We are a couple in our late 40 early 50's from New Zealand. This is our second Christmas New Year Cruise in succession! I have Muscular Dystrophy and mobilise using a walker most of the time, but outside the home, I use a portable powerchair called a Puzzle Chair. This was our 3rd Cruise as a couple and my fifth.
The Christmas/New Year Cruise on the Century is for 13 nights departing Sydney, visiting Melbourne, Burnie (Tasmania), across the Tasman Sea to Milford Sound, then onto Dunedin, Akaroa (as ships cannot get into Lyttelton due to the earthquakes in Christchurch), Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, Bay of Islands and finally home to Auckland.
Burnie, Wellington, Napier and Bay of Islands are ports that were not on our itinerary last year.
Prior to Embarkation:
Sydney -- we stayed at The Menzies again as it is very centrally located. We had the same disabled accessible room as last year (they only have one!!) We found the service at the hotel this time appalling. No Concierge on arrival, the poor Receptionist had to help with our luggage, service in The Lobby was painfully slow, and the worst was the service and meal in the totally overpriced restaurant in the evening. Next time we are in Sydney we will look elsewhere.
We took a cab down to the Overseas Passenger Terminal arriving about 10.30am. The queue to get on was building, so we just checked in our luggage and went for a walk. When we returned the queue was shorter and we were aboard by Noon
Stateroom -- Deck 5 -- Plaza, Ocean View Accessible 5061
The stateroom was perfect with plenty of storage space -- cupboards and drawers .More than ample room to cater for my power chair and walker. There were only two power points -- one American 110v and one European 220v, and this caused a bit of an issue for us as our American converter plus was a double adaptor which meant we could not use our European adaptor at the same time. We worked around this though. Our cabin attendants were Martino and Alvin. The area was generally very quiet and the only disturbance we had was silly girls at 3am on New Years Eve/New Years day. We were handy to two sets of lifts which proved very useful and most of the port access was from the Grand Plaza on our level.
Dining -- Select:
We chose Select Dining as this is what we had done on the Diamond Princess. Of course there was not the same chose as the Diamond, as Select was one side of the upper level of the Grand Dining Room. My powerchair fitted under the tables and the Restaurant Manager was always able to accommodate us without issue, although he did persist in putting us at a table for two with was a little annoying but we did get to dine with others at times. We also managed to join our friends who were on Late Traditional a couple of times while their table mates were at Murano. They had a table for 10 right at the rear of the restaurant under the big windows.
We went to Murano the night we had been in Napier, and it turned out to be a Formal Night so DH could where the Tux we had booked via cruiselineformal.com (That is a great service -- saves the hassle of bringing a suit with us). Murano was lovely, a very intimate restaurant with superior service (although I could hardly understand a word the waiter said!)
We found the food fantastic wherever we dined on the ship. From the Buffet to Murano. The Buffet was much better than on the Diamond, well laid out with a huge range of offerings for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and as the eating areas were carpeted it was no where near as noisy. We had Breakfast in the Buffet most days, with a couple in the MDR. We only had Lunch once in the MDR (while cruising the Sounds) the rest of the time it was the Buffet -- the choices were so good.
I had read a lot on the board about the coffee being awful -- but it was fine in both the MDR and the Buffet. Although we did have quite a few coffees and teas on Cova CafÃ© with became our favourite place to sit. Iced water was always available in the cabin, Buffet and at any bar, so there was no need to by bottled water at all.
From a wheelchair users point all the disembarkations from all the ports was easy. Mostly via Deck 5 midships, and there was always staff on hand to help, although having a powerchair meant I didn't really need help.
- Melbourne - the buses and trams into the city were accessible. As it was Boxing Day we just walked into Port Melbourne had a coffee and muffin (for $5.30 each!) and returned to the ship. Melbourne shops were madness for the Boxing Day Sales
- Burnie is a working port, so there were free shuttles into Makers Workshop where there were rental cars and private tours etc. We were met by family with whom we spent the day, visiting Devonport where my grandparents had lived -- visited the cemetery and laid flower on their graves.
- Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds were stunningly beautiful under clear skies and sun.
- Dunedin -- for USD15 (price had gone up from last year!) there was a local bus into town. We walked into Port Chalmers were we were docked. The Library had FREE WIFI, so we made use of that and had a short walk around before returning to the ship.
- Akaroa was a tender port, so we stayed on board and each had a massage instead.
- Wellington -- shuttle bus into town for NZD8, where we met my niece who let us have the car for half a day so we could go up to Southwards Classic Car Museum. Then we had a look around Te Papa Museum.
- Napier -- another working port where there were free shuttles into town. Here were spent the half day with my sister and BIL.
- Tauranga -- More time to spend with friends!
- Bay of Islands -- another tender port, so another visit the AquaSpa!
One stand out factor was the wonderful CCer's on our Roll Call once again! We had a great bunch on board and we had a lot of fun.
The Connections Party organised by Celebrity was held on Christmas Day at 11am and was well attended, and included a number of officers. The Celebrity Guest Relations Manager and the Events Coordinator were fantastic, and were happy to organise any event we wanted and arrange for invitations their delivery.
We organised a Luncheon on a Sea Day, and we had the lower level of the Grand Dining Room to ourselves!!! We had a Secret Santa gift exchange and could make as much noise as we liked. There were about 60 + of us, and plenty of waiting staff!
When we left Napier Patty (Cinogirl) had organised a Cabin Crawl which was quite a bit of fun and we visited 6 cabins. Only a small group of about 18-20 -- which was perfect, any more would have been hard.
Would I recommend Celebrity -- yes 100%. The ship was great and the crew were fantastic -- nothing was ever too much trouble, they were friendly, and often spent time when they could to make light conversation.
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