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193 Celebrity Holiday Cruise Reviews

Traveled on the December 21st Sailing of Celebrity Reflection (Holiday Cruise) out of Miami. Port stops in San Juan in Puerto Rico, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and Phillipsburg in St. Maarten (Dutch Side). We were in an S-1 Sky Suite, ... Read More
Traveled on the December 21st Sailing of Celebrity Reflection (Holiday Cruise) out of Miami. Port stops in San Juan in Puerto Rico, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and Phillipsburg in St. Maarten (Dutch Side). We were in an S-1 Sky Suite, Aft corner cabin (9301). This was a last minute booking a few weeks before travel. Just so you are aware, this review was written based on our expectations and our lifestyle. Married couple in their mid forties, traveling without children who prefer the most luxurious accommodations we can get when booking. Our expectations are high. We are also smokers (i know, boo hiss, blah blah blah). We have taken a number of cruises, always staying in Butler level suites or higher. This cruise we compared to our experiences on NCL's Owners Suite level of accommodations. Embarkation - we arrived around 1:15pm (we live in Miami so the port is a short cab ride). We followed the signs to the "Suite Guests" area. This basically allows you to bypass the much longer standard line. After that, you do have to find the suite guests or aqua guests line and stand in that (20 minute at least). All other cruise lines that we have experienced have provided a separate suite guest check in room, with snacks and personalized service. Once we received our cards and barely a "have an nice cruise" from the disgruntled agent, we were able to follow the signs on which way to get onto the ship - no explanations, no "go that way" - nothing. On our other cruises, we were collected at check in by our butler or concierge and escorted either directly to our room or luncheon, etc. while explained the differing areas of the ship, when our luggage would arrive, etc. Once we received our key cards, we were on our own. Once we got onto the ship and looked at where to go we were able to find our cabin quite easily. No Butler, no room attendant, nothing. No welcoming anything. We wandered around looking for a place to have a quiet drink, etc. and finally discovered that the Sunset Bar would pretty much be our home for the rest of the trip :) A most EXCELLENT staff and they were by far the friendliest most energetic staff on the entire trip. Sergio, Onur, etc - you guys were amazing!!! Sergio never missed a chance to say hi, talk to us about the trip, see how we were doing or refill our drink - by the second day this man knew our names and stateroom number by heart. We hated leaving!! We kept checking on our room, and finally luggage arrived after sail away. FYI - Sail away on the reflection is a much more subdued affair than on any other cruise i have ever been on. Just relaxed and quiet. Totally not complaining :) Better than hearing Gangnam Style 742 times in a week :) We met our butler around 6-ish and he asked if there was anything he could do for us - anything we asked for he could not do - book reservations, get our wine bottles from our package, tell us about the ship and the areas where we could smoke, Gordon was totally useless and moderately rude. I was informed if i wanted any kind of assistance, i had to go to guest services on the 3rd deck. Needless to say, he was no longer our butler after the 2nd day. He did not place timely Cabana or dinner reservations and of course we now had no specialty restaurant reservations for the first night (he was able to secure odd time seating on the 24th for Qsine). Our new Butler (Nalan) was a doll and treated us like we were her only guests (and was well compensated for it buy us) The ship is brand new in the past year. All the bells and whistles you could want - except something that is glaringly obvious - why do we have high tech everywhere, yet to see a daily schedule i still must rely on a printed sheet of paper instead of interactive "whats happening" signage? near the elevator? where there are two separate maps of the ship right next to each other? Def a loss in that category. There are only a few places to smoke on board (shush) - Sunset Bar, Off deck 5 exit from Captains Club, Mast Bar on Deck 15. Thats it. Seriously. That is it. and they are small areas to boot. You also CANNOT SMOKE on your balcony. $250 fine and you can be thrown off the ship. They also don't allow ELECTIONIC Cigarettes (seriously people its WATER VAPOR not SMOKE) because some people do not like you to even LOOK like you are smoking (but they are apparently OK with people who pick their noses and eat their findings while at dinner in a public restaurant LOL). So smokers beware. Kids - ah, my favorite subject. People, this is an "older" person cruise line. There are no rock walls, there are no slides - there are things for kids to do - but seriously people - the elevators are not your built in babysitters. I have three grown children, and the only thing I could NOT find on this ship (other than a good butler) was a place that DID NOT ALLOW KIDS other than the casino. All bars at all times had children screaming, crying, playing on the furniture, knocking over drinks and just being a menace (granted, not the KIDS fault, its the parents fault) but come on - not a single space that was child free on 16 decks that i could just enjoy a good book for 30 minutes without having to sit in my own cabin? Qsine was by far our fav specialty restaurant, followed by Tuscan Grill. We were not that impressed with Murano. The MDR was spotty (some dishes were terrific some where just horrific) service was spotty at best. Okie's section (Table 409) had the best service and Aleks the Sommilier was wonderful. Our favorite indoor spot on the ship was the wine cellar - self service ATM-Like cards (not included in booze package) made it a pleasure - it was often empty and quiet - and the two gentlemen who work there were wonderful to speak to always friendly and def knowledgeable. Arriving in San Juan after 3pm kind of puts a damper on doing anything in town other than walking around. Our other two ports of call - since it was Christmas and Christmas eve - were also mostly closed. Sea days on the ship - they still have not been able to stop the "one person saving 10 deck chairs" or people just leaving towels for hours on end. Could never get a seat anywhere near the pool and the deck chairs on all levels and indoors are packed in like sardines. There were a few nights with a DJ on board and out by the pool - however, it was very poorly attended (especially Sky Lounge). The live band in the lobby is OK, but it was pretty much the same thing every night. The professional portraits are $30 each - and they are no better than the $15 on other cruise lines. All in all we will try celebrity again on a non-holiday week, however, we will stick with NCL when the kiddies are not in school :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We booked directly with Celebrity in order to secure a five hundred dollar on board credit. This came in useful when paying our wine and bar bill. Beware prices for drinks are high. The Reflection at less than a year old and is very ... Read More
We booked directly with Celebrity in order to secure a five hundred dollar on board credit. This came in useful when paying our wine and bar bill. Beware prices for drinks are high. The Reflection at less than a year old and is very impressive. The sweeping central atrium is beautiful, the cabins are pristine with modern decor and the bars are exciting night time venues. Although we were slightly disappointed with the evening entertainment there were some stand out acts. 'These Guys', a group of four young Californian men were sensational. The comedy venue 'Sin City' show was great entertainment. Ask any guy who watched this show if they remember Sarah Storey, the Australian burlesque dancer. Overall the shore trips were well organised, but a little uninspiring. The food was never something to rave about, but consistently good. We soon learnt that the meat choices were by far the best. The buffet had plenty of choice and we always found a table outside to sit, both for breakfast and lunch. Both embarkation and disembarkation were efficient but a 6.30 start meant that Celebrity got us to the airport with three and a half hours to go before our flight to Birmingham. Overall a very pleasant cruise, but we came away saying we would like to try another cruise company next time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise with good weather; this was our second Panama Canal transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We are regular cruisers; this was our first time on Celebrity. We booked an Aqua Class stateroom on ... Read More
1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise with good weather; this was our second Panama Canal transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We are regular cruisers; this was our first time on Celebrity. We booked an Aqua Class stateroom on the ninth deck, and this included the Blu dining room. Details below. The cruise had seven sea days that were relaxing. 2. Embarking: We made our own flight arrangements for this cruise, but we did use Celebritys hotel in San Diego, the Sheraton Marina, a nice hotel convenient to both the airport and the port. We were bused to the port around noon. The security line was a bit long, but we were on board by 1PM. Our cabin was ready for us; one suitcase arrived before 2:30 and the second bag arrived at 5:30. We were over 2,000 passengers of all ages, from infants to seniors in electric scooters. Nationalities were across the board: US, British (160), Belgians (over 40), Swiss, Germans, Canadians, Brazilians, etc. As the ship was next headed for Harwich, England, it appeared that some of the Europeans were going to continue on home on board and not fly. 3. The Celebrity Infinity (from perspective of Aqua Class): The cabin is the same size as any other verandah cabin but with nicer amenities. Despite its size, there are adequate storage drawers and closet space for the two weeks. [My wifes contrarian comments: The storage and closet space looks very good before your suitcases arrive. I do agree it was adequate, but only because I had mercilessly edited the clothing I packed down to only those items I absolutely knew I would wear and brought along a Magellans valet travel tray to corral my cosmetics in/on the desk (there are no drawers in the cabins desk, just large open shelves.] There are only two 110v and two 220v outlets in the room. The bathroom is compact but it does have storage shelves under the sink. The shower is a walk-in type with a great multi-nozzle system. Suitcases fit well under the bed. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it and kept it locked). There is a TV that receives movies, some cable news (depending on reception), shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are no announcements on the PA system other than the Captains 10 oclock bridge report followed by a very brief summary of the days activities. If you want a newspaper, a four-page news summary (in various languages) is available daily around noon in the Guest Services area. There is a children/teens area and programs for them. I defer to others with children to comment on this part of the ship. Library is very small; bring your own reading. 4. Meals: Food in the Oceanview buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a leisurely meal. As we were Aqua Class, we did not use the main dining room. I dont know if we could if we wanted as our dining tips that had to be prepaid when booking were earmarked for the Blu staff and not the dining room staff. Blu: We stopped by Blu after we boarded. A waiter on duty recommended we do not appear at 7 (our usual dining time), but come earlier or later. The room seats 100, and they have about 200 guests. The waiter was correct in his advice. We found we could get a table no later than 6:30. Arriving later meant that we would have to wait until around 8PM. So much for open dining in Blu. We found service and food in Blu to be excellent. The menu is different from the main dining room. The menu is not twigs and leaves it is well-prepared regular cooking with maybe a bit less starch and a bit more emphasis on vegetables. If you feel calorie deprived, you can easily make up the shortage with their excellent breads, wines, and desserts. Other than a few tables for large parties of six or more, tables are for two with two tables set relatively close together. If you wish to chat with your neighbors, you can, and if you (or they) do not want to, its no problem and no affront. While the dinner service runs fairly well, breakfast service does not. The issue seemed to be that each breakfast order is different and cannot be premade in the kitchen. Thus, breakfast service is slow and does not work when you have an early shore excursion. We avoided trying to do breakfast on these days in the Oceanview buffet due to the crowds there, and we found the AquaSpa Cafe to work for a good and quick breakfast. The above being said, an unhurried breakfast in Blu on sea days was pleasant. We made reservations on-line for both Qsine and the SS United States specialty restaurants. Both, in their respective ways, were excellent. Qsines food is excellent and the presentation is completely unusual. However, it works. The United States copies the first-class dining room of its namesake. This includes something not seen on any ship we have been on: the large amount of space between tables. Those were the good old days. Both restaurants were worth the extra charges. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars. We can recommend the Italian gelateria. At dinner one night a couple noted that the Ocean Grille, in the back of the Oceanview Cafe, was a great place for a casual grilled dinner. You cannot go hungry or thirsty on board. 5. Dressing for meals: For this two week trip it was three formal, and all the rest casual. A good number - perhaps half - of men at formal nights were in tuxedos or suits; some who did not want to dress up just did not appear for these meals. You get the specific dates for dress (and all time changes) in the initial daily program in your cabin when you board. 6. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line on board at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you dont need the ships tour office. Celebritys tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ships staff, you have support when there is a problem. Concerning tours in Guatemala and Costa Rica: Most tours are long because it is a distance from the port to get up into the mountains. In Guatemala, it was 90 minutes each way for the Antigua tours. In Costa Rica, it was 2 ½ hours each way to get to the Monteverde area. This included around 20 miles of unpaved roads. Also, pay attention to warnings concerning Colon, Panama. Ship tour personnel and tour guides made it quite clear that visitors had no business wandering around in town. Stay in the shopping area pier-side, or take a tour that passes through the town. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: sports, lectures, bridge, bingo (for serious players!), etc, etc. Two lecturers on board were popular: Al Goldis, a retired general manager and scout, knew everything there was to know about baseball. Martin Harrington Uncle Marty is a citizen of Panama and provided a series on all aspects of that country. He also provided commentary on the PA system as the ship transited the canal. We did not attend any of the shows on board; the bits we saw looked good. The casino payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the shipâs photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account. As I said earlier, if you are Aqua Class, you pay tips when you book. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service breakfast. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ships TV channel. We received a paper copy about the half way point in the cruise; we received a final copy the night before disembarking. However, anything you charge that last night (bar, shopping) will not appear on that copy. Keep your receipts so that you can check the amount you see on your credit card bill at home. 10. Disembarking: We signed up for the ships valet luggage service. Our bags went out of our cabin the night before, and we did not see them until we arrived at our San Antonio airport. The service costs, I believe, $20 per person, plus whatever the airline charges. Celebrity will tell you what restrictions there are concerning airlines and routing. You get different luggage tags the night before as well as your boarding passes for your flight(s) home. Our morning procedure was that we had to be out of our cabin by 8 and in the specified waiting lounge by 8:15. Announcements were only made in the waiting areas. We were called to leave at 8:30, and we arrived at our gate at Fort Lauderdale Airport at 10:30. It took nearly an hour to get through customs/immigration (sequestration shortages), and it took about another half hour to get through TSA security at the airport. 11. Conclusion: We would classify this cruise as very good bordering on excellent. Celebrity advertising does not equal reality. Yes, we would sail with Celebrity again (Aqua Class), if timing and itinerary meet our desires. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This is our fifth cruise and we have sailed previously on Royal Caribbean, NCL and Disney Cruise Lines. I travel with my husband and teenage daughter. I had high expectations for this cruise and some were definitely satisfied, but other ... Read More
