Overall, this was a very enjoyable trip. This was only our 3rd-ever cruise, the first two being on the Carnival Glory in the Caribbean. So we have only a little to compare to. My wife and I seek value for our travel dollar, so we did not ... Read More
Overall, this was a very enjoyable trip. This was only our 3rd-ever cruise, the first two being on the Carnival Glory in the Caribbean. So we have only a little to compare to. My wife and I seek value for our travel dollar, so we did not take any optional drink packages or pay for the optional restaurant meals. We organized our own shore excursions, renting a car on two islands, to do our own touring.
First off, we do not recommend waiting till near departure time to book, as there appeared be few rooms available in the last month. We booked 8 months ahead at a slightly cheaper rate to not guarantee a room, and were assigned a nice inside room on a side branch of the 8th floor (little traffic in our corridor) 4 months from the travel date. The room was clearly bigger than our Glory room, with a sofa and more spacious bathroom. The service was adequate, although the cleaner did not close the door fully one time.
For a TA (transatlantic), one needs to book 2 one-way flights; do not use the regular airline booking sites, as they charge too much.
The port is more than an hour’s train ride from Rome, and the train leaves from a platform quite far from the entrance. Worse, at the Citavecchia train station, one must use staircases to exit (more than one traveller had their suitcases fall down the stairs), and there is no shuttle service to the port (taxi is needed). Boarding was fast and convenient; large suitcases must be checked, but were delivered to our room within 2 hours.
The buffet food service exceeded our expectations: good quality, lots of choice, and available from 7 am till 10 pm. The sit-down service always started several minutes late (e.g., 5:40 pm, instead of the advertised 5:30); this was an issue as the service was often slow, and difficult to finish by 7 pm, in time for the early show. The food service itself was nice, and the food was excellent.
The main entertainment was a show listing about 45-50 minutes; quality varied greatly: some excellent singers, a good magician and a good comedian.
One singing duo was less well received, as their choice of music was obscure. On the Glory, there were 4 different comedy shows each night, in addition to the main shows. In compensation, this TA cruise had more trivia games (several each sea day) and good lectures. In particular, Dr. Gary, a retired physicist, gave dozens of interesting talks. The trivia people were very friendly. On 2-3 occasions, the evening shows were followed by an encore presentation the following afternoon.
One annoyance we had was in trying to arrange and advertise a free activity that my wife did: origami paper folding. She is a retired teacher who has taught origami for 35 years, and she wanted to run a free folding activity for all interested passengers, all free. We emailed and called Celebrity well prior to the trip, and got little response. Once on board, after some effort, we were given a room for the activity, but at 5 pm - a time that few would be seeking an activity. We discovered that a specialty restaurant was free to use prior to 4 pm, and did manage to hold origami classes informally then. We were not allowed to mention the activity in the dally bulletin, and so it was very hard to advertise the class, other than word of mouth. We asked at Customer Relations to have a copy for the small bulletin board notice the class had, and never got a response from them.
The other major disappointment was missing our only stop in France. The captain announced that we could not travel there, owing to high winds. The only compensation that we received was a small discount for the port landing fee. I had to struggle with customer relations to get access to the internet, to cancel my reservations at that port. They absolutely refused to allocate us even a few minutes of internet time….grudgingly allowing me to use their terminal for 5 minutes. Despite all the time saved by not going to Toulon, we did not arrive in Barcelona early. Celebrity should have done more to compensate for the total loss of a port.
Debarkation in Florida was rather disorganized. The captain apparently neglected to account for the high tide at the time, meaning that the off-ramp would not line up properly. So the many dozens of people lined up on the exit deck had to move all their luggage to another deck, where we waited another 45 minutes, supposedly owing to US customs delays.
As for the ports, it poured rain at the first stop; we were very glad NOT to have reserved any trips (we heard that the official excursion to Florence left passengers outside in the deluge for hours). We took a local bus to the Montefore sanctuary. For Barcelona, we recommend making early reservations for the Sagrada Familia - a unique site. In Mallorca, we recommend a trip to the north shore, to see some pretty villages. In Tenerife, a visit to the interior National Park is worth the trip. Read Less