Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

by Alex
Western Caribbean
March 6, 2006
Duration: 5-day

Extremely Average 2.5 stars

The Zenith has achieved a level of mediocrity not seen since the Presidency of William Howard Taft. This being our first cruise, I have nothing to compare it with except experiences on land and second-hand accounts from friends & colleagues about their cruises. Needless to say, we were disappointed.

My wife, our 6-year old daughter and I took this cruise to get out of the cold and into some tropical fun. We had been looking forward to this trip for months and when we finally made it, the trip seemed like a bad date: you keep thinking that it might get better, you keep trying to make it work, but you just can't escape.

Celebrity is supposed to be a "Premium" line but the premium is in the commercials.

The Zenith is rather small and apparently not geared towards families with children. If you love to party all night and sleep in the sun all day, you'll love the Zenith. If you are expecting quality activities in the daytime, look elsewhere.

The pool deck has two small pools which are obviously intended for a cooling-off dip after baking on the deck. They are too deep for kids just learning to swim and too small anyway. The three nice whirlpools in the back are adequate but are not heated.

Embarkation. 4/5 stars
This was a breeze. They were very organized and getting on the ship took maybe 20 minutes. The only drawback I had was the baggage handler at the curb begging for tips: "this is the last you will see of me. You take care of the gratuity here and go through those doors." I was afraid to hesitate lest I receive a "gimme yo wallit."

The food. 2.5 stars
This was a disappointment. We thought that in the main dining room we would be treated to not only an excellent menu but excellent quality. We got neither as the menu was short on choices and mass produced. The food was adequate, but everything on the menu I could have cooked myself to that level. Also, I expected to see tropical fruits & juices in abundance, but the limited fruits and punch offered I can get in the markets at home.

I expected to see varieties of food but it was all boring American fare. I would have liked to visit the crew's "Indonesian Mess" to have something unique.

The sushi bar, staffed by Pilipinos, had only 5 or 6 types of sushi, which ran out in a hurry.

Activities 1/5 stars
The daily activity sheet is 50% what same musicians you've seen many times are playing where, 40% "spend your money" events and 10% something other than drinking or shopping. The cruise director's great attitude and spirit didn't make up for the lack of activities. I guess I expected someone like Julie to have many of a wide variety of games, arts & crafts, lectures, discussions, etc.

Sitting on the deck in the hot sun reading a book isn't my ideal vacation. On the plus side, getting a chair wasn't too difficult.

As we were in Mexico, I expected to have some cultural experiences such as music, a display or show of Mexican clothes, history or anything. The closest was a sub-standard Mexican lunch buffet.

Along these same lines, the ship was staffed with people from around the world. I would like to have had some kind of display or something telling us about where these people are from. If you look close on their name badges, you can see in small print their country of origin. Very few wanted to really talk about their countries as if they were told to not discuss this with passengers.

A highlight of the cruise was a lecture by Rudi, the art auctioneer, on surrealists. That guy was very informed and passionate about art. We enjoyed him so much that we attended the art auction and bought some prints.

Ports of Call 2.5 stars (due to missed port)
The ports were scheduled to be ~3 hours per visit. Not hardly enough to get much done.

Getting on & off the ship was fairly painless on key west. We docked 50 yards from downtown. The tendering in Cozumel took almost an hour to get back on board due to an inefficient re-boarding process.

The excursions seemed very pricy to me, but we paid anyway. Our first one, glass bottom boat in Key West, was cancelled due to lack of participation, but nobody from the ship bothered to tell us that we could do it anyway by just going to the location and getting on independently. The "Snorkel & Beach Party" in Cozumel was fun even though the reef was scrubbed clean by the Hurricanes. We got to snorkel anyway and then went to their private beach.

Our last port of call was cancelled due to rough seas. I don't know weather to blame Celebrity or not. They didn't find another port or even give us any compensation. T.his has happened before so they should have shown some professionalism about it. Think again. If I couldn't do something major for my customer I'd bend over backwards to offer options. Oh yes, they did "revise" the daily schedule with a movie a band appearance and a special screening of a Disney/Dali video.

Entertainment. 3.5 stars
The "shows" were average. I guess if you want top quality shows, you go to Vegas. They did a good job in music, choreography and variety, but they were not top level performers.

The party band on board was great. They were tight and, though small, had a good sound and repertoire. Not having seen them every day, though I don't know if they played the same songs over & over.

The comedian was excellent. He did a routine on shipboard life and was perfect. We all laughed until we cried!

The brightest spot was the child-care programs & teachers. The only children's facility is a room about 2-staterooms large, but it's packed with games and things. Since most people know not to take your kids on the Zenith, there were only about 10 kids and only three of four were somewhat active in the programs.

The children's staff were excellent professionals and did the best they could with so few participants. Apparently, they all have education degrees and are pre-tested, reviewed and certified by the Celebrity company. They had great schedules of activities but just got flexible as there were too few kids.

My daughter loved her time with the staff and enjoyed the cruise immensely. She even wanted to skip desert in order to play in the playroom.

The crew 3.5 stars
I was struck almost immediately at the poor attitudes of most of the crew. Very few have a genuine interest in doing a good job and making you feel welcome. Most seemed condescending and upset that you are there to make their life difficult. Most had a tunnel vision sense that had them concentrating on their respective job and they were going to do that and nothing else.

Examples: "Let me take your bag" - he takes it incorrectly so while he is walking things start dropping out; Fortunately he walked slower so we could pick up the things and get in line. Q: "Where is this or that?" response: "look over there," or, "please ask him," or, "I don't know."

Our cabin attendant was great and the cabin itself was always clean, well organized and everything worked. The hair dryer is weak, though.

Disembarkation 4.5 stars
This was fairly painless as well. You go to your respective lounge at your designated time. From there, you leave the ship in mass, go through immigration, get your luggage and go through customs. From the time of leaving the lounge to getting to the street took 20 minutes.

BTW, At the start of the cruise, they ask how you are getting to the airport with a form they constantly remind you to fill out. On that form, I asked for transportation to the airport. On disembarkation day, I was informed that they had not lined up any transportation for us. I guess I shouldn't have assumed they wouldn't be morons.

Zenith is great for partying but lousy for families. We would not recommend either Zenith or Celebrity. Because of this experience we are forever turned-off by cruises. If I were given this trip as a prize, I would trade it in for the cash value.