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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2013
Five of us took this cruise in Concierge Class. My DW and elected to stay in CC and we were glad we did as I will explain later. We are Elite Plus with many cruises from around the world under our belts Before embarkation day,we received ... Read More
Five of us took this cruise in Concierge Class. My DW and elected to stay in CC and we were glad we did as I will explain later. We are Elite Plus with many cruises from around the world under our belts Before embarkation day,we received a text warning of delays due to Coast Guard and other what not. We arrived at 12:30 with no delay. The ship is impeccable and staff very friendly and attentive. This was much superior to our experience on the Solstice in Australia, earlier this year. Ships' Officers on the Solstice were cold as ice, except the CC Host. Only negative was the was a mix up on the table arrangements for Early seating and we were not assigned on one table.(this never happened to us before) The Opus Matre D found us an excellent table on the second night and the rest of the cruise. We were happy campers. We purchased the Premium Liquor package for this cruise. We had trepidations about service. However unlike others' experience, the bar staff was very willing to keep the beverages flowing. Only exception was the Sunset Bar where they are severely understaffed. The rest of the sommeliers and bar staff were more than happy to serve us as many drinks as we wanted. Consider the more drinks the more tips they automatically make. We were a bit concerned about the number of children on this cruise. Whether it was just a set of well behaved kids or the size of the ship, it was not total chaos. We also experienced the higher noise level in the common areas. The solution? - move to the quiet areas. The new Captains Club system was announced during this cruise. Depending on your status, you were either happy or mad. I witnessed some really cruel people lambasting the poor CC Hostess. Come on folks don't shoot the messenger. Lastly the food in the Opus MDR was excellent. We must be from another planet, but we had some excellent meals.. In fact it was a step up from our last Blu Restaurant experience. Blu food on our last Solstice cruise was not up to the standard of several prior AQ cruises and service was too slow. As a point of reference, we have eaten at some of the best culinary restaurants in London, NYC, Florence, Sydney Yes we would sail Reflection again. It reminded us of the Century and Galaxy experiences of 12 years ago. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We booked directly with Celebrity in order to secure a five hundred dollar on board credit. This came in useful when paying our wine and bar bill. Beware prices for drinks are high. The Reflection at less than a year old and is very ... Read More
We booked directly with Celebrity in order to secure a five hundred dollar on board credit. This came in useful when paying our wine and bar bill. Beware prices for drinks are high. The Reflection at less than a year old and is very impressive. The sweeping central atrium is beautiful, the cabins are pristine with modern decor and the bars are exciting night time venues. Although we were slightly disappointed with the evening entertainment there were some stand out acts. 'These Guys', a group of four young Californian men were sensational. The comedy venue 'Sin City' show was great entertainment. Ask any guy who watched this show if they remember Sarah Storey, the Australian burlesque dancer. Overall the shore trips were well organised, but a little uninspiring. The food was never something to rave about, but consistently good. We soon learnt that the meat choices were by far the best. The buffet had plenty of choice and we always found a table outside to sit, both for breakfast and lunch. Both embarkation and disembarkation were efficient but a 6.30 start meant that Celebrity got us to the airport with three and a half hours to go before our flight to Birmingham. Overall a very pleasant cruise, but we came away saying we would like to try another cruise company next time. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise with good weather; this was our second Panama Canal transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We are regular cruisers; this was our first time on Celebrity. We booked an Aqua Class stateroom on ... Read More
1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise with good weather; this was our second Panama Canal transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We are regular cruisers; this was our first time on Celebrity. We booked an Aqua Class stateroom on the ninth deck, and this included the Blu dining room. Details below. The cruise had seven sea days that were relaxing. 2. Embarking: We made our own flight arrangements for this cruise, but we did use Celebritys hotel in San Diego, the Sheraton Marina, a nice hotel convenient to both the airport and the port. We were bused to the port around noon. The security line was a bit long, but we were on board by 1PM. Our cabin was ready for us; one suitcase arrived before 2:30 and the second bag arrived at 5:30. We were over 2,000 passengers of all ages, from infants to seniors in electric scooters. Nationalities were across the board: US, British (160), Belgians (over 40), Swiss, Germans, Canadians, Brazilians, etc. As the ship was next headed for Harwich, England, it appeared that some of the Europeans were going to continue on home on board and not fly. 3. The Celebrity Infinity (from perspective of Aqua Class): The cabin is the same size as any other verandah cabin but with nicer amenities. Despite its size, there are adequate storage drawers and closet space for the two weeks. [My wifes contrarian comments: The storage and closet space looks very good before your suitcases arrive. I do agree it was adequate, but only because I had mercilessly edited the clothing I packed down to only those items I absolutely knew I would wear and brought along a Magellans valet travel tray to corral my cosmetics in/on the desk (there are no drawers in the cabins desk, just large open shelves.] There are only two 110v and two 220v outlets in the room. The bathroom is compact but it does have storage shelves under the sink. The shower is a walk-in type with a great multi-nozzle system. Suitcases fit well under the bed. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it and kept it locked). There is a TV that receives movies, some cable news (depending on reception), shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are no announcements on the PA system other than the Captains 10 oclock bridge report followed by a very brief summary of the days activities. If you want a newspaper, a four-page news summary (in various languages) is available daily around noon in the Guest Services area. There is a children/teens area and programs for them. I defer to others with children to comment on this part of the ship. Library is very small; bring your own reading. 4. Meals: Food in the Oceanview buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a leisurely meal. As we were Aqua Class, we did not use the main dining room. I dont know if we could if we wanted as our dining tips that had to be prepaid when booking were earmarked for the Blu staff and not the dining room staff. Blu: We stopped by Blu after we boarded. A waiter on duty recommended we do not appear at 7 (our usual dining time), but come earlier or later. The room seats 100, and they have about 200 guests. The waiter was correct in his advice. We found we could get a table no later than 6:30. Arriving later meant that we would have to wait until around 8PM. So much for open dining in Blu. We found service and food in Blu to be excellent. The menu is different from the main dining room. The menu is not twigs and leaves it is well-prepared regular cooking with maybe a bit less starch and a bit more emphasis on vegetables. If you feel calorie deprived, you can easily make up the shortage with their excellent breads, wines, and desserts. Other than a few tables for large parties of six or more, tables are for two with two tables set relatively close together. If you wish to chat with your neighbors, you can, and if you (or they) do not want to, its no problem and no affront. While the dinner service runs fairly well, breakfast service does not. The issue seemed to be that each breakfast order is different and cannot be premade in the kitchen. Thus, breakfast service is slow and does not work when you have an early shore excursion. We avoided trying to do breakfast on these days in the Oceanview buffet due to the crowds there, and we found the AquaSpa Cafe to work for a good and quick breakfast. The above being said, an unhurried breakfast in Blu on sea days was pleasant. We made reservations on-line for both Qsine and the SS United States specialty restaurants. Both, in their respective ways, were excellent. Qsines food is excellent and the presentation is completely unusual. However, it works. The United States copies the first-class dining room of its namesake. This includes something not seen on any ship we have been on: the large amount of space between tables. Those were the good old days. Both restaurants were worth the extra charges. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars. We can recommend the Italian gelateria. At dinner one night a couple noted that the Ocean Grille, in the back of the Oceanview Cafe, was a great place for a casual grilled dinner. You cannot go hungry or thirsty on board. 5. Dressing for meals: For this two week trip it was three formal, and all the rest casual. A good number - perhaps half - of men at formal nights were in tuxedos or suits; some who did not want to dress up just did not appear for these meals. You get the specific dates for dress (and all time changes) in the initial daily program in your cabin when you board. 6. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line on board at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you dont need the ships tour office. Celebritys tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ships staff, you have support when there is a problem. Concerning tours in Guatemala and Costa Rica: Most tours are long because it is a distance from the port to get up into the mountains. In Guatemala, it was 90 minutes each way for the Antigua tours. In Costa Rica, it was 2 ½ hours each way to get to the Monteverde area. This included around 20 miles of unpaved roads. Also, pay attention to warnings concerning Colon, Panama. Ship tour personnel and tour guides made it quite clear that visitors had no business wandering around in town. Stay in the shopping area pier-side, or take a tour that passes through the town. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: sports, lectures, bridge, bingo (for serious players!), etc, etc. Two lecturers on board were popular: Al Goldis, a retired general manager and scout, knew everything there was to know about baseball. Martin Harrington Uncle Marty is a citizen of Panama and provided a series on all aspects of that country. He also provided commentary on the PA system as the ship transited the canal. We did not attend any of the shows on board; the bits we saw looked good. The casino payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the shipâs photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account. As I said earlier, if you are Aqua Class, you pay tips when you book. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service breakfast. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ships TV channel. We received a paper copy about the half way point in the cruise; we received a final copy the night before disembarking. However, anything you charge that last night (bar, shopping) will not appear on that copy. Keep your receipts so that you can check the amount you see on your credit card bill at home. 10. Disembarking: We signed up for the ships valet luggage service. Our bags went out of our cabin the night before, and we did not see them until we arrived at our San Antonio airport. The service costs, I believe, $20 per person, plus whatever the airline charges. Celebrity will tell you what restrictions there are concerning airlines and routing. You get different luggage tags the night before as well as your boarding passes for your flight(s) home. Our morning procedure was that we had to be out of our cabin by 8 and in the specified waiting lounge by 8:15. Announcements were only made in the waiting areas. We were called to leave at 8:30, and we arrived at our gate at Fort Lauderdale Airport at 10:30. It took nearly an hour to get through customs/immigration (sequestration shortages), and it took about another half hour to get through TSA security at the airport. 11. Conclusion: We would classify this cruise as very good bordering on excellent. Celebrity advertising does not equal reality. Yes, we would sail with Celebrity again (Aqua Class), if timing and itinerary meet our desires. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We are experienced cruisers. Did this exotic itinerary with friends who we hook up with every two years. Embarkation good- no issues. Rooms were ready within an hour which is quicker than what we are accustomed to. Room Steward was ok ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers. Did this exotic itinerary with friends who we hook up with every two years. Embarkation good- no issues. Rooms were ready within an hour which is quicker than what we are accustomed to. Room Steward was ok but not overly attentive. Never called us by name. Had 2 day in most ports which was good considering the itinerary. Most excursions are a full day which means early mornings and most had a drive of around 1.5- 2.5 hours to get to each way which became tiresome. However if you wanted to see the cities you had no choice. Did not do Hanoi which I heard from some who did the trip that it took them 8 hours of traveling to get there and back. Glad we didn't do that one. All the cities are crowded and hot. Most had populations of 5-10 million. The hawkers are pretty aggressive in some areas and hang around the tourist visitation sites. Didn't take in any of the entertainment except for one night. The on site dancers and singers are very good and the one show we did take in was top notch. The food was very good, well presented and creative. We had anytime dining but found a good table with excellent wait staff so we ate there most nights. While we couldn't reserve a table they always kept this one for us. Friendly staff throughout the ship especially Dexter ( Mr. Washy Washy) who could make anyone's day. We had no issues and would sail again with Celebrity. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
As with some people on this sight I do not normally feel the urge to write a review but (In my opinion) some small issues have been exaggerated regarding this cruise. Check In- We arrived at the check in around 2pm and did not ... Read More
As with some people on this sight I do not normally feel the urge to write a review but (In my opinion) some small issues have been exaggerated regarding this cruise. Check In- We arrived at the check in around 2pm and did not experience the apparent chaos, chaos probably caused by a lot of passengers trying to board early. A passenger I met during check in told me that he arrived at the terminal at around 11am (earliest boarding time) and he thought Robbie Williams was at the front as there were that many people there. He simply went away and went back around 2pm as I did and virtually walked straight through. Stateroom- The stateroom was ready with fresh fruit, flowers and a ice cold bottle of the sparkly stuff and a hearty welcome from our cabin steward Batista and his assistant. Unlike other reviewers our stateroom was very clean with no nasties lurking. We did not need to ask for anything out of the ordinary but I did not feel that I could not ask Batista to resolve any issues. TALK TO THEM, IT HELPS. The crew who we dealt with we're very friendly and polite with quite a few greeting us on a first name basis. Thanks to Batista (room steward), Hasan, Avinash, Natalia (sommeliers), Rose,Jorge (pool bar), Natalia (Metropolitan concierge), Komang, Alin, Eka (Martini bar) the list goes on. We are not new to cruising and if we had been inclined to find something to complain about we probably could of but after all that's not the point of a holiday to me. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was the first time Celebrity was done this route and it showed. The ports were all terrific with overnights in Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi, and Hong Kong, but Celebrity was comically disorganized at port calls ... Read More
