After researching cruise lines my husband and I chose to go with Celebrity as it sounded perfect for a couple in mid forties to enjoy good food and service without a heap of kids running riot around the place. And the free drinks package sounded good too. Embarkation was a smooth process - arrived at about 10am and went straight through with no line ups. Disembarkation was just as smooth. We took our own luggage off and were expected to vacate the cabin at 6.45am and were hopping in an uber at 7.15. Everything was explained really well and everything was so organised.
The ship is beautiful - only 8 years old and well maintained. Very easy to navigate - just had to remember food at the back, entertainment at the front and money in the middle. Very light and airy with lots of places to sit to get away from everything. Didn't often feel crowded except at the sales. In peak times it was difficult to get a table anywhere. We dined outside of the peak times so didn't have any problems. Was so nice sitting at the back of the oceanview having a leisurely breakfast while watching the view. Our cabin was on the 7th floor midship which was a perfect location- close to everything but so quiet and little movement. The new alcoves didn't seem to get used much although the weather wasn't the greatest the whole time. But at $249US on a sea day, I wouldn't be paying it. I did see some people get kicked out them as they hadn't paid for them.
Loved the food. Surprisingly we spent most time at the buffet which is saying something as my hubby doesn't normally do buffets. Good quality, lots of variety and everything was spaced out so no line ups. A lot of the food was made to order too - eggs, steak and even stirfries. Our first time in the main dining room put us off going for a bit. We went for breakfast where we were squashed in like sardines in one area. I thought the bacon and eggs was actually better in the buffet. We had a couple of dinners at the MDR later and the seating was better and food was good too. Still felt pressure to eat quick and go so they could give the table to someone else though.
There were 2 evening chic nights. Was really lovely seeing everyone dressed up although there were some that didn't make an effort and I even saw thongs (flip flops) in the MDR. We had some onboard credit to use so went to Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille and we loved both of them. Had more relaxed evenings there. Silk Harvest was the favourite. Loved the burgers at the Mast Grill for a quick meal. Don't waste your money on the gelato - mine was tasteless and the waffle cone disintegrated in my hand. The free ice cream in the buffet is a lot nicer and the flavours change daily. One thing I noticed missing is savoury snacks - no potato chips or nuts to have with a drink so bring your own. I did notice pringles in the shop but after seeing a 200gm block of chocolate for $17US, I didn't look any further.
The service was amazing. Staff were everywhere and they all acknowledged you as you walked past. There was always someone there to pick up after you or to offer you a drink as soon as you sat down - even in the buffet. The room steward tidied the cabin twice a day. No towel animals but there was a chocolate on the pillow at night. The highlight was reading the Daily that he left at night to work out what to do the next day.
We are still none the wiser on whats included in the drinks packages. I think Celebrity are deliberately vague on advising what is included in each package in the hope you will upgrade just to be sure you'll be able to get your drink. I don't think the bartenders even know what's in each package. Was told Midori was a premium drink but then it was the classic drink of the day! There is a bit of hard sell in the first couple of days from the bartenders to upgrade but then it stops. My hubby and I had no problems getting whatever drink we wanted on the classic package
There were lots of activities to do to keep most happy. If there wasn't something on, I was happy to sit on my balcony and read a book or sit at a bar trying all the different cocktails talking to some great bartenders. There were a few money making seminars that were a bit offputting like how to look younger (if you buy our products) etc Apart from that everything was great. Loved the production shows - they had four over 8 nights. If you want a good seat you need to get there half an hour early. The best show was Liar Liar - an R rated show that was on after the production show. Captain Tasos was in it and he and the whole show was hilarious. It involved 3 crew members trying to convince you their definition of a naughty sounding word was correct. Not to be missed.
We stopped at Noumea, Lifou and Isle of Pines - Lifou and Isle of Pines both tendered. We did our own tours of Noumea and Isle of Pines. Favourite was Isle of Pines. So pretty and everyone was friendly. Tip, if you stop at Lifou on a Sunday and want to do a tour, do the celebrity organised one. Otherwise there is no guarantee that there will be anyone to drive the tour buses as they all go to church and may or may not come back as in our case! There were only a few people there selling their stuff and they weren't really friendly. I was watching them cook chicken skewers while waiting 2 hours for the no show driver - I wouldn't advise eating them. Hopefully Lifou is better on other days. Another tip - souvenirs are cheaper in Noumea then the other islands. I took South Pacific francs but found everywhere took Australian dollars.
Overall a great cruise. As first timers we have nothing to compare it to but everything was great so no complaints. We felt like we were having a holiday with lots of staff to ensure we did.
Loved the location - close to the lifts and midship so there was less movement. Lots of storage space especially in the bathroom. Bed very comfy and room for the suitcases under the bed
Did a tour booked through the terminal. The tour operators are all in your face here and you have to go round and find the best one. Paid $25AUD for a guided tour around and then a free shuttle bus. Had some nice lunch at Lemon Bay.
Really pretty place. Did a local guided tour which took about 1 and 1/2 hours and saw all of the important places. Locals all friendly. Happy to give them money here