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193 Celebrity Holiday Cruise Reviews

DH, DD and self were on the Millennium 7 night Holiday cruise from 12/23/07 to 12/30/07. Overall we had a wonderful time, someone once said 'I don't think you can ever have a bad cruise', but the ship was definitely ... Read More
DH, DD and self were on the Millennium 7 night Holiday cruise from 12/23/07 to 12/30/07. Overall we had a wonderful time, someone once said 'I don't think you can ever have a bad cruise', but the ship was definitely overcrowded and the level of service we expect from Celebrity (we are Select Members) was lacking. 12/22/07-We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before and spent the night at the Renaissance. We weren't overly impressed with the hotel. We were stuck in a smoking room in what was advertised as a non-smoking hotel. Also, the gym was very lacking in the weight department, some free weights and some type of weight machines my DH and self had no clue on how to work. For our DD, disappointment in the pool and hot tub was closed for repair. Why they chose the week before Christmas to work on the pool, I'll never know. 12/23/07-Embarkation was relatively painless. It took us 35 minutes from leaving the shuttle to sipping our champagne. It would have been shorter as our paperwork was filled in on-line, but they had us fill out a health questionnaire at the counter. Once on board, we went up to the grill for the first of many hot dogs and fries for DD. At this point, there was hardly anyone on board and we felt it was our own ship. How quickly that changed! Muster drill was fine, always remember safety first! At this point we realized just how crowded this cruise was to be. People everywhere, I know this cruise was a holiday cruise, but we took a holiday cruise in 2004 which was nowhere near as crowded as this one. 12/24/07-DH and self up early to walk on the jogging track. We love to walk in the morning as the sun rises. We were walking as the ship pulled into Nassau, Bahamas. We purchased tickets through Celebrity for The Pirates of Nassau Museum, which is just a short walk from where the ship docked. We can't say enough how much we enjoyed Captain Blah Blah and the Museum! He was hilarious and very informative as was the museum itself. We highly recommend visiting the museum. After touring the museum, we went back to the ship and enjoyed the peace and quiet with everyone off the ship. We actually found loungers by the pool in the shade! DH and self had dinner reservations at The Olympic Restaurant to celebrate, belatedly, our 12th anniversary. Needless to say, the service and food were impeccable. I dream of the goat cheese and chocolate soufflEs. They are my favorite. I especially enjoyed the Chocolate SoufflE as on other Millennium class ships they only offer the Grand Marnier SoufflE. After dinner, we collected DD from Fun Factory and then on to bed. 12/25/07-Christmas! Tried out the gym first thing in the morning. My only complaint with the gym, it's not "officially" open until 7:00 am. DH and self are early risers and like to get our workouts over early. Machines were nice, slightly different then what we are used to, but they did the job. After breakfast, we took DD to Kid's club for crafts and to await Santa's arrival. DH and self went to Guest Relations to reactivate my Sea Pass card which mysteriously stopped working the night before. This actually happened three more times throughout the cruise. Never could figure out why. Anyway, while we were there, the Cruise Director came on the PA saying radar had picked up a mysterious looking object. They played it up very nicely for the kids. We picked our DD up for lunch and found Celebrity had given all the kids her age a wonderful over the shoulder book bag. We were very impressed. After lunch, we went to the pool to find DD who had gone up with her new best friend. We had a hard time finding a chair without a person or a book/magazine in it! We eventually found our DD's stuff right next to her new best friends' parents and spent some time swimming. Hi Alan and Marsha! DH went to art auction while DD and I watched the King of the Millennium contest. We used to love the art auctions, but not anymore. DH had picked a few items to bid on and after several hours sitting in the Rendez-Vous Lounge; the auctioneer still had not gotten to them. The auctioneer was hawking the more expensive selections the ship had. Needless to say, we never attended another auction. No amount of free champagne is worth it. DH and self went to The Martini Bar before our first meal in the Dining Room. Hi Togi! It's a small world, because lo and behold who is at our table but our DD's new best friend and parents. Enjoyed a nice meal with all our tablemates-Willie and Avis along with Alan, Marsha and Marni. Waiters brought a cake and sang Happy Birthday for me. Very nice. 12/26/07-DH and self up early for morning walk as we pulled into San Juan. Ship docked at new pier with fancy awning type thing that came awfully close to ship. Decided to make this a sea day for us and enjoyed the pool without all the screaming kids. DH heard there were 1800 kids on the ship I thought I heard 800 kids. Either way, there were a lot of kids. If you didn't get in a hot tub before 9:00 am, think twice about it. At times there would be 20 kids in one hot tub. Too many germs! After a relaxing day by the pool, stopped at The Martini Bar for a quick cocktail before dinner. Since DD's new best friend was sitting at our table, she joined us for dinner. Nice meal and then to bed. 12/27/07-DH and self took a Yoga class in the morning as we pulled into Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic. Ship was docked at a pier right next to a factory spewing out dark smoke throughout the time we were there; not very tropical. As a family, we took the Bayahibe Beach Break, which was changed to the Coral Canoa Beach Hotel and Spa due to work at Bayahibe. After a short bus ride, we arrived at the resort which was very beautiful and well maintained. We had our choice of the pool or the beach chose the beach which was lovely. The beach was filled with people from the excursion as well as guests from the resort. Warning! The clientele at this resort was European, if you go here expect to see some topless bathing. At the edge of the swimming area were some artificial reefs. The same type Mike Rowe (sp?) made in an episode of Dirty Jobs. DH spent a long time exploring them. The only downer for this excursion was the trip back to the ship. The majority of the people made it back to the rendezvous spot by the appointed time. We sat on the bus as 10 minutes went by after the departure time, then 20 minutes and we still hadn't left. Many of the passengers were grumbling to leave. Finally, one woman went to the organizer and asked why we hadn't left. It turned out a couple had had their picture taken by the resort staff and the delay in leaving was to wait for them to purchase their pictures. Needless to say, this didn't sit well. Eventually, we left the couple there. Rightly or wrongly, the couple did not return to the bus in a reasonable time-should all those that did, have to wait and wait for them? A lot of grumbling for both sides was heard on the way back. I did see the couple later in the voyage, so I know they made it back to the ship in time. Cleaned up and went for our normal cocktail at The Martini Bar and then on to dinner. After dinner, took DD to room while DH and self went to Casino to use our Select Member coupons in the Casino. It was considerably cooler in the Casino although not sure why. Anyway we broke even and went to bed. 12/28/ 07-DH and self up early to walk. Got DD, ate a quick breakfast, and then waited in the theater for tender to Labadee, Haiti. Able to get on first tender of day, therefore, able to get some nice loungers in the shade in the first beach on the left. Enjoyed some peace and quiet until everyone else got off the ship and crowded the beach. DH explored some formations in the ocean before everything got disturbed. The family then explored the island. On opposite side of where ship anchors, seas were very rough and warnings posted everywhere. Due to the rough seas and warnings, no one was swimming. We got to see a few zip liners go by, but the winds must have picked up because they cancelled the rest. We paid to do the water park. Not worth it. My advice, don't bother with it. You only get one hour in the park, which they are very strict about. While it's fun, it surely is not worth the money. After the disappointing water park, took a tender back to the ship and enjoyed some peace and quiet by the pool. Stopped at The Martini Bar before dinner, again. After dinner, we were all tired from the day, so went to bed. 12/29/07-At sea-DH and self up early to work out. DH sat at two chairs while I started to pack and fed DD. DD and self took over the seats while DH went to eat. At this point, it was 8:00 am. Seats all around us had magazines, books, etc. on them to reserve them. As mentioned, either DH or self was sitting in our two chairs from ~7:00 am we saw no one sitting in those chairs. As the day wore on, tempers were flaring. The Pool Butlers were very reluctant to remove anything from a chair, even though it was obvious no one was sitting there. Not helping the situation was the washer/dryers for the pool towels had broken over night so towels were hard to come by. Why one person has to take 10 towels is beyond me? I know I've seen this all over the boards, but why do people have to save seats in the shade and in the sun, without using either for several hours? Or save seats at all? And why can't cruise personnel do anything about it? It is so obvious at 8:00 am, when so few people are in the pool/hot tubs, not all the chairs having stuff on them are actually being used by people and are only being saved. It's a never ending problem that I'm not sure will ever be resolved. Tempers were flaring throughout the day; we observed several arguments in our area alone. Adding insult to injury, they ran out of the plastic cups used around the pool deck. Several officers' and security personnel were walking around, but their presence didn't help people's feelings. After a day like this, we skipped dinner, of course after leaving our tip envelopes on our plates as we didn't see our waiter/assistant waiter. We wandered the ship nibbling on sushi, pasta, and salad, whatever we could find. We picked up DD from kid's club, finished packing, placed our suitcases out, and went to bed early. 12/30/07-Back at Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Disembarkation was no problem for us-our flight (through Celebrity) wasn't until 4:10 pm. We were in no rush to leave, but eventually we had to. Spent several, several hours in the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Word of warning, they do not let you check in until 3 hours before your flight. So we sat in the check in area until 1:10 pm at which time we were able to check our luggage in. Positives-The Olympic is always a wonderful experience and well worth the $30.00/person charge. The Pirates of Nassau Museum was very informative and Captain Blah Blah was real funny. Labadee, Haiti. I came into this cruise expecting this to be the weak point of the cruise. How wrong I was! It was a beautiful peninsula, with a lovely beach/cove. Don't be afraid to explore the island as there are more beaches than you think. Avoid the water park and the slide, just lame attempts to get your money. Not worth it. Our Sommelier in the Dining Room, sadly I can't remember his name. Togi the Martini bartender was very nice and mixed excellent drinks. Cepepec assistant stateroom attendant. He always greeted us with a smile and a "How are you?" He kept the room up very nicely. Kudos to all the staff, never met one that wasn't pleasant. Negatives-Too many people! On our plane trip back, people from other cruises made the same comment. It appears that all cruise lines overbooked for the Holiday cruise. We have taken a prior Holiday cruise in 2004 which was nowhere near as overbooked as this one, especially with all the kids. The first day or so, we told our DD not to go in the adult only hot tub, however, when you have 20 or so kids crowded in these hot tubs with no one stopping them, and all her friends are going in them, who are we to say no? One time in the T-pool, I told two kids that this was an adult's only area and they weren't allowed. I even pointed at the sign that indicated you needed to be 18 years old to be in the pool, but they looked at me like 'what do you mean I can't be here? I'm a kid I can go wherever I want!' By the end of the week, there were smokers and kids all throughout the T-pool area. I avoided it, even though it's usually my favorite place to relax. Rudeness was another big negative. People seemed to have forgotten their manners once they got on the ship. They were cutting in line, rushing to get in the elevator before you could get out, saving seats, taking more 20 towels for one person, you get the picture. It was so nice to finally get home and not have to deal with people. Again, overall we had a wonderful cruise. In fact, we've just booked on the Solstice for 03/15/09, eager to try the new ship. Our itinerary includes a stop in Labadee, Haiti; we will definitely stay there longer and explore all this wonderful place has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was a difficult and disappointing trip for us. Difficult because my wife was ill for about 9 days, disappointing because of the lack of class we experienced with many of the passengers and a decline in the quality that we had ... Read More
This was a difficult and disappointing trip for us. Difficult because my wife was ill for about 9 days, disappointing because of the lack of class we experienced with many of the passengers and a decline in the quality that we had previously enjoyed on other Celebrity cruises. This review also includes our experiences on a side trip to El Calafate, Argentina, before embarking on the cruise. This was our twelfth cruise, fifth with Celebrity and third aboard Infinity. Also, this was our second time doing this itinerary - the first time was in 2004 (also aboard Infinity). That particular trip was outstanding, and perhaps, this is partially the reason that this second trip paled in comparison. Since this was going to be our second time in most ports of call, our planning emphasized visits to new locations and/or doing different activities. In most instances, we enjoyed the excursions in 2004 more than those that we did on this cruise (with 2 notable exceptions). So, by the end of this cruise, we had concluded that we had done it right the first time around. A Christmas Cruise This is the first time that we have done a Christmas or New Years cruise. I have always resisted booking a holiday cruise because there is a significant cost premium for these cruises. But the timing of the cruise ship worked perfectly with our work schedules, so we took the plunge. Now that we have done it, I will never do a Holiday cruise again. Are a few extra decorations, feeble Christmas activities, and a New Year's party really worth the 75% premium we paid? Absolutely not. Also, I did not enjoy having over 400 kids traveling with us. At times, they really strained the resources of Fun Factory. With most of the 3rd and 4th berths occupied, I can honestly say that this was the most crowded ship we have ever traveled on. We have a 5 year old, and I missed the attention she's gotten on prior Celebrity cruises. The Ship It has been 4 years since our last trip on the Infinity, and the aging of the ship is noticeable. The ship is in need of some TLC, so I hope that it gets a much needed refurbishment soon. As expected, the wear and tear is most apparent on public areas such as the Trellis restaurant (furniture), the elevators (broken buttons, worn out paneling), and the Thalassotherapy Pool (rust). The Service I am happy to report that the service we received was, for the most part, excellent. The staff in the dining room and our cabin attendants did a great job. The Food We like simple food, so we typically don't have much to say in this area. However, we did notice that the quality and variety of the food in the Trellis restaurant has deteriorated considerably. We kept seeing the same food (especially meat) presented with a different sauce over and over again. On the plus side, I can not recommend enough the Rodizio dinner that was offered as a casual alternative on the Oceanview cafe on several days during the cruise. It was excellent. As word got out, reservations became hard to get. We ate on the United States restaurant, and the experience was excellent, except for a pushy sommelier that kept trying to sell a bottle of wine to us, even though we only wanted a glass each. Passengers This was the first time that we travel on a ship where the majority of the passengers were not from the US. I would guess that 60% to 65% were from Latin America. Of those, the great majority were from Mexico (around 1000 passengers). My wife and I were both born and raised in Latin American countries, so I was disappointed, and sometimes embarrassed, by the rudeness and lack of class exhibited by many of the Latin American passengers. I saw people picking food with their hands on the Oceanview Cafe, cutting of lines, incessantly talking during shows, blatantly disregarding the rules (for dress code, age limits, behavior), throwing discarded bingo cards directly at the cruise staff (actually hitting her on the face several times), and trying to sneak into the Persian Garden on several occasions. Also, there was significant Spanish foul language from the younger crowd. My personal favorite was having our neighbor smoking cigars in his underwear on the balcony next to ours. What a sight! I truly believe that most of the passengers on this ship had never been on a cruise before, and did not know how to behave. This does not mean that we did not meet some very nice people during the cruise. We met some great families from Mexico, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. It was also a pleasure to share our daily experiences with our tablemates from Hawaii. Over the years of cruising, my wife and I have formulated this theory: the best cruises are the ones that have a general mix of passengers, with no particular group dominating. This cruise has reinforced that belief. Children's Services In our four prior Celebrity cruises, we never had more than 50 kids on board. While we think that the facilities, programs, and staff for young children are outstanding for groups of that size, they were struggling with such a large number of kids. Typically they have 5 counselors, but for this trip they added an extra 5. The lack of truly special programs for Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day was disappointing. Also, I knew that it was only a matter of time before Celebrity (and all other cruise lines) would figure a way of monetizing the children's program. By adding a few perks (such behind the scenes tours, costumes), re-branding existing programs and offering unlimited time at the Fun Factory (including premium $$ hours), Celebrity has created a program called VIP. In our cruise, they wanted $220usd per child for this program - which was absurdly overpriced. We did not sign up our daughter. The fact that only 9 children out of the 400+ children on board signed up for the program speaks loud and clear. Please note that kids are now allowed in the Thalassotherapy Pool, if the are with their parents. So, the peace and quiet of the area has been somewhat compromised. Travel Journal December 14 - Our goal was to try different things on this trip. That also included the airline. We decided to fly with COPA from Orlando to Buenos Aires via Panama City. We found chaos in the Panama City airport flying down to Buenos Aires and coming back home. For some reason, about half of the passengers seemed to have duplicate boarding passes, which made a mess of the boarding process. We were directly affected by this on our way down. The seats on the plane were very tight and uncomfortable, and the food was bad. This was our first and last experience with COPA. December 15 - Buenos Aires We arrived in Buenos Aires around 5:30am, and after immigration found our driver fairly quickly (we arranged all of our transfers in Buenos Aires thru DeFrantur). We made it to our hotel around 7:00am. The Claridge Hotel has good reviews in TripAdvisor, but we found the front desk personnel to be arrogant and unhelpful. The location of the hotel, near Florida street (a pedestrian shopping street), was not a good choice for us. That street seemed to have a sea of humanity every day (maybe because of holiday shopping). It was full of people trying to get you into their stores, street performers and beggars. On our previous trip, we stayed in Recoleta, a neighborhood we enjoyed much more. Even though our ship was departing from Chile, we came to Argentina first in order to visit the Glacier National Park near the town of El Calafate. So, today was an in-transit day. We finally got our room key around 11am and took a shower and a nap. Around 3pm we visited the Recoleta area and the market that is outside the cemetery on weekends. With an early flight the next day, we called it a day very early. Since we were coming back to the Claridge after our visit to El Calafate, we left 2 large suitcases with the hotel and took only 2 small ones to El Calafate. December 16 - El Calafate Our flight was at 8:30am, and we had schedule a transfer at 5am at the hotel. (Why so early? Well, having experienced Ezeiza airport before, we knew that we might need 3 hours to get to the gate.) The driver never showed up, so at 5:45am the hotel's driver took us to the airport. We were lucky and the line at the Aerolineas Argentinas counter was very short when we got there. Our flight left on time and we had a pleasant 3 hr flight to El Calafate. The airport at El Calafate is tiny, it had one gate. However, it is a modern facility. El Calafate is a small town in the middle of nowhere, whose only reason to exist is to serve as gateway to the Glacier National Park about 45 miles away. The town has a feel of a small alpine village, even though it sits at the shores of Argentino Lake. We found the people living there to be very nice and helpful. Our hotel, Calafate Parque, was very good and had a great location (one block away from the town's main street). The staff was great and I would recommend it to anyone who visits the area. The local operator (Prestigio) that picked us up at the airport offered a variety of tours to the Glacier Park, so we booked 3 tours with them for the next 2 days. That afternoon a contacted another operator (Cerro Frias) that offered a 2.5 hr horseback ride and dinner at a local estancia. I was a little concerned about my 5 yr old managing such a long ride, but she did great. We went up a small mountain and the views were amazing, including the horns of Torres de Paine on the Chilean side. We saw plenty of local wildlife and tons of wild flowers. Then, we went back to the main house and had an asado (BBQ) dinner. We had a great time! December 17 - El Calafate We typically prefer private tours, but a private guide will add little value here as everyone ends up in the same places anyway. So, on this day we joined a bus tour to the Perito Moreno glacier. We had about a 1 hour ride to the entrance of the park where you will pay an entrance fee of around $10usd. As were getting close to the glacier, the guide offered an optional 1 hour cruise to the south face of the glacier. We accepted the offer and had great views of the glacier (however, if you are doing the all glaciers boat tour at any point during your visit, I would skip this in favor of spending more time at the time in trails that face the glacier). After the boat ride, we were taken to the main visitor center, which has a decent restaurant and clean bathrooms. In front of the main building there is a trail and walkways that you follow downward. From these walkways, you get great views of the glacier. The sound of the ice cracking was amazing, and we were lucky enough to see a large caving while we were there. A memorable experience. December 18 - El Calafate Our second tour was an all day boat ride in a large catamaran to see 3 other glaciers (upsala, onelli and Spegazzini). The boat was packed with people, but each person gets a seat. As were seating down, one of the staff members announced that they had a few spots left in the VIP area. I