The ship is beautiful. Very clean. Layout is very good. Perhaps a little overwhelming when you first embark as it may feel quite big (especially copmpared to The Century) which accommodates only 1800 guests !. However, you get used to where everything is very quickly. And even if you do get lost, crew (and other guests) are lways milling around and can point you in the right direction!
Embarkation at Southampton was very easy and hassle-free. Being greeted with a glass of wine as we set foot on the ship is a nice touch, and immediately she feel welcome.
Our cabin (with a balcony) on the 8th deck was very comfortable. Having a kettle and tea/coffee provided is a nice touch. The bathroom is a very good size, and the shower cubicle (with screen/doors - not a curtain) is huge compared to another cruiseline we recently had the misfortune to sail with (more on that later).
The Oceanview Cafe (buffet) is great. Very well laid out with lots of different serving stations. Although it gets very busy in there, it never appears to congested. We remembered from our last cruise on The Eclipse that it could sometimes be hard to find a table to sit at- especially at busy times. We didn't find this to be so much of a problem this time, I must be honest.
Second seating for dinner at The Moonlight Sonata Restaurant was fantastic. We were on table 243 and our waiters Inyoman, Sasho and Marsha were very friendly and helpful. We also had fantastic dinner companions on this cruise. The location of the table (deck three, right in the middle of the dining room) was great. Very bright and felt spacious and gave you a view of the whole room and the fantastic "wine bottle mountain" (in absence of a better description).
Entertainment was always very good. The cruise singers and dancers, as always work exceptionally hard. Also, the one-off entertainers each night were very good - and very varied: comedian, singers, violinist, pianists, hypnotist. Also, when we were in Russia, we had a local group of Russian singers/dancers come on board one night. That was a lovely tough, and they were very good.
We used the ship's shore excursions. Yes, you can say they can be expensive, but they are always very good, and you have the reassurance that IF anything went wrong, or you were delayed gettign back to the ship, it was CELEBRITY's repsonsibility to look after you and get you back safely.
We bought a speciality dining package to sample one meal in Tuscan, Murano and Q'Sine. All three retsaurants are very good, and different. If I had to state a preference it wouyld be Q'Since. We like dit so much so that we paid for another evening in there, too. It is a unique and exciting experience. The restaurant describes your time in the restaurant as a journey around the world where youa re able to taste foods from all over. All the meals are presented in a quirky (in a good way !) fashion. And actually chosing and ordering your meals from an i-pad (rather than from a menu) is a novel and great idea.
All the onboard activities and lectures were very good. Extra events (galley tours, themed nights) plus other events laid on for Captain's Club members are very worth while.
Finally (yes, I know its been a long review- sorry !). The one thing that sticks out in my mind is the fantastic, friendly service received by all the staff. Every single member of the crew works very very hard. Even when walking in the corridor, when crew members walk past, they all wish you a good morning. Que, the cruise director deserves certain praise. he did a great job, and was so very friendly and genuine. We would go out of his way to walk over to us when he saw us around the ship to see how my Mother was. Other members who deserve recognition are Patrick and Rene from Q'Sine, Lucian from Murano, our stateroom attendant Orlan, and Jan the Hotel Director.
Even when you saw the crew members walking around, they seemed happy and obviously got on well with each other. It seemed as if they belonged to one very nig family onboard- a family they were happy for you to be part of too for the short time you were with them on this cruise.
We sailed with another so-called five star cruise line company earlier this year. We only went on that cruise as we felt we should give another company a try as we'd only ever been with Celebrity before and so perhaps were a little biased. However, that cruise line (who will remain namelsss but with links with the Royalty of England !!) offered us nothing but appaling service, two to three star cuisine at best, and astonishingly poor customer care and after-sales service. Looking at other reviews for that cruise on this website, many other guests were also left feeling very let-down and disappointed. As a result, We will never set sail with that company again!
So, Celebrity is very very good in our opinion. We have already booked another cruise with them for next year. We can't wait !!