Transatlantic cruise . . Celebrity's MV Century . . Barcelona to Miami . . 11/28 - 12/12/09
This was our 21st cruise overall, our 8th on Celebrity, but only our 1st on Century.
I will preface this review with the following: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly mine (and my wife's) unless otherwise noted. You may or may not agree with what I am talking about. Some on the same cruise may have differing opinions and that is to be expected.
Pre-cruise: I started planning for this long anticipated transatlantic cruise late last winter. My wife had just finished up a year's worth of chemotherapy and was in remission from a blood disease. Although she was still not 100%, by the fall she would be (or so we thought). She was raring to take another cruise and although looking forward to the transatlantic was worried about being bored on the 7 day crossing. By mid-April I quit my dithering and decided on this cruise. I e-mailed my long time travel agent (t/a) and asked him to book us an outside cabin with the stipulation that it had to be amidships. I also asked him to book air and a pre-night stay in Barcelona. I then went to the Cruise Critic (C/C) website and found an already engaged roll call for this sailing. I joined the group and was warmly welcomed by members who were about to become friends. (This was one of the best decisions I made). My t/a emailed me a confirmation within hours. We had been assigned cabin 4092. Although, we have cruised extensively, we had only flown to our 1st two cruises back in the early 90's, so I was not familiar with the ins and outs of Celebrity's air deviation program. There was talk of this on the roll call and I discovered because of my cruising status (Select) with Celebrity, I could pretty much make my own arrangements thru the air deviation program without charge. After being advised on good routes from Boston by a roll call member who is a flight attendant, I called my t/a and asked him to see about getting me a specific flight. He quickly did so, and we were booked on Lufthansa, Boston to Barcelona via Frankfurt to arrive a day before the cruise. In late May there was some chatter on the roll call board aboard about a significant price drop. I did some checking, called my t/a once again and asked him to check into the possibility of changing to a concierge class veranda and if so to book one, with the same amidships rejoinder. He called back within the hour and told me we had been reassigned to a concierge class veranda (9147). This upgrade cost me $140 p/p ($10 per diem). Finally as the days got closer the roll call group grew and most seemed to be staying at one particular hotel. Our pre-arranged hotel through Celebrity cost $454 for one night. I checked online with the hotel (Hotel Jazz) and found out I could get a room there for about $120 per night. Back to the t/a and asked him to cancel (without fee) our pre arranged stay. He graciously did so.
Then, in July disaster struck my wife (and I). While on vacation, my wife fell and broke her ankle and shattered her shoulder. Both required surgery. I decided to wait until the last minute before canceling all our plans. Her follow-up with the surgeon was scheduled a week or so before final payment. The appointment went well and we specifically asked the doctor if her rehab went as planned would she be able to travel and make the cruise. His answer was absolutely. My wife worked hard at her rehab, so having purchased insurance, we made final payment. Two weeks before the cruise, the doctor gave the final go-ahead.
We left our home in Maine the day before Thanksgiving and drove the 4 hours to Boston where we stayed at the Embassy Suites Airport (it was a park/sleep/fly reservation - 14 days free parking). The hotel was excellent and an excellent buffet breakfast was included in the price of admission. On Thanksgiving day we checked out at noon and took the hotel's free shuttle to the airport. We had to sit around for a couple of hours before the check-in was opened. We checked two large pieces of luggage, then I was told I needed to weigh my check-ins. No matter how we re-arranged stuff, one still remained overweight and after taking all essential items out (meds/electronics), we checked that (without a lock). I wasn't prepared for that, but it was my fault as I had not carefully read the airline's luggage rules. The flight on an Airbus 340-600 pulled away from the gate exactly on time. As we were flying on Thanksgiving day there were about 75 empty seats. Immediately on getting to altitude, I moved back a few rows to an unoccupied row, leaving my wife with a window/aisle seat combination. Soon into the flight, complimentary drinks were offered, followed by a delicious meal (turkey/trimmings for me), followed by a choice of after dinner drinks (cognac or Harveys). A light breakfast was offered a few hours later. Because of an unsupervised child sitting directly behind my wife, she only was able to grab some sporadic sleep. I never seem able to sleep, but was very comfortable. We landed in Frankfurt ahead of schedule. Because I was unfamiliar with the airport, I had requested a wheelchair for my wife in Frankfurt. We were met by a nice young lady driving one of those carts. This was another good decision on my part as the walk between gates would have been impossible for the wife. The flight from Frankfurt to Barcelona left on time. Once again, an unsupervised (screaming) child sat right behind us. In Barcelona we were met with a wheelchair (which I had not requested, but Lufthansa followed up with). Picked up our luggage. As we were walking out, saw and heard my name being called by a roll call member whom we had arranged to share a ride to the hotel with.
