Year Started: 1988
Ships in Fleet: 10
Summary: This premium cruise line features beautiful ships on itineraries world-wide. Excellent cuisine, great service, roomy staterooms. Modern Luxury at value prices.
Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Bermuda, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
We just returned from this cruise and were left with several strong impressions about the overall experience. We have been on several cruises, but 1st cruise with our 1 year old daughter. This was a 7 day cruise originating from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean, that went to the following ports: Dominican Republic (Casa de Campo), Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Nassau.
Overall, we found Celebrity Cruises to offer excellent, friendly service throughout the ship. This included the different dining rooms (main dining, Premium restaurant (The Olympic), casual dining, ocean cafe - where they escort you with your buffet plate if you need help carrying your food, Sushi bar, Pizza, and pool grill). The state room attendants and room service were also first class, being very responsive and considerate to us and our baby who celebrated her first birthday on the ship. We found the Sommeliers to be the brightest folks to liven up the dining experience. The presentation of the food was also very good. Several premium spirits, wines are even tastings are offered, which make for a more unique experience.
The best Ports were Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. In PR,we took a shore excursion to the Bacardi Rum Distillery and City tour…this was fantastic, the only complaint was that we didn't have enough time to do everything! Our little one even enjoyed herself here and at the huge fort near the port we had docked. St. Thomas, was hot, but beautiful. The tram to the top, was a quick way to get a dynamic view of the terrain and coastline. This port is definitely a shopping Mecca, that doubles the amount of alcohol that can be imported back to the US.
Our biggest frustration and disappointment, however, was in the overall diversity of the ships food choices and people - both the other cruisemates and staff. I grew up in the US and am of Indian origin, having lived in the US all of my life, aside from basic ignorance or curiosity, I honestly never felt a hint of discrimination toward me or my family because of our heritage or diverse tastes. I did not find this to be direct on the cruise, but several experiences over the course of the week, let us to this comment. For starters, if you are a "meat & potatoes" type, this is a great cruise for you, as there are virtually no choices - except for Sushi - of Asian, Mexican or Middle eastern food, e.g. Indian (no curries, tandoori chicken, naan, dosas, etc), Chinese (not even a single egg roll, peking duck, dim sum, etc), Thai (no Pad Thai, Panang curries, Satay, Lebanese (no falafel, gyros, hummus) , Spanish/Mexican (no paella, or even Tex-mex fajitas, burritos, etc.)….with food being such a big part of the experience, we found that lack of spice to leave a very bland taste in our mouth.
As we had been on cruises before, we never had a problem with this, and actually look forward to this part of the cruise. We did ask several of the staff from these parts of the world, why this was the case. We were told that Celebrity doesn't keep the spices on board, that mostly Americans travel on this ship and they don’t eat this type of food….well, that didn't seem very American to us, as the US thrives on diverse cuisine, as does the UK where many passengers were also from. This striking difference coupled with what we perceived as significantly fewer Asian staff - which we learned Celebrity had stopped recruiting compared to other cruise lines.
We also felt slighted a few times when we were seated in the main dining room for lunch and the Olympic Restaurant. These were open/unassigned seating, however, when asked to be seated on a different table, and there were plenty available, which were not afterward used, we felt that the maitre'd did not want to seat us on the better the tables. This didn't happen every time, but enough to feel like he wanted to put us to the side, or "out of site" from the other guests. Now, I think we are good looking couple in our mid-30s and got many compliments on our daughter's behavior and our appearance, but we did not feel like we received due importance or interest initially…we did however, get excellent service after being seated at the table. We also didn't see nearly as many Asian families, as expected, despite this being a 2000+ passenger ship.
For the kids under 3, there isn't much help here. We did get baby sitting one night, but it seemed to be hard to get and booked for other couples we had met. The kids pool was broken, although there were nearly 40 young children sailing, and there were NO high chair available except for the last lunch of the cruise.
So, all in all, a great experience, regarding the service quality and food quality of the continental and Italian variety, but much to be desired in the diversity of the food selections and the people - both cruisemates and employees - along for the experience.
This was billed as AROUND THE HORN, something I had looked forward to for a long time. It didn't happen. In 2002 we had been on this ship for the ALASKA trip. It was well nigh perfect in all respects. But by Dec. 2006 many things aboard had gone downhill. The promenade deck no longer encircled deck 4. Staff who were supposed to run some deck activities were no-shows. There was not much in the way of 'danceable' music. Cards and games were hard to come by.
