Wow! What a fantastic experience!
This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity, and also our first with a child: our four-year old boy. So we decided to push the boat out a bit and get a Celebrity Suite, and it was well ... Read More
Wow! What a fantastic experience!
This was our second cruise, and our first with Celebrity, and also our first with a child: our four-year old boy. So we decided to push the boat out a bit and get a Celebrity Suite, and it was well worth the extra, in my view.
Embarkation was painless. We had arranged a taxi from our hotel in Rome to the port, and we didn't have to wait more than ten minutes to get on board. We were able to go straight to our suite, which was nice, and quickly met our butler Ashwin and stateroom attendants Avi and Geoffrey. We hit our first snag shortly after boarding, as our baggage was mislaid and was not delivered to our room. Ashwin was able to track it down fairly quickly though. Disembarkation was also smooth.
The stateroom was excellent. It was a good size and well laid out and the bathroom was good too, though the bath itself was a bit on the cosy side. The balcony was really big (we had a Celebrity Suite -1122 - on the end of the bulge with a diagonal balcony). It was a great location, near the lifts and the library. There was quite a bit of noise in the lift area in the evenings, but we didn't hear a thing in the suite itself. The cabin was spotlessly clean, and was cleaned beautifully every day by the stateroom attendants.
The attendants and butler were all very helpful and accommodating throughout the cruise. We made use of the butler service quite a bit, to book our tables at dinner, order in suite dining etc. Ashwin was also able to get us a kettle for the suite which was something I was very pleased about. Avi made some fun animals out of towels to entertain our son. I'm not really sure if "butler" is the right word for the service provided by Celebrity, as it felt more like personalised room service, but it was nevertheless very helpful indeed.
The ship is beautiful throughout and well laid out. There were some nice touches like the hideaway and the library which made the ship feel spacious and uncrowded. That said, I did think that Cafe al Bacio got a bit overcrowded at times, and the same went for the pool area (though not the pool itself). One issue with the ship was that the internet was not that fast (just fast enough to watch a youtube clip, not fast enough to watch an iTunes movie in real time) and dropped out for an extended period at one point.
We wife and I didn't take in any of the entertainment or activities except catching some music in passing here and there. I did think it was a nice touch to have people playing live music in different parts of the ship from time to time. I wanted to try the Persian Garden once but they didn't let me in because it was crowded, which I thought was a bit of a shame, and I didn't ever try again. Our son however was a regular at the kids' factory, and he had a great time there (even though there weren't that many other kids). The staff looked after him really well, came up with lots of different activities, and he always wanted to go back there.
Our son preferred eating with us though, so what we ended up doing was eating in-suite some nights; and on other nights we got him something in the suite and then dropped him at the kids' factory and then went to the suite-guest restaurant Luminae for our dinner (we tried taking him there once and it was just too stressful for all concerned, though the staff did their best). The in-suite food (which came from the main dining room) was good without being especially memorable. But Luminae was just amazing. I've rarely eaten so well, and never so consistently. The service was also excellent. Staff were friendly without being overbearing and knew what they were doing. I was extremely impressed.
We had breakfast in the suite most days and this was fairly good, again without being especially memorable and was always delivered on time by Ashwin and often ate on the balcony, which was lovely.
One gripe was that we were constantly being asked for our sea pass when ordering drinks, and we were charged for a some trivial little things like ice cream in Cafe Al Bacia (but not in the Oceanview Cafe), which seemed a little stingy considering the amount we paid to be in Suite Class and the fact that we had premium drinks packages.
The other facility that we made a great deal of use of was Michael's club. Whenever it was overcrowded elsewhere, we could go there and have some peace and quiet as well as lots of nice canapés and lots of free tea, whisky or champagne (Though I am not sure if these were only free because we had the drinks package). Samantha and Denny, the concierges in Michael's club were really fantastic and couldn't do enough for us. They helped us with the disembarkation, with tendering, with booking meals and just with a lot of quick and accurate help and advice on how to do things. They made us feel really, very well looked after and I would go Suite Class again just for that service.
Shore excursions were a mixed bag. We only did transfer-only excursions, because we didn't want to be dragging our four-year-old around trying to keep up with a guide. Here I review only the transfer, not the locations themselves, as they're in avery guidebook (and all well worth a visit in my view). The trip to Taormina (from Messina) was good, and the guide told us some interesting things on the way. The trip to Ephesus (from Kusadasi) was fine, but we were a bit annoyed at being taken to a carpet shop which was not advertised on the itinerary. Fortunately this was within walking distance of the ship, so we could skip it easily. We did Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes under our own steam, as the ports are all walkable to the main sites of interest. We bottled out of Athens as we just couldn't face dragging our boy around Athens for all those hours (it was a fairly long excursion). Our transfer to Pompeii (from Naples) was cancelled, which we were really disappointed about, so we had to haggle for a cab and go under our own steam. Not a problem really, but an annoyance, as we thought we'd settled that already.
Would I go again? Would I recommend it to others? Yes, undoubtedly, to both. I would always go Suite Class if at all possible though, as Michael's Club and Luminae are the star turns of the ship in my view and made the cruise feel like a real luxury experience. Read Less