by Carol Huey
February 19, 2001
This is my review of the Celebrity Zenith on which friends and I cruised February 19, 2001 on the "Ultimate Caribbean." I have cruised several times on Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean. I am 57 years old. I was most anxious to do a Celebrity cruise since there has been so much "hype" regarding the wonderful food (5 star) and service. Since my RCCL Splendour of the Seas cruise of February 2000 is still fresh in my mind, I will compare the two cruises and explain why my next year's cruise will definitely be with RCCL.
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday afternoon and were immediately greeted by a Celebrity representative. He phoned for a taxi and stayed with us until our transportation to the Sheraton Airport Hotel had arrived (nice touch). The hotel was great and we spent a wonderful day in Ft. Lauderdale. We were able to do an early cruise check-in at the Hotel on Monday morning and instead of waiting for shuttle buses to take us to the pier, we opted to tak a taxi. We arrived at the Zenith around Noon and were able to board immediately. This was nice as we had the ship almost to ourselves and had time to explore without dodging other passengers.
The Zenith is a beautiful ship but, if you like centrums, grand staircases, glass elevators, chrome, mirrors, greenery and glitz, this ship is not for you. We had the feeling of entering a luxury hotel rather than a cruise ship. There is no glitz anywhere. However, the ship is kept immaculate at all times. Staff are always sweeping, polishing, washing, and tidying up. However, after cruising on the Splendour of the Seas last year, the centrum with its elegant ambiance was certainly missed. The centrum, with its constant quality entertainment, was also a great meeting place.
Also missing on the Zenith was the Splendour's huge indoor Solarium with its splash pool, hot tubs, good music, roman decor, and fantastic pizza. This was the spot we headed for after a long and exhausing shopping day on the island. The Solarium was beautiful. There wasn't a place on the Zenith that could compare.
The food on the Splendour was consistently wonderful. The Zenith, on the other hand, served food that was merely satisfactory at best. It appeared that Celebrity is cutting corners in this area. Food was mostly bland and desserts were awful with the basis of all of them being sponge cake. Passengers joked about writing a new cookbook entitled "1000 Ways to Serve Sponge Cake." Lemonade, iced tea and fruit punch were only available at times when food was being served. Several times during the cruise, passengers had to ask for the lemondate, etc. (even when food was being served) because the drink machines had not been turned on.
Alternative dining on RCCL ws great. No reservations were necessary and the food was superb. Several days we decided late in the afternoo to go casual for dinner. This was no problem since there was open seating. On the Celebrity Zenith, reservations for alternative dining had to be made the day prior and for a definite time of the evening.
The Splendour's entertainment far surpassed that of the Zenith. During the 10-night Zenith cruise, the merely average entertainment was repeated over and over. This was not so on Splendour. Every night's show was different, wonderful and very entertaining.
In defense of the Zenith, I will say that cabins are great in the area of storage. There was more than enough closet space and drawer space. The shower was the biggest I have seen and the bathroom vanity area was big enough to store everything.
I summary, I definitely will choose RCCL for my next cruise and hope that my experience will be as good as my experience on the Splendour. I will not cruise Celebrity again.