We have cruised with Celebrity on all 3 of our cruises, and have considered ourselves brand-loyal to them. While we are younger than much of the clientele (32 years old), and we have genuinely enjoyed travelling with them. But this cruise, while being a good cruise based on the Ports, lacked significantly in its attention to detail, with a glaring hole in how they dealt with our problems.
First, I'll say that we felt like second-class citizens on this cruise. Most of the cruisers were at high status levels in Celebrity's Captains Club program, and things that had been available to all in the past were available only to Elite or higher members. One example is High Tea, which had a cost in the past, but this time was listed for certain Captains Club members in the daily. Another is Michael's club, which was a cool bar on a prior ship, is here a "members only" club. Between that, and many of the people we made friends with eating at Blu or Luminae, we felt like we weren't part of the cruise. And instead of making us feel like upgrading, it made us want to leave.
Onto the highlights:
The Main Dining Room – The food was decent, but uninspired. It was very much what you would expect from cruise food. We ate here every night except for one, because this is how we like to cruise. The "Top Chef" menu was the highlight, but it happened so early in the cruise that it may have set expectations too high. Sadly, they also squeeze all of the really high-end meals into the second formal night, so it becomes an embarrassment of riches on two nights overall, and the rest are around average or below. The service we experienced in the main dining room was great.
The Ocean View Café (Buffet) – The food selection here was better than we've had in the past, including a grill-to-order section which was nice. Variety included Indian Food, a large Sushi selection and a Wok station. We were generally happy here, although drink service was slow, and on the at-sea day it was busy.
Specialty Restaurants – The menu was similar to what we've had on other ships, but the price has gone up, so we skipped it.
Bars & Lounges:
Martini Bar & Crush – Slow service and crowded. The bartenders couldn't seem to keep track of the order of how guests arrived, so they went to the most aggressive guests. We often had long waiting times here. Also, they didn't make it feel like a show as on previous ships. This is likely due to the fact that so many people were ordering non-martinis (Martinis were too expensive to be included in the standard beverage package). So we paid more, and got poorer service here.
Wine Cellar – Great service and great beer selection. Boris, the main bartender/sommelier here did an incredible job. If you like beer, this is the place to be! Just don't ask him for a cocktail!
Rendez-Vous Lounge – A good and relaxing location. Decent service and generally bad music – great for your standard Cruiser.
Reflections Lounge/Club – This would have been a good location if more people were here. Some days it was full, others we were literally one of two couples listening to a live band here. And the service was mixed. If you like dancing, go here on a night there is a performance show – it leads to good dancing.
We watched all 4 performance shows and none of the guest performers. They were standard Celebrity fare with the exception of the "late night" show Elyrium – DO NOT SEE THIS SHOW!!!! They said it was not for the easily offended… actually, it's not for those who are older than 15 years old. The stage mostly consisted of people humping for no reason – guy on guy, girl on girl, and guy on girl. All of those things are okay if they contribute to the plot or are done in good taste, but in the case of this show, there really isn't a plot and it was all tacky. It feels like it was created by a high-schooler. There are some funny-audience interactions, but they don't make up for how bad the rest of the show is. If you're reading this thinking – now I want to see it to see if it's that bad, you'll probably be one of the many people who walked out during the show (we, regrettably, stayed the whole time).
Ports & Excursions:
We selected this cruise for its ports and loved them. We did no ship sponsored tours due to the cost, and their buses to and from cities were well over-priced. For example, the public bus to Dubrovnik was 2 Euro per person, the ship bus was 20 Euro – and the public bus came more often and dropped off at a better location.
The Guest Relations Issue:
I mentioned a glaring hole in how Guest Relations handled an issue at the beginning of my review; it is time for that now. This was probably the low-light of the cruise for us. When I went to get new Seapass Cards made, the Guest Relations Manager asked about my cruise. I said, I've had better with Celebrity. He asked me the details, but I was in a hurry to leave for a meeting with my wife. He pressed me so I quickly told him: Cold Food, Slow Bar Service, and a Dirty Towels in the Room. Instead of asking for details or a follow-up (he knew I was in a hurry) he must have assumed he knew what I meant. I received follow-up on all three in the most uncomfortable way. The Maitre D came up to me at dinner about the cold food and asked why I didn't tell him and instead went to Guest Relations. The Bar Manager called about the wrong bar, and the Stateroom attendant apologized dramatically for accidentally charging me for a bottle of water (which was not what I had a problem with). I felt like I had been the jerk in all three situations and no longer wanted to deal with Guest Relations. Instead I saved all of my future problems for the survey after the cruise. This really made the cruise uncomfortable.
In all, this was an average cruise, which would have actually been very good if it weren't for the many lapses in the attention to detail. If you're looking to feel special on a cruise though, apparently Celebrity is no longer the company for that, unless you have achieved a high status in their programs or are willing to buy a Suite-Level Room for the additional perks that used to be for everyone.
Room had no couch due to the connection to another room. This eliminates a lot of sitting space, which means you have to sit on the bed. Makes the room feel incomplete. The bathroom had mildew in the lighting which was probably from continuous lack of cleaning (difficult to access). Storage space was good and the suitcases fit well under the bed. Walls and floor could use touching up where paint peeled or scratches occurred.