My review will be on the ship/cruise line primarily which was more of a disappointment than I expected despite my previously reading reviews of the cruise line and the ship itself. I've cruised RCL, NCL, Oceania and HAL, and even done a few river cruises so I have several points of comparison. This ship's weakness comes close to my HAL experience which is why they will be added to my one and done list.
Some ships are older, I've been on some older RCL ships but it need not look so run down. When you have nearly 5 sea days in a 14 day cruise the entertainment needs to be on point. To be left with pitchy singers, and staging that resembles that of a High School musical tells me that Celebrity has stopped investing in this ship and so I should not either. The house band tried but blah and the ships standard entertainers for the most part could not hold a note in key for any of their renditions. My last visit was their take on Cirque de Soliel's Zumanity - AWFUL!
As was noted here and elsewhere Celebrity is on the push for additional dollars EVERYWHERE! Once I get my email for the survey I will happily unsubscribe so as to ease the burden on my email of their constant offers for this cruise and others. The tours were overpriced and not well thought out as to timing. How are you booking a high tea for 10am ?? Mosque tour on a Friday near the time of prayer in Abu Dhabi? Taking bookings for NYE and then "realizing" that there will be "operational" problems with that day so you rebook all clients to another day -taking no notice that in some cases you're new booking clashes with other tours booked?? Sheesh.
First day on I was clarifying that you can't push my 2:45 Tea to the 3rd January since I've already booked the Arabian Desert Dinner which leaves at 3:45. That's something that their system should have caught but I suppose they were hoping not to have to issue refunds, I would honestly think this was Celebrity's first time doing a NYE in Dubai because all up to the day of the cruise there were no indications of a plan for NYE in the city and then suddenly two days in is a special offer of dinner in a hotel near the Khalifa fireworks, with transportation for $450. I do not fault the price but it would have been great to have that as on option as part of the original cruise excursions so that could be planned. Instead friends and I planned another option on our own. We did several tours on our own as the Cruise tour options were horrifically overpriced. The very last penny pinching effort was the night before being advised that you could use the computers in the ilounge to print your boarding passes ... with fees applying. Note, at this point we are in Abu Dhabi port and you still want to charge high internet fees, to get boarding passes??? We downloaded ours and sent them to guest services and asked them to print it.
The cabin decor is tired, the linens have seen their day pass, the cutlery is banged up and the lounge chairs need more than power washing.
Upside, the crew and even the Captain were great. I must say that I saw the captain, house manager, and several staff members, walking the decks, dining rooms, buffet's etc more often than on any cruise. It was as if they were trying to see for themselves what the environment was on make sure the staff remained on their toes. Cruise director was upbeat, despite having little to work with (my opinion) and aside from the evening show there was very little to do during the day except shop in the overpriced gift ships. I got a pass to the spa and spent time there. BTW, can anyone help them with the holding of deck chairs for hrs on end? I know its a perpetual problem aboard ship but this was one of my pet peeves on this cruise.
San Marco = mediocre food and inconsistent cooking capability. Qsine - Specialty restaurant, was pricey but the premise for the concept was cool and the food was fantastic. It's a tough dining room to find on 3 but worth the effort as it was by far the best meal I had on ship. For generally good food I kept going back to the Ocean View Buffet. There were days I thought they misplaced the salt and pepper shaker, and someone clearly doesn't have a good idea of the color of a good fish and chips but otherwise consistently good food and very helpful staff.
The best part of this cruise was the stops and if you make plans to do things on your own you can save money and enjoy your time in port. Don't be put off by the Shore Excursion desks frightening comments about using port taxi's or other options for shore excursions, use common sense, know what you want and how much you are willing to pay and enjoy yourself.