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TroubleT

Kind of review, kind of thinking out loud

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I decided to post my kind of review, kind of survey, kind of my "thinking out loud" here on Celebrity Forum, because Carnival or  Norwegian Cruise Lines' guests don't care what is going on with Celebrity.

 

The cruises completed:

B2B:

March 16 - 7 nights - Equinox - Eastern Caribbean

March 23 - 7 nights - Equinox - Western Caribbean

 

I will be brief on some categories and will put more words where I was really impressed or disappointed.

 

Embarkation:

It started really well. No lines whatsoever. Or maybe it's because I didn't stick to the schedule Celebrity sent us a week prior to the cruise. I always like to arrive early and to be in the first group to check in and be on board by 11 AM. Like I said, the check in process took probably less than 5 minutes. But then the port security routed every single guest to the waiting areas based on their Level/Class/Stateroom category/height/weight or God knows what else without any explanation. I always like to know why certain things happen. The answer "Go there and wait there" is not a valid answer for me. Am I being difficult? And I don't mind waiting for 15 minutes, and may be even for an hour if the reason is good and if the waiting area is comfortable enough. For God's sake, why does it have to be so freaking cold in the Terminal? The passengers were prepared for the Caribbean cruise and we all wore shorts, light blouses, dresses, t-shirts. The temperature in the waiting area was probably 51 F. It was the worst 45 minutes of waiting. I was trying to hide behind the poles, chairs… I didn't know what would come first: my cruise or my cold.

 

Welcome on board drink:

Thank you Celebrity for a nice beginning of the cruise, but regular Prosecco is gone. It was just OJ and Kir Royale (which was basically cranberry juice with a splash of Prosecco). I am not complaining, but it's just one of the items that disappeared (permanently! - And I will get back to the list of items that are gone later in this review).

 

Ship appearance:

The ship is getting old and really needs some maintenance: lots of rusty spots on the balcony, the carpeting is getting old. Equinox is going to a dry dock in 4 weeks so hopefully it will be fixed. However, the crew did a great job keeping the ship absolutely clean! The staff at the Oceanview Café was doing a great job! I never saw dirty dishes or tables left for more than a few seconds. The cleaning staff was all over the ship constantly wiping, cleaning, disinfecting! Great job with hand sanitizing!

 

Ports:

My biggest disappointment was that ALL land excursions in port of Cozumel were cancelled by Miami office a week before the cruise. I know that for some guests it was once in a lifetime opportunity to see Chichen Itza. Miami office didn't even give a reason why it was cancelled. The itinerary (or the order of ports) was changed on the second week and as far as I see we had less time in George Town. The rest of ports was exactly what I expected: I know what I was booking so no complaints here.

 

Service:

Excellent! I am always impressed by the hard work of the whole crew and staff team! They never disappoint! And when people ask me what was the highlight of my trip, I always say that it's people I met on board!

 

Future cruise sales:

While on board I always book a new cruise (or two, or three :-))). And I did it again! However, most likely all three bookings will be cancelled. I know it's been discussed so many times here, but I will add my 2 cents to this discussion. The prices! How does Celebrity come up with these outrageous prices for any cruise you book? Before there were different "categories" of cruises based on itinerary and class of the ship. The price was higher or lower based on these factors. "Exotic" itineraries (Australia/South America/Mediterranean, Asia, etc.) were always the most expensive. Caribbean cruises were always kind of in the mid category. The "budget" cruises were always Transatlantic or repositioning cruises. Not anymore! I booked three cruises in every category (the number of days/nights is the same). The price was almost the same. The difference is so insignificant (just a couple of hundred $$$ higher or lower) that all of them fell into the same group: UNAFFORDABLE! Why is it happening? My dumb guess is that we are paying for the new ships Celebrity is building. Because I don't see any improvement in food or service. As a matter of fact food got so bad that I will put more words than I probably should in this review. Another catch of Celebrity is the perks they "give" when you book on board. They look so tempting! But… Do they think we are stupid? Yes, our price is a little higher, but we give you "so and so" OBC ($550 for veranda stateroom), and two other perks (Bev Package or Internet or Paid Gratuities). If you calculate the cost of all the perks they give the $$ amount is pretty impressive. But do I really need them? Now I am stuck with Bev Package and have to drink their cheap liquor. And I am stuck with OBC that I need to spend on board buying all the crap they sell at the stores or I lose it. Many years ago we didn't have Bev Packages. I am not a big drinker: just a glass of prosecco in the morning and a glass or two of wine at dinner. Now you are "forced" to drink. And speaking of drinking… Another thing that Celebrity staff is pushing on board is an Upgrade to a Premium Bev Package. But (since I am a wine drinker) the only place where you can get a premium wine is MDR. All bars around the ship carry only wines that are in Classic Bev Package. Once after two or three stops at different bars I ended up at Passport Bar on Deck 3. On my request to give me Malbec that was in Premium Package the bar attender said that only cheap Malbec was available. I said I wouldn't leave until I get what I paid for. Needless to say I was his worst enemy. So you pay for premium but drink only cheap stuff. Hello, Celebrity!!!

