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Mike Goldman Line

Age: n/a


Number of Cruises: n/a

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Zenith

Sailing Date: September 1st, 2001

Itinerary: n/a

Mike Goldman

For the record, a copy of this review was sent to Celebrity before we published it on the Internet, along with a request for response. The response consisted of a "Dear Sir or Madam" form letter.

Having traveled on Horizon in 1998 on the Western Caribbean cruise, it was with great anticipation that my wife and I looked forward to our trip September 1 to Bermuda on Zenith. The difference between that trip and this was the difference between day and night. Disappointment would be an understatement.

1. The check-in procedure needs improvement. Having previously sailed from Ft. Lauderdale and noting the somewhat disorganized procedure, our impressions were confirmed on this voyage. Since the Ft. Lauderdale trip, we have sailed sufficient other cruise lines to be aware of how much better it could be done. Renaissance Cruises, now sadly out of business, comes to mind as having perhaps the most organized check-in system we have seen.

2. The lifeboat drill does not inspire confidence in the crew's ability to respond to an emergency. In particular, there is no roll call or other procedure to assure that all passengers are accounted for. In addition, the announcement that the lifeboat station used during the drill may not be the same as the one used during an emergency leads one to wonder about the potential for confusion. Certainly, if an emergency occurred, the logical place to meet would be the station at which one had practiced.

3. The bathroom in our cabin had three noteworthy items:
a) The porcelain in the sink had clearly been chipped twice and repaired once. Not a big deal, but an upmarket line such as Celebrity should not want to create such an image.
b) More importantly, there was mildew in the shower stall caulking and in the grout on the tile floor.
c) There was also a long, dark hair on the floor of the shower stall. Since neither my wife nor I have long dark hair, the likely suspect was the previous cabin occupant. This leads to questions as to the attention to detail paid by the attendants.

4. Concerning the entertainment on board, my heaviest criticism must be directed at the Celebrity Orchestra. Although the Orchestra's sins are common, Celebrity's image would dictate that they should be held to a higher standard.
a) As an accompaniment to the performers, their volume was loud enough to make it difficult or impossible to hear the vocalists.
b) As a dance orchestra, their music sounded more like a jam session, indicating that they were more interested in showing off their talent than providing an environment conducive to getting couples out on the floor. This was particularly evident on the "Big Band/Swing" evenings, when what should have been eminently danceable music came out sounding like jazz, with no dance beat.

5. The Celebrity Dancers are a talented group of people. Unfortunately, their programs show a lack of originality; the "Las Vegas Revue" was particularly showy, noisy, and ultimately boring. The same choreography was apparently used in each of the shows.

6. The Cruise Director must also face his share of criticism. Unquestionably enthusiastic, one can question whether his enthusiasm did not, on occasion, cloud his judgment. His attitude of "Is everybody happy?" was merely annoying when he constantly interrupted the final jackpot bingo game. Considering the tension associated with a large jackpot, such interruptions merely upset the rhythm of the game and interfered with concentration. More significant was his effort during the disembarkation orientation to alter the opinions of those reviewing the cruise, recommending that we simply mark everything "excellent". I am sure that Celebrity's marketing people would love to see that everything is "excellent", but from a longer-term corporate viewpoint, such an effort is actually undesirable:
a) Strictly in terms of grade inflation, if everything is "excellent", where do you go from here? If everything is already perfect, then you don't need to change a thing. Do they really believe that?
b) More importantly, the real purpose of an evaluation is to provide constructive criticism of what needs to be improved and is a valuable source of feedback. Marking everything "excellent" may make one feel good but ultimately serves no useful function (except for marketing) and defeats the purpose of providing feedback.

7. The wait staff was generally competent, with a few exceptions:
a) On more than one occasion parties at our dining table requested beverages, which the assistant waiter failed to deliver. In addition, there were two independent complaints about the lack of coffee service on the deck aft of the Windsurf Café.
b) On one occasion, the deck area aft of the Windsurf Cafe on Deck 11 was heavily used and passengers were waiting for vacant tables to be cleared. The busboys diligently cleared the tables already occupied, leaving the vacant tables full of dirty dishes and trays. A senior staff member observed this and directed them to clear the tables for the people already waiting.

8. Finally, notes on two of Celebrity's policies:

a) Smoking - as a smoking ship, Celebrity posts notices as to where smoking is, and is not, permitted. Generally, the starboard side of the ship is nonsmoking. There appear to be a number of smokers who do not know right from left.
b) Children - Celebrity makes it clear that children are to remain under control of their parents at all times. The presence of children aged 4 - 10 on an adult dance floor may be cute and entertaining for their parents, but inhibits the rest of those wishing to dance from doing so. These same aged children appeared at the midnight buffet (what were their parents thinking?), interfering with what ought to be an adult time of night. There appears to be a need for Celebrity to establish clearer rules as to when and where children are permitted. If we had wanted to travel on a downmarket "Fun ship", we would have booked Carnival Cruises.

We understand that some of the issues we raise will appear nitpicky, and individually, they would be. Had the overall cruise experience been of the quality we expect of Celebrity, individual incidents would be quickly forgotten. The totality of such incidents raises doubt as to whether Celebrity can maintain its position as an upmarket cruise line.

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