There were four adults in our party, staying in adjoining balcony staterooms (7192, 7194), in Concierge class. We all have cruised before on several other cruise lines, and so are familiar with the environment.
Overall: The onboard experience was a disappointment. There were too many issues that arose that should not have arisen, and when they did they were either ignored or not handled well by the ships' staff. We did not feel respected as passengers, getting the ongoing impression that our presence was an inconvenience. We would not travel with Celebrity again.
Accommodation: cabins were clean and well-appointed. Their location near the stern was ideal, and we were not disturbed by external activities or engine noises. We would book such rooms again. Our room steward was helpful, but his command of English was limited to a few stock phrases. It is worthy of note that our balconies overlooked those on the deck below, resulting in less privacy for those occupants who had paid more than us for their deluxe suites. Plus, the unusual idea of having 'portholes' in the floor of the Oceanview Cafe on deck 10 was disconcerting, too, as they allowed viewing of various balconies.
Food/Dining: We ate breakfast and lunch (when onboard) in the Oceanview Cafe (10th deck), and dinner in the main dining room (Trellis Restaurant). The meals were prepared well and we were satisfied. Unlike some cruises, we had no trouble finding seating in the cafe. Celebrity combines fixed dining with casual dining in the restaurant, and this caused confusion (see below). We were subjected to pressure to pay extra and dine in one of the two specialty restaurants on the ship. We declined, even when the tariff was reduced later in the cruise.
Service: Service was sporadic and we had difficulty communicating with the staff due to language issues, often with regard to serving of drinks - seems some staff do not understand what a drink served neat is to be. Some of the staff went out of their way to interact, while others ignored us. An exception to this was our dining room staff who were friendly and helpful, and often amusing.
Getting Ashore: Two ports demanded the use of tenders to get ashore, and our impression was that Celebrity hasn't quite figured out how to do this efficiently. For the Guernsey port of call, we gave up trying to go ashore as it was about 90 mins after we received our ticket that our number was called. At that point we were eating lunch and gave it a miss. There were no problems at ports where we were docked.
Shore Excursions: we only went on one shore excursion booked through Celebrity (Cork walking tour and pub visit), planning our activities at the other stops ourselves. Our companions booked their shore excursions well in advance, but were disappointed with several. Overall, we were happy that we made our own arrangements as most ports of call were well set up with Reception Centres manned by local volunteers, designed to help visitors create their own agendas. In some cases there were free shuttles, not only to the downtown, but for a commentated tour around the local area as well. Well done, Waterford and Greenock.
Formal Nights: we have no idea why these persist as the ship made no attempt to make them special. It used to be that these nights were an opportunity for the ship to put on a bit of a show in the dining room, but there was nothing like that on this cruise. Even the inevitable Baked Alaska, served on the last formal night, was nothing special - just another dessert. We weren't asked if we wanted it - it was just delivered.
Entertainment: the acts booked throughout the cruise were first-rate. Two that stood out were "Beatles Celebration" (band from Liverpool) and Jack Walker who combines a phenomenal voice with a great stage presence.
"The Drinks Saga": We booked through Online Cruise Vacations (recommended) and chose the "123 Go" package, from which we selected the Classic Beverage package and a shipboard credit. The drinks package was the cause of much frustration as it became obvious that most drinks were priced in such a way that one could not order them on our package. We were strongly encouraged to "upgrade" to the "Premium" package, which we did, unhappily. We felt that it was unethical of Celebrity to operate this way, and it made for a less than stellar start to our cruise experience.
Dining Room confusion: we found out, to our surprise, that we were expected to line up and check in even though we had an assigned table. Apparently this is done so that tables that are not being used by the fixed dining time crowd can be made available to the casual diners. On the first occasion when we had neglected to check in, the maitre'd stopped at our table and demanded to know our room numbers. Not very friendly. On other nights it seemed it didn't matter if we checked in or not. An attempt at communication could have sorted this out.
Sum Up: We had a fun time as we were determined not to let our shipboard experience be a deciding factor. The "different port every day" schedule turned out to be quite hectic, and eventually it was hard to remember what happened on which day.
A final note: An indication of the emphasis that Celebrity places on customer feedback is evident in how the company handles post-cruise comments. There are no sheets to fill out, rather we were promised that we would be contacted at our email address post-cruise and invited to fill in an online version. It can be imagined how little useful feedback will be gained by this approach.