When deciding what to do for our honeymoon, my now husband and I (we are 31-32 years old) never thought we'd take a cruise. We wanted to do something different than your run of the mill Caribbean Beach honeymoon. We searched and searched and finally came to the decision that a Mediterranean Cruise was our best option. We were a little nervous that the average age aboard Celebrity is more of our parents and grandparents age, but we knew we didn't want to party, we wanted an elegant experience. So we went with our fingers crossed.
We traveled to Barcelona the morning before the cruise and stayed at Hotel Pulitzer near Las Ramblas. Great hotel, easy to get to the port from it.
We began boarding around 12:30pm. Our boarding process was SO quick and easy!! We were very impressed with how organized it was. From being dropped at the port by our taxi to when we were actually on the ship and handed a glass of champagne, it was about 20 minutes. Perfect start to a perfect trip!
We went right to our stateroom, #8228 on the Vista Deck. I had done a lot of research and knew I booked a cabin mid ship and it couldn't have been better. Very large balcony (larger than most on the ship, including people we met who had a suite), SO MUCH storage space, even in the bathroom! We met our room attendant, Urban, right away and sent out everything we needed to have pressed. We then set out to explore the ship, and trust me, it is GORGEOUS! Absolutely everything you can want or need is on board.
We had the late, 8:45pm seating, and had requested to sit at a table for 8-10 people. We wanted to meet people and have fun! They couldn't have chose our table more perfectly! There were 8 of us, all about the same age including another couple who was honeymooning. We hung out with them the entire trip and had a blast. I'm not sure how Celebrity selects people to be put together for dining, but they did a great job with us! Our waiter, Gokhan (from Turkey) and our asst. waiter, Tacky (from Jamaica) were OUTSTANDING!!!! Wonderful service!!!
We also dined in Murano and Tuscan Grille. Murano was good, but too fancy and over the top for us. We like fine dining, but it was wayyyyy too fine. Almost like everyone dining there was putting on an act. They waitstaff spent so much time changing out our silverware, it was actually funny. But it was nice to have a formal meal like that on our honeymoon. Tuscan Grille food was to die for. Absolutely amazing!!! Best meal we had all trip and definitely worth the surcharge! We did not try Silk Harvest because we met multiple people on board who didn't care for it.
For other dining options, the Oceanview Cafe buffet for all meals was wonderful! You would think it would get old after 13 days on board, but there were so many choices! There was also the Mast Grille and the Aqua Spa Cafe, as well as Bistro on Five. Everything we ate was absolutely out of this world. We gained weight as we expected to! Room service was also great! Breakfast on our veranda was definitely a nice touch, and late night burgers the night were slept thru dinner due to too much day time drinking was greatly needed! Room service was fast too!
There were SO many bars on board. I think 15 or so and they were all great. Special props to Kelby from South Africa at the Molecular Bar on deck 5. He was amazing and his drinks were always made from super fresh ingredients. He takes pride in his drink making skills and it shows. We purchased the top drink package and it was worth it. From our lattes each morning at the cafe on deck 5, to bottled water, Red Bull, sodas, martini's, wine at dinner, champagne, after dinner drinks, etc. We DEFINITELY came out on top. It was $50 per person per day plus tax and gratuity and was well worth it. We usually had drank our $50 each before lunch!
We thought the show times needed to be more consistent. They were all over the place. Sometimes at 7:15 and 9:15, sometimes at 8:45 and 10:45. Overall the entertainment on board was somewhat lacking. I thought the shows were much better on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. But we weren't really there for the shows, so we went to 4 of them and left early during one and made sure to just go to comedy and Cirque de Soleil like shows only because that's what we like. Other entertainment was fun, we participated in a Family Feud like game with our friends and won and there was a Newlywed game that we didn't sign up to participate in but was very entertaining!
The nightclub, Quasar, was the only place where the bartenders were bad. They were rude and their drinks were TERRIBLE! I would leave there and walk down the "street" to get a drink at the Martini Bar or the Casino bar and bring it back to the nightclub. Also, their hours at Quasar were weird. They'd open at 11pm, and some nights close at midnight and other nights at 2:30am...one night there were about 30 people in there dancing, drinking and having a great time, and they kicked out out before 12:30am! Very strange! It was like the bartenders didn't want to be open!
