Year Started: 1988
Ships in Fleet: 10
Summary: This premium cruise line features beautiful ships on itineraries world-wide. Excellent cuisine, great service, roomy staterooms. Modern Luxury at value prices.
Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Overall Service.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Bermuda, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Celebrity Millennium - Construction Cruise not Modern Luxury! This is our first time and also our last time on Celebrity due to poor management handling of various guest experience. 1st day: our in-room safe was not working - once place our valuable in the safe, the battery went out and we were unable to access our safe. The ordeal lasted more than 3 hours - kept on sending different crew member to resolve the problem, but no one could fix it - we ended up not using the safe through the entire cruise and hid our valuable in our suitecase under the bed. Toilet seat loose, almost off its hinges. Veranda is filthy, debris and remnant from previous guest not once cleaned during our 5-day cruise. Requested private table for two for second seating [prearranged 3 months prior to cruise] - was told by Celebrity reservationist to upgrade [by paying more money] to Concierge Class to get better dinner seating request - we agreed to the upsell and paid additional up charge to Concierge Class. First night, we were seated in a large table w/a group of other family - spent1 hour just to get private table for two as we originally requested - they sat us in a make shift table below stairwell, over looking the bus station, service doors straight into the kitchen. Also, noticed that half of the dining room has brand new carpeting w/rich beautiful red colour, while our section has a drabby brown fading old carpeting. Service staff in general was not very happy or friendly - often expressed that they'll be in dry dock and they won't have any income, but still have to work. They were replying our our tips to support their family [back home]. Buffet cooks were very unfriendly, intimidating and some quite rude and uncaring toward guests, but very nice toward officers and fellow crew members. Construction workers were working through out our entire 5-day cruise - pounding, drilling, scraping, shouting and arguing in public areas through out the ship. The Promenade and Sunrise Deck resembled construction warehouse and lumber yards. Equipments and supplies were placed in public area - lounge chairs were roped off and piled up to accommodate lumber supplies and equipments. Please check out you tube link below to experience what we had to endure through out our cruise:
Wrote to Celebrity CEO - letter was intercepted by Sr. Exec. Rep. - not once apologize nor acknowledge the construction concern ... offered $150 CAD toward future cruise on Celebrity. Celebrity expected to compensate our "botched" Western Caribbean Cruise by this offer [we spent this amount just on tips to the crew whenever we cruise on Holland America Lines].
Best cruise ever!!!
CELEBRITY ECLIPSE REVIEW 2-18-12 SAILING EASTERN CARIBBEAN
We just returned from the Eclipse-our 9th cruise with Celebrity- and 37th overall. We had been away from Celebrity for the past 8 years and were anxious to try the Solstice class ships.
Let me give you a little background on usâ€“ we are retired seniors living in South Florida just a bit north of W Palm in Martin county â€“ we started cruising in 1986 while still living in the Chicago area. We moved to Florida in 1994 and cruising became more accessible and we take advantage of that. We have cruise the most with Princess and Celebrity, but have experienced NCL, RCCL, Premier, Commodore, HAL, Carnival, and MSC. We love Princess and Celebrity for different reasons and keep HAL as an alternative. We booked this cruise last minute-about 2 weeks out. We cruise for relaxation and the enjoyment of being at sea â€“ We hate to fly so mostly cruise the Caribbean â€“ all areas.
We take the Cruise Connection bus to all our cruises â€“ the boarding point is very close to our home and it is a relaxing way for us toget to and from the ports. No wear and tear on our car and no hassle with traffic and congestion.
This cruise sailed from the Port of Miami. We hadn't been out of that port in many years. The bus dropped off passengers at Port Everglades and then continued on to Miami â€“ dropping us off last around 2:30pm. A great time to board â€“ we just walked in, presented our documents and were on the ship with a welcoming Mimosa. This would be a new experience for us as we were totally unfamiliar with the ship, although I had been reading up on it, as to where things were. We found our cabin (9260-inside on Deck 9) were pleasantly surprised at its spaciousness â€“ dropped our hand luggage and headed to Bistro on 5 for a quick lunch before the Muster Drill. The crepes we ordered were great as well as the soup â€“ we just finished when they called for the Muster Drill â€“ thankfully we were on the correct deck and we gathered at our station and were shown a film and listened to announcements pertaining to safety. Life jackets are not to be taken to this drill.
The Eclipse is the third of the Solstice class ships, launched in 2010 and is beautiful. Very contemporary in design and well laid out. There are a total of 16 decks (no deck 13). Public decks are 3, 4, 5, 12, 14, 15, & 16. The Grand Foyer is 3 decks high and very impressive. Everything was spotless. Some areas are more traditional in design â€“ some more contemporary â€“ mostly it flowed well. There were areas that appeared dark because of the dark wood used â€“ the Library has been made an architectural focal point and is beautiful â€“ lots of glass and big window areas in some parts of the ship â€“ a welcoming ship. There are two pools mid ships for all and the solarium pool forward that is adults only with lounges all around. It is enclosed however and can become noisy. There are hot tubs there as well. Lots of outdoor places to sit â€“ including deck chairs outside on deck 5. Very enjoyable. Great people watching!
We always book an inside guarantee cabin. We are Select members of the Captains Club and when we were assigned a category 10 cabin, I called and asked for the one category upgrade which they gave us. We were in 9260 which is midships on the starboard side of the vessel. It was excellently located to both the elevators and stairs. We take the stairs down and elevators up these days and the elevators were very efficient and ran quickly. Once acclimated to the ship, it was easy to get around. The cabin was very spacious â€“ one of the largest inside cabins we have ever had and the bathroom was spacious as well â€“ doors on the shower are a real plus as is a foot bar for shaving legs in the shower. The television was interactive and also had free movies on demand â€“ they could be paused until one returned if you wanted to do so. You can also check your bill, reserve dinner, shore excursions etc on it. A nice feature. Furnishings were very contemporary â€“ Bed was very comfortable and large. Choice of pillows was nice also.
The only thing of note was the lack of shelving to lay things - and hooks to hang things. There is a bureau with 4 drawers and drawers (tiny) in the bathroom. Closets have sliding doors which stuck a bit â€“ but had plenty of space for hanging clothes for a 7-10 day cruise. Our cabin steward -Efram- was excellent-seeing to our every need.
