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Sail Date: December 2012
We started our month long vacation from Virginia on December 19, 2012. We drove to Florida and spend a week at a time share resort with family in Orlando, FL. We drove to Fort Lauderdale the day before sailing and stayed at a Holiday Inn ... Read More
We started our month long vacation from Virginia on December 19, 2012. We drove to Florida and spend a week at a time share resort with family in Orlando, FL. We drove to Fort Lauderdale the day before sailing and stayed at a Holiday Inn hotel that provided 14 nights of parking free. We took the shuttle to the ship and boarded the fastest we have ever been able to board. Since we had already sailed on Solstice and Silhouette we were able to recognize most of the ships venues immediately. This was a bump out veranda and was located mid ship which we prefer. The two weeks flew by and was over all too soon. Thank goodness we had booked a 7 day cruise on the new sister ship Reflection that was leaving Miami just hours after the Eclipse cruise was over in Fort Lauderdale. I must say that the reviews that been posted by Eclipse guests are NOT indicative of the cruise experience we had. Compared to the other 29 cruises we have taken Eclipse food, crew, entertainment was as good as and in some ways better than any other ship. It was so good that we decided to book the same ship for the same islands for the 2013 New Years 14 day sailing. We would NOT do this unless we were happy with the overall 2 weeks we sailed this time. Was the cruise perfect?? NO! Did the crew listen to any concerns with food or excursions and do whatever they could to address our concerns in a timely manner and with genuine effort? YES! A small example would be the fact that trying to book the horseback ride at the excursion desk they indicated that the Aruba company offering this excursion had an age limit of 65. They could have just told us they could NOT help us. Instead, the excursion manager was called in and seeing that we are very fit at 66 and 69 and have ridden horses all our lives he took it upon himself to contact the company by email to discuss getting a waiver. A day later we were informed the waiver had been approved. After the ride we went back to the excursion desk and the young women who helped us had also gone horseback riding on a previous cruise and had ridden the same horse my wife rode. Our wait staff in the MDR also made sure to ask if we had any special requests. We like to use olive oil instead of butter on our bread and the olive oil was at our table every night after that. We I made a point about how good the goat cheese cigar tasted I found 3 goat cheese cigars on my plate the following night even though it was NOT on the menu. Why do I point out all the things that the crew did for us?? Because it was obvious they DID care and DID want to make our cruise experience as good as possible. When the cruise critic organizer had to cancel this cruise I wound up becoming the MC because I had co organized the gift exchange. The names tags my co organizer prepared had the country flag of each person at the cruise critic Connections party. Even the senior staff officer Patti who was the cruise director commented on never seeing better name tags at a cruise critic meeting. I implored all cruise critic guests at the party to seek out ALL crew during the cruise and if they saw them without a smile they were to give them one of theirs. I will be active on next years boards with hints on things to do to have a wonderful two week vacation. Some of the highlights for us included the wonderful holiday decorations the crew had worked hard to put up. The 2 hour glass show at night was wonderful and did not seem near that long. Yes the seats are NOT cushioned so you want to drag a beach towel from your room to make a cushion! Yes the ships today are trying to squeeze every dime by offering things that used to be included at an additional charge. We spent the extra money for Tuscan and Murano and felt it was worth every dollar. Murano was requested to make a dish NOT on the menu (Steak Diane flambe at the table). This was for our 41st anniversary. It was over the top good. As good or better than any Washington DC restaurant that charges double the price. By being the fill in MC for cruise critic we wound up getting invited to the Penthouse Suite for the 40th anniversary party of one or British cruise critic couples. This was another over the top experience during this two weeks. The cabin storage space seems to be an issue that we get around by requesting 2 dozen wire coat hangers so we can hang up as much as possible. I also turned one of our suitcases into an extra wardrobe drawer under the bed. We learned to utilize the overhead bins for things we did NOT use every day and to use the easy access drawers for our everyday items. I hope this review balances out some of the reviews where everything seemed to be going wrong. Terry Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
We cannot say enough about our beautiful room, large comfortable bed and granite counter built-ins and desk/vanity area, pillow menu and the very spiffy spa bath (loved that shower!) We enjoyed the daily amenities from the bottle of ... Read More
We cannot say enough about our beautiful room, large comfortable bed and granite counter built-ins and desk/vanity area, pillow menu and the very spiffy spa bath (loved that shower!) We enjoyed the daily amenities from the bottle of champagne and fruit plate waiting on our arrival, to daily herbal iced teas/bottled waters, afternoon canapes; the over-sized towels and upgraded toiletries were appreciated, as was the balcony with table/chairs and reclining chairs with foot rests. We took advantage of the complimentary access to the relaxation room and Persian Room in the spa area, and enjoyed the heated tile beds, aromatherapy and sauna rooms, tropical storm and rain forest showers. Our room steward, Mauricio, had our room ready and every request was met cheerfully. He made our trip feel special and elegant. We also enjoyed dining in Blu and never waited for a table(service and staff were incredibly attentive, engaging, and food was excellent.) The ship was decorated for Christmas in an elegant, understated way, that complimented the lovely rooms and open areas. It's a gorgeous place to wander around, we loved the art: paintings, sculptures and more, very well done. We did dine in Qsine, a specialty restaurant that is truly unique and worth the $40 each -- it's a dining experience of creativity and sharing, and a must-do experience if you only choose one specialty restaurant. We were wait-listed but made it in, as the restaurant books quickly, so do book before you cruise, if possible. On this cruise, the ship itself was the lure, as we need to unwind and relax over the holiday week. We also loved the adults-only pool area, though we usually opted to go back to our own balcony for snacks or a beverage and to watch the glorious sunsets. We did eat breakfast occasionally in Blu (and it was yummy, with extras not available in other restaurants like blueberry walnut pancakes and fresh fruit smoothies), but we also enjoyed the buffet style options for breakfast and lunch in the Oceanview Cafe, with round the world offerings like Asian, Indian, Italian, subs and gyros, classic hot meals with sides, salads, desserts and more. We waited a fairly long time one afternoon for burgers and dogs at the outside grill, but the one guy working was zipping along with a cheerful attitude, and the food was great! The shows were better than most cruise ship fare, particularly loved the Silhouette cast when they did a circus style show with lots of acrobats, visuals, lighting effects -- very cool. We also loved a special guest vocalist, Christina Bianco, who did a fantastic diva impersonation show that earned a well-deserved standing ovation. We did have a very lengthy disembarkation, due to customs lines being extremely slow, but our arrival required no wait at all -- once we checked in we were invited to the Aqua Class and Suites waiting room, and immediately went on board for lunch and to wait for our room. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
This was our second cruise, both on Celebrity, the first being an Alaska Inside Passage cruise. Although we've been intending to take a special vacation to celebrate my recovery from cancer, we booked spur of the moment after some ... Read More
This was our second cruise, both on Celebrity, the first being an Alaska Inside Passage cruise. Although we've been intending to take a special vacation to celebrate my recovery from cancer, we booked spur of the moment after some extra funds showed up unexpectedly, and we were limited to Christmas week because of the school schedule. We were afraid it wouldn't "feel like Christmas." We were wrong. :-) Our only basis for comparison was the Galaxy in 1999. We loved that cruise, and we loved this one just as much, if not more. We like fine dining, even our 10-year-old, and the food on the Galaxy was a high point. Happy to say that the main dining room here was just about comparable to our other experience. Other aspects of the experience were better, so our overall impression was just as good. First, the ship is lovely. As with the Galaxy, there was wonderful art everywhere and the public rooms were elegant and modern. Our stateroom was nicer, as we were in Verandah class. Although we were on the 6th deck and partially obstructed, with a prime view of lifeboats, our room was relatively large and bright. We enjoyed our verandah -- husband spent hours out there reading on sea days. As in 1999, we had an efficient "cabin genie" who kept our room neat and clean. We ate most meals in the main dining room. Almost everything was very good. We ate a couple of meals upstairs in Oceanview and they were pretty good, too. We had tea there a few days as well and hubby and daughter had sushi and ice cream (not together!) snacks. I would say the one dish we really didn't like (both adults had it) was more because it was geared towards a European palate. What we thought was even better than 1999 was the entertainment, especially the little troupe of singers, dancers and acrobats who did the nightly shows in Silhouette Theatre and the interactive events. They were multi-talented -- we saw several different shows during the cruise, including a special Christmas Eve show. There was also good guest talent, especially a young singer named Michelle Bianco. Another big improvement, we thought, was the accessability of the senior staff. They were everywhere and very much a part of our experience. We met several at the Captain's Club reception and they sort of kept up with us during the cruise. The captain is highly gregarious, BTW, with excellent spoken English. The cruise director is also very visible. Our daughter did not participate in the kids' programs -- she considers it "warehousing." Fortunately, virtually all the evening entertainment was child-appropriate and she had a blast with us. Not all parents supervised their kids well; unfortunately, the staff had to post repeated reminders in the daily newsletter, and we witnessed "kids gone wild" one day ourselves. I availed myself of a few spa services that were a decent value and bought some jewelry in Exquisites for a good price. Good experiences both. We did not dine in the special restaurants -- the cover charge is pretty steep, and you could do worse than the main DR. If you're on Select dining as we were, reservations are in order. You'll get seated much faster. The hostess is a sweetheart and can multitask with the best of them. We did not consider the beverage packages a good deal. We got a softdrink package for our daughter, but there is no way she can drink enough soda to justify doing it in the future.. We did get a bottle of wine each night with dinner, but because hubby knows his wines, we came out a little ahead of what we would have done with a wine package. We don't drink enough to get the other packages, and coming from an expensive area, the prices weren't really that bad in our view. We did a couple of shore excursions. The water park at Cococay was a rip-off -- when you go to Cococay, just get there early, grab a chair and rent an umbrella and you'll be fine. The St. Maarten/Martin tour arranged thru Shore Excursions was actually cheaper than a tour we arranged ourselves on St. Thomas, so it was a good deal. We're not into jet skis, etc. so we just did the fuddy-duddy tour bus thing and went to the beach. We did feel that there were a lot of added-fee extras, but you can still have a good time without spending a lot of extra money. Boarding and disembarkation went smoothly for us. We did an airport transfer on arrival, and had preferential check-in and lunch on the ship. We made our own hotel arrangements for an overnight stay on departure. As for it "feeling like Christmas," we were pleasantly surprised. The ship was decorated to the nines. There were extra activities, including a delightful show in the theatre on Christmas Eve, caroling, Santa's arrival and time with the kids on Christmas morning, and religious services for Catholics and Protestants (there were gatherings for Jewish passengers as well). There were special menus that day, too, including turkey and dressing. Felt almost like home. The one really negative thing I can say is not Celebrity's fault, and in fact, they tried to combat it, but some of the other passengers were real pigs. You aren't supposed to save seats at the pool (which gets really crowded on sea days) or the theatre, but it happened A LOT. Additionally, they had a lovely display of dozens of gingerbread houses in the Grand Foyer, and people were stealing them. There were the out-of-control children, and I witnessed some appalling and blatantly racist behavior towards staff persons "of color" in one of the gift shops -- I felt so bad for the shop manager that I personally apologized to the staff after that particular customer stomped out in a huff. All in all, though, it was a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My husband and I have been on many Celebrity Cruises and always enjoy them. We flew into Miami the night before and had a wonderful stay. This cruise did not seem as well prepared as most Celebrity Cruises we have taken. Embarkation ... Read More
My husband and I have been on many Celebrity Cruises and always enjoy them. We flew into Miami the night before and had a wonderful stay. This cruise did not seem as well prepared as most Celebrity Cruises we have taken. Embarkation was fast. We were on the ship by 11:30. Lunch at the buffet was wonderful. No lines and servers were all had a smile. We were in our rooms by 1:00. The Concierge room was beautiful. Our room attendant forgot quite a few things that should of been in our room. There were no red wine glasses so we used our champagne glasses. When we went to drink our champagne he had taken the dirty glasses and never brought clean ones. He did not bring our canapes the second day. We sat on our balcony and waited but they never arrived. One of our breakfast meals were forgotten. Food in the MDR was great but we were very disappointed there was no escargot, lobster tail or filet mignon on this cruise. It was a three day cruise and I would of thought they would of put out their best each evening. There was no captains club event and there was no formal night. To me it was not as exquisite of a cruise as other Celebrity cruises. We went to Michael's Club the first night to try their fantastic new beer menu and were served potato chips with our beer. (Not very classy) In past cruises we have enjoyed mixed nuts and trail mixes. We attended two shows and were not very impressed. The magician was very childish and the singers were so so. Due to the weather we were unable to dock in the Bahamas. No one can control the weather and it was no fault of Celebrity. Celebrity decided to compensate the passengers by having open bar for 1 1/2 hours. This became a free for all. All the bars were chaotic with people yelling for free drinks. Celebrity has a beautiful private Island. There were plenty of chairs and lots of shade was available. We really enjoyed the indoor pool. We had no problems finding chairs. There were no children in this area and it was relaxing and peaceful. All in all I think Celebrity really fell short on this sailing. Maybe after a few runs the Reflection will prove to be the high standard of her sister ships. Embarkation was fast and easy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We had high hopes as we boarded the Reflection. The ship is beautiful. Our balcony cabin spacious, and the interior cabin for our children also a good size. The physical presence a nice place to call "home" for the week. ... Read More
