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   Cruise Travel - Reader Reviews

Welcome to Your Favorites, where you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with fellow Internet Travelers around the world.

Celebrity Cruise Line

MV Century

Your Rating:Five Stars
Reviewed by: Clive Bassant
# previous cruises: 10 to 20
Date of Trip: June 29, 2009
Itinerary: Scandinavia

Have just returned back from the 12 night Arctic Circle the North Cape cruise aboard the Celebrity Century.

Well what can one say about this exceptional cruise, the experience ranged from truly exceptional to at times a little odd.

Public Areas
I have sailed on the century before just for a three night short break post-refit, and was impressed with what they had done with this lovely ship (although sadly all the vacuum cleaners had blown resulting in the ship having only one working vacuum cleaner which struggled to clean up all the fluff from the newly laid carpets. This resulted in public rooms feeling slightly untidy, also the service seemed inconsistent and it didn't feel a happy ship). No such problems for this cruise, three years on and all vacuum cleaners working, she seemed in remarkably good shape for a ship this age. Generally she has a very traditional feel, classical and stylish with an occasional contemporary touch ie the martini bar. No flashing neon, wave riders, boxing ring or any of the other modern accompaniments to the current crop of resort ships. At just over 70,000 tonnes, she is big enough for the wow factor, but not so big that you forget you're on a cruise ship. My partner and myself have been fortunate to sail on quite a few cruise ships over the last few years, and have really enjoyed most of them.

This has included a good few resort style ships including the fabulous Solstice, but there is nothing that can compare to the feel of this particular type of vessel, and we can only hope that Celebrity remember those of us who like what is now considered the smaller style ships when planning future fleet requirements.

Food and Service
The Main Dining Room - The main dining room on the ship is very attractive, with two levels set at the aft the ship, there was a huge two-storey window area which afforded excellent views as you sailed into the midnight sun and enjoying a delicious meal. Our initial table assignment was not what was ordered, but the maitre d' did move us from a table of eight to the required table of four, this unfortunately was not well located being directly behind the string quartet on formal nights. The volume became quite intrusive when trying to eat.

The poor location though was made up for by truly excellent service. Our waiter Achmad, assistant Krume were very attentive where nothing been too much trouble. The real star of the show here has to be the assistant maitre d' Alex. He was a star not just attending to our culinary needs, but providing entertainment with his wit and banter every night, again probably the best service we have received so far on any ship. The food ranged from good to very good, some nights excellent, just a couple of rogue meals, but not bad enough to be sent back. The one thing that we did appreciate was the new menus, we have done a good few Celebrity cruises now, and were starting to get a bit tired of the choices available. The new menus were varied, excellent choice with a particularly good range of deserts. Just one more comment to make regarding the infamous dress code, or total lack of it on this particular cruise. I really do appreciate peoples right to wear what ever makes them comfortable, but it will be such a shame if Celebrity totally give up on the tradition, particularly as so few lines have what I consider a proper formal night. There are many cruise line choices for those who don't want to dress up for diner, I hope the few lines that still have a MDR dress code are afforded the respect by all passengers aboard to adhere to it.

The Island Cafe -e didn't utilise the buffet area as much as we would normally do on a cruise, primarily this was because it got extremely busy at the times we would normally use it, the majority of passengers on the ship were from mainland Europe and tended to eat here during the day, rather than at other venues that were available. The breakfasts were the usual affair, there was the ever present annoyance of hot and cold items being placed together, which resulted in all those wanting to eat being funneled into the same queues, which then meant the hot food you picked up at the beginning being cold by the time you got your last hot item.

The lunch buffet excelled in salads and pasta with an excellent stir fry station, the choices for entrees seem to be very limited in comparison to other cruises we have been on, and on one side in particular the carvery meat was not always replaced when it run out, and certain entrees not being replenished quick enough which resulted in the food becoming dried out and cold, although I do hasten to add for some reason this was only on one side.

The Murano restaurant - as has become standard on most celebrity ships, the specialty restaurant ,in this case the Murano, always seems to excel. Spot on professional silver service with showy presentation, always results in a special evening, with the Murano being no exception. We particularly appreciated the table side presentation with all the meals being cooked to perfection. Certainly worth the extra supplement you have to pay.

We had a deluxe ocean view cabin (accessible) no. 5055, on Plaza deck just a stone's throw from the Murano restaurant. A lovely laid out cabin with plenty of room, good sizeable bathroom with an incredibly powerful shower that was consistently hot (sometimes too hot). The decor was smart, hotel style with layered linen and bed runners. The room steward and his assistant were attentive, efficient and very polite at all times. The service we received was probably the best we received on any of 21 cruises so far. Rooms were made over before 9:30 a.m. every day and were kept very clean and tidy with no requests from ourselves not dealt with.