We signed up for late seating fixed dining at 8:30 in the Moonlight Sonata dining room. We requested a table for two and got just that â€“ table 431 on the upper level of the dining room and our waiter was Tamiji â€“ his assistant was Leonard â€“ and they were excellent in seeing to whatever we wanted at dinner. The food in the dining room was very good â€“ but lacked seasoning in some dishes â€“ more bland than we would have liked. There are items at dinner that are available every day â€“ some Celebrity favorites like Lobster Bisque and CrÃ¨me Brule and Cesar salad as well as Escargot â€“ and there was always plenty to choose from on the daily menu â€“ the rolls and bread sticks were excellent . After the first night, our drink preferences were always remembered and we were always greeted by name.
We ate in the dining room for breakfast as much as possible as well as lunch. On port days the hours for breakfast are shorter and we missed it the first port day and had to eat in the Oceanview Cafe â€“ chaos â€“ more about that area later. Both breakfast and lunch in the dining room were great â€“ my husband especially loved the Belgian Waffles â€“ I love the way they poach eggs â€“ service was great and we enjoyed it very much â€“ Lunch as well â€“ good choices and well served.
On Thursday there was no breakfast or lunch in the dining room â€“ instead it was billed as a Grand Brunch in the main dining room â€“from 10am to 1:00pm- well it wasn't grandâ€“ utter chaos â€“ people everywhere â€“ no idea of what stations had what food â€“ we were NOT impressed â€“ dining room cleanup was very lax â€“ a lot of work for not a good result in our opinion. Yes, the food was good â€“ but just try to maneuver the room-it certainly wasn't up to Celebrity standards of old.
The Oceanview Cafe is on Deck 14 â€“ a very utilitarian looking place â€“ very contemporary and loud and noisy â€“ hard surfaces all around and the way the stations were positioned, people just walked everywhere at once. At peak hours it was difficult to maneuver. There were good choices there for every meal â€“ we just prefer a more formal setting for our meals. The sushi that was served starting at 4:30pm was well liked by many â€“ ourselves included â€“ and the pizza was good and the pasta bar good. There is an ice cream bar too â€“ also a grill forward by the pool and the Aqua Spa Cafe in the Solarium (adult pool). We ate breakfast at the Aqua Spa and it serves healthy choices â€“ is a nice atmosphere and we enjoyed that. My husband found the pastry too bland and no real taste for him. He has a sweet tooth and loves that kind of thing â€“ feels that Princess is much better in that area.
All in all we enjoyed the food - we are not fans of alternative restaurants â€“ they seem to say that if you want superior food, you have to eat in these restaurants â€“ the main dining room food isn't really good enough. There are four specialty restaurants on this ship with a surcharge â€“ Bistro on 5 ($5pp), Murano, Tuscan Grill, and Qsine ($30 or $40pp) â€“ for us they are not worth the cost â€“ we have tried one or two in past sailings â€“ always too much food for us too â€“ and frankly the food wasn't so great that we felt it a good value.
I should add that they were very careful about sanitation. Crew members with Purell dispensers were at the doors to the Oceanview Cafe and the Dining Room and dispensers were everywhere on the ship. The public restroom doors were opened and closed with push buttons and the restrooms were immaculate that I used. Cloth hand towels were available as well as paper and with the push buttons you didn't have to touch door handles and the water in the sinks was automatic.
The Cruise Directors staff got the ship rocking the first night with a Motown Theme Party in the Grand Foyer â€“ it was outstanding and people were dancing on all three floors and enjoying the music â€“ great way to start off a cruise â€“ there were shows in the Eclipse theater (we didn't see any of them) and on Wednesday there was a Masque Theme Party which also had the ship jumping!!! Both of these theme parties we truly enjoyed. We also enjoyed the bands and other music all over the ship â€“ there was an acapella group, a great band Southside, the Impreze Trio, Front Page was a Caribbean theme duo â€“ great music everywhere. The shows were at 7pm and 9pm in the theater and that wasn't good for us so we just didn't see any of them â€“ but I can say that the Cruise Director Mike Gibbons was very good and his staff worked very hard all over the ship.
Celebrity did a Cruise Critic get together for us with refreshments and some senior officers there â€“ it was very nice and we got to put names and faces together â€“ We also attended the Select and Elite Captains party in the Sky Lounge where we could visit with Captain Skylogiannis and all his staff â€“ very nice party.
The staff EVERYWHERE on this ship was so friendly and accommodating. Smiles, hellos, time to talk, just great â€“ we were very impressed. Officers were mingling with passengers â€“ always glad to answer questions â€“ We took the Galley tour â€“ and that was very interesting â€“ they do that well and there is no charge. Celebrity sure rates an A+++ on their people on the Eclipse.
This was an Eastern Caribbean cruise â€“ stopping in San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas USVI, and St. Maarten. We have been to all these ports countless times and enjoy them all. We arrived early in San Juan â€“ had plenty of time to reacquaint ourselves with the Old City â€“ sailed away at 10:30 pm â€“ beautiful out on deck as we left. In St. Thomas we got off early afternoon and walked around Havensight â€“ there is also a new area close to the ship called Ships Haven â€“ upper end shopping there â€“ we no longer go into Charlotte Amalie. A great option in St. Thomas is going to St. John on the ferry. We sailed away at 4:30pm â€“ a beautiful sight. St. Maarten is our favorite on the eastern route â€“ Phillipsburg is fun to walk around and the dock area has been improved tremendously from the days when all ships had to tender into the island. The beach on the Boardwalk is lovely. We just like staying in Phillipsburg. We have been to the French side a number of times â€“ no need to go back for us.
We haven't taken excursions from the ships in a long time â€“ so I can't speak to that aspect of the trip - Debarkation
Since this was the first time we had been out of the Port of Miami, we were unsure just how this process would work. We filled out the debarkation questionnaire and an envelope appeared in our cabin with luggage tags stating that we would be in a group off the ship at 7:00am â€“ I knew that the Cruise Connection bus groups were usually last off the ship, so I went to the Passenger Services Desk and sure enough, we had been given the wrong tags-so they corrected that. We were now in the group debarking at 9:40am. The dining room was open for breakfast until 8am on the last day â€“ so we just made it â€“ took our time â€“ then went back to the cabin, gathered our hand luggage and went to the library to wait-right about 9:30 our group was called. When we got to the terminal we found that, unlike Port Everglades with their big room of luggage grouped by color, there were luggage carousels like at the airport â€“ be sure that you ask the Celebrity Reps there WHICH carousel your luggage is on since we waited at the wrong one for a while â€“ only to find that our luggage was on the other â€“ once we got that and went through Customs, we found the bus representative, waited about 15 minutes and our bus was there. An easy way to end the cruise.