Hotel Jazz - Barcelona. The hotel was probably a 30 minute ride from the airport and we arrived there about 10 a.m. Another roll call friend who had arrived a day or so before was going to be touring that day had graciously offered us the use of his room until ours was ready. Fortunately, this was not necessary as the hotel had rooms available and we were immediately given one. The room was pleasant, clean, nicely appointed and faced in to a courtyard. My wife immediately laid down for a nap while I headed back outside to do some exploring. I explored for an hour or so, then decided to take a nap. Afterwards we met up with the other people from the roll call and headed out for tapas and cava at a really nice place called lonja de tapas (located at Pia del Palau 7, Barcelona). Many different tapas were tried and enjoyed along with much cava. After walking back to the hotel my wife (whose back was hurting) went to the room for the night. I had a couple of beers before I succumbed to a good night's sleep . . . . until 4 a.m. (jet lag). I got up, went to the lobby and read until 6:30 or so. Joined up with Xcruiser and his wife and headed off to Starbucks for coffee. One of the roll call members (raudacruise) had arranged for transportation from the hotel to the Century and at about 11:30 or so we headed to the lobby and to the 2 large vans. After some careful packing and seating, we were off to our long anticipated cruise.
Embarkation: A A twenty minute or so drive from the hotel and we caught our first sight of our home for the next two weeks. It was docked just aft of Celebrity's Summit. We were dropped off at our terminal and turned our luggage over to the local porters. The embarkation process was quick and quite painless. Different lines were set up for Elite members/Suite passengers, Select members, and others. We got in the appropriate (Select) line, were handed a health questionnaire to fill out and were quickly processed through. All the lines seemed to move smoothly and at the time we processed, there were no apparent bottlenecks. After getting our room cards, we headed to board the ship via duty-free shops. What, oh yeah, one could buy wine and liquor and because the bags had already been through security, take the stuff aboard. I picked up some wine and liqueur, rearranged our carry-on's to accommodate the stuff and headed towards the gangway, where if memory serves me correct, our pictures were taken for the room cards. Once onboard, we headed to our rooms. They were not ready for occupancy, but we were able to leave our carry-on's in the room. We then headed for the Islands Cafe where we met our dear friend Judy (craftgramma) and enjoyed a welcome onboard buffet. M/V Century: B The Century was launched in 1995 and underwent a major refurbishment in 2005. So, by current cruise ship standards, she is old. She is certainly showing signs of her age, but I can best describe it as cosmetic. She has basically reached middle aged, shows some wrinkles, but IMO has aged quite gracefully and is still quite a beautiful lady. One doesn't have to look hard to discover these signs of her aging, but when put together as a part of the total cruise package, her faults can be easily overlooked, some not. But none of these faults led to a lessening of the enjoyment she provided me. Her crew works continuously to maintain her cleanliness and they do a good job doing so. Our Room: B+ We had a concierge class cabin (9147) on the Vista deck, port side, amidships. The room is nicely appointed, comfortable and extremely clean. Only two not positive comments. First, the bed . . I am a rather short guy at 5' 7", yet unless I put my head up against the headboard, my feet would extend over the end of the bed. (Not sure how a 6' plus individual could be completely comfortable). This has to do with the room configuration post refurbishment. Prior to that refurbishment, there was no verandah, so the bed was placed with the head at the out bulkhead and a longer bed was used. With the verandah added, the bed is now placed with the head at an inner bulkhead. The bed itself with its' duvet was more than comfortable. The second thing was a bit bothersome. Room temperature. We like to sleep in a cool room. Unfortunately, we were never able to achieve this desire. It became uncomfortable, was checked out by maintenance, a some improvement was noted, but it was never a cool comfortable environment. We had flowers and fresh fruit in the room and these were changed/replaced throughout the cruise. Two double-thick frette robes were provided along with a key card holder and a tote bag. A pair of binoculars and umbrella were available in the room for our use. Also there to greet us on the first day was a chilled bottle of sparkling wine.