A 3-hour wait for return tender service in Punta Arenas was incomprehensible. A dance floor under repair for 7 days finally opened with a STRING QUARTET playing classical music. Shore excursions were over-priced and could easily be duplicated privately for half the money. The ships' propulsion problems had us missing many scenic views (never saw the Chilean Fjords!) because they were passed in the middle of the night. There were 1980 passengers for this trip and many were totally unhappy. Celebrity will not enter the picture for our future cruises.
The Memorable Celebrity Staff:Master - Captain Michael Karatzas Hotel Director – Renato Chizzola Chief Engineer – Ioannis Pepes Cruise Director – Nick Weir Food and Beverage Mgr – Shelton Thompson Front Office Manager - Janet David (Philippines) Restaurant Mgr – Chaydee (Australia) Maitre D – Chi- Ka (Poland) Our Butler – Xavier (India) Stateroom Attendant – Maria (Philippines) Waiter – Emil (Bulgaria) Captains Club Hostess - Delia
We just returned from the western transatlantic on Celebrity's Millennium ship from Barcelona, Spain to Fort Lauderdale, Fl on Sunday December 10th.
We have done several TA cruises on the Millie and this was just as good as the others. You would think it would be boring to see the same ports all the time but we enjoy getting away and the sea days are very relaxing.
The Millie had a problem with its pod and needed extra time to get to FLL so Celebrity decided to skip Naples to give some extra time if winds and sea conditions necessitated it. We did arrive on time on 12/10 but U.S. Customs did a thorough job of insuring the ship was fit for embarkation. When a ship isaway for 7 months the Feds do more checking I was told.
Barcelona: We took a flight to JFK from Orlando and a non-stop flight from JFK to Barcelona on Thanksgiving Day and we arrived in Barcelona at 7:30 am (an hour early) on the day of departure. We were tired and even though I paid for transfers I didn't want to take a 2 hour tour of Barcelona since the ship would not be ready for boarding for 4 or 5 hours. I gave Celebrity our luggage and took a cab to the port (36 euros with tip). It took about 34 minutes to get to the pier from the BCN airport; we arrived at 8:45 am. Since the ship was in Barcelona overnight by the time we arrived most passengers had debarked.
Upon boarding I was reunited with many of the same personnel that we met on previous sailings, Hotel Director, Mr. Renato Chizzola, Captain Karatzas, Chaydee and Delia.
As I said in the past, Celebrity staffers make everyone feel special with hello's and smiles.
We were up for 30+ hours and really wanted to get some rest once we boarded so we took a schnooz for a few hours. It revived us and kept us going till our normal midnight bedtime.
On day 2 we docked in Nice but we didn't get off the ship. It was hard to get up before 1 pm and we decided to stay aboard. The weather was not that nice, raining and cool, so we spent the day in our cabin just chilling out and relaxing.
On Day 3 we arrived in Florence, Italy and met our tour guide, Driver in Rome and 8 of had a great 9 hour tour. Remo did not come but his driver/guide was very good and we had a great tour. There was a marathon that day in Florence and many of the streets were closed so we had to be creative. Lunch was ala carte and Susan and I had pizza and salad. It was good but not great. We got back to the ship in plenty of time.
On Day 4 we arrived in Rome and met the owner Remo for a great tour. Remo was on time and was his usual funny self. He showed us all the sites and took us to his favoirite restaurant for a 5 course lunch. We had lots of wine and had a fabulous time. Remo played his accordion and sang during lunch. It was a fast fun 9 hours in Rome. For each 9 hour tour we paid him (8 people) 72 euros each which is a great deal compared to the cruise ship rates for the same tour.
For the remaining ports, Corsica, Malaga and Tenerife we did our own thing touring the cities.
The Cruise Director, Nick Weir was outstanding and was very visible on the ship. I ran into him frequently and he always engaged me in great conversation. Nick is Simon Weir's older brother and does a 6 week stint on Celebrity every year. Nick is a game show host in the UK and does some Television work in Las Vegas where he lives with his wife. Nick is a class act and great to hang with. The entertainment on the ship was outstanding, Helen Jayne, Mario Andrea and Nick Weir who did a great one man show. Also, the dinner quartet from Poland was outstanding. A new jazz group joined the ship in Malaga and although young, were very talented and did an amazing job. The singer Janelle Monet has a sweet soft voice and can really do justice to any song.