Our Impressions of the Cruise
We had a wonderful time. A cruise is made up of many parts and Celebrity hits a high on most of them â€“ however â€“ there certainly are areas in which they can improve the experience. The Solstice class ships are beautiful and enjoyable. The staff and officers and Captain of the Eclipse made it a great cruise for us. We will book Celebrity again very soon.
You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have. Happy Cruising!
An escape to the warm tropical seas of the southern Caribbean and New Year's Eve at sea; that was our Christmas present to each other this year and we were very excited about it. We had only one other cruise and that was about six months earlier on Holland in the Med, so were still pretty new to the whole cruising thing, but if Celebrity was anything like Holland, we knew we were going to have fun. Well, we did have fun, but if our experience was at all representative of Celebrity, we won't be going back.
Now let me begin by telling you that the ship, Summit, was on her last voyage before heading into dry-dock for a renovation. That having been said, I will refrain from comments that pertain to the ship specifically, though in all honesty, it was clean and well kept. We had no issue with that at all. In addition, the service was, for the most part, fantastic. Our major concerns centered on two areas; food and operations.
The food was, well, acceptable. Now for anyone who has never been on a cruise before, you maybe thinking "Acceptable soundsâ€¦acceptable." But that's not true. Cruise ships all about the food. But even that statement is somewhat subjective, so let me give you a few specifics.
For openers, the variety of food was limited. Or there were sever food stations and each had something different, but they were the same each day. Breakfast is kinda tough to fill with an ever changing variety. You got you pastries, pancake-like items, eggs, fruit, cereal, etc. But lunch and dinner can (and in our opinion should) be unique. If only one station had a dish that represented the food from the area, that would be very interesting. For example, while on our Med cruise with Holland, both lunch and dinner included dishes from Greece, Turkey, Croatia, and Italy as we pulled into each respectively. Surly on a Caribbean cruise the ship could have had at least one dish that was representative of the islands; jerk pork, sea bass with mango chutney, even Roti (an Indian-like dish that is actually a local standard). When I mentioned this to a senior restaurant staffer (I'll not mention his title so as to protect him, but he's since left the ship and is now on another Celebrity vessel), he asked if I thought people would actually each local dishes. My wife and I and the other couple dinning with us that evening all looked at each other then back at him as if he were mad. "Of course!" we assured him.
Ok, so enough about variety. The food quality was hit of miss. On the same evening that we chatted with the aforementioned staffer, four of the six of us dinning together that evening ordered the lobster. Two of us sent it back and the other two simply stopped eating. It was awful. It was not edible. But that's not the half of the experience that night. Though what I'm about to tell you was not the norm, it does bear telling. Service that evening was exceptionally slow. We waited a very long time (at least 15 minutes) to get our entrÃ©e, not fed, just the entrÃ©e. There were courses before the entrÃ©e that came just fine, but then we waited. When asked, we were told it was due to the popularity of the lobster, I can only imagine that it was the pre-sampling popularity not the post, which was driving everyone to order it. Never-the-less, lobster is always a popular item and they should be prepared for that. Given that the food is "free" and lobster is so expensive, naturally everyone is going to order it. So, we wait for lobster that's inedible and two of us send it back. Bad enough, but it gets a little worse. Our waiter never returned to see how we liked our meals. Ya know how the waiter always returns to your table to see if you need anything (usually within seconds of your plate arriving and prior to you having a chance to taste anything)? Our waiter disappeared. I'm certain he was busy with other guests, that's completely understandable. But when his assistant (each table has a waiter and an assistant) took back the two lobster dishes, even he could have asked if we wanted something else. Nodda! Now in fairness, a couple of nights prior to this, we had an opposite experience. Basically the same restaurant, different server, he was wrath-like in his attention. So chalk it up to a bad night.
Another food area that really lacked excellence was up on the cafeteria. Each ship usually has a large cafeteria-style restaurant where there are several food stations and it's pretty much self serve. Now, I come from a food service back ground so I understand the challenges associate with buffets. It's difficult to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and keep everything from drying out, yadda, yadda, yadda. Difficult, but not impossible. On Summit, it just wasn't done right. The only way to ensure hot eggs was to have them make an omelet; the only way to ensure fresh pizza was to wait for it to come out of the oven, and the only way to get hot pancakes was to get them somewhere else. Ironically, when we had this very discussion with the aforementioned senior staff member, he agreed with our lamentation. Incredibly, he too had had a bad experience with each of the items I mentioned. His response? "There was nothing I could do." This was a senior restaurant staff member. He was a boss. If he couldn't do anything to correct an issue he himself experienced, what does he expect the passengers to do? I gotta tell ya, we were pretty flabbergasted when we heard him tell us that one.
Other food related issues a more centered around poor planning. There were a lot of kids on board and as such, things like ice and ice cream were very popular. Naturally they're popular with adults as well, but the sheer volume of people quickly overwhelmed the resources. The ice machines ran out, the ice cream was soft, or gone, or was behind long lines with only a few servers. A question of logistics.
So, enough about the food. The other area of frustration was in the ships operation, Holland just had this part down to a science. At check-in, we all stood in line waiting, waiting, waiting for the staff to check us in. While there were many people doing the job, they just didn't seem to have an efficient flow about the process and as a result, it was a long wait. But even when we did finally get through, the staff dropped the ball. They gave us out key-cards and sent us off toward the ship. When e got to the ship, we realized they'd not told us our room number of how to navigate the ship, nor were there any crew members stationed to direct us! Now, my wife and I are seasoned travelers, so we quickly found our room number and a map, but that's not the point. On Holland, a crew member escorted us to our room, giving us a quick navigational lesson in route.
A final note on operations. It seemed that things were just "tougher" on Summit. When you go to a five star hotel (and nearly all cruise lines make just such a claim), you expect a simple response to all your requests (whether literal of figurative) and that is, "No problem." I'd like a bottle open and wine glasses brought to my room. No problem. I'd like coffee and pastries to breakfast. No problem. I'd like to have dinner with some new friends we met on board. Problem? Most cruise lines have two dining options; timed or open. The timed option means you have a set dinning time and table each night; 8:30 at table 12 with the Smiths and the Jones'. Open means you can dine whenever you wish, though you may have to wait for a table. We opted for open and while on the cruise we made friends with a couple that had chosen timed. In order to have them join us, we had to call guest services who then called the restaurant to facilitate our request. Come on people! It's just dinner! That was pretty frustrating.
