by Jeff & Jacki Stern
December 14, 2001
It has been a number of years since we've sailed with Celebrity, a cruise on the Zenith. We fully enjoyed the Zenith, but we like to try different ships once in a while. No cruise line can specifically cater to the likes, and dislikes, of a particular passenger, and each has something unique to offer. The food we enjoy best; the entertainment we like; the accommodations; the ship itself; etc; We've been on quite a number of cruises, and several cruise lines, since the Zenith, and have enjoyed each and every trip! Our cruise on the Grand Princess, in September, was "special." It ranks among one of our favorite, recent, cruises. FOOD:
I guess we had forgotten how good the food was, on Celebrity, until we arrived at the Welcome Aboard Lunch... It was deja vu, all over again! The caterer, Apollo, has not lost their touch!
Flavors and smells from the Dolphin, Britanis, Caribe I, Emerald Seas, and a host of old favorites, stirred up memories of 8+ pound cruises! In addition to marvelous food, the bread, cakes and pastries are a match for any land-based bakery. Each item with it's own dough, own consistency, own flavor. Flaky pastry dough and pie crust! The food was, absolutely marvelous and, without question, among the best we have had on any cruise. We felt it was far better than Princess & RCI. Being a "traditional-type" cruise, we had dinner in the dining room with the same Waiter and Waiter Assistant (the new name for Bus Boy!). The service was very good. We asked for Iced Tea the first evening, and it was there waiting for us at each subsequent dinner. The maitre d' was always present.. The food was served fresh and, where appropriate. Hot. During the entire week there were only one, or two, dishes Jacki or I were not thrilled with. They were, quickly, replaced with some delicious alternative! You know how good the food is when those loose-fitting clothes you packed begin getting tight after only three days... Like most lines, they have, practically, eliminated the midnight buffet. They have a wonderful Fruit and Dessert Buffet on Caribbean Night, and a Grand Buffet, on the next-to-the-last night. Both are as good as they ever were, on any ship! The other evenings, they serve "Late night Gourmet Bites," in the public rooms.
I have to start by saying that the Cruise Director, Julian, and his staff were fabulous. Always running around, and out of breath, I don't think there was a single passenger that they didn't get a chance to chat with. It was Julian's first week on board, and he slipped right into the groove.
There were three production shows, and they were all totally entertaining. The two main singers, Trisa & Daniel Jackson, were excellent! Their voices blended beautifully, and were completely enjoyable. The dancers were very good. However, NCL's dancers are still our favorites. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed all three, a great deal. The first night "show," with comedian Fred Klett, got off to a slow start. Toward the end it was mildly amusing, with a few laughs.
On Sunday, they had a show called "Stars on Strings." I was one of the most clever, and entertaining, "off-night" shows we have seen on any ship. The fifty minutes flew by during this marionette show for adults, performed by John Chisolm and Josef Probst. One evening, Jack Freedman, billed as "Piano Virtuoso & Unique Comedy," was only half correct. He was an excellent pianist, and the evening would have been fine, if he had kept his mouth shut! His jokes were very old, not the least bit funny, and poorly delivered. Mr. Freedman has no sense of timing. His joke telling was painful.
The club performers, Atlantic Duo, Brad, etc; were top-notch. The island band, "Logic," was fantastic. Again, one of the best we've encountered. The five musicians, from St. Lucia, could really get things going! The only down side was the fact that, by Contract, they had to play a lot of "American" music, such as country, pop, etc; What a waste! When they played reggae, or soca, or calypso, poolside came alive. "Caribbean Night," poolside, was fabulous!
I, personally, like ships in the 45,000 +/- grt range. They are large enough to offer a full list of amenities, yet small enough to be "friendly" and "cozy." The ship is well laid out, and all public areas easily accessible. Being a decade old, she lacks a soaring atrium, and has a "lobby." However, she still retains the feel of a ship, as opposed to today's floating resorts.. Something I appreciate.
She is beginning to show a little wear. The carpeting, in the public areas, needs replacing, and some general work is, definately, needed around the ship. The good news is that she is going in for refurbishing, shortly, and the deficiencies will be corrected. The cabin (we had a Standard Oceanview) was comfortable, if not roomy. It had a picture window, which is nice. The bathroom was a bit tight. It was, certainly, more than adequate.
There are very few balconies, since this is an older ship.
I won't discuss the ports, or shore excursions, since that is an entirely different matter. I will say that the present itinerary is good, but not great! I prefer one stop in MoBay, or Ochi, to two in Mexico. But, that's just my opinion. Ports are a very unimportant part of the cruise, for Jacki and me, and the ship is our destination. There were some very minor things that were not "perfect," but, all-in-all, this has to rank among our top 2-3 cruises! Not shabby, when you consider it was our 48th cruise.