My wife and I try to cruise every fall. We are in our early/mid 40's. This was our 13th cruise and our 3rd time on the Mercury. We were pleased with the ship based on our previous sailings but for this particular voyage we sailed Mercury mainly because of the itinerary and because we were able to sail with friends. This was really a repositioning cruise but it was billed as a 9-night "wine cruise" based on the ports of call involved. I won't spend too much time detailing the ports of call we visited (Victoria, Seattle, Astoria, San Francisco, Monterey). I will focus this review on what we experienced on the ship itself.
While I would consider the Mercury to be in 'good' condition, she is far from being in excellent condition. Several areas throughout the ship were in need of maintenance. Nothing that would ruin a cruise, but there were many items that we thought needed attention. Examples; the exterior handrails in many places looked like they had not been varnished in months. The wood floors in the elevators were well worn and were in need of refinishing. The exterior decking material was worn, chipped and discolored in many places. In the Navigator Club, many of the windows had broken seals and the panes were fogged as a result. Again, none of this would ruin anyone's vacation, but it was a shame to see things like this that could be easily fixed with a little TLC.
Our stateroom was in decent condition but one of the chairs was so badly bent we could not use it. There was some wear and tear in the bathroom including rusty fixtures. Also, the toilet was a bit slow to react sometimes. Many times we had to wait 30 seconds or so for the flush to kick in after hitting the flush button.
Celebrity (like most other cruise lines) seems to be very concerned with preserving our environment. I applaud them for this. However, some of what they are doing on the Mercury borders on being extreme. To save electricity (which on a cruise ship results in saved fuel) many of the ship's interior lighting fixtures have been shut off. In the hallways leading to the cabins for example, all of the overhead lights were off for the entire trip -- only the wall lighting was on. This resulted in a very dark, dank appearance. In many of the lounges, lighting was so low that they completely lacked any ambiance. Had we not sailed the ship previously we may not have noticed this, but since we had, the difference was dramatic. The majority of the lights on the pool deck were also shut off after dark. Even the crew that was working to clean the pool deck after sunset was working in the dark. Did any of this ruin the cruise, no -- but little things like this do factor in to one's overall enjoyment.
Without a doubt, service was top notch in almost every area. Our waiters, bartenders, cabin stewards and everyone else we encountered were all exceptional. We have only positive reviews here. Several members of the photography staff were especially friendly and outgoing.
Food is always very subjective, but in our opinion the food quality and selection have gone down a notch or two since the last time we sailed with Celebrity two years ago. Many dishes were excellent, but we had more than usual that were just OK at best. One thing they did do on this sailing was the replacement of the midnight buffet with a brunch buffet. This was done on one of the sea days in the main dining room. We found this to be a great idea because after our late seating, we're never hungry for midnight buffet food anyway. Nice decision on their part.
We spent most of our evenings in the Rendezvous Lounge. The band that played here was quite good. While we do not normally attend any of the Broadway style shows, we do enjoy shows that feature comedians and other specialty entertainers. On this trip we were unable to enjoy a lot of the entertainment because there were virtually no shows scheduled after the late seating. On all of our past cruises, those that selected late seating were able to enjoy shows that were scheduled after dinner. On this voyage, all of the shows designated for late seating guests were scheduled BEFORE dinner. This seemed odd to us and we missed out as a result. Stateroom TV was mediocre at best. Pay per view movies were available but most of them were about $12.
I appreciate the need to keep germs in check, HOWEVER Celebrity is a bit over the top with their hand sanitizing techniques. As you enter the dining room and the buffet areas, there are sanitizing dispensers you can use. No problem there. But, next to the dispensers they also have staff members with gallon jugs of the stuff squirting people. They attack you like trained snipers. Then, as you re-enter the ship from port, you are rarely allowed through security until sanitizing is forced upon you. This is especially awkward when you have your hands full of bags, IDs, etc. without a spare piece of exposed skin for them to squirt. As the cruise progressed we referred to these folks as the "Squirt Police". Watch out -- they will get you!
Many of the little special touches Celebrity used to provide were missing on this trip. On all of our past cruises for example, we were always given a small piece of chocolate with the coffee we purchased at the Cove Café. That is no longer provided and when we asked the bartender about it, he explained it was cut out to save $$$. Not a huge deal, but a small mark against Celebrity in our opinion. This was something that set them apart before and now they seem to have come more in line with other cruise lines.
Mercury is no longer pristine and several of the little 'special touches' Celebrity used to provide are no longer available, but overall this was a nice trip.