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Sail Date: December 2011
This was our fifth consecutive Holiday cruise. We enjoy traveling as a family during the holidays, and booked two balcony cabins on deck 8, one for my wife and I, and one for our 19 and 21 year old sons enjoying a break from college. We ... Read More
This was our fifth consecutive Holiday cruise. We enjoy traveling as a family during the holidays, and booked two balcony cabins on deck 8, one for my wife and I, and one for our 19 and 21 year old sons enjoying a break from college. We have had many very positive experiences with Celebrity, both as a couple and a family and previously found Celebrity a step above similarly priced lines. We've enjoyed not being inundated with announcements all day, found the quality of the food quite good, and the service generally excellent. And while we loved our vacation because it gave us time to spend together, Celebrity disappointed in several areas. And while we'll probably cruise with Celebrity again, I hope they address some of the truly disappointing aspects of our trip. Our embarkation process was extremely easy, from taxi to ship in less than 15 minutes. This is consistent with our past Celebrity experience and so much more civilized than other embarkation processes we've experienced. We did stop for a quick lunch at the Oceanview cafe, and found the quality, selection, and layout to be generally very well done. The service of the waiters, however, was very weak, with plates stacked on empty tables for too long. Additionally, all the ice machines were down at one point, and some of the drink machines never worked for the entire cruise. We found the coffee much improved. After lunch we walked around the ship, and were in our staterooms when called by 1:45 or so. Our luggage arrived shortly thereafter and we found the space available well-designed. We enjoyed our room and found it well designed. The beds were comfortable and the deck furniture was nice. This was the first time we did not sail in Concierge class and while we missed the better towels, we agreed that our staterooms were fine and would not consider Concierge class unless it was a nominal upcharge of $50 or less. While the design of the room was outstanding, the service was the worst we ever experienced on a ship. For example, on several occasions, we were left with no soap or shampoo and had to request it. One day we had no toilet paper, but had 3 extra boxes of tissues! What we really didn't like was the number of different people in the room and the time it took them to do the service. On every other cruise, the attendants were friendly, hard working, and efficient. On this cruise, the quality was terrible, with them taking two hours to service the room in the morning and evening. They would do the towels, then return and do the ice bucket, then return and leave information packets... We never received our disembarkation information, nor our daily calendar consistently. While we appreciate the fact that the cabin stewards have a difficult job, Celebrity needs to provide the training so they can manage their jobs effectively and at least meet guest expectations. And the worst offense? leaving dirty cleaning microfiber cloths in our son's room. Given previous noro issues on this ship...this is the kind of thing that can certainly spread viruses and should be a basic expectation of hygiene. The entertainment was both outstanding at times and horrible at times. The English juggler was terrific, one of the best acts we've ever seen on a ship. And the production shows were professionally done. But the so called impressionist singer, Sean O'Shea was the worst act we've ever seen. And we don't understand why the sole comedienne only performed a single show and only at midnight? But, all shows were detracted by the horrible cruise director and his inane banter. This was also the worst cruise director we've encountered. He lacked engagement and failed to create a positive vibe on the ship. And Stuart, please stop singing! We did enjoy some of the activities. But we also enjoyed our time together playing a cruise-long card tournament that ended up leaving our sons $10 richer. The highlights of the activities included trivia and the glass show. We met a lovely couple from Palm Beach and thoroughly enjoyed meeting them for various trivia contests. We won 3 of the contests together, but seemed to have as much fun on the one's we lost as the one's we won! The glass show was a nice surprise. We found the commentary, especially by the young lady to be simply fascinating. The layout of the ship was terrific. We never really felt crowded and could always find a quiet spot to lay in the sun, or play cards. Well, perhaps not too quiet. While most of the children on this holiday cruise were very well behaved and pleasant, there were far too many who ran amok, with no supervision, and no manners. Parents, you know who you are, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. There were also a number of people who didn't seem to have "please" or "thank you" in their vocabularies. These folks work hard for us, and a smile or word of appreciation is always in order. We also believe Celebrity needs to either enforce "rules" or not have them. For example, many people smoked on balconies and in non-smoking areas. Children screamed in the Atrium pool all day, yet it was supposedly an adult-only area. And dress codes? Either have them and enforce them, or don't have them. We enjoyed open seating in the main dining room and found the service to be outstanding! The food was generally excellent, with only a few misses, but always nicely presented. We had three different waiter/assistant teams and all were excellent. However, the team of Rajesh and Roxana with whom we dined on the last 4 nights were simply outstanding, and reminded us that the old Celebrity service that brought us back to Celebrity still exists. Thanks to you both for such outstanding service. Note that we made reservations for dinner in advance of the cruise, and the reservations were honored immediately every time. We didn't sample the specialty restaurants. The ports were fine and we had a nice time in all of them. Due to heavy winds (35mph+) and high seas, we were about 3 hours late to San Juan, arriving just at sunset. An announcement was made, and an apology made, both by the captain in his announcement, and with a card in our staterooms. We found that a sincere gesture. We also found the captain to be very engaging and charismatic, with a great sense of humor...just what Stuart the cruise director needs! We spent a nice day at the beach and shopping in St. Thomas, a bit of the same in St. Maarten, and took a brief walk in St. Kitts, not our favorite island from previous visits. Disembarkation was easy as well. Overall, we had a great family vacation and enjoyed being together in such beautiful weather in a wonderful location. Celebrity enhanced that experience in many ways, and detracted in others, as mentioned above. So, will we return to Celebrity? Before this trip, I would have answered affirmatively. Now, I'm not that sure. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Our 3rd Celebrity Cruise and 2nd time on the Solstice. Flew in the night before. Boarding was on time, rapid and painless. Excellent cabin on the hump with a very large balcony. Great, efficient service by our room steward throughout the ... Read More
Our 3rd Celebrity Cruise and 2nd time on the Solstice. Flew in the night before. Boarding was on time, rapid and painless. Excellent cabin on the hump with a very large balcony. Great, efficient service by our room steward throughout the cruise. Ate in the MDR on all nights in the late seating. Again, great service by our waiter and assistant waiter with professional and efficient service. Food quality varied with some great dishes and some just average. Many more young children on board, almost certainly because it was a holiday cruise. The cruise line never enforced the adults only rule for one of the outdoor pools so we generally stayed in the covered pool area which was quiet. Got to meet the new ship's master, Captain Gerry, during a sail away bridge tour offered during this cruise for $75.00. Captain Gerry had joined the ship this cruise, but has been Master of several other S class ships. For the bridge tour about 20 of us came on the bridge before sail away from St. Maarten, got to watch the Master brief the officers and then got to watch the Staff Captain maneuver the ship out of port. The ship's master spent 45 minutes with us answering questions about the ship and Celebrity. A great experience. The on board musical groups, including the ship's orchestra, were generally excellent. The specialty acts ranged from a great juggler, to a really terrible singer/mimic. The only comedian on board was there for one night at 12 MN. During the "liar's club" ship activity the Staff Captain revealed himself as an excellent "straight man" comedian. The ship's Master played his guitar and sang during the last night show and had a great voice. We were late getting into San Juan and arrived a dusk due to high winds. We toured on our own in San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Martin and had a great time. We took the ship sponsored Zip Line tour in St. Kitts and I highly recommend it. The Solstice has had problems with gastroenteritis/noro virus outbreaks this year. During the cruise immediately preceding ours, the ship was on "lock down" and guests could not touch utensils in the Buffet. We had no such restrictions on our cruise. Unfortunately during the last night of the cruise (Christmas Day), one of my family members developed severe GI distress. I was informed by the responding nurse practitioner that there had been an outbreak of many cases of GI distress that night, and that 3 separate medical teams were responding throughout the ship. Needless to say this made disembarkation particularly difficult. I wonder if the latest GI outbreak was due to noro virus or food poisoning. In any case this seems to be a recurring problem on the ship and needs to be dealt with. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
The cruise was a popular one for young families and there were many children of all ages on board enjoying the pools, whirlpools and decks. Although, this meant that the pool deck was almost unusable during the day, it did add to the ... Read More
The cruise was a popular one for young families and there were many children of all ages on board enjoying the pools, whirlpools and decks. Although, this meant that the pool deck was almost unusable during the day, it did add to the Christmas spirit for what is Christmas without children. Part of the fun was watching them enjoy themselves with their parents, particularly at the shows. On the whole, they were very well behaved. There were also a lot of families with adult children reuniting from different parts of the world to celebrate the holidays together. The ship, already beautifully designed was stunningly decorated from top to bottom. Services were also held to celebrate Hanakah. It was very inspiring. We loved the understated elegance of the ship although we found the layout confusing and we kept having to consult the ship guide to orient ourselves. A great deal of effort was put into the smallest design detail and the artwork throughout the ship is impressive. The quality is evident. Our balcony cabin was nicely laid out and efficient although a bit of a letdown since our view was obstructed by the lifeboats attached to the deck below (we were not aware of this when we booked the room). There was also a utility door for the crew beneath us that would slam shut several times an hour until it was adjusted when we reported it to the guest relations staff. They offered us dinner at the specialty restaurant of our choice as a recompense for the inconvenience. A gesture we did not expect and we enjoyed a lovely meal at the Tuscany Grill on Christmas evening (the onion soup is to die for). In the main diningroom, the table we were first assigned was on deck 3, completely in the back next to a busing station. We asked to be reassigned to a table for two the following night and we got a lovely table next to a window which we enjoyed for the rest of the cruise. The food was a bit of a disappointment and hit and miss. The salads and soups were not very good but the steaks and lobsters were perfectly done. The quality of the desserts were also uneven. The Baked Alaska served on Christmas Eve was the most disappointing. The buffet was a cut above others we have experienced with quite a few stations offering made-to-order dishes. The choices were excellent and would please health-conscious eaters to gourmands. We participated in several wine-tasting events and enjoyed them immensely. The quality of the wines was quite good and the fees for the events reasonable. The Riedel wine-tasting was the best of the ones we attended but we were very upset by the fact that Canadian passengers were not warned that they would not have the same benefits as other participants if they wished to buy the glasses. The literature says that the cost of the course can be applied to the cost of the glasses and we had read from other reviews that it was worth it. However, on this cruise, they did not have the glasses on board and would have to ship them which would cost Canadians custom fees of $30 negating any benefits. The seas were rough and we experienced a good deal of motion and vibration on the ship. I never did get my sea-legs. Many frequent cruisers commented that it was one of their roughest cruises. This was a bit surprising and we would have expected a ship of this size to ride more smoothly. We arrived late in San Juan, our first port of call due to the high seas and since it was already dark all excursions were cancelled. We did not venture far from the ship since it was raining and we were not familiar with the town. Our second port was St. Thomas which we enjoyed and after rapidly touring the area on board a safari bus we spent a couple of hours at Megan Beach. Unfortunately, we did not make several stops because there were so many other tour buses that there was not parking available. The excursion was very disappointing and not worth the money. We should have just paid a taxi to take us to the beach. That night, my husband had the misfortune of contracting what the medical staff judged to be the Norovirus and was quarantined to our cabin for two days. It took him another 2-3 days to fully recover from the experience so this really dampened our enjoyment of a portion of the cruise. He missed the next two ports of St. Maarten and St. Kitts. Of course I could not leave him alone for long so we did not visit those two ports. We did not eat or drink anything off of the ship so he contracted the virus on board. I have read the reviews of the Transatlantic crossing cruise and the previous pre-Christmas cruise and it seems that this virus was a serious problem on the Solstice. The support we received from the staff during the illness was inadequate and we were left more or less to fend for ourselves. Even the cleaning of the cabin was only done after repeated requests. We have yet to see how Celebrity will compensate us for this portion of our cruise. We found the entertainment on board to be very professional and enjoyed every show and activity we were able to attend. The crew were wonderful in participating in various activies and it was amazing how involved they became. All in all, we have a very positive memory of our cruise on board the ship and would do it again in a heartbeat. The shore excursions do need to be improved.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
A little about us: this was my 4th cruise but my first on Celebrity Cruiseline (recent last 2 were NCL and 1 Carnival Cruise back in my 20's). This was my husband's 2nd cruise, his first being NCL Epic. We are in our early ... Read More
A little about us: this was my 4th cruise but my first on Celebrity Cruiseline (recent last 2 were NCL and 1 Carnival Cruise back in my 20's). This was my husband's 2nd cruise, his first being NCL Epic. We are in our early 40's, no kids. We are somewhat health and fitness minded so while we like to indulge while on vacation, we still stick somewhat to routines such as working out in the gym and balancing lighter meals to compensate for some of the higher calorie meals and drinks while we are vacationing. We probably don't represent the majority of cruisers which seemed to be about 45% families with young children/pre-teens and 45% who appeared to be couples in their late 50's and up without children. We did see some young couples around our age without children but not many. So my review will have more weight around items that fit our profile vs. what others may be looking for (such as children's activities, etc). The boarding process. We came in the night before to avoid any travel delays getting to the Ship. We stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay (very nice hotel and fantastic sleep in the "heavenly bed"). A short cab ride over to the marina and we arrived about 10:30am. The Port is always chaotic what with the Cab drivers with baggage handlers and cabbies fighting with one another. Last year when we went on the Epic, we witnessed a little spat between a passenger and a bag handler and whether or not it was coincidence, one of their bags never made it on the ship. We opt for over-tipping the baggage handlers and my husband joked with the man that he was paying insurance to ensure our bags all make it on the ship. Our bags were available almost immediately on the boat. Back to check-in. Unlike NCL, where we lined up outside, Celebrity allowed us inside the terminal. I did the pre-registration easy pass thing prior to leaving and we were scanned in, setup the credit card and ready for boarding in 5 mins. We had to wait approx 10 mins before being let onto the ship which was about 11am or so. Our cabin wasn't ready but I didn't expect it to be until 1pm or so based on other reviews I had read prior to sailing. The bars were open so we immediately started with a beverage while we explored the ship. First thing I noticed in comparison to NCL Epic was the drink had plenty of booze in it and that the bartender was not too friendly. On the Epic, the alcohol in the mixed drinks was practically non-existant but the bar tenders were very friendly. I'll take a good drink over friendliness so not a bad trade-off from my perspective. The Spa As mentioned we like to work out and we also like to enjoy Spa amenities such as the Sauna, Steam Room and Jacuzzi after a good workout. This Spa, sadly couldn't hold a candle to the Epic. We opted not to go with the Aquaspa Class Cabin since we had done the Spa class on the Epic and felt it was not worth the extra cost when anyone on the ship could purchase the Spa pass and have the same amenities. On the Eclipse, we purchased the Spa pass for the week which entitles you access to the Serenity Room. Honestly the Serenity Room/Spa Pass was a joke. I was very disapointed. First off, NO TALKING in the Serenity room. It is posted on a small sign when you walk in, very easily missed so if you miss that sign and comment to anyone with you about the room you will be glared at by the people in there as if you are with monks taking a vow of silence. Zip it. Okay, we got that and learned to mime all week when we would want to signal each other to go in the steam room or stay in a chair. The Serenity room has 1 small unisex steam room. There are 2 curved benches. 