This was my third and final cruise aboard Century which has been sold and will end its run with Celebrity next year. Century is my favorite ship. I had not cruised for 12 years when I first boarded Century with DH, DD, and DS in 2006. We had gone on two Baja California cruises when DS and DD were young, but did not sail while they were growing up. Finally, in 2006, when they were in high school, we sailed again- this time on the “beautiful Century” (as the crew calls her).
Century re-introduced us to cruising again, for which I am grateful. (Can you tell this good-bye cruise was seeped in sediment?). We sailed with her to the Caribbean, to Hawaii, and now to Canada. I was on Century last February when it was announced during our Cruise Critic get-together by the cruise director that Century would undergo a major overhaul. This led to several cruises to Hawaii and the Panama Canal to be canceled. Then, Celebrity changed course and decided to do only a minor facelift in order to sell the ship. Many people whose cruises were canceled were livid. Don’t blame them. After all of that drama, Century ended up having very little done to her. Perhaps new carpets, and a few other cosmetic additions, but little else. In fact, some things had been removed (perhaps in anticipation of the sale). In the Islands Cafe, an object d’ art had been removed, however, the placard stating the artist and title of the piece was still displayed and the metal brackets which had held it up were still there. A tile was missing from an otherwise attractive tile art display in Islands as well. It had obviously fallen off and was just left like that.
At our Cruise Critic get-together, many people expressed their disappointment that Century had been sold. One lady called her a “jewel” and stated at length how upset she was with Century’s retirement to Europe. In fact, cruise director, John Grantham, had to finally cut her off and segue onto another topic. As he said, “They don’t fly 707s anymore”. Unfortunately, the reality is that Century, in cruise terms, is old. She just can’t compete with the mega-ships of today.
This was an eight night trip from L.A. to Vancouver- Century’s new summer home while going on a series of Alaska runs. We had requested a table for two (DD and DS did not join us). We had been told “Of course” when booking the cruise, however, upon arriving prior to dinner to check out the table, we found ourselves assigned to a table for eight. We spoke with the gentleman in charge of solving all of the dining problems (good luck to him!) and we offered to switch to late seating (for the first time ever). He was able to get us a nice table for two. We enjoyed our dinners- nothing outstanding, but nothing terrible either. As always, more vegetarian choices would be appreciated. Islands Cafe always had something to offer, as well as the burger and sandwich stations near the pool. The Aqua Spa Cafe offered healthy choices.
Our inside cabin was kept clean and neat by Dee. We didn’t see any of the shows- two of them sounded like the same ones we had seen in 2007 onboard Mercury and last year onboard Century. There was a guitarist/singer who performed in the Cova Cafe and Rendez-Vous, other performers were also featured in the Rendez-Vous. The ship’s band performed at the Captain’s Club party. A band played as we sailed out of Victoria (they seemed to be practicing for the next cruise), otherwise there was no music by the pool. Also missing was the string quartet or trio.
The ports were great. One disclaimer, however. Be advised that some ports require the use of tendering boats. On this trip, as well as last year in Hawaii, I saw people struggle to get out of wheelchairs to be helped onto the tendering boats, with the boats rocking back and forth in the choppy water. Scary sight. Please consider your agility before booking a cruise which involves tendering. Even those of us who are nimble are forced to almost jump into the boat at times when boat really gets to rocking. Not something I would want to be doing when I am 70- 'nuff said. Catalina Island proved to be a nice port with different activities to choose from. We stopped at the Sandtrap for Happy Hour. Can’t say enough good things about it! Great drinks, $1 tacos, other food items as well. Wished I lived nearby, I would go every week! San Fran was an overnighter and a great experience. DH and I went to an Oakland game. They won 11-0, great game! Victoria is a nice place to visit, but as with some cities, bathrooms are limited. Even customers making purchases in some establishments aren’t allowed to use the restroom (such as Craigdarroch Castle- although there are restrooms for the castle tour guests, however. Gift shop customers are told to go to a nearby gas station- you get the idea). The Empress is an option for more than just a restroom break- don’t miss the afternoon tea! The gardens are a must-do. Seattle has many options, including three observation decks: the Space Needle, Smith Tower, and Columbia Center (don’t miss the world’s tallest Starbucks on the 40th floor). Seattle is also home to the original Starbucks located at the famous market at Pike Place. The Underground tour is a must-do. We went on a tour of the ballpark and loved it (if you are a baseball fan, go). EMP is great for music fans.
