Celebrity Cruises Review: One of the Best Lines on the Sea

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Celebrity Cruises is one of the best lines operating today, offering more amenities and features than most land-based resorts.

The cruise is one of those idyllic fantasy vacations that people often have, at least until they board the ship. It seems so luxurious and romantic to sail from one coast to another all while having every whim catered to and no shortage of distractions. And it makes sense that the cruise business is currently a $35 billion per year industry. Travelers today don’t just want to take a trip, they want to have an experience. However, as cruise ships grow larger and more impersonal, are they the kind of experiences people will want to have in the future? If so, it will probably be because of lines like Celebrity Cruises which offers so much to their guests, it’s almost too much.

On a week-long cruise, you probably couldn’t do every activity, eat in every restaurant, and visit all the places on the ship if you tried. If they want people to keep coming back to these ships, they can’t just offer an experience, they have to offer different experiences. We’re going to look at what Celebrity Cruises has to offer, where they go, and where they came from. This way, you will have all the information you need to decide if Celebrity Cruises is the cruise line for your vacation.

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A Little About Celebrity Cruises

Of course Celebrity Cruises features the best and greatest options for lodging, dining, amenities, and activities. But where did the brand start? We'll take you through Celebrity's history, fleet, and all of the wonderful places you could potentially cruise to. You'll soon see that Celebrity Cruises has lived up to its reputation throughout the years!

The History of Celebrity Cruises

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Celebrity Cruises joined the game late, founded in 1988 by the Chandris Group. Their symbol, the Greek letter Chi which also looks like the letter X, appears on all of their vessels. They started with just two ships running trips to Bermuda, but expanded their fleet and their reach over the next decade. In 1997, Chandris sold the company to Royal Caribbean International. The company and brand was so successful, Royal Caribbean kept intact rather than absorbing it. Celebrity Cruises wants to be known for being the most state-of-the-art fleet on the sea. To that end, the company announced that it was rebuilding its entire fleet in the mid-2000s.

Today, no Celebrity Cruises vessel is more than 20 years old, and they continue to innovate. They just launched their Edge vessels, announced in 2014, which is the first of CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo $500 million investment to rebuild the fleet again. A number of cruise lines, including big-name Carnival Cruises, have had very public ship failures tarnish not just their brands but the experience of taking a cruise itself. Celebrity Cruises does suffer from manufacturing troubles too, but this investment shows that they are trying to avoid that. They want to be the high-tech cruise line on the water. That means not just making sure the ship doesn’t break down, but making sure the guests have all the high-tech amenities they expect.

The Celebrity Cruises Fleet of Ships

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Celebrity Cruises’ fleet features three classes of ships: Millennium, Solstice, and Xpedition. They also plan to launch a new series of vessels, branded as Edge, that will be their largest ships. Those will be able to carry around 3,000 people. The Solstice is the current largest class, comprised of five ships that can carry more than 2,800 passengers. The oldest ship in that fleet is the Celebrity Solstice which entered service in 2008. The other four ships in this class entered service at a rate of one per year until the Celebrity Reflection launched in 2012. The next class is the Millennium class, featuring four vessels capable of carrying more than 2,100 passengers. These ships are older, dating back from 2002 to 2000. These are likely the next ships to be retired.

However, the most interesting class of ships is not its largest, but it’s smallest class: the Xpedition. The eponymous ship holds fewer than 100 people and follows the path Charles Darwin took on his historical trip through the Galapagos. The other two ships, the Xperience and the Xploration, are even smaller holding only 48 and 16 passenger, respectively. It’s an intimate setting, and the focus of the trip is not so much luxury and leisure, but learning. Still, it’s a luxurious craft and doesn’t lack the amenities promised on all cruise ships. These small vessels might provide the sort of experience that travelers of today want more so than the larger ships.

Where Can You Go with Celebrity Cruises?

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Celebrity Cruises travels all over the world, with destinations around the globe. They travel to Asia and the South Pacific, Europe, the Americas and their tropical islands, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. You can visit places you don’t normally associate with cruises, like Alaska, Canada, and New England. You can also visit all of places you would associate with cruises like the Galapagos, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Not all ships leaving from all ports go to all destinations, obviously, so you may be limited based on your location. Of course, if there is a cruise you really want to take, you can travel to the port by other means. 