1 bench can seat approx 4 people and the other can seat 2. Very inadequate for a ship of this size. My gym at home had a much nicer and larger steam room. The floor of the steam room had some sort of debris floating around the fist day which didn't help my opinion. There is another tiled room entitled the Aromotherapy room. Guess what? No aroma at all. Not sure what it was for. So for $205.85 for a couple, you have access to a quiet room, a small steam room and heated chairs. Should this really be an extra charge? Mens/Women's Shower/Locker Rooms. We visted the gym everyday bringing a change of clothes, etc. The ship does not supply flip flops or slippers whether you are having a "treatment" or not. So while there is Purell being pushed on you wherever you go, there is no attempt to curb spreading foot fungus in the steam room and other shared areas. There is also no complimentary razors or products as you will find in most Spa changing rooms. There is the usual dispenser in the showers with shampoo, body cleanser and conditioner, but again nothing special. 3 out of the 7 days I visited, they did not have lockers available so had no choice but to lug my bag with me into the gym or choose to leave it on the floor in the changing room. Cabin. The cabin was nicely designed and the bathroom larger than on the Epic. We had a balcony out the back of the ship which was very nice. The bed was extremely comfortable with very nice linens and the room was pretty much soundproof. We slept well. Definitely alot less storage than the cabin on the Epic. One set of small drawers. 2 overhead bins above the bed and a closet. The Room Stewards were very nice and the upkeep of the room impeccable. Surprisingly, on the Epic our bathroom smelled so bad of urine I had to ask them twice to please do something about it and they were very lax about replacing supplies (we had to call for toilet paper) so Celebrity cabin stewards were more on the ball than NCL. Room Service. We enjoyed ordering room service directly from our TV. It was very nice to have breakfast in bed and/or on the balcony. One word of warning, pay attention to quanties when ordering. For instance, select Egg, Select Quantity (we choose 4 for 2 eggs each) and we received 8 eggs not realizing, "Egg" is actually 2 Eggs. It was very confusing. It seemed on some days, the eggs automatically came with Bacon and Sausage but we would also have 2 more sets of Bacon and Sausage in separate plates. Quite embarrassing to have the Room Steward cart in 12 plates for just 2 people! Room Service was great. Dress Code. I don't know how I missed this but I didn't know about the formal dress code and we didn't pack anything dressy so we pretty much were left to eat in the Cafe (buffet) for almost all of our meals. 1st night was Cocktail Attire, 2nd Night Formal Attire, 3rd & 4th nights were "Smart Casual" which I would say is similar to business casual, then back to formal attire... I understand the majority want to glam it up but personally I prefer a look that is more neat and casual. Unfortunately, we didn't go to any restaurants because I felt underdressed. We met other cruisers who told us not to let that us stop us from going but the reality is that I go to fancy dinners all dressed up for my job and it's not necessarily what I want to do on vacation. Also, I don't remember this coming up on other cruises but apparently no irons are allowed on board and if you want something pressed, you must pay for pressing which is fine but you need to plan ahead, if you want it back before 24 hours, it is double the price. We tended to wear clothes that were the least wrinkled rather than deal with sending clothes out for pressing. There was one day in the Celebrity Daily news where they offered a Laundry Challenge, stuff 1 laundry bag with as much as you can fit for $40. This was a good deal and it was nice to not have as much dirty laundry to bring back with us. Cafe Buffet. I'm not a food snob but have to say the buffet was blah, mediocre at best. Same food every single day. There were a few Indian selections, your typical Pasta offerings, 1 carving station and a large salad bar with very wilted, sad and dried out looking cukes, tomatoes, etc. It was okay and edible but nothing special. Soda is not included. Coke, Diet Coke, etc. is $2.00 per can plus automatic gratuity. 1 Liter of Evian $4.00 + 15% auto gratuity. 15% auto gratuity is added to everything. If you drink 1 bottle of water out of your cabin fridge, you are still paying the 15% gratuity. We would have loved to have a casual eating option such as a Sports Bar (Epic had a great Sports bar with Darts, Pool Tables, etc.) with ice cold mugs and draft beer that my husband really enjoyed. One night in the casino, there were throngs of people surrounding a tiny television where a game was on. It would have been nice to have a casual grill/pub style restaurant with appetizers, etc. Deck/Pool Area. It was a challenge to find 2 chairs together in sun no matter what time you went outside however, it was easier than on the Epic. The Pool Butlers were very good about removing towels from chairs that appear to have been held or abandoned so while we had to canvas 2 decks searching for chairs, it wouldn't be long before we would find some. We thought the grass area would have been better used for chair space than for the lawn area. Entertainment. We enjoyed New Year's Eve out on deck with singing and dancing entertainment. We particularly liked the acapella boy band. We didn't go to any of the shows because we just didn't see anything that looked interesting or anything we haven't already seen elsewhere. Can't comment too much there. Ports. We arrived late in the day for San Juan, PR. We spent some time in the casino there. After we each lost about $250 each, my husband went to use the Restroom and was turned away because he did not have a casino card! He thought there was a misunderstanding and explained we had just spent $500 in the casino and should be allowed to use the rest room. He was told that did not matter, go get a casino card and we'll let you in. He was forced to go next door to Senior Frog's to use the bathroom. We spent some time in the Old Harbor Brewery and met some super nice locals, my husband had his icy cold draft and I was able to get a nice grilled chicken salad and the best margarita I've ever had. This made up for the casino. St. Martin. 2nd time to St. Martin, same old chaos trying to get transportation to the beaches. Lots of yelling and fighting between the taxis and the people coordinating passengers. We chose to go back to a Marriott Resort where we spent the day on the beach last visit with rented chairs and an umbrella and beach bar nearby for cold ones and frozen drinks. Very nice. St. Kitts. Loved the little monkeys we saw everywhere. We went to Frigate Bay and again rented chairs and an umbrella. Beautiful beach day and area. One caveat was the price for food, 1 burger with fries was exactly $21.00 and it was no special burger either. Disembarkment We chose the Express option where you get off the ship with your bags. This means you must report to the Theater at 6:30am. We were off the ship in 2 minutes and at Miami Airport around 7:15am. While all in all, we had a terrific vacation, I would go back to NCL next time only because of the Freestyle dining and cruising style. Not to mention the Spa on the NCL Epic was incredible with huge hottubs and hot/cold baths, Steam room, saunas, etc. Hope this review helps!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We were quite apprehensive booking a cruise: our usual mode of travel is to pack light, head to Europe, rent a car and see where the wind takes us. For several years we've listened to (dedicated cruiser) friends talk about how much ... Read More
We were quite apprehensive booking a cruise: our usual mode of travel is to pack light, head to Europe, rent a car and see where the wind takes us. For several years we've listened to (dedicated cruiser) friends talk about how much they love it, but we always felt it probably wouldn't be for us. How wrong we were! When holiday plans in the Yucatan with other friends fell through last July, we went back to the drawing board. We considered everything under the sun - a cold-weather city break in Europe, eco-lodging in Costa Rica or Panama, a quick zip across the Pacific to Hong Kong or Singapore, or South Africa. And the cruise. Putting all the pieces together, the cruise just made the most sense at the time, and more than once we said to one another and to our friends, "well, if we don't like it, we can survive anything for a week, and the weather's practically guaranteed to be good." Amex in hand, we booked it. Went for Aqua Class on the advice of the travel agent at American Express (who, when she learned this was our first cruise, said, "You're setting the bar awfully high") and we were glad we did. Flew down to Miami a full day in advance, cashed some points and bunked into the Conrad. Rental car from the downtown Hertz location, and we took off exploring Miami for a day and a half. Two quick plugs -- had lunch at the Segafredo cafe at Bal Harbor Shops (we always seek out Segafredo cafes in Europe, and this one didn't disappoint), and dinner at Jaguar in Coconut Grove. Both were great. Breakfast at the Conrad in the morning, then an hour walk on the beach, return car, and off we go on the grand adventure. Relatively quick check in (about 1:30 pm - could have gone earlier, we now know), and met the couple in line in front of us. They made the vacation! We ended up having dinner together twice on board, in San Juan on that shore day, and hanging by the pool as well. Attended the Connections event and met another great couple and a family of four - we became a little group throughout the cruise. And it was a great time. The dining in Blu made a big difference we think. The food was good, but the atmosphere really made it. Only figured out that they served breakfast on day 4, so missed that the first half of the cruise. Did specialty dining in Tuscan Grille and Murano. Both were good - not spectacular, but definitely passble. the night we ate in Murano, there was a loud band playing in the bar outside, and the music clashed notably with the background music being played in the restaurant. It detracted from the experience, but wasn't a total killer to the experience. Great wine list at Murano, BTW. Also enjoyed the Aqua Spa cafe. Nice healthy alternatives. I actually lost weight on the cruise! Did our own thing on the port days. Nothing pre-planned. We think we missed something in Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. it was fine, but not the destination we expected. Really glad we went to St. John on the St. Thomas stop. it was beautiful. There was a real rush for the chairs at the pool -- descending into what I dubbed "Chairgate" when one woman sought the intervention of three personnel. A very loud argument ensued - which made many people uncomfortable. One morning I arose before 6 am -- and was able to get the last of the beds for two by the pool, and a few chairs for the rest of our crew. Also, the poolside crew didn't enforce the adult pool occupancy rules - and when pressed on the topic, said that it was because of the number of children on the vessel. While we love children, it would have been nice to have had the rules enforced. We wanted to use the spa, but essentially couldn't because it was occupied by groups of young people who occupied it from 10 am and didn't get out til the end of the day. The entertainment was decent -- a bit on the cheesy side, and as we seemed to be at the end of a contract period, some of the singers were exhibiting audible vocal fatigue. Also, found it quite odd that the string trio would be playing selections from the movie Titanic -- or is that some inside joke that I'm not in on? FInal analysis: I've never been more relaxed in my life. We've booked a short 5-day'er at the beginning of April - not S class ship, so we'll be in C1, (or is it C3 -- highest Concierge Class) and we'll be looking forward to trying cruising without the benefits of AQ. Will be interesting to see how the impact of Blu, etc, will be on our experience. But we're hooked. See you on the seas! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We loved the Eclipse. The ship is beautifully designed with lots of bars (of all kind), very good food-even in the beautiful and spacious buffet and especially in Blu where the staff was terrific. Boarding-We arrived at the terminal at ... Read More
We loved the Eclipse. The ship is beautifully designed with lots of bars (of all kind), very good food-even in the beautiful and spacious buffet and especially in Blu where the staff was terrific. Boarding-We arrived at the terminal at about 12:30pm and boarded right away with very little wait. We had carry-on luggage and went right to the buffet for lunch. Our room was ready shortly thereafter. Cabin-we were in Aqua Class, cabin 1631. It was very nice but a bit smaller than we're used to and less drawer room than we've found on other ships. Nonetheless it was fine. The veranda was large enough for a small table, 2 chairs and two ottomans--all very modern furniture. The bathroom was also nice with enough storage room, but again small with no tub. (The best bathroom we've ever had was in a veranda room on the Niew Amsterdam earlier this year-it was huge with separate shower and tub). Thankfully, the cabin was very quiet and we were glad we booked a cabin below other cabins as v. a public area. We're convinced, after several noisy experiences, that a cabin between other cabins is the best choice. Restaurants-The dining room reserved for Aqua Class is Blu. It was wonderful-great, healthy food--but not bland, just well cooked and not enormous helpings. If a food was not on the menu, staff did its best to get it for you-like a certain vegetable. On the subject of staff, they were great and eager to please. Blu was open for breakfast and dinner only so we either had lunch at the buffet or on deck 12 at the healthy spa food area. The problem with the buffet was that there were so many choices, arranged in multi-stations, that we tended to overeat there. We also experienced the usual rude passengers who acted like they hadn't eaten for days!! We also ate at Qsine-one of the specialty restaurants. It's menu could best be described as ecletic tapas--very interesting and worth at least one try. The other restaurant that we paid extra to eat at was Murano. We were looking forward to it based upon positive reviews on this site. However, it turned out to be our worst meal. The service was okay, but the lobster was horrible--very small, dry tails almost like a langostino, but not billed as such. After one meal was sent back and another one just like it arrived, Tony, the maitre d' came over to ask me what the problem was. I told him the food was "horrible" and he started arguing with me in front of everyone about how I could use the word "horrible" to describe my meal. I was mortified and I told him I'd take up his attitude with the hotel manager-which I did. The manager apologized and I hope that no one else experienced what ruined the evening for us. We had room service several times-for early morning coffee. It was great-on time and hot coffee. Entertainment-We went to two shows-both were good-not spectacular, but fine. We also attended two lectures-on the history of pirates (which was very boring) and on baseball (which was okay). We also went to one afternoon movie. Bars-The Martini Bar was the most entertaining with very talented bartenders who used a very generous pour. We also had wine at the Wine Cellar. The Cellar had a unique way of purchasing a glass--you buy a card there, insert it at a wine "station" and then select the amount of wine you wish. There was a tremendous variety of wines and delightful staff to help. Gym-The ship has a large gym with newish equipment (since the ship is a little over a year old). Very nice facility with the usual very young staff not too interested in helping you unless you're buying their services. Disembarkation-It was a breeze. We left the ship at 8am and were at the Miami Airport by 8:30am. Since we had carryon we just walked off the ship when we were done with breakfast at Blu. P.S. Ports-The 3 ports were essentially the same. They were Puerto Rico (good to get off ship to cross street to go to CVS), St. Thomas-the usual tourist spot with tons of jewelry shops, and St. Maarten/St. Martin. On this last island we took a van tour with 3 other couples-got it outside the port for $25/pp. It took us around the island-both sides-and was very good with an entertaining guide and a very good price as v. the ship's tour. The most interesting thing in St. Martin (the French side) was the Sarafina Pastry Shop-pastries and coffee tasted like Paris! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
CELEBRITY ECLIPSE East Caribbean Cruise December 10 -- 17, 2011 By Mary & Vincent Finelli 'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house there was hustle and bustle, so this review did not get done! 'Twas ... Read More
