We love cruising and cruise twice or more a year. We arrived early at 11am to avoid lengthy queuing in our car as previously and waited in the foyer for half an hour or so until allowed up to the boarding lounge. Quite a large number of crew were also arriving so all credit to them for the seamless changeover.
As noted by an earlier reviewer there were a lot, such a lot, of very elderly and disabled people on board. It once took us an hour from the scheduled meeting time for a trip to get ashore to the coach. The crew were trying to lift very many disabled people in wheel chairs and scooters down a steep plank in a general free for all disembarcation. I was wondering if there is not some maximum number that can be coped with on a ship before it represents a safety issue in the event of an evacuation.
The Oceanview gets very crowded and it helps if people act with consideration for their fellow diners. I was astonished when an elderly lady without a dish or cup in hand sat down next to me one day to wait for her husband and proceeded to sweep the uncleared items from her table on to the cleared place of my husband who had gone for desert. The staff were clearing quite quickly but she did not wish to wait. An elderly man in a singlet at luchtime was very offputting. As noted in a previous review the number of people with tattoos, male and female, is increasing. When we first started cruising with Celebrity there were mostly American guests on board and many more international guests, with more UK guests standards of cruise dress and etiquette are slipping. Very many people said it was their first cruise and a lot of moaning went on. The staff do an excellent job in difficult circumstances.
We dined on second sitting and although the doors were opened at 08.30 for 08.45 our waiter was often still 'meeting and greeting' at the door until 09.00. We had generally good service although a beef dish that was recommended to my husband did not turn out to be worth it so we tended to ignore recommendations and assumed it meant 'we've got a lot'. Fairplay we have never been told something is unavailable, amazing. The vegetables are often little more than a garnish on a long menu so rather than ask for a plate of steamed vegetables, which they are happy to provide, I always looked for a good helping of vegetables at lunchtime. Some lunchtime meals were so outstanding I was happy with a lighter meal at dinner.
The smoking policy on Celebrity is that guests can smoke in the Sky Lounge, port side. As the air conditioning cannot cope with this, by late evening it has built up and so we did not spend much time there. We did go up one evening for a publicised special dance event but the party had not started and we retreated to the Disco. This is an underused facility, mainly because even when hordes are passing it after the show it never has floor filling music to tempt anyone in. We made a request and the floor soon filled but then it became obscure music again after 20 minutes and people drifted away. Actually we spent less time than usual dancing on this cruise and more time watching movies in our cabin.
We dance a lot when we are on Cunard because it has a great Disco/nightclub and floor filling DJ also Grand ballroom for a twirl. The Ballroom floor on Eclipse adjoins the grand staircase which was part roped off one night with a big yellow hazard sign on the ballroom floor so photos could be taken. This kinda kills the romance. As noted in a previous review, the audience participation event 'Masquerade' was dulled down by about 16 seated elderly and disabled guests taking over the whole area surrounding the ballroom floor expecting a 'floorshow' which it isn't. Most of the Rocky Horror music type 'show' is on the staircase which is not viewable from the sofas. Perhaps the organisers could explain that this is a participation event and that the best view is from above.
Cunard doesn't allow smoking in the Skylounge equivalent (however they do allow it in the cabins although I haven't yet had a problem tainted cabin). Evidence has recently been published that even one exposure to second hand smoke can cause a cardiac event so Celebrity should address this in the design of their new ships with a dedicated smoker's room like Cunard. Apparently 'third hand' smoke impregnated on drapes and chairs is carcinogenic according to a report in our our Local Authority magazine.
In Provence we took a trip to 'Sanary and Castellet' two excellent stops for strolling with camera. The scenery on route is very pretty.
In Pisa we viewed the Baptistry and the Cathedral interiors and admired the Leaning Tower exterior. If you wanted to climb it you would need to rush to the ticket office immediately on arriving at the 'Field of Miracles' to get a timed ticket which would allow you to do so before the scheduled departure. Unlikely at peak times. I was glad I took an umbrella as the walk to the Field was about 15 mins in very hot sun.
In Civitavecchia we took the free bus into town and went first to the little archeological museum. We then strolled up the main street, looked at the market, finally we strolled along the promenade and read about the history of the Spa Resort it had been before the war. The Promenade is being restored and there are several pleasant cafe bars in this area.
In Cagliari we went to the small archeological museum which has been excavated under a church revealing the ancient town walls and streets. We then enjoyed the views from the Bastion and walked up to the Cathedral. The Governor's Palace is worth a visit.
We took the Cadiz walking tour and had a glimpse into the Arabic style courtyard interior of a private Club. The Cathedral, Covered Market and old Town walls were very interesting. Cadiz is more or less a grid system so you could do this tour using a guide from the Tourist Office.
From Lisbon we took a trip to 'Medieval Obidos'. There were two beautiful museum/art galleries (free) to enjoy in our free time. A beautiful 17c church, a castle and many little shops are to be found inside the tiny walled citadel.