We chose this cruise because we were loyal Crystal cruisers & since Crystal went all inclusive, we've been trying to fine another line which offers exceptional service & a great experience yet gives its passengers choices. I think we found it on this cruise. Embarkation from Civitavecchia went very smoothly. Our cabin was ready & it was spotless. We chose Aqua class & that HansGroh shower head was a real treat. Other than that, my husband never used the Persian Garden. I did several times & enjoyed it thoroughly. We also enjoyed eating in Blu because it was more intimate, the service was better & we were always seated immediately. Our waiter, Emmanuele, was very attentive.The food in the Ocean View cafe was consistently very good & no one can complain about the lack of variety. I ate a large fresh salad for lunch and DH grazed. He loved the dessert table & is now going through withdrawal. Our cabin steward, Dennis, was the best we've ever had, bar none. His uncanny ability to predict our needs & deliver was perfect. I've never said that about anyone but Dennis really went beyond to please us. As we were 7 days at sea, there was always something going on around the ship. People were never bored. I teamed up with 3 ladies and we played Mah Jong everyday. DH joined a trivia team. The ship's interior design was very pretty & it was easy to get around it. Also, there were always lounges available poolside so no need for reserving. The AT THE PODIUM program featured many good speakers. Now for the things we found bothersome:
CANYON RANCH SPA: Proceed with caution! I mean you should know EXACTLY what you're being charged for a service before you book. I was unaware that there was a 1:00 deadline on discounted prices on port days, so when I got charged the full price, I complained. Fortunately the manager kindly adjusted the price for me. My friends & I found the front desk ladies cold, unapproachable & not very helpful. These girls must think that we passengers don't talk to each other. One lady complained because she wanted her hairstyle sprayed so it would stay & the stylist refused to do so stating, "I do not use hairspray." Really??? I did receive a very nice facial from Natalie but I will not visit the spa again because I heard many complaints from other women. I consider myself very lucky & believe I will quit while I'm ahead.
NICKEL & DIMING: This was a constant complaint from veteran Celebrity cruisers that Celebrity has begun charging for minor things which they never charged for in the past. Such things as bottled water & caffe americano now carry a charge. So I began asking if there was a charge before I took/ordered something.
Our balcony cabin was spotless. The bed was very comfortable & the pillows nice and soft. The TV channels were very limited to Celebrity channels, news, sports and a few movies.
Bathroom tended to be on small side but the shower's Hans Groh showerhead was wonderful! There were only 3 full sized drawers so we hung up most clothing.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe! I bought skip the line tix for La Pedrera & Palau Guell & Sagrada Famiglia. They were so worth it as when we came out the queue was around the corner. We learned all about Gaudi and his rich friend. Then we walked down Las Ramblas. It was quite a sight to see all the street vendors, mimes and artists strolling about. Sagrada Famiglia is a do-not-miss but you must buy entrance tix weeks in advance. Fortunately, I also bought the tour. We got Noemi and she was excellent. The tour lasted 50 mins & we got the condensed version of exactly what was going through Gaudi's genius brain as he created this melting candle.
Marseille was a bit disappointing. We took the town bus up to Notre Dame and as we arrived the church bells rang signaling that a mass was about to begin. So we attended the mass in the crypt and it was wonderful and very moving. After that, we caught the bus again and went all around Marseille for 2 euro. Outside the city sits a squatters village of tin shacks & a garbage dump. They've got to clean that up.
Saturday was the perfect day as all the open market in the old village were open. We strolled through the fragrant flower market, admired the fresh fruits & vegetables and shopped for the aromatic vegetable soaps that are famous in that area. They make great little gifts to bring home. We saw the old churches, le palais de justice and walked the Promenade des Anglais. Then we took the elevator to the Chateau de Colline and took in the breathtaking views of Nice. Giant yachts were parked on one side and sunbathers walked the beach on the other. The sea was a pure blue and the weather was perfect. We highly recommend this trip or if you have difficulty walking, take the petit train. It does a 45 min circle of the old town & the colline and is perfect for a quick overview of the sights.