Wonderful cruise on Celebrity Century: Celebrity Century Cruise Review by ArkansasOrchid

Celebrity Century 5
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Wonderful cruise on Celebrity Century

Sail Date: August 2010
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
We could not have been more pleased with our Mediterranean cruise on the Celebrity Century. They have a couple of different itineraries for this ship in the Med; we were on the one that has ports near Nice, Florence, Rome, Dubrovnik, Venice, Split and Naples.

My husband and I were traveling with our two teenagers (19 and 17) and with my mother-in-law, who is in her 80s but is more fit than many 50 year olds. We had two Sky Suites on the 12th deck (Sports Deck 1218 and 1220). We chose that deck because we wanted the two rooms to be adjacent and this was the only area with suites that still had adjacent rooms when we booked, but we liked the location. The Sky Suite rooms are very nice, quite large and have wonderful verandas. Both rooms were in good repair and were very clean. The only we issues we had were fairly minor: the safe did not work in one cabin and there were a few times when the hot water wasn't as hot as desirable. The Sky Suites are generously sized for a couple More and adequate for three people. In the suites, we had both a cabin attendant and a butler, so the service was excellent. The butler brings tea each afternoon and then comes again with canapEs before dinner. He will also serve meals in your room (including the entire dinner menu in courses if you choose to have dinner on your veranda).

Because several of us had not visited any of the ports, we chose to do shore excursions through the cruise line in the hope that we would get good overviews of each city. Although I understand why people would choose to book private tours, we actually had very good experiences with the shore excursions we chose. Celebrity does a very good job of describing the shore excursions on their web site including clear information about how physically demanding each excursion is. We found it a bit strange that on most of the excursions, there were at least a couple of people who had a great deal of difficulty. The information on the shore excursions is accurate: if it says you need to be able to walk 3 miles over uneven and uphill surfaces and climb 200+ steps, that is what you need to be able to do.

We thought that the food and service on the Century were excellent. We had breakfast most mornings in the casual restaurant called Islands, which has four large buffet lines. We tend toward light meals in the a.m., so our group ate fruit, cereals, breads, sweet rolls, etc., all of which were good. They also had many hot options including several kinds of eggs and breakfast meats. We had lunch in Islands many times as well and thought that the array of options was excellent, especially since we have two vegetarians in our family. In addition to one or two selections of curries and several other hot dishes each day, they also always had a pizza kitchen with four or five choices plus two or three other options like calzone, a pasta line (a variety of pasta choices and sauces) and an Asian area that included a number of hot entrEe choices and also had a stir fry chef so you could pick your own ingredients and sauces and have it prepared to order. They also had a special sandwich each day, a couple of soups, desserts, cheeses and probably a lot of things that I have forgotten. We ate most of our evening meals in the formal dining room and had good food and service every night. We thought that the choices were very good with fish or seafood, a vegetarian option, one or two beef, lamb or pork options plus poultry each night. Only one of our group ate at the pool grill, which he deemed "fine" but not exceptional. We had tea in our room most days with nice little sandwiches and cookies, but tea is also offered in Islands where they had a good assortment of tea cakes and sandwiches, plus scones and mini croissants. We had sushi with our dinner one night and although we aren't experts, it certainly seemed to be very fresh and well prepared.

The information that we received about the cruise in advance indicated that there would be three formal nights, but there were actually only two, which was good because the third formal night would have been the last night on the ship and it wouldn't have been as easy to deal with formal clothing that night. We aren't really in to the formal thing, but we decided to do it and actually enjoyed being dressed up and seeing everyone else in their finery (and yes, virtually everyone was dressed well with most of the men in dark suits and most of the women in cocktail or long dresses). It is worth noting that if you didn't want to do the formal nights, you could easily have dinner those nights in Islands, which doesn't require formal attire. You are asked to wear "smart casual" attire every evening (everywhere on the ship except poolside) - long pants and knit shirts for men, pants, skirts or dresses for ladies - and it seemed that most people abided by this request.

With all these clothing requirements, we definitely found it necessary to send some of our things to be laundered during the trip. It was hot enough during our August cruise that clothes that had been worn on shore excursions couldn't be worn again without laundering. We washed undergarments in our room with Woolite that we brought with us (hanging line was available over the bathtub in our suites but I don't know about other cabins) and we sent other things to the laundry. We spent about $125 for five people.

Other than shore excursions in every port, we did not participate in a lot of the other shipboard activities. We did visit the fitness center a number of times - a nice location at the front of the ship with great views. My daughter and I were there as we came into Venice and that was a particularly nice time to have the gorgeous views while exercising. We went to a couple of the evening shows with the ship's musical theater troupe and enjoyed them - talented young performers.