This is our fifth cruise and we have sailed previously on Royal Caribbean, NCL and Disney Cruise Lines. I travel with my husband and teenage daughter. I had high expectations for this cruise and some were definitely satisfied, but other expectations were not met. Embarkation and Disembarkation were simple and well organized. This was the best among all the cruises I have taken and we were checked in and on the ship within 15 minutes. We took a cab from the airport which cost us $21 including the luggage. The ship is beautiful. It is comparable in size to the other ships we have been on (Norwegian Stat and Serenade of the Seas), but it is laid out to have more intimate spaces. I really like Promenade Decks and Deck 4 on the Summit does not go all the way around the front or back of the ship. The port side of Deck 4 has the smoking area and we were in a cabin below on Deck 3. There was definitely a smoky smell in our corridor. The best part if this cruise was the service and the food. The wait staff was amazing. We had Celebrity Select dining. They recommend you make reservations for the restaurant, but the only ones available were very late. So, we showed up around 6 pm every evening and were seated right away. The majority of the time, we had this amazing waiter named Hamilton and his recommendations on food were fantastic. Between Hamilton, Denisa (the Assistant waitress), Ronny (the sommelier) and Norris who brought us drinks, we felt pampered, happy and well fed. Ronny was especially amazing at selecting wonderful wines with dinner. We bought a 3 bottle wine package and the premium non-alcoholic package for my daughter. I believe these were quite a good value as we used both packages and the non-alcoholic premium package included bottled water, soda, mixed drinks and premium coffees. The entertainment ranged from okay to wonderful. The featured guest entertainers included a comedian/impersonator, a Latin guitarist, a piano/vocalist and an a Capella group who were awesome. The shows featuring the singers and dancers were unique and a bit bizarre. The performers were okay, but the shows were confusing and strange. The first show was about the movies and at the beginning appeared to be a chronological review of music in the movies. Unfortunately, it ended up jumping around the decades and ended with a review of Abba music. Sirens was an even stranger show. Who thought Sweet Caroline, My Heart Will Go On and Dreamgirls music should be in the same show??? Who singe song from the movie Titanic on a cruise ship? Very strange. Our cabin was small, but well organized. The beds were hard and terrible. Everyone ended up with a back ache! This was very disappointing because Celebrity is related to Royal Caribbean and Royal Caribbean have the most wonderful beds we have ever experienced and I am considering buying one from home. Another disappointment were the ship activities. There were only 2 Bingo sessions for a week long cruise. The arts and crafts were great, but the timing for many interesting activities coincided with shore times or dinner hours. I am not a party animal, but this was much too sedate. There isn't even karaoke. Our cruise went to St. Croix. We had booked a snorkeling tour of Bucks Island which was cancelled because of poor conditions. There isn't much to do on this island near port, so it was a waste of a day for us. We hired on onshore tour on St. kitts which was very good and ended up staying on Friar's beac for several hours. It was a very nice day and the Green Vervet monkeys are so adorable! We took a shore excursion to Trafalgar Falls on Dominica and had a great time on this beautiful island. Our guide, Leon, was exceptionally knowledgeable about the island flora, fauna and history. I can't wait to go back here! Our next stop was Grenada, which was more developed. We took the West Coast and Spice excursion and our guide was not very good. When we went to the plantation to see the spices and cocoa beans, he stayed on the bus and other guides showed us how all the spices were processed. Our final stop was St. Thomas, where we went to St. John's on our own. Overall, my family enjoyed the cruise, but would prefer Royal Caribbean or NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and overall we were pleasantly satisfied with the experience. Here's a lengthy review: Embarkation: Our cruise was set to depart at 4:30pm. Our flight arrived in Miami early - around ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, and overall we were pleasantly satisfied with the experience. Here's a lengthy review: Embarkation: Our cruise was set to depart at 4:30pm. Our flight arrived in Miami early - around 8:45am. We hopped in a cab and arrived at the Port Miami by 9:30am. The $25 flat rate fare is nice, considering our cabbie was new and didn't know how to get there. But, since we were early, we had plenty of time, so it wasn't that big of a deal. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 9:15am, and the porter took our bags and informed us that they would start checking in passengers "between 9:30 and 10:00". We meandered over to the check in area around 9:45 and they said "Not yet. Come back later." Around 10:15, we saw people lining up quickly, so we got into line. We all waited in that line for over an hour before they finally started the check-in process. Once the process finally started, we got on board smoothly, without issue. There was a lunch buffet served up on deck 10 when we boarded, but before the rooms were ready. However, because we followed a tip from a previous review on cruisecritic.com, we didn't go to the lunch buffet. Instead, we went to deck 5 to Bistro on 5, paid the $5/pp cover charge and ate a delicious meal. We were the only ones in the restaurant the whole time, and we sat there for hours in total comfort and peace & quiet! It was completely worth the $5/pp. The room was ready around 2pm. Stateroom: We were in a C2 cabin (#8074), and it was good. Relatively small, in the grand scheme of things. I can't imagine how small the inside staterooms are. But, we had sufficient storage space. We upgraded so we could have a nice balcony. The balcony was satisfactory - a little small, of course. Just large enough for 2 chairs and a small table. The bathroom was good, and the shower was nicer than I had expected. If the shower had been 6 inches wider, that would have been nice. Good water pressure, and I never ran out of hot water. A nice quiet location.... decks 9 and 7 are both for staterooms only, so we didn't hear any of the foot traffic or music from deck 10. Staff: Our cabin steward, Peter was good, for the most part. We didn't want the contents of our mini-bar, but wanted the space to store our own drinks, and asked him to remove the mini-bar contents, and he told us to just move the other things aside, to make room for our own drinks. On embarkation day, there was a bottle of champagne in our room, which was warm by the time we got to our room. We asked Peter to remove it, and he said that he would, but he didn't. My husband ended up pouring it out on our 2nd last day. The waiters and bartenders were all excellent. They always seemed to remember our preferences for drinks, etc. They often recognized us and some even remembered our names by the 2nd day, which was quite impressive. For the most part, I was called "Madame" or "My Lady". Anytime you walked past a crew member, they always said hello, or asked how you were doing, if you needed anything, etc. Very professional and friendly. Dining: MDR - We only ate in the MDR (San Marco Restaurant) on 2 evenings - both were satisfactory. We were on the early fixed seating time (6pm). Our waiter, Ronald was fantastic. The MDR is noisy, and the food quality is ok. We had read reviews that the MDR didn't do beef very well, but I had steaks both nights and they were good. Tuscan Grille - For Christmas Day dinner, we made reservations at Tuscan Grille, which was excellent. The restaurant is dimly lit, with large comfy chairs, making for a more intimate dining experience. I had the crab cake as a starter, which was ok. I was nervous that it would set the tone for the remainder of the meal. But, the Tuscan onion soup was incredible. So cheesy, so rich, so decadent. My filet mignon was cooked perfectly. My husband's ribeye wasn't nearly as good as my filet. Our dessert of creme brulee was delicious. They put pop rocks on it, so it tingles in your mouth and takes you on a bit of a nostalgic trip to your childhood. Very lovely. Ocean Liners - Totally disappointing. We went for our last night and wish we hadn't. It took them 45 minutes to bring me my cocktail that I had ordered (and never offered me a 2nd one). It took over an hour for our appetizers, which were not very good. Well, my goat cheese souffle was lumpy and grainy, but my husband's risotto was yummy. I couldn't eat the souffle, so I chose another appetizer...the crispy pork belly. It was better, but certainly wasn't delicious. (It took them over 30 minutes to bring the 2nd app). We both ordered the 3 petit filets, and both of our orders were way overcooked. It seemed like they had been sitting under a warming tray for a while (they probably had, since it took nearly an hour for our entrees to come after our apps). The waiter came by and asked how everything was, and I mentioned that our steaks were overcooked. He immediately brought over the manager, who apologized profusely. He said it was a very busy night (as my husband and I looked around and saw several empty tables...) He asked if he could get us anything else instead... by this time, we've been there for several hours, and we kind of just wanted to get back to our rooms so we can pack for disembarkation the next morning. So, we politely declined but he talked us into staying for dessert. He personally cooked my tableside flambeed crepe, and it was delicious. After all of that, he comped our whole meal, which was nice. Paying $40/pp for that meal/experience would have been unacceptable. Seaside Cafe: Lots of options, lots of people, lots of food. The pizza station was definitely popular. As soon as a pizza hit the station, poof - it was gone. People stalked it like vultures. The asian food station was yummy. The breakfast buffet had a really nice poached egg station. Very delish. We always sat outside on the aft sunset bar. Breezy, comfy and the staff there were great. Room Service: Severely lacking. We were hoping that we could sit on our balcony and have a nice quiet breakfast. However they often forgot items that we had ordered. One morning, my 2 fried eggs arrived, but my husband's omlet was nowhere to be seen. Instead, they gave him some cereal...but no milk. Food was cold and late. With so many other food options available, I wouldn't recommend the room service. Ports: Falmouth, Jamaica - A very nice gated community. Not a true representation of the Jamaica experience. Lots of high end shops for jewellery, diamonds, etc. You can tell this is a new port and was designed specifically for cruisers. The entertainers on the street were not pushy, and we weren't bombarded by annoying merchants. However, once you stepped into one of the jewellery shops - watch out! They start laying jewels and watches and all sorts of gorgeous and incredibly expensive things on you, trying to convince you to buy. They are pushy, but back off once you tell them no. Grand Cayman - A beautiful island. The tendering process went smoothly. However, when we were there, there were six (6!!) cruise ships tendering at the same time. It was crazy. Approximately 20,000 cruisers descended upon the same very small pier area at the same time. We waited for a long time for our excursion, which ended up getting cancelled. We were told that there were 3 different buses that were in accidents, so they had to cancel. We immediately went back to the ship. It was far too crowded and chaotic there to be comfortable. I think 4 of the cruise ships were Royal Caribbean. Seems like poor planning to schedule so many cruise ships at the same bloody time. Other: The ship was decorated in fine Christmas spirit. Lots of Christmas decorations helped keep you in the mood. In the tropical setting, it was easy to forget that it was Christmas time.... apart from the continuous Christmas music playing. As I mentioned earlier, we often sat at the Sunset bar on deck 10, and they kept playing the same Christmas CD over and over. It must have been "Destiny's Child Christmas album", because now Beyonce is haunting my dreams.... Don't get me wrong, she's got a lovely voice, but I don't know how the bar staff could tolerate her voice all day and evening every day. At any rate, the ship was kept very clean at all times. The pubic restrooms were immaculate. I had read reviews that the ship seemed old or antiquated, but I thought it was lovely. Yes, you'll see a few rust stains across a railing here or there, but the ship is traveling through salt water constantly. Rust is inevitable. The elevators move very quickly, but the stairs are roomy and wide, and are a good alternative for a quick bit of exercise amidst so many calories. The casino was nice, although some blackjack tables with lower min bets would be ideal. Disembarkation: Went very smoothly. We opted to take our own luggage, so we didn't have to follow the ship's schedule. It was nice. We woke up, finished packing some last minute things, and just walked off the ship. Very easy. Overall, it was a nice relaxing Christmas holiday. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
After two cruises within the year on RCCL large ships which left us fatigued from all the activities we decided to take it down a notch with Celebrity. In terms of a entertainment we found it many steps downward but service and food were ... Read More
After two cruises within the year on RCCL large ships which left us fatigued from all the activities we decided to take it down a notch with Celebrity. In terms of a entertainment we found it many steps downward but service and food were definite steps upward. This was our fourth time on Celebrity having taken a 7 day cruise to Bermuda and two eleven day cruises previously. We chose Aquaclass instead of a suite due to only corner aft sky suites available at booking. While many love this location we do not share the affinity for the location. Our cabin 1523 located forward ship and under the gym and spa was perfect for us and one we wouldn't hesitate to book again. We found the cabin pretty narrow and storage a challenge but we made it work. However, the only benefits of Aquaclass I consider rave worthy are the shower and Blu dining room. Since we consume lots of water and told that bottled water would be provided daily in aqua cabins we skipped checking in our usually duffel bag full of Deer Park. The ship provided water but it was the reverse osmosis water served anywhere on the ship and rebottled in recycled brand name bottles which was disappointing. The dining room Blu isn't so much about the food as it is the size of the dining room--a more intimate atmosphere alleviating us the need to book a specialty restaurant. Our shipmates on the cruise were pretty mature with seemingly a high number requiring physical assistance or scooters. This cruise also had a high percentage of non U.S. residents that were engaging an quite friendly. Diners in Blu were also very friendly and we often engaged in conversation with the tables in close proximity. This made for the entertainment that was sorely missing on this cruise. I can only conclude that Celebrity directed monetary resources to the staff and services and not to entertainment. New Year's night was the most exciting with free champagne to toast even before midnight. Not to be missed on Equinox is the Molecular Bar where the bartenders are mixologists with drink prices of $12.00. We found the bartenders and staff at the Lawn Club great but I am convinced the alcohol is watered down-probably due to the drink packages available. Gym and equipment also get high marks. We tried our hand at the Casino out of sheer boredom and lost like most passengers reported. Overall ship service was absolutely great provided by a staff that appeared fairly relaxed and extremely courteous. Special shout outs to the staff of Blu and Celebrity's "Loyalty Ambassador." Weather in Dec-Jan was perfect and we made all the ports. In each of the ports we acquired tours from the locals with no major regrets. Cozumel- Been there done that so many times I wish it wasn't a stop. Hubby took advantage of this being the first cruise stop and went into "town" for a full body massage for $50.00 while I gem window shopped. Massage suite was air conditioned with only two massage tables/areas. It apparently IS the place to dump spouse to allow peaceful assessment of the stones. Costa Maya - Somehow we've missed this port on other cruises but we really enjoyed it. Recommend skipping the golf cart rental(60.00 for two hours) walk outside the gate and pay $2.00 each for a taxi to the beach area. Many beach cafes where a chair/umbrella and internet access is free with purchase of food/beverage. Beach great-bathrooms clean what else could you want? Many passengers stayed in the port area to swim with the dolphins and shop the vendors in the area-very Americanized. Costa Rica was also a great port and the place I considered the best for shopping on the entire cruise. Locals at the port "tent straw market" are not aggressive and are very courteous. This is the port for coffee, massages, manicures/pedicures (ladies take your favorite color) and other touristy items such as T-Shirts. Prices are considerable higher at other ports. In Colon, we were able to tour the Gatun locks, tour Colon the city, drive to Panama City visiting the old and new cities, and a stop for shopping on the way back to the ship. Negotiated cost was $150.00 for two. A highlight was that our tour guide drove us to two additional locks and across/back the two main huge canal bridges which gave us a great view of the canal in both directions. I recommend skipping the taxi "cartel" that will accost you in the terminal and instead find one of the "red polo shirts" tour guides at the bottom of the escalators. Initially we negotiated a tour to Miraflores Locks and Panama City with a taxi service paying the first $35.00 to the cartel with $115.00 to be paid to the driver upon completion. The cartel then will appoint a driver for you. However in our case the driver did not wanted more than $115.00 for his services. After arguing with the cartel and then telling us that he needed $5.00 more we terminated the arrangement, received our initial deposit back, and obtain the services of a "red shirt tour guide." Cartagena- $20.00 per person bus tour acquired from vendor. A mistake--other passengers will not respect the meet-up time and therefore some sites are skipped. Also the tour guide's main job is to get you into an assigned jewelry store to purchased oil dipped resin filled emeralds. Street vendors are really, really aggressive and are all selling the same made in China souvenirs. Picked up Columbian coffee and costume jewelry at cruise port. Internet Cafe available at port for $3.00/hr. Caymans - Had the privilege of tendering ashore to join the passengers from four other boats in port. I've always wondered why this is such a major cruise port. Bought $7.00/bottle beer at local cafe, taxi to Seven Mile Beach and back, and very amused at jeweler trying to convince me to purchase a "yellow diamond" without proper papers for 8 grand. I rewarded his efforts by buying a $25.00 rainbow topaz that I set in an empty setting. I spent days viewing the "yellow emeralds" better known as golden beryl onboard the ship--didn't purchase-but the salesperson offered to buy us champagne to think about it. She also visited us at the Molecular Bar to inform us we only had two hours left to make the purchase. Cruise recommended for those whose prime objective is relaxation and can self entertain. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
5 of us (all sister and brothers-in-law) spent 2 weeks on Christmas cruise. We enjoyed it and would recommend the ship but not for Christmas, as it was very limited in Christmas spirit. The ship was lovely - nice public areas, lovely ... Read More
5 of us (all sister and brothers-in-law) spent 2 weeks on Christmas cruise. We enjoyed it and would recommend the ship but not for Christmas, as it was very limited in Christmas spirit. The ship was lovely - nice public areas, lovely spacious stateroom. We had a balcony with obstructed view which reduced the cost and I would strongly recommend. The view was good - the only restriction is that you cannot see straight down into the water but that was little or no limitation bearing in mind that it was much cheaper!! The staff were the highlight of the cruise, friendly and efficient and helpful. Not just your cabin attendants were friendly but everyone - every member of staff you encountered or just passed in the corridors smiled and greeted you. Any small issues (and very few of those) were handled quickly and efficiently. We sat at the same table every day (although we used Select Dining) and the 2 waiters and wine waiter were superb - funny, friendly, and did their jobs excellently. Food was mixed - excellent in Oceanside buffet restaurant which was the best buffet eating area I have seen on any ship, with great food and good layout so few lines developed. Mixed in Moonlight Sonata main restaurant - some food very good, some good but not as described in menu, and some poor offerings - eg cheesecake which I literally had to spit out!! Steaks uniformly excellent. Enrichment excellent - great talks by 2 external speakers - one series about science (speaker was excellent) and one about geology. Also great talks by crew about navigation, engineering, and environment - they made the subjects very interesting. The main downsides were :- Sell, sell, sell !!!! - we always felt as if the staff were on commission - trying to sell you drinks, trips, spa treatments, items in the shops - it felt like a very hard sell operation which was tiring Christmas spirit - very little. There were nice decorations in the foyer and there was a Catholic priest who gave wonderful masses, particularly Midnight Mass on Christmas Day. But that was it!! No decorations on your tables, nothing to mark out Christmas Day except a carol concert which lasted precisely 7 minutes - enough time for 4 short carols. Also, a carol concert on Christmas Eve in the Grand Foyer which was absolutely packed (showing that there was a demand for such a thing!). It lasted 15-20 minutes!!!! Embarkation was well organised but desperately slow. However, that was great compared to the slow, disorganised chaos which was disembarkation - 30 minute delay in leaving ship followed by ages standing in line with no explanation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Since we live in the northeast we decided to fly to FLL. We made all the arrangements for air travel and airport-to-ship through Celebrity. Air travel was great, right on time. The bus to the ship was as if they never did this before. ... Read More
