We book this cruise because of the ports that were on this cruise and the number of days in succession at sea. When we book this cruise on April 27, 2011 with a down payment, Acapulco Mexico was a port of call. When we made our final payment on August 12, 2011, Acapulco was still a port of call. My traveling companion and I are scuba divers and since you are not offering scuba diving on this cruise, we were making arrangements in the various ports to go scuba diving including Acapulco. It was not until about 10 days prior to sailing that my wife, when she was pre-booking tours, discovered that we were not going to Acapulco but to Puerto Vallarta instead. I found it necessary to cancel my dive in Acapulco and make arrangements to dive in Puerto Vallarta instead. This change gave us no days between dives instead of two days between dives as we had originally planned. Had my wife not been booking pre-tours we would not have known that we were not going to Acapulco until we boarded the ship. This would've caused me to lose a deposit for diving in Acapulco as a no-show and more than likely would not have been able to dive in Puerto Vallarta. I did manage to book the dive in Puerto Vallarta before we sailed. I do not know when you changed these ports this cruise but it was certainly more than 10 days before sailing. We should have been informed of this change when it was made!
Because of a delay in embarkation this cruise had to embark all other passengers in a 3 1/2 hour. Instead of instead of a 4 1/2 -â€" 5 hour. Approximately 1600 passengers needed to board during this timeframe causing longer than normal standing lines. There was a delay in are leaving the dock from 4 PM to 6 PM. This delay caused us to make a choice between going to dinner at our 6 PM time or watching us leave San Diego port. We chose to watch the departure rather than going to dinner at 6 PM. After we left the Bay and were in the Pacific Ocean we decided to go to dinner. I called the Celebrity Select Dining to see if we can make a reservation for dinner that night. I was informed that we had chosen the 6 PM dining and that we could not change that reservation. Because of this we had to eat dinner in the Ocean View Cafe.
The overall selection and quality of food was great. The one exception was one sit-down breakfast in The Trellis Restaurant. Scrambled eggs were served cold and runny. After that we ate breakfast and lunch in the Ocean View Cafe. We did return to The Trellis Restaurant for the brunch, which was excellent. The dinner menus In the Trellis Restaurant had a great and varied appetizers, soups and salads, entrÃ©e and dessert selection. We enjoyed your wine selection and purchased a bottle wine every night for dinner. One of the members of our party was a vegetarian with some very strict diet needs. Your matre d' and executive chef were able to meet and prepare her dietary needs. The Ocean View Cafe food selection and preparation was excellent. We also enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs from Breeze Pool Grill.
Condition of The Ship
The overall condition of the ship appeared to be clean. But it was very evident that there were many things on the ship that needed to be repaired. In the men's toilet on the fourth deck just outside of the Celebrity Theatre, I found the seat on the toilet broken and unusable. It fell off the toilet. In our state room the carpet was extremely worn and had holes in it. The shower curtain in our bathroom had mold on the bottom of the curtain and appeared it had not been washed in some time. During the Panama Canal transit, we had a table that was on the back veranda on deck 10 on the starboard side. We were unable to listen to Martin Harrington's narration because of broken speakers in this area. I understand that after this cruise that this ship was going to spend three weeks getting refurbished. It sorely needs it. Certain sections of the ship were also closed because they started the refurbishing during this cruise.
Beyond the Podium Series
The Beyond the Podium Series on the Panama Canal with Martin Harrington was very informative. Marty's presentations broken up into one hour presentations was the right amount of time to hold your attention on a given subject. By breaking his presentation into several presentations the information he presented on the Panama Canal was more informative and I retained a lot of the information he gave us. I like this series so much that I had asked Marty to forward me his PowerPoint presentations. It would have been really nice to hear Marty's comments during the transit of the Panama Canal.
Cabo Guided Walking Tour-CS 62
My wife took this tour with one of our traveling companions, Linda Sanders, and they were highly disappointed in this tour. This tour appear to be a history tour with some shopping. They said that it was a shopping, restaurant tour with a little history. They left the tour about two thirds away through the tour and returned to the ship.