In the United States, there are three city’s ports Celebrity Cruises depart from. Seattle, Washington; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Miami, where the company’s headquarters are located. All classes of ships board and depart from there. As with any cruise, you won’t ultimately stay that long at your destination. Remember, for cruises the destination is almost a distraction, because of all the activities and amenities they offer their passengers. Still, if you get a day or two to spend in a place you’ve never been before, you’d be remiss not to take advantage of it.


1. Celebrity Cruises Accommodations

While the most important thing about a cruise ship is its seaworthiness, the second most important thing is your cabin. It will be your home while on the ship, a place of sanctuary from the activity on-deck or just where you sleep and change clothes. It’s important that these rooms be comfortable in order to keep guests happy. Because it doesn’t matter how nice the facilities are, if you can’t sleep well your trip will be ruined. There are three classes of room on Celebrity Cruises ships, and we detail the perks below.

Inside Staterooms

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Believe it or not, some people want to try to forget they are on a giant floating skyscraper in the middle of the ocean when they go to their rooms. The Inside Stateroom on Celebrity Cruises is a place that helps that happen. While there are no windows or views of the ocean, the room is designed to resemble a spa or resort. These rooms aren’t spacious but unless you are planning to entertain, it won’t matter. There is full private bath, Samsung interactive television, a large bed, a mini bar and snack area, and a couch for lounging. These rooms are great for folks who really only want to use their room for down time, sleeping, or unwinding in front of the TV. If you want room to host new friends or travel companions or just want to watch the ocean pass by outside your window, the other rooms are what you want.

Oceanview and Veranda Staterooms

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There are a number of options for folks who want to be able to look out the window at the ocean on their Celebrity Cruises journey. The Ocean View rooms are essentially the same size and layout as the Inside Staterooms but come with a large window by the bed. You can even crack it open so the sea air can hit you as you sleep or lounge in bed watching the big-screen Samsung TV at the foot of it. There is also a couch and desk, vanity, drink prep area near the mini-bar. There are Oceanview rooms that are slightly more spacious, with a bar in the corner, and a small balcony outside the room. However, if that’s what you’d prefer you’ll want to try the Veranda Staterooms. 

The Veranda rooms come in three different styles. There is the Edge Infinite Veranda which is on the Celebrity Edge ships, whose Veranda is essentially a pair of chairs next to a giant window, and the top pane slides down and two folding doors separate that area from the rest of the room. There is also the Veranda Stateroom which has a set of double doors and a traditional balcony. Excluding the veranda, these are about the size of the Oceanview and Inside staterooms. Finally, there are Family Veranda suites that have much more room and multiple sleeping areas, to go along with the large balcony furnished with loungers and a big table. You can also specify if you want your veranda room to see the sun rise or set each day. 

Spacious Suites and Luxury Villas

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Even though these ships cater to large numbers of passengers, there is still plenty of room for luxury suites and villas on Celebrity Cruises. The exact options will ultimately depend on which ship class you book your trip on and could even depend on the specific vessel you board. Either way, there are plenty of multi-room options, some with multiple floors, for you or your family to stay in on the cruise. These villas not only have their own overlook on the ocean, but Edge Suites also provide access to a shared area on the ship called The Retreat. This section has a private pool, all hours lounge, and exclusive restaurant and concierge service of its own.

Of course, this is The Lux Authority, so we would be remiss if we didn’t talk abut the Iconic and Penthouse suites. Iconic suites feature 2,500 square feet offering panoramic views all around the room. Positioned high atop the ship, above even the bridge, there is very little obstructing your view of the ocean and world around you. Penthouse suites are similar, if not as opulent and with slightly fewer square footage. Still you have two bedrooms, a veranda, a private hot tub, and living room. These suites also offer the services of “an attentive butler” to meet your every whim and need. 

2. Celebrity Cruises Dining Options

Celebrity Cruises offer a variety of dining options on all of their ships. The menus for Celebrity Cruises have been created by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher. The food served is inspired, and sometimes sourced from, the places where the ships visit. So, you’ll get a taste of the flavors and foods of the places you visit, even if you choose not to leave the ship when it comes into port. Celebrity Cruises also boasts to be the first cruise line to develop a program to ensure that people with food allergies or intolerances have options to eat. Though, you have to purchase a separate “beverage package” or risk overpaying by a lot for your drinks.

