We live in Vancouver, so for us the ship was a two-stop train ride on the Canada Line. Because of the royal visit at Canada Place that morning, and with 3 ships docked, we went down to the pier at 9:30 where the port had organized the ... Read More
We live in Vancouver, so for us the ship was a two-stop train ride on the Canada Line. Because of the royal visit at Canada Place that morning, and with 3 ships docked, we went down to the pier at 9:30 where the port had organized the embarcations to come in at one end of the terminal and the disembarcations to leave via the other end. The process was very efficient and we were checked in and had our seapass card by 10:00 am. After security and a stop to get our photos taken, we were on board by 11:00 am. This avoided the inevitable line-ups and we got to enjoy the ship that much earlier.
The ship is 15 years old and has had some renovations and changes made recently, but this was our first time on a Millenium-Class ship and we were looking forward to seeing it.
Ship Design Pros:
The Constellation Lounge on deck 11 at the front is a very tastefully-decorated room with great colour choices and a variety of seating areas. We enjoyed cocktails there most afternoons. The left side has a large chunk walled off where a children’s area was created, and the effect is somewhat imbalanced architecturally, but otherwise a great room.
The theatre was very much like that in the former Mercury, with illuminated glass tables in front of pairs of seats, and they just begged for a couple of glasses of wine to be set on them for the shows. It is a feature which would be great to see on the Solstice class ships.
The rooftop terrace at the back of the ship was a very pleasant sitting area with comfortable wicker furniture.
The main dining room (MDR) was in an older style, much like Mercury, but a sumptuous room in which one could enjoy the excellent meals.
Ship Design Cons:
The Martini bar lacks the expansive sitting area of the Solstice class and seems rather cramped, though the bar itself is very recognizeable.
Cellarmasters straddles the only throughway aft to the upper level of the MDR, and so, unlike the Solstice class, it is a room with constant through traffic and line-ups when an MDR dinner sitting is about to start. It also does not have the wine cellar stonework and beams, and though a pleasant and generally quiet place to sit, is closer to being a second version of the Rendezvous lounge one deck below.
The Tuscan Grill on deck 3 has completely replaced the SS United States restaurant, even though the deck plans and the web site still show the latter. It is a simple rectangular room on the starboard side of the ship and instead of the expansive picture windows over the stern and the wake, it has porthole-style picture windows looking sideways. I was not wowed by the décor which looked much like any decent family restaurant ashore. We only had breakfasts there.
We had a Concierge class balcony cabin on deck 8 forward. It was a typical size although the narrow entrance passageway meant that the closet doors on the one side always conflicted with the bathroom door on the other side. Closet and drawer space was just fine, although the under-bed space for suitcases could have been just a little higher. Verandah furniture was attractive with two modern-styled metal and web chairs and a full-height table. The TV was a flat-screen though awkwardly-placed at an angle to the left of the bed and well to the left of the sofa.
Food and Service:
The MDR food was batting a good 95% - excellent food, nicely prepared and attractively presented. Only a poor Steak-Diane turned up with enough gristle and fat that it was not a pleasant entrée. Since this high standard is consistent on Celebrity in our experience, as a result there was no need for us to use the specialty restaurants which are getting pricey these days.
Dining room service was excellent and the staff quickly learned that we preferred to have the wine order turn up before we ordered the food. We found them attentive, efficient and very pleasant.
Room staff is now down to a single Steward per room – gone are the assistant stewards. He has a lot of work on his plate, but was consistently helpful and pleasant. For Concierge class, afternoon canapés arrived just before 4:00 pm, and were among the best we have had on Celebrity.
The Captain’s Club Hostess, Alexandra, was one of the most pleasant and efficient people we have come across on the ships, and really deserves high kudos for making things happen. She is one of these rare people who is solution-oriented rather than stuck on obstacles.
This is our one ongoing beef and is not limited to Celebrity. Tables for 2 tend to be mostly those separated from other tables for 2 by a 6 inch space. We were first assigned to an upper balcony table with 2 other tables for 2, making it effectively a table for 6. It was hard to ignore the couples next to us. The Maitre d’ said he could fix this the second night and then we got assigned to a similar table, only it had only one table beside it, making it a table for 4. At this point we went to the Captain’s Club Hostess who arranged that we would get a real table for two with decent separation from the other tables. This worked well and we were very pleased with the space.
Since there is ample room for most of these to be better separated, it is a mystery to me why the ships continue to think that close proximity meets the wishes of those who request a table for two, which by its nature suggests that they really are looking for some privacy.
The theatre shows were quite excellent. The best were the all-cast shows which were extremely well done and a delight to watch and listen to. There were a couple of ‘comedians’, one of which we missed and the other of which we walked out on after only 5 minutes. We have yet to find good comedians on cruise ships – roll on the music!
We are mostly wine drinkers and we have learned that beverage packages do not suit us because of the number of glasses we have to consume per day just to break even on the per person per day charges. We bought a 7-bottle Premium wine package for $299 US plus gratuity. The Classic package is $249, and there are 3 and 5-bottle packages available as well. Comparing this cost with the average price per bottle from the MDR wine list showed that we were getting an average of 20% off the per bottle price. These packages are only listed in the MDR wine list (the last two pages) and can not be ordered online or at the Beverage Package stand on embarkation.
Our one beef in this area was that Celebrity have recently raised the gratuity on all drinks to 18% from 15%. That said the drink prices were not as high as we had been led to believe which was a pleasant surprise. My one martini on board cost $12 and was one of the nicest I have had anywhere.
The itinerary along the Pacific Coast from Vancouver to San Diego and then back to San Francisco has long been on our bucket list, and although we had been to each of the ports by car over the years, we enjoyed visiting them by cruise ship. This meant that we did not need to do shore excursions which was quite a cost saving.
In Seattle, we were delighted that Celebrity was able to dock at the Bell Street pier, right below the Pike Street Market, rather than 3 miles northwest at the Terminal 91 dock, and this saved us time on bus rides into town. Customs was arranged for arrival in Seattle and this went off smoothly, putting us ashore by 10:00 am.
It would be appropriate to close, favourably, with our disembarkation in San Francisco.
I should perhaps comment that we were at Pier 35 which appears to be an overflow cruise terminal, and on stepping into the perfectly clean, rather antique large shed on the pier, our noses told us that this must have been a cow barn for much of its life!
We had booked a transfer to the airport through Celebrity, and with a late flight (8:00 pm) our assigned 10:00 am disembarkation time was ideal. We sat up on the pool deck which avoided the congestion below. The process went very smoothly, we immediately found our baggage ashore and we were shepherded to waiting buses for the transfer. This whole process was so well organized I have to commend Celebrity on their efficiency.
The weather – blue skies and sunshine the entire voyage, even in Astoria! Read Less