This started out as an addition to kelmac's review of the 3/21/08 sailing on the Connie. It became so lengthy, I had to give it it's own review.
Hey Kel... Thanks for the review, even though we were there too, it's nice to see the perspectives of others.
We made it home safe, late Monday night. We gave up our seats on the early flight in exchange for first class on the later flight, a $300 flight voucher, and meal vouchers. I love that option. You simply have to ask yourself...how much is my three hours worth? All the bags were waiting for us at the baggage claim office.
In retrospect of the cruise...I came up with the following...
Embarkation...took over an hour, and I thought it was one of the more disorganized embarkations I have been through in awhile. We are platinum on Carnival, so those perks make a huge difference.
I have always felt that Carnival folks were the nicest, happiest cruisers.
However, I was very impressed with everyone I encountered on the ship. I think we may have found our perfect match. On other lines I have experienced rude foreigners, obnoxious children, rowdy revelers, snobs, mean old people, and everything in between. I was very impressed with the Celebrity clientele. I never felt that anyone was snobby. No one was rude. No rowdy, swearing drunks. Even the children seemed quite well behaved.
Everyone was so friendly, and people would happily start up a conversation with me wherever I was. I felt very at ease the whole time.
The cruise critic group...was a 10 in my book! Four of the couples from this group were practically inseparable. We were always with at least one other couple from this group, and usually more. Like I told them...unless I'm that one person that everyone needs a break from...I never tired of their company. I couldn't have hand picked a better group, and it truly made this cruise an extra special one.
I still prefer Carnival food. The menu selections in the main dining room seemed very limited. There were several nights that nothing excited me. Even the desserts were lacking, and I usually eat 2 or 3 of them. I am a recent vegetarian, and our wait staff did an excellent job of accommodating any request I made. After seeing what the menu had to offer, I was quite satisfied with the many vegetables my waiter brought me every night. The dining room service was very good, to excellent. As good as I have experienced on Carnival. MUCH! better that HAL and Princess.
The asst. Maitre' d was always present, every night and did an excellent job of accommodating any requests. I happily tipped him as he was the first one of his position who had ever done anything for me, on ANY cruise.
I was especially impressed with the aqua spa cafe. They always, happily accommodated any special request I made to tweak a dish that wasn't vegan, or totally vegetarian. Same with the buffets..there were so many wonderful vegan offerings. I ate quite well.
My other disappointment in the food department, was the room service menu...I felt it was much more limited that any other cruiseline I have been on. I was not impressed with it at all. However, the service was always prompt when we did order room service.
Our cabin steward was good, not great, not outstanding. He did his job...period. My biggest frustration was when we asked for two fluffy pillows. We made 3 separate requests, and ended up with 8 FLAT pillows. The cabin was always clean, and he was quick to make up the room. There isn't anything I can put my finger on specifically, but I have had cabin stewards that just seemed to make the evening turndow...something to look forward to.
The cabins...teeny tiny. Wow! I was shocked at the lack of space. I had to make the DH leave the room so I could change my mind. I love the spacious Carnival cabins, and the luxury and space on HAL. We had the problem with the water squishing up through the bathroom floor. One morning, the main water line was out in our part of the ship. No toilets, no water...not that there is ever an opportune time for something like that...but in that case...it was really bad timing
As for the decor in our room...who ever had the brilliant idea for the color scheme including rust, burnt orange, avocado green, and bile yellow in the cabins, must have been on acid. It looked like the 70's threw up in there.
The spa and fitness center were awesome. Plenty of machines to go around.
My serious annoyance of the cruise...The Persian Garden. It was touted as a tranquil, quiet place to relax or meditate. We were told that only 40 passes were sold for the entire cruise. This was to ensure the atmosphere. Well we purchased the $200 add on, and experienced nothing but frustration with it. They did not bother to tell us that they ran specials for couples, and ladies nights, etc. that included use of the "relaxation" room. Also, anyone who books a spa treatment, gets access. Guess what? If you have 20 extra people in there with their girlfriends, friends or husbands...it's not tranquil anymore. My DH was peeved, to say the least. He spoke to the spa manager, and she basically told him to call next time and find out if anything was scheduled, before he came. WHAT A RIP OFF!
The drinks were outrageous, so I was forced to smuggle. I love those souvenir glasses that the drinks came in. So, for you potential smugglers. Mind you I didn't drink all this, most of it came home with me. When returning from port, I brought on 2 bottles of vodka, one bottle of tequila, 6 pack of VI beer, mixers, and a 6 pack of diet 7-up.
We didn't even bother with the shows. The one we started, I walked out on. Once you have seen one ship production...you have seen them all. The band on the deck was horrible. An asia, imitator band...did I mention horrible. They couldn't even pronounce half of the words. We knew it was time for lunch when they came out. Or the Ipods got turned up really high. The a capella group was outstanding! We caught them just about every night. We missed the comedian, and wished they had more comedy shows. Carnival still is best in that department.
A word to anyone out there who will listen...please...don't sing along with the a capella guys. The people next to you didn't come to hear you sing off key
Our overall impression of the cruise...great! We had a wonderful time, made wonderful new friends. There were little touches that made it a classier cruise, than past cruises. We loved the waffles! Some days they were cooked better than others.
We would definitely sail Celebrity again.
For cost, service, comfort, space, food...I would still choose Carnival
For Class, itinerary, fellow passengers, service, and overall experience... I would choose Celebrity.
For comfort, spaciousness, cabin amenities, itinerary...I would sail with HAL
For itinerary only...Princess
If I won a free trip...Royal Caribbean
I too am happy to answer any questions you have.