September 3, 2005
We just returned from our first trip to Bermuda aboard the Zenith. This was our third Celebrity cruise and my 20th overall.I have always had a soft spot for Celebrity since my first real cruise was aboard the Horizon, Zenith's sister.
First, I would like to say that aside from one or two waiters, every person aboard was wonderful. Every member of the crew we met greeted and smiled at us and the service in every venue was excellent. I especially like having a waiter carry my tray to a clean table at the buffet. They were always attentive to the needs of guests and seemed to be circulating, cleaning tables, getting coffee etc. Our waiter, Eduardo, and assistant, Jorge were both excellent.
Another positive aspect was the entertainment. I live in NYC and attend Broadway shows often. I thought the onboard singers and dancers were wonderful and the three production shows among the best I've seen aboard a ship. The couple in the Rendevous lounge was also very good. Her tribute to Tina Turner was fabulous.
The food, which Celebrity is known for was very disappointing. The breakfast buffet was good with a fresh omelette station and delicious, freshly made waffles. We never had lunch at the buffet but did go to the alternative casual restaurant one night which was fine. The waiter was adorable and very efficent. The daily afternoon sushi bar was another pleasant bonus and the sushi guys were the best. Ask for a lesson - they will happily oblige.I found the food to be too focused on meat which I do not eat. The vegetarian menu was too limited and unappealing. The one item I did order was bland and overcooked. My companion enjoyed the filet of beef and rack of lamb but found the veal dishes of poor quality. The fish dishes I did order (including the usual lobster tail) were overcooked and dried out. The desserts were also nothing special which I guess was better for my waistline. I felt the wine prices both by the bottle and glass to be excessive when compared to other lines. The mixed drinks we had were very light on the liquor. There is a reasonably priced coffee bar on board which makes small but good cappucino which is a good thing because I have always found Celebrity's coffee to be undrinkable.
Our cabin, a standard outside, was large by today's standards with plenty of closet and drawer space. There was a safe which locked by code which I appreciated. The extra blankets looked dirty, the sheets were threadbare in spots and the pillows, flat. My main complaint about the ship however was the lack of cleanliness of our cabin. Upon arrival,there was toothpaste spittal on the bathroom mirror, the shower had areas of rust and the sink was chipped in several places. I immediately called the cabin stewart who mumbled some excuse about his assistant not cleaning properly. When we returned from the lifeboat drill the mirror had been partially wiped off. As we unpacked it became very obvious that the cabin had not been cleaned in quite awhile. The drawers had stray hairs and dust in them,the desk had a plastic clothing tag on it, the carpet, paper straw wrappers and a pen top (that remained on the floor until a day before we left), pubic hair in the shower and dried blood and other smears on the mirror inside the closet door. I called the cabin stewart again and asked him to clean & vacuum but I never felt comfortable regarding the cleanliness. Our concerns were validated on the last day. We were told we could stay in our cabins until our scheduled disembarkation time so we left our carry- on bags and went to breakfast.When we returned at 9:30, the cabin had been "cleaned" for the new passengers however, we used the bathroon before leaving and I'm sure he didn't clean again. I found this very disturbing.
Bermuda was a lovely island. We went to Horseshoe Bay beach which was beautiful but the hike up & down can be tough. There is a $1 shuttle that operates from 10 AM on which is well worth it. We had to be evacuated from the island a day before we were schedlued to leave because of hurricane Nate which was disappointing but the extra day at sea was beautiful. Pick up a three or four day bus/ferry pass if you plan on touring. It is easy to see the island on your own but transportation is expensive so the passes are definately worth it.There isn't much shopping in downtown Hamilton and forget shopping in St. George.
Overall, we had a relaxing and enjoyable week. Our journey in & out of Bayonne was fast and easy with pleanty of parking. If you enjoy large, new ships with all the bells and whistles then this is not the ship for you. I also wouldn't recommend it for people with children. We found the service to be wonderful and the atmosphere, elegant without being stuffy. Hopefully, the refurbishment will address some of the worn areas and bring this older girl back to life. Celebrity bills themselves as an upscale cruise experience. To me, they need to address the cleanliness issues and upgrade the public areas. Finally, the captain needs to get out there. This is the first time I have been on a ship and not heard the Captain welcome people aboard or give daily updates, especially given the situation with the weather. They are one of the only cruiselines who has stuck to providing a traditional cruise experience which to me is the best thing about sailing with Celebrity.