This was the first time Celebrity was done this route and it showed. The ports were all terrific with overnights in Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi, and Hong Kong, but Celebrity was comically disorganized at port calls in general, getting people ashore, running shore excursions, and handing out passports. Hotels: Fairmont Singapore-Nice, but pricey Renaissance Bangkok-dirt cheap, and incredibly nice hotel Caravelle Saigon-cheap, and nice, but not as nice as Renaissance Sheraton Hong Kong-Expensive, but a very nice hotel Ports In Singapore, we did some nice tours before we got on the ship, including a city tour, and a tour of the World War II sites (Kranji was very moving). But I will focus on what happened once we got on the ship. We had planned to go to this nice new aquarium on Sentosa, since our ship didn't leave until 2 PM the next day. Unfortunately, we would soon learn that we had to be on board at Noon, which was never told to us when we booked. It was very misleading, and the beginning of our discontent with Celebrity's port operations. Apparently, there are 2 different aquariums on Sentosa. We accidentally went to the old one, which like everything else on the island, didn't open until 10. Because we had to be on board at 12, we didn't have time to go to the new aquarium instead. To add insult to injury, the ship ended up leaving port 4 hours late because all passports needed to be turned in, but a group of Russians (if you believe the scuttlebutt) failed to turn their passports in and were lounging at the pool despite constant announcements and impassioned, angry pleas from the captain. So, we had rushed for nothing. In Bangkok, all 4 members of my party were booked on the "Essence of Old Bangkok tour, which left at 10:15 A.M. My youngest son and I planned to stay overnight in Bangkok and just have the bus leave us there at the conclusion of the tour instead of going back to the ship. We were worried about getting our passports in time (you needed to collect your passports in order to stay overnight ashore as the hotel asks for them) since they were set to be given out at 10:30 A.M. Thus, I talked to guest relations and they assured me that our passports would be the highest priority and we would be able to get them at 10:15. Still concerned, I went to the shore excursion desk and told them my situation, and they once again assured I would get the passports in time, and if not, they would book me on a different tour which was "Overnight Bangkok on your Own". Long story short, we did not get the passports in time because Celebrity was so slow and inefficient at distributing them. As time marched on, I returned to the guest relations desk to ask about my so called priority status. The woman at the desk (can't remember her name, but she was Peruvian) told me that they were in her supervisor hands and we would get them soon, and that we should wait by the desk to receive them. 20 minutes later no passports. We went back to the place where passports were being distributed and had to wait even more time to get them. The Peruvian had blatantly lied, a tactic we found was used often by our crew who could care less about our experience. When we finally got our passports, we rushed to the shore excursion desk to make sure we got on the "Overnight Bangkok on your Own" tour. There was now no room left, and without any aid from Celebrity we were forced to find our own transport to Bangkok. It was very expensive, but we did get to the city in time to see the Grand Palace< the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The next day we went to Wat Arun, The National Museum, the Marble Temple, and the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo before returning to the ship. We would later learn that the tour we tried to get on was delayed so much due to passport issues that it did not arrive in Bangkok until 5 P.M. according to some of our fellow passengers. So, it was a blessing in disguise that Celebrity had failed to get us on that tour, as it saved us from further incompetency from them. The exception to the rule of bad shore excursion, passport and gangway issues was in Saigon. We had booked the Saigon Overnight tour (a bargain at 295 dollars) after enjoying staying overnight in Bangkok so much, no thanks to Celebrity. Our tour guide, Hoang, was just great. He was the best tour guide on the entire cruise. He spoke very good English, was kind, courteous, and gave lots of information and interesting anecdotes about his hometown. We saw all the usual sites on day 1 (Presidential Palace, History Museum, Water Puppet Show, Market, Church, etc.) and stayed at the Caravelle Hotel that night, which was great. My son had wanted to visit the highly touted War Remnants museum, which we didn't have time for the first day. However, it did open at 0730 the next day. We rushed there and thoroughly enjoyed our brief 45 minute visit. Next, we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels which was fascinating. It was incredible to see how the Viet Cong constructed this massive system with such little resources. The best part though was the shooting range they had where you could fire a wide range of weapons from the Vietnam War era, including AK47, M16, and M60s. We picked the AK47 and the M60 and it cost 68 dollars, not cheap, but incredibly fun. I had fired the M16 and M60 before, but never an AK, which was so unique since obviously I was not exposed to that as an American. There were no real issues with passports or disembarkation we experienced in Saigon, so that was a relief. After a day at sea, we arrived in Chan May, the port for Da Nang and Hue. We booked the Imperial Hue tour. This was the tour from hell! Our tour guide, Tran, had an absolutely incomprehensible accent and had an overall poor command of English. After paying hundreds of dollars for my whole family to go on this tour, I expected better from Celebrity. Could they really not have found a single guy in all the Central Highlands who spoke English better than this? If you listened hard, you would be able to make out about 30 percent of what he said. For example, "bla bla bla bla Heavenly lady Pagoda bla bla bla" So when he explained things anywhere that day, it was utterly useless. First went to the aforementioned Heavenly Lady pagoda, where I listened to another tour guide who actually spoke English. Next we went to the imperial palace. I hired four rickshaws to take us there from where the bus left us because my wife has a bad knee and cannot walk well. The rickshaw guides had quoted us two dollars each to go to the palace. Unfortunately, they lied. Instead of taking us to the palace, they take us on this one hour long wild goose chase around the streets of Hue despite my constant urgings to take us straight to the palace. When the tour finally ends, they want 1 million dong apiece, like 48 dollars. I am incensed. I did not want this whole long tour, I wanted to just be taken to the palace and pay my 2 dollars. I give them a million dong for all four of us, but they won't let us leave and attempt to physical restrain us. A poor plan since both my son and I have at least 7 inches and more than 80 pounds on all of them. My wife gives them 500k more dong and we leave. We only have 30 minutes left to see the Imperial Palace, and without a guide, no matter how bad, to show us around. Tran comes looking for us and he is not happy. We aren't actually late but he must just have had a bee in his bonnet about it. We get back to the bus roughly on time, but he still looks like we shot his water buffalo. We travel back across the Perfume River for lunch at a "4 Star Hotel", really a 2 star in my book. The food was of poor quality and little variety. The drinks were long passed expired and when we went down in the elevator we found ourselves stuck behind a buffet table. Oh my. After lunch we travel to the Thien Mu tomb to hear some more garbled explanations from Tran. We then return to the ship to recover from our trying day. The next day was much better. Although there were issues with tenders the next day and our excursion was delayed an hour, which was cut off from our tour, Ha Long Bay by Boat was simply stunning. All these little islands jutting out from the water were breathtaking. When we arrived at the island with the big cave, there was a 45 minute wait to get in, due to our late departure. It was worth it though. The cave was the largest and most spectacular I had ever seen, and different colored lights were put in it to further the mystique. We then visited a floating village where a local boat came up right next to ours and the kids from the village jumped on to our boat to essentially beg for money. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time fascinating. The next day we traveled to Hanoi (3.5 hours overland) which was great. We saw the Hanoi Hilton where John McCain was imprisoned, took an electric cart through the busy market, and saw Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum. We couldn't go inside as it is only open in the morning, and we couldn't visit his cottage because of some military exercise that was going on. In the words of our terrific guide Hung, "This is a communist country. They just tell me it is national security and I can't do anything about it". We did get to see the lake where John McCain took a "swim" according to Hung, which was cool. Afterwards we returned to the ship. Two days later we arrived in our final port, Hong Kong. We took a great tour the first day there (Highlights of the City with Dim Sum Lunch). The next day we disembarked and went to Ocean Park which was incredible, if a little expensive at 280 HKD. They had 4 different pandas which was mind boggling, a great aquarium, and a thrilling cable car ride. We didn't have time for much else there, since my wife wanted to go shopping for fake purses as Christmas gifts, but my sons really enjoyed shooting water cannons at people on the River Rafting ride, a bargain at 10 HKD per session. Next, we were on our way to lunch when we were approached by an Indian trying to sell Fake watches and purses. My wife couldn't resist. He led us into a seedy apartment building, up to the 6th floor. There were bars on all the doors and led us into his apartment where he had an impressive (read: frightening) surveillance system and 3 of his goons guarding the door. We bought a nice purse bargained down from 250 dollars to 180, which I still thought was too much. After a delicious late lunch of Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, we journeyed on to buy even more crap at the Ladies Market. My two sons went to the Hong Kong Museum of History instead, which they said they thoroughly enjoyed, and only cost 20 HKD total, less than 3 bucks. The Ship and Cruise Experience Having previously cruised with Celebrity on the Century in 07, where the service was out of this world, I expected to be treated as a valued guest. Unfortunately, even though I was in a suite, I was treated more as cattle. The service was really no better than Royal Caribbean or Princess. But at least they make up for it with great activities and entertainment. On Celebrity, not only was the service underwhelming, the entertainment and activities were the worst I've ever seen. There was really nothing to do when the ship was not in port that was worthwhile. Just opportunities to give Celebrity more of my hard earned money. No good shows, no fun activities or game shows, not even the Newlywed game! A travesty, in my eyes. The comedian, Joel Osborne, was Fifty Shades of awful. He couldn't handle the crowd and was criminally unfunny. The other shows were similarly poor, except for Mario D'Andrea, a guitarist/vocalist who was great. The trivias, which my son loves, were almost exclusively during the day, when we were in port, and were not even that good when we were there. No real variety in subjects, no entertaining staff. Not even an exciting game show format. Worse yet, the food was not particularly good. The alternative restaurants were absurdly overpriced at 40 a person, though Qsine was an experience. The food outlets were not open frequently or long enough, with the Pool Grill closing at 6, the dinner buffet at 9:30, and Ice Cream at 10. The main dining room wasn't very good. The service wasn't as good as on other cruises and the variety was lacking. There was little for my vegetarian wife. The quality of the food wasn't overly good either. And overall, the staff didn't go out of their way to help you. You had to take the initiative to get them to act if you needed assistance after they made a mistake. Conclusion All in all, it was an enjoyable cruise, not because of the ship, the service, activities, or entertainment, but because of the ports. As much as I might complain about the onboard experience, I didn't take this cruise for the ship. I took it to see Southeast Asia. A cruise is a great way to see it, and the overnights really made the trip for me. It would be very difficult and expensive to see all those places on your own, and you would be stuck eating local food all the time which you may not like. I'd rather a bad steak on Celebrity than chicken feet in some random place in Vietnam! I do hope Celebrity learns from this. The service may never get better because they simply do not care enough, but they certainly should improve the tendering, passports, and port operations. Their problems with that were simply ridiculous. In the future, I will look to book Princess or Royal Caribbean, because Celebrity has simply lost its edge. It is no longer a "premium" line. Its service is average at best and the food is somewhere south of that. Celebrity never was good at entertainment or activities, but this cruise was truly awful in those categories. If you are considering taking this cruise, I would urge you to lower your expectations. And I would certainly avoid the Millennium if you are cruising more for the ship than the ports. Unfortunately, no other cruise line is doing a similar route (except for Holland America, yuck) so if you want to cruise Southeast Asia, at this point, you have to stomach the Millennium, to enjoy the rich experiences ashore. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Christmas is supposed to be magical and so is a cruise! Our 16 member family boarded the Celebrity Infinity in Valparaiso, Chile on December 2012 and it was magical! The ship is beautiful and was awesomely decorated for the holidays! It ... Read More
Christmas is supposed to be magical and so is a cruise! Our 16 member family boarded the Celebrity Infinity in Valparaiso, Chile on December 2012 and it was magical! The ship is beautiful and was awesomely decorated for the holidays! It had Christmas written all over it from gingerbread towns, Christmas flowers (red Poinsettias), the holiday music everywhere, to the best Social Host that kept the ship alive (I believe he was Argentinean, funny and fun!), showing up at all unexpected places, keeping people happy and entertained at all times. The ports of call were incredible: from Chile to Buenos Aires, what can you not love about it? Everything from sea life to nature to glaciers. The meals were excellent, as was the service. The cabins are beautiful (we had verandas and some preferred the Ocean Views because of the smaller children). They have a great feature on this ship: connecting rooms for bigger families with children. The kids Club and Teen’s Club as stated by the kids themselves, were great!). The Dining Room staff was so accommodating for such a big group and treated our ‘younglings ‘with so much care! Would definitely recommend and return on a Celebrity cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
We returned from our Christmas Holiday cruise on the Summit. This was our family's first time on a Celebrity ship so I can't speak for other Celebrity Ships but the Summit was not impressive. We had two cabins and one of them ... Read More
We returned from our Christmas Holiday cruise on the Summit. This was our family's first time on a Celebrity ship so I can't speak for other Celebrity Ships but the Summit was not impressive. We had two cabins and one of them smelled of mildew the entire week despite a complaint to our cabin stewart who loved to hang out in the hallway outside our room to chat with guests and other staff, but not actually get much done in the way of cleaning or providing towels. Usually, one of our rooms were missing some bath or face towels on any given day. But I wouldn't let the towels or the smell get me down if it weren't for the food. The quality and variety of food choices for breakfast and lunch were poor. If you didn't love powdered eggs and greasy sausage or bacon, you had better get up early because the full breakfast ended way before most passengers arrived in the buffet line! The staff running the buffet line always looked confused when you asked them a question, I think they were all new to their jobs. Lunch was slightly better than breakfast but not by much. While the food looked fresh, it was rarely varied-there was the pizza station, poor quality cold cuts, the salad station and stir fry spot as the main anchors to a few hot items and cold salads. There was little to get excited about or look forward to. Dinner was only a small step up from breakfast and lunch since our waiter was excellent and tried to his best to make dinner an enjoyable meal despite the kitchen's many shortcomings. Lobster night featured overcooked lobster tails that were burnt to a crisp. If you did find something to enjoy at the dining room, don't try to find it the next night because they would not ever find you something off the menu from the previous evening. It was to the point that our family looked forward to getting off the ship so we could get an interesting meal. We attended a cook off event on the ship where the head chef was asked about bringing some local flavors into the menu. He answered in his french accent that he would never try to bring the flavors of the ports we visited into his menu, that he never varied his menu to reflect the areas that the ship visited. He seemed proud of this accomplishment, although I'm not sure why since other lines we experienced had done exactly that and it made the meals that much more exciting. The ports on this ship is what made this cruise fun for our family-Dominica was beyond our expectations in both beauty and the friendliness of its guides. We hiked in the rain forest and found the trip exciting! Grenada has beautiful beaches and wonderful spices, although there are many aggressive vendors on the beaches trying to braid our hair or sell us something. On St. Kitts we took the ship's catamaran and snorkel trip and it was one of the highlights of our week. The crew were exceptionally personable and helpful, and the sailboat was stunning. All in all, we had a relaxing vacation but it could have been so much better if the Summit were as good as promised. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This is our fifth cruise and we have sailed previously on Royal Caribbean, NCL and Disney Cruise Lines. I travel with my husband and teenage daughter. I had high expectations for this cruise and some were definitely satisfied, but other ... Read More
