GENERAL Evaluation - Three stars out of five This ship and cruise were chosen because of the itinerary as well as the time of year. Over time my wife and I have cruised on more than 30 ships and 12 different cruise lines. We booked on a Celebrity Suite which is near the top of the cabins in the "Concierge Class".
This cruise we can only categorize as one with high "Highs" and surprisingly low "Lows". With so many cruise lines offering a variety of products it is probable that we will never use Celebrity again.
We left Fort Lauderdale April 11, 2008 and arrived in Harwich, England on April 24. The ports of call were Bermuda, Cork, Le Havre and Cherbourg. The Atlantic crossing was generally calm and the ship handled the few days of higher swells with great equilibrium.
DINING—Two stars out of five
This was one of the great disappointments of the cruise. Although Celebrity has been hailed as a line with superior cuisine, we would call the kitchen and service near the bottom of any of our experiences.
To be fair, we prefer the "Anytime Dining" option. This is not available on this ship. Not a fatal problem in itself.
The menu was far more limited than we have found in ships of a comparable rating. The food preparation and especially the presentation was predictable and mediocre.
But it was the service that was outstanding in its paucity. Our waiter, a genial chap, was given too many tables and lacked experience. In the 2 week cruise we could never get the assistant waiter to respond to more than a "yes" or "no" before disappearing into the bowels of the kitchen. The wine steward (salesman is a better word) attempted to insist that a Sonoma wine was, as listed, from Napa. His knowledge of wine was nearly nonexistent.
The white-coated "Captain" was especially lacking in skills. We had four conversations with him. The first time he introduced himself and assured us that we should let him know if anything could be improved. The second, third and fourth times we communicated with him were to ask for rather routine changes of service. None of the requests were filled. The final conversation occurred on the final night of the cruise as he wished us "adieu" and stood waiting for his tip.
Our dinner at the extra charge Ocean Liner Restaurant was pleasant and well presented. However, it was not outstanding when compared to comparable restaurants on other ships.
The food in the buffet style Seaside Cafe we felt was notable for its variety and quality. We often used this venue for lunch. In our opinion, it was far better than other comparable cruises.
Partly because of the poor service in the main dinning room we opted to have dinner served in our room on a number of occasions. And since the Concierge Class offers butler service, why not? Each of these dinners was excellent. Our butler (imagine that --"our butler") provided outstanding service. I understand that this in-cabin service uses a different kitchen than the main dining room. In any event it was outstanding.
CABIN—four and a half stars out of 5
The Celebrity Suite was unbelievably great. A king bed in a separate room. There are two large flat screen plasma TVs. One is in the bedroom and the other in our sitting room. A desk is also off to the side in the lounge—complete with computer.
A sofa and a number of chairs complete the furnishing of the lounge. Floor to ceiling windows face outboard. The semi enclosed dining area is pleasantly outfitted with a hexagonal dining table and chairs. Two well-decorated china cabinets set off the dEcor.
The bathroom has a Jacuzzi tub and shower and twin hand basins. I never thought that I would be able to say that there was storage space to spare. But it is true of this suite.
What is not to like? Well, to be honest, some of the chairs need re-upholstering and the sofa is defiantly rump sprung. However, overall this is a magnificent space.
SPA AND FITNESS—four stars out of 5
The gym was well outfitted with the latest equipment. Generally they were sufficient in number so almost no waiting for use was necessary.
ENTERTAINMENT—four stars out of five
The show lounge is certainly elegant. Only about half of the shows interested us enough to attend. But those we did see we found outstanding.
The only excursion we joined was a bus tour to Omaha Beach in Normandy, site of the WW II landings. The program was adequate, but not outstanding. However in defense of their lackluster program schedule I realize that a transatlantic cruise is not where one would normally expect thrilling port stops. .