So I've written a lot that may lead you to believe that our experience was bad, but that's not the case at all. We had a wonderful time, it just wasn't the quality that we'd come to expect. Perhaps if we'd traveled first with Celebrity before Holland, we wouldn't have the same high expectations. Then again, this was our first cruise on Celebrity and perhaps we should give them a second chance. Perhaps the next time we cruise on Holland we'll have a less wonderful experience (hope not). It is not my intent to dissuade any one from a Celebrity cruise. There are many, many people who love Celebrity and wouldn't consider sailing with anyone else. I hope that like any caring business, Celebrity considers our experience and takes the appropriate actions to ensure the quality of their line is not tarnished. As for my wife and I; as I said earlier, perhaps we'll give Celebrity a second chance, perhaps not.
CELEBRITY ECLIPSE East Caribbean Cruise December 10 â€“ 17, 2011 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house there was hustle and bustle, so this review did not get done! 'Twas the week after Christmas and all through the house there was hustle and bustle, so this review did not get done. 'Twas Jan. 1, 2012 and a New Year, so with resolution we now attack the job; it will get done.
The Celebrity Eclipse is a wonderful art experience. Since she is a sister ship to the Solstice, she is exact in every way except in her decorations. The art collection has been described like her name: Eclipse -- "rare and unexpected" as the book on Eclipse art says. The pieces of art have been selected to make the passengers look "stop and ponder." Featured is the art community of Miami; showcasing two artists per deck, one on port side and one on starboard. With each display there are unique points being made, for example, Miller's photos of what seems to be an eclipse are actually camera less shapes made directly onto photographic paper. Usingthis as a stepping off point will set passengers up for a unique and surprising art experience. Be careful what you think you are seeing may not be what you are seeing at all!
EMBARKATION The Eclipse sails out of the Port of Miami, although it's about a one hour ride from Boca Raton, FL, security is much less time consuming than Ft. Lauderdale. Thus a similar amount of time is required. We arrived at 12:45pm, baggage drop off was rapid. Vincent used his walker and not his scooter. Even though 1:00pm was listed as boarding time, we were boarded immediately. We have Elite status; therefore, there was no waiting. Our stateroom 1524 Deck 11 was ready; we left our carry on luggage in the room and were off to the buffet of Roast Beef and Pop overs in the Oceanview Cafe` (deck 14 aft).
THE SHIP As we remember, all the captains of the Celebrity ships we have met have been Greeks, so is this one on the Eclipse, Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis, who was born in Athens, Greece. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas. The Grand Foyer on Deck 3 had a wonderful gingerbread Church and winter scene. The church had three separate sections and two bell towers. The scent of gingerbread brought Mother's kitchen to mind. It was artfully adorned with lots of frosting and "snow"; the foreground had a miniature train and it was surrounded by miniature Christmas trees with many twinkling white lights. There were several mini house scenes and even a red mail box with Snoopy sleeping on top of it. The Atrium balconies on Decks 4 & 5 were festooned with green balsam garlands and clusters of gold and maroon balls. Everywhere were real red poinsettia plants and some areas were all white poinsettia plants --- just lovely.
To travel on these fantastic cruise ships anytime is great, but at holiday time it's spectacular. Hotel Director Bernhard Stacher (Austria) and his staff set the tone on the Eclipse with very high standards. The sea is good to Bernhard and he gets younger looking every cruise.
Even though we wrote a thorough description of her sister ship, the Solstice, here we will concisely review the Decks:
Deck 2 houses the medical facility.
Deck 3 has the lower level of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room with its fantastic ceiling of crystal balls and ship evoking shapes. Here are also Guest Relations, Shore excursions and the Passport Bar.
Deck 4 has Celebrity Central, Entertainment Court and the Eclipse Theater. Here are also Cellar Masters Wine Room and three Bars: the Quasar, Martini Bar, and Crush. It also houses the Fortunes Casino, the shops on the Boulevard and the upper level of the Moonlight Sonata Dining Room.
Deck 5 has the upper level of the Eclipse Theater, the Art Gallery, Galleria Boutiques and the Photo Gallery. There are four lounges: Cafe al Bacio (coffee), Ensemble, Galleria Tastings, and Michael's Club. There are five restaurants: Bistro on Five (Creperie), Blu (Aqua Class reserved restaurant), Murano (specialty restaurant, French cuisine), Qsine (specialty restaurant, around the world cuisine), and the Tuscan Grille (specialty restaurant, Italian steakhouse).
Deck 6 has the iLounge (Internet) and staterooms.
Decks 7, 8, & 9 have all staterooms.
Deck 10 has the Library with open stacks (24 hrs.) and staterooms.
Deck 11 has a Relaxation Lounge and staterooms: mostly Suites, Concierge and Aqua Class staterooms.
Deck 12 has passenger areas: Aqua Spa, Beauty Salon, the Persian Garden Pools, Solarium swimming Pools and Whirl Pools. Aft there are the Sky Suites and the Concierge Staterooms
Deck 14 has two Bars, the Mast and the Oceanview, the Sky Conference Center and the Sky Observation Lounge. Midship is the Jogging Track and aft is the Oceanview Cafe`.
Deck 15 has the Corning Hot Glass Show, the Lawn Club and Bocce field, the Fun Factory and the Video Arcade.
Deck 16 is the Sun Deck.
The ship is registered in Valletta, Malta. She had her Inaugural Season 2010; she weighs 122,000 tons; her length is 1,033 ft., beam is 121 ft. with a draft of 27 ft. and a cruising speed of 24 knots. Her occupancy is 2, 850 guests.
CABIN Wheelchair accessible cabin #1524 (Aqua Class) is located forward on the starboard side. It has an automatic door opener with an extra wide door and a foyer with a place to park the wheelchair. When entering on the left is a huge bathroom with a large 4X4 ft. shower with fold up seat. And safety rails all around. Next is the queen size bed with flanking night stands: One drawer and a shelf and reading lamps. Then, there is a small beige love seat and a medium coffee table.
When entering on the right there is a double wardrobe with ample room. Next, is a long desk/cabinet with six drawers, a personal safe, a refrigerator, a lighted mirror, a desk chair and a coffee table. The carpeting was Burberry, heavy on the maroon and our Steward was Fevon Gracias, who was always ready to help. The far wall is half window and sliding doors to the balcony which has two recliners, two stools and a table. Vincent uses the balcony frequently, he loves to relax, to contemplate and sometimes naps lulled by the ship's motion and the sound of the waves. He also enjoys star gazing and this time he was lucky to see some of the most bright shooting stars on late Tuesday evening. Later we learned that it was the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower.