This is our fifth cruise and we have sailed previously on Royal Caribbean, NCL and Disney Cruise Lines. I travel with my husband and teenage daughter. I had high expectations for this cruise and some were definitely satisfied, but other expectations were not met. Embarkation and Disembarkation were simple and well organized. This was the best among all the cruises I have taken and we were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes. We took a cab from the airport which cost us $21 including the luggage. The ship is beautiful. It is comparable in size to the other ships we have been on (Norwegian Stat and Serenade of the Seas), but it is laid out to have more intimate spaces. I really like Promenade Decks and Deck 4 on the Summit does not go all the way around the front or back of the ship. The port side of Deck 4 has the smoking area and we were in a cabin below on Deck 3. There was definitely a smoky smell in our corridor. The best part if this cruise was the service and the food. The wait staff was amazing. We had Celebrity Select dining. They recommend you make reservations for the restaurant, but the only ones available were very late. So, we showed up around 6 pm every evening and were seated right away. The majority of the time, we had this amazing waiter named Hamilton and his recommendations on food were fantastic. Between Hamilton, Denisa (the Assistant waitress), Ronny (the sommelier) and Norris who brought us drinks, we felt pampered, happy and well fed. Ronny was especially amazing at selecting wonderful wines with dinner. We bought a 3 bottle wine package and the premium non-alcoholic package for my daughter. I believe these were quite a good value as we used both packages and the non-alcoholic premium package included bottled water, soda, mixed drinks and premium coffees. The entertainment ranged from okay to wonderful. The featured guest entertainers included a comedian/impersonator, a Latin guitarist, a piano/vocalist and an a Capella group who were awesome. The shows featuring the singers and dancers were unique and a bit bizarre. The performers were okay, but the shows were confusing and strange. The first show was about the movies and at the beginning appeared to be a chronological review of music in the movies. Unfortunately, it ended up jumping around the decades and ended with a review of Abba music. Sirens was an even stranger show. Who thought Sweet Caroline, My Heart Will Go On and Dreamgirls music should be in the same show??? Who singe song from the movie Titanic on a cruise ship? Very strange. Our cabin was small, but well organized. The beds were hard and terrible. Everyone ended up with a back ache! This was very disappointing because Celebrity is related to Royal Caribbean and Royal Caribbean have the most wonderful beds we have ever experienced and I am considering buying one from home. Another disappointment were the ship activities. There were only 2 Bingo sessions for a week long cruise. The arts and crafts were great, but the timing for many interesting activities coincided with shore times or dinner hours. I am not a party animal, but this was much too sedate. There isn't even karaoke. Our cruise went to St. Croix. We had booked a snorkeling tour of Bucks Island which was cancelled because of poor conditions. There isn't much to do on this island near port, so it was a waste of a day for us. We hired on onshore tour on St. kitts which was very good and ended up staying on Friar's beac for several hours. It was a very nice day and the Green Vervet monkeys are so adorable! We took a shore excursion to Trafalgar Falls on Dominica and had a great time on this beautiful island. Our guide, Leon, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the island flora, fauna and history. I can't wait to go back here! Our next stop was Grenada, which was more developed. We took the West Coast and Spice excursion and our guide was not very good. When we went to the plantation to see the spices and cocoa beans, he stayed on the bus and other guides showed us how all the spices were processed. Our final stop was St. Thomas, where we went to St. John's on our own. Overall, my family enjoyed the cruise, but would prefer Royal Caribbean or NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
-Travel To Port of Embarkation - We traveled same day as embarkation which got us in San Juan around 3:15pm. Taxi cab driver was very friendly and accomodating. We requested a stop at a local store on the way to the San Juan Port. This ... Read More
-Travel To Port of Embarkation - We traveled same day as embarkation which got us in San Juan around 3:15pm. Taxi cab driver was very friendly and accomodating. We requested a stop at a local store on the way to the San Juan Port. This is a must if you need to purchase water and alcoholic beverages before getting on the ship. The port has one store that sells water and alcohol but at a premium price. The Embarkation was the best ever! No lines, no harrasement from porters for a tip. Walked right up and were registered and on our way to the ship within 10 minutes. We were onboard by 5p. -Stateroom - The Sky Suite was spacious. Closet space was great for clothes needed for 7 days. Drawers were plentiful. Bathroom was awesome, very spacious and large enough to feel as though you were at home. Balcony is plenty big enough for two people. We had coffee and juice most morning delivered for enjoyment on the balcony. -Dining - This was a castrophe the first night for dining. The staff did not have seating assignments arranged for diners after the late muster drill. Why have the muster drill at 7:45? Needs to be changed to accomodate both seating times. We dined with a nice couple Pam and Jeff from Texas in the Main Dining Room. They were friendly and said this was their third yearly trip in December on the Summit! Day 2 we ate in the Main Dining Room at our assigned table. The Wait Staff were friendly and very accomodating. However, we never went back due hostile dining companions. Day 3 - 7 We dined in the Blu Dining Room. The staff were friendly, informative and very good at their jobs. The staff was a very welcome addition to the excellent cruisine served in the restaurant. Fabulous astmosphere and gorgeous surrounding made each night a treat. We were in the suite and received a complimentary reservation at the restaurant of our choice. We chose the Normandie Restaurant. The staff was fantastic and the chef was amazing. Food was top shelf all the way. The only drawback was we never received our unfinished wine which was to be delivered to the cabin. Sea Day(s) breakfast dining was a spectacular Grand Buffet held in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. It was a highlight of our cruisine experience on the Summit. Everything it seemed was on the buffet. The presentation was top-shelf with exemplary cruisine. -Entertainment - Manual was the best Cruise Director along with Nestor Santurio, a Latin Guitarist whom you could listen to for hours on end. He played at different venues around the ship and always gave a thrilling performance. You must hear this man play the guitar. Patrick Hall, a finalist on American Idol was refreshing to hear during late nights in Cafe al Bacio and other bars. Aqua-Fellas Acapella Quarter, Robbie Printz (comedian), and Dan Bennett were great entertainment acts along with the Celebrity Singers and Dancers. Casino - Slots were loose and with the added lottery each night, very entertaining. The staff were very friendly. My DH does not gamble but enjoyed the 50% off on drinks special that were ran in the casino. -Activities - There were classes on various types of dancing, which were held daily and were fun to learn. The Officers dancing with various guest was very nice which allowed women to have extra dance companions. There were many seminars, classes, tours and opportunities to enrich your mind throughout the journey. -Service - Esmerlo was our butler. Him and his staff kept the room clean and provided prompt service throughout the cruise. We especially loved it when Emeraldo would come by in the afternoon with the Tea Cart. We were able to get hot tea & coffee, sandwiches and pastaries. The dinner on the balcony served by Emeraldo was excellent. Him and the staff were always doing little things to make the voyage enjoyable. -Ship Info - The ship is gorgeous. It was a great experience sitting in the Oceanview Cafe by the window and being able to look down directly into the sea! What a unique experience to have these glass portholes underneath your seat and looking down into the ocean! Easy access throughout the ship from one area to another. The decor was amazing and the trip was easy. Many sitting areas and quiet nooks throughout the ship. Decor was very tasteful and inviting. Public areas were always clean and inviting. Staff kept the ship clean from top to bottom. Even in the pool area, when guests left the tables were immediately cleared and restored for others to use. One night in the theater a guest spilled their drink on the stairs. Next night at the show, that particular stair well was fresh and clean. Attention to details were seen throughout the ship from Oceanview Cafe, Cosmopolitan Restaurant, AquaSpa Restaurant, Whirlpools and cabins. -Disembarkation - Easy and quick. Very little standing in line until you get in the line for Customs. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and overall we were pleasantly satisfied with the experience. Here's a lengthy review: Embarkation: Our cruise was set to depart at 4:30pm. Our flight arrived in Miami early - around ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and overall we were pleasantly satisfied with the experience. Here's a lengthy review: Embarkation: Our cruise was set to depart at 4:30pm. Our flight arrived in Miami early - around 8:45am. We hopped in a cab and arrived at the Port Miami by 9:30am. The $25 flat rate fare is nice, considering our cabbie was new and didn't know how to get there. But, since we were early, we had plenty of time, so it wasn't that big of a deal. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 9:15am, and the porter took our bags and informed us that they would start checking in passengers "between 9:30 and 10:00". We meandered over to the check in area around 9:45 and they said "Not yet. Come back later." Around 10:15, we saw people lining up quickly, so we got into line. We all waited in that line for over an hour before they finally started the check-in process. Once the process finally started, we got on board smoothly, without issue. There was a lunch buffet served up on deck 10 when we boarded, but before the rooms were ready. However, because we followed a tip from a previous review on cruisecritic.com, we didn't go to the lunch buffet. Instead, we went to deck 5 to Bistro on 5, paid the $5/pp cover charge and ate a delicious meal. We were the only ones in the restaurant the whole time, and we sat there for hours in total comfort and peace & quiet! It was completely worth the $5/pp. The room was ready around 2pm. Stateroom: We were in a C2 cabin (#8074), and it was good. Relatively small, in the grand scheme of things. I can't imagine how small the inside staterooms are. But, we had sufficient storage space. We upgraded so we could have a nice balcony. The balcony was satisfactory - a little small, of course. Just large enough for 2 chairs and a small table. The bathroom was good, and the shower was nicer than I had expected. If the shower had been 6 inches wider, that would have been nice. Good water pressure, and I never ran out of hot water. A nice quiet location.... decks 9 and 7 are both for staterooms only, so we didn't hear any of the foot traffic or music from deck 10. Staff: Our cabin steward, Peter was good, for the most part. We didn't want the contents of our mini-bar, but wanted the space to store our own drinks, and asked him to remove the mini-bar contents, and he told us to just move the other things aside, to make room for our own drinks. On embarkation day, there was a bottle of champagne in our room, which was warm by the time we got to our room. We asked Peter to remove it, and he said that he would, but he didn't. My husband ended up pouring it out on our 2nd last day. The waiters and bartenders were all excellent. They always seemed to remember our preferences for drinks, etc. They often recognized us and some even remembered our names by the 2nd day, which was quite impressive. For the most part, I was called "Madame" or "My Lady". Anytime you walked past a crew member, they always said hello, or asked how you were doing, if you needed anything, etc. Very professional and friendly. Dining: MDR - We only ate in the MDR (San Marco Restaurant) on 2 evenings - both were satisfactory. We were on the early fixed seating time (6pm). Our waiter, Ronald was fantastic. The MDR is noisy, and the food quality is ok. We had read reviews that the MDR didn't do beef very well, but I had steaks both nights and they were good. Tuscan Grille - For Christmas Day dinner, we made reservations at Tuscan Grille, which was excellent. The restaurant is dimly lit, with large comfy chairs, making for a more intimate dining experience. I had the crab cake as a starter, which was ok. I was nervous that it would set the tone for the remainder of the meal. But, the Tuscan onion soup was incredible. So cheesy, so rich, so decadent. My filet mignon was cooked perfectly. My husband's ribeye wasn't nearly as good as my filet. Our dessert of creme brulee was delicious. They put pop rocks on it, so it tingles in your mouth and takes you on a bit of a nostalgic trip to your childhood. Very lovely. Ocean Liners - Totally disappointing. We went for our last night and wish we hadn't. It took them 45 minutes to bring me my cocktail that I had ordered (and never offered me a 2nd one). It took over an hour for our appetizers, which were not very good. Well, my goat cheese souffle was lumpy and grainy, but my husband's risotto was yummy. I couldn't eat the souffle, so I chose another appetizer...the crispy pork belly. It was better, but certainly wasn't delicious. (It took them over 30 minutes to bring the 2nd app). We both ordered the 3 petit filets, and both of our orders were way overcooked. It seemed like they had been sitting under a warming tray for a while (they probably had, since it took nearly an hour for our entrees to come after our apps). The waiter came by and asked how everything was, and I mentioned that our steaks were overcooked. He immediately brought over the manager, who apologized profusely. He said it was a very busy night (as my husband and I looked around and saw several empty tables...) He asked if he could get us anything else instead... by this time, we've been there for several hours, and we kind of just wanted to get back to our rooms so we can pack for disembarkation the next morning. So, we politely declined but he talked us into staying for dessert. He personally cooked my tableside flambeed crepe, and it was delicious. After all of that, he comped our whole meal, which was nice. Paying $40/pp for that meal/experience would have been unacceptable. Seaside Cafe: Lots of options, lots of people, lots of food. The pizza station was definitely popular. As soon as a pizza hit the station, poof - it was gone. People stalked it like vultures. The asian food station was yummy. The breakfast buffet had a really nice poached egg station. Very delish. We always sat outside on the aft sunset bar. Breezy, comfy and the staff there were great. Room Service: Severely lacking. We were hoping that we could sit on our balcony and have a nice quiet breakfast. However they often forgot items that we had ordered. One morning, my 2 fried eggs arrived, but my husband's omlet was nowhere to be seen. Instead, they gave him some cereal...but no milk. Food was cold and late. With so many other food options available, I wouldn't recommend the room service. Ports: Falmouth, Jamaica - A very nice gated community. Not a true representation of the Jamaica experience. Lots of high end shops for jewellery, diamonds, etc. You can tell this is a new port and was designed specifically for cruisers. The entertainers on the street were not pushy, and we weren't bombarded by annoying merchants. However, once you stepped into one of the jewellery shops - watch out! They start laying jewels and watches and all sorts of gorgeous and incredibly expensive things on you, trying to convince you to buy. They are pushy, but back off once you tell them no. Grand Cayman - A beautiful island. The tendering process went smoothly. However, when we were there, there were six (6!!) cruise ships tendering at the same time. It was crazy. Approximately 20,000 cruisers descended upon the same very small pier area at the same time. We waited for a long time for our excursion, which ended up getting cancelled. We were told that there were 3 different buses that were in accidents, so they had to cancel. We immediately went back to the ship. It was far too crowded and chaotic there to be comfortable. I think 4 of the cruise ships were Royal Caribbean. Seems like poor planning to schedule so many cruise ships at the same bloody time. Other: The ship was decorated in fine Christmas spirit. Lots of Christmas decorations helped keep you in the mood. In the tropical setting, it was easy to forget that it was Christmas time.... apart from the continuous Christmas music playing. As I mentioned earlier, we often sat at the Sunset bar on deck 10, and they kept playing the same Christmas CD over and over. It must have been "Destiny's Child Christmas album", because now Beyonce is haunting my dreams.... Don't get me wrong, she's got a lovely voice, but I don't know how the bar staff could tolerate her voice all day and evening every day. At any rate, the ship was kept very clean at all times. The pubic restrooms were immaculate. I had read reviews that the ship seemed old or antiquated, but I thought it was lovely. Yes, you'll see a few rust stains across a railing here or there, but the ship is traveling through salt water constantly. Rust is inevitable. The elevators move very quickly, but the stairs are roomy and wide, and are a good alternative for a quick bit of exercise amidst so many calories. The casino was nice, although some blackjack tables with lower min bets would be ideal. Disembarkation: Went very smoothly. We opted to take our own luggage, so we didn't have to follow the ship's schedule. It was nice. We woke up, finished packing some last minute things, and just walked off the ship. Very easy. Overall, it was a nice relaxing Christmas holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I would say I am ambivalent now about cruising and will only do luxury if possible in the future. This was a Christmas cruise on celebrity constellation. Embankment took about an hour. Had two insides that adjoined with our adult ... Read More
