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Old July 13th, 2004, 03:58 PM
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Default Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Hi all-
I just returned from my 5th Celebrity cruise on Saturday. It was my second time on the Zenith. I sailed Celebrity in '95, '98, '00, '01 and obviously '04. My family and I noticed some signifcant declines in the quality of the cruise since our last sailing. Previously, there was a plethora of entertainment onboard (sometimes to the point where we had to prioritize and decide what activity we wanted to do because there were so many enjoyable activities planned throughout the day). This time, we found that it was rare that there was entertainment planned that many more than a handful of people would find enjoyable. To me, "improving golf skills with the onboard expert" is not something that many people are going to enjoy. There is a small percentage of people onboard that play gold seriously enough to attend something like that and an even smaller percentage of people that would find it so enjoyable that they would actually attend. Also, the famous "Pillow Pole Pool Party" (people trying to knock each other off of a pole over the pool) was always a HUGE deal. My family has home movies of it from previous cruises with literally hundreds of people crowded around the pool watching. This time, they had trouble finding enough people to participate and they were only looking for 8 people. When it did get started there were maybe 50 people watching. Also, on previous cruises, they gave the contestants a shot of alcohol to toast to when beginning the competition. Not a huge deal, but just a cut-back we noticed as none was provided this time. Also, there was only 1 karaoke night advertised as far as I know whereas in the past there was karaoke nearlfy everynight as it was one of the most well liked acitvites. Typically, they would buy the first person to sing a coctail as their thank you for having enough guts to kick off the competition. This time, they just begged until someone finally broke down and decided to sing. Also, the trivia games that were hosted by the entertainment staff were always well attended and enjoyable. This time, they were poorly attended and the entertainment staff was horrible. They showed absolutely no excitement or anything and on more than one occasion arrived late to the events. There were no prizes awarded to the winners as there was in the past. There were no midnight buffets. They instead has "light bites" served in the lounges each night which were basically a joke. The entertainment in the show lounge at night was average at best. For starters, 6 out of the 7 nights the entertainment was singers (it got a little old by the end of the week). In the past we have seen comedians, stuntmen, and the crowd favorite "amature" show performed by the crew while we were in port. I remember one time they had a contest where groups of females had to dress men up like girls and then they had a fashion show and it was hilarious. Another time the crew preformed a lip sync show with had everyone laughing for the rest of the week. I'm not trying to complain about everything and be one of those people that complains just for the sake of complaining. Overall the cruise was good, just not quite up to par with Celebrity's reputation for being outstanding. Had this been my first cruise, I would have absolutely loved it, as I would not have been able to miss the things that have been eliminated. There were plenty of positives including the dining room food and service, our cabin steward, Bermuda, the bar staff, etc. It just seems that since Royal Carribbean bought out Celebrity, some changes have taken place. Since it had been 3 years since my last cruise, the changes were very clear. Well, I just thought I would share my thoughts. Please feel free to ask any questions about the trip. I would be glad to answer them. Happy cruising!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old July 13th, 2004, 04:23 PM
danalan
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

We sailed to Bermuda in May 03 and then to the western caribbean in Feb 04, both cruises in the same suite. We also noticed a decline in the condition of the ship overall and in the condition our suite, but were assured one evening at dinner by an officer (Feb 04 cruise) that the ship was going into dry dock this next winter and would be totally refurbished with balcony's added to the Atlantic Deck - suites and CC cabins. But it looks like this was cancelled.

Also, the entertainment and on-board activities were much better on the caribbean cruise (14 night) than it was on the Bermuda cruise, but we thought that was probably due to the length of the cruise.

Was anything said on your cruise about refurbishing the ship? We cancelled our western caribbean cruise next winter and booked another Celebrity cruise after we heard the refurbishments were cancelled.
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Old July 14th, 2004, 02:30 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

I presume you just got back from Zenith to Bermuda. Were you aware that cruise ships have an agreement with the Gov't in Bermuda to substantially limit the professional entertainment onboard ship during the overnights in port?
That is why you experienced the lesser quality entertainment during your cruise. This would be the same for any cruise to Bermuda on any cruiseline. The idea is that the government allows the ships to land and in return they want you ashore in the pubs, clubs and restaurants not sitting in the theatre or a lounge watching a show.
Celebrity , like several other cruiselines, eliminated some of the midnight buffets years ago. The "gourmet bites" that you did not like have been around for 6 or 7 years and in fact are very popular with most cruise passengers.
Improving golf skills may not be popular to you. Bermuda has more golf courses per square mile than any other place in the world. A much higher percentage than average on most cruises play golf when in port in Bermuda. Golf lessons are a big deal on Bermuda cruises.
I find it interesting that what you call cut backs in entertainment are in fact very many of the corny poolside games and amatuer shows that many cruisers want to see eliminated. I for one would be very happy to never see another belly flop contest or other display of a few noisy passengers and a screaming ass't cruise director at poolside during prime pool and sun hours.
We each have our own opinions , these are mine. I am glad you enjoyed your cruise.
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Old July 14th, 2004, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

