Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

by Tina Johnson
October 22, 1999

Itinerary: Genoa Italy, Ville Franche, France - Barcelona, Spain - @sea - Tangier, Morocco - @sea - Funchal, Madeira - @sea x5 - St. Maarten, @sea x2 - Fort Lauderdale.

Past Cruise History:
8 Cruises - Celebrity's Galaxy (x2), Mercury, Century Princess - Sun & Dawn - Commodore: Enchanted Isle (x2) (Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, Alaska, Pacific Coastal) We are 41 & 38 years old, Chemical Engineer & homemaker

This is not a detailed review of the ships facilities as this has been done many times and the Century is a glorious vessel with comfortable staterooms and classic and airy public space.

This is our second cruise on Century, first was during the inaugural season for our 5th anniversary.

This was our best cruise to date.

We can't imagine how anyone could have a bad time on this trip. All our arrangements were done independently. We did our own air and pre-cruise arrangements.

We spent a week in Italy before boarding Century. Flew into Rome, Oct. 16/99 - the scaffolding was mostly removed from the sites after extensive restoration work throughout the City. The weather was cool & rainy, took local transit to many of the major sites. Spent 2 nights in Rome before heading south.

Took the FS Eurostar Italia train to Naples, transferred to the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento. Had two nights in Sorrento overlooking the Mediterranean. Visited Pompeii on our anniversary and enjoyed a picnic of local cheeses, bread & sausage while perched on rubble in the ruins of an ancient wineshop. Delightful, sunny & warm day.

Took the Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Naples, went to the National Archaeological Museum and enjoyed a slice of life visiting an internet cafe and local markets before boarding our overnight train to Genoa to meet up with Century. We had a comfortable compartment for 2 on the overnight train, arriving in Genoa at 6:30am. Our hotel graciously allowed us to check in early in the AM.

In Genoa we stayed at the Bristol Palace for one night. It was a charming hotel on a trendy strip. The weather was very rainy & cold so we spent the time preparing for our transatlantic journey instead of seeing the sights in the area. We found a laundry service near the port so we were able to board with clean cloths. This is important since Celebrity does not yet have self-serve laundry on board.

Due to the rainy & stormy weather we had the day prior to departure, Century was unable to stop at Livorno, the port for Florence on the previous cruise, so the ship actually arrived in Genoa the night prior to our departure. Embarkation went very smoothly, arrived at the port not about noon, and we were on the ship before 1:00pm and were in the first group "Zero" as we are Captain Club members. We were assigned to cabin 8025, Cat. 5 on Deck 8 Panorama Deck.

The cold & rain cleared away for departure and Opus played up on deck. We were late departing due to the Air/Sea passengers. All accounts we heard said that the passengers that used Celebrity's air program into Milan did not have a smooth transition from flight to ship. Delays, lost luggage, etc. - Air France apparently lost ALL the lugggage of a group of about 50 people, for instance - eventually delivered later in the cruise.

Fellow Passengers were overwhelmingly Floridians - there must have been a push in Florida as there were many from the sunshine state on this cruise. Ages mostly ranged from 50-60ish. Not many really elderly, frail passengers like you tend to see in Alaska. There were some Europeans. Most passengers we met had 10+ cruises behind them, many were repeaters with Celebrity, probably most of the ship were repeaters. Not unusual to find someone who had done the transatlantic a few times.

Villefranche, France (for Nice and Monte Carlo) Due to unsettled weather, the seas at Villefranche were not conducive to tendering and so after our arrival we departed within a couple of hours to head to another port so we could enjoy a day off the ship. Passengers with arranged tours to Monte Carlo were quite upset and disappointed about missing Monte Carlo and that night the casino on the ship was crammed full with folks that needed to spend some gambling dollars initially earmarked for MC no doubt. We left Villefranche and sailed 4 hours down the coast to Toulon, a quaint French town with a wonderful port. We docked a short walk from town where there were many shops & cafe's. The day cleared up by the time we docked and we had a sunny pleasant day in Toulon. Stephen went into town first and bought me a lovely floral bouquet and a wine cooler as a vase. (Also, Celebrity now has a florist onboard, never noticed this on other sailings - used this service to add to my arrangement) I'm sure Toulon will be a port added to future itineraries, it was delightful.

Barcelona, Spain Century docked a ways from town, but shuttles were provided. Weather was mixed. Sagrada Famillia was a must, we went there by subway and climbed the stairs to the top of the spires. Did some shopping along the Las Ramblas, and met up with the shuttle just before it started to rain. Barcelona was really beautiful, and by all accounts has great night life, but we were gone before it began.

Next day was a much needed "day at sea". As we headed west in the Mediterranean the weather steadily improved, with some fog & rain early in the day, but mostly good weather during the day. A light jacket or medium weight sweater were needed in the northern most ports, but t-shirts were all that were required after Tangier.

Tangier, Morocco
Took the first of 2 tours we booked through the ship. We both enjoyed Tangier tremendously. After our tour, we had a guide take us shopping, I was insistent I wanted to look for ceramics but we got the "rug show" anyway. Had mint tea and viewed many lovely carpets. Saw many people bringing them on the ship - boy can the Moroccans pack rugs compactly! A 9x12 rug becomes a manageable square bundle. I bought some nice pieces of Fez pottery and later bought a couple of little stone animal figures from the dockside merchants at the ship. This port was exotic but relatively safe. Probably best to have a guide for this port stop and to keep alert.

Another day at sea - finally Celebrity has offered some good enrichment choices - we had a series of lectures from David Aikman, a former Time Foreign Correspondent who had lectures throughout the cruise on various recent historical events and figures. It was delightful and I attended them all.