jump at the opportunity and it was money well spent. For the extra money, we got very wide and comfortable seats in a great location (on the top floor with captain). We also got unlimited free drinks (such as coffee, hot chocolate and sodas). The VIP area also had 2 small balconies from which to step out and take pictures. We were very comfortable during the whole trip and avoided the mass of people trying to take photos below. I truly recommend that you pay the extra money and reserve seats on the VIP section when making reservations. The views the glaciers and icebergs from the boat were amazing. As part of the tour, we had a picnic lunch on the shore of a lake with small icebergs. The lunch was prepared by our hotel. Our daughter had a blast. We added a dinner and show at an estancia called El Galpon del Glaciar. So, on the way back they dropped us at the ranch about 1.5 hours before the program began. We had the opportunity to go horseback riding again, watch a farm hand sheer a lamb, ate a great dinner, and watch a descent show. For the price, it was a very good choice, but I would recommend not combining this with a full day tour like we did. We were worn out, and got to the hotel around 11pm. December 19 - Buenos Aires I wish I had scheduled more time in this region and less time back in Buenos Aires, when I planned this side trip. We had a great time here, and it would turn out to be the highlight of our trip. We got back to Buenos early afternoon. This time we flew into Newberry airport near downtown, so we were back to the Claridge hotel in no time. We took it easy the rest of the day. December 20 - Buenos Aires When we were planning the trip, we decided to take this day to visit Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. It is 1 hour away from BA via ferry (Buquebus). We bought the tickets via their website about 2 months in advance, which turned out to be a great decision as the ship was sold out. The trip to Colonia was underwhelming. The historical part of town is tiny and can be seen in 2 hours. We had a very good lunch in a local restaurant, and did a little bit of shopping. Given the hassles of immigration (you are going to another country) on both ferry trips, I would not recommend doing this trip just for a day. Too much work, for such small payout. December 21 - Santiago My wife woke up with a fever, and was not feeling well. However, we had to catch an 8:30am flight to Santiago, and we pressed on. The check-in line for Aerolineas Argentinas was huge even though we arrived at the airport at 5:30am. It took about 1.5 hrs to check our luggage in, but we made to the gate with plenty of time. My wife was not doing well at all when we finally landed in Santiago. I had arranged a transfer with SportsTour from the airport to the hotel, but when we got out of customs no one was waiting for us. I called them to see what was going on, they said someone would be there right away. 20 minutes later and still no show, I called again and said if I don't see anyone in 2 minutes and would take a taxi. About a minute later someone from another company showed up and told me that he had been hired to take us to the hotel. The bottom line: SportsTour forgot about us and they ended up calling someone else to take care of us. We arrived at the Santiago Park Plaza, and as soon as we got there, we ask the front desk to call a doctor. The doctor was in our room in 20 minutes. My wife was diagnosed with bronchitis and given some antibiotics. A lot of rest was recommended. So, that killed our plans for the rest of the day in Santiago. I can not speak highly enough about the staff at this hotel. They showed genuine concern, and the fact that they got a doctor so fast was impressive. December 22 - Valparaiso My wife was still not feeling well but was doing slightly better. The day before I gave our contact at SportsTour a verbal whipping for non-performance. They promised that they would arrive on time for our transfer to Valparaiso. 15 minutes after the agreed time, SportsTour was no where in sight. Our representative gave me the cell number of the driver and, of course, I called him. He said that he was having trouble with the van and that he was going to be there in 10 minutes. To say that I was concerned about beginning a 90 minute trip in a van with mechanical troubles would be a major understatement. Four years ago, SportsTour gave us a great tour of Santiago; this time around they failed miserably. We made it to the pier around noon, and there were no lines. We were aboard by 12:30pm. We took care of spa appointments, reservation in the United States restaurants, and then my wife's fever returned. December 23 - Day at Sea My wife went to see the doctor, and she was diagnosed with the Flu. She ended receiving respiratory treatments for the next 3 days, and pretty much was out of commission in our cabin for the next 4 days. December 24 - Puerto Montt On our previous trip, I noticed that driving in the Puerto Montt region was pretty easy, so I arranged a car rental thru the local Hertz agency. Their brought the car to the pier and collected the car when we returned. My original plan was to go horseback riding in the morning, and then circle Llanquihue Lake in the afternoon. My wife stayed aboard the ship, so my 5 year old daughter and me collected the rental car and headed to Quinta del Lago. This working ranch sits between the 2 main volcanoes: Osorno and Calbuco. The ranch is owned by a lady from Washington State and her Chilean husband. We had a great time riding the hills of this beautiful land. After 2 visits, I think the best way to enjoy this region is by doing some kind of activity, such as river rafting or horseback riding. This region begs exploration, and not in a bus. Even though the rental worked out fine, there are plenty of taxis that will give you a tour just outside the pier entrance. They may not speak good English, but you don't need an interpreter to appreciate the beauty. This is a tender intensive itinerary. When we booked this cruise a year in advance, we specifically asked if "priority tendering" was still one of the benefits of having a Concierge Class cabin, and were told that it was. Well, when we met our cabin steward, he told us that Celebrity had recently stopped giving priority tender tickets to CC cabins. I was angry, and let the concierge know that I had private excursions in every port and needed to be out the ship early. The next morning, priority tender tickets showed up in our cabin. With tickets and help from some of our cruise critic friends, we were able to take early tenders on every port. I was told that in some ports, people had to wait up to 2 hours to tender the regular way. Yikes!!! December 25 - Day at Sea Christmas Day. I thought that Celebrity would have a full day of special activities for the kids, but the only thing that they did that different was a rather disorganized children's parade through the ship and a quick visit with Santa. All kids got some kind of gift. My daughter got a child-size bathrobe, which she loved. My wife and I have always enjoyed the Spa on our Celebrity cruises. This was no exception, but the prices are really getting out of hand. With so many days at sea, we purchased passes to the Persian Garden at the beginning of the cruise. Because of my wife illness and lack of time, we did not go there enough to warrant the price that we paid. For those of you that will be traveling on the Infinity in the next 6 months, I can not recommend Dora (from Hungary) enough. She has to be the best masseuse that I have encountered in over my 10 years of cruising. Ask for her in the Spa. December 26 - Day at Sea The weather was very overcast with low clouds, which limited somewhat the view of the Chilean fjords. However, the scenery was still spectacular. December 27 - Punta Arenas Our experience in Punta Arenas 4 years ago was underwhelming, so this time we looked for something outside the typical tours. I bumped into a website for a local ranch that offered several types of activities, such as trekking, hiking and a small zip line canopy. They arranged a program for us, and we decided to go with them. Our trip to Fundo San Fernando turned out to be an expensive disappointment. Our program called for a 2 hour hike to Cerro Campana, followed by lunch, then some canopy or horseback riding. The family of the Fundo was our hosts, and they were a very nice. However, the Cerro Campana hike turned into a 4 hour ordeal (I guess highly fit individuals can make up the hill and back in 2 hours, but there is no way the average person can do it that fast) and threw our whole day out of sync. My wife (feeling slightly better) was bored to death, as she waited for us in the main house with our daughter. In summary, this is a work in progress as a tourist attraction, and maybe in a few years, they will have all the kinks worked out. December 28 - Ushuaia On our last trip we visited Ushuaia first, and then Punta Arenas, which gave us the opportunity to see the 5 large glaciers a few hours away from Ushuaia. This time around, I got up at 4am, and missed them because we passed them earlier that night. What a disappointment! For this port, we contacted local operator Canal - they had provided once of the best excursions during our first trip. We visited the national park last time, so this time we did a 4x4 trip to Lake Fagnano. I am happy to report, that they did not disappoint. We had a great guide and enjoyed our ride thru the Fuegan forest and a BBQ lunch next to the lake. Even my wife's spirits were lifted during the day. I can not recommend them enough. December 29 - Day at Sea We had nice weather as we visited Cape Horn. December 30 - Day at Sea We went to see a comedian/juggler on this night. He was so bad that he was getting heckled by the kids in the front row. Overall, the nightly entertainment at the theatre was very poor. The production shows have been around for years now, and the rest of the entertainment was mediocre at best (with the exception of a comedian on the next to last night of the cruise - he was pretty good). I think Pampas devils have been in every Celebrity cruise we have been on (at least it seems that way), and trust me they are not that good. This is another area were a decline in quality was evident. December 31 - Port Stanley With some other CC members, we arranged a private excursion (with Neil Rowlands) to Volunteer Point to see a King Penguin colony. There were 14 of us. In essence, the same tour that Celebrity offers under the name "A Day with Royalty", but 30% less in cost. In our previous trip, we visited the rookery at Kidney Cove and had a wonderful time (at that time the trip to Volunteer Point did not exist). The opportunity to see King Penguins seemed to be worth the long trip to get there (2.5 hours). We found the trip to Volunteer Point too arduous. The last part (well over 1 hour) has no roads, and progress is very slow. What these Land Rovers can do, is truly amazing. Although the payoff is outstanding: 3 rookeries (King, Gentoo and Magellanic), we found the trip over there (and back) painfully long and rough. I must say, that some of the other members of our private tour though that the whole experience was great. Having done 2 tours in the Falklands, I would recommend the excursion to Bluff Cove rookery as a better alternative. Save the long trip to Punta Tombo in Puerto Madryn (which is also long, but over a paved/gravel road the whole way). After a long day, we still had a formal night and New Year's festivities ahead of us. I found no sense in Celebrity's holding the main party at the Constellation Lounge and requesting that all children be removed from the location by 11pm. As expected, most families ignored this rule. In addition to the Constellation Lounge, other parties where simultaneously held at the Rendezvous Lounge (with Latin Music), Michael's Club (with a string quarter) and the Cova Café (with members of the Celebrity orchestra). All locations were packed by 11pm with no seats to be found. I don't understand why the Trellis restaurant or the Celebrity theatre were not used. We roamed the ship until midnight, trying to stay awake. We did the countdown at the Rendezvous Lounge, and went to bed soon after. January 1 - Day at Sea My wife was finally starting to feel a little better. So, we enjoyed the ship together for the first time in our trip. We had dinner on the alternative restaurant on Deck 10 aft. We ended getting a show with our dinner. For about 1 hour, we went passed several whales (some of them very playful) that were heading south for the summer. This is the first time we had seen large whales in the open ocean, so it was a thrill for us. Those in the main dining room went unaware of the show outside as no announcement was made. January 2 - Puerto Madryn In Puerto Madryn, we contacted local operator Huinca Travel for a tour of peninsula Valdez. On our previous trip, we used Huinca for an excursion to Punta Tombo, which was excellent. At that time, the owner of Huinca, German Beck, gave us a great tour. His company has grown a lot since then, and he no longer has time to do the tours himself. We have stayed in touch with him since our trip 4 years ago, so we were so happy to learn that we would join us in our tour as a passenger. We had a great time with German and our guide. I recommend them without hesitation. I was a little disappointed in that our visit to Peninsula Valdez was between whale season and the peak of the sea lion season. However, we saw seals, sea lions and penguins (mostly from a distance of 50 to 100 feet. I must say that the color of the ocean on this area was truly remarkable. Having now visited both Punta Tombo and Peninsula Valdez, my recommendation would be as follows: (1) if your trip falls within whale season or the peak Sea Lion breeding season, go to Peninsula Valdez (see the penguins in the Falklands or Punta Arenas); (2) if your visit falls in between whale or sea lion season (or if can not enough of the penguins) go to Punta Tombo. For either tour, the distance that you will travel in total is the same. January 3 - Day at Sea The wind really picked up. Fortunately the wind was in the direction the ship was traveling, so the incremental ship movement was minimal. Around 5:30pm, the captain announced that because of the high winds for tomorrow, we would skip Punta del Este and instead, head directly to Montevideo and spend 2 days there. We really did not like Montevideo during our last visit, so this change to the itinerary was unwelcome by us. January 4 - Montevideo We had a private excursion set up in Punta del Este for this day. However, we were able to cancel with no problems. During our first in 2004, we arranged a city tour. That tour was really bad and spent 2 hours touring residential areas. Since the city itself did not warrant more than half a day, we walked out of the ship with no plans. Once we got to the area where the taxis are waiting, we asked the supervisor where to go off the tourist path and do some horseback riding. He suggested the Minas region in the center of the country. I usually do a lot of research before any trip we make, but this time we decide to just take a chance and go with the flow. Wrong decision!! After a 2 hour ride from Montevideo, we arrived at a vacation center in the mountain region usually reserved for employees of the electricity company of Uruguay. I do not kid you when I say that this place look like the hotel in "The Shining" movie. We got off in the main courtyard and were welcome by sad music blaring from a speaker from the 1950's and some very elderly people being wheeled around by staff dressed in white. It was so bad, that it was funny! We got there around 11:30am and were quickly informed that the horse trip would be at 3pm. So, that took care of that. Then we asked about eating lunch, and were told that the restaurant would open at 1pm. Fortunately, our driver convinced the restaurant manager to let us eat early. Our second stop was a waterfall called "Salto del Penitente". At this point we were skeptical about everything, but the name held promise: "Jump of the Penitent". After a 30 minute ride, we arrive at the waterfall. My wife and I looked at each other, and just starting laughing. My cabin shower had more water falling than this cascade. What a joke! After that, and because my daughter was starting to feel ill, we told the driver that we had enough and wanted to go back to the ship. This may our worst tour ever! January 5 - Montevideo After yesterday's fiasco, my wife and I decided just to do a little shopping and return to the ship quickly. January 6 - Buenos Aires The end of our trip. We were able to disembark quickly, and had secured transportation from the pier to our hotel for the day in advance. Our plane was not leaving until 3:00am that night, so we booked a room for a day at a hotel not worth mentioning. We did some shopping and then got some rest before leaving at midnight for the airport. After a very disappointing and difficult trip, we were ready to go home. We love to travel and we love to cruise. So, we look forward to better vacations in the future. Major bad luck and some bad decision making on our part seemed to doom this one. However, I do hope that Celebrity addresses some of the issues discussed above. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was a repositioning cruise (Ft Lauderdale to Santiago transiting the Panama Canal). Our cruise was quite heavily discounted on account of the costs of one way fares back to the US from Santiago. We had a Veranda cabin but I seem to ... Read More
This was a repositioning cruise (Ft Lauderdale to Santiago transiting the Panama Canal). Our cruise was quite heavily discounted on account of the costs of one way fares back to the US from Santiago. We had a Veranda cabin but I seem to recall that inside cabins were selling for as little as USD600 per person for the two week cruise in the month or so before we departed. This was our first Celebrity cruise, but will definitely not be our last. With the cruise being so heavily discounted, I fully expected that Celebrity would need to cut some corners somewhere along the line, however this was NOT our experience and it was very much a four plus star cruise experience across the board. In no particular order Pre - Cruise Hotel to Avoid America's Best Inns Ft Lauderdale Sth. A nightmare and with any luck will have been closed down by the time this goes to print. Check out the reviews on Trip Advisor for the gory details. Embarkation and disembarkation smooth and well organized on both ends. Appreciated the nice touches such as ice cold faceclothes, bottled water, etc while we waited to embark. Lots of staff around to assist and a very warm welcome. Fellow Passengers Primarily from North America and generally in the 70+ age range. We met several lovely passengers who were well into their 80's as well. Entertainment Was very much tailored to the age profile above, particularly the singers/vocal entertainment. Was not that great from our perspective, but the oldies seemed to really enjoy it! Cabin Verandah cabin was well appointed and spacious. Only complaint is that the layout is such that you can't access the closet if someone is in/needs to use the bathroom, as the doors sort of open into each other. Just a bit annoying, that's all. Got used to it by day 13! Cabin Steward Excellent and unobtrusive service. Gym Much of the equipment was not in good working order approx 1/4 of the machines with "out of order" notices on them at any given time and a bit too much mirror gazing by some of the staff, when they were there. The lack of staff presence was also a problem when the air conditioning went off unexpectedly (as it was prone to do) however the Spa ladies were always helpful in tracking down someone to fix it. Shore excursions we didn't do any personally as we were travelling with our own group, however the other passengers seemed to speak quite highly of the ones they'd done. The prices as well we found were much more reasonable than what we'd become accustomed to paying on Princess. Internet Bought a package at the usual shipboard rates and was pleasantly surprised with how well it all worked. Found both the internet cafe and wireless connections to be reasonably good esp compared to the connections on Princess. THe chap in the Internet Cafe was excellent and very helpful and patient to those who were not quite comfortable with the technology. A credit to Celebrity, this guy would stay on well past his official leaving time to help others out. Activities a wide range of things to do if you were so inclined, and a great Cruise Director/activities team, with heaps of energy and enthusiasm and a real "can do" attitude. Food Quality was generally excellent, esp AquaSpa Cafe, which is the best kept secret on the boat with its heathy eating menu and beautifully presented meals. The buffet was okay but not adequately staffed (you could not help yourself as there were staff "servers" on all but the salad bar) ie the pasta bar had only one server and so even if you just wanted a bowl of plain spaghetti, you had to wait behind all those in front of you who were ordering customized pasta toppings etc. We tended to avoid the buffet for that reason, although as mentioned above the food was generally excellent with great variety. On the positive side, they did have waiters come and take your full tray from you and carry it to your table for you, which was a nice touch. There were some problems in the Main Dining Room on a couple of nights, which seemed to be management issues rather than issues with individual staff. There was apparently a "change of senior staff" early on in the cruise and things got a bit better after that. Kids Club There were only nineteen kids on this cruise and in one word, FABULOUS! A highlight of our experience with Celebrity. Truly wonderful staff who clearly loved their jobs and made sure our kids had a great time despite the small numbers. I can't speak highly enough of the Kids Club team on our cruise and hope that Celebrity realizes what a great group of people they have there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Ship: We were quite happy with the condition of the ship and the cabins were very nice and well presented with the cabin staff excellent and very attentive. Dinning: Trellis Restaurant was excellent and I found the food good and ... Read More
Ship: We were quite happy with the condition of the ship and the cabins were very nice and well presented with the cabin staff excellent and very attentive. Dinning: Trellis Restaurant was excellent and I found the food good and varied even for 28 days. Grill for breakfast good and the selection the day with Sushi, Asian. Italian very nice ... loved the pizza that was always just made (and I do not like pizza as a norm). 14 days Ft Lauderdale to Santiago Everything on the ship was 'fantastic' and fun. Used the Thalassotherapy daily which was nice and relaxing. The ship was a pleasure to be on. Except for problems on deck 7 - water was pouring in to the walkway and getting in to some cabins. It was a mess but they cleaned it up .. my only gripe they never mentioned it or said the were sorry for any inconvenience. In fact I happened to come along and see the water and call emergency to tell them. got a stupid girl on the line who had no idea what I was telling her. They did come but never a thank you for the call .. that water was flooding the gangway which would have been nice. That apart it was a great 14 days .. well worth the trip. 14 days Santiago to Buenos Aires Things changed and the passengers just seemed to take over ... Thalassotherapy pool no more, as full of screaming children (the sign quiet under 18 years with adult meant nothing and the staff did nothing about it). Dinner with times set .. people took no notice and just arrived as they wished .. dinner was 8.45 in main dining room but people would stroll in at any time. Dress NO JEANS that was a joke .... nothing was said or done by the ships staff and never any mention in the daily paper. The state of the ship for this 14 days went down hill .. with coke cans etc, left on the carpets in hallways. Lots of pushing and shoving. Tender was a disaster with no control from the ships staff when ashore to get back on .. one would get in line but people would just push in. The staff (officers included) just stood and watched. Apart from the destination Christmas and New Year was a reason to book the cruise: Christmas Day .. Great start for the kids and fun to see .. but then nothing that was it. New Year Eve .. Nothing in the day then in the evening when going in to dinner they did not have the dinning room ready with New Year Hats etc on the tables. it was just nothing and second rate and one had to ask for things. Seeing in the New Year was in three different places so not get together of the people on ship and though we had fun it was very poor effort. Crew in general very good but some needed a bit of prompting and at times bar service very slow. Main Dinning Room Wine Waiters should give it away. Lost one bottle of wine and on New Year Eve took 45 minutes to find and bring it to the table .. had to get the restaurant manager to get it then. That all apart the cruise port and things we saw were just fantastic and made the trip worth the cost. I have not shown a cabin or deck number as we moved cabins for the second 14 days .. but that is for another reason .. best forgotten. Would I go on Celebrity and Infinity again - yes Would I go on Celebrity for Christmas and New Year - no Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
