We booked this cruise for the September 1st sailing for our tenth anniversary as we thought that the itinerary which included four days in Israel was perfect for us. We were hesitant after reading the initial reviews of the ship, but as soon as we stepped foot on the ship, we dropped all of our apprehension at the door and enjoyed every moment on this beautiful ship!
We had a Concierge Class room on the tenth deck, mid ship. The room was beautifully appointed and looked very fresh and new. It was bigger than I expected it to be and the layout was fairly well thought out. The only thing I didn't like was the shelving units on top of the bed as they were awkward to access and I kept the majority of my clothing in them. I would have preferred to use the trundle bed area under the couch as a drawer rather than having an unused mattress in it.
The bathroom was large and the shower was wonderful. Our shower made a horrible high pitched shrieking noise two minutes into each shower. We thought this was normal until we mentioned it to friends a few nights later. We told our room steward and he had it fixed immediately.
All of the main areas on the ship are elegant and really nice. There are so many places to hang out, each with it's own unique style to suit even the most picky person. The ship was always spotless and well maintained.
We joined in some of the different activities (Poolside games, Celebrity Rox, Bingo, dancing, etc.). The Activities staff, in particular Esperanza, Sarah, Justin and Dave, are enthusiastic and seem to work endless hours. Their energy and clear affection for one another is infectious and it is hard not to smile and join in when they are around. The casino area was fairly slow and it was several days into the journey before we saw people sitting at the poker table. Once we did, however, it was always the same five or six guys playing. My husband played in one of the Texas Hold'em tournaments and did well.
The ships' different musical performances (Aquadio, Allegra Strings, Sipra, Johnny Mantra) were all very entertaining and we would often go to listen to them in their various venues around the ship. We especially liked Johnny Mantra. He has a beautiful voice and a wide variety of songs that he plays. Aquadio is also an amazing, high energy group, although their songs get repetitive.
We never once came across any obnoxious kids or people who did not obey the smoking rules. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and kept to their own business.
We dined most evenings in the main dining room. The first night was a disaster and took way too long. We had the late dining (8:45pm) and I found that it was quite late and impacted the rest of the evening for me. However, I think a big part of this was because the entertainment in the theatre for the late dining occurs after dinner (10:55 pm). I would have much preferred for the entertainment to be before dinner, as has been my experience in the past. By the time the show was done it was close to midnight and I was too tired to move on to other attractions on the ship.
After the staff ironed out the issues from the first night, the rest of the evenings in the main dining room were lovely. I am a picky eater and could usually find at least one thing on each section of the menu to eat. I found the food was mostly very tasty and came out with good timing and at the right temperature. The staff were all friendly and very accommodating. They quickly learned our preferences and we would come to the table and everything would be set according to our likes. The asst. Maitre D was very accommodating to my husband's dietary issues and he stopped by our table every night to discuss the next night's choices. We also dealt with a lovely sommelier who greeted my husband each evening and was always available to fill his glass. I am not a wine/alcohol drinker and he surprised me with a martini one evening that he thought I would like, free of charge.
We definitely noticed the non-English speaking families struggling with communication in the main dining room. One family next to me ordered every entree on the menu at night because they couldn't read the menu and the waiter and assistant waiter did not make a stronger effort to help them. I did mention it to the Maitre D, but did not see the family again after that evening.
We dined in the buffet for breakfast and it had a wide assortment of choices to suit everyone. There wasn't a consistent rotation of food, it pretty much remained the same, but I didn't have a problem with it. There was enough variety that you could easily choose different foods each morning. We also ate here for lunch sometimes and it was good enough. We would make a turkey or tuna sandwich and have some salad. Again, lots of variety for those who want a light or hearty meal.
We ordered room service a few times. The system for ordering is through the television and while room service is 24 hours, there are only certain times you can order, which is annoying. However, when we placed an order, we always got a confirmation call within three minutes and the food always came on time and exactly as ordered. The only problem we had was when ordering breakfast. We wanted french toast, but we each wanted 3 pieces, so I put a six on the form and hung it on my door. They brought us six separate plates of french toast, which was pretty silly.
We ate at Tuscan Grille once, to celebrate our anniversary. I had booked it and paid for it weeks before we sailed. When we got to the dining room, we had five different people come to us at the door, but none of them seated us. Finally we were given a table and looked around and the restaurant was practically deserted. I asked the waiter if it would be possible for me to have chicken parmigiana instead of veal parmigiana and he told me that usually it would be ok, however, that evening they were having a wine connoisseur's dinner and the kitchen is too busy. It all went kind of downhill from there. All of a sudden, a large group entered the dining room and the serenity of the room changed to a hustle and bustle of sommeliers running around filling glasses and people getting louder as they drank more wine. At one point, it took forty minutes for my water glass to be filled. My husband thoroughly enjoyed everything he ordered. He said the tuna steak was the best he'd ever had. My food was bland and dry and i didn't enjoy it. The desserts were delicious, especially the chocolate fondue. At the end, our waiter brought our bill and tried to recharge us for the already prepaid dinner. He kept repeating to me all night that they were just too busy with the 'wine connoisseur dinner' which was leaving me with a sour taste. It sucked that the one night we chose to celebrate was our only experience with poor service and not great food (for me).
We did talk to guest relations a couple days later and she immediately had the Maitre D call me. He wanted to invite us to the restaurant again, but it was the last night of the cruise and we wanted to be in the main dining room to say good bye to our nightly companions. He did send us chocolate covered strawberries to our room and invited us to go for dessert in the restaurant after dining in the main dining room, but we declined. I was happy how he tried to resolve the situation.
I wasn't in love the ship's entertainment in the theatre. I thought the broadway night was amazing. The vocals on three of the four singers are unbelievable. They put a lot of effort into putting on a good show and I appreciate how difficult it must be to perform two shows in one night. There are also some amazing acrobatic acts that are thoroughly impressive. The dancers also work extremely hard and have high energy and smiles on their faces the whole time. I found the Cruise Director, Nick, to be annoying and arrogant. A couple of the shows revolved around him and his singing and it really bothered me that they were fluffing the entertainment so he could use the stage as his personal concert. I found his song choices to be boring and not the least bit appealing to listen to. There was also an evening which revolved around circus. While some of the acts were beautiful, the music was awful. The songs were nonsensical, repetitive and monotone. Several people around me fell asleep and I would have walked out had I not been sitting near the stage in the centre of the row.
Disembarkation was easy, we got off the ship right away (7:30am), found our luggage and left with our prearranged cab to the airport. It was not busy at all and was a very smooth transition.
We would definitely sail with Celebrity again although only for the two of us. If we take our kids, we will go with Royal Caribbean. Our kids would be bored on this ship, with the exception of the Fun Factory. This ship (and itinerary) is ideal for couples or families with teenagers/young adults. For us, this was a trip of a lifetime and we were so happy that we chose to do this cruise. We made lots of new friends and made wonderful memories.