I have been a Celebrity cruiser since their inception and it has always been my preferred cruise line. I was happy to support them putting a brand new ship in the Northeast, but I am not going to be running to book them again in the near future.
Embarkation: Many comments have been made before about Cape Liberty so I won't go into much detail. It was a little chilly wait, but we probably went through security and checked in within a 1/2 hour which is still fine in my book. I have dealt with much worse.
Ship: Ship of course was spotless being just a few months old. I am still not a huge fan of the S class design. I feel that there is a lot of wasted space on the ship. Prime space is taken up by speciality restaurants that are mainly utilized for dinner only. Bistro on 5 and Cellarmasters have limited use and take up large valuable areas in the lobby areas that could be put to better use since there isn't much bar space in the center lobby areas. They were both ghost areas at night. Their new concept on the Lawn Club - the Porch never had anyone in it anytime I went by it during morning or afternoon.
The pool area is slightly improved over the Equinox since it is less restrictive with railings/sculptures. The 4 or 5 tarps above the pool deck on each side end up shading too much of the valuable sunning area and people were always scrambling to shift their chairs into you to get a last minute of sun. These are not really needed since there are plenty of shady areas on the ship. It was mass chaos around the pool since the pool butlers/staff never commented when people shifted their chairs around for optimal sun and blocked walkways and the pool area. There were a large number of elderly people on the ship and they are lucky there were not serious injuries due to people falling trying to get around all these rude people blocking the access ways. The daily paper always had a note to not block the jogging track with loungers, but no comment on the main pool area.
Cabin: We had a C3 cabin. We are not over-packers, but this ship certainly has less storage than most ships so plan accordingly. Bathroom is slightly larger than average. It was very amusing that the sink faucet in the bathroom was replaced midway through our trip since they screwed up and had a very short faucet previously that spilled water over the sink and they were now just able to replace them. Stateroom steward was adequate, but nothing exceptional.
Dining: Here's the big problem. I know that dining is subjective, but Celebrity's variety and quality has badly deteriorated over the years in my book. Some of the meals in the main dining room at night were laughable. I haven't heard so many people complain about the MDR meals on a Celebrity ship before. Chicken Wellington, the Chef's signature meatballs, Veal Cordon Bleu our way and of course the half lobster tail shell with mostly dry stuffing and little lobster/crab medley were certainly some of the lowlights. The staff as usual in the MDR were exceptional trying to accommodate, but they have to work with what they are given and they don't seem surprised at all the negative feedback. Many tables are very close in the dining room so be prepared to hear you neighbor's conversations. We especially liked the night when we got the table in the back of the dining room that felt like the kid's table at a holiday with plastic/rubber chairs that didn't match the rest of the restaurant.
The Ocean Cafe was adequate for breakfast/lunch. It wasn't tough to find a seat most times. They still need to vary the variety at dinner time. We went up there a few times trying to avoid the MDR experience and they continue to serve the same items each night.
Drinks - First cruise where they didn't provide full drink menus in bars so that you were surprised how much you drink would be. Seemed ridiculous that you had to ask how much a specific liquor was for a mixed drink. They did offer 2 for 1 drinks unannounced at the pool a few days and listed in the program from 9-11pm a few nights.
Speciality Restaurants - We ate at 2 speciality - the Tuscan Grill and the Lawn Club Grill (2 nights). Unfortunately it is quickly becoming the norm on Celebrity that you need to pay extra to have a good meal on their ship like what you used to get in the MDR. We had exceptional meals in both places and the Lawn Club Grill is a great idea. You have the opportunity to create a pizza appetizer with a Sous Chef and then have the opportunity to grill your dinner with the Chef all while getting fresh air from the lawn club area. Staffs in both speciality restaurants were outstanding. It was a little annoying that Celebrity seemed to be constantly running word of mouth 2 for 1 or 20% discounts on the speciality restaurants after we had paid full price in advance. They might want to rethink their price increases and price them reasonably again.
Activities: Snore.......Celebrity was never know as being a high energy 24/7 activity line, but their "Celebrity Life" program is a little too refined for my taste. I felt like I was at a spa retreat for the cruise it was so low key. 15 minutes of stretching in your lounge chair at the pool started many days. Wall to wall seminars/lectures many with the same lecturer who would cure the worst case of insomnia fast. It was actually jarring when they did a staff/passenger pool volleyball game on one of the last days of the cruise since it stood out that much like wow, i forgot that you could actually have fun around the pool!
Entertainment: Not usually a strong suit for Celebrity, but they really need to get over trying to imitate Cirque du Soleil. They had their failed partnership with them on shows and yet 2 of the 3 main shows were lame attempts at recreating a Cirque type show. The comedians and lounge performers were very good. Very little live music at the pool, but unfortunately that is now the norm on most lines. They did have some nice concerts on the lawn club at night.
Service: Still Celebrity's finest quality. Their staff is very attentive and happy to try to do anything to make your vacation special.
Captain's Club: Celebrity still shines here. Free laundry and nightly 2 hour happy hour with free drinks (plenty of selections) and hot appetizers (and other assorted perks) still make this a tough line to give up on.
Ports: There are plenty of comments on the ports we have visited on the boards already - St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, Labadee, Antigua and St. Croix. It was nice to have 12 days out of NJ so that you didn't just have to visit Florida and the Bahamas. We also were on a different pattern than most of the ships out of NJ so we had many ports to ourselves.
Passengers: Quite different than I expected. The majority of the passengers were either elderly or European. Not the usual middle aged northeasterers you see on NY/NJ cruises. The staff explained that it was due to the longer cruise that many Americans couldn't easily take off the 12 days for a cruise.
Overall: We still had a good vacation despite all my comments, but it is a shame how badly the MDR has become over the last few years. I would like to see a little more variety again in their activities, but it looks like they are trying to appeal to a different crowd these days.