FOOD AND SERVICE Service under Hotel Director Bernard is excellent. We travelled Aqua Class with our own special Dining Room "Blu." This restaurant is dedicated to healthy, inventive offerings (reminiscent of chef Todd English). The portions are medium to small; just the way we like them, since we are more tasters than eaters. The Blu manager is Alex , whom we met on the Solstice. Maitre D' is Marcel (Slovakia) and Asst. Maitre is Viorel (Romania). The Sommelier is Krish (Mauritius). Our waiters were Gede (Indonesia) nad Renata (Macedonia). This friendly International group made our week at table #855. Blu is decorated exactly like the one on Solstice except the dominant color there was cobalt blue and here it is ruby red. Not as stunning as the blue, but still lovely.
The breads are excellent and hot: crispy bread sticks, French bread, olive rolls, dark ryes and some sweet ones too. Practically, there are just four courses: appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts. Eating in Blu was pleasant and quiet. On the second Formal Night Bernard invited us to the Captain's table in the Moonlight Sonata and we were struck by the fact that the main Dining Room was so active and high spirited. It was fine for one night, but the next night we truly appreciated the calm and relaxing atmosphere of Blu! I guess we are starting to show our age.
We dined in the Tuscan Grill ($30 cover charge) and enjoyed it. The menu is new, the Maitre d' Jorge is from Portugal and his Asst is Erkan from Turkey. There is an offering of eight or so appetizers. Mary tried the crab cake and a carpaccio of mango and octopus, and Vincent the prosciutto and an arugula salad with fried mozzarella. For entrees Vincent took the perfectly cooked filet Mignon and Mary the Veal cutlet done Milanese style with mushrooms and truffle sauce, buonissimo. Our waiters were Peter (Hungary) and Mehomet (Turkey) and the Sommelier was Maria (Serbia). Service was terrific and the entrance of walking under giant wine casks sets an expectation for a special night, and it was.
ENTERTAINMENT On board activities are under the supervision of Cruise Director Mike Gibbons whose interesting background in music and performance makes him a hit! On this ship , in addition to the usual cruising activities, such a dance parties, pool games, trivia, bingo, casino gambling, etc., there is an interaction between officers and passengers which includes challenges of officers versus guests in Bocce games (Lawn Club, deck 15), Pool Volleyball (deck 12), etc.... Also there was a Star Gazing party on the Lawn Club conducted by officer Andrew. The List of Activities published in Celebrity Life is so extensive that you can be very busy throughout the cruise, so we are very fussy in selecting some interesting ones and dedicate the most of our time to relaxing and enjoying "il dolce far niente" (the sweet do nothing). We also enjoyed chatting with a few officers at the Captain's Circle Party, the Environmental Officer Andrew Mott (Worcester, Mass.), Financial Controller Fani Kechagia (Greece) and Resources Officer Mario Valentino (Canada). All of them are courteous, helpful and interesting people, easily interacting with passengers.
"Celebrity Showtime" in the Eclipse Theater has been on par with our expectations, but the one show we enjoyed best was that of the singer impressionist Paul Tanner: a great voice and terrific impersonations of Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. We heard that comedian Al Ducharme was really hilarious in several performances throughout the cruise, unfortunately his shows were so late at night that we missed them all.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Miami, FL USA Depart 4:30 pm Day 2. At Sea Day 3. San Juan, Puerto Rico Arrive 3:00 pm Depart 11:00 pm Day 4. St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 8:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 5. St. Maarten, Antilles Arrive 8:00 am Depart 5:00 pm Day 6. At Sea Day 7. At Sea Day 8. Miami, FL USA Arrive 7:00 am
DEBARKATION We had an early breakfast at Blu Restaurant and at eight o' clock we went to the Bistro to get wheelchair assistance for debarkation. It was all so very simple and expeditious that we were on our way home by nine o'clock.
CONCLUSIONS This was another great cruise. There has been insinuations by some readers that our reviews are not critical enough, since they contain only a few negative points and bias for the special treatments we receive from officers and crew. And this is somewhat true: How could we write a negative criticism when we have had a great cruise, where everybody made us feel very special, where everything we desired we received? Naturally, our demands are reasonable and we know what to expect when we book a cruise on a given ship. This was our 93rd cruise and by now we know well many cruise lines and their ships. Thus, we know what to expect from most of them and we can choose our cruises accordingly to our desires and preferences. Furthermore, since in the last few years we both have had to deal with limited mobility and need a wheelchair accessible cabin, we cruise only with those lines which do best to accommodate disabled passengers. In the past we have raised issues about availability, location, comfort of accessible cabins with several cruise lines, but only some of them have heard our plea by making their new ships more wheelchair-friendly (i.e., Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian), while some others have ignore the problem (i.e., Costa, Carnival and Holland American). Actually, there is something that can be improved even in this ship: The gangway at the entry point to the ship on deck 5 is a bit too steep for Mary's wheelchair pedals thus she had to be helped to access the ship.
Our next cruise is on one of our very favorite ships, the Oasis of the Seas, Jan. 21st, 2012. We sailed on the Oasis in Dec. 2010 for the inaugural cruise, thus we look forward to spend our wedding anniversary on this fabulous giga ship. We have also booked a cruise on the MSC Poesia for Feb. 18th, and this is a new cruise line we want to experience. Happy cruising!
