While I love Celebrity and especially its marvelous staff, I can't say this was one of out better cruises. It started badly with food poisoning in the hotel in Santiago we were put in, and it got even worse when the good ship's Doctor, an overweight, chain smoking Italian, decided that a mild case of diarrhea was deserving of a three day confinement to my stateroom. I had no other symptoms: no fever, no vomiting, nothing. But he arbitrarily committed me to confinement, and my wife to twenty four hours. I will admit they are making an attempt to make it up by offering a future cruise credit but of course, that means I need to make another cruise.
Upon embarkation we were all handed a letter advising of engine problems and the fact that the ship was operating at about 80% of speed, necessitating the removal of one of the port calls. We were also issued a $150 credit for the loss. The one excursion I was able to make, Arrica, was probably the most depressing shore experience I've ever had. It's like the old joke. First prize is a day in Arrica; second prize is a week in Arrica, and the last place prize is a golf course lot at the Arrica Country Club. What a hell hole. I couldn't do the Lima excursion due to the "confinement".
Finally, the entertainment was very mediocre. And that was disappointing since I had told everyone about what a great group the Zenith had, including a world class Broadway singer, Jordan Bennett, whose CD's I play all the time, incredible comedians, and some of the best dancers I've ever seen. They can't get something comparable for a Millennium class ship?
I also wasn't real pleased the with the former Brazilian Ambassador and his liberal politics either. The other speakers were pretty good.
The food was the usual quality; the staff as always, brilliantly trained and motivated. Where does Celebrity find such nice people? Whoever is doing the hiring should be promoted, given a raise and put on the Board of Directors. They are all such marvelous representatives of their countries and their cultures that you can't help but admire the consistency of their work. How they put up with some of the passengers, especially the rude French and Germans, is a mystery to me.
The special restaurant was well done but the wine by the glass prices are obscene. Service was outstanding. Food was not 5 star.
During disembarkation, at a point when things had slowed to a crawl, whoever the young man was in charge of the theatre disembarking group, totally defused some growing tempers, by taking off his jacket and walking on his hands across the stage. The crowd applauded, quieted down and had a good laugh. You can't teach that type of public relations. I wish I'd gotten his name. He also needs a promotion and a spot bonus.
A lot of stores on board. Called the Emporium. Not employees of Celebrity and very spotty in terms of attitude and customer relations. The H. Stern staff was excellent. Some of the others, especially some of the gals manning the islands, were snippy at best. Two or three I would have fired on the spot.
I took two other couples with us. First time Celebrity cruisers, but very, very experienced cruisers nevertheless. In fact, far more so than we are. They pretty much concur with what I'm writing. I don't know that they'll go back to Celebrity. But we will. But I won't do South America. It was underwhelming.
I wrote a critique of my Zenith cruise. It has never appeared. But I can tell you that on a scale of one to ten, it was a nine. This was a five.