We had high hopes as we boarded the Reflection. The ship is beautiful. Our balcony cabin spacious, and the interior cabin for our children also a good size. The physical presence a nice place to call "home" for the week. Overall, it was a nice vacation. Was it worth the expense? Not really. It has been awhile since our last cruise, and whether it was this cruise line or cruises in general, it was no longer the relaxed, all inclusive vacation I remembered. To me, it has become a week long sales pitch. As we boarded, the pitch for drink packages. While we waited for our cabins to be ready, we were encouraged to walk around. At the spa, there were plenty of packages and services available for a fee. At the gym, more services available for a fee. Hungry? You have the buffet and main dining room, but why not try one of the specialty restaurants - all for an added fee, of course. And don't forget the shops, casino or one of the many bars. The general activities were a mixed bag. Zumba was popular poolside. We enjoyed the "friendly" feud and chef's cookoff. The musical entertainment was generic shipboard type - nice, but not outstanding. The evening entertainment shows were oddly timed. Early seating for dinner was 6 and late at 7:30. The evening shows began at 7 and again at 9:30. For those eating at 6, you either missed dessert or a good bit of the entertainment, or you waited until the later show. We did appreciate Santa's appearance Christmas Day. He had a gift for all of the kids under 18. It was a nice touch! While the ship had almost 800 children on board, I don't think the cruise line is geared toward truly accommodating older children (ages 11 and up). My youngest was offer the kids club upon boarding. It was basically a yes/no question. No real pitch to make her want to participate, and she said no (an itinerary of the club's activities was left in her stateroom each night - they never could get her age group right, and I don't think it would have mattered). Service: While the staff were accommodating, it felt more like job function rather than attentive. Robotic. At the end of the trip, my youngest celebrated a birthday, and our waiter had to ask her name before they sang "happy birthday." That said, there were a few who created a signature. The assistant maitre d -Gozde - offered to show my daughter how she created a signature hair style and was ready with bobby pins the next night. Our assistant waiter, Annamarie, knew names, preferences, and was genuine in her service. Food: It was good and several items excellent. The buffet quality was above expected. Pizza and french fries two items the entire family voted as tops. Both my kids loved the fruit infused soups. We dined one night at the Tuscan Grill. The food quality was very good - worth the extra $30 per person? Probably not. The Masthead grill was a popular spot, serving hot dogs and hamburgers. A wait line was more common than not as was a line at the ice cream area. On ship shopping - Nothing spectacular in terms of merchandise, with sales clerks who were very pushy. Library - a nice area with plenty of reading material for cruisers to borrow. the Hideaway - a nook, but not really a place to hide. From other reviews, we thought it was a quiet area, but it's out in the open and a good gathering spot - not a quiet spot. the Lawn - an interesting space for a game of bocce or rings. In hindsight, we likely picked the wrong ship for a family vacation. I think the Celebrity caters more to the older and "couples" crowd, not really family centric. I also question if the value of a cruise is still there. All these add on fees and constant badgering to purchase this meal, that drink and the like does cause a reason to pause. While the cruise was not exactly as expected, we did have a good time, eat well and were able to relax - the intent of the vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Even though Reflection is a new ship, it is already well-reviewed here on Cruise Critic. It is gorgeous and extremely well laid out. I realized after being on board a day that this was one of the first ships I've been on when it ... Read More
Even though Reflection is a new ship, it is already well-reviewed here on Cruise Critic. It is gorgeous and extremely well laid out. I realized after being on board a day that this was one of the first ships I've been on when it didn't take days to learn where things were. The layout is very intuitive. The interior of the ship is modern, bright and colorful without being gaudy or making one feel they are in a mall. It's just beautiful in every way. Our Sky Suite cabin, 1214, was immense in size compared to other Sky Suites we've had on Celebrity. What seemed to make the difference was that we were located at the furthest rear, furthest to the starboard side of the ship. I believe there are 2 such cabins on each deck. One advantage of this cabin is that the veranda wraps around the corner of the ship so we had the equivalent of a veranda and a third. We could see where we've been and where we were going! We had concerns that being over the props and engines would make the cabin be rumbly and noisy. Instead the cabin was utterly quiet. In fact, I often had to look outside to make sure we were moving it was so quiet and calm. Of course, the ocean had barely a ripple the entire week. The entire crew was great and purchasing the highest level beverage package was the way to go. We bought the higher priced package which was nice in the specialty bars because the standard beverage package did not cover the more expensive specialty drinks and wine. The food was very good, especially the Oceanview buffet. What Celebrity does which is so smart and new to us is that they have at least 4-6 duplicate stations serving the most popular items for each meal. Thus, there is almost no line regardless of the number of people present. I don't think we ever waited in a line to pick up food items. We ate all our dinners in Opus with one exception, one dinner in Murano. The Opus food and service was excellent, especially because we were a group of 12 traveling together. Nobody sent any of the dishes back to the kitchen, the waiters never brought a wrong dish - it was all so professional and well done. Lunches and breakfasts were split between the buffet and dining room. Murano was a disappointment the night we went. Because it seemed short staffed, dinner dragged on for three hours. I don't expect to rush through a fancy dinner, some of which is prepared table-side, but everyone felt three hours was way too long for a 3 course meal. The food was all right, certainly not better than the Opus dining room though. Since we had a suite, the Murano dinner was complimentary which was just fine in light of the experience. There were a couple blips but were taken care of on board. Months before the trip, our travel agent contacted Celebrity to request that our group be given a large table for dinners together. We were a family traveling together and that would be the only time all day we would all meet up. As our travel agent suggested, I visited the dining room right after we sailed to check on the group seating. There, a "select dining" staff young lady stated with no concern at all that yes, she did have the dining request from us. But, no, we could not be together. Turns out the Select Dining section of the dining room was in disarray due to the large number of big groups sailing at Christmas. Rather than try to work it out, she was disinterested and basically said she could maybe put 3-4 of us at a table together, maybe. It didn't seem to matter to her that Celebrity accepted our request. She clearly was not about to do any more to help work it out so I left. Coincidentally, I returned to our cabin and my wife was chatting with our Butler. He was great and I told him what just happened. He smiled and left and said he'd call back later. Within 30 minutes he called and had worked it all out with his "contacts". From then on we were all at a table together each night. A different Select Dining woman, Natalie, was on duty each evening and she was delightful in working out every one's issues. Not a job I'd like though. Before the cruise when I was speaking to one of the Celebrity people regarding specialty dining, he told me that if we had ANY problems at all, don't waste time with the front desk people, just talk to the butler - and it worked! The other issue involved the shore excursion office and two members of our group. On two different stops, San Juan and St. Marteen, the shore excursion people got them to the venue by bus, but in both cases, after sitting there an hour or two, the excursion was mysteriously canceled and the bus load of people were taken back to the ship. No explanation, no apology, just weird. Needless to say, our two people got their money back and decided against any more excursions. The rest of us had no problems with our shore excursions. The embarkation and disembarkation was simple and efficient. There's so much more to say but I better sign out for now. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to reply. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
We flew directly from Anchorage on Thanksgiving Day, arriving San Diego shortly after 10AM. Celebrity staff at the airport were awesome and we were on our way to the boarding terminal around 11, after the last bus load of disembarking ... Read More
We flew directly from Anchorage on Thanksgiving Day, arriving San Diego shortly after 10AM. Celebrity staff at the airport were awesome and we were on our way to the boarding terminal around 11, after the last bus load of disembarking passengers was delivered. Embarkation went very smoothly and we were on board by noon, and in our room by 1:30. Cabin: This was a tiny flaw in our experience. The guys just never seemed to click as a team and even though we had 6PM dining, we came back to the room after 9PM a couple of times and they hadn't even begun. However when my wife was quarantined, the guys took good care of her. Meals: The Trellis dining room was adequate. Typical cruise food, generally tasty and well presented - nothing to get excited about. The Oceanview Cafe was perfect for breakfasts and the Grill at the back was a great spot for lunch paninis. Also, check out the eggs benedict station and waffle spot for breakfast. Don't try Oceanview for dinner - paltry offerings. The "sushi" was a joke and seemed to be less than freshly made. We had dinner at SS United States twice and Qsine once. We would do US again (a quiet and refined respite from the hurly-burley) but likely not Qsine - the food was outstanding at each place, but Qsine seemed a bit too cutesy and pleased with itself. They tout the iPad ordering, but it's really an electronic menu - the waitstaff take your order in the usual way with paper and pencil. We were invited to the Chef's Table and there are no words to adequately convey that experience. The only thing I would say is if you are offered the opportunity, by all means accept. Aqua Spa Cafe - this deserves special mention and kudos. Breakfast here on sea days was a delight and worth checking out. Many cereals, including oatmeal, along with all manner of fresh fruits. Very personal and available to all regardless of cabin class. Ports of call: Cabo San Lucas, Puerta Vallarta, Puerta Quetzal, Punt Arenas, Colon and Cartegena. Two excursions that stand out are the future canal tour out of Colon, Panama, and the chef's experience in Cartegena, Columbia. Puerta Quetzal is a made up port, sort of like Costa Maya, but probably the best organized as far as souvenirs at the end of the pier is concerned. Enrichment: There were two guest lecturers on board and both were outstanding. Victoria Baker is a retired anthropologist and shared a number of her experiences. Alex Filipenko is astronomer and gave several exciting lectures about the heavens and hosted a well-attended star-gazing evening at sea. Uncle Marty narrated the Canal transit and presented a number of lectures about the Panama Canal history and operation. Entertainment was excellent, especially Kuba. As the title states, a "gastro-intestinal" illness occurred on the ship - I don't think the term Noro-virus was actually uttered by ships personnel. About day 10 we noticed an increase in announcements about washing hands and entry to most dining venues required passage through a gauntlet of personnel squirting Purell or handing out Purell wipes, and even engine room guys were wiping down railings and elevator control panels. By day 13, the ship had gone to Red Alert and no one was allowed to handle anything (foodwise) unless it was handed to you by staff - even coffee was thus protected. My wife had her bout, beginning at 5 AM on day 13, and was released the evening before we docked. Crew: I have seen previous reviews of Infinity where folks have commented on the friendly staff. We concur. Without fail, every crew member we encountered looked us in the eye with appropriate greeting and all seemed genuinely pleased to see us - this applied from the lowest to the folks with the most gold braid. Disembarkation: As Diamond on RCI, we were Elite on Celebrity and were nicely ensconced in our departure lounge while disembarkation proceeded in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, at 9 AM, we were told the lounge was closing and discovered the rest of the passengers on board were all being shuffled off the ship. This put a huge load on the entry to the luggage area and Customs. We stood in line for nearly an hour as we inched our way to freedom. I suspect they wanted to do a deep clean of the ship and the only way to accomplish that was to get everyone off the ship quickly as possible. In summary, we had a great vacation and the Panama Canal is a magnificent marvel of engineering. Everyone should do it at least once in a lifetime. We want to go back on a Solstice class ship after the new locks become operational, just to see the difference. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
We are empty nesters (in our early 60's) and this was our 9th cruise and our 3rd on Celebrity, with Celebrity being our favorite of the "mass" cruise lines. We think of Celebrity as being on the high end of the mass cruise ... Read More
We are empty nesters (in our early 60's) and this was our 9th cruise and our 3rd on Celebrity, with Celebrity being our favorite of the "mass" cruise lines. We think of Celebrity as being on the high end of the mass cruise lines, to give you an idea of our thought process. We have cruised on 2 other lines, with Carnival being one where we have taken our daughter's family which includes our 2 grand kids, and have enjoyed all lines. I want to say, so as not to offend anyone, that this review is my opinion and only that. In general, we were very pleased with Celebrity and the Summit, with the exception of one main area that I will discuss in this review, along with a couple of other negatives I will mention. But, we will cruise on Celebrity again. So, to the review..... We flew in to San Juan on Saturday and arrived around 2:30pm, and had booked transfers through the cruise line, with both being a first for us. The only reason I see for using Celebrity for the transfer is that they took our luggage directly to the ship and they put us in a much shorter line to board the ship. After getting on the ship, embarkation was a breeze and very organized.......no problems at all. The dreaded life boat drill and hoping your luggage gets to your room was next. We found one of our bags as we were walking back from the lifeboat drill on the other end of the ship from our room. We assume it would have eventually made it to us. We had an inside cabin for the first time as we booked this cruise at the last minute and got a deal. We decided we wanted to try and inside cabin since we are nearing retirement and have discussed cheaper inside cabin rates = more cruises. We had no problem as one wall was a mirror and cabin looked huge. Good move by Celebrity. The cabin had plenty of storage cabinets, drawers, etc. The suitcases fit under the bed. The cabin was really clean. I know the ship had just been through a refurbish so here is one of my issues.........the shower curtain had mould on it. No excuse for this. I told the cabin attendant that I wanted it cleaned and while we were at dinner, it was cleaned. Then the next morning, during breakfast, it was replaced with a new one. I will say that they satisfied me immediately. Cabin attendant was great. The rest of the ship was clean. No issues. I will say that I wish I had some of what the decorator was smoking when he/she picked out the "art". To describe it as "bizarre" is the kindest words I can use. And I really can't call it "art". The breakfast buffet was average, but no better than average. Usual lines at the omelet stations, but not as long as I have seen on other ships. Extremely long line at waffle station every day. A wait for toast everyday was expected. Wouldn't you think they would figure out these 3 bottle necks? We did not eat in MDR at breakfast. The coffee/juice equipment were in need of repair. The lunch buffet is where I really had an issue with the Summit. In my opinion, the offerings/menu/recipes/kitchen execution/serving line staff execution were just "BAD". I don't know any other way to describe it. The staff was poorly trained and did not seem to enjoy their jobs. The coffee/juice/tea equipment mentioned above needed repair, along with the ice machine. About 3 days in to the cruise, a repair crew boarded the ship and spent 2 or 3 days working on the equipment and by the time the cruise was over, the equipment was working properly. The hamburgers, pizza, sandwich stations were well staffed and food was good. We did not eat in the MDR at lunch as were were in ports for 5 days. The main dining room meals at night were good, not great, but good. They met my expectations for MDR food on a cruise ship, although the menu is not as varied as it has been in the past. I guess everybody is cutting back! Service was excellent in the MDR. I can't comment on the "pay to eat venues" as we did not participate. We are of the opinion that we have already paid for our meals. Service on the ship, excluding the buffet dining, was excellent. We booked this cruise because we wanted to visit the different islands and really enjoyed each one, although we had been to St. Thomas. Debarkation went really well. We had a late afternoon flight out and had noted that. Therefore they had given us the last departures from the ship. I went to the serice desk and explained that I really wanted off early as were going to check luggage and then explore San Juan. They were accomdating. I did not use my prepaid transfer back to the airport to save time. We caught a taxi and were at the airport in minutes after clearing the customs shed. Although, I was disappointed in few areas, mainly the food, service,and equipment functioning properly at the buffet, I will book on Celebrity again and would probably book on the Summit again. I would hope they would have corrected these issues. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