CELEBRITY ECLIPSE East Caribbean Cruise December 10 -- 17, 2011 By Mary & Vincent Finelli 'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house there was hustle and bustle, so this review did not get done! 'Twas the week after Christmas and all through the house there was hustle and bustle, so this review did not get done. 'Twas Jan. 1, 2012 and a New Year, so with resolution we now attack the job; it will get done. The Celebrity Eclipse is a wonderful art experience. Since she is a sister ship to the Solstice, she is exact in every way except in her decorations. The art collection has been described like her name: Eclipse -- "rare and unexpected" as the book on Eclipse art says. The pieces of art have been selected to make the passengers look "stop and ponder." Featured is the art community of Miami; showcasing two artists per deck, one on port side and one on starboard. With each display there are unique points being made, for example, Miller's photos of what seems to be an eclipse are actually camera less shapes made directly onto photographic paper. Using this as a stepping off point will set passengers up for a unique and surprising art experience. Be careful what you think you are seeing may not be what you are seeing at all! EMBARKATION The Eclipse sails out of the Port of Miami, although it's about a one hour ride from Boca Raton, FL, security is much less time consuming than Ft. Lauderdale. Thus a similar amount of time is required. We arrived at 12:45pm, baggage drop off was rapid. Vincent used his walker and not his scooter. Even though 1:00pm was listed as boarding time, we were boarded immediately. We have Elite status; therefore, there was no waiting. Our stateroom 1524 Deck 11 was ready; we left our carry on luggage in the room and were off to the buffet of Roast Beef and Pop overs in the Oceanview Cafe` (deck 14 aft). THE SHIP As we remember, all the captains of the Celebrity ships we have met have been Greeks, so is this one on the Eclipse, Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis, who was born in Athens, Greece. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas. The Grand Foyer on Deck 3 had a wonderful gingerbread Church and winter scene. The church had three separate sections and two bell towers. The scent of gingerbread brought Mother's kitchen to mind. It was artfully adorned with lots of frosting and "snow"; the foreground had a miniature train and it was surrounded by miniature Christmas trees with many twinkling white lights. There were several mini house scenes and even a red mail box with Snoopy sleeping on top of it. The Atrium balconies on Decks 4 & 5 were festooned with green balsam garlands and clusters of gold and maroon balls. Everywhere were real red poinsettia plants and some areas were all white poinsettia plants --- just lovely. To travel on these fantastic cruise ships anytime is great, but at holiday time it's spectacular. Hotel Director Bernhard Stacher (Austria) and his staff set the tone on the Eclipse with very high standards. The sea is good to Bernhard and he gets younger looking every cruise. Even though we wrote a thorough description of her sister ship, the Solstice, here we will concisely review the Decks: Deck 2 houses the medical facility. Deck 3 has the lower level of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room with its fantastic ceiling of crystal balls and ship evoking shapes. Here are also Guest Relations, Shore excursions and the Passport Bar. Deck 4 has Celebrity Central, Entertainment Court and the Eclipse Theater. Here are also Cellar Masters Wine Room and three Bars: the Quasar, Martini Bar, and Crush. It also houses the Fortunes Casino, the shops on the Boulevard and the upper level of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room. Deck 5 has the upper level of the Eclipse Theater, the Art Gallery, Galleria Boutiques and the Photo Gallery. There are four lounges: Cafe al Bacio (coffee), Ensemble, Galleria Tastings, and Michael's Club. There are five restaurants: Bistro on Five (Creperie), Blu (Aqua Class reserved restaurant), Murano (specialty restaurant, French cuisine), Qsine (specialty restaurant, around the world cuisine), and the Tuscan Grille (specialty restaurant, Italian steakhouse). Deck 6 has the iLounge (Internet) and staterooms. Decks 7, 8, & 9 have all staterooms. Deck 10 has the Library with open stacks (24 hrs.) and staterooms. Deck 11 has a Relaxation Lounge and staterooms: mostly Suites, Concierge and Aqua Class staterooms. Deck 12 has passenger areas: Aqua Spa, Beauty Salon, the Persian Garden Pools, Solarium swimming Pools and Whirl Pools. Aft there are the Sky Suites and the Concierge Staterooms Deck 14 has two Bars, the Mast and the Oceanview, the Sky Conference Center and the Sky Observation Lounge. Midship is the Jogging Track and aft is the Oceanview Cafe`. Deck 15 has the Corning Hot Glass Show, the Lawn Club and Bocce field, the Fun Factory and the Video Arcade. Deck 16 is the Sun Deck. The ship is registered in Valletta, Malta. She had her Inaugural Season 2010; she weighs 122,000 tons; her length is 1,033 ft., beam is 121 ft. with a draft of 27 ft. and a cruising speed of 24 knots. Her occupancy is 2, 850 guests. CABIN Wheelchair accessible cabin #1524 (Aqua Class) is located forward on the starboard side. It has an automatic door opener with an extra wide door and a foyer with a place to park the wheelchair. When entering on the left is a huge bathroom with a large 4X4 ft. shower with fold up seat. And safety rails all around. Next is the queen size bed with flanking night stands: One drawer and a shelf and reading lamps. Then, there is a small beige love seat and a medium coffee table. When entering on the right there is a double wardrobe with ample room. Next, is a long desk/cabinet with six drawers, a personal safe, a refrigerator, a lighted mirror, a desk chair and a coffee table. The carpeting was Burberry, heavy on the maroon and our Steward was Fevon Gracias, who was always ready to help. The far wall is half window and sliding doors to the balcony which has two recliners, two stools and a table. Vincent uses the balcony frequently, he loves to relax, to contemplate and sometimes naps lulled by the ship's motion and the sound of the waves. He also enjoys star gazing and this time he was lucky to see some of the most bright shooting stars on late Tuesday evening. Later we learned that it was the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower. FOOD AND SERVICE Service under Hotel Director Bernard is excellent. We travelled Aqua Class with our own special Dining Room "Blu." This restaurant is dedicated to healthy, inventive offerings (reminiscent of chef Todd English). The portions are medium to small; just the way we like them, since we are more tasters than eaters. The Blu manager is Alex , whom we met on the Solstice. Maitre D' is Marcel (Slovakia) and Asst. Maitre is Viorel (Romania). The Sommelier is Krish (Mauritius). Our waiters were Gede (Indonesia) nad Renata (Macedonia). This friendly International group made our week at table #855. Blu is decorated exactly like the one on Solstice except the dominant color there was cobalt blue and here it is ruby red. Not as stunning as the blue, but still lovely. The breads are excellent and hot: crispy bread sticks, French bread, olive rolls, dark ryes and some sweet ones too. Practically, there are just four courses: appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts. Eating in Blu was pleasant and quiet. On the second Formal Night Bernard invited us to the Captain's table in the Moonlight Sonata and we were struck by the fact that the main Dining Room was so active and high spirited. It was fine for one night, but the next night we truly appreciated the calm and relaxing atmosphere of Blu! I guess we are starting to show our age. We dined in the Tuscan Grill ($30 cover charge) and enjoyed it. The menu is new, the Maitre d' Jorge is from Portugal and his Asst is Erkan from Turkey. There is an offering of eight or so appetizers. Mary tried the crab cake and a carpaccio of mango and octopus, and Vincent the prosciutto and an arugula salad with fried mozzarella. For entrees Vincent took the perfectly cooked filet Mignon and Mary the Veal cutlet done Milanese style with mushrooms and truffle sauce, buonissimo. Our waiters were Peter (Hungary) and Mehomet (Turkey) and the Sommelier was Maria (Serbia). Service was terrific and the entrance of walking under giant wine casks sets an expectation for a special night, and it was. ENTERTAINMENT On board activities are under the supervision of Cruise Director Mike Gibbons whose interesting background in music and performance makes him a hit! On this ship , in addition to the usual cruising activities, such a dance parties, pool games, trivia, bingo, casino gambling, etc., there is an interaction between officers and passengers which includes challenges of officers versus guests in Bocce games (Lawn Club, deck 15), Pool Volleyball (deck 12), etc.... Also there was a Star Gazing party on the Lawn Club conducted by officer Andrew. The List of Activities published in Celebrity Life is so extensive that you can be very busy throughout the cruise, so we are very fussy in selecting some interesting ones and dedicate the most of our time to relaxing and enjoying "il dolce far niente" (the sweet do nothing). We also enjoyed chatting with a few officers at the Captain's Circle Party, the Environmental Officer Andrew Mott (Worcester, Mass.), Financial Controller Fani Kechagia (Greece) and Resources Officer Mario Valentino (Canada). All of them are courteous, helpful and interesting people, easily interacting with passengers. "Celebrity Showtime" in the Eclipse Theater has been on par with our expectations, but the one show we enjoyed best was that of the singer impressionist Paul Tanner: a great voice and terrific impersonations of Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. We heard that comedian Al Ducharme was really hilarious in several performances throughout the cruise, unfortunately his shows were so late at night that we missed them all. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Miami, FL USA Depart 4:30 pm Day 2. At Sea Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 3:00 pm Depart 11:00 pm Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 5. St. Maarten, Antilles Arrive 8:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 6. At Sea Day 7. At Sea Day 8. Miami, FL USA Arrive 7:00 am DEBARKATION We had an early breakfast at Blu Restaurant and at eight o' clock we went to the Bistro to get wheelchair assistance for debarkation. It was all so very simple and expeditious that we were on our way home by nine o'clock. CONCLUSIONS This was another great cruise. There has been insinuations by some readers that our reviews are not critical enough, since they contain only a few negative points and bias for the special treatments we receive from officers and crew. And this is somewhat true: How could we write a negative criticism when we have had a great cruise, where everybody made us feel very special, where everything we desired we received? Naturally, our demands are reasonable and we know what to expect when we book a cruise on a given ship. This was our 93rd cruise and by now we know well many cruise lines and their ships. Thus, we know what to expect from most of them and we can choose our cruises accordingly to our desires and preferences. Furthermore, since in the last few years we both have had to deal with limited mobility and need a wheelchair accessible cabin, we cruise only with those lines which do best to accommodate disabled passengers. In the past we have raised issues about availability, location, comfort of accessible cabins with several cruise lines, but only some of them have heard our plea by making their new ships more wheelchair-friendly (i.e., Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian), while some others have ignore the problem (i.e., Costa, Carnival and Holland American). Actually, there is something that can be improved even in this ship: The gangway at the entry point to the ship on deck 5 is a bit too steep for Mary's wheelchair pedals thus she had to be helped to access the ship. Our next cruise is on one of our very favorite ships, the Oasis of the Seas, Jan. 21st, 2012. We sailed on the Oasis in Dec. 2010 for the inaugural cruise, thus we look forward to spend our wedding anniversary on this fabulous giga ship. We have also booked a cruise on the MSC Poesia for Feb. 18th, and this is a new cruise line we want to experience. Happy cruising! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We're fairly experienced cruisers and enjoy luxury cruises. This was our first Celebrity cruise and our expectations were high. Celebrity did not disappoint. The Eclipse is a gorgeous ship. The interior design work on the ship, ... Read More
We're fairly experienced cruisers and enjoy luxury cruises. This was our first Celebrity cruise and our expectations were high. Celebrity did not disappoint. The Eclipse is a gorgeous ship. The interior design work on the ship, the fabrics, furnishings, linens and attention to detail on this ship was second to none that I've sailed with prior to this. The ship is well laid-out and it's easy to find everything. We had a CC stateroom and enjoyed this level of service. The upgraded linens were very beautiful and comfortable. The bed was very comfortable. The shower was very roomy and had rounded glass doors. There was ample storage space for clothes and suitcases. We ate at the MDR only once for dinner (New Year's Eve dinner only). We prefer the other dining options and thoroughly enjoyed Murano three times and the Tuscan Grille three times. I would recommend either of these choices for a great dining experience and exceptional service. The cruise director was great! There were so many great options of activities for all age levels and interests each and every day that if you couldn't find something to do, then it was your fault. We enjoyed a bocce tournament and golf putting tournament at the Lawn Club. It was great to have a real grass area at sea. We also enjoyed the fitness facilities and I took two Pilate classes that were well done. The shows were excellent. There was a Cirque du Soleil type show that was truly exceptional. The Eclipse singers and dancers were by far the best that I've seen at sea. We enjoyed every show. I didn't stay up to see the comedians but I heard that they were good. Our ports of call included San Juan, St. Martin and St. Kitts. St. Martin was truly gorgeous. We took an excursion to Orient Beach and had a great day. San Juan was okay. We took a city tour and saw a historic fort St. Kitts was fun and the people of St. Kitts were very nice. We took a catarmaran ride and a train ride to see quite a bit of this pretty island. The staff on the Eclipse were all wonderful. Our stateroom attendant, Racquel, was a true sweetheart and she brought us fresh fruit and flowers each day. Our room was always spotless. The Murano and Tuscan Grille staff were exceptional. We will book with Celebrity again. We were impressed and had a great vacation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew into Miami a day early and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel, we ended up heading to South Beach for a little night life which I would recommend, what was really nice about the Sheraton besides the fact that it seems to be a fresh ... Read More
We flew into Miami a day early and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel, we ended up heading to South Beach for a little night life which I would recommend, what was really nice about the Sheraton besides the fact that it seems to be a fresh remodeled hotel is that they let us stay until 1:00pm which gave us the much needed rest after being out late and getting ready for our cruise. Embarkation - A+: We chose to book concierge class which gave us priority embarkation, since we were out late we chose to show up at the 1:30 pm recommended time and were on the ship in less than 5 minutes, with the priority embarkation we had no line and were able to walk to the counter and get checked in. Concierge Class Room - A: Our stateroom was more than adequate, the balcony was fantastic, the bathroom was twice as large as our previous cruise ships bathroom and the room looked perfect, we also had a complimentary bottle of champagne and fruit bowl which was a nice add on to the concierge class, the only thing which was a little lacking was the drawer space and the closet, there is plenty of additional storage through out the room to compensate though. Ocean View Cafe - A+: We found the Ocean View Cafe to be a much better set up than the windjammer on RCCL, the food selection was great, the drink selection was also much better than in the windjammer. The atmosphere of the Ocean View cafe was very vibrant and fun, yet very luxurious. Side Note: We decided to add one premium beverage package to our room, we made this worth it though I do have to say if you don't plan on drinking more than 8 drinks a day then look at a different package or no package at all. Adding the package definetly gives you the ability to have no restrictions but after several days of drinking we started to wonder if we could have done with out it. Bars & Lounges - A: The bars on the ship are awesome, especially the ice bars, I have no complaints about the bars, we did run into an issue with a bar tender mouthing off about us ordering a drink and not wanting to cover it under our premium package, if it was not for this I would rate it an A+. Moonlight Sonata - A+: We chose the 8:30 seating but ended up changing midway through the cruise to a my time dining scenario due to a large group of children being seated next to us initially, this was nice because we were able to see different dining room areas and different staff (we had prepaid gratuities which is required to do my time dining). The food was the most consistent and great tasting I have seem considering we ate there 7 nights in a row. This comes from a standard of eating regularly at high end restaurants. The other nice option was customization, on RCCL ships you get what the menu says and that is it, on Celebrity your meal is made for you, because of the quality and daily menu changes we felt no need to try any of the specialty venues. Nightlife - A: For a cruise ship the nightlife was a good scene, I am not sure if the holiday cruise helped evolve this though it typically did not get going until after 12:30am, not the cruise ships fault at all, just I believe they may be able to do something to help get the night life going a little earlier. Casino - A-: After the shows let out the casino was always full yet they didn't have all the table games open, it is a very nice casino with plenty of slot machines and was open the rest of the ship so it did not feel confined or separate from the cruise ship, I just wish they had all the table games open so we were able to play a little more. Entertainment - A+: The entertainment on this ship was fantastic, after spending thousands of dollars at shows in Las Vegas the entertainment was almost worth the the cost of the cruise alone. The evening shows were some of the best we have seen, the comedian was one of the funniest we had ever seen and the singers were some of the best we had seen live. The cruise director was very involved and really made things spectacular! Public Areas - A+: There is so many nice spaces on this ship, we were able to do different things everyday, the ship looks brand new and is always being maintained. The pool area is very spacious and there is enough going on to keep the area active but also large enough to have peace as well. Service - A+: We were very happy with the service on the ship, we ran into a couple little issues, but nothing that would not be expected when the amount of service is being provided to you by so many people on a daily basis. Celebrity Cruises really does have a good staff running their ship! Enrichment: There was so many different options for enrichment including specials on the tv in regards to the ship, from all the options and the things that we had noticed going it did seem there were a lot of things the be involved in, we just chose to not. Fitness & Recreation: We did not partake in any of these options though there were plenty available. Cruise Overall - A+: Celebrity Cruises has really set the bar here, I don't know how it can be topped but they have definetly earned a repeat customer! We will be recommending this cruise ship & cruise line to everyone we know. We booked this fantastic cruise through cruise.com which prepaid our gratuities and gave us an onboard credit, they were great to work with and made our booking experience fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our 40th cruise. We were looking for a New Year experience and we got more than we paid for. This ship and crew were outstanding. It was a typical soltice, celebrity expereience. The new ships are beautiful, easy to get around and ... Read More
