We chose this cruise first for the itinerary which included southern Caribbean islands we hadn't visited before and the great value. I've previously cruised on Carnival and Princess, and I definitely feel like this ship and ... Read More
We chose this cruise first for the itinerary which included southern Caribbean islands we hadn't visited before and the great value. I've previously cruised on Carnival and Princess, and I definitely feel like this ship and Celebrity are a step above those two lines. Sailing out of Puerto Rico was also a first for us, and overall this more southern port made access to islands like Barbados and St. Lucia attainable for a seven-day cruise.
Embarkation was simple and fast at the Pan American pier. As an Aqua Class guest, we had an expedited check in line, and were through the line at 11:30AM in five minutes from drop off to getting our welcome complimentary glass of sparkling wine.
There were a lot of things to love about this ship. The decor and artwork were much more contemporary than any Carnival or Princess ship I've ever cruised, and that's a huge plus to me. While other reviews mentioned that the ship shows its age, I really didn't notice this. It's very well attended. The smaller size made it feel generally less crowded, although the main pool area could get busy and loud on sea days and after returning to the ship. My preference was the solarium with the two hot tubs, thalassotherapy pool, padded loungers, and air-conditioned enclosure. It's quieter here with nice views of the sea and soothing music. Access to the bar was close-- just through the doors to the pool area.
The best part about the experience was the overall service level of the staff on this cruise. With small exception, service quality was all five-star. The crew were concerned about how well we liked everything. We had a small problem on the first day with the toilet flushing and on the second day with our sink leaking, but these things were fixed within a few hours. In each case, we got calls to our room to confirm that the problem was fixed and that we were satisfied with the resolution. We even got calls to our room after we had room service deliver our breakfasts to confirm our satisfaction with the food and the order.
Our stateroom attendant, Suzannie, was fantastic. She'd visit our room two or three times a day, delivering beach towels for our excursions, dropping off afternoon canapes, getting us our sparkling wine when we ordered it, replacing our pillows with memory foam ones, and even replacing our beach back pack when I requested.
Food overall was very good. We dined in Blu almost exclusively and I found the service to be the best I've ever experienced on a cruise and on par with any top quality restaurant on land. We had a team of people to serve us from the manager and hostess Alisa, to our head waiter Roy and assistant waiter Chedli, to the sommelier, to the bar waiter Nathasha, and even the backup staff who'd take away plates, serve us coffee in the morning for breakfast, or bring around the tray of pastries. Food quality was better than I've experienced before, if not Michelin star quality. The food itself looked great presentation wise and tasted very good. My only nit was that sometimes it was a bit overcooked: my ribeye and veal loin both ordered medium rare came more medium. It's good to know that the menu from the main dining room was also available, and we could mix and match from the two menus for any meal. The staff knew us by name by the second day.
Room service for breakfast was always on time and great. The room service menu from Aqua Class was better than anything on Carnival or Princess. Made to order omelets, pancakes, multiple types of meats, any type of breads or pastries, juices including fresh squeezed were also complimentary.
We tried specialty restaurant QSine on the first night. They were offering a discount of $35, but I waited until later and spoke with someone at the host stand in the restaurant around 5PM and got a discount to $30 per person. QSine overall was fun, food quality was generally great, and service was also five-star. We ordered 10 different options and shared them over the course of about 3 hours which included a break on the first night for the compulsory muster drill in the Rendezvous lounge. When we mentioned that we didn't particularly like one dish, the waiter then talked to the kitchen and got us special courses which weren't even on the menu. The dishes were a lot more circuses than bread, but the experience was amazing.
We skipped Sushi on Five because they offered no special deals to eat there after the first night and everything was a ‘la carte. The Tuscan Grille menu, heavy with pasta and red meat didn't appeal to us, either.
Fitness in the gym was great. The gym had towels, water and very up to date TechnoGym cardio equipment for running, biking, recumbent biking, and elliptical trainers. It was never crowded.
The other passengers were probably just about 6-10 years older than we were on average. I'm 53, and my husband is 55. They were very international with multiple Canadians, Germans, Puerto Ricans, and French onboard. The people we met were the friendliest among cruisers we've ever met. We made great friends!
My major disappointment with the ship would have to be the activities and entertainment overall, especially compared to Carnival and Princess. As for enrichment activities, unless you count our beloved trivia, there were none I noticed. We enjoy trivia and played twice. The first time, there was no prize given. We play an Eighties late night name that tune group game in the Revelations lounge one night and this was an exception. We had a blast attending this. As for the evening shows, I would say that the onboard talent was better than Princess or Carnival, but the shows had no cohesive productions. They were basically vehicles for sequential musical numbers which got a little boring. There were two very good aerialists, however. We missed the magician, who I heard was good the first night, but the pianist was boring, the comedian bombed unless you were over 75 years old, and I'm not old enough to want a Beatles or Motown review. The live singers and performers were okay to good, with the best one being the band performing in the Revelations lounge and in the main pool deck on sailaways. The string duo were anemic.
Nevertheless, this was an elevated cruising experience for us. I liked it so much, I cancelled a cruise planned for October on the new Carnival Horizon in a Havana cabana, and rebooked to join trailblazer Captain Kate McCue on the Equinox to the ABC islands. I hope my next cruise lives up to this wonderful experience. Celebrity is awesome. Read Less