Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews

Celebrity Cruises

Zenith
by Doug Roberts
Western Caribbean
November 24, 2005

A four day cruise on the Celebrity Zenith from Miami to Key West and Cozumel November 24-28, 2005.

Embarkation
Embarkation took less than five minutes with the XPress Pass online check-in. The Celebrity representative checks your ID, scans the XPress pass and your credit card and you are ready to pass through security and board the ship. Once on board you are greeted with a complementary glass of champagne.

The Ship
The Zenith is a comparatively small ship at 47,255 tons. It is relatively old, having been commissioned in 1992. However, the Zenith recently was refurbished with new carpeting and bedding. It lacks a central focus like the soaring atria of the newer ships but is very easy to navigate. It has a total of twelve decks of which decks 4-10 contain passenger cabins. It has many of the standard cruise ship features including a spa, various lounges and bars, a buffet, two pools, four whirlpools, a casino, small shopping arcade, theater and dining room. It lacks any specialty restaurants like other larger ships. Alternative casual dining is offered in the buffet area for those who wish not to dine in the formal restaurant during formal night. Deck 12 has a running/walking track where six laps equal one statute mile. There is a game area for ping-pong on Deck 9 aft and shuffleboard (very popular among drunks) on Deck 8.

Our Cabin
Our cabin was 9050, an obstructed view cabin exactly at the center of the ship. The cabin at 172 square feet is larger than many available on other ships and was more than adequate to suit our needs. Leo, the cabin attendant, was attentive and helpful especially when dealing with a toilet back up problem that plagued the entire deck. There is more than adequate space for hanging clothing in the two closets and a good amount of drawer space too. One of the closets contains a safe for valuables. The television has CNN, TNT, Headline News, ESPN, movies, classic television shows and several channels dedicated to ship activities.

Food Service
Food was excellent both well prepared and presented with style in the dining room. No lobster was offered on this trip. Every evening there was a choice of four entrees and appetizers with one being designated low-calorie. The buffet was fairly standard with very good food. In the buffet section there is a pasta and pizza bar with sushi available in the evening. Outside behind the buffet, there is a grill area serving burgers and hotdogs during the day and waffles and pancakes during breakfast. The burgers are excellent and made of top grade ground beef. In the afternoon at 4 pm high tea is served in the dining room with a selection of finger sandwiches and pastries. It is presented with full white glove service and is a fun experience. Being a small ship, the Zenith does not have any specialty restaurants.

Entertainment
The Zenith features nightly revue type shows which are of high quality. Seating in the theater is on couches which allow you to enjoy a drink while cuddling with your significant other. Our featured entertainer was a British illusionist named Jamie Allen who was quite good. Other entertainment options include several lounges that feature pianists and DJs. The casino is a good size, considering the ship size featuring most of the popular table games as well as slots. Bingo is held daily in the theater but is fixed as I never won anything. There is also a modest shopping area on board. The Zenith also has the requisite art auctions.

The Ports
Our ports of call were Key West and Cozumel. Key West is fun and has recovered quite nicely from Hurricane Wilma. Time in port is too short, from 7 am to 2 pm. It is really not necessary to book any shore excursions from the ship. Simply arm yourself with a map and walk off the ship. Taxis are quite common and some are shocking pink. We opted for the trolley tour around Key West and then wandered around the Mallory Square area.

As of November 2005, Cozumel is still in bad shape from Hurricane Wilma, but rebuilding as quickly as possible. We were tendered in as all of the cruise piers were badly damaged. The bad feature of the tendering is that they used ferries normally used for transportation to the mainland and not the ships lifeboats. The tender waited until full before embarking resulting in the waste of precious shore time. We opted for Fury Catamaran‚?Ts snorkeling trip with a private beach visit. The snorkeling was fun, but you could easily see the devastating damage to the coral reef.

Debarkation
We opted for the new valet luggage service for American Airline passengers who can check their bags straight through to the destination. It was a disaster and resulted in lost bags. It caused a great deal of confusion with the Celebrity personnel at the port and onboard and American Airlines representatives in Philadelphia said we were not alone. Save your money until they work the kinks out of this service.

Conclusion
The cruise was enjoyable and we would recommend it for couples, especially over the age of 40. The ship is small and lacks in many of the features of a larger ship, especially the kind that appeal to families.