I have sailed on the Eclipse so I was a little apprehensive about the Constellaion .however I was pleasantly surprised. The crew were welcoming and helpful. The ship clean and well laid out. Our outside cabin met our needs and we had no ... Read More
I have sailed on the Eclipse so I was a little apprehensive about the Constellaion .however I was pleasantly surprised. The crew were welcoming and helpful. The ship clean and well laid out. Our outside cabin met our needs and we had no complaints. The ship had previously experienced noro virus outbreaks so no self service and no ice on the martini bar. The crew were well prepared with gel etc so we experienced no problems. We has a premium non-alcoholic package and this was an excellent choice. I thoroughly recommend this package. I have previously used the premium alcoholic package but I think the non-alcoholic package met our needs better. We did have some Martinis and had fun with the flight of martinis once or twice. We also tried Ocean Liners and this was a highlight of our cruise. We also went for the champagne afternoon tea and this was the first one on a cruise I have enjoyed. Even Cunard had been a disappointment. We spent a lot of time relaxing in the Cafe Baccio, enjoying the coffee. Staff again were excellent. We paid for access to the perfumed garden but I am not sure if I would do that again. The entertainment was hit or miss. I enjoyed the acts placed around the ship but did not enjoy Perry. However, Michaels club was packed out when he played, so we were not missed. Some acts in the theatre were good, others ok. All a matter of taste. Celebrity delivered the break we needed and we will definitely cruise with hem again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
Just got back from the 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity Equinox. It was a great cruise. We had worried a bit about weather but figured if Celebrity was still sailing that part of the world at this time of the year, our ... Read More
Just got back from the 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity Equinox. It was a great cruise. We had worried a bit about weather but figured if Celebrity was still sailing that part of the world at this time of the year, our chances were pretty good. It turned out great. It only rained on us once, and that was in the afternoon when we were ending our tour at Ephesus. Obviously, the weather can't be guaranteed but as I said, my mind was set to rest by the very fact of the cruise taking place and my confidence was rewarded. First time on Equinox. Second time on Celebrity. Have cruised a few with Crystal and once with Silversea. Our first experience with Celebrity was on the Millennium a few years back. Some of the quibbles we had with the cruise line then were similar this time, but just quibbles. Would definitely cruise again with Celebrity. First things first: The ports were amazing. A ten day cruise and only two sea days. Highlights were Ephesus, Rhodes, Delos and Naples (Pompeii). In Ephesus and for Pompeii we took Celebrity excursions. Both had excellent guides. I know a lot of people shun the cruise line tours, claiming overcharging but our experience in those two ports were good enough to reassure us for future trips. They are pricey, but the convenience and oversight make them worthwhile, at least IMHO. In Rhodes we had our own driver and guide and that was of course also excellent. Both ways of arranging tours worked for us. We looked after ourselves in Delos (Mykonos), Santorini, Athens and Messina. We were in Concierge class. After we booked our cruise, we told some good friends and they decided to come along. When they called, they were offered immediate upgrades to Solstice Class. I understand--luck of the draw and all--but it seemed a little weird that the people we had convinced to join the cruise were now eating in a separate dining room. They tried to invite us to the "Blu" but no dice! So in the end the four of us ended up eating once in Silhouette together, a couple of times in the speciality restaurants, and a couple of times in the crepe restaurant. We heard that there were other people in the same situation. Just seems silly that Solstice guests have to just make friends with other Solsticers, find other venues, or eat alone! We didn't like the main dining room. Service was okay; food was okay; but we generally felt rushed and the tables are way, way, way too close together. We had hoped for Select Dining--didn't make the short list--and found the early seating a bit early and the late seating a bit late. Ate breakfast once in Silhouette and again, just felt uncomfortable at how close tables were to each other. Although the dining room wasn't full, we were still all grouped together like we were in a diner and the staff wanted us handy to their stations. We liked the Tuscan Grille and ate twice in Silk Harvest. Food was excellent. Staff really nice. Perhaps a little overdone on the "Are you enjoying yourself?" interruptions. Loved the Cellar Masters bar and bartender. Dealt with the Concierge once and he was very helpful, arranging for our very early departure on the last day. The cost of the Celebrity cruise was so very reasonable that the "nickel and diming" of the charges for drinks etc. was only moderately annoying. That being said, my husband and our friends did feel strongly that charging for a tour of the ship operations was way out of line. Trying to figure out the cost benefit of the various drinks packages was also a struggle. Personally would prefer to spend a few hundred more for a ticket and have basic beverages included. (Soft drinks, water--the occasional beer or house wine..). Also, something quite weird: we were all encouraged to buy tix for a shuttle bus in Mykonos "in order to avoid long ticket lines outside." Never saw a long ticket line. Actually never saw a ticket line at all. Also never saw anyone asking for a ticket. That $8.00 per person was definitely a questionable charge. One thing we really liked was the diversity of the passengers. People were very friendly, not at all affected, and there were enough Brits, Irish, Aussies etc. on board that general good humor prevailed. Beware, however, if you like the occasional cigarette. Places for smoking are very restricted and can get quite crowded. No smoking indoors at all. Which made it a bit chilly for an after-dinner inhale. Passengers in those predicaments agreed that while they all understood that smoking is a filthy disgusting habit, fact is, some people still do it. There was quite a bit of grumbling that the staff (apparently) have a room on board where they can smoke but mere paying passengers have to brave the elements. On the other hand, the shared annoyance made for a spirit of camaraderie that was also, in its way, appealing. Does seem like one bar where the remaining tobacco fiends could gather would be popular--at least with the Europeans on board. From one extreme to the other: smoking to working out! The fitness facilities were great. Would be nice to have more room for individual workout routines a la body sculpting, crossfit etc. People were fitting themselves in and around the machines to do their pushups, situps etc., particularly when classes were in session in the only open space. Celebrity might also like to remind some of its staff that pushing to the front of buses/tenders to be first off or jumping lines in the Oceanview cafe in front of passengers doesn't send the right message. A few people commented on such experiences. Overall, loved the ports, liked the staff and the other passengers. Ship was in great shape. Food overall was fine. A few too many "extra" charges. Would be nice to stay in ports later in the evening for the opportunity to dine ashore. Looking forward to another Celebrity cruise sometime soon. And the Equinox would definitely be first choice. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
My husband and I recently sailed on Celebrity Summit to Canada and New England. This was our first experience with Celebrity and it will probably be our last. I have never seen such disorganization and it started from the time we first ... Read More
My husband and I recently sailed on Celebrity Summit to Canada and New England. This was our first experience with Celebrity and it will probably be our last. I have never seen such disorganization and it started from the time we first made our reservations through Celebrity. We were told that they would pick our cabin in the next 10 days. My husband had asked for a veranda with a view on the port side. They selected a veranda with a blocked view on the starboard side. When we called, we were told they had one on the other side (port) that was available. The ship itself was very nice and clean. Our cabin was also very clean and the cabin steward was very good and accommodating when we asked for something. We selected 6:00 traditional seating and weren't even told that it was booked. When we checked our reservations they had us at 8:30 dining. We called about that and were told that because we were "Select" that we could "wait list" for the 6:00 seating and would probably get it. Every time we called after that they kept telling us that we would get the 6:00 seating. But of course, that didn't happen. We had to take "Select" and didn't get to have the same waiter every night. When we arrived at the dining room, they never asked if we wanted to sit with someone, just assumed that we were a couple and sat us at a table for 2. The wait staff showing us the tables every night never even knew where the table was. We found most of the service on Celebrity very slow. We sat in Michael's Club one night and there were only 4 people in there and 2 of them were staff. It took 15 minutes before we were asked if we wanted something to drink. But in Rendez Vous, they were very quick to ask if we wanted something. We didn't book any excursions through the ship, but plan a couple things on our own. We tendered in 3 ports and that was a total disaster. In Sydney, we waited almost 3 hours to get off the ship. While there wasn't much that we wanted to do in Sydney, we did want to walk around since we had never been there before. In Bar Harbor, it took about 2 ½ hours to get off the ship. And then, the tender we were in still had about 30 empty seats with passengers still on board waiting. We hadn't eaten lunch on the ship because we really wanted to get lobster locally, but we didn't eat until 3:00. Then to finish the cruise, our debarkation time was 9:30 and we weren't called until 10:20. On a positive note, we did have an excellent cabin steward and wine sommelier. The food also was very good. This cruise was just one thing after another and I heard many long time cruisers on Celebrity say the same thing. Many even indicated that they would not be sailing on Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Each year my wife (age 32) and I (age 37)take a cruise or two. We have been on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, Princess and I was on Windjammer when I was single. Overall, no cruise was quite like our July 2012 cruise on the Celebrity ... Read More
Each year my wife (age 32) and I (age 37)take a cruise or two. We have been on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, Princess and I was on Windjammer when I was single. Overall, no cruise was quite like our July 2012 cruise on the Celebrity Equinox. The service, food quality,staterooms and most staff exceeded our expectations. And the bottom line is we would certainly cruise on Celebrity again. As far as details Arrival- we flew to Rome via Detroit on Air Canada. We arrived about 45 minutes late. Once there we had pre-arranged transportation to the Ship including a 2 hour Rome Tour with Rome Airport Transfers. They were great. They met us with signs in the Customs Area, and had a car waiting for us. We quickly saw the outside of major sites in Rome including in the Vatican City. The driver also provided some time for us to walk around and grab a quick sandwich and soda. We then went to the Celebrity Equinox in Civitavecchia. Check-in was quick and we were on the ship inside 30 minutes from the time we arrived. The ship sailed at 5pm, so we spent the evening exploring the ship. This trip we also had Select dining. This was one of the only issues I do not think this ship was ready for. Even though we had Select dining they still encouraged reservations... This seemed a bit strange. Once in the dining room however, each and every evening there were several great entree choices and the food was served as it should be... Hot items were hot. Cold items were cold. The deck Buffet also had nice items and choices as well, not just Hot Dogs and Hamburgers. In the Buffet as well as all around the Ship staff constantly asked "What can I do for You?". We thought this was a nice "extra" touch. Entertainment- was also a highlight. The cruise director Patti was certainly "out and about". She would encourage guests to talk with her, whenever they had questions. The Ship had three production shows including the Equinox the Show. This is not to be missed by any guest. There were also interactive nights including a Party in the Sky which included entertainment from the professionals, swing dance instruction and lots of dancing throughout the evening. This is something we had never seen on other ships. Our stateroom- was an inside cabin and was fairly large compared to Royal or NCL. Our cabin steward as also very attentive. We had laundry done one day, and it was done, delivered to our cabin and folded very well. Ports: Santorini- We did not have a tour and this was a tender day. It took over 2.5 hours to get off the ship due to local tender operations. We would recommend future guests look into tours. Not much to see late in the day if it takes this long to get off the ship, but it is a very pretty island. We did take the Donkeys to the top of the mountain from the tender dock, which was quite exciting. Istanbul- Did the Full Day Istanbul Tour from Ship... It was great. Very organized and a great way to see the city, historical sites and learn about this diverse city... Someday we would like to return to Istanbul for a longer visit. Kusadasi (Ephesus)- Did the Tour with Lunch from Ship... It was also great. Very organized and a great way to see Ephesus and the Kusadasi area. Athens- Did the Tour with Lunch from ship... Of course went to the Acropolis, and the Old City. We felt however that Athens was a quite under maintained city. Tourist areas seemed safe but other areas we explored on our own seemed a bit run down Mykonos- Went with another couple to the beach via the local bus system. This was quite an opportunity to see the island and tour as a local. The beach was not like in the Caribbean, but still very nice and the water very blue. Naples- Went to the Archive Museum and had Pizza with Ship Tour.. The museum was good as it provided a good final summary of the other places we visited. We would highly recommend this for guests doing this route. Disembarkation- was very simple at the port in Civitavecchia. We simply placed our bags outside our cabin the night before with a numbered tag and our bags were inside a tent at the port when we got off. Celebrity did not rush us off the ship like other lines do. Nor did they announce things all morning. We got off around 8am, our driver that met us at the beginning met us at the pier, and took us back to the Rome Airport. We left Rome about 1.5 hours late so our journey home took a bit longer than expected. Overall, a great trip and Celebrity for sure exceeded our expectations and we certainly plan to sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband and I (mid 40s) wanted to try a Celebrity cruise. We booked a quick trip that had us at sea on Christmas day (this was a first for us). We thought it would be a nice treat to "get away from the hustle and bustle of the ... Read More
