 15” wide and 11” high. I’d have preferred four drawers, 8’ tall.
The wall-mounted 32” LCD TV could be pulled out and turned to accommodate any viewing position in the room. A small wireless keyboard allows one to use the TV as a monitor if you buy internet time. Some kind of programming was available on 24 channels although the majority were ship info channels. 24 hour news is provided by (from l to r - literally) MSNBC, CNN, BBC, Sky and Fox. The TV could also be used to check your account and see pictures taken by the ship's photographers. No more hunting through rows of pictures.
The bed was a comfortable, pillow-top, splitable king with four pillows. Oddly, we had to ask for an ice bucket and ice. Once delivered, it was filled twice each day.
Our cabin steward and assistant were very friendly and efficient.
The evening entertainment was as good as it gets for a cruise ship. Over the years, I’ve seen some pretty mediocre talent and just chalked it up to be cruise ship level. Celebrity (IMHO) seems to find talent that is a cut above. We went to almost every show and were never disappointed.
Leaving the ship was uneventful. It took only a few minutes.