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David Pyle

Age: 37

Occupation:Cruise Line Travel Agent

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: April 5th, 2003

Itinerary: Pacific Coastal

I am a resident of San Francisco, have taken several cruises but the Mercury was to be my first out of San Francisco. Let me start by saying there is nothing like cruising out of your home port and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. This was my first trip on Celebrity from what I had heard, they are a good company to cruise with. The ship only had 875 passengers vs 1875 which is the maximum passenger load. Many times I didn't see another person around. I traveled with two friends sharing an outside room with balcony.

I was surprised at how small that room was, went to the concierge and was able to secure a double upgrade to a sky box suite. If your budget allows it, you should treat yourself. This room was double the floor space, the deck was HUGE, plenty of room for a cocktail party with lots of guests. The bathroom had a tub with hydrojets. The room also had butler service. Our Butler, Alex, was amazingly attentive and took care of us throughout the trip. Comp champagne at departure was included as well as free video rentals to watch in your room on the VCR, afternoon tea brought to us with finger sandwiches, and canapes for the cocktail hour.

We had complimentary use of the Thelassotherapy pool located in the Aqua Spa($10 per day or $55 for the week in the lower categories), more on that experience later. The highlights of the ship were the martini bar, up until this trip I had never had a martini but during my 7 nights I made it a point to have one before dinner. Lunch in the buffet was alright, most of the time I passed it up and went right for the pasta bar where the chef creates your sauce and pasta. The Library had to be the largest library at sea I have ever seen, one of my ship mates visited it frequently and liked it a lot.

The entertainment did not interest me especially when one of show was a comedy/magic act. Dinner in the Manhattan dining room was nice most nights. Our table mates were all from the bay area and all first time cruisers on Celebrity. For the most part, they enjoyed themselves. I found the food to be exact copies of Royal Caribbean, which is fine, but figured Celebrity should be a step up in quality. There was only one night that I really did not like what I ate but there is enough food served throughout the ship that you will never go hungry.

The service in the dining room was exceptional. On our last night the assistant waiter spilled a drink on my roommates blouse, within minutes the Maitre'd came over, apologized, and handed her a card for a complimentary garment cleaning. That's how it should be done, on the spot!

Unfortunately, the staff in the aqua spa and at guest relations are not empowered to give the same type of service. My other roommate and I went to use the Thelassotherapy pool on day three (day one and two the pool was being repaired) It's a wonderful heated pool with water falls and hydrobubbles, very soothing and relaxing. We returned to the cabin, rinsed out our suits and laid them to dry on the deck chairs. The next day we were shocked to see both suits had faded. We went to the aqua spa and spoke to the supervisor on duty, was told there was nothing they could do and to speak with guest relations. Guest relations required us to file an onboard incident report then settle up with their Miami office. They are not able to settle any claims like this onboard. Meanwhile we had to use our bleached out suits for the rest of the cruise. Our third roommate was afraid to use the pool after seeing what had happened to our bathing suits. In my opinion this was a perfect opportunity to make their company shine in customer service and instead they chose to just pass my complaint off to their main office. Ironically, I received a reply from their main office with a check for $30 to replace my unusable swim suit.

My claim was for $40, but Celebrity's policy is to knock off 25% of any claim without a receipt. Lets add a little more salt in the wound shall we? In short, Celebrity has some great advertising that promotes themselves as being a "premium" cruise line but quite honestly, I found their service to be inconsistent and lacking of sincerity. I have been on 7 Royal Caribbean cruises, on all trips the service level has been consistently good. Perhaps Celebrity should take a lesson from their sister company?

Would I recommend Celebrity again? Maybe, it could have been just one bad episode but next time bring two swim suits!! and save the receipts!!!

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