I would say I am ambivalent now about cruising and will only do luxury if possible in the future. This was a Christmas cruise on celebrity constellation. Embankment took about an hour. Had two insides that adjoined with our adult children which made the spaces more livable. Cabin was ok except for the cots they called beds. Cabin service was excellent but that was the only excellent I would give. We enjoyed the food but had to haggle to get the early dining requested the ten months before in booking. Celebrity needs to do open seating...they will need more restaurants to do this. Late seating wide open. The Christmas buffet was wonderful, but dinners were not as impressive as past cruises. No lobster tails and the $40 pp to get into their specialty restaurants was a bit much for family of four. Seems like everything is extra now on board Entertainment was ok. No quartets lounge singer only and beyonce christmas songs till i wanted to jump overboard. It also pissed me off that formal attirecwas not enforced...i had to wear dress and cart suit etc.. some men no ties or jackets. eithervend it or enforce it. The days at sea did not have lots of fun things to do like cooking demos or napkin folding etc. some trivia and bingo was a real joke. Bingo prizes small and cramed into small theater. No drink service there and had to beg for it in the casino. Spa service hard sells...get indivual services as two together not as good as each separate. The food and service were way better then holland but like I said I will step up next time. The ship overall was nice for older ship and they had Purcell everywhere which I appreciated very much. Unfortunately we did not realize Jamaica had Boxing Day holiday so the island was crowded. We did our own excursions and had a good time but grand cayman had six or seven ships in port...insane and not enjoyable. I take responsibility for not checking that out somehow before. We had a good time because we were together as family and we were all in need of a vacation, but I will never do Christmas again and will save up to step up to luxury lines.Together and were all in need of a vacation but I will never do holiday sailing again and will save up to do luxury next time. FYI I have had cabins of all kinds family , sky suites, verandas and insides. Again will ask whether cots or beds next time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand 12-23-2012 to 1/4/2013 12 night pacific cruise With over 20 cruises under my belt, I looked at this cruise as one of the ultimate cruises to go on. Coming from "The States", it is ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand 12-23-2012 to 1/4/2013 12 night pacific cruise With over 20 cruises under my belt, I looked at this cruise as one of the ultimate cruises to go on. Coming from "The States", it is not often that we get to travel so far. This was our first trip to Australia. This was also our first cruise on Celebrity. I had to say our expectations were pretty high for this trip. The cruise ship especially. In short, some areas surpassed while other areas fell short. Keep in mind that this was a holiday cruise with over 450 kids on the ship. Not the typical celebrity experience. Pre-cruise 12/19 We booked our cruise through a TA with insurance. We also booked our air through choice air. Choice air was very limiting for us. I would not use them again. Difficult to deal with when Qantas pulled out of Auckland for the LAX direct flight. You can get better deal going through the airlines directly. They also had changes without communication to us. Definitely no more Choice air for us. Since we were flying from Atlanta, we would most likely book Delta next time. Now, I have to say, the Qantas Airbus 380 was an amazing plane. We flew from ATL to LAX on delta. We stayed a night at the Marriott LAX. Wonderful hotel with free transfers. We did walk about 10 minutes to go to the In-and-out. Yum! We stayed a night in LA before our overnight flight to Sydney. 12/20 We got to rest up and enjoy some time in LA. We took the 10:00 flight out. Definitely pay for the upgrade to premium economy. It is worth it. Economy is a little bigger than our economy in the US, but still looked painful for a 15 hour flight. The service on the plane was fantastic. Could not asked for a better flight. It was a little bumpy during the night due to the airstreams, but still not bad. We skipped a day due to the international date line. 12/22 we landed in Sydney. We stayed at the Marriott Quay. (Pronounced "key") Very nice rooms. Easy access to everything in downtown Sydney. We booked the bridge climb a few months prior. The express climb, same climb, but less time to prep due to groups. An amazing experience that you should not pass up. We ate at Sydney Cafe. Wonderful view! Pricey. We rode the hop-on-hop off bus for a tour. We took the ferry over to the zoo and spent some time in the zoo. US credit cards were no issue. You also have Internet access in the hotel and at several of the coffee shops around. The hotel does have a US conversion power plug. The cruise ship is set up for the different types too. You will not need to buy one. 12/23 the hotel held our bags. We took a tour of the Opera House. You definitely need to see this. Amazing. If possible, book a show. There are 5 theaters in the opera house. Concert hall is the biggest, followed by the opera hall. There are three other smaller venues too. We got back to the hotel and took a cab over to the ship. It is a relatively short walk to the ship if everyone can carry their bags. Once we checked in at the ship... We went back out to finish our time in Sydney. 12/24 the ship was still in port. We took a full day excursion to the blue mountains. It is a long drive out to the mountains. It is very pretty. I reminded me of the blue ridge mountains. The steep train ride was fun. The view of the cliff, three sisters, etc was nice. Not sure if it was worth the price. I probably would of done more in the city. If you have not seen mountains, I would recommend it. If you have seen the Grand Canyon, then skip it. We got back late to the ship while the safety drill was going. This was not a problem since we booked through the cruise line directly. Since we missed the drill, we had to go down for a 20 minute presentation the next day. We left out and had a beautiful journey from the dock. The cruise.... The ship: Celebrity knows how to build unique and beautiful modern ships. The Solstice is in excellent maintenance. The carpets are in nice shape. Very little signs of wear and tear. The feel is very modern and crisp. Stateroom Our room was on the 11th floor - room 1596. Our other family members had the room next door 1594. This floor is the Aqua class. We actually received the upgrade as a very nice gift from our family. There are no kids on this deck. You get free access to Blue dining room. You get daily water and teas in your room daily. Special soaps etc. You also get access to the front spa relaxation room at the front of the ship on the same floor. The rooms were not any bigger than the standard balconies. Is it worth it, maybe for some. You do not get any discounts for the spa. You get a nice coupon book with some goodies in it though. We used the discounted laundry service twice. The storage in the room is pretty good. There are other ships with more storage from a room this size. The interactive system on the TV is the best. Lots of recently released movies that are free and available. The balconies are larger on this ship. Nice balcony with table, 2 adjustable chairs with footrests. The view is a little limited for this floor due to the overhang that goes across. Good coverage for rain though. When you are taking photos, it can get in your way. Noise in the rooms are less due to no kids. The only problem is the pool deck is above you. There will be foot traffic and sliding chairs during the early evening and mornings. Not real bad, but if this bothers you, you may want to move down a floor or two. Deck 11 is the top floor for rooms. The bump outs in the aqua class may be a better choice if you do not want the obstruction. Our room attendant was amazing, one of the best. No issues there. This met my standards for the aqua class on Celebrity. Dining rooms Ocean View cafe - this is their version of the Lido/Windjammer. This is one area that Celebrity let me down. There was no difference from this versus the many other cruise lines out there. Service was lacking here. I wish cruise lines would improve this area. They need to learn from Disney on this. Allure of the Seas is the only other ship that seemed to master this. Wait times for special foods could be reduced with more staffing. Clean-up and table service cold be improved also with more employees. They do have a bar in here so you can get quick access. We purchased a soda card. We got cans of soda with ease directly from the bars. Line cutting here seems to be a little bit of problem. You can stand there and be the next in line, yet someone walks up and they take care of them first. Come on Celebrity, you are better than that! Improve your table service. More people making drinks and more people serving drinks would help. Also, the employees here do not seem to be very happy. I saw several times where employees were arguing with other employees. That is not good. Work as a team folks. Food quality was pretty good. Best pizza out of all the major lines. Wow! Pasta bar is great, but the service is very slow. Great salads! More variety with desserts. Great ice cream and gelatos! The oriental chicken need to be improved. The fajitas are good, but you need better taco meat etc. Please improve your Mexican food station. Much better with Allure. Blue dining room - not impressed. Service was severely lacking. You had to wait to be seated during the busier times. It is all first come first serve with different servers that are killed with several tables. One time, we asked three times for a drink. This is the worse part of the ship in my view. It should be a highlight. A star for those who book Aqua Class or Suites. I got an excuse that it was due to the different cultures eating at different times than the western cultures. Adapt, compromise, adjust... Staff up and fix this. The food was better in the main dining room. Main dining room - wonderful. Charles was our matre'd. He was fantastic. He worked us in with some amazing servers. You would ask for something flexible, and they would not blink. They would serve it. Wow. Wonderful service that met my expectations of Celebrity. The food quality was very good. The drink service was fantastic. No issues here. Specialty Restaurants - wonderful choices. Our favorite that we ate at twice was The Tuscan. It is an Italian inspired steak house. These Omaha steaks were absolutely amazing. Cooked to order with perfection every time. When the place got busy, the service did from down some. Samuel, the manager, took care of anything we needed. Alexander was a terrific server. Need more dessert options. Bar service - overall, the bar service is pretty good. Easy access to drinks. The Ocean View cafe was the only area that needed improvement with this. Shopping - the shopping choices are pretty good. It is catered to the bigger spender. There are not many t-shirts, candy etc options. The art shows is a big part of the cruise. Your typical park west art auctions. Here is the deal, if you want to buy art... Just talk to them directly. They will bring out what they have and make you a deal. The best art we got were not purchased during the auctions. If they know you are serious, they will go out of their way to help you. Pools - easy access to pools and towels. You do not need to sign out for towels. They have plenty of them. The solarium is very nice. There are plenty of spas. The pools are well kept and open almost all of the time. Spa - pretty standard like all of the other cruise lines. The views in the massage rooms are not like Disney Dream or Allure/Oasis. Embarkation Easy process at the Sydney port. You check your bags. Tipped a few dollars. Walked in. The lines were not bad. Since we had two days in port, guests getting on the ship were spread out over the few days. Gratuities for the cruise were taken out each day as a daily rate. Not one big payment. Aussies do not tip typically. You need to stick with the auto deposit, pay the folks directly the same or more, or take Carnival that has a no tipping policy for their Australian cruises. These people live on tips. Seas were calm all cruise long. Even when we had larger waves, the stabilizers worked extremely well. No issues at all going over the Tasman Sea. Sea Day after embarkation - Formal night #1 Melbourne - pronounced Melbin. A very modern city. We took a tour of the city and the Animal Preserve. Great stop. Up close to the signature animals. Puffing Billy was a great train ride. Lots of flies at the winery lunch and visit. 2 Sea Days - Enjoyed the ship! Relaxed. Spa visit. Fjords and Sounds Day - Have your camera ready. Reminded me of Scotland and Alaska combined. Beautiful pictures - postcard views. Weather will vary, but still beautiful. Dunedin - pronounced "dun eat'n". A Scottish based city that we really enjoyed. We took a tour of the city, including the walk of the steepest street in the world - Baldwin St. A visit to the Botanical Gardens was nice. We booked a private tour through the Cadbury Factory in town. Wonderful. Lots of free Chocolate. The price was $16.00 each - somewhere around there. Book online ahead of time. It gets busy. Arkoa - (however you spell it) the replacement tender spot for Christchurch. The only tender spot. One of the prettiest port stops on the cruise. We took the very long bus ride up through the mountains. Lots of beautiful views. Then we travelled into the Alps. Saw a sheep show and ate lunch at a old ranch. We rode the train back down the mountain. Hobbits, Lord of the Rings, and Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe were filmed in these areas. Outstanding, but long day. Nice little town at the port to visit. Wellington - This is a very modern city. They are very proud of The Hobbit movie here. I believe the studios are nearby this town. We toured the city. The cable car up the side of the mountain was nice. This was followed up with a visit to Zealandia. A sort of Jurassic park that is trying to recapture what life was like before humans arrived. Great photo opportunities for nature and rare animals. Another nice day at sea. (Formal night #2 - only two for this cruise.) Tauranga - Our last day was a trip to the countryside to ride a jet boat! What a blast we had! You must do the river jet boat ride if you want a fun thrill. Everyone had so much fun. Kiwi capital of the world here. Lots of Kiwi all over. This is a retirement and vacation community with lots of beaches nearby. Lots of things to do here. I wish we had more time here. Auckland and debarkation - Our end to the cruise. Debarkation was very smooth. No issues. All sorts of options for times etc. Easy customs process. Luggage service was fine. the best part is that we stayed in the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton Hotel shares the same building as the terminal. You walk out. Take a right. Walk about 50 steps. You are at your hotel! Very pricey, but nice. Ask for the conversion if you need it. The wall outlet conversion in 220. the can give you a 110 transformer if you need one. Safer for smaller appliances. Auckland was a beautiful town. We went to the Japanese steak house across the street from the Ferry Building. The hotel service was top notch. Easy access to cabs for a ride the airport. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the airport. Early morning may only take 25-30 minutes. The airport process went smooth. Amazing international terminal with lots of shops in Sydney. We flew back to LAX via Sydney. Gained back a day. First time in my life where I left at 6:00 am on a Saturday, flew 22 hours (flights and holds), and arrive the same day at 6:20 am on the same Saturday. We stayed at the Marriott LAX again. We took a $25.00 cab ride to Manhattan Beach. We ate at an amazing restaurant called Rock'n Fish. Say hello to Matt for me. Tell him the Clemson folks from GA referred you. Matt is the GM for the location. Best seafood on the entire trip. Wonderful atmosphere. Please e-mail me if you have any questions. This is a once in a life time trip for most. Enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We were in cabin 1067 port side in a concierge class room. The room is a good size with the bed near king size and plenty of storage. We had 3 large bags (23kg each - packed way too many clothes) but by utilising the cupboard over the ... Read More