Since we live in the northeast we decided to fly to FLL. We made all the arrangements for air travel and airport-to-ship through Celebrity. Air travel was great, right on time. The bus to the ship was as if they never did this before. After meeting with the cruise ship rep, we were all herded out to the sidewalk to wait for the bus. The noise and the fumes were awful! After standing around for 30 minutes, I asked one of the uniformed people what the hold-up was. It looked like a Keystone Kops routine. Many uniformed Celebrity people with radios, but no information other than "We are waiting for a bus." Thirty more minutes pass and we're still standing around waiting for a bus. All the people waiting are starting to get annoyed. I finally asked one of the reps who looked like he was trying to figure out what to do, "What is the problem?" He told me that they needed a "kneeling" bus for a wheelchair-bound person in our group. I suggested that he provide a cab for her and let the rest of the group use the bus that was already there. Now, an hour and a half into the mission, we board the bus and leave for the pier. The ship is beautiful, the staff wonderful, the food mostly good. I loved the Corning Museum hot glass show and watched it many times. The 2 enrichment speakers were excellent, and trivia and other games were a hoot, thanks to Michael and his staff. Christmas decorations were already in place when we boarded and were nice, but nothing special was done for Christmas day. The shows were top-notch, especially the magician and the final, Cirque-type show. We enjoyed one meal in Qsine and, with a couple of exceptions, had great food and terrific service in Blu. The room, although beautiful, had limited storage compared to what we found on the Enchantment of the Seas (Royal Caribbean). Now, here's the rub: the disembarkation was a disaster, at least for those of us who disembarked early, carrying our own bags. The problem seemed to be that the same elevator bank served the departing guests and the guests who were going to and from the Oceanview Cafe, resulting in jammed elevators and waits of more than 30 minutes before people could enter an elevator with their bags. I never did get on an elevator; after waiting futilely for more than 30 minutes, some of us carried our bags down from the 11th deck. We have cruised several times on the Enchantment and never had this problem, possibly because breakfast was available at the front of the ship, and the disembarkation point was in the stern. In any case, it was inexcusable for the cruise line to allow such chaos and discomfort to reign on the last day. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
As Constellation has been relegated to shorter cruise lengths the Eclipse has taken over our favourite two week itinery. It is a beautiful ship with stunning designs but it lacks the ambiance and friendliness of Millennium class vessels ... Read More
As Constellation has been relegated to shorter cruise lengths the Eclipse has taken over our favourite two week itinery. It is a beautiful ship with stunning designs but it lacks the ambiance and friendliness of Millennium class vessels with an emphasis on selling extras. We were "Select" diners and on the first night we had booked for 8.15pm but couldn't be seated for another 30 minutes. However, every othernight we went to the other side and Andrea always found us a table (served by Guisti & Bilyana) no matter when we turned up and we always seemed to be around the same friendly diners too. Cabin was good - bigger shower is definately a plus but storage space has been slightly sacrificed for floor space. Entertainment was good/poor depending on your taste.Production shows were excellent, Guest Entertainers were of a poor standard and I'll be diplomatic to say that Cruise Director Patti has been given a bad hand to play with. Either that or her lack of appearances around ship was not out of embarrassment. Ships Officers were also not as friendly as on other cruises. Embarkation was quick/Disembarkation was slow Connie had a regular clientele and last year they were bemoaning the ship being replaced on his route. I didn't come across anything to change that view. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Pre Cruise Stay: Since we decided to unwind a few days before we were to board ship we looked for a nice Hotel in Fort Lauderdale- preferably close, or at the Beach. We choose the " W -- Hotel- " Fort Lauderdale. After a ... Read More
Pre Cruise Stay: Since we decided to unwind a few days before we were to board ship we looked for a nice Hotel in Fort Lauderdale- preferably close, or at the Beach. We choose the " W -- Hotel- " Fort Lauderdale. After a little searching we arrived there in our rented car! Right from the start we were very satisfied with their service. We just drove in , stopped the car and were taken care of by a friendly staff member who parked our car- since no one is to park his own car there, they took care of the luggage , which we saw again in our room. We were escorted to a nice , if a trifle dark Lobby were check in was a breeze! The Hotel itself is very modern, " cool" and vibrant -- HIP as they call that these days! We got a nice room with a spectacular view over Fort Lauderdale- including the port ( very important- for me) Since the Hotel has two towers- finding ones way is a bit confusion in the first- but one get's used to it soon. We really enjoyed our stay, the weather was perfect so we could enjoy their " cool" ( literally speaking- since the water was very, very cold) pool area! Dinner and breakfast were excellent -- if a bit pricy, with outstanding service! Would I recommend the " W " -- well yes- ideal if you look for a modern and, as mentioned, vibrant lively hotel. Nice experience but we would choose a more " conservative" kind of Hotel next time! Anyway since we were booked on a Solstice Class ship- Eclipse to be precise- the Hotel was a perfect match- since they are very similar in style and surroundings. The Cruise: We sailed on board Solstice Class ships before, so we knew what to expect. Embarkation was swift and soon were on board and greeted with usual " champagne" ! From former experiences we knew the cabins would not be ready before 1 pm, so we decided to have a little lunch before! Bistro on Five was packed so we went up to Buffet! As always a nice selection and something for everyone's taste. We booked one of these " most wanted" hump- cabins we had a nice and large balcony- Deck nine! We booked this cruise whilst on board the Constellation more than a year before so the cabin selection were still great back then. We made our pick from the Elite- member booklet- for us , it was the free Internet package and the laundry coupons- the rest- well it is buy something and get a little something extra! Nice perks for Elite members are the complimentary drinks in the special selected lounge every evening-and the nice -- if only continental breakfast in Tuscany Grill- stunning view's included! The later comes in handy on Debarkation day- where one can sit and have drinks an little snacks while waiting for ones number to be called! The Eclipse is- as all Solstice Class ships, a stunning and elegant ship. I mentioned it in my former reviews and will do so again- X- ships are exceptionally clean and well taken care of! The food was very good- I don't know but for us we thought the food on our previous cruises with X a bit better- but still- very good! Service in the main dining room was good- NOT EXCELLENT- where they constantly remind us to put the cross in the comment card. The first evening we arrived at table mentioned on our card and were politely asked if we would agree to change tables , since a family would love to sit together. We were traveling with our friends from germany, who live very fare from us . Therefore we asked for a table for four right from the early stages of booking. Naturally we agreed and so ended up on a table with eight people. Since we especially looked forward to nice chats during our dinner and due to four more people at our table we were almost unable to do so. As nice as the people at our big table were we asked the Maitre'd to change tables for us! He did so and we got our table for four! During the cruise it got to our knowledge that the " family" for which we made room in fact where total strangers- so THAT family -- thing was an outright lie! Not very nice! The new slogan with what X s advertises is called " Modern Luxury" -- well it seems that includes loud music all over the ship. " Hip and modern" background music almost in every lounge and every nook and corner! Very difficult to find a nice quite spot to read ones books! If anyone is looking for them- they are there sure- but hardly so- one is the Solstice Deck- the other in the very front of the ship up on the uppermost decks! The promenade deck is pretty useless for that purpose- or maybe you like to look at nice orange life boats! I understand X want's to attract a younger bunch of cruisers as well so they seem to have turned the music up as soon as the early seating diners leave their cabins, dressed for the night! The live band who performs on deck 3 can be heard all over the atrium, that and the overly loud music in the Martini Bar ( a " nice" mix by the way) makes it impossible to have a nice chat whilst enjoying a Drink in the otherwise wonderful Martini Bar! We had dinner in two of the ships Specialty Restaurants- one in Murano's and the other in Tuscan Grill. Well, the food in both of them were outstanding good and well worth the extra cost. However we were absolutely not impressed with the Service in Murano's -- it started " HIGH UP- with much blah blah- from then on in went downhill - no coffee or tea afterwards ( we were not even asked) and we had to call the waiter over twice in order to get our checks! Totally different in Tuscan Grill- besides we like the nice views and atmosphere there much more! Solstice Class ships compared with the Millenium Class of ships have a few design flaws -- well that of course is my/our opinion! I already mentioned it- there is no proper promenade deck, just very limited under the hump and up front at the Bow! To less elevators for ship that size an passengers carried- waiting for an elevator, not even at peak times can be a very long wait ( not that big a problem for me - since where I go, my e-book goes LOL) The Lawn Club is a nice alternative- and one which I used on former cruises with X 's S -- Class ships. This time the background music was just to loud to sit , read and enjoy! After the first week my better half fell ill with high temperature and all the symptoms of the influenza -- none of the pills we brought seemed to help so I insisted on going to the medical facilities on board! They were very friendly helpful and professional - the doctor diagnosed pneumonia in the early stages. They handled it well and it got better after only three days! We were surprised to see that so many people fell ill- the place was packed every time we went there for treatments. At almost every port the paramedics showed up at the pier and carried one or two ill passengers away. We were told they had to leave the ship because the ship could not handle their illness! So sad to watch and how easy it could have happen to us! The cost for the medical facilities and treatments - very pricy indeed, was covered through our Credit Card, otherwise I highly recommend travel insurance. There is so much reported already about the ports of call, which included, Barbados, Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, St. Lucia, Bonaire and the private beach of X, Labadee - in Haiti and I can't add anything new there, I won't go into the port of calls any further! We booked the non alcoholic package -- which suits as nicely and is quite enough! They advertise those packages like crazy. Petty obviously some bar tenders or waiters seem not quite happy with them. Some of them were downright rude! Especially in the Casual Dining Area, called " little all Baccio! One example: one the very last day I asked for a glass of orange juice for breakfast and was told on Debarkation Day there is no orange juice available, not a problem -- I have no idea why - but be it! Just when I left I saw that he put the bottle of orange juice- full to the brim- out of his fridge! That was the icing of the cake! I made sure to write in the comment card- even if it is no big avail- they should be aware of it anyway! The celebrations for the New Year were great and held on the pool deck, they did a great job in bringing us in a good and mood and high spirits into the New Year. To the point and the ships whistle at the turn of the year rain set in- that only could mean luck! Debarkation was a smooth affaire since we made use of the Elite -- Waiting Lounge- Tuscan Grill! We booked the transport to the airport via Celebrity, to avoid long taxi cab lines. Well when we arrived at the bus it all got very unorganized and chaotic! Rude and unnerved bus drivers shouting at each other ( and some not so patient passengers as it is) -- in other words a real zoo! They made us wait in order to get our luggage into the bus in the order to the chosen airline- very well thought and good thought out! When we arrived at the airport we all had to leave to bus at THE first entrance of the building- we were told " every airline counter is nearby so we should all get off now" -- who is familiar with Miami International know THAT THIS ABSOLUTLEY NOT THE CASE! So why putting the luggage in such an orderly fashion into bus in the first place??? It has a been a great cruise with a few issues- but nothing that could spoil our cruise. We just came to the conclusion that the next cruise with Celebrity has to be on one of their Millenium Class ships since they suit us more in size and design. In cruising with Celebrity you get a lot for the money you spend! Michael February 2013 Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We are empty nesters (in our early 60's) and this was our 9th cruise and our 3rd on Celebrity, with Celebrity being our favorite of the "mass" cruise lines. We think of Celebrity as being on the high end of the mass cruise ... Read More
We are empty nesters (in our early 60's) and this was our 9th cruise and our 3rd on Celebrity, with Celebrity being our favorite of the "mass" cruise lines. We think of Celebrity as being on the high end of the mass cruise lines, to give you an idea of our thought process. We have cruised on 2 other lines, with Carnival being one where we have taken our daughter's family which includes our 2 grand kids, and have enjoyed all lines. I want to say, so as not to offend anyone, that this review is my opinion and only that. In general, we were very pleased with Celebrity and the Summit, with the exception of one main area that I will discuss in this review, along with a couple of other negatives I will mention. But, we will cruise on Celebrity again. So, to the review..... We flew in to San Juan on Saturday and arrived around 2:30pm, and had booked transfers through the cruise line, with both being a first for us. The only reason I see for using Celebrity for the transfer is that they took our luggage directly to the ship and they put us in a much shorter line to board the ship. After getting on the ship, embarkation was a breeze and very organized.......no problems at all. The dreaded life boat drill and hoping your luggage gets to your room was next. We found one of our bags as we were walking back from the lifeboat drill on the other end of the ship from our room. We assume it would have eventually made it to us. We had an inside cabin for the first time as we booked this cruise at the last minute and got a deal. We decided we wanted to try and inside cabin since we are nearing retirement and have discussed cheaper inside cabin rates = more cruises. We had no problem as one wall was a mirror and cabin looked huge. Good move by Celebrity. The cabin had plenty of storage cabinets, drawers, etc. The suitcases fit under the bed. The cabin was really clean. I know the ship had just been through a refurbish so here is one of my issues.........the shower curtain had mould on it. No excuse for this. I told the cabin attendant that I wanted it cleaned and while we were at dinner, it was cleaned. Then the next morning, during breakfast, it was replaced with a new one. I will say that they satisfied me immediately. Cabin attendant was great. The rest of the ship was clean. No issues. I will say that I wish I had some of what the decorator was smoking when he/she picked out the "art". To describe it as "bizarre" is the kindest words I can use. And I really can't call it "art". The breakfast buffet was average, but no better than average. Usual lines at the omelet stations, but not as long as I have seen on other ships. Extremely long line at waffle station every day. A wait for toast everyday was expected. Wouldn't you think they would figure out these 3 bottle necks? We did not eat in MDR at breakfast. The coffee/juice equipment were in need of repair. The lunch buffet is where I really had an issue with the Summit. In my opinion, the offerings/menu/recipes/kitchen execution/serving line staff execution were just "BAD". I don't know any other way to describe it. The staff was poorly trained and did not seem to enjoy their jobs. The coffee/juice/tea equipment mentioned above needed repair, along with the ice machine. About 3 days in to the cruise, a repair crew boarded the ship and spent 2 or 3 days working on the equipment and by the time the cruise was over, the equipment was working properly. The hamburgers, pizza, sandwich stations were well staffed and food was good. We did not eat in the MDR at lunch as were were in ports for 5 days. The main dining room meals at night were good, not great, but good. They met my expectations for MDR food on a cruise ship, although the menu is not as varied as it has been in the past. I guess everybody is cutting back! Service was excellent in the MDR. I can't comment on the "pay to eat venues" as we did not participate. We are of the opinion that we have already paid for our meals. Service on the ship, excluding the buffet dining, was excellent. We booked this cruise because we wanted to visit the different islands and really enjoyed each one, although we had been to St. Thomas. Debarkation went really well. We had a late afternoon flight out and had noted that. Therefore they had given us the last departures from the ship. I went to the serice desk and explained that I really wanted off early as were going to check luggage and then explore San Juan. They were accomdating. I did not use my prepaid transfer back to the airport to save time. We caught a taxi and were at the airport in minutes after clearing the customs shed. Although, I was disappointed in few areas, mainly the food, service,and equipment functioning properly at the buffet, I will book on Celebrity again and would probably book on the Summit again. I would hope they would have corrected these issues. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Just got back from the 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity Equinox. It was a great cruise. We had worried a bit about weather but figured if Celebrity was still sailing that part of the world at this time of the year, our ... Read More
