I booked two weeks on the Marella Celebration last minute after our original plans fell through. I've cruised before, though never Marella and never on a ship as old or small as the Celebration and after reading some of the reviews here, and watching YouTube videos of noisy cabins, I was wondering if I'd made a dreadful mistake. Fortunately things were great and we had a wonderful time.
Our cabin was easily the largest I've ever had on a cruise and was mercifully very quiet, despite being deck 1 midship, It also had ample storage space (four wardrobes and ten drawers!) so there was no need to live out of a suitcase. Having a kettle in the room was very handy too. The furnishings were a bit dated but there was nothing wrong with them. We did notice however it was pretty noisy towards the back of the ship (and presumably in the cabins too) so do keep this in mind when selecting.
The ship itself was fine too. Having recently been refitted the lounges and bars feel very modern and stylish. As other reviews have noted the ship does noticeably vibrate, particularly towards the stern and when in port though I can't say this bothered us very much. The ship is very small so don't expect a huge American style experience but there are some perks to smaller vessels: in Antugua we were the only ship able to dock because of strong winds which were too much for larger, taller vessels! On ship services were fine, photography one of the best I've had on a cruise, good enough to make me break the habit of a lifetime and buy some of the photos taken, thanks to Carlton's excellent skills. Other staff were always very friendly and attentive.
Dining was mixed overall but good if you play it smart: we found the food in the main dining room, especially the regional specials, was very nice most of the time and there was always a good variety. The only downside was the weird choice of playing pop music every night. Who wants to listen to angsty grunge while you're trying to eat your cheescake? Meanwhile the buffet was pretty rubbish: the selection of food is severely limited (hope you like melon and prunes coz good luck getting other fruit at breakfast!) and overall lower quality too. We only tried one speciality dining, Mistrals, which was absolutely fantastic. We were served by Kevin, who was wonderful, and had the three course al la carte menu which was so delicious we booked again for later in the week when they switched over! At £19 per head it's not bad value either.
Drinks were relatively good too: we upgraded to premium all inclusive and I'm very glad we did because the normal coffee they served is frankly horrendous but the speciality coffee you get on PAI is delightful. Cocktails were very nice and there was a huge selection. Wines were adequate, not a beer drinker but there seemed to be a good enough choice.
The main evening shows were rather naff but no worse than you find on other ships (a troupe of young performers singing snippets from musicals, two comedians you've never heard of, that sort of thing) so we stuck to the alternatives: namely the quizzes, sideshows and live music. Both house bands, Strumjam and the guitar trio were fantastic, and the quizzes/shows were great fun. During sea days we mainly relaxed and read but there were plenty of things going on.
As mentioned, all staff were great. Alex the captain was very personable and accessible, making informative announcements and even greeting passengers as they disembarked. We did some ship excursions in ports where is was harder to independently organise. Where we did they seemed good value for money and were entertaining. Annoyingly one of our trips was overbooked but they were very helpful in finding us a replacement. Embarkation seemed a bit disorganised: our transfer drove round in circles for 30 minutes before letting us off, and we were then queuing for ages around the ship to get our cards. On every other ship I've sailed on this process was done in port and was a lot smoother.
All in all, we had a great time and intend to sail on her again, though do be aware of the points I outlined.
Very spacious with plenty of storage. Quiet too.