We dined in the Olympic Specialty Restaurant three times and were never disappointed. On night one I had Steak Diane and my wife the lobster/shrimp dish. On night 2 I had the rack of lamb and Susan had the same as before and on night three I had the tenderloin (no spices) with a big baked potato and Susan had the Dover Sole. All the meals in the Olympic were memorable and excellent.
The stateroom was in great shape, the furniture seemed to be reupholstered and the housekeeping staff did a good job of dusting and maintaining the status-quo.
Smells: On day 14, I was on my balcony at around 3:30 pm and was almost asphyxiated with that sewer odor and I called to find out what was going on. It was a sea day and they are allowed to dispel gray treated water which explained the foul smell. The odor was not inside the ship thankfully but it was not pleasant being on the balcony for a few hours.
I would rate this transatlantic a 10. It was nice to see the Millie again after a year. We met some great CC posters and spent a lot of time with them. It is always nice to know a few guests on board and this medium provides us the means to pre-met passengers.
The one big negative is that the ship ran out of Johnny Walker Blue in Europe and couldn't buy any so we were disappointed!!! Had to do without Mr. Blue.
This go around I am putting up some cruise staff pictures so anyone who has cruised X may get to see a face from the past of some staff member they were fond of.
My photo Link:
Celebrity Millennium October 29-November 10 Barcelona to Venice
We booked this cruise that would take us from Barcelona to Venice, in May 2005 with an embarkation date of October 29, 2006.
We reserved stateroom 9160 upon Celebrity's Millennium. This is a Concierge Class aft cabin, which is approximately 251 square feet with a large 200 square foot veranda.
Boarding this ship has never been easier. Once our taxis dropped us off at the Pier in Barcelona, a porter was very eager to accept our luggage and guide us to the entrance to the embarkation lobby.
We were immediately asked to sanitize our hands before entering a ship-controlled area and would later discover that this is now SOP aboard Celebrity. We were also offered a cool fruit punch while we stood in the proper line.
The line moved quickly and we were thru security and with champagne in hand by 12:00 noon. As with so many cruises that allow early embarkation, our cabin was not "ready" until 1:00, but we just could not resist stopping by and "dropping" off things. Once there, we met Gregorio and Tailer our stateroom tag team that did a pretty good one-twopunch in Stateroom cleanliness and attentiveness. Any concern we had throughout the cruise was always met quickly and efficiently.
October 29 was night one and shortly after our sailing from Barcelona, while getting ready for dinner, I became aware of Mediterranean fruit flies that had infested our cabin. I was distraught and after expressing our displeasure firmly with the staff at Guest Relations, we were moved to another cabin while they attempted to correct the problem.
After expressing my displeasure to the Guest Relations Office the entire staff of the Millennium did their best to turn a negative into a positive the Lead Guest Relations Officer Ms. Jann Ramos could not have been more understanding about. Her performance in this situation reminded me of just why we chose Celebrity.
It took a little over 36 hours before we could get back into the cabin we had purchased for this adventure. When things at the start of an Adventure begin to turn negative, and you see all of your dreams go up in a mist, it can become very scary and disappointing to say the least.
Ms. Ramos not only coordinated the cleanup effort between the various departments, but she made an effort to keep in touch with us every step of the way! I must applaud the entire staff for a job well done!
AND we were back in our stateroom where on David's birthday, October 31, we were able to wake up and have breakfast on the veranda. SUCCESS!
The Millennium as a whole is in fine condition. All carpets appear to be in good repair, and the ship shows little signs of age. The support staff have done a wonderful job with maintenance.
We opted for late dining at a table for two and we received table 552, which is at the top of the staircase in the dining room, located adjacent to the Jan Martini Quartet. So our meals were always filled with music. Nice touch.
Our wait staff, the team of (Glenn) Joseph and Richard; were a nice combination that did their best to please. However at times they seemed to be a bit overwhelmed.
Sebastian our Sommelier was attentive and supportive. He accepted our boycott of first night no wine sales with real grace and on night two made an effort to find a specific vintage that we asked for. He was outstanding and very personable.
The food was just as we remembered. The cold soups were just as remarkable, while the roast beef was just as tender and the Escargot, which are now part of the regular standby menu, were outstanding.
With this being a very port intensive cruise, we did not see much of the late night activities. So the entertainment we really cannot comment on.