Just got back from the 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Celebrity Equinox. It was a great cruise. We had worried a bit about weather but figured if Celebrity was still sailing that part of the world at this time of the year, our chances were pretty good. It turned out great. It only rained on us once, and that was in the afternoon when we were ending our tour at Ephesus. Obviously, the weather can't be guaranteed but as I said, my mind was set to rest by the very fact of the cruise taking place and my confidence was rewarded. First time on Equinox. Second time on Celebrity. Have cruised a few with Crystal and once with Silversea. Our first experience with Celebrity was on the Millennium a few years back. Some of the quibbles we had with the cruise line then were similar this time, but just quibbles. Would definitely cruise again with Celebrity. First things first: The ports were amazing. A ten day cruise and only two sea days. Highlights were Ephesus, Rhodes, Delos and Naples (Pompeii). In Ephesus and for Pompeii we took Celebrity excursions. Both had excellent guides. I know a lot of people shun the cruise line tours, claiming overcharging but our experience in those two ports were good enough to reassure us for future trips. They are pricey, but the convenience and oversight make them worthwhile, at least IMHO. In Rhodes we had our own driver and guide and that was of course also excellent. Both ways of arranging tours worked for us. We looked after ourselves in Delos (Mykonos), Santorini, Athens and Messina. We were in Concierge class. After we booked our cruise, we told some good friends and they decided to come along. When they called, they were offered immediate upgrades to Solstice Class. I understand--luck of the draw and all--but it seemed a little weird that the people we had convinced to join the cruise were now eating in a separate dining room. They tried to invite us to the "Blu" but no dice! So in the end the four of us ended up eating once in Silhouette together, a couple of times in the speciality restaurants, and a couple of times in the crepe restaurant. We heard that there were other people in the same situation. Just seems silly that Solstice guests have to just make friends with other Solsticers, find other venues, or eat alone! We didn't like the main dining room. Service was okay; food was okay; but we generally felt rushed and the tables are way, way, way too close together. We had hoped for Select Dining--didn't make the short list--and found the early seating a bit early and the late seating a bit late. Ate breakfast once in Silhouette and again, just felt uncomfortable at how close tables were to each other. Although the dining room wasn't full, we were still all grouped together like we were in a diner and the staff wanted us handy to their stations. We liked the Tuscan Grille and ate twice in Silk Harvest. Food was excellent. Staff really nice. Perhaps a little overdone on the "Are you enjoying yourself?" interruptions. Loved the Cellar Masters bar and bartender. Dealt with the Concierge once and he was very helpful, arranging for our very early departure on the last day. The cost of the Celebrity cruise was so very reasonable that the "nickel and diming" of the charges for drinks etc. was only moderately annoying. That being said, my husband and our friends did feel strongly that charging for a tour of the ship operations was way out of line. Trying to figure out the cost benefit of the various drinks packages was also a struggle. Personally would prefer to spend a few hundred more for a ticket and have basic beverages included. (Soft drinks, water--the occasional beer or house wine..). Also, something quite weird: we were all encouraged to buy tix for a shuttle bus in Mykonos "in order to avoid long ticket lines outside." Never saw a long ticket line. Actually never saw a ticket line at all. Also never saw anyone asking for a ticket. That $8.00 per person was definitely a questionable charge. One thing we really liked was the diversity of the passengers. People were very friendly, not at all affected, and there were enough Brits, Irish, Aussies etc. on board that general good humor prevailed. Beware, however, if you like the occasional cigarette. Places for smoking are very restricted and can get quite crowded. No smoking indoors at all. Which made it a bit chilly for an after-dinner inhale. Passengers in those predicaments agreed that while they all understood that smoking is a filthy disgusting habit, fact is, some people still do it. There was quite a bit of grumbling that the staff (apparently) have a room on board where they can smoke but mere paying passengers have to brave the elements. On the other hand, the shared annoyance made for a spirit of camaraderie that was also, in its way, appealing. Does seem like one bar where the remaining tobacco fiends could gather would be popular--at least with the Europeans on board. From one extreme to the other: smoking to working out! The fitness facilities were great. Would be nice to have more room for individual workout routines a la body sculpting, crossfit etc. People were fitting themselves in and around the machines to do their pushups, situps etc., particularly when classes were in session in the only open space. Celebrity might also like to remind some of its staff that pushing to the front of buses/tenders to be first off or jumping lines in the Oceanview cafe in front of passengers doesn't send the right message. A few people commented on such experiences. Overall, loved the ports, liked the staff and the other passengers. Ship was in great shape. Food overall was fine. A few too many "extra" charges. Would be nice to stay in ports later in the evening for the opportunity to dine ashore. Looking forward to another Celebrity cruise sometime soon. And the Equinox would definitely be first choice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Our cruise was the last on the Summit before she went into drydock so I know there will be many changes ahead, but we enjoyed the ship and the ports a lot. We flew into San Juan early because we did not want to take any chances with ... Read More
Our cruise was the last on the Summit before she went into drydock so I know there will be many changes ahead, but we enjoyed the ship and the ports a lot. We flew into San Juan early because we did not want to take any chances with winter weather. Stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan and spent the day touring Old San Juan. It was nice to have a full day in San Juan before the cruise. We walked the streets and went to both the forts. Lunch was in a cafe in Old San Juan frequented by lots of locals. The Sheraton was a great location for a pre-cruise hotel. There is a CVS right by the hotel where you can pick up anything you forgot for the trip. Embarkation was smooth. The Sheraton let us keep the room till noon and then we took a taxi over to the cruise ship. There were few people in line to check in so we were on the ship quickly and went to use a lounge chair by the pool till the rooms were ready. The rooms were ready at 1 p.m. We had lunch at the AquaSpa Cafe which was a great place for a nice light healthy lunch. They would make Salmon for you on the grill and it was the best. Our room was ok. My husband thought it was bigger than other rooms we have had on ships, but they all seem crowded to me. Wall mirrors on one wall which is always a bit freaky. The balcony had room for two chairs and a table. Bathroom small, but they usually are on cruise ships. Having two bathrobes in the room was nice. No pool towels in the room was a bit weird. The only place to get them was by the pool - even on port days when you wanted to go to the beach. You had to go to Deck 10 to get towels then down to Deck 1 to disembark. Strange. The food was very good on the Summit. We ate in the Cosmopolitan each night (the main dining room). Our waiter and assistant were good - especially the assistant. The Creme Brulee was to die for. French Onion Soup way too salty and the steak was always overcooked. Lobster was half a lobster. No offers of more. The kids really enjoyed the breakfast in the buffet with waffles. Great whipped cream. I liked the Eggs Benedict there. They also offered a full English breakfast for those who like blood sausage. :) In the afternoon they had tea sandwiches, scones and squares or cookies from 4-5 in the buffet which was nice. Loved the hot milk in the morning with my coffee. (You get the hot milk in the buffet line.) Great free pastries in the Cova Cafe on Deck 4 - or was it Deck 5? The fruit tarts and lemon tarts in the buffet and the Cova Cafe were wonderful. Hamburgers, fries and hot dogs always available by the pool during the day too. The thalassotherapy pool was great. Relaxing and warmer than the outside pools. The jets on your shoulders felt like a great massage. Went to the gym a couple of times and it was always crowded - not sure why. The walking track was nice in the morning. My son went to the kids club a few times. Sometimes no one showed up, so I think most kids spent more time with their families. Also this is a very port intensive cruise with only one sea day, so that may have affected things. The shows were good at night. There is also the option of a movie theatre showing movies which recently came out on DVD. Loved the comedian. He was just so funny and was clean which was nice for a family cruise. The magician was ok. I liked the music/dancing/acrobats but my family were less enthused. The acrobats - from France - were wonderful and amazing all agreed. I didn't like the ships shopping area much. Usually I find something on the ship but this time the shops just felt weird to me. The big push on ship were yellow emeralds from Brazil - the next big thing according to the sales staff. We'll see. Don't know how great the deals were. We bought two t-shirts and that was it. I always enjoy the library and this one looks attractive but has the weirdest books you have ever heard of. It is also right in the middle of the ship, so not a nice place to sit and read and watch the waves. A small rack had exchange books. Library was always open and unlocked. Ports - Barbados - We took a taxi to Accra Beach. Just the right amount of waves. Lots of opportunity to buy food there too. Beach chairs and umbrellas for rent. Our taxi driver dropped us off and came back promptly at 3 p.m. when we asked him to. Grenada - Took a water taxi to Grand Anse beach. Food, beach chairs all available. Snorkeling was pretty minimal. Lots of vendors in the craft area. Good deals on spices. Dominica - Took a tour with Nature Isle Explorer and it was great. Went to snorkel at Champagne Reef, through TiTou Gorge from Pirates of the Caribbean and then to Screw Spa which is a natural sulfur spa. We docked at the commercial port which was weird but I don't think the port is very developed here. St. Kitts - Went to Brimstone Hill Fortress which was fantastic. We only wanted to go to the fortress but our taxi driver took us some other places too. Saw where Thomas Jefferson's great-grandfather was buried. I liked the town here. Walking from the ship is easy to the shopping area beyond the port. This had more of a British look about it than Barbados did - just the architecture of the town and the square etc. St. Croix - Just walked to the beach from the ship, swam, snorkeled - looked for seahorses which are supposed to be there but did not find them - and back to the ship. The ship docks in a small town and to get to the bigger one is a taxi or shuttle at about $17 a person. On our return to San Juan we did not get off the ship till 10:30 but they kick you out of the room at 8 and quit serving breakfast at 8:30. Why not at least keep serving breakfast till later or let you stay in the room later? We went to the games room. Pastries were available at the CovaCafe till about 9:30. You had to pay for the gourmet coffee though. Stayed at the Embassy Suites after the cruise. The hotel was full of college kids there for winter swim training so it had a bit of a spring break feel to it. Especially at breakfast with a 45 minute wait in line for food. The hotel is a 5 minute walk to a nice beach. The hotel provides towels, umbrellas and chairs at the beach for free. Great pool at the hotel. Liked Mi Casita restaurant near hotel for Puerto Rican food. I would go on the Summit again on this itinerary and really enjoyed San Juan. The ship was in need of some TLC, but to be honest, so were both the hotels we stayed at and I don't think they are going in for drydock. The only thing I really did not like was our blanket on the ship was very worn looking, which should have been changed before it got to that point. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Last year, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011) and we ... Read More
Part I - Precruise A. Inception We are avid Caribbean cruisers. Last year, we spent Christmas and New Year's in the Caribbean on the Celebrity Mercury (which, sadly, sailed for the last time under that name in February 2011) and we wanted to do it again. We looked at all cruise lines, but settled again on either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (the only lines we have cruised on) because of their itineraries and schedules. We prefer to drive to the East Coast for our cruises (last year's holiday cruise left from Baltimore), but that just wasn't an option this year. B. Cruise Critic We use the community chat boards on Cruisecritic.com extensively for cruise port hints and information. This review is my way of sharing. Thank you to everyone who shared in their reviews and roll calls. C. Choice of Route Our route was out of Fort Lauderdale to Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. This is our first time to Grenada and Barbados and we are excited to be headed there. D. Choice of Cruiseline and Ship We selected Celebrity as it is affiliated with Royal Caribbean. We are __ members in the Celebrity club. Galaxy is a 91,000 ton ship with has 11 decks. Capacity is 2,034 passengers plus a crew of 999. They are very proud of the 2:1 passenger to crew ratio. It was launched in 2002, is registered in Malta and has a CDC score of 98. E. Choice of Airline This was pretty easy. We picked the cheapest, most direct flight from Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale. We could have also flown into Miami. Air Tran was reasonable and was a non-stop flight. Flying hints: 1. Don't fly if you have a choice. I suggest driving if you can. 2. Go non-stop if you fly. Each connection increases the possibility of lost luggage and additional flight delays. 3. Consider flying in to your departure port one day early. This can be a major stress reducer! (For this cruise, because our son would have had to miss another day of school if we had left a day early, we left the day of the cruise. Yes, I was very, very nervous until we landed in Fort Lauderdale!) 4. Don't select your airline seats without first visiting SeatGuru.com. They have detailed airplane seating plans and hints about each seat for almost every plane flown by major airlines. F. Choice of cabin Generally, the lower your cabin and the more central its location, the less you will feel the movements of the ship. We love rocking and so did not mind being closer to the front of the ship. We always stay in inside cabins (unless something strange happens) because it is nice to be able to sleep in without worrying about the sun shining in the window. A recommendation to anyone in an inside cabin is to bring a clock. It can be very disconcerting to wake up and have absolutely no idea what time it is. We were in cabins 7067 & 7063. My husband and I were in one and our 16-year-old son and his uncle (a first-time cruiser) was in the other. G. Price We went to a local Travel Agent who specializes in cruises (as we always do for cruises). The cost, because it was over the holidays, was high at just over $1500 per person. The flights were just under $2000 for all four of us including an added charge of $24.00 to choose our seats early. As I wanted us to sit relatively together, it was worth it as we all got rows with no middle seats. H. Passports My husband, son and I all have passports and encountered no problems. My brother-in-law has a passport card and he had no trouble either. I. Insurance We also purchased travel insurance because we never know when our son might wind up in a cast or one of our aging parents might have a health crisis. J. Prebooking Excursions We booked all of our excursions on our own. I am an avid planner and researcher and enjoy this sort of thing. I booked a lobster lunch cruise on Antigua for myself (my guys did not want to go) and a deep sea fishing excursion for my guys (husband, son and brother-in-law) and three others who we met on the Cruise Critic roll call in St. Maarten. More on those later. K. Packing We packed for 3 formal nights (rented tuxedos for the guys and I brought nice outfits), and the rest at various levels of casual (non-jean pants and nice shirts for all of us). Additionally, we brought enough clothing to cover us during the day for 14 days. This is less than you think because clothing rarely gets really dirty and we tend to re-wear clothes a few times before it goes in the "to be washed at home" luggage. Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were: power strips for each room (usually, there are only 2 outlets in the room and we have lots to charge), alarm clock, shoe rack, bug lotion, sunscreen ranging from 100 to 15 spf, highlighters, beach bag, and water shoes. We also brought Christmas decorations for each room, as well as Cruise Critic door signs printed off of the roll call lists. Part II - Embarkation A. The Port We flew into Fort Lauderdale and arrived at 1:00pm in plenty of time to catch our 4:30 pm departure. You have a choice of buying transfers from Celebrity, catching a taxi or hiring a car. After exploring these options we decided to hire a car to the Port Lauderdale pier. The car we hired was from GO Airport Connections. He decided to hire a car rather than risk a taxi because we had 4 people and 6 pieces of luggage. I was afraid we wouldn't find a taxi willing to take all of us and would have to split up. It was a short, 5-minute drive from the airport to the port. The cost was approximately $50 with tip, but it was worth it. B. Security Processing and Boarding We arrived at the pier at 2:15pm and there was no wait for security screening. Once through, there were separate lines for Captain's Club (CC) and non-CC passengers by deck. All lines were basically empty and fed into a table of folks processing your boarding documents. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested online, signing in and getting room keys (which is also your cruise ID, and ship credit card) took no more than 5 minutes. There was a quick wait for the initial cruise photo (which can be skipped). Up an escalator and our cruise cards were quickly data encrypted with our images at one of two stations. Once they handed us our cards we found ourselves on the 3rd floor main lobby of the ship. It took a total of 20 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to our arrival in our cabins. I later spoke with people who had arrived earlier and they told me it was a cattle call with massive groups of people waiting at each phase of the embarkation process. I was glad that we missed that. C. Explore The Cabins We were in cabins 7067 & 7063, side-by-side, inside category 9 cabins in the middle. The cabins are 170 square feet and were set up for my husband and I to sleep in one big bed and my son and brother-in-law to each have their own. The bathroom has enough room, and the shower was very nice. Our bathroom had a reasonably large shower (no bath), hair dryer, large mirror, sink, toilet, and some pretty decent storage. Something new since the last time we were on a ship: a nightlight we could use in the bathroom or main cabin. We used it in the bathroom so we wouldn't have to turn the lights on at night. Hangers and robes were provided in the cabin, as was a welcome gift: a canvas shopping bag. The room safe is located in the closet, along with several more drawers for organizing your stuff. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including that day's event newsletter "Celebrity Today". The cabins also have a TV, thermostat, phone (but no clock, although you can set your phone for an automated wake-up call), and a mini-bar (small refrigerator). Our mini-bar was locked upon arrival, but we asked that it be unlocked and emptied so that we could keep water in it. Having signed up for the Connections party, we received invites to the following day's gathering. Being members of the Captain's Club, we were also given invitations to a number of different events during the cruise. Our stateroom attendant, Doris from Honduras, and her assistant, Elvis from India, did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We found sustenance in the Seaside Buffet on the deck 10 for a 3pm buffet lunch. We were hungry, having not eaten much that day because we had left the house so early. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. I tried to take the stairs as much as possible (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover my food intake). E. Lifeboat Drill/Sailaway About one hour prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went smoothly and lasted 20 minutes. We are very happy at the changes that have been made in the muster drill as we no longer have to get our lifejackets and wear them to the muster and we no longer have to stand outside waiting for everyone to show up. Instead, we sat comfortably in the theater and watched a demonstration of how to use the lifejacket and an explanation of the safety procedures. F. Dinner -- 8:30pm Late Seating We selected the late seating. We were seated at table 525 with seating for 8 at a circular table on the upper floor (5) of the San Marcos Restaurant, next to the balcony overlooking the 4th floor. With the exception of the first evening, our server, Tale from Macedonia (great-great-great-nephew of Alexander the Great!) and his assistant, Gulshot from Russia, did a very good job throughout our cruise. On the first evening, Tale's assistant was Aleksandra, who was not fast enough or organized enough for the work. The meal was paced so slowly that the evening dragged on and we left the dining room after 11pm. We did not complain because we decided we would let them have one more night. The next night, Aleksandra was gone, replaced by Gulshot. Tale explained that Aleksandra was new and although she had much experience in restaurants at home, she wasn't prepared for this type of work. She had been reassigned to a smaller set of tables so she could get up to speed in an easier area. The two-story restaurant has a seating capacity of over 1,300 passengers at each seating. Of note: jeans, t-shirts, tank tops, swimsuits, robes, and bare feet are prohibited in the San Marcos Restaurant at all times. Shorts are permitted at lunch only. On the first evening, I did notice one long-legged woman arrive for dinner in short-shorts. She was escorted out and asked to return when she was dressed appropriately. Part III - Food! Celebrity has a good reputation for their cuisine. The meals met our expectations. There was good variety. There are 3 specialty restaurants on the ship--Ocean Liners (French/Mediterranean) for $40 per person, the Tuscan Grille (Italian Steakhouse) for $30 per person) and the Bistro on 5 (creperie) for $5 per person). The Bistro was also open for breakfast and lunch. We did not feel the need to eat at any of the specialty restaurants for dinner because the food in the main dining room was sufficient. A. Always Available We were informed the first night, that the following items are available every night at dinner and could be found on the left side of the dinner menu: Appetizers: Shrimp Cocktail, Escargots, Antipasti; Salads & Soups: French Onion Soup, Lobster Bisque, Caprese Salad, Caesar Salad; Entrees: Salmon, Chicken Breast, Sirloin Steak; Desserts: Cheesecake, Apple Pie a la Mode, Crème Brulee. B. Our Favorite Breakfast Items The Constellation has added a "poached egg" station where you can get a variety of different poached egg passed breakfasts, including eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine. I got a variety which was an English muffin covered in caramelized onions and cream cheese with a poached egg. It was amazingly delicious. C. Our Favorite Lunch Items The turkey burger at the Seaside grill was yummy. The French fries are always tasty and are double fried. D. Our Favorite Appetizer The avocado and crab appetizer the first night (although lump crab would have put it over the top). My husband loved the Duo of Smoked and Pickled Salmon. E. Our Favorite Soups French Onion soup was outstanding! All of the chilled fruit soups were yummy. We also liked the baked potato soup. F. Our Favorite Salads They were all good. What are great are the salad dressings. The Celebrity signature dressing was very tasty and definitely had anchovies in it. G. Our Favorite Entrées I was partial to the lamb the first two nights. I truly believe Americans do not eat enough of this delicious meat. The steaks were delicious and very flavorful. The fish dishes were delightful. I really enjoyed the mushroom pasta (it had a much fancier name--Pappardelle con Funghi). I heard that the turkey and all the fixins that was offered on Christmas was wonderful. I enjoyed the chicken kiev on another evening. H. Our Favorite Desserts A "sandwich" made of chocolate macaroons and chocolate sauce was to die for. My husband loved a panna cotta flavored with Pernod and Absenthe. I liked the Grand Marnier soufflé and my husband loved the After Eight mint cake. I. Buffet There is an excellent sushi bar in the Seaside Buffet on late afternoons (starting at 5:30pm). The Indian food is particularly wonderful. The pasta bar was very busy and I liked what I got there. Also, there are little sandwiches offered in a late lunch/early dinner timeframe that was very tasty. J. Room Service Room service took a little while (15-20 minutes on average), but was the food was very, very good. I particularly enjoyed the Celebrity Club Sandwich so much I began to crave it. This made going home especially difficult. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies All the movies were shown in the Cinema. They were mostly releases from about a year ago. We did not watch any movies in the Cinema. B. Shows The Celebrity Theatre is gorgeous, with comfortable seating and good sight lines. We did not see any shows in the theater. C. Casino Large casino filled with the usual. We did not use the casino. D. Spa I booked a deep tissue massage during the port day in St. Maarten. It was very nice; I had a masseuse who was on her third day on the ship (she had spent time in training beforehand). Now, for someone who wants to relax, it would have been a great massage, but for me, I want someone to work on the knots in my muscles (which can and should be painful). I didn't really get that, but it was very relaxing. After the massage, the masseuse tried to sell me packages of products which I declined. She was not pushy at all and took my "no, thank you" in stride. During my massage, there was also a crew muster practice which meant that there were announcements and sirens during about the first third of my massage. I wasn't angered, but I wished someone would have rescheduled my appointment around it. I received a happy surprise when I got to the front desk afterward when they offered me another massage for free later in the cruise to make up for this one (which I had already paid for). The second one was wonderful and very relaxing. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. They were busy all day when we were at sea. One pool had a few basketballs and a hoop on it so that you could practice dunking like Michael Jordan. The pools are chlorinated salt water. The hot tubs are fresh water. There are fresh water showers near each pool and hot tub. F. Indoor Pools and Hot Tubs The thalassotherapy pool was the indoor pool. It is only for guests 16 years of age and older. It was quite warm and felt great. On each of the longer sides, it had places where you would sit on bars that were arranged to be in the shape of lounge chairs (I am not doing it justice, but it was very comfortable) and bubbles of cooler water bubbled all around you. I wasn't sure what its use was at first, but it turned out to be incredibly relaxing. On the shorter sides were showers of water like faucets where water fell out at varying degrees of speed (depending on which you were under). I stood under one and it was like a water massage on my neck and upper back. Very nice. There are fresh water showers near the pool. These showers are incredibly hot. G. In-room TV There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (Global CNN, ESPN, Eye on CBS, Sky News, and a few others) available on the TV in the cabin. Pay-per-view movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. Part V - Cruise Critic Get-Togethers A. Sailaway Party As a group, the Cruise Critic folks had arranged (on the boards) to get together at sailaway at the Mast Bar on Deck 11. About 20 showed up and we had a great time. I think that if I were to do it again, I would recommend the Sunset bar instead because it has a more closed-in space. Some cruise critics I met later in the cruise said they hadn't been able to locate us at the Mast bar. B. Connections Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic Connections gathering on the Celebrity web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. Upon our arrival in our cabin we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party, set for 10:00 am on Sunday (our first day at sea). At the appointed time we arrived at Michael's Club. In total, about 40 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting our fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. The Captain, Cruise Director and the Captain's Club Manager were in attendance. The Captain said he disliked the moniker Cruise CRITIC and instead said we are Cruise FEEDBACK people. He said he appreciated anything we had to say and hoped it would be DURING the cruise and not AFTER. C. Slot Pull We had also arranged a slot pull (which I had to miss because I was ill). The idea behind the slot pull is that the group meets in the casino and everyone puts in a set amount of money and then gets a certain number of pulls on the slot machine. The entire group shares in the winnings. They arranged additional slot pulls each sea day (except Christmas Day) at 2pm. I encourage everyone to have these on their cruises. They were a lot of fun! D. Cabin/Poker Crawl We also arranged a cabin crawl on the third sea day (after Curacao but before Grenada). We started in the 9th floor library and had 19 people participating in the poker crawl and a few others walking with us. We visited both inside and outside (side veranda, rear veranda and port hole) rooms. The coolest room was the Presidential Suite where our hosts let us look at everything in their 1,100 square foot cabin. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Smoking was permitted only in the Reflections Lounge (Deck 11, Port), Mast Bar (Deck 11, Port & Starboard), Pool Deck and Sundecks (Deck 10, Port), Open Deck (Deck 4, Port) and Seaside Cafe Bar (Deck 10, Port where pipes and cigars were also allowed). Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. We did not observe anyone abusing the smoking privilege. They had every right to smoke in various areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. B. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! C. Viruses I found myself incredibly sick our second day at sea. I remained in my cabin all day and was tended to by my husband and our wonderful stateroom attendant, Doris. She brought me toast, tea and apple juice. She instructed my husband to purchase a Gatorade for me to replenish my electrolytes. She stopped in occasionally to see if I needed anything. She was very kind. I ventured out the next morning to have breakfast (a banana and muesli and more apple juice). I avoided being near others or touching anything. By the afternoon, I was feeling much better. Unfortunately, my husband came down with the same illness late on the third day (after our stop in Aruba). It laid him up in the cabin for the full day in Curacao, but he was better during the at sea day between Curacao and Grenada. I also heard from others on the Cruise Critic list who had endured the "24-hour bug," too. E. Seasickness We had rough seas on our way from Fort Lauderdale to Aruba (the second day when we were in fairly open water). It did not bother me, but there were seasickness bags out all around the ship just in case some of my fellow cruisers were not as lucky. We did have rough seas on other days, as well. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship and Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew and they were all very friendly and competent. The ship and furnishings were in very good shape. She was very clean. B. The Shops There was something on sale each day. Realize that if you forget something, you can buy it on the ship, but necessities are expensive. Deodorant, mints, dental floss, M&Ms are all available, but not at a price you might want to pay. My advice: remember to bring the essentials, even if that includes M&Ms! C. Internet Service The good news: there are plenty of computer terminals with internet access on the ship. The bad news: it costs about 53 cents per minute. You can get your cost down to around 35 cents a minute if you buy a bulk of minutes. I continue to hope that Celebrity will rethink the pricing to find the price point at which the computers will be 75%-to-85% utilized. Passengers will be happier, and Celebrity will end up with more net income, rather than having a wasting asset on board. D. Children Our ship had 150 children on board, 70 being teenagers. They behaved very well. Part VIII - The Ports We visited seven great ports. We set up excursions ahead of time with highly-recommended tour operators at 2 of these ports and did our own thing at 5 ports. A. Oranjestad, Aruba Aruba is a part of the Netherland Antilles. It is an island of stunningly beautiful beaches. Located only 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is only 75 square miles in size. The official language is Dutch, but almost everyone also speaks English and Spanish. We had planned to spend the day at either Palm or Eagle Beach (both come highly recommended), but it was raining quite hard all morning and so this scuttled our plans. My husband and brother-in-law did spend time in Oranjestad and found a nice little "hole in the wall" place which served cold beer and tasty schwarma. They were there with a local named Armando and the owner. They also picked up some Caribbean/Hawaiian shirts as well as some t-shirts. I stayed on the ship and enjoyed the ability to nab a chair in the sun (when the sun came out in the afternoon). B. Willemstad, Curacao Also a part of the Netherland Antilles, Curacao is not as famous for its beaches as Aruba. However, Willemstad is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one look at it tells you why. This is exactly what you expect a Caribbean city to look like with its bright, Easter-egg colored buildings. In the morning, we walked through Curacao, visiting the floating market and walking the packed and small streets. The fort is well-developed now (it wasn't the last time we were here) with lots of high-end retail shops and some bars and eating establishments. The floating bridge was great to walk over, even though it was moving at the time (it made our sea legs seem all too real). In the afternoon, we went to Cabana Beach near the Seaquarium. It was a nice, little beach. The prices for food were steep since it is part of the Kontiki Resort, but we just enjoyed the sun. It cost $20 for the taxi each way to the beach (for 3 people) and $3 per person to use the beach. A chair cost $5 to rent, but no one ever asked me for money for that. It rained for part of our stay on the beach, so we just enjoyed a few hours of sun and sand. It was enough to whet our appetites for what was to come. Be warned. The ship will leave without you. Rumor has it (I heard it from several sources) that we left a family of 6 waving and yelling at us on the floating bridge as we left Curacao. If you think you might be late, take your passports and credit cards without and be willing to pay and arm and a leg to get to the next port. C. St. Georges, Grenada This was our first visit to Grenada. Grenada, known as the "spice island," is part of the Lesser Antilles' Grenadines and is part of the British Realm. My husband and son visited Great Anse Beach all day. After mailing my Christmas cards (I had 51 cards and mailed them for $39 with beautiful stamps I obtained just inside of the pier at a wonderful little post office stall), my brother-in-law and I went in search of spices. First, we tried walking to the Market Square and got hopelessly lost, so we decided to take the local "buses" to Guyanve to see the Dougaldston Estate which is famous for its spices. For US$2.00, we hopped a #5 bus (really just a large passenger van that, at times, held up to 19 people) for the 30-40 minute ride to the Estate. They dropped us off on the main road near the estate (and a beautiful stream where some Grenadians were doing their wash). We walked into the jungle on a path and a small boy (maybe 6 or 7), sent by the ladies washing their clothes, came to show us the way. I tipped the small boy US$1.00 for being our guide. He seemed surprised, but grateful. He led us to a run-down building with large trays of a spice drying in the sun. Had I been less surprised about my surroundings (I had expected something much more commercial and touristy), I would have smelled the cocoa drying in the sun. We were the only tourists there, and we went into the building where one of the ladies did her demonstration of the various types of spices they process--bay leaves, all spice, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, cocoa, vanilla, cloves--and then we could buy some. Each packet (a good-sized amount) was US$1-2.00. We loaded ourselves with spices and then bought some water, grapefruit soda (called "Ting") and ginger beer. All of the spices were sealed and as long as we don't open them before we go into the US, we are good with US agriculture. After getting directions to the nearest bus stop, we started walking again through the cocoa-scented jungle to the road. We were followed by some friendly stray dogs and a saw a few not-very happy goats tied up near the road. Right after we got to the main road, we caught a bus. About 5 minutes into the ride, I realized we were going the wrong way. I mentioned this to my brother-in-law, but we decided to go with the flow. The flow took almost 2 hours to the end of the route and back to St. George's. It was a great, though sometimes harrowing, experience and we saw a lot of the coast and the people of Grenada--all for US$2.00 per person. It was probably the least expensive tour of the island that anyone from our ship had all day. Upon our return to St. George's, we stopped at a local supermarket and bought some local rum. It was less expensive than at liquor stores and was just as good--two small bottles for US$7.00. I also stopped in the Duty Free store and bought some Nutmeg Syrup for US$5.00. There was free (but slow) WiFi at the pier. My husband and son went to Grand Anse Beach via water taxi (directly from the pier, US$4.00 each way per person). Grenada was the only location where we had to go through a magnetometer and put our bags through an x-ray machine just to get onto the pier. This was in addition to the same thing once we got back on the ship. I am not sure why this was. D. Bridgetown, Barbados This was also our first visit to Barbados, which is also a British Leeward Island. The pier is a combination cruise pier and working cargo pier. We were docked pretty far down the pier and the cruise line offered free shuttle buses for us so that we did not have to walk down the pier. We walked through the pier shops and took a taxi to the Hilton Beach (US$7.50 per person). All of the beaches are publicly accessible in Barbados, but at first the Hilton wanted to charge us US$80 for each person to use their chairs, an umbrella, and the pool, as well as have lunch. After some discussion with the man who handled the chairs and umbrellas in the area, we got two chairs under a palm tree for nothing. He helped us out; I tried to find him later to tip him, but he had disappeared. The beach at the Hilton was under a red flag which meant that there should have been no swimming, but with the waves so strong, it was irresistible. There were many people out in the water, and the lifeguard was very attentive. After a couple long rounds of bodysurfing by the three guys in our group, we were ready to return to the ship. We used the freshwater showers, dried off, and went through the hotel lobby and got a taxi back to the pier (US$4 each person). Again, there was free (but slow) WiFi at the pier. We bought some aged Mount Gay Rum (made on the island), Banks Beer (also made on the island) and rum cake (a local version made, you guessed it, on the island). E. St. John's, Antigua I had booked an outing in Antigua with Creole cruises--a lobster lunch and snorkeling outing. I had given them my credit card number to hold the opening, but I decided to pay in cash because I got a 10% discount, so instead of US$130, I paid US$117 for myself. We were picked up on time (9:45am) by Captain Glen on the dock outside of the Exotic Antigua store just off the pier. There were already about 16 people on the ship from local resorts and I and two fellow cruise passengers joined them. We took a 10 minute speed away into the Caribbean Sea and then were served non-alcoholic drinks, then had another 25 minute speed into the Atlantic Ocean and to Bird Island, part of the nature preserve which has between 22 and 24 smaller islands around Antigua (the numbers kept changing). I got off here with about 10 of my fellow passengers. We decided to explore this lonely, lovely beach instead of snorkel. I am really quite bad at snorkeling and was glad for this option. The beach was wonderfully deserted. I walked up and down the beach, talked with many of the other passengers, and watched the young mate, Mario, clean up and get ready to cook our lunch. We were able to drink freely of the water, juice, rum punch, and beer that they had brought, all served with a smile by Travis, another mate on the boat. No alcoholic beverages before snorkeling, but since we weren't snorkeling, we were fine. A few other boats stopped by and disgorged their passengers, but it was still a beautiful and peaceful beach. After lunch of four different salads, wood-fire grilled spiny lobsters, a bottle of white wine for each of the four tables, and a perfect macaroon to top it all off, most of us embarked on a short nature walk. Warning: Wear sneakers or hiking shoes. There is a difficult climb up a rocky path with few footholds. I and many of my fellow passengers made it wearing crocs and flip flops, but it was not easy. The walk was worth it because the view from the top of the island was unbelievably beautiful. The opposite side of the island is rocky and craggy, not like the side we had been on. It was a perfect ending to our day on this island. After we were all aboard and everything was cleaned up on the island, we stopped at Maiden island where some people went in to see an amazing array of starfish. I did not go, but I hear they were many colors and sizes. We arrived back at the dock at 4:10pm, a little later than the promised 3:45pm, but in time to reboard our ship by 4:30pm. F. Philipsburg, St. Maarten St. Maarten/St. Martin is an island owned by two different countries: the first section by the Netherlands and the second by the French. My husband, son and brother-n-law joined 3 others recruited from the Cruise Critic boards in a private deep-sea fishing excursion with TaylorMade cruises. I had contacted them through the internet, and had paid a $100 deposit to hold the date and time. The cost was US$117 per person. I hear the trip was fun, although not fruitful. The waters were very choppy, so the ride was bumpy and the only fish caught was a large barracuda by my son. G. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas There were 4 ships in port (that I saw) on the day we were at this US Virgin Island. Everywhere we looked was packed. We docked at the Havensight Mall. Remember to take a photo ID with you on shore because you need it to get back on to the pier. We walked to the taxi stands at the outside of the mall and got a taxi (SUV) for the 8 of us (we had friends with us) for $8 each to Magen's Bay Beach. The entrance fee to Magen's Bay is another $4. The beach is beautiful and it was packed with people, but we did find a place to sit. With chairs at $5 each with a $5 refundable deposit when you return them, we parked them near some overgrown shrubbery and enjoyed our day. This is truly the most beautiful beach I have ever been on (okay, it is a tie between this beach and Waimanalo Beach in Oahu, Hawaii) and we had a great time. The taxis were $8 to get back to the ship after our wonderful day I. Days At Sea Between ports, we had six at sea days. Our first at sea day (just out of Fort Lauderdale) had us following the northeastern coast of Cuba all day. It is a bigger island than I thought. Toward the end of the day, we swung a hard turn south and passed between Cuba and Haiti (the island of Hispanola) and then past Jamaica and into the Caribbean Sea. The second at sea day put us directly into the Caribbean Sea all day on our way to Aruba. The day at sea between Curacao and Grenada was very windy and the seas were rough. Because we were going directly into the waves, the stabilizers did not work. They only work when the waves are coming from the side. We learned this because we were invited to tour the Bridge on our second sea day. This was our first time and it went really fast--only 20 minutes and we asked a lot of questions. A few interesting notes from the Bridge tour: a) There is a person on watch at all times. When we asked what he was watching for, the answer was small boats and cargo containers that had fallen off of container ships during rough weather. b) The captain is in charge during all docking and undocking activities. Even if a pilot is brought on board to advise and "takes the con," the captain can override any decision that the pilot makes. c) The ship can pull into areas where the clearance under the ship is only 1-2 meters. It has to move very slowly, but it can and does manage. d) The ship's propellers move independently and can turn 360 degrees. The ship can move sideways, if necessary. Each propeller also has its own engine directly within the propeller case and there is room for 2 people, if needed, in each propeller case. e) 60% of the energy created on board is used to run hotel systems like computers, vacuum cleaners, lights. Only 40% is used to propel the ship forward. Additionally, 30% of the overall energy is used to run the vacuum system used for the toilets. J. Speakers/Entertainment I have never spent much time on the speakers on past cruises--their topics never really interested me. However, during this trip, Dr. Jim Rowe was presenting on each sea day about Caribbean culture and nature. The timing of the presentations wasn't great (10am) because other things interrupted us (the Cruise Critic meeting one day, the Bridge tour the other); however, they were replayed on the internal television stations often and we were able to watch all of them. He was a very interesting speaker and both my husband and I enjoyed his informative speeches. We also enjoyed the song stylings of the 4-man a cappella singing group 545 Express. They were fun and their takes on traditional Christmas sons, including their rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" which somehow morphed into "(I bless the rains down in) Africa" by Toto were well-done and creative. We also enjoyed an evening listening to the folk singing of Jefferson Ang, a talented young man. Part IX - Tipping The service personnel on Celebrity receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Celebrity says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ships personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. Our tips were paid on our cruise charge at US$11.50 per person per day. During our last cruise, we had asked our server and stateroom attendant if they received all of the gratuities from the cruise charges and they said yes (we were worried that a portion would be withheld by the cruise line, but that is apparently not the case). We did tip extra to everyone for their good work. On our evaluation, we also included the names of people who had gone that extra mile for us. We have heard in past cruises that this is a great way to recognize people and it can result in a monetary bonus for people whose names are written down often. Part X - Captain's Club On this cruise, we were select members and so we received a "Welcome Letter" which invited us to a cocktail party, a "double jackpot" time in the casino, and a future cruise presentation.If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Captain's Club, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a CC express line at Embarkation, priority disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, very minor casino, wine and spa discounts, a $20 "all you can fit in a cleaning bag" coupon to launder your clothes, two complimentary pressed items, a cocktail party, a "behind the scenes" tour, and a one cabin upgrade, whenever possible. Some exclusions apply. Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Disembarkation ("exiting of the ship at the end of your cruise"). Breakfast was served in cabins, on the buffet, and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went smoothly. Earlier in the week, everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in Fort Lauderdale had highest priority. Captain's Club members had priority within their color group. Color-coded Disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage and put it outside their cabins prior to 11:00pm Friday night. We were self-disembarking which meant we carried all of our own luggage (not easy with 4 backpacks, 4 carry-ons and 2 checked bags (larger bags) and only 4 people. But we made it. We met on the 3rd floor at 7:45am after breakfast and were off the ship, through customs and immigration and outside the pier by 8:30am. B. Customs US citizens are permitted 1 liter of alcohol and $800 worth of Duty Free goods per person. If under the limit, all you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid, if requested. C. Transportation Options to Airport There were transfers available through the cruise line which would take you on bus to either of the local airports--Miami or Fort Lauderdale, taxis were available, and hotel shuttles. We chose to hire a car to meet us. I called them early in the morning with our approximate pick up time and he was there waiting for us when we left the ship. We stowed the luggage and ourselves for the quick trip back to the Fort Lauderdale airport. It was an effortless way to get there. D. Fort Lauderdale Airport Upon arrival at the airport, we proceeded to the AirTran check-in. It took us less than 15 minutes to turn in our bags and less than 10 minutes to clear security. AirTran charges $20 per checked bag (of less than 50 lbs) for the first checked bag per person; $25 for the second. We checked 2 bags on the way home, one each for my husband and myself, for a total of $40. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first holiday cruise and we were not disappointed. We arrived at the port around 11:30 and we shown to a waiting area for the concierge class. Checking-in was easy as can be. We were on the ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity cruise and our first holiday cruise and we were not disappointed. We arrived at the port around 11:30 and we shown to a waiting area for the concierge class. Checking-in was easy as can be. We were on the ship by noon and promptly went for lunch. It was a very nice touch to be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine upon embarkation, this from smiling happy staff. Our cabin was ready by 2 pm and my bag was there as promised. My husband's was not. We went and explored the ship and found the San Marco dining room and the various lounges, pools and cafes. By 5:30pm, Dave's bag had yet to show up. We asked our steward to help and he located it in security. We were told we had to go claim the bag. It seems that his pocket knife was deemed a dangerous weapon, a pocket knife which traveled all over the world and was never stopped before. This seems odd as there were steak knives all over the ship with much bigger blades. Our stateroom was very nicely appointed, with lots of storage space, a huge shower and a comfortable love-seat. The balcony was small but sufficient. The overhang did not bother us but might do for someone wishing to sunbathe on the balcony. It was very quiet most of the time except for the odd sound from above from chairs being moved around. The San Marco dining room was beautiful and very nicely designed. We chose select dining and never waited to be seated. The maitre d's were 2 lovely, pleasant and helpful young woman who smiled, joked with us and even chatted with us. Princess could learn from them as their maitre d's are are surly older men who take their jobs far too seriously. The food there was great. Lots of variety, perfect portions and served perhaps a bit too quickly but overall, great.The one thing Celebrity can not do is beef. It was tough and/or tasteless. We never tried the other restaurants as we were satisfied with the choices in the main dining room. Suzanna, one of the sommeliers, was great. She was efficient, knowledgeable ans sweet. the male sommelier was not quite so good. He made many errors both with us and with people around us. As this was a holiday cruise, the ship was beautifully decorated with poinsettias, trees and other lovely decorations. The main stairwell was decorated with gingerbread houses and there was effort put into the entertainment with caroling and a show in the theater. On Christmas day, there was a huge brunch in San Marco with every conceivable food choice including a suckling pig. The entertainment we found to be mixed. We enjoyed the acapella group and the dance company but did not go to the comedy shows at all and found the classical trio sadly lacking in talent. As we had sailed the Caribbean many times before, the ports were less important the experience on board ship. We did a spice tour in Grenada which was fabulous and mostly beached in the other ports. Orient Beach in St. Martin left a lot to be desired. It was noisy, very crowded and not very enjoyable. On the other hand, Magens' bay and Dickensen's beach were wonderful. Sadly it all came to an end too quickly. The last 2 sea days were the most calm seas we have ever seen. Mirror perfect surface. Debarkation was also good except for the long lines to get through customs. We would certainly cruise with Celebrity again as all staff were pleasant, smiling, helpful genuinely happy people. It was a great experience. Cruisfan Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The cruise was a popular one for young families and there were many children of all ages on board enjoying the pools, whirlpools and decks. Although, this meant that the pool deck was almost unusable during the day, it did add to the ... Read More
The cruise was a popular one for young families and there were many children of all ages on board enjoying the pools, whirlpools and decks. Although, this meant that the pool deck was almost unusable during the day, it did add to the Christmas spirit for what is Christmas without children. Part of the fun was watching them enjoy themselves with their parents, particularly at the shows. On the whole, they were very well behaved. There were also a lot of families with adult children reuniting from different parts of the world to celebrate the holidays together. The ship, already beautifully designed was stunningly decorated from top to bottom. Services were also held to celebrate Hanakah. It was very inspiring. We loved the understated elegance of the ship although we found the layout confusing and we kept having to consult the ship guide to orient ourselves. A great deal of effort was put into the smallest design detail and the artwork throughout the ship is impressive. The quality is evident. Our balcony cabin was nicely laid out and efficient although a bit of a letdown since our view was obstructed by the lifeboats attached to the deck below (we were not aware of this when we booked the room). There was also a utility door for the crew beneath us that would slam shut several times an hour until it was adjusted when we reported it to the guest relations staff. They offered us dinner at the specialty restaurant of our choice as a recompense for the inconvenience. A gesture we did not expect and we enjoyed a lovely meal at the Tuscany Grill on Christmas evening (the onion soup is to die for). In the main diningroom, the table we were first assigned was on deck 3, completely in the back next to a busing station. We asked to be reassigned to a table for two the following night and we got a lovely table next to a window which we enjoyed for the rest of the cruise. The food was a bit of a disappointment and hit and miss. The salads and soups were not very good but the steaks and lobsters were perfectly done. The quality of the desserts were also uneven. The Baked Alaska served on Christmas Eve was the most disappointing. The buffet was a cut above others we have experienced with quite a few stations offering made-to-order dishes. The choices were excellent and would please health-conscious eaters to gourmands. We participated in several wine-tasting events and enjoyed them immensely. The quality of the wines was quite good and the fees for the events reasonable. The Riedel wine-tasting was the best of the ones we attended but we were very upset by the fact that Canadian passengers were not warned that they would not have the same benefits as other participants if they wished to buy the glasses. The literature says that the cost of the course can be applied to the cost of the glasses and we had read from other reviews that it was worth it. However, on this cruise, they did not have the glasses on board and would have to ship them which would cost Canadians custom fees of $30 negating any benefits. The seas were rough and we experienced a good deal of motion and vibration on the ship. I never did get my sea-legs. Many frequent cruisers commented that it was one of their roughest cruises. This was a bit surprising and we would have expected a ship of this size to ride more smoothly. We arrived late in San Juan, our first port of call due to the high seas and since it was already dark all excursions were cancelled. We did not venture far from the ship since it was raining and we were not familiar with the town. Our second port was St. Thomas which we enjoyed and after rapidly touring the area on board a safari bus we spent a couple of hours at Megan Beach. Unfortunately, we did not make several stops because there were so many other tour buses that there was not parking available. The excursion was very disappointing and not worth the money. We should have just paid a taxi to take us to the beach. That night, my husband had the misfortune of contracting what the medical staff judged to be the Norovirus and was quarantined to our cabin for two days. It took him another 2-3 days to fully recover from the experience so this really dampened our enjoyment of a portion of the cruise. He missed the next two ports of St. Maarten and St. Kitts. Of course I could not leave him alone for long so we did not visit those two ports. We did not eat or drink anything off of the ship so he contracted the virus on board. I have read the reviews of the Transatlantic crossing cruise and the previous pre-Christmas cruise and it seems that this virus was a serious problem on the Solstice. The support we received from the staff during the illness was inadequate and we were left more or less to fend for ourselves. Even the cleaning of the cabin was only done after repeated requests. We have yet to see how Celebrity will compensate us for this portion of our cruise. We found the entertainment on board to be very professional and enjoyed every show and activity we were able to attend. The crew were wonderful in participating in various activies and it was amazing how involved they became. All in all, we have a very positive memory of our cruise on board the ship and would do it again in a heartbeat. The shore excursions do need to be improved.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We were quite apprehensive booking a cruise: our usual mode of travel is to pack light, head to Europe, rent a car and see where the wind takes us. For several years we've listened to (dedicated cruiser) friends talk about how much ... Read More
We were quite apprehensive booking a cruise: our usual mode of travel is to pack light, head to Europe, rent a car and see where the wind takes us. For several years we've listened to (dedicated cruiser) friends talk about how much they love it, but we always felt it probably wouldn't be for us. How wrong we were! When holiday plans in the Yucatan with other friends fell through last July, we went back to the drawing board. We considered everything under the sun - a cold-weather city break in Europe, eco-lodging in Costa Rica or Panama, a quick zip across the Pacific to Hong Kong or Singapore, or South Africa. And the cruise. Putting all the pieces together, the cruise just made the most sense at the time, and more than once we said to one another and to our friends, "well, if we don't like it, we can survive anything for a week, and the weather's practically guaranteed to be good." Amex in hand, we booked it. Went for Aqua Class on the advice of the travel agent at American Express (who, when she learned this was our first cruise, said, "You're setting the bar awfully high") and we were glad we did. Flew down to Miami a full day in advance, cashed some points and bunked into the Conrad. Rental car from the downtown Hertz location, and we took off exploring Miami for a day and a half. Two quick plugs -- had lunch at the Segafredo cafe at Bal Harbor Shops (we always seek out Segafredo cafes in Europe, and this one didn't disappoint), and dinner at Jaguar in Coconut Grove. Both were great. Breakfast at the Conrad in the morning, then an hour walk on the beach, return car, and off we go on the grand adventure. Relatively quick check in (about 1:30 pm - could have gone earlier, we now know), and met the couple in line in front of us. They made the vacation! We ended up having dinner together twice on board, in San Juan on that shore day, and hanging by the pool as well. Attended the Connections event and met another great couple and a family of four - we became a little group throughout the cruise. And it was a great time. The dining in Blu made a big difference we think. The food was good, but the atmosphere really made it. Only figured out that they served breakfast on day 4, so missed that the first half of the cruise. Did specialty dining in Tuscan Grille and Murano. Both were good - not spectacular, but definitely passble. the night we ate in Murano, there was a loud band playing in the bar outside, and the music clashed notably with the background music being played in the restaurant. It detracted from the experience, but wasn't a total killer to the experience. Great wine list at Murano, BTW. Also enjoyed the Aqua Spa cafe. Nice healthy alternatives. I actually lost weight on the cruise! Did our own thing on the port days. Nothing pre-planned. We think we missed something in Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. it was fine, but not the destination we expected. Really glad we went to St. John on the St. Thomas stop. it was beautiful. There was a real rush for the chairs at the pool -- descending into what I dubbed "Chairgate" when one woman sought the intervention of three personnel. A very loud argument ensued - which made many people uncomfortable. One morning I arose before 6 am -- and was able to get the last of the beds for two by the pool, and a few chairs for the rest of our crew. Also, the poolside crew didn't enforce the adult pool occupancy rules - and when pressed on the topic, said that it was because of the number of children on the vessel. While we love children, it would have been nice to have had the rules enforced. We wanted to use the spa, but essentially couldn't because it was occupied by groups of young people who occupied it from 10 am and didn't get out til the end of the day. The entertainment was decent -- a bit on the cheesy side, and as we seemed to be at the end of a contract period, some of the singers were exhibiting audible vocal fatigue. Also, found it quite odd that the string trio would be playing selections from the movie Titanic -- or is that some inside joke that I'm not in on? FInal analysis: I've never been more relaxed in my life. We've booked a short 5-day'er at the beginning of April - not S class ship, so we'll be in C1, (or is it C3 -- highest Concierge Class) and we'll be looking forward to trying cruising without the benefits of AQ. Will be interesting to see how the impact of Blu, etc, will be on our experience. But we're hooked. See you on the seas! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Room #1544 AQ HOTEL: We did a 2 day precruise at the Hilton, Penn Station. We booked a 1 bedroom Junior Suite. The concierge lounge was not open on the weekend, but we were told that we would be allowed to eat at the breakfast buffet ... Read More
