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Mark M. Rudin

Age: 64

Occupation:SINGER OF REQUIEMS, OPERAS AND MASSES

Number of Cruises: 30

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Zenith

Sailing Date: May 21st, 2005

Itinerary: Bermuda

First, let me say that I've been partial to Celebrity for a long time and I would recommend a Celebrity ship anytime, anywhere.

The cruise to Bermuda was for the second time. I had used the Zenith sister ship, the Horizon, a number of years ago to go to Bermuda.

The Bayonne cruise terminal known as "Port Liberty" is workable but it obliges New Yorkers to drive through unfortunate traffic and incur an $87.00 parking fee that, I feel, is beyond reason. The terminal is a now abandoned Military Ocean Terminal with acres of unused space. The parking is outdoor and unprotected. So what would be the big deal if the fee were nominal or if the parking were free?

The check in started earlier than advertised, at 11:30 A.M., and was efficient and professional. I was all prepared with the boarding information having been sent over computer weeks ago, as they ask. Most people having boarding problems have probably not read or followed instructions. It's easy when you play by the rules. They only asked to see my passport once.

There's a requirement that you give your bags to curbside handlers. I usually hate to do this and, this time, I was right to have concern.

You have to take a bus to the inboard end of the pier to get to a boarding staircase. Handicapped get to board on a lower ramp. No problem. Once on board you get a glass of warmish champagne, but the thought is welcome. Cabins are not ready, but they were ready at 1:00 P.M. We went up top for a buffet lunch in the cafe.

Celebrity simply has the best food of the Premium cruise lines. You would have to go to Crystal or Radisson, at twice to price, to top them. And that includes the buffet.

Went to the cabin. Baggage arrived crushed beyond all description. My hard sided Samsonite case, you know, the one with the Gorillas in the commercial, was totaled. Looked like a steamroller hit it. The room steward, Miss Michelle Bungabung. yes, Ms. Michelle Bungabung, had already reported the problem to "Guest Services". With all due respect to Samsonite, the only thing actually missing from the annihilated luggage was a leather belt.

Went to "Guest Service" and filled out the form. Never let it be said that I can't take a joke. It took three days and multiple visites to "Guest Services" befor the encouraged that I purchase a new suitcase in Hamilton, Bermuda, at my own expense, and they would send the signed off form to the main offices in Florida for follow up. I've not yet heard from them.

The cabin, all 175 square feet of it, was quite adequate. Clean and tastefull. Larger than on Princess for the price class. Cabin window might have been cleaner.

It's always nice to sail out of New York harbor. It was a clear and sunny day and the Statue Of Liberty is great to see, even for a native New York westsider like me.

Food: Great. All dinners were teriffic. Big selection. Fast and considerate service. Nice wine steward who thought my idea about spraying dust on the wine bottles would add a touch of class and cause passengers to think there was a wine cellar.

Entertainment: Excellent singers and dancers and nice production shows. I still can't understand why some critics knock cruise ship entertainment. True, the comic was second rate, but that's because some passengers seat their kids in the front row and intimidate comics from doing some of their best material.

kids: only 30 on the whole ship. I threw a few overboard to lower the count. If you wish to bring kids on a cruise, don't go Celebrity, go Disney. Period.

Bermuda was lovely. The ship docks in Hamilton and, later transfers to Saint George. Larger ships, like Royal Caribbean, dock out in the hinterlands of the King's Wharf area because they are too big. If you want to go to Bermuda, use Celebrity. The Mega ships will serve you well elsewhere.

The reef fishing was cancelled and the money refunded. No reason given.

The golf, in Saint George was reasonably handled by the ship's golf pro. a clone of Tiger Woods, probably hired for that reason. He played two holes with my foursome and I beat him with a birdie and a par. He wasn't overjoyed that I out drove him, either. None the less, the smile and handshake were genuine. Met aguy at Tobacco Beach who said he was on the Norwegian Majesty. He volunteered that the food was the worst he ever had. That's why I will never use Norwegian.

The pool was cold. Kids go in anyway and quickly turn blue. Pool lounges were adequate and the sun poisoning lovers had all they could handle.

Go to Horshoe Bay Beach. It's really beautiful. Public bus is fast and cheap. Also, take the high speed ferry for $4.00 to the Dockyard. It's a senic ride. Skip the Glass Bottom Boat. The only interesting thing you might see is the Captain's OLD boat. Sunken, of course.

Got invited to the "Captain's table" one night. Free wine and drinks. Nice. Talk about a mutiny for the entertainment of the passengers was not well received. Just joking.

Disembarking went ahead of advertised schedule and everyone seemed pleased.

Overall, if you choose to cruise to Bermuda, choose Zenith. Great music, lounges, services.

Now, if they pay me a fair price for my smashed luggage, I'll be quick to say that it was a four star experience. Suggest one goes in June, July or August to get warmer weather.

Celebrity pricing is causing me to "shop" around for my panama Canal cruise in December. Their "NO DISCOUNTING" policy made this cruise pricier that it should have been. I expect Princess and Holland America to NOT follow suit, but, rather, underprice Celebrity and keep up the competition. Wonder if they will? I shop around with on-line cruise brokers for the best deal. On sure way to sail with empty cabins is to raise the prices. Still, in all, cruising is a great value.
 

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