This was the first cruise for my wife, I've cruised with Celebrity before. DW chose this sailing based on the itinerary - Eastern Mediterranean, calling at Dubrovnik and Montenegro. I wanted to share my love of all things nautical with DW and was interested in the ship. I also looked forward to sailing with Celebrity again, after good experiences previously. Neither of us was prepared for such an amazing experience - this cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! Here are three reasons why:
1. THE SHIP. Beautiful and well-designed. Several times during the cruise, my wife and I remarked "[the designers] have thought of everything". We enjoyed simple touches, such as quiet outdoor lounge seating thoughtful placed throughout the ship (examples: starboard side of Eden, outside of Sunset bar, on the pool deck, on and next to Magic Carpet) and unique spaces like Eden that take full advantage of aft views of the ship's wake. Equally breath-taking is the Martini bar that centres the ship and is the focal point for many to-be-seen activities, as well as the natural stopping point when arriving from port. The Magic Carpet and Destination Gateway made tendering an event to look forward to, not a muster drill rehearsal. We would have spent more time at the Sunset bar and Rooftop Garden, were it not for unusually inclement weather. Despite the ship capacity of 3000+ passengers, it is hard to imagine the ship ever feeling crowded (we sailed about two-thirds full, plus a full complement of staff). Finally, passion for design is evident in the abundant modern artwork - but as Kevin McCloud (of Grand Designs) might say: this is design, not for design's sake, but with thought and purpose.
3. THE CREW. My DW, having never cruised before, could not believe how genuinely interested everyone was in our enjoyment of the cruise. Coming from the UK, we were also pleasantly surprised by the attentiveness, friendliness, and approachableness of the crew and officers (we do not enjoy such customer service in the UK). Though this cruise was steered by captain Demetrios ("a Greek"), we recognized one "stowaway" while in port in Montenegro.. Captain Kate! Even though she was on vacation, you could tell the pride she has in the crew, and for good reason. We felt they went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed ourselves, and were taken care of from the moment we boarded.
Spacious, modern and inviting, with an abundance of storage space. Bathrooms are the largest we've ever enjoyed at sea. We were in a port-side cabin, with the bed located closest to the window, which we think made the room feel larger as the bed naturally created separation between the closet/sitting area and the verandah (on deck plans, you can tell the bed location by looking for the "indented" space, or just ask your agent/Celebrity representative). Recommend mid-ship, between the two banks of elevators, and you will be close to everything.
Town is small, very easy to explore from tender dock. Stay on the promenade for the main shopping and local eateries. Shipwreck beach is picturesque, though the beach itself is currently closed for safety reasons.
Busy port town, with all the usual amenities (bars, restaurants, banks, souvenir shops). Old Venetian fortress is worth a visit, especially if the ship-sponsored transfer bus drops you off there. From there, you can walk through the Spaniada square gardens, grab a coffee and people-watch on the Liston promenade, before heading into the main shopping areas of town.
Explore the old town on foot and preferably, from a vantage point, by walking along the city walls (€30 per person). Well worth-it, but must have good mobility and allow plenty of time for pictures.
Lovely and secluded, a smaller version of Dubrovnik old town. Not much to explore, so if adventurous and fit, suggest doing the trail to the San Giovanni fortress. Entrance from Old town ($8 per person). the serpentine steps first reach the Church of Our Lady Remedy - this first stop also affords the best views overlooking Kotor Old town. Do the rest of the hike because you're interested in the journey (or the exercise), or just stop here if only interested in the views.
Skip the crowds and congestion of Naples city and take a fast ferry to the island of Capri. Many things to see and do, or just people watch. Once on Capri, the farther out you go from the Marina Grande, the less crowded and the more peaceful it will feel. We went to Anacapri, skipped the Monte Solaro chairlift due to cloudy weather, and instead meandered through the streets of the quaint village perched high above Capri town. Then we took the Scala Fenicia steps down into Capri (starting point is Villa San Michele), before returning to Marina Grande by funicular.