My husband and I (mid 40s) wanted to try a Celebrity cruise. We booked a quick trip that had us at sea on Christmas day (this was a first for us). We thought it would be a nice treat to "get away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays here. We have cruised many times, but this was our first on Celebrity.
We read up ALOT on this ship and really appreciated all of the great reviews and "live from" reports that everyone had posted on cruise critic. Because of all of these, we were aware that this was an older ship. We found her to be LOVELY ! The decor was very nicely done - not super glitzy, very tasteful .
embarkation: pulled right up to unload, very nice porter was right there to help. My husband went to park across the street in the garage and was back in five minutes. Once inside, they had check in lines divided into categories. We were directed into the concierge line as that was our room type. Our line was not particularly long, but seemed to take forever. I did notice that the line next to us had no one in it. It was for select and elite members. Because of our cruises on RCCL we were also select on Celebrity. however, I did not know to mention that to the person who was directing traffic-live and learn. Once we got our key card, things were zippy fast and we were on the ship in just minutes.
We were very impressed with the service and staff on board. They seemed to go out of their way to make sure you had everything needed. Everyone was always so pleasant and smiling. There were lots of little "touches" that made this cruise seem so special- like the welcome aboard champaign, the ice cold wash clothes when returning to the ship after your day in port, etc.
Room: we had a balcony room as this is always my preference. The balcony was probably one of the smallest we have had, but definitely suited our needs. The room was clean and comfortable . Our suitcases did not fit under the bed this time ( just a hair too big) and that surprised me until I remembered this was a new set that we had not used on a cruise before. We were able to store them in the closet no problem, but that meant I lost precious shoe space!!! :) I will remember to use the other luggage on my next cruise. The bathroom was small, but just what we expected. Our room attendant was Oscar and he was excellent!
Activities: we had pre booked a couples massage for Christmas day and it was really nice. They were however about 25 minutes late taking us back which seemed a little unusual. There was some obvious tension between some staff members that we noticed while we sat next to the reception desk. This was the only time we used the spa area.
We did participate in some of the computer classes that were offered. We took photoshop I II & III while on board. The staff member that did the class ( I believe his name was Sandy) was very patient and thorough.
We also attended the cooking demo, the Christmas eve event, and a few other things. They had a nice variety of things offered (we just didn't have enough time to do them all)
Pools: we never really used them, just walked thru those areas often. The adults only are seemed really nice and relaxing, however the music at the other pool was always very loud. It seemed like everyone was always having fun.
Food: we ate at the Olympic for the first two nights. I CANNOT say enough about how amazing this was. The food was out of this world and the service was even better than that! The third night we returned to the ship too late for our late seating dinner time, so we ate in the buffet. It was ok. On our last night we finally made it to our table in the MDR. We had late seating which always seems to work better for us. We ended up with a terrific family of four as table mates....really sorry it was the last night before we got to meet them, they were so much fun. The food in the MDR was very good as was the service that night. We did go to the brunch that is done on the sea day....kind of a mad house, people everywhere, no order to any lines, kind of crazy, but there was a nice selection of food and it was very good.
We did use the room service every morning to have coffee and croissants delivered. Always delivered on time and always by the smiling Frances. She quickly became our "coffee angel" and we loved her!
Entertainment: the few shows we saw were just alright....typical cruise show quality. But the acapella group (Metro park I believe the name was) were fantastic. We saw them multiple times around the ship. The comedian was very funny too.
Excursions: in Key West we chose to just walk around on our own- no planned excursion. You are only in port until one, so it was a very short day. In Cozumel we booked the Tulum Ruins tour. It was a very nice tour. However it consumes every bit of your time in port. All of the shops at the pier were closed by the time we returned. Also that particular day, the ferry ride over to Playa Del Carmen was EXTREMELY rough. This made for lots of sea sick passengers :(
Disembarkation: on the last morning, we went to the MDR for a quick breakfast at seven. We were supposed to meet in the platinum lounge (martini bar) at 7:45. We arrived in the lounge a few minutes early. Within five minutes we were told by a staff member who was in charge of that area that it was our time to disembark. Within five minutes we were off the ship and gathering our luggage (with the porters help). I would say we were at the curb in another four minutes. This was the fastest I have ever gotten off a ship and cleared customs. Celebrity sure has this down to a science.
Overall we really loved our first Celebrity cruise and look forward to trying some of the other ships they have to offer