Room stewardess: A++ Rosa, our room stewardess was without a doubt the best we have had in our 20+ cruises. She introduced herself within a half hour of the room becoming available on embarkation day. Never once, throughout the next two weeks did she fail to acknowledge us by name (Good morning Mr. B***, good afternoon Mrs. B***, etc.). Upon meeting her I had 3 or 4 requests (bed arrangement, fresh ice each afternoon, etc.). Never asked her again. One night early in the cruise, my wife became a little seasick (hasn't happened since the first cruise). I took her back to the room, spotted Rosa in the passageway and asked her if she could get the wife some Meclizine. She said she had some at her work station, but before giving it to me questioned me as to the wife's ability to take it, etc. After giving my wife the medication, I went back to dinner. While I was at dinner Rosa checked in on my wife twice to ensure she was OK. She then followed up by inquiring of her health the next morning and a couple of days afterwards. There were many other things Rosa did, without asking that made her stand out amongst all our previous room stewards/stewardesses. I wrote a nice note and personally gave it to the Chief Housekeeper along with my verbal thanks. Additionally, I gave her special kudos on the final comment card along with a substantial gratuity. IMO she needs to be put in charge of training all new room attendants (and I so stated).
Dining and food: A In my opinion, food is too subjective to truly comment on. I will say that I did not meet a meal on this cruise that I did not enjoy. My original thought was to keep my already overweight being in check, I would take breakfast and lunch in the Spa Grille. This lasted for two days. Unfortunately, the word appears to be out on this place as it was usually quite crowded. The food here was quite good and all quite healthy. I would occasionally stop in here throughout the cruise. Spa Grille: A
Island Cafe buffet: Breakfast and lunch here was quite good. Plenty of choices, both American and European were available for breakfast. There were two omelet stations available and one station for poached/shirred eggs, a waffle station. For lunch if one couldn't find something to their liking in the buffet there was a hamburger/hot dog/taco station set up on the pool deck, just outside the cafe. In my experience, hot foods were always hot, cold foods, cold. Lemonade, iced tea and water were available from dispensers and beer, wine and drinks were, of course, available. There were more deserts available than should be allowed (lol). This area was also available as an alternative dining area in the evening. A group of 20 or so gave our MDR waiters a break one evening and enjoyed the meal provided up here along with in-training waiters, assistants, and sommeliers. Unfortunately, the one thing that Celebrity used to do that set it apart from other lines was have waiters available to take the trays of ladies to their tables . . . . this no longer is done. Buffet: A-
Main Dining Room: We were seated at table 501 in the MDR. This was a 10 person table located all the way aft on the port side on the lower level of the dining room. A great location (I thought it was quieter than other areas of MDR's we had eaten in . . . at least one of our tablemates completely disagreed and said it was the loudest). Our table consisted completely of people from the C/C roll call. George (raudacruise) and his wife MaryBeth, Jen (Janca) and her dad Kevin, Joel (Xcruiser) and his wife Colleen and our dear friend Judy (craftygramma). An interesting, small world coincidence, occurred at the table. It seems that years ago Judy and her late husband had cruised with George and MaryBeth. Neither knew the other was on this cruise until the sailaway party. We had a very efficient waiter (Anak) and competent assistant waiter (whose name escapes me). Anak was very good at his job, but IMO a bit stiff in his presentation. He loosened up only a little during the cruise. (He may well have been new at the position). The assistant was friendly, but IMO a bit careless. He twice dribbled salad dressings on me and once on my wife (certainly not a big deal, just bothersome). Our sommelier was the hardest working sommelier I had ever run across. I am not sure how many tables he was covering, but he was constantly on the go and doing a great job of it. Unfortunately, I never got his name. I gave both the waiter and sommelier a little extra at the end of the cruise . . . they certainly deserved it. As I said previously, food is subjective, so just a couple of comments. The first night a couple of tablemates commented that the prime rib was rarer than they ordered and sent it back . . . . one came back so overdone that the tablemate just did not eat it. Another night there was another steak meal on the menu. My wife ordered it. When it came, she had a hard time cutting it . . . because of her accident she has limited use of the left arm, so I volunteered to