My wife and I are in our 50s and have been cruising now for a while with an increased emphasis in the past couple years. We have cruised Celebrity before on Connie as well as Princess, RCI, and Carnival. This was our longest cruise by far ... Read More
My wife and I are in our 50s and have been cruising now for a while with an increased emphasis in the past couple years. We have cruised Celebrity before on Connie as well as Princess, RCI, and Carnival. This was our longest cruise by far as our previous long cruise was a 10 day Caribbean. It was our first transatlantic and our first foray into Mediterranean cruising as well.
We flew into Rome 3 days before the cruise from Miami after a layover in Madrid. Having missed our connection in Madrid due to some silly rule from Iberian Air about not letting the crew onboard our plane, we arrived 3 hours later than expected. We traveled with a group through a group package that turned out to be somewhat of a disaster on the transportation front. Being somewhat abandoned at the Rome airport by our TA/transportation arrangement, we were forced to purchase our own bus to the Hotel Diana Rooftop. The hotel was fine and had a very good location. Fortunately the weather cooperated as our room did not have AC.
Embarkation was another crazy day. We received notification from Celebrity the night before the cruise that the embarkation port was being changed from Civitavecchia to Naples due to weather. What a night of confusion, both from our TA and from Celebrity. I know this had to be extremely difficult on Celebrity's part as they had to contact a couple thousand passengers through various unreliable means. Having to organize 90 buses to disembark passengers from a port 175 miles away and pickup as many and get them all to Naples had to be an unbelievable logistical challenge. They came through, though, and were well organized in the Rome airport to transport passengers and their luggage to Naples. They checked our bags directly from the bus to the ship which made checking in and getting onboard very easy.
Connie is showing her age somewhat, but she still sparkles in most areas. There were always crew cleaning, patching, painting, and maintaining throughout the cruise. This is still one of our favorite ships. We like that it is not a huge ship and the number of passengers never makes you feel like it is crowded.
The passengers were more of a seasoned citizen variety with a few exceptions. There were only 8 kids on the cruise. From the various languages I could hear spoken throughout the cruise, passengers were primarily from the US but with a good sprinkling of European and Canadian cruisers with a few Australians as well.
There was always something to do, but we spent most of our free time reading. It was sometimes difficult to find quiet places to read since many others had the same plan as ours. The activities were the typical trivia, random game shows, casino games, etc. There were very few good weather days so there wasn't much outdoor pool activity except on a couple days.
Having booked Aqua class, we ate in Blu every evening and some mornings. We found the food superior there to the few times we ate lunch in the MDR. The buffet was adequate with good variety. At times the hot food was cold and the cold food warm, but there was variety at lunch and dinner. The two nights we ate dinner in the buffet were very good since they have a make to order grill in the back of the Oceanview cafe. The dinners in Blu were different than when we we were on Connie last April. There didn't seem to be as much of the "clean cuisine" concept as before as evidenced by the insistence to put gravy on every type of meat dish. Cafe Al Bachio always had something yummy whenever we needed a snack.
We had booked 4 excursions through Cruise Critic members, 3 of which came off without a hitch. The other one was cancelled due to the operator not showing up. We felt bad for the organizers because it was a large group. We booked two shore excursions through Celebrity and almost got left behind on one of them (Pisa). Fortunately I was able to run to catch the tour before they left us. Rain left us disappointed in Florence but the weather cooperated at all other ports. Agadir was enlightening and a real adventure. Cartagena was nice as were the Canary Islands.
Our Aqua A2 cabin was located on deck 9 unfortunately beneath the Lido deck/pool area. On any nights where music was being played we heard it pretty loud and clear and pretty much had to stay up as long as they were playing. In the early morning we would hear chairs scraping as they were being moved as well as heavy footed people walking the deck. The cabin itself was very comfortable as was the bed. Only the location under the Lido deck made it a slight disappointment. Our room stewards were awesome and always greeted us with smiles and well wishes for our day.
Wait staff in Blu was exceptional as well. We really enjoyed getting to know some of the folks there since this was a long cruise. They got to know our names and habits as the cruise progressed.
Particularly exceptional were Rich Gleason, the cruise director. We've been on many cruises where the cruise director is only seen in two locations- the morning show and introducing the show headliners. Rich was everywhere on this cruise, from jumping in the pool and participating in the crew/guest volleyball game, to helping with the egg drop challenge and many other areas. He was always visible in various lounges and walking the ship talking to passengers in every venue. He was just outstanding.
We actually had two captains on this cruise, Captain Nikolas and Captain Tasos. I enjoyed Captain Nikolas but Captain Tasos was incredible. Again, I've never see a captain so visible and participate in so many activities. His performance at the Liar's game was incredibly funny.
Overall entertainment was pretty good. The few production shows were good to very good. I was impressed that they had live entertainment every night as well as many guest lecturers that educated and entertained us in many ways. I had my perspective changed on a couple topics due to some of the lectures we attended.
Disembarkation was a breeze as there apparently were a lot of customs agents that allowed us to get off of the ship earlier than expected. I wish I could say our TA redeemed themselves with a pickup in FLL. However, after waiting an hour an half in the rain with the prospect of waiting another 1-2 hours, we decided to forego our prepaid transportation and rent a car for the 3 hour drive home.
In summary, this was a memorable and enjoyable cruise for us. If I had to pick one negative (other than our TA's blundering of the pre and post-cruise transportation) it was our cabin location and the noise that came along with it. The best part of the cruise had to be the great captain, cruise director and crew who went out of their way to make our cruise enjoyable. Read Less