Disembarkation: Probably the fastest and easiest I ever had! The Immigration and Customs Line was moving so fast we hardly slowed down. It was a very organized process with luggage groups and exiting the ship.

 

And my favorite topic: FOOD! It's like the cherry on the cake!

First, I've never seen so many carbs in one place (Oceanview Café). Bread, Danishes, muffins, bagels, donuts, turnovers, tarts, cakes - they occupied almost all the isles in OV Café. You can hardly find grilled tomatoes. There were only two trays with bacon and sausages. But carbs were all over the place. The carts and trays with pastries were moving around the OV Café non-stop. Of course, bread is cheap. And it fills your stomach really fast. And in 5 minutes you are hungry again. And then you go for the second round of carbs! Very smart, Celebrity! The choice of food items in the OV Café was very-very basic, poor and limited.

 

Now I get to the list of items that disappeared from the OV Café menu or MDR menu. My recent cruise was not long ago - just three months ago on Eclipse. And even this short period of time was enough for many items to be gone. And I am not talking about food items/events that went to a Black hole years ago. I am talking about the changes that happened in three months since my previous cruise.

1. Frog legs - GONE! Last December I asked F&B Manager about it. His answer was really cute: there were only 1 000 English speaking guests on board. That is why they removed frog legs from the menu. Really??? Since when non-English speaking guests don't eat frog legs? And since when English speaking guests are treated as a second class?

2. Frozen berries for breakfast - GONE!

3. Prunes - GONE!

4. Cottage cheese - GONE! I saw it I think only twice during 2 weeks cruise.

5. Hashbrown - GONE! I saw how the managers of OV Café were bringing hashbrown for some guests from the MDR. It was probably a special request. Celebrity, it's just potatoes! Fried potatoes! Bring it back, please!

6. Freshly squeezed OJ in Premium package - GONE!

7. Parfait in Spa Café - GONE!

8. Precooked stir fry in Asian section - GONE!

9. Paper cups with lids in OV Café - GONE! Not a food item, but still… GONE.

10. Theme lunches or dinners - GONE. Once in two week period we had "Latino" lunch and dinner.

11. Bread pudding with the choice of two sauces as a desert for lunch - GONE! They have it now at 4 PM for a mid-day snack. And of course it's not the same bread pudding as it was before.

 

Well, feel free to add more items to this "GONE" list.

 

But my question is: What is next? Celebrity, do you need ideas what else to remove from the menu?

Here we go:

1. Eggs benedict - I am pretty sure it's coming (or going away).

2. Waffles - way too fancy for OV Café.

3. Escargot - once Celebrity tried to remove or substitute it with stuffed mushrooms. We didn't buy it. But they can try to remove it again.

4. Cute biscotti they serve at Café al Bacio. Celebrity already removed small chocolates from Café al Bacio years ago. Now it's biscotti time to be GONE. We can stuff ourselves with cakes.

I don't know what to recommend to remove from the MDR menu. Because we are close enough to be stuck with only two items on the menu.

