This was a family cruise we took and are regular cruisers. We have enjoyed lots of different cruise lines and our favourite being Royal Caribbean. As we are from the UK we have mainly taken Mediterranean cruises, a couple in the Baltic and Caribbean too. We have cruised twice before with Celebrity; once on Eclipse and once on Silhouette. The cruise we went on was the 2014 President's Cruise, which meant the President of Celebrity cruises was on board and there were a lot of events for past cruisers, Select and upwards members as well as the Captain's Club. Being a part of the Elite club we were lucky to be a part of the events for this, which was a pleasant surprise as, upon booking, we were not aware of the President's Cruise!
Travel to embarkation Port
The cruise began in Rome, Civitavecchia, and we flew in on the morning of embarkation. We booked a private transfer to the port which is about an hour from the airports in Rome. As we had an early morning flight, we hand landed around 9am and were at the port for 10.45am - a little early as boarding was not due to start until 11.30am. However, we arrived, dropped out baggage off quickly and were seating in the check in area with a drink in hand - very smooth! After waiting a few moments, suite passengers could board and then Select members and above. Fast check in and were handed our SeaPasses. We were on by 11am, having had no queues or much waiting, and were good to go!
The ship feels very new and modern; its striking atrium is what first greets you upon entering. We all thought the ship felt clean and minimalist, without being overdone. Public areas were always well cleaned and you would never know it was a couple of years old. Plenty of lounges and bars, spacious dining room and lots of deck chairs and sun loungers too - no complaints!
Because this was the President's Cruise, there was a lot of extra events for past cruisers, including cocktail parties and an evening trip to a Tuscan village with dinner and wine tasting. These all ran smoothly and were a great added touch to our cruise. The Tuscan village trip in particular was a wonderful evening (even though the food left an awful lot more to be desired!) and was well thought out. We aren't a family that takes part in too many on board activities, but the ones we did, we enjoyed.
Livorno - having done both Pisa and Florence before, we decided to take the port shuttle into town and had a look around. As it was a Sunday, most shops were shut, but some were open. Livorno is a quaint Italian town but not a whole lot there. If you are looking for more, definitely take an excursion into Florence and/or Pisa. The train station is also easily accessible via a bus/walk from the centre of town too, which cuts excursion prices too. Livorno was also the place for the President's Trip to Bolgheri.
Nice - We decided to walk to the train station aft a tender ride to Villefranche and took the train to Monte Carlo, which was only a 10/15 minute walk from the tender station and a 20 minute train ride. The station is easily round by walking along the bay and there's ticket officers inside to help. Train's run to Monte Carlo, Nice and Eze which all make great trips.
Ajaccio, Corsica - Here is a beautiful little port town all within walking distance of the ship, famous for the house where Napoleon was born. We had a walk around and a snack in a coffee shop, a look at the local market and then looked round Napoleon's House. A good visit. However, if you aren't fluent in French, please take a guide book or a French dictionary! The descriptions in the house are all in French - very frustrating if you only have school-level knowledge of the language! A real shame as we didn't get a lot out of the house. Tickets to look round were free for under 25s and €7 for overs. There is no way of buying tickets online, so you need to queue. We waited half an hour to queue as only a few people are let into the house at a time (it is very small) and it took half an hour to go round the house.
Port Torres, Sardinia - A tiny industrial port town with not a lot there. Definitely organise an excursion or private trip. There was a free shuttle into the town and, as there was nothing really to see, we went into a cafe and then back to the ship. Check out the famous caves or take a trip to the capital, Cagliari.
Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca - Great city full of interesting things to see and a vibrant area to walk around. Again, we've been here before as its not a long way from the UK. Therefore, we decided to take the bus into the centre and do a little shopping. Plenty of shops of all sorts (high end, department stores, local crafts) and some great places to have a bite to eat. Mallorca is a lovely island!
No complaints here. We had a wonderful cabin steward and waiters in the main dining room. All were well trained, efficient and friendly. Guest relation staff, on the other hand, might benefit from a lesson in customer service. A few little niggles here and there and there always seemed to be a very long queue to see anyone here. However, nothing major, just annoying.
