by Debbie Powell
November 13, 2010
Accommodation: Concierge Class cabin 9169 (with balcony)
Ship: Celebrity Century is dated and definitely in need of refurbishment.
Accommodation: In need of refurbishment. Cabin carpets and soft furnishings were quite shabby. Bathroom was tiny and there was a terrible sewage smell in our bathroom which I reported to the Assistant Guest Relations Manager as soon as we boarded. Bathroom was then disinfected but when disinfectant wore off, smell reappeared and lingered for remainder of trip. Coincidentally, our relations who were next door in cabin 9165 also had a sewage smell in their bathroom and when we walked down some of the corridors leading to other cabins, there was also a sewage smell. The first night onboard ship, water was off from midnight until 5 am as emergency work was carried out so I suspect there are some plumbing issues on this ship. I was also surprised at how small our cabin was and Guest Relations pointed out to me that the size of the cabin is detailed on the website which is true but if the website is being used as a point of reference, the cabin looked SO much better on the website than in reality. I don't suffer from claustrophobia but found the cabin to be very claustrophobic and had my balcony doors open the whole time including during the night. I dread to think what it would have been like without the balcony doors.
Staff: On a day to day basis, all the employees were friendly and helpful.
Food: Standard of food in the cafeteria and dining room was pretty good. Little niggles in the cafeteria like having only very hot glasses and plates on hand for cold drinks and desserts which meant desserts started to melt! Restaurant service was very slow at breakfast but better at dinner. I was the only one in our party to eat fish and on the 3rd night, suffered immediately from terrible diarrhoea which I then suffered with each evening thereafter.
Dress code: My husband and I prefer to dress smart casually but as we were told the formal evening would be dressy and definitely required a dinner suit or lounge suit for men, we packed appropriate clothing which turned out to be a complete waste of time and effort as the dress code wasn't enforced and many diners were quite casual. I just wish we had been given accurate information as I had taken the time to double check the dress code.
Entertainment: Seating in the Celebrity theatre was hard and uncomfortable and even though shows only lasted 45 minutes, the 4 of us found them noticeably uncomfortable. Standard of entertainment was mixed. Comedy juggler was excellent. Some of the groups were good including the new accapella group. Comedian was good although our English relations missed a lot of the humour because his act was very American. For his act, it was also necessary to see TV screens which we couldn't even see properly from our seats at the back of the theatre. Broadway show and in particular female singers and dancers were very poor with endless off key notes. Overall, entertainment was disappointing.
Facilities: Poor. One pool which was very noisy with sun loungers packed in like sardines. Shopping very poor, not that we intended to shop onboard ship but I expected better. No internet access in cabins. As for sport, there were 2 boxing matches (one was Manny Pacquiao and the other was David Haye) on 13th November which we felt sure we would be able to watch onboard ship on HBO or Sky but on checking, there were no facilities available to see either match.
Ports: Very disappointing. In Jamaica, we were able to walk off the ship but I am so glad we booked a tour as the port is very run down and we definitely wouldn't have felt safe if we hadn't booked an organised tour. On arriving at Grand Cayman, there were 4 other cruise liners there the same day so the port was very busy and we were surprised to find it was necessary to take a tender from our ship to shore. I was looking forward to visiting Grand Cayman but was disappointed as port is just full of duty free shops so we organised a car to take us around the island.
This was our first cruise and there was a limited choice of cruise lines departing from Miami for a short cruise. I chose Celebrity rather than Carnival because of its advertising which I now consider to be misleading as Celebrity markets itself (in their own words) as a "comfortably sophisticated upscale cruise experience with personalized service, fine dining, revitalizing spa programs, and exciting entertainment". I remembered their TV adverts along the lines of "returning to your normal life is quite an adjustment" and "prepare to be treated famously" but the reality is far removed from their advertising and I felt like I was at a 'Butlins' or 'Pontins' holiday camp.
I couldn't wait to return to my normal life and after boarding the ship, when I complained to the Assistant Guest Relations Manager about our accommodation and asked if we could pay to upgrade, I was told that, in spite of the sewage smell, there was no alternative accommodation available. If I hadn't been with our family from England, I would have got off the ship even before it left the port of Miami but as we had our English visitors to consider, we had no choice but to continue and I can honestly say I couldn't wait for the cruise to end.
My purpose for writing this review is to try to help someone else who is in a similar position to me, having travelled extensively and stayed in very nice hotels but considering giving a short cruise a try. If you are determined to try, my recommendation is to go with a much newer ship with better facilities and to reserve a large cabin with balcony.
When booking your cruise, the price doesn't include tips (which are obligatory), drinks or tours which have to be paid for separately and I found the online check-in process and organising of tips/drinks/tours very time consuming. Incidentally, paying our tips in advance meant we qualified for Celebrity Select Dining and could therefore choose the time of our dinner reservation each day. If we hadn't prepaid, there would have been no choice other than early or late dining which I think is 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm respectively.
Since I was a child, I have spent a lot of time on motor and sail boats but I definitely felt queasy the first night resulting in only 2 hours sleep. My sister-in-law had brought some Kwells (a travel sickness pill) which I took the next day and immediately felt much better so I definitely recommend taking travel sickness medication just in case as we didn't find a general store onboard.
I'm used to the facilities of good hotels (minimum 4 star) and want to point out that irons/steamers are not allowed on board ship which I would think is the same for all cruise ships due to safety. I believe there may be a pressing service but can't comment as I didn't use this.
Be aware you have to give up your luggage by midnight the evening before you disembark and just keep hand luggage for getting ready the next morning and of course, you disembark early morning so it is a very early start the day of disembarkation.
I hope the time I've taken to write this review helps someone else avoid the awful experience we've had :)