 

I hope I am not the only one who notice these things and is not shy to speak about it.

And I don't want to hear "If you are not happy than choose a different cruise line!". I think we deserve to get what we pay for. If the price went 200% up then we should expect a better quality product.

Happy cruising everyone! 😃

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interesting.

I was on the same cruise as your second half (3/23-3/30 Western Caribbean) and I had an entirely different perspective. 

 

You can read my comparison here: 

 

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. 

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Trouble T we are going on a back to back in August and wondering how the transition day went.  We normally do a 10 or 11 day in August on Equinox but they have done away with them and only 7 day summer cruises offered.

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Currently on the Eclipse and I can’t say all things you found gone are on the Eclipse (don’t eat frog legs or prunes, so haven’t looked for them) but most things you listed are available on this ship. 

 

We we have been on 9 days and have had multiple themed lunches and evenings  in the OV..

I’m sorry your recent experience wasn’t better.

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1 hour ago, mfs2k said:

 

Interesting.

I was on the same cruise as your second half (3/23-3/30 Western Caribbean) and I had an entirely different perspective. 

 

You can read my comparison here: 

 

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. 

 

 

And I’ll repeat what I said on the other thread about pax moaning, you are a new X cruiser so you have no past experience on that line to compare it with. There appears to be many new pax crossing over from Carnival and NCL to X (according to recent posts) who are obviously used to a different experience on those lines. I’m not saying either person is wrong in their views, but your previous sailing experience on Carnival is not relevant to those experiences of pax who usually sail X and are saying things are changing/being downgraded/cheaper furniture or lack of after the Revolution etc. It’s about putting things into perspective. It is only relevant for comparing X against Carnival.

 

Your experience on X may be the best cruising experience you have ever experienced because you are comparing it to your usual sailing from a different mass market line (Carnival). So ‘beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder’.

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It seems to me the old business model of Celebrity was no longer successful and they needed to compete with Carnival,  Royal and NCL. Somewhere along the line X has reduced costs and prices to compete with other mass cruise lines. 

 

What I have trouble understanding is why old timer X cruisers who don’t like the changes stick with X and are unhappy and write so much about how much better it used to be. 

 

If I were a regular guest at a restaurant, hotel, resort, casino company or cruise line, and I felt my company of choice was no longer meeting my expectations, I’d jump ship (pun intended) regardless of frequent guest status, and find something nicer which met my expectations. .

 

Who wants to go on a cruise after spending a lot of money and feel constantly disappointed?  I certainly wouldn’t.

That’s why I switched to Celebrity despite my platinum status on another line. 

Edited by mfs2k

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The original poster asks do they think we are stupid?  And yet she bought perks she didn't want or use?

 

i appreciate the report but the disappointment seems misplaced. Again thanks for your update, it will help set expectations.

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OP, why have you booked future cruises you don’t intend to take because the prices are to high? Please note, I am not being critical I just don’t understand.

 

Surely the message Celebrity is receiving if you book when their prices are high is that ‘the market accepts  the price’?

 

Whilst we have cruises presently booked for the Caribbean and Asia with Celebrity we didn’t book one in Europe because we thought it was too expensive...prices are just beginning to drop....

 

Re boarding....Celebrity tries to stagger boarding times by sending out the suggested times as you received. You chose instead to arrive at the busiest time when priority is given to suite guests, higher level loyalty members...Whilst it would be nice for everyone to board as they choose Celebrity does need to manage it. Suite guests have paid for their priority boarding and higher level Captains Club members have earned it. If you are not in either category and come at a time different to the one recommended you must be prepared for a short wait...

 

mfs2k....Some Celebrity cruisers regularly use other lines too, some are less frequently using Celebrity because they feel in some ways it is ‘missing the mark’ and many (like us) love the Celebrity experience but are choosing our itineraries carefully because of pricing...We could have booked another cruise line in the Mediterranean this summer but chose an alternative holiday type instead. We simply didn’t feel another cruise line would suit us as well...