So much has been written about the Celebrity Equinox that I will limit most of my review to suggestions about how to enjoy the ship and the (transatlantic) ports of call. It is difficult to imagine a cruise that comes closer to ideal than our Equinox transatlantic cruise (Nov.28 - Dec.12, 2011), which sailed from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Ft. Lauderdale, spending a week in the western Mediterranean and a week crossing the Atlantic. The Equinox is a beautiful ship and the crew could not be better-trained or more enthusiastic. Everyone, from the crew members who daily polished the stair railings to the cabin stewards to the wait staff to the senior officers and personable cruise director (named Que, pronounced Q), made every effort to insure that passengers had a wonderful time. The ship is German-built, and no expense seems to have been spared. It is like owning a Mercedes -- every detail is well-designed and expertly crafted, and one notices something new and beautiful about it every day. The cabins are modular and arranged in pairs, with a curved wall between each pair and a flat wall between each module. That maximizesthe space around the bed, which is in the bump out, while minimizing the total space required. This dual cabin module is a feature of inside, outside and balcony cabins, but not the larger suites. This means that cabins alternate between having the bed near the door or near the windows. It also means that cabins can be joined at the entryway, rather than having a pass through door, which can be noisy. When choosing a cabin, make sure you specify your floor plan preference. Keep in mind that the pool deck has a major overhang, and the balconies just below it are in the shade. Also, aft balconies are tiered, so they are sunnier but less private, and may have some soot from the stacks. The public areas are gorgeous and well-used on sea days. There seemed to be something going on to satisfy any taste. The enrichment lectures (three academics) and the classical musicians were fantastic. As usual, everything musical is over-amplified, so take your earplugs to all events, especially the stage shows and the talented a capella quartet. People often discuss cruise food and sometimes sound like the princess-and-the-pea: they niggle about minor details without enjoying the major pleasures. We found the food on the Equinox second to none, including our experience with luxury lines like Silversea. There are several elegant and popular alternative restaurants on the Equinox, but we tried none: dining in the main dining room was a pleasure and we felt no need to pay the hefty surcharges for alternative dining. Each menu was imaginative and beautifully presented, which is a feat considering the length of the cruise. The beef was not prime in the main dining areas, but it was flavorful, and the fish was always ideally cooked (rare when requested for game fish like tuna, well done but rarely dry for white fish). Appetizers were so tempting that we usually had two and skipped the soups and salads, which are also excellent. We had open ("Select") dining, which required pre-paid gratuities. There was never a wait early (6pm) or late (8pm), but there was usually a line at peak times (7pm). It was enjoyable to have new dinner guests each evening. The wait staff was amazing: they were good menu consultants, attentive, and very professional. The maitre d's (ours was the lovely Amelia) also did an excellent job, especially since everyone seems to want extra attention. They were always patient and cordial. Desserts are my downfall. To avoid doubling them at dinner, I stopped by the El Bacio coffee lounge each afternoon and had a sampling of the desserts there (no surcharge for the desserts). The buffet had excellent made-to-order hot items and wonderful cold foods, from salads to sandwiches to (free) ice cream. As usual, hot foods from the buffet steam trays tended to be over-cooked, which is almost impossible to avoid with self-service, but they were still flavorful. Best of all, there is a rear deck off the buffet where one can enjoy one's meal al fresco. One thing to keep in mind is that hand washing is more effective than gels at killing viruses (but gels are great for bacteria), so we always wash hands after touching any buffet tongs and before eating (most people just gel before entering the buffet area). There is a hand wash station (but only one) portside aft in the buffet area, next to a coffee station. No one else used it. The poolside grill is actually one deck up from the pool. People loved the burgers and fries there, but not the lines. We skipped lunches there, but nibbled on a napkin-full of fries when we did our deck walk before dinner each evening. They are the best fries in the world, and worth the calories. The gym is busy on sea day mornings: treadmills filled up and their use was limited to 30 minutes. Instead, consider the free stretch and ab routines run by the cordial personal trainers each morning at 0700 and 0730. When the weather is good, the class uses the top deck lawn. A lawn on a ship sounds crazy, but it is heavenly to watch the sunrise as one stretches on the (real) grass. The outdoor hot glass show also seems like a crazy idea on a ship, but it is wonderfully informative and entertaining. The three Corning glassblowers were very talented and a pleasure to watch, almost daily. They raffle a few of their items each cruise (they make three items during each show) and later auction some items for charity. One of my (free) raffle tickets was a single digit off from the winner, which is probably fortunate since I travel with an airline carry-on only and would have had no space to take anything home without having to check a bag. Raffles tended to occur about a half hour before the end of some glass shows, for those eager for a free work of glass art. It is difficult to recount all the pleasures of this cruise, both great and small. We were so impressed that we booked an "open passage" while on the cruise. This allows one to receive additional cabin credits (up to $300) on one's next Celebrity cruise, with a reduced ($100) non-refundable, non-expiring deposit. Prices quoted by the future-cruise staff seemed to match the prices we had previously found on the web. Some passengers mentioned that Celebrity has special web offers every Tuesday, but I have never had much luck with the Celebrity web site: it seems very klunky and slow to navigate. For those who want to see some photos of the ports of call and of the Equinox, the link follows: The Equinox Mediterranean and Atlantic cruise photos are online. Click on the following link, or copy and paste it in your browser if necessary. When the thumbnail photos appear, click on the slideshow option and wiggle your mouse to get the control panel and set your preferred speed. If you get a “stack overload message, keep closing it (click the X box) till it goes away. The images are degraded a little from the originals to save bandwidth, but they are still enjoyable. The first half is ports of call, and the second half is the ship itself. You may want to watch in two sessions. Enjoy! https://picasaweb.google.com/efschlenk/EquinoxCruise1211?authkey=Gv1sRgCOjm95Xkm-GyjAE# For independent (and inexpensive) SHORE EXCURSIONS the following information may be useful. I used public transportation and never took a tour or spent more than 10 euros in a port (except for the train ticket to Marseilles, which was 16 euros round trip for seniors). I prefer taking my time and setting my own itinerary. I speak tourist-level Italian, French, and Spanish, but English-only speakers should have no problems in these ports. Rick Steves has just come out with a guide to Mediterranean cruise ports. It is worth every penny for the larger ports, but does not include the smaller ports. However, there usually is a tourist official with maps at these smaller ports, often right on the dock near the ship. Celebrity charged only a few dollars for shuttle service into port town centers, which helps since some ports are large and industrial. Public transportation is always available from the town centers to the countryside and neighboring towns. CIVITAVECCHIA (port of Rome): After our last Mediterranean cruise, we spent a few extra days in Rome. Just before returning home I was mugged (in broad daylight near the Vatican) when leaving a restaurant. For this reason, this time I flew into FCO on the day of cruise departure, took the local (not express) train to the Rome-Trastevere station and then the local train back to Civitavecchia: total cost about 15 euros, and total time about 1 hour each way. Since I was traveling solo, this was much cheaper and not much longer than the alternatives between airport and cruise port. The walk from the Civitavecchia train station to the port entry is pleasant, and Celebrity provided a free shuttle from the port entry to the ship. Although I was early and the shuttle bus was nearly empty, the bus attendant would not let me carry on my (one small) bag and she was quite nasty about it. I was unwilling to let it out of my hands, since my bag once "disappeared" in a port shuttle in Spain, so I walked to the ship with my bag in tow. It took about 40 minutes and was dicey since there is no pedestrian walkway. Fortunately, I cooled down by the time I reached the ship, and check-in was a breeze. That shuttle was my only negative experience on the whole cruise, and it was my choice to walk. LIVORNO (for Pisa, Lucca, and/or Florence): Spending 2 hours by train each way to visit Florence made no sense to me, especially since I rented a place on the Arno near the Ponte Vecchio a few years ago. Instead I opted for Pisa and Lucca by public bus and train. The new Rick Steves guide to Mediterranean cruise ports gives all the details you will need. I had not seen Pisa since my childhood (it has not changed) and Lucca was new to me. Both provided charming walks and historic sights. In Pisa the walk from the central train (or bus) station to the Field of Miracles (Leaning Tower) is delightful. Pisa is a university town on the Arno River (like Florence), with great photo ops along the way. Lucca is an old walled city. The promenade along the city walls is beautiful, and some of the old mansions and guard towers with views are impressive. It was easy to spend half a day each in Pisa and Lucca. Including Florence would have been too much travel in too little time. Again, the Rick Steves cruise port guidebook gives great suggestions and has useful maps for all three cities on your own: Pisa, Lucca, and Florence. TOULON (actually the yacht harbor Le Seyne-sur-mer): Celebrity provided a bus for several dollars into Toulon (about 20 minutes away), but I preferred to take the local bus to the Le Seyne train station, and from there the train to Marseilles. The train leaves around 0800 and 0830, then about hourly except mid-day. If you exit the ship early and walk through the yacht basin (follow the pedestrian signs to the town center), a local bus will take you the 2 miles to the Le Seyne train station (Gare). It leaves the port area around 0730 and 0745, in time for the early trains. Its stop is at the intersection about 100 yards east of the yacht harbor entry (look for the bus shelter on the cross street). Walking to the station would be too far. Later in the day, a cross-harbor ferry (public) took passengers to the Toulon train station, but this was not mentioned in the ship's port guide, and I do not have details. Historic central Marseilles is only about a mile across, so it is easy to walk from the St. Charles (main) train station down the hill past the "Arab" street market to the picturesque waterfront. From the waterfront one can walk up the hill to the beautifully renovated Charite museums (ethnographic and archeologic) and/or catch the public bus from the waterfront up the hill for fantastic views over the harbor from the Notre Dame de la Garde cathedral. Again, The Rick Steves cruise port guidebook gives all the information and maps you will need for a wonderful day in Marseilles, and the train ride to get there is along a beautiful coastline. BARCELONA: Our ship docked at B terminal about a mile from the Columbus (Colom) tower. There is a port shuttle bus just outside the terminal for 3 euros round trip to the tower (worth it since the port is industrial). From the tower it is a short walk to the Metro station, where a day pass for the entire metro and bus system in Barcelona is only 6 euros. I took the metro to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, then the bus to the historic Barrio Gothic (old cathedral, city museum, Picasso museum), then the metro to Parc Guell north of the city, then back to the Eixample District for the modernista architecture, then a walk down the pedestrian zone Las Ramblas, and then back to the ship at the end of the day. Montjuic and its museums (or Montserrat and its shrine) would have taken an extra day, best when cruises have an overnight in Barcelona. Again, the Rick Steves cruise port guidebook gives all the information you need to enjoy Barcelona on your own (and on the cheap). CARTAGENA: Very few guides have any information about this port, which is the sleeper of the cruise: small beautiful, and easy to access. Simply walk off the ship and all sights are an easy walk away. Just pick up a free city map at the tourist information booth on the pier. The must-see sight is the Roman amphitheater and museum. The city has been active since Roman times, and its buried history is gradually being unearthed. A beautiful new museum is on the pedestrian street near the ship. It takes you underground and then up and outside to the amphitheater, from where you can continue out and around to the beautiful views from the old fortress on the adjacent hill. Alternately you can take the elevator from street level to the fortress overlook, but the approach from the amphitheater is much more dramatic. By chance there was a Renaissance street market going on during our visit: great photo ops if you check my photo link elsewhere in this review. Just strolling the streets of Cartagena in good weather is a joy, even if there is no special street market going on. PONTA DELGADA (AZORES): The crossing from Gibraltar to the Azores takes almost two days and is often the roughest part of the cruise (per the weather and sea charts that I followed before departure). We had moderate waves hitting us broadside, but the Equinox was amazingly stable considering its tall superstructure -- just a gentle roll that was no problem at all. I am a poor sailor (afraid to tackle the Antarctic seas) but needed no motion meds and lost no appetite. Azores guidebooks in English are hard to find: the best are written in German, with good maps and hiking information. The surroundings of Punta Delgada look like Ireland -- small farms in green rolling hills, with cows occasionally blocking traffic. Idyllic. One can easily walk from the ship to the center of town, which has a nice historic feel to it since the Azores were the way-station for shipping treasure from the New World to Europe ever since the 1500's. There are some nice gardens and old churches, but taking a local bus into the countryside is the most rewarding option. At 0825 a bus left from the waterfront west of the ship (look for all the bus stands) and traveled round trip to the caldera lakes of Sete Cidades, one hour and 5 euros each way. I did not want to miss the ocean crossing, so I stayed aboard the bus for the round trip. A German couple on our ship got off the bus at Sete Cidades, walked to the next town, and took another bus back. Caution: buses are few and far between, and there is no way to join the ship if you return late. If the high cost of onboard internet annoys you, the Ponta Delgada library, in the center of town, has free internet access and great washrooms. Any local person can help you find it, and city maps are available on the dock. FT. LAUDERDALE: One way airfares US to Europe are outrageous (more than double the corresponding round trip fares), so I opted for a Choiceair.com open-jaw itinerary through the cruise line (still about the same price as the US-Europe round trip). Because I travel with one small carry-on only, even on cruises, I was able to walk off the ship at 0630 and was at the airport (by taxi) and through security and at the gate by 0700: a