Veranda Cabin on the 8th deck. Captains Club member There is a problem with the air conditioning on the ship. Either that or they are cutting the AC use to save money. The cabin area hallways are hot. I even thought the AC was shut down in the middle of the night. Everyone I spoke to woke up in the night, hot and thirsty. The dining room was hot, the buffet area hot, and most public areas were warm. The hot water is having a problem and according to one of the staff they have no idea what is the problem. Hot water disappears for days and then comes on. Hot in the sink and cold in the shower! Guest relations said they would send a plumber. On deck 2, 3, Constellation Lounge on 11, and the spa area had terrible sewage smells. Bring your own hair dryer if you can't use the vacuum hose type the ship provides.
Our preboard package said - boarding at 2pm. We met people in our hotel in Santiago and they said we could get on at 1pm. In fact our van (travelling with another couple) got us to the pier, and we were on the ship at 12:30. We went right over to Guest Relations to ask about upgrade availability. Mr. Gomez - "the ship is full." AT 4:00 my husbands went back to GR to inquire about missing luggage and another GR person was telling another passenger - yes, there are upgrades, but now they are all taken - would you like to be on the wait list? We were #8. The one time , we had a chance because we were early it got screwed up! I wrote a note to the head of GR and never heard back during our entire cruise! You think they care.
Cabin is very comfortable - good mattress and nice sheets, duvet and pillows. Our soap and toiletries not replenished automatically.
Public address system is not good - I don't know if it is technical problem or person using the system. It is not loud enough. Hard to hear and understand announcements and the lecturer as we were going through the canal. The woman I was standing with as we went through the 1st locks even called the bridge to see if the PA could be made louder.
There is lots of space in the public areas, we never felt crowded. Lounges are decorated with artificial flowers, a bit tacky, all our ports had great fresh flowers for sale. One sad sprig of bloom at dinner and it stayed there until it was dead. This is a another way to cut expenses.
Another very big concern - the lifeboat drill held just after we sailed was a disaster. We all meet in the Rendez-Vous Lounge - every chair taken and standing room only. The staff split the gathering up and then we filed outside - no order, passengers filling the doorways and not moving, no one really sure if they should go out this or that door - not assigned to a specific numbered life boat, chaos and lots of chatter. I had not confidence is this group running as area.
Disembarkation was also a fiasco. We assembled in the theater for 8:30 call. When we finally got off the ship our luggage was all alone, our tag color must have been called before the allotted time. The crew member in charge never reviewed the previously called colors just in case you came late. We were on time and sat until 10:30 - all other tag colors not called. And breakfast on our last morning was terrible - no yogurt, no butter, no fruit , no mugs, paper napkins, little silverware, empty coffee pots......I think someone forgot to order supplies.
Breakfast and lunch buffet - No imagination, after the first few days it is same old, same. There are lots to eat, many choices, but there is poor layout and presentation. There is no presentation, just bowls plopped into ice, some Chinese lanterns and other items just in piles. Salad bar has minimal choices and the location is in the middle of hot food. Plates for the salad are hot, in fact some days you can't get a plate, big or small, or even a bowl for soup or cereal. Grab a mug as soon as you see it, they are scarcer than hens teeth.
Aqua cafe was a nice change along with the dining room. Cafe was less salty and fresher tasting.
Upholstered chairs in the buffet area are dirty and worn. Sitting area is tight and difficult to move around during peak eating hours.
Ice cream bar is open all day and is a nice touch. Choices change each day and you can pick toppings and candy. But again, the bowls are hot right from the dishwasher! Dining room - we had the late sitting, and did not realize it was for 8:45. We tried this time for the first week, but changed to the earlier 6:30 seating. If you really like something on the menu, pre-order it for the next evening. You can even get a peak on the next evenings menu. The last formal night, with the seafood medley (tough rock lobster, couple shrimp and scallops) might be as good as it gets.
Forget dessert - save the calories - have ice cream.
