We chose Celebrity for the itinerary. Our ports of call were Santorini, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Athens, Mykonos, and Naples. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and took our 2 adult sons and our 1 "tween" son. Embarkation was easy since we came directly from the airport and it was early. The food is very good in the main dining room. We ate at the Tuscan Grill one evening. Food was delicious, but I didn't feel the $45 up charge was appropriate for a filet and some pasta and no beverages.
We were upgraded to Concierge level. We received less than half of the amenities we were supposed to receive. Many staff members didn't even know what we were to receive. It was on the last day of the cruise before the concierge contacted us to resolve our concerns. My son told her that it was too late to address our concerns with less than 12 hours remaining on our holiday. Despite asking several times for a pillow menu, we never received it. On Day 9, a guest services employee showed me the list of benefits. Fresh flowers? Well, they didn't have any (so they said). Complimentary shoe shine? We never knew nor was there any info in the room. Expanded room service menu? That only meant optional afternoon canapes. Oversize towels? They seemed pretty standard to me. We received a nominal stateroom credit for our troubles. Had I actually paid for the service, I would have demanded more.
My other issue was with the classic beverage package. You are allowed beer up to $6, wine up to $9, and other drinks up to $12. Of course, there are a few selections in that price range if you like Bud Light, but Oberon and Corona are priced at $7, so you're told "you can have that." Same with wine. If you like Barefoot brand ($6 bottle in the States), you can enjoy a syrupy white zinfandel, but don't expect to be able to order a Pinot Noir. "You can't have that." No substitutions are mentioned or offered. You're told simply, "you can't have that." You can't pay the difference. If you want it, you can "upgrade" for $10 per day to the premium package or pay full price. Forget a martini- those are $14 and remember, you can only spend $12. You can watch at the Molecular Bar but not enjoy even one sampling.
Shows were okay. They were typical cruise line shows with mediocre singing and some Russian acrobats. The cruise does not offer the entertaining Newlywed Game or Battle of the Sexes, no bikini contests, etc. And, I was fine with that. Expect to spend evenings just relaxing with a cocktail (a $6 beer if you have the classic package, lol) and mingling with new friends.
My son tried the Bistro crepes and said they were excellent (I won 2 passes by participating in an Iron Chef competition which was fun even though the chef wouldn't let me help much). The prices for the other restaurants were just not in our budget. Besides, we found the dining room food and the buffet food to be good. The buffet beats Carnival and Royal Caribbean's but is still second to Disney's.
Unfortunately, on sea days, the usual offerings of tacky sale items like $39 watch sets and $19 pandora like bracelets are hyped and middle aged women literally fight for them. I found that tasteless and thought it detracted from the classiness of the cruise.
Guest speakers for ports of call and the cruise shopper gave HORRIBLE presentations often misquoting entrance fees, port days, etc. After attending two, I crossed that activity off my list. I'm not a Bingo fan, but some guests told me it was $39 to play. The casino held some slot and poker tourneys on sea days that were not well attended, but one son won $100 in poker.
Ship is clean! I dropped a vitamin on the floor of the bathroom, and when I retrieved it, I noticed the corners and under the sink area was sparkling!
I loved the coffee bar and was grateful I could get a daily cafe latte with my beverage package. On another note, you could get a very large 1.5 L of water to leave the ship with but not a more manageable 1/2L bottle.
Costco members were treated to wine tasting events, tours and a special pairing lunch on sea days that was a great benefit! The events were hosted by a California Vineyard Wine Blender who kept presentations short and interesting. Very enjoyable!
Crew was hit or miss. Some friendly; others not so much. This is the only cruise line who has a housekeeping supervisor on the tip list, but I didn't leave any since I never met that person. I prefer to give my own tips according to service and usually have it adjusted OFF my stateroom billing. I did notice the service got better as the cruise was ending. Maybe that sounds a bit cynical, but for the first half of the cruise we were never offered a beverage at dinner (iced tea, lemonade, etc.,...) but on the last few days, our iced teas were waiting for us.
Bottom line: I would take a Celebrity cruise again. The items I listed above were annoyances for sure, but overall, we had a great time while on the ship, and the ports of call were amazing. I booked all excursions privately, so I cannot speak to them.