by FRANK PERKIN
October 10, 2007
My Wife and I are reasonably experienced cruisers (over 20) principally on Holland America, Princess, Disney etc. This was our first cruise on Celebrity. The trip left Oct 10 for 13 days from Bayonne, N.J.
Check in began easily, although Celebrity lets people with incomplete paperwork come to the counter and complete it in front of people who have "so called" Express boarding. Things broke down quickly as we found that the check in area was a long mile to the ship, so we were required to board ancient shuttle buses. With wheelchairs, carry on luggage, and walkers, this was a real zoo. Cabins were not ready, so we went to the buffet, which was ok.
When we made it to our inside cabin, it seemed fine, except that there was no table assignment card. We had never encountered this before, and when I called the customer assistance line, they were disinterested in helping, other than to tell me to see the Maitre D. When I found this person, he was chatting with two people trying to change their dining time, while his assistant tried to hold off over 100 people with various problems, primarily that a lot of cabins did not have table cards. Fixing this was slow because only the Maitre D could use the computer to discover the table number. The rest of the day was ok, although dinner was average at best. As it turned out, this was one of the better dinners.
We are fond of Trivial Pursuit and similar games, and an excellent selection was offered. Incredibly, the cruise staff person who did most of the games at first was a nice young lady from Liverpool, who spoke a dialect that was almost incomprehensible, not only to us, but to two British couples we met, one of whom lived 20 miles from Liverpool. Since the movies on offer were ancient, the library tiny, and the other entertainment was poor, except for 3 really good stage shows, we persevered with the games. Playing trivia when you are understanding about two words in five is an experience. Apparently we were not alone, as a few days later other cruise staff members were brought in for some of the games.
We had signed up for a ship's tour of Acadia National Park, and were issued tickets telling us to meet on the pier. As a result we sat alone on the pier until I went up to the street where a mob was waiting in total confusion. An Indian lady from the Tour staff was looking totally overwhelmed, as an inadequate number of buses had been ordered, but fortunately the local bus company people took over and got everyone organized. I tried later to alert the Tour staff to the confusion, but met total disinterest.
Trying to keep this as short as possible:
Food: Breakfast and Lunch -- Adequate; Dinners -- Poor to fair food, service excellent.
The best meal we had was at a Perkins restaurant on the way home.
Our Cabin Steward: A real gem.
The Crew: Disorganized. A prevalent theory I heard from several passengers was that this was a replacement crew on their first cruise.
After all of the above, the norovirus infestation was a comparatively minor annoyance. As usual, there was no formal communication about the problem, but watching every available surface being sprayed with bleach (leaving many people with interesting stripes on their clothes), and me and others with bronchitis, got me asking questions and a knowledgeable crew member clued me in.
Disembarkation: The less said the better. My luggage was not put with the proper color code. When finally found, it was damaged. Buses back to the terminal were newer, and even more difficult to use with wheelchairs and luggage.
Would I travel with Celebrity again? Not if they paid me to go. If this is premium cruising, I will stick with less fancy ships with crews that know and care what they are doing. Mention of these issues on the comment cards went unnoticed.