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

by David Melgar
July 8, 2000

Our background:
We've been on 14 cruises so far. We've learned that people's opinion of a cruise is strongly affected by their age, their likes, and their expectations.

Cruises provide a variety of activities to suit different tastes. For us, exercise is our main goal. We are a couple without kids in our mid 30's with enough vacation to be able to enjoy many cruises. We're avid sail boaters & love the sea. We don't smoke, we love the outdoors & exercise. We're not into luxury, we always book cheapest cabin because we want to be able to vacation a lot. We care a lot about ship design, wrap around promenade decks, open spaces to view the sea, sunsets, moon shimmering on the waves. We're not into service, fancy food, and casinos.

We've seen passenger opinion affected more by expectation than the cruise itself. We've been on wonderful Carnival cruises where newcomers complained, and we've had a horrible experience on Celebrity where newcomers thought this is as good as it gets. So, my review as any is biased by my likes and dislikes. Having been on many cruises, our expectations are based on past experience, and perhaps a longing to re-live truly great cruise moments.

The Horizon is a typical 1990 ship. It is a generally pleasant tall box. Its design shows its age without providing any charm. There are no veranda cabins, no atrium, no wrap around promenade, and no Jacuzzis. It's hard to describe how totally styleless the ship is. It's as if you took a white metal box, painted a few black stripes on it and called it a ship. The pool area is adequate size but undecorated. One pool is deep everywhere (no diving). The ship used to have 3 Jacuzzis, but they were removed, possibly because of the soot problem. Instead, the ship has a unique small Jacuzzi pool, with jets & a group chaise lounge in the water with lots of bubbles. The pool is on deck 11. Deck 12 is the only deck where you can walk around the ship. It has the standard walkway around the pool area. Decks 11 & 12 are the only decks where you can look forward, but even then, you can't look down. They don't let you get close to the front of the ship so that you can't see the crew pool area below.

The stern is terraced down to deck 8. Deck 12 aft has cool chairs with a built in canopy to protect from the sun while letting the breeze through. They were always busy as were most deck chairs. Deck 11 aft is the buffet restaurant, where lots of garbage blows overboard. Deck 9 aft has 3 ping-pong tables & golf net. The ping-pong tables were either busy or ball-less. This cruise apparently had a problem with kids throwing balls over the side. You had to sign your life away on deck 5 just to get a ball.

I wish I could have bought some for a few bucks rather than go through the hassle. How cheap can Celebrity be? Deck 8 is the lifeboat deck, closest thing to a promenade. Teak decks, shuffleboard, but they don't like chairs on the deck.

Most public rooms were on decks 7 & 8, providing a decent variety of lounges. There is also a lounge on deck 11. Michaels club has really interesting decor reminiscent of a 1st class smoking lounge (it is a cigar lounge). Don't try to play chess on the equally interesting table. The extremely rude staff won't let you move the portable set if the smoke gets to you. We were in the middle of a challenging game, someone came in for cigars, we started moving the table to the game room immediately next door.

The bartender scolded us and forbid us from moving it. No room for negotiation, she didn't care about the game, not her problem, the board stays here in the smoke. We walked out for a second to contemplate the situation, upon returning, she had already reset the table. I have never experienced such rudeness. This one event made us so upset that it seriously adversely affected our cruise.

The ship has lots of soot from the smoke stack that falls on the rear decks. The problem is pretty bad, but the crew works hard to keep things clean. Watch out on your clothes & food.

Other than that the ship is very clean & well maintained, other than being an older boring design, you can't tell the ship is not new.

Overall, the ship is clean and functional, but hands down the ugliest ship we've been on.

Some of the crew is friendly, but too focused on schedule and arbitrary rules at the passenger's expense. Early closings are the rule, especially annoying at the lunch & breakfast buffets, and the pools.

The crew was often was rude to passengers. When some of our tablemates were late to lunch, they were asked, "do you know how to read a watch?"

Most irritating was a feigned interest in passenger complaints. Complaints were not responded to. The attitude was, complain all you want, we won't change it.

I can't complain at the crew, they're typically following orders. But the officers, and Celebrity should know better. We attempted to speak with the hotel manager Mr. Filippos Gergiov, but he did not bother to return our calls.

We didn't attend much of it. What we did see indicated that is was not a priority on this cruise. Most of the shows were poor quality, nothing like what's typically available on newer ships. The calypso band was actually quite good, except for the minor detail that they rarely played Caribbean music. They play good rock.

Exercise program existence is a lie. We cruise to exercise. This ship was not satisfactory for someone active.

The exercise room has been cut in half, creating one of the smallest exercise facilities afloat. The space has been converted to spa & massage, which are big money makers for cruise lines.

The exercise day consists of two morning exercise classes, one of which conflicts with a supposed walk a mile. The staff sometimes did not even show up for the morning walk. It was hard to tell it was ever going on.

The pool, our favorite spot to exercise, closed at 6:45pm even though sunset was at 8:30. During the day it was too crowded. The only chance to swim was early in the morning. I've never understood the need to close a pool that early & much prefer cruise lines that leave them open (such as Princess).

As mentioned earlier, the ping-pong tables had paddles but no balls. You had to traverse the ship and leave your cruise card to get a $0.50 ball! How cheap can Celebrity be? I wish I could have bought a box to avoid the hassle. Again, everything on a schedule, the front desk closes, after that time you can't get a ball no matter what.

That's about it for exercise, or the lack thereof.

As boring as the ship. Same every night, a broiled fish, a steak, some pork or veal. No other cuisine, no decent pasta, no vegetarian entrees, no international. Lunch buffet was usually bad. Afternoon pizza was ok. Who ever said Celebrity has great food wasn't talking about this cruise.

Other comments:
Music was piped in everywhere on the ship. It was a varied collection of amazingly irritating music. Imagine a mix of heavy metal, country and rap. No popular music, no reggae, soca, calypso music. Lots of 70's rock. If you want to hear Caribbean music this is not the cruise for you.

To be fair, cruise is port intensive, basically a ferry and hotel to Bermuda. This can explain the poor entertainment and food, however I find the crew attitude inexcusable. What we learned is that you get what you pay for. This is the cheapest cruise to Bermuda. It would have been well worth cruising on any other ship. As a cheap ferry and hotel in Bermuda it was fine, but as a cruise it was a disappointment. Given the negative value of the cruise, I'd recommend flying and staying in a hotel rather than take this cruise. Typically a hotel won't kick you out of your deck chair and the pool 2 hours before sunset.

These complaints were not isolated cases. Many passengers were distressed by the attitude aboard. When the attendant unceremoniously kicked everyone of the pool (a sizeable crowd), they were about to mutiny. All pleas and questions to the crew about why the need to close the pool were met with disinterest. His job was to close the pool no matter how many paying passengers were enjoying the afternoon sun. I have pictures of the cleared out and netted pool, as well as the deck being cleaned and chairs stacked on an obviously gorgeous sunny afternoon with many irritated passengers standing by.

In no way could I recommend Celebrity. Cruises can vary from week to week and ship to ship; however, I must strongly caution anyone considering a Celebrity cruise, and especially the Horizon. Spend the extra money, go on a cruise line that cares, basically anyone else. Your time is important, don't waste it on a cruise that is less than it could be.