 

 

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17 hours ago, keelykat said:

Trouble T we are going on a back to back in August and wondering how the transition day went.  We normally do a 10 or 11 day in August on Equinox but they have done away with them and only 7 day summer cruises offered.

Keelykat,

B2B process was very simple and well organized by Celebrity. A couple of days before the end of the first leg of the cruise they had a meeting with all B2B guests. The envelopes with coupons for 30 minutes Internet access (to fill out survey), lunch coupon, and a letter with general information were distributed. The officer explained the process in details.

On transition day B2B guests (with passports and Sea cards) met in Tuscan Grill at 9:30 AM. Approximately at 10 AM they took the whole group out to the terminal where immigration officer checked our passports. It took about 5 minutes and we were back to ship. They started boarding new guests at about 10:20 AM.

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12 hours ago, mfs2k said:

It seems to me the old business model of Celebrity was no longer successful and they needed to compete with Carnival,  Royal and NCL. Somewhere along the line X has reduced costs and prices to compete with other mass cruise lines. 

 

What I have trouble understanding is why old timer X cruisers who don’t like the changes stick with X and are unhappy and write so much about how much better it used to be. 

 

If I were a regular guest at a restaurant, hotel, resort, casino company or cruise line, and I felt my company of choice was no longer meeting my expectations, I’d jump ship (pun intended) regardless of frequent guest status, and find something nicer which met my expectations. .

 

Who wants to go on a cruise after spending a lot of money and feel constantly disappointed?  I certainly wouldn’t.

That’s why I switched to Celebrity despite my platinum status on another line. 

mfs2k,

That's exactly what I expected and kindly asked not to do: "If you are not happy than choose a different cruise line!"

The reason for this review or my comments is that I wanted other guests and Celebrity to see that we "SEE" the problem. When you see the problem in your family you don't go to the lawyer quietly and get a divorce. First you talk to your partner and discuss the issues. We, guests, have a business relationship with Celebrity: we pay - they provide the service. If I see the problem I talk to them first/send them the letter - DONE! If that doesn't help then you go to Marriage Counseling [CruiseCritic] - DONE! And if that doesn't work then you go to your lawyer [Travel Agent] and get a divorce (move to another cruise line). And am I the only one who sees that problem: outrageous prices, useless perks and decline in service?

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12 hours ago, happy cruzer said:

The original poster asks do they think we are stupid?  And yet she bought perks she didn't want or use?

 

i appreciate the report but the disappointment seems misplaced. Again thanks for your update, it will help set expectations.

As far as perks (to buy or not to buy), it wasn't even an option: it was given to you. Of course, I could decline this nice offer, but my cruise price wouldn't change. Looks like they are going to implement a new tactic after April 4: just cruise price/no perks/ and non-refundable deposit. Uhhhhh…. And again they force us to take their second option: high cruise price/useless perks and refundable deposit. I just don't want to book with non-refundable deposit. Life if funny and anything can happen. I need to have a freedom of cancelling at any time before final payment day.

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5 hours ago, chemmo said:

OP, why have you booked future cruises you don’t intend to take because the prices are to high? Please note, I am not being critical I just don’t understand.

 

Surely the message Celebrity is receiving if you book when their prices are high is that ‘the market accepts  the price’?

 

Whilst we have cruises presently booked for the Caribbean and Asia with Celebrity we didn’t book one in Europe because we thought it was too expensive...prices are just beginning to drop....

 

Re boarding....Celebrity tries to stagger boarding times by sending out the suggested times as you received. You chose instead to arrive at the busiest time when priority is given to suite guests, higher level loyalty members...Whilst it would be nice for everyone to board as they choose Celebrity does need to manage it. Suite guests have paid for their priority boarding and higher level Captains Club members have earned it. If you are not in either category and come at a time different to the one recommended you must be prepared for a short wait...

 

mfs2k....Some Celebrity cruisers regularly use other lines too, some are less frequently using Celebrity because they feel in some ways it is ‘missing the mark’ and many (like us) love the Celebrity experience but are choosing our itineraries carefully because of pricing...We could have booked another cruise line in the Mediterranean this summer but chose an alternative holiday type instead. We simply didn’t feel another cruise line would suit us as well...

