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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
Cruised for the first time as a 25th Anniversary present to ourselves, and other than minor (really, really minor) issues, the cruise was great. We live in Orlando, and drove in to port the morning of the cruise, arrived early - and < ... Read More
Cruised for the first time as a 25th Anniversary present to ourselves, and other than minor (really, really minor) issues, the cruise was great. We live in Orlando, and drove in to port the morning of the cruise, arrived early - and < 30 minutes after stepping from the car we had embarkation mimosas in hand and were looking at the booths on deck 3. We'd been advised that cross-selling was more prevalent than it used to be, and it did seem that every corner had someone offering a dinner package, a drink package, a spa package, etc, etc; learning to say 'no' came very quickly. We did purchase a dinner package (one dinner at the Tuscan restaurant, 2 at Ocean liners), and we had no complaints or issues at either restaurant, EXCEPT that the MDR food was *almost* as good and no additional cost. Based on the food quality in the MDR, i'd have a hard time justifying the cost for the dinner package on a future cruise. Almost everyone we spoke with told us how 'brave' we were to make a Trans-Atlantic cruise as our first cruise ever - and we still marvel at that thinking. We had no time for boredom, always something going on; a show, a class, an auction, a drawing, meals...all great fun. Of all things, Bingo was disappointing. I'd be fine only playing 3 games a session if packages were, say, $20/person. But the packages were $40/60/80, and that's a bit pricey to play three games and leave - so that was a one and done experience. We were *slightly* disappointed in the karaoke songs options (lots of older music, which is fine considering the typical clients, some newer music) in that there were few musicals included (as in one - 'My Fair Lady' was the only one I find - no Phantom, no Cats, no Wicked, no other big name, recognizable musicals included; just seemed like an odd omission). The ship ported in Madeira, Gibraltar, and Alicante before disembarking in Civitavecchia. We took none of the ship excursions, and so cannot comment on their quality - but can say the pricing seemed high. In Madeira we walked the town and had a great time, especially after 8 days at sea 8-). In Gibraltar we accepted a cab tour from a gentleman standing at the taxi stand, and once a group was gathered (maybe a 15 minute wait), we took off and definitely got our monies worth. He was informative, funny, knew his material and was easily understood. In Alicante I had arranged a Vow Renewal ceremony through a local company, and we met at Castillo de Santa Barbara - beautiful site and all went very smoothly. DO NOT look for cabs at the Castillo though, they don't seem to wait around there at all; expect to take the elevator from the Castillo to the beach and find one there, although it's a short walk to port shuttle from that point. The entertainment was hit or miss, mostly hit for us. Jayne Curry was fantastic, and the highlight of the individual entertainers as far as we were concerned. The juggler/comedian Steve Carte was standard fare, without anything truly distinguishing his work from other juggler/comedians we'd seen busking in parks for many years now. The stand-up comedian lost us and we walked out when he presented a series of jokes (better performed and notably available on DVD and the internet) from Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall. Comedians stealing material is nothing new, but not such high visibility jokes and scenarios. Gemma Louise Doyle joined the ship in Madeira when Jayne left, and we lost in that trade; Gemma's singing is mostly pleasant, but she has little stage presence and no connection to the audience whatsoever. If we'd not been sitting in the 2nd row we'd have left. The Stars of the Constellation preformed several shows as well, and several were VERY good (iHollywood and the new show Elyria), most were decent and (we felt) only one failed to live up to expectations. It was the fourth night at sea (can't remember the name or theme of the show) but the cast seemed tired or bored, and it showed in the performance - very rote with no energy. Later performances were much, much better 8-). Perhaps the timechanges affected them? Our room itself (inside cabin 9018) was fine; small as expected, but plenty for two people not spending hours awake in the room. Hallway noise was non-existent, and we never heard anything from other passenger cabins. It IS next to a steward pantry, which apparently has metal stairs in it - you can hear the occasional steps being taken. It's also beneath the spa, and seemed to have drains from the spa area passing the walls, so you had the occasional water feature sounds coming from the walls. We found it relaxing (although it probably encouraged the odd nighttime bathroom trip or two), but I'm sure there are pickier travellers for whom these sounds might be disturbing. Service was great, the crew friendly, the weather was all but perfect for the entire trip. We couldn't believe we were finally on a cruise, and now look to make it a habit. A BIG recommendation: when the ship is heading to a new area (not back to the embarkation port), DO have language classes for the end point of the cruise! Celebrity put on ONE one hour Italian class right at the end of the trip, and all the conversation we heard though this not only should be standard fare, it should have started day one and continued right through the cruise! Just a marvelous idea. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our 7th. TA with Celebrity & RCL and beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was by far the best cruise we have experienced in over 15 years of cruising. It met and exceeded our expectations in all ways. Cruise was booked and the ... Read More
