Arrival and boarding took about 30 minutes from walking into the terminal and then into the cabin by about 14:00. You were greeted with a glass of Champagne as you boarded and directed to the lifts. We went straight to our stateroom as many people already on seemed to be bereft of carry on.
Cabin: The cabin was well laid out and seemed larger than the Queen Victoria balcony cabin in December. The layout of settee next to balcony works better than the bed next to balcony layout we had last year on the Equinox. Bed was extremely comfortable, tea tray is just a tea tray – no coffee on it. Bottle of water was $4 if opened. We requested jug of iced water, ice bucket to be filled and wine bucket for the Champagne we took on board this was all done by the time we returned to the cabin and refilled as required. We asked for the fridge to be emptied and managed to squeeze the 2 bottles of champagne in on their sides, could not remove the middle shelf to stand the 2 bottles up. 36 inch TV which could swivel out about 35 degrees for viewing from the bed. Storage – the wardrobes although well stocked with hangers are a bit on the small side and could be an issue on our 16 night cruise in October. The over bed storage and drawers will take the majority of clothes. The settee is more comfortable than it looks. Bathroom is extremely spacious with lots of storage and no shower curtain – sliding door instead – take note P&O. Balcony was a good size and being on the hump had an unobstructed view. Chairs on balcony are recliners and had 3 positions. Lights in cabin could be operated on a dimmer switch and the bathroom had a night light in it, the main bathroom light also had a red light on it to make it easier to find in the dark. Robes were in the cabin. The interactive elements on the television worked well.
Moonlight Sonata Restaurant: My faith in on-board cooking is restored although I would never claim to have been disappointed with the food on a cruise I have felt the standard has declined over the last few years – the food we have eaten on-board in the main restaurant has been superb. The brunch on Sunday was outstanding everything you could possibly want. Found it very cool in both colour and temperature ideal for me. Chairs are heavy though
Ocean-view Café: About 8 different stations with some duplication of areas. Food was good with a wide choice at all meals. Pasta and pizza was available from 12 noon to 21:00, Sushi available about 17:30.
Qsine: was out of this world, you could graze until the cows came home. Wide selection of dishes with the menu and wine menu all on an iPad – great fun and unique. Food was well thought out and the staff great fun. Taste wise some was superb and others due to personal taste not so great but grazing was the name of the game so no worries about returning unfinished plates. Upside down lights, one armed chairs all different to a normal restaurant.
Bistro on 5: well worth the 5 dollars and they also did Gluten Free Crepes my wife was delighted.
Gluten free diet was well catered for across the ship and we were never made to feel awkward about asking for the Gluten Free options.
Smoking: Major down was that the Sky lounge was part smoking which was very noticeable when you entered. There were smoking areas across the ship, I think 4 in total but we only noticed it here. No smoking in staterooms or balconies. - $250 fine and put off at next port if caught.
Lounges/Bars: Good atmosphere in all the lounges and busy constantly. Yes prices were expensive compared to P&O but the measures were large. Different drink menu's in different bars. 2 happy hours 16:00 to18:00 and 22:00 to 00:00 - 2 Carona's for $5 or a set martini for $5. Cellar-masters was very good but could have done with more information on the available wines. There was a dedicated lecture lounge/cinema on-board which will be a bonus on longer cruises.
Entertainment: The 2 ships company shows were very good. The singer Lindsay Hamilton was good but we had seen her before, as soon as she started talking about her children and showing photo's we left, we feel if she left the stories out along with the family slide show she would be a good act. There was a Welsh tenor, Ryan Morgan on-board in Cobh singing in the atrium – a last minute booking, he was superb with a wide repertoire- singing was effortless to him – he really deserved to headline a night. Around the ship there was a constant mix of music and it added to the atmosphere – classical, guitar, piano, barbershop quartet, jazz and different music in different bars and restaurants.
Other: we played on the lawn and watched the glass show. The iLounge certainly brings a different feeling to the cyber cafe. Price on-board will be equal too or less than USA retail so bargains are possible for the UK buyer. Ipods – nano, shuffle, classic and touch and laptops 2 13” models and a 15” model were available to purchase, they hope to have the iPad shortly.
Wide range and choice of goods in the shops. Unfortunately as the ship was only inside the EU 17.5% tax would be added to any gift shop purchases so we will wait until October. Ship photos were $19.95 each. A studio session is $575 dollars plus.
As we are Aqua Class in October we deliberately avoided the Spa and Blu.
One downside absolutely no reference to this being an inaugural voyage on-board despite it being advertised as such and the Celebrity UK website running a countdown timer to it. but 3 glass coasters were left in the cabin.
Overall the ship has a definite WOW factor to her and does not feel as large as her size would suggest.