Room #1544 AQ HOTEL: We did a 2 day precruise at the Hilton, Penn Station. We booked a 1 bedroom Junior Suite. The concierge lounge was not open on the weekend, but we were told that we would be allowed to eat at the breakfast buffet since there was no breakfast service in the concierge lounge. We were given a coupon at check in, that allowed us to dine in the hotel's restaurant for breakfast. We enjoyed their buffet (normally priced at $17 per person) and found the service to be friendly and efficient. ***AVOID ONBOARD TOURS AT ALL COSTS WHILE IN NYC!!*** We were booked for their 'See It All Tour' and 'See The Lights (Holiday Lights) Tours'. Our booking specialist, Christa, assured us that OnBoard Tours has a special arrangement with the Hilton hotel at Penn Station in New Jersey, for pick up of their passengers. We were told to be downstairs, outside if possible (weather permitting) at 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM. At 11:20 AM, I knew something wasn't right. I called OnBoard Tours and was told that the driver was running late, but that they were on their way to pick us up. After numerous calls and endless run arounds from OnBoard Tours' representatives, we finally figured out that Christa had lied to us and in fact, there was NO hotel pick up service offered for the Hilton at Penn Station in New Jersey (and yes, we do have a printed email from OnBoard Tours, stating the name of our hotel with the pick up date and time, so we were clearly not the ones that were confused!). Embarkation: Per the recommendation of the bell captain at Hilton Penn Station, we used a town car service (booked at the bell captain's desk -- super easy!, to get from the hotel to Cape Liberty for boarding. The fare was approximately $47, including tip, for two of us with 9 pieces of luggage. The drive took about 25 minutes and was so easy! The reps at Bayonne that represent Celebrity, did a GREAT job of getting us checked in. We love the new process of getting your photo taken at check in instead of with the security guys. This speeds things up and is more pleasant. We were on board around 11:30 AM (did not really like having to take the busses from the terminal to the ship, but it wasn't a huge 'deal breaker', just annoying). We went straight to Bistro on Five. This is the best way to spend a leisurely afternoon, when you board early. You can easily spend 90 minutes enjoying lunch and GREAT service, for $5.00 per person cover charge! A bargain!! Cabin: We booked AQ 100% because of Blu. We had dined in Blu on our Solstice cruise, and even though we prefer a SkySuite or Celebrity Suite, we don't want to take the chance of having to go back to the MDR due to lack of space in Blu (Suite guests are on a 'space available basis' plus $5 surcharge to dine in Blu). That being said, we were semi pleased with our AQ standard balcony cabin. We are a mom/daughter traveling duo that do NOT travel lightly! Between us, we had 5 medium to LARGE size suit cases, plus cosmetics, plus all of our hair care stuff, etc...etc... You get the picture! The layout of the cabin was OK for us....The cabin is smaller than was expected and the storage is LIMITED, like all of the reviewers before me have stated, but you don't really appreciate how limited the storage is, until you and all of your luggage show up and the unpacking begins. Three drawers?! Celebrity, are you kidding?! The bathroom drawers are so small, that literally, you cannot even put your toothbrush in any of them, since it won't fit! Shower is nice (small, but nice). The showers in Aqua Spa are very nice, so if you find the cabin bathroom shower to be too tiny to deal with, then grab your robe and head up to the Aqua Spa. Showers are free and very nice/spacious. Linens in the cabin: FABULOUS!! Loved the down comforter, the crispy sheets, the squishy pillows (never did find the pillow menu!) and the great big bath towels. Service: Our cabin steward and his assistant were OK. I know that they are worked to the bone and I try hard to be respectful of that. Most days, our cabin was not cleaned until at least Noon. One day, we came back at 2 PM and our steward asked us to please give him just 15 minutes more, to get our beds made. Yes, it's not the end of the world...not even close, but it's a shame that Celebrity seems to have cut back on staffing so the current staff members are worked so hard. I do have to give a 'shout out' to Celebrity. We mentioned to our steward's assistant, Ping, that our zipper on a piece of luggage had been broken by the airlines. He said that he would take it to the ship's upholstery shop and would see if they could fix/repair/replace the broken zipper. Well -- two days later, the suitcase showed up and was in GREAT shape with its' brand new zipper! Thanks Celebrity -- that was a very nice thing for you to do (and for not charging me for it!). Dining: Well -- this is so subjective, that I truly hesitate to even comment. What I will say is that if you have simple tastes and don't like hoity toity / uppity menus, you will struggle in Blu (or the MDR). We were so discouraged, every night, with the menus. Not sure why Celebrity feels it's necessary to have menus that nearly require a dictionary or Thesaurus to interpret! I don't eat red meat/pork or much seafood, so it was a bit tough on me. I ended up doing some version of shrimp cocktails, chicken and veggies, along with French Onion Soup and Blue Cheese Wedge salads or Caesar Salads, Crème Brulee, most nights. On the very last day of the cruise, I learned from a fellow passenger, that Celebrity will deliver the menus from the MDR and BLU to your cabin, the night before, so you can determine what the best choices will be for you, if you are a picky eater. This is something that I would have appreciated knowing on Day 1, not on Day 13! Oh well... live and learn. Room Service: Very good (not the apple pie! That is the worst pie, ever!!! Avoid it all costs!). Service was fast (about 20-30 minutes and food, including French fries, arrived hot). Pastries/Sweets: OK... Am I the only living soul that detests Celebrity's pastries? These must be the worst, on any ship! Not sure if X just doesn't put enough sugar in them, or if the executive chefs just want us to avoid them all together, but they are truly awful... The cookies have the taste of cardboard and are simply horrible. On a happier and more positive note, the ice cream on X is so yummy! Princess has horrible 'bug spray tasting' ice cream, so I am appreciative that X gives us high quality frozen yogurt and hand scooped ice cream. Also, there is self service soft serve frozen yogurt (various flavors) available at the Mast Grill, Aqua Spa Cafe and the Ice Cream bar in the Ocean View Cafe. Speaking of the Mast Grill, if the not so friendly cooks tell you that they do not have turkey or chicken burgers, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! I was told that it was hot dogs or hamburgers ONLY. Well, on day 12, I chatted with the head chef and politely asked him why X doesn't have turkey or chicken at the Mast Grill... he looked at me w/ this puzzled look and said that is absolutely not the case. The French fries at the Mast Grill are GREAT! A great snack when coming back on board after a long day of shore excursions!! Entertainment: Well... like dining, the opinion someone has re: the entertainment, is very subjective. I found the entertainment to be between a 'B' and 'A-' . The dancers/singers were new to the ship, and even though they didn't miss their notes, or the words to the songs, it just seemed like the performances were strained. The Cirque show was interesting. The theater fills up at least 30 minutes before the show starts, so DON'T BE LATE IN GETTING THERE TO GET YOUR SEATS, or you will be sorry (and standing!). Shore Excursions: We did the Swim with Stingray and Kayak adventure in Antigua. Excellent!! I do wish we had been told to bring our credit card or some $$$, since they had our photos for sale, but none of us had our money or credit cards with us, to pay for them. Bummer! The tour was great and Sting Ray City in Antigua is NOT to be missed, if you enjoy seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat (aka the ocean!). LABADEE: We rented a private OVER THE WATER BUNGALOW. Matt (concierge on board) told us that our $200 fee would include a butler that would bring us our lunches, drinks and our swim mats. Well...that was sort of true. There was a butler. He did show up and told us where the cooler was that had bottled water in it. When lunch time rolled around, we asked him how we were supposed to place our order with him. He gave us the deer in the headlights look and said that we needed to go and get our own lunch. Not the end of the world, obviously, BUT, since our expectations had been set that we were paying for some seriously nice treatment, we expected a different experience. If you do rent an over the water bungalow/cabana, make sure that you reserve #4 or #3, or you will most likely NOT be over the water. Also, you need to reserve it immediately on embarkation, or you will not get one. They only have 4 of them, so they go quickly. Also, if you have an Ipod with music on it, BRING IT! There is electricity in the cabana/bungalow and having some music would have been great!! Also, the buffet was truly awful, the worst chicken shish kabobs ever, so you may want to bring some fruit and snacks from your cabin. I did hear from some fellow ship mates, that the hamburgers were some of the very best, however. There are NO blended drinks on Labadee, so if you have your heart set on a Pina Colada, it's not going to happen. ST. CROIX: The ship docks on the opposite side of the island from all of the major shopping, so you are forced to take a $16 per person taxi cab ride, if you want to shop. There are lots of 'flea market' type of open air shopping (tshirts/tote bags/inexpensive jewelry) at the dock/pier area. We did the Buck Island Snorkel tour/excursion in St. Croix. Ick! The worst snorkeling EVER! We snorkeled in waves that were approximately 4-6 feet high! We all asked the boat captain what was up with bringing us to this truly awful and unpleasant snorkeling place and he simply responded that this was normal and just basically 'get over it'. There was not one morsel of food, only rum punch. Well, after boating for an hour each way, a 30 minute bus ride, 60 minutes of terrifying snorkeling in huge waves, you do get hungry! Wouldn't it have been considerate of Celebrity to tell us to take some fruit or a snack with us, on our excursion? Yes, I know that lunch was not included, but a gentle reminder to bring a snack, would just be nice. Needless to say, after a boatload of us consumed too much rum on the way back to the pier, it made for an interesting bus ride back to the ship. On Board Shopping: Wow! I was (pleasantly) a bit shocked! We actually found the jewelry to not only be a fabulous selection, but the majority of the prices, were fair to very good. We are BIG shoppers of nice jewelry in St. Thomas and St. Marteen and know our pricing for gem stones/gold/etc... Well - the ship's jewelry shop did not disappoint. There was a very nice Effy brand diamond ring that they had priced for about $1800. The exact same ring at the Effy store in St. Marteen was nearly $2500! This was after negotiating with the sales rep at the St. Marteen Effy store. When I told him that the same ring was in the ship's jewelry store, for $700 less, he told me that it must be 'old' and they are just trying to get rid of it. Hello?! It's not milk or eggs... it's gold and diamonds... I don't think it really has an expiration date! Casino: Played the slots and went up and down. All in all, I probably either broke even or made about $20. We had fun and enjoyed our time in the casino, but like all casinos, it can drain you quickly, if you're not careful. I also participated in the Slot Tournament and that was fun. I did not win, but it was a fun way to spend an hour for $25.00 Bringing Wine/Alcohol On Board: I packed two boxes of 'Black Box' wine (Cab & Merlot), plus, three small to medium size rum runners with Baileys and Cherry Vodka. Fortunately, Cape Liberty isn't as 'nosey' as the port in Ft. Lauderdale and/or Miami... (have had to go to the naughty room on Deck 2 on our last Solstice cruise!) and the cocktails and wine made it on board w/o a hitch. Whew! I had already planned to buy the Beverage Package (nearly $800 for this cruise! Yikes!) if my rum runners had not made it on board, and boy oh boy, after the rough seas on our first 2-3 days where all I could stomach, was peppermint tea, I am so happy that I didn't buy the beverage package! Talk about a bummer... feeling sea sick and knowing the drink timer is running at nearly $60 per day and not being able to consume a cocktail. That being said, I would highly recommend to anyone going on a cruise where the seas might be a bit rocky, to NOT buy a beverage package until you are underway and see how it's going to go. I have been on a LOT of cruises and have never, ever been sea sick. For some reason, this cruise was very tough on me (waves were 9-15 feet on any given open sea day while in the Atlantic). Thank goodness X gave free sea sick tablets out at Guest Relations. Whew! SEE IT ALL TOUR ($150 PER PERSON) After doing this on HAL, we had high hopes for this 'behind the scenes tour'. We were met by Matt, the very friendly concierge, on the last sea day, at the Sky Bar at 10:20 AM. We were told that we would not be allowed to see the engine room due to security reasons. Ok...not the end of the world. Then, we were told that we wouldn't get to go to the mooring area due to high seas... OK, also not the end of the world. When we asked our tour guide, Sergio (hotel manager) if we would receive anything special (HAL and Princess both give lovely gift bags and presents!) at the end of our tour, he informed us that we would be treated to lunch in the MDR. Hello! It's a cruise! Isn't lunch already included?! No worries -- we were still happy to be on the tour, just a bit surprised that X did not research what the other lines are doing and follow suit. The 'See It All Tour' consisted of about 30 minutes in the bridge with the Captain and some of his officers. Then, backstage at the theater with the lead singer, Dante, for about 15 minutes, to tour their costume changing area, dressing rooms, etc. After that, it was down to the deck zero area that the crew calls 'I-95' (this references the long hallway that the crew uses to move all of our food and supplies from one end of the ship to the other). We were allowed to see the crew's library and internet room, as well as the crew bar and crew gym. We did not get to see any crew sleeping quarters for all of the obvious reasons. The tour also took us to one of the galleys, the liquor storage areas, a couple of different coolers and some type of engineering control room. It lasted about 3 hours including lunch in the MDR (Celebrity did include red or white wine by the glass at lunch). Are we glad we did it? Yes... Do we feel like we were over charged for this tour with NO gifts at the end? YES... $75 would have been much more reasonable for a price. Disembarkation: ICK! Bayonne and those busses are simply awful on disembarkation day! Also, not only do these awful busses add at least 30-40 minutes to the entire process, but there are basically no porters to help you with your luggage. We desperately needed a porter and honestly, there was not one to be found. We ended up schlepping our own bags (all nine of them!!) and vowed to avoid Bayonne at all costs, in the future, until they get rid of those silly busses and allow us to walk to the ship. Once we got through Customs, and boarded a shuttle to Newark Airport, things smoothed out. It takes approximately 15 minutes (without traffic) to get from the pier to the Newark airport. Also, the Newark airport is so friendly! If you need anything, just ask anyone wearing the red coats. The work for the airport and are truly nice people. Also, they will NOT accept any tips. Incredible... They helped us with our baggage when we flew into Newark, helped us with the Airtrain and with finding our hotel's shuttle service. Each time we offered a gratuity to our 'Red Coat Angel' they always politely declined. Wow... Overall, this was a nice trip. This was one of the FRIENDLIEST CRUISES I have ever been on. My fellow passengers were so sweet and nice & there was never a dull dinner conversation. People in the buffet and the theater were always quick to say hello and strike up a friendly conversation. Maybe it was the fact that we were on the ship together for nearly 2 weeks, so that made people more 'willing' to bond with you....or maybe it's just the large East Coast fellow travelers that are just nice to begin with, or a combination of both... Whatever the reason, I was so happy to see that the ship was filled with friendly, enthusiastic fellow passengers. Will I sail with X again? Yes... But, I am probably going to cancel my Reflection Cruise for 12/2012... Celebrity is a wonderful product, but we are going to try Allure of the Seas and see if we find the food to be better and more 'normal'. I know this makes us 'odd', that we don't get super excited about this high brow food / dining experience, but that just isn't our thing. We are sailing in the Grand Suite on Sapphire Princess to Alaska in Sept. 2012 and even though I know the food (and ice cream!) won't be as good as Celebrity, we are paying nearly what a decent balcony or Sky Suite on Celebrity would have cost. When you consider that Princess gives their suite guests such amazing benefits, the price is very fair. Wish Celebrity would spoil their suite guests a bit more like the other main line cruise lines do. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Sorry about the length of this but we have a lot to say! It was clear from the start that the ship has medical problems - and not brought on in Istanbul by the current passengers as was suggested. Gel being dispensed everywhere, all food ... Read More
