This was a repositioning cruise (Ft Lauderdale to Santiago transiting the Panama Canal). Our cruise was quite heavily discounted on account of the costs of one way fares back to the US from Santiago. We had a Veranda cabin but I seem to recall that inside cabins were selling for as little as USD600 per person for the two week cruise in the month or so before we departed.
This was our first Celebrity cruise, but will definitely not be our last.
With the cruise being so heavily discounted, I fully expected that Celebrity would need to cut some corners somewhere along the line, however this was NOT our experience and it was very much a four plus star cruise experience across the board. In no particular order
Pre - Cruise Hotel to Avoid America's Best Inns Ft Lauderdale Sth. A nightmare and with any luck will have been closed down by the time this goes to print. Check out the reviews on Trip Advisor for the gory details.
Embarkation and disembarkation smooth and well organized on both ends. Appreciated the nice touches such as ice cold faceclothes, bottled water, etc while we waited to embark. Lots of staff around to assist and a very warm welcome.
Fellow Passengers Primarily from North America and generally in the 70+ age range. We met several lovely passengers who were well into their 80's as well.
Entertainment Was very much tailored to the age profile above, particularly the singers/vocal entertainment. Was not that great from our perspective, but the oldies seemed to really enjoy it!
Cabin Verandah cabin was well appointed and spacious. Only complaint is that the layout is such that you can't access the closet if someone is in/needs to use the bathroom, as the doors sort of open into each other. Just a bit annoying, that's all. Got used to it by day 13!
Cabin Steward Excellent and unobtrusive service.
Gym Much of the equipment was not in good working order approx 1/4 of the machines with "out of order" notices on them at any given time and a bit too much mirror gazing by some of the staff, when they were there. The lack of staff presence was also a problem when the air conditioning went off unexpectedly (as it was prone to do) however the Spa ladies were always helpful in tracking down someone to fix it.
Shore excursions we didn't do any personally as we were travelling with our own group, however the other passengers seemed to speak quite highly of the ones they'd done. The prices as well we found were much more reasonable than what we'd become accustomed to paying on Princess.
Internet Bought a package at the usual shipboard rates and was pleasantly surprised with how well it all worked. Found both the internet cafe and wireless connections to be reasonably good esp compared to the connections on Princess. THe chap in the Internet Cafe was excellent and very helpful and patient to those who were not quite comfortable with the technology. A credit to Celebrity, this guy would stay on well past his official leaving time to help others out.
Activities a wide range of things to do if you were so inclined, and a great Cruise Director/activities team, with heaps of energy and enthusiasm and a real "can do" attitude.
Food Quality was generally excellent, esp AquaSpa Cafe, which is the best kept secret on the boat with its heathy eating menu and beautifully presented meals.
The buffet was okay but not adequately staffed (you could not help yourself as there were staff "servers" on all but the salad bar) ie the pasta bar had only one server and so even if you just wanted a bowl of plain spaghetti, you had to wait behind all those in front of you who were ordering customized pasta toppings etc. We tended to avoid the buffet for that reason, although as mentioned above the food was generally excellent with great variety. On the positive side, they did have waiters come and take your full tray from you and carry it to your table for you, which was a nice touch.
There were some problems in the Main Dining Room on a couple of nights, which seemed to be management issues rather than issues with individual staff. There was apparently a "change of senior staff" early on in the cruise and things got a bit better after that.
Kids Club There were only nineteen kids on this cruise and in one word, FABULOUS! A highlight of our experience with Celebrity. Truly wonderful staff who clearly loved their jobs and made sure our kids had a great time despite the small numbers. I can't speak highly enough of the Kids Club team on our cruise and hope that Celebrity realizes what a great group of people they have there.