My husband and I (mid 40s) wanted to try a Celebrity cruise. We booked a quick trip that had us at sea on Christmas day (this was a first for us). We thought it would be a nice treat to "get away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays here. We have cruised many times, but this was our first on Celebrity. We read up ALOT on this ship and really appreciated all of the great reviews and "live from" reports that everyone had posted on cruise critic. Because of all of these, we were aware that this was an older ship. We found her to be LOVELY ! The decor was very nicely done - not super glitzy, very tasteful . embarkation: pulled right up to unload, very nice porter was right there to help. My husband went to park across the street in the garage and was back in five minutes. Once inside, they had check in lines divided into categories. We were directed into the concierge line as that was our room type. Our line was not particularly long, but seemed to take forever. I did notice that the line next to us had no one in it. It was for select and elite members. Because of our cruises on RCCL we were also select on Celebrity. however, I did not know to mention that to the person who was directing traffic-live and learn. Once we got our key card, things were zippy fast and we were on the ship in just minutes. We were very impressed with the service and staff on board. They seemed to go out of their way to make sure you had everything needed. Everyone was always so pleasant and smiling. There were lots of little "touches" that made this cruise seem so special- like the welcome aboard champaign, the ice cold wash clothes when returning to the ship after your day in port, etc. Room: we had a balcony room as this is always my preference. The balcony was probably one of the smallest we have had, but definitely suited our needs. The room was clean and comfortable . Our suitcases did not fit under the bed this time ( just a hair too big) and that surprised me until I remembered this was a new set that we had not used on a cruise before. We were able to store them in the closet no problem, but that meant I lost precious shoe space!!! :) I will remember to use the other luggage on my next cruise. The bathroom was small, but just what we expected. Our room attendant was Oscar and he was excellent! Activities: we had pre booked a couples massage for Christmas day and it was really nice. They were however about 25 minutes late taking us back which seemed a little unusual. There was some obvious tension between some staff members that we noticed while we sat next to the reception desk. This was the only time we used the spa area. We did participate in some of the computer classes that were offered. We took photoshop I II & III while on board. The staff member that did the class ( I believe his name was Sandy) was very patient and thorough. We also attended the cooking demo, the Christmas eve event, and a few other things. They had a nice variety of things offered (we just didn't have enough time to do them all) Pools: we never really used them, just walked thru those areas often. The adults only are seemed really nice and relaxing, however the music at the other pool was always very loud. It seemed like everyone was always having fun. Food: we ate at the Olympic for the first two nights. I CANNOT say enough about how amazing this was. The food was out of this world and the service was even better than that! The third night we returned to the ship too late for our late seating dinner time, so we ate in the buffet. It was ok. On our last night we finally made it to our table in the MDR. We had late seating which always seems to work better for us. We ended up with a terrific family of four as table mates....really sorry it was the last night before we got to meet them, they were so much fun. The food in the MDR was very good as was the service that night. We did go to the brunch that is done on the sea day....kind of a mad house, people everywhere, no order to any lines, kind of crazy, but there was a nice selection of food and it was very good. We did use the room service every morning to have coffee and croissants delivered. Always delivered on time and always by the smiling Frances. She quickly became our "coffee angel" and we loved her! Entertainment: the few shows we saw were just alright....typical cruise show quality. But the acapella group (Metro park I believe the name was) were fantastic. We saw them multiple times around the ship. The comedian was very funny too. Excursions: in Key West we chose to just walk around on our own- no planned excursion. You are only in port until one, so it was a very short day. In Cozumel we booked the Tulum Ruins tour. It was a very nice tour. However it consumes every bit of your time in port. All of the shops at the pier were closed by the time we returned. Also that particular day, the ferry ride over to Playa Del Carmen was EXTREMELY rough. This made for lots of sea sick passengers :( Disembarkation: on the last morning, we went to the MDR for a quick breakfast at seven. We were supposed to meet in the platinum lounge (martini bar) at 7:45. We arrived in the lounge a few minutes early. Within five minutes we were told by a staff member who was in charge of that area that it was our time to disembark. Within five minutes we were off the ship and gathering our luggage (with the porters help). I would say we were at the curb in another four minutes. This was the fastest I have ever gotten off a ship and cleared customs. Celebrity sure has this down to a science. Overall we really loved our first Celebrity cruise and look forward to trying some of the other ships they have to offer Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We drove down to the cruise. We stopped in Fort Pierce, FL the evening before. Left about 11 am and got to the port around 1 pm. Parked the car in an area parking facility that was much less than the $20 a day for parking at the port. ... Read More
We drove down to the cruise. We stopped in Fort Pierce, FL the evening before. Left about 11 am and got to the port around 1 pm. Parked the car in an area parking facility that was much less than the $20 a day for parking at the port. We entered the building and showed our passports and the cruise document. Upstairs to a long, long line. The line had at least 25 agents working but it still took about 35 minutes to reach the counter. Counter process was quick, just fill out health questionaire, show the credit card and soon we had gold seapass cards. We skipped the photographers near the gangway and proceeded down the gangway to the ship where we were greeted by several people offering drinks--both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. They also had an area for children to be signed up for their safety bands. We took the glass elevators up to deck 9 and found our cabin. The cabin was nice. I am a big person so the room (or lack thereof) wasn't too big a problem. There was no way for more than one person to get past however. Our room steward stopped by to talk with us but he didn't get to as the cruise director was on the loud speakers reminding everyone about the safety drill. We were able to meet him after the safety drill. Celebrity means business about the safety drills. Our name was checked off the master list of passengers. Another passenger was told he could not bring his drink into the Celebrity Theatre. We arrived before the drill started; those alarm bells should wake up the soundest of sleepers. The drill didn't require passengers to bring life jackets. The crew on stage demonstrated how to put them on. All and all probably the shortest drill I have attended. We dined every night but formal night in the Anytime dining room (the upper level of the Metropolitan restaurant). Had no wait for a table for two each night. The service was the best the first night from a waitress from Serbia and went down from there. Food quality was generally excellent. The last night, Christmas night, was the worst as service went. They were serving a 7 course dinner which I wondered if it didn't throw things off a bit. We did not get bread or water for several minutes after we arrived. There was also great delay in taking our order; far more than the past evenings. I saw several staff arguing with each other. Again, something I had not seen on the other nights. Lunch we ate at the Caribe restaurant. There were lots of choices for food from Asian to Caribbean to hotdogs to a salad bar. No need to go hungry on this ship. Dinner here had no variety from one night to the next and closed up early. There wasn't much offered late night either. My brother prefers to travel on Princess with its lido restaurant open just about 24 hours. One thing both of us agree on is the lack of insulation from the jogging track above. Your eating and all of a sudden a bang bang bang from above. We finally figured out it was someone jogging. Getting off and back on the ship in Key West and Cozumel was easy. Upon your return, staff had cups of drinks available as well as a ice cold towel. It was very much needed. On board, you had to empty your pockets like at the airport. I had my cell phone on me and set off the alarm when I walked through. Put the cell phone in line to be x-rayed and went back through and all was well. The entertainment was very good. The two shows in the theatre were excellent and there was a variety of music in various lounges. I wish the jazz band had played more; the only time I heard them was when I went to the show. Disembarkation was easy too. Put your designated number on the luggage and put it out before 11 pm the night before. We were to meet at 7:30 in one of the lounges and then proceed to the gangway. We were off the ship in a matter of seconds after hearing the ding of your seapass card. The longest wait was at the luggage carousel waiting to get our luggage. On to the customs folks who wished us happy holidays, took the form, and said we could proceed. By 7:55 we were back at the car for the ride home. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
As an introduction, I am hardly a novice cruiser. My husband started up and staffed ship's hospitals for about a decade, so I served as a hybrid between pax and crew on about 6 or 8 cruise lines and have been a passenger on several ... Read More
As an introduction, I am hardly a novice cruiser. My husband started up and staffed ship's hospitals for about a decade, so I served as a hybrid between pax and crew on about 6 or 8 cruise lines and have been a passenger on several others, perhaps 12 or 15 in all. Several of these stints were truly maiden voyages where the entire ship was newly built with completely inexperienced staff. I mention this because many of the inadequacies and equipment failures were chalked up to the Infinity's "upgrade" to Millennium class, after which we were the second voyage. I must say, there were more "glitches" in the first three days of the "new and improved" Celebrity Infinity 's second voyage around S.A. than in a week or two on other cruise lines. Now, hopefully many of these refit issues have been resolved. But it was the attitude of onboard staff and subsequently management, that brings me to post this now. And the realization that they didn't even correct the billing mistakes I pointed out on the invoice while on board. Also, the client-specific issues may not change from year to year. I booked in August. The first problem was failure to receive an invoice for the cruise from either the cruise line or the travel agent by deadline. Celebrity canceled our reservation and planned to keep the deposit. I was able to get this reversed by the agent, and indeed got a lower fare in September for a higher class of service (Aqua class). We never received boarding instructions, direction to the cruise terminal, or anything like boarding passes despite many phone calls to Celebrity and Continental. Embarkation was inefficient, luggage long delayed and for half of the ship, access to suites was impossible for many hours due to repeatedly faulty key cards. The drill was conducted in 3 languages, took 45 minutes in a stifling, SRO lounge, and we never were directed to lifeboats. The minibar was barely functioning, bathroom fixtures leaked repeatedly, and the room heating was defective. The spa, which was the only alternative for a shower to a lake in our bathroom, had poor lighting, no place to hang dry clothes, extremely slippery floors and very poorly maintained thermal rooms with nonfunctioning door handles or no doors at all. The outdoor spas were consistently intolerable with extremely hot water in the torrid places and cool water closer to Antarctica. The gym equipment was not functioning properly because of the extreme heat in the room, and spa staff were focused on sales rather than the comfort or safety of passengers using non-revenue features. Guest Relations was a nightmare, with long lines daily throughout the cruise and no acknowledgment or apologies for the many deficiencies all were experiencing. The concierge spoke minimal English. The most difficult problems involved unruly children and teens, coupled with parents who ignored prohibitions, and security staff who were unwilling to confront them. So for example, children ran and jumped in the pool area and cafeteria at all hours of the night (over guest suites), teens jumped in and played handball off a wall with small hard balls in the adult only "relaxation" Thalassotherapy pool, and babies were brought, in diapers and pool toys, into this area which is not sanitized except with salt. Teens played (prohibited) boomboxes in the open pool/deck areas right under the eyes of security, and were present on deck with drug paraphernalia in the mornings after obviously partying all night. The only time ships staff did intervene was when I reported unsupervised children hanging from the ropes/yardarms on an upper deck! Entertainment was extremely variable in quality, some superb, much mediocre. The library offered no videos or other diversions, there was no guide to what was available on TV, and books apparently were of the "found" variety rather than selected for quality or relevance to the voyage. The onboard enrichment programs were so-so, but the only practical port information had to be obtained by repeated trips to shore excursions, because all of the ship sponsored port talks were sales pitches for tours. The food in the Aqua class restaurant, BLU, was superb as was the service. The main dining room, however, served fish and steak that were inedible, and even the highly popular sushi bar got less and less attractive later in the voyage because all food is brought in from the states, despite some of the best and freshest fish and meat in the world in the regions we were cruising. I was very sorry for people experiencing all of the other disappointments and not even able to eat well. Disembarkation instructions were extremely limited and VERY late in coming (the last newsletter on the last night). We were not warned of the cutoff time for Internet, and coupled with the many times during the voyage that internet was unexpectedly not available or interminably slow, quite a few purchased minutes (at typically exorbitant cruise rates) were foregone. We were not given information about tipping or alterations from the "automatic" tipping scheme, were not even given our invoices in order to correct mistakes (supposedly they were available on TV, but this system never worked), and when mistakes were pointed out, had no way to check whether they were corrected (and incidentally, I now realize that they weren't) because I NEVER received a final accounting even after the cruise by mail, as was promised. People had apparently been allowed to give their folio #s orally in the lounges and restaurants (instead of supplying a card), so there may have been quite a bit of freeloading if our invoice was at all typical. I expressed all of my health and safety concerns to staff while on the ship, with only the most serious being addressed. Reportedly, the onboard Guest Relations staff was still reeling from the complaints from the prior voyage, when even more accommodations were "not ready for prime time" or not ready at all---the whole upper deck still held containers by one report. After the voyage I wrote a lengthy letter to the President (because the disembarkation survey was extremely limited compared to other cruise lines) and received a brush-off written by apparently quite a junior staffer---after 6 weeks, and two or three follow up calls to land based guest relations. The bottom line is, beware of post "refit" cruises, though they will be advertised as elevating your cruise experience immeasurably; it might take multiple voyages before they are even functioning normally! Beware of Christmas cruises, unless you are on a line that does a better job of enforcing security and protecting adult spaces. And I would have to add, beware of Celebrity which is one of the least responsive cruise lines I have every experienced when there are problems. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Our cruise was the last on the Summit before she went into drydock so I know there will be many changes ahead, but we enjoyed the ship and the ports a lot. We flew into San Juan early because we did not want to take any chances with ... Read More