personal record. My flight did not leave until 1130. Usually I am able to fly standby on an earlier flight, but everything was booked this time. Fortunately the Delta Sky Lounge let me wait there (and have breakfast) since I am a gold elite flier and they now allow free access on any transoceanic itinerary (they stretched the rules for me on this domestic segment of the itinerary). This is a great new service from Delta that I learned about on a vacation to Hong Kong a few weeks before the cruise. It is worth checking into if you are a frequent flier. I have even used it to shower between long haul flights, although not all Sky lounges have showers. Hope you enjoy your cruise as much as I did. Bon voyage! P.S. Again, for photos of the ports and ship: The Equinox Mediterranean and Atlantic cruise photos are online. Click on the following link, or copy and paste it in your browser if necessary. When the thumbnail photos appear, click on the slideshow option and wiggle your mouse to get the control panel and set your preferred speed. The images are degraded a little from the originals to save bandwidth, but they are still enjoyable. The first half is ports of call, and the second half is the ship itself. You may want to watch in two sessions. Enjoy! https://picasaweb.google.com/efschlenk/EquinoxCruise1211?authkey=Gv1sRgCOjm95Xkm-GyjAE#
Celebrity did a wonderful job of lining up speakers of interest for this long transatlantic cruise. There was plenty of activity to keep everyone busy for the many at sea days. Dining was a bit of a disappointment as we felt the quality was not quite up to Celebrity standards based on our past 15+ Celebrity cruises. None of our shore excursions were booked through Celebrity, but the excurisions we took (booked at the ports) were excellent. In the Azores, we went with Ricardo on a tour of the green and blue lagoons...very nice. At LaHavre, we simply took a bus across the river to Honfluer and had a wonderful day just visiting the village. The PROBLEM we encountered was with Butler Tours of Cobh,(Cork) Ireland. Due to weather conditions the ship did not port at Cobh as scheduled. We, along with my sister and husband had pre-booked a tour with BUTLER TOURS. BUTLER TOURS states in their policy that a refund will be issued for the tour if the ship cannot port as scheduled. Butler did provide us (my wife and I) a refund, but denied a refund tomy sister, and here is the reasoning. Just a few weeks prior to sailing, my sisters husband was killed in a tragic accident. A week after the funeral, she wrote to BUTLER TOURS asking about their refund policy in an instance such as this, stating that "we (meaning her along with her now dead husband) will not be taking the cruise". She was considering other options, such as bringing a son on the cruise with her, or transferring the tour tickets to me and my wife to provide to another couple on the cruise. When BUTLER TOURS replied to her that no refund could be given, she wrote again stating that she had determined that she would take the cruise and bring her son along with her, so that the tour tickets could still be used by her. BUTlER TOURS then replied stating that they had cancelled her booking and "given the tickets to another couple who had earlier faced a similar situation". NEVER had my sister indicated she had any intention of cancelling the tour - this was something BUTLER TOURS did on their own based on the commet my sister made when she indicated that "we" (meaning her and her now dead husband) could not make the cruise together. BUTLER TOURS failed to allow her to make other provisions or to transfer the tickets. Now, with the cruiseship not porting at Cobh (Cork), BUTLER TOURS did set about to provide refunds to those that had bookings as per their policy, but refused a refund to my sister. I am sure that all of us find this to be totally unacceptable....if anyone deserves a refund it is a widow faced with difficult decisions and unexpected issues. BUTLER TOURS is being brutal in their stand on this claiming an intent to cancel, which is not true.
My husband and I vacationed on the Summit for one week. This would be our 6th time cruising, but our 1st for Celebrity. For us, this ship would score a 4 star but for food we rank it a 5 star. Keep in mind we are both foodies and love to cook and eat. It was fantastic, both gained 8 pounds in one week :). Luckly it quickly came off when we returned home ;)
BEWARE, Great ship, excellent service, fabulous food, entertainment ok, This ship allowed a "DOG" to be on board, said customer had letter from doctor it was a service dog. I have no problem if someone needs a service dog. But this was a poodle which the owner carried around the ship even brought it to dinner. I have never heard of a service dog being carried around by the owner. We were not advised of a dog on board when we booked otherwise we would not have booked a member of our party has allergies to dogs and one is terrified of them. Celebrity blew it on this trip, If you are going to book with them be sure to ask will there be a "DOG" on board. Eating food with a dog in the room is unhealthy and disgusting
We would not sail the Infinity, or Celebrity, again. This was our first Celebrity cruise. Onboard we continually heard veteran Celebrity cruisers saying not to judge Celebrity by this cruise. Many passengers had complaints throughout the cruise, more so than any other cruise we have been on (this was our 11th cruise). The ship, coming out of major refurbishment, was not cruise ready. Embarkation was delayed by bussing passengers to a convention center where we sat for several hours before being bused back to the cruise ship, and given a box lunch while travel agents were given a party onboard. This also meant the dining room wasn't prepared and didn't open on time for dinner. The ship departed approximately 6 hours late which limited onboard activities while we sat in port. There were several "inconvenience" issues throughout the cruise. Water, ice, and coffee machines were frequently empty or not working, buffet lines closed early, and there was a morning of plumbing issues in which toilets on our deck wouldn't flush. In Manta we were told we had to purchase shuttle tickets if we were to get off the pier. This simply wasnot true as many of us learned after buying Celebrity's tickets. Upon exiting the ship there were "courtesy shuttles" available. There were several "health risk" issues. The chemicals in the thalossotherapy area were so high it bleached swimsuits and left a residue on our skin. Having life threatening food allergies I always call ahead several times to make sure my dietary requests are noted and check again once in the dining room. Because some of the meals I received left me questioning whether I was receiving the correct meals, I met with the Maitre d'. It was on the fifth day I learned the staff didn't understand my allergies and it was now taken care of. Anyone with required dietary needs knows this is a major (in my case, life threatening) issue. There were several "good" issues. The itinerary was great. The room stewards were wonderful- always smiling and there to help. Jenny Baker from Guest Services was fantastic and several passengers commented on her efficiency. Once underway the ship was beautifully decorated for the Holidays. Previous Celebrity cruisers suggested I write Celebrity a post cruise letter and give them a chance to renew our faith. The response letter by Jessica Scaglione, Guest Relations Advocate, was like the cruise, mediocre at best. The response letter stated "I sincerely apologize for the 'inconvenience'" in regards to severe food allergies; "regret that we fell short in this area" reference the box lunch, bussing passengers to the convention center for several hours, and delayed departure; "the misinformation provided about the transfers offered in Manta. I appreciate the time you have taken to share your experiences." pertaining to paying for transfers we didn't have to pay for; "have also noted your additional concerns" regarding "the discomfort caused by level of chemicals in the hot tub, and the plumbing issues" which left me feeling the health issues weren't taken very seriously.