cut it for her. It was the toughest piece of meat I have ever experienced in all our cruises. Once cut, it was tasty and she enjoyed it. Finally, and IMO, the quality of food offered on Celebrity has declined over the years. I believe a lot of this has to do with the ending of Michel Roux's contract with Celebrity. The rest has to do a bit with cost cutting. I will also state that although there may be a decline in the quality, it certainly beats anything we ever prepare in our home (although I do a mean prime rib at Christmastime) and beats most anything we can get at local restaurants. I do not think I heard one complaint about any of the desserts that were offered throughout the two weeks. I, personally, avoided desserts like the plague . . . . . because they are now and always have been my downfall. I did have two though. First night . . crème brulee because I have never had it before and later in the cruise a chocolate volcano (chocolate syrup in a chocolate cake covered with warm chocolate syrup) because I can never, ever pass that up. lol Main Dining Room: A
Brunch: Once each week on this cruise a brunch was laid out in the Main Dining Room. This was absolutely decadent. Breakfast foods (omelets, meats, waffles, etc.), luncheon foods (meats, fishes, sushi, etc., etc.). Desserts (you name it) Enough food to feed a small army. Just decadent. Brunch: A++
Lounges/bars: A I had purchased a bar set-up for the room. Tangueray (1.5L bottle) along with my choice of mixer (tonic) and a nut tray were provided. I was able to enjoy a cocktail in the room in the late afternoon without running up to a bar and get one. I also had the wine I had purchased in Barcelona. I would have a beer with lunch (usually) and my wife and I would meet up with our friend for a pre-dinner cocktails in Rendez-vous Square. The three of us always shared a bottle of wine at dinner. Of particular note was a young waiter (Raymond?) in the Rendez-vous Square. From the second night he remembered our drinks and made it a point to greet and serve us. I think Judy wanted to take him home with her. One night my drink seemed weak, I mentioned it to Raymond, he took it back . . . never had the same problem again. Throughout the ship all the bartenders and waiters were friendly and efficient. Never had to wait for a drink and we were never bothered with drinks being pushed.
Entertainment: B I/we are not much for production shows. We saw just one on this cruise and it was quite good. We missed most of the other entertainment as it was before dinner for our sitting. It was just a little inconvenient for us. Most of the entertainment was good . . . just nothing really exceptional. IMO, this area has always been a weak spot with Celebrity. Some of the nightly entertainment in Rendez-vous was pretty good, others not so good. The acapella group was quite good.
Cruise director and his staff: A I am never sure exactly what it is that makes a good cruise director, but I really enjoyed Rich Clesen(?) on Century. The first morning of the cruise, I was enjoying a cuppa and reading my Kindle at the Cova cafe when a crewmember came up to me and started a conversation about the Kindle. I saw his name and the fact he was from the United States on his name tag. I didn't ask him what he did on the ship and am glad I didn't. I learnt later that day (on TV) that it was our cruise director. Not a day went by throughout the whole cruise that I did not see him someplace on board ship and he was ALWAYS engaged with a passenger. Quite an affable fellow, he wasn't obtrusive as other cruise directors I have experienced. His 2nd in command (I believe) was a young lady by the name of Esmerelda. An attractive, young, extremely personable woman, (I believe) she ran Bingo as well as some of the trivia games on ship. She was just as outgoing as was Rich. Other members of the cruise staff were just as good. They made the cruise enjoyable.
Captain's Club: A++ The Captain's Club host was a gentleman by the name of Chandru Advani. And, what a host he was. Once we got into the sea days part of the cruise, there seemed to always be a Captains Club function of one sort or another. I believe because of the large numbers a lot of the functions were limited to Select and Elite members. We had invites to tours of the bridge, engine room and galley. There was a dedicated Captains Club meet and greet with the Captain and senior officers. Additionally, spread out over two separate days (due to the large numbers) there was a luncheon buffet held in the Crystal Room. Again with the Captain and some of his senior officers in attendance In addition to the food free drinks (mainly wines, champagne, etc) was available and unlimited. He also hosted the nightly Elite gathering in the Crystal lounge. Being one credit short I was unable to attend these functions, but from the comments from those who were Elite members (along with the occasional glassy stare) these were well attended and appreciated functions (keep it up Celebrity).