Activities on board were great! I don't agree for charging more for fitness classes though. We did Bingo (we were the youngest ones in the room every time!), and we did a wine tasting on the lawn club. There were activities for everyone and we loved reading Celebrity Today to find out what we could do each day. I don't think there were too many kids activities but you should know this isn't really a ship for children. I would say out of 2850 passengers, there were maybe 20 children on board. It was FANTASTIC!!! We love child free vacations!
Celebrity offered many shore excursions for every port of call, in all price ranges. We did not take any of these, as we arranged private tours with private vendors months in advance. We're glad we did, as everyone who took the Celebrity tours paid more than we did and had to travel on a coach bus with 50 people, seeing less than we did and not having as much included. We never had more than 8 people on our tours and our minibuses could get thru streets that coach buses could never even attempt! We saw so much and had such wonderful experiences. We had originally booked a Naples/Pompeii tour thru Celebrity once we boarded. I cancelled (within the cancellation time) because were were going to be coming off a 9 hour tour of Rome the day before and didn't want to go right into a 9 hour Naples tour. I was told at time of cancellation that I was all set. But it took me 7 days and 4 trips down to Shore Excursions to get the money ($270) refunded to our on board account. NOT HAPPY about that at all. Especially since the person at Shore Excursions I was dealing with kept promising me an answer the same day and told me he'd leave me a voice mail, which he never did. I wasted about 2 hours of total time dealing with is before it got refunded. I would most definitely recommend trying to find people on the Cruise Critic boards to do private excursions with, especially in Europe. We are so glad we did!
Now for a few cons on our trip, which we didn't dwell on but want others to be aware of:
Internet packages are expensive. I bought a $30 package that only included around 60 minutes. I don't even pay $30 at home for high speed Internet for a MONTH! And the Internet is SLOW. If typing an email, open a word doc and type it all out before you connect, then copy and paste. Also, the man who teaches the itouch/ipad, etc classes on board was extremely rude. I caught the tail end of a class one day when going to send an email and people were asking questions at the end of the class and he basically told them the class was an hour and he was done. VERY rude.
We had a problem with the salon overcharging me for my nails. I just needed a repolish, as my shellac polish was about 2 weeks old. I was quoted $25 and made the appointment. At the end the girl charged me $50, telling me there was also a $25 charge to take it off!!! It took me 2 trips back to the spa after this to get a refund! $25 to take off the existing polish?! I have NEVER heard of such a thing and I've been to many, many spas and salons! Plus they knew I already had polish on when I made the appointment. To take it off just requires soaking my nails for 15 minutes and the woman had to wipe it off. If that is worth $25, then sign me up to be a nail polish taker off-er.
Lastly, we had an issue with our credit card on board for our account. Not sure what happened as there was plenty of available credit, but I spend 2 hours on our last sea day dealing with it. I even printed off my current account activity and showed desk relations that I had plenty of available credit on that card. Finally after showing them and convincing them I wasn't going to rip them off, I was allowed to enjoy the rest of my day (I had to deal with it immediately because they cut off our drink package the 2nd to last day which was ALREADY PAID FOR!!! We paid for the drink package out of our bank account a MONTH before the trip!) Guest relations was terrible. After dinner I went to the desk TWICE to make sure our account was okay and the credit card issue resolved and told them I'd give them a different card. They kept telling me we were in a holding pattern and were waiting on another authorization. I practically BEGGED them to take another card and they wouldn't! The next morning at 5:30am I had to deal with it because my original card was still having a problem. I was so annoyed as I handed over a new credit card that they wouldn't have just taken it the night before and I had to spend 30 minutes at Guest Relations the morning of departure!!! And they were rude to me! I finally snapped at them in front of a line of other guests and told them it was extremely poor customer service to NOT even try to deal with it the night before. On the day before we docked back in Barcelona I went to guest relations SIX TIMES! Four times during the day, twice after dinner, and I called around midnight, just to avoid having issues in the morning. Epic fail by guest relations!
The disembarkation process was a snap! We chose to carry our own bags off and it only took about 5 minutes to depart the ship and hop into a taxi to the airport. We had a 10:15am flight and we were at the airport 3 hours before!
OVERALL: Great cruise, great ship, great staff, great food, great drinks, great ports, and a lifetime of memories were made. We didn't let the inconveniences ruin our trip, however both the Shore Excursions staff and Guest Relations staff need some serious customer service training. To everyone else: THANK YOU for making our honeymoon an extraordinary experience. We will never forget it and we WILL cruise Celebrity again!