We chose this transatlantic/repositioning cruise to rest and unwind after 4 surgeries and moving. We always do port intensive cruises so this seemed a great way to actually spend time on the ship instead of just hopping from port to port. This started out oddly from the beginning. Embarking at southampton was odd in that the process was actually well organized, lines moved quickly although priority lines overlapped with general boarding. We arrived at 11:20-got on the ship at 12:30. Why so long? Despite being well organized it was SLOW!!! Everyone had the same feeling. We were greeted with the usual champagne or mimosa but no one directed us where to go. since we aren't newbies, we knew to head upstairs to the Oceanview buffet but our tablemates commented to us during a comparison of cruise experiences that they wondered aimlessly not knowing where to go until there cabin was ready. The fire doors were closed so you couldn't sneak into your cabin until the announcement was made at 1PM. Lifeboat drill was painless.
We had requested a table for 8- early seating. When we arrived in the MDR, we were surprised to see only a few round tables-the rest were rectangle and were either for 2 or 4. Tables were pushed together to make any comination of seats. This might seem like a smart idea but it caused confusion for the guests and difficulties in serving for the waiters. There was a table for 2 next to our table for 4 and a table for 3 on our other side. Everyone was unsure if we were supposed to be together or separate. Waiters did not know whether to serve each table separately or at the same time. We wound up speaking mainly with our tablemates and the couple at the table for 2.
The food quality and offerings is continuing to decline. The description on the menus did not properly describe the item/s you actually received. Veal tenderloins turned out to be beef ribs!!! There were several nights I did not like anything on the menu and had to choose from the standard menu but I was bored with those as well. Deserts looked better than they tasted.The Oceanview Cafe was adequate and Celebrity actually put signs on the tables gently reminding guests to share the table and vacate when finished eating. The food was varied and frankly better than the MDR. We did not go to a specialty restaurant because we are boycotting. They began offering lunch so they must not have been getting too much business. We expected to have a brunch on the first sunday and were surpised it was not offered. We all decided by the next tuesday that we would not have one. Wed night our tablemates asked if we had liked the brunch? Huh??? What brunch. Apparently there was a brunch that morning that our waiter neglected to tell us about the night before. There was no mention of it in the activity sheet except for in the dining section under breakfast it said "brunch MDR 10-1". I spoke to the maitre d and asked him how we were supposed to know about it and he said our waiter was supposed to tell us. He was upset to learn our waiter had not and he said he'd talk to him. Our waiter seemed to be rushed and flustered the entire cruise. The assistant waiter was great and even helped us up in the Oceanview Cafe when he saw us for breakfast. I complained to Guest Services and Captains Club about the lack of notice and advertising of the brunch and I was discourteously blown off in both places. My concerns were minimized and dismissed.
We did not enjoy the shows and walked out on a magician/comedian. There were 3 decent/enjoyable shows.
We found our Cabin Attendent and his crew to be excellent. Our cabin was promptly made up everyday and our requests quickly met.
We had to divert to 2 other ports in Spain because of storms and we do have to give credit to the captain and the staff in how quickly they found new shore excursions and made arrangements. All 4 of the ports were just "ok" and the excursions adequate but overpriced. We knew the ports were not great when we booked so we really can't complain about that.
We enjoyed Cafe Al Bacchia and Bistro on 5. Bistro on 5 is well worth the nomial $5 pp charge. We went to the gelateria as a change from the ice cream available in the buffet and after ordering, discovered there was a charge. There were no signs posted about a charge and we were not happy.
The pool area was not too crowded and chair hogs were not a problem because of the lateness of the season and the TA crossing.
Wonderful glass blowing shows. Items made were auctioned off at the end.
Sales people in the shops were helpful and not pushy and we didn't find the bar staff to be pushy either. They asked if we wanted a drink and if we said no, they left us alone.
The ILounge was a huge disappointment. The first day when everyone needed to sign up, they were only staffed for 2 hours. The links to the satellite kept going down and service was very slow. We bought a package and the entire package was used trying to log-off and shut down. Most users had the same problem and there were lines of disgruntled passengers asking for refunds. I finally got credit for part of the minutes in my package but not the whole thing.
On a positive note-the ship's senior officers and captain were friendly and helpful. The ship's layout is the best of any we have been on. No bottlenecks and good traffic flow and elevator placement. The cabin size was ok but as others have said, too little shelf space. We used the storage areas above the bed to store things not needed everyday but we had to double hang things in the closet because of lack of drawers/shelf space. On the other hand, the bathroom was spacious and well designed and had drawers and shelves we never used. Balcony had 2 reclining chairs, 2 footrests and a nice size table. Bed linens were very silky and the towels were soft and fluffy.
We already have 3 more cruises booked. We are now Elite. We still like Celebrity but they really need to address the food in the MDR and improve communication. Our overall feeling about this cruise was-it was OK to good. We'll see how the next one goes.