We chose this itinerary to celebrate our 35th anniversary and were not disappointed. We spent two nights pre-cruise in Sydney which we loved! The hop on-hop off bus gave us a great overview of the city.
The Celebrity Century is a grand, older and smaller ship. We had lucked out on a seniors' discount which afforded us the opportunity to upgrade from a balcony to a Sky Suite for only about $400, which to us was well worth it. In addition to getting a nice sized cabin we had a huge balcony which we took full advantage of and loved the extra touches, especially since this was a special holiday for us. We did find the ship, while very clean, had furniture which was a bit dated and worn. However this had little impact on our experience.
Having met friends who had been on the sailing before us, who were pretty disappointed overall (the weather was pretty bad for them), we were a bit concerned. Luckily the Dec 24th sailing had wonderful weather. But heads up for those taking this itinerary, the seas between Australia and NZ are quite choppy and it was the first time I had to go to my cabin after dinner to lie down because of the waves. Take precautions.
Highlights for us on the Century:
- outstanding service - this was our 9th cruise and must say the best service we had ever encountered. All the staff were wonderful and friendly and seemed to go the extra mile. Kudos to Ryan our butler and Jose our cabin steward. Both wonderful.
- food - we were quite happily surprised that most dinner meals in the dining room were very good. We also had good Indian food one night at the buffet and found buffet breakfasts quite good (although food not hot enough). Highly recommend the poached egg bar, wonderful! And they make great freshly made waffles. We went to Murano's twice and loved the dinner, although a bit too formal in service. However, I impulsively chose to purchase the champagne afternoon tea. Nice idea, great service but sandwiches were all soggy. The grand brunch buffet was wonderful but think for a 13 night cruise they should have offered it twice. My big complaint is that they had Colorado lamb on ship sailing through New Zealand! But they did offer kangaroo or alligator burgers at the grill.
- Martini Bar - wonderful choices, wonderful service.
- Cruise Critic friends - thanks to the roll call, we made some great friends.
- Select Dining - we chose not to be stuck to a 6 or 8:30 seating and this was the first time we wish we did. Only 1/4 of the ship was allocated to select dining. Tables were squished together making you feel you were sitting with the people at the next table, parts of the dining room were extremely hot, service inconsistent and at times, just poor. While we were able to pick and choose when we wanted to eat on our own or with others, when we did join friends at their tables for the 8:30 seating we found the service much better and the tables well laid out. Also that little touch of the server knowing your preferences made a difference.
- Entertainment - sorry this is where I need to get a bit harsh. The first couple of nights the ship was very sleepy but picked up. But personally we are not big on the big theatre productions and this proved the point. Very lame productions and one of the performers lacked talent. We went once. We did go to two of the "big" name shows including an Australian woman singer and a man who played a lot of instruments. Pretty good. We found the A Cappella group terrific but they only had very short sets. Michael Rubin plays great ragtime and has a great following in the Michael's Bar but we just couldn't bear to listen to him sing. We enjoyed the woman who sang in the Cova Cafe (sorry forgot her name but her voice is a bit like Joni Mitchell) but that too got a bit boring after the first week. She is very mellow. Rendezvous Club - more for the 65 and older crowd. I think Celebrity needs to figure out their demographics a bit more.
- Dessert Buffet - am sure this has to do with the fact that it was too cold to do this outside and that there were kids on board (mind you the only time we noticed there were kids and teenagers was this buffet and New Years Eve). We personally were appalled when we saw the Celebrity videographer making a big show of getting the kids to put their fingers and tongues in the chocolate fountain to put on tape. The head chef should have shut it down considering how everyone is concerned about food safety. Mmmm.
PORTS (not in order):
We were so very lucky that weather was on our side so we were able to take full advantage of the lovely ports. We also had arranged with our fellow cruise critic friends to take some private tours which were wonderful.
Dunedin - we saw wonderful wildlife
Napier - had great vineyard visits but a shame the ship arrives at 7 and leaves at 2. Too short a visit, felt rushed.
Tauranga - fantastic day out to the Waiotapu Geothermal Wonderland, Kiwi Orchard and other wonderful sites
Wellington - great day exploring the museum and waterfront. Take the trolley up to the outstanding botanical gardens, walk down and have lunch in the gardens cafe. Lovely!
Melbourne - we wandered the city which was very nice but regret not going to see the kangaroos and koalas.
Akaroa - loved this small beach town. Perfect place to have a great fish and chips lunch, go to local craft store and buy your lambs wool presents to ship home.
Bay of Islands - we had a perfect last day out sailing.
Overall, a great trip. But I think what Celebrity (and other American cruise lines) needs to figure out is how to bring a bit more of the itinerary to the ship itself. I would have loved to see some Maori cultural shows or talks and a choice of local foods and wine being offered. Don't just make this a floating hotel but acknowledge the itinerary by making it more reflective of the culture and people and places the ship is visiting. Having one cooking demonstration on making pavlova when most of us are in port is not the way to do it.