The exception was for a review of a fantasy type show that the "singers and dancers" "performed" for the passengers. I personally didn't care for it.
On November 4th, a formal night, we had reservations for the Olympic Restaurant. Once again, we had a table for two and this time a great duce by the Harpist. The meal was outstanding and the service exceptional. Thumbs up to Stanislaw Stoyanov, Maitrie d'Hotel. He runs a fine restaurant. Our only exception was for the Sommelier who was unhappy that we chose not to buy wine and refused our request to purchase a second sparkling water.
We were planning a small gathering in our stateroom to sample some wines. Gregorio had anticipated the tasting and offered to provide cheese, crackers, and other things before we had to ask. He was amazing.
The casino when open had a nice selection of slots and our favorites were Little Green Men and Texas Tea, where I was able to pick up a few hundred on this cruise, so that's a nice feeling.
Overall we felt we did in fact receive our money's worth! Got our bang for the buck, as they say.
The Millennium is a fine ship with an outstanding crew and I would not hesitate to sail it again if the itinerary happens to present itself.
Now to Rate the Cruise line: Scale 1 to 5 (1 = Needs Improvement -- 5 = Excellent)Guest Relations = 5 Accommodations = 4 Onboard Activities = 3 Entertainment = 2 Food = 4 Specialty Restaurant = 4 Overall Cruise Experience = 4.5
Celebrity Cruises Summit by Steve Hatcher Hawaii October 28, 2006
As an Elite Member with Celebrity we sailed on a 14 day Hawaii cruise from LA. We booked the Sky Suite with a Butler etc. In over 28 cruises I have never had such a bad experience as this cruise.
The maintenance wokers were cutting metal and welding outside and beneath our balcony for 4-6 days. The red and orange sparks yielded such a high pitch tone at 7:00 AM we had no choice but to get up.
When I was measured for my tuxedo I received 2 different sized shirts with the sleeves 5 inches to long, pants 6 inches to short, wrong sized shoes and my wife had to continue to deleiver them to the alterations dept since I'm a disabled cruiser.
The advertisements stated pillow top mattresses and we had none. They gave us the general menu in our suite instead of the conceirge menu thinking we would not know the difference.
We stood in line for 55 minutes trying to get on the ship due to some problem in the hot sun on concrete with no cover. Our Sky SuiteBalcony was missing furniture. Our Sky Suite TV was defective for the first 5 days of the cruise.
The waffle machine on the ship caught on fire and its the only one they had everyone was told.
Still a week later we have yet to receive our 2 LOST LUGGAGE with souvenirs and my wife's formal dresses in them.
On the fishing excursion in Kona (Marlin fishing) the boat Captain was drunk and the deck mate was lecturing everyone on "ICE" the drug that he said most of Hawaii's folks use to bear living there. He was fired I have been told.
The class of service was the worst we have seen in cruising with RCCL and Celebrity over 20 times and it appears to be getting worse. I asked for my money back but nobody at Celebrity will return my call which says alot about there customer service to their repeat customers.
Report on New England/Canada Cruise Oct. 5-16, 2006
We flew to Newark on Oct. 3 and spent the day Oct. 4 walking around New York after we did a Helicopter tour. We of course always go to B&H when in the area to buy some new technological equipment of which there always seems to be abundance.
We sailed out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ around 5:00 PM with a beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. We had a day at sea to relax before our first stop in Boston. We took a duck tour from the Prudential Center and ended back at the Prudential Center. We then took the subway down to the Fanniel and Quincy Market area. After some walking sightseeing and shopping we had a nice lunch of lobster sandwiches at McCormick's. We got a cab back to ship for about $7 for four.
Bar Harbor was our next stop and we toured the Acadian National park with the local bus tour people, which was a very scenic tour. We had a wonderful boiled lobster meal out by the sea side atthe Bar Harbor Inn which had an outdoor restaurant.
Our next port was Halifax, NS and we had a private tour with a driver that lived in the Peggy's Cove area. We therefore got to see out of the way scenery, popping in on various other coves like Peggy's Cove. We got a first hand explanation of the cemetery where many of the Titanic passengers are buried and also the unknown deceased of the explosion of 1917, We also visited the Swiss Air Crash memorial. We rode up to the Citadel for the view of Halifax.
