Having done 6 cruises previously on Celebrity, my partner and I accompanied friends (very loyal Royal cruisers) on the Vancouver to L.A. sailing. I think Celebrity has spoiled me as I have never had a negative comment on any previous ... Read More
Having done 6 cruises previously on Celebrity, my partner and I accompanied friends (very loyal Royal cruisers) on the Vancouver to L.A. sailing. I think Celebrity has spoiled me as I have never had a negative comment on any previous cruise, but I lowered my expectations for this cruise and they were unfortunately met.
Weather upon arrival in Vancouver -- cool and damp. What you'd expect, and certainly not the fault of the cruise line. When you are used to Caribbean sailings, though, it sets a different tone. We chose to go on this cruise for the itinerary, so we didn't expect Caribbean weather, but the cool wet start to the cruise really did damper the attitude a bit. The good news is that the weather improved with each and every passing day.
Embarkation and disembarkation -- smooth. Great start.
Staterooms and bathrooms in particular seemed smaller than usual, but for the amount of time you spend in there -- no problem. Very nice size balcony. Stateroom attendant, cordial and pleasant, but definitely nothing out of the ordinary.
Dining Room and Windjammer Cafe -- average at best. Cafe has the same offerings EVERY single day for breakfast, never went in there for lunch. Dining room in the evening, our waiter and assistant waiter very cordial but nothing extraordinary. Food what you would expect when serving 1000 meals at a time. Most of the time mediocre, luke warm, but eating in the regular dining room has slipped steadily over the years across the board, which "encourages" more and more people to use the specialty dining restaurants. We went to "Chops" twice, and both times all 4 of us had outstanding meals, and outstanding, truly "WOW" service from our server, Tiffone. We also went to "Portofino" on one evening, and while dining and service was above average, it did not meet the high level that we experienced at Chops. On the flip side, we went twice to Seaview Cafe for a burger during the mid-afternoon period: the food was adequate and the service was not even remotely good.
The evening entertainment was well mixed, with the traditional broadway revues, as well as magic, comedy, and other specialty performers, but most of the time we were at the late dinner seating and passed on the shows. However, the "lounge acts" that were regularly scheduled for each evening in the main concourse for the most part were not worth listening to. I am in my 50's, and even I found most of the songs to be completely outdated. Overall, the age level on the ship was an older crowd and an early crowd, so most of the evening activities around the ship were poorly attended. The best entertainment of the week was the "70's extravaganza" in mid-ship on the second to last night. Very high energy, the cruise director pulled out all the stops. Very well attended, lots of dancing -- very well done.
As a non-smoker, it was sort of surprising that smoking was still allowed in parts of the casino. The stale smell permeated throughout. In the year 2015, no excuse for this whatsoever. Smoking should be in limited areas outside - period.
The most disappointing feature with the entire 8 days was that the level of service was just not on par with anything I experienced with Celebrity cruises. Most of the beverage staff seemed to be doing you a favor in getting you a drink, and even with the drink package paid for (INCLUDING gratuities), the servers/bartenders would make you sign a slip for the drink, apparently with the hopes that you would leave an extra tip. I thought one of the benefits of the drink plan was to avoid signing all those silly slips, but apparently not. We expected the Champagne Bar to be the "go-to" place before and after dinner, but this bar in particular suffered from bartenders who were downright unpleasant, unfriendly, and just a displeasure to be around...which may explain why most of the time, this area was pretty deserted. That and the fact that the furniture looks like it was borrowed from the set of The Golden Girls or Leave It to Beaver. I know the ship is set up for dry dock in the Spring, but come on! While I never experienced the ship to be dirty, there were areas at both the outdoor pool and the solarium pool that needed paint so badly the bare wood was showing.
The overall thought I was left with is all about the service: more than any other cruise I have been on (maybe I just got lucky all the other times), the staff seemed to be in "training" mode. I realize that across the cruise industry, there is a great deal of diversity among the staff -- I get that. But on a few occasions (Solarium snack bar area a prime example), the server did not even understand simple requests in English. The Seaview Cafe was much the same. The overall impression was that much of the staff is in rookie mode, hoping to earn their stripes to get onto a larger and newer vessel.
On the cruise board, I saw a specific topic: "Royal Caribbean Jewel" vs. "Celebrity Summit" --- which would you choose? The answer is simple -- definitely not the Jewel. Read Less