by Ted Eadinger
November 6, 2005
At long last our cruise to Hawaii and return had arrived. A rocky start, however, as the ship was delayed in arrival until 1:l0pm, due at 7:00am. A departure system that was severely tested was the result, and Celebrity handled it well. Priority boarders, after a long and motionless wait in the holding area were smoothly allowed on at 4:10pm. Champagne was offered to passengers as they entered the foyer, to help smooth the transition from frustrated to excited. Boarding continued until 6:15, testing many passengers patience. Actual departure was just past 10:00pm.
The ship was in fine form. Our stateroom was very clean, well appointed and graced with a charming steward who immediately knew our name and showed levels of attentiveness we have missed on some previous cruises.
The first two days of sailing west into the Pacific were a challenge for many, with large swells and rather fierce head winds. At one time the Captain reported combined winds of 100 knots across the bow. The ship handled this weather in fine style, and most of the passengers were experienced travellers and took the motion in stride.
Ships amenities worthy of note. The buffet breakfasts and lunches were staffed excellently. Help was available to move the loaded food trays from buffet to table, and juice and coffee service was prompt and frequent. This seemed much improved over recent experiences. Similarly the dining room staff for the morning and lunch meals were attentive and genuinely welcoming. Evening meals were a treat each night, and the waiters, assistants and maitre'de were on top of their game. Specifically the maitre'de, so often invisible on previous trips, worked the room most evenings, and added information and warmth to the dining experience.
Entertainment had been a chronic disappointment to my wife and I on previous trips, almost leaving the impression that budget cuts had gone too far. NOT THIS TIME! The Broadway styled shows, 4 in all were well rehearsed, familiar music was used, and voice and dance quality of talent was excellent. Costuming, lighting effects and the band all seemed up to highest expectations. We heard many other comments on this fact as well.
Activities on board were in line with the passenger base, which was to say the least, mature. Wheel chairs, walkers, scooters all were prevelant, and the staff were courteous and considerate to the passengers requiring this form of assistance.
On shore activities remain, in my opinion, over priced for what you receive. With the passengers who wish to maintain control of the adventure from the gangway on, however, the tours were perfect for them. We enjoyed car rentals and exploration and appreciated our shore days very much. Slightly longer in each port would be appreciated.
One service highlight to mention. On one occasion we left a digital camera in the trunk of a rental car. As it was our last port before aiming east, we were panic stricken. On board at the concierge desk, our case was taken up, and diligenty solved. The concierge personnel tracked down the rental office, persisted until they searched the vehicle, found the camera, arranged its shipment back to San Diego, so that upon arrival we met our camera as we continued our trip.
In all, highest marks for Celebrity, both for the noted improvements, and in general to providing the expected service and quality, which makes cruise holidays a notch above.