Quebec City was our next port of call and we found it to be beautiful old city. We walked around the beautiful lower and upper city. We did a countryside tour seeing the Montmorency falls and homes around the area along with visiting a beautiful cathedral.
The Saguenay River cruise was marred by some rain and fog, but we still enjoyed it.
Our last port was Portland and we did a nice tour of the city on a trolley like vehicle.
The ship was wonderful as are all the Celebrity Millennium class ships. The captain of the GTS Constellation was the same as on the Constellation transatlantic in September of 2004. Derek Habarken also was the same cruise director as on that cruise. A great cruise marred only by one day of rain and fog in the Saguenay River.
Pictures at: http://www.cruisemates.com/gallery/view.php?id=3137
We just returned from cruise on Infinity (Celebrity) and were really not happy.Key carwas replaced 3 times and door had to be reapired; then the toilet seat was hanging off; the Closet door had to be fixed and the safe had tohave door taken apart so we could program it;by the time all was repaired,we missed our evening meal, and the buffet was closed except for pasta, which was by that time not what we had expected.
We also noticed that the overhead bunk was not properly secured as one of the latches was disengaged,(very unsafe) We asked for another Stateroom but were told there was'nt any available.
We are "Elite" in the Captains Club and we were most unhappy.
The ship was very beautiful, but we will be thinking twice before cruising with Celebrity in the near future. The food was not exactly five star,but the service was excellent and our room stewardess and dining room waiter and busboy were the greatest and should be commended for going above and beyond to please all.We have 40 odd cruise experiences.
Over at another website I've commented and questioned many of the negative reviews on Celebrity in general and comments prior to our cruise and took it all in and want to add my 2 cents.... I think it is due to the unrealistic expectations of Celebrity and comparing them to the High-end Cruiselines... They are what they are.
This was our second cruise, the other also being with Celebrity in 2004 and the choice was due to the fact that Celebrity food is supposed to at the top of all Cruiselines in this price range.
No I did not meet the Hotel manger, CD nor was invited to the Captain's table for dinner.... There is no doubt a number of cost cuttings since our last cruise November 2004 I hate to say... They ran out of escargot the third day, which was very disappointing for the kids and frankly inexcusable considering they were in drydock for a week. If you care about activities and prizes for participating they also have been scaled back.... In 2004 I did get visors and t-shirts and this time all I saw was lot's of luggage tags.The Grand Bbuffet (last formal night at midnight) had no shrimp or baby lobster tails as in 2004, but somehow we survived... Prettier to see then eat imo...
Yes some chairs showed wear as did some tiling in our bathroom. Expected on a 6 year-old ship.
Staff very efficient and first class with our room always clean and the Dining Room staff attentive, polite and very personable.Food
Breakfast Buffet - Good, loved fresh waffles strawberry's and whip cream.... Pecan Buns (2 days) were incredible.... Rest as expected, made to order omelettes or eggs, cereals,scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, muesli, smoked salmon....
Lunch - Spa was very nice, buffet okay, plenty of choices, good desserts (particularly pecan Pie, Tiramisu, Croque en Bouche).... Pasta bar & Pizzas Sandwiches, some neat choices, Philly Cheesesteak, Cuban, Croque Monsieur were specials each day along with wraps.... Hamburgers, Dogs & Fries poolside.... Average, but fine...
Afternoon Tea - Nice idea, well done, good choices, some better then others.....
Sushi - 5:30-9:30 Very decent, above average.... Tuna & Salmon stood out for me.... Included Miso soup.
Ice Cream - Hard & Soft serve.... Approximately 8 flavours changed daily a little soft.
Dinner - Happy every night, except the lobster tail was badly over done and tasteless. Ordered meat rare and except for one occasion served properly (maybe medium rare). Nothing exceptional, but all above average and as expected when serving 1,000 per seating.
Entertainment - Shows were quite good, the first comedian was very funny, the other who sang, played instruments was fair to good.... Singers & dancers above average.
Found the Entertainment staff a little distant or hard to find and almost nonexistent. Poolside band was below average (okay at best). Other entertainment seemed quite good.
Lots to do, very nice ship.... Smooth embarkation (shuttle stopped first at Princess and there was a line that looked 200 yards long) and then at Celebrity we were on in 15 minutes. Disembarkation was delayed 30 minutes.
Every time I ask is 11:00-11:30 too early for a flight and always told not to try it... We were off (45 minutes late), called and changed our flight and still at the Airport, checked and through customs @ 10:45.
