We are first time cruisers and selected this cruise upon the advice of our travel agent, McCabe Travel in Mclean, VA. The ship itself was well maintained — clean, efficient, well-organized, friendly and helpful staff. However, the focus on efficiency came at the expense of quality- in the food, entertainment and off-shore excursions.
We booked two Aqua Class rooms - one for us and one for our two children, ages 20 and 16 and sailed out of Ft. Lauderdale, FLA from December 28, 2018 to January 4, 2018.
The first night, we ate at the main dining room - Opus - and the food was good given the size of the crowd. It wasn’t cuisine level but it was flavorful, on-time, well-cooked and the servers were very friendly — acknowledging everyone in our party by name.
The second night we ate at the Porch Grille and had a similar experience. Third night - Sushi on 5 — good food and polite, attentive servers. We never got to really know anyone or connect with them - a loss in my view - but we had a positive experience none-the-less.
After that, we ate at the OceanView Cafe and the Blu restaurant. Same experience — food that was good enough and servers that were polite and friendly - just about what expected for a ship of this size. There was a wide variety of food options — from traditional English/European fare (bangers and mash), to Indian dinner to Asian to gluten-free. Plenty of different American options as well. The biggest disappointment was the desserts. All the sugar from the sweets must have been used for the drinks which seemed entirely devoid of any alcohol whatsoever. If you are a sweet-lover, just go for the ice cream. Believe it or not, as delicious as all the pastries looked, they was utterly, completely, entirely without any taste whatsoever.
On the upside, the ship attempts to create unique and fun experiences at all of its restaurants and all different types of clients. It doesn’t fail in achieving this goal. If you enjoy dressing up, you can have a wonderful time in the Opus dining room, Ensemble lounge, martini bar, etc. If you want to relax and enjoy a more Caribbean vibe, you can go to the Porch, Lawn Grille or the OceanView Cafe and have a more relaxed, low-key experience. If you like game shows, concerts and comedy acts - they have those too but don’t expect anything marvelous. Adequate is what you are more likely to get.
The cocktails are quite sugary and weak (we had a Classic drinks package) as were the entertainment and shore excursions. If you enjoy a nice cocktail in the evening, your best bet is to go to the martini lounge. The poolside and restaurant cocktails are quite poor quality.
We booked several excursions and I would strongly suggest people book their own off-shore experiences. If you go through Celebrity, you will pay a premium for a very mediocre experience. We were very disappointed by Costa Maya - a faux Mayan village created in the jungle especially for cruise ship patrons. The beach had been overtaken by seaweed, and, because of the high wind that day, all water actitivies had been cancelled. You got one ticket for a watery drink when it would have been more enjoyable to stay onboard and the ship to yourselves. The shops were nice but the prices were twice what you would pay anywhere else.
We enjoyed the ATV rides in Cozumel, but it didn’t last very long and we were back at the ship by noon. In Grand Cayman, the 7-mile beach excursion had been oversold and a lot of people were upset about it. The staff on site were not expecting such a large group and they did not have enough chairs + umbrellas for all guests. Plus, the “transportation” - a 1950’s era school bus that everyone nicknamed the “prison bus” - got stuck in the parking lot on the way out which added 30 minutes to an already bad day,
Still, we enjoyed cruising and would do it again but perhaps would consider a different cruise line than Celebrity. We would book our own excursions and would consider looking into bringing our own wine/alcohol on board. The Classic drink package and the execursions really weren’t worth the price. The entertainment, other than ABBA Night, was pretty mediocre as well.
Clean and well-maintained however, the towels were very cheap and flimsy. For the Aqua Class, I expected something more substantial and absorbent but these are on par with what you would find at a Motel 6 or Hotel Inn. Disappointed at best.