by Robert Rose
June 21, 2003
As with every cruise we have been on, we had fun. However, this trip left a lot to be desired based upon our prior cruise experiences and our expectations for this cruise line.
Embarkation was smooth and easy. No surprises and no glitches.
We departed New York, New York under clouds and rain. However, we had great weather for the crossing and our stay in Bermuda. Our cabins were 9040 and 9041(inside cabins, midships). They were "comfortable", but the beds were a bit "sway-backed". The location was good (if you do not need a window to let you know when morning breaks). Our cabin steward was nowhere to be seen, yet everything was always done. This is the mark of a good steward. There were no towel sculptures and it was basic hotel management. We always had water, ice, towels, and extra towels on request. There is no extra storage for your suitcases if they do not fit under your bed.
Unpacking went quickly and we were roaming the vessel in no time. This was a 46,000 ton ship and was smaller than most we had traveled on before. The seas were not rough and we were told that the ship did not deploy its stabalizers, thus there was some swaying of the vessel. Some of the other passengers mentioned it seemed rough and a few came down seasick.
The vessel was small and it did not take much effort in figuring out where all of the clubs, shops, the casino, dining rooms, and showrooms were located. You could move about with ease and there were a few times an elevator was not working and it slowed traffic down a bit. The dining room was nice. I did not see a bad table on the starboard side. We sat for main dining. This is 6:00 - 6:15 p.m. Sometimes they opened early and sometimes they did not. The only crowding encountered was around the Starlight Dining Room right before the doors opened, but this was not overly crowded.
We had most of our breakfasts and lunches in the cafeteria style Coral Seas Cafe on deck 11. The meal selection there was limited. There was very little in the way of Italian food, Italian pasta dishes, no "Mexican" food, and no pizzas at lunch. Every other ship I had been on always had pizza going on all day and it was always available at lunch. When some of our group did get a pepperoni pizza, the pepperoni was not cooked. I do not know how this was done. They ran out of glasses repeatedly at both breakfast and lunch. On one occassion when I asked a crew member where the glasses were at, I was told by the crew member to go find my own glasses. This was a first. The breakfast meals were satisfactory, but nothing to write home about. The scrambled eggs were runny. the french toast was good. The bacon was "oily".
Our main dining was fun. The service by our waiter (Marlise), assistant waiter (Savio), and assistant maitre'd (Peter) was excellent. We joked with them all and they responded hesitantly at first, but then got into the swing of our table of eight. Once they obtained information on our drinks, we never had to really ask again. Ice tea began to flow and we were never out of water or coffee. I would like to see cruise lines serve sodas in the dining room and cafes without charging you for them. It was a hassle to keep pulling your cruise card out during the meal. The menu selections were limited beyond that of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line menus. Celebrity is supposed to be the premier line for dining pleasure in their fleet, but this did not come up to the standards of the Galaxy , the Enchantment of the Seas or the Grandeur of the Seas. We were disappointed in this respect. The food that was served was of the correct temperature and arrived timely. Our waitstaff did an excellent job. They helped us with a dessert that was not on the menu, but which was requested to be present every night (ladyfingers). The waiter and Assistant Maitre'd worked with the pastry chef and in two meals we had the dessert worked out and it was great. There were too many appetizers with duck parts and "fish pate". We were allowed to try anything we wanted and never left dinner hungry or without having the opportunity to eat anything on the menu. This is a major plus for a dining room. We did miss the "ever present shooters waiter" of RCCL fame. Our children (15-21) missed the opportunity to add to their shooter glass collections. Oh well. There is always next year.
The late night buffets were basically Tex Mex and the Grand Buffet. A note to Celebrity Cruise Lines, Tex Mex food does not contain "Cabbage" in any manner. It is not made with "duck meat". Taco fillings are not ground beef with "Ranch Style" beans mixed into the meat. It is properly seasoned ground beef which is then placed into corn taco shells or placed into soft flour tortillos. Mr. Roux needs to visit Texas to see what he should be serving, such as fajitas (beef or chicken), beef tacos, quesadillos, enchiladas, tamales, tortillas, chips and salsa, and queso and chips. The "late night bites" were passable, but lacked variety. They were also far and few between. I do not believe the cruise director's comment that late night bites were the cruisers' choice over a good late night buffet. The Grand Buffet was good.
In general the on board Palladium Theater entertainment was very good. You could tell the dancers were having fun and worked hard to put on a quality show. The singers did a good job. The female lead singer did a better job in the Broadway review than she did in the opening night show, however, both were entertaining. Some of us enjoyed both comics, but a few members of our party did not like the last comic. I believe it was a material issue versus presentation issue, but I may be wrong. Since we sat in Bermuda from Monday night until Thursday afternoon, there was no live "professional" entertainment in port. We missed this entertainment.
