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Old December 27th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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Default Just back -Century - not so short review

Just returned from Century nine-night Caribbean cruise - our fifth time on Century and our 23rd cruise on Celebrity. The itinerary was a perfect mix of four port days (Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Aruba and Curacao) and four sea days; the weather was consistently warm and sunny (except for two very brief showers on our first sea day), the skies were blue and the sea was as calm as a lake. Though ten years old, admittedly showing some signs of wear (to be addressed) and soon headed into dry dock for a major overhaul, Century remains a beautiful and elegantly appointed ship.

From the captain on down to every staff and crew member, everyone on Century was friendly and eager to please. Service was just what we’ve come to expect from Celebrity – excellent. Our cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter, assistant maitre d’ and everyone else with whom we came in contact were as welcoming, sincere and as accommodating as one could hope for and all this was accomplished without anyone being gushy or obsequious. In line with X’s goals, we were treated famously. Say what you will about Celebrity, but service does seem to be one of its strong suits. As a poster in the crew area says, at Celebrity a perfect ten just isn’t good enough.

Food in the dining room was, as always, very good to excellent. We were a bit surprised, however, to find that one of our favorite dinner choices, rack of lamb (always offered at least once on a seven-night cruise and often more than once on longer cruises) was not available at all during this particular cruise. No one seemed to know why, but for some reason (cost-cutting, perhaps?) it wasn’t available. That aside, there were lots of other delicious choices and it was impossible to go hungry! With respect to the lunch buffets, we found them to be a bit lackluster in presentation and variety. Perhaps that’s because we’ve become accustomed to the M-class ships which have a larger buffet area and therefore a seemingly wider variety of offerings. Also, there appeared to be more repetition at the lunch buffet than we’ve noticed before. For instance, adjacent to the pizza/pasta station at the pool grill, there’s a Caesar salad and special-of-the-day station. During the nine days there were only three alternating “specials? - a curry station, a baked potato station and a taco station. Also, at the sandwich station in the rear, despite the name change, the hot sandwich seemed to be the same almost every day. No great shakes, just something we noticed which seemed to differ from X’s usual standards.

Entertainment was varied and quite good with three production shows, a comedian, a violinist, a singer and the “ladder? guy (if you’ve cruised Century, you know who I mean). While perhaps not the greatest entertainment offered on the high seas, the evening entertainment provided on Century was certainly enjoyable. The cruise director, Allan King, is a pro and probably one of the best in the industry - he and his staff are very accessible and do everything possible to make sure there’s plenty going on around the ship to keep everyone happy.

In recent months, much has been written on this board and others about the condition of Century now that she’s ten years old. I’ve read posts that would lead one to believe Century is a barely sea-worthy old rust bucket, and other posts that maintain she’s as pristine as she was the day she embarked on her first revenue-generating cruise some ten years ago. The fact is the truth rests somewhere the between the two extremes. We first cruised on Century during her inaugural year, then three other times before this, our fifth cruise on her. Century remains a beautiful ship and is in incredible shape considering she’s been carrying 1600 passengers every week for the past ten years. Century is the perfect size ship for those who shy away from mega-ships, and despite her size and passenger load, she never feels crowded – even on sea days. IMHO Century’s design is almost flawless. In fact, the only flaw I’m aware of is the limited access available to the dining room entrance on the fifth floor, and therefore the need to go up or down when getting to or from the dining room. Century’s public spaces are as lovely as ever and her classic, understated elegance is still present, even though she is showing some understandable signs of wear and tear.

While I wouldn’t call the ship old or worn, I would have to say it appears a bit tired, particularly with respect to the Islands Buffet and the theater, both areas of the ship which are well-used and abused by passengers, and now appear somewhat dated. That said, Century is still immaculate. No matter where you go, someone is always cleaning, polishing, varnishing or painting and that constant care goes a long way. Our cabin was in decent shape and true to other cabins we’ve had on Century, provided the best storage arrangement of any ship we’ve ever sailed. Nevertheless, after ten years of service, the bathroom fixtures were a bit discolored, the bed was terribly uncomfortable (until our cabin steward added a foam covering which immediately remedied the situation), and the frame of our desk chair was wrapped in masking tape. Did any of this adversely affect our cruise? Not a chance – and I still maintain that overall Century is in great shape, albeit a bit tired in some places. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that when she emerges from dry dock, Century will still be one of the most beautiful ships afloat. My one regret is that she will be sailing three- and four-night itineraries and because we prefer longer cruises, we’ll not likely have the opportunity to enjoy what X is now calling, the New Century.

Finally, a subject that is sure to evoke strong responses as it always does – the ever-controversial dress code issue. One of the things that makes Celebrity our cruise line of choice is the traditional cruise experience it offers its guests and that includes the continuation of formal and informal nights, something most other lines have all but eliminated. Let me say outright that, no, we really don’t care what other people wear and no, someone’s mode of dress doesn’t make or break our cruise, but…

While many passengers did respect the evening dress code on our cruise, too many did not. On both formal and informal nights, passengers were allowed into the dining room in shorts, tee shirts, bathing suit cover-ups, sweatpants, jeans and other clothing that didn’t even loosely qualify as formal or informal. On the two informal nights, perhaps only half the men wore jackets and that includes those whose jackets were windbreakers. On informal nights in particular, those who did respect the dress code actually looked out of place.

