A 4 day Party Boat is the way I would describe this trip. It is not your typical Celebrity Cruise which is more laid back in pace and people. I found the ship to have more than enough activities to even keep a gymnast occupied for days! I had a hard time keeping up with the energetic staff on board!
Now that we have established the festivities on board, let me say this is my 17th cruise, and we did not lack for things to do.
Boarding: There were no lines downstairs, and you boarded by either deck number, or by suite, concierge, or other status. Once we left the downstairs check in area, with our stateroom key, we were guided up the escalator, where there were a great number of people milling, waiting for the ship to open for the new guests. They did not do a priority boarding, and they did not call the suites first, or the Captain's club members first, which was not what Celebrity has been touting to us. We boarded en mass, forming a line we made for ourselves. I found it rather unorganized.
On Board Greeting: We were welcomed by different members of each department on board, and waiters with trays and trays of complimentary champagne, Orange Juice, or Mimosa's. The staff was very friendly at the greeting area, and the photographer was there to take pictures of all the guests.
Rooms: We had a sky suite. Plenty of room for 3 people, the sofa bed made up into a comfortable double bed. We never used all the drawers in the room. There were nooks and crannies everywhere to put things away. Bring scotch tape (really sticky tape) and hang up your daily program, and any invitations you might get. Otherwise, paper becomes clutter on the desk. Just tape it up on the wall.
Lunch buffet: Lunch was served from 11:30-til whenever. I can recall after the lifeboat drill, that people were still nibbling, but did not know where the food was. We had gone to the buffet, and had an excellent lunch. A portion of the buffet was Chinese stir fry, and the chef made my dish to order in front of me. The vegetables and chicken were very fresh and delicious. A huge variety existed for the lunch buffet and I was very impressed with lunch.
Dinner: In the dining room, Grand Dining Room, early seating. We had a table for 10. We did not speak the language of the other 7 people at the table. We traded for another table. The next night we had the same problem, with no one speaking English, yet they were resident of the United States. Apparently they pair you by citizenship, when it should be by dialect or language spoken. Finally the third and fourth night we found a smaller table of 8 in which to dine, and finally, everyone spoke English. That really was the whole downside of our dining experience. Our food was very good, but there were no generous portions. I ordered the rack of lamb, and had 3 very small slices on my plate. Last on board the century, it was really a RACK of lamb. Had things changed that much? The service was good, but the old tables for 8 and 10, were now seating 10 and 12. They were very crowded, and it appears they needed another dining room to accommodate the extra passengers that were configured into the ship after it was rebuilt, and redesigned.
The food was very good; it was just in very small portions. I actually had to find snacks later on to fill up before retiring, which is probably better than stuffing myself during dinner. Eat smaller meals, lose weight? What lecture was I attending where Azamara Cruises was talking about that same subject? They served standing orders of garlic escargot every night for dinner, and shrimp cocktail. Yummy! The fish on board was outstanding.
Aqua Spa Cafe: Excellent place to go, hidden on the ship next to the spa for a healthy lunch. Specialties include poached or grilled salmon, and chicken, plus outrageous salads, and fruits! I had lunch here every day without fail!!! If you are going on Century in the future: this is their best food venue, totally undiscovered! Service is quick and made to order for the hot food. Also there is a special gazpacho soup every day for lunch, sometimes melon, sometimes tomato base, it's always a surprise and fun to find out which is next!
Room Service: Great! We received every item we ordered, but put out our card the night before. Be sure to ask for butter, it's not a given, nor is sugar, cream, jelly, etc. But the berries, oatmeal, yogurt, all was very good, and the coffee got us up and running for the day. It all comes nicely prepared on a beautiful white linen tray.
Activities: Plenty of activities to keep a 4 day party boat doing just that, having a great time! Thank God, no hairy chest contests like Carnival. Just solid activities, trivia, bingo, lectures, seminars, computers, dance lessons, comedy, back stage tours, liars club, wine tasting seminars, The Newly -Wed game show, theater shows in the evening. Actually the shows were very good, and we previewed a new act coming to the ship that including gymnasts hanging on ropes from the rafters of the theater. It was a bit scary but fun to watch.
Dress code: Men on this short cruise opted 95 % of the time for suit, over tux. On the longer cruises, you see most of the men in a tux on formal night, but not on the shorter cruises. That's ok, given the circumstances. The ladies all looked very nice in beautiful dresses and formal pant outfits.
Shore excursions: Our weather was not very cooperative, so we did not venture on a shore excursion. We did go shopping in town, and those that had the beach trips, were given a refund due to the rain. Key West was a great place to find unique treasures, including beaded purses and resort wear.
Staff: We found our room steward Dad and Helen in 1223, to be over the top in friendliness, caring, courteous, and cleanliness of our room. We could not have had better service, and gave them something extra upon leaving the ship. The Activities staff was very energetic, the bands were very good, with lots of talented singers, and the Cruise Ship Director fit his part to a tee. We met the captain a few times on board the ship, at different Captain's Club parties, and had recognized sailing with him before. He was a very sincere and professional man. Our dining staff was superb, from the maitre de to the bus boy. We loved meeting the chef's on board, and they had a chef's cook-off for us twice! We found the Captain's Club hostess to be NOT as warm or friendly as any of our past hostess's, and she just didn't go out of her way for any of us, regardless of our status. I was crossing over to Elite, and she had no idea how to handle any of us. There were a group of 10 Captain's Club members who had become quite close, and all had the same experience. This was not typical of Celebrity. Another ship, another time, I can't worry about those small experiences! The rest of the staff, more than made up for it!
The ship was clean, even though it was an older ship. The bedspreads were not worn, nor the carpets. The furniture was in good condition, and the bathrooms remained spotless during the four days we were there. Wash your hands often to prevent colds on board. We also brought Handy wipes with us.
Remember that it is a small ship, so you won't have the room of the giants sailing the seas, but it is old, unique, and still reminds you of days past, even though it has been updated considerably. They did take the thelossaltherapy pool out of the spa. Too bad, I loved that part of the spa.
Debarking: Easy and by color code. Lines were not too long, but went by quickly. We were able to find our bags easy by color, and the car was parked directly across the street. If you are handicapped, and you have your sticker, parking is FREE! See you on another cruise soon.