Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Goldring Travel's 2011 Celebrity Century Cruise - How Close to Luxury Can Celebrity's Smallest Ship Get? Part III

Our day at sea was, for me, nothing more than pacing, waiting and getting ready for the Jets-Steelers’ game.

Pre-game a few of us went to the Sunset Bar located aft on Deck 11. I have to say that the bar staff at this venue is excellent. They do have the interplay with the guests that I enjoy and find on luxury lines. They know your suite or folio number so they don’t ask for your card. And because the bar is smaller and tucked behind the buffet area and you pretty much need to walk through the buffet to get there, it is fairly intimate and quiet.

(Note: I would strongly recommend you do not book the Sunset Verandas on Deck 10. When you are at the Sunset Bar you literally look down on the balconies, so there is very little privacy; not to mention the noise, cigar smoke, etc. Celebrity really should put an awning over these verandas which would solve most of the issues.)

Now, back to the Conference Championship football games. Celebrity had set up one lounge (Hemisphere’s) for the game, but it was too small and without near enough televisions…which in turn led to some very grumpy people. An alternative was needed…and found: The Casino. We sat at the bar for both games with our new best friend, Fernando, taking care of us with charm and a great smile.

Celebrity would not allow us to be served food, but it also had no objection to us bringing food to the bar. So aside from the peanuts provided, we created a nice buffet of pizza, sushi and meat pies. Surprisingly, nobody else figured out this great setup and the casino was essentially empty other than us, so it really worked out well…except for the fact that my Jets lost (and they should have won!).

The next day (after an evening of sorrow over my Jets’ defeat) we arrived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It was as bad getting off the ship as I remembered it. All we wanted to do was walk over to Margaritaville as Dunn’s River Falls, etc. just isn’t that big a deal and not worth the time or money (in my opinion). In that short quarter mile walk we must have been accosted by 25 taxi/tour drivers waiving photos in our faces, giving a wide variety of pitches (from it only costs $1.00 a person to drive to downtown to give the business to us, not the Indians that own everything near the ship) followed closely by countless people trying to sell us trinkets and necklaces for $1.00 each. Charming, it was not.

We eventually arrived at Margaritaville…away from the hawkers…and it was nice enough. After a few hours it was even nicer. LOL. Then it was back to the ship for a sunset sailaway (yes, the sun did come out today!).

Dinner was fine from a service and cuisine standpoint. It was, as it should be, pretty much seamless and friendly, if not personal. When a nice bottle of wine was ordered the wine waiter brought over the proper high quality Reidel wine glasses and presented the wine appropriately. (It does make a difference.) That said, I figured I would put things to the test by ordering my nemesis: Seafood Risotto. The dish was attractive and the seafood was cooked and flavored nicely. The risotto was not so good. It isn’t possible to make a good risotto for so many people, but as I wasn’t that hungry so I figured why not take a long shot. To be sure, I am not being critical here; I am just observing that even though flavored nicely and presented well, it didn’t make my grade.

After dinner we retired to the Sunset Bar for a whisky and a cigar. The service was, once again, excellent.

Postnote:  As I post this...after the internet was down for quite a while...the woman in the suite next to me is yelling on her telephone as we are at sea.  She is telling the person on the other end of the line, "I am having the time of my life!  They are treating us like queens!  Oh, and I touched a stingray!" 
 
In other words, remember the perspective I am writing this from.  This is a well run ship with many very satisfied guests.  I, too, am satisified when the appropriate expectations are used.
 
Obviously, my next post will be about my day in Grand Cayman and, more importantly, our group's evening in Murano, the speciality restaurant.