Due to unforeseen circumstances we had to cancel an earlier cruise, so when I saw a tremendous deal offered for this one, my wife Rosy and I jumped at the chance, although it was on a much larger ship than we have become used to.
We were quoted around £2900 each for a Sky suite, including premium beverage package, wifi, gratuities and $300 OBC, virtually an all-inclusive cruise, but Celebrity had other ideas, - more later!
We booked flights, with Alitalia from London-Rome, with two nights at the Hotel Morgana, situated very close to Termini station, very convenient for arrival and departure. They had offered a ‘birthday’ upgrade, but on arrival they sprung a nice surprise. We were allocated a private apartment about 50m away, with private entrance and balcony overlooking some nice gardens. The soft drinks in the fridge were free and tea / coffee making things were also provided.
A comprehensive buffet breakfast was served in the hotel and on my birthday, they served us Prosecco and a nice chocolate cake.
We toured Rome using a 48-hour ticket for all local transport, but some buses / routes were cancelled, and this caused us a few problems. We should have stuck to the more reliable, if boring, metro service. We used the airport express to Rome and if booked in advance useful discounts are available.
For the journey to the port at Civitavecchia, we took the train, which was packed, then the port bus, then the port shuttle. In future we’ll book a shuttle or taxi, as our option was very tiring.
Check-in was a breeze, once we realised we had to drop the bags then get in the check-in line. Others made the same mistake, but the Rome Port Authority don’t make life too easy.
We were soon onboard, drinking our welcome bubbly and eagerly anticipating our cruise. We decided to have a pre-lunch cocktail outside as the weather was good, having experienced rain on the way. However, it was quite windy, and the sea was choppy outside the shelter of the harbour.
We ate a healthy lunch in the Ocean View Café, sitting outside, but bar service was slow, an unfortunate feature of this location. They need to move some of the upselling staff to jobs serving people what they had already paid for!
After lunch we went to our suite 2111, which was a welcome sight with chilling champagne, a large bed, sofa and picture windows. The balcony was huge, but being under the overhang, we got very little sunshine. The bath tub was a jacuzzi and the rain shower was nice but lacked power.
Our butler, Bojan, seemed keener to discuss English soccer than anything else, but did say that as were on a Premium package, all the contents of the mini-bar were included, not that we used any apart from the water.
Our steward, Raj, was excellent, until the final morning when he rang the doorbell and walked right in, at 07.45. We were not amused. I feel that once the staff have had their gratuities, they are no longer interested, thinking only of their next victims (guests)!
Each evening we enjoyed dinner in Luminae, the suite restaurant, which was an enjoyable experience, but the menu was limited. The Sommelier was very good as was the wine.
We at breakfast mostly in the Aqua Café, with cereal from the OVC. This was a nice peaceful experience, contrasting starkly with the buffet.
We also had lunch in the OVC, which offered a grand selection of dishes
We found the guest entertainers were generally very good but didn’t much care for the shows by the ship’s singers and dancers. There were a few game shows which were good and bad.
One aspect we hated was the constant attempts at upselling, restaurants, packages, art, bingo, photos, etc. We even received restaurant reservations, which we hadn’t booked.
Unusually, we didn’t receive any recognition as members of the Captain’s club, until we pointed this out, nor any notification of our OBC.
The internet was decent, which went well with our ability to use our home phone packages, as were in Europe.
The weather was pretty good, but the mornings were dark, which we didn’t like.
Overall an enjoyable cruise, but many venues were too noisy and we concluded that we prefer the smaller lines, like Seabourn, Regent, Crystal and Azamara.
An excellent location next to the spa and gym, also the forward stairs and lifts / elevators.
Plenty of space to move around and store clothes etc.
Large balcony but overhang meant not much sun.