I have written to Mr Daniel J Hanrahan regarding the Celebrity Century 30th November, 12 day Sydney Australia / Auckland New Zealand Cruise, which I sent via Celebrity's web page and again in hard copy as I have yet to receive a response, here are some of our concerns expressed in the letter.
I had indicated on my Passenger Review Form that I would write to you about our concerns and disappointment over the above mentioned Cruise, for information we are an Australian couple in our early 60's, recently retired and I am a Marine Engineer by profession, having spent 10 years in the Navy, but recently have worked in our Mining Industry, and this was our 9th cruise, including along with Royal Caribbean Cruises, this was our 4th with Celebrity / Azamara, and we are Captains Club numbers.
Our details are as follows, reservation number was .........., Cat 06 Stateroom 50.., Main 6pm Dining table 5...
We booked this Cruise over 12 months ago through your Australian RCC / Celebrity website, at the time thinking that we were getting a good deal, however in talking with other passengers from Australia and Canada, with the Australian group of 8 booking 4 months ago through an American Cruise website getting a similar Category Cabin for two thirds the cost of our cruise, and the Canadian group of 6 booking 2 months ago, again through a USA Website, for a Cat.4 Stateroom at almost HALF what it cost us.
In addition when we booked 12 months ago we were told by your Australian representatives that we could only be "waitlisted" for the 6.00pm Main Dining, and that the only way we could guarantee access to dining at this time was to get a letter from my Doctor, which I duly did and sent to them to get the 6.00pm seating!
It was a complete shock to learn from both the afore mentioned parties that, when booking 4 and 2 months out, both were told that there was no problem getting 6.00pm dining seating, this would indicate that some sort of preferential treatment is being given to those passengers booking through American Cruise Websites, over Australians booking through your own website!
If Celebrity is to spend more time in the future cruising in the Australasian region you will need to ensure that there is no actual, and or perception, of you giving preferential treatment in both costing of and access to Staterooms and dining room seating times, we are very much an Egalitarian Society and as such look for equality of outcome, even when choosing our cruise lines.
It has to be said that Century is showing her age, and there were a number of passengers that I talked to indicated that they were experiencing problems with their cabins including power, lighting, hot and cold water in the showers and the toilets.
There are a number of forward facing double glazed windows in the Hemisphere Lounge that filled with water when it rained and other that were fogged over and not able to view through for most of the trip, also many leaked from the top such that there were areas that could not be used.
Speaking of leaking, both the tender days were a disaster, Centuries old tender craft appear not designed to travel in a swell of over 6 inches, on both days the swell was half a metre and over and the tender boats spent more time under water than on top, at one time I thought I was back in Submarines, and coming alongside the ships pontoon in the Bay of Islands we gave it such a wack that it smashed two of the forward port side Perspex windows and completely cracked and dislodged the pillar between them from the cabin roof, it was a harrowing experience for all.
While one could not fault the cleanliness of the ship the furniture and fittings are showing their age despite the best efforts of the crew who by and large were marvellous and a credit to Celebrity.
However there were a couple of exceptions, such as the Matre d for our dining area, on one occasion I had ordered the Beef Wellington, only to be presented with the rounded end of the beef filet that was so tough that it could not be cut with a steak knife, and while our table waiter was most apologetic and immediately exchanged it for another the Matre d, once called, paid only lip service to the problem, and while it was no fault of the restaurant staff, it should not have even been plated up in the kitchen, he was of little help.
On another occasion, when he came and asked how our meal was, we indicated to him that the Alaskan Crab Cake was smothered with a sauce that had a chili base which was so hot that half the people that ordered it could not eat it, and when told that crab had a wonderful but mild flavour and it should have a sauce that complemented it not overpowered it, once again he paid lip service to our concerns, and while indicating that he would speak to the Chef we never received a follow up response, and for the rest of the cruise he avoided visiting our table.
There were a number of other small concerns that added up to make this a cruise that only reached about 75% of our expectations of Celebrity Cruise, and we are not alone in this, in that when talking with a number of passengers post cruise in our hotel and restaurants and at the Auckland International Airport as we all flew out to our different countries, all bar none indicated that the high standard once synonymous with Celebrity has slipped, well certainly for this cruise.
This lowering of standards also applied to some of the passengers, who, for the non-formal nights, wore t-shirts, jeans and sneakers to dinner in the main dining room, when I arrived with a coat and tie I was made to feel out of place, and the Matre d's appeared to do nothing about it.
It is sad that we have always held Celebrity as the "gold standard" for cruises, and as a guest speaker on cruising at many service and retirement clubs, I have always encouraged people to look to Celebrity and Azamara as providing the best cruising experience, now, following this cruise, sadly I will have to curb my enthusiasm for Celebrity.