Experienced cruisers here, 9 cruises on HAL, 2 on QM2 (one of these was a transatlantic crossing) and 1 on Carnival (yuck!!). Decided to cruise back to Bermuda (did one in 2010 on the Veendam), but since HAL does not offer a Bermuda cruise this year decided to take Celebrity. Most of this review will provide commentary on the differences between Celebrity and HAL, but will start off with general observations.
My wife and I had a Sky Suite on deck 9. We arrived at the port at around 10:30 (I don't understand why people have difficulty finding it, no problem here), dropped off our luggage, parked our car and proceeded to the suite check-in. Fastest embarkation ever (we were on the ship 10 minutes after arriving at the port). We had an invitation to have lunch in the Normandy restaurant, which is a great way to start the cruise! After lunch, went to our cabin, where we met our room stewards and our butler, Sebastion (who did a great job all week!). Re. the suite, no problem with a/c all week, including the time in Bermuda (heard some deck noise above us where the pool deck was, but not annoying. Dined twice that week at the Normandy (great food, ambiance and service) and once at Q'Sine (had a great time). Bermuda was beautiful. Fastest disembarkation on record.
Now, for the pros and cons vs. HAL......on HAL we always get a Neptune suite, so suite comparisons are between a Neptune suite on HAL and a Sky Suite on Celebrity.
Things that are better on Celebrity vs. HAL:
- Smoking policy - no smoking is allowed on Verandas on the Summit and only in limited areas on the port side of the ship. This made for a very nice cruising experience as my wife and I enjoy sitting out on our balcony and breathing the smoke-free fresh air!
- The staff are very well trained and are more outgoing - they engage you vs. on HAL they seem to be very obsequious. The officers also always spoke to you on Celebrity vs. HAL. The captain was much more seen around the ship.
- The Specialty restaurants are better than on HAL but you pay a lot more for this...not sure the price was worth it.
- As I stated above, embarkation was much faster than HAL.
- Better choice of TV channels vs. HAL
- The single servings in the Oceanview cafe were great.
- We both felt that the ship was more elegant than HAL ships.
- The trays in the Oceanview cafe were great....wish they had them on HAL
- Coffee was good, compared to that horrible stuff on HAL!
- The drapes in our cabin were room darkening.
- Much less noise in the MDR (on HAL you can't hear yourself think, it is so noisy).
- Entertainment (juggler, comedian and Tenors of Rock) were great. Appreciated that the comedian gave an adults only act at 11 pm on the last night of the cruise.
- Much larger shop square footage...but most of the same stuff.
Things that our worse on Celebrity vs. HAL:
- As I said above, we get a Neptune suite on HAL. For the same price, the Sky suite is smaller (as is the balcony in length and depth), the bathroom is very small (only one sink), no separate shower stall and bath tub. The room was nice, but a bit worn (eg., dents, scrapes in furniture, walk-in closet automatic light would not turn off until you slammed shut one of the doors), not enough clothes hangers.
- No private lounge for suite guests (yes, they do have one but for only suite guests in a higher suite category than us). We love the Neptune lounge on HAL.
- No invitation to a private cocktail party with ship's officers (we usually get one or two invitations on HAL).
- In-room alcohol we purchased was more expensive vs. HAL and overall alcohol prices in the bars was more expensive vs. HAL.
- Verandah chairs were uncomfortable, no cushions and ottomans.
- leaving/entering ship at port was disorganized on the first day....got better on day 2 and 3.
- Lack of glasses in the suite to entertain (on HAL our bar was stocked with glasses).
- We had to ask for ice service vs. on HAL it was automatic. Once we asked we had it 2 times/day.
- The promenade deck on the Summit does wrap around the ship; it is closed at the bow and stern.
- Celebrity kept changing our specialty restaurant dining times on all 3 reservations. For example we would call and reserve a table for 8 pm but when we received our confirmation card it would say the reservation was for 9 pm.
- My wife commented that the make-up selection was better on HAL in the shops.
Things that are the same on Celebrity and HAL:
- Food in the MDR.
- The Dance shows by the resident dancers/singers were equally bad on Celebrity vs. HAL.
- Cleanliness of the ship overall.