Having just returned from our first Celebrity Cruise aboard the Celebrity Century and I wanted to post a review that hopefully others can benefit from it.
Some background on our cruising experience. This is our 6th cruise we have taken in the last 20 years so by no means are we what you would call experts. Nor would you call us rookies either. In the past 20 years we have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival and Holland (twice). We have been also fortunate enough to attain a financial level where the last 3 cruises have been at the Suite level.
We booked the Celebrity Century out of Miami Florida, as we wanted to take a New Years Eve Cruise. A word of caution if you are looking to take a cruise over any New Year you will want to book very early. For example, the first week of October there were several options on several cruise lines. In the second week of October most all of these choices we gone.
We left the port of Miami on December 30th 2009 and returned January 4th, 2010.
In November of 2009, Celebrity launched several "all you can drink" options. These include:
- Frozen Drinks (margarita's; daiquiri's, etc)
- Alcohol (house alcohol)
There were four of us in our party and we purchased one water card and one beer card for the four of us. I cannot recommend these cards enough. On the water you get your choice of Evian stilled and Perrigrino Sparkling. You get bottled water at no charge at every bar, every restaurant and all day everyday. These are not the small bottles either - these are the large bottles of water all the way to the 1.5 liter size. During dinner we easily went through 5 bottles a night.
The same goes for the beer card. The beer card gives you every can or bottle of beer at no charge. This includes both domestic and imports. To make the math work on a beer card you need to drink about 6 beers per day. You can only order one beer at a time, but on the pool deck there are 4 bars in the immediate vicinity. At first we simply each took my card to each different bar and ordered a beer. Then one of the waiters came over and asked told us that we did not need to come to the bar because he would make the bar "come to us". I then told him we were looking for some good service and slipped him a $20 in his pocket. That was it - we never had to make another "beer run" the rest of the cruise. Regardless of the number of beers we wanted - he brought them over and put them on the free card. On every cruise you should always tip your waiter early in cash and I promise you that you will get better service than you ever have had in the past.
A note on tipping. At first I felt a little guilty when the bartender or waiter gave me a bottle of water or beer and the charge slip had zero, but a spot for additional tip. Then I remembered that Celebrity had had 15% to the cost of the card for the gratuity. In essence the gratuity on these drinks was pre-paid.
Also remember to double check your charge slip to make sure the waiter did not charge you. We did have 3 separate incidents where the waiter inadvertently charged us. The good news is as soon as we pointed it out they reversed the charge.
A more professional cruise experience? The cruise on the Celebrity Century felt like it was designed for the more seasoned cruiser. It is highly likely that what I am about to describe is common through out the Celebrity Cruise Line, but since this is my one and only cruise with Celebrity, I can not say this for certain.
Compared to all of the other cruises I have experienced, I never felt "sold to". Unlike other cruises there was not the constant announcements about a jewelry sale, art auction, bingo game, etc. Our mail box / cabin was also not littered with flyers and coupons reminding us of the same. It was a nice break. This is not to say that Celebrity did not keep us informed about what was happening aboard the Celebrity Century. There were occasional announcements and of course the daily itinerary of events was delivered to our cabin nightly. But if you waited to be told what to do next aboard the Celebrity Century you would have missed out on various activities.
Jamaican Waterfall: This was an excursion in Ocho Rios. If you have the physical ability you should not pass this up. Basically you climb UP a 650' waterfall. They have guides to take you up the waterfall safely. It is a true one of a kind experience.
The Bad and the Ugly:
Room size: As mentioned earlier we have been blessed with the ability to cruise with a suite the last 3 cruises. 2 aboard Holland and this one on the Celebrity Century. The suite was less than 1/2 the size of a similar suite about Holland and the bathroom was about 1/3rd the size. We traveled with 3 pieces of luggage. One of the pieces would not fit in the bed or in the closet. The room attendant / butler had no alternatives so for 5 days it sat out. So you take a small room to start with and now have a piece of luggage to maneuver around for 5 days.
The Bed: I have slept on more comfortable beds in a college dorm. The are very flat. Even worse was the length. At 6'3' my feet easily hung over the edge of the bed. I spoke with a gentleman who was under 6' tall and he said he had the same problem. He was not in a suite so the bed length must correspond with the type of room. My assumption is the beds were short to allow people to walk around them.
Recycling: Non-existent. In this day of being green this was a huge shock and disappointment. Aboard Holland there is a recycling trash can in every room. Not aboard the Celebrity Century. The good news is they gave you less paper to throw out in terms if coupons and flyers, but there is still a good amount that could be and should be recycled. I definitely look on this a negative towards Celebrity Cruise Lines vs. the Celebrity Century. The age of a ship should not dictate whether or not you offer recycling.
The Buffet: The food that was offered was more than plentiful and the quality was fine. However, in the evenings the menu remains the same. If for whatever reason you did not want to eat in the main dining room - the choices were:
- Create your own pasta
It NEVER changed. All of the above is also available at lunch. I have never been on a cruise and have had this experience. I can tell you that about Holland whatever they offer in the main dining room is also offered in the buffet line / cafe.
The Murano: Like all other cruise lines, Celebrity Cruises offers a higher end restaurant you can enjoy for a fee. This fee usually ranges from $25 to $35 per person. Celebrity advertises the Murano as an Italian Theme. It is not like any Italian I have ever seen. For example, I have yet to be offer Fuqua (stuffed goosed liver) in any other Italian restaurant. I would call it a mish mash of French, Italian and seafood. The issue I have with the Murano is not the food but the charge. The left hand of the menu is a 5 course food and wine course. At the bottom of the menu it says there will be an $89 charge if you order this meal!
So with Celebrity you can have higher end within higher end? It is one thing to offer a higher end dining experience aboard an expensive trip already, but to then want to charge an additional $89 for a menu selection is absurd. The night we were there we saw no one order the 5 course meal so I wonder why it is really offered. Perhaps they want to limit the offerings in the Murano and this is a way to do it while still making their menu appear full.
7 Mile Beach Excursion - Grand Cayman: Some might say this is not fair to hold this against Celebrity Cruise or include in a review about the Celebrity Century, but I am well aware that the cruise lines keep a significant portion of the money travelers pay for excursions booked through them. Celebrity Cruises is well aware of what they are charging for.