We are frequent cruisers, mainly on RCCL, Princess and Celebrity and this was our thirteenth cruise with the latter. We chose it because of the itinerary (The Faroes and Shetlands ) but, unfortunately, the weather let us down - but Celeb can't be blamed for that.
First the good points: we are elite members and again were very happy with the programme - in particular breakfast in the SS United States and the cocktail hour in the Constellation lounge (we were particularly pleased that they were not doing the voucher system as, because of the poor weather, the bar options were very limited). We had 90 minutes each of free wifi and were delighted to find that the system had improved since our last Celeb cruise earlier in the year. Logging on and off was better and the speed was much faster.
The ship is getting on a bit, we prefer the solstice class, but it was clean, although a bit rusty round the edges particularly on the exterior. Staff were generally pleasant and helpful. The entertainment was acceptable, the comedian was good and the dancers energetic. There were two good 'beyond the podium' speakers but why did they have to schedule them at 9.00am or on a port day? On our last sea day there was only one talk and that was a repeat of one that had been poorly attended earlier in the cruise. As is now usual there were too many commercial presentations and too much of 'make your own' sports. Trivia sessions were extremely well attended (standing room only in the large Constellation lounge) and yet they did not respond to this by putting on extra ones.
Following positive reviews from other passengers we had met on previous Celeb cruises we decided to try Aqua class. We knew the aqua cabins were on the ninth deck and would be affected by the huge overhang, but when the weather is bad and there is no sun, it is a serious disadvantage - the interior is dark all day. The stateroom was the same as a standard one - albeit with a better shower, free water and a bottle of sparkling wine for the sail away. The "aromatherapy diffuser" was nowhere to be found and only appeared after we asked our stateroom attendant (same applied to the "pillow menu"). Whilst there was a concierge available for us there was no suggestion during the cruise of any additional benefits. Open access to the "Persian Garden" in the spa was part of the offer but, when we visited it, it was empty - and we were not surprised as it was small, dark and very claustrophobic.
Now to Blu - what a disappointment. The sales brochures talk about "cleaner cuisine". What does that mean? We still have no idea. We had been led to believe it was a healthier option but this was not the case. The choice was poor and far smaller than the MDR and certainly not full of healthy options (food was often fried, rich and lacking in taste) - we often looked at the MDR menu and wished we were going there. The food was well presented but the service was no different from the main dining room. The highlight was May, the wine waiter, who was both efficient and charming.
We also were under the impression that you could eat when you want but it's not the case on this ship because the restaurant is too small and cannot cope with the numbers. And the tables are also extremely close together so if you like a table for two, and don't want to hear what your neighbours are saying or for them to eavesdrop on you, look elsewhere. We complained about having to queue, and then wait up to 30 minutes for a table, and were helpfully told by the food services manager on one evening that we should come at 6pm when we would have been seated immediately. The management seem to have no idea that, in Europe, we eat later. The Maitre D' tried very hard, and was apologetic, but the room is just not big enough.
We will not be using aqua again. The overhang above the stateroom is a real disadvantage and the food in Blu is not better, or even healthier - it's just a different dining room with too few seats located too close together. If we go on Celeb again it will be in a standard stateroom and we will eat in the MDR.