PapaBill-
As a veteran cruiser I am VERY aware of the agreement that professional entertainment cannot take place on the ship while in port. Thus my comment about a complete lack of amature shows (lip sync show, dressing men up as women, etc.) which always seemed to be a crowd favorite. Also, all of the professional entertainment onboard was singing with the exception of one night. The lack of variety got rather boring during the second half of the cruise. Perhaps the agreement has been changed? All I know is that there was absolutely professional entertainment each and every night while we were in port. As far as the gormet bites being around for 6-7 years, I don't understand. I have cruised on Celebrity in the last 6-7 years and enjoyed midnight buffets. Yes, some nights gormet bites were offered in ADDITION to the midnight buffet, but they were never a substitute until this past cruise. Also, I would just like to clarify that I was not stating my disapointment with Celebrity (saying that it seems to have declined in comparisson to other cruise lines), I was just noting some disappointing changes since my last cruise, whether those changes be confined to Celebrity or unanimous across most cruise lines. I understand your point about golf, and I was not calling that out as a big deal, I was just offering it as an example. And actually, I think we agree because you said you would enjoy the golf activities and like to see the pool side games eliminated. I am the opposite. I don't care about golf on board but enjoy the pool side games. As you said, it is not important that we disagree. What I think the more important point, and the point I was trying to make is, is that in the past 4 Celebrity cruises I have been on there were enough overlaping activities planned throughout the day so that golf, trivia, karaoke, pool side games, scavanger hunts, financial talks, Bermuda info sessions, movies, etc, etc, etc, were all occuring so frequently throughout the day that no one was ever bored. This cruise it seemed that there were scheduled blocks of time where only one activity was scheduled. That meant that there were either so many people that attended that the quality of the activity declined (depending on what that activity was) or there was a large group of people looking for something to do. This was especially true on the days at sea. I'm not trying to sound like I am complaining about everything and like I had a horrible time, I promise! I just noticed a very disapointing dip in quality of a Celebrity cruise. Had I been a first time Celebrity cruiser, I would have been 110% content with my cruise because I wouldn't have known what it was like a few years ago. If you never experience something you can't miss it. By the way, PapaBill, thanks for politely sharing your comments. It seems that at times people end up lashing out and creating unnecessary arguments on these boards simply because they have differing opinions. Oh, and Danalan, nothing was officially mentioned onboard about refurbishing. I heard passangers discussing it, but I suppose that was all speculation. Happy cruising everyone!
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Old July 14th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Gourmet bites have REPLACED midnight buffets on about 50% of the evenings on every Celebrity cruise I have ever done since the first in 1998. On a seven day cruise Celebrity does one Grand buffet and maybe 2 or 3 others , the rest have been gourmet bites. On a 10 day maybe 5 nights are gourmet bites and one or two nights might be poolside buffets. On our 14 day there was one grand buffet, perhaps 3 or 4 "regular buffets" two on deck buffets and the rest were all Gourmet bite nights.
I was wondering, on your other trips did you sail either Zenith or Horizon? Obviously these two ships have smaller entertainment staffs and less entertainment venues. What about the cruise director? Was the "regular" director onboard?
I am certainly not questioning your experience or impressions. They are valid and appreciated and as a Celebrity Fan a bit disconcerting. I have 14 days coming up on Summit in two months and don't want to listen to the same singer or two for 14 nights.
Let us both hope that your experience on Zenith was an exception to the norm. Again, Happy cruising.
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Old July 14th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

HI again Bill-
This was my second time on the Zenith and I have previously sailed on the Horizon twice. I have also sailed on the Century once and on RCCL's Majesty of the Seas once. The cruise director was certainly the "regular" one. He had been on the ship for 7 months I think he said and I think still had a while before he was off. He was definately the worst I have ever experienced. It's not that he was horrible, but he was no wheres near exceptional as all of the previous director's have been. Just for the record no one in my family, at my dinner table, or anyone else that we conversed with at various points throughout the cruise even know what the assistant cruise directors name was or what he looked like until the disembarkation talk when he was "reintroduced." I guess maybe I was spoiled with absolutely exceptional Celebrity cruises in the past and now have trouble accepting "good" cruises. I hope I answered your questions, Bill and I wouldn't be overly concerned about your upcoming cruise. I certainly can't see you having a bad time, you just may experience some small but sometimes important changes. Happy cruising!
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Old July 15th, 2004, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Hi Califive:

There's another thread on this same site titled "Zenith" by MicheleP that you might want to read. Looks like there's some rumor that Zenith is or has been sold and is only scheduled out through next Mar-April 05 for the caribbean cruises, then nothing else. This summer may be the last run for Zenith from New York to Bermuda. With this in mind, and our experience in Feb 04 compared to the prior spring, I think you're right. It looks like the cruise line may just be finishing out the schedule before the ship changes hands, if those rumors are true. The Horizon is showing the same cutoff point on the Celebrity website schedule, nothing after the caribbean cruise schedules end next spring.

The cruise director you had is probably the same we had in Feb 04, and he wasn't as entertaining as the previous one. I didn't appreciate his attempts at humor. One of those guys who thinks if he turns the mic up really loud, he will automatically be funny.

It was still a good cruise, and a beautiful ship. Hate to see it retired from Celebrity's line.
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Old July 15th, 2004, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Danalan-
I hadn't heard that rumor. It seems silly to me that Celebrity would allow the quality of the cruising experience to decrease just because the ship is no longer going to be around. To me, they are potentially losing customers by doing this. I wouldn't doubt that the rumor is true though. It's sad. I don't know if you remember your cruise director's name or not, but our was Shawn Cavanough. Nice enough guy I guess, but definately not a great cruise director, especially in comparison with directors in the past. Live and learn I guess. Happy cruising!

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RCCL's Majesty of the Seas * Eastern Carribbean - '93
Celebrity's Horizon * Bermuda - '95
Celebrity's Zenith * Bermuda - '98
Celebrity's Horizon * Bermuda '99
Celebrity's Century * Western Carribbean '01
Celebrity's Zenith *Bermuda - '04
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Old July 16th, 2004, 07:48 AM
danalan
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Califive:

Shawn was our cruise director also. Yes, he seemed like a nice guy, just overall didn't seem like he'd grown into the position yet . Guess they all have to learn sometime.

Overall, we've been very well pleased with the Celebrity staff and the entire cruise experience, just disappointed with our last cruise on the Zenith because of maintenance problems in our suite and a butler with an attitude. Even so, I hate to see it sold, if that is what is really happening.
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Old July 16th, 2004, 09:03 AM
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Just to clarify, Gourmet bites have always replaced the Buffets, they never were in addition to them, that was the purpose of the gourmet bites. I first encountered them on Celebrity in 1998 on the Century and do enjoy them.

Don
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Old July 16th, 2004, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Glad you enjoy them, Don. I guess it's just a hard adjustment to make when you're used to a full out buffet and midnight and it gets reduced to hardly a snack. I was disappointed that Celebrity has replaced the buffet with the gourmet bites, but I guess that's just the way it is now. Happy cruising!

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RCCL's Majesty of the Seas * Eastern Carribbean - '93
Celebrity's Horizon * Bermuda - '95
Celebrity's Zenith * Bermuda - '98
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Celebrity's Century * Western Carribbean '01
Celebrity's Zenith *Bermuda - '04
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Old August 16th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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Default Re: Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

We have cruised on several lines in the past couple of years and noticed the decline of the midnight buffet. Just got off the Carnival Legend and they only had one buffet and the other nights the lido food area opened with snacks and desserts. Pizza was open 24 hours.

When we last cruised Norwegian out of Boston, they had a chocoholic buffet , a seafood buffet and one or two more during the week. Maybe they still do. Does anyone know?
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Old August 16th, 2004, 09:03 PM
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Default Re: Just back from Zenith- fire away with the questions

Just a quick story and many a bit of a reason why some of the pool games have been stopped or are 'calmer' than in the past.
Moved to MS this year and was getting a hair-cut recently. We got to talking about cruising and she told me they went on a NCL cruise out of NO last year and her husband broke his wrist on day one. The cd had a prize for the first person to jump in the pool with all their clothes on and her husband wanted whatever it was. He jumped in, hit a step, put his arm back, and broke his wrist. Well, she said they took care of him (x-rays, cast) and not only refunded his money for the cruise and for the excursions they had pre-purchased but they also gave them a free cruise which she said they were taking this fall.

I bet that event is no more!
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