Our cruise was the last on the Summit before she went into drydock so I know there will be many changes ahead, but we enjoyed the ship and the ports a lot. We flew into San Juan early because we did not want to take any chances with winter weather. Stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan and spent the day touring Old San Juan. It was nice to have a full day in San Juan before the cruise. We walked the streets and went to both the forts. Lunch was in a cafe in Old San Juan frequented by lots of locals. The Sheraton was a great location for a pre-cruise hotel. There is a CVS right by the hotel where you can pick up anything you forgot for the trip. Embarkation was smooth. The Sheraton let us keep the room till noon and then we took a taxi over to the cruise ship. There were few people in line to check in so we were on the ship quickly and went to use a lounge chair by the pool till the rooms were ready. The rooms were ready at 1 p.m. We had lunch at the AquaSpa Cafe which was a great place for a nice light healthy lunch. They would make Salmon for you on the grill and it was the best. Our room was ok. My husband thought it was bigger than other rooms we have had on ships, but they all seem crowded to me. Wall mirrors on one wall which is always a bit freaky. The balcony had room for two chairs and a table. Bathroom small, but they usually are on cruise ships. Having two bathrobes in the room was nice. No pool towels in the room was a bit weird. The only place to get them was by the pool - even on port days when you wanted to go to the beach. You had to go to Deck 10 to get towels then down to Deck 1 to disembark. Strange. The food was very good on the Summit. We ate in the Cosmopolitan each night (the main dining room). Our waiter and assistant were good - especially the assistant. The Creme Brulee was to die for. French Onion Soup way too salty and the steak was always overcooked. Lobster was half a lobster. No offers of more. The kids really enjoyed the breakfast in the buffet with waffles. Great whipped cream. I liked the Eggs Benedict there. They also offered a full English breakfast for those who like blood sausage. :) In the afternoon they had tea sandwiches, scones and squares or cookies from 4-5 in the buffet which was nice. Loved the hot milk in the morning with my coffee. (You get the hot milk in the buffet line.) Great free pastries in the Cova Cafe on Deck 4 - or was it Deck 5? The fruit tarts and lemon tarts in the buffet and the Cova Cafe were wonderful. Hamburgers, fries and hot dogs always available by the pool during the day too. The thalassotherapy pool was great. Relaxing and warmer than the outside pools. The jets on your shoulders felt like a great massage. Went to the gym a couple of times and it was always crowded - not sure why. The walking track was nice in the morning. My son went to the kids club a few times. Sometimes no one showed up, so I think most kids spent more time with their families. Also this is a very port intensive cruise with only one sea day, so that may have affected things. The shows were good at night. There is also the option of a movie theatre showing movies which recently came out on DVD. Loved the comedian. He was just so funny and was clean which was nice for a family cruise. The magician was ok. I liked the music/dancing/acrobats but my family were less enthused. The acrobats - from France - were wonderful and amazing all agreed. I didn't like the ships shopping area much. Usually I find something on the ship but this time the shops just felt weird to me. The big push on ship were yellow emeralds from Brazil - the next big thing according to the sales staff. We'll see. Don't know how great the deals were. We bought two t-shirts and that was it. I always enjoy the library and this one looks attractive but has the weirdest books you have ever heard of. It is also right in the middle of the ship, so not a nice place to sit and read and watch the waves. A small rack had exchange books. Library was always open and unlocked. Ports - Barbados - We took a taxi to Accra Beach. Just the right amount of waves. Lots of opportunity to buy food there too. Beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. Our taxi driver dropped us off and came back promptly at 3 p.m. when we asked him to. Grenada - Took a water taxi to Grand Anse beach. Food, beach chairs all available. Snorkeling was pretty minimal. Lots of vendors in the craft area. Good deals on spices. Dominica - Took a tour with Nature Isle Explorer and it was great. Went to snorkel at Champagne Reef, through TiTou Gorge from Pirates of the Caribbean and then to Screw Spa which is a natural sulfur spa. We docked at the commercial port which was weird but I don't think the port is very developed here. St. Kitts - Went to Brimstone Hill Fortress which was fantastic. We only wanted to go to the fortress but our taxi driver took us some other places too. Saw where Thomas Jefferson's great-grandfather was buried. I liked the town here. Walking from the ship is easy to the shopping area beyond the port. This had more of a British look about it than Barbados did - just the architecture of the town and the square etc. St. Croix - Just walked to the beach from the ship, swam, snorkeled - looked for seahorses which are supposed to be there but did not find them - and back to the ship. The ship docks in a small town and to get to the bigger one is a taxi or shuttle at about $17 a person. On our return to San Juan we did not get off the ship till 10:30 but they kick you out of the room at 8 and quit serving breakfast at 8:30. Why not at least keep serving breakfast till later or let you stay in the room later? We went to the games room. Pastries were available at the CovaCafe till about 9:30. You had to pay for the gourmet coffee though. Stayed at the Embassy Suites after the cruise. The hotel was full of college kids there for winter swim training so it had a bit of a spring break feel to it. Especially at breakfast with a 45 minute wait in line for food. The hotel is a 5 minute walk to a nice beach. The hotel provides towels, umbrellas and chairs at the beach for free. Great pool at the hotel. Liked Mi Casita restaurant near hotel for Puerto Rican food. I would go on the Summit again on this itinerary and really enjoyed San Juan. The ship was in need of some TLC, but to be honest, so were both the hotels we stayed at and I don't think they are going in for drydock. The only thing I really did not like was our blanket on the ship was very worn looking, which should have been changed before it got to that point. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
There were a number of issues which could have put a damper on our recent southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit, but we still had a really good time. The ship is due in for refurbishing and did show its wear and tear and ... Read More
There were a number of issues which could have put a damper on our recent southern Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit, but we still had a really good time. The ship is due in for refurbishing and did show its wear and tear and datedness. We had sailed on the Solstice in January, so there was a contrast. However, we did enjoy the size of this ship. We had a concierge balcony on the 8th floor which was identical to our cabin on the Solstice in size. The buffet area suffered the most in comparison as the Summit does not have the different, separate and easily accessible stations at which you can serve yourself and not be served from an attendant behind the counter. That said, the dinners were very good in the main dining room and exceptional in The Normandie specialty restaurant. We enjoyed the entertainment very much, especially the Sirens show. The itinerary was what attracted us to this cruise, and we did enjoy going to the five ports included. We had rain every day except the one day at sea, but it really didn't hamper anything as the temperatures were warm and we did get at least some sunshine each day. We snorkeled, swam, climbed and toured all over in light to heavy rain. The staff, with the exception of our cabin steward and head waiter who were really nice and attentive, was very different than in past cruises. I heard remarks regarding this throughout the trip. I understand that waiting on a constant parade of weekly tourists cannot be enjoyable, but this was the first time in nine cruises I saw evidence of boredom and almost disdain from the staff. It didn't really bother me but it was evident. I wondered if working on an older, less modern ship was less interesting or exciting than a beautiful new and state of the art vehicle. Everyone got their job done, but it was with much less enthusiasm than I had experienced in the past. However, my husband and I really had a great time with good tablemates, good excursions, good food, and good entertainment And I would definitely sail Celebrity again as we have the past three times. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Our family of 8 had a fabulous time on the Summit over Christmas. For 7 of us it was our first time cruising. We ate in the dining room every night. Our waiter Jesus was amazing as was the wine guru Alex. Food was excellent and ... Read More
Our family of 8 had a fabulous time on the Summit over Christmas. For 7 of us it was our first time cruising. We ate in the dining room every night. Our waiter Jesus was amazing as was the wine guru Alex. Food was excellent and abundant. If you wanted to you could have ordered one of everything on the menu. The night we had lobster Jesus brought out my husband a second one without being asked. Jesus was wonderful with the kids (15,13,12 & 11) he showed them card tricks, cutlery tricks and napkin tricks. We looked forward to dinner with him every night. We had breakfast in the dining room once but preferred the selection of the buffet and the chance to eat outside off the back of the ship. Lunch was eaten at the buffet after a day at port as well. Lots of selection from salads to hot dishes. The ship was looking tired in a few areas - the cabins and bathrooms are not great but we were on on the 2nd deck so maybe the higher decks are nicer. The public areas of the ship were in fine shape. The public bathrooms are immaculate. The shows were good for the most part. The comedian was very good. The magician was good but found that it could have been 20 minutes shorter. The musical numbers some were better than others. The staff on the ship were all amazing. Friendly, helpful and very professional. We did have a sad start to our cruise with a bartender jumping overboard just a few hours out of San Juan. The ship had to stop for 9 hours and wait for the Coast Guard to clear us to continue but we arrived in Barbados on schedule. I can imagine it was difficult for the staff to put on a happy face Christmas Day but they did. The ports we visited were all lovely, lush and tropical. Some were more interesting than others. When in Barbados it was a holiday so many things were closed but we took a cab on a tour that was very informative and saw lots of the island. In Dominica we prearranged a tour with Sheppee's tours. A little disappointed that it wasn't Sheppee who I had arranged the tour with. His friend Asher took us around. It was nice we saw the falls, the hot pools, sulpher springs, rain forest but I was expecting more. St. Kitts we walked around the town for a few hours and then returned to the ship. St. Croix we went snorkeling - didn't see much but the kids did enjoy it. St. Maarten we shopped while the kids and Dad went on the America's Cup excursion. We had a great time on our first cruise. While 7 of us had nothing to compare it to my mother in law, who has been on many cruises, thought it was wonderful as well. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We have been on many cruises and most recently have done our last 4 cruises on Celebrity because we find that this company provides what we are looking for in a cruise holiday. Embarkation - a pleasant trouble free experience - no ... Read More
We have been on many cruises and most recently have done our last 4 cruises on Celebrity because we find that this company provides what we are looking for in a cruise holiday. Embarkation - a pleasant trouble free experience - no complaints here. Cabin - we were in a C2 cabin 9038 which I chose due to the irregular shaped balcony. It was a lovely cabin and the extra room on the balcony was fantastic, we had lunch there several times. The overhang is large but didn't bother us in anyway. The Cabin Steward and his assistant were very friendly and kept everything spic and span. Food - Unfortunately in the MDR we were not impressed (we were on Select Dining) The service was not very efficient, a lot of waiting on some nights between courses, and also the quality of the food was not the standard we have enjoyed on previous cruises (our last one being in the summer on the Equinox). We did eat in the Tuscan Grille and Ocean Liners, both were substantially better than the MDR and the service and food was excellent. We also ate in the Creperie on Deck 5 some nights and this too was a much more enjoyable experience - unfortunately the menu choice was rather limited. The food in the Sunset Grille was fine for breakfast and lunch but awful at dinner in the evening (hardly any choice - pasta or pizza it seemed every night). The layout of the cafe is much nicer on the Equinox too. I think the Christmas dinner in the MDR was the most disappointing for me, about the only edible thing on the plate was some turkey breast - perhaps the Americans don't really 'do' Christmas dinner. Entertainment - there were a few highlights. Perry Grant was entertaining in Michael's club (the Piano bar), one of the production shows was good and the Christmas show was nice. Unfortunately our 17 year old son and his 18 year old cousin were with us and this provided a problem which Celebrity seemed less than efficient at solving. Our son wanted to spend time with his cousin in the evenings, the place to go was the nightclub 'Reflections', unfortunately at 11.30pm they would tell anyone under 18 to leave. This meant our son came back to the cabin early and missed spending time with his older cousin. We did ask if the rules could be relaxed but although we were told someone would get back to us, nobody did. We were upset to find out from other parents that their children under 18 had managed to avoid being ID'd and were able to stay late at the club. We did complain again to the cruise director and she apologised and amazingly for the last 2 days of the cruise suddenly no one was told to leave the nightclub ... we did ask for this much earlier in the cruise and it is such a pity that we had to wait until the last 2 nights of a 14 night cruise for something to be done .. a shame for us Celebrity fans because our son ended up unhappy and saying it was 'his worst cruise ever'. Overall- our holiday was OK and we did enjoy the ports we visited and the staff on board (particularly the cabin staff and those in the speciality restaurants) were really friendly. We have been on the Constellation before but will not choose the ship again because we prefer the Solstice Class more. I don't like being negative about things and I have to say I did meet some lovely people on board but we would not sail on Constellation again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Last year, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011) and we ... Read More
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Last year, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011) and we wanted to do it again. We looked at all cruise lines, but settled again on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (the only lines we have cruised on) because of their itineraries and schedules. We prefer to drive to the East Coast for our cruises (last year's holiday cruise left from Baltimore), but that just wasn't an option this year. B. Cruise Critic We use the community chat boards on Cruisecritic.com extensively for cruise port hints and information. This review is my way of sharing. Thank you to everyone who shared in their reviews and roll calls. C. Choice of Route Our route was out of Fort Lauderdale to Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. This is our first time to Grenada and Barbados and we are excited to be headed there. D. Choice of Cruiseline and Ship We selected Celebrity as it is affiliated with Royal Caribbean. We are __ members in the Celebrity club. Galaxy is a 91,000 ton ship with has 11 decks. Capacity is 2,034 passengers plus a crew of 999. They are very proud of the 2:1 passenger to crew ratio. It was launched in 2002, is registered in Malta and has a CDC score of 98. E. Choice of Airline This was pretty easy. We picked the cheapest, most direct flight from Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale. We could have also flown into Miami. Air Tran was reasonable and was a non-stop flight. Flying hints: 1. Don't fly if you have a choice. I suggest driving if you can. 2. Go non-stop if you fly. Each connection increases the possibility of lost luggage and additional flight delays. 3. Consider flying in to your departure port one day early. This can be a major stress reducer! (For this cruise, because our son would have had to miss another day of school if we had left a day early, we left the day of the cruise. Yes, I was very, very nervous until we landed in Fort Lauderdale!) 4. Don't select your airline seats without first visiting SeatGuru.com. They have detailed airplane seating plans and hints about each seat for almost every plane flown by major airlines. F. Choice of cabin Generally, the lower your cabin and the more central its location, the less you will feel the movements of the ship. We love rocking and so did not mind being closer to the front of the ship. We always stay in inside cabins (unless something strange happens) because it is nice to be able to sleep in without worrying about the sun shining in the window. A recommendation to anyone in an inside cabin is to bring a clock. It can be very disconcerting to wake up and have absolutely no idea what time it is. We were in cabins 7067 & 7063. My husband and I were in one and our 16-year-old son and his uncle (a first-time cruiser) was in the other. G. Price We went to a local Travel Agent who specializes in cruises (as we always do for cruises). The cost, because it was over the holidays, was high at just over $1500 per person. The flights were just under $2000 for all four of us including an added charge of $24.00 to choose our seats early. As I wanted us to sit relatively together, it was worth it as we all got rows with no middle seats. H. Passports My husband, son and I all have passports and encountered no problems. My brother-in-law has a passport card and he had no trouble either. I. Insurance We also purchased travel insurance because we never know when our son might wind up in a cast or one of our aging parents might have a health crisis. J. Prebooking Excursions We booked all of our excursions on our own. I am an avid planner and researcher and enjoy this sort of thing. I booked a lobster lunch cruise on Antigua for myself (my guys did not want to go) and a deep sea fishing excursion for my guys (husband, son and brother-in-law) and three others who we met on the Cruise Critic roll call in St. Maarten. More on those later. K. Packing We packed for 3 formal nights (rented tuxedos for the guys and I brought nice outfits), and the rest at various levels of casual (non-jean pants and nice shirts for all of us). Additionally, we brought enough clothing to cover us during the day for 14 days. This is less than you think because clothing rarely gets really dirty and we tend to re-wear clothes a few times before it goes in the "to be washed at home" luggage. Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were: power strips for each room (usually, there are only 2 outlets in the room and we have lots to charge), alarm clock, shoe rack, bug lotion, sunscreen ranging from 100 to 15 spf, highlighters, beach bag, and water shoes. We also brought Christmas decorations for each room, as well as Cruise Critic door signs printed off of the roll call lists. Part II - Embarkation A. The Port We flew into Fort Lauderdale and arrived at 1:00pm in plenty of time to catch our 4:30 pm departure. You have a choice of buying transfers from Celebrity, catching a taxi or hiring a car. After exploring these options we decided to hire a car to the Port Lauderdale pier. The car we hired was from GO Airport Connections. He decided to hire a car rather than risk a taxi because we had 4 people and 6 pieces of luggage. I was afraid we wouldn't find a taxi willing to take all of us and would have to split up. It was a short, 5-minute drive from the airport to the port. The cost was approximately $50 with tip, but it was worth it. B. Security Processing and Boarding We arrived at the pier at 2:15pm and there was no wait for security screening. Once through, there were separate lines for Captain's Club (CC) and non-CC passengers by deck. All lines were basically empty and fed into a table of folks processing your boarding documents. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested online, signing in and getting room keys (which is also your cruise ID, and ship credit card) took no more than 5 minutes. There was a quick wait for the initial cruise photo (which can be skipped). Up an escalator and our cruise cards were quickly data encrypted with our images at one of two stations. Once they handed us our cards we found ourselves on the 3rd floor main lobby of the ship. It took a total of 20 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to our arrival in our cabins. I later spoke with people who had arrived earlier and they told me it was a cattle call with massive groups of people waiting at each phase of the embarkation process. I was glad that we missed that. C. Explore The Cabins We were in cabins 7067 & 7063, side-by-side, inside category 9 cabins in the middle. The cabins are 170 square feet and were set up for my husband and I to sleep in one big bed and my son and brother-in-law to each have their own. The bathroom has enough room, and the shower was very nice. Our bathroom had a reasonably large shower (no bath), hair dryer, large mirror, sink, toilet, and some pretty decent storage. Something new since the last time we were on a ship: a nightlight we could use in the bathroom or main cabin. We used it in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to turn the lights on at night. Hangers and robes were provided in the cabin, as was a welcome gift: a canvas shopping bag. The room safe is located in the closet, along with several more drawers for organizing your stuff. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including that day's event newsletter "Celebrity Today". The cabins also have a TV, thermostat, phone (but no clock, although you can set your phone for an automated wake-up call), and a mini-bar (small refrigerator). Our mini-bar was locked upon arrival, but we asked that it be unlocked and emptied so that we could keep water in it. Having signed up for the Connections party, we received invites to the following day's gathering. Being members of the Captain's Club, we were also given invitations to a number of different events during the cruise. Our stateroom attendant, Doris from Honduras, and her assistant, Elvis from India, did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We found sustenance in the Seaside Buffet on the deck 10 for a 3pm buffet lunch. We were hungry, having not eaten much that day because we had left the house so early. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. I tried to take the stairs as much as possible (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover my food intake). E. Lifeboat Drill/Sailaway About one hour prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went smoothly and lasted 20 minutes. We are very happy at the changes that have been made in the muster drill as we no longer have to get our lifejackets and wear them to the muster and we no longer have to stand outside waiting for everyone to show up. Instead, we sat comfortably in the theater and watched a demonstration of how to use the lifejacket and an explanation of the safety procedures. F. Dinner -- 8:30pm Late Seating We selected the late seating. We were seated at table 525 with seating for 8 at a circular table on the upper floor (5) of the San Marcos Restaurant, next to the balcony overlooking the 4th floor. With the exception of the first evening, our server, Tale from Macedonia (great-great-great-nephew of Alexander the Great!) and his assistant, Gulshot from Russia, did a very good job throughout our cruise. On the first evening, Tale's assistant was Aleksandra, who was not fast enough or organized enough for the work. The meal was paced so slowly that the evening dragged on and we left the dining room after 11pm. We did not complain because we decided we would let them have one more night. The next night, Aleksandra was gone, replaced by Gulshot. Tale explained that Aleksandra was new and although she had much experience in restaurants at home, she wasn't prepared for this type of work. She had been reassigned to a smaller set of tables so she could get up to speed in an easier area. The two-story restaurant has a seating capacity of over 1,300 passengers at each seating. Of note: jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes, and bare feet are prohibited in the San Marcos Restaurant at all times. Shorts are permitted at lunch only. On the first evening, I did notice one long-legged woman arrive for dinner in short-shorts. She was escorted out and asked to return when she was dressed appropriately. Part III - Food! Celebrity has a good reputation for their cuisine. The meals met our expectations. There was good variety. There are 3 specialty restaurants on the ship--Ocean Liners (French/Mediterranean) for $40 per person, the Tuscan Grille (Italian Steakhouse) for $30 per person) and the Bistro on 5 (creperie) for $5 per person). The Bistro was also open for breakfast and lunch. We did not feel the need to eat at any of the specialty restaurants for dinner because the food in the main dining room was sufficient. A. Always Available We were informed the first night, that the following items are available every night at dinner and could be found on the left side of the dinner menu: Appetizers: Shrimp Cocktail, Escargots, Antipasti; Salads & Soups: French Onion Soup, Lobster Bisque, Caprese Salad, Caesar Salad; Entrees: Salmon, Chicken Breast, Sirloin Steak; Desserts: Cheesecake, Apple Pie a la Mode, Crème Brulee. B. Our Favorite Breakfast Items The Constellation has added a "poached egg" station where you can get a variety of different poached egg passed breakfasts, including eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine. I got a variety which was an English muffin covered in caramelized onions and cream cheese with a poached egg. It was amazingly delicious. C. Our Favorite Lunch Items The turkey burger at the Seaside grill was yummy. The French fries are always tasty and are double fried. D. Our Favorite Appetizer The avocado and crab appetizer the first night (although lump crab would have put it over the top). My husband loved the Duo of Smoked and Pickled Salmon. E. Our Favorite Soups French Onion soup was outstanding! All of the chilled fruit soups were yummy. We also liked the baked potato soup. F. Our Favorite Salads They were all good. What are great are the salad dressings. The Celebrity signature dressing was very tasty and definitely had anchovies in it. G. Our Favorite Entrées I was partial to the lamb the first two nights. I truly believe Americans do not eat enough of this delicious meat. The steaks were delicious and very flavorful. The fish dishes were delightful. I really enjoyed the mushroom pasta (it had a much fancier name--Pappardelle con Funghi). I heard that the turkey and all the fixins that was offered on Christmas was wonderful. I enjoyed the chicken kiev on another evening. H. Our Favorite Desserts A "sandwich" made of chocolate macaroons and chocolate sauce was to die for. My husband loved a panna cotta flavored with Pernod and Absenthe. I liked the Grand Marnier soufflé and my husband loved the After Eight mint cake. I. Buffet There is an excellent sushi bar in the Seaside Buffet on late afternoons (starting at 5:30pm). The Indian food is particularly wonderful. The pasta bar was very busy and I liked what I got there. Also, there are little sandwiches offered in a late lunch/early dinner timeframe that was very tasty. J. Room Service Room service took a little while (15-20 minutes on average), but was the food was very, very good. I particularly enjoyed the Celebrity Club Sandwich so much I began to crave it. This made going home especially difficult. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies All the movies were shown in the Cinema. They were mostly releases from about a year ago. We did not watch any movies in the Cinema. B. Shows The Celebrity Theatre is gorgeous, with comfortable seating and good sight lines. We did not see any shows in the theater. C. Casino Large casino filled with the usual. We did not use the casino. D. Spa I booked a deep tissue massage during the port day in St. Maarten. It was very nice; I had a masseuse who was on her third day on the ship (she had spent time in training beforehand). Now, for someone who wants to relax, it would have been a great massage, but for me, I want someone to work on the knots in my muscles (which can and should be painful). I didn't really get that, but it was very relaxing. After the massage, the masseuse tried to sell me packages of products which I declined. She was not pushy at all and took my "no, thank you" in stride. During my massage, there was also a crew muster practice which meant that there were announcements and sirens during about the first third of my massage. I wasn't angered, but I wished someone would have rescheduled my appointment around it. I received a happy surprise when I got to the front desk afterward when they offered me another massage for free later in the cruise to make up for this one (which I had already paid for). The second one was wonderful and very relaxing. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. They were busy all day when we were at sea. One pool had a few basketballs and a hoop on it so that you could practice dunking like Michael Jordan. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. F. Indoor Pools and Hot Tubs The thalassotherapy pool was the indoor pool. It is only for guests 16 years of age and older. It was quite warm and felt great. On each of the longer sides, it had places where you would sit on bars that were arranged to be in the shape of lounge chairs (I am not doing it justice, but it was very comfortable) and bubbles of cooler water bubbled all around you. I wasn't sure what its use was at first, but it turned out to be incredibly relaxing. On the shorter sides were showers of water like faucets where water fell out at varying degrees of speed (depending on which you were under). I stood under one and it was like a water massage on my neck and upper back. Very nice. There are fresh water showers near the pool. These showers are incredibly hot. G. In-room TV There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (Global CNN, ESPN, Eye on CBS, Sky News, and a few others) available on the TV in the cabin. Pay-per-view movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. Part V - Cruise Critic Get-Togethers A. Sailaway Party As a group, the Cruise Critic folks had arranged (on the boards) to get together at sailaway at the Mast Bar on Deck 11. About 20 showed up and we had a great time. I think that if I were to do it again, I would recommend the Sunset bar instead because it has a more closed-in space. Some cruise critics I met later in the cruise said they hadn't been able to locate us at the Mast bar. B. Connections Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic Connections gathering on the Celebrity web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. Upon our arrival in our cabin we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party, set for 10:00 am on Sunday (our first day at sea). At the appointed time we arrived at Michael's Club. In total, about 40 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting our fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. The Captain, Cruise Director and the Captain's Club Manager were in attendance. The Captain said he disliked the moniker Cruise CRITIC and instead said we are Cruise FEEDBACK people. He said he appreciated anything we had to say and hoped it would be DURING the cruise and not AFTER. C. Slot Pull We had also arranged a slot pull (which I had to miss because I was ill). The idea behind the slot pull is that the group meets in the casino and everyone puts in a set amount of money and then gets a certain number of pulls on the slot machine. The entire group shares in the winnings. They arranged additional slot pulls each sea day (except Christmas Day) at 2pm. I encourage everyone to have these on their cruises. They were a lot of fun! D. Cabin/Poker Crawl We also arranged a cabin crawl on the third sea day (after Curacao but before Grenada). We started in the 9th floor library and had 19 people participating in the poker crawl and a few others walking with us. We visited both inside and outside (side veranda, rear veranda and port hole) rooms. The coolest room was the Presidential Suite where our hosts let us look at everything in their 1,100 square foot cabin. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Smoking was permitted only in the Reflections Lounge (Deck 11, Port), Mast Bar (Deck 11, Port & Starboard), Pool Deck and Sundecks (Deck 10, Port), Open Deck (Deck 4, Port) and Seaside Cafe Bar (Deck 10, Port where pipes and cigars were also allowed). Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. We did not observe anyone abusing the smoking privilege. They had every right to smoke in various areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. B. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! C. Viruses I found myself incredibly sick our second day at sea. I remained in my cabin all day and was tended to by my husband and our wonderful stateroom attendant, Doris. She brought me toast, tea and apple juice. She instructed my husband to purchase a Gatorade for me to replenish my electrolytes. She stopped in occasionally to see if I needed anything. She was very kind. I ventured out the next morning to have breakfast (a banana and muesli and more apple juice). I avoided being near others or touching anything. By the afternoon, I was feeling much better. Unfortunately, my husband came down with the same illness late on the third day (after our stop in Aruba). It laid him up in the cabin for the full day in Curacao, but he was better during the at sea day between Curacao and Grenada. I also heard from others on the Cruise Critic list who had endured the "24-hour bug," too. E. Seasickness We had rough seas on our way from Fort Lauderdale to Aruba (the second day when we were in fairly open water). It did not bother me, but there were seasickness bags out all around the ship just in case some of my fellow cruisers were not as lucky. We did have rough seas on other days, as well. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship and Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew and they were all very friendly and competent. The ship and furnishings were in very good shape. She was very clean. B. The Shops There was something on sale each day. Realize that if you forget something, you can buy it on the ship, but necessities are expensive. Deodorant, mints, dental floss, M&Ms are all available, but not at a price you might want to pay. My advice: remember to bring the essentials, even if that includes M&Ms! C. Internet Service The good news: there are plenty of computer terminals with internet access on the ship. The bad news: it costs about 53 cents per minute. You can get your cost down to around 35 cents a minute if you buy a bulk of minutes. I continue to hope that Celebrity will rethink the pricing to find the price point at which the computers will be 75%-to-85% utilized. Passengers will be happier, and Celebrity will end up with more net income, rather than having a wasting asset on board. D. Children Our ship had 150 children on board, 70 being teenagers. They behaved very well. Part VIII - The Ports We visited seven great ports. We set up excursions ahead of time with highly-recommended tour operators at 2 of these ports and did our own thing at 5 ports. A. Oranjestad, Aruba Aruba is a part of the Netherland Antilles. It is an island of stunningly beautiful beaches. Located only 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is only 75 square miles in size. The official language is Dutch, but almost everyone also speaks English and Spanish. We had planned to spend the day at either Palm or Eagle Beach (both come highly recommended), but it was raining quite hard all morning and so this scuttled our plans. My husband and brother-in-law did spend time in Oranjestad and found a nice little "hole in the wall" place which served cold beer and tasty schwarma. They were there with a local named Armando and the owner. They also picked up some Caribbean/Hawaiian shirts as well as some t-shirts. I stayed on the ship and enjoyed the ability to nab a chair in the sun (when the sun came out in the afternoon). B. Willemstad, Curacao Also a part of the Netherland Antilles, Curacao is not as famous for its beaches as Aruba. However, Willemstad is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one look at it tells you why. This is exactly what you expect a Caribbean city to look like with its bright, Easter-egg colored buildings. In the morning, we walked through Curacao, visiting the floating market and walking the packed and small streets. The fort is well-developed now (it wasn't the last time we were here) with lots of high-end retail shops and some bars and eating establishments. The floating bridge was great to walk over, even though it was moving at the time (it made our sea legs seem all too real). In the afternoon, we went to Cabana Beach near the Seaquarium. It was a nice, little beach. The prices for food were steep since it is part of the Kontiki Resort, but we just enjoyed the sun. It cost $20 for the taxi each way to the beach (for 3 people) and $3 per person to use the beach. A chair cost $5 to rent, but no one ever asked me for money for that. It rained for part of our stay on the beach, so we just enjoyed a few hours of sun and sand. It was enough to whet our appetites for what was to come. Be warned. The ship will leave without you. Rumor has it (I heard it from several sources) that we left a family of 6 waving and yelling at us on the floating bridge as we left Curacao. If you think you might be late, take your passports and credit cards without and be willing to pay and arm and a leg to get to the next port. C. St. Georges, Grenada This was our first visit to Grenada. Grenada, known as the "spice island," is part of the Lesser Antilles' Grenadines and is part of the British Realm. My husband and son visited Great Anse Beach all day. After mailing my Christmas cards (I had 51 cards and mailed them for $39 with beautiful stamps I obtained just inside of the pier at a wonderful little post office stall), my brother-in-law and I went in search of spices. First, we tried walking to the Market Square and got hopelessly lost, so we decided to take the local "buses" to Guyanve to see the Dougaldston Estate which is famous for its spices. For US$2.00, we hopped a #5 bus (really just a large passenger van that, at times, held up to 19 people) for the 30-40 minute ride to the Estate. They dropped us off on the main road near the estate (and a beautiful stream where some Grenadians were doing their wash). We walked into the jungle on a path and a small boy (maybe 6 or 7), sent by the ladies washing their clothes, came to show us the way. I tipped the small boy US$1.00 for being our guide. He seemed surprised, but grateful. He led us to a run-down building with large trays of a spice drying in the sun. Had I been less surprised about my surroundings (I had expected something much more commercial and touristy), I would have smelled the cocoa drying in the sun. We were the only tourists there, and we went into the building where one of the ladies did her demonstration of the various types of spices they process--bay leaves, all spice, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cocoa, vanilla, cloves--and then we could buy some. Each packet (a good-sized amount) was US$1-2.00. We loaded ourselves with spices and then bought some water, grapefruit soda (called "Ting") and ginger beer. All of the spices were sealed and as long as we don't open them before we go into the US, we are good with US agriculture. After getting directions to the nearest bus stop, we started walking again through the cocoa-scented jungle to the road. We were followed by some friendly stray dogs and a saw a few not-very happy goats tied up near the road. Right after we got to the main road, we caught a bus. About 5 minutes into the ride, I realized we were going the wrong way. I mentioned this to my brother-in-law, but we decided to go with the flow. The flow took almost 2 hours to the end of the route and back to St. George's. It was a great, though sometimes harrowing, experience and we saw a lot of the coast and the people of Grenada--all for US$2.00 per person. It was probably the least expensive tour of the island that anyone from our ship had all day. Upon our return to St. George's, we stopped at a local supermarket and bought some local rum. It was less expensive than at liquor stores and was just as good--two small bottles for US$7.00. I also stopped in the Duty Free store and bought some Nutmeg Syrup for US$5.00. There was free (but slow) WiFi at the pier. My husband and son went to Grand Anse Beach via water taxi (directly from the pier, US$4.00 each way per person). Grenada was the only location where we had to go through a magnetometer and put our bags through an x-ray machine just to get onto the pier. This was in addition to the same thing once we got back on the ship. I am not sure why this was. D. Bridgetown, Barbados This was also our first visit to Barbados, which is also a British Leeward Island. The pier is a combination cruise pier and working cargo pier. We were docked pretty far down the pier and the cruise line offered free shuttle buses for us so that we did not have to walk down the pier. We walked through the pier shops and took a taxi to the Hilton Beach (US$7.50 per person). All of the beaches are publicly accessible in Barbados, but at first the Hilton wanted to charge us US$80 for each person to use their chairs, an umbrella, and the pool, as well as have lunch. After some discussion with the man who handled the chairs and umbrellas in the area, we got two chairs under a palm tree for nothing. He helped us out; I tried to find him later to tip him, but he had disappeared. The beach at the Hilton was under a red flag which meant that there should have been no swimming, but with the waves so strong, it was irresistible. There were many people out in the water, and the lifeguard was very attentive. After a couple long rounds of bodysurfing by the three guys in our group, we were ready to return to the ship. We used the freshwater showers, dried off, and went through the hotel lobby and got a taxi back to the pier (US$4 each person). Again, there was free (but slow) WiFi at the pier. We bought some aged Mount Gay Rum (made on the island), Banks Beer (also made on the island) and rum cake (a local version made, you guessed it, on the island). E. St. John's, Antigua I had booked an outing in Antigua with Creole cruises--a lobster lunch and snorkeling outing. I had given them my credit card number to hold the opening, but I decided to pay in cash because I got a 10% discount, so instead of US$130, I paid US$117 for myself. We were picked up on time (9:45am) by Captain Glen on the dock outside of the Exotic Antigua store just off the pier. There were already about 16 people on the ship from local resorts and I and two fellow cruise passengers joined them. We took a 10 minute speed away into the Caribbean Sea and then were served non-alcoholic drinks, then had another 25 minute speed into the Atlantic Ocean and to Bird Island, part of the nature preserve which has between 22 and 24 smaller islands around Antigua (the numbers kept changing). I got off here with about 10 of my fellow passengers. We decided to explore this lonely, lovely beach instead of snorkel. I am really quite bad at snorkeling and was glad for this option. The beach was wonderfully deserted. I walked up and down the beach, talked with many of the other passengers, and watched the young mate, Mario, clean up and get ready to cook our lunch. We were able to drink freely of the water, juice, rum punch, and beer that they had brought, all served with a smile by Travis, another mate on the boat. No alcoholic beverages before snorkeling, but since we weren't snorkeling, we were fine. A few other boats stopped by and disgorged their passengers, but it was still a beautiful and peaceful beach. After lunch of four different salads, wood-fire grilled spiny lobsters, a bottle of white wine for each of the four tables, and a perfect macaroon to top it all off, most of us embarked on a short nature walk. Warning: Wear sneakers or hiking shoes. There is a difficult climb up a rocky path with few footholds. I and many of my fellow passengers made it wearing crocs and flip flops, but it was not easy. The walk was worth it because the view from the top of the island was unbelievably beautiful. The opposite side of the island is rocky and craggy, not like the side we had been on. It was a perfect ending to our day on this island. After we were all aboard and everything was cleaned up on the island, we stopped at Maiden island where some people went in to see an amazing array of starfish. I did not go, but I hear they were many colors and sizes. We arrived back at the dock at 4:10pm, a little later than the promised 3:45pm, but in time to reboard our ship by 4:30pm. F. Philipsburg, St. Maarten St. Maarten/St. Martin is an island owned by two different countries: the first section by the Netherlands and the second by the French. My husband, son and brother-n-law joined 3 others recruited from the Cruise Critic boards in a private deep-sea fishing excursion with TaylorMade cruises. I had contacted them through the internet, and had paid a $100 deposit to hold the date and time. The cost was US$117 per person. I hear the trip was fun, although not fruitful. The waters were very choppy, so the ride was bumpy and the only fish caught was a large barracuda by my son. G. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas There were 4 ships in port (that I saw) on the day we were at this US Virgin Island. Everywhere we looked was packed. We docked at the Havensight Mall. Remember to take a photo ID with you on shore because you need it to get back on to the pier. We walked to the taxi stands at the outside of the mall and got a taxi (SUV) for the 8 of us (we had friends with us) for $8 each to Magen's Bay Beach. The entrance fee to Magen's Bay is another $4. The beach is beautiful and it was packed with people, but we did find a place to sit. With chairs at $5 each with a $5 refundable deposit when you return them, we parked them near some overgrown shrubbery and enjoyed our day. This is truly the most beautiful beach I have ever been on (okay, it is a tie between this beach and Waimanalo Beach in Oahu, Hawaii) and we had a great time. The taxis were $8 to get back to the ship after our wonderful day I. Days At Sea Between ports, we had six at sea days. Our first at sea day (just out of Fort Lauderdale) had us following the northeastern coast of Cuba all day. It is a bigger island than I thought. Toward the end of the day, we swung a hard turn south and passed between Cuba and Haiti (the island of Hispanola) and then past Jamaica and into the Caribbean Sea. The second at sea day put us directly into the Caribbean Sea all day on our way to Aruba. The day at sea between Curacao and Grenada was very windy and the seas were rough. Because we were going directly into the waves, the stabilizers did not work. They only work when the waves are coming from the side. We learned this because we were invited to tour the Bridge on our second sea day. This was our first time and it went really fast--only 20 minutes and we asked a lot of questions. A few interesting notes from the Bridge tour: a) There is a person on watch at all times. When we asked what he was watching for, the answer was small boats and cargo containers that had fallen off of container ships during rough weather. b) The captain is in charge during all docking and undocking activities. Even if a pilot is brought on board to advise and "takes the con," the captain can override any decision that the pilot makes. c) The ship can pull into areas where the clearance under the ship is only 1-2 meters. It has to move very slowly, but it can and does manage. d) The ship's propellers move independently and can turn 360 degrees. The ship can move sideways, if necessary. Each propeller also has its own engine directly within the propeller case and there is room for 2 people, if needed, in each propeller case. e) 60% of the energy created on board is used to run hotel systems like computers, vacuum cleaners, lights. Only 40% is used to propel the ship forward. Additionally, 30% of the overall energy is used to run the vacuum system used for the toilets. J. Speakers/Entertainment I have never spent much time on the speakers on past cruises--their topics never really interested me. However, during this trip, Dr. Jim Rowe was presenting on each sea day about Caribbean culture and nature. The timing of the presentations wasn't great (10am) because other things interrupted us (the Cruise Critic meeting one day, the Bridge tour the other); however, they were replayed on the internal television stations often and we were able to watch all of them. He was a very interesting speaker and both my husband and I enjoyed his informative speeches. We also enjoyed the song stylings of the 4-man a cappella singing group 545 Express. They were fun and their takes on traditional Christmas sons, including their rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" which somehow morphed into "(I bless the rains down in) Africa" by Toto were well-done and creative. We also enjoyed an evening listening to the folk singing of Jefferson Ang, a talented young man. Part IX - Tipping The service personnel on Celebrity receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Celebrity says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ships personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. Our tips were paid on our cruise charge at US$11.50 per person per day. During our last cruise, we had asked our server and stateroom attendant if they received all of the gratuities from the cruise charges and they said yes (we were worried that a portion would be withheld by the cruise line, but that is apparently not the case). We did tip extra to everyone for their good work. On our evaluation, we also included the names of people who had gone that extra mile for us. We have heard in past cruises that this is a great way to recognize people and it can result in a monetary bonus for people whose names are written down often. Part X - Captain's Club On this cruise, we were select members and so we received a "Welcome Letter" which invited us to a cocktail party, a "double jackpot" time in the casino, and a future cruise presentation.If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Captain's Club, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a CC express line at Embarkation, priority disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, very minor casino, wine and spa discounts, a $20 "all you can fit in a cleaning bag" coupon to launder your clothes, two complimentary pressed items, a cocktail party, a "behind the scenes" tour, and a one cabin upgrade, whenever possible. Some exclusions apply. Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Disembarkation ("exiting of the ship at the end of your cruise"). Breakfast was served in cabins, on the buffet, and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went smoothly. Earlier in the week, everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in Fort Lauderdale had highest priority. Captain's Club members had priority within their color group. Color-coded Disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and put it outside their cabins prior to 11:00pm Friday night. We were self-disembarking which meant we carried all of our own luggage (not easy with 4 backpacks, 4 carry-ons and 2 checked bags (larger bags) and only 4 people. But we made it. We met on the 3rd floor at 7:45am after breakfast and were off the ship, through customs and immigration and outside the pier by 8:30am. B. Customs US citizens are permitted 1 liter of alcohol and $800 worth of Duty Free goods per person. If under the limit, all you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid, if requested. C. Transportation Options to Airport There were transfers available through the cruise line which would take you on bus to either of the local airports--Miami or Fort Lauderdale, taxis were available, and hotel shuttles. We chose to hire a car to meet us. I called them early in the morning with our approximate pick up time and he was there waiting for us when we left the ship. We stowed the luggage and ourselves for the quick trip back to the Fort Lauderdale airport. It was an effortless way to get there. D. Fort Lauderdale Airport Upon arrival at the airport, we proceeded to the AirTran check-in. It took us less than 15 minutes to turn in our bags and less than 10 minutes to clear security. AirTran charges $20 per checked bag (of less than 50 lbs) for the first checked bag per person; $25 for the second. We checked 2 bags on the way home, one each for my husband and myself, for a total of $40. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first holiday cruise and we were not disappointed. We arrived at the port around 11:30 and we shown to a waiting area for the concierge class. Checking-in was easy as can be. We were on the ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first holiday cruise and we were not disappointed. We arrived at the port around 11:30 and we shown to a waiting area for the concierge class. Checking-in was easy as can be. We were on the ship by noon and promptly went for lunch. It was a very nice touch to be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine upon embarkation, this from smiling happy staff. Our cabin was ready by 2 pm and my bag was there as promised. My husband's was not. We went and explored the ship and found the San Marco dining room and the various lounges, pools and cafes. By 5:30pm, Dave's bag had yet to show up. We asked our steward to help and he located it in security. We were told we had to go claim the bag. It seems that his pocket knife was deemed a dangerous weapon, a pocket knife which traveled all over the world and was never stopped before. This seems odd as there were steak knives all over the ship with much bigger blades. Our stateroom was very nicely appointed, with lots of storage space, a huge shower and a comfortable love-seat. The balcony was small but sufficient. The overhang did not bother us but might do for someone wishing to sunbathe on the balcony. It was very quiet most of the time except for the odd sound from above from chairs being moved around. The San Marco dining room was beautiful and very nicely designed. We chose select dining and never waited to be seated. The maitre d's were 2 lovely, pleasant and helpful young woman who smiled, joked with us and even chatted with us. Princess could learn from them as their maitre d's are are surly older men who take their jobs far too seriously. The food there was great. Lots of variety, perfect portions and served perhaps a bit too quickly but overall, great.The one thing Celebrity can not do is beef. It was tough and/or tasteless. We never tried the other restaurants as we were satisfied with the choices in the main dining room. Suzanna, one of the sommeliers, was great. She was efficient, knowledgeable ans sweet. the male sommelier was not quite so good. He made many errors both with us and with people around us. As this was a holiday cruise, the ship was beautifully decorated with poinsettias, trees and other lovely decorations. The main stairwell was decorated with gingerbread houses and there was effort put into the entertainment with caroling and a show in the theater. On Christmas day, there was a huge brunch in San Marco with every conceivable food choice including a suckling pig. The entertainment we found to be mixed. We enjoyed the acapella group and the dance company but did not go to the comedy shows at all and found the classical trio sadly lacking in talent. As we had sailed the Caribbean many times before, the ports were less important the experience on board ship. We did a spice tour in Grenada which was fabulous and mostly beached in the other ports. Orient Beach in St. Martin left a lot to be desired. It was noisy, very crowded and not very enjoyable. On the other hand, Magens' bay and Dickensen's beach were wonderful. Sadly it all came to an end too quickly. The last 2 sea days were the most calm seas we have ever seen. Mirror perfect surface. Debarkation was also good except for the long lines to get through customs. We would certainly cruise with Celebrity again as all staff were pleasant, smiling, helpful genuinely happy people. It was a great experience. Cruisfan Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