We disembarked in Vancouver and walked around before taking the subway to the airport- a quick and easy half hour ride. We will miss Century, but it is time to choose a new favorite ship. She can remain our sentimental favorite.
Food- lots of choices. Liked the ice cream and pizza in the Islands Cafe. (We liked the pizza so much we wanted to enjoy one last slice in the Hemisphere during the 80s party on the last night, but were refused admittance, being told “No, no, no”. Would have liked to have gone to the party, but thanks to the Hemisphere’s bouncer, we got an early start on packing instead. Funny, we had just been told at dinner to think of Celebrity as our “Home away from home”. I guess that’s true if you have a mother we doesn’t let you eat pizza in the living room because you might make a mess).
Aqua Spa- love the Turkish bath and aromatherapy steam room.
Aqua Spa Cafe- healthy eating.
Workout room- great views from the front of the ship.
Hemisphere Room- great views for the Alaska passengers who don’t want to get cold while enjoying the sights. (Just don’t bring in any food or drinks).
Theater: Could use more variety in the production shows. They are repeated year after year it seems.
Aqua Spa Cafe: No longer serves salmon or chicken as they did last year. Very limited menu.
Michael’s Club: The club is now a “private” club. Last year we enjoyed listening to a musical performance there, not so this year. Class system, anyone?
If you have yet to sail on Century, don’t be afraid to do so- she is a classic. If you don’t mind the lack of bells and whistles which accompany the modern mega-ships, you can look forward to an enjoyable cruise on a ship which will be missed by her many fans. Just hurry and book before it’s too late!
Inside cabins are great if you are on a tight budget and/or like the idea of getting some much needed rest without sunlight coming into your room early in the morning to wake you up.
Snorkeling is available if you don't mind the cool ocean water of California. Hiking is an option- you can get free hiking passes before hitting the backcountry. You can even do laundry while in town- there is a laundromat right there in town. A great place to eat and drink is the Sandtrap. Great Happy Hour! Loved the drinks, $1 tacos, and other menu items to choose from. A submarine tour is available for people wishing to view the fish without getting wet.
One of the best cities to visit. Cable cars, ice cream, sourdough bread, baseball- its got it all! You can catch a Giants game, or travel via BART to Oakland for an A's game. Just start walking and you will see stuff here that you won't see anywhere else. Alcatraz is a must-do. You can also go on tours of the bay, or nearby cities via boats around Pier 39 which also has great shopping.
If you enjoy city viewing from up high, choose from three different observation decks: Space Needle, Smith Tower, and Columbia Center. All three offer different experiences, so do all three! The Underground Tour is a must. You get to see the original Seattle (the current one was built on top of the original one). Great tour. You see the city from a unique perspective. The monorail takes you from the mall to the Space Needle and the EMP. Old Spaghetti Factory is a nice place to stop for dinner. Don't miss the original Starbucks at Pike Place and the world's tallest Starbucks on the 40th floor of Columbia Center. The baseball stadium offers tours which is enjoyable for baseball fans. The outdoor sculpture garden is recommended for fans of art. The library is worth a stop at as well. If you start at the 10th floor, and go down, you can follow the Dewey Decimal System down the spiral walkway.
The flowers at Butchart Gardens are a must-see. Craighdarroch Castle is an old house (very large house) with a lot of history. Tea at the Empress is the ultimate afternoon tea experience.
Lots to do at Canada Place which was originally the Canada Pavilion at the 1986 World's Fair. There is an IMAX theater there. Stanley Park features a statue of Lord Stanley (as in the Stanley Cup), an Aquarium, totem poles, and a beautiful area to walk around while enjoying a slice of nature right in the heart of a city.