We researched heavily before we picked a cruise line and ship, broken down into tonnage, amenities and restaurant choices, as well as general destinations. We chose to book a deluxe verandah stateroom, and got placed starboard on level 7. ... Read More
We researched heavily before we picked a cruise line and ship, broken down into tonnage, amenities and restaurant choices, as well as general destinations. We chose to book a deluxe verandah stateroom, and got placed starboard on level 7.
We feel that our travel agent should have indicated to us that by paying more we would have had included all the perks and extras that we paid for anyway, but hey, she didnt, we didnt know, there you have it.
The embarkation process in Perth was actually not that bad at all - a small wait in a holding area but that wasnt a drama. Do not understand why people grizzle about that when they are trying to process through as many people as you could find living in a small town.
We got on board and found our cabin - it was tidy and clean. We realise that unless you board a vessel of ANY sort on its maiden voyage of course things will feel a bit pre-used, but on the whole they have gone to length to make it feel clean and fresh. For those grumbling about the black line around the toilet, I suspect that has to do with the sanitation system so maybe is just the way it is - it didnt make our bathroom smell nor did it detract from the use of the loo in any shape or form, so hey - get over it!
The staff are nice and very helpful, but also pushy - a constant push to buy more, upgrade more, do this, do that. Some are extremely aggressive, some try to do it in a more subtle way - but the outcome is the same, it isnt nice when we have already paid a bit to get there and prepaid for packages and extras before we even embarked.
We found the household staff a bit intense - we do not want our cabin turned down at night, dont want our things picked up and moved and dont want our already folded clothes refolded and put in one big pile. we tried to explain we didnt need the evening service thanks, which sort of fell on deaf ears so we started to put up the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door. A morning spruce-up of the cabin is nice, fresh towels etc (which sometimes when the old ones were removed no new towels were left in replacement) but this constant in and out was a bit much.
The premium non-alcholic drinks package was a brilliant investment - we used that a lot. Really liked that we had this as we are frequently at Cafe el Bacio on level 5, where most of the staff who prepare coffees etc do a sterling job. We had one staff member who made ghastly coffees, frappes etc - I mentioned to the wait staff who brought the coffee that it wasnt very good at all, she made excuses for the fact it was awful, then must have gone back and told the girl who was acting as barista that day. We heard "expletive you" from behind the counter, so we consequently made a decision to AVOID the cafe if this staff member was on the machines. Because so many of the rest of the staff were really nice and some made really quite good coffees, we did not go down to Guest Relations and make a complaint. On the mainland it would have been very different.
OCEANVIEW CAFE - is really okay actually, they try really hard to turn out a good selection for the masses, I think they do very well and have no complaints. A great staple with a stack of selection. Whats not to like. I will say though that real vegetable selection was sparse but once again it must be hard to carry enough of everything on a ship.
GRAND EPERNAY - We went twice. It was a horrid experience and is the fly-in-the-soup of the restaurant dining experience for us. We refused to go back there again, rather using speciality restaurants most nights or good old ocean view cafe. Epernay was like a factory, noisy, seated almost right on top of the next couple where too many 2-seat tables had been crammed together. The cruise demographic did not help Epernay I suspect, all trying to turn up at the same time for dinner and of course the staff will attempt to accommodate them, but its not nice when you just want to eat in peace and the neighbours who are almost sitting on your lap feel obliged to talk to you. Other half and I obliged somewhat, but werent really there for the chitchat with others beyond the odd hello here and there so found that felt like a difficult transaction that was forced upon us because of the tight space. The food was okay but not outstanding.
MURANO - We love Murano and have been many times. Small portions but you will feel stuffed when you leave, nicely prepared food. A definite 10 out of 10.
SUSHI ON 5 - a hidden gem! Once again suspect because of the demographic on the ship it has been under-utilised on this trip. Good sushi, great serving staff - this was our other 10 out of 10. A really great sushi chef.
MARTINI BAR - loved it. Good martinis pre dinner - candied apple martini and dessert martinis scrumptious. A fair few happy martinis pre dinner were had.
The whole laundry service isnt a good concept - I have woollen items that I am NOT paying someone else to wreck, and anyway we refuse to pay at least 25USD per day on Laundry. Its not that we cant afford it, its that they warn you that its a case of caveat emptor when it comes to using laundry services. No thanks.
We did pre-order two cakes off the web site for the stateroom - one choc raspberry for one week, and one choc coffee. We got the same choc raspberry each time which wasnt that great so consequently ended up getting binned. We just let it go because sometimes things can be very hard to sort, and when we mentioned it to the housekeeping girl who brought it to the room (that they had got it wrong and we received the same thing two weeks running) she just looked blank, and to be honest I couldnt be bothered going there. Be careful when ordering cakes in advance as a room treat.
We didnt do organised shore packages - more just a trip into town in whatever port we were in. It was really great. Didnt go into adelaide but went everywhere else. Shop staff in esperance WA rude.
We didnt do theatre etc - for us this has been about catching our breath and decompressing on a real break. The Gym and the Persian garden top up have been great. For better or worse we feel like we had a break.
This has been our learning curve cruise - we now know how it works.
The mistake we made is that we didnt go for suite class in the booking phase. It might have given us a bit more respite from some of the faux snobbery that seems to prevail amongst certain of the demographic, but on thorough dissection we have decided we are going to bite the bullet and go for royal suite or penthouse suite class next time if we go celebrity as that will give us the extras and packages that we bought anyway if I understand correctly, plus a suite with a bit more room will be a bonus! Dont get me wrong through - I have never felt like we are falling all over one another, but a bit more space will make it really amazing. We went down to future cruises and tried to secure something for approx 2 years away in July 2021 - the very helpful lady there told us that we could find 2021 cruises up on the site by the end of this year - that works for us. We've already worked out that we want to do St Petersburg 14 nights, Viking cruises does a better itinerary of stops in Scandinavia but we are debating giving Celebrity another go and see if booking a different sort of class of accommodation irons out the wrinkles, so to speak.
All in all, a very good experience, we feel rested and like we have had a real holiday, someone else has done the driving and the cooking and the cleaning. Loved seeing Melbourne and Sydney again, the sounds are stunning and Dunedin is a southern gem. Read Less