Four 'first-timers' cruising together. We turned up early, about 11am and parked with ABP. We put our luggage into a white van and we were bussed to the terminal. It took us no more than 10 minutes to check in and walk onto the ship where we were greeted with a glass of bubbly. We were told our cases would be outside our staterooms at 3pm - so we set out to explore and make the most of our pre-paid 'beverage' package.
I wont go into a blow by blow review - but I feel it fair to say we spent the first 3-4 days saying 'Wow'.
The food was great - Moonlight Sonata and Oceanview buffet. It was nice to have a 'formal' breakfast and lunch occasionally, however the Oceanview buffet offered much choice and good quality. Even during busy times you could always find a seat - it was nice to take your food outside and sit at the stern bar area.
The staff were attentive and keen to please and the service was excellent.
The entertainment was fine, the staged reviews were excellent while other 'shows' were possibly average. The ships' musicians were very good and there was always some music at one of the bars, cafes our lounges. The string quartet added a touch of finesse to afternoon tea and cakes in the Cafe.
All of the bars were impressive, Michael's Bar provided a touch of elegance with some wonderful 'piano man' entertainment each evening. The Jazz and ACapella groups were also very good.
We enjoyed the talks and lectures provided - the 3 part 'Titanic' talk was truly a labour of love by Carl. All the talks can be replayed on your TV at you leisure if you are too busy soaking up the sun by the pool.
There are lots of nice touches in your stateroom - a kettle and Tea/Coffee, which isn't advertised so may put off some Brits. Bathrobes and nice toiletries. Before the cruise we discussed whether to pack beach towels - not to worry as the night before your first port, two lovely Egyptian cotton Beach towels turn up on your bed - along with the chocolates on your pillow!
We didn't take any organised excursions as it was possible to walk into each port of call without difficulty. With our drinks package we hardly put anything onto our room account.
We opted for Select anytime dining and prepaid our tips (part of our great deal}. We had such a good experience on our first night we tried to sit in the same area each night as the waiter, assistant and sommeliere were superb, as indeed all the staff were. Our evening meals were always anticipated with relish.
The pool area was lovely, plenty of padded beds and an endless supply of towels. It got busy at times but you could always find somewhere to laze.
Drinks were expensive particularly when you add 15% Service and further 8% in Spanish waters. This didn't bother us as we'd prepaid about £790 for two 'Standard' packages which were ample. This enabled us to have fresh orange, quality coffees, smoothies as well as frozen cocktails at the pool. Beer, wine, cocktails and house champers are also included. £790 seems a lot but we felt it was worth it. You can buy the package on board for just part of your cruise - I believe it costs a little bit more though.
My only criticism is not about the ship or its staff - but about some other guests. We heard lots of people 'moaning' about trivial things and there were lots of, what we labelled 'cruise-snobs' who loved to talk loudly about what they had and where they'd been. One lady one evening was demanding to be seated with a lawyer, or retired sea captain as the one the previous evening had been so interesting! All part of the fun I suppose.
Overall we had a wonderful time and are now 'hooked' on cruising. Celebrity was a true 5 star experience and it would be hard to 'downgrade' to P&O or Princess, although some people on the cruise said they compare favourably. I suppose its all down to personal taste and your experiences at the time.