First the Good. The hard working Celebrity staff remain impeccable in terms of warmth, hospitality, friendliness, and professionalism. The ship is going into Dry Dock in January for a total makeover, but it was absolutely spotless. The ... Read More
First the Good. The hard working Celebrity staff remain impeccable in terms of warmth, hospitality, friendliness, and professionalism. The ship is going into Dry Dock in January for a total makeover, but it was absolutely spotless. The public areas both inside and out were well maintained. Because we were in an AquaSpa cabin, we ate in the Blu Dining Room which we enjoyed. The Maitre'D, hostess and serving staff were excellent and couldn't do enough to ensure a memorable dining experience. The food was well prepared and fresh. The same cannot be said for the Oceanview Cafe - but more on that below.
The band, acrobats, singers and dancers were incredible performers but the show production values were skimpy to say the least. Evidence of cost cutting no doubt. There is so much fantastic music that an over 50 demographic would enjoy and yet the cruise line insists on contemporary songs and rap music that few people have heard of care for. A highlight was a trio called "December 63" which is a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute group. They were high energy, funny, fantastic singers and engaging. I enjoy learning, but the enrichment activities were just so-so and the library is virtually non-existent.
We did enjoy our cruise, BUT -(even though we are Elite Members)- based on the following, we are unlikely to ever book again with Celebrity.
The Bad and the Ugly...
Things went off the rails from the get-go. Celebrity changed the port from Fort Lauderdale to Miami in order to give Celebrity Edge the berth in Fort Lauderdale. For the 500 of us who had booked flights in FLL, it was an absolute shambolic disaster. We were told that buses were supposed arrive from 10:00 onwards - every half an hour - to pick us up and drive us to the Port of Miami. We arrived in plenty of time for the first bus only to find there was a cramped area with few chairs in the waiting area of Arrivals in Terminal One. There was nowhere to sit down except on the floor. The Celebrity staff had no idea what was going on and less than helpful, although this was not their fault. After an hour, our 'number' was finally called at 10:45, and we were lead out onto a narrow sidewalk just beyond the terminal building.. (There were other passengers from other cruise lines trying to get to their buses which caused a great deal of over-crowding). The first bus finally arrived at 11:00 and there was a stampede to get on. The staff were working hard to ensure that the right order was being maintained, but it was impossibly disorganized. No one could hear anything between the noise of the traffic and the constant blowing of whistles.
In the mean time there was absolutely nowhere to sit so we stood next to three lanes of bumper to bumper traffic in horrible heat and humidity on one of the busiest travel days of the year - the Sunday after Thanksgiving. You would think the cruise line might have anticipated the challenges, but things just went from bad to worse.
Even though we were in an early group, we still stood for more than an hour and a half breathing in diesel fumes and carbon monoxide with still no bus. It was particularly difficult for elderly and disabled guests to cope with the discomfort. Everyone was extremely upset and some even in tears. Finally two buses arrived at the same time with more chaos and frustration, as we didn't know which bus was the right one. One of the worst things was the Celebrity barely apologized for the "inconvenience". This was far more than a mere "inconvenience". It was a misery and a horrible way to start a holiday. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was outrageous. Celebrity relies on the goodwill of satisfied guests who have spent good money to be treated with consideration to remain loyal. This whole experience was a textbook lesson in how to anger and alienate customers. No compensation was offered, not even a complimentary drink, and no one at Guest Relations seemed to know what had happened or care. If you shouted loud enough you maybe were offered $100.00 off your next cruise. It begs the question why you would bother in the first place. Spend many thousands to get $100.00 off. Really?
On top of the previous standing and waiting around, the lifeboat drill was another shambles. Our Assembly Station was in Michael's Club, a small bar. The video was not working, and we waited for over an hour for reasons that were never explained. The room was hot and airless and naturally there were few places to sit. Once again elderly and disabled people suffered the most. People were physically prevented from leaving the room, some of whom were clearly not feeling well, and still we waited. Finally, Sue the Cruise Director came on and rattled through something that no one could hear. At last we were released from Purgatory. At this point I just wanted to go home.
The whole experience of the first day left a bad taste - a bad taste not improved by the lunch in the Oceanview Cafe. It was a cross between a school canteen and a hospital cafeteria. The unappetizing vats of steaming leftovers stews drenched in sauces of unknown provenance and curry powder/spices did not appeal. Overly greasy pizza was offered every day and the burger grill offerings were also greasy, no thanks. The desserts are gorgeous to look at but are overly sweet and all taste exactly the same, bland. Salads and fresh fruit were OK, but really there wasn't much variety or choice. Formerly Celebrity had been known for it culinary excellence. I guess cost-cutting has reduced the food to barely adequate and in some cases inedible. Overall, the Cafe meals were unappetizing with few fresh choices but lots of rice, noodles and potatoes. Cost cutting? - you bet.
Disembarkation was no picnic either. We had elected to walk off early with our luggage in order to get a cab back to Fort Lauderdale with enough time to catch our flight - at least 500 other guests did the same thing. We got down to Deck 5 at 7:15 in plenty of time and joined an already long line. Although I cannot blame Celebrity for Border Security/Customs not giving clearance until 8:15 - (unless of course I's had not been dotted or T's crossed with the change of port)- however I do fault them for lack of communication. Once again there should have been frequent updates explaining what was going on with reassurances. As we were standing in line in the Theatre, we couldn't hear anything anyway. A harried young man came around a couple of times and the last time got quite defensive and confrontational. Of course we are not 'Above the law of the land", but that is no way to talk to guests who have been waiting patiently, anxious about missing flights. Acknowledge what people are feeling and don't patronize them. Once again Celebrity disappointed. Bottles of water or juice could have been offered to people who were hot and tired of standing.
Celebrity used to be a premium cruise line with excellent service and the highest standards. I can only speculate that so much money has been invested in new ships and refurbishment that essentials such as how guests are treated by the company has been made a low priority. We used to be avid and loyal Celebrity fans, but no longer. For sure we are cancelling our next cruise and unlikely to repeat the Celebrity 'experience' again. Read Less