after a long flight we arrived in Miami airport. after 30 mins we were through customs control and on our way to our Fort Lauderdale overnight hotel. we had the most amazing meal at a steakhouse with friends. the next day we were in the ... Read More
after a long flight we arrived in Miami airport. after 30 mins we were through customs control and on our way to our Fort Lauderdale overnight hotel. we had the most amazing meal at a steakhouse with friends. the next day we were in the hotel foyer at the allotted time but we did not board our bus for another 90mins due to a football team staying in the hotel. we had to wait until their buses left the hotel before our buses were allowed into the hotel forecoat. our bus driver was very funny and informative re Fort Lauderdale. check in went smoothly. it took approx 30min from arriving to boarding the ship. our cabin was not ready so we had a wee wander around the ship after we had lunch in the buffet. our suitcases arrived at our cabin about 2 hours after embarking, the quickest yet. our cabin was an inside on deck 8. the cabin was kept clean by our cabin steward and assistants. they carried out their duties quietly and efficiently. nothing was too much bother. all areas on the Constellation were kept spotless by the hard working staff who were always cheery no matter what time of day or night. the food in the MDR was as usual very good. we were on anytime dining which we enjoyed. we shared our table with our friends, and sometimes with more people. everyone we shared our table with were so very nice. we ate in Ocean liners twice. the feed and service was excellent as usual. our friends ate in Ocean liners and Tuscan grill. they enjoyed both meals enormously the entertainment was Celebrity's usual.........so so. the singers and dancers shows were very good. the comedians were just OK. Sue Dennings, the entertainment director, one woman show was excellent, as was the staff and passengers talent show. some of the staff in the show were far better than the entertainers that Celebrity had booked and paid for. we had heard mixed reviews about Perry Grant who is based in Michaels club in Constellation. we did not go to see him in Michaels club but did go to his show in the theatre. we are glad that we did, yes he is not a great singer but he is a great showman and entertainer. he kept us entertained from the start to the end of his show. entertainment in the bars were not that great. I enjoyed all of our port of calls but eventually all the islands blended into one. we took either a taxi or bus to take us on a tour of the islands who we shared with our friends. however if in Granada and wanting a taxi you can get one at the port but remember to ask for Ambrose. he was very informative and courteous taxi driver. Ambrose did not want payment for our island tour until the tour ended. we asked to be dropped off in the town instead of the dock but wish we hadn't as the town not very nice. we only spent 30mins in town. by the time we arrived in our last port, St Thomas, I was fed up looking at jewellery shops. ok, ok I know I am not a shopper. Barbados was our least favourite island. we did not take a taxi but just went into town which did not impress us too much. we took the ships tour of the rainforest in St. Lucia. what a great tour. it felt cool and very quiet in the rainforest. I also managed to have a bushwhacker cocktail in St. Marteen........loved it. we did see some light rain in our first few days and very heavy in Barbados, but the average temp was still approx 85-90 degrees with high humidity. a wee bit too hot and humid for me. the first leg of our BA flight home was delayed for about an hour. at the end of our flight we were asked to fill in a form informing us that we had been incontact with a dangerous infectious disease!! there were two people with the D&V bug ?noro virus. at least one of them had been on the Constellation. I feel that the infected people should not have been allowed on the flight as their illness put every pax at risk. poor show on both BA and the people with the illness. it showed little regard for everyone else on the flight. all in all I loved my cruise but don't think I will be rushing back to the Caribbean in the near future. the only bad bit was the flight home fiasco. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We sailed on the Constellation December 17, 2011 Southern Caribbean. Appearance: Ship was well maintained and looked great. Staff: The crew was friendly and helpful. Wait staff were professional. Everyone you passed in the hallway ... Read More
We sailed on the Constellation December 17, 2011 Southern Caribbean. Appearance: Ship was well maintained and looked great. Staff: The crew was friendly and helpful. Wait staff were professional. Everyone you passed in the hallway said hello. Officers circulated freely and engaged passengers. Overall, outstanding. Entertainment: Theater entertainment was a mixture of production numbers and guest performers. The production cast of 15 singers and dancers were wonderful and the staging excellent. The guest performers were varied in entertainment value, but for the most part were enjoyable. The bands that played in the various venues around the ship did a fine job. Notable were the a'capella group and the string trio. The cruise director, Sue Denning, did an outstanding one woman show and she was a delight throughout the trip. Food: The food was acceptable. It definitely was not up to the standard of sister line Azamara and our recollection is that it was not as good as that on the Solstice and Eclipse. Health: We heard of a few cases of gastrointestinal infections. Nothing was said about it and I didn't notice any extra cleaning of handrails etc. Overall: It was a good trip and we booked another Constellation trip for June. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise with Celebrity and our first Christmas cruise. We were excited to see how it would go and we were not disappointed. We took a shuttle from our hotel and arrived to our ship by 11:15. The embarkation process was ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity and our first Christmas cruise. We were excited to see how it would go and we were not disappointed. We took a shuttle from our hotel and arrived to our ship by 11:15. The embarkation process was a cinch and, as we were early, we were assigned a waiting area for concierge passengers. By noon, we were on board ship. We were greeted with smiling faces and glasses of champagne, a very nice start to our trip. We headed off to find some lunch and then toured the ship a bit, looking at the pools, the theater, the lounges etc. By 2pm, the rooms were ready. The room was a nice size, compact and efficiently set up. My bag arrived shortly there after but my husband's did not. As the afternoon progressed and the bag did not arrive, we started to be a bit concerned. We spoke to our steward who told us the bag was in "security" and we had to go retrieve it. Off we go to the first floor to find the missing bag. It turns out the bag was pulled aside because hubby had left his pocket knife in the flap of the bag, a knife which has travelled all over the world and never been an issue before.It was deemed a dangerous weapon and confiscated. This left us with a funny feeling as there are knives all over the ship and anyone could use them to stab someone else. They are way more dangerous than a small pocket knife. Off we then went to unpack his bag and go to diner. The ship was beautifully decorated for the holidays, the food was amazing and the service exceptional. Of particular note, were the maitre d's, two lovely young ladies, who were smiling efficient and very pleasant to deal with. Princess could learn from this cruise line as their maitre d's are surly and take themselves way too seriously. We had booked select dining and never waited once. The waiters were all happy, smiling and very eager to help us. We were sat in different areas and hence had different sommeliers. Suzanna was very good, knowledgeable and extremely efficient. Not so with a male sommelier, who made numerous errors with us and others around us. We did not try the other restaurants as we felt the food in San Marco was fine. We had lunch each day at the Seaside Cafe and found lots of options to please all tastes. The sorbet, made daily is amazing. The Christmas day brunch was fabulous at there were numrous stations to suit everyone. Really aprreciated the full roomservice breakfast in the concierge class which we used several times and ate on our balcony. The T pool is great as it is adult only. Lots of chairs to be found, rarely waited. To us on this cruise, the ports were less important as we have done them many times before. We were on this trip to rest and get away. We did go for a tour on Grenada, the spice island,looking at cocoa production, nutmeg and other fruits ans spices on the island. Very informative. In other ports, we simply went to the beach. I forgot that we were caught in a downpour in Curacao,on the floating bridge. We got soaked to the bone but, it was a warm rain so who cares...Orient Beach in Saint Martin was very disappointing. Very crowded, busy with motor sports stuff, para-sailing etc. Not one we would recommend if you want to be quiet and enjoy the sun and the sea. Of course, Magens Bay beach was wonderful. Activities on the ship. The Christmas eve caroling and the show in the theater were lots of fun because they were informal and all could participate. Otherwise, the musicals were great, the dancers full of energy.The acapella group were wonderful, the Arabesque Trio not quite so,as they were often off key. Beyond the Podium talks were also a nice change. Learnt lots of info about the Caribbean. We skipped many of the other entertainers as the comedy did not appeal to us. In summary, this was our 10th cruise, Princess, NCL, Carnival and now Celebrity.We would certainly sail again with Celebrity as we would with Princess who compare quite well. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My son and I have cruised 20+ times in the past and Celebrity has always been our favourite. WE are Elite members and have sailed on Solstice two years ago. At that time we had enjoyed our cruise very much and we were looking forward to ... Read More
My son and I have cruised 20+ times in the past and Celebrity has always been our favourite. WE are Elite members and have sailed on Solstice two years ago. At that time we had enjoyed our cruise very much and we were looking forward to have the same experience. Unfortunately this time the cruise did not turn out to be up to Celebrity standard. It seemed like I was on a totally different ship. Starting from below average food quality (both in the main dining room and upstairs buffet) and continuing with very poor entertainment. I can't believe that Solstice cruise director Stewart has worked for Celebrity for over 10 years and nobody fired him yet!!!! Overall, entertainment crew appeared to be not motivated, and often they looked like they didn't want to "be there". I saw the same shows two years ago and what a difference! As Elite members we took the backstage tour once again. I invited one of the ladies from our dining room table to join as as she was an artist. I bragged to her prior to the tour how exciting it was going to be and how much she is going to learn about show productions. And you have no idea how embarrassed I was after we took the tour! For first half hour we listened to cruise director Stewart how fabulous he was (and he wasn't even supposed to be there!) and after they just walked us through the back (it took literary 1 min) and sent us on our way... This brings me to the subject of consistency... Consistency with previous quality of food and service on Solstice as well as consistency of food and service on the current cruise. Every drink, every cup of coffee I ordered tasted different from each other. I really can't understand why. There was also a problem with consistency of information received from the crew. I had an issue with shore excursion stuff in relation with my extended stay excursion in Ft Lauderdale after disembarkation. When I went to shore excursion desk to inquire what exactly is involved in the excursion one lady told me that we get dropped off "somewhere in the city and it was my responsibility to take a taxi if I wanted to go to the beach". She became very argumentative to the point of being rude when I asked her to double check this info as the description of the excursion in the paper was totally different from what she was telling me. She also stated that the manager was unavailable to answer my questions. I then spoke to another shore excursion officer who told me that we in fact get dropped off at the beach (totally opposite from what the first officers told me). She was even be able to get the manager on the phone to confirm this information. And last but for sure not list.... My BIGGEST issue with this cruise. If I only read the reviews of past passengers that sailed on Solstice earlier the same month.... I would have known that the ship had to be thoroughly cleaned several times (in fact, there was a huge delay with embarkation early December) due to noro (or Norwalk) virus. NOBODY from the crew bothered to tell us that this problem existed. I actually remember that once when I sailed with another cruise line they sent out a letter prior to the sailing day notifying passengers about the virus. NOT THIS TIME. If you read this and you are about to sail on Solstice please, please, take the precautions!!!!! they for sure would not care! I always wash my hands, so does my son. We have not been sick in years. ON Christmas night, the night before disembarkation, my son fell very ill (I will spare you from the details, but I can tell you it was awful). I followed in the early morning hours as I obviously was in close contact taking care of him. In the morning both of us could not even move. And as you all know on the morning of disembarkation all they wanna do is to get rid of the passengers as soon as possible so they can start with the new ones. It is very hard to explain in words how you would feel if you had this virus, but all I can say that you just wanna die. Of course, you would not be able to think straight and the fever does not help at all. I knew we had to get out of the cabin, my son wasn't even moving though. All I could think was to go to the guest relations desk for help, and also it was the closest place to our cabin (I had difficulty walking at that time). When I told the officer from the Guest Relations desk that my son and I are very ill SHE SAID "so what??" I could not believe this response. I further told her that I thought they wanna know as other passengers may get sick as well. She did not seem to care. She did say that she will get a nurse to call my cabin. At no time did she ask if we needed any assistance to disembark or anything else for that matter. Unfortunately by the time I returned to the cabin the nurse already called and spoke to my son. Not sure what she was able to get out of him as he was half unconscious.. As the room attendants were already knocking on our door asking when we were leaving (to give them credit they had no idea how we were feeling and they were just doing their job) I had to get my son up, grab our bags and crawl out of the room. For me it appears that nobody on board really cared. Needless to say that the rest of the day was pure hell... Upon arriving home we received emails from several other passengers that we met on this cruise who fell ill as well. I immediately contacted Celebrity to notify them that they might have a problem. The operator didn't seem to care and quickly tried to judge the steps that I made and blame me for not going straight to the nurse. It is probably very difficult to understand the state of mind I was in without experiencing it. I did state to the operator that the reason for my call was not to get anything out of this but to alert the cruiseline of the potential problem on board Solstice. I hope those of you who are planning a cruise on Solstice will find this information helpful. We may be considering another trip with Celebrity but for sure not on Solstice and most likely not on "S" class ships Read Less
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