My family of 4 set out for a special holiday adventure to South America. What we ended up with was outrageous treatment beyond belief. American Airlines and Celebrity Cruise line's incredible callousness and incompetence nearly ... Read More
My family of 4 set out for a special holiday adventure to South America. What we ended up with was outrageous treatment beyond belief. American Airlines and Celebrity Cruise line's incredible callousness and incompetence nearly completely wrecked our holiday before it even began. When we finally made it to the ship after two and a half days the treatment and service on board wasn't much better. This cruise line behaves like a company ready to go out of business (it certainly will if it keeps this up).This is going to be a long review, but bear with me because it is necessary to include all the details to fully illustrate the incredible degree of incompetence and indifference that my family encountered on this expensive cruise. We were scheduled to sail on the Celebrity Infinity for a 14 day holiday cruise from Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina which embarked on December 21, 2008. Scheduled is the operative word here. I had upgraded our cabin to "concierge class" because I wanted a balcony and decided that the extra amenities seemed worthwhile, particularly the priority embarkation and disembarkation that was promised. My two daughters, (ages 20 and 14) had an inside cabin of their own. I also purchased air transportation and port transfers and a two day add on stay in Buenos Aires from Celebrity. The first problem was that we were scheduled to fly from Cincinnati to Chicago to Miami to Santiago on December 20. When the weather in the Midwest started getting dicey, I called my travel agent on December 19 to see if there was any possibility of being routed through a hub other than Chicago. No luck there except an earlier flight from Cincinnati to Chicago which ended up prolonging the agony in Chicago. Our flight which was scheduled to leave Chicago at 3:45 pm ended up leaving after 7 pm with an estimated arrival time of 11 pm in Miami. Our connecting flight to Santiago was to leave at 11:25 pm. A couple hours prior to boarding the delayed flight to Miami, i called Celebrity and told them that I might miss the connection. Their office closed t 7 pm Eastern time and I told them the flight wouldn't even start boarding by them so I wouldn't know my situation before they closed. I was told just to call the same number and it would ring through to an after hours emergency operator if I had a problem. After we boarded the flight to Miami, I asked the American Airlines flight attendants if they could arrange for assistance at the arrival gate in Miami to reach our international gate due to the tight connection. I have health issues that prevent me from running any distance. The attendants not only refused to assist, but were downright nasty. Since we were at the very rear of a large plane, I asked if at least we could be moved to a seat closer to the front of the plane. Again I was refused. My daughters and husband ran ahead to the international terminal while I tried my best to run. My daughter got to the gate, only to be refused boarding while others who were on the same connecting flight from Chicago and who had arrived at the international gate at the same time she did were boarded. (American Airlines excuse when I filed a complaint was that they were sorry that we arrived after the flight had closed. That is ridiculous when you consider that the people standing right next to us in line were allowed to board and we weren't). All in all, 15 people from our cruise were denied boarding on this flight. The American Airlines supervisor at this gate was even nastier than the flight attendants had been. It took over an hour to re-book everyone. Meanwhile I became ill from all the exertion and stress and I lay on the floor at the gate the entire time with chest pain and my head pounding, taking medication. No one from the airline even inquired as to whether I required assistance. It was almost 1 am by the time we got the new tickets. They made no attempt to put us on a morning flight which would have still allowed for the possibility of making the cruise which didn't leave Valparaiso until 9 pm the next day. Instead we were put on a 9:30 pm flight the next night (Sunday December 21) on LAN (this meant we'd still be in Miami after the ship left the dock in Valparaiso). I called the "emergency" number at Celebrity and instead of being put through to the emergency operator who was allegedly available, I got a "we are closed" message. As soon as we got to the hotel, I checked our reservation on LAN's website but it wouldn't recognize the locator number. At 7 am Sunday morning, I called LAN and got the same answer-we don't have that locator number in our computer. So off we went in the shuttle back to the airport, and amidst hundreds of people trying to check in at American Airlines, we tried to get help. After being told by one agent that LAN did have the reservation and calling LAN again to be told the new locator number AA gave us wasn't valid, I finally found an AA supervisor who admitted the reservation had been put in the wrong database by the bungling AA employee at the gate the previous night. She reissued the tickets and we went back to the hotel. I was still not certain at that point whether we had confirmed seats on the LAN flight or if we were standby, which had been mentioned by the gate agent, so I called the "day of travel" number at Celebrity and inquired as to what I should do if I didn't get on the LAN flight that night. I was told that I should just go to the airport that evening and standby and wait. I told her that I didn't think that was a good answer because if I didn't get on this next flight, the ship would be out to sea and would be 1000 miles from the port by the next time it docked. Her answer was "just go to the airport and see what happens." I hung up on her and called my travel agent. The travel agent told me that she could get us seats on a LAN flight the next morning from Santiago to LaSerena but that it would cost nearly $800 for the four of us and we would have to pay out of our own pockets and hope to be reimbursed later. I said that I didn't like that idea and that we needed to get a more definitive input from Celebrity. Phone calls from the travel agency came in all afternoon. At one point the travel agent said that two travel agents (it was Sunday and the agency was closed) had come in and had as many as four phone lines going to Celebrity trying the resolve the issue. Ultimately, we got a call from the travel agent informing us that we did have confirmed seats on the LAN flight from Miami to Santiago and that once Celebrity was sure that we were on the flight, they would make arrangements to fly us to La Serena. Dream on. At 5 pm we picked up our hand luggage that had been stored at the hotel and coincidentally met up with another family who were to be on the cruise and had been refused boarding as well. I asked them if they had checked their tickets, because I assumed that the same mistake had probably been made with their re-booking as had been made with ours. They hadn't. When we arrived at the LAN counter at 5:30 pm(behind scores of other passengers, even though we'd been told by AA that we couldn't check in there any sooner than 3 hours before the flight) we were relieved to find that we were on the passenger list. Unfortunately, the other family was not. They were sent back to AA to try and get re-booked again. Once we were finally at the counter, the LAN agent said that our tickets still weren't correct and we spent another half hour standing there while she reprinted the tickets yet another time. Then they made a big deal of checking all the luggage tags and recording the numbers from the AA luggage receipts, as our luggage was allegedly going to be transferred to this flight. With boarding passes in hand, we called the travel agent again and told her we were headed to the gate. Again we were told that a Celebrity Agent would meet us outside of customs in Santiago and guide us to the ship. We boarded the LAN flight at 9 pm. The other family finally made it to the gate just as the flight began boarding. They had been hassled for two hours between AA and LAN before LAN finally issued them boarding passes, even though they too had been on the phone all day with their travel agent who had assured them three times that they had seats on this flight. The flight on LAN was great (much nicer than the United flight on which we returned from the trip). Comfortable seats, a decent dinner (for airline food) and a complimentary glass of wine. Movies, videos, games and music on demand were on individual screens with remote controls. LAN was to become our best travel ally. After deplaning in Santiago sometime around 8 am, we paid the arrival tax ($131 per person) and went off the retrieve our luggage. It wasn't on the flight. My husband went to stand in the huge line of passengers with missing luggage and suggested that I go through customs and get outside to look for the Celebrity agent. No Celebrity agent anywhere in sight. I did meet another man who had been on our flight who had also been bumped from Saturday's flight. He told me that our luggage was in the AA office. They had sent it to Santiago on the next AA flight (so why couldn't they have sent us on the next flight too?). I had no way of communicating this to my husband who was still back in the secure area of the airport. By that time I was in tears, and some guy who appeared to be airport personnel asked if he could help me. He wanted to direct me to a taxi of which he was probably getting a cut of the fare. My husband and daughters finally came out through customs, after having waited about 45 minutes in line to be told that the luggage was indeed in the AA office. In the process, we ran across another party of 4 people in the same situation, but they told us that American Airlines had given them free tickets to La Serena to meet the ship. I put my 20 yr old daughter in charge to trying to contact the travel agency and Celebrity as I was so stressed at that point it was hard for me to be objective. She has traveled the world to such places and Burma and all over India by herself, so she's an experienced traveler and very level headed. Again, a continuous barrage of calls ensued back and forth (now on international roam prices) all of which proved to provide false information. We were first told that a shuttle was to meet us in front of the airport to drive us to La Serena (a 300 mile distance through the Atacama Desert) and that it would be arriving soon. It was now after 9 am. At the front of the airport we met up with another group of 4 people who were also on the cruise and had been bumped from the Saturday flight. They had been in front of the airport waiting for a Celebrity agent since 6 am. The other family of three joined us, too. There were now 11 of us waiting for the shuttle. Around 10 am my daughter called again and was told by Celebrity that the shuttle was on its way. Another half hour passed and everybody was getting anxious that we wouldn't make the boat in the time that was left even if the shuttle came. The airport agent and his taxi vultures had convinced us at that point to ride to La Serena in one of their vans for $100 per person and grabbed our luggage and started hauling it to the vans. As we were doing that, my daughter made another call to Celebrity, who insisted that the shuttle was still on its way. We wrested our luggage back from them and hauled it back to the curb in front of the airport. More time passed. The taxi vultures kept insisting that they could drive us to La Serena in time to catch the boat before it left at 4 pm. That was physically impossible at this point unless they drove 100 mph the whole way. I finally had to start screaming that I was going to call the police to get them to leave us alone. It was now after 11 am and my daughter called Celebrity again and this time was told that there was no shuttle on its way! They said they had no authorization to send a shuttle and that they hadn't even gotten in touch with an English speaking agent in Santiago yet. The Celebrity agent on the phone told my daughter to get in a taxi and to try to reach La Serena on our own. She told him that would be impossible at this point due to the distance we would need to travel in the time left and his response was "stop arguing with me and get a taxi or you won't ever make it!" My daughter replied that she wasn't getting into a taxi and going on a wild goose chase and hung up on him. (Apparently he told our travel agent the same thing and she was incensed at the way he had spoken to her). We were all on the verge of despair, but we still had the option of buying tickets for the 1:30 LAN flight to La Serena, so we headed upstairs (with piles of luggage) to the LAN counter. While we were standing in line waiting to buy tickets for the flight, we received a call from the travel agent relaying a message that she had gotten from Celebrity claiming that they were sending an agent who was now on their way to meet us at the airport and take us to the port. We told her we were going to buy airplane tickets and fly there as we saw that as our only viable option and only had a few minutes to get the tickets before the flight started to board. She called back again and said that Celebrity had insisted that the agent was on the way and that it was only 2 hours to the port. At that point I realized that they were under the assumption that the ship was still in Valparaiso, which is 2 hours from Santiago. Unreal!! My daughter told our travel agent that what Celebrity had told her was nonsense and that we were going to take our chances and fly to La Serena and also told her that we wanted confirmation that the captain of the ship had been contacted and that he knew that we were coming before we got on the flight. Fortunately for us, one of the LAN supervisors noticed us and the confusion we were experiencing, along with the others in the group, and took my husband to the ticket counter, helped him purchase our tickets and expedited our luggage check in. As we headed to the gate we got more phone calls from the travel agency. We were told that we had to make it to the port by three or else the customs agent would be gone, then we were told again that a shuttle would meet us in La Serena and take us to the port (which was some distance from the airport). We were also told at that point that the captain was informed that we would be arriving in La Serena at 2:30 pm and we would proceed directly to the ship. We were told that the ship would wait for our arrival. We arrived at the La Serena airport after another pleasant short LAN flight. I went out to look for a Celebrity agent while my husband collected the luggage. Again, no sign of anyone from Celebrity at the airport. My daughter checked her phone (which had been turned off during the flight) and had text message stating that an agent was going to meet us at the Santiago airport, put us in a hotel in Santiago for 2 days and then transport us to Puerto Montt to meet the ship there!! There were now 15 of us assembled in La Serena trying to figure out the fastest way to get to the ship. Fortunately, one person in the group spoke fluent Spanish and negotiated hiring a van for us. Eleven people and piles of luggage went into a van and the remaining 4 took a taxi to the ship. We went careening through town, passing trucks and carts and a near miss of a crash or two before we finally got to the ship at around 3:15 pm. We were directed to the customs office. Fortunately the customs officer was still there. He stamped all of our passports and we headed back toward the ship and unloaded our luggage on the dock. An officer of the ship wandered over to us and gave us an incredulous look. She said that the crew had been told by the Celebrity office that we weren't meeting the ship that day. She said that Celebrity had sent a van to the airport and "waited hours and hours" for us and that we had never showed up! What airport? When? Really!! The captain obviously had no idea that we were on our way. All of this nonsense could have been avoided if Celebrity had just made the arrangements for us to connect to La Serena from the flight to Santiago when our travel agent contacted them on Sunday (and they were on the phone to Celebrity much of the day on Sunday, being put on hold and experiencing extreme frustration themselves). We would have avoided the long line to pay the arrival tax, the long line to get our luggage, and all the other frustrations, because if you had a connecting flight in Santiago to another city in Chile, you got to bypass all the arrival formalities in Santiago, and I am sure that they would have gone much more quickly at our final airport destination which was much less crowded. They made Sea Pass cards for us and we boarded the ship and went to our stateroom. It was now nearly 4 pm and the ship was preparing to leave the dock. No one else from the crew greeted us or called or made any inquiries as to any further needs that we might have. In our cabin we found a bottle of warm champagne (a concierge class amenity) that had been left in a pool of melted ice in the ice bucket overnight. No one came to bring us a chilled bottle. (We later found out the travel agency had also sent us a gift of a bottle of wine which Celebrity bothered to give to us). I was thoroughly exhausted from all the extra travel time, stress, and frustration. I asked my daughter to call our travel agent and extend to her the courtesy of knowing that we had made it to the ship, since she had spent so much of her weekend trying to help us. (The travel agent later told us that she received a call a couple hours later from someone at Celebrity who acted "absolutely giddy" that we'd made it to the ship. She told the person from Celebrity that she already knew this because we had called her hours earlier and said she "went off at her" telling her that it was through no effort whatsoever by Celebrity that we had gotten there.) After getting ready for dinner, we went to the guest relations desk because my daughter had discovered that her Sea Pass didn't reflect the beverage waiver that I'd filled out online for her before the cruise (if you are between 18 and 21 you can drink while in international waters if your parent signs a waiver) and also because I wanted to request a meeting with the hotel manager concerning the whole fiasco that we'd just been through. The beverage waiver hadn't been processed because I needed to present the form at the check in at the embarkation terminal in Santiago which obviously hadn't happened. It wasn't a big problem to take care of that issue (I just signed a new form and she got a new ID card), but in requesting a meeting with the hotel manager, I got the third degree from the guest relations person. She finally told me that I could only meet with the assistant hotel manager and that they would call me when he decided to meet with me! At dinner we were escorted to our table (for 8) and sat waiting to order. Another party of 4 (who were speaking Spanish) was escorted to our table, gave us a dirty look and left abruptly. So we ate by ourselves the first night. The next day was a day at sea, which I desperately needed to get some rest and collect my thoughts. I ordered a room service breakfast for my husband and myself, since I was still very tired and wanted a little pampering from the allegedly "special" room service selections available in "concierge class". The food took almost an hour to arrive and was cold and the order was not correct. This was a harbinger of what was to come with anything ordered in the cabin. It took almost an hour to get ice or a glass of juice in the afternoon (when you could contact the steward). After that initial experience, I ordered room service only one other time to get some pastries and fruit to take along on a very early morning shore excursion. Breakfast was on time that day but the order was still incorrect. Later in the day, I met up with other "stranded" families, who also told me that they had tried to arrange meetings with the hotel manager and were given the same standoffish story. I called guest relations three times over the course of that day and finally just before dinner, they conceded to allow me to meet with the assistant hotel manager after dinner. We had invited the couple and their daughter whom we had met in Miami to join us at dinner since they too had no one else at their assigned table. Before they arrived at dinner to join us, a man and his daughter sat at our table, whom we hadn't expected since they'd not been there the night before, and there were only two seats left so our new friends went back down to their original table. (We asked for the table to be set for 9 on subsequent nights so that the other 3 could join us, but that took 3 days for them to get right and ultimately they moved us all to a larger table on the other side of the dining room). On the positive side, the 9 of us all enjoyed dining together for the rest of the voyage. At 8 pm I went to meet with the assistant hotel manager, Alexander Zeitz. My daughter had told some of the others that I had finally arranged a meeting and they were all on hand to join me. When Mr. Zeitz came out of his office he was very upset to see the group rather than just me and said he was uncomfortable meeting with so many people at once. The others refused to budge and he finally acceded although he behaved like he was about to be attacked by an angry mob. After listening to our stories, we got a very polite song and dance about how this was all beyond his control and that he would have to relay the information from the notes he had taken to corporate because it was obvious to him that we wanted to be compensated for our ordeal above and beyond the $150 per person compensation that was their standard refund for missing a night of the cruise. He asked for our receipts from the out of pocket expenses for the airline tickets and taxi and said it would probably be several days before we would hear anything from corporate because it was December 23 and the offices in Miami would be closed for the holiday. He admitted that the message that customs would close at 3 had come from him, so obviously someone on the ship had been in contact with Celebrity's land based offices! So why all the confusion when we got to the ship?? After the others left, I ask to speak further with him privately about our accommodations. I expressed my dismay at having purchased an upgrade when apparently I wasn't getting the amenities I'd purchased. Most of the times that I'd called the cabin steward, he didn't answer his phone, nor did the main guest services line answer. I ended up looking for the pantry and getting my own ice when I wanted cold water. The concierge line never answered either (so much for concierge service!). The fancy pillows and bed linens never materialized either. The one time that we did get through to guest services about locating a light switch and a problem with the sliding door's latch, they said they'd send someone to the room but never did. What I was mainly upset about was having read in the nightly newsletter that priority disembarkation at the ports had been suspended in South America. This was the main reason why I chose to upgrade to Concierge Class. Response-more song and dance about how this would disrupt disembarkation and take longer