We left our hotel at about 11:15 am and were on the ship by 12:15 with champagne in hand, truly the smoothest boarding we have ever experienced. Kudos to you Celebrity (A+) After boarding we proceeded to our room to drop off our carry-ons, an inside cabin 1148 located just forward of the aft elevators. We had read many negative reviews regarding the closest space so were a bit nervous having packed for an 18 day vacation. Trust me, we are the classic over packers. There was plenty of room to put everything we brought away, all in an organized manner. We are clutter free freaks so this was an excellent finding for us. The room as has been mentioned in many other reviews has a very nice bathroom, with a large and powerful shower. The cabin was very well appointed with a very comfy bed, that we would enjoy greatly over the next two weeks. I especially like the interactive TV. A+
On to the food part of our cruise which is one of the main reasons we have been loyal Celebrity. The dinning room is very elegant with very comfortable seating; our table was the last to leave many nights and my backside never felt weary. This part is always tricky as food tastes are so subjective, so a little background on us. My wife and I love to cook and prepare 99% of our meals at home, breakfast, lunch and dinner. We stopped paying for dining out years ago as we were generally disappointed most of the time. We have been noticing the quality of food in the dinning room has been slipping since our first Celebrity cruise a few years ago. I would say the food in the dining room was hit and miss throughout the two weeks, some dishes were very good, and others missed badly. I found the biggest drop in quality was in the fish entrEes and salads. This used to be a very strong point in the dining room for us and Celebrity. We found ourselves eating the beef dishes most of the cruise, which were good. Service was very slow some nights, but I can not fault the wait staff, I believe that they are understaffed. On our second cruise we were told by our waiter that Celebrity has complicated the dinning room by adding different plates for different dishes. The waiter can only carry like size plates from the kitchen, so multiple trips must be made by the staff. The wait staff as always was eager to please (A) Overall food in the dining room we felt is getting on par with RCL. (B-) Another disappointment for us was the Spa Cafe for lunch. Gone are all those delicious plates we have grown to love on the Millennium class ships. We stopped eating there after a few tries. (C-)
Now back on the positive note, Celebrity has really upgraded their buffet food. This is usually not our first option for dining but we felt everything we tried was very good to excellent. They have added a stir-fry station, multiple carving stations, along with a new station layout that makes this space much more efficient than other Celebrity ships. (A) We also felt that the poolside grill hit the spot on many days, many new salads here that were very tasty. (B) We also thought the bakery goods, muffins, cookies etc were as good or better than before. And for those Ice Cream lovers they still make their own and it is excellent.
Specialty Restaurants: We were able to try all 3 and liked 2 out of 3 very much. Silk Harvest (B+) and Tuscan (B+) stood out but we were disappointed in Murano. If you are used to the pay dinning rooms on the Millennium class ships you may be disappointed at Murano. (C-) Bistro on 5 was a nice space for a quiet lunch. We both had a nice bowl of soup, lunch crepes then finished with some dessert crepes. Nice change of pace and worth the 5 bucks (B)
The ship is a very beautiful vessel which is full of quality materials with a high attention to detail. There are many comfortable spaces located around the ship to relax and socialize. For a large ship it is easy to get around and is organized in a very logical manner. Someone did there homework, Great job Celebrity!!!
The pool area was crowded on sea days which are usually the case. I presume this happens more on shorter cruise itineraries. The sound system around the pool area was first class ,and was a joy for our walks in the morning and in between pool side entertainment. All lounge chairs are padded on every deck, along with lots of other comfy furniture from beds to nesting type chairs. There were plenty of sun or shade spaces depending on what you were looking for. We did like the lawn club and found this deck a nice place to get away from the crowds. The sunset bar was one of our outside favorite spots to chill out at.
Entertainment was the best of any ship we have sailed. The shows, the musicians that played throughout the ship throughout the day and night made for a very lively ship with all music tastes covered.
All bars aboard are a thing of beauty with the most notable change being the Martini bar, very loud and happening.
Not going to get into the ports as we mainly went for the ship.
Overall we had a great cruise experience and met many new friends along the way. We will definitely sail Celebrity again. (Equinox 2010). We did not have enough time to experience everything in 14 days aboard this ship so this should give you an idea of how much this ship has to offer. Those that have sailed Celebrity before may notice the changes in the dinning room and spa cafe that we noticed, other first time Celebrity cruisers may not. Not a deal breaker for us yet, but Celebrity is getting closer to the other mainstream cruise lines everyday it seems.
Hope everyone has a great year. Happy Sailing...........