Ok, here it is, the hot mess of my final thoughts....
Reality is four loads of laundry, running and unloading the dishwasher, cooking and going to the grocery store within 24 hours of getting off a cruise. Hell is going back to work on Monday. Purgatory is our neighborhood still setting off fireworks a week after July 4.
While I thought I’d take some time to collect my thoughts on our sailing, Celebrity had other plans and we received our survey before noon on Saturday. I’m not certain everyone was off the ship yet. The only person that dared utter the word “ten” to us was our waiter at dinner the last night in the MDR.
I guess I want to flush out some notes from earlier in the week and throw out some random thoughts:
- The stateroom doors are very heavy, and as such they slammed a lot. Keep that in mind if you’re an early riser, late-nighter or light sleeper.
o Speaking of doors, I think our last RCI sailing in “The Before” had a two-sided magnet that was either “do not disturb” or “I’m not in my room” and I thought that was a much better communication system with your stateroom attendant than just “I’m sleeping” or nothing which we had onboard Edge. My afternoon naps are usually unplanned so getting a knock on the door was a little annoying. Cruise ruining? No.
- Best of the week: Café al Bacio – hands down the star for us, Magic Carpet – my favorite afternoon spot and much breezier on 16 than 14, Muster Drill – I cannot stress enough how painless, quick and easy the new system is.
- Worst of the week: Oceanview Café – I’m sorry, there’s just no saving it. I know, it’s just the buffet, but hey, why should its quality be any different than any other venue onboard? It’s the most noticeable spot for contradictory Covid precautions (see previous comments on condiments) and people still reached through to grab tongs and serve themselves on occasion. I also found it odd how many crew ate there. Is that normal and I’ve just never noticed before?
- Spa/fitness center: I’m usually one of those sad, hopeful souls that goes to the spa raffle on embarkation day knowing good and well I won’t win squat but still drops my name in the bucket. This time, as we went to get me signed up for the Peloton, a kind fitness center attendant was waiting at the entrance and asked if we wanted a tour. Hindsight says I should have just told her what I was there for, but in the moment I said “sure”. After a thorough explanation of every single service offered (including the lady stabbing herself with an acupuncture needle to prove how not scary needles are then talking to us with a FREAKING NEEDLE STICKING OUT OF HER HAND), our guide said that if we book a massage today we can get 25 extra minutes free (ie a 75 minute massage for the price of 50 minutes). I returned that afternoon after reviewing the spa menu and was told by the receptionist at the spa desk the offer was good for any massage performed today only – not just booked today. I obviously misunderstood, but I do think our guide didn’t explain it very well. Oh well.
I also asked if the yoga classes were free, as I had noticed in the first sailing’s dailies that some of the classes didn’t have the extra fee symbol (see my Day 3 planner – slow flow yoga doesn’t have the symbol, however, it’s there on Day 6). Sadly no, yoga isn’t free.
Twice I needed the fitness center staff to log into the Peloton bike for access. When you start your session you should have a screen asking which language you want (English or German), and then you’ll put in your username and password. If you have a screen asking for your access key, you’ll need to find staff to log in. Streaming quality was good. I encourage you to bring headphones. My first session the bikes on either side of me were both working out without them and so I got to listen to not only my class, but theirs too! The fifth bike that was there on day 2 never appeared again the rest of the sailing, so there were four at the gym most of the week.
- We only got overhead captain’s announcements on the mornings we were in port. Is that normal? I feel like I’ve been on cruises that someone, sometimes the CD, made an announcement every day. Is that better or worse? I don’t know but Captain Kate threw out a riddle both mornings and now I’m not sure I got the answer to the second one. Cruise ruined obviously.
- Elite perks: uhhhhhh basically didn’t use them. Oops. Our stateroom attendant did ask us if we wanted to have laundry done as one bag is included, but we didn’t need it. I never once set foot in the Captains Club Lounge. Is it nice? It’s not that I didn’t use the perks on purpose, but truthfully, the perks sheet got buried after the first day on the desk and half of the perks are drinks, which we didn’t seek out as we already had a drinks package. Similar to RCI, you no longer need to visit the Diamond Lounge for your three free drinks. Oh well. Reading the list again I see that I could have gone to a second wine tasting but I had plenty of access to booze and I have no regrets about missing it.