The nonprofessional entertainment was lacking in timing and frequency. A lot of the triavia, "Ocean Quest", and word games took place in the morning, at noon, and in the early afternoons. We like to take part in this as well, but when you are ashore, you do not get to play. There were a few offered at night. Again, oh well. On other ships, this was an early to late evening program that all cruisers could play. We did not see a "name that tune" or any music guessing game all week. This was a first. Karaoke was fun and frequent. However, on the closing night they had adult karaoke in the America's Cup Lounge from approximately 10:45 til 11:45 p.m. and then scheduled teen and childrens karaoke in the same lounge from approximately 11:45 p.m. til 12:30 a.m. This basically shut down the adult entertainment in this lounge for the night and opened it up to children for late night and early morning activities. This should not have occurred. There should have been another lounge (Cova Cafe comes to mind) for the youth to perform in and thus this would have allowed the adults to continue until 12:30 to 1:00 a.m. on their last night aboard.
The Bermudan people were all very friendly and personable. Bring extra money if you want to take taxis. A trip from St. Georges to Sommerset Bridge was $50.00 one way(about 18 miles). The mopeds were fun, but please watch the traffic. I would read the islands traffic laws before venturing out. Also, there is NO PASSING anywhere on the island. This was being ignored by almost everyone.
We had a good time scuba diving. We dove with an outfitter named Blue Water Divers. They were friendly. They had no nitrox (we did not need it, shallow diving), they provided an igloo with ice for drinks, and a small cooler with water in it for drinking. Be prepared to add weight due to the saltiness of the water. We dove on three wrecks our first day and one wreck and a reef the second day. If you are a new diver or you are uncomfortable about running your own dive, tell them in advance so that YOU can hire a "dive guide". This was made known to us the first morning. We were in 30 feet of water and there was no current, so there was no problem. The predive briefing was very good. We enjoyed our dives.
I now cringe every time I read how "Captain's Club" members are pampered and coveted. At the Captains Club private party we along with seven other couples were turned away from the party because the gentlemen were not "informally dressed". This meant we were to be wearing a coat OR tie. We were in slacks with buttoned-down oxford and/or dress shirts. No one was dressed poorly or in jeans, tee shirts, shorts, cut-offs or any other improper clothing. The two female staff members told us we were not welcomed as dressed and turned us away in front of numerous other cruisers. This was somewhat embarassing. We were dressed this same way for dinner (informally)and had indeed just come from dinner. It is apparent that Celebrity puts form over substance. These same two staff members allowed a 13-14 year old young man into the Captain's party with a tee shirt and shorts. Another young man was admitted with a tee shirt and sweat pants. Go think about the dress code. When we talked to the customer relations department, we were told that it had been sent to home office and they were going to implement a more stringent enforcement of the dress code. Welcome to the Captain's Club!
Also, if you are a diver, your diving knife will be confiscated the first time you reboard after a dive trip with your knife. I understand the need for security, but it was in my possession for three days before it was used and then picked up from me at the gangway. I had to dump my diving gear on the deck to get it from the bottom of my dive bag as there was no table at the security area. I asked them, what was the purpose of this move. I was told I could not have a knife on board. Imagine my chagrin and surprise about no knives when I was handed four at dinner and being able to take as many as I wanted to take at breakfast and lunch. This is an unnecessary action by the cruise line. When I was trying to pack on Friday afternoon, I was required to "WASTE" an hour and fifteen minutes of my cruise time to get my knives back. I called to get my knives (three divers) back so that they could be packed in my luggage, and I was told I would not get them back until after I got off of the ship the next day and then I could pack them in the terminal (in front of all the world to see into my luggage). I went to the customer relations area on deck 5 and tried to explain to the customer relations personnel I needed to pack them as they had to be scabbarded and stowed safely in my luggage. Again the answer was an emphatic "NO". I told them my diving gear was packed and that they could send a security officer to my room to watch me pack the knives, lock the luggage and then they could take it with them (as required), and I was again told "NO!" Upon asking to speak to the security manager and the cruise director, the security officer appeared. We went through the discussion again. He finally agreed with my suggestion. Imagine my surprise to have the chief of security, a security officer, and my steward knock on my cabin door with my knives. They must have been truly afraid I was a terrorist. They were packed, locked, and carried away with the head of security trying to apologize for all of the misunderstandings and the delay. This was unsatisfactory.
The bar waiters were excellent. They were personable and rarely did you have to ask for one to come by your table. They were not aggressive to try to get you to buy anything. They would ask you upon your arrival and then periodically come by and look around the table. If you did not want anything, they would clean up your table and come back later.
The casino staff was friendly and pleasant.
This was our fourth trip with friends from New Jersey. We had fun on the trip, but the actions of some of the crew did detract from our overall enjoyment of the trip. I doubt that I will sail the Horizon again. Partly due to the destination and partially due to the quality of the cruise.
Thanks to Marlise and Peter for being such good sports and joining in with the fun.
Disembarkation was average with nothing unusual going on to confuse anything.