We were in cabin 1067 port side in a concierge class room. The room is a good size with the bed near king size and plenty of storage. We had 3 large bags (23kg each - packed way too many clothes) but by utilising the cupboard over the bed we managed to stow everything. Our cabin stewards were excellent and the room always looked like we had just arrived - which was a totally new experience compared to some cruises we have been on. On a side note if you are intending to do the NZ cruise then I would suggest getting a cabin starboard side as in Sydney and Auckland the boat docked port side meaning you didn't get the best view. One other thing is the entertainment system in the cabin, there are over 20 free movies on demand along with your standard fare of TV programs, you can also order breakfast on it but don't get carried away. FOOD The quality and selection in the main dinning room were great and I didn't have a bad meal. Were on Select Dining and never had to wait for a table. I was surprised that on Lobster night you get a whole tail which is removed form its shell table side by your waiter. This was far better than those little nuggets that you get served on other cruise lines. The cafe had a huge selection and whilst it can get busy at peak times we were never not able to find a table. POOL Reasonable size and depth and if it was cold there was an indoor one you could use. On the two peak/busy sunny days it was still possible to find a lounge at mid-day and there didn't appear to be any lounge hogging that I could see. STAFF The staff would generally go out of their way to make your trip memorable. At first I did notice some seemed disconnected but after a smile and greeting them by their name they became animated and friendly and go out of their way to service you when you next met them. On a couple of occasions I encountered some of passengers displaying a sense of entitlement and being generally rude to staff which could explain why some of the staff appear down. Generally the passengers being rude were the older traveller who should have known better. ENTERTAINMENT The nightly shows were of a high standard and during the day there were numerous activities so if you get bored on this ship then you are not getting out enough. COMMUNICATIONS Wifi is available in the room at rates starting at 75c/m. The connection wasn't good enough to hold a skype call and should you need to make a call using your mobile on the Cellular at Sea network (Celebrity Network) then expect to pay $8/minute or for mobile data $18/Mb. BARS Whether you like your poison in a dark lounge or up on deck there is a bar for you. We had the premium drink package which more than paid for itself and it was great to just hand over the card and not have to worry. We tried a number of things we would not normally have done like the various teas and coffees at the cafe and little things like sparkling water with dinner and a vitamin water to take back to the cabin to help start the day. Overall a great ship and we will be back on her sometime soon Here is a little slide show of our experience: http://youtu.be/SDwNNR_D3GQ Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Equinox Cruise December 21, 2012 10 days Caribbean St. Thomas, St Maarten, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica Embarkation: Couldn't have been easier. There was only one person in front of us and with having all the paperwork done ... Read More
Equinox Cruise December 21, 2012 10 days Caribbean St. Thomas, St Maarten, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica Embarkation: Couldn't have been easier. There was only one person in front of us and with having all the paperwork done on line in advance, things went very quickly. Got on the ship and the party was already started with the Oceanview Buffet open and great entertainment by the pool. Room: Having an inside room, of course it was small. However, everything was well set up and you felt that you had plenty of room. It was also pretty and with many different areas for storage, we had no problems. One thing I did on this cruise I had never done before was to bring my own hangers. The cruise lines usually never supply enough, but although I am sure you can ask for more, they are usually the fat wooden ones and they take up a lot of room. I brought the thin hangers that you may have seen on one of the shopping networks and I could fit in twice as much clothes in the closet! Just a little tip! Only took me 25 cruises to figure that out! No towel animals this trip, but there was turn down service with chocolates. Cabin steward did a nice job and we had no complaints. He asked if there were any special requests as soon as we got on and he made sure the items we requested (ie: extra towels, etc.) were always there. Dining Room: On our past Holiday Cruises, even though we requested a big table, we never get our wish as the big tables seem to be reserved for families. Also, I think years ago, the cruise lines tried to match up people at tables based on age or whatever criteria they used. In recent times, not so much. However, we were pleasantly surprised that we did get a large table for 8 and the other couples at the table were all around our age. Some were even members of our Cruise Critic Group. We had a great time with everyone and one couple lived only 20 minutes from us so hopefully we will see them in South Florida. The food was good for the most part but I found that sometimes there was usually nothing I wanted from the day's special menu or I wanted everything!!! Luckily, if you do not want the special selections for the day, you have a choice of Salmon, Steak, etc. that you can get daily. The food was good, but my husband did have some issues with the pastry. They even brought the pastry chef over to talk to us and he apologized as he said he had a new chef preparing the lava cake that evening! Nice touch to care enough to bring over the pastry chef. Most desserts were good and there was a nice variety . Most of the food was also excellent especially the meats which were very well prepared. Oceanview Buffet: The buffet had a lot of choices, but they were basically the same every day. Knowing I am going to have a big dinner, I don't like to have a big meal lunchtime so I opted for a sandwich, a slice of pizza or a little pasta. The sandwich area has deli meats, cheeses and salads (chicken, tuna, egg, potato, pasta, etc). They will make panini's for you with these items. At another area, they slice fresh pork or turkey or roast beef. So, I got these meats from this area and brought it over to the sandwich area, selected some cheese and had the panni made this way! Others who saw me do it thought it was a good idea so I thought I would pass along that hint. This is the first cruise I have been on where dipped ice cream was available for free on the ship (other than in the dining room) They usually only offer soft serve. This subject was brought up on other cruise critic reviews I read before boarding this ship as a not to be missed treat. They had lots of choices of flavors, however, many thought that the ice cream was a bit gritty (low milk fat content). I usually opted for the sorbet which was super refreshing especially when getting back from a tour of a warm Caribbean island. The buffet was basically OK, but most recently we had been on the Carnival Dream and their buffet was better. Specialty Restaurants: We only tried one Specialty Restaurant which was Il Bacio. For $5 a person, you could have your choice of a Panini, savory crepe and dessert crepes or you can have all three!!! It happened to be very good and very good value for $5!!! Activities: Cruise Critic: People on our cruise from the Cruise Critic Blog arranged their own sailing away party at the Sunset Bar at 4:00 on the day we left. From what I understand, it was so freezing not many people went. Since we signed up for the cruise critic party, we did receive an invitation in our room for a cruise critic function the following day which was held in one of the bars on the ship. The ship provided pastries and coffee. It was nice meeting the people we had been blogging with for months. Also, the captain and other crew members took the time to come to the party to meet us. There seemed to be a lot of activities on this ship that my husband and I wished to attend. We took part in a lot of the trivia activities and met a lot of other people who enjoyed this activity so we always had a group to have fun with. Met a lot of nice people this way. There were also cooking seminars and Melinda Bates who had worked in the Clinton White house did a few seminars about entertaining at the Whitehouse throughout the all the years and how things changed through the years with each administration. It was most interesting. We also took a tour of the galley and went back stage to see how the theater productions work. Although we did not take advantage of them, there were a lot of competition type activities involving passengers and the crew which I thought was a great idea and made you feel that the cruise line wanted to be very involved in your cruise experience. The shows were typical cruise type shows with a cast of dancers and singers. The Broadway Show and the Cirque Du Soleil type show were very good. The Acapella Group Lemon Squeezy was one of the best things on the cruise. I think everyone soon became Lemon Squeezy groupies. 4 young guys from Sweden who were so fantastic I think we almost made it to everyone of their appearances around the ship! They usually performed for 15 minutes at different venues around the ship. A lot of performances of bands and special events were held in the Grand Foyer area. This is basically a very small area and only a few people are lucky enough to get seats to actually see the performers in this area. There is other limited seating which would allow you to hear, but not see what is going on. Not a great set up. We usually got there early if there was something we especially wanted to see, especially the Squeezy's as we started calling them! Everything was very lively, especially when they had the 60's show and everyone was dancing and the dancers were using the elevators as go-go cages!!! Since it was a Christmas Cruise, Santa appeared and following a Christmas parade, Santa had gifts for all the kids. Additionally, all passengers received gifts in their rooms The Hot Glass Show was very interesting and an unusual feature for a ship. Naturally, on a ship you cannot have open flames as they do in most glass studios so a special oven had to be created especially for this ship. The Lawn on the top floor was also a nice touch and although we didn't take advantage of the functions there, several people had fun laying on the grass with Margaritas and chips! The Sunset Bar also on the same floor was the only place that guests were allowed to smoke cigars. My husband took advantage of that area and the waiters were very attentive and he met some fellow smokers to hang with in the afternoon. Captains Club Special Events: Our level with the Captains Club is select (not the top level), but there were a few special cocktail parties we were invited to which were very nice. Also, being in the Captains Club, we received coupons and I was able to take advantage of 25% off an internet package which came in handy. Since many people traveled with their I-Phones or I-Pads, there was no problem getting on one of the computers in the computer room. Excursions: We did 2 excursions from the cruise line. Having been in these islands several times, we opted to go shopping and not do any special tours. We toured the Harrison Caves in Barbados and took a tour around both sides of St Maarten (French and Dutch). The tour in St. Maarten would have taken us back to the boat, but we opted to stay in town on the Dutch side and go shopping. There is also a beach there, so we took the opportunity to have lunch at one of the restaurants by the water. Disembarkation: You can leave the ship early if you wish to carry off your own bags. We did not choose this option. Since we live only 20 minutes from the boat, we got off the boat later than those who had planes to catch. We had breakfast and then there were plenty of places to sit while waiting to get off the ship. The lines once we got off were a little long going through customs, but really not bad. We had parked in the Park & Fly/Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale near the port. It is less expensive than parking at the actual port. Within 5 minutes of leaving the terminal, the park and fly/cruise bus was there. We have used this facility many times and they are always consistently good. All in all, it was a fantastic 10 days with a lot of wonderful memories and we made some great friends which, in my opinion, is always the best part!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
After two cruises within the year on RCCL large ships which left us fatigued from all the activities we decided to take it down a notch with Celebrity. In terms of a entertainment we found it many steps downward but service and food were ... Read More
After two cruises within the year on RCCL large ships which left us fatigued from all the activities we decided to take it down a notch with Celebrity. In terms of a entertainment we found it many steps downward but service and food were definite steps upward. This was our fourth time on Celebrity having taken a 7 day cruise to Bermuda and two eleven day cruises previously. We chose Aquaclass instead of a suite due to only corner aft sky suites available at booking. While many love this location we do not share the affinity for the location. Our cabin 1523 located forward ship and under the gym and spa was perfect for us and one we wouldn't hesitate to book again. We found the cabin pretty narrow and storage a challenge but we made it work. However, the only benefits of Aquaclass I consider rave worthy are the shower and Blu dining room. Since we consume lots of water and told that bottled water would be provided daily in aqua cabins we skipped checking in our usually duffel bag full of Deer Park. The ship provided water but it was the reverse osmosis water served anywhere on the ship and rebottled in recycled brand name bottles which was disappointing. The dining room Blu isn't so much about the food as it is the size of the dining room--a more intimate atmosphere alleviating us the need to book a specialty restaurant. Our shipmates on the cruise were pretty mature with seemingly a high number requiring physical assistance or scooters. This cruise also had a high percentage of non U.S. residents that were engaging an quite friendly. Diners in Blu were also very friendly and we often engaged in conversation with the tables in close proximity. This made for the entertainment that was sorely missing on this cruise. I can only conclude that Celebrity directed monetary resources to the staff and services and not to entertainment. New Year's night was the most exciting with free champagne to toast even before midnight. Not to be missed on Equinox is the Molecular Bar where the bartenders are mixologists with drink prices of $12.00. We found the bartenders and staff at the Lawn Club great but I am convinced the alcohol is watered down-probably due to the drink packages available. Gym and equipment also get high marks. We tried our hand at the Casino out of sheer boredom and lost like most passengers reported. Overall ship service was absolutely great provided by a staff that appeared fairly relaxed and extremely courteous. Special shout outs to the staff of Blu and Celebrity's "Loyalty Ambassador." Weather in Dec-Jan was perfect and we made all the ports. In each of the ports we acquired tours from the locals with no major regrets. Cozumel- Been there done that so many times I wish it wasn't a stop. Hubby took advantage of this being the first cruise stop and went into "town" for a full body massage for $50.00 while I gem window shopped. Massage suite was air conditioned with only two massage tables/areas. It apparently