This was our 40th cruise. We were looking for a New Year experience and we got more than we paid for. This ship and crew were outstanding. It was a typical soltice, celebrity expereience. The new ships are beautiful, easy to get around and do not seem as big as they are. This particular cruise the dining in the main dining room was the best we have ever been on. Celebrity has made some minor changes in their menus and it was all for the better. We have always thought it has been good. We did the Tuscan speciality restaurant the first night and that was great. Then we went to regular dining but chose select for the first time. We were so happy with that we did not go back to another speciality restaurant. We will try the new restaurant on our next cruise. Since we have elite status on Celebrity we do get to meet many crew staff and all are very helpful and friendly. We also go to Micheals everyday for the free cocktail party where we meet many experienced cruisers. We also have thins status with Princess but the do not have this perk. The perks with Celebrity and RCCL are the best in the industry. We also frequented the Martini bar and other bars that have entertainment in the evening between shows. This is what separates Celebrity from HA and Princess. The entertainment on this cruise was spectacular. There were two groups that played party music, guitar player, barber shop quartet, and strings group. All were great. The shows were very good and comparable to other celebrity cruises. The did have one new show with some new music which was great. They also had a special Christmas show done at two in the afternoon which was exceptional. The cruise director and all star singers and groups played. We really enjoyed this show. We cannot say enough about how good everything was on this cruise. There is usually something to complain about but not on this ship. One last thing, the disembarkation experience was so good. We signed up to walk off at 745 am and did just that. We were in our car leaving for home at 803am. What a great experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Room #1544 AQ HOTEL: We did a 2 day precruise at the Hilton, Penn Station. We booked a 1 bedroom Junior Suite. The concierge lounge was not open on the weekend, but we were told that we would be allowed to eat at the breakfast buffet ... Read More
Room #1544 AQ HOTEL: We did a 2 day precruise at the Hilton, Penn Station. We booked a 1 bedroom Junior Suite. The concierge lounge was not open on the weekend, but we were told that we would be allowed to eat at the breakfast buffet since there was no breakfast service in the concierge lounge. We were given a coupon at check in, that allowed us to dine in the hotel's restaurant for breakfast. We enjoyed their buffet (normally priced at $17 per person) and found the service to be friendly and efficient. ***AVOID ONBOARD TOURS AT ALL COSTS WHILE IN NYC!!*** We were booked for their 'See It All Tour' and 'See The Lights (Holiday Lights) Tours'. Our booking specialist, Christa, assured us that OnBoard Tours has a special arrangement with the Hilton hotel at Penn Station in New Jersey, for pick up of their passengers. We were told to be downstairs, outside if possible (weather permitting) at 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM. At 11:20 AM, I knew something wasn't right. I called OnBoard Tours and was told that the driver was running late, but that they were on their way to pick us up. After numerous calls and endless run arounds from OnBoard Tours' representatives, we finally figured out that Christa had lied to us and in fact, there was NO hotel pick up service offered for the Hilton at Penn Station in New Jersey (and yes, we do have a printed email from OnBoard Tours, stating the name of our hotel with the pick up date and time, so we were clearly not the ones that were confused!). Embarkation: Per the recommendation of the bell captain at Hilton Penn Station, we used a town car service (booked at the bell captain's desk -- super easy!, to get from the hotel to Cape Liberty for boarding. The fare was approximately $47, including tip, for two of us with 9 pieces of luggage. The drive took about 25 minutes and was so easy! The reps at Bayonne that represent Celebrity, did a GREAT job of getting us checked in. We love the new process of getting your photo taken at check in instead of with the security guys. This speeds things up and is more pleasant. We were on board around 11:30 AM (did not really like having to take the busses from the terminal to the ship, but it wasn't a huge 'deal breaker', just annoying). We went straight to Bistro on Five. This is the best way to spend a leisurely afternoon, when you board early. You can easily spend 90 minutes enjoying lunch and GREAT service, for $5.00 per person cover charge! A bargain!! Cabin: We booked AQ 100% because of Blu. We had dined in Blu on our Solstice cruise, and even though we prefer a SkySuite or Celebrity Suite, we don't want to take the chance of having to go back to the MDR due to lack of space in Blu (Suite guests are on a 'space available basis' plus $5 surcharge to dine in Blu). That being said, we were semi pleased with our AQ standard balcony cabin. We are a mom/daughter traveling duo that do NOT travel lightly! Between us, we had 5 medium to LARGE size suit cases, plus cosmetics, plus all of our hair care stuff, etc...etc... You get the picture! The layout of the cabin was OK for us....The cabin is smaller than was expected and the storage is LIMITED, like all of the reviewers before me have stated, but you don't really appreciate how limited the storage is, until you and all of your luggage show up and the unpacking begins. Three drawers?! Celebrity, are you kidding?! The bathroom drawers are so small, that literally, you cannot even put your toothbrush in any of them, since it won't fit! Shower is nice (small, but nice). The showers in Aqua Spa are very nice, so if you find the cabin bathroom shower to be too tiny to deal with, then grab your robe and head up to the Aqua Spa. Showers are free and very nice/spacious. Linens in the cabin: FABULOUS!! Loved the down comforter, the crispy sheets, the squishy pillows (never did find the pillow menu!) and the great big bath towels. Service: Our cabin steward and his assistant were OK. I know that they are worked to the bone and I try hard to be respectful of that. Most days, our cabin was not cleaned until at least Noon. One day, we came back at 2 PM and our steward asked us to please give him just 15 minutes more, to get our beds made. Yes, it's not the end of the world...not even close, but it's a shame that Celebrity seems to have cut back on staffing so the current staff members are worked so hard. I do have to give a 'shout out' to Celebrity. We mentioned to our steward's assistant, Ping, that our zipper on a piece of luggage had been broken by the airlines. He said that he would take it to the ship's upholstery shop and would see if they could fix/repair/replace the broken zipper. Well -- two days later, the suitcase showed up and was in GREAT shape with its' brand new zipper! Thanks Celebrity -- that was a very nice thing for you to do (and for not charging me for it!). Dining: Well -- this is so subjective, that I truly hesitate to even comment. What I will say is that if you have simple tastes and don't like hoity toity / uppity menus, you will struggle in Blu (or the MDR). We were so discouraged, every night, with the menus. Not sure why Celebrity feels it's necessary to have menus that nearly require a dictionary or Thesaurus to interpret! I don't eat red meat/pork or much seafood, so it was a bit tough on me. I ended up doing some version of shrimp cocktails, chicken and veggies, along with French Onion Soup and Blue Cheese Wedge salads or Caesar Salads, Crème Brulee, most nights. On the very last day of the cruise, I learned from a fellow passenger, that Celebrity will deliver the menus from the MDR and BLU to your cabin, the night before, so you can determine what the best choices will be for you, if you are a picky eater. This is something that I would have appreciated knowing on Day 1, not on Day 13! Oh well... live and learn. Room Service: Very good (not the apple pie! That is the worst pie, ever!!! Avoid it all costs!). Service was fast (about 20-30 minutes and food, including French fries, arrived hot). Pastries/Sweets: OK... Am I the only living soul that detests Celebrity's pastries? These must be the worst, on any ship! Not sure if X just doesn't put enough sugar in them, or if the executive chefs just want us to avoid them all together, but they are truly awful... The cookies have the taste of cardboard and are simply horrible. On a happier and more positive note, the ice cream on X is so yummy! Princess has horrible 'bug spray tasting' ice cream, so I am appreciative that X gives us high quality frozen yogurt and hand scooped ice cream. Also, there is self service soft serve frozen yogurt (various flavors) available at the Mast Grill, Aqua Spa Cafe and the Ice Cream bar in the Ocean View Cafe. Speaking of the Mast Grill, if the not so friendly cooks tell you that they do not have turkey or chicken burgers, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! I was told that it was hot dogs or hamburgers ONLY. Well, on day 12, I chatted with the head chef and politely asked him why X doesn't have turkey or chicken at the Mast Grill... he looked at me w/ this puzzled look and said that is absolutely not the case. The French fries at the Mast Grill are GREAT! A great snack when coming back on board after a long day of shore excursions!! Entertainment: Well... like dining, the opinion someone has re: the entertainment, is very subjective. I found the entertainment to be between a 'B' and 'A-' . The dancers/singers were new to the ship, and even though they didn't miss their notes, or the words to the songs, it just seemed like the performances were strained. The Cirque show was interesting. The theater fills up at least 30 minutes before the show starts, so DON'T BE LATE IN GETTING THERE TO GET YOUR SEATS, or you will be sorry (and standing!). Shore Excursions: We did the Swim with Stingray and Kayak adventure in Antigua. Excellent!! I do wish we had been told to bring our credit card or some $$$, since they had our photos for sale, but none of us had our money or credit cards with us, to pay for them. Bummer! The tour was great and Sting Ray City in Antigua is NOT to be missed, if you enjoy seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat (aka the ocean!). LABADEE: We rented a private OVER THE WATER BUNGALOW. Matt (concierge on board) told us that our $200 fee would include a butler that would bring us our lunches, drinks and our swim mats. Well...that was sort of true. There was a butler. He did show up and told us where the cooler was that had bottled water in it. When lunch time rolled around, we asked him how we were supposed to place our order with him. He gave us the deer in the headlights look and said that we needed to go and get our own lunch. Not the end of the world, obviously, BUT, since our expectations had been set that we were paying for some seriously nice treatment, we expected a different experience. If you do rent an over the water bungalow/cabana, make sure that you reserve #4 or #3, or you will most likely NOT be over the water. Also, you need to reserve it immediately on embarkation, or you will not get one. They only have 4 of them, so they go quickly. Also, if you have an Ipod with music on it, BRING IT! There is electricity in the cabana/bungalow and having some music would have been great!! Also, the buffet was truly awful, the worst chicken shish kabobs ever, so you may want to bring some fruit and snacks from your cabin. I did hear from some fellow ship mates, that the hamburgers were some of the very best, however. There are NO blended drinks on Labadee, so if you have your heart set on a Pina Colada, it's not going to happen. ST. CROIX: The ship docks on the opposite side of the island from all of the major shopping, so you are forced to take a $16 per person taxi cab ride, if you want to shop. There are lots of 'flea market' type of open air shopping (tshirts/tote bags/inexpensive jewelry) at the dock/pier area. We did the Buck Island Snorkel tour/excursion in St. Croix. Ick! The worst snorkeling EVER! We snorkeled in waves that were approximately 4-6 feet high! We all asked the boat captain what was up with bringing us to this truly awful and unpleasant snorkeling place and he simply responded that this was normal and just basically 'get over it'. There was not one morsel of food, only rum punch. Well, after boating for an hour each way, a 30 minute bus ride, 60 minutes of terrifying snorkeling in huge waves, you do get hungry! Wouldn't it have been considerate of Celebrity to tell us to take some fruit or a snack with us, on our excursion? Yes, I know that lunch was not included, but a gentle reminder to bring a snack, would just be nice. Needless to say, after a boatload of us consumed too much rum on the way back to the pier, it made for an interesting bus ride back to the ship. On Board Shopping: Wow! I was (pleasantly) a bit shocked! We actually found the jewelry to not only be a fabulous selection, but the majority of the prices, were fair to very good. We are BIG shoppers of nice jewelry in St. Thomas and St. Marteen and know our pricing for gem stones/gold/etc... Well - the ship's jewelry shop did not disappoint. There was a very nice Effy brand diamond ring that they had priced for about $1800. The exact same ring at the Effy store in St. Marteen was nearly $2500! This was after negotiating with the sales rep at the St. Marteen Effy store. When I told him that the same ring was in the ship's jewelry store, for $700 less, he told me that it must be 'old' and they are just trying to get rid of it. Hello?! It's not milk or eggs... it's gold and diamonds... I don't think it really has an expiration date! Casino: Played the slots and went up and down. All in all, I probably either broke even or made about $20. We had fun and enjoyed our time in the casino, but like all casinos, it can drain you quickly, if you're not careful. I also participated in the Slot Tournament and that was fun. I did not win, but it was a fun way to spend an hour for $25.00 Bringing Wine/Alcohol On Board: I packed two boxes of 'Black Box' wine (Cab & Merlot), plus, three small to medium size rum runners with Baileys and Cherry Vodka. Fortunately, Cape Liberty isn't as 'nosey' as the port in Ft. Lauderdale and/or Miami... (have had to go to the naughty room on Deck 2 on our last Solstice cruise!) and the cocktails and wine made it on board w/o a hitch. Whew! I had already planned to buy the Beverage Package (nearly $800 for this cruise! Yikes!) if my rum runners had not made it on board, and boy oh boy, after the rough seas on our first 2-3 days where all I could stomach, was peppermint tea, I am so happy that I didn't buy the beverage package! Talk about a bummer... feeling sea sick and knowing the drink timer is running at nearly $60 per day and not being able to consume a cocktail. That being said, I would highly recommend to anyone going on a cruise where the seas might be a bit rocky, to NOT buy a beverage package until you are underway and see how it's going to go. I have been on a LOT of cruises and have never, ever been sea sick. For some reason, this cruise was very tough on me (waves were 9-15 feet on any given open sea day while in the Atlantic). Thank goodness X gave free sea sick tablets out at Guest Relations. Whew! SEE IT ALL TOUR ($150 PER PERSON) After doing this on HAL, we had high hopes for this 'behind the scenes tour'. We were met by Matt, the very friendly concierge, on the last sea day, at the Sky Bar at 10:20 AM. We were told that we would not be allowed to see the engine room due to security reasons. Ok...not the end of the world. Then, we were told that we wouldn't get to go to the mooring area due to high seas... OK, also not the end of the world. When we asked our tour guide, Sergio (hotel manager) if we would receive anything special (HAL and Princess both give lovely gift bags and presents!) at the end of our tour, he informed us that we would be treated to lunch in the MDR. Hello! It's a cruise! Isn't lunch already included?! No worries -- we were still happy to be on the tour, just a bit surprised that X did not research what the other lines are doing and follow suit. The 'See It All Tour' consisted of about 30 minutes in the bridge with the Captain and some of his officers. Then, backstage at the theater with the lead singer, Dante, for about 15 minutes, to tour their costume changing area, dressing rooms, etc. After that, it was down to the deck zero area that the crew calls 'I-95' (this references the long hallway that the crew uses to move all of our food and supplies from one end of the ship to the other). We were allowed to see the crew's library and internet room, as well as the crew bar and crew gym. We did not get to see any crew sleeping quarters for all of the obvious reasons. The tour also took us to one of the galleys, the liquor storage areas, a couple of different coolers and some type of engineering control room. It lasted about 3 hours including lunch in the MDR (Celebrity did include red or white wine by the glass at lunch). Are we glad we did it? Yes... Do we feel like we were over charged for this tour with NO gifts at the end? YES... $75 would have been much more reasonable for a price. Disembarkation: ICK! Bayonne and those busses are simply awful on disembarkation day! Also, not only do these awful busses add at least 30-40 minutes to the entire process, but there are basically no porters to help you with your luggage. We desperately needed a porter and honestly, there was not one to be found. We ended up schlepping our own bags (all nine of them!!) and vowed to avoid Bayonne at all costs, in the future, until they get rid of those silly busses and allow us to walk to the ship. Once we got through Customs, and boarded a shuttle to Newark Airport, things smoothed out. It takes approximately 15 minutes (without traffic) to get from the pier to the Newark airport. Also, the Newark airport is so friendly! If you need anything, just ask anyone wearing the red coats. The work for the airport and are truly nice people. Also, they will NOT accept any tips. Incredible... They helped us with our baggage when we flew into Newark, helped us with the Airtrain and with finding our hotel's shuttle service. Each time we offered a gratuity to our 'Red Coat Angel' they always politely declined. Wow... Overall, this was a nice trip. This was one of the FRIENDLIEST CRUISES I have ever been on. My fellow passengers were so sweet and nice & there was never a dull dinner conversation. People in the buffet and the theater were always quick to say hello and strike up a friendly conversation. Maybe it was the fact that we were on the ship together for nearly 2 weeks, so that made people more 'willing' to bond with you....or maybe it's just the large East Coast fellow travelers that are just nice to begin with, or a combination of both... Whatever the reason, I was so happy to see that the ship was filled with friendly, enthusiastic fellow passengers. Will I sail with X again? Yes... But, I am probably going to cancel my Reflection Cruise for 12/2012... Celebrity is a wonderful product, but we are going to try Allure of the Seas and see if we find the food to be better and more 'normal'. I know this makes us 'odd', that we don't get super excited about this high brow food / dining experience, but that just isn't our thing. We are sailing in the Grand Suite on Sapphire Princess to Alaska in Sept. 2012 and even though I know the food (and ice cream!) won't be as good as Celebrity, we are paying nearly what a decent balcony or Sky Suite on Celebrity would have cost. When you consider that Princess gives their suite guests such amazing benefits, the price is very fair. Wish Celebrity would spoil their suite guests a bit more like the other main line cruise lines do. