I might not have many posts to my name, but over the last 4 months, before my latest cruise, I would imagine I have read virtually every post in the Celebrity section to prepare.
I have read many concerns about falling standards on most things i.e., personnel, food, service, maintenance etc.
Most of you good guys and gals are heavy cruisers, sometimes it is difficult to see what is happening if you are constantly there. An analogy is seeing your family all the time, you don’t notice them age, but if there were gaps of a few years between seeing them, then you would certainly see changes!!
We have been on 3 cruises with Celebrity. The first was 6 years ago on a Baltic cruise on the Eclipse. The second was 3 years ago on a Med cruise with Reflection. We have just returned from our last cruise which was another Baltic cruise on the Silhouette.
What differences have I noticed?
We have sailed Concierge class each time and have been amongst the first to board at circa 1100 and amongst the first to cabin when called at circa 1300.
I have read that the cabin stewards have reduced and they are therefore stretched. On the first 2 cruises we had only been in the cabin for 5 mins or so before the steward introduced themselves, this last cruise it was nearly 3 hours before he came in. Our luggage didn’t appear and I discovered it with a group of hundred cases or so 50 yards up the hall, they had been there well over an hour. When he did arrive he said the luggage wasn’t available yet, I said I had fetched it myself some time ago, he didn’t seem amused.
Being left alone by the steward is fine by us and we make no demands. The only request we gave him was for more hangars and they didn’t arrive so we had to ask again the following day. I wouldn’t say he was inefficient, I think he was stretched too far.
No towel sculptures, no fresh flowers in cabin and no fruit in cabin. We had to ask for our bottle of bubbly. Again, none of that is a real problem for us, but the step change is noticeable.
We had anytime dining in the MDR and our thoughts were variable. First the positives, the staff were brilliant and there was no shortage of our wine being constantly topped up by the sommelier or indeed the waiter. We had the classic drinks package and I had noted the comments that refills were slow, but not our experience.
We did however think there had been a noticeable decline in the food standard in the MDR, both in quality and invention.
We ate a couple of times in Murano and Tuscan and the food was superb.
Our biggest gripe was availability of tables for two. On previous cruises the only waits we had were on formal/chic nights.
On this latest cruise we had booked the first evening online for 2000 and that was no problem. On previous cruises we would be seated all over the place and had no problems with that. On the latest cruise they wanted to keep us with the same set of waiting staff, whilst we had no problem with the concept it meant we were competing for a small number of tables and this gave significant waits of 30 mins or more.
We thought we could get around this because our Concierge could get priority for us, this is a supposed benefit of paying extra for the class!
We went and saw him and asked for a table for 2000 that evening, he said he couldn’t book anything between 1800 and 2000 and we would have to ask at the MDR. We popped in when it opened at 1730 and was told to just come along at 2000, we asked if that meant we would be seated and was told no, you will get a buzzer.
We thought another way was to book a couple of days in advance but they were not accepting bookings more than 24 hours ahead!
All this meant we ate a few times more than we would have liked in Oceanview. Again variable experience on food. The standard had not seemed to have dropped as much as MDR but the choice was pretty much the same each day. The cakes and desserts looked a lot better than they tasted! The hygiene police would have had a field day but no different from seen elsewhere on shore all over the world.
No problems or waits at any of the bars, in fact more bar staff than on previous cruises. Was disappointed with the strength of the speciality coffees at Bacio, they have certainly cut back on the alcohol they put in.
In general the ship was looking slightly tired and ready for its makeover. Some of the chairs in the MDR were beginning to fray. The automatic glass doors on one side of Oceanview, out onto the rear of the ship, were not always working. You would think that was a simple fix.
It was a national holiday when we were in port at Warnemunde, I knew that in advance and knew that no shops would be open. The day before, in the Today newspaper in the cabin, it stated they would be showcasing German sausages in Oceanview. When none appeared I asked one of the managers what had happened and he said they went off ship to buy fresh and didn’t realise shops would be closed. You couldn’t make it up! Where is the planning by this mighty organisation?
Whilst our latest experience would not stop us cruising again with Celebrity, we have seen a decline. But I am puzzled by the dynamics of the whole equation? I understand that the cruise market and competition is growing but this normally drives down costs. But current Celebrity cruise prices can be a bit silly. So if the prices are not being driven down, why are the standards?