IS the place to dump spouse to allow peaceful assessment of the stones. Costa Maya - Somehow we've missed this port on other cruises but we really enjoyed it. Recommend skipping the golf cart rental(60.00 for two hours) walk outside the gate and pay $2.00 each for a taxi to the beach area. Many beach cafes where a chair/umbrella and internet access is free with purchase of food/beverage. Beach great-bathrooms clean what else could you want? Many passengers stayed in the port area to swim with the dolphins and shop the vendors in the area-very Americanized. Costa Rica was also a great port and the place I considered the best for shopping on the entire cruise. Locals at the port "tent straw market" are not aggressive and are very courteous. This is the port for coffee, massages, manicures/pedicures (ladies take your favorite color) and other touristy items such as T-Shirts. Prices are considerable higher at other ports. In Colon, we were able to tour the Gatun locks, tour Colon the city, drive to Panama City visiting the old and new cities, and a stop for shopping on the way back to the ship. Negotiated cost was $150.00 for two. A highlight was that our tour guide drove us to two additional locks and across/back the two main huge canal bridges which gave us a great view of the canal in both directions. I recommend skipping the taxi "cartel" that will accost you in the terminal and instead find one of the "red polo shirts" tour guides at the bottom of the escalators. Initially we negotiated a tour to Miraflores Locks and Panama City with a taxi service paying the first $35.00 to the cartel with $115.00 to be paid to the driver upon completion. The cartel then will appoint a driver for you. However in our case the driver did not wanted more than $115.00 for his services. After arguing with the cartel and then telling us that he needed $5.00 more we terminated the arrangement, received our initial deposit back, and obtain the services of a "red shirt tour guide." Cartagena- $20.00 per person bus tour acquired from vendor. A mistake--other passengers will not respect the meet-up time and therefore some sites are skipped. Also the tour guide's main job is to get you into an assigned jewelry store to purchased oil dipped resin filled emeralds. Street vendors are really, really aggressive and are all selling the same made in China souvenirs. Picked up Columbian coffee and costume jewelry at cruise port. Internet Cafe available at port for $3.00/hr. Caymans - Had the privilege of tendering ashore to join the passengers from four other boats in port. I've always wondered why this is such a major cruise port. Bought $7.00/bottle beer at local cafe, taxi to Seven Mile Beach and back, and very amused at jeweler trying to convince me to purchase a "yellow diamond" without proper papers for 8 grand. I rewarded his efforts by buying a $25.00 rainbow topaz that I set in an empty setting. I spent days viewing the "yellow emeralds" better known as golden beryl onboard the ship--didn't purchase-but the salesperson offered to buy us champagne to think about it. She also visited us at the Molecular Bar to inform us we only had two hours left to make the purchase. Cruise recommended for those whose prime objective is relaxation and can self entertain. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
5 of us (all sister and brothers-in-law) spent 2 weeks on Christmas cruise. We enjoyed it and would recommend the ship but not for Christmas, as it was very limited in Christmas spirit. The ship was lovely - nice public areas, lovely ... Read More
5 of us (all sister and brothers-in-law) spent 2 weeks on Christmas cruise. We enjoyed it and would recommend the ship but not for Christmas, as it was very limited in Christmas spirit. The ship was lovely - nice public areas, lovely spacious stateroom. We had a balcony with obstructed view which reduced the cost and I would strongly recommend. The view was good - the only restriction is that you cannot see straight down into the water but that was little or no limitation bearing in mind that it was much cheaper!! The staff were the highlight of the cruise, friendly and efficient and helpful. Not just your cabin attendants were friendly but everyone - every member of staff you encountered or just passed in the corridors smiled and greeted you. Any small issues (and very few of those) were handled quickly and efficiently. We sat at the same table every day (although we used Select Dining) and the 2 waiters and wine waiter were superb - funny, friendly, and did their jobs excellently. Food was mixed - excellent in Oceanside buffet restaurant which was the best buffet eating area I have seen on any ship, with great food and good layout so few lines developed. Mixed in Moonlight Sonata main restaurant - some food very good, some good but not as described in menu, and some poor offerings - eg cheesecake which I literally had to spit out!! Steaks uniformly excellent. Enrichment excellent - great talks by 2 external speakers - one series about science (speaker was excellent) and one about geology. Also great talks by crew about navigation, engineering, and environment - they made the subjects very interesting. The main downsides were :- Sell, sell, sell !!!! - we always felt as if the staff were on commission - trying to sell you drinks, trips, spa treatments, items in the shops - it felt like a very hard sell operation which was tiring Christmas spirit - very little. There were nice decorations in the foyer and there was a Catholic priest who gave wonderful masses, particularly Midnight Mass on Christmas Day. But that was it!! No decorations on your tables, nothing to mark out Christmas Day except a carol concert which lasted precisely 7 minutes - enough time for 4 short carols. Also, a carol concert on Christmas Eve in the Grand Foyer which was absolutely packed (showing that there was a demand for such a thing!). It lasted 15-20 minutes!!!! Embarkation was well organised but desperately slow. However, that was great compared to the slow, disorganised chaos which was disembarkation - 30 minute delay in leaving ship followed by ages standing in line with no explanation. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
We are a couple from the UK in our early fifties. We absolutely love cruising and have mostly been on various Royal Caribbean ships. So as this cruise covered New Year, we thought we would " trade up " and although it was ... Read More
We are a couple from the UK in our early fifties. We absolutely love cruising and have mostly been on various Royal Caribbean ships. So as this cruise covered New Year, we thought we would " trade up " and although it was expensive, we thought it would be worth it to enjoy the 5 star treatment Celebrity promised. Oh Dear ! I really don't want to write a moaning, negative review but Celebrity failed on so many areas and I think it is only right to point out what we experienced so that other guests will know what to expect. We flew British Airways from the UK to Miami. It took 3 hours to get through immigration and out to the bus. Brits please note , it's better to fly into Fort Lauderdale. They are much quicker. Pre night cruise was the FLL Hilton Marina. Room was clean and comfy. They stiffed you a bit on the price of their breakfast. Embarkation on cruise day was like any other. A big queue but what do you expect when there's 3,000 passengers. The ship is beautiful, of that there is no doubt. Furnishings are very plush and we had no problems ever getting loungers etc. Yes, people do leave towels on loungers all day but that happens on all cruise ships. My first gripe is the crew. They just didn't seem interested. Don't they realise it's us customers that keep them employed ? Bar staff, waiters, cabin attendants, guest relations all made us feel as if we were getting in their way. Don't get me wrong , I'm not into having long , meaningless conversations with crew but a simple Hello or the odd smile wouldn't hurt. The crew on royal Caribbean ships were much more friendlier and interactive and this is the same company. So what's gone wrong on Celebrity which they say is their premium cruise line ? - I don't know but the difference was extremely noticeable. Second gripe is the food. We enjoyed excellent food on Royal Caribbean so we were really looking forward to Celebrity cuisine. What a disappointment. Main dining room food was cold, very small portions and took way too long to be served. One hour wait between soup and main course is appalling. No point complaining as all you got was a blank stare. Food in the buffet was more akin to a works canteen. Someone should tell the chef that custard can be accompanied by more than just Bread and butter pudding. We didn't use the specialty ( or fee paying ) restaurants and from what I saw, not a lot of other people used them either The Cruise director was Patti Honacki, a celebrity wannabee who thinks her role is to appear once a day on the TV to tell us how wonderful she is, what bit parts she has had in films and to advertise the specialty restaurants, spa and other fee paying stuff. Absolutely no interaction with passengers.She should take lessons from Richard Spacey or Joff Eaton to see how it is done. Theatre entertainment was a bit naff. More akin to what you would get at a Butlins holiday camp. On board activities seemed to be limited to Trivia challenges and Zumba. For what we paid I expected a bit more imagination than that There is a large lawn area on the top deck and it is a complete waste of space. Especially when there are " Keep off the Grass " signs all over. I found that ironically amusing. A word of warning, check your stateroom account daily. We had shore excursions, champagne and specialty restaurants all charged to our stateroom account. Problem was we hadn't done any of those. We wasted valuable time trying to convince the uninterested guest relations people that they had made these mistakes. And also, even if you haven't opted to pre-pay gratuities, they still add them to your stateroom account. You have to go to guest services and stand in a queue to sign a waiver if you want to give your tips in cash. This is a terrible way to treat customers. Anyone who saw the Channel 4 Dispatches programme will know this in the only way to ensure that your tips get to the people you want as Celebrity use pre-paid gratuities to make up the crews basic wage I won't go into details about the ports - It's the Caribbean - you know what to expect. However I would advise avoiding Celebrity's excursions as they are very expensive. So to summarise - a comfortable ship but staffed by a crowd who don't seem to realise why they are there. I will not use Celebrity again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Since we live in the northeast we decided to fly to FLL. We made all the arrangements for air travel and airport-to-ship through Celebrity. Air travel was great, right on time. The bus to the ship was as if they never did this before. ... Read More
Since we live in the northeast we decided to fly to FLL. We made all the arrangements for air travel and airport-to-ship through Celebrity. Air travel was great, right on time. The bus to the ship was as if they never did this before. After meeting with the cruise ship rep, we were all herded out to the sidewalk to wait for the bus. The noise and the fumes were awful! After standing around for 30 minutes, I asked one of the uniformed people what the hold-up was. It looked like a Keystone Kops routine. Many uniformed Celebrity people with radios, but no information other than "We are waiting for a bus." Thirty more minutes pass and we're still standing around waiting for a bus. All the people waiting are starting to get annoyed. I finally asked one of the reps who looked like he was trying to figure out what to do, "What is the problem?" He told me that they needed a "kneeling" bus for a wheelchair-bound person in our group. I suggested that he provide a cab for her and let the rest of the group use the bus that was already there. Now, an hour and a half into the mission, we board the bus and leave for the pier. The ship is beautiful, the staff wonderful, the food mostly good. I loved the Corning Museum hot glass show and watched it many times. The 2 enrichment speakers were excellent, and trivia and other games were a hoot, thanks to Michael and his staff. Christmas decorations were already in place when we boarded and were nice, but nothing special was done for Christmas day. The shows were top-notch, especially the magician and the final, Cirque-type show. We enjoyed one meal in Qsine and, with a couple of exceptions, had great food and terrific service in Blu. The room, although beautiful, had limited storage compared to what we found on the Enchantment of the Seas (Royal Caribbean). Now, here's the rub: the disembarkation was a disaster, at least for those of us who disembarked early, carrying our own bags. The problem seemed to be that the same elevator bank served the departing guests and the guests who were going to and from the Oceanview Cafe, resulting in jammed elevators and waits of more than 30 minutes before people could enter an elevator with their bags. I never did get on an elevator; after waiting futilely for more than 30 minutes, some of us carried our bags down from the 11th deck. We have cruised several times on the Enchantment and never had this problem, possibly because breakfast was available at the front of the ship, and the disembarkation point was in the stern. In any case, it was inexcusable for the cruise line to allow such chaos and discomfort to reign on the last day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
As Constellation has been relegated to shorter cruise lengths the Eclipse has taken over our favourite two week itinery. It is a beautiful ship with stunning designs but it lacks the ambiance and friendliness of Millennium class vessels ... Read More
As Constellation has been relegated to shorter cruise lengths the Eclipse has taken over our favourite two week itinery. It is a beautiful ship with stunning designs but it lacks the ambiance and friendliness of Millennium class vessels with an emphasis on selling extras. We were "Select" diners and on the first night we had booked for 8.15pm but couldn't be seated for another 30 minutes. However, every othernight we went to the other side and Andrea always found us a table (served by Guisti & Bilyana) no matter when we turned up and we always seemed to be around the same friendly diners too. Cabin was good - bigger shower is definately a plus but storage space has been slightly sacrificed for floor space. Entertainment was good/poor depending on your taste.Production shows were excellent, Guest Entertainers were of a poor standard and I'll be diplomatic to say that Cruise Director Patti has been given a bad hand to play with. Either that or her lack of appearances around ship was not out of embarrassment. Ships Officers were also not as friendly as on other cruises. Embarkation was quick/Disembarkation was slow Connie had a regular clientele and last year they were bemoaning the ship being replaced on his route. I didn't come across anything to change that view. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
Pre Cruise Stay: Since we decided to unwind a few days before we were to board ship we looked for a nice Hotel in Fort Lauderdale- preferably close, or at the Beach. We choose the " W -- Hotel- " Fort Lauderdale. After a ... Read More