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband and I have sailed with Celebrity since it's inception from the late 80's inaugural voyage on the Horizon as well as the other Chandris ships. Celebrity at that time had a fine reputation for luxury as well as fine ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed with Celebrity since it's inception from the late 80's inaugural voyage on the Horizon as well as the other Chandris ships. Celebrity at that time had a fine reputation for luxury as well as fine dining. Also, the convenience of leaving from New York as we live on Long Island was a plus. However, as newer luxury lines came into play such as Crystal, Silversea and Seabourn, we veered away from Celebrity.Being that this was a new ship and being homeported in Bayonne made it an attractive offer. The feedback from other reviews regarding embarkation and disembarkation were totally correct, so I won't go into detail here. As we were able to drive to the port made it a little easier, although I feel Celebrity should really step up their procedures as ships with the same amount of passengers as well as luggage do much better. The ship itself looks very pleasing to the eye but overall service and quality throughout has greatly deteriorated. All their new additions such as cabanas, lawn club area and specialty restaurants take up so much valuable space that could be better utilized for passenger enjoyment. I for one do not need to sit on real grass on a cruise ship as I can do that at home for nothing. As for specialty dining, Celebrity has caved into the competitive market and not for the better. All food in those venues has recently disappeared from the main dining which used to set itself apart from other cruise lines for quality, type and preparation as well as presentation. All of those things are gone from Celebrity. The Terrace Cafe needs a complete overhaul regarding staffing, availability of tables as well as cleanliness. We observed many children as well as adults picking up food with their hands and nothing was done to address this. As a result, my husband and I never forward to any meals that we had there. Main dining room was a little bit better as we had fixed seating and the same wait staff every time. Quality of food was minimal at best and foods such as lobster tail and the usual luxury fare was almost non existent. Other venues such as The Bistro and The Porch offered not much better and for an additional charge. Celebrity needs to upgrade it's offerings without additional charges if they expect to retain the same guests coming back. We had quite a bit of feedback from repeaters and not for the better. As for the cabin accommodations they were pretty much standard for each category. The room sizes were much smaller and more contour so you felt somewhat crowded when you shouldn't have. Whomever designed storage space needs to have their examined as storage over a bed was totally ridiculous not to mention dangerous when there was ship movement. Entertainment was a valiant attempt to put on a good show but somehow lacked substance. Celebrity is down in this category as well. I give a 5+ to Captain Nicholas Pagonis as he was the only positive in an otherwise negative experience. He was most visible and personable each and every time he spoke. I would would love to sail with him again. A job well done. The staff in general was accommodating and always with a smile on their face. I think Celebrity is ahead in this category. The most disappointing feature was the fact that this was a Christmas and New Years sailing with 600 children on board. Needless to say they were not well behaved or supervised by their parents and as a result were left to ride the elevators and also running down the hallways at all hours of the day and night. Totally unsupervised and not at all called for. I feel that Celebrity did not enforce rules and as a result many cruise passengers had a totally disappointing cruise. In summary I will say that this was one of the most disappointing cruises with Celebrity and in all truthfulness would rather sail on other luxury ships where the focus is on the passenger rather than a child. I did neglect to mention that the rules regarding the adult pool were not enforced as well as the main pool was not always clean and sanitary the way it should have been. Many days we observed toddlers in the water with diapers falling off. Needless to say we did not utilize the pools. Enough said. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
I do not know how to begin to review this cruise other than it was very un-expected and changed the whole tone and mood of the cruisers on this trip. First, lets take care of business and let you know that this ship is about 9 months ... Read More
I do not know how to begin to review this cruise other than it was very un-expected and changed the whole tone and mood of the cruisers on this trip. First, lets take care of business and let you know that this ship is about 9 months old, so mostly everything works and it is of high quality, and the crew and captain have been hand picked from the best of other vessels. The cabin is spacious, well distributed, many have balconies, with decent size and good furniture. Flat screen TV's, plenty of hot water, toiletries, minibar ... etc as expected. The cabin attendant was always smiling, provided us with information, attention and care. Plenty of food venues, from the plentiful buffet, great burgers on sun deck, specialty restaurants galore and many other options. The main traditional dining was excellent too, no need to go to specialty, unless you are dying for superb sushi or other exceptional food experiences. In most port of calls we were the envy of other cruisers, since Silhouette had always out a welcome and departure service point with cold drinks, ice towels and even sofas to rest if you needed it. For the un-usual cruise experience, this trip departed 12/24/11 thru 1/5/12, and the almost 3000 passenger capacity was booked solid. We expected mostly US travelers and this was not the case, there were plenty of Brits, Mexicans, Russians, US, Germans, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Latin Americans. In addition, it seems that a lot of people had the same idea at the same time, so there were plenty of families with children. The Ship carried between 600 and 700 children of all ages and they had plenty of opportunity to socialize or follow the activities designed for them, and you could review on your TV screen if you wanted to! In addition, we traveled with our son 23, the cabin phone kept on ringing from new friends, when he decided to take a break from the activities and rest in the cabin for a while, asking him to come out and join the fun! I have never seen so many passengers running thru the halls at the same time (other than in a sinking ship!), when the announcements from the PA system let them know that Santa had arrived on the ship and was making his rounds on all decks starting on deck 14. We also even enjoyed two new year's eve, since the ship crossed the time zone at 12:15am and rolled the clocks to 11:15pm and had another new year's eve for 2012. We run into friends on Amadea bound for Lima, Peru in St. Martin and out of the 1460 cruisers there was not a single child on board. They could not understand how we could cope with 600+ children on our ship without going nuts, it must be miserable to travel like that and we disagreed completely. Actually I never knew how much more pleasant our trip could be, having all these mini-cruisers having a blast on board of a superb ship catering to all their needs. Great Going Silhouette, if anybody can do babysitting in style you can! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Before I start and give my review of this cruise, I would just like to tell you my travelling companion and I have worked in the travel industry for over twenty years and we have both held senior positions on cruise ships in the past. ... Read More
Before I start and give my review of this cruise, I would just like to tell you my travelling companion and I have worked in the travel industry for over twenty years and we have both held senior positions on cruise ships in the past. After embarking the ship in Istanbul for our Holy land cruise on the 6th of November we were amazed how quickly we got through the terminal and onto the ship. The welcome onboard glass of champagne went down like a treat and our party of 6 couldn't wait to go and explore what would be our new home for the next two weeks. Being Diamond Plus in the Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor programme we were matched across to Elite status with Celebrity's Captains Club. We were all looking forward to being made welcome and special like we have enjoyed and experienced many times in the past. Once on the ship at 1pm we were shepherd to the Seaside cafe on deck ten to have lunch. Having not cruised with Celebrity before I was somewhat dumb struck at the rat race and free for all that was happening right in front of me. Trying to push my father through the cafe in his wheelchair was near impossible. Passengers were just hitting each individual section of the buffet from left, right and centre causing ciaos and frustration for many people just wanting a simple lunch after a long day travelling. My first impression was "why is it taking so long"? 15 minute to wait to get a salad was bad enough but this was topped by a 10 minute wait to get a cup of coffee. I didn't mind too much telling people not to push in front of me but poor old dad with his walking sticks he had no chance at all. At this point all I could I think was, don't they do things different and why is everything from a packet of butter to a glass of water being served personally by a member of staff? All I could I do was reflect on what I had seen in the Seaside cafe and try and make sense of it as we waited to get the announcement at 3pm saying that our cabins were ready. We settled into our generously large outside cabin on deck 6 and found the decor pleasing and cabin spotlessly clean which it remained to be throughout the whole cruise. Nothing was too much trouble for our stateroom attendant and it was nice to be engaging with someone who really had a passion for their work. The evening meals in the main dining room were exceptional. The choices on the menu we found to be fresh and creative and it was joy to have such wonderful dishes served by two very enthusiastic and fun waiters. At dinner on the second night compliments were sent to the chef and to our surprise no other than the executive chef himself came to our table to thank us personally. We were asked if anyone had any questions they would like to ask. I asked the chef "what was happening at the lunchtime buffet"? He told us steps had been taken for staff to serve everything in the buffet as the ship had experienced a bug on the previous cruise and many people had been taken ill. At this point things did start to make sense we had thought the cruise line was going over the top showing over and over again on the TV how to wash your hands and how to prevent the spreading of germs and infections at sea. On the third day of our cruise two out of our party had been struck down with a bug and by the end of the first week four out of the six of us had been isolated with the unspeakable virus! Of course for their own reasons the officers were tight lipped when asked if the Norovirus was present on the previous cruise. At one point we were told 4 passengers had embarked the ship in Istanbul ill and this had caused the outbreak! To be honest with you, should we have known this prior to embarkation I think some of our party would have thought long and hard about going on a ship with such a terrible and painful virus as some of our travelling party have had fragile health of late like I guess most of the population of pensioners onboard the "Connie". After being released from isolation I found the free for all had continued in the Seaside Cafe and the attitude from some of the stripes still remained aloof, arrogant and still in denial of what was happening around them. Today, having only returned home late yesterday I cannot find it within me to thank Celebrity Cruises for showing me how I am actually able to projective vomit and experience the other things associated with the unspeakable bug. However, once I receive the "gesture of goodwill" compensation payment in the form of a future cruise credit of one lost day in isolation, my opinion might just change but I don't think it will it took us almost three days to come around after. I am more than aware I have been going on and on so I'm not going to go into details of the cold food and never once seeing a food thermometer, finding sinks full of vomit in public toilets and the inability of stripes to communicate with one another along with the disorganisation in the dining room for breakfast and lunch and, don't even get me started on the elegant afternoon tea. So, go on, ask me did I enjoy my cruise? Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Sorry about the length of this but we have a lot to say! It was clear from the start that the ship has medical problems - and not brought on in Istanbul by the current passengers as was suggested. Gel being dispensed everywhere, all food ... Read More
Sorry about the length of this but we have a lot to say! It was clear from the start that the ship has medical problems - and not brought on in Istanbul by the current passengers as was suggested. Gel being dispensed everywhere, all food and drink being served, continual hand washing instructions,no library books, cushions glasses ice buckets info folder all gradually disappearing from the cabins, etc. In spite of this many passengers and crew came down with the virus throughout the cruise - people did throw up pretty much everywhere - pool, busses, dining room, lifts, but the crew worked very hard continually cleaning and clearing up so the ship did stay clean.I did wonder about the instructions that if you got it you had to make your way through the whole ship to the medical centre on deck 1 - surely they should have stayed in their cabins and been visited by the doctor? We didn't get it (noro) but it felt like the sword of Damocles was hanging over us all the time. A couple of points - The hard working but "brassy" CD Sue Denning gave a daily briefing, but it was really the same every day, "Thank you and keep washing your hands". She continually said that she would tell us the truth, but the one thing wouldn't tell us was how many people were affected. We understood that it was 400 - 500 people. Also I wonder how much the crew are involved in spreading problems. I saw one of the panini servers wearing plastic gloves pick up a handful of crisps, put them in his mouth and then go on serving, cutting and spreading the bread. I immediately reported this to a manager but don't know what action was taken. To be fair I also saw an idiot passenger use the restroom and then go out without washing his hands! Ok, on to the rest. If you take trips in Israel my advice is to arrange your own. If you take ship tours it may say "shopping time" but you won't get it at the many interesting little shops you will walking by, no, you'll get it at the end in a very large isolated store where the tour guide gets 35% of everything you buy (and it's not cheap!)- get the picture? This happened on all 3 trips for us and we didn't like it - so no tip for the guide, they get quite enough!! Finally the best for us was the variety and quality of the music / entertainment. This was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise. There was music happening all over the ship including - The ships Song and Dance company - It was the last 2 weeks of their service and they were great. The shows were fantastic. Ship's Orchestra - they were excellent performing and backing other acts. Jefferson Ang - Guitar and singing in the coffee bar. 545 Express - acapella group and very good. Arabesque Trio - 2 violins and piano. Lovely classical music in one of the lounges. Great Ideas Party Band - fantastic atmosphere every night. To see the boy and girl singer both perform footloose (?) was really amazing. Pity they didn't have a CD to sell - I would have bought it! Perry Grant - singing and piano. Very entertaining, but I couldn't face seeing the same performance and comedy every night although quite a few did! The visiting entertainers - were all good but the absolute highlight for us was SAMANTHA JAY. What a talented lady this girl is. She plays the oboe, violin, saxophone and piano in a wonderful fast moving show with popular and classical music. She also seems a genuine and modest person - a real star! If you get the chance go and see her. So we did enjoy the cruise in spite of everything and hope that the deep clean (again)in Barcelona where they made everyone leave the ship (including back to back passengers)will do the trick. I think they are worried about not being allowed to dock in USA. I somehow doubt it will be enough though. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Arrived a day early and stayed at Hotel Borge del mare In Civi. which I recommend. Room is adequate for the one night and the food and service good. They have free shuttle service directly to the ship. Embarkation was quick after an ... Read More
