Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: February 7th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our sixth cruise, previously cruising twice on Princess and three times on RCCL. Three of those were my wife and I by ourselves and two were with out two daughters in their late teens/early twenties. I am writing this review for people that are planning a cruise and trying to select a cruise line and ship that best suits their age and lifestyle and have broken my review into the sections that I believe are key in that selection.
The Ship. The ship was built in 2002 and is about 92,000 ton's yet it seemed no bigger than the Princess and RCCL ships we cruised on earlier in the 75,000 ton range. There was no atrium to speak of nor a grand mall such as the RCCL Voyager class ships boast. The ship was very understated which I assume is to make it “classier” than some of the competition, but I preferred the artwork and a bit more glitz on some of our earlier cruises. Overall we were a bit disappointed in the ship itself, perhaps because our expectations were higher since Celebrity is advertised as a premium line. The one feature that we loved was the glass covered indoor pool/spa. The water was about 95 degrees F and had jets and recliners around the perimeter. There were also two hot tubs and a sauna that were not over crowded at all.
Restaurants. The main restaurant was nice but certainly no nicer that those on our previous cruises and not in the same class as the three story restaurant in the Voyager. The Waterfall grill and café on the pool level (where we ate breakfast and lunch each day) were long and narrow which seemed unusual because the other ships all had a round restaurant at the top. This resulted in long walks to inspect the buffet lines and to find a table. The upside was that all tables were close to a window. There was also an outside section at the back which we enjoyed. We found that the various sections along the buffet lines were closed and covered a great deal of the time which we found somewhat frustrating. A number of people commented that the buffet was more refined than other ships because the serving trays had white linens on them and because there were servers to dish out the food rather than spooning it out yourself. I suppose that’s a nice touch but wasn’t a big deal for me.
One evening we missed the early seating in the main dining room and didn’t want to wait till 8:45 for the late seating so we decided to try the Waterfall grill/café for supper. We were surprised to find there was no buffet, but rather a section had been cordoned off and that full service meals were offered. After a bit of a lecture from a self-important restaurant manager about the need for a reservation (who knew?) we were seated and had a very nice meal and still made the early show.
Food quality. The food was very good in general, but again, nothing out of the ordinary compared to our past experiences. Each night there was a fish dish, chicken, beef and one other like lamb, pork or veal. I don’t know if it was the selection or just me, but I found myself having the steak more often than I usually do on cruises – I get great steaks at home and like to try different things on my cruises.
We didn’t eat in the Normandy Room because we couldn’t see paying $60 when the meals in the main dining room were more than adequate. We did get feedback from others and I would say they were split 50/50 between those who loved it and those who were very disappointed. The food quality in the Waterfall grill was the same as other buffets. The hamburgers by the pool were great and the pizza was good as well. One of our favorite touches was the sushi bar but it was opened from 6PM to 10PM only – and since we had the early sitting at 6PM and the show ran till 10PM our only option was to go after dinner, load up a plate and take it back to our room to enjoy after the show – probably “frowned upon in better circles”.
The Shows. Far and away the best entertainment of any cruise we’ve been on. The four Broadway style shows were the best we’ve seen and they had two male and two female singers – one of each was outstanding. Other shows included a female soloist who had been the lead in Les Mis and Evita in London’s West End; a young woman in her 20’s who played violin, clarinet and saxophone and had played an Prince Charles’ 50th birthday party; and a pianist who we truly enjoyed. Of course there was a magician and a comedian the other two nights – both quite good.
The Itinerary. The itinerary was great and probably the main reason we selected this cruise. We had not been to Costa Rica, Panama or Aruba and found them all very interesting, particularly Costa Rica and Panama since they were not simply Caribbean tourist stops. One suggestion I would offer is to do some research and try to book excursions privately ahead of time. You will save money, Get a more personalized service and see things you wouldn’t see on the ships’ excursions. You can do so safely by reading reviews and following chat rooms to find the local providers who get the positive comments.
The Demographics. We found this cruise had the oldest group of cruisers that we have yet encountered. Apparently out of 2000 passengers there were 18 children. We saw almost no teenagers or young adults. If we had brought our daughters on this cruise it would have been a disaster, both because of the lack of people their age and the lack of fun activities around the pool or after the shows – there was some but very little compared to other ships we’ve been on. It was a bit too quiet for us as well, but clearly their target audience was retirees who want peace and quiet to have a relaxing vacation
Conclusion. We very much enjoyed the cruise because of the itinerary, the shows and because we enjoyed our table mates (all of whom were older than us – a couple of pups at 52). However we probably wouldn’t go with Celebrity in the near future simply because we’re not really their target audience.