Main Dining Room and the Buffet

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Each ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet has a buffet deck and a main dining area, where most guests can come at specific times to eat their daily meals. The tables are covered in cloth tablecloths and the décor aims for luxurious. The goal is to make this large, two-story arena of eating feel like an intimate, designer restaurant. In the center of the room is a two-story wine tower, from which the restaurant’s sommelier will recommend a bottle of wine to go with your dinner. If you don’t finish the bottle, the sommelier will seal it up, place it in the tower, where it will wait until the next meal. The menu changes each day, and it is here that you will find the meals inspired by the regions to which you will travel. Still, no matter how nice the dining room is, it’s difficult to not have it feel like a giant school cafeteria. Just one that has much, much better food. 

Specialty Restaurants

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There are a number of specialty restaurants on the ships, some of them exclusive to certain passengers. Everyone can get Italian food frm the Tuscan Grille, French cuisine at Murano, and experimental food at the permanent pop-up restaurant on the ship Qsine. You can also try Asian flavored dishes at Silk Harvest and Sushi on Five. There is also a bar and grill, but you have to do the work of grilling your own steak. If you are into the “raw” food scene, you can enjoy a meal at The Porch. If you are staying in Aqua Class Suites you get access to a restaurant with Mediterranean flair known as Blu. Guests staying in any level of suite also can access Luminae which features unique and exclusive menu items, also inspired by your destinations.

Room Service

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Even with all those dining options, sometimes nothing beats staying in your room and eating dinner in your underwear. It is a vacation after all. So, if eating in the room is your jam, Celebrity Cruises offers in-room dining options 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The menu can be limited at times, but they offer specialty dishes during normal mealtimes. What’s great about room service is that much of what they offer is complimentary, covered by your room fee. You could eat three big meals per day and never leave your room, though that would seem to be wasting the opportunities that await you on the ship.

3. Celebrity Cruises Amenities

Everyone knows the aphorism that it’s not the destination that is important, but the journey you took to get there. When it comes to Celebrity Cruises they take that very literally, because you can never leave the ship and still keep an active schedule. At sea, sometimes weather or other situations rise up that prevents the ship from making port at your destination. Fear not, because Celebrity Cruises offers plenty of distractions, activities, and opportunities for relaxation on the ship. 

Casino and Shopping

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Credit: Facebook

Depending on the specifics of the cruise package you purchase, most of your food and drinks and other amenities will be covered by that cost. Still, if you have money or travelers’ cheques burning a hole in your pockets, there are places to spread that wealth around. Every ship has a Fortunes Casino on it, offering an array of slot machines and table games. You can always find the Vegas basics like Blackjack, Craps, and Roulette. There is plenty of Poker tables, too. Some ships have other games, like Baccarat, by request only. Still, it’s all the fun of a casino right on board the ship.

If the thrill of gambling doesn’t seem appealing, then shopping may be what you want to do. If you do make port somewhere, the local shops are definitely a must-visit. You can get assistance on a shopping trip from Port Shopping Guides. But even if you don’t disembark from the ship, there is an entire shopping complex at your disposal. Celebrity Cruises has boutique shops for exclusive brands like Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and an assortment of fine jewelry and fashion brands. They even offer a tech store where you an find any of your favorite devices that you might have forgotten to bring with you. And all the shops on the ships are duty free.

Pool, Spa, and Fitness

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Credit: Facebook

Back in the old days, staying active on a long sea voyage usually meant swabbing the decks and all other manner of maritime work. For the Celebrity Cruises passenger, you have plenty of options for how you want to stay active. You can also avail yourself of the spa services after your workout. Each ship has basketball courts, volleyball, and even lawn games like croquet. If electronic sports are more your (or your kids’) thing, then you can play interactive video games that really get the blood moving. You can also visit the fitness center for personal training or just to do your own routine.

There are a number of pool locations on the ship, and many feature games like water polo and other organized water fun. You can also take yoga, body sculpt boot camp, or dance classes, if just working out is too dull. The on-board spa can help you relax after all that with sauna, massage, and skincare. You can also get your hair and nails done, and even a facial if you want. They even offer some unique services like body scrubs, acupuncture, and couples massages. If you get hungry while you are there, you can also enjoy a limited offering of healthy food choices. 

On-ship Activities

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Credit: Facebook

You might think that on a cruise, with a ship that big, just wandering around and exploring would be enough to occupy your time. Yet, you may decide you want some more structured activities. Well Celebrity Cruises has plenty to choose from. As mentioned above, there are boot camp fitness classes, yoga, and even skin-care seminars at the spa and fitness centers. There are also dietary presentations based on the Eat This, Not That! series of books to help passengers make better food choices. Along with fitness dance classes, there are dance competitions in the clubs and lounges on the ship as well.