Pre Cruise Stay: Since we decided to unwind a few days before we were to board ship we looked for a nice Hotel in Fort Lauderdale- preferably close, or at the Beach. We choose the " W -- Hotel- " Fort Lauderdale. After a little searching we arrived there in our rented car! Right from the start we were very satisfied with their service. We just drove in , stopped the car and were taken care of by a friendly staff member who parked our car- since no one is to park his own car there, they took care of the luggage , which we saw again in our room. We were escorted to a nice , if a trifle dark Lobby were check in was a breeze! The Hotel itself is very modern, " cool" and vibrant -- HIP as they call that these days! We got a nice room with a spectacular view over Fort Lauderdale- including the port ( very important- for me) Since the Hotel has two towers- finding ones way is a bit confusion in the first- but one get's used to it soon. We really enjoyed our stay, the weather was perfect so we could enjoy their " cool" ( literally speaking- since the water was very, very cold) pool area! Dinner and breakfast were excellent -- if a bit pricy, with outstanding service! Would I recommend the " W " -- well yes- ideal if you look for a modern and, as mentioned, vibrant lively hotel. Nice experience but we would choose a more " conservative" kind of Hotel next time! Anyway since we were booked on a Solstice Class ship- Eclipse to be precise- the Hotel was a perfect match- since they are very similar in style and surroundings. The Cruise: We sailed on board Solstice Class ships before, so we knew what to expect. Embarkation was swift and soon were on board and greeted with usual " champagne" ! From former experiences we knew the cabins would not be ready before 1 pm, so we decided to have a little lunch before! Bistro on Five was packed so we went up to Buffet! As always a nice selection and something for everyone's taste. We booked one of these " most wanted" hump- cabins we had a nice and large balcony- Deck nine! We booked this cruise whilst on board the Constellation more than a year before so the cabin selection were still great back then. We made our pick from the Elite- member booklet- for us , it was the free Internet package and the laundry coupons- the rest- well it is buy something and get a little something extra! Nice perks for Elite members are the complimentary drinks in the special selected lounge every evening-and the nice -- if only continental breakfast in Tuscany Grill- stunning view's included! The later comes in handy on Debarkation day- where one can sit and have drinks an little snacks while waiting for ones number to be called! The Eclipse is- as all Solstice Class ships, a stunning and elegant ship. I mentioned it in my former reviews and will do so again- X- ships are exceptionally clean and well taken care of! The food was very good- I don't know but for us we thought the food on our previous cruises with X a bit better- but still- very good! Service in the main dining room was good- NOT EXCELLENT- where they constantly remind us to put the cross in the comment card. The first evening we arrived at table mentioned on our card and were politely asked if we would agree to change tables , since a family would love to sit together. We were traveling with our friends from germany, who live very fare from us . Therefore we asked for a table for four right from the early stages of booking. Naturally we agreed and so ended up on a table with eight people. Since we especially looked forward to nice chats during our dinner and due to four more people at our table we were almost unable to do so. As nice as the people at our big table were we asked the Maitre'd to change tables for us! He did so and we got our table for four! During the cruise it got to our knowledge that the " family" for which we made room in fact where total strangers- so THAT family -- thing was an outright lie! Not very nice! The new slogan with what X s advertises is called " Modern Luxury" -- well it seems that includes loud music all over the ship. " Hip and modern" background music almost in every lounge and every nook and corner! Very difficult to find a nice quite spot to read ones books! If anyone is looking for them- they are there sure- but hardly so- one is the Solstice Deck- the other in the very front of the ship up on the uppermost decks! The promenade deck is pretty useless for that purpose- or maybe you like to look at nice orange life boats! I understand X want's to attract a younger bunch of cruisers as well so they seem to have turned the music up as soon as the early seating diners leave their cabins, dressed for the night! The live band who performs on deck 3 can be heard all over the atrium, that and the overly loud music in the Martini Bar ( a " nice" mix by the way) makes it impossible to have a nice chat whilst enjoying a Drink in the otherwise wonderful Martini Bar! We had dinner in two of the ships Specialty Restaurants- one in Murano's and the other in Tuscan Grill. Well, the food in both of them were outstanding good and well worth the extra cost. However we were absolutely not impressed with the Service in Murano's -- it started " HIGH UP- with much blah blah- from then on in went downhill - no coffee or tea afterwards ( we were not even asked) and we had to call the waiter over twice in order to get our checks! Totally different in Tuscan Grill- besides we like the nice views and atmosphere there much more! Solstice Class ships compared with the Millenium Class of ships have a few design flaws -- well that of course is my/our opinion! I already mentioned it- there is no proper promenade deck, just very limited under the hump and up front at the Bow! To less elevators for ship that size an passengers carried- waiting for an elevator, not even at peak times can be a very long wait ( not that big a problem for me - since where I go, my e-book goes LOL) The Lawn Club is a nice alternative- and one which I used on former cruises with X 's S -- Class ships. This time the background music was just to loud to sit , read and enjoy! After the first week my better half fell ill with high temperature and all the symptoms of the influenza -- none of the pills we brought seemed to help so I insisted on going to the medical facilities on board! They were very friendly helpful and professional - the doctor diagnosed pneumonia in the early stages. They handled it well and it got better after only three days! We were surprised to see that so many people fell ill- the place was packed every time we went there for treatments. At almost every port the paramedics showed up at the pier and carried one or two ill passengers away. We were told they had to leave the ship because the ship could not handle their illness! So sad to watch and how easy it could have happen to us! The cost for the medical facilities and treatments - very pricy indeed, was covered through our Credit Card, otherwise I highly recommend travel insurance. There is so much reported already about the ports of call, which included, Barbados, Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, St. Lucia, Bonaire and the private beach of X, Labadee - in Haiti and I can't add anything new there, I won't go into the port of calls any further! We booked the non alcoholic package -- which suits as nicely and is quite enough! They advertise those packages like crazy. Petty obviously some bar tenders or waiters seem not quite happy with them. Some of them were downright rude! Especially in the Casual Dining Area, called " little all Baccio! One example: one the very last day I asked for a glass of orange juice for breakfast and was told on Debarkation Day there is no orange juice available, not a problem -- I have no idea why - but be it! Just when I left I saw that he put the bottle of orange juice- full to the brim- out of his fridge! That was the icing of the cake! I made sure to write in the comment card- even if it is no big avail- they should be aware of it anyway! The celebrations for the New Year were great and held on the pool deck, they did a great job in bringing us in a good and mood and high spirits into the New Year. To the point and the ships whistle at the turn of the year rain set in- that only could mean luck! Debarkation was a smooth affaire since we made use of the Elite -- Waiting Lounge- Tuscan Grill! We booked the transport to the airport via Celebrity, to avoid long taxi cab lines. Well when we arrived at the bus it all got very unorganized and chaotic! Rude and unnerved bus drivers shouting at each other ( and some not so patient passengers as it is) -- in other words a real zoo! They made us wait in order to get our luggage into the bus in the order to the chosen airline- very well thought and good thought out! When we arrived at the airport we all had to leave to bus at THE first entrance of the building- we were told " every airline counter is nearby so we should all get off now" -- who is familiar with Miami International know THAT THIS ABSOLUTLEY NOT THE CASE! So why putting the luggage in such an orderly fashion into bus in the first place??? It has a been a great cruise with a few issues- but nothing that could spoil our cruise. We just came to the conclusion that the next cruise with Celebrity has to be on one of their Millenium Class ships since they suit us more in size and design. In cruising with Celebrity you get a lot for the money you spend! Michael February 2013 Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I've noted previous reviews on here that list a range of complaints and frankly I just don't understand what anyone has to complain about. This is my third Celebrity Cruise and I was a little worried after reading some reviews ... Read More
I've noted previous reviews on here that list a range of complaints and frankly I just don't understand what anyone has to complain about. This is my third Celebrity Cruise and I was a little worried after reading some reviews that suggested things were slipping in relation to food on Celebrity. I had nothing to worry about. The food on my 14 night Holiday cruise was outstanding! The best of any of my previous cruises which had already impressed me. The Main Dining room was so good. I chose Celebrity select and enjoyed the flexibility this provided. No wait for a table ever. Always seated at table for two as requested. Service was consistently outstanding, friendly and attentive even with different waiters. Food quality was outstanding every night, plenty of variety and I was always impressed what was achieved considering they are trying to mass produce for several thousand people a night. The baked french onion soup is the most delicious version of this soup I have ever tasted. Food quality in the buffet Oceanview Cafe was also consistently high with plenty of cooked to order stations keeping everything fresh and hot. The curry station was excellent. I think i had curry at nearly every lunch and was delicious. I noted several people commenting on the quality and authenticity. Everything was kept well stocked and turned over. I ate at Tuscan Grille and Qsine. Both of which were terrific. Tuscan more for the service and atmosphere as I did not see all that much difference in food quality over the Main Dining. Qsine is super fun and has so much variety but you really need an appetite. The christmas atmosphere was terrific complete with a transformation of the foyer staircase into a winter wonderland ginger bread house display and a truly impressive Christmas day brunch in the Main Dining which was stunning. The ship was kept so spotless and clean it was always impressive as to how much care was taken to keep the ship looking brilliant. So many great activities on board to suit every persons tastes and interests. Entertainment was fantastic all over the ship with the exception of the Male barbershop quartet who I thought were abysmal, thankfully they did not really feature and were easily avoided. The ports were all interesting and quite different. My favourite being St Maarten and Barbados. I could have passed on Grenada which I thought was not as good as the other ports by far. The crew, waiters, bar staff and activity staff were all helpful and genuine. Beautiful food, beautiful ship, amazing vacation. So hard to come home! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
About us: We are in our 50's and both retired. This was our 10th Cruise and our first Celebrity Cruise. Arriving: We flew in from Atlanta, GA and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express that was about ½ mile away from the port. We ... Read More
About us: We are in our 50's and both retired. This was our 10th Cruise and our first Celebrity Cruise. Arriving: We flew in from Atlanta, GA and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express that was about ½ mile away from the port. We considered walking over to our ship, but were told that our ship could be up to 2 miles away from the port entrance so we went with Holiday Inns bus service. I think it was $10 each, but I do know within 5 minutes of purchasing the tickets someone convinced me that we should have took a cab telling us "It would cost about ½ of what your paid". So it goes. We arrived at the port about 11:15 am and the boarding process took 45 minutes. Was the slowest check we encountered in our cruise history, no problem since we had 14 days onboard? The ship: From the moment we first stepped on the ship we were simply amazed, The Eclipse is such beautiful ship. It was decorated for the holiday's which added a nice touch. It has a very nice layout and easy to navigate. The person per public space is low compared to the other lines we sailed on, so even thought there were around 2800+ passengers sailing we never felt crowded. It didn't take long for us to realized this was the nicest ship we ever been on. We stayed in cabin 7290 which is a on the starboard side. It is a hump cabin and our room stewardess told us the balcony was about 50% bigger than the standard balcony. We were able to fit our huge suitcases under the bed and we had plenty of room for our clothes. It is real close to the elevators and was very quiet. Spent time on the balcony each night of the cruise. The gym was really quite large for the number of people that actually used it, so that was a nice change. On a number of ships we have been on there simply isn't enough equipment for the number of people. Food: We went to the MDR just about every night. We were seated with four other people who we developed a close bond with over the 14 days we were there. The food was excellent, the best we have had a sea, and the service was great. On RC we tend to be disappointed with the MDR for one reason or another and usually end of at the buffet so this was a nice change. Celebrity was really pushing the Specialty Restaurants. They had a guy greeting people after our dinner in the MDR. He had a signup sheet and if you seemed the least interested he would try to close the deal. We didn't do Any of the Specialty Restaurants but 3 of the people at our table went to the Tucson Grill and said it was excellent. We did the Ocean View for breakfast and lunch. Food was good there too. They had an Italian, Mexican and Indian section that I enjoyed. The coffee was excellent. Very strong, the way I like it. Entertainment: The entertainment in the Theatre was very good. We didn't go to a lot of the shows on this cruise but we caught most of the Celebrity Shows, the last one was a Cirque du Soleil type production which was excellent for a cruise ship. If you decide to see just one show I would recommend that. They also had different performers through out the ship that were pretty good. I really enjoyed the 3 violin players. I also went the Casio on most nights and yes they do have a few 1 cent machines so I was able to keep my losses to a minimum. Was nice to have a smokeless Casino. The prices for alcohol were reasonable $8.05 for a glass of wine with included tip. Disembarkation -- We walked right off the ship at 8:15 with no delays. We carried our luggage as we thought we could get an earlier flight home. They did run out of coffee in the Ocean View Cafe. I shared a table with 6 other people that last day and one person came back to the table and said "they are out of coffee" Since it was so early it didn't register and 5 minutes later I went to get some and they still didn't have any. That was a first. Other: Pool- nice added touch with the cushions on the lounge chairs. The wait staff will walk by once in awhile but not the constant "Can I get you a drink" that we see on Carnival and RC. This was also true with the photographers. Conclusion: We loved the Eclipse and first thing I did when we got home was book Celebrity Solstice for 8/2013 and Celebrity Equinox for 1/20/2014. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Since we live in the northeast we decided to fly to FLL. We made all the arrangements through Celebrity for the flying and ground transportation to the ship. The flights were fine, right on time both ways. When we arrived in FLL we found ... Read More
Since we live in the northeast we decided to fly to FLL. We made all the arrangements through Celebrity for the flying and ground transportation to the ship. The flights were fine, right on time both ways. When we arrived in FLL we found the Celebrity transfer agents in baggage claim. There was about 40 of us total to use the transfer bus to the pier. We were herded out to a far end of the baggage claim and then another bit of a walk to the bus area, all this dragging our bags. The agents seemed to be in a dither, running around and talking on their radios. Thirty minutes go by and there is no bus. I asked one of the agents about the hold-up and was told they were waiting for a bus. Another 30 minutes go by and still no bus. This time I found an agent that seemed to be in charge and asked what was going on. He told me they needed a special bus for a passenger in a wheelchair. I suggested he use a taxi for the one passenger that needed special care and not hold up the other 39 of us. After some more running around and talking on their radios, that is what they finally did. One hour and thirty minutes later we boarded a bus and headed to the pier. The ship was already decorated for Christmas - very pretty. Our room was a port side balcony and since we carried our own bags we were able to settle in right away. Others, it seems, did not receive their luggage until the next day. They had to go down to the baggage area in the ship and point out their luggage. It seems many of the tags were missing. Since we were Aqua Class, we dined almost every night in Blu restaurant. The service was good, the menu interesting, and with the exception of two nights, very good. We tried Qsine one night and had a fun time - too much food! I enjoyed the gelato on the 5th deck even though it was an extra charge. The entertainment shows were very good and there were always seats available whether we went early or late. Good magic show and super Cirque type show. My wife and I met many wonderful folks during the voyage and enjoyed playing the various trivia type games. Michael and Mickey were always able to make us laugh. I really enjoyed the Hot Glass show. The artists who made the various beautiful glass pieces were very good and made this one of my favorite places to visit. The two enrichment presenters were very good, but the area where the talks are presented was noisy and the projector was dim and washed out - too bad. We did not use any of the ship tours, but found our own way around. Getting off the ship was a nasty experience. Other ships we have sailed on had the food area in the bow. That left the mid-ship elevators less busy and made getting off the ship a non-event. This ship has the food area and the mid elevators in the same location. The passengers going for food conflicted with others trying to get off with luggage. After waiting for over twenty minutes most of us had to resort to the stairs - in our case 9 floors. Then all passengers had to walk a long way aft on the dock past the end of the ship and then the walkway turned to the left and we walked back again in the opposite direction to enter customs. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Let me start with a little background to put this review into some perspective. This was our ninth cruise, our sixth with Celebrity but our first on an S-Class ship. Every cruise is special but we wanted something extra special to ... Read More
