My wife and I would like to invite you to come along with us on our adventure into cruising and as it so happens it is with a company called Celebrity X Cruises, considering the amount of money that we paid out, we had hoped it would be our “Once in a lifetime visit to the Baltic and especially St Petersburg”, between 2nd July and the 16th July 2017.”
We set off on 1st July from Edinburgh flying to Southampton where we stayed overnight in The Holiday Inn where we were looked after very well indeed. We wakened early on the morning of the 2nd of July and headed off on foot to the terminal after a hearty breakfast. The journey to the terminal was described by our travel agent as a comfortable five minute walk from our overnight hotel. The weather was thankfully dry but quite clammy so you can imagine that it was not long before we were starting to feel sticky and uncomfortable carrying our main luggage and in flight cabin baggage. The first thing that we noticed was the lack of signage or Celebrity Cruise Staff to direct us to our ship (The Eclipse) having walked a fair distance we eventually asked a member of staff if we were going in the right direction, to which he replied, “you have to go back to the main gate as you have come too far for your cases to go through security. We were not very happy with this as we had not encountered any signage at all, and by now we were feeling mildly stressed to say the least so we queried his instructions and he insisted that we should return to where we had come from. We then spotted a female member of staff so we asked her opinion and she confirmed that we should proceed ahead and not go back. Once we eventually arrived at the appropriate place for baggage collection we had to bring it to the attention of the member of staff standing at a podium/desk that we were eligible for priority boarding due to us being booked in to a Concierge C1 Stateroom (1200). She told us that this was not the case and referred us to a male member of staff standing nearby, who also informed us that we were not eligible for priority boarding and told us to join the luggage queue across the road from where we were standing. I looked through the paper work that I had in one of our cases and produced a document that confirmed that we were eligible for priority boarding so he on looking at this decided that he would have to check this out and asked us to leave our cases and he would return. He then returned about ten minutes later and apologised for the mix up and attached two luggage labels to our cases and asked us to leave our cases here, (Our cases were taken from us at 11.20am and after mislaying one of them we eventually received them separately at 5.30pm, 6 hours after boarding) and follow him in to a doorway of the terminal and pointed us in the appropriate direction for the start of boarding hurdles (metaphorically) that we had to climb over/go through. We then encountered a young man who introduced himself as Jonathan telling us that he would be our Concierge for our holiday and pointed us towards a desk were we noticed a young lady waiting for us. This by the way was the last time that we personally spoke to Jonathan during our complete journey (he left three voice messages on our stateroom phone during the journey to St Petersburg and back to Southampton) We then proceeded to go to the desk and had the misfortune to deal with Wendy who insisted that we fill in a personal form declaring that we did not have sickness or diarrhoea in the last two weeks before boarding our cruise liner. She was rude and arrogant pushing our Sea Passes along the counter at us and then told us to look into the camera. We proceeded along another gangway where we were eventually met by two other members of staff who asked us for our Sea Passes, which one of them looked at and handed my wife’s back to her and then handed mine to me and stated “ok “Danny Boy go straight ahead”. My full name is D********** so I asked him not to refer to me as “Danny Boy” he grunted something towards me and turned to the next passenger behind me.
We arrived on board at about 11.40am and were met with mayhem and no one directing anyone, but eventually a Public Address message was broadcast to inform the passengers that they would not get access to their rooms/staterooms until 1pm at the earliest but our cases would be delivered as soon as possible.
To try and reduce this we will now go to bullet points instead.
(1) Stateroom was tired in maintenance paint peeling on balcony doors, drawers in stateroom that would not close properly, pot marks on the inside of the drawers, Towels that were not 100% luxury cotton as promised, (Our Stateroom Attendant “Rivon” was a life saver in so many ways going out of his way to rectify any problems that he could to our satisfaction. Rivon is a credit to Celebrity and he has abilities beyond his role of stateroom attendant.) Our remote control for our T.V. was taped up with black tape to help hold it together. The toilet roll was a disgrace in that it was cheap and nasty and the shower was like trying to wash yourself in a wardrobe. The actual wardrobe doors squeaked and squealed like a motorbike starting up. Faulty socket for kettle for which electrician had to be called to attend to on the day we arrived.
(2) We were offered a Classic drinks passage as part of an incentive to book the cruise and we had thankfully asked Sarah Sotheron in your Surrey Head Office U.K. to provide us with a copy of the drinks applicable to our package. When we went to the bars this did not tally with our list and the Martini Bar Staff actually charged us extra on two or three occasions without asking us for a signature for this extra cost. We went to guest relations to ask for an explanation as to why this was and “Ben” informed us that the classic package had changed and there was nothing that he could do so we would have to accept it. We asked to speak to a member of Guest Relations Management and Ben told us that no managers were available as they were all on their break. We then asked to speak to a manager of the bars and through Joel we spoke on the phone three times to “Bobdan”, "Beverage Operations Manager" who eventually empathised with us and eventually agreed to update us to Premium Class Drinks package two days before the end of our cruise!! Even after that we were overcharged for drinks which I thankfully noticed when I went on line via our T.V. to check our account on the night before we disembarked!!! Why?
(3) Whilst speaking to Ben on Guest Relations Desk we were talked over by an irate member of Guest Relations Staff (Vlada) we had to ask her to go away three times informing her that we were talking to Ben and not to her. I had spoken to her an hour before re The Classic Drinks Package and asked her to photocopy the list for us, which she did but would not listen to us continually talking to us as if reading from a script, so I had asked her to stop talking to us as a robot. We think that she was angry with us when we later came down to Guest Relations and spoke to Ben and not to her.
(4) Disembarking day was a shambles with not one sign to direct the passengers nor a single member of staff available to direct the passengers to the correct exit. What came over very clearly was that we now have your money so we don’t need to bother any more.
We will never cruise again with any company due to experience with Celebrity X Cruises.
Finally on a positive note to our Cruise the highlight was The Moonlight Sonata Restaurant and the staff therein especially to “Edy” and “Jon” who are a credit to Celebrity Cruises.
The General Restaurant "The Ocean View Café which we had to use for lunch when the ship was in port was like a cattle market with cold/lukewarm food and rude staff. We visited The Café Al Bacio on various occasions and each time we found the staff to be totally unprofessional giving the distinct impression that they did not want to be there. No attempt by the staff to smile or make you as a customer feel welcome.
We have written directly to the Celebrity C.E.O. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo with our complaints and through her office we received three phone calls to apologise and they offered us Future Vouchers off our next cruise via e mail even though we told them on the phone that we would never cruise again. We simply asked them to confirm in writing (Snail Mail) that our complaint had been heard and that something would be done to prevent this happening to anyone else in the future, but this was refused and stated this via e mail.
The whole impression that we were left with was one of neglect in maintenance and a complete fall in standards as we had spoken to quite a few other passengers who unlike us had sailed with Celebrity before and they also felt that the ship was badly run down and neglected. Unfortunately the prices charged for a supposedly luxury ship and Concierge Stateroom were extortionate to say the least and to offer us vouchers off our next cruise when told that we would never cruise again were an insult.
Our stateroom attendant "Rivon" was excellent and he did all that he could within his powers to rectify problems as and when they raised their ugly head. He is a credit to Celebrity and himself and his family. The state of our stateroom is already highlighted in our review in that it was sadly lacking maintenance and not what we would call justifiable in charging as a Concierge Stateroom, (See above comments re taped up T.V. control cheap toilet rolls cheap and old towels and far too small towelling.