This was our second Celebrity and first transatlantic cruise.
It was everything we had anticipated, and we enjoyed it enough that we booked another TA crossing for 2012. I acknowledge that Celebrity is not for everyone. Not for families with Kids, or the younger crowd looking for lots to do. More for sedate relaxation, spending time with loved ones, good food. No rock climbing walls or wave riders.
Embarkation was a breeze.
Arrived on board to a nice glass of bubbly. Dropped our few carry ons in the cabin, (the two bottles of wine we brought on board and extra hangers, which I highly recommend as there are never enough on any cruise) and made our way up on deck to explore.
Other than the artwork, the ship was almost identical to the Solstice which we had sailed on previously. Spotless would be one word I could use to describe everything. For those who have not sailed Celebrity before, these ships do not have the Glitz & Glamour of the RC ships, but are rather more elegant and opulent.We enjoy both.
The food on board was excellent. From the MDR to the buffet. If you take into account the number of meals being served to have a perfectly cooked medium rare melt in the mouth Fillet Mignon in the MDR is high praise to the chefs. Was every meal perfect every night, no, but overall, and keeping realistic expectations it was excellent. Meals did seem a little better earlier in the cruise, but this could have been because we were just over food towards the end.
We chose select dining, as we like to take a siesta and eat later. This worked out great for us, and not once did we have to wait to be seated. Service overall in the MDR was great. Maybe the odd waiter not quite up to the standard of others, & we had one dinner in particular that was overall sub par, however most evenings went without a hitch. By the end of the cruise we had had so much food we skipped a couple of days and ate at the buffet on deck 14. Fewer people eating dinner here than I would have expected. One thing I have to mention on behalf of my husband. The Pizza was pretty bad.
Exceptional. We had reserved before sailing for early in our cruise, and enjoyed it so much (and still had things we wanted to try) we reserved again for later in the cruise. Both meals were great, and we still have items on the menu we would like to try (next cruise). Innovative and fun. May not be every ones cup of tea. You have to enjoy a wide range of foods and flavors for this to be your thing. I will not go into detail because I would hate to spoil the experience for others.
In the Murano was also a nice experience. It was more about the overall experience than the food served. The scones and clotted cream did not quite live up to English standards (And the scones are available during afternoon tea at the buffet) but were still nice. As I said the overall experience , superb white glove service, excellent choice of teas, Strawberries and Champagne ( Perrier Jouet was served) live string trio playing, Wedgewood china ( and no, I was not the only one turning over the plates to see who made the china) made it well worth the $25.
This was our second to last evening of the cruise. This was our least favorite of the specialty dining experiences, and we would not make reservations for a specialty restaurants again this late in the cruise. The food and service were good, but not anything overly spectacular. The Calamari was disappointing. Portions are large but I prefer quality over quantity. The food at Chops on RC was much better.
The productions shows were great. Better than on the solstice. Dancers were good , vocalists were good. Other than the main production shows, the overall specialty acts were Good, but not great and the variety of entertainment for a 13 night cruise was a little lacking I thought. No late night comedy show, which was something we had enjoyed thoroughly on the solstice, and were looking forward to. There were only three production shows on a 13 night cruise. Cruise director Q was very good. Was always friendly, and seemed to be around a lot, but kept a good level of professionalism.
The other musicians/singers on board were excellent, and the band D Revelations deserve a special mention. They were everywhere, and always maintained a high level of energy throughout the cruise. They catered well to their audience, changing things up based on the demographic.
If only as much could be said about the DJ. You may say since the disco is always empty that this is not important, but I would ask why is the disco always empty. Celebrity is an older crowd, that does not mean people don't want to enjoy themselves, and there were many of us mid 40 early 50 year olds on board. Cater to the demographic with your music choice. It felt like some evenings the DJ played music just to try to run people out of the disco so he could close up. He also seemed to spend way too much time on his inter ship cell phone (Something we did notice with a few of the staff) on one occasion chatting away straight through three songs. Room for improvement here.
The overall ships cleanliness was again spotless. One vast improvement was the public restrooms. There were times on the solstice last year when they were not well maintained. This seems to have been corrected. There was almost always an attendant there cleaning and restocking, especially at heavy traffic times such as mealtimes or when a show let out. Probably not the best job to have, but the restroom attendants were always friendly and smiling.
I opted for the Premium, and my husband, mainly a beer drinker chose the classic. We were both very satisfied with our choice, and I would do this again. The only suggestion I would have is a wider variety of wines by the glass. The ones offered were very limited and not great quality. They rather push the cellar masters wine cards, but if you have spent almost $700.00 on a premium drinks package you don't really want to have to spend more money to get a decent glass of Chardoney. This is just a minor observation, the overall package value was excellent, and I would do it again. For a shorter cruise however I may opt for putting the money towards wine cards in the cellar masters instead. The premium package includes everything, so if like me you are not a big daytime drinker, it is still worthwhile. Perrier, fresh squeezed juice, specialty coffee and tea. These costs would add up otherwise, and it was nice not to have to worry about the cost. The Cafe al Bacio was much busier on this cruise than I had ever seen it, especially on the one cloudy day. Not a seat to be had.
Exactly what we expected (class 2A deck 9 starboard forward) We have traveled concierge class before, and really I could not see any advantage to concierge class. Welcome bottle of champagne, Fresh flowers, fresh fruit and appetizers which we did not want anyway, plus a free bag are the only difference. The cabin itself is identical. Our cabin steward Thomas was superb. We have booked the same cabin for our next cruise. There was a lot of talk about the "Sunny Side" of the ship on cruise critic chat rooms. Either side was good. We were technically on the sunny side, but this gave us early morning sun only. The other side would give you afternoon sun, and a sunset view. We just happen to like starboard. I would go with what you like, and not worry about the suns position.
Speed has improved, but it is still expensive.
My best advice. Have a good time. Don't let the little stuff bother you. We saw a few people complaining furiously about ridiculous things. The plates on the buffet were not hot enough? The lawn area was largely closed for grass replenishment, however enough section was open that it did not stop anyone from playing Bocce, croquet or putting. Some people used this as a reason to lodge a complaint. I bet odds are these same people would never have set foot on that piece of grass if it had been open. Again, keep it real, and don't sweat the small stuff, and you will have a great cruise.
5 Star all the way. Highly recommend