First impressions were good. Embarkation was mostly smooth, but for the fact that the pier 18 parking had been closed (not Celebrity's fault so cannot hold that against them). It took a while to get the sea-passes, we saw three ... Read More
First impressions were good. Embarkation was mostly smooth, but for the fact that the pier 18 parking had been closed (not Celebrity's fault so cannot hold that against them). It took a while to get the sea-passes, we saw three families come and leave at the next counter... so for us long, but others seem to have no issue, so I'm going to say not something that is always happening. Arriving onboard, the stateroom was already ready and luggage was fast to be delivered. There was way more storage than I had anticipated, so overall I was pleased as I could store away everything quite neatly (I had brought a pack of 1$ hangers from target, two over the door shoe organizers that I put over the bathroom door to put away not only shoes but tees, bathing suits and so on, and a flip-flop hanger, this all helped. All the suitcases fit under the bed even though we were 4).
After this I only went from disappointment to disappointment. The swimming pools were very small, and the area was very noisy. They don't have life guards on duty. During my 11 days, I only had a waiter come ONCE to bring me a drink - otherwise I had to go to the bar and the wait was really long. They are there with carts with non-premium water and beer but if you want something else - mostly up to you. The arcade was tiny, with mostly gun-firing games, and two games not functioning. The "game on" area only had puzzles, chess, and checkers. If you want other games, you have to check them out from the fun factory, and NONE of them were complete. Aside from the tiny pool and the tiny arcade, there are no other entertainment options for the kids. You can elect to bring them to the fun factory, but beware. It is only open from 9 to 12, 2 to 5 and 7 to 9. At other times, you have to pay 6$ per kids per hour, and the staff is NOT taking care of them. For instance, I asked them to let my 4 yo play on the x-box in the toddler section (they have x-boxes in each area, supposedly each has games that are age appropriate). The first time, they did not show him anything. The second time, I stayed there to make sure they were taking him there (he absolutely did not want to partake in the toddler games they had, which were really for small kids - my son goes to school and has no interest in toddler games). When I saw that he was in the xbox area and that someone was with him, I left. Mistake ! My son later told me that they gave him a controller and told him to "try it" until he figured it out. Which of course, he did not - he's only 4 ! I would have in there myself... but they actually do not let you. Yes, it is forbidden to get in there with your child, unless he/she is under 3... Another time we took then to the slumber party. There was no slumber involved. When we picked them up at midnight, they were still up watching videos. I tried repeatedly to take them to the Fun factory, but they did not like it and would have none of it. Also, the fun factory staff do not take your kids to the pool. Big surprise for me compared to other kids clubs I am used to.
It was very hard to find a quiet area on the boat. The solstice deck and the lawn are your best bets, but you have to go early. You can book an alcove on the lawn, but of course it comes at a price and you have to do it early online - they are very prized on at-sea days.
The Oceanview buffet was OK, with some food choices (salad bar, pizza bar, pasta, mexican, grill etc) but it's very limited and repetitive. There are some items you will not be able to find on the boat. For instance, avocadoes are absent (why ?) aside from limited quantities at the spa bars, where they put them in smoothies or on toasts in the morning. I did not get much help from the waiters and had to leave my kids alone many a time to go to the bar myself to get my water or coffee. The one thing that was really delicious was their scones. Every afternoon. Really, really good scones.
The spa bar had good alternative options and in particular the smoothies are a great option to have - you can use their menu or have them make your own. Delightful.
The Opus dining room - you can only get two dining times : 6:30, or 8:30. ??? Really they cannot accomodate other times ? Some nights menus were better than others. Thankfully they have steak in the permanent items, I ended up getting it every other time. Our first table - the staff were horrible. Did not even bring a kids menu (I discovered there was one after we had changed tables). Very rude. Thankfully, by luck (logistic issues) we ended up switching tables and the second team was SO MUCH NICER. How it changes your experience to go from bad service to good !
We had diner at the Murano twice. The food was excellent there, but like every specialty restaurant, you have to pay a cover charge, and then certain dishes are in addition. We again found that there were not a lot of options for the times available. The second dinner was way too long (we left the table after 3 hours without finishing). The wine list is better in the Murano than in the Opus, and curiously the wines are less expensive.
Was had lunch at the lawn grill once. The menu looked amazing. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours for our burgers and they were not even good. Not 15$ burgers anyway (the price of the cover charge). Honestly better go get the standard burger from the (free) mast grill.
Mast Grill has the advantage of running all afternoon. Burger sna dhot dogs, quite standard.
Al Bacio cafe - loved the place, great expressos, teas, sweets, and I tried the gelatos (additional charge applies) and everything was great there. My husband was disappointed by the tres leches, but try their mini chocolate tarts and you will not regret it !
I had a premium beverage package, and my husband a premium alcohol beverage package. Believe it or not, they will only give you ONE bottle of water at a time. So it goes like this : can I have a bottle of water ? You take it, turn around, come back and say : can I have a bottle of water ? Because no, you cannot have two if you ask... ridiculous. Similarly, the bottles in the bar of your stateroom are for an additional price, even if you have a premium package. The ones included in your package have to come from the bar. Wine by the glass, up to 13$ in the premium package, only works in the restaurants, because at the bars they only have one kind (so you can go with standard if you don't plan to drink wine at specialty restaurants, or with dinner. At the Oceanview, they have the same standard wine as the other bars).