This was our 7th. TA with Celebrity & RCL and beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was by far the best cruise we have experienced in over 15 years of cruising. It met and exceeded our expectations in all ways. Cruise was booked and the flights directly with BA, travelling from the Edinburgh to Miami via London. We arrived in the US some 36 hours prior to departure JIC. Note: Clearing immigration and customs in Miami was a nightmare, horrendous queues (lines) caused I suspect due to insufficient staff on duty. (We were told that this was the result “cut backs” by the current US administration, much like the UK with our almost non-existent border control officers.) My wife and I boarded the ship at our allotted time of 12:30hrs with minimal fuss or delay and the staterooms were ready by 13:15hrs. Our suitcases arrived some 30 minutes later which was a bonus. (Stateroom No.7086) The obligatory safety drill was held at 16:15hrs at our muster station in the theatre. This was a very well controlled drill and we could clearly see and hear the information being given, unlike RCL where it is held on the open deck and in the squash, only those at the front can see what is happening. We opted for the “open dinning” and pre-booked for 18:30hrs., this give us ample time for a relaxed pre-dinner drink and sufficient time to catch the 21:00hrs show in the theatre. We were told by the very helpful staff that we could arrive 15 minutes before or after the booked time with no issues. We did not dine in either the Tuscan Grill or Ocean Liners having done so previously we find no real need to do so again. This despite the repeated and mildly annoying attempts by cruise line staff to get us to book up for a meal…(Just a bit OTT in their efforts to drum up custom for the high number of empty tables we noticed in both outlets on many evenings.) The entertainment provided was exceptional on this cruise. As were the entrainment director Alejandro from Argentina and his entire staff. The decision was apparently taken, to cater more for the age profile of the passengers on board. To this end, a number of the more normal late night entertainments and additional matinee performances by the visiting guest artists were time shifted 15:00hrs. What a very clever and so easy to implement. This change to the normal cruise routine, proved to be very popular and the majority of the afternoon events were performed to full houses. Very special mention has to be given to the UK singer Jayne Curry from Manchester, she was phenomenal and performed her socks off throughout the cruise. The Beyond the Podium speakers were also very good especially in giving valuable and insightful port information. (And not just the location of the nearest “Diamonds International” or other store outlets as occurs all too frequently with RCL) There were literally so many daily activities it was a case of which ones to miss out, in order to attend the ones we wanted to see or take part in. Cruise Staff: They were simply great all round, from the highly visible and very friendly Captain Kostas to the cleaners who do such a magnificent job working tirelessly ensuring the ship looks bright and clean each and every morning. Our stateroom attendant was fantastic, being both very efficient and friendly without going OTT. There were no issues with sun bed hogging especially when the temperature dropped to 20C mid Atlantic. However there were one or two minor squabbles in the theatre with people trying to reserve seating for other friends or family, especially at the very busy 21:00hrs show, this despite repeated PA announcements not to do so. The ports of call were all OK. Having previously visited all the ports, we simply walked ashore and enjoyed the atmosphere in Funchal, Gibraltar and Alicante. Taking lots of pictures, purchasing the odd souvenir and enjoying the great weather was the extent of our excursions ashore. All ports were fairly easily accessed by walking for 15 -20 minutes. (Free shuttle in Alicante) On board photography and Art Auctions are my two personal dislikes. The photos because they are not of particularity outstanding quality and they are now far too expensive. The art auctions because they take up valuable seating space within the ship (especially during adverse weather) and appear not to be, that well attended. In addition, Celebrity make a great hoo-ha about being environmentally friendly even to the extent of asking us not to change our towels on a daily basis. Well how about the waste of quality white paper used in the printing of the hundreds of pictures which are not purchased or indeed the volumes of unsolicited promotional flyers of the various sales and art auctions that arrive in the staterooms on a daily basis. There has to be a more environmentally efficient way of achieving the promotion required for such things by Celebrity, without the need to waste reams paper within their fleet of vessels! Departing the ship was a breeze, we left at 07:00hrs., picked up our bags in the terminal walked past customs with a nod of the head and were in our pre-booked taxi and on the way to the airport at 07:15hrs. (Could not have been easier) All in all it was a fabulous cruise with calm good weather as an added bonus, very nice company on-board a truly relaxing holiday. We are now already counting down to our Autumn TA, from Barcelona to Tampa on the Vision of the Seas. Read Less

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