Getting to Port Liberty is a bit of a challenge due to very poor signage as you wind through secondary roads in an industrial port area. The port facility itself is extraordinarily unsuited as a cruise terminal: traffic is chaotic, and the drop-off/pick-up area is simply not designed for efficient handling of close to 3,000 passengers debarking as the first of the embarking 3,000 start showing up. The necessity of boarding a bus for a hundred or so yards from the terminal to the ship emphasisizes the unsuitability of the facility. That said, the check-in process was very efficient and quick - less than twenty minutes from getting out of the car to boarding the ship is a record.
The ship is modern, and fairly well laid out. The lack of a full promenade deck is unfortunate - and is not made up for by the narrow jogging track on an upper deck - which gets dangerously slippery in wet weather. There are numerous attractive bars and lounges, and the theater is very well laid out. The entertainment was about average -- very good production shows balanced by a fairly poor stand-up comic -- offset by an amazingly good ventriloquist. There are a number of speciality restaurants - which deserve their good reviews -- but which make the quality of the food in the main dining room suffer in comparison. The service was good, but the meats were generally tough and tasteless, the fish almost uniformly poorly prepared. The Ocean View cafeteria was well managed, and the quality of the food there seemed batter than in the MDR.
The cabin - "luxury" verandah - was spacious, with an ample verandah area, and the bathroom was very well designed - with above average storage space and a spacious shower with curved sliding doors -- a distinct improvement over the usual small space with a curtain which tends to cling to the bather. The clothes storage was a real problem - one small closet (with no shelves), which was so shallow that clothes had to hang at an angle - using up much of the already insufficient space. Much of the under-bed space was taken up by wire baskets holding life preservers. The very small side tables had no drawers, making them almost useless. Theere was a large storage space above the head of the bed - which was difficult for anyone much shorther than 6 feet tall to use --- and a good portion was dedicated to some duvet filler.
The staff were uniformly helpful, competent and cheerful. The attitude of the staff was the strong point. I found the senior personnel, from the captain with his delightful sense of humor, to dining room managers and passenger service staff all above average.
All told, the itinerary, the quality of the staff and the good weather combined to make an enjoyable cruise: good value for the fare -- and which largely overcame some of the unfortunate design elements and the disappointing quality of the MDR food -- since the service and the itinerary were what mattered most to me, I would have to rate the over-all experience as good.
I would like to sail Celebrity again - hopefully they can focus on food quality, while maintaing staff attitude.