We had booked this cruise early (at least 9 months in advance). I don't know that we got a very good rate then, but since it was our honeymoon we were ok with it. One month before the cruise, I happened to see a Celebrity sale offering a Guarantee Suite for about $250 more/pp. Our travel agent thought this would be a good value for us and a nice touch. She couldn't have been more right!!! Our room was gorgeous. Service was first-rate. We even had a doorbell! The last night of the cruise, we invited some friends up to share some wine and our butler hooked us up with a platter of shrimp cocktail and another of meat/cheese/crackers. We had breakfast each day in our cabin, the food was great. The itinerary was perfect, as we had a nice blend of ports and things to do, but also a few days at sea to enjoy the ship.
Am I gushing yet?? :)
So there were a couple things I would do to improve. First, we had Select dining. Love the option of eating when we want to. And we made some great friends by sitting with other people on a couple nights and the others by ourselves. However, the service was somewhat lacking or slow. It simply looked like too many people dining and not enough staff, as it took almost 15 minutes for us to even see the Somelier most nights. Everyone was friendly, just wasn't prompt or attentive as it could have been. Also was disappointed to see that shrimp, crab & lobster were hardly ever served and a sirloin steak was a regular entree rather than a NY Strip or Ribeye, something with a little flavor.
This is not the cruise to take if you are looking for significant nightlife. We didn't stay out most nights, but the few we did we found bars closing down at 11:30pm with tons of people still there and bands stopping when people were just starting going. The venues were all very nice, just the programming schedule was a little off. They certainly would have made a lot more money had they stayed open, so I'm not sure why they would close up that early.
That's it for the improvements needed - back to the good stuff. Having a suite afforded us Elite level Captain's Club benefits. What a great way to celebrate your honeymoon. I'm sure we looked out of place, in our mid 30s, walking into the daily happy hour with everyone 60+ that had most likely cruised their way into that level. We enjoyed free cappucinos in Michael's Club several mornings and took full advantage of free laundry, etc. The biggest perk though - an invitation to the Captain's table one night for dinner. We ate with the Staff Captain and Chief Safety Officer, along with 3 other couples. What a fine evening, finished off with a nice photo of our table and group. Later in the week we were priveleged to visit the bridge as well.
Other things we like - the gym was well appointed and not overly crowded. My wife enjoyed the solarium area, though the hot tubs need to be hotter than 96 degrees. The casino was nice and big, never too crowded, and the staff were great.
As this is my first review, I will leave it at that. We had never cruised with Celebrity before (Carnival, Norwegian & Holland America) and they have made two new fans for life. I can't say we'll never cruise another line again, but overall we were very impressed with the ship and the cruise line and will certainly be on it again!
Fontana del Papa is an old Tuscan Farm House with an olive grove and everything you'd hope it would be. We made 5 total dishes including Puttanesca sauce, Spaghetti (guitar-style), meatballs, chicken cutlets and tiramasu. While that all sounds so simple, it was nothing like what we eat or make here in the U.S. Everything was delicious. We cooked and ate with 7 other people who were staying at the school for some amount of time. We all worked in the kitchen on various aspects and sat down family style for an amazing meal. Afterwards, Claudio (owner) did a wine-tasting seminar that was wonderful and very educational. We left full and in awe of everything we experienced that day, knowing we made the right decision to skip Rome. It wasn't cheap - about 200 euros each for the day, but worth every cent!!