by John And Phyllis
November 19, 2001
This is our experience on Celebrity's Zenith during Thanksgiving Week, 2001.
This was my wife's first cruise, my fifth, and my second with Celebrity.
Overall, we had a perfect vacation! That's right…Perfect!! I can't imagine another cruise ship giving us any better service or entertainment than what we experienced on the Zenith. We both agreed that this was the shortest week of our lives!
We have pictures of our trip posted at: http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumIndex?u=656613&a=14037203&f=0&sp=1&showa ll=true
SHIP: The ship was always neat and clean. There was always someone around cleaning, polishing, etc. I thought the layout of the ship was good, and finding your way around was easy. The Zenith decor was conservative. The elevators were a little slow, but that forced us to use the stairs and burn off some of those extra fat cells we accumulated during the week. Security was tight, but very much appreciated. Id's were checked thoroughly when leaving and returning to the ship. A picture ID and our Celebrity ID card were required to leave and return. We had an outside cabin on the fourth floor. It looked brand new! The cabin was the largest I had ever stayed in. The hair dryer on the wall was plenty hot. Plenty of closet and drawer space. Outlets are scarce, so bring a multi plug outlet when you cruise. The average age on board looked to be around 60-65. There were probably only about 30 -40 teens/children on board. My wife and I are in our mid 40's, and we met several couples our age.
ENTERTAINMENT: A lot of reviews usually found Celebrity's entertainment not up to par with other lines, but we found it to be fantastic. Our cruise director, John Howell, was always cheerful and full of energy. The comedian, Danny Storts, was very funny and entertaining. The magician/comedy duo of Bob & Sarah Trunell was great. Michelle Murlin was superb. She is a very talented lady. All of the shows were good. The 50/60's show was a big hit. Somehow, my wife talked me into entering the twist contest (I can't dance, so we didn't win). There was always something going on in the lounges. All of the musicians that I heard were very talented. There were lots of audience participation events around the pool. The band Axis was great! Their lively music at the pool during the sea days made those days fly by. All the kids and teenagers seemed to be having a good time. I heard they had plenty of activities, despite the fact that there weren't many aboard. My wife likes to sing, so the two Karaoke nights were favorites of my wife.
SERVICE: Every employee that we encountered was very friendly, quick to offer assistance, and always willing to answer any questions we had. Our cabin steward kept our room immaculate. We always had clean towels no matter how many we messed up. We never ordered room service, but I heard from other passengers that they were pleased. Our waiter and asst. waiter served us very well. Their English was not the best in the world, and this sometimes caused a little confusion, but they were always able to meet our needs and answer our questions about the food. They were extremely friendly, and gracious. On past cruises, our asst. Matr'd only showed up near the end of the cruise, but this time, ours(Adrian) showed up at the table each evening and asked us about our service and food, and explained the hours and menu for the late buffet. Our wine steward, or sommelier, was excellent. We never bought the ship's wine, for we had brought our own. A corkage fee of $6 was charged for each bottle, but was worth it. We placed the bottle on our cabin desk each morning, and it magically appeared at our table each night, chilled and ready for drinking. At Michael's Club, we were given superb service by it's one attendant, Radim. He cut and lit the cigars that we had brought from home or bought on the Islands(Cuban, of course). It didn 't seem to matter to him if we purchased the cigars from the club or not(I did buy a couple there). His service was FIRST CLASS!! All of the bar staff were pleasant and were always ready to take a drink order, no matter where we had sat or laid our bodies. As I stated before, I cannot imagine being serviced any better!
FOOD & BEVERAGES: There's no way to describe how wonderful our evening dining experience was. Everything was perfect! Soups, salads, entrees, dessert, appetizers, you name it, it was good! Their ice cream was obviously made there on the ship. You can't buy ice cream that good. The Rum Raisin was exceptionally good. I had ice cream every night with my other dessert. The grand buffet on Friday night was great, but there was so much food left over. My three plates didn't even make a dent in the amount displayed that night. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet each day. Our only complaint was that the bread and toast was not hot. The rest of the food offered was hot and delicious. Coffee, tea, water, fruit punch, lemonade, and juice at breakfast was free. The drinks from the bars were priced like any other bar you would go to. Average drink was $5.75. The drink of the day(they had two each day), were $3.75. A %15 gratuity was added to each tab. I don't drink beer so I don't know how much it was. The drinks were not watered down, but were a tad on the strong side(great!). They did have drinks in souvenir glasses for $7.95. We only had to buy one. My wife won the other doing something on stage at the pool!
Here's how our days went each day on the Zenith:
SUNDAY: We arrived early, about 11:00 am, and were one of the first ones on the ship. We had driven from NC to Tampa, and we parked at the pier(cost $70). The parking was just a few feet from the entrance to the terminal. We had our first meal at the lunch buffet, and never got hungry again. After exploring the ship, and having a drink, we got dressed for the show at 7:00pm. We had the late dinner seating, so we attended our show before we ate. The show was ‘The World Goes Round' The singers and dancers were great. After the show, we went to our assigned table of 8, and met our tablemates for the week, Tom and Valerie. The other four chairs remained vacant the rest of the week. We sat at table 7, near the kitchen door. The dress that evening was casual. The noise from the kitchen was minimal, and never gave us a problem. It was actually a good spot to film the Baked Alaska Parade on Friday night. After dinner, we found our cabin nice and clean, and the bed turned down, with mints and the next days weather forecast on the pillow. The Zenith Daily was on the bed, announcing all the news and schedules for our next day ahead.
