Celebrity Century Cruise Review by birdcat: Celebrity Century - December 20-24, 2010
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Celebrity Century - December 20-24, 2010
To start with, I was diagnosed this year with many health issues - Parkinson's disease, heart problems, cancer and others and this was my first post-treatment (surgery, chemo & radiation) experience, so I approach it from that angle.
It was also my second Celebrity cruise and my wife's first (18th & 17th overall, respectively). We pre-paid our gratuities (required for Celebrity Select dining option) and the staff was aware of that.
Also, we are Captain's Club members (Elite level) due to our Diamond level with sister line Royal Caribbean, and had a Concierge Class cabin - both of which add perks which truly enhanced our vacation. The elite coupons can be seen here: http://birdcat.com/cent2010/CaptainsClubEliteCoupons-small.jpg. Of particular use were the dry cleaning, Persian Garden and 90 minutes free internet - since we are both members, we each got a set of coupons.
I will try to keep this in quasi-chronological order for ease of writing. More
Embarkation: This was the first time I have ever used a wheelchair to get onboard - We arrived at Miami at around noon - I approached a Celebrity person curbside and he got me one and it was smooth sailing from there. At security, since my pacemaker prohibits certain types of scanners, I was patted down but did not feel uncomfortable or intruded upon by it - Their security, both the ship and the docks, were top notch. There are multiple check in lines depending on Captain's Club level, room type and location, with Suites & Concierge Class at the top of the priority, followed by each Captains Club level. then by room location. We had our room pass cards within minutes and were on the ship within minutes of checking in. The person wheeling me brought me to our deck (nine) and we dropped off out carry-ons and headed up to the buffet for lunch.
Food: The quality of the food, both in the main dining room, buffet and alternate eatery options was top notch. What was surprising was the level of service was not up to what we expected. In the MDR we had Celebrity Select dining which meant we had different wait staff each night. They were good but not exceptional and I would rate them below the service we have received on her sister line - Royal Caribbean. The bar staff I found to be lacking, especially when trying to get a drink in any venue (unless at the bar itself) - We had soda packages and many times in the MDR, buffet and show could not find someone to get us a soda.
Continuing with the food, we ate only dinner in the MDR and they were superb. The menus had a recurring half (available every night) which had things like Shrimp cocktail (consisted of four 20 count size), lobster bisque (worth going on this ship by itself!), French onion soup, Caesar salad, salmon, sirloin steak, creme brulee and more - and a portion that differed each day. Among my health problems is a serious taste disorder which makes it hard for me to find foods I enjoy - I LOVED the shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, Caesar salad and creme brulee and had them every night, along with a different entree (the Chilean Sea Bass was exquisite).
One well kept secret is the Aqua Spa Cafe. This is a very small venue which only has a small assortment of healthier options but they are very good and unique. They also have a selection of fresh, poached fruits which were tasty. Some photos can be seen at http://birdcat.com/cent2010/AquaSpaCafe1-small.jpg and http://birdcat.com/cent2010/AquaSpaCafe2-small.jpg.
The buffet also has many options from traditional buffet dining to the pizzeria (which had things like English Beef Pie and Cornish Pasties as well), to the Asian selection (all the way at the rear of the buffet - worth the extra walk), to a pasta station, carving stations, desert stations, etc... Good to note is there were many vegetarian selections each day at lunch which included many Indian selections. At night the buffet also includes a sushi station. My only complaint about the buffet is the servers have a strong desire to pile all food on top of everything - I have a thing about that and like my foods to be separate (maybe a bit OCD on my part but I don't want my Orange Chicken sitting in my Dal and covered in Tikka Masala sauce).
Breakfast was standard - As concierge class passengers, we had an expanded breakfast menu (http://birdcat.com/cent2010/ConciergeClassRoomServiceMenu-small.jpg) so we ate on our balcony a couple of days, which was a huge treat, and in the buffet a couple of days. My biggest complaint about the buffet at breakfast were the cream cheese is just one huge mound o' stuff - very difficult to select and spread. Also, the breakfast at disembarkation was not very good and I will cover that later under disembarkation.
