This was our seventh cruise in the past three years, but our first in Europe and on the Celebrity line. It was wonderfully smooth sailing, considering that it began on the Atlantic Ocean. Normally we don't have to deal with flight connections, since we live in South Florida and cruise the Caribbean. However, this time we had to fly to Amsterdam, Holland, so we flew British Airways to London and on to Holland. This flight reinforced our belief that cruising is the only way to go, especially when, at Gatwick Airport outside London, they took from us our standard carry-on luggage at the gate with a firm reminder by the airline staff that, "You are no longer in the U.S.", and what is considered a carry-on bag in the States may not apply in London! It is traumatic to see your breakables and medicines taken away.
Our Amsterdam hotel was a bit too far from the center of the city, which meant long taxi drives to and from our tours and points of interest. But the Hotel Mercure Amsterdam aan de Amstel had an excellent restaurant, a decent ambiance and friendly service.
We had a quick and simple embarkation. Amsterdam is still working on the new facilities in the port, a modern building for embarkation/debarkation for cruise ships, but construction did not hamper boarding. In port was the beautiful tall sailing ship, Americo Vespucci (all black and gold, and very elegant!), the first of the tall ships to arrive for a sailing festival scheduled the week after our departure. The first evening aboard from our verandah we saw four or five other tall ships on their way to Amsterdam: what a sight!
The Century is quite lovely, with lots of blue and gold everywhere, and nautical motifs used tastefully. She was kept spotless by the continuous effort of the crew.
We were in Sky Suite 1225 on the 12th deck, as close as you can get to heaven: with a double large balcony (table and two chairs, and two chaises with comfy white duck pads), a king-size bed, table and chairs, sofa, a desk and a vanity, ample closets and bureaus. The bathroom was in marble, with a full tub with Jacuzzi and a separate shower stall. One major problem was that the bathroom door only opened 60 degrees because it hit the commode (that's a no-no: a poorly-designed access!). We asked the neighbors and they confirmed that their bathroom doors had the same problem.
On the first morning, what sounded like thunder overhead turned out to be the scheduled Walk-a-thon on the aft of Sunrise Deck, just above our suite. Our telephone complaint did not bring action, so we wrote to the ship's hotel manager, who responded immediately and even posted in the daily newsletter that there was to be no jogging on the deck above the suites. This helped somewhat in decreasing the noise from jogging; however, the noises of people, both passengers and crew, moving deck furniture around above our cabin, and the bouncing basketball in the nearby court were distracting and annoying.
We take our cruises mainly for rest and relaxation, thus we spend a lot of time in our cabin and extensively use the butler's service when available. With Celebrity, as for many other lines, the service of a butler is available to suites and mini-suites. We were fortunate to have a very efficient and cordial butler, Jovito, who served us breakfast in the suite, and brought fresh fruit, juices, and High Tea and Canapés daily. The stewardess, Iryna, was also most pleasant, efficient and unobtrusive. We like to eat our meals in the dining room, but we did have one evening meal in our suite and we decided that the food is preferable in the dining room. Our dining room waiters, Yuri and Brav, very capable and well-mannered, together with the next table neighbors, pleasant people and good conversationalists, made our dinners very happy occasions.
We have purposely sailed on six different ships and four different lines to savor the differences of food and ambiance; however, we are coming to the conclusion that there is too much homogenization and that most of these lines no longer retain much of their individuality of old. We hope that there is something different out there: we have to try many more cruise lines and ships in order to compare them all, and we'll do it with the utmost enthusiasm. This cruise was a good cruise, but we heard so much about the Celebrity line and were told of Michel Roux's preparation of menus and indoctrination of the chefs . . . perhaps our expectations were too high. The meals, although they were good, were no better than those served on several other lines. As a matter of fact, we preferred the food on the Grand Princess and the CostaRomantica.
It is true that there was great variety to choose from and no one should have gone hungry, on this ship or on any of the ships on which we have cruised. However, we definitely prefer many of the exquisite dishes served on the CostaRomantica, with one exception: the pizza served at pool side on the Century was much better than that found on the CostaRomantica. We think that the difference was due to the fresh dough prepared by the Italian pizza maker on the Century, while on the CostaRomantica they started from frozen pizzas. (For an Italian, it is definitely a big no-no. One might as well eat a frozen pizza purchased from a supermarket.)
It seems that one can always complain about anything, anytime, anywhere; however, on this cruise, as well as on any other cruise, the ship, the sea, the moon and the stars, the peace of mind, the distance from everyday life -- they all contribute to the joy of cruising! On the Century, several sessions of Thalassotherapy, which were free for the occupants of suites, added to our relaxation, which is priceless in this world where the human rat race is a way of life.
The itinerary was a coastal European cruise from Amsterdam, Holland to Genoa, Italy:
Tours & Entertainment
We had seen several of these places before, therefore we preferred to go ashore by ourselves, rather than on the organized tours. We learned from our dining room neighbors, who took mainly ship tours, that some of those were well worth it, but some were poorly organized. Some tours (e.g. Paris from LeHavre) wasted time on old buses, when the rapid train could have transported people faster and more efficiently. In one case the breakdown of a bus delayed the return of the group, and consequently the departure of the ship.
On board, the entertainment was adequate, but conventional. We would have liked a big name or two thrown in. The concert pianist was excellent, but most cruisers are not really into classical music. The ship's singers and dancers were pert and well-rehearsed and gave great performances. The husband and wife dance team was exceptional. We usually enjoy the trivia games; this time we did the library quizzes and won six out of twelve between the two of us. We set out to relax, and relax we did most of the time.
We would recommend the Century as a good cruise, but we are now re-booking a winter cruise on the CostaRomantica.
Photos courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
Vincent & Mary Finelli have written many reviews for the SeaLetter and may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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