S2 Cabin. Premium Drinks Package. 7 Dinners MDR (table for 8 late sitting). 2 dinners in Murano, 3 dinners in Tuscan Grille, 2 Dinners in Qsine and 5 lunches Bistro on Five.
Below are my observations of our first Celebrity cruise.
• Embarkation/Disembarkation: Full marks to Celebrity, they have the slickest and easiest embarkation/disembarkation process I have ever experienced.
• Stateroom: Our S2 stateroom was a good size with plenty of living space. The storage space in this cabin is amazing, there is plenty of room in the wardrobes and we were unable to fill all the drawer space. The bathroom although small is well designed with lots of storage and a shower that provides gallons of hot water. The balcony is furnished with two chairs/loungers and a table but we found the chairs/loungers uncomfortable. The room attendant kept the cabin clean and tidy and the butler was keen to offer his assistance whenever we needed it.
• Public Spaces: We liked all the public spaces on the ship except for the Ensemble Lounge which we found poorly lit and old fashioned. Our favourite place on the ship was the Sky Observation Lounge. Although we did not use the sun deck there seemed to be plenty of loungers to go round.
• On Board Activities: Apart from the quizzes (full marks to Sam, the activities assistant, for her whole hearted efforts) we found there were few day time activities of any interest to us. We did visit the Bingo once but at $25 per person declined to go again.
• Entertainment: We attended one main show which was no better or worse than any other cruise ship show we have seen. By far the best entertainment was provided by Steve Womack the late night comic who gave three shows during the cruise.
• Dining: Despite the best efforts of the waiters, service in the main dining room was very slow. On the last formal night we had only just received our entrée when the parade of the catering staff started. Wine service in the MDR was worse than the waiter service, we often had to wait 30 minutes or more for our wine order to be taken. The service in the speciality restaurants was much better. We especially enjoyed dining in the Tuscan Grille and Qsine. I unfortunately took an instant dislike of Murano, finding the waiting staff pretentious and condescending. Bistro on Five is a lovely place to have a quiet and civilised lunch with friendly and attentive waiters. It was only the limited menu in Bistro on Five that dissuaded me from eating lunch there every day. The Ocean View Café provides buffet style dining for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner for those who don’t wish to use the other restaurants. Overall we found the menus offered plenty of choice and the quality of the food on the ship to be of a high standard.
• Drinks Packages: The drinks packages seem to be confusing to customers and staff alike. One sommelier confided to me that the list of drinks available on the packages was being reduced for the next cruise. My personal preference would be to have the drinks packages removed and replaced by an on board credit perk.
• Overall Experience: Our only previous experience of cruising on a large ship is with P & O. Of the two companies I would choose Celebrity every time. Although disappointed with the service in the MDR and the many bars on the ship, I came away from this cruise feeling that I had had a good holiday and that I had received good value for money. If we do not cruise with Celebrity again it will be because we find the ship too big for us and are going back to the more traditional cruising experienced on the older and smaller Fred Olsen ships.