Stateroom: We had a concierge class (C1) and if the price is not too much more than a balcony, I would go for this again and again. It could have to do with the fact that we were CC Elite's or our fabulous stateroom attendant Walkul (not sure on the spelling) who was the best stateroom attendant we've ever had (I gave him an extra tip at the end - not something I normally do, plus singled him out in the questionnaire as exceptional). The larger shower area was appreciated plus the shower head is great. My wife made use of the body pillow which was available to her. The little things made all the difference (http://birdcat.com/cent2010/ConciergeClassPerks-small.jpg) like fresh flowers, fresh fruit, canapes, heavy robes, binoculars, etc... made the trip much more enjoyable for us. While not a huge room (I think it's 178 sf) there was more than enough storage space - we only used about half for our four night cruise.
Ports: We stopped at Key West with the specific plans of my wife going overboard at the Coach outlet. While not far from the ship, it was too much for me to walk and I was able to rent a scooter (handicapped variety, not a Harley) right on the pier - We had to walk a short distance but they took us by transport to their shop on Duval St. It was $50 (plus tax) for the day but we could have rented for $20/hour. With scooter to help, we got to the Coach outlet at 9:00 only to discover it opens at 10! We killed some time, went back, let my wife loose (how can a woman spend soooo much time looking at pocketbooks - not if it were power tools that I could understand), walked (rolled) around town a little more, dropped off the scooter and were back on the ship for lunch.
Our second port of call was Cozumel - we've been there several times so we just got off the ship for my wife to get some souvenirs and we spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Which brings us to:
Ship's Facilities: Since I now have limited mobility, we did not avail ourselves of the ships various options. One thing we did try was the Persian Garden - very nice but couldn't spend more than an hour or so. As I said, with health holding me back a bit, I spent most time either lounging on deck, eating or relaxing in the room. The clubs/bars seemed empty most of the time I passed through except for the Cova Cafe which always had people and the outside bars (Pool Bar & Mast Bar) which always had a short wait. I should also note that the temperature was only in the low 70's which could have something to do with the lack of outdoor activity.
Entertainment: This is a tough one - We only went to the two production shows - This first (Broadway tunes) was quite enjoyable. The second (Dance Around The World) was painful and probably the basis of Simon Cowel's "Cruise Ship Entertainer" slur. There was also a nice female string quartet and male acapella quartet, both of which we enjoyed when we were in the vicinity.
Captain's Club: A previous mentioned, we are Elite level thanks to reciprocity of our Diamond level with their sister line RCCL. The CC manager (who I am ashamed to say I cannot remember his name - Chandru I think, although he remembered my wife's and mine all cruise) is fantastic and really goes all out to make your experience one to remember. I don't know if it had to do with our Elite level, CC room, alignment of the stars or some combination of all three, but we were selected for a Bridge tour, which was absolutely one of the most fun things I have done on a cruise - The captain was there and everything! ( http://birdcat.com/cent2010/CaptainIsidorosKaramaounasOnTheBridge-small.jpg and http://birdcat.com/cent2010/BruceAndMindyWithTheCaptainOnTheBridge-small.jpg ).
Disembarkation: Here we had a few problems. I thought that since we were in a Concierge Class room plus were Elite level, we were supposed to get priority disembarkation. We were given Light Blue luggage tags, which I used, and when I called to inquire about when we should go to the lounge to wait to be called (which was supposed to be for Elite's) I was told 7:00 AM. We woke early, got everything together and went to the buffet for breakfast. It was not a great selection and I even commented that the milk (for cereal) was not cold and was told the middle was colder than the outside - it wasn't (also see my prior complaint about the cream cheese). Anyway, at 6:55 we were in the lounge and about 10 minutes later they called us to depart - We got off the ship very quickly (my wife even commented about how smooth this was and she couldn't believe it). When we got down to the luggage area, we find out that Light Blue wasn't supposed to be called and we would have to wait until 8:40 for our luggage to be available. I am not of full health and there wasn't even a place for me to sit and wait! They finally brought over a bench which I gladly used and thankfully our luggage showed up early at a bit after 8:00.
OK - Century is not a brand new ship and she certainly shows her age in spots (carpet and balcony floors & railings most noticeably) but she is a beautiful and well run ship. For the most part service was outstanding and most of the crew were exceptionally friendly and helpful - really evident that they valued us as customers and wanted us back.
I would sail this ship again (even on the same itinerary) and hope to soon. Less
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