Our first impression of the ship was amazement at the poor condition of the ship and lack of maintenance particularly in the private guest areas like the balconies. (See attached). Balcony furniture had peeling paint and unvarnished tabletops. The balcony floor was soiled and discoloured. Celebrity markets itself as an upscale cruise experience- we knew that the ship was older and would lack the amenities of the Solstice class of more modern ships; however we still expected a ship with some element of elegance and class typical of well-maintained older vessels. The entire ship appears old and worn out. Furniture and drapes are faded and discoloured. Stairways are rusted, handrails coated with paint. Our recent experience on the Serenade of the Seas showed us how an older ship can be lovingly maintained to allow the ship to retain charm and elegance long after newer ships have been introduced. The Century staff offer no apologies- the ship is old and that is all there is to it. They tell you it needs to be refurbished. As the risk of sounding like Leona Helmsley, you don't renovate dirt. Other people on board mentioned that the Solstice itself was beginning to show wear. Perhaps this is an overall maintenance issue that is endemic to the entire Celebrity fleet. I know many folks are loyal to Celebrity and perhaps our experience on the Century is not typical- still if this your only experience with the line, I wonder how many potential repeat customers they lose.
Five Star Dining-not so much!
You pay a premium to Celebrity and they promise a step up from your normal cruise experience. Some of the meals were quite good although they seemed to lack the variety available on other lines of with much lower fares. If there is a problem, it is with poor organization and training for the wait staff. Breakfast in the main dining room was almost comical. First you are offered juice by four separate people and then offered pastries and croissants by another three separate people followed by a few more people who they offer you tea or coffee. After this the waiter finally takes your order. Near the end of the meal, you are offered coffee again by several more staff. Lastly one poor lost staff member appears to ask if you would like tomato juice. (Failing to recognize that our breakfast is over and plates had been picked up). Conversation is all but impossible. Breakfast in the main dining room was far too much of a chore and we retreated to the buffet where conditions were marginally better.
The organization at supper was a bit better. The food was good but not great. If there are only two of you and you want a quite space to talk during supper, this is not the ship. Tables for two exist but are extremely rare. In most cases, when you request a table for two (we had reservations with Celebrity Select dining rather than an assigned table). When you arrive and ask for a table for two, you are typically seated at a table for eight where individual table sections are moved apart - about 6 inches between tables. It is impossible not to hear other people's conversations and ultimately out of politeness you are drawn into conversations with them. We met a few really nice couples this way. We like to meet people when we travel, but we think this should be our choice. Too many things on the Century seemed to be for Celebrity's convenience and not for the customers.
Again, we had hoped for more food variety and more subtle service. Deserts were generally poor. You are not provided a desert menu. Instead, waiters arrive to show you a selection of the evening's choices. I assume these trays were prepared at the beginning of the shift as they looked as tired and worn as the rest of the ship itself. Ice creams are available but never mentioned (for your convenience).
This is a difficult area to assess. Crew members are very polite but the politeness seemed somewhat robotic and not really sincere. Staffs have been trained to say good morning sir, good evening sir, thank you sir but no one says it with much enthusiasm or feeling. Not a single staff member called us by name This is so unlike the other ships we have been on.
We had a category NS Celebrity suite which faced the stern of the vessel. We had booked a C2 concierge suite as a guarantee (last minute) but were "upgraded" to The NS category. The suite itself is no bigger than a normal balcony cabin but comes with a few benefits like priority check in, daily tea and hors d'oeuvers (same dull serving every night) and a butler to serve them. Be very careful about booking these suites. The balconies are entirely open to the sunset bar above as only the first two feet of the balcony is covered by an overhang. There is no privacy and the noise and music from above can be irritating. On departing San Diego, we were treated to Led Zeplin- hardly soothing sail away music. This was not a major problem for us as it was cold and rainy so few people set out at night, but it could become a huge issue for people travelling in a warm climate like Mexico or the Caribbean
More annoying was the filthy condition of the balcony itself. Apparently, carbon is blown off the engine stack at night. For some reason, this carbon tends to settle on the balconies at the rear of the ship. I understand, that soot residue from the engine may be unavoidable. What I don't understand is why the balcony was not swept and the furniture wiped off before embarking passengers arrived. Dime sized pieces of soot were very visible . Be careful if you have new cruise clothes. Balcony furniture had peeling paint and unvarnished tabletops. The balcony floor was soiled and discoloured.
Did we have a good trip? Actually yes, but this was in spite of Celebrity not because of them. We just wanted a quick getaway to enjoy some quite time, take a few walks, watch a few videos and read a few books. If you're planning an Alaska itinerary, this ship would appear to be a good option. Still, I would recommend you keep searching. There has to be better choices available. We will not rush to cruise Celebrity again
PS if you are unfortunate enough to be on The Century, visit the bartender in 'Michaels Club" He is Romanian and does a great Scotch tasting. He's also a good guy.