Used the gym and did like it.... Brand new elliptical trainers and treadmills (with tvs).
300 kids on board, including our 2, and I seldom saw any problems or acting up, which was actually more obvious from some seniors on board, who complained and never seemed happy.
Son 10 used the programs & 13 year old daughter made friends.
Wine.... Brought 2 bottles on board no problem and twice bought cheaper bottles for the room because if they wanted me to check them I did not want to bring them back. Was not stopped.
As for dress.... People do dress casually and I will agree there are some (very few instances) where I would have asked them to leave the room. Otherwise in the Caribbean I wore slacks on the 5 non formal nights, three times with Tommy Bahama shirts, twice long sleeve shirts and sandals (closed toes) and never felt out of place. Wore dark suit formal night, spouse did not wear pantyhose....
These are just some quick thoughts and I certainly think Celebrity does a great job and is a first class line for the price paid.....
On a 1-10 scale it was an 8+ as we did have almost perfect weather.
Valparaiso,Chile to Fort Lauderdale, via Panama Canal
We arrived in Santiago and stayed again at the Santiago Sheraton hotel. Had nice lunch in the top of the San Christobal tower section of the hotel. What a beautiful view of the city which is 571 meters above sea level.
We went to the Los Dominicos market again and looked around and then walked through the local downtown section eating at a nice sidewalk caféé (Lomits).
We had arrived on Friday March 17 and Saturday night we went to a local dinner show at Los de Adobes Argomedo and after the show had great fun dancing.
The next day Sunday March 19, we had luggage picked up outside the room and we went on a private pre-arranged tour to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso being dropped off at the ship by 5:00 PM. This is about an 80 mile drive.
We sailed just after 9:00 PM for Arica, Chile which is close to the border with Peru in the North of Chile. The shipboard atmosphere was jolly and we had a nice cruisecritic meeting with a very good attendance. Our captain Apostolos Bouzakis was acharming Greek fellow. Simon Weir was our cruise director and we had previously had him on another cruise when the Millennium sailed the Baltic Sea, her second voyage. He is the best. His brother Nick was the C.D on the South American Horn Cruise in February 2004, and is also very good.
Wednesday March 22, after two wonderful sea days, we arrive in Arica, Chile at 7:00 AM. We had previously booked a short local ships tour of the city and the Geoglyphs in the area. It only lasted about 4 hours but did go up the El Morro mountain around some very winding curves on roads without guard rails. In Arica, they still talk very much about the Pacific War which was between Chile and Peru. We did not take the trip to the Lauca National Park which seemed to be a very long ride. We returned to the ship, had lunch and then walked back into the city and to the Main Street, which is kind of a hang out and pedestrian walkway.
We returned to the ship and were scheduled to depart at 6:00 PM. We noticed that we were not departing but went to early main seating dinner. We went to the Celebrity Showroom after dinner to watch the Pampas Devils Argentina Tango show. While sitting in the showroom we were advised that around 4:30 PM a fatal accident occurred and 12 of our fellow passengers were killed while returning from a tour. We were delayed in Arica for 15 hours while the captain assisted those in need and the chief concierge left the ship to fly to the states and bring families of the deceased to Arica. A doctor and nurse from the ship were sent into town to the hospital to assist with the two injured passengers who had each lost their wives in the accident. For a video see: http://us.video.aol.com/video.index.adp?mode=2&pmmsid=1481730
We arrived in Callao, Peru at 11:00 AM Friday March 24, 2006 after two days at sea, four hours behind schedule, where I was to take a Nazca Lines tour. Due to the delay, the Nazca Lines tour that I had booked was cancelled and Celebrity credited my account ($535) for this one tour and in addition gave myself and my wife a free tour of Lima, Peru. (10 Kilometers from Callao). Celebrity was under no obligation to do this and had not had anything to do with booking the fatal tours. Everyone on board was proud of the way Celebrity handled the incident. We had a very nice tour of a very ancient city. We departed Callao, Peru at 8:00 PM.