Guatemalan Estate and Gardens Tour-GQ 15
This tour was taken by my wife, Sandy, our traveling companions, and myself. The visit to the Casona Don Pancho estate was very interesting and the narrative tour of the estate was very informative. After their narrative tour we sat down at the tables in the garden area and were served a snack. We were left in this area for about an hour and a half. Our tour guide gave us no further information as to how much longer we were going to be at the estate, whether we could go back and revisit other areas of the estate and he disappeared. We finally decided to re-explore the estate on our own. When it was time to return to the ship our tour guide reappeared and told us to get back in the buses.
Panama City Experience-CO 55
This tour was taken by my wife, our traveling companions, Tim and Linda Sanders, and myself. We were the third bus on this tour and our tour guide decided to reverse the tour. Instead of going to Miraflora Locks first as described in your tour information, he decided to go to Panama City first. In Panama City, we stopped for a restroom break. After the restroom break, I thought we would get back on the bus continue our tour of Panama City. Instead we took about a 45 min. tour through a museum that was not listed as part of the tour information. Our next stop was at the old cathedral, again not listed on your tour. Here we were rushed through the grounds in about 15 to 20 min. Our next stop was Miraflora Locks. We arrived in the late morning /early afternoon just in time to see the last eastbound morning ships via the webcam in the motion picture theater. During our time at this Lock only a small vessel transited the locks and we were able to see this because our tour guide allowed us 'a few extra minutes to see this'. This entire tour felt like a rush rush at the Cathedral stop and Miraflora Lock stop. I understand that there is a disclaimer that you cannot guarantee to see a large ship transit the transit. Because our tour guide chose to reverse the tour in order to save time and arriving at the Miraflora Locks last (arriving late morning/early afternoon) insured that we would not see a large vessel transiting these locks due to traffic restrictions. The first two buses went to Miraflora Locks first and were able to see ships transiting the locks. Again I felt like we were being rushed from one place to another without sufficient time to see the areas that we were visiting.
Shortly after boarding the ship we purchase transportation transfers from the cruise dock to the Fort Lauderdale airport. A couple of days prior to disembarkation we found out that you had a Personal Valet Service in which we could put our luggage out the night before disembarkation and our luggage would be checked through to our final destination without us handling it again. This was a great service and we would use it again. We were told to the Celebrity Theatre before 8:50 AM for our disembarkation. We started the disembarkation process at about 9:10 a.m. and got through Customs in about 20 min. However, when we got outside the terminal to board a bus for the ride to Fort Lauderdale's airport there was no transportation available. There was not enough transportation available to take all of your passengers to the Fort Lauderdale airport. We had to wait standing at the curb for approximately one hour and 30 min. for a bus to arrive to take us to the airport. This bus was the last bus to leave the terminal. While we were standing at the curb waiting for a bus, one of the dock curbside personnel kept asking us to move. There was no place for us to go except to wait where we were at because other buses to other destinations were loading their passengers. Had we known that you would be unable to provide us with transportation to the airport in a reasonable amount of time, we would not have elected to take your transfer transportation but would've taken a cab. Celebrity Cruises knew exactly how many people had purchased transportation to the Fort Lauderdale airport and didn't provide transportation in a reasonable time. We would have been better off staying in the Celebrity Theatre until you had enough transportation to get us to the airport, instead of standing for an hour and a half. But no, your primary purpose was to get us off the ship and be done with this. We have cruised with other cruise lines and have never experience this kind of delay in getting to the airport!
Our primary objective, to transit the Panama Canal was met. Doing scuba diving objective was also met. We were able to dive in three ports.
The food, selection and preparation in Breeze Pool Grill, Ocean View Cafe and for dinner in the Trellis restaurant was excellent. The entertainment we saw in the Celebrity Theatre was good. Our cabin attendant, bar service attendance, waiter, assistant waiter, matre d', wine steward and chefs did an excellent job. These you would expect to find on any cruise ship.
However, Pre-cruise information, embarkation, condition of the ship, tours, disembarkation leave a great deal to be desired. This we have not found on other cruise lines with the exception of Norwegian Cruise Line, which we no longer use. I would not put you in the same class as Norwegian Cruise line but you came pretty close. Your food and service keeps you a step above them. In selecting future cruises, Celebrity Cruises will not be my cruise line of choice as there are several other cruise lines that we have been on that do a far superior job of providing a great, pleasant and entertaining experience