if they gave priority to everyone in Concierge Class (because they had made half the staterooms on the ship Concierge Class, ostensibly to extract more money from the guests for no tangible upgrade in service). He said that the steward would be told to bring me ice daily and apprise me of my selection of pillows. No pillows, but occasionally I had ice in the afternoon. I still had to get my own ice from time to time. Finally after a week of frustration in trying to reach the cabin steward for anything (and I really didn't ask for much other than ice or assistance with things in the room that were problematic), I was finally told by someone in guest services that my steward's phone was broken and the he had a new phone number. Why couldn't he have told us this at the outset?! On Christmas Eve we arrived in Puerto Montt, where I had arranged a tour for my family with a private tour operator a few weeks before the trip and was looking forward to seeing the lake country of Chile more than any of the other port stops. Several of the other passengers that I knew had arranged for the same tour with this company. The morning announcer stated that if you were not participating in a tour through Celebrity's shore excursions, you could pick up a tender ticket in front of the theater, but they wouldn't be available until 10:30 am. We went to the guest relations desk and asked again if there was any possibility of getting a priority ticket, but were told-no, only guests in suites got priority tendering (this was different from what the newsletter stated of no priority tendering other than excursions purchased through Celebrity). I also asked what was the first possible time I could obtain a ticket at the theater for the tenders for non-excursion guests, and she said 10 am. We decided to go to the theater a little early and at 9:40 am we got a ticket for tender #16 (when they weren't even supposed to be giving out tickets until 10!). Finally we arrived on the shore and went out to look for our tour van. A man at the end of the pier was holding a placard for the tour company so we approached him. To my shock, he told us that the van had already left and that the tour operators had asked him to wait for us to see if we still wanted to go with him in his taxi. He gave us a decent tour but certainly not all that had been part of the original tour that I booked. He didn't have any arrangements for getting us lunch at the restaurant the tour operators used, so he discounted the trip to make up for the fact that we had to buy our own lunch. However, it was Christmas Eve and the restaurants for the most part were closed and it was 3 o'clock before we found a half decent place to eat. I spent the greater part of 6 hours jammed in the back of a Nissan with no air conditioning (it was an unusually hot day in the area), couldn't open the window much of the time because of the dusty unpaved road, and the trunk of the car kept unlatching! Frank, our guide (a Chilean native who lived in Canada for 23 years), was a great guy and we loved his narratives, so despite the discomfort, he got a substantial tip for Christmas Eve for his willingness to stick around and do his best to show us a good time. I was still pretty disappointed that I didn't get to see many of the sights that I'd hoped to see in this very quaint and scenic area (but I blamed that on Celebrity-not Frank). Back at the port, Alexander Zeitz was on hand to hand out cups of hot chocolate to the returning passengers. He asked me how my day had been and I told him that I missed my tour because of the tendering situation. He said that if I'd asked for assistance, they would have gotten us off the ship earlier. Really??? Isn't that what I'd discussed with him the night before??? I found out later that other passengers (who made it to the tour that we missed) had asked the hotel manager for priority tendering passes and she's simply given them out with the admonishment not to tell anyone else! Back on the ship, it was Christmas Eve, and I had made reservation several weeks before the cruise to dine in the specialty restaurant, the S.S. United States, as a special holiday treat. We got dressed in our formal wear and went to the restaurant at 7:30 pm. There was only one other party in the restaurant and yet they tried to seat us at the first table which was sticking out into the foyer of the restaurant. I declined that table. This meal proved to be an extreme disappointment and certainly not worth the additional $120 that I had paid for the meal. The waiters were very professional and the service was very showy. It's too bad that the food wasn't on the same level of quality. My husband and I ordered the lobster bisque, which obviously came out of a food service package. My older daughter pronounced her foie gras as excellent, though. The younger daughter ordered a Caesar salad. The table side presentation consisted of pouring the pre-made dressing over the salad in a bowl and tossing it around, adding cheese and croutons and serving it. Not your standard table side Caesar salad routine. It was average. For entrees my husband and I ordered the Chilean Sea Bass, after inquiring if it was indeed fresh since we were in Chile. We were told that it was. The girls ordered Sole Meuniere and Steak Diane. The sea bass was dry and not really good except for an interesting vegetable sauce. The table side presentation of the Steak Diane involved heating up a pre-cooked filet in some premade gravy with a few other garnishes. It was tasty but the filet wasn't top quality meat and was rather chewy. The sole was the only dish of distinction amongst the entrees. The French cheese course followed and actually was very good with a nice selection of fine cheeses. The dessert course was the most disappointing of all. My younger daughter loves chocolate soufflE and three of us dutifully ordered ours at the beginning of the meal to allow adequate preparation time. My husband ordered some sort of fruit dessert. At approximately 9:30 our desserts were served. My older daughter asked if she could order a glass of the Royal Tokay with her dessert which was $20 per glass. I told her to go ahead since it was Christmas Eve. The wine arrived in a lovely Riedel crystal glass and was superb (she let me have a couple sips). The three soufflEs looked great until we started to eat them. Under the top crust, they were completely raw. When the waiter came to collect the dishes (he didn't come to ask how our desserts were) I mentioned this to him and he asked if we wanted something else. We declined since it was now after 10 pm. So much for an awesome Christmas Eve dinner. A couple days later the head pastry chef was giving a culinary demo and I mentioned the raw soufflEs to him. His response was, "sometimes they get busy". Indeed. The ship of lame excuses. We went up to the Rendezvous Lounge to meet some of our new friends and listen to some music until midnight Mass. I was explaining to our friends what had happened earlier with the tenders and how we had missed our tour. A lady came up to us and said she had overheard us talking and introduced herself as the wife of the cruise director. She said she was very sorry that this had happened to me and that her husband had been very upset with the way the crew had handled the tendering tickets that day. She wanted me to meet her husband and offered to buy me a drink. I told her that I didn't drink, but she insisted , so I ordered a Coke and waited with her until the cruise director arrived and we were introduced. He also offered his apologies and gave us his phone number and invited me to call him if I needed any future assistance. This was the first time anyone on the ship even acted like they cared anything about me as a guest. At 11:45 they set up a buffet of Christmas cookies and pastries, but we were headed to Mass and the line was long, so we couldn't partake in the goodies. At 12:45 am after Mass, we went back but the food was long gone. I guess that's a disadvantage of being Catholic. Again, on the plus side, on Christmas morning, Santa Claus handed out nice gifts to all the children (allegedly over 200 children on the cruise). My daughter got a nice messenger bag which she used a lot on the cruise. The holiday brunch In the Trellis restaurant featured some spectacular ice sculptures, but mostly mediocre buffet selections. By around 11 am most of the tables had been used and hadn't been cleaned and reset, so we had difficulty finding seats. The rest of the Christmas festivities were unmemorable. One of my chief complaints about the food on this cruise was that the food never seemed to be at the optimal temperature, neither at the buffets nor in the restaurants. Everything was lukewarm or marginally cold, and usually extremely under seasoned. At the grill near the pool they served hamburgers, hot dogs and other fast food items. They made a big deal out of putting the bun on small griddle to heat before they placed the hamburger of hot dog on it (which held up the line greatly), but it was still stone cold when you got it. If you asked for a cheeseburger, you got a cold slice of cheese on the burger. They had nachos which consisted of a warmer filled with fried flour tortilla triangles (that were so greasy they were actually good) and a melted cheese dispenser. The both the chips in the warmer and the cheese in the heated dispenser were stone cold. The ice dispensers were frequently out of order and galley pans of partially melted ice lay about on the counters for ice service. The Spa cafe occasionally had interesting and tasty fare that seemed to be prepared with a little more care than the other venues. I don't drink coffee, but a review book on cruise lines that I purchased before the trip said Celebrity had the worst coffee on the high seas. My husband agreed. One morning at the Spa cafe my husband saw a woman approach one of the attendants and ask who had made the coffee. The man replied that he had and she proceeded to tell him that it was the worst coffee she'd ever had. My guess is that they have bad coffee on purpose so that they can sell more in the Cova Cafe, which actually served good coffee for a price. The pastries in the Cova Cafe were frequently quite good. My husband and I bought a pass to the Persian Garden for the entire cruise on the third day of the cruise. It was, in our opinion, overpriced at $249 per couple, but we wanted to spend time together relaxing in the steam rooms and sauna and the only other sauna option was in the men's or women's locker room. We were pretty disappointed with the spa. On our only previous cruise, we had all bought spa passes on the Norwegian Pearl whose spa was magnificent. Those passes were only, If I recall correctly, $60 dollars per person, and included exclusive use of the thallasotherapy pool, individual spa tubs, a private sunbathing area with a great view at the front of the ship, sauna and steam rooms, and other amenities plus an excellent locker and changing room. The Infinity only offered two small steam rooms and a sauna. The locker rooms weren't inviting and there wasn't a comfortable, private, dry area to change clothes. After a few days, my husband complained that whenever he went up to the spa, there were no locker keys available. After paying $249 for a pass, I felt that they could at least have a locker available for him and I called Alexander Zeitz. He assured me that he would "look into it". The next afternoon as he was passing me by the elevator, he mentioned that the spa had "re-keyed" all the lockers and getting a locker should no longer be a problem. My husband decided to just go up to the spa early in the morning, get a key and keep it all day and use my key card to get in the room, since you had to surrender your key card to get a locker key. At the end of the voyage, when I went to settle my account, I found that I had been charged a $24.95 gratuity on the spa pass, even though my receipt clearly stated that the gratuity was included in the total price of the pass and $249 was listed as the total charge. I complained but they refused to remove the gratuity from my bill. Keys were another issue. They had to redo mine three times to get it to work in the disembarkation ID machine. My younger daughter got a couple of keys and none of them ever worked the entire time to allow her to charge anything. I received a notice in the cabin a few days into the voyage stating that they didn't have my credit card on file (even though I had filled out all of the information online weeks prior to the cruise) and that I was a cash account with a $500 spending limit. I surmised that this was because, once again, since I hadn't presented the paperwork with a signature at the check in at the terminal in Santiago, they couldn't process my credit card. I never did go down to straighten this out before the last night. I guess I just "got busy" like the pastry chefs. I didn't plan on spending anywhere near $500 at an enterprise that could apparently care less about my satisfaction as a customer. Other than the spa passes, the only thing that I bought was a small souvenir for my daughter and a sugar free chocolate bar. I thought a good chocolate fix would help reduce my stress but to my dismay the bar was hard as a rock and had obviously melted at some point in its storage, from observing the white "bloom" that covered it. I returned it to the store and the attendant did graciously give me a refund. Tendering continued to be a fiasco throughout the voyage. When we arrived at Punta Arenas, having learned a lesson from our previous experience, we just went down to the front of the theater really early, despite any announcements to the contrary, and got an early tender ticket. Later in the afternoon, we walked back to the dock after shopping in town with our friends and their young daughter. The weather was sunny and mild but I could see that a squall was looming out over the water. There were at least a couple hundred people standing in line on the dock which had only intermittent partial little shelters (like a line of bus stops with no sides and very short overhangs), waiting for tenders. The squall blew in a few minutes later and pelted us with rain, wind, and ice pellets until most of us and our shopping bags were soaked. I had purchased waterproof jackets for my husband and daughters especially for this trip, and they were glad to have been wearing them. The tender tried to come in, lurched, bounced, and struggled trying several times to dock before it was finally successful. My husband was afraid that the tender was going to capsize from the rough seas, but fortunately we made it back to the ship without incident. We were two hours late leaving port here because the anchor winch malfunctioned. At the last tendered port at Punta Del Este, again we had the situation of hundreds of people waiting on the dock for tenders. This time the sun was blazing, but at least there was a canvas shade. The last tender was supposed to leave at 5 pm in this port and the ship was to sail at 6, but the tenders didn't get all the passengers back on the ship until almost 6:30, even with extra tenders rented from local vendors that were put into service shuttling passengers. I had arranged for another private tour to see the penguin rookery at Punta Tombo when we arrived at Puerto Madryn. Other passengers had asked to join me and by the time all was said and done there were 24 people traveling with me in the group. (because I had arranged the same tour as the cruise offered for $193 for only $90 per person). I tried to call the staterooms of the other passengers to inform them of a time and place where we would meet before disembarking. I wondered what was going on when I didn't get any replies to my phone messages. I later received a note on my stateroom door from one of the other passengers that said that my voicemail didn't work. I called another passenger who was also on the ninth deck and realized that her voicemail wasn't working either, so I assumed that the same problem existed on the whole ninth deck. I placed a call to guest services and they said-you guessed it-"we'll look into it". I mentioned the problem to Alexander Zeitz when I saw him later and he responded," We had a problem with that on previous voyages. They were supposed to have fixed that when we were in dry dock." Well, I guess that they didn't! And p.s. my refrigerator doesn't work either, it's about 65 degrees and my sliding door won't lock (because some broke the locking mechanism) and the wind whistles through the door! Another passenger told me that Alexander Zeitz had commented to them that there seemed to be far more passenger complaints on this trip than usual. I bet! One of the elevators had a fire in the control box and stopped between decks while loaded with passengers, several days before the end of the cruise, and was out of order until we reached Punta Del Este (obviously they needed to obtain the burned out parts to repair it). Once the cruise reached warmer latitudes, we found to our chagrin that the air conditioning in our cabin didn't work adequately. I opened the balcony door for some cool air, but frequently had to close it due to cigarette smoke wafting in from other balconies (where smoking was not allowed). New Year's Eve was interesting. Normally, the Constellation Lounge is off limits to anyone under 18 after 11 pm. The family that my older daughter spent a lot of time with on the cruise had a 17 yr old son and wanted him to be with them and their extended family in the lounge one evening. They hadn't checked ID's the previous evening and this particular night the crew decided to be stringent and kick him out. When the mother complained and got into an argument with the crew members, citing the fact that small children had been in the lounge on Christmas Eve after 11 pm, the crew member said that had been different because those youngsters were children of crew members! Again, a meeting with Alexander Zeitz ensued and a notice appeared in the daily newsletter informing everyone that parents needed to sign a waiver if they wanted their 12 to 17 year old child with them in the lounge after 11 pm on New Year's Eve. At 11:05 pm on New Year's Eve all children under 12 were kicked out of the lounge and were running around the hallways screaming that they were kicked out of the lounge. The next day a notice appeared in the newsletter admonishing parents to control their children; otherwise crew members had the authority to do so and would. On the second to last night of the cruise, I received a letter from the hotel manager informing me that I was being offered 15% discount on a future cruise as a gesture for the problems we had suffered at the beginning of the trip. I was incensed. She got an immediate hand delivered reply from me indicating that I felt that was in no way adequate reparation for what had occurred or for the poor service I'd receive on the cruise. Alexander Zeitz had told one of the other "stranded" passengers that corporate had not wanted to offer us anything at all and this was being offered as gesture from the crew. He also invited us to join him in the lounge for a drink the following night before dinner in Punta Del Este. I wasn't too keen on this idea, but it wasn't an issue because the tenders were so late in Punta Del Este that I knew that he wouldn't be back on the ship until well after dinner started. He later came to our table and offered us a complimentary bottle of wine with our dinner. Again, I don't drink, so I suggested that the other family (who had shared our ordeal in Miami) who were now dining with us choose a wine to their liking since they were wine aficionados. My daughter suggested that she and I ask for a glass of the Royal Tokay with our dessert that had been so delicious in the U.S. United States. The sommelier grudgingly agreed and we were served two glasses of dessert wine. This was a harsh, acidic wine which was more likely a Muscat, which had also been on the wine list. There was no way that this was the same wine that we were served on Christmas Eve. The sommelier became upset and insisted that it was the Royal Tokay. I should have insisted that he pour me a glass directly from the bottle, but at this point in the cruise, I was so tired of dealing with these people that I just let it ride. In the middle of this last dinner aboard we had another exciting experience. The ship hit a mud bar in the channel which we were passing through in the Rio de la Plata (we could see all the mud churn up in the wake because we were dining in directly in front of the picture windows at the stern)and did about a 40 degree tilt to one side. Fortunately, we didn't capsize or run aground but the Poseidon Adventure came to mind for a minute or two. Later in the evening, the cruise line presented the guest talent show as entertainment in the theater. My daughter was one of the finalists in the dance contest. There had been preliminary competitions in different categories throughout the cruise. It was an interesting show and I felt that it was a nice concept that apparently had been an innovation of the cruise director, Alan King. Afterward there was an appetizer and dessert buffet in the Constellation Lounge. Unfortunately for all the kids under 18, the show finished after 11 so they couldn't attend the party. There was a crème brulee bar and other marvelous artisanal desserts. It proved that the culinary team could put together quality food service if they tried. The final aggravation was the last morning of the cruise when we were transported to the hotel for the post cruise package in Buenos Aires. About 100 of us were dumped into the lobby of the Emperador Hotel, again with no Celebrity representative in sight. Everyone waited in a huge line only to be told that we couldn't check in until 3. The representative showed up after an hour or so later when most people had finally gotten their luggage stored and had already left. She was present dutifully from 9-6 each subsequent day to sell tours. When we finally did get to check-in, we were pleasantly surprised at the excellent rooms we'd received. The bottom line- South America was fascinating and we'd like to explore it in depth someday soon-on land! We met several wonderful people on the cruise with whom we hope to cultivate lasting friendships and our children had a wonderful time with their peers. Celebrity Cruise line appears to me to have serious management problems-extreme lack of communication, breaks in the chain of command, major inconsistency in enforcing regulations and procedures, maintenance of facilities and equipment so lacking that in some instances would border on negligent, and obviously bad morale among employees to engender such poor service and indifference to customers. In my opinion, the quality of service, food, lodging and amenities on the cruise weren't worth half what I paid and the incredible degree stress and aggravation they caused me at the outset degraded my enjoyment factor of what value remained to just about zero. I wasn't alone in my opinions. I encountered many other passengers in the course of the cruise who swore they'd never cruise on Celebrity again, or expressed intense disappointment that the cruise experience on Celebrity had seriously declined since previous cruises they'd taken. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Wow, Well this is my first cruise review but I have done thousand for hotels, so I will try my best. My cruise was from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires for Xmas and New Year with my two kids. Well Im going to write my review in parts, ... Read More