Cruise Critic Connections party: A++ Without a doubt, this was the best we have attended. I believe there were 105 or so Cruise Critic members who signed up for this get-together. Probably 60-70 showed up. If my memory serves me correct (and senior moment does apply here) it was held the second full day of the cruise, our first at sea day. I was sort of expecting another, coffee and crumpets get together with a member of the cruise director's staff. What a surprise. Not only did the cruise director, Rich, host this event, but the Captain and some members of his senior staff were also there. And for the first time ever (for me) alcohol was served at this event. I believe the drinks were limited to Mimosa's, Champagne and Bloody Mary's, but alcohol nonetheless.
Ship's Officers: A+ A recurrent theme in this review has been the availability of the Captain and his senior staff. They not only showed up at the functions described, but I constantly observed them individually or in groups around the ship. Quite often they were engaged in conversations with passengers, but at other times just walking around observing (staff and passengers). It was a different experience for me. I realize that the Captain has one function on the ship (and that is to run it) and this may well preclude him walking around the ship making small talk with passengers, but some members of the senior staff should be visible by their presence.
Disembarkation: A Of all things regarding this cruise, the one thing I looked forward to the least was the last day, disembarkation and its normal foul-ups. I went to the disembarkation lecture just to see if anything would be different. Basically, the answer was no. However I did discover something new (after 20 cruises). I found out what the number in your disembarkation code meant (the row your luggage would be found in the color coded area of the "barn"). We were give a disembarkation designation of Gray-4 and instructed to be in the Rendez-vous Lounge NLT 07:45. My thought was yeah and sit until 09:30 or so waiting to be called. Because I did not want my wife standing around for 2 hours waiting to get off, we went to the lounge by 07:10. Good thing. At precisely 07:30 our code was called. A little slow from there, but knew that would happen at immigration. Once through immigration we headed down the escalator to find our luggage. Oops, luggage was not lined up, but instead came through on a luggage carousel . . . . so much for the newfound knowledge of what the number meant. Found a porter, got our baggage, headed to the bus (transfer) and were at the Miami airport by 09:30. Checked in our luggage curbside, found our gate (seemed like a mile away) and sat down for a 3 ½ wait for our flight. The flight to Boston was (gasp) off on-time, comfortable (no screaming kids), full and even landed early. I had fully anticipated an hour or so to get from the plane to on the road. Not so. From the time we de-planed, got our luggage (and porter), the hotel shuttle and got the car out of the garage parking, no more than 30 minutes had expired. Could not ask for a better, more comfortable debarkation day.
The itinerary was a great one. Early on there would be two port days, a day at sea, three port days followed by a seven night voyage across the Atlantic. After leaving Barcelona we would visit Cartegena, Spain, Gibraltar, a sea day, Funchal, Madeira, Tenerife and the Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. I had planned a tour for Madeira for 21 other Roll Call members, Kathy and myself. I had also signed onto a tour arranged by Janca in Las Palmas and was going to play the other ports by ear. Unfortunately for us, it was not to work out that way.
My wife's back had been bothering her since the start of the trip and quite early on (in Barcelona) we discovered that she would not be able to walk any long distances without resting frequently. Our first port visit in Cartegena confirmed this.
Cartegena: My wife, Judy and I got off the ship with the thought of just walking into the nearby town and perusing its' shops and buying some souvenirs. As we were leaving the port area people were passing out flyers for things to do and a couple of folks were giving out sample bottles of Cuarenta Y Tres Licor 43, a vanilla liquor made in Spain. These were basically the size you would get on an airline. Putting them in my pocket, we headed out to town. Within 3 blocks we had to stop and rest for the wife. This was pretty much the way it went. Walk and rest. Kathy was a trooper and as long as she was able to rest her back for a few minutes she was able to continue on. Being a Sunday, some shops were open, so we were in and out of shops, picking up a few souvenirs along the way. The day was chilly and there was a brisk wind. Putting the bottles of 43 liquor in the bags, we headed slowly back to the ship. As I suspected, nothing was said about those tiny bottles.