 

 

Chemmo,

Honestly, at the moment of booking you are just so excited about that new cruise coming that you don't even think about the numbers. But it took me 2 minutes or the walk up to Deck 7 into my stateroom to realize that the cruise price looks like the phone number. I've been cruising for 15 years. Maybe it's not a lot, but I am not a newbie. And I understand that changes are inevitable. But that change hurts.

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49 minutes ago, TroubleT said:

Chemmo,

Honestly, at the moment of booking you are just so excited about that new cruise coming that you don't even think about the numbers. But it took me 2 minutes or the walk up to Deck 7 into my stateroom to realize that the cruise price looks like the phone number. I've been cruising for 15 years. Maybe it's not a lot, but I am not a newbie. And I understand that changes are inevitable. But that change hurts.

 

We looked at the prices for Europe and they definitely were the length of phone numbers! Perhaps as well we were looking on line and had time to reflect....I do understand that ‘spur of the moment’ thing. Coming from the U.K. with non refundable deposits tends to cure impulsive bookings!!!

 

 

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43 minutes ago, TroubleT said:

mfs2k,

And am I the only one who sees that problem: outrageous prices, useless perks and decline in service?

 

Since I only have sailed on Celebrity once, and 11 times on other cruise lines, I can't judge on decline in service.  But I think I am qualified to be a good judge of service.  I work as a professional in the hospitality industry and have worked for 4-5 Diamond properties.  I travel to 5 Diamond properties. I also have a degree in Hotel Administration from one of the top universities in the world.

 

My opinion is the service level on board Celebrity Equinox last week was very good, and exceeded my expectation based on price and value.

 

Had I cruised on a top tier cruise line, such as Seabourn, Crystal, Regent, etc. my expectation would have been different and I would have expected excellent Service.  I also would have expected to pay triple what I paid.  Was Celebrity ever a top tier cruise line in that category? Maybe it was....   I don't know the answer.  

 

If I choose to go to a 4 star restaurant in Manhattan (which I do), my expectation of food, service and price is very different than when I choose to go to a restaurant which isn't at that level.  If my restaurant of choice was always a 4 star experience, and now it's declined, then I'd be disappointed too. 

 

I also thought the value I received for an Aqua Class cabin for a 7 night Caribbean cruise on Equinox also exceeded my expectations.  (Cost including premium beverages, gratuities, internet, taxes, port fees) was $1,588 per person) ($227 per person per night).  You said the perks were useless to you, and that's personal.  For me, the perks had added value or cash value.

 

This cost is comparable to what I've paid on other mass market cruise lines in the past so I'm not sure what you think your price should have been.  

 

I do look at pricing of other itineraries, ships, and times of the year on Celebrity. I know our Caribbean cruise was much less than itineraries at other times. But I also see values exist on Celebrity if you are flexible with your plans and accommodations. 

 

Like anywhere else, you have to shop around on Celebrity too if you want a good value.  If perks are useless to you, I'd think the no perk options available, starting tomorrow, would be a big draw for you.

 

I feel bad you ended your back to back cruises with such a bad feeling about your experience.  I hope your next vacation exceeds your expectations. 

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We were on Reflection 3 weeks ago and nearly all of the food items you mention as gone were available. Theme lunches every day in OVC. Also paper cups with lids in Cafe Al Baccio. Will be on Equinox for the third time in July. Interested to see how that goes.

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Yes, the buyer getting in a hurry and excited is money in the bank....  Car sales, house sales, cruise sales... It has been a tactic forever.  So they present one price with the benefits you don't want, turn it down unless you need to sail in one month.  You can take your time. 

 

Some lines we book early, some lines not so much.  For example on NCL the bev package does not include the things we value like better wine, coffee and bottled water.  We will book them late or not at all - and without the package where they add the tips on your account.  Money talks more than reviews or complaint letters.

 

Again I did learn from your review and appreciate it.  Thanks.

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