This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first time with a balcony. We have previously cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We had a concierge level room on deck 8. We have read many reviews on the ship and the ports before taking this trip. Some were good, some were not. What I learned on this cruise is the experience is very different for each person depending on their expectations and personal taste.
For example, having never had a balcony I thought the room was huge and well equipped. When I was standing at the balcony, I started chatting with the person next to us on the ship. They thought the cabin was very small for what they paid. They were dissapointed, we were thrilled.
There were always quiet areas. Even upon leaving Miami there was no problem finding a place to sit or to hang out and wave to the people on shore. There were plenty of seats at the AquaSpa pool and lounge area. It was so nice not to be surrounded by mobs of people everywhere you went. I met another couple and they hated the fact that it was so quiet. They wanted a party atmosphere and they felt the ship was boaring they complained that there wasn't much to do on the ship.
I had read about the wear and tear on the ship. There was some rust and stains but nothing horrible. Others we talked to found the rust to be unacceptable. The bed sheets and bathrobes have seen better days, but they were clean which is what matters to me. Our binoculars worked so I was happy about that.
What I didn't like was the lack of attention to detail in the room. For instance, we were in concierge rooms. We received a basket of fruit daily. The pears still had the labels on them, the bannanas had brown spots and we had to pick through the grapes. Some actually had mold on them. They obviously were not washed. That really bothered me, but someone else may not care. Our cabin attendant was ok. He didn't go out of his way to do anything. Empty shampoo bottles should not be left to build up in the shower. We had five empty containers sitting in the bin in the shower. I did wonder if having automatic gratuity is the best idea. Our cabin person did not seem to care very much about doing a good job.
I did love the location of the room. It was toward the back on the eighth floor and it was very quiet, even on New Year's Eve.
Another example about each person see's things differently, we really enjoyed the New Year's celebration. It was quite the party and I had fun. While in line at guest services the next day, a woman was telling the desk person that it was the worst New Year's she had ever had in her life. She wanted a balloon drop; the free champagne was terrible etc. She was very upset.
The food. Again very different views. I was disappointed with the quality of food in the main dining room and the buffet. One should not be given an ice cold potato at the evening seating. The buffet food was very bland and usually cold. Our tablemates thought the food was wonderful. It's all in the pallet.
We ate at the Olympic Specialty Restaurant and loved it. We felt that it was worth the extra $40.00pp. Another couple at our table felt it wasn't worth the money. The food at the AquaSpa was very good as was the Tapas type food at the Cova Cafe. We read about these places on this board. Others we talked to didn't know about it. It is not well advertised. The pizza grill was good as well. We did room service for breakfast and late night. No complaints.
I prepaid for the unlimited soda. At no time did anyone roll their eyes or seem put out by giving me a diet coke. I counted at the end of the cruise and I had over 40 cans of soda during the five day trip. I got my monies worth and never had a problem getting a soda at all times of the day and night.
The ship does nickel and dime. $150pp for a tour of the ship? I almost choked on that price. Bingo ran anywhere from $15.00 for a single card to sixty dollars for three strips. This was per session.
The great thing about Celebrity is you are treated better than other cruise lines. Champagne on arrival, the staff and the overall experience was much better than other lines. At Grand Cayman we had to tender on a different part of the island due to weather. Carnival and Costa was there as well. The line to get back for the other two ships was a few hundred deep. Celebrity had their own tenders, no line and served water and juice to us before getting back on the tender. The staff is amazing. Everyone is friendly and helpful. The passengers on our cruise were in the upper income level and very nice to be with. Rif Raff was not present on this ship. I cannot say the same for the people on other cruises that I have been on.
In closing, I did enjoy this cruise line and the people I met. I will definitely cruise with Celebrity again this coming year.