We decided that touring would be out for us this cruise due to Kathy's problems. I told her and Judy that I would get with Xcruiser and have him take over responsibility for the tour in Madeira but Judy said no, she really didn't feel like going without Kathy, so she would drop off. We did have a couple on a wait list for this tour, so I informed them.
Gibraltar: We were able to catch a bus (€3 round trip p/p). Once again it was walk a bit, rest a bit, shop a bit. Kathy found some nice Gibraltar crystal pieces and Judy a nice bracelet along with the usual magnets, etc. We ate at a pub. Both the ladies had fish and chips and iced tea while I enjoyed a real good Irish stew and a couple of pints.
Madeira: I had long been in touch with a lady who along with her husband owned a taxi/tour company. Originally I had set up a tour for 8 but that soon increased so that we finally settled on a 23 passenger van. The van would pick us up at the ship. We would have a 4 ½ hour tour of the island and we would either be left off in town to shop or be taken back to the ship at the end of the tour. We would see Pico dos Barcelos, Curral das Freiras, Camara de Lobos (winery/wine tasting), Cabo Girao and Monte. At Monte people had the choice of either taking the sleds (here is a youtube video of that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BNPc9pZkO8 ), riding the cable car (here is a youtube video of that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCo4Z7Om8ig ) where they would be met at the bottom of the respective rides, picked up and taken to town or back to the ship. If neither was desired, they could ride the van down. The price of the tour was €20 p/p, plus tip. The rides were an additional charge of around €10. Having made these arrangements via the internet with a perfect stranger gave me just a little angst. But everything was delivered to us just as promised. The van, drive and guide were on the pier at the arranged time. After the tour I received many compliments on the tour and absolutely no criticisms. I can only assume that all enjoyed this tour as much as I did.
Meanwhile, back on the ship Kathy and Judy had purchased transfers (I believe for $10) that allowed them transportation back and forth to the downtown area of Funchal where they could and would shop to their hearts content. My wife rarely drinks alcohol of any kind. However, in Funchal they sat down at a cafe. When the waiter came Judy was first and ordered an iced tea. When asked Kathy replied, "I will have the same as her". Something got lost in the translation because when their drinks arrived, Kathy was given a nice cold cerveza. She said she never skipped a beat, just drank it. We would enjoy a beer/drink in each port after that. Kathy and Judy headed back to the ship around 1 p.m., where they had lunch and enjoyed a visit to the jaccuzzi. All in all this was a good port. In port with us that day was the Voyager of the Sea.
Tenerife: We had arranged to meet some old friends from previous cruises who were on the Voyager of the Seas for some drinks and chitchat. There is a beautiful statue and fountain (Plaza de la Candelaria) where we would meet. We arrived a bit early and rested on a bench. There was some sort of political/union rally taking place. Lots of noise and flags. I would get up every few minutes, walk around and try to spot our friends. Eventually, on one of my sojourns, I met Richard heading toward us. He and his wife, Owen, were sitting at the opposite end of the fountain. We found a cafe and enjoyed a couple of hours of "catching up". They are frequent cruisers on RCI, but were not too impressed with some of the things that were taking place with that line and the Voyager in particular. One of the things she mentioned (and I admit to it being 2nd hand info as I tell it) that irritated her to no end was the ships' security had confiscated their little bottles of liquor 43 that had been given to them when Voyager visited Cartegena. She had some other (not so minor) complaints about the Voyager that made me glad I was on Century. After our get together, we did a little shopping before siesta. Kathy bought a beautiful table doily. Unfortunately, I inadvertently either threw it and some other souvenirs away or neglected to collect that bag from under the bed when I was packing up at the end of the cruise. She is just now, a week later, starting to forgive me. Besides the Voyager of the Sea, the Costa Serena was in port with us.