Entertainment is limited. There is one show at night (with two iteration, one for late dinner sitting before dinner, and one for early dinner sitting, after dinner), and one late show at 10:30 (usually a game). There is one movie per day. And the sky lounge has karaoke, and some special events. That's about it. What they have is sales events. Plenty, plenty of sales events. 5, 6, 7 a day. Yes if you want to buy, you can buy there, you're welcome. You can also play bingo (you have to pay) or play at the casino (you have to pay), or so the wine tasting (you have to pay) or take fitness classes (you have to pay, except if they are complimentary of course - a few of them are). You can also use the spa (you have to pay even if just to use the facility), or to the casino. Two places to go to are the library and the hideaway, but most of the time they will be full of kids so not very quiet.
Also be aware that ANYTHING you buy (spa service, bottle of wine, etc) will come with a "service fee" of 18% (the staff says it's "their salary") and the tip is ON TOP of that. I'm not sure why the mani-pedi is 150$ then, if the service was not included. Surely, the polish was not that much ? Also be aware that there is a daily "on board gratuity" added to your account daily, and this gratuity is per person. Meaning if you're 4, you get o pay 54$ per day (that's 2017 prices, I think it increased), even if you have a baby, even if you only use the buffet, even if you actually leave gratuities on the bill when you purchase something. You can decline but you have to request and fill a special form and you have a deadline for that. When you do they give you envelopes so that you can tip the people that you actually do want to tip directly, with cash.
Our experience of shore excursions have been dreadful. Our first one, rainforest in Costa Rica, was extremely expensive (600$ for 4 persons including two kids) and we ended up watching animals (frogs or snakes) in their glass cages, just like we do in our local zoo. The "air tram" ride was 2 minutes down, then go watch a small, unimpressive waterfall on a timer (20 min, because there is another group before and another one after), and back up on the air tram. Time outside was about 30 min in the total 3 hours spent in the Veragua. 2 hours of bus. Terrible. Other people in my group went on the "jungle" tour, with visit to a local village. They saw a beautiful beach but could not go in the forest ("no time for that"). Third group went for a rainforest experience too, and ended up riding a bus, then a train, then a bus, and that was about it.
Our second one in Panama started just as bad. It was a shorter excursion, and I ended up really worried when it took 2.5 hours for the bus to get where we were going. I had looked it up on google maps first and going to Panama City should have been 1 hour (which is the time it took one of the other groups of my family, who had picked Panama City visit). So why would 40 km only take 2.5 hours ? Well, the return trip only took one hour. Turns out the highway rest-area stop on the way to the reserve, that nobody had asked for, lasted 1 hour instead of 20 minutes. Probably they need tourists to stop there and give them money for their "clean restrooms" rest area investment. When we go to the reserve, there were not enough seats on the speed boats. We had to take one kid on our lap, and were separated (my husband sat in the back while I stayed in the middle with the two kids). They gave us nasty, super moldy life jackets that we were obliged to wear. Thankfully, sometimes through this ride we actually saw some real monkeys and they went to eat peanuts in my kids' hands, so in the end it was worth it. As mentioned another group of my family went to visit Panama City and they enjoyed it. Another group went on an "air tram" ride and it was actually a 30 min ride over the rainforest - so if you want to do this, do it in Panama, not Costa Rica !!
After this experience, we ended up cancelling our other shore excursions. In Cayman we took a cab to the beach. My parents just visited the city. Note that in Cayman, it's tenders to go to shore, but the process is really really smooth (one thing I can say is that they are VERY WELL organized) and the city is right there out of the port - no need for taxi if you don't go to the beach. In Cozumel, where we were on a Sunday (ie, when locals also go to the beach and certain beach clubs are actually closed), with 6 other cruise ships, and on December 31 to boot, we decided to stay onboard and enjoy the deserted boat. A group of my family went to visit the Maya sites and it was actually really good - so if you have never done it it's a good one to do.
In Colombia, we know the country so decided to go on our own and had a very pleasant experience. Took a horse carriage tour, visited the city, went to a local restaurant. Very enjoyable.
Last note - I had a WIFI package for the whole cruise (had to work at some point). The Wifi is very slow, and some of my emails ended up never being sent.
So overall, it was not very pleasant or resting. Maybe Celebrity is better if you have no kids with you ? Definitely not a good option for me with the kids as they ended up being with me most of the time and I did not receive help from the staff except at the Opus (with the second team). Plus, with kids you can't go to the solarium. I think they are rying to keep this area quiet, but it definitely is NOT quiet with the loud drinkers in the hot tubs... My major complaint is that I felt that most of the time the cruise company were just trying to get more money out of us for every and anything (seriously the water bottle business really aggravated me. What is the purpose of not giving you two bottles but to try and force you to buy one ? Or make it inconvenient for you ?) and that you did not always get value for that money. Why would most of the entertainment be sales events ? I don't regret the money spent on the Murano (because food was top notch), on the acupuncturist (he was stellar), or on the Alcoves (some peace and quiet), but I feel that other cruise lines have their games better together. Will not cruise Celebrity again. Read Less