We a frequent cruises (over 40 times), who not only cruise independently, but annually host a large tour group. We have sailed on Celebrity many times in the past and therefore have an Elite Plus status. We had chosen a balcony cabin in the rear elevator jut-out (6216) mostly for its location near to the elevators and one floor above the coffee lounge. We have stayed in this general location a number of times.
The embarkation process was wonderfully smooth. As an Elite Plus member, we were able to board whenever we wanted to. However, the cabin was not ready until 1:00 pm, which was not unexpected.
We were easily able to sign in for our wifi perk once we got some clarity from the front desk, where many were gathered doing the same thing due to some ambiguity with the instructions given to us at check-in.
The cabin was as expected having been on the sister Solstice Class ships. However, while clean, it was very worn looking and the mattress was due for a change. The bathroom amenities have slipped and this time there were not even any Q-tips. We also found a dirty pair of socks under the bed.
The challenge with the cabin came apparent the first night. Celebrity has decided that they want to lower their demographic age, and to that end have decided to turn up the music volume in all their venues. This to the point, that the the music in the guest relations lobby starting around 6:00 pm (and some time earlier when there are dance classes) is so loud that people sitting in the coffee lounge on the next deck, or trying to converse with the staff at the GR desk, have to scream into each other ears. This noise goes on until close to midnight, and of course because of its location near the elevator atrium, goes straight up and escapes down each hallway as it goes. It was so bad, that the base level was causing our mattress to shake.
Now I can see, perhaps, Celebrity's desire to lower the average age of their passenger. I question the validity of that desire, but never the less also question the value of turning off the loyal clients they have on board, to try and attract people who aren't. The coffee lounge has always been a wonderful place to sit and visit with old and new friends. After 4:00 pm, that opportunity has now disappeared. I'm not say you shouldn't have live entertainment here, as has been in the past. But if you have to scream at the GR staff, it probably means you can turn the volume down by half and satisfy all tastes.
After complaining of this issue for two days, were finally moved to another cabin on the 10th deck and further down the hall towards the aft. This move was done with the greatest consideration and concern for our issue and we appreciated that. We found the general customer service and contentment of staff to be both outstanding and palpable. Although, the Captains comedy schtick got old rather quickly.
Excursions: We booked most of our excursion with Celebrity using our OBC. However, we used Viator in St. Petersburg (2-day) and were very glad we did - cheaper and saw more. However, one thing to keep in mind, especially in Russia, where getting of the ship the first day is quite time-consuming. Celebrity will not let anyone who did not book with them off the ship until its tours disembark first. Even though we were in Consierge/Elite Plus, we had to wait in a long line going around the lobby and down halls. In other ports they had two separate exits, one for Celebrity tours and one for non. We found this out the day before and were able to contact our tour operator and let them know we might be delayed. Hint: in this case go down early to get into the non-line.
Library: virtually non existent except for some old classics. It is not what it used to be.
Entertainment: Some good, some OK and some head-shake worthy. The music was often so loud, that you could not hear the performer(s). The big stage productions and performers were for most part a miss. The quality seems to have gone down hill and the audience focus is off.
Food: the food is generally good, however, you are beginning to see less variety and more of a class system, with restaurants for suites, specialty cabins and then of course the pay- more specialty restaurants. These they are flogging endlessly, both in your face and with messages on your machine - annoying! Fresh strawberries magically appeared on the last day of the cruise, as did a better menu in both the Lido and the main dining room. Hoping that the last impression would be the lasting one, I guess. Serving staff were the best we have had on recent cruises.
Bar Service: We had a Premium drinks package, which in theory and in general was good. However, the bar staff seems to be short-staffed and ill-trained. You could order the same cocktail every day and virtually get a different cocktail every day. There was no consistency in their mixology and I suspect no training as well. I will say that there was no lack of alcohol poured into the mix, but unfortunately it ended up being like a fishbowl concoction that you could not choke down. Service was very slow, especially in the Sky Lounge and the Martini Bar. I suspect the majority of the passengers had drink packages and this was their way of limiting consumption.
While many things have slipped service, cabin and food wise, the itinerary was great and the staff trying its best. I know that Celebrity is doing many things, such as shortening itineraries and trying to create, a "hopping" atmosphere in order to draw a younger demographic, I would suggest that they be careful that all the birds don't take flight.
Very noisy cabin due to the music coming up the elevator atrium form the Guest Relations Lounge.