We booked our own flights and hotel in Barcelona. I didn't want to take a chance on missing the ship due to travel delays and we wanted to have time to tour Barcelona, so we arrived on Saturday morning (Friday departure) for our Monday sailing. We walked around Barcelona Saturday afternoon and evening and took a "hop-on, hop-off" bus tour on Sunday. We particularly enjoyed La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. On our return at the end of the cruise, we booked airport transfers through Celebrity because we had a relatively early flight. We were flying Delta and it was particularly nice that we could actually check our luggage with Delta agents at the cruise terminal - Delta then transferred our checked bags directly to our flight. We kept our carry-on bags with us. The only bad thing that happened is that it was raining when we arrived in Barcelona (the only rain during the entire trip). We were under cover from the ship and into the cruise terminal but the buses are not in a covered area. So we hauled our carry-on luggage out to the bus in the rain, loaded it under the bus ourselves ... and then stood in the rain because the person coordinating the transfer (employed by a shore excursion company - not Celebrity directly) was standing inside the doorway of the bus, not letting anyone get on until she had very slowly looked up their names on checked them off her list. That was pretty unpleasant and it was really the only thing that went wrong during our trip.

I've read some reviews from people who had problems with squeaking noises in their rooms or bad odors or vibrations. We were on the 12th deck, so that may have affected our experience, but we did not have any noise issues. I did notice vibrations a couple of times when we were coming in to port early in the morning, but it wasn't enough to wake us. Leaving one port (I think it was Naples), the vibrations were really quite bad while we were having dinner, although nothing fell off the table. I think that the vibrations happen when the ship is trying to get into or out of a tight spot. It was never bad enough to affect our trip. I am very sensitive to smells and I did notice a bad odor (probably from the ship's fuel) on the day we boarding and very briefly a few times after that, but it dispersed quickly and did not cause me any discomfort. Truly, we had no complaints about our trip. Everything was what you would expect from a high quality cruise line like Celebrity: good food, good service, good activities, and an excellent staff that is friendly and eager to assist in any way. They even met us at the end of every shore excursion with refrigerated wet washcloths, cold water and cold juices. We couldn't have been happier and would gladly choose Celebrity, the Century and this itinerary again in the future.

There is only room for six port reviews on the Cruise Critic form and we visited six, so this is the review of our last port which was Salerno / Naples in Italy. We did not visit Naples but toured Sorrento and Pompeii instead. This was our last port and we had had very little time for shopping and wandering during our previous shore excursions, so we chose an itinerary that gave us an hour for shopping in Sorrento. We then had a good lunch at a local hotel before driving to Pompeii. Pompeii was one of our favorite stops on the entire cruise. We had a very good, very knowledgeable tour guide and despite the heat, which made the walking tour a bit uncomfortable, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights of Pompeii. It seemed to me that because we had a good guide, we saw much more and understood more of what we saw than we would have if we had toured on our own. Pompeii is much larger and much more complete than we realized. We only spent about 1.5 hours walking in Pompeii, and you could definitely spend far longer if you wanted to see everything. Just outside the entrance, there were shops, a restaurant and snack stands plus gelato vendors. Given the heat, a nice drink and a bit of gelato were very welcome. We'd give the Sorrento/Pompeii itinerary a rating of 5. Less

Published 08/16/10

Cabin review: S11220 Sky Suite

1220. Sky Suite. Large room, very nice balcony with room for two chaise lounges, a chair and a small table. On lower decks, I think that the Sky Suite balconies may be completely covered by the floor above, but on the 12th floor, the last few feet of the balcony is open to the sun. On a positive note, this means that the balcony gets more sun, but it also means that if you are standing at the edge of the balcony by the railing, people on the public decks above can see you. We never felt uncomfortable about this and preferred having a bit of sunshine on the balcony, so we thought it was a good thing. We occasionally heard people running on the floor above us but never late enough that it disturbed us.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Dubrovnik is on the Aegean Sea with gorgeous views of its clear blue waters. The old town is completely encircled by a wall that protected the city from invasion for centuries. I had been in walled towns before but the thing that was surprising to me about Dubrovnik was how pretty the old was: all in white stone and marble with orange/yellow tile rooftops. The streets are paved in white marble, the buildings are white marble or stone – it was just lovely. We chose an excursion that involved walking the entire circumference of the walls and that was an excellent way to see the city and the views of the sea. The only negative was that it was very hot when we were there, which made the tour less pleasant than it would have been otherwise. The town was also very crowded since we were there in August when much of Europe appeared to be vacationing in Dubrovnik! We had a pretty good tour guide who gave us lots of facts, but wasn’t as good at helping us understand the history of the city as the best guides that we had. I wasn’t sure what the appeal would be of Croatia since I wasn’t familiar with the area, but it is definitely beautiful and we enjoyed our half day visit.