Both waiters and helpers were attentive and remembered our preferences. Food is very salty. Other women I met were complaining about swollen hands, couldn't get there rings off, ankles swollen also. I think this was from the salt. Salads are meager with warm, wilted lettuce. (order a double) most appetizers are small, a bite or two. Rib lamb chops are 3 thin ones, double up on this entree. Steak on the items available every day is a good size, a bit tough. Our waiter told us all meat and fish, in fact every thing is frozen. Fruit, don't think because you are going to places that have great fruit the ship will have it. 14 days of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe - some days pineapple and soft grapes. All the berries are stewed, soft overripe whole kiwis and spoiled plums. Never saw a mango or papaya or avocado.
Room service - only what is on the television menu. They will not make any concessions. What you see if what is available. One evening I was not feeling 100% so I ordered soup (2 choices - chicken or New England clam chowder) and asked for a roll with the soup. "Rolls are only available at breakfast." The menu is sparse for breakfast. I realize they are feeding 2000 passengers, but the food is not good. If it was a restaurant, we would not go back.
Cova Cafe and Tea Room - little snacks at different times - nice idea - not bad little sandwiches, cookies. The have lovely china tea pots and dishes. The pot holds at least 4 cups of tea. The food is free but the drinks are extra. With all this "tea room" setting, why can't they make a proper cup of tea. Waiter brings the teapot filled with water, cup and saucer and then comes back with 1 tea bag for this 4 cup pot. No heating the pot, not steeping the tea, and the pot needs more bags. Same at dinner -water then 5 minutes later the tea bag. There is music in this venue, very nice guitarist or string quartet or trio. It is a nice place to sit and listen to the music, if the other guests would not chatter or the help talking to each other. The staff lacks training - they are only trained to push up the bill.
The service is good, efficient; it is just not FINE service.
Shopping arcade - Coach store is full price, you only save sales tax. Bijoux Ternier is from airports - costume jewelry and evening bags - if you left someone home you may be able to get it here, not great. Cosmetic store is the same one from the outlets here in the US "The Company Store" again you only save sales tax, no bargains. Liquor is the best buy. I would have liked to have bought "Panama Canal" tee shirts on the ship, but they only had petite and small. Poor planning again.
Just before the end of the cruise they had a laundry special, fill the bag for $29. I used the laundry before, and was satisfied. But this bag, said no ironing, I thought it was for dry cleaning, but they mean no ironing for all the laundry and they would not honor the miserable 10% off coupon from the Captains Club, there were no exceptions listed on this offer in the daily newsletter or on the coupon.
Thankfully we had a veranda. Every morning, no matter how early I went to pool area, lounges were saved. The staff never enforced the "no saving chairs" policy during the entire cruise. During mealtimes quests put tables together in the seating area to play cards. Men used the dining tables in the whirlpool area (quiet zone) for a dice or tile game - loud cheering, cursing, security was called but nothing was done.
Don't get me wrong. The trip was great. The canal was great and the small ports of Manta and Arica were also great. Lectures were good and info about ports was also very good. We met great people from Canada and Florida. Our ship had a large number of Europeans from Germany and some from England who did a back to back. Some of these guests were loud and obnoxious, while others were charming and gracious.
TIP: For transfer from the airport to our hotel in Santiago on Friday, and then transfer from hotel to pier on Sunday for 4 people with lots of luggage in an AC van was $221 total - reservations made online with Santiago Adventures - check out website. They were on time and had a bit of a tour while driving to the hotel.
TIP: Booked Intercontinental Santiago online - prepaid, guaranteed - $150 a night. Great hotel located in a great area, lots of local restaurants in walking distance and OK Market around the corner for water and snacks. Breakfast at Cafe Melba for great coffee and breakfast (5 minute walk - get address online).
We booked this cruise because of the itinerary, dates and the price. I would have to have a very big incentive to cruise on Celebrity again. I do not know how they can keep a rating of 4, this cruise line has lost it glamour, prestige and class.
The concierge class on this ship is about 3 feet bigger/longer than the veranda cabin. If you can spend a bit more go for the larger (longer) cabin. Stay away from the elevator area cabins, light shines under your door.