We arrived in Barcelona a week before boarding the ship. We stayed at the Hotel Pultizer. Great place to stay! Wonderful hotel and friendly staff! Rooms were great too!
Since we knew the ship was coming into port with the Norovirus, we did not hurry to the port. We arrived around 2pm and were on board by around 4pm. I thought it was well organized with all the people that were waiting to board. They had plenty of announcements to inform everyone what was going on and when they were going to start to board. They provided some snacks and drinks. This is where the complaining began! As we were entering the port, they had someone ready with hand sanitizer. Then when you hit the next set of doors, there was another person ready to sanitize again. But the lady behind us told the second lady she just sanitized her hands at the first door, and did not want to sanitize them again. And she began to argue with her because she did not want to sanitize! Really...just take a squirt and move on!
Once we got on board, there was no drink waiting for you. Totally understood why and was not a problem for us! But others were very upset not to have their free champagne! Really...they don't have to even offer that, but they usually do, under normal boarding. So, we headed to the first bar and ordered ourselves a drink. We purchased the premium alcohol package and loved it! We then headed to get something to eat. We were in our cabins by around 530pm. Our luggage arrived by 6pm, we ordered shrimp cocktails, and a cheese and cracker platter after our luggage arrived and unpacked and had a snack before heading to the Martini Bar for our first martini of the trip!
We met our cabin steward, Andrew. He was fabulous! We saw him just about every time we left our cabin. We ordered cheese and crackers and shrimp cocktails the first day before dinner, and he made sure we had that in our cabin every night at the same time. We never had to ask again. He would even bring us special treats at times too! If he was in the hall as we were heading to our cabin, he would run to our door and open it for us! He really made the trip extra special!
We pulled out of Barcelona around 6pm local time.
We arrived in Alicante under cloudy skies and some lightning. Went on a walking tour of Guadalest. It is a very cool, very small village, in the mountains above the Costa Blanca section of the Spanish coast. We visited the oldest, largest house in the village, the Orduna House, which is right below what is left of the castle at the top of the village. The house is about 365 years old, and is now a municipal museum. It rained on us the entire time, and we got soaked! We left our umbrellas on the ship! We also passed by Benidorm, which is a huge tourist destination for people all over Europe! There were so many people who complained about this tour and wanted a refund because of the rain! Really...! What the heck is wrong with people??
Arrived in Malaga and set out on foot and walked around Malaga all day. Our first stop was the city center, and the Cathedral de Malaga. Lots of little shops and cafes up and down these little side streets. Most of the pedestrian walkways and alleys are paved with marble! Very clean! We then headed up the hill to the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Great views of the city below and coastline!
We had a change of itinerary and would not be visiting Funchal (Madeira) Portugal. This was one port we were most excited to stop at. Not the cruise lines fault, and was due to a general strike that was called for the day we were to port in. We were just happy to hear they had another port for us to dock into and not another sea day! Here again, we heard people complaining about this and wanted some sort of refund for missing this port! Really???
We had a blast in Gibraltar, and took a guided tour of "the rock of Gibraltar", as well as the tunnels excavated by the British during WWII, St. Michaels cave, and the "Barbary Apes" that inhabit the area. The town itself had a nice long pedestrian mall type thing, and a TON of jewelry/watch and electronic gadget stores! After our tour, we went to Roy's, a recommendation from our tour guide, for the best authentic English-style fish n' chips that included mushy peas! Lunch was amazing! This place is highly recommended the next time you are in Gibraltar! This was our favorite port! So cool to cruise through the straits of Gibraltar during the day! If we would have ported in Portugal, we would have cruised through at night and could not see anything! That would have been like cruising through the Panama Canal in the dark!
Thanksgiving Day was a day spent at sea with beautiful weather and calm seas. We spent the day on the deck using the pool and hot tubs and just kicked back and relaxed in the sun. Plenty of lounge chairs by the pool to be used. No chair hogs in sight! We just wondered where everyone was! Never felt crowded, and I believe the ship was almost full, if not full.
We pulled into Santa Cruz de Tenerife just after sunrise. We took a guided tour that included the original capital of the island, La Laguna and walked around all the buildings from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. We had a brief visit at the market place in La Laguna, and saw all the nice fruits, veggies, and weird salted fish! They even had a couple of bars in there! We then went to the north end of the island and visited the museum of wine that documents the long history of winemaking here in the island. We then went to a bodega and sampled the local wines, meats, cheeses. We purchased a bunch of stuff, including saffron, and some locally-produced rum! We did not leave on time and I believe we left about an hour of so later than scheduled. This was our least favorite port. I think I was expecting something else...what, I am not sure!
Next stop would be Fort Lauderdale, FL in 7 days! The trip across the pond was great! We only encountered one day of rain and high seas, and the others were beautiful! We spent our afternoons laying out on the pool deck and swimming in the pool and relaxing in the hot tubs! We were always able to find good prime lounges every time we went. Did not matter what time of day it was! We were very grateful to the captain for changing the course we were headed on, to a more southern route....this kept us in the nice warm weather and the calm seas!
We really enjoyed our cruise! Yes, it was not perfect and there were some issues, but you will encounter that on any cruise line (even on Regents there were some issues). It did not bother us at all with all the sanitizing that was being done. Knew it was for our own health. Heard lots of people complaining about it and other petty stuff! There were more cranky people on this cruise than any other I have ever been on. Plenty of chairs by the pool at all times of the day. We did have a problem in the Ocean Liners, but when addressed it was corrected and when we dined there again it was perfect! We also dined in the Tuscan Grille twice...the best dinners on the cruise! We loved the grilled salmon for lunch with a salad from the Aqua Spa Cafe! Breakfast in the main dining room was awful! Service way to long, but we believe that was due to having to take people from the wait staff to help in the buffet area to help serve. We went twice and that was it. It took 45 minutes for my fresh squeezed OJ, the only time I found it! Room service twice and that too was not good! We never received our entire order. So, we decided on the Bistro 5 for breakfast...wonderful and we also ate in the Aqua Spa cafe for breakfast...also wonderful! We had a really hard time getting fresh squeezed OJ no matter where we were for breakfast! They told us it would take a while since they did not have the fresh squeezed at that location. So my question was where is the fresh squeezed OJ at?? Never did get an answer to that. Oh well, I was not going to let that ruin my cruise!
As for the staff and crew, they were all great and friendly! Not a big fan of the Cruise Director, Sue Denning. Seems lots of people love her, but to be honest, we only saw her a few times during the entire cruise! I approached her once to ask a question, and she just blew me off. Not sure what the deal was, but not a good vibe from her. Never saw her out by the pool mixing with the passengers. We have seen much better cruise directors!
The quality of the food was average to above average. Some nights and dishes were better than others. We found something we enjoyed every night and never went away hungry!!
The beverage package was the best investment we made! We really enjoyed seeing all the zeros on our ship board account! And trying all the different cocktails and Martinis! We were able to order over the 12.00 limit, and they would just charge us the difference. This did not happen too often. The only time we really went over, was when we ordered the flight of martinis, and had to pay 3.00 extra plus 15%.
You cannot use the machines in the Cellar Masters with your sea pass card. You can purchase a card to use in the machines. We ordered wine by the glass at Cellar Masters, and then took the name of the wine we liked to dinner and gave it to our sommelier and she made sure we had this wine every night with dinner. She was not very good at recommending wines for us, so we went tasting in Cellar Masters and found what we liked.
We really do enjoy Celebrity, and book our next cruise for next November on the Eclipse! So excited! This will be our first cruise on the S class...! We love the M class, and hope we will enjoy the S class as much.