Wow, Well this is my first cruise review but I have done thousand for hotels, so I will try my best. My cruise was from Valparaiso, Chile to Buenos Aires for Xmas and New Year with my two kids. Well Im going to write my review in parts, and for my journal of each day check my blog: Embarkation: After a 3 days stay in Chile ( you can check here my blog: http://celebrityinfinity.blogspot.com/) I arrived to Valparaiso Port for a fast "check in" it just took me like 10 minutes, then I took a bus so I didn't walk like ... a lot, well I arrived in front of the ship and it was incredible the first time I saw it and it was incredible, well when I arrived to the ship I was escorted to my cabin with a champagne oh and my kids supposedly with orange juices but they were mimosas, well. Room: My room was 9009 and it was located Forward, near the elevators, When I enter the room I thought that it was going to be more little but not it was big, not so big, I also met my stateroom attendant, JosE from Philippines. The room was good I have a veranda of view to the port side, it has the pricey mini bar and the t.v. with channels in spanish, yeah for my kids, and a little bathroom. After this we decide it to go to a tour of the ship.Oh and I also understand why it is important the midship Overall Ship: It was big at the first time I was getting lost and tired, it´s an awesome ship, it has many things except that the things for kids are missing. I would said that this is more for adult, sorry for all parents reading this, but yes this is more for a couple. Oh when I go you will not know that it has more than 8 years, the only old thing I saw it was the hairdryer in the room that was really old. But well maybe it will be because it was in dry dock for 3 weeks. Food, Buffet, Ocean View : Well at the first days it was not so bad they also give very good mexican food, but all the days was almost the same thing, it was good specially the ice creams, try the banana with ron, It was not so bad, but at least they change some things, oh and their desserts were not so good as I expect. But well the good thing is that you can also eat in the AquaSpa that is healthier. or in the Trellis but is very early. The Trellis: A very good restaurant to have dinner, they always give you a different thing, thats what I like it, well the bad thing is that you need to get dress every day, oh and the formal nights were good, the 3 were one in xmas one in new year and the other the 2 of January, that the last one is the cool one. The food here its excellent. And my waiter Cristos was excellent, but Carlos that is for wine, that was the best person in all the cruise if you see him please tell him a big hello from Mexico. Activities: The activities were good, well the trivias were very bad and short, and some activities were never done. There was only one activity for families: Bingo, and I never won :( but well, they were some other activities but more for kids. Oh and about the Bingo, I like it very much, its very cool specially with the activity staff: Ezperanza, please if you see her tell her how is her spanish, also they were two more persons of Canada and Mayela from Mexico. Also the Enrichment Series they told me it was very good Children Club: Well for my 8 years old girl it was good the activity during the day but when it was the party well that was more as a free time, and guess what I bought the V.I.P Pass and I didn't use more than 50 dollars and it cost 200, well they also give you a xclub kit, that is like 40 dollars plus a Backstage in the Theatre and a Bridge Tour, that was very good. And for my 13 kid, well it was also like free time almost all day. He might not have a good time but he is more an adult so there was no problem. Entertainment: It was very good, the shows at night were incredible, also the Starring you wow I just love it. It was one of the things I really like, and this was for all persons, oh and I wish I could saw completely the Global Show, but my kids were sleeping and it was 11:30 p.m. so I go. Overall its very good the Shows and all the things Shopping: One word: pricey, except for the sales, The Emporium is pricey in almost everything, at least they have their 10 dollars things, the clothing was good and not so expensive. But the photos, o.m.g. 20 bucks for one photo, well minimum, you need to buy the ones from Xmas and New Year , plus the special elegant ones, thats like 60 dollars. Or more. But the photos were good. In Ports: To tender is the worst thing ever and each time it get worst, in Puerto Montt well not so many problem, in Punta Arenas we were at 7 Celsius and need it to wait like 30 minutes well for Punta del Este, very hot, and like 40 minutes, and just because they put 3 boats more. In Holidays: In Xmas it was good they give you a (I don't know how to say it) with a ... sorry I just don't know how to say it but it was good, very familiar. In New Year the worst thing for kids, my little girl I need it to take her to the Club in New Year and then I went to the Constellation and when I was getting to pass with my 13 years boy, they didn't have a paper to sign up so in the line I just heard the Happy New Year oh my god, I decide it to go to the Martini Bar with my second favorite waiter from Colombia, Karen a very good service, then we went to get my daughter and went to sleep... Oh and one thing its very disorganized, also there was some problems with a man that broke the nose of another men. Service: I think it was a very good service although I didn't heard the same from many persons, I loved the service from everyone, except one that was in the Guest Relations, she is from South Africa what a bad service she gave me, but the whole entire crew give me a very good service, well specially, like I say it Carlos and Karen, wonderful people, but Alan King was just wow, the best cruise director very funny, just the best person. Disembarkation: It wasn't so bad, I went off at 8:45 it was fast and kind of smooth. Well here was my long and long review, and I could continue, if you have questions just send me an email to oav1995@gmail.com its just for cruise things. Im just putting some ports, because CC don't have all In Punta Arenas I did a tour with the ship very good explanation but we didn't saw many penguins Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
The ship was beautiful! Elegant! But the most boring cruise we have ever had!!! I am 57 but not dead!!! The staff was pleasant but I found myself longing for the waiters who called you by name and who seemed happy and made serving you ... Read More
The ship was beautiful! Elegant! But the most boring cruise we have ever had!!! I am 57 but not dead!!! The staff was pleasant but I found myself longing for the waiters who called you by name and who seemed happy and made serving you fun!! This group appeared as bored as the ship was boring! Our experience started off bad when I had preordered and paid for wine and flowers for our traveling partners anniversary..to be in their cabin on arrival. Flowers no wine...after checking several times no one seemed to know anything about the problem and no one offered to find out or help. I finally talked with guest services and cancelled the order and was told they would see if a refund could be arranged??? After two days, I was told it would take 7-10 business days for a refund...Only took 2 minutes to bill me! It took til Thursday for Celebrity to send a complimentary bottle of wine to my friends No apology! The cabins were fine...nothing special..the flat screen tv was a nice touch. Our cabin steward did not restock our frig for days and finally left me a note on a napkin telling me what I needed to do to get our frig restocked. Strange! She was adequate...nothing special. Just did her job. Clean beds and towels everyday. Room service was a definite plus!! Each morning a call saying my breakfast was on the way and at the exact time I requested. Unfortunately our dining room experience was terrible. We had a very nice table but our waiter and assistant waiter were personality VOID!!! This last summer on a RCCL cruise to Italy our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful...fun and delightful! Our waiter only took our order, no suggestions...I never even knew his name!!! Our assistant waiter had not bathed in days...we were glad he only stayed a few moments!!! The food was horrible! I think they are forcing you to go to the specialty restaurants. Which we did and Morano was good definitely not worth the extra money. Silk Harvest was very good and the waiters there did have a personality! We requested late seating but were told 700 people were forced to take early at 6PM...However the dining room allowed people to come in late, really late...over an hour late and were seated and served. Of course our waiter seemed to rush us in anticipation of the large groups coming in late every night! The head waiter told us cruising is changing! Obviously! We truly only found two waiters on the whole ship that had any life in them! One in the Martini bar, she was wonderful! The Ice bar is a treat and a beautiful area! The grass!!! What a waste...it is always resting and you can't get on it for more than a quick step across it. And when you have to get up at 7:30 am on vacation to get a deck chair I say remove the grass!!!! Again people were saving chairs...large family groups that by 7:45am there were no chairs around the pool or upper area available. No pool attendants enforcing the no saving policy. When I complained in a shop I was told by an employee that not everyone wants to sit by the pool!!! But I saw many many people searching and complaining about not having a chair when you are at sea for two days!!! We were on Carnival Pride out of LA and there was never a problem with chairs...Carnival obviously does a better job...didn't even take the chairs down til 10am. Hopefully this is just a holiday cruise problem. The glass blowing was very interesting and a must see! The Casino was nice. I found $700 on the floor in the casino and turned it in..I hope the person who lost it claimed it. The casino did not even take my name... The ports were the same as always in the Caribbean. Beware of Orient beach if you are not accustom to nudity! I'm not!!! New Year's Eve was so blah!!! This is our 4th NYE cruise and this was by far the least fun! But that was the feel of the ship all week long! I hate to be so negative but we had so looked forward to this cruise, paying more than most cruises and were so disappointed in the value. I have had much better times on Carnival, RCCL, Holland America for a lot less money. We were not in the suite and Aquaclass so maybe we missed out on all the "perks". But as a regular cruising person it was a definite disappointment. I missed the fun, the island music, the waiters who knew your name! I will probably not cruise Celebrity again. Maybe I'm toooooo young for them! HA! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This was our 4th Celebrity holiday cruise and probably our last. We sailed from Fort Lauderdale on the Solstice on the Dec 28th,, 2008. Having cruised on two other Celebrity holiday cruises, both 14 nights, I was familiar with the long ... Read More
This was our 4th Celebrity holiday cruise and probably our last. We sailed from Fort Lauderdale on the Solstice on the Dec 28th,, 2008. Having cruised on two other Celebrity holiday cruises, both 14 nights, I was familiar with the long standing quality of the line. On this particular holiday cruise, I saw a much different side of Celebrity. First, there is no getting around the fact that Solstice is a real beauty. Modern in every way, she is clearly the most breathtaking lady on the high seas. Solstice could evolve into a remarkable ship, if and when she grows up and becomes a proper lady. She is fresh from the shipyard with a crew still attempting to gel and get their act together. The Celebrity management team seems to be in the middle of a paradigm shift, searching for a way to stay profitable in a very tough economy. And that seems to be the root of all that is not so wonderful about Solstice. Clearly, Celebrity, like other travel companies, is struggling to maintain its core repeat customers and targeting mainstream first time cruisers with respectable incomes. In a way, Solstice is an experiment at sea as management attempts to redefine cruising while staying profitable in a challenging economy. I'm guessing some of their innovations are just not going to cut it. STATEROOM: The cabins, nearly all with verandas, are spacious and loaded with easy to use technology. We loved this about the ship. With flat screen TVs and an interactive entertainment system complete with pay and FREE movies on demand, the intentions are right on target. Our Concierge Class cabin included a remarkably comfortable bed with luxurious linens, towels and an ultra modern bathroom. Make sure you take advantage of the "pillow menu". I loved the full body pillow! We had a cabin on Deck 12. All Concierge and Verandah cabins have adequate closet and drawer space and an ample size veranda. We were situated very close to the pool mid-ship, so we enjoyed an exceptionally smooth sailing. Service from our stateroom attendant was good but the benefits of upgrading to a Concierge cabin are becoming increasingly questionable. Gone are the days of feeling "special" when booking a Concierge Class cabin. The upgraded linens and bathroom amenities were nice, but didn't justify the $1,000 additional expenditure for the upgrade. We could care less about the nasty tasting canopies and the complimentary bottle of champagne. The reality is that all veranda cabins are the same size. It's the extra touches and the location that separate a Concierge Class cabin from a standard veranda. If you want to spend extra dollars on this ship, upgrade to a suite and enjoy the larger cabin and butler service. We wished we had a butler on this cruise, because when it came to dinner reservations, trying to make arrangements on our own was challenging. DINING: - The ship offers five alternative dining options, all which charge an additional fee ranging from $5.00 - $25.00 per person. We dined at Blu, Silk Harvest, Tuscan Grille and Bistro on Five. Each was enjoyable and offered a quality dining experience. We especially enjoyed the Asian fare at Silk Harvest and the excellent fillets and Italian dishes at Tuscan Grille. We couldn't say the same for the main dining room. In fact, we found our one night at Grand Epernay was far from acceptable. It was the classic "we smelled the fish coming" and when we tasted it, even the tartar sauce couldn't hide the strong fishy taste of our Mahi. - To enjoy a good meal on Solstice, plan to pay extra because the main dining room misses its target. It was nowhere close to the high quality of food and outstanding selections we'd grown to expect on a Celebrity. Clearly food quality has taken a hit as the company trims expenses and monetizes every part of the cruise experience. The main dining room attempts to present an image of a fine dining experience. From the stories I heard from other passengers, they are failing miserably. Perhaps stepping back to the basics would give this beautiful dining area justice. Why not good old chicken, steak, Mexican and Italian dishes done right, rather than fancy entrees that just don't sound appetizing and miss their mark when it comes to tasting good? - The buffet on deck 12 is adequate but far from memorable. Many items are still not marked leaving guests wondering which mystery meat or salad they are about to select. Worst of all, the offerings seemed to never change, making for a buffet experience that is both boring and disappointing. It doesn't take long to surmise that if you want to experience truly good food, you are going to have to pay extra for it...plain and simple. - Solstice is NOT prepared for capacity sailings. On embarkation day, hundreds of passengers were angry because either they were booked at the wrong seating or they were unhappy with their table assignments. At one point, security had to be called to calm an angry customer. And breakfast and lunch buffets during our holiday cruise were always crowded and plagued with lines. (If Celebrity can't please customers with designated seating times, perhaps they should take a chapter from the NCL playbook and consider moving to Free Style Dining. EMBARKATION & DISEMBARKATION: - Smooth and amazingly brisk. No problems here. We were on the ship and in our cabin in less than 20 minutes. Unlike other sailings we've been on, leaving the ship was equally painless and well organized. High marks for getting on and off the ship. Too bad we were anxious to get off? POOL & OUTSIDE DECKS: - During peak vacation periods on Solstice, plan on jumping out of bed by eight AM if you want a remote chance of securing deck chairs. Towels had to be replenished by 9:30. It appeared all 2850 passengers on board, pale and determined sun seekers, marked their spots on decks 12 & 14. This reminded us of a pack of dogs marking their territory then guarding their spot in the sunshine. On our first sea day, we made the mistake of sleeping until 10AM. My wife resorted to paying a pool butler to secure two chairs in the sun. (Silly us- thinking we could actually sleep- in on our vacation). - While the hoards scouted hard to find spots to tan, half a football field of green grass was empty on the top deck, aft. The only live lawn at sea was an interesting "out of the box" idea in some boardroom, but in reality it is a terrible waste of space. It was used by only a few who bothered to play Bocce or Crochet, truly two of America's most popular past times....NOT. - There is an interesting display of glass blowing next to the struggling grass. Again, an innovative idea but underutilized. If even 50% of this space was used as an alternative sunning spot, the need to hoard deck chairs forward and mid-ship might disappear. - We were disappointed that Solstice did not include a deck where we could walk completely around the ship like many other vessels. Instead, walking was confined to a very small walking track around the pool. With the hoards of passengers at the pool, navigating around others just wasn't worth the effort. PUBLIC SPACES: Aside from the pool and deck areas, public spaces on Solstice are magnificent and well planned. We seldom felt crowded or claustrophobic in most of the inside spaces. They give the appearance of a contemporary yet luxurious ship. Only the buffet on Deck 12 and the sundecks made us want to jump overboard and swim to an unpopulated island getaway where thousands of bodies of all sizes and proportions were not lined up like bacon ready to be fried. ENTERTAINMENT: Overall, Solstice provided above average entertainment in the main showroom. The typical Broadway reviews had a fresh new spin and a clone of Cirque de Ole was a fresh and innovative departure from the normal cruise ship fare. The showroom features state of the art production tools that make the shows vibrant and contemporary. Plenty of seats in the main showroom too, which tells me many passengers missed some good shows. The ship also features a smaller venue called Solstice Central, featuring comedy. After being annoyed every day from the masses on the decks, we would have loved to have found some levity from a good comedian. But again, in what can only be an attempt to keep passengers up late drinking and gambling, the comedian never performed before 11PM and some nights, as late at 12:45. Hate to be a party pooper, but we don't care to hang out in the lounges and drink all nights, so we and others were just out of luck. As I said earlier, it's all about monetizing every minute of the day to increase revenues. Keeping passengers up an extra hour or two can't hurt bar sales, the shops and of course, the Casino. We walked through the Casino and it seemed modern, clean and very adequate. - Kudos for the LIVE MUSIC! Unlike many other cruise lines which rely on prerecorded music in their showrooms, Celebrity DOES spend money on talented live orchestras. Whether it was providing live music for the singers & dancers during a show in the main theatre, or entertaining around the pool on New Year's Eve, the Celebrity Orchestra was fantastic THE PORTS: We choose the Solstice for the shipboard experience rather than the ports. - San Juan: How many more times must we waste a day in San Juan? Am I missing something here? We find the beaches in San Juan among the ugliest in the Caribbean. Surely Celebrity can find a more innovative port than San Juan. I recommend staying on the ship in San Juan and taking advantage of actually having your own deck chair and some personal space. - St. Kitts: Absolutely beautiful. If you're a beach person, hire a taxi and spend the day at a beautiful and sparsely populated beach. We NEVER book tours on the ship as we find them significantly more expensive and always crowded. The last thing we wanted was to more "herding us around like cattle". No thank you. - St. Marten: Another nice stop. We shared a taxi with some other passengers and spent the day at Orient Beach. The beach chairs were inexpensive, there were plenty of places to grab a drink or have some lunch and of course, lots of naked sunbathers. THE VERDICT: A beautiful ship with a friendly crew, however: We will NOT book another 7 day cruise on Solstice during high season, especially not over the holidays. Remember, we have taken several 14 day cruises on Celebrity and loved them. I think the shorter cruises and lower price tags turn the ship into a more mass market product which is not for us. Who wants to get up early just to throw a towel on a deck chair? No thank you. We sincerely hope Celebrity takes some actions to prevent overcrowding. It's just not relaxing when you feel like you are part of a herd of cattle. They will also need to make their main dining room offerings more attractive and enhance the quality of the food. Get back to basics. Celebrity is driving us and many other past customers, to their more upscale product, Azamara Cruises. And frankly, I think that just might be their strategy: Making Celebrity a more mass product by cutting expenses, and sailing at over capacity whenever possible. For those of us who still look forward to the relaxation of being on the high seas, be prepared to pay more in search of an upgraded product. Perhaps we will meet you on Azamara, OR on a different cruise line that values its repeat customers with a loyalty program that actually has rewards and perks that mean something. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
After 18 months of anticipation, we finally boarded Solstice! Info - We are DINK's in our 40s. Ok, one of us, the other one is lying. This was our 13th cruise - we cruise X and RCCL exclusively. Pre Cruise - We spent 2 ... Read More