- Room review: we had an Infinite Veranda room on Deck 9, forward. The majority of cruises I’ve been on have been balcony rooms so this was a bit of a change. While I much preferred this blackout shade (that still lets some light through) to a curtain, I’d have rather had a sliding door and traditional balcony to this setup. I did enjoy the touch panel controls and the shower was roomy with good water pressure and surprisingly hot water. We had plenty of storage and the included robes were comfy.
- Overall service: I don’t recall every seeing so many “suits” onboard. Maybe with so few guests in causal daywear they just stuck out more? The crew on board were 99% friendly, accommodating and (I think) happy to be back at sea. I can’t blame the poor guy that just wipes down stair handrails all day for maybe not being as enthusiastic as say the CD, but I always got a “good morning/afternoon/evening” from them.
Now I’ll begin rambling because I’ve tried writing this five times and can’t quite get a concise thought out of my head:
I had seen another thread whose OP said they felt like they paid full price for a less than full-price experience….and some CC commenters tore them to shreds for it. Everyone has their own opinion of the value of a dollar, and to me at least, the point of CC is to share our opinions and then shape our own from them. I don’t fit the mold of the typical Celebrity cruiser. No offense meant, but again, I’ve seen people flat out say that a 30yo couldn’t possibly enjoy Celebrity as it has an older demographic. What I took away from that thread was that yes, cruising is back, but cruising isn’t back as we used to know it and I tend to agree.
Does the lack of the Eden “experience” diminish the value of an Edge sailing? No clue, I never experienced it before. Would I like it? Hard to say. Did I feel like something was missing? No.
Personally, I felt like F&B took the hardest hit in the new system. There was an obvious lack of assistant waiters in the MDRs, perhaps they were who stayed up in the buffet for dinner? The buffet system needs some work as it stands. No, I don’t want to waste food on people who aren’t eating there, but I have some expectation that dinner should be slightly better than lunch.
Was my stateroom any more or less attended to? Not that I’m aware of. We did not opt into the Go Green plan (sorry earth) so we always had fresh linens and a turned down bed each day. Look, if I don’t have to do laundry or cook for a week it’s all worth it in my mind. Did we get towel animals? No – cruise ruined. Do I care? No. Did it probably save our attendant 2 minutes? Sure, I guess.
Was sailing at partial capacity amazing? Yeah, it was. Even six people in an elevator felt crowded. These are the parts of “The Before” that I’m not looking forward to going back to.
What I want moving forward is this mask/bracelet/judgey side-eye ***** to go away. I’m not diminishing what the world has gone through these last 18 months. But asking over and over again how many cruisers are vaccinated or am I going to be safe or “well someone could forge a document”….I’m going to rip my hair out. I’m vaccinated. I’m reasonably healthy. I don’t plan on licking the walls, hugging strangers or drinking the jacuzzi water. A bracelet isn’t going to protect me. If you’re concerned, maybe cruising isn’t for you at the moment? If once you boarded you were told there were 100 unvaxxed passengers would you get off? I’ve been on a Celebrity cruise with a norovirus outbreak and that ish wasn’t fun. Take twice to three times as many passengers on board and turn the buffet tongs around. That’s chaos bottled. Legit a lady sitting next to me one morning was telling me that her husband had been sick the past day but that they still went to the MDR for dinner (insert Disgust from Inside Out here).
For comparison sake, look at what RCI is doing with blocking seats in the theater, removing seats at bars, bracelet checks at entry points of the casino and unvaxxed hours at the gym (per a live review on Adventure, where that poster also mentioned there were 140 kids on board). That sounds miserable. I’m thankful that the environment we were in was relatively non-invasive.
I struggle making an iron-clad opinion because I didn’t pay for this cruise, my husband did. This is not an audit of our personal finances, let’s leave it at that. Would I have paid face value for this cruise out of my pocket? No. But I’m out of Celebrity’s price range as a solo traveler. Did we want to cruise from the US over the July Fourth holiday? Yes, so this fit the bill. Unfortunately, RCI doesn’t honor casino promotions over holidays or we would have been with them for a much lower rate (and apparently greater restrictions).
Well I’ve gone and talked myself into a knot so there you have it. Our first post (mid) pandemic cruise is in the books. Sea pass cards and blue bracelets have been added to my memory board and we’re already researching what’s next. Anyone have any suggestions? We’ve been thinking of dipping our toes into the premium/luxury pond but our options out of the US are limited (not to mention likely being the youngest on board by a margin scenario).
Thanks for following along, commenting, asking questions and being as excited as I was get to get back on board.