This was our second cruise on the Century; the last in 2005 before the ship underwent major refurbishment. Our last five cruises were on Azamara so it was hard not to draw comparisons with that fabulous cruise line. Boarding in Honolulu on 11/11/11 was hectic was slow. My wife and I had earned "Elite" Captains Club status through our earlier Celebrity and Azamara sailings and this had been confirmed by email from Celebrity some six weeks earlier. Imagine our surprise when our sea-pass said we were "Select" status and were told to sort it out once we were on board. This we did by lining up to see Korina Murphy the Captains Club hostess who could not explain why we were shown as "Select" at check-in. We were both put out by her persistent "don't you understand what I'm saying" line. Hell, all we wanted was to understand why one data base should differ from another!
The ship's highly attentive and pleasant staff and the fun-loving complement of fellow cruisers made it a very enjoyable cruise. The food was generally excellent although on the one occasion we visited Murano's, we thought that the $40 each we paid was far too steep. Sure, the meals were served with great showmanship and elegance but when it came down to flavours, we could do just as well in the Grand Restaurant. As a main course we both ordered our favourite - lobster thermidor, and were disappointed that the sauce completely overwhelmed the taste of the lobster. The appetisers were pleasant and cooked tableside with flair but in the end, they were no more than we could knock up at home.
We attended the one and only sponsored Cruise Critic (CC) connections party early in the cruise. After experiencing two CC meet and greets on each of our Azamara cruises, we were very disappointed. Orange juice and coffee was on tap as opposed to an hour of cocktails and beer turned on by Azamara. The Cruise Director and several of the ships officers made a fleeting appearance but did not circulate amongst the guests. Overall I got the impression that Celebrity couldn't care less about CC members.
The entertainment on the ship was very good especially the acrobats, the Century dance company, and Ian, the aussie comedian. We enjoyed the music of the Leal Quartet but were disappointed that they didn't appear by the poolside until very late in the cruise and then only for 45 minutes sessions. Overall, we felt that there wasn't enough live music throughout the ship. For example one of the drawcards of evening casual dining on the rear deck of Azamara's Windows Cafe was the musical accompaniment, usually a guitar vocalist who would perform popular songs and requests for several hours. It was this lack of atmosphere and the occasional intrusion of cigarette smoke that meant the Islands Cafe was virtually a morgue during evening meal times.
Our cabin was a Concierge category veranda cabin. While small, we particularly appreciated the loads of storage space. Our main gripe was the location of the safe which was towards the rear of a wardrobe shelf meaning that my wife had to get on her toes and fully stretch to even reach the safe. At five foot two and half, she is about average height for a woman and I wondered how on earth shorter people would cope. The choice of TV programs was abysmal with many channels apparently unavailable because of "technical difficulties". This situation persisted for the whole cruise making me wonder why the situation could not be addressed before departure from Honolulu.
The Century policy allows smoking on the port side of the ship in the Hemisphere Lounge, Pool Deck, Sundecks, Mast Bar and Sunset Bar. When most Western countries have banned smoking in indoor spaces and where food is consumed, we were amazed by the very liberal approach to smoking. On more than one occasion, we were driven away from having dinner on the Sunset deck by the intrusion of smoke drifting across from the gaggle of smokers on the port side. On our one and only visit to the Hemisphere lounge for a quiet after dinner drink, we were again driven out by the smoke. To make matters worse, the occupants of our neighbouring veranda cabin (#9164) persistently smoked on their veranda. I complained to Guest Relations on two occasions and finally the message got through but out of spite they turned up their music really loud so that we still couldn't sit quietly on our veranda and enjoy the ambience. It's a pity staff didn't take a much tougher stand and fine them the $250 (which is written into Century's smoking violation policy) or force them to move to a vacant inside cabin. Some people never adhere to the rules so when we docked in Sydney awaiting disembarkation, we once again had to put up with them smoking on their veranda. Too little too late! It took the edge what was otherwise a great cruise.