Although my husband and I have cruised in the passed, this was planned as a trip of a lifetime. After a 9+ hour flight in comfy Business Class, we landed at Heathrow and spent the night in a hotel in Kensington (arranged by Celebrity) We saw a little of London, grabbed dinner, and tried to catch some sleep. The next day we were joined by 24 other cruisers on a bus to Southampton. Celebrity had a rep at the hotel to ensure our transfer went smoothly. We were booked in a suite so our embarkation process had a separate line and the process went quickly. We were on board by noon. Someone had recommended dining in the Bistro on 5 as we waited for our cabin to be ready. The food was great and it was not crowded. An announcement was made around 1 pm and we were off to our cabin. We stayed in a Sky Suite #2114 on deck 12. Our bags arrived about 30 minute later. The room was huge with two separate closets. We needed more hangers so a call was made to our butler. More hangers arrived within 5 minutes. The bathroom was very roomy with places to stow toiletries on both sides of the mirror. There was a nice shower/tub combo and the towels were extra thick and fluffy. The balcony was large with plenty of room to stretch out. I have seen some complaints about the large overhang on the deck 12 suites. Personally, I had no problem with it. #2114 is also right behind the "bump out" which does obscure your view if trying to see where the ship is headed. But this being late Spring cruise, temps were not all that warm. I found the large overhang and the bump out to both help shelter the wind and made sitting outside while we were underway much more enjoyable. We enjoyed all the extra little perks that Celebrity provides with its suites. Certainly worth the extra expense.
We dined most evenings in the main dining room at a table for 8. Our table mates were great and we spent many evenings partying with them in the Sky Lounge. (our favorite bar) The food was great and there was plenty of variety. We dined at two of the speciality restaurants; Qsine and Tuscan Grill. Qsine was really unusual and the food wonderful. We had a very knowledgeable waiter who made the experience even better. Tuscan Grill was ok; the food good. We both ordered steak and it was a bit disappointing. Service was excellent, tho. We both had the premier alcohol package which made ordering wine at dinner and drinks in the bars easy. I am an espresso drinker and our package included coffee drinks at Cafe Bacio.
Casinos on cruise ships are usually a real $$$ drain. My husband hit a $500 jackpot on a penny slot machine. I was "up" about $700 over all also playing a penny slot. We had a blast!
We booked the majority of our shore excursions though Celebrity and were not disappointed. The best was the 1/2 day car in St. Petersburg. We had a large Mercedes with a driver and an english speaking guide. Oxana made sure we got to go everywhere we wanted (that time allowed) We had a special request - a Russian hockey jersey for our grandson. Oxana made some calls, directed our driver where to go and soon we were in a shop called The Hockey Club. Also made a stop at a nice souvenir shop. We extended our car for an extra hour. I would not hesitate to book a car again. The next day we had a walking tour to The Church on Spilled Blood. Our guide was way too political, chewing us all out about the situation in Ukraine; told us not to believe the news; etc. Came close to ruining the experience for most of our group. We informed Celebrity of this less than stellar tour guide, hoping he would be replaced for the next tour. Surprisingly, Celebrity refunded our $$$ for that tour even though we never asked for a refund. We also booked tours through Celebrity in Copenhagen, Germany, and France and loved them all. Lots of folks say don't use the cruise line excursions but we don't agree. The Celebrity excursions were wonderful!
Disembarkation went smoothly and we were on our bus, headed to Heathrow by 9:00 am for our 3 pm flight. We were at the airport 4 hours prior to our flight but enjoyed the Admiral's Club and some shopping so no complaints. Celebrity Cruise Line did an awesome job. We will certainly sail with them again!