If you are more passive about your entertainment, then you can visit the amphitheater on board or enjoy the many outside concerts. A rotating assortment of musical acts, comedians, and other entertainers perform nightly as well. You can also attend the Beyond the Podium lecture series from the Smithsonian. It’s like your ship’s own TED Talk event. Celebrity Cruises offers tours for all passengers that show how the ship works and teaches them about navigation and ship operations. You can take a hands-on art class, attend art lectures, or even go on a self-guided art tour from the installations on the ships. You can even learn a new language on the ship using the Rosetta Stone method. If you wanted, your vacation could feel like an abridged semester of college. 


What People Have to Say About Celebrity Cruises

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Credit: Facebook

The available online customer reviews for Celebrity Cruises are mixed, averaging four stars on most sites with its lowest average rating being three stars. A quick scan of these low reviews reveals unfortunate situations that aren’t necessarily Celebrity Cruises’ fault. Things such as local politics at the destination port or inclement weather are just simply things that happen sometimes. However, a consistent amount of complaints focus on delays thanks to ship maintenance issues. Celebrity Cruises appears to be content to just let their passengers enjoy more time on the ship, however those who left reviews felt they were owed some sort or recompense over skipped destinations. 

PROS:

  • plus
    Low Passenger to Crew Ratio
  • plus
    Large Cabins
  • plus
    Good Customer Outreach

CONS:

  • close
    Frequent ship maintenance delays
  • Inconsistent pricing
  • Unannounced schedule changes

A number of positive reviews featured instances where reps from Celebrity Cruises did reach out to customers who had genuinely bad experiences. There were also complaints about pricing, particularly for drinks if you’ve not purchased their “drink plan.” Still, given the middling nature of average reviews, it’s possible your experience may vary. Just be aware of the difference between things beyond Celebrity Cruises’ control, like the weather, and things they can, such as a bad staff interaction.


Alternatives to Celebrity Cruises to Consider

Celebrity Cruises is not the only cruise line on the sea. If it doesn’t seem to be matching up to your expectations, here are some other options to research.

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Credit: Citiking, Wikimedia Commons

This cruise line, owned by the same parent company as Celebrity Cruises, is perhaps the most recognizable name in the industry next to Carnival. They have eight classes of vessels capable of carrying anywhere from 2,000 to as many as 5,000 people. They own the second largest cruise ships in the world, and RCI has almost a quarter of the market the share. This is as big-name as it gets. In fact, they are so big they even have their own private resorts in Haiti and the Bahamas. They plan to add three more to the roster, one more in Haiti and ports in Australia and Asia. Some of their ships also have what they call “Dynamic Dining,” which eschews the main dining room for complimentary meals at smaller, specialized restaurants.

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Credit: Pixabay, ArvidO

Princess Cruises was once a huge name as its flagship was used as the titular vessel from the 1970s TV series The Love Boat. Today, it is owned by Carnival Cruises who expanded it from the single ship to a fleet of 18 vessels. They offer comparable accommodations and amenities to Celebrity Cruises. However, they do have a balcony dining service that is great for special, romantic occasions. They travel to Asia, the Caribbean, Alaska, and down under to Australia and New Zealand. 

3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

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Credit: Commons. Wikimedia, Pjotr Mahhonin

Formerly the cruise arm of the Radisson empire, Regent Seven Seas became its own company headquartered in Miami, Florida. The fleet travels to more than 300 ports across the globe, but these ships more resemble the Xpedition class. They are larger, offering around 250 to 350 rooms on the ship. So, it’s a small group, but not a ship that lacks for amenities. Many reviews say the small size makes the experience feel more personal.


Celebrity Cruises is one of the remaining great cruise fleets.

The cruise ship is a relatively safe, cost-effective vacation choice and no doubt provides an experience you can’t get elsewhere. However, as the global economy changes, one has to wonder if cruises will last as a viable option. For everyone from affluent travelers to those who never get away “experiences” are valued over more aimless trips. Cruises can provide that, but the large-scale of it all could turn away those who desire a more intimate experience. Even though Celebrity Cruises is developing five new ships capable of holding about 3,000 people, perhaps the future is in the smaller, Xpedition Class line? 

What do you think? Do you think cruises are becoming homogenized, impersonal experiences or do you think they are a way for almost everyone to have a little slice of luxury? Share your thoughts, reactions, and experiences in the comments below. Don’t forget to share on social media so your friends can get in on the conversation.

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