Onboard life-I like the less announcements policy a lot. Rarely do you hear announcements exception being the Captains noon update. Staff knows your name, drink, food preferences within a few day of boarding, which is a miracle in itself to me, since I rarely remembered even my table mates' names until after the first week. One of the things that was quite impressive that I never noticed before was Celebrity's attention to people with disabilities. We had a nice couple onboard who were deaf, Celebrity made available to them interpreters anytime they needed it for shows, excursions, etc. People who had a physical disability that confined them to a wheelchair were treated like the VIP's that they should. We did have a day or two of rough seas, which wasn't totally expected since it was a transatlantic cruise in September. The ship obviously tried its best to minimize the rocking, was really impressed though how the crew/staff handled the passengers concerns. They tried to keep people from focusing on the movement and suggested simple but effective solutions to make it as smooth/comfortable as possible. One suggestion for cruise travelers. Find a cruise line you like and stay with it. These was my 10th cruise with Celebrity, and appreciate the perks they offer repeat visitors. Galley tours, backstage tours and even a bridge tour as well as meeting the senior members on the staff, really make you feel like they value your business, and I appreciate that.
Crew-Seems genuinely happy and integrated- From talking to various members, found that ~ two weeks they have a get together in the lounges for crew only, really sense that this helps to bond them. Master and Hotel Director are respected and admired for their work, they talk the talk but more importantly they walk the walk, and lead by example and this same spirit flows to the rest of the crew. The hotel director Christian was astounding with his attention to detail, personality, and recall. He's a great asset to the Constellation, Celebrity and RCL shareholders. One thing also I thought worth mentioning, the crew seemed to genuinely respect the leadership of Celebrity up on the corporate level as well. One of the singers was telling me during a backstage tour that they appreciated that the fleet wide recycling effort (Save the Waves) they did onboard, any profits generated went to the crew recreation fund, and heard on several occasion from more than one staff member that "they take good care of us here".
Spa-Went for a few massages while onboard and all where quite good. Found though was better booking the day I needed them rather then in advance as usually could save 30% off listed prices. When I tried to negotiate a deal upfront for package of 10 best they could do is 20% off, so glad I waited and got the 30% off almost daily special. It is riskier as they generally don't offer the larger discount on sea days, but on this cruise they did several times. Was happy too that after telling the first "therapist" that I wasn't interested in creams, lotions, products they sell, they left me alone and stopped recommending
Excursions- Thought they were good, and used the time well. Think I took four or five while onboard. All I thought had a good host, well versed in the local history of the spot visited. I was glad also that they weren't trying to point you to a store for shopping. Always been a pet peeve of mine to pay for a tour and have them spend the time bringing you to their colleagues shop instead of concentrating the focus on the local sights (unless of course it's a shopping tour).
Dining-Overall give it 4.5 stars out of 5. The buffets are good and plentiful. San Marco dining staff attentive. Absolutely love their presentation and attention to detail on every plate. I don't think I eve r waited for a course in 14 days, always served promptly. I also-liked that the waiter Justo suggested his favorite choices from the nightly menu, as well as desert. If he noticed you didn't seem to be enjoying you're entree, he would suggest a different entrEe, as he wanted to genuinely see you go away happy. Only complaint I guess I had was the NY strip steak, at our table of 12 at least a dozen were ordered over the course of the two weeks, but all were tough and stringy. Maybe it was just a bad batch we had. -Soups were delicious, our table devoured the fresh bread every night, and deserts were excellent and original. Enjoyed the Michelin type service of the specialty restaurant as well, food there was EXCELLENT, service EXCELLENT, atmosphere and attention to detail EXCELLENT. Reminded me of a two star Michelin restaurant I visited in Toulouse a few years back. Most cruise ships know how to dress up an entrEe, but Celebrity takes it a step farther and has a great way of turning even something as simple as a salad or bread course into a culinary treat for the eyes and the palette. That takes some finesse that they pull off.
Embarkation: Took the bus option from Celebrity to Harwich and arrived at approx 2PM, embarkation was a breeze and was on the boat by 3PMs. This was my second time at Harwich and both times embarkation was easy and stress free. Noticed though that the train stopped right at the Harwich terminal, so next time I might try that from London instead of the 2.5 hour coach ride, since I heard they have non-stop trains from London on cruise days. Cabins- Are what I've grown to expect for Celebrity. Clean, Smart Design, and well maintained. Towels changed out twice a day as needed. Beds generally made up promptly in the mornings after you leave and turned down at night while at dinner. Always a few chocolates on the pillow and fresh flower bud or two in the room as well. Had the greatest stateroom attendant for my cabin, a nice man named Newton. His smile and attention to even the smallest detail was there every single moment I was onboard it felt. I always look at miniscule details like the paint on the railing and deck chairs even though on this cruise it wasn't used much, but you could see that things were maintained even in parts that might not be seen or used all that much. I admire that attention to detail, as I think it reflects back on the bigger picture.
Price- ROI (return on investment) EXTRAORDINARY. I don't see how Celebrity does it, provide top notch service, food, ships and still works out to about $100/day, which in most cities, you would be lucky to find a moderate at best motel room for with no food or entertainment included. Entertainment: Overall pretty good,. On a positive note, the Voicemales which were an A cappella group were quite good and personable. The voices were good. Movies onboard were recent first runs. The shows by the Celebrity singers/dancers in the Celebrity Theatre were good as well as the young talent has a lot of enthusiasm and spirit and put on a full enjoyable show. You could tell they worked well together. Did try the comedy show, but came across as bland and a bit too bland for my taste. Perry Grant's, performances in Michaels lounge were enjoyable to his audience, but was really just wasn't to my tastes. Was really surprised though what a big following he has. Onboard. Thought the entertainment staff was excellent, full of energy, funny and they obvious enjoy there work.
Disembarkation : Easy, quick and organized. Ship arrived well before our scheduled 7AM arrival and was on the pier, cleared from customs with my luggage before 9:30.
Overall-5+ stars out of 5+. You see what you get, an unforgettable first class vacation where you really are treated like an honored guest on the ship. The negatives were inconsequential compared to the positives compared to other cruise lines I've experienced, and will sail again with Celebrity without a doubt. In my experience the difference with Celebrity is they are a learning organization, that strives to continually improve. They experiment and learn and grow. To me it's not all about who has the newest/fastest /largest ship or the latest bells and whistles of the day onboard, it's about quality, and Celebrity is quality.