After 18 months of anticipation, we finally boarded Solstice! Info - We are DINK's in our 40s. Ok, one of us, the other one is lying. This was our 13th cruise - we cruise X and RCCL exclusively. Pre Cruise - We spent 2 nights at the Hyatt Pier 66. Nice property with excellent service. We enjoyed sunset drinks at Pelican Bar. The pool was pretty crowded but this was the Saturday before NYE so that is to be expected. The workout room is quite small for a resort of this size but equipment was fine. I had a manicure for $50 (sigh, I can get one at home for $15 but it wouldn't have lasted the cruise) and had a shampoo/blowout for over $100 - way too much and she took over an hour and a half. I can get a shampoo/cut and dry for about an hour - I was climbing the walls towards the end and finally told her I HAD to leave. She was very nice but it just took too long! Gratuity is automatically added there. We were fortunate to have a Tower Room that faced the port so we could watch the ships leave and watch them come in - yep, we got up early enough to see several arrive although JUST missed Solstice. Checked out and took a cab (actually a nice SUV, lucky us) and arrived at the port around 11 am. EMBARKATION: Very smooth. We arrived early on purpose so had to wait for about 30 minutes. Once they opened it up, we were checked in quite quickly. Definitely among the first onboard around 11:30. THE SHIP: Visually stunning. I can really find nothing to complain about regarding the ship. The decor is tasteful, varied and soothing. It will be hard to find a way to fully experience the ship in 7 days. We didn't so darn it, we'll have to go back. POOLS: Aquaspa is my favorite lounging place for sea days and quiet mornings. This was no different. From the various loungers, cabanas etc to the placement of the whirlpools to the pool (ideal temperature - never fear, it is NOT cold), it is a lovely place. Chair hogs ruled on this sailing (New Years, whattaya expect?) but we found chairs before 9 am quite easily. After 10 am, good luck. Being a ghost, the pool is not my scene although I like going in the afternoon to listen to the band and enjoy the sun. This was the most crowded pool deck I have ever seen - not a chair to be had. However, again, holiday sailing and a large percentage of passengers who were sungods and goddesses as well as MANY children. I was pleased to see that security was vigilant about enforcing the no children policy in the Aquaspa. DINING: I found the Grand Epernay to be stunning. We had a lovely table (#241 - great location). Service was a bit slow the first 2 nights but they rallied later. The food was fine - not fine dining cuisine but very nice. Not a bad meal. We requested escargot and our maitre'd made sure we had it beginning Wednesday and again on Friday and Saturday. We ate in Tuscan Grille and Muranos. Both are very nice but I would return to Tuscan Grille over Muranos. I enjoyed the service in Tuscan provided by Slobadan and Luciana - if they are your servers, you are in for a treat. Muranos had a mistake on our charge - we had prepaid for specialty and he brought us the bill, not only for us but also for our tablemates who were in a suite so they were also supposed to be free. It took him 15 minutes to bring back the corrected ticket. Not the end of the world, but evidence that they are still working out some kinks. We had brunch at Bistro "For" 5 and had an excellent meal. It was virtually empty and our wait was brief - they do cook to order so our waiter told us it would take about 15 minutes. That was acceptable. Other cruisers we spoke with had mixed experiences - some had great service and food, others waited an hour for their food and finally left. Again, I think as the crew gets in sync things will be fine. LOUNGES: Michael's seemed too sedate and boring for us but others enjoyed it. Ensemble Lounge - we tried twice. The first time it was busy and it took an hour to get a drink. The second time we went in around 11:30 and there were only 2 people at the bar. The bartender never came over to us so we left. I think it is a nice venue for pre dinner drinks when dining in the Specialty Restaurants but didn't feel compelled to seek it out. On the flip side, it was the favorite lounge of others we met. Martini Bar was usually hopping and great fun. It is centrally located and between the main dining room and the casino so it is easily crowded. There was a quite large Latin passenger base on our cruise and the Sky Lounge was mainly the Latin lounge most evenings so we did not venture there except for Captains Club and Cruise Critic functions. It is nice, your standard lounge similar to the ones on M class ships. Quasar was small and we just popped in to look at it - I think it was really packed late night but with a huge amount of young people on the sailing, we didn't have it on the To Do list. LAWN CLUB AREA: We liked it. It's a lovely area with seating. This is where the cigar smokers went but with the wind it was never much of an issue. We liked to go grab a mid/late afternoon drink at the Sunset Bar and enjoyed it very much. We watched a small part of the Hot Glass show - it was interesting but 20 minutes was plenty for us. The complete show is listed as 2 hours. SPA: Glad I was onboard early - I still stood in line for 40 minutes to make an appointment. I really wish X would provide Captains Club members the option to pre-book spa appts - even if its just Elite members. It is silly to stand in line and it's also so hard on the spa personnel since people can be so rude. It shouldn't be hard to make this easier. The spa is lovely - the Relaxation Room is nice and since I had a Captains Club coupon, I could access the Persian Garden once. It was peaceful since I was the only one in there but not worth paying for and I think the PG on M class is much nicer. CONCIERGE CLASS ROOM: The room is efficient. The bathroom is greatness. My husband is 6'5 and could maneuver in there quite well and was very pleased with the shower. The shampoo conditioner body wash lotion are of good quality and lemongrass (mmhm) We found closet space to be fine but I'm an efficient packer. Our safe froze up twice but they fixed it in a timely manner. The interactive tv was great and got the seal of approval from the IT professional husband. It was great to access the photos and keep track of our account - the music channels were great and we enjoyed the bridge cam. Husband prefers M class CC rooms because they are more square and it was a tight fit for him to walk around the bed. Our balcony was quite deep (probably 15 feet) since we were on the hump - with the couch by the window so it was harder to see the actual ocean from the bed than we are used to. We had room service breakfast one day and it was pretty blah. CASUAL DINING: Food at the Pool Bar was always good. Aquaspa food was good. The sushi in Oceanview was excellent both times we tried it. Pizza was good. We eat breakfast early to avoid the crowd and never had problems. Waffles, omelettes fresh! Silverware is now at all the stations so no issues there. We never had table issues. The only flaw I saw was in the afternoon after the lunch is closed and before tea is open, the pizza/pasta station is combined in one line and it was long. We came back onboard one day and stood in line for well over 30 minutes. If you wanted pizza, you still had to stand behind all the pasta people. If you wanted pasta, vice versa. They should separate it and make it 2 lines. SERVICE: With very few exceptions, we had outstanding service. Most of the staff was friendly and eager to please. Our cabin attendant and assistant were mainly invisible but appeared whenever we needed them and did a great job. CAPTAINS CLUB: Our Elite party was a bit of a bust. It was at 11 am pre arrival in san Juan. Due to a medical emergency, we got into San Juan at 11:30 instead of 2 pm so all the senior officers were on the bridge. Perfectly understandable. Our disappointment was that since we did not know we would be arriving so early, we completely missed the approach and watching from the deck as we approach the Fort had been something we looked forward to. We missed it since we were in the lounge and unaware of how early we would be arriving. The regular party was fine, albeit a bit stuffy and too long. GALA BRUNCH: No more midnight buffet which to me is not a bad thing. They had a brunch which was outstanding. We enjoyed it very much - look for the chicken pot pies, they were fresh and hot. ENTERTAINMENT: I very much enjoyed Solstice. I have seen several Cirque du Soleil shows and this was quite on par. I recognized many of the "acts" but felt the performers were very strong. I should also admit that I work in entertainment so I am pretty hard to please. We also saw the late night comedy show of Louis Johnson and I enjoyed his act very much. CASINO: This was our only real "disappointment" and had nothing to do with Celebrity. There were 2 gambling groups on board, as well as a large group of passengers who apparently did not go to dinner. We could never get a table past 7 pm to play AT ALL EVER. The slot machines were the tightest I have ever seen on 13 cruises - I don't always ask to win (ok that's a lie) but I would like to at least play for a while on my donation. I would put $100 in and never hit a thing. No thanks - I prefer to donate more slowly than that! :) Had I been able to play at the tables, I might have recouped some slot money but it was impossible. DISEMBARKATION: We were at 8:45 and were off within 5 minutes. The easiest I've seen. SOLSTICE IN GENERAL: Will we cruise Solstice again? Yes. Will we choose her OVER M class? Not really. We will probably forgo holiday cruises again. Although we had a great time, there were issues with unruly children and out of control partying by the 16-25 age group. Since there were so many large family groups on board, it seemed like security was challenged by many things but overall did as well as they could. There was a diversity of cultures onboard and sometimes it appeared to negatively impact others enjoyment. I heard more passengers complaining than ever before - while some may have been warranted, sometimes it seemed to be nitpicking. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of ... Read More
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of all. Our cabin had a balcony, which we have gotten use to inn the last 5 cruises. The staff was excellent. We had wonderful bathrobes waiting in our closet. The bathroom was large and every well accomadated. The nicest one we have found so far. The bed was very comfortable. Overall we loved this ship. The food was excellent. Reviews on this board had us worried about the food. But, it seems they have gotten a new chef from France recently and he did a wonderful job. Each night we were able to have escargot if we wanted it. We had duck, lobster, lamb, prime rib, etc. The portions were huge. The salads were very unique each evening. One thing, you did not get to eat in the dinning room at lunch. That was different for us. But, the buffett was the best I have ever seen. The selections were excellent and I am sure no one went hungry. For the first time ever I did not mind eating at the buffett. The entertainment was no so good. The usual type of entertainment and nothing to rave about. The ports were great. Ephesus was the main attraction. We chose a private tour for that as well and Athens. Used the ship's shore excursions for all other ports. The tours became a little of the same after a while. All of the Greek Islands were basically the same sites. They were beautiful, but after a while the ruins got to all run together in our minds. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast were my favorite. Things that were not as great as other ships...they seem to no longer make the little animals out of the towels for your room. I noticed this on the last two Princess cruises as well. The photos of you coming on the ship and off were poor. The gladiator and Roman had on tennis shoes. Who wants a picture with the Roman wearing tennis shoes? Not us. There was no meet the Captain personally. He was on the stage at the theatre and spoke to everyone as a group. What's up with that? It use to be so nice to get your picture taken with the captain. No more. And the champagne was awful with no appetizers like you usually have. It was not a party at all. But, I don't want to be negative. The cruise was wonderful. The staff was excellent. The ship is just beautiful. I would go on it again. The ports were great. We had not been to any of them except Rome and Naples and even enjoyed repeating those. I would highly recommend the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
First, the ship is awesome and the food was phenomenal. The ports were great and the excursions were fantastic. But, here's the rest of the story: Since our travel agent booked us a guaranteed stateroom 9297, we had to walk ... Read More
First, the ship is awesome and the food was phenomenal. The ports were great and the excursions were fantastic. But, here's the rest of the story: Since our travel agent booked us a guaranteed stateroom 9297, we had to walk all the way down the hallway to get to our dining, spa, and ALL activities. On Day 2, we noticed a STRONG SEWAGE smell in the hallway. It was disgusting, and so we thought it would be obvious enough for others to notice. And we heard others talking about it. My wife being proactive made contact with the Guest Relations to let them know that the "funky smell" was there every day. We suggested that they deodorize the hallways hourly to keep us from almost throwing up each time we left our stateroom. There were a few times that we noticed the smell of deodorizer, so they must have sprayed sometime. Finally, on Day 9 (after calling or complaining to our Stateroom Attendants every day) - we got a call from the Guest Relations that we could move to another stateroom. We did go check it out but the balcony was not as large as the one that we signed up for, so I asked them for other options. That's the last time I heard anything and the cruise ended! Upon disembarkation, we filled out the satisfaction survey, and stated (truthfully) that the cruise would have been a 10 except for the stench, and that would not sail with Celebrity again because of the way Guest Relations handled our complaint. Now, we finally got a call from Ms. Smith with Celebrity and we're getting nowhere! She does not have an email address, nor, does she believe our story. Furthermore, Ms. Smith "does not read Cruise Critic", and denies that there were any other complaints. (my further research shows otherwise)... Read 02/2009 review here on CruiseCritic.com So, if you happen to have been on this sailing Nov. 23, 2009 to Dec. 4, 2009 - please post on this thread. Man, I wish Celebrity would have done the "right thing" ... the ODOR killed an otherwise FANTASTIC cruise. It's THE WAY THAT CELEBRITY HANDLED the issue (It's a known problem, engineers were on board, and the manufacturer's reps are on board for the whole 1st year.) Unfortunately, I will no longer contribute my hard earned dollars to a company who denies a problem existed on my cruise, and won't make it right. Peace and Merry Christmas! BrokerO Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Having arrived in San Juan to embark the ship our cases were taken and we were very quickly registered and on the ship. Whilst waiting for our luggage we went off to have lunch, on our return the smell of wine to which you are allowed an ... Read More
Having arrived in San Juan to embark the ship our cases were taken and we were very quickly registered and on the ship. Whilst waiting for our luggage we went off to have lunch, on our return the smell of wine to which you are allowed an allowance was really strong, our friends had wrapped their's inside some clothes inside their suitcase and it has been broken and the whole suitcase full of clothes was ruined, coverd in red wine and at the same time they had managed to break the bottom of one of our cases and break the handle off, so no care taken with your luggage so be warned!!!!! Dinner in the main dining room is an event in it's self, very long winded, fine if you don't mind waiting, dinner time which was set for 8.30pm was moved to 8.45pm without warning and stayed at that time during the whole cruise. If staying in the same cabins that we did, 8147 & 8149 be advised that 8149 is right next to a family cabin and we had some very noisy teenagers using foul language, so had to call security twice, not a good cabin, the noise can also be heard from 8147. I would like to thank our table waiters Renante and Sonnel who looked after us every evening and did a really good job the best people on the ship in my opinion and the only good thing on this cruise. We dined in the Olympic Restaurant twice worth every penny but very rich food and very filling, but you will enjoy it and it is worth the $30 dollars extra charge, the service is spot on, but they do not do flambe at the table like they say they do. We did cruise over christmas and new year and the ship was full of children, so if you like the quiet life not a good time to go as it is definately a family ship at this time. When you came in from being on shore for the day your bags are scanned and if you have any bottles of alcohol or cans of beer they will take them away this did cause a few arguments that we saw, the security were very unfriendly on this ship and we have never found this so with any other. I would say all in all that Celebity seem to have a very good reputation the ship is very nice but that is where it ends, the food is not brilliant and we have had a lot better, the service is not brilliant and you are treated like something they have never seen before, I really don't wish to repeat this experience, everywhere you turned on this ship you just felt that they were trying to extract money from you, even the freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning had to be paid for it never has on any other ship, they have an English breakfast bar but they ran out of English bacon a week before the cruise finished, they even ran out of white bread one morning, crazy. Don't get forced into buying the soda package you can get drinks all day long from the cafe's that you don't have to pay for and the soda packages are expensive, one more way for them to try and make money. The restaurant was not open for lunch for the entire cruise, if you go with other companies even if only 5 people are in the restaurant they are still open, but not celebrity. So all in all 2/10 an experience not to be repeated. Although we had a concierge cabin there are only 2 chairs and a table on this balcony, no sunbed so if you want a sunbed don't go for this class of cabin. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Had been on Millennium about eight years ago. On Mercury for the millenium cruise ten years ago. Also on Constellation two times and the Infinity. Have cruised with other lines as well. The Celebrity Line used to be quite special. Because ... Read More
Had been on Millennium about eight years ago. On Mercury for the millenium cruise ten years ago. Also on Constellation two times and the Infinity. Have cruised with other lines as well. The Celebrity Line used to be quite special. Because other lines have gone crazy with entertainment, ice rinks etc. poor Celebrity has to try some new things. I understand from fellow cruisers that their newest ship is extraordinary. The entertainment on this ship is average at best. It is not the fault of the entertainers who give it their all. Fellow cruisers it is the economy and they have had to cut somewhere. The wow factor all around has been diminished. Contrary to some of the reviews the food for the most part is still pretty good but not what it was. We have been on about seventeen cruises all over the world. Three of them this year on three different lines and although rates are often fabulous there have been cost cutting. The appeal of this Millennium cruise was that it covered Christmas and New Years and included ports such as Guadeloupe and Tobago. The service is still very good to excellent. I think the crew tries very hard. A wonderful brunch was presented on Christmas and New Years day. A new Captains Club for all select and elite members was presented on New Years Day and included a sushi bar and crepes and a carvery. This was only an hour or so after brunch. If you do research now on the internet you will find if you were to go to a resort in the Caribbean at this time of year for a decent hotel you would be paying more for the room then you would pay for a cruise like this that includes food and entertainment. No I am not a travel agent but you would pay from three to five hundred a day for a room alone while if you went on the Millennium for about two thousand per person you could have it all for fifteen days. We are talking a balcony room and maybe even a concierge class one at that. Please keep that in mind. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My wife and I just returned from a 15 night cruise aboard the Celebrity Millennium and I have to say the cruise, ship, and staff we first class the only disappointment was the food. I couldn't believe that the menus were so poorly put ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a 15 night cruise aboard the Celebrity Millennium and I have to say the cruise, ship, and staff we first class the only disappointment was the food. I couldn't believe that the menus were so poorly put together and that so many of the items served didn't match the description on the menu. For instance on 2 occasions I ordered soups the first was a cream of potato soup with sauteed frogs legs that came with no frog legs. The next was a seafood soup garnished with shrimp, scallops and muscles that came out with no seafood in it (the base of the soup was also used for the lobster bisque and a number of seafood sauces, by the way I have been a chef for over 20 years so in this case I know what I'm talking about). On both occasions when I brought this up to our waiter (Okaysaya) whom I thought was very good at his job he had no idea why this was happening and the head waiter would come over and tell me he would go to the kitchen to take care of this, the first time he came back after I finished my entree with another bowl of soup that had frog legs on it. Again the second time he did the same even though I told him I didn't want another bowl I just wanted him to know that items were coming out wrong. The next night he brought everyone at the table another bowl of the seafood soup loaded with seafood even though I was the only person that ordered it originally, too little too late. These are just a couple instances but there were more. I can say that no one left the table hungry and there were some bright spots on the menus as well but by far the biggest issue in talking to other guests were complaints about the food. My opinion they need to consider hiring a new chef and maybe replace others on the kitchen staff as well. The ship was recently in dry dock and for a 10 year old ship the Milli was in really nice shape, very clean and well maintained. The activity staff were a great group of folks led by Artie Anderson (cruise director). The entertainment was not really to my liking, I can't say it was not good but I've enjoyed many great shows at sea however not on this particular cruise and the ship entertainment was amateurish at best. During this cruise we actually visited 11 ports of call - St Croix, St Martin, St Kitts, Guadalupe, St Lucia, Dominica, Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, Curacao and Aruba. We really enjoyed all but Guadalupe, we found the port to be dirty and people to be much less friendly than all of the other ports. The other big issue there was everything is priced in Euro's and most people had no idea how to deal with American dollars or even want to take dollars. This was our first time to many of these islands and I can say I wouldn't mind living in St Lucia, Tobago or Curacao people are great, countries are all beautiful and being as it's seriously winter where I live the weather can't be beat! The last issue I want to mention is that this was our first cruise on Celebrity, we've been on many Royal Caribbean cruises and we were told that being as RC is a 4 star line that we would see a big difference in service etc. on Celebrity and I have to say that statement couldn't be farther from the truth. As I've stated the staff were all great but I saw absolutely no difference between Celebrity and Royal Caribbean as a matter of fact there were many things I preferred on RC such as wine packages/choices. All in all I don't mean to sound negative, we had another great vacation but then again I can walk down the street by myself and be a one man parade, I have a good time where ever I am. Food was not up to par with other ships/lines and needs to be looked at, will I cruise on Celebrity again I can't say no BUT I would look at other options first. ScottNKimmy Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I am a recently retired travel manager of 3 large agencies. I have cruised a lot and done many ship inspections in the last 20 years. Back when I was an agent, I always felt it was my responsibility to listen to what my clients desired in ... Read More