On Sunday March 26th 8:00 AM after two days at sea, we arrived in Manta, Ecuador. We were aware of the high incidence of Malaria in this area, but the Plasmodium is transmitted by the Anopheles Mosquito which is really a night biter. We took no medication since we spent only the day there. Manta is the center for the Ecuadorian Tuna industry and is the home of Charlie Tuna. Manta has been a major port since the pre- Inca era. The road from Manta to Montecristi has many warehouses and factories related to the tuna fish industry. We visited a factory that processed the Aqua nut into the Ecuador marble and bought several of the small figurines. Montecristi is the home of the Panama Hats and we visited a market with many handicrafts including the famous Panama hats. A lot of the small children are trying to sell goods, but they are very polite and not pushy or aggressive. They are very beautiful people.
Tuesday, March 28 after two days at sea we arrived for the Panama Canal transit. My old map from 1995 did not have the new Centennial Bridge on it that was built in 2003, but otherwise was very helpful in letting us realize exactly where we were. I had previously made notes on the "Path between the Seas" which made the sacrifices of the people who built the "Big Ditch" much more impressive. It makes one realize that this is indeed a "Wonder of the World". It takes about 8 hours to undergo the approximate 50 miles of the canal which runs from southeast (Pacific) to northwest (Atlantic). One can get confused at times if you see the sun setting in the East. Since 1999, the canal now totally belongs to Panama, but the U.S still has Howard Air Force Base close by for security. Apparently Japan and the United States are the biggest users of the Panama Canal.
We entered the Miraflores locks (two locks) about 7:00 AM and then into Miraflores lake. We locked through the Pedro Miguel locks (one lock) to reach 85 feet above sea level in to the Culebra (meaning snake) Cut a 9 mile section crossing the continental divide and now named the Galliard cut after a Major Galliard. At the end of the Galliard cut is Gamboa and the portion of the Chagres River that feeds the Gatun Lake. There is another dam higher up on the Chagres River (Madden Dam) to help control this river that can had been known to rise 14 feet in 24 hours.
While cruising the canal I took a picture of a tourist boat that I considered to be very overloaded with people and it was just about the time the ferry out of Bahrain had capsized because of being overloaded. What I saw in the Panama Canal was an accident looking for a place to happen.
Thursday, March 30 after another 2 days at sea, we arrived at Aruba at 7:00 AM. This is a long skinny island, but has some beautiful beaches. We elected to spend the day at MoomBa Beach located between the Holiday Inn and the Marriott Ocean club. This turned out to be a very comfortable beach with natural trees for shade. Lounges were free with purchase of drinks and food.
April 2, 2006 we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and after a nice breakfast on the balcony finally walked off the ship and flew home without any mishaps. It was a great cruise only marred by the terrible accident outside of Arica. Pictures at: gallery
I love Celebrity Cruises. All of my previous cruises have been fantastic on this line. However, I think there may have been problems on this cruise. This was their last cruise to Canada/New England and I think some of the staff were just too anxious to get to warmer weather.
The itinerary was fabulous. We started in Bayonne, New Jersey (by the way -- this is a port that is basically organized and has their act together. Friendly porters and very accessible).
We went to Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Quebec City, Quebec, cruise the Saguenay River and then to Portland, Maine. All the ports were ready for the influx of people and dealt with it well. Rather than taking trips off the ship, we hired our own guides and/or took a taxi wherever we went. We weren't in "foreign" countries and drivers were readily available at all ports for less money than you would pay the cruise line for a side trip. I wouldn't risk this out of the U.S. or Canada, but I highly recommend it for these ports. It leaves more time for shopping and you can spendas much time as you want at each location.
Unfortnately, service on this ship was severely lacking in comparison to our past cruises on Celebrity. The food only rated an okay with everyone at our dinner table (and we are all seasoned cruisers). The cabins stewards were okay (we were Concierge Class and expected a bit better). The cabins are beginning to look dated and the beds needs replacing. I will recommend that cruisers not pay the upgrade fee for Concierge Class. You pay about $200 per person for stale canapes and towels that are a bit fluffier - no biggie. Allegedly you are supposed to get a more seasoned cabin steward but you don't. You get little trinkets extra but not really worth the money.
The shows on the ship were EXCELLENT including a brief Cirque d'Soleil show. Fabulous. Embarkation/Debarkation was a breeze. The Captain on the ship was very witty and fun to listen to.
I was a little ruffled about the fact that on sea days they stacked activities that shouldn't have been stacked (i.e. bingo and black jack tournament at the same time). They also nickle and dime you for everything -- however this is the way of the cruise lines today.
All in all, it was a good cruise. The food was average, the service was average, but my expectations for Celebrity are higher than that for Princess, NCL, Royal or Carnival.