Funchal, Madeira
We were greeted with a double rainbow over the island as we gazed at the scenery from deck 11 - very photogenic moment. We heard it was considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The ship docked near town, but a shuttle was needed to get from the port area to the centre. Celebrity provided shuttles for this purpose. We took a local bus #20 up the hillside to a beautiful viewing point at the village of "Monte". There was a lovely garden and path, cafe & a couple of little shops. Took some photos of the ship WAY down below it looked about this big: <_________x____> from way up there. Lovely shops along the waterfront which was lined with parks. Bought another floral bouquet of tropical flowers to bring back to our stateroom and they lasted throughout the crossing of the Atlantic. Bought a bottle of Madeira wine (15 year old Malmsey) - at a shop right beside the ship. Those on tours said it was a beautiful trip and everyone came back looking much cheerier than previous days.

The Crossing of the Atlantic - 5 days
This was our first time to do it, but those on board who had done it several times said they had never seen it so calm. It often appeared like we were on a lake, almost mirror-like in the mornings. I never would have expected this. Had one dramatic thunderstorm that followed us for several hours and illuminated all the windows in the dining room at times. Up on deck that evening we saw a waterspout - a tornado over the sea - it was mesmerizing.

Each day at sea was a delight. We got into the illusion that this was normal life. It was long enough to develop a routine - wake up, roll over hit the Cabin Service button on the phone, ask for coffee & croissants for 2 and they'd arrive within 5 minutes each morning! Sometimes filled out the room service card and even hand wrote by the scrambled eggs "with cheddar if possible" and lo and behold, it arrived as requested. Check the charts for our location, pick up the daily news at the front desk around 1pm, have a cappuccino at Tastings, go preview the lunch or dinner menus at the restaurant... eat.. pizza.. read. stroll the deck.listen to Opus.enjoy the view from Hemespheres.

After leaving Madeira, the weather was mostly tropical, sunny, warm pool water, Opus played as the sun worshipers lined pool area, ice carving demonstrations took place, etc.

St. Maarten
Hot & Humid - sunny day, took our second of 2 excursions with the ship, Shipwreck Cove snorkeling - saw some wrecks, fed the fish bread from the morning buffet, had a delightful time. The water was a bit merky probably due to settling after the hurricane that affected the area a week prior to our arrival. Went into town, accessed the Internet at Parcels Plus for $5 for hr. Wrote emails and read up on the news. We lost satellite TV on the ship so for 5 days at sea we only had a glimpse of the news via the shipboard newspaper. Bought some souvenirs and tendered back to the ship for our final port departure.

@ Sea for 2 days
Choppy seas from St. Maarten to Fort Lauderdale, the roughest of the trip actually. We cruised east of the Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas before turning west toward Florida. We were bouncing around quite a bit for a couple of days. Never got bored on the ship, always something to do or enjoy. Celebrity delivered certificates to our stateroom for each of us saying that we crossed the Atlantic, with our names printed on them, and "suitable for framing". Nice touch.

Being a Celebrity cruise food was, of course, one of the highlights. The cuisine was the best yet, nothing short of fabulous for the duration. The Grand Restaurant was a splendid setting for some truly spectacular meals. The alternative dining, situated in the old Sky Bar (deck 12 Aft) was a pleasant venue for casual dinner from 6:30-8:30 (except formal nights). The menu is always the same - fruit cocktail appetizer, soup of the day, tossed or caesar salad, entree choices of Salmon, Chicken, Steak, Lasagna or pizza and Black Forest Cake or Key Lime pie for desert. Alternative dining is also not run on seatings so you may reserve your desired time within the 6:30-8:30 time frame. It was never crowded, and service was very efficient. Now in all cabin categories dining room meals can be served to your cabin in entirety during restaurant hours. The only difference is that everything arrives at once from appetizer to dessert. It is wheeled into your cabin on a drop leaf table. We did this on the 2nd of 3 formal nights of this cruise. Had prime rib & lobster and all.. Room service breakfast has been expanded to include eggs, bacon, etc. and I really think you could effectively order from the entire breakfast menu by writing in requests. Room service was generally blazingly fast, and the 24 hour menu has been expanded a bit to include Chili and Soup of the Day. Soup of the Day even came with Bread Sticks!!

Fort Lauderdale - disembarkation
We arrived on time, but were delayed in disembarkation. It was suggested that inspectors from various agencies were on board because the ship was returning from Europe after a 6 months or so absence. Health inspectors were also supposedly on board - this may account for the delay of dining room breakfast service as there was some kind of holdup in the galley. We saw some Holland America ships in port - including the Volendam which I was surprised to read when I returned was supposed to be leaving on its maiden voyage that day, but delayed a week. Sea Princess was there also. When they finally started letting people off it was after 9:30 and we were in the first group being Captains Club. Got off the ship, took a cab to the airport and went home.

The dining room staff were excellent, so were room attendants and front desk staff. Cruise Director Allan King was a joy, this was our second time with him as he was on the Mercury's Inaugural with us. Loved the "White Elephant Sale" an auction of unwanted items travelers did not want to have to pack (books, umbrellas, jackets, souvenirs) it was extremely well attended and Allan made it a hoot - enjoyed the Lectures by David Aikman, there was a full schedule days at sea, they were well programmed. Entertainment was very good, much better than Celebrity's past reputation. Movies are now shown in both the conference room and Celebrity Theater (some projection problems in the Celebrity Theatre) enjoyed Jokers Wild - an open mic joke session for passengers, got quite raunchy at times & Allan had to step in to tone it down.

Celebrity far exceeded our expectations on this one - Bravo!

Bring some foreign currency, learn their denominations and have a general ideal of the exchange rates. Take time to learn at least some basic phrases, such as "please, thank you, excuse me, how much is this, etc." in the languages of the ports you plan to visit.