When thinking about the entertainment on the ship, my first thoughts tend to be directed towards Rich Clesen the cruise director, he was unusually very good and had quite an amusing double act going on with the entertainments manager Berny. He was ever present around the ship and seemed to genuinely want to get to know passengers and how they were enjoying their cruise. On one occasion, prior to dinner he actually pulled up a chair to where my small group were sitting, and chatted a good 20 minutes/half an hour about the day's events and cruising in general. He was telling us in a previous life, he was a stand-up comedian, which really did show in his professional delivery.

The entertainment itself on the whole was very good. The Celebrity singers and dancers made a game effort of their three production shows, although I have to say there were tuning issues regarding the singing which really does need to be sorted out. I enjoyed the other performers including the ever present Lindsay Hamilton,singer Enrico Cifiello,Carl Andrews and the very talented pianist Antonio Salci,the one problem for us was that the performances were based in English, which I think frustrated the audience, the vast majority not speaking English. The result was shows lacking atmosphere, with large numbers walking out during performances, sometimes it seemed en masse. Although I have to say the situation did improve for the last few evenings of the cruise. If Celebrity intend to market their product to predominantly non English-speaking passengers, and the situation arises again where less than a quarter of the passenger numbers speak English they will have to readjust certain aspects of the cruise including the type of entertainment they offer.

Lastly and not least I need to mention the itinerary. It can be summed up in one word ' stunning', the most beautiful and remarkable scenery we have seen on any trip so far. Each destination was different in its own way, but still encompassing what seems to be a particular type of Norwegian charm. It was all helped along by the incredible weather, with the exception of North Cape (windy, a bit rainy but in the end seemed fitting) almost all of the days were greeted with clear skies and warm sunshine, how lucky were we!! This brings me on to what was one of the high points of this cruise, the excursions provided by RCCL. As a full-time wheelchair user excursions are normally the bane of my life when trying to organise excursions that help me get the most out of my trip. If they exist at all, they are usually well overpriced and unaffordable. Not so on this occasion, there was an excellent range of excursions available using private cars, and the cost when divided by four people proved to be very reasonable. We had some very memorable days, all helped along by the courteous and helpful drivers. One of whom was so eager to help, he volunteered to bodily lift me out of the car and into the wheelchair, and back again when we were finished. Not something that I would normally expect or ask for, but you can't knock his spirit or his attitude. Plaudits also have to go out to the excursions team manager, who was superb. All trips were well organised, with the manager waiting for us at the quay to make sure everything was in order and we were okay. Another best for this particular cruise, well done!!v

Who Goes
And now for the odd, as mentioned earlier although Celebrity is an American cruise line offering a product which is primarily aimed at an English-speaking market, on this particular cruise, passengers who were English-speaking were a distinct minority. There was a real multinational aspect, with the majority of passengers coming from mainland Europe, I think this in turn created some fairly unusual situations. I've already mentioned the mass walkouts during the entertainment, which proved quite embarrassing not just I think for the performers, but also for a lot of us in the audience. Also the two international hostesses were kept very busy in translating virtually every message/announcement that was made, for one moment I thought I was on an MSC or Costa cruise. All of this I could live with, but unfortunately there was a very unusual attitude prevailing directed towards myself from a large number of the passengers. As a disabled person I felt quite uncomfortable and intimidated by the fact that I seem to be stared at continually for the 12 days of the cruise, in fact by the end of it I thought I'd grown two heads. In no way do I mean to come across as being xenophobic in relation to the comments I have made, but it did prove to quite upsetting and could have spoilt what was a truly memorable cruise. This will be an issue I will have to consider when planning future cruises, although I have traveled extensively prior to finding cruising I have never come across such a negative attitude before.

But to finish on a positive note, with the exception of a couple of nit picky issues, this truly was a great cruise. One point I haven't mentioned yet is the enhanced Captains Club benefits, as now an elite member I really enjoyed the extra privileges this membership afforded us and will never forget the champagne reception for captains club members on the bow of the ship, sailing through Geiranger fjord with the senior officers. Also there were real practical benefits that we actually wanted to use. The captains club hosts were very friendly and did an excellent job in making the cruise experience just that little bit extra special.

Thanks must go to the hotel director Anton Winkler for a very well run ship and to Jean the chief housekeeper not just for doing a great job with her department, but also for the excellent chats we had throughout the cruise, I hope we meet again.

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