by Mark Weber
August 26, 2005
This was our best cruise to date. Or maybe it was that because it was our last cruise. They say your best cruise is the one you are currently on. We had a table for 8 for dinner. We were all very compatible. Because of the smallish size of the Zenith, we easily became acquainted with other couples on the ship since you see them more often. The people you meet and the interactions you have with them really make the cruise.
We had the concierge class stateroom. These rooms were on the top accommodation deck under the pool deck. It was the same size as the other rooms, but came with the added amenities of daily fruit, flowers, hors d'oeuvres, choice of pillows, and a pillow top mattress. We took advantage of the pillow option. The pillows that came with the room were like concrete slabs. We chose the scrunchy, thick, conforming, feather ones. On the negative side, our room was amidships, under the seating area on the pool deck. That meant that every day at 6 in the morning and 12 midnight, the chairs would be scraped along the deck as they were brought out for the day and put away for the night. Other than that, the room was pretty quiet except for the usual creaks and groans of the wall panels when the ship was underway. We did have 3 creakless nights while anchored in Bermuda.
Embarkation was a snap. We had pre-registered on the Celebrity web site plus there is a special line for concierge class passengers. Debarkation was pretty painless too. Small boats have their advantage. We took the free bus that Celebrity offers to get to and from the Bayonne cruise port from Washington, DC. This bus also stops in Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Westampton, NJ. The one glitch we had was that one couple who had signed up to catch the bus in Baltimore never showed and we had to wait 20 minutes before we could leave without them. We still got to the ship with plenty of time to indulge in lunch. The other, and more bothersome, result of this glitch was that, going home, we had to wait an extra hour and 15 minutes on the bus in Bayonne for the ship to completely empty, just to make sure the people who had never got on the bus in Baltimore were not on the ship. Celebrity didn't want to have to spend extra money to provide separate transportation for the missing couple if they turned up too late to make the bus. But it was okay to put a bad taste in the mouth of the other 29 future cruise customers? Go figure. Celebrity should have checked this out to begin with when the missing couple never showed up originally.
The Zenith showed its age in the stateroom. The bathroom sink was scratched and the carpet was stained. But the public areas were immaculate. There was plenty of storage space in the stateroom - two large closets and enough drawers for our 1-week sailing. The shower was nice. When there was a problem with the air conditioning and the toilet (this happens every cruise), the maintenance crew were prompt to respond and repair the problem.
The food was the best I've had on a cruise ship. And there was always a food station open any time of the day. Soft serve and regular ice cream were available at no extra charge. The dining room staff were great. The assistant Maitre D' assigned to our seating section came around every evening at dinner to make sure everything was okay.
The entertainment for the week included three Broadway style shows, plus a comedian, juggler, and singer. There was also entertainment at the pool. Music, dancing, contests. We enjoyed it all.
Bermuda is easy to get around using the public buses and ferries. We bought a 3-day pass, available from the ship's bank. The pass eliminates the hassles of determining the correct fare and carrying exact change. The ship's tour director warned us not to rent a moped, the main mode of transportation for Bermuda's residents. He said, guaranteed, somebody on the ship will get hurt. Sure enough, people did, and it wasn't a pretty sight. Take public transportation.
My favorite tourist attraction was the aquarium/zoo. The fish in the tanks were large and seemed interested in you. The zoo had areas where you were in the cage with the animals. The lighthouse was another highlight. You can climb to the top and walk out onto the surrounding catwalk to get a great view of the islands that make up Bermuda. We did the cave tours, as does, I think, every one who visits Bermuda. To tell you the truth, I've seen better. In St. George, we visited the Perfumery. It was interesting. And if you don't get any Bermuda Rum Cake at the Royal Navy Dockyard factory, you can pick up some to take home with you from the Rum Cake store in St. George.
In Hamilton, we took a snorkel excursion tour to a coral reef area near the coastline. The water at places was shallow enough to stand which was convenient if you wanted to rest or blow your nose. The fish and coral we saw were fascinating with many varieties. A worthwhile tour. We also did a helmet dive in St. George. You don't see any more (actually less) or different fish than if you snorkel. Also, you have to fight the current while walking a limited distance on the sea floor. Not that thrilling, skip it. We never visited any of the beaches, but our fellow shipmates said they enjoyed them very much.
In summary, a great cruise, with great people (sometimes you have to be lucky), great food, great service, on an easy-to-get-around-on ship. Bermuda is a laid back place to unwind and relax.