I am a recently retired travel manager of 3 large agencies. I have cruised a lot and done many ship inspections in the last 20 years. Back when I was an agent, I always felt it was my responsibility to listen to what my clients desired in a cruise and then to use my experience to guide them to the proper choice whether they wanted an intimate experience or parades down Main Street. My main reason for writing this review is to refute some of the reviews I had read prior to our recent cruise about the Celebrity Millenium. We are currently in our winter home in Cabarete, Dominican Republic on the North Coast so we had a driver take us on the 4 hour journey to Santo Domingo. From there we took an hour flight to San Juan where we embarked the Celebrity Millenium for a 15 night cruise to eleven Caribbean ports on December 18, 2009. There were 6 of us and we got a van to take all of us from the airport to the port with luggage for $27 plus tip. We had sailed on the Millenium years ago when we did Scandinavia/Russia. The ship was still in excellent shape and we enjoyed our CC Concierge balcony stateroom. The balcony was not as large as I had hoped but the room was well laid out and there was ample storage. I would strongly recommend upgrading to a balcony, especially on a longer cruise. It makes all the difference. Our friends who had booked an inside stateroom had "cabin fever" by the time they debarked. We chose the Concierge level since it came with pre-paid gratuities on the internet site we used. But it had a few other perks such as champagne waiting for us in our stateroom, more square feet, fresh flowers and daily canapEs, and thicker bathrobes. My husband has breathing difficulties and a wheelchair was provided to us free of charge the entire trip. The staff was so helpful on the few occasions where we used it in port. The main disagreement I had with CruiseCritic reviews of this ship were the comments on the quality of the food. The food was fabulous!!! Believe me....I know my food and this was as good as I have had on any comparable ship. We had escargot every night. The Prime Rib came medium rare exactly as ordered. If we couldn't make up our mind and wanted multiples of things to try...no problem. I am writing this review because I can simply not allow those negative reviews to go unchallenged. (And...no...I do not work for Celebrity Cruise Lines!) This was a holiday cruise over Christmas and New Years so the ship had every age demographic. I cannot comment on the childrens' programs except to say that they seemed content and busy with scavenger hunts and teen movies, etc. Celebrity is a more refined experience. You won't find blaring announcements every hour hawking Snowball bingo jackpots. No drunken rowdiness poolside. If this is your type of thing this is NOT your ship. I heard some people grumbling that there was not enough to do and that the ship was deserted after 11pm. For us, it was exactly the relaxation we were looking for! There is a real Cinema which I enjoy although I would have enjoyed more of a variety of movies. The dining room was lovely but not over-the-top. Celebrity is understated elegance at a premium price rather than a luxury-ship price tag. I have cruised Crystal, Windstar and Seabourn which were fabulous experiences but also came with fabulous price tags! I felt Celebrity incorporated many of their strong features at a more affordable price. If there was one area for improvement, it would be the entertainment. I only attended the headliner shows. There was a comedian who was very funny the first night and not funny the second night. There was a Liberace-style pianist who was really good and played everything from Rachmaninoff to Jerry Lee Lewis. He was excellent both nights. There was a good magician and a concert violinist. We enjoyed them but I must admit that entertainment on their sister line, Royal Caribbean, is much better! One particular disappointment to me was the church service on Christmas Eve. It was pitiful. Held in the main theater, they didn't even come up with a piano for singing and the priest that did the Interdenominational service was about the worst speaker I have ever had the misfortune to listen to! But I guess if I was looking for a touching religious experience I should have stayed home, right? The ports were wonderful and we only did one excursion from the ship in Dominica. Other than that, we hired vans at the tourist authority and got 3 hour tours for between $20 to $25 per person. In Barbados we took a taxi to Harbor Lights beach (no fee to enter but $25 for two chaises and an umbrella). In Aruba, you can take a local bus to Eagle Beach for $2 pp right outside the ship terminal or a van for $3pp. Guadeloupe was horrible. They wanted $50 pp for a ride around the island and wouldn't even accept anything but Euros. It was almost like Guadeloupe didn't want you there...seriously. Ah, the French..... It was a wonderful holiday and happy cruising to all of you! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We had heard that with major cutbacks the experience had significantly degraded aboard Celebrity's Millennium. We have come to really enjoy Celebrity for the food in the main dining room, the wait staff, entertainment, and service. We ... Read More
We had heard that with major cutbacks the experience had significantly degraded aboard Celebrity's Millennium. We have come to really enjoy Celebrity for the food in the main dining room, the wait staff, entertainment, and service. We were not disappointed with this cruise in the least. We booked a Concierge Class Balcony Cabin and enjoyed the size and location of the room (quiet deck). The cabin steward, Lawerence, was very friendly and responsive. The only issue we had at all was that room service couldn't seem to get the order correct on our breakfast orders. We chose the main seating at a table for 10 and had the best table mates we could ever ask for. This is honestly one of our favorite parts of the trip--getting to know other travelers. We were probably the last one's out of the dining room each evening as we would just sit at the table and enjoy each other's company every night. The food was very good. I can only recall on meal that I wasn't absolutely thrilled with, and even that one was still pretty good. Michael Dsouza was our server and he was absolutely wonderful. Always attentive with a little extra fun and comedy as well. We all enjoyed him thoroughly (felt like I left a friend when we left). My favorite meal was the beef wellington and our favorite dessert was the after eight ice cream---yum!! We visited the "Olympic" specialty restaurant and the food and service definitely were worth the supplement. The strawberry crepe dessert was one of the best desserts I've ever had and both of our meals were superb! The live music was noticeably absent and the piped in music seemed inappropriate for the atmosphere. Pan flute disco hits----hmmmm not really what we expected. (The lobster and filet were both superb!). We didn't go to the theatre every evening, but the shows we attended, we really enjoyed (I heard not such good things about the Christmas show). I honestly thought that this was the best ensemble cast of any ship we had been on. They seemed to really work well together and were all solid performers. There wasn't that much other than decorations, a Christmas show, a mild New year's eve party that got rained on that made this an extra special holiday experience, but we had done the same timeframe on Princess' Grand Princess last year and this one was MUCH MUCH better. Can't even compare the food and service. Celebrity is hands down better. We visited 12 ports, but since I only have space below to talk about 6, I will review the 6 that stand out to me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Our flight from Miami to San Juan was filled with excitement for the three of us. We awoke at 3AM to catch our 7:15 AM flight with lots of enthusiasm and zest. We were bombarded with long lines and lots of waiting and hardly any airline ... Read More
Our flight from Miami to San Juan was filled with excitement for the three of us. We awoke at 3AM to catch our 7:15 AM flight with lots of enthusiasm and zest. We were bombarded with long lines and lots of waiting and hardly any airline personnel around to help us. Thank goodness for the American Airlines lounge where we relaxed had a chance to call our loved ones before boarding. Upon arrival in Puerto Rico, we were stoked about our cruise and the plans we made for fun and relaxation. We hailed a taxi from the airport to our Celebrity ship; the Summit. Embarkation was handled a bit clumsy and awkward as the computer system went out. Finally we were herded like sheep to check in and finally board. We found our room and I almost wiped out in the bathroom due to slippery floors where a water leak occurred. Great! Just what I wanted on my vacation- to sit and wait for a plumber to fix a problem in our cabin. It was finally resolved and our vacation was about to start. So I thought...something was missing oh yes how about the ambiance Celebrity is famous for- well it was fading fast along with the carpet in my cabin....But I still had high hopes. We grabbed a quick snack on the 11th floor cafe with the left over food from the previous cruise.It was sufficient until dinner. We then hailed another taxi to shop at the Mall of the Americas. We love shopping...it was way too hot to trot around Old San Juan;though in retrospect was a better choice...the mall was insane!What was I thinking???? We were on deck 9-the Concierge floor. Nothing special or worth the up-charge. Overall, the entertainment was poor, the food-worse ever and I was so turned off that I will sail with Celebrity again as they have lost us as customers. Our daughter, age 16 could not find any fellow cruiser to hang with as the Tennprogram was not existant. We walked the ship nightly and tried to find some sort of amusement. We were not even enticed to gambling where sometimes we love to play nightly.After boarding once again, we took showers got ready for the Muster station drill,( cruise number 9 on Celebrity and 17 overall)2nd seating dinner and looking forward to laughs with my family. Dinner was almost laughable but most of all almost inedible. We enjoy fine dining(? not on this ship) and we watch our weight as well. Nothing had much taste. We were shocked with portions and the only positive thing I can say about the menu choices were not much. The quality of the food and overall service was very poor. How else could the outcome be if you cut any and everything to the bone? Corporate decisions were obvious and unfortunately does not help Celebrity Cruise lines-it shows poor judgement and even poorer quality of an once coveted cruise line that was above the mass market cruise standard. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our 5th cruise but our first with Celebrity. The period of the cruise was over Christmas and New Year and having been on 2 similar cruises before which were very good, my husband and I were looking forward to a similar experience ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise but our first with Celebrity. The period of the cruise was over Christmas and New Year and having been on 2 similar cruises before which were very good, my husband and I were looking forward to a similar experience on Constellation. We flew British Airways to Miami. Having cheated all sorts of obstacles (BA threatened strikes and bad weather in the UK) we arrived in Miami only 10 minutes late. We were transferred to the Wyndham Miami Airport hotel for the night and would be transferred to the ship the next morning. The hotel was adequate and the transfers were fine. We were in a Concierge Class cabin and were therefore entitled to various extra goods and services including priority check in and boarding. Not on this occasion. We were at least an hour in the check in queue whilst all other queues moved a lot quicker. There were plenty of complaints from us and our fellow queuers!! Then, when we got to the check in desk the clerk made a song and dance about the fact that my husband has a USA visa (and why did I not also have one - as if it was any of his business) and that he had never seen anyone with a British passport with a "white entry form" whereas mine was the visa waiver green one. I was hugely unimpressed. Eventually we were allowed to proceed. We went straight to our cabin which was ready, had a quick look round, noted that there was no fruit to which we were entitled and then went for some lunch in the Seaview Cafe. After lunch one of our cases had arrived at our cabin door and the other 2 cases followed in short order. Our cabin steward came to introduce himself and the fruit arrived. We opened our complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and sipped this on the balcony overlooking the marina in Miami. Then we had a look around the ship. The atrium was nicely decorated with Christmas trees and sparkling stars and we felt ready to enjoy a nice Christmas and New Year cruise. The ship was supposed to sail at 17.00 but there was an announcement that the captain had decided to wait for an hour to see if people who had been delayed on flights could make the ship before it sailed. There had been bad weather in the eastern USA as well as Europe and flights were being cancelled wholesale. In the event, over 100 people did not make it and had to join the ship 3 or 4 days later in Curacao or Aruba. We were booked for second sitting in the San Marco Restaurant (deck 4) on a table for 6. 2 of the other 4 people were there for the first night. They were from Miami and therefore had not had any hassles with travelling. The menu showed the day's specials on the right hand side and the "always available" items on the left hand side. There was a good choice. We both chose a crab starter, followed by a soup and then main course and then chatted to our table companions. When our crab dishes arrived we were dumbfounded. On my plate there were 2 leaves of rocket and drizzled on one of them was about a tablespoonful of a crab sauce. That was it!! We did not say anything at the time, thinking this must be an error or a first night hitch. However, when the soup arrived it was lukewarm and slopped all over the sides of the soup bowls. Altogether we were not impressed with the food and we also noticed that the staff were running around like headless chickens. There did not seem to be any leadership or co-ordination. We thought we would see how things went the next night before making any comments. We took breakfast in the Seaview Cafe. This was fine and there was plenty of choice and room to sit no matter what time you arrived. We did this every day. Also the tea and coffee stations were good with nice sized mugs instead of small cups. No complaints here. Our first day was a sea day. The weather was cloudy and windy and not very warm. Still we found a nice place to relax on sunbeds at the front of the ship on deck 11/12. This was nice and quiet but if you wanted music all you had to do was to move further to the centre of the ship where there was more action and they had a Caribbean band playing for part of the day. That night was the first formal dress night. My husband and I like these opportunities to dress up. Unfortunately we were not in the majority. Around 95% of the ladies dressed up in nice gowns or cocktail dresses but around 95% of men could not be bothered to adhere to the dress code. This got worse on the next formal night - but read on......... The food in the restaurant was about on a par with the first night and the service was no better and just as chaotic. I did notice that when our waiter came round to ask if our food was OK he also asked if it was hot - strange - never been asked that before. With just a couple of days to go before Christmas Day, we noted that there were no decorations whatsoever in our part of the restaurant or indeed in the Seaview cafe. We decided that they would appear perhaps on Christmas Eve. On the 3rd night in the restaurant, things were no better and my husband decided to make a complaint. He pointed out about the soup being slopped over the sides of the bowls and about the food not being overly hot. Complaints were taken on board although the waiter said they just delivered what was sent up by the kitchens. It had also come to our attention that whilst our table (and a couple of others) had to wait a long time for service, another table next to ours seating 8 got served straight away. They had the same staff as we did but the staff fawned over them the whole time - you would have thought they owned the ship. By this time the service and the quantity of the food on offer was a nightly talking point on our table as our companions were no more impressed than we were. We were all driven to ordering a starter, soup and salad in order to ensure that we had enough to eat. Having said that, the salads were mainly chopped up lettuce. By the 3rd day, we had got used to our cabin. Lots of storage space. It was clean and the beds and pillows so comfy. The balcony was rather small with 2 chairs (non reclining) and a large table. Still we managed. The worst aspect was the cold water from the tap in the bathroom which was always warm - sometimes quite hot. On the other hand, there was plenty of hot water, the shower was OK (but not the best we have had) and the cabin was nicely serviced including change of towels twice a day. The air conditioning was particularly good. On Christmas Eve, we returned to our cabin late morning to find that our balcony was flooded. The glass doors outside were streaming with water, the table top was similarly covered in water and the chair cushions were soaked. By late afternoon, the balcony was still in no fit state to use and we had to complain. Someone came up and sort of dried it. Christmas Day and Santa had found us on the ship!!! we also got a nice beach bag from Celebrity and a card wishing us season's greetings (not Merry Christmas). When we arrived for breakfast in the Seaview Cafe, there were Christmas streamers along the top of the serving counters. Hurray!! But by lunchtime they had been taken away. We spent the day relaxing in the lovely weather. There was plenty of sunbed space at the front of the ship and plenty of beds spare. So no fighting over sunbeds or deck space on this ship (which we had experienced before). Arriving back in our cabin late afternoon, there were no canapes so we rang to ask where they were. When they were delivered our cabin steward told us that they had not been delivered because we had put the "do not disturb" sign on the outside of the door. NOT TRUE. This statement was later retracted and our steward told us it was his assistant's fault - he had missed us out. This was the second formal dress night for the restaurant. Needless to say, compliance was hardly better that on the 1st formal night. Even worse, the aforementioned table next to ours that got the good service, turned up in casual clothes - some in jeans. How ignorant can you get? And still they got the best service and despite coming in very late, got their food before us. 3 out of the 4 of us on our table ordered a lobster salad for starters. This arrived on a plate hardly bigger than the side plates used for bread. It consisted of some shredded lettuce leaves, about 4/5 very thin slices of radish and a couple of slices of cucumber - but no sign of the lobster. We all stared at our plates and called the waiter to get us some lobster. It was pointed out that the lobster was between 2 of the slices of radish. Well I managed to retrieve mine but it was cut so thin that it disintegrated when I tried to move it away from the radish. We could do more than laugh even though it was so bad. We had pre- ordered a particular bottle of wine for my husband and a bottle of champagne for me. We had been told they would be on our table when we arrived at dinner. When we enquired where they were we were told that they had run out of the champagne. You can imagine how unimpressed we were. We chose an alternative bottle at the same price as the original bottle. The Christmas turkey was OK if a bit salty but there was no Christmas pudding or cake or mince pies and no decorations in the restaurant. Where had we come to? On arriving back in our cabin at 22.55, there had been no turn - down service and no bathroom service. My husband rang to enquire. 25 minutes later when no one had come to sort things out, I strode down to guest relations in my long gown and flip flops (!!) to complain. 10 minutes later, the room was serviced. The following day our steward said the cabin had not been done because we had locked the door. LOCKED THE DOOR????? WE HAD BEEN IN THE RESTAURANT SO HOW DO YOU LOCK A DOOR FROM THE OUTSIDE??????? This accusation was later retracted and we were told that the steward had simply missed our room. This was the second time we had had to complain and on each occasion, it was initially our fault. What sort of customer service is that?? Boxing Day we dined in the Ocean Liners restaurant. What a difference from the San Marco. You were made to feel special, the service was great, the food likewise. But why did we have to pay a 30$ surcharge each to get these things? Thereafter we spent our days leisurely on the sun deck or wandering round the ports of call - we did not do any trips as we had been to a lot of the islands before. We went to the Casual Dining restaurant in the Seaview Cafe on 2 nights and this was excellent - no surcharge but a tip was suggested. We left in excess of the suggested amount as the service and attention was so good. On each occasion, this restaurant was underused. We felt that people did not realise now nice it was and that what you got was far better than the San Marco. Talking to fellow passengers, a lot were disappointed with the lack of Christmas feel on the ship. Some had complained and had been told that this was out of respect to non - Christian passengers. OMG - I thought we had left political correctness at home when we stepped on the plane at Heathrow. No it is alive and well at Celebrity. New Year's Eve was another formal night and this time a lot of people adhered to the dress code. There was a deck party around the pool. This had all the makings of a disaster when at 23.00 on 24 December, we had to sit and watch the band set up on the stage and someone trying to get a computer to project imagines onto a screen. At that time I expect to be dancing. Once the band got going it was fine and the Caribbean band they had on next were excellent. They had ice carvings showing 2009 and when it was 2010 they changed the carving to show the new year - very clever and very good. Except that they told us it was midnight with some 5 minutes still to go. So we had 2 goes at Happy New Year. As someone next to me said, you would think that on this ship they were doing everything for the first time, it was so amateurish. When we got to the San Marco restaurant for dinner on New Year's Day - we waited almost half and hour before we got the menu. Needless to say the aforementioned table next to us arrived late and got theirs straight away. My husband lost the plot at this stage. He called our waiter and asked him to explain why on each night, this other table got priority service over everyone else. The waiter agreed it was unacceptable. Needless to say the following couple of nights we got quick service - but by then the damage to our confidence had been done. Disembarkation was fine for us as we were told to go early. However, on leaving the ship we found out that we had to complete USA entry forms. We still had the stubs of the previous forms we had filled in on the plane for arrival in the country. Apparently these should have been taken from us in St Thomas. We got off the ship there but no one asked us for anything. We weren't the only people having to re - do forms. When we got to immigration we were told that there were 68 people who did not hand in their form stubs on leaving the ship in St Thomas. If that was so, the ship must have known who they were so why did someone not contact the people concerned to tell them what to do? Apart from this the disembarkation experience was OK and we were soon at Miami airport for a long wait for our flight home. So to sum up, and putting glitches to one side, GOOD POINTS of the cruise were the cabin size, storage space, air conditioning, cleanliness and (on the whole) service; the space on deck for sunbathing; the Ocean Liners and the Casual Dining restaurants; the New York steaks in the San Marco, the bread served in the San Marco and Aqua Spa restaurants, the Caribbean band and the dance band in the Rendevous Lounge, the Martini bar, the IT centre and the New Year's night party (when it got going). POOR POINTS were the standard of service in the San Marco (except for our assistant waiter), the variety on the menu on some nights, the unpredictable amount of food you would get in the San Marco, the length of time it took for us to have our dinner (we were often not getting out of the restaurant until nearly 23.00)and the table settings - often there were no wine glasses on the table and the water glasses were all wet as if they had just been rinsed, embarkation and to an extent disembarkation, the warm cold water in our cabin and the lack of Chrismassy feel in the ship generally. We did not do the shows and therefore cannot comment on them. The bottom line is that what we experienced on the Constellation was nowhere near as good as what we had on the RCI Serenade of the Seas in September 2009 and was a lot worse than what we have had on P&O and not even in the same street as what we got on the QE2. Would we sail with Celebrity again? Well it would not be our first port of call when looking for another cruise. I doubt if we would ever use them again as we would not have the confidence that what we would get would be OK. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Just a little review of our Christmas and New Year's cruise on the Connie. We had a great time! I must admit that embarkation was not particularly pleasant -very disorganized and Celebrity's employees were little or no help. ... Read More
