Our second cruise with Celebrity, also in a Concierge Cabin, did not disappoint. This ship is absolutely beautiful at 2 years old. The rooms were sparkling as were the outside areas and indoor public spaces. The service was top rate, and in the dining room they knew us by name. We ate in all 3 of the specialty restaurants with the gold star going to Murano. This was a dining experience and we are used to eating in nice restaurants in NYC. A two hour extravaganza complete with filet mignon finished table side and a cheese course that was incredible. The meal ended with the best dessert, apples four ways.
We did an excursion at every port. They were expensive as we found last year in Alaska but this year they seemed more worth it because most sites were fairly far from the ship. I would recommend just the transfers in Taormina because you can read about the history there and you get more time for shopping, 3 hours as opposed to 45 minutes with the tour. In Athens, getting into the Acropolis was a nightmare, no coordination or organization, tour or no tour everyone piled in but we waited at least 40 minutes in the hot sun to funnel into a small opening with two teenage ticker takers! Getting to the top was fantastic with great views and well worth the climb. In Ephesus we did the House of the Virgin Mary which is quite spiritual and very beautiful as well as the ruins which are really interesting. There is lots of shopping at the bazaar but the shopkeepers do try to sell you stuff but if you don't engage them, you'll be fine. We did the Acropolis in Rhodes (Lindos) too and that was more organized than Athens but just as tough of a climb! The scenery from up there was spectacular and great history. Rhodes Town is within walking distance from the ship and there's plenty of restaurants and shops there if you don't want to do an excursion. Santorini and Mykonos were my favorite islands. I highly recommend the tour that takes you to Oia because this is where you'll find the white houses with the blue domes. My husband found the spot behind a church that you see on all the travel guides and magazines. Take the early tour in the morning. We were first to arrive and the shops were just opening. It was gorgeous and the sun was in a perfect position for pictures! It goes to Fira after that and you can take the cable car back to the ship but be warned that the lines get really long. We had no waiting time because we came back at 12:30p but at 1:30p, the line was over an hour wait. In Mykonos we went to Ano Mera which is a town in the middle of the island that is home to the oldest monastery and it was beautiful. It's situated in the town square that is framed by tavernas, one of which the group sat at for appetizers and ouzo. They also took us to one of the local beaches and then dropped us off in Mykonos Town which is really nice to see. You can walk around to Little Venice which is an area with the windmills and is a must see for tourists. The last port was Naples and this was the hardest excursion to choose because they were all day excursions so you only had time for one. We chose the Amalfi Coast drive which stopped in Sorrento for 1.5 hours and then lunch at a restaurant on the coast with gorgeous views, then on to Amalfi for another 1.5 hours. The road itself has many curves and I was concerned at first but the bus drivers are so well versed at handling them and you're so mesmerized by the stunning scenery, you don't even see where the road is going! Our guide made a stop at Positano and let us get out and take pictures so I was excited because that was one of the tours I gave up because of the timing. This tour was 9 hours and took the whole day. All tours were organized and EVERY tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and very professional.
Back to the ship...the musical entertainment was very good with alot of variety. There was a guitarist, an acapella group, a jazz band, a dance band, a strings group, and a singer that sounded like Michael Buble. We saw three shows in the theater, all were very good and the theater is very nice. One of our favorite spots was Cafe Baccio on the 5th floor. They had all kinds of coffee drinks, pastries and gelato that were all delicious. The food in the Silhouette restaurant was good overall but there were a couple of misses for me. Sides and desserts there were first rate! Service in this restaurant was outstanding. We did not have a scheduled seating but they knew we liked the table by the railing and somehow managed to get us the same one every night even when we came at different times! They were really accommodating. They came over and spoke to us about our day and really made us feel like family.
The shops were lovely, plentiful and reasonably priced. There was a beautiful library on the 10th floor and you could take books out on the honor system. Our room was on this floor as well. It was surprisingly big, the bed was very comfortable and the veranda was larger than last year and the chairs were much nicer. The bathroom was a big surprise. The shower was glass enclosed with a nice amount of space. The storage area was crafted very well with nooks and crannies for all your toiletries and towels. We were very happy with our room. Unfortunately, not everyone adheres to the "no smoking" policy on the veranda and occasionally we would smell the smoke when we were out there. We used that space quite often when we left ports, to have our afternoon treats and for breakfast on sea days. We used those days to relax since we were doing excursions every other day. Also, they have a hot glass show that shouldn't be missed. We went one of the last nights and it was great. I only wish they would have sold what they made because I would have bought something. The blowers were so friendly and incredibly smart. They knew their craft very well and were quite creative. The pool area was very large although the pools were small and most days it was crowded so we spent our time in the solarium which was much cooler and for adults only.
There were alot of kids and families on this cruise but nothing that was really bothersome although it does amaze me how late people keep up small children. Actually, one night a family with three small girls was in the restaurant and the youngest, about 2 years old was screaming for quite a while and the mother was just laughing. I thought that was rude and wondered why she didn't take the child out of the restaurant, but she didn't. The only other issue was the room next to us had an older man and his granddaughter and next to them were the girl's parents. On the first formal night they were out on the balcony until 2am and were so loud it kept us awake. They were also slamming doors coming and going early in the morning and late at night and I couldn't believe they were so inconsiderate of other people that might be sleeping. We were up early everyday to go on excursions and always held our door so it didn't make noise. They seemed to be nice people but maybe they were just oblivious to the noise they were making.
Our stateroom attendant, Shawn was a great guy, friendly and very attentive. I learned on this cruise to ask for what you want (extra towel, etc) because they will give you the moon if you just let them know. It was really great how accommodating he was and our room was always made up every time we came back after sightseeing.
Overall, this cruise was fantastic. The weather was perfect, hot, but not unbearable in Greece and Turkey and very pleasant in Sicily and Italy. We never saw a drop of rain the whole time. The waters was so calm, we took pictures to show our friends and family. I have motion sickness and after going to Alaska last year and it being calm, I thought I'd roll the dice again and try Europe...another winner. If you've booked this cruise, you will not be disappointed and if you haven't, I highly recommend it! Celebrity makes you feel like you're the only person on board and we loved it.