We travelled by car to Harwich on the morning of departure. A small delay for car parking and we were on the ship quickly in the warm sunshine. We have cruised a couple of times before, though not on Celebrity, and know from experience and reading reviews that we don't let the small problems and set backs get in the way of a good holiday.
The Norwegian itinerary was fantastic. A mix of cities and fjord hamlets. The views stunning and we enjoyed every port.
Ocean view cabin was clean with good storage, however, we slept pretty badly as the cabin was never dark and the sun barely set. Bring an eye mask if you are bothered by this. We had packed quite an excessive amount of clothing to cover mixed weather (as forecast) and I'm delighted to report all the "warm" clothing went home clean. Obviously we were very lucky with the weather but I, along with others, did not pack enough hot weather attire. There was sunbathing on the deck every day of the trip so bear that in mind. Most days were absolutely roasting hot and only shorts and light summer clothing was suitable.
The majority of the other passengers were probably 50s-80s and although we are a little younger, this was no issue on our part except Celebrity rep told me when I booked +6 months in advance that there were already +170 children booked. The reality was 70 children under 18 on board and only several English speaking in our daughter's age bracket. We were extremely lucky she made 3 great friends and the staff in the children's club seemed delightful though sometimes struggled to keep the children engaged due to the poor numbers. If you have children, I highly recommend only travelling with Celebrity in Europe during UK school holidays. Our daughter isn't schooled in the UK and was already finished for the summer.
Food was generally the best we had experienced on a cruise. We were particularly pleasantly surprised by the buffet restaurant, although we chose wisely to suit our tastes. Eating on the sunset terrace at the back of the buffet restaurant was a perfect location in the beautiful weather particularly at sail aways. The main Trellis Restaurant was hit and miss. Often the food looked better than it tasted, however, the service and ambiance was lovely. We were on anytime dining and took whatever table we were given, however, we saw several window tables unoccupied one evening (and we had never been offered one) so the following evening we asked to wait for a window table. Be careful what you wish for because the window was very dirty and not a pleasant view because of this. We were also sat so close to the next table we were actually dining with the (very nice) couple, so ended up turned away from the window looking at them most of the time.
We had the Classic Drinks Package Included in our booking and felt it absolutely unnecessary to upgrade. We did find that some bars would run out of particular drinks (beer, Baileys) without apology, however, with a little polite insistence sometimes the bar staff would eventually agree they could attempt to locate the drinks required. This happened on many occasions which really wasn't acceptable. So again, insist on what you want if you are turned down the first time.
Entertainment was a little like the Trellis - hit or miss. The main dance troupe and singers were good but some of the individual acts very disappointing eg the juggler. We attended a few fun quizzes and some of the late night entertainment in different bars.
Gym: I used this almost every day (thank goodness otherwise would never have fitted into any of my clothes). Fairly small but was never busy and everything I required. Classes were available, some free and some with a fee. I didn't attend any.
We booked dinner at the SS United States based on reviews and personal recommendations. This is our single biggest complaint of the cruise, so if you're thinking about it, please take the time to read on. Again there were no window tables and we didn't ask to wait, however, within ten minutes of being seated the window tables were vacated one by one. So, again we recommend you ask to wait if you would like a window table because no-one will suggest you do so. The service was overwhelmingly pretentious as soon as we arrived as an array of staff approached us. We are well travelled and have lived in London, New York and Dublin so have experienced many good restaurants and dining experiences. Immediately we felt very uncomfortable. There was no wine available on the list included in our classic drinks package. The sommelier did say he could provide some but we should not have been put in the uncomfortable position of having to ask within clear earshot of other diners. To be fair, he was the one member of staff who relaxed and behaved in a "normal" manner once we engaged him in conversation. After our starter, we asked why we were not offered bread like the tables around us. The lady responsible for bread distribution arrived shortly thereafter with a basket half full of only white bread. I asked if I could have brown as other diners had on their plates and had to wait for her to come back. We were then offered more bread a further four times throughout our meal which was ridiculous and intrusive. Our main courses arrived and my partner's lamb was clearly overlooked and agreed by the waiter. He had to wait for another dish to be prepared, so I ate my main course alone and he ate his alone afterwards. Despite the fussing around us, no-one said "sorry". We got the distinct impression they are trained not to admit to any faults. Finally, when making the booking we were told only children over 12 years old were admitted but we saw a family with a child who looked no older than 8 years old. We challenged the maître d and she said this rule was flexible and she would have admitted our (well-behaved) 10 year old. Too late by that point. Dessert disappointing but good cheese selection. The maître d only charged us for one meal $50 to compensate but that didn't make up for the extremely disappointing experience. Most of the food was no better than the Trellis restaurant and not in our opinion worth $50 per person.
In summary, we would have to give careful consideration to travelling again with Celebrity because of our child. However, we loved the itinerary, had the smoothest sailing, were blessed with amazing weather, got a suntan, ate and drunk too much and were sorry when it all came to an end.