Sorry about the length of this but we have a lot to say! It was clear from the start that the ship has medical problems - and not brought on in Istanbul by the current passengers as was suggested. Gel being dispensed everywhere, all food and drink being served, continual hand washing instructions,no library books, cushions glasses ice buckets info folder all gradually disappearing from the cabins, etc. In spite of this many passengers and crew came down with the virus throughout the cruise - people did throw up pretty much everywhere - pool, busses, dining room, lifts, but the crew worked very hard continually cleaning and clearing up so the ship did stay clean.I did wonder about the instructions that if you got it you had to make your way through the whole ship to the medical centre on deck 1 - surely they should have stayed in their cabins and been visited by the doctor? We didn't get it (noro) but it felt like the sword of Damocles was hanging over us all the time. A couple of points - The hard working but "brassy" CD Sue Denning gave a daily briefing, but it was really the same every day, "Thank you and keep washing your hands". She continually said that she would tell us the truth, but the one thing wouldn't tell us was how many people were affected. We understood that it was 400 - 500 people. Also I wonder how much the crew are involved in spreading problems. I saw one of the panini servers wearing plastic gloves pick up a handful of crisps, put them in his mouth and then go on serving, cutting and spreading the bread. I immediately reported this to a manager but don't know what action was taken. To be fair I also saw an idiot passenger use the restroom and then go out without washing his hands! Ok, on to the rest. If you take trips in Israel my advice is to arrange your own. If you take ship tours it may say "shopping time" but you won't get it at the many interesting little shops you will walking by, no, you'll get it at the end in a very large isolated store where the tour guide gets 35% of everything you buy (and it's not cheap!)- get the picture? This happened on all 3 trips for us and we didn't like it - so no tip for the guide, they get quite enough!! Finally the best for us was the variety and quality of the music / entertainment. This was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise. There was music happening all over the ship including - The ships Song and Dance company - It was the last 2 weeks of their service and they were great. The shows were fantastic. Ship's Orchestra - they were excellent performing and backing other acts. Jefferson Ang - Guitar and singing in the coffee bar. 545 Express - acapella group and very good. Arabesque Trio - 2 violins and piano. Lovely classical music in one of the lounges. Great Ideas Party Band - fantastic atmosphere every night. To see the boy and girl singer both perform footloose (?) was really amazing. Pity they didn't have a CD to sell - I would have bought it! Perry Grant - singing and piano. Very entertaining, but I couldn't face seeing the same performance and comedy every night although quite a few did! The visiting entertainers - were all good but the absolute highlight for us was SAMANTHA JAY. What a talented lady this girl is. She plays the oboe, violin, saxophone and piano in a wonderful fast moving show with popular and classical music. She also seems a genuine and modest person - a real star! If you get the chance go and see her. So we did enjoy the cruise in spite of everything and hope that the deep clean (again)in Barcelona where they made everyone leave the ship (including back to back passengers)will do the trick. I think they are worried about not being allowed to dock in USA. I somehow doubt it will be enough though. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We are in are early 50's and have been on six cruises, twice to Alaska and 3 times on Celebrity to the Caribbean. When this ship was announced out of Cape Liberty we were thrilled to avoid the tedious process of flying since this is a ... Read More
We are in are early 50's and have been on six cruises, twice to Alaska and 3 times on Celebrity to the Caribbean. When this ship was announced out of Cape Liberty we were thrilled to avoid the tedious process of flying since this is a local port for us. Embarkation was a breeze and the cabin were ready when we got to the ship at about 1PM. The cabins are improved from prior Celebrity classes, more room in the Shower and more storage in the stateroom. As everything was new, everything worked properly. However as reported Celebrity will rue the day they selected the facets for the bathroom sinks since the style of short flow pipe looks great, but does require the user to work to avoid spilling water. My guess is that few will and Celebrity will have thousands of water damaged cabins to show for that decision. Similarly, Celebrity should rue the day they decided to remove most of the round tables in their main dining area and use square two and four seaters. The result is virtually no separation between any of the tables. Thus a table for two becomes a table for 10. The wait staff cannot even negotiate the small gaps to provide service. My guess is that Celebrity increase the ship passenger count but not the size of the dining room enough. This destroys the notion of privacy and does not allow for intimate conversation. The din from the other guests requires you to speak up to be heard which guarantees no such thing as a private conversation.The staffing of the main dining room also is a problem, they handle 20 passengers and cannot do so with any personalize service. Thus if you order something and don't like it, you have no means to return since your waiter doesn't have the time to check in with you. Overall the food was good, but not great. Again, food review is subjective and I would say it was above casual dining grade but well below fine ding grade, and again the problem was service. You simply had no means to exchange unless you did not mind eating your main course while your party had dessert. This ship's entertainment was so-so. The singers and dancers were good, but not featured often enough. The attempt to put on an acrobatic show ala a Cirque Du Soleil show fell well short. Similarly outside of the group in the main foyer, entertainment was slim. This ship itself was grand, very clean and all the public areas were pristine.Stateroom service was good and the cabins remained spotless throughout the cruise. Interactive and phone in room service was prompt and accurate. One of the problems with this sailing which was not the fault of the cruise line was the high percentage of "scooter passengers" These folks literally took up the available corridor space with the bulk. Moreover they acted as if their actions had no affect on others. Maybe the cruise line has a responsibility to limit the number of "scooter people" so as to not disaffect those who are not handicapped. The upside was that there was never a wait in the fitness center in getting a treadmill (for the most part). Two areas of problems at all resorts and cruise ship are those that "reserve" deck chairs by the pool and those that walk on the treadmills for more than 30 minutes. Both events disaffect other guests. In all cases staff does nothing to police the practice and thus puts guests in the unenviable position of having to deal with the problem. One wishes that the cruise ship staff would be as forthright in addressing this issue as they are in trying to sell shore excursions or Spa treatments. The final judgment that we use as our overall assessment is "would we do this again?". In this case the answer is "yes" but only for a good price. Celebrity has succumbed to the notion that more quantity of lower graded food, service and shows is better than small portions are great food, service and shows. One wonder what distinguishes them from lower graded lines such as Norwegian and Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never ... Read More
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never been on either of the two tours or they would have undoubtedly canceled them both and re-vamped them. Kotor was a long bus ride up a mountain side with no room for anyone to pass in either direction. The hairpin turns and hundreds of feet drop offs made the trip exteremly dangerous. certainly we would not recoomend it. We would recommend that someone re-look at this excursion. Dubrovnik. A really nice old town taht we would have liked to have spent more time in. but shore Excursions struck again and took everyone for a long bus ride to a quaint restaurant that served us a stale piece of bread topped with a piece of cheese and another piece of the same bread with something they called Ham but it was more like tongue to us. Hardly anybody (out of two bus loads) ate any of it. Upon returning to Dubrovnik, many people left the bus and told the driver they would take a taxi back to the ship as the bus tour left us with very little time in the town. Another tour that needs re-assessing. Arriving in Rome on All Saints Day, a Memorial Day Holiday and an annual Marathon Run that began and ended at St Peter's Square was perhaps the biggest faux pas. We couldn't get close to the Square nor the basilica. Everything else including The Vatican was closed. Finally Marseilles. Another long ride in a bus. Someone in Shore excursions must have at one time worked for greyhound or Trailways as just about every ship tour involved a long bus ride to the highest point to take a few pictures while everyone wanted to be on the ground in the city buying souvenirs. No more ship excursions for us. the Private Tours (of which we took four) we far better. Far better. Those we highly recommend. All in all the cruise was disappointing. the schedule was heavy, very little time to rest. A day or two at sea would have been very welcome. we did have two days at sea for the very beginning, but they were really need somewhere in the middle, to give folks a chance to catch their breath. celebrity themselves were perfect as usual the dining was excellent and cabin service very good. one comment for them. you could have done without the Glass blowing on the aft section of the ship and put the grill there out of the wind and gained more room. putting the grill on the Port side in the direct wind was not all that great. we didn't see a lot of people using it. Sincerely Terry Hensey. Soltice Oct 23rd. Venice and the Med. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Just recently returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean trip, over all we had a great time. The Solstice staff were engaging and happy to make the stay on the ship as enjoyable as they can. We did not partake in the specialty ... Read More
Just recently returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean trip, over all we had a great time. The Solstice staff were engaging and happy to make the stay on the ship as enjoyable as they can. We did not partake in the specialty restaurants but we heard that food there was great. We thoroughly enjoyed the food at the Grand - our dinner seating was at 6:15 pm, we were the fortunate ones as some people that were at the late seating were not happy at all. The staff at the restaurant was attentive and interested in how the food was - they were happy to get you a new entree if we were not satisfied with the dinner. The maitre de was great as we had to move tables third day in as we not satisfied with the location. There are plenty to do if you so chose, I loved the 'Glass Show' - gives you a better appreciation for glass making. The staff there was to demonstrate and educate - they had a lot of adversity to overcome - wind, rain, and since it was electric heating system they were frequently putting the glass they were making into the ovens in order to keep the glass at a steady temperature. The entertainment was first class; the live music was great especially Top Notch. The DJ; however, had a bit of a problem as he mixed up his British Invasion with his 80's. Our suite had a bit of a problem regulating its room temperature, found that the temperature dipped to cold in the middle of the night (the housekeeping staff was nice enough to bring me two blankets - really helped). Also, credo goes to the steward for coming to the room when I couldn't open the safe in the middle of the night and the purser, Nadine for her due diligence for getting us our onboard credit. We took advantage of express debarkation: it was a bit disorganized at first because everyone that wanted to leave early was all gathered in one area just outside the elevators where the theatre was located (front of the ship). The staff did not know what deck we were supposed to leave - until he had word from the captain. There was about a 15 minute wait and then we had to lug our luggage to the back end of the ship. That was the only glitch. Loads of taxis waiting at Barcelona, Spain. A nice gesture: whenever arriving from outing there was staff from Solsitce greeting you on the dock area and a place to sit if you wanted as well as beverages like hot chocolate, water, and juice were offered before going back onto the ship. Recommendations for this trip: I would like to have all informations regarding shore excursions including shuttles be on the website. Also, how far the dock yard is from the place of visit. All tour guides on excursions should have their patrons write their names and suite down, this helps identify who is missing. There were a couple times where there was a miscount and people that won't supposed to be on the excursion were counted thus accidentally leaving the people that were on that particular excursion out without a paddle so to speak. Overall, the cruise was great. I know it would have been nice to have had two days at sea at the end to rest up before heading home but one always have to keep in mind, learning to pace one self is a good thing. I didn't mind being exhausted as we had a 14 hour plane trip home - gave me plenty of time to catch up on my sleep. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Having spent an enjoyable holiday aboard Eclipse I can only endorse everything Dr Paul has to say about this holiday. We have travelled on most of the cruise lines at some time or another, and have never felt we were being conned for ... Read More
Having spent an enjoyable holiday aboard Eclipse I can only endorse everything Dr Paul has to say about this holiday. We have travelled on most of the cruise lines at some time or another, and have never felt we were being conned for every penny on board. Whilst the ship is delightful and food extremely good, we were disgusted at the cost of drinks on board. Whilst on holiday we always have a bottle of wine each night, but because of the cost made a bottle do for two nights. Celebrity should be aware that they will price themselves out of the market, if they continue along these lines. The cost of shore excursions were also prohibitive, and we heard many complaints about this. Because of the cost we did not take any excursions, once again Celebrity loosing money. When we were in Venice last year, we had a shuttle bus to take us right into the water bus station, free of charge, but Celebrity charged $20 per person for a shuttle boat to St. Marks Square, once again extortionate. With regard to the entertainment, on the whole it was good, but the pianist and the ventriloquist had people leaving the theatre in their droves. We also felt the first of the cruise company shows was aimed at a far younger audience than those cruising today. It was so load we heard complaints from quite a few people that they came out of the theatre with a headache. As you said, Dr. Paul, Dru think of your clientele. We very much enjoyed Michaels Club when Rik Steele was playing, and had to hurry to get to the bar after the show as he was so popular. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We sailed from Southampton on 14 October, having travelled down from Cardiff by train. Embarkation: Not impressive. It took nearly an hour to shuffle around the hall in single file. Other lines let you sit down until called. Cabin:We ... Read More
We sailed from Southampton on 14 October, having travelled down from Cardiff by train. Embarkation: Not impressive. It took nearly an hour to shuffle around the hall in single file. Other lines let you sit down until called. Cabin:We were originally on deck 6, above the theatre, but the noise drove us to ask for a move which was done speedily and efficiently, to Deck 10. Top marks.Cabins smallish,with drawer space at a premium, but excellent shower in large bathroom.Spotlessly clean. Dining: We had Select Dining after paying £221 gratuities in advance. But the tables we were given were always next to a service station.The better areas appear to have been assigned to those who had cruised with Celebrity before. No problem, but an early indication of the dual class system on board. For instance, the best bar was arguably the Sky on deck 14, but each evening this was reserved largely for the Captain's Club members.The small area left was for smokers, and it was usually difficult to get service. The self service restaurant was the Ocean View on deck 14, which had easily the most comprehensive range of food I've experienced, but at peak times it was extremely difficult to find a free table. These were not always cleared quickly, though strangely, there was always a surfeit of staff pushing drinks (of which, more later). Entertainment:External acts brought in were mixed, but those who stood out were Irish comedian Adrian Lynch, Welsh comedian Mike Doyle, and songstress Lindsay Hamilton deservedly brought the house down. But the funniest was a juggler/comedian, whose name I didn't note but should have. To attend a popular act, one had to get to the theatre half an hour early. P & O lay on 3 shows a night to obviate this. Why can't Celebrity? Drinks: As others have noted, the prices charged will stop me cruising with Celebrity in future. Two single gin and tonics £14?(Not even Schweppes!) Cheapest wine about £21. Gratuities: The brochure says Reception will give people who had pre-paid a voucher to prove it. One old lady at Reception was told they don't, to her obvious distress. We told our cabin steward we had, which he says he understood, yet left 2 envelopes when we checked out, which is another reason we will now be returning to P & O. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I think a cruise is really what you make of it, and even though some things were not perfect, I loved the trip and have already booked on the 2012 Westbound TA. The ship was new and clean and shiney, and nothing broken or worn. My ... Read More
I think a cruise is really what you make of it, and even though some things were not perfect, I loved the trip and have already booked on the 2012 Westbound TA. The ship was new and clean and shiney, and nothing broken or worn. My cabin seemed very large - i could dance in it and the 3 deep drawers under the TV help all my non-hanging clothes. Lots of hangers in the closet. The tap over the bathroom sink needs a longer spout - you need to turn it on full, otherwise it actually dribbles down the outside of the basin and onto the bench. Very nice bathroom otherwise. No clothesline in the shower :( The heart of the ship is the 12-deck high Atrium lobby with the 8 glass elevators. Thankyou to the couple I saw dry-humping in one of the elevators... that is burned onto my retina's. Lots of beautiful lounges - something for every taste and volume level. The Martini Bar seats 34 people and is standing room only before dinner and after the shows, but if you get there in-between it's deserted and you get a good seat. Nightly dance bands played very loudly down in the Lobby, so you could not talk very easily at the martini bar, but if you just wanted to sit with your drink and listen to the music and watch people dancing, that's fine. Quasar - the nightclub, was always empty. Bistro on 5 had great staff who always remembered which coffee, juice and crepes I liked for breakfast. Oceanview Buffet was often crowded, but the food was good. VERY grumpy Pizza guy and sad face pasta guy - what was that about?? Lawn Club Grill is fantastic - the staff were thrilled if you accepted their invitations to get up and help prepare food. The Fillet Mignon and the Lobster macaroni Cheese there were amazing. Do bring a sweater or jacket though - it's quite breezy there, even with the heaters on. The Hideaway was my favourite place. Lots of odd recesses to climb into and hide with your diary, iPod or a good book, while enjoying their coffee and getting all the natural light coming down from the atrium. Often people had afternoon naps there, while the pianist played down in the lobby. Also, an amazing selection of Teas served at Cafe Albacchio - either hot or iced. Ensemble Lounge is a very dark jazz lounge, shared by most of the speciality restaurants. Nice place to have an affair... Q'sine... HMM glad i tried it, but would not go again. Staff were great, and the food was very good, but SO much of it, and you kinda had to play with it to eat it. Sucking ice pea soup out of a chemistry set with a straw... Just not my idea of a dinner. The main dining room - things to really be warned about... If you go Select, you will be tucked away on the upper level. Only the Set dining people get the main level where all the action is. Also, if you go select and you don't pre-book, you will almost never get a window table. The longest we had to queue was 5 minutes, but they have a line for those with reservations and another line for the walk-ins and you just felt a little "naughty" if you had not reserved. The dining room was quite dark, hard to read the menus and the food was nice, but nothing spectacular. Gym was light, and well equipped. At 6am sharp all the treadmills were occupied. Note - the funnels do smoke alot, and we heard there was the smell of engine smoke from the aft balconys. Unlike the Gas turbine M class, this ship has four V16 Diesels. And with the two funnels always floodlit at night, we would go up to the lawn and see them absolutely pouring smoke. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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