March 6, 2006
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
The food. 2.5 stars
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
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)
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 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 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
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,
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
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.