BACKGROUND - 3rd time on Celebrity and now I'm done with the Millenium Class as it doesn't fit our cruising style. Would try Solstice when prices come down.
Honestly, I really only took this cruise because of the itinerary and price, not the ship.
PRICE - Great deal of $599pp or $662 w/ taxes plus $120 on board credit by booking with our internet travel agency, Best Price Cruises. Pre-paid gratuities of $230 ($11.50pp / day) for choosing Select Dining ahead of time and paid with final payment. This would have been a good price for 7 days.
Easy to get around as it is a smaller ship than Princess. Love the mid-ship outside elevators with a view outside. The grand staircase is a beautiful setting for pictures.
Promenade does not wrap completely around like Princess and fewer chairs on this deck to sit. Ship is showing age in some areas, but we heard it was being refurbished in another year. It needs it.
Great location near guest relations mid-ship. Shower was larger than Princess.
Bad odor when we arrived, Mildew on shower curtain. Uncomfortable bed & pillows. Storage not as good as Princess.
AQUA SPA Positives
It is the same company (Steiner) that operates so some degree of consistency. Similar gym, same free 7:30 stretch class. My wife and I were satisfied with the one treatment we received (NOTE - wait for the specials $99 for massage & $129 massage / partial facial), plus the 10% service charge & gratuity which I will discuss below. The couples Rasul packages, added to the Persian Gardens for $41 was a good deal and something we have enjoyed now on several cruises.
AQUA SPA Negatives
The Persian Gardens on this cruise was a more expensive $199pp, compared to Princess and with only 2 sea days even less of a bargain. Additionally, there are none of the relaxing chairs on Princess or Solstice, so I would not do this again. Lavender room wasn't working one day and The Turkish Baths were out of order after the first few days (we did get 50% off the package after expressing our concern about this). I'm disappointed with the 10% service charge added to all services, especially on the Persian Gardens. We responded by adding only a 10% gratuity, where it says "additional tip" instead of the typical 15-20%.
POOL AREA Positives
Loved the indoor adult pool, which is like a big hot tub and has those nice aress to lay down to relax. The adult area hot tubs could have been warmer especially since cold water was leaking in.
POOL AREA Negatives
Oh how we miss the fresh water pools on Princess as well as the swim against the current and the Sactuary areas.
Celebrity has always closed their hot tubs too early at 8pm.
ENTERTAINMENT (Generally negative)
There was usually one highlight for the evening and the typical musicians throughout the evening. Other than the Amy Abler, the pianist, didn't think anything was extraordinary.
First, it should be noted that we like to eat fairly healthy and alot of seafood with a light breakfast & lunch, however we do indulge as well, but overall neither of us gained any weight on the cruise, which is typical.
Ice cream was free and had good variety and toppings available.
Better juice selection for breakfast and lunch than Princess
AQUA SPA CAFE for breakfast some days & lunch most days was healthy, delicious, and rarely crowded and that was before we found out the last day you could grill a tuna fillet(only time we could find it the entire cruise) or salmon (the best we had on the cruise). PLUS, the same wonderful staff that serves the specialty Olympic (see below) runs the Aqu Spa(headed by the wonderful lady Mia).
ROOM SERVICE - We had room service breakfast many of the port days to save time and it was fresh and very good (typically ordered oatmeal, fruit, ham, toast). It also serves as a 2nd wake up call at 6:30 and it was always on time.
SELECT DINING - We did select dining in the main dining room 7 of the 10 nights and usually made a reservation at 8:30 or later, which appears to be a better time to select dine than the 6:00-6:30 reservation times. Note - outside of 6-6:30 and 8:30-9 only walk-ups are accepted between 6:30-8:30 which we never did, but again was busier around the 7-7:30 hour. When we dined at 8:30-8:45, we were typically out in a 1:15. Our select dining waiter Wayne from Jamaica, which we had the first night and then requested (not guaranteed) other nights was one of the best we had ever had. Very outgoing and great service. Generally the food was good to very good in the Metropolitan, however as we find on most ships the desserts were too exotic, so the ice cream came in handy.
EVIAN WATER PACKAGE - At $110 + 15%, the price was steep, but if you drink 4-5, a day it breaks even. You can get the bottles at any bar or in the main dining room (except in the Olympic they serve an even better water from the glass). Additionally you save space by not bringing it on board.
We tried the evening dinner buffet in the Ocean Cafe one night and while there was much variety, it was not very good and it was the same every night (Princess dinner buffets are better and is a different theme each night).
Lunch & Breakfast buffet was not good and again not as good as Princess.
Pizza & Hot Dogs from the grill were awful (On Princess I usually have a slice of Pizza for lunch since there is no Aqu Spa cafe and it is much better).
OLYMPIC Specialty Dining (All Positive)
The Olympic specialty dining is as good as fine dining on a cruise ship gets even with the $35 cover charge (plus the generous gratuity you will want to give the staff). Both the service and french style menu is excellent, however plan on a minimum 2-3 hour dining experience. We dined at Olympic twice (once as part of a $100 credit [$70 cover charge, plus $30 in virgin pina colada as we don't drink alcohol] we received for booking our next Solstice cruise on board.