We overheard one passenger ask the maitre d’ why passengers who were clearly inappropriately dressed were permitted in the dining room, especially on formal nights and the response was simply, “there’s nothing we can do.? Well, I think there is something they can do. If X is going to continue to have an evening dress code and ask passengers to respect it, there should be some effort (even minimal) by X to see that those who refuse are likewise refused entrance to the dining room and very politely directed to an alternative dining venue.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 11:16 PM
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Just completed a 10 day on Holland Veendam and everyone in the dining room complied with the dress code and I am surprised Celebrity is letting this happen to a class cruise line.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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really big apple? I was on HALs Zuiderdam back in October and there were several people allowed inthe dining room with sweats and jeans. There was actually one woman who came to dinner every night in sweats.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 12:12 AM
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The only reason they would let them in the dining room is that they were able to sneak by the main door and I will admit there is no control on Carnival ships and your experience is the exception not the norm. If so I am glad we were not on your ship.
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Old January 4th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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[/b] Hey Everybody!!
My husband and I are brand new to cruising and just finished our very first cruise on Celebrity's Century ship. We really enjoyed celebrating our anniversary, Christmas and New Year's at sea. Of course, we have no prior experience to base this on, but we thought that the Century was wonderful! Perhaps showing a little wear here and there but nothing outrageous! I can't say enough about the staff of the Century. They were all just magnificent. We felt truly pampered and waited on hand and foot! We have decided that we LOVE cruising!! The only thing now that we've experienced Celebrity, do we stick with them or try a different line just to see what another one is like? Oh decisions, decisions!
We noticed that Dec.2006 both Celebrity and Princess have ships sailing to Hawaii. Does anyone know how Princess compares to Celebrity?
To be honest, we liked the idea that there weren't a lot of children on the Century, and although we did enjoy the Fortunes Casino as well as a few of the shows, (Ladder Guy included), we don't really get into group activities! We just got back on Jan. 2nd and we're already looking up other cruising! Hurray!
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Old January 4th, 2006, 08:27 PM
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lysolqn,

We overheard one passenger ask the maitre d’ why passengers who were clearly inappropriately dressed were permitted in the dining room, especially on formal nights and the response was simply, “there’s nothing we can do.? Well, I think there is something they can do. If X is going to continue to have an evening dress code and ask passengers to respect it, there should be some effort (even minimal) by X to see that those who refuse are likewise refused entrance to the dining room and very politely directed to an alternative dining venue.

I agree completely -- and there's a LOT more at stake here than meets the eye. Unfortunately, failure to enforce rules breeds an attitude that rules don't matter, patterns of non-compliance, and ultimately refusal to comply in emergency situations where lapses may result in serious injury or death not only of those who fail to comply but also of other passengers and members of the crew. Thus, tolerance of non-compliance is completely unaceptable.

A cruise line that establishes evening dress codes should enforce them consistently in all areas where they apply. On most cruise lines, that includes not only the main dning rooms but also the show rooms, the lounges in the main entertainment area, the casino, and specialty restaurants. I don't have a problem with a line's decision to offer a casual alternative (typically the buffet restaurant) and a casual entertainment option (which could be Karaoke, a singer with a guitar, or even a poolside movie, for example) for those who don't wish to dress to the prescribed standards, but these options are best located in a separate area of the ship so that those who choose not to dress are not going to the areas where everybody is dressed to the prescribed standard.

I hope that you wrote appropriate comments about this on your evaluation at the end of the cruise, including the Maitre d's response to the other passengers. Celebrity's staffs do read the comments, and they do get attention -- especailly when a lot of passengers make similar comments. If you commented on the failure to enforce the dress standards, you probably were not alone.

Norm.
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Old January 4th, 2006, 08:43 PM
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cruzinsweeteez,

We noticed that Dec.2006 both Celebrity and Princess have ships sailing to Hawaii. Does anyone know how Princess compares to Celebrity?

Five years ago, Princess compared very favorably to Celebrity. Unfortunately, the line instituted a "cost reduction programme" and started to go down hill in very noticeable ways. for example, the flaming desserts disappeard from the dining room so the line could save money on insurance. No more Bananas a la Foster, Cherries Jubilee, etc. The line also scaled back its shows quite noticeably. Also, it's very difficult to get "Traditional Dining" on the larger ships unless you book very early. (On my Dad's "Canada/New England cruise aboard MV Golden Princess last October, he was about #476 on the waiting list for first seating, yet the ship still blithely maintained "Anytime Dining" in two of the three main dining rooms.)

For me the last straw came when the shareholders of the parent company voted to merge operations with Carnival Corporation trhough a "dual-headed" corporate structure in which both corporations continue to exist, but have the same officers and directors and operate as though they were a single entity, in 2003. After thirteen cruises with Princess, I started cruising with Celebrity. I do not foresee any situation in which I would return to Princess Cruises.

Norm.
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Old January 10th, 2006, 08:53 PM
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Nice review Lysolqn (and I like your screen name, too....). It gave me some of the information that I really WANT before cruising a new ship and since I'm booked on the Cruise of the Century, was quite timely.

I'm a bit disappointed to learn that Celebrity isn't enforcing their dress code. It is one of the things about Carnival that I am less than thrilled about and felt certain that Celebrity wasn't following the "There's nothing we can do about it" road.

Ah well - like you, it won't ruin my cruise.

dorothy
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