Let me start with a little background to put this review into some perspective. This was our ninth cruise, our sixth with Celebrity but our first on an S-Class ship. Every cruise is special but we wanted something extra special to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Before booking and even setting our budget, we researched every cruise line and every itinerary finally deciding that we would spend two weeks relaxing in the Caribbean on Constellation in one of her Penthouse Suites with the huge aft balcony over Christmas and the New Year. Of course, when details of the 2012/13 cruises were released for sale, Eclipse had replaced Constellation on this route and the holiday cruises were split. The best laid plans ... Pre-cruise The scheduling of this cruise immediately gave us logistical problems. We really wanted 3-days in port pre-cruise but that meant flying on Boxing Day [26th December] and travelling down to Heathrow on Christmas Day. Not something we thought it fair to ask our taxi company to do. We eventually decided on travelling down on Christmas Eve and spending Christmas Day in a Heathrow hotel. More research resulted in us selecting the Ambassador's Suite at the Marriott. The suite was definitely the right choice with a huge sitting/dining room and ample-sized bedroom with king-sized bed. It had 1½ baths, two wardrobes, a large desk area, two really comfy sofas and a dining table that could seat six people more than comfortably. Compared to what we would have paid for a standard room, the suite was excellent value. The service was quiet and efficient. Complimentary Internet access was provided for printing boarding passes. There were two issues which marred our stay a little but both were probably one-offs. Because it was Christmas, there was only one restaurant open serving a reduced menu plus a set three-course Christmas dinner. The food was mediocre at best. A bigger issue but not really anything the hotel could do much about was some of the other guests who were not only very obvious for the size of their group but whose behaviour was loud and unpleasant. There was no breakfast provided in the Executive Lounge but the other complimentary refreshments, including wine and beer, were and we especially enjoyed the cheese board after dinner. Our breakfast in the restaurant was complimentary. It was one of the most laid-back Christmases we have spent but enjoyable none the less. Our usual preference would be to book our flights [and pre-cruise hotels] through Celebrity but, by the time the flights came on sale, prices had risen so much that we would not be able to afford business class through Celebrity. In the end, we arranged our BA own flights. Apart from a delay of over an hour whilst we sat on board due to a problem with the hydraulics, the flight was very pleasant, the food surprisingly tasty and the cabin crew friendly. We made up much of the lost time at the start. However the biggest surprise was Miami airport. Our previous experiences there since 2009 have been more than unpleasant and, for different reasons, it has taken us between 2½ and 3½ hours to get through the system. Recent reports on Cruise Critic did not encourage us to believe there had been any improvement. However, the airport has not only clearly undergone a huge upgrade but we were actually made to feel welcome. Immigration and Customs were friendly without being unprofessional -- not quite up to the high standards of Philadelphia or even Las Vegas but no longer an airport we feel we want to avoid. One thing to note about Miami airport is that there is now a US$5 charge for a luggage trolley and you will need $1 or $5 to feed into the machine. The result of this is that available porters are now much more difficult to find. Our three days pre-cruise, booked through Celebrity, were at the Embassy Suites hotel in Fort Lauderdale. This is not the most luxurious of hotels but we like the space in the suites [especially useful for storing cruise luggage] and its location [close to a number of restaurants and shopping for everyday items and wine] but, most important, we are used to it and enjoy our stays there. This was our fifth time here. What we had forgotten is how friendly and efficient the hotel is. With the complimentary full breakfast and daily evening Manager's Happy Hour and suites equipped with microwave, fridge, coffee maker, iron & ironing board and hairdryer, and a lovely outdoor pool area we consider the hotel extremely good value. Embarkation For the first time, we decided to skip the Celebrity transfers and take a taxi to the ship in an attempt to avoid arriving with a crowd. In the event, we were persuaded at the hotel to take their shuttle but this still allowed us better control of our luggage. We arrived at the terminal about 11 o'clock and no queues but, once we had checked it, realised that we had not avoided the crowds. The ground floor waiting area was already full. We were directed upstairs to the suite waiting area but had hardly sat down when we were called for boarding, suite guests first. There had been some reports about problems with those who required assistance boarding but there was no sign of problems this time. The area for those requiring assistance was next to that for suites and they followed us boarding. However, there were only two people using mobility scoters and no wheelchair users. After some confusion, we discovered that we could use Michael's Club where we met the Captain's Club Hostess and there were light refreshments. We able to book a cabana on Labadee through the Concierge but little else because our butler arrived to take us to our suite long before the announcement that the staterooms were available. Having been told that our butler would be Luis, we were really surprised [and pleased] to meet Jose, our butler from our previous cruise on Infinity. To avoid confusion with another Jose, he was now known as Luis. Penthouse Suite The one word we both use to sum our suite now we have had time to reflect will probably be a surprise. It is not "large" nor "luxurious" but "comfortable". The suite is very large and really luxurious but, above everything, it was comfortable. We loved it! We had spent many hours studying photographs and videos on the Internet and these give a very good impression of what it is like. There were few surprises except for the lighting and the bed. It is very good lighting but there are 32 light switches [excluding any of the doors which turn on internal cupboard lights when opened] many of which are sophisticated combined on/off/dimmer switches. We never did completely master them! The huge king-sized bed was so comfortable! It was the most comfortable bed we have ever slept in by a very long way. Ship Even some of the critical reviews I have read about Eclipse describe her as stunningly beautiful but that description did nothing to prepare me for just how stunning and beautiful she is. There is something about her that is beyond her contemporary beauty and I was struggling to put what it was into words until Captain Manetas summed it up by saying that it was the German engineering. And he was right, it is all the small details such as the soft close drawers that make all the difference. One of the issues attracting a great deal of criticism before our cruise was the music throughout Eclipse -- not just the volume but also the type of music played. This certainly was not a problem on our cruise. There was loud, very modern music in the Martini Bar but, most of the time, it was difficult to hear the music there over the buzz of conversation or the music from the foyer. There was just one evening when the bar was unusually empty that the music was too loud. Elsewhere on the ship, there was different music in different areas and the musak piped into the hallways was at very low volume and varied from Christmas Carols to the Beatles. The only music we found objectionable was the guitar player. In the Sunset Bar for sail-away from Fort Lauderdale, not only was he far too loud but he was also very bad! Unfortunately, like a bad penny, he just kept turning up everywhere. Conversely, Twist of 8, the party band, on the Pool Deck on New Year's Eve played for something like 4 hours without a break and created the perfect party atmosphere. Dining Since 2009, we have chosen to eat only in the speciality restaurants but we did enjoy our one visit to Blu on our last cruise and hoped to be able to repeat that experience as well as having dinner served in our suite for the first time. Pre-cruise, we booked five nights in each of Murano [including our two complimentary meals] and the Tuscan Grille. [Our four visits to Qsine on our last cruise were probably enough for us.] Despite the rumours on Cruise Critic, we were able to book Murano for New Year's Eve in advance. As it was, we were invited to the Captain's Table for New Year's Eve, took part in the Chef's Table for another of our planned visits and organised a dinner in our suite for four Cruise Critic friends for a third. To make up for there were two lunches held in Murano -- an extra one because of New Year. We were disappointed on our first visit to find that they are no longer able to serve fois gras on board. The fois gras on Celebrity ships has always been the best we have found anywhere, including some of the top restaurants in Paris, and something we always look forward to. They have also discontinued my favourite desert, the Pear & Pineapple Napoleon -- this, apparently because it was not very popular! Having overcome these disappointments, we found the quality of the food in Murano outstanding even by comparison with its equivalents on the M-Class ships. The lobster was excellent every time we choose it. Conversely, although we still enjoyed our dinners in the Tuscan Grille, it did not come up to the high standards of Constellation in 2010. Personally, I found the Tuscan Onion Soup disappointingly thin and the Calamari nothing special. Both were firm favourites on Constellation. I had breakfast each morning in Blu but, despite hoping to go more often, we only managed to fit in one visit for dinner but we exceptionally lucky. The Chicken Consumee we had loved so much on Infinity last year was on the menu again this evening. We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal and my husband thought the New York Strip better in Blu than in the Tuscan Grille and the Main Dining Room on New Years Eve. We ate lunch most days in the Oceanview Cafe and much preferred the island layout over that on the M-Class ships. We were surprised to find that we did not miss the trays. The selection of food each day was excellent and varied. In particular, I found the choice of curries exceptionally good and my husband was impressed with the pies of which there was usually a choice of two types. The Caribbean Buffet provided on the second Sunday [a sea day] was really good and most enjoyable. Lee Goble, the new Executive Chef, even ensured that there were whole coconuts which were broken open after the coconut water had been drunk for the coconut jelly to be eaten. However, the dining highlights for us would have been the Chef's Table and the lunches in Murano had it not been for the meal provided when we entertained some Cruise Critic friends for dinner. Between them Chef Lee and Antal Puskas [Maitre d' of Murano] wanted to create something special for us and they excelled themselves with a four course buffet. Drinks Package For our last cruise, we purchased a Premium Alcohol Package each but we had a couple of problems for the package to be more convenient: we found the choice of wines by the glass not too our tastes even paying the supplement for those over $12/glass and had far too many problems being charged for drinks at Cafe al Bacio. We certainly did not get good value from the packages. Because of this, we initially decided not buy a package this time. In the end, we did buy the Premium Non-Alcohol Package still not expecting to save money. This worked for us this time and the only problem we had was trying to convince the bar staff in the Oceanview Cafe that Strongbow Cider is not a Soda and we should be paying for it! Captain's Club We have cruised with Elite status for some years now but have never attended the evening cocktail event. Although we really enjoyed the Elite breakfast in Michael's Club on our first cruise after it was introduced, since then all Captain's Club events have been far to crowded for us to enjoy them. When the Captain's Club Hostess informed us that there were 500 Elites on board we said that we would not be attending any of the Captain's Club events. We did receive three vouchers each for drinks on New Year's Eve when there was no Elite Cocktail Party but they were not accepted in the bar where we were meeting friends so we did not even use these. Entertainment We have never been to a show on a cruise and consider relaxing over a good meal our entertainment. We did make an exception to watch the Hot Glass Show and really enjoyed it, staying for the full two hours despite a very heavy rain shower. We were so pleased on the last day of the cruise to be lucky enough to buy, at auction, one of the piece we had seen made. Ports The rain plagued us in most of the ports. This was our first Caribbean cruise and, other than Labadee, we had not been to any of the ports before. We had few plans in advance because we are not beach people and, as I mentioned, it was our intention to simply relax. However, we did book two excursions pre-cruise. Some years ago, in Grand Cayman, we had taken a submarine tour but a recent hurricane had made the water cloudy. We decided to try again in Bridgetown. Although [perhaps surprisingly] Celebrity offered this excursion for less money than booking direct, we did book direct because they offered a special "VIP" package not available through Celebrity. This cost just US$40/head more than the standard tour and was well worth it because we got the best seats in the submarine, just behind the pilot. We had a great view through the front window as well as the sides. The VIP package also gave us exclusive use of the top deck of the tender boat to and from the submarine, priority boarding and disembarkation, canapes, fruit juices & wine, and a souvenir photograph. It was a far better experience than in Grand Cayman: the water was crystal clear, there were lots of fish to see and we went to a depth of 149 feet [as opposed to 100 feet]. We can highly recommend this tour in Bridgetown, with or without the VIP package. Despite having no experience, I have always wanted to ride a horse along a beach and booked the Celebrity tour to do this on Aruba. This turned out to be one of the many highlights of this cruise for me. Despite being a complete novice, I gained the satisfaction of learning how to control a [admittedly, beginner's] horse, Lulu. We had a fantastic ride over the rough terrain of the Arikok National Park to a small cove where, unfortunately, the heavens opened and we were soaked to the skin destroying the photo opportunity. However, that was the only negative aspect of the whole fantastic morning. Disembarkation and Journey Home Prior to the cruise, there were a number of reviews on Cruise Critic complaining about the distance people were required to walk on disembarkation. As my husband has difficulties walking long distances [and because of our experience of how his need to stop for rests caused obstructions to others disembarking in Hong Kong in similar circumstances], we arranged for him to have wheelchair assistance. Everything went very smoothly and the only negative was the extremely long queue for taxis. Celebrity had actively discouraged guests from relying on this method of transport and cannot, therefore, be blamed for something outside their control. The taxi queue was well controlled and we probably did not wait longer than the other option we had considered. We had pre-booked a day-room at the Miami airport Sofitel hotel where we had a lovely lunch outside enjoying the last of the Florida sun. I am not sure if we really got value for money as we spent very little time in our room before catching the hotel shuttle to the terminal but it was nice to have somewhere to sort out the luggage and relaxing for the short time we had. We had another delay after boarding -- this time because a passenger had been taken ill and her luggage needed to be removed from the plane. Again we were about an hour late in taking off and made up no time on the journey. Arriving at Heathrow, we waited about 45 minutes for a gate to be made available for us but at least the snow had not started, yet. Read Less
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