Arrived a day early and stayed at Hotel Borge del mare In Civi. which I recommend. Room is adequate for the one night and the food and service good. They have free shuttle service directly to the ship. Embarkation was quick after an 11:30 arrival. Rooms were ready atv1 PM so we toured the ship and had lunch in the Ocean View Cafe. Room with balcony was very nice, storage was adequate, suitcases fit under the bed. Bathroom was best at sea in my experience. Nice flat screen TV. Steward was excellent and professional. Shined my shoes. Above average compared to other ships. Select dining stress free. Had reservation at 8 PM each night. No waiting and most of the time had same table and waiter/assistant so they knew our preferences. Wine steward was also same. Had Premium drink pkg and suggest it. With coffees/lattes, fresh orange juice, wine at lunch dinner, and cocktails in evening it more than pays for itself. Bottled water at gangway for shore excursions great. Food was very good, nothing is perfect but overall very satisfied. Ocean View Buffet was best I have encountered so far. Serving stations free up the cafeteria wait on other lines. Food was very good and wide variety. In Istanbul they had a large variety of Turkish dishes. Service was good. Getting custom omlettes was hard at times with long wait. Only one cook. Fresh juice was great, extra charge. Somewhat slow for picking up finished plates. Crowded on port days AM. Pick up you items and take them to your room, much nicer or order room service. Only did RS once, fast, hot, and quite good. Used TV to order, challenging but got used to it. Entertainment throughout the ship was very good. Main shows in theater were quite bad. I never finished an entire show. This is definitely a weak area. The Martin Bar and staff were great. They put on their own shows. Cruise Director Que was okay. I liked that there were few announcements throughout the day. Tuscan Grill great service and steak excellent. Recommend it. Silk Harvest not so good. Service was overbearing, rushed, and made us feel uncomfortable. Sashimi was terrible and we lost our appetite after that. Left early, no desert. Replace it with Quisine! Cancelled Murano we were too full. We heard great reviews from others. Will try next time. Ports were excellent. Athens to see the Acropolis was nice but city is dirty and taxi drivers try to cheat you each time, lookout for the switcheroo when you give them a 20 bill and they immediately have a 5 in their hand and say you only gave them a 5 note. Istanbul was great. Ephesus is a must see site. Sicily great and Amalfi Coast beautiful. Did private tours in all ports. Great service, small groups-6 to 10, and half the ship tour cost. Suggest Ephesus Shuttle for Istanbul and Ephesus. Taxi Taormina in Sicily. Aldo's limos in Naples. All were on time, vehicles spotless, and guides very professional. I find Celebrity a cut above Princess overall. The ships are sophisticated, well designed. Equinox is beautiful. If they can only improve on the Equinox Theater offerings it would help. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
we embarked on our cruise on 30th October 2011 from Southampton, the embarkation procedure took quite a long time but I guess we just arrived at a busy time, we had flown down to Gatwick and were met by a rep who showed us to a mini bus ... Read More
we embarked on our cruise on 30th October 2011 from Southampton, the embarkation procedure took quite a long time but I guess we just arrived at a busy time, we had flown down to Gatwick and were met by a rep who showed us to a mini bus and taken to the ship, our luggage was taken to the cabin. Once on board we found our way to the cabin, excellent, could not fault anything our cabin boy was Martin who quickly found us and explained who he was and if we needed anything he was there. The ship is absolutely first class, spotless in all areas, cannot find fault with anything even the glass lifts (elevators) not a finger print anywhere. You could always find a comfortable place to sit. The weather was not so good and the captain had to change course, we were kept informed at all times. we did not get to the Azores but better to be safe than sorry, we did however visit Gijon in Northern Spain a very pretty town and La Coruna which was within walking distance off the ship.We did not do any organised trips just made our own way to the towns and wandered around. We opted for first sitting in the Moonlight Sonata restauant and shared our table with 4 very nice friendly Americans, the ship was 90% American people who we found to be extremely nice. The food was always excellent a good choice avaliable and if you wanted something not on the menu (as one by us did) they were always accomodated. The waiters were great very friendly and efficient at all times. The wine waiter very good and kept the glasses filled up, we were on the premium package which made a big difference to us in that we could have almost any priced wines. The entertainment was first class and we always managed to find suitable seats with a good view in the theatre. The daytime activities were plentiful, my husband attende the lectures and thouroughly enjoyed them very interesting and informative. I attended the cookery demonstrations they were great fun especially the chef from Hungary, hilarious, you could not be bored on this ship. As we went further west the weather improved and we were able to sit outside on the decks, again spotless and plenty of space. The range of food available was tremendous the mast grill doing burgers and hot dogs was busy but really good. The Ocean view cafe was always busy and the only trouble was finding a space and keeping it so we usually went up for our food seperatly a bind at times but ok. The ice cream counter was usually 15 deep but worth waitng for ( the Americans really loved the ice cream. When we came to disembark we had to place our luggage outside the room the night before and we were given a time and place to go to our time was 9.00am, but as we were going to America I think the port authorities obviously do more checks as the crew had to go though a drill and this then held up our disembarkation, we were lucky in that we gor called off at 10.15am our luggage was waiting for us and we sailed through the US checks, outside the port we were shown to the bus and more or less taken to our hotel and arrived by 11.15am. I cannot recommend Celebrity X highly enough especially Eclipse Crew and Officers. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
About Us: We are married, in our early 40's and have cruised 4 times previously (RCI twice, HAL once, NCL once). As this was our first Celebrity Cruise I will be comparing some of the aspects of the ship against the other lines ... Read More
About Us: We are married, in our early 40's and have cruised 4 times previously (RCI twice, HAL once, NCL once). As this was our first Celebrity Cruise I will be comparing some of the aspects of the ship against the other lines we've cruised. Embarkation was fairly smooth, we were on the ship 45 minutes after arriving at the pier. An announcement was made about 1:15 that all the cabins were ready, and soon after most passengers discovered their room keys didn't work. Celebrity set up many make shift passenger services tables around the ship for everyone to turn in their original key card for a new key card (with lines of 20 plus passengers at each table). We overheard many people complaining about this for a few days. Ship: The ship is 4 months old, modern, well designed and sparkling clean. Although the Silhouette doesn't offer a promenade deck (where you could walk the entire perimeter of the ship outside) like other lines offer, I was impressed with the large variety of shady places to sit outside (on high quality, wooden deck chairs). Unlike RCI and NCL, there were also many places to sit outside where it was quiet. There are two banks of elevators, fore and aft. With the larger number of elderly passengers on board these would often time be full and we'd end up taking the stairs which was fine by us. Fellow Passengers: As the ship departed from Bayonne, NJ a large number of passengers were from the NYC area. I'd guess about 15 to 20% of the passengers were European, and well over 2/3 of the passengers were over 60. I recall previous Silhouette reviews had noted a large numbers of passengers on scooters with a penchant for running over other guests' feet and I was a bit leery of that possibility. On our cruise there were only a few scooters and I'm glad to report they all were driven responsibly and with respect for the other passengers. We met many great people of all ages. Interestingly several of them had been loyal (long time) HAL fans who had switched to Celebrity in the past few years for the better service they report Celebrity delivers. Staff: Fabulous, Celebrity really shines in this department. Our room attendant, Ozzy, kept our room spic and span, and was always available if we needed anything. All of our requests (extra towels, foot stool for our balcony) were taken care of immediately and with a smile. I can't say enough about him. Best room attendant we've encountered on our 5 cruises. Every staff member we encountered always made eye contact and asked us if there was anything else we needed. We also noted that there were always officers walking around the ship mingling with passengers, I don't recall seeing this on other lines. Room: We booked room 8226 (Category 1A), on the hump, for the sole reason the balcony is over twice the size of a standard balcony (book early, they sell out quickly). Ample storage space, great water pressure in the shower and more than enough room for the two of us. Each room has 2 bathrobes, a small bag and an umbrella (all of which are for sale but available for your use during the cruise). They also provide you with very large, high quality beach towels on port days. Bring a power strip as there are only two outlets (both located at the desk) to plug in your various items. Nice flat screen (27" or 32", I forget) TV where you could check your onboard account, order room service or look at photographs the staff had taken of you. Food: We ate in the main dining room 6 nights out of the 12 and found the food and service to be top notch. After missing a few nights (having gone to specialty restaurants) our waiter greeted us like long lost family and appeared somewhat nervous we had skipped the last few dinners due to something he had done wrong (it wasn't). I'm not a fan of the waiters parading around the dining room on the last formal night but I guess I'm in the minority on that one and it seems that all the mainstream cruise lines seem to be doing that. We were pleased with the food and service in the MDR. We tried 3 speciality restaurants: Murano, Qsine and The Lawn Club Grill (our favorite of the 3). We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet which provided a large selection of food (including fresh vegetables for salads). Sometimes it was difficult to find an open table at breakfast or lunch. We ordered room service once and our food was in our room within 20 minutes. Drinks: My husband and I both opted for the soda drink package (about $90 per person for the 12 night cruise) and were very pleased that we were given cans of soda with a glass of ice each time. I recall that RCL and NCL's soda packages require you take your plastic soda cup (that they give to you the first day) to the bar to be refilled (from the tap) - not only does this mean you must have that cup on hand any time you wanted a Coke but you had to clean the cup yourself. Not exactly the most sanitary route (but I'm sure RCL and NCL save money with this routine). Celebrity's soda package was a very good value (and includes Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Diet Sprite). Silhouette's Martini Bar was located right off of the Atrium and those bartenders were entertaining (check them out on You Tube) but also made great drinks (most martinis here were $10 plus 15% gratuity). A nice alternative was the Molecular Bar (on deck 5), they made some great martinis as well (very unique, these were $12 each plus the 15% gratuity). If you're a wine drinker you really have to check out the Cellar Masters (deck 4) where they have samples of all sorts of wine available to try out before you commit to an entire glass. We've not found this on any other cruise line; two more stars to Celebrity for this idea. Entertainment: We didn't go to any shows so I can't comment on those. The music onboard the Silhouette was very, very good. Unlike NCL (who follow the 'This is Spinal Tap' School of Music in that everything is played at 11 on a scale of 1 to 10), all the music on Celebrity was played at a reasonable level where you could actually speak to your neighbor at a normal tone of voice and hear what they said to you in response. There were also many movies available to view in your room (and one daily in the theatre) at no cost. Gym: Stocked with 'Life Fitness' brand treadmills and eliptical machines, weight machines and free weights. Other than the first full day there were always machines available. There is a smaller aerobics room that was being used the majority of the time for classes or seminars so I found I had to do my stretches and sit ups on the perimeter of the main room. The mens and womens locker rooms off of the gym each have a sauna (no add'l cost), but if you're looking to use a steam room you need to either book an Aqua Spa cabin or pay extra to have access to the Persian Gardens (we didn't do either). Spa: Neither of us used the spa so we can't comment on the quality of services. The prices of the services seemed a bit steep to us (on the second to last day they were running a special for a 100 minute massage for $200 plus a standard 15% gratuity). Kids Program: our daughter didn't join us on the cruise, so we have no firsthand knowledge of the program (we also found there were less than 25 kids on board for our cruise). We spoke to many families on board, all of whom reported their kids absolutely loved Celebrity's Kids Program (one young lady, who I'd estimate to be about 10, told us she liked Celebrity's Kids Program better than RCL, HAL, Carnival and NCL). We toured the kids area with a staff member who told us that 600 kids are booked for Silhouette's Christmas Cruise and they had about 400 kids for the Thanksgiving Cruise. I assumed Celebrity to be more of an adult line but based on everything we heard from other passengers they have a very well run kids program and we have no hesitation including our 7 year old daughter on our next Celebrity cruise. Summary: Based upon this cruise I'm sold on Celebrity as their customer service was great. The majority of passengers we spoke with are seasoned cruisers who are loyal Celebrity fans. There were not as many sales pitches as on the other lines (but there were still some). A huge plus is that there is only one announcement per day (so you don't have to listen to multiple announcements about useless art auctions, gold necklaces being sold by the foot, bingo, etc) and that is only broadcast in the public areas (not staterooms). As non smokers we liked that there was little smoking going on (and were told that as of 1/1/2012 smoking will be further limited to a small section in the pool area - two 'snaps up' to Celebrity on this move). We look forward to sailing with Celebrity in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We are in are early 50's and have been on six cruises, twice to Alaska and 3 times on Celebrity to the Caribbean. When this ship was announced out of Cape Liberty we were thrilled to avoid the tedious process of flying since this is a ... Read More
We are in are early 50's and have been on six cruises, twice to Alaska and 3 times on Celebrity to the Caribbean. When this ship was announced out of Cape Liberty we were thrilled to avoid the tedious process of flying since this is a local port for us. Embarkation was a breeze and the cabin were ready when we got to the ship at about 1PM. The cabins are improved from prior Celebrity classes, more room in the Shower and more storage in the stateroom. As everything was new, everything worked properly. However as reported Celebrity will rue the day they selected the facets for the bathroom sinks since the style of short flow pipe looks great, but does require the user to work to avoid spilling water. My guess is that few will and Celebrity will have thousands of water damaged cabins to show for that decision. Similarly, Celebrity should rue the day they decided to remove most of the round tables in their main dining area and use square two and four seaters. The result is virtually no separation between any of the tables. Thus a table for two becomes a table for 10. The wait staff cannot even negotiate the small gaps to provide service. My guess is that Celebrity increase the ship passenger count but not the size of the dining room enough. This destroys the notion of privacy and does not allow for intimate conversation. The din from the other guests requires you to speak up to be heard which guarantees no such thing as a private conversation.The staffing of the main dining room also is a problem, they handle 20 passengers and cannot do so with any personalize service. Thus if you order something and don't like it, you have no means to return since your waiter doesn't have the time to check in with you. Overall the food was good, but not great. Again, food review is subjective and I would say it was above casual dining grade but well below fine ding grade, and again the problem was service. You simply had no means to exchange unless you did not mind eating your main course while your party had dessert. This ship's entertainment was so-so. The singers and dancers were good, but not featured often enough. The attempt to put on an acrobatic show ala a Cirque Du Soleil show fell well short. Similarly outside of the group in the main foyer, entertainment was slim. This ship itself was grand, very clean and all the public areas were pristine.Stateroom service was good and the cabins remained spotless throughout the cruise. Interactive and phone in room service was prompt and accurate. One of the problems with this sailing which was not the fault of the cruise line was the high percentage of "scooter passengers" These folks literally took up the available corridor space with the bulk. Moreover they acted as if their actions had no affect on others. Maybe the cruise line has a responsibility to limit the number of "scooter people" so as to not disaffect those who are not handicapped. The upside was that there was never a wait in the fitness center in getting a treadmill (for the most part). Two areas of problems at all resorts and cruise ship are those that "reserve" deck chairs by the pool and those that walk on the treadmills for more than 30 minutes. Both events disaffect other guests. In all cases staff does nothing to police the practice and thus puts guests in the unenviable position of having to deal with the problem. One wishes that the cruise ship staff would be as forthright in addressing this issue as they are in trying to sell shore excursions or Spa treatments. The final judgment that we use as our overall assessment is "would we do this again?". In this case the answer is "yes" but only for a good price. Celebrity has succumbed to the notion that more quantity of lower graded food, service and shows is better than small portions are great food, service and shows. One wonder what distinguishes them from lower graded lines such as Norwegian and Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
