My wife and I have completed 20+ cruises and booked Aquaclass on this cruise in Feb 2010 expecting a cruise of relaxation and refinement.
Booking was effortless and completed with the minimum hassle and included a speciality dinner, champagne and cabin credits.
Transport to Southampton was by coach thro Celebrity Connection whom we found to be courteous efficient and punctual. The service could be improved by finding a better service point than Leicester Forest, which must challenge for the dirtiest and most Of the 20:+ ships we have cruised on, this one goes close to the top of the list. congested services on the network.
On arrival at Southampton embarkation was trouble free with the exception of the new procedures adopted for the labelling of bags. Whilst from arrival to entering the cabin was less than 30 minutes, 10 minutes was taken up with queuing to identify bags and add labels. In future we now know to specify labels at the time of booking.
The presentation of the ship from public areas to the cabin is exceptional, with the emphasis on hygiene at every opportunity. Anyone contracting hygiene infections would only have themselves to blame.
The cabin, whilst small compared to other cruise ships was luxurious and perfectly adequate for our needs. A request to our cabin steward Denny, for extra pillows was fulfilled with no delay.
Walking around the ship at night prompted the query of 'where is everyone'? With 3000+ passengers we rarely had a problem in finding a corner with entertainment close by and cocktails on offer, indicating to us that Celebrity have the layout and activity programmes right, with passengers in all corners of the ship.
Dining was the highlight of the cruise. We had chosen the Select dining option and whilst we ate primarily in Blu for breakfast and dinner, and whilst the menu for dinner was restricted when compared to the other restaurants the service and food were excellent. We also ate in Murano Speciality and Moonlight Sonata Buffet, and Aqua Spa Cafe and once again the service and food were excellent, however on each occasion the tables allocated left a lot to be desired. Whether or not it was the fact that we were not regulars as we were allocated to Blu is anyone's guess.
When not ashore our days were spent in the Solarium pool area which on good weather days was perfectly adequate however on bad weather days and particularly days at sea me a meeting point for teenagers i.e. over 16's who took over the pool area thus restricting any casual swimming. Celebrity should consider restricting this area to 21+ (currently 16+) in line with their alcohol policy to ease the congestion and possibly ease the burden on the pool butlers and security.
The shore excursions we did were good value; however, we were not impressed with Sintra (Lisbon excursion). We found it dirty and overhyped. Had we not visited Cascais on that trip we may have been tempted to ask for a refund. Cascais was literally a breath of fresh air.
We found the entertainment on board adequate with something for everyone in the bar areas from classical to pop. The main theatre entertainment at times was mediocre but the highlight of the cruise, the main production Eclipse, was exceptional. All involved should be congratulated.
Disembarkation was no problem. From arrival in the theatre to loading bags onto the coach was no more that 25 minutes even after a chat to Customs & Excise.
In summary we booked the cruise expecting relaxation and refinement and were not disappointed. Of the 20:+ ships we have cruised on, this one goes close to the top of the list. The downside of the cruise, as with other cruise ships, was definitely the congestion around the pools on days at sea.
Our search for paradise at sea continues.