Before I start and give my review of this cruise, I would just like to tell you my travelling companion and I have worked in the travel industry for over twenty years and we have both held senior positions on cruise ships in the past.
After embarking the ship in Istanbul for our Holy land cruise on the 6th of November we were amazed how quickly we got through the terminal and onto the ship.
The welcome onboard glass of champagne went down like a treat and our party of 6 couldn't wait to go and explore what would be our new home for the next two weeks.
Being Diamond Plus in the Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor programme we were matched across to Elite status with Celebrity's Captains Club. We were all looking forward to being made welcome and special like we have enjoyed and experienced many times in the past.
Once on the ship at 1pm we were shepherd to the Seaside cafe on deck ten to have lunch. Having not cruised with Celebrity before I was somewhat dumb struck at the rat race and free for all that was happening right in front of me.
Trying to push my father through the cafe in his wheelchair was near impossible. Passengers were just hitting each individual section of the buffet from left, right and centre causing ciaos and frustration for many people just wanting a simple lunch after a long day travelling.
My first impression was "why is it taking so long"? 15 minute to wait to get a salad was bad enough but this was topped by a 10 minute wait to get a cup of coffee. I didn't mind too much telling people not to push in front of me but poor old dad with his walking sticks he had no chance at all.
At this point all I could I think was, don't they do things different and why is everything from a packet of butter to a glass of water being served personally by a member of staff? All I could I do was reflect on what I had seen in the Seaside cafe and try and make sense of it as we waited to get the announcement at 3pm saying that our cabins were ready.
We settled into our generously large outside cabin on deck 6 and found the decor pleasing and cabin spotlessly clean which it remained to be throughout the whole cruise. Nothing was too much trouble for our stateroom attendant and it was nice to be engaging with someone who really had a passion for their work.
The evening meals in the main dining room were exceptional. The choices on the menu we found to be fresh and creative and it was joy to have such wonderful dishes served by two very enthusiastic and fun waiters.
At dinner on the second night compliments were sent to the chef and to our surprise no other than the executive chef himself came to our table to thank us personally.
We were asked if anyone had any questions they would like to ask. I asked the chef "what was happening at the lunchtime buffet"? He told us steps had been taken for staff to serve everything in the buffet as the ship had experienced a bug on the previous cruise and many people had been taken ill. At this point things did start to make sense we had thought the cruise line was going over the top showing over and over again on the TV how to wash your hands and how to prevent the spreading of germs and infections at sea.
On the third day of our cruise two out of our party had been struck down with a bug and by the end of the first week four out of the six of us had been isolated with the unspeakable virus!
Of course for their own reasons the officers were tight lipped when asked if the Norovirus was present on the previous cruise.
At one point we were told 4 passengers had embarked the ship in Istanbul ill and this had caused the outbreak! To be honest with you, should we have known this prior to embarkation I think some of our party would have thought long and hard about going on a ship with such a terrible and painful virus as some of our travelling party have had fragile health of late like I guess most of the population of pensioners onboard the "Connie".
After being released from isolation I found the free for all had continued in the Seaside Cafe and the attitude from some of the stripes still remained aloof, arrogant and still in denial of what was happening around them.
Today, having only returned home late yesterday I cannot find it within me to thank Celebrity Cruises for showing me how I am actually able to projective vomit and experience the other things associated with the unspeakable bug. However, once I receive the "gesture of goodwill" compensation payment in the form of a future cruise credit of one lost day in isolation, my opinion might just change but I don't think it will it took us almost three days to come around after.
I am more than aware I have been going on and on so I'm not going to go into details of the cold food and never once seeing a food thermometer, finding sinks full of vomit in public toilets and the inability of stripes to communicate with one another along with the disorganisation in the dining room for breakfast and lunch and, don't even get me started on the elegant afternoon tea.
So, go on, ask me did I enjoy my cruise?