My husband and I are both in our 30's (30 and 33)This was my first cruise experience ever so I don't have anything to compare it to. Although some things definitely did not go according to plan I was not as upset as those who knew better. But let me start from the begining:
A few days before we were to set sail, I received an email from Celebrity Cruise line that the ship had an outbreak of the norovirus and that they were taking extra precautions to clean and disinfect the ship so boarding on sail date would be later than usual. That's fine, I didn't mind. They gave the option of rescheduling but I didn't want to cancel my vacation plans as this was my one and only big vacation for the year.
So we fly in to Ft. Lauderdale the night before and stay at the Hyatt Place South near the airport. It had a free shuttle that picked us up and dropped us to the hotel. The hotel was a perfectly fine 3 star hotel- no complaints. Perfect for short stay the night before the cruise. In short walking distance were a couple of fast food places, KMart, BJ's Wholesale, etc.
The morning of our sail date, the hotel offered a shuttle to the port for $8/person. I thought that was an okay deal. We arrived to a big snaking line coming out of the cruiseport building where our check-in was to take place. Again, not knowing any better I wasn't terribly upset about the wait- but after 1 hr and 45 minutes of slowly inching our way through the line I felt flush and my knees were hurting from the carry on bags I was holding. We finally made it through security then check in- Then we had to wait for access to the gangway. After making it through the gangway we had to wait until 6pm to get to our rooms. So our timeline was something like this: Check out of hotel at 12pm, shuttle picked us up at 1pm, the late check in was to begin at 2pm- so yes maybe a little our fault for being there too early but we really didn't have a choice, 1.45hrs in line, 20 minutes wait for gangway, then wait til 6pm to collapse on bed!. . .But before that! I was famished so we headed to the Oceanview Cafe for lunch. It was a MADHOUSE! People everywhere, no places to sit, I even saw one guy eating his food ON the buffet! We finally asked for help and a waiter found us two spots at a table full of people. So because of the previous norovirus buffets and drink stations at all times were on total lockdown and serving was done by the staff. I didn't mind that actually. It was a little like I read in another review- a lot of "Can I have some of that?. . .A little more please." etc., There was also no access to condiments, not even salt and pepper so I would ask for salt, this one server gave me one teeny tiny packet of salt. I asked for more, she gave me one more. I finally asked for several. You could also not touch the utensils- they were rolled in napkins and behind the buffet. This one server got mad at a guy for reaching and taking his own. I could see as the cruise went on that it was getting kind of taxing for the dining service crew. They would get short or frustrated with people wanting more of stuff or stuff that was not there. On the 2nd to last day, there was a line for waffles. They have two waffle irons that make 4 at a time and some people were asking for 4 total- so it was taking time. The lady serving that station was visibly upset when someone asked for more than 1 waffle. I think because it looked like her station was backing up and maybe she wasn't being efficient enough? So although I actually thought it added to the service to actually be served, I definitely witnessed 'attitudes' from the wait staff. But on some level I can understand I guess, the stress they were probably under was hard to always cover up. So you know- whatever.
So other than the first day- there was always a little bit of a hectic feeling in the buffet area- a little disorganized, uncomfortable waiting in line for even just water, dirty dishes and empty tables not cleaned and ready for more people (several times we bussed our own tables to make room). It was all okay to me. I just didn't let it get to me- in the grand scheme of things it didn't seem like a big deal. . .As far as the food, I've always heard Celebrity has the best food- but my husband and I just found it to be- you know- good. Like any buffet in a nice hotel. Even the seated dining- just okay. We preferred not to dine in the specialty restaurants since we didn't care to spend any more money on food. We kept hearing they were fantastic though.
Our stateroom was near the front of the ship on the left side- so each time we pulled in to port we had a prime view from our veranda. Absolutely unobstructed. My husband's first impression was he expected the room to be bigger but I thought it was perfect. The bathroom was actually nicer than I expected- with thoughtful cabinets and shelves for your toiletries. I liked the location of our room. I liked the fact I had to walk across the ship for food- a little bit extra "exercise".
The overall feel was very relaxed. I would say it was probably 45% senior crowd, 40% 40's-50's, and 15% families or our age group and under. Not a lot of kids but I did see more than I expected- so I would imagine there would be more on the Xmas sailings. . .I wouldn't say there isn't a lot to do- maybe it was just hard to get our timings right. We missed a lot of the shows- they would mostly be at 7pm or 9pm. So after excursions all day at ports, coming back, taking showers, getting ready, having a cocktail, and having the 8:30 seating for dinner- we would miss both timings for the shows. We caught part of the comedian once and enjoyed his performance.
All of our service staff- state room attendants, wait staff in dining room were really nice and friendly.
I think I hit on mostly everything we did on the ship- I did not spend anytime in the pools- the one on deck was quite small and got kind of crowded. I did prefer to be in the climate controlled solarium area. More quiet spa feel.
Overall we would definitely use Celebrity again. We really enjoyed our first experience. Mistakes or events happen and you have to adapt. I washed my hands frequently with warm water and soap and never got sick. (Used my elbows for elevator buttons and didn't use banisters anywhere). We might try Royal Caribbean as we've heard it has a younger feel. But we felt we made a good decision- the dress codes and the older crowd made it feel more "classy" if that makes sense.
So I would definitely reccommend Celebrity and if you get on after (or even during) a virus outbreak- try to take everything with a grain of salt because it's all being done for your safety. I was careful and patient and had a great time!