This was our first ever cruise. As 28 and 29 year olds we were a little apprehensive about not fitting in, but we had a great time. As suspected, we were among the youngest on board, but never felt like the odd ones out.
We drove to Southampton on the morning of the cruise and parked easily at the terminal (we had booked this in advance). We had to queue perhaps twenty minutes for security, but the line was always moving so it didn't seem like too long a wait. Check in was swift and friendly. The cabins were available at the time we boarded, around 1.30pm. We were very pleased with ours, which was spotless and more spacious than we had expected from pictures.
The ship has recently been refurbished, and they don't seem to have missed anything - everywhere was sparkling new. The change from the Passport Bar to Gastrobar doesn't seem to have been fully completed, but the Passport Bar serves a wide range of beers. One small disappointment was that Slush, the new frozen drinks bar, didn't appear to be open all week despite being times listed in the Celebrity Today.
We had planned to only try one of the speciality restaurants but we weren't too keen on the MDR menu the first night so we bought the three dinners package to try each restaurant once. We were very glad we did as Tuscan Grille, Qaine and Murano were all excellent. We ate in the MDR the other four evenings and it was always good and sometimes excellent. We did have to wait with a buzzer each evening to secure a table for two, but it was never more than twenty minutes.
We ate most breakfasts and lunches at the buffet and were pleased with the variety and quality of the food. I was particularly pleased by the healthy options including a lovely cucumber and tomato salad that was always available at breakfast.
The entertainment wasn't really our thing, but we hadn't expected it to be. The smaller events in Celebrity Central and the foyer tended to be better than the big shows on in the theatre. I went to a couple of gym classes and my partner used the equipment - we were both impressed with the fitness facilities. I would have gone to more classes had they not nearly always been on early in the morning - a few more afternoon sessions would be better. We used the pools on three or four days - and often had them almost to ourselves, as not many people wanted to be out in swimsuits in the Norwegian weather! I'm glad they didn't close the pools in the rain - it was lovely to swim in a warm pool with cool rain coming down.
The itinerary was good, though I'm not sure why it was chosen not to include Flam, which appears on most other Norwegian itineraries. We were able to dock at the Seawalk in Gieranger which meant we didn't need to tender all week. Unfortunately we were scheduled to be in Stavanger on a public holiday so everything was closed - disappointing, though not Celebrity's fault. We didn't try any of the ship's excursions as they were all incredibly expensive. In some ports we did more or less the same as the tours, for considerably less money.
The service was, with one or two small but notable exceptions, very good. Staff member always said hello. They did appear to be a bit short on staff in the bars, however, with often slightly too long waits at the Passport Bar in particular. How the Martini Bar staff manage to serve so many people with only two of them on, I have no idea!
Disembarkation was straightforward. We were in the last group to be called and so were able to enjoy a leisurely last breakfast before disembarking around 9am.
Overall, it was a great trip on a lovely ship with friendly staff - perfect!
The cabin had everything we needed, and was easily enough room for two people. The bed was by the balcony, which I suspect is the better of the two options. Of balcony was particularly large as it was the first from the hump. As it faced the rear we were sheltered from the wind.
Geiranger is all about the scenery - it's a stunning fjord, but not much of a town. I recommend walking up to Flydalsjuvet viewpoint. Many tour buses go up there, but they are quite expensive, and it took us less than an hour to walk up - and the scenery is even better when you've got there under your own steam! After we walked down we walked further along the side of the fjord to the next little settlement along, and rented a motor boat. Cutting the engine and just floating alone in the middle of the fjord was brilliant.
There isn't a huge amount to do in Stavanger, and even less on a Bank Holiday! We had very little to do other than walk around the streets, which was enjoyable for a couple of hours, but not all day.
Alesund is a beautiful city. We had planned to walk up the steps to the viewpoint. They were closed so we had to go the long way around, but this worked out for the best as it meant getting different, but equally good, views along the way. In the afternoon we hired kayaks at the dockside and paddled around the island, including getting up close to the side of the Eclipse!
It poured with rain almost all day in Bergen, so we weren't able to do as much as we would have liked - even the fish market was nearly all closed. The Hanseatic Museum was a pleasant way to pass 45 minutes or so. During a brief break in the rain we took the funicular up Mount Floyen, for some briefly attractive views before the clouds closed in. Despite the weather, I was left with a good opinion of Bergen as a town. It doesn't seem necessary to do a tour here.