We had a full day tour of Florence, which isn’t nearly long enough to enjoy this beautiful city. Some of the things we particularly enjoyed were Michelangelo’s “David” (both the copy and the original), the Duomo and the Gates of Paradise on the Baptistery. We had a good guide who shared a lot of information about everything that we saw. We had a lunch at a local restaurant (included in our tour) that included a very good pasta “first plate” but a mediocre second course of beef. The first course was quite generous and was vegetarian, which was very nice for our daughters. We were carrying packages of peanut butter and crackers, but the first course and the vegetables with the main course were more than sufficient the girls. We had an ice cream dessert and they liked that, too. The tour was a nice introduction to a city we’d like to visit again.

Rome: We were incredibly fortunate in Rome. We had chosen an all-day tour that spent the morning in the Vatican and the afternoon at the Coliseum, so that we’d get a little bit of Renaissance Rome and also ancient Rome. The fortunate part was that we had an absolutely wonderful tour guide who works as an archeologist for the Vatican. She was extremely knowledgeable and the tours through part of the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica were just fabulous because she did such a good job of imparting information. I know we saw and understood far more in the Sistine Chapel than we would have on our own because of her excellent “pre-Chapel” talk. We then had a very good lunch at a local hotel and re-boarded the bus for a mini-tour of Rome, followed by a tour of the Coliseum. I thought that our tour guide might not be as good at the Coliseum as she was at the Vatican, but I was wrong. She was equally knowledgeable about ancient Rome. I am sure we would have loved Rome regardless, but having an extremely exceptional tour guide made a huge difference. Again, this was just enough to make all of us want to visit Rome again.

Split was our least favorite shore excursion, although I think that was a problem in what we chose rather than a problem with Split in general. Split is the location of what is supposed to be the most complete Roman palace remaining anywhere in the world, which was built by Diocletian around 300 A.D. We thought that was the primary attraction and that's what we chose to see in a half day tour. We had a tour guide who was pleasant but not nearly as knowledgeable as most of the other guides we had and the palace itself is so integrated into the city of Split, and so filled with souvenir shops that it just wasn’t that interesting. Most of the other shore excursions that were offered were focused on the ocean or the natural beauty of the area: sea kayaking, tours of national parks, etc. I suspect that we might have been happier had we chosen one of those shore excursions. There was no problem with the city of Split: I just don’t think we chose the best tour for our interests.

Read 293 Split Reviews

One thing I hadn’t expected was how beautiful the cruise into Venice would be. The ship went through a main channel with a view of St. Mark’s Square and many, many islands and canals and cathedrals and bell towers and beautiful buildings on both sides of the ship. We spent at least an hour during our arrival and then again during our departure, just enjoying the scenery. The ship arrived in Venice mid-afternoon and didn’t leave until late the next afternoon. The first evening, we took a gondola ride, which is probably incredibly touristy but will still a lot of fun. The gondola rides are pretty short (only about 30 minutes) but having the tour just as it was beginning to get dark was fabulous. The gondolas went through narrow canals and under low bridges that the gondoliers had duck underneath. The next morning, we toured the Doge’s Palace, the prison and St. Mark’s square and saw a glass blowing demonstration. That was all that was included in the tour, but we chose to stay in town and have lunch on our own. Then we shopped in the narrow streets around the square for a while and had an afternoon gelato before heading back to the ship. Although we were at a pier, it was necessary to take a boat ride to and from the ship. However, the boat rides were really beautiful, so we didn’t mind. There was a charge for taking the boat to and from the Century. It was $10/person one way but you could also get a one or two day pass if you wanted to come and go frequently. Venice was, again, a city that we would love to visit again.

Read 1149 Venice Reviews

The ship is actually at Villefranche sur Mer, and we were tendered to shore at this port. A number of shore excursions are offered including Cannes and Monte Carlo. We chose a half day tour that included Nice and Eze. The water was quite rough when it was time for us to get on the tender, and this was one of the few times that we had trouble with sea sickness (always a problem for me and one daughter, but we rarely had problems while on the ship). We got on the tender early and it was sufficiently rough that at least one older couple was unable to get on board after numerous attempts … that made the loading process longer than usual and I was feeling pretty bad by the time we docked. We choose a half-day tour of Nice and the beautiful mountaintop village of Eze. Our guide was good and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery on the drives and a brief tour of Nice in the bus before we got out and walked through part of the old city. Then we had about 45 minutes on our own, which we used for bathroom breaks and gelato. Then we drove to Eze, which is a glorious little mountaintop village with few remaining full time inhabitants (which is entirely understandable since it would be a challenging place to live). It is not possible for vehicles to get up to the village and it certainly would not be possible for any kind of vehicle to be used in the village, which has very narrow stone pathways throughout. Gorgeous, though, and absolutely worth the climb to see it.

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