MONDAY: After dining at the breakfast buffet, we enjoyed a day of shopping and sight seeing in Key West. Upon returning to the ship, we went to the pool deck at 5:30, to hear the band Axis play as we sailed from Key West. We bought some liquor from the store shop, because there was an additional 10% that day. The prices were very reasonable on the ship. We attended the show at 7:00pm, featuring the comedian, Danny Storts. Our dress that night was casual. After dinner, we went to Michael's Club for a cigar and after dinner drink.
TUEDAY: A full day at sea. We enjoyed our breakfast again at the buffet, and spent most of the day sunning and swimming in the salt water pool. The water was chilly, but felt good after laying in the hot sun. The band Axis played on and off, and the cruise directors staff had all kinds of activities lined up. My wife participated in the ‘Battle of the Sexes', and some trivia game or something. I was busy taking pictures of her adventures, and napping. We attended the Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party, and went to have our picture made, and then to dinner. It was formal night, and I would guess that 40 % or more of the men had tuxes. My wife insisted I buy one before the cruise, and I was glad I did. After dinner, we skipped the show, ‘Broadway Lights' and enjoyed another cigar and drink at Michael's Club, where we met a few couples our age. Later, we attended the adult Karaoke session where my wife sang (not me, no way!).
WEDNESDAY: After the breakfast buffet, we headed off the boat and onto the long pier to Costa Maya. The pier is quite long, but a trolley is there for folks who prefer to ride. The place is new, so it was very clean, and all of the people there were polite. There were quite a few shops open, and a few were still under construction. The prices weren't bad, especially after haggling with the shopkeepers. The free show there was good, and the MC kept things lively with audience participation gags and contests. My wife, of course, participated. After seeing the show and shopping, it was time to go on the Chacchoben Mayan ruins tour. The bus ride was 1 hour each way. We had about 2 hours for the guide(very informed) to show us the ruins, and we could climb all we wanted. The tour was worth the $52(per person) paid. There was a tour agent available at Costa Maya, and we could have booked the tour for $45(per person), but we felt safe staying with the ship's tour. A lot of other passengers chose the Jungle Beach Break, and were pleased with it. Upon arriving back on the ship, we attended a cocktail party for repeat cruisers(free drinks!). That evening before dinner, we were entertained by Michelle Murlin. Dress that night was informal. After dinner, it was back to Michael's Club.
THURSDAY: We spent Thanksgiving shopping in Cozumel. We didn't book any tours or do any sightseeing. We were back on the ship by 3:00pm, and enjoyed Axis again on deck. At 7:00pm, we enjoyed Bob & Sarah Trunell, the magic/comedy act. Dress that evening was casual. After dinner, we attended the 50's/60's Sock Hop, and then went to the 70's Disco Party.
FRIDAY: After another breakfast buffet, we went ashore to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We had to tender into shore, and it was quite rough. Many of the older passengers skipped this port of call. We had signed up for the Snorkeling and Sting Ray City tour. We were taken by bus to the other side of the island and boarded a boat with about sixty or so other guests. The first stop was the reef, where a diver coaxed out moray eels and nurse sharks for us to see and photograph. After about 45 minutes or so, we took the short journey over to the sandbar at Sting Ray City. For me, it was the highlight of our trip, but for my wife, it wasn't the case. She was terrified of them, but I did manage to get a photo of her touching one. She headed back to the boat pretty quick after that. I stayed in the water, and was one of the last ones back on the boat. We spend a little time shopping after the trip, then tendered back to the ship. Dinner was formal dress again. We had our pictures taken again, then off to dinner. The Baked Alaska Parade was the highlight of the dinner. After dinner, it was back to adult Karaoke, where my wife sang some more, then off to Michael's club. We got to bed at 3:00am.
SATURDAY: A full day at sea. We slept late and hit the lunch buffet, then settled down on a lounge chair for more entertainment from Axis and the cruise staff on the pool deck. A nice day of rest, after three straight days in 3 ports! We attended the Captain's Club cocktail party(more free drinks) in the early evening, then attended the 7:00pm show with the Trunells and Michelle Murlin. The farewell musical with the dancers, and the ‘Cruise in Review Video' put a nice touch on the evening. Dress that evening was casual. After dinner, and a short stay at Michael's Club, we said our good byes to our new friends, and put our suitcases out in the hall, by 12 midnight.
SUNDAY: The official day of mourning on our cruise. After rising VERY early, we had our final breakfast and waited for our group to be called to disembark. As Captains Club members, we had the white tags, and were the first group to be called. My wife threatened to stow away on the ship. We left the ship at about 9:30am, then fought horrendous traffic for the next 12 and ½ hours before falling in our beds in North Carolina.