I have sailed on many lines, however this was my first cruise on Celebrity. My sister and brother in law with whom I sailed have enjoyed saIling with Celebrity and assured me that I would also do so. They were wrong, I was very ... Read More
I have sailed on many lines, however this was my first cruise on Celebrity. My sister and brother in law with whom I sailed have enjoyed saIling with Celebrity and assured me that I would also do so. They were wrong, I was very disappointed. This was the first time that I travelled as a single, consequently paying for two was a huge expense and I would only cruise again if singles get a better deal. The food on "Constellation" was very ordinary, definitely not up to the standard I have enjoyed on other ships. The buffet offered the same food every day. There were plenty of salads at lunch time but little in the way of meat or fish to go with them. This is the first cruise I have been on where afternoon tea was not served. On the last day of the cruise afternoon tea was offered at a charge of $18.00 per person. We did partake and it was very nice, however I think the charge was excessive. Indeed almost everyone I spoke to complained of the greed of the company in their charges for every little thing. In Mykonos there was a last minute change from a tender landing to a berth one. We were charged $7.00 for a two minute trip on the bus into town! The entertainment was very ordinary apart from a violinist who entertained us on two evenings. Norovirus struck down a huge percentage of passengers and crew. Disembarkation was handled smoothly although we were disappointed that there was no provision made for people who had a late flight out of Istanbul, to leave luggage. I sat at the airport for eight hours! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
This was our 4th Celebrity Cruise and we had previously sailed on the Consteallation pre 'Solcitization'. We were therefore interested to see the changes. I had seen a blog before we left home that there was sickness on the ... Read More
This was our 4th Celebrity Cruise and we had previously sailed on the Consteallation pre 'Solcitization'. We were therefore interested to see the changes. I had seen a blog before we left home that there was sickness on the Connie but I was hoping that by the time we arrived the situation would be resolved. On arrival at the terminal it was obvious that sadly this was not the case. We were given a number for embarkation and there were notices everywhere saying that staterooms would not be ready until 5pm. Nevertheless we were eventually allowed on board for some lunch, although without the usual welcome drink. As we had arrived relatively early we were part of the first group on board and were able to get our lunch fairly easily although everything, including teas and coffees, had to be served by the crew. We were eventually allowed to our cabins and were very soon greeted by our lovely cabin attendant Lalaine. She did a great job looking after us. So then we were able to enjoy our sparkling wine whilst we unpacked. After an overnight stay in Istanbul we departed for Kusadasi in the afternoon. This was when we had our Cruise Critic party so we missed sailing through all the shipping that anchors in the Marmara Sea. The get together was good and it was clear to see that Celebrity do take notice of the CC boards. As we had made private arrangements for all the ports of call we cannot comment on the ship's excursions. But we were very pleased with the arrangements we had made. In Rhodes we hired a car and drove ourselves to Lindos and back with a lunch stop at the lovely Seven Springs taverna which is in the middle of the island. By this time the high level sanitization procedures had been lifted. The next day was the sea day as we sailed to Israel. This was the best day of the sea days for weather and we enjoyed sitting around the pool. As we were retiring that night at 11:15 the Captain came on the public address system to tell us that Ashdod port had been closed to passenger traffic following an attack by the Israeli army on the Gaza strip. We subsequently found out from our tour guide that Hamas had targeted missiles on the south of Israel. The ship therefore diverted to Haifa for 4 days instead of 2 in Ashdod and 2 in Haifa. This threw everybody's arrangements into disarray and it wasn't until we were on our way to Bethlehem that we found out all the facts from our guide. We ended up on a bus in a group of 37 all of us having arranged private tours in smaller groups with Guided Tours Israel(GTI). The problem was that the tours arranged from Haifa were using local guides and drivers who were unable to get out of the south of the country. Although everyone was very disappointed we had to give credit to GTI for making the alternative arrangements at such short notice. Our guide, who did an excellent job, told us that he had been called by GTI at 2 in the morning! Our second day was to Masada and the Dead Sea and because of the journey being from Haifa instead of Ashdod we had the opportunity to see some of the Jordan Valley. These were two very long days as the journeys from Haifa were that much longer than from Ashdod. On the third day the small private tours resumed as they had originally been planned from Haifa. Unfortunately we did not make our trip as my wife was suffering from the dreaded bug. It came on very suddenly at the end of one day and the next day we visited the medical facility. My wife received very good attention, an injection and some medication all without charge. After 24 hours she had recovered other than not being able to eat as much as usual! So one day in the cabin. The last day in Haifa we looked arounfd the City and went up to the top of Mount Carmel and viewed the Bahai Temple -â€" quite spectacular. Then another sea day as we sailed back to Athens. Unfortunately it was quite a windy day and just a tad too cool to stay out on deck. In Athens there were no strikes and we made our own way to the New Acropolis Museum followed by lunch in the Plaka. This was followed by a final sea day and again as it was now November and we were sailing North to Istanbul not an outdoor day. We sampled both the Tuscan Grill and Ocean Liners. The latter was as excellent as we remembered it and the Tusacn Grill is a very good addition and worth the fee for one night of the cruise. We also used Bistro on Five on sea days to avoid the crush of the buffet. Excellent Service and good value. Towards the end of the cruise I asked Guest Relations for a form to make extra gratuities. I was told that this was not possible as the Finance Team controlled whether or not this facility was available and in this case it was not. I had met the Finance Controller as he was a Brit and had quite a conversation with him. He even sent some truffles to our cabin. I do think however that this was a little unfair on the crew. With an itinerary like this, visiting numerous countries using different currencies, it is not always possible to have a suitable currency to pass to the staff members you wish to thank. Nevertheless we received nothing but excellent service from all the crew we dealt with. The entertainment was a bit mixed. The cast shows were excellent but the music in the various lounges of an evening was sometimes lacking. Indeed on the night after leaving Athens there was a scarcity of music in the bars. Thank goodness for Perry Grant! I had read about Perry before we left and was not sure as to whether he would appeal to us. Well, he did! We went the first night with an open mind and returned every night! So a good cruise, good food, good service an interesting but amended itinerary. All the downsides were way beyond Celebrity's control and they handled them excellently. We are even going to receive an onboard credit for the day my wife lost in quarantine. So although disappointments absolutely no complaints from us. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
My wife and I joined Constellation in Istanbul and sailed the Eastern Mediterranean itinerary. If flying from the UK you usually arrive at the ship late evening so we travelled the day before and stayed overnight in a hotel in Istanbul. ... Read More
My wife and I joined Constellation in Istanbul and sailed the Eastern Mediterranean itinerary. If flying from the UK you usually arrive at the ship late evening so we travelled the day before and stayed overnight in a hotel in Istanbul. This is a great way to start your holiday as it not only gives you an extra day in Istanbul but you are fresh and ready to join the ship at lunchtime the next day. Istanbul airport passport control is very busy. You should be aware you need to queue to buy a Visa with payment in cash only, before you can go to passport control. It's £10 British citizens, all nationalities have a different price in their own currency. The traffic can be can be very bad and we heard of passengers taking four hours from leaving the plane to arriving at the ship. As we arrived at the ship early afternoon embarkation was really efficient, virtually walking straight on to the ship. First impressions of Constellation where excellent. Our stateroom was available within a couple of hours of boarding and it was great. Quite big, very comfortable with a balcony on Panorama deck 8. The only drawback was a connecting door to the next cabin and occasionally we could hear voices of our neighbours but it was not a big problem. This cabin would be ideal for a family to have adjoining cabins. On all our previous cruises we have taken the later seating option in the restaurant. For the first time we chose Select anytime dining. It has benefits as you can go for dinner at different times each evening although occasionally you may have to wait briefly for a table. If you choose a large table you can meet different people each evening. The drawback is that you do not get to know other guests very well and form good friendships as we have done on previous cruises. You cannot get to know the table waiter well as you will usually be on a different table each night. My wife prefers open seating but I prefer fixed later seating! A previous reviewer gave the Dining a one star rating. Just what rating system and standards are they judging the food on? This is clearly a ridiculous rating and it's a shame as it then makes their whole review pointless and not worth reading. Surely a rating must be taken in context of the circumstances you are eating i.e. on board ship at sea with 2000 people being served and of course the price you pay. What would this reviewer expect for five stars and what price would they have to pay? Don't let their rating put you off Constellation! My view on Dining: The restaurant food and service is first class. The table waiters do everything they possibly can to satisfy your requests. If you are at all unhappy with any item they will replace it immediately. The lunchtime buffet is superb. The choice is so wide it's hard to choose. There is a huge choice of salads, hot meals, specialty meat of the day, and separate pizza, Asian delights and traditional English serveries. Choice of fish is poor, only limited and should be improved. The gourmet sandwich bar offers a wide variety of breads and fillings - if you want to add some different meat to your salad then this is the place to go. The poolside grill offers the usual burgers and fries type snacks. Very good too! One of my favourites for lunch was the healthy option by the spa pool. Several choices including delicious chicken or tuna cooked to order. Breakfast? Well, so much to choose. Everything you would expect. My personal favourite was eggs benedict, although the waffles were close seconds! Afternoon tea and cakes is available at 4pm in the buffet restaurant. We visited both specialty restaurants - Ocean Liners and Tuscan Grille - an extra £20 and £18 per person respectively. Ocean Liners service was exceptional. The food was great, although the fine wines are rather expensive. Tuscan Grille was our favourite. A little more relaxed with fantastic Italian style dishes. I would definitely visit both restaurants again as they make a pleasant change from the main restaurant option. I think they offer good value for the additional charge. The entertainment provided overall was good. There were some star singers (Jane, the English lady was superb), the entertainment team put on some good shows and Perry the piano entertainer in Michael's bar was in a league of his own -â€" really entertaining! All the public rooms have their own 'character' and we found them all very comfortable and enjoyable. Although the ship was full we never really felt it was crowded anywhere other than the most popular theatre shows. All the rooms were kept very clean. The gym was well equipped and although well used was never too busy. The spa pool area was very relaxing and our favourite spot. The ship was affected by norovirus for the last few days but you could certainly not fault Constellation for that. The captain implemented a sanitisation programme - staff were everywhere sanitising everything! They certainly did everything that you could expect to eradicate it. It never ceases to amaze me that some passengers just walk into the restaurants without sanitising their hands, they seem to object to this for some reason - they are probably the first to complain about illness on the ship. Once the sanitisation programme was in place the staff ensured all passengers observed the correct procedure. Disembarkation was very organised - just arrive in your allocated meeting point at the correct time (dont' go too early!) and we left in an orderly manner. After collecting our cases there was a slight delay in boarding coaches but again considering all the circumstances with 2000 people disembarking it could hardly be better. Overall, we had a fantastic cruise and would certainly sail on Constellation again. I must also mention that all the staff, without exception, provided excellent service and were really keen to assist at all times. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never ... Read More
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never been on either of the two tours or they would have undoubtedly canceled them both and re-vamped them. Kotor was a long bus ride up a mountain side with no room for anyone to pass in either direction. The hairpin turns and hundreds of feet drop offs made the trip exteremly dangerous. certainly we would not recoomend it. We would recommend that someone re-look at this excursion. Dubrovnik. A really nice old town taht we would have liked to have spent more time in. but shore Excursions struck again and took everyone for a long bus ride to a quaint restaurant that served us a stale piece of bread topped with a piece of cheese and another piece of the same bread with something they called Ham but it was more like tongue to us. Hardly anybody (out of two bus loads) ate any of it. Upon returning to Dubrovnik, many people left the bus and told the driver they would take a taxi back to the ship as the bus tour left us with very little time in the town. Another tour that needs re-assessing. Arriving in Rome on All Saints Day, a Memorial Day Holiday and an annual Marathon Run that began and ended at St Peter's Square was perhaps the biggest faux pas. We couldn't get close to the Square nor the basilica. Everything else including The Vatican was closed. Finally Marseilles. Another long ride in a bus. Someone in Shore excursions must have at one time worked for greyhound or Trailways as just about every ship tour involved a long bus ride to the highest point to take a few pictures while everyone wanted to be on the ground in the city buying souvenirs. No more ship excursions for us. the Private Tours (of which we took four) we far better. Far better. Those we highly recommend. All in all the cruise was disappointing. the schedule was heavy, very little time to rest. A day or two at sea would have been very welcome. we did have two days at sea for the very beginning, but they were really need somewhere in the middle, to give folks a chance to catch their breath. celebrity themselves were perfect as usual the dining was excellent and cabin service very good. one comment for them. you could have done without the Glass blowing on the aft section of the ship and put the grill there out of the wind and gained more room. putting the grill on the Port side in the direct wind was not all that great. we didn't see a lot of people using it. Sincerely Terry Hensey. Soltice Oct 23rd. Venice and the Med. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Just recently returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean trip, over all we had a great time. The Solstice staff were engaging and happy to make the stay on the ship as enjoyable as they can. We did not partake in the specialty ... Read More
