While we’d enjoyed our two previous cruises on Celebrity it’s not our favourite cruise line. However we chose this cruise for the itinerary down the Dalmatian Coast which was marvellous with wonderful ports. And we liked the ship very much as we like the smaller ships. It had a warmer, more intimate feel which we preferred to the bigger Solstice and Eclipse that we’ve previously sailed on.
Embarkation in Venice on a showery morning wasn’t well organised. Once off the people mover there was a staff member directing passengers towards the bus park to get the free shuttle to the ship which was berthed right at the end of the dock. However, at the bus parking, there were no signs or indication of where the Celebrity shuttle was. My husband went looking and found a staff member behind the bus who looked quite puzzled when we pointed that he needed to be on the other side directing passengers. We told the people around us where the bus was but that didn’t help everyone else.
Our oceanview cabin was smaller than we would have liked and only had one roomy armchair instead of a sofa but it was well laid out and we found it comfortable. It certainly had much more storage than the Solstice class ships. Our cabin steward was excellent and very attentive. The bathroom was good with plenty of storage and had a good sized shower even with the clingy curtain. However once again Celebrity let themselves down with old thin towels, some with holes in them, and a duvet that barely covered the bed.
The food ranged from very nice at times to mediocre, to very poor sometimes. Once again we either sent back or didn’t eat some of the meals served in the diningroom which we’ve never done on other cruise lines. I made the mistake of ordering the Beef Wellington which had been inedible on the Eclipse and this time was nearly as bad. Meals that were good such as the trout one night came in tiny servings. There was nothing special on the menu for the second chic night. Desserts were generally not great with some exceptions such as the soufflé, apple tarte tatin and Crepes Suzette which were excellent. And better lighting is needed in the diningroom. At some tables you can hardly see to read the menus.Desserts in the buffet were poor and the cakes in Café al Bacio weren’t as good as we’d rememb ered.
We ate once in the Bistro on Five and were very disappointed. The soup was lovely and the crepes were good but the fillings were barely lukewarm. They offered to make us fresh ones which was very nice of them but they came out exactly same so we gave up and just ate them. No wonder you see hardly anyone in there. The food in the Oceanview café was unexciting, bland and always the same. The food is spread around the stations in an odd fashion so it took several days before we found some items. The emphasis on Celebrity is getting passengers to pay extra for food such as priced items on the room service breakfast menu and constant pressure to get you to sign up for specialty restaurants. We’ve tried that before on Celebrity and thought they were overpriced.
Staff were mostly polite and friendly. Our cabin steward was excellent and the staff at Guest Services were pleasant and helpful. But, while we like Café Al Bacio, the staff there were snippy to the point of rudeness. When I asked for a cake by name I was told that they don’t have the names on their side so I should have described which one it was. Then put labels on your side! Although there were waiters constantly roaming the Oceanview buffet trying to sell you drinks it was very difficult elsewhere to get waiter service especially in the Reflections Lounge. And it was practically impossible when they were all focussed on serving the Elite cruisers having their cocktails parties.
Which brings me to another reason we find Celebrity unappealing. There is an enormous emphasis on catering to their suite, concierge, Aqua spa and Elite passengers with no care for the other passengers. Their Elite guests are loaded with generous perks – paid for by the ordinary passengers who are generally ignored. At least this time only two-thirds of the Reflections Lounge was roped off each evening for the Elite cocktail parties unlike on previous cruises when we weren’t even allowed in during sailaways. But guests in the remaining part were ignored by the staff and were made to feel they shouldn’t even be there. Canapes are served to the Elite guests but only once were we even given some rice snacks with our drinks. Every other night – absolutely nothing! How mean is it not to serve canapes to everyone in the lounge! We weren’t the only people to feel dissatisfied at being made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome on a cruise we had paid a lot of money for. The only reception put on for ordinary returning guests was badly timed right after lunch and wasn’t very well done.
We went to most of the shows which were enjoyable and the Beatles Celebration was very good. But relaxing in the lounges was constantly spoilt by the piped loud pop music played everywhere. You couldn’t get away from it. Our booking included a Classic beverage package which proved impossible to get information about. We asked in several places and just got sent from place to place. Presumably the refusal to provide any printed information is an attempt to persuade passengers to upgrade. Such information does exist because it was read out to me over the phone by Guest Services when I enquired. As if I could possibly remember all the complicated rules from one reading! However we found there was no need to upgrade as we could get the drinks we wanted on the Classic package. But it’s clear that Celebrity’s focus is on trying to sell things rather than providing a good experience. The ship was docked distant to the towns in several ports and in each case shuttle buses were very expensive. Better to see if you can share taxis. Laundry service is very dear and we didn’t use it.
We were quite taken aback to discover that internet packages have been dispensed with and the choices now are to pay by the minute, by the day or for unlimited, at horrendous prices. Though we did discover later that some passengers who’d complained were actually allowed to buy a package of minutes but it wasn’t offered to others. While we intended to buy a package of minutes to spread out over the cruise, we were not prepared to pay the new exorbitant rates so we accessed wifi in the ports and Celebrity was the loser. We didn’t do any ship’s excursions as they weren’t good value although we did look at them for Salerno – a change from the original port of Naples. But nothing appealed as we were already booked to visit the Amalfi Coast after the cruise. We would have liked a boat cruise along the coast but nothing like that was offered. So we were rather annoyed to be told by other passengers that there had been a ships excursion by boat along the coast which they’d only found out about on the day as it wasn’t advertised. Another example of Celebrity’s uncaring attitude to their customers.
While we did enjoy this cruise and loved all the wonderful places we saw, we won’t be sailing with Celebrity again unless the itinerary is special enough to outweigh the downsides of cruising with Celebrity.
We prebooked the Hop on Hop off bus trip to Piran which was good as it was pretty much sold out by the time we got off the ship. It was excellent. A lovely drive through the pretty countryside to Piran which is delightful. We had no trouble spending two hours there walking up the lovely church with great views and then having a drink at one of the cafes on the other side.