My family and I were split between 3 deluxe balcony cabins. These were on the port and starboard side which meant we had optimum sunshine and port side views! Cabins seem particularly spacious which was greatly appreciated. We liked all the handy storage space and think the bathrooms on Celebrity are definitely the best we have ever come across; large walk in showers with proper sliding glass doors, various toiletry items (no unidentified dispensers of shampoo and shower gel in site!), plenty of storage and wonderfully soft towels. Beds and pillows were of a good quality too - only annoying thing was that the bed was curved at the ends to make more room in the cabin. This was quite annoying as we are a tall family! No complaints on any of our cabin stewards either. Overall: very satisfied.
We chose the later sitting dinner which was 8.45pm and requested a table just to fit our family, which we got. The main dinning room is a beautiful 2-tier room. We chose to eat here all nights, apart from the President's trip. As we were only on board 7 nights, we didn't decide to eat in the speciality restaurants. However, any more nights on board and we would have done. Food was good, well cooked and presented, but can get a little repetitive. The food selection was good with all the typical cruise favourites - plenty of steaks, lamb dishes, fish (lobster on formal night) ect) but we felt that it was needed a bit of a modernisation, maybe with more international dishes.
As for the Oceanview cafe, which is the buffet style option, we ate here most breakfasts and lunches. Breakfasts, as expected, were crowded and we did have to search for a table - typical though, everyone wants to eat at the same time! Food here was good with chefs preparing cooked to order eggs, omelettes etc. Plenty of fruit juices and water all included as well. Lunch was good, a much nicer selection than other lines. We liked the 'Chef Specialities' which included Mexian food, as well as the Indian and Asian stations. We wished there was a larger selection of fruit and vegetables, however. There was always bowls of melon and pineapple but it would have been nice to have a wider selection of steamed vegetables and a wider variety of fruit. Good desserts and, our favourite, an actual ice cream station! Large selection of ice cream, frozen yoghurt and sorbet flavours with toppings and sauces, as well as soft serve ice cream. This was a particularly great touch as most lines just offer self serve soft serve ice cream. Great!
We ate at the Bistro on 5 once throughout the cruise. On arriving back to the ship late one lunch, we decided to eat here. The $7 per person surcharge we felt was worth it. The menu was good; sweet and savoury crepes, paninis, salads, soups and deserts. We noticed it was very quiet throughout the cruise and was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the Oceanview Cafe.
Room service we did every morning. We like waking up to coffee and juices and also ordered breakfast through this too. We liked how room service was interactive on the TV in the cabin 24 hours. Food arrived on time and was hot, well prepared and presented. Orders were never wrong either - bonus!
The majority of my family and I used the gym on board almost every day. It isn't the biggest gym but a decent size for a ship. We went at all times of the day - early morning, afternoon and night - and never had too much of a wait for machines. There were 2 rows of treadmills and a decent amount of bikes and cross trainers too. All cardio machines had easy to use touch screens which was a bonus. As for weights, the free weight area was rather small with a limited selection. However, it was still usable and offered a good way to burn off those extra calories and get you hungry for the next meal!
The entertainment on board is more laid back and quiet than the likes of Carnival and even RCI. There are no loud pool parties, music blaring on the decks or too many late night events. As we were late dinner sitting we did not attend many of the shows in the theatre. We did however, catch a few moments of a dancing and acrobatic show the Celebrity entertainers put on, which was good. Shows were varied; singers, dancers, jugglers, the lot. None of us are too keen on these shows, I for one couldn't sit through 45 minutes of juggling! Although, these did look very popular. Lounges and bars on board almost always had some kind of entertainment, which were always good. Overall, entertainment on Celebrity is subdued - there's no Carnival 'FUN!' style with it, as most guests are slightly older. However, this did not affect our enjoyment of the ship at all, and there was never a dull moment.
We had an early afternoon flight after the cruise and booked a private transfer at the port. We requested a later disembarkation time and were off by 9am. This all worked well with no queues and our luggage was circulating in the baggage claim area - no complains! Very smooth and well done. Celebrity weren't 'forcing' us off at the crack of dawn and announcements were kept minimal. This was much appreciated as it didn't feel too pushy. Compared with Carnival which we have had announcements in cabins at 6am before, this was a great disembarkation.
A great weeks holiday. Had some brilliant days in port and a relaxing and enjoyable cruise for all. Service was great, as was food and entertainment. Thoroughly enjoyable and we will be cruising with Celebrity again.
Score out of 10 - 8/10!