Thursday, January 27, 2011

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

On Tuesday we arrived in Grand Cayman and I had absolutely no motivation to do anything. In hindsight, the ordeal of Jamaica really put me into a negative mood.

Now I found myself in Grand Cayman where I had previously enjoyed Stingray City and snorkeling and Seven Mile Beach. In the years since I have done the same thing on a much higher and far more personal level in Bora Bora (OK, call me jaded, spoiled…or an experienced traveler) and I have had enough skin problems to keep me from just lying out on the beach. So that left me with shopping (not my favorite pastime). As a result my time on the island was about 1.5 hours.

Back on the ship my DW and I decided to have lunch in the Grand Dining Room…Closed. So we were relegated to the buffet. Now, as I have said, there are good varieties and the food is fresh, but the quality is not what I really enjoy. There are a few decent curry dishes, but most everything else is seasoned not to offend. The fish is always bland and the chicken tastes fresh enough, but mostly of whatever sauce is on top of it. But we service ourselves and carry our trays out to the Sunset Bar area and enjoy the venue, if not the inoffensive food. It is interesting that the bar staff no longer even asks us for our SeaPass card; having noted that we have the Premium Liquor Package.

With a good amount of free time I decided to stroll around the ship and take a critical look. It put me in a more negative mood. I found the cushions in literally every venue stained or dirty (in varying degrees to occasional to consistent). Certain areas of the carpets in the buffet are damaged. One venue that I cannot understand and literally makes some people ill is the Martini Bar. While it’s dirty looking white chairs initially put me off, what the real offending element is the ever-changing lighting…from lime green, to red, to purple, to orange. While food and serving surfaces are immaculately clean, the ship is just is tattered.

And, to be sure, there really is no style element that can compare to the larger Celebrity ships; especially the Solstice-class. There are little bits here and there that are intended to tie Century to the other ships, but just as having a spring roll on the dinner menu calling it a Taste of Silk Harvest, the nods just don’t have the intended effect.

I have decided that I am really not on a Celebrity cruise, but on something more akin to my experience on Holland America on its older Maasdam a few years back. Neither are fair representations of the lines’ true product.

OK, with that off my chest it is time to pull things together because it is this night that is our private event in Murano. Fortunately, Murano is a wonderful and fairly newly installed venue and, by happenstance, the maitre de is the same one we had on Equinox on a prior cruise.

The evening started with Pierre Jouet champagne with passed high quality warm and cold canapés. This was followed by a truly wonderful dinner of the highest quality. Warm goat cheese soufflé served a bit more creatively, but not as stylish, as previously. A perfectly prepared and presented filet mignon with foie gras with wonderful vegetables. I finished with the famous Grand Marnier soufflé and a 20 year old tawny port. Oh, I wasn’t done. There also was an excellent tiramisu birthday cake along with a visit from the Captain, Staff Captain, Cruise Director and Activities Manager. This was followed by more champagne at the Sunset Bar and then some nice cigars. (This was a Luxury Evening. Yes, it is possible on the Celebrity Century.)

Next up, some final observations and thoughts.