Just recently returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean trip, over all we had a great time. The Solstice staff were engaging and happy to make the stay on the ship as enjoyable as they can. We did not partake in the specialty restaurants but we heard that food there was great. We thoroughly enjoyed the food at the Grand - our dinner seating was at 6:15 pm, we were the fortunate ones as some people that were at the late seating were not happy at all. The staff at the restaurant was attentive and interested in how the food was - they were happy to get you a new entree if we were not satisfied with the dinner. The maitre de was great as we had to move tables third day in as we not satisfied with the location. There are plenty to do if you so chose, I loved the 'Glass Show' - gives you a better appreciation for glass making. The staff there was to demonstrate and educate - they had a lot of adversity to overcome - wind, rain, and since it was electric heating system they were frequently putting the glass they were making into the ovens in order to keep the glass at a steady temperature. The entertainment was first class; the live music was great especially Top Notch. The DJ; however, had a bit of a problem as he mixed up his British Invasion with his 80's. Our suite had a bit of a problem regulating its room temperature, found that the temperature dipped to cold in the middle of the night (the housekeeping staff was nice enough to bring me two blankets - really helped). Also, credo goes to the steward for coming to the room when I couldn't open the safe in the middle of the night and the purser, Nadine for her due diligence for getting us our onboard credit. We took advantage of express debarkation: it was a bit disorganized at first because everyone that wanted to leave early was all gathered in one area just outside the elevators where the theatre was located (front of the ship). The staff did not know what deck we were supposed to leave - until he had word from the captain. There was about a 15 minute wait and then we had to lug our luggage to the back end of the ship. That was the only glitch. Loads of taxis waiting at Barcelona, Spain. A nice gesture: whenever arriving from outing there was staff from Solsitce greeting you on the dock area and a place to sit if you wanted as well as beverages like hot chocolate, water, and juice were offered before going back onto the ship. Recommendations for this trip: I would like to have all informations regarding shore excursions including shuttles be on the website. Also, how far the dock yard is from the place of visit. All tour guides on excursions should have their patrons write their names and suite down, this helps identify who is missing. There were a couple times where there was a miscount and people that won't supposed to be on the excursion were counted thus accidentally leaving the people that were on that particular excursion out without a paddle so to speak. Overall, the cruise was great. I know it would have been nice to have had two days at sea at the end to rest up before heading home but one always have to keep in mind, learning to pace one self is a good thing. I didn't mind being exhausted as we had a 14 hour plane trip home - gave me plenty of time to catch up on my sleep. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
One more wonderful cruise vacation came to its end, so nice to know that there will be more.... This was our seventh cruise with Celebrity and the second Mediterranean one. When in port, we always do our own thing because of the two ... Read More
One more wonderful cruise vacation came to its end, so nice to know that there will be more.... This was our seventh cruise with Celebrity and the second Mediterranean one. When in port, we always do our own thing because of the two obvious reasons: Cost and itinerary, we pay less, usually half the ship land tour cost and we see and learn more, much more. One have to spend a lot of time looking at the options and for the pitfalls ... Thanks heavens for the internet and cruisecritic.com. Those who do not have the time or the inclination to organize such tours, those who do not mind sharing a tour bus with a crowd of 45 fellow passengers, those who do not want to spend time looking through the long list of land tours, Celebrity offers two packages of 6 shore excursions each, one for half day tours at each port and the other is for a full day tours, cost was $371.50 and $732.50 respectively. For those who do want to do their own thing, we describe what we added a day by day description and added some website addresses that can help. Here and there we expressed our opinion about the Solstice. On this cruise we used one of our Celebrity Open Passages, a voucher we purchased on our last cruise. The Open passage is a $100 voucher you buy aboard a Celebrity cruise ship to be used when making the next reservation. The $100 voucher is used as a down payment for the next cruise and entitles you and two more couples for an on board credit of $100 to $300 per Cabin depending on the length of the cruise. This time we and our friends got $200 On board credit per cabin. The concept was applied first only for the US and Canada but became available for other countries last January. Guess this is why my travel agent did not know what to do with the vouchers and we had to ask Celebrity customer relations to sort things out for us. Read more about the Open Passage: http://creative.rccl.com/Sales/Celebrity/General_Info/Flyers/11022582_CEL_Passages.pdf One thing before we begin: The Crew members on the Solstice are fantastic in every respect. May I tell you a story: We met few hotel directors onboard Celebrity cruise ships, the hotel director are in charge of most of the Celebrity employs aboard the ship. The hotel managers we met were kind people, not at all the army commander's type I expected. So, I asked one of them how do the run such an operation with out being tough on the crew, and the reply was: The secret is in recruiting the right people, people who are geared to give others good service with a smile, Well, it works! Tue Oct 11th 2011- We left the Barcelona International airport terminal at noon, no need to take the cruise ship transportation as there is always a long line of yellow and black taxis waiting out side the terminal. The drivers speak only Spanish, but they understand "Cruise Ship" and "Celebrity". In twenty minutes and for 30-35Eu the taxi will take up to 4 passengers and will take you all the way to the port and up to the terminal doors. Look at: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/transport/barcelona-cruise-port.html In the terminal there were no lines and many reps were waiting for passengers, we got our Sea Cards and went right away to our Cabin. As this was our fourth time in Barcelona we decided to stay on the ship. On past cruises we took the bus from the terminal to La Rambla Ave. for a quick stroll. We had a nice Tuna Steak lunch at the Spa Coffee and had some rest before the unavoidable drill. Dinner, early seating, had table for four as we asked to be sited with our friends. Marlin and Ali were our attentive waiters. After dinner: A show. Bits and pieces of what one can expect on next evenings shows. The theater on the Solstice is nice but we prefer the theaters on the Celebrity Millennium class ships, as they have more legroom and little tables for each couple. Few words about our Cabin: We were lucky as the two of us got one of the four family cabins measured 600sq feet, with two bedrooms, large living room and large balcony (8108). Our friends got similar cabin but it was on the same level as the Helipad and got a smaller balcony (7107). For the best cabins on the Solstice look at: http://cruiseadvice.org/celebrity-cruises/celebrity-solstice/cabin-selection Wed. Oct 12th -â€" Sea day: 06:00am: As always I went to the Gym early. I go there almost every day during the cruise while my love takes a walk along the 1000ft long track on deck 14. 10:00am: A get together party for the Cruise Critic members. It was also time to meet the 12 guys who will go with us on the self organized day tour in Malta. And help a second group to find a four more people to share the cost of the tour. 17:00: The Elite Captains Club daily happy hour (Actually two hours), Cocktails, beers and soft drinks for free and a chance to meet people who love cruising and prefer to cruise with the specific company. Gabriela, the lady responsible for the Captain Club activities was always there making sure all is working fine. A word about the Elite Captains Club goodies: It is a good idea to join the club right after the first cruise. You get credits for every cruise you go on; number of credits is a function of cruise length and type of cabin. Once you have enough credits, I think nine credits is the magic number, Celebrity gives you a lot of goodies: The happy hour with free drinks in the Sky Lounge, Light breakfast with real coffee in Michael's Club, three hours free internet per cabin worth hundred dollars and 60 items of laundry, 4 items for ironing, couple dry cleaning items and more. Because of the free laundry we bring fewer items from home and save luggage weight, which means more room for presents for the grandchildren. A sea day is a good opportunity to look at the culinary options they got on board the Solstice: A ward of advice, if you find it hard to control the amount of food you put on your plate at the buffet style Sea Side Cafe, go for breakfast at the Grand Epernay. Here you are being served by waiters and what you ask for is what you get... You can also have lunch here on sea days. In the Solstice ships they have the buffet style food served on "Islands" and they do not have trays, people are wondering back and forth to their table as they can carry so many plates and drinks on one trip. And the restaurant looks busy and crowded. I do not like that. Thursday Oct. 13th: Rome. Took the 07:30 train from Civitavecchia to Rome. You first take the free shuttle bus to the port gate and than follow the signs to the train station. Train station is less than 10 minutes walk from the port's gate, just follow the signs. By the way, they opened a ticket booth right next to the port gate, save you some time. Buy 9Eu return BIRG ticket that allow you free all day ride on all public transport in Rome, Do not forget to validate your ticket before going on board the train. This ticket is good only for the Regionale train company. Our friends had tickets for the Vatican tour and got off the train near the Vatican while we went all the way to Termini station and took the underground line A to the Piazza Di Spagnia. There we took the 11:00 o'clock Free Tour to the Vatican City. Purchase tickets ahead of time on the internet for the main sights in Rome; Lines are unbelievably long, even when it is out of season. The free tour we took was just OK. We had couple of tours with them a year ago and the guides were very good. This time the guide seemed to be in a hurry. We arrived exhausted to the Vatican City. Here we met our friends and leisurely walked back going through Vittorio Emanuel Bridge, Campo de Fiorri, Piazza Navona, Trevi's fountain and back to the Piazza Spagnia. We took the 15:39 train back from Termini. It was a good idea to return to Termini and take the train from there as the train gets very crowded on next stations. It can be a very long 80 minutes ride standing up after all the walking one does in Rome. Find a train from Civitavecchia to Rome: http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ad1ce14114bc9110VgnVCM10000080a3e90aRCRD Tickets for the Coliseum and the Vatican: http://www.italy-museum.com/ Tickets for the Borghese museum: http://www.galleriaborghese.it/info-en.htm The free walking tours: http://www.romefreetour.com/free%20tour.html Friday Oct. 14th: Naples. Last time we rented a car and drove along the Amalfi coast. This time we took the Hydrofoil to Capri. It was a 30 minutes, 17 EU each way very bumpy ride. Crew members were ready with plastic bags handing them to those passengers who felt sick. Hydrofoil terminal in Naples is few minutes walk from the ship. We decided to buy our return ticket when in Capri and not to restrict ourselves to specific company or time of return by buying a return ticket (the cost is the same) Weather was cloudy and cool, the Chair lift from Ana Capri to Monte Solare did not work that day due to weather condition, so we decided to go along with an advice we got from a local guy and took the bus from Marina Grande up the hill to Capri's city center and walked from there through the beautiful streets to the Arco Naturale, the natural rock arch and than took 500 stairs down to the trail that follows the shore and led us back into Capri. Beautiful and very quiet hike, no tourists on this trail. A note: The Blue grotto was closed too. But we did not plan on going there any how. We believe the 30 seconds visit inside the grotto does not worth it. Had a pizza in one of the Marina Grande restaurants and a very good hot chocolate. The Hydrofoil ride back was not too rough. No need for plastic bags.... Tomorrow, another day at sea. Hydrofoil to Capri time table: http://www.capri.net/en/ferry-schedule?path_id=11 Saturday Oct 17th: Sea day: Time to rest, read a good book from the ship library, relax on the balcony or next to the pool, or better yet, at one of the many romantic secluded places aboard the ship. We always wondered how is it possible that there are 3000 passengers aboard the ship and still one can find so many quite places like the Sky lounge, Michael's club, the higher decks, the library and the game room, the cinema etc. Problem was, Sea was rough. My wife stayed in bed feeling awful while I enjoyed every minute of the rollercoaster???? ride. Yes, it is a big ship, yes they got computer controlled stabilizers, but still, and the ship went up and down with those huge waves. A note: According to the ship first officer, best cabins for stormy weather will be the cabins located mid ship lower decks. Thought you should know before going on your next cruise. Sunday, Oct 16th: Athens. There is always some one on strike here in Greece, This time, the museums' guards. That is why the Acropolis was closed to public. Last time we took the train from Piraeus to Athens. Was very easy and cheap ride. This time we arrived to Athens using the HoHo bus. It is a 22EU all day ride with commentary in 11 languages. Busses are located right next to the port terminal. We decided on going to the Acropolis new museum. Very good and informative visit, every thing here is both in Greek and English (5Eu pp). Then we went on the 90 minutes ride with the HoHo bus, plus a little self guided tour of the city, and than, as it started to rain we took the HoHo bus back to Piraeus and the ship. The Hop on Hop off bus: http://www.citysightseeing.gr/blue-and-red-route/ The Acropolis new Museum: http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr Strikes in Athens: http://livingingreece.gr/strikes/ Monday, Oct 17th: Mykonos. If you are interested in Archeology, than a boat trip to the near by Delos Island is something for you. Just keep in mind that the whole island of Delos is considered a museum, and it is closed on Mondays, The only way to visit the island on Monday is with an expensive ship tour as they open the Island especially for ship tours. We took the 10$ (Return) shuttle into town. This was our second time in Mykonos and we just followed the same walking tour rout we did last time, using our IPod. It was windy and rather cold, so we went back to the ship for a Jacuzzi and a Sauna. (We like the Sauna on the Millennium class ships better as they have a huge window facing the open sea) Self guided walking tours: http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/podcast-faq.htm Tuesday, Oct 18th: Kusadasi Turkey. We did not go ashore, so, had the whole ship to our self.... a spoiling experience.... Friday, Oct 19th: Santorini. What a beautiful sunny day! Three options to go from the port to Fira: You can climb 600 stairs; you can ride a mule for 5Eu or do as we did: We took the 4Eu Cable car up to Fira, and from there we took the bus to Oia. There is a bus every 20 minutes, you get in, find a seat and a conductor gets on the bus somewhere on the way to collect the few cents this 25 minutes ride costs. Oia is the place all those postcards pictures are taken. There is no need for a guide, just walk around the town and enjoy the view. After returning to Fira and walking along the streets that were so crowded with tourists from the four cruise ships that were in the port, we found out that waiting in the line for the Cable car that goes down to the port will take about an hour and a half, so we went down the 600 stairs, it took us around 20 minutes including avoiding the mules and their manure on the way down. Santorini bus from Fira to Oia: http://www.ktel-santorini.gr/ Friday Oct 21st: Valletta, Malta The guides, Vince De-Bono and Louise were already there, waiting for us, when we left the boat. It was 07:00 am, still dark but there was a long day ahead, full with interesting sites: The old town of Mdina, an artisan village, a Neolithic temple, a boat ride to the Blue Grotto, Marssa Xlokk fishermen's Village, Valletta with the impressive St John Cathedral and so more. Vince is very knowledgeable guide and a very kind and eager to please person, very enthusiastic when the knights' period is discussed. Both groups had a wonderful day in Malta. The tour was organized using the thread on Cruise Critic web site. It was a 400Eu for 12p plus the cost of the boat ride (7 Eu, and the ticket for St John Cathedral ($4.60Eu) and the tip. In short, very well spent $70 per person. Thank you Vince! (Hope you liked the wine we brought you from our home country) Touring Malta with a guide: http://www.guideinmalta.com/ HoHo Bus in Malta: http://www.maltasightseeing.com/ Scenic Flights over Malta (But read the cancelation policy before making reservations): http://www.harbourairmalta.com/harbourair/content.aspx?id=45136 Walking tour of Valletta: http://www.geovative.com/GeoTours/tourView.asp?6174Vq=JEHH Saturday Oct. 22nd: Day at sea. Had time to make 500 pictures PowerPoint Show of the whole trip, even added music to the show and made copies for those couples who went on the Malta day trip with us. Had fun working on my laptop, seating in the balcony with the sea right there. Wish I had my office in such a location. Sunday, Oct 23rd: Arriving to Barcelona. Got off the ship around 08:00am. Again, no need for ship expensive transportation to the airport as there is always long line of taxis waiting for you right there at the port terminal. What next? While on board, we purchased four (4!) Celebrity Open Passages as we plan to go on Back to Back cruises either to South America and/or to New Zealand and Australia with as many as 5 more couples and we want them all to enjoy the $600 on board credit for the two long B to B cruises. Read Less
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