Just a little review of our Christmas and New Year's cruise on the Connie. We had a great time! I must admit that embarkation was not particularly pleasant -very disorganized and Celebrity's employees were little or no help. However, once we boarded the ship we had a wonderful time. We were greeted with the standard glass of champagne. We went immediately to our cabin to drop off our carry on and then proceeded up to Lido deck to partake in the buffet. We were early so it wasn't very crowded. The food was the standard buffet fare. We were in our cabin by 1:00. We had an outside cabin on Continental deck. The location was great and very quiet. Our cabin was showing little signs of wear but it was clean and our bed was very comfortable. Our cabin stewards were very attentive and responded to every request we made. After putting a few things away we set off to explore the ship. The public rooms are in very good condition. The ship was extremely clean and we saw staff cleaning the public areas constantly. We ate in the MDR every night except one. We had great tablemates and enjoyed their company every night. I am not a big food person so I am not going to say a lot about the food. I will say that I was able to order any of my food the way I wanted it including asking for certain things on my salad and small portions of meat and big portions of vegetables. The sautEed spinach (which is not on the menu but I had it every night) was delicious. There were also two grand buffets in the dining room - Christmas Day and New Year's Day. They were very nice with a mix of breakfast and lunch foods. We ate breakfast on Lido deck every morning - they have the most delicious waffles. I was a little disappointed in the desserts in the MDR. However, the ice cream - all of which is made on the ship (except the sugar free) was great and the sorbets were among the best I have ever had. They were actually sorbet - not sherbet! Very nice! People dressed the same as they do on Holland America or Princess - some people were dressed every night, some people weren't. Some people didn't even get their luggage until four or five days into the cruise (I think some people never got their luggage). I would give you a more detailed fashion report but, truthfully, we don't really worry about what other people wear, we are only concerned about we wear - we stick with the recommended dress of the day! And, no one, no matter how they were dressed, ruined our evening. In fact, there was one man who never had shoes on - I don't know if he never got his luggage or his feet hurt or what, but no matter where we saw him he didn't have on shoes. We thought it was pretty funny! On sea days we spent a lot of time on the pool deck. We were happy to see that the pool attendants actually monitored the "chair hogs" and removed towels from the chairs that hadn't been occupied for a couple of hours. One couple - and they were "chair hogs" actually attached their luggage straps to the chairs supposedly to hold their towels in place. It was very relaxing and most afternoons the pool attendants came by with either sorbet or fresh fruit in little cups. The entertainment was good - we had a couple of comedians/singers. Some of the production shows were good some were just okay. The string quartet was excellent as was the a cappella group. We enjoyed them the most. We did get to see Perry and he was "himself!" One of the reasons we went on this cruise was the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. We booked only one shore excursion through the ship. We had never been the Curacao so we took a little tour with a taxi driver we found outside the gates at the port. It was beautiful. We had been to all the other ports many times so we just went to the beach on our own except in Antigua. We booked a catamaran tour on the Excellence with the ship. We tried to book it independently but they contract with the ship and will not allow independent bookings. It was excellent - I highly recommend. Unlike some catamaran tours except for about an hour and half stop to snorkel and eat lunch we were sailing around Antigua. We loved it! For us, the ship had a reasonable amount of Christmas decorations and entertainment. They had a very nice Roman Catholic midnight mass in the theater and Santa visited on Christmas morning. There were quite a few Christmas trees around the ship and the atrium was decorated. There was Christmas caroling and also a Christmas stage show. The New Year's Eve party was on Lido deck - it was a great time with champagne, hats and noise makers. The one thing that I didn't like was that it was formal night and it was too hot and sticky to be comfortable since we were dressed up. We danced a lot anyway and took cold showers when we got back to the room. For some reason, we got invited for a tour of the bridge. It was extremely interesting and we enjoyed it and hope we get invited to tour it again sometime. Something that really stood out for us on this cruise was that the officers were out and about continually. We saw the captain many times and he always stopped to say hello - and, his wife did also! It was a very friendly staff! Our cruise on the Connie was a great way to usher in the New Year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Terrible experience will be sure not to repeat. Traveled with mother and 90 y.o. grandma (probably her last) The suite was nice, beds were ridiculously uncomfortable, I elected after 3rd night , of a 14 day trip, to sleep on the ... Read More
Terrible experience will be sure not to repeat. Traveled with mother and 90 y.o. grandma (probably her last) The suite was nice, beds were ridiculously uncomfortable, I elected after 3rd night , of a 14 day trip, to sleep on the floor!!! Food was terrible, actually embarrassed for them. Excursions were a terrible joke and NOT appropriate for my grandmother - Where indicated: Leisurely was actually a HIKE that I could barely manage, she had to stay in the bus and miss the Orchid Farm which was only thing she Really wanted to see. On another excursion driver was high as a kite and threw bus into reverse while driving we all got hurt. In the fancier dining room that you pay extra for I was scalded with coffee arm and chest by waiter, did they offer to pick up the tab? No! One Big Sales Gimmick To Buy Jewelry non-stop bombardment. They should pay us to take this trip and listen to their ongoing sales pitches. Shocked at the level of lies, service, horrible entertainment, food, and intent Celebrity operates under! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Having completed 6 previous cruises mostly with Cunard, we chose the Celebrity Solstice on recommendation. Embarkation Embarkation at Fort Lauderdale was long and tiresome as we had to wait 2 hours after being herded in a seating area ... Read More
Having completed 6 previous cruises mostly with Cunard, we chose the Celebrity Solstice on recommendation. Embarkation Embarkation at Fort Lauderdale was long and tiresome as we had to wait 2 hours after being herded in a seating area before being allowed to board. This was in order for US customs to check the ship and crew which we were told was routine for ships coming into America after months sailing Europe. Just a shame we were not forewarned. Pre-Cruise Hotel The overnight stay in the pre cruise Hilton Hotel was exceptional, the room was clean and recently refurbished with a large flat screen interaction TV and great balcony views of the yachts. First Impressions First impressions were promising, the Solstice being a clean nearly new ship with impressive modern features. Ship Experience It was only after getting settled that you realised that the impressive modern look of the ship masked serious fundamental flaws. The modern bars and casual lounges were poorly designed with seating that looked impressive but gave a less than comfortable feel. We got the feeling of always being on show in the bars and lounges as there were few nooks and niches to relax. The bar servers looked sullen and table service took longer than you would have expected. There weren't the usual relaxation areas inside the ship to sit which led us to stay in our cabin over prolonged periods. The Bingo Experience I'm not a bingo player but when in Rome... The ticket pack for the 2 of us was very expensive, $60! The prize money was relatively low. Poor value and best avoided in my opinion. We paid the extra and booked the speciality restaurants throughout the cruise after reading poor reviews about the main dining restaurant. The Buffet Area There was a good variety of foods served here from salads to burgers and something for everyone. However we and others found the English style breakfast items cold and only cold plates were available to use. Poor Buffet Opening Times One major complaint was the buffet closing after 1am. If your hungry for a late night snack it's not easy ordering from the only available food source, your room service, especially when your wife is asleep in bed! Tuscan Grill Food quality was inconsistent, we pre-booked Tuscan on 4 nights. You would have thought the Tuscan staff would remember us but not a bit of it, after tipping well throughout, on the last night we were shown the worst table in the restaurant, in a corner next to the kitchen door which kept opening and closing. To make matters worse this was the last formal night with my wife dressed up to the nines facing the wall as if she were some naughty school girl. Afternoon Tea This was held during the afternoon in the Tuscan Grill and was a complete and utter shambles. The staff clearly had no idea how to serve afternoon tea which is a predominantly English affair. Even though there were more staff than guests, we and other guests were constantly ignored. We only managed to get one small cake and sandwich throughout the experience while staff walked round with full platters of which they seemed to have no inclination to empty. Murano Our impression was of an overrated pretentious service. When we asked the sommelier to help choose a wine for us he took it upon himself to open a £150 dollar bottle of wine without first checking, presumably to maximise his 15% beverage gratuity on our bill. We only learnt the true cost of the wine when it came to pay the bill which we paid reluctantly to avoid embarrassment. This ruined our cruise experience Silk Harvest Reasonable Asian cuisine but with poor overbearing table service. Bistro on 5 This was by far the best experience for us at the least extra cost (an extra $5 dollars per person). The food was fresh and exciting with a good menu with plenty of salads and crepes. Service was exceptionally friendly throughout. I would wholly recommend this restaurant. Deck Grill Serves burgers, hot dogs and chips. These were of good quality. Try the onion rings in beer batter which were exceptional State Room The Stateroom was a good size, well thought out bathroom and private glass/perspex balcony. Good large flat screen TV with swivel arm allowing bedtime viewing. The interactive service was exceptional allowing up to date viewing of our on board costs. There were a host of free newly released films to watch as well as videos of the bookable excursions. In Cabin Breakfast Service We liked our breakfast food delivered so we could eat first thing on our balcony. Food was always delivered hot and then followed by a phone call an hour or so later from the kitchen to check everything was all right, top marks for this service 10/10. Disembarking Took over an hour, quite tiresome and not well directed. On Board Advice, Tips & Excursions If you don't want to pay the daily $12 dollars a head automatic cabin gratuity, ask guest services to remove this from your bill. Many seasoned cruise travellers do this to focus on those providing exceptional service. In my experience, paying your cabin steward a little in advance with the rest at the end will ensure attentive service throughout. Our cabin steward was exceptional. Try ordering breakfast in bed from the breakfast menu in your cabin and then sit eating it on your balcony. You can order as many breakfast items as you wish but spare a thought for the poor steward who has to carry the tray down. Those Virgin Trans Atlantic flights are tiresome especially if your economy seating, I'm no bulky person but the seats are extremely narrow with little leg room for tall persons. Extra leg room is worth the extra cost or better still, premium economy provide more comfortable seating. You can save money by just getting off ship and doing your own thing. This proved easy for us to do, we were soon walking around the more interesting parts of the port town of Porto Rico. By asking which were the safest taxis to use, for a few dollars, we were relaxing on the best and quietest beaches on St Kitts and St Martin.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My family and I along with several of our relatives took the Dec. 20 cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Solstice. While we had a pretty good time, I think the general consensus was that in a number of different areas, Celebrity could ... Read More
My family and I along with several of our relatives took the Dec. 20 cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Solstice. While we had a pretty good time, I think the general consensus was that in a number of different areas, Celebrity could have done a better job. Let me first state that the ship was absolutely beautiful-the public rooms such as the various dining rooms and bars were contemporary. We stayed in the Concierge Class-the rooms while somewhat small were stylish and the bathroom was functional. I am not sure if it really was worth the money to stay in Concierge class - I believe the rooms on the floor below us were just as nice and were less money. As far as the food, I would say that it was pretty good but not great. Some members of our family were quite disappointed with the quality and variety of the food in the Grand Epernay dining room for dinner. I think that we all liked the Oceanview Cafe on the 14th floor. There were a number of problems however. I found it surprising that the Oceanview Cafe closed at 12AM on Christmas Eve. We were not the only ones who were looking for a late night snack and thought that this dining option should have been open, especially for a holiday. The main issue that we had was the fiasco that happened on Christmas day in Labadee, Haiti. We arrived 1 hour late and the captain announced that because of this delay, we would not be having the holiday barbecue on the island but on the ship. That is fine, but neither he nor anyone else announced that ALL of the dining options were closed on the island. On the map that they give out, there were a variety of cafes and restaurants listed. As anyone can imagine, we along with more than half of the ship disembarked to enjoy a day in the sun and discovered that there was no food to be had-no hotdogs, no hamburgers, no sandwiches. All they brought from the ship were some cookies and sweetrolls for us to eat. It is unbelievable to me that we paid all this money and the Celebrity staff could not do something more for us on Christmas day. I don't understand why they were unable to make sandwiches and bring it out to the island. We ended going back to the ship at 4 PM because we were starving. And what happens once on board? The Mast Grill, which serves hotdogs and hamburgers, has 40 people in line and The Oceanview cafe is not serving any food either except for pizza and salads and has similar lines. Celebrity really failed to address this problem and there were many people upset about the lack of food options for that day. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice for the second year in a row for New Years. We traveled with 3 other couples who have done the same. Overall it was a good cruise, but compared to last year, last year was better. Why? too many kids on ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Solstice for the second year in a row for New Years. We traveled with 3 other couples who have done the same. Overall it was a good cruise, but compared to last year, last year was better. Why? too many kids on the ship and no parents at all to watch or control them. The security staff on the ship no way enforced the rules of "Adults Only" in the solarium pool area as well as the late night comedian and the bars. I would recommend the rules being enforced and changed to 18 years or older only. Individuals in the suites and Aqua Class such as ourselves should have priority for tables and sitting on New Years Eve around the outside pool and deck area where the New Years party was held. And again NO ONE UNDER 18. There should be more security concerning out of control teenagers and there should be NO GLASS of any kind used upon the deck during the New Years Eve party. Other than these few issues, our stateroom attendant was excellent as always, room service very good and on time, the ladies in the Aqua Spa were great, and the Blu Restaurant and Waiter were outstanding. The food and service excellent overall. Need to consider adding a sports bar where there is room to sit and watch the ball games. Too many people crowded into the Casino to watch the games and not enough room to accommodate. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I am 17 years old and this is my 12th cruise. I have been on 3 NCL, 1 HAL, 1 Carnival, 1 Princess, and my 6th Celebrity cruise. This is the newest and biggest ship in my 12 cruises. We are a family of 9 all from Illinois and our ages vary ... Read More
I am 17 years old and this is my 12th cruise. I have been on 3 NCL, 1 HAL, 1 Carnival, 1 Princess, and my 6th Celebrity cruise. This is the newest and biggest ship in my 12 cruises. We are a family of 9 all from Illinois and our ages vary from 12-80. Embarkation: Embarkation is very well done. We unexpectedly needed a wheelchair and my grandfather received one with a guide from the port authority very quickly. Our guide was very nice and did an excellent job, its a shame they cannot accept tips. Public rooms: The public rooms are truly gorgeous. I cannot tell you how many times I just looked around and wondered the amount of time it must have taken to design all these rooms so elegantly. Also we understood from cruise staff that this was one of the fullest ships they have had, the public rooms did not seem overly full at all. The restrooms are also really, really nice. I must say. Cabin: We had an inside but my aunt and uncle had a balcony. Both cabins are very nice and the bathrooms are even rather large for a cruise ship. I had no problems with the water temperature or the pressure. The tvs also have a way to move so you can watch them while sitting on the sofa or while in your bed. A very cool feature! You can also see your photos on the tv which is sweet! Fitness: The fitness center is very nice, the only problem was that this was a very fit crowd so it was very difficult to get machine time. Enrichment: My uncle went to the enrichment series on weather and said it was very interesting. Dining: The oceanview cafe is the best buffet I have seen on a cruise ship. They have so many choices for lunch and its very easy to get around because it is not just a line each group has its own station. For example they have a line for sandwiches, a line for Mexican, and a line for pizza to name a few. The soft serve ice cream is really good and I thought the pizza was pretty good too. We ate in the main dining room every night and thought the food was pretty good not great but pretty good. A main problem was that our waiter and asst. waiter had 21 people to wait on while they usually only have 13-16. This made the dinners very slow and finished plates were not cleared as quickly as usual but this is the maitre d's fault. Entertainment: I only attended 2 of the Broadway styles shows both of which were good. I personally didn't care for the comedian, I cannot recall his name. Service: As with any Celebrity cruise the service was very good. I would have given it a 5 other than the MDR problems. Still very good service, don't get me wrong. Shore Excursions: We didn't book any excursions with the ship but did a tour with Oscar Brown in Costa Rica, and tours in Columbia and Belize. Overall: An awesome cruise, if you go in with a good attitude to any cruise you will have a great time. I mean its a cruise what is not to like?!? Its a very beautiful ship and has a great crew who work very hard! I hope to sail on her again sometime! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
A nervous month was spent pre cruise waiting to see if BA cabin crew would strike and disrupt our London-Miami flights booked through Celebrity. Thankfully the courts intervened. Flying directly to Miami was a benefit as we did not get ... Read More
A nervous month was spent pre cruise waiting to see if BA cabin crew would strike and disrupt our London-Miami flights booked through Celebrity. Thankfully the courts intervened. Flying directly to Miami was a benefit as we did not get delayed by the snow storms in NE USA which affected Cunard passengers for example. Flight on time and amazingly got through Miami immigration in a few minutes - no queue at all and staff polite! Celebrity air and hotel arrangements took us to Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina Hotel which was fine with ground transfers working well. Nearby Bimini Grill excellent for dinner. Check in at port and boarding was quickest ever partly because of booking Aqua Class. Staterooms were not ready until 1.30pm so lunch at buffet first. Bags arrived by 4pm. Aqua Class cabin was excellent differing mainly from others with the six jet shower. The real benefit of Aqua Class is dining in Blu Restaurant which we found outstanding both in food and service - breakfast and dinner there every day except one night in Murano's -again top quality dining. Open dining in Blu is settling in and we settled on 7pm virtually every night. The food was memorably good with only occasional odd menu items such as polenta with the pork chop and macaroni cheese with chateaubriand! We did not partake of the Persian Gardens (heated benches and steam rooms, sauna etc) which are an Aqua Class benefit. We used the gym every morning before 6.45 as by 7am none of the many treadmills were available. The Aqua Spa cafe which we used daily on Millennium ships was not the same on Equinox being located in a corridor almost and subject to ingress of smoke from one of the (few) smoking areas. We usally had lunch in the buffet restaurant which was varied and of a good standard although very crowded at times. The three main shows in the theatre were good although the Cirque de Soleil type 'Equinox -the show' may not be to everyone's taste. Other acts were varied and of pretty high standard although we did not try the late night adult comedian. The Cruise Director Gary Walker (English) was very approachable and open and available to all. The internet service seems slower than on the Millennium class ships and failed completely the night before docking when check in for flights was needed. We are not major sun bathers which was lucky as 3,100 pax filled all loungers very early indeed on sea days. Activities seemed well organised and attended. The New Year party on deck was good fun and the large crowds generally very well behaved -only a handful of drunk teenagers. This was a Western Caribbean cruise and the ports were mixed - Grand Cayman - fine for snorkelling and stingray watching - not much history. Our Cartagena tour was cancelled - twice! We had done a city tour there before so stayed on the ship. We did a monkey watching tour in Panama which was fine - we have done a canal transit in the past -so fun to speed along part of it. In Costa Rica we visited the Sloth sanctuary -well worth while and in Belize did an airboat tour of the swamps to view wildlife. Apart from the airboat breaking down and torrential rain it was fine. The five mile tender into Belize City must make it vulnerable to weather. All these tours were organised through Celebrity and yes were more expensive than direct booking or picking one up on shore. However past bad experience has left us wary of these local tours in this part of the Caribbean. On Cozumel we had booked a hire car from Avis on line and it worked well. Difficult to get in a days driving however on such a small island! Immigration at Fort Lauderdale was tedious but relatively efficient and by 12.15 we were at Miami airport after efficient bus connection. Thankfully we were on the 5.10pm BA flight as we understand the second flight went technical and left the following day. We made our connection to Belfast at Heathrow on time just before the snow arrived to disrupt many flights. An excellent cruise with Celebrity Equinox proving an outstanding ship and Aqua Class proving a fine experience thanks to Blu! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
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