Las Palmas: Pretty much, more of the same. We took a free transfer bus off the pier (a hefty distance) and then walked a short 2 blocks into an area of cafe's and shopping. We had signed up for a tour arranged by Janca, but backed out because Kathy's problems. Her tour was centered around some of the islands wineries. I was sorry to have missed it. There were no other cruise ships in port here, but there was a large ferry.
I was saddened for my wife that she was unable to do as much as she wanted to, especially after her medical experiences of the past 2 years. However, this cruise was as much about relaxing and rejuvenation for both of as it was a chance to see part of the world we had not previously seen. We are happy and thankful that we were able to do just that. Hopefully we can do this in the near future when Kathy is back at 100%.
Las Palmas was our last port of call before heading out to sea for 7 days crossing the Atlantic to Miami and what a grand 7 days it would turn out to be. The weather was fantastic. The temperatures got warmer and warmer as we crossed. For most days there was nothing but sunshine and calm seas. Sometimes the seas were as smooth as glass (even with a gentle swell to them). As a retired sailor, in actually got a bit boring and I was asking the sea gods to mix it up a bit . . . . . they didn't. The worst day of weather we had was the last full day at sea when there were intermittent showers and the skies were overcast all day.
There were plenty of activities to keep oneself occupied. Everything from the usual Bingo games, to cinema movies. Trivia games, invites to the bridge, etc., etc. There were two lecturers on board. I neglected to write down either of the lecturers names. One lectured on the geology of the Atlantic (volcanoes, tectonic plates, etc.) I went to his first lecture and promptly fell asleep. I am sure it was interesting stuff to some people (always seemed to be a good crowd), but to save myself embarrassment, I did not attend anymore of his lectures. The other lecturer talked about explorers (Atlantic). This was more interesting to me. Unfortunately, I only attended 1 ½ of these lectures as they always seemed to coincide with either a Captain' Club function or a Roll Call function.
I even did not participate in a couple of the Captain's Club tours for the same reason (engine room and galley). There were more than enough things to keep oneself occupied. I had been determined that come hell or high water, I would set aside 2-3 hours a day just for myself and catch up on some reading. I did so and read through 2 good books (on my Kindle) during the cruise. The ship has quite a good library with lots of fiction (in various languages) and non-fiction reading. The library is small and intimate with comfortable seating. In addition there are many other quiet areas for reading, both inside and outside throughout the ship. Around 10 each morning, the ship would set out the daily newspapers (in 5 or 6 languages/countries). There was a daily breakdown of news, business and sports, albeit a day in arrears.
Finally, I would like to mention our Cruise Critic roll call group. It was the most active group I have been involved with ever. raudacruiser and Xcruiser were the driving factors behind its success. Many activities were scheduled and all were well attended. We started out with a sail-a-way party in raudacruise's suite. There was also the ship's sponsored Connections party. We had a dinner gathering in the Island's Cafe, a slot-pull and a gift exchange. A lot of us were paired with each other at dinner tables and we even toured together. Our ages varied from the 30's to the 70's. All in all it was a great bunch of cruisers to share this wonderful experience. Hopefully, we can all get together and do another cruise together in the future.
Was this cruise absolutely perfect. No, nothing is. The warm room could have been a problem, but it wasn't. I ran into one (and only one) rude staff. Guess where . . . . you got it . . .guest relations. First night, the rented tuxedo hadn't shown up in the room. I went to inquire and met with Godzilla's bride. She very curtly informed me that she didn't have time to check on it then, but would do so and get back with me by the morning. She pointed to the next in line and said, "next". I politely asked her how she was going to inform me in the morning as she didn't know my name and stateroom. She literally chucked a piece of paper and pencil at me and said write them on here. As expected I did not hear from her in the morning. I did however address the problem with the concierge (where I would have the night before, but it was after her work hours). She promptly made a phone call and checked, told me not to worry that, because the first formal wasn't until the next day (Day 3 of the cruise) they wouldn't be delivered to the room until later that (2nd)night, but she could assure me mine was indeed ready to be delivered. It was delivered later as promised. There were some things that could have been better, but for the major percentage it was all good. Century needs some TLC, but she is still a lady and she still delivers a great product.
I have posted a couple hundred photos (culled in half). They can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/usnretdocb/12162009# Read Less