Our Century Cruise

This was (according to us) our seventh cruise aboard a Celebrity Cruise Line ship. We have previously sailed on Infinity five times, Galaxy once and now Century. Century is the oldest ship in the Celebrity fleet but underwent a massive refurbishment in 2006 that changed the entire ship. Sometimes for the best, sometimes not.


For those who are sailing Century out of Barcelona, we were able to board at 11:30 am. Others were aboard before us and it looked like they had started boarding at 11:00. Total embarkation took less than 20 minutes to check-in, fill out a Noro virus questionnaire which assured the ship you weren’t sick and step on board. We had arrived by taxi at 11:30 and were dropping our carry-on bags in our cabin (which was not ready at that point) at noon. After a quick lunch at the hamburger grille Kathleen and I did what we call a Mike Preisman tour. This is what our buddy Mike does whenever he boards a ship. He runs around to all the public rooms taking pics of them. You can find these pics in our Century photo gallery by clicking here.

After we took all the pics we headed back to our cabin which had been released to all passengers around 1:00 pm to unpack. On past Celebrity cruises we usually get our bags around 4:00. Today they showed up by 2:00. We were thrilled and amazed. It allowed us to completely unpack and be at the Sunset Bar on deck 11 aft for our Cruise Critic sailaway party. We had almost 30 people show up from our CC group and we were all thrilled to meet everyone we had been corresponding with during the previous year. You can see all the pics from the CC party by clicking here.

The ship

We felt Century was in good shape overall. But we have to say we were mystified by some of the refit and the way things worked out. Our best comparisons were to Galaxy (Century’s sister ship) that we cruised on last year. Galaxy has not (at this time) undergone a Century-style refit so much of our comparison will be old to new.

We loved our cabin!

We loved a bunch of things on Century but the best part of the refit was what they did to the cabins. Century and Galaxy both have 175 square foot Concierge Class(CC) cabins (the class of cabin we always book). The M-class ships (including our home-away-from-home Infinity) have 190 square foot CC cabins. With the new furnishings, wall-mounted flat screen TV, expanded closets and over bed cupboards we felt like this cabin was even bigger than the ones we were used to on Infinity. It was wonderful. The closets were big, there were two of them so that my clothes didn’t wrinkle Kathleen’s, and there was one floor to ceiling set of shelves as well with the usual lockable safe in them.

Better placement of floor to ceiling mirrors made the room and the hallway leading to it look much larger. A redesigned verandah sliding door (Galaxy’s swung out onto the verandah) was much more sound proof and was also tinted to cut the sun’s brightness.

One of the little things that made a huge difference was the changing of the couch we used to have on other ships to a shorter couch with no arms. This allowed for the small glass table to be moved to one end of the couch which really opened up the entire verandah end of the cabin. Outstanding design went into the planning of this room. The colors worked well and were very restful. We basically loved it.

Nitpicking time. There are two things we don’t like about the cabin. Both in the bath. One thing we have always had on Celebrity ships that is missing from this cabin is Groh fixtures in the shower. We liked the fixtures so much we went and bought them for our bathroom at home. They are the ones that regulate the hot water when you are in the shower. You set them on a temp and they keep the water that temp for the entire time you are showering. We have always had them on Infinity and we had them last year on Galaxy. This year the showers have been horrid. I find myself jumping in and out of the way of the water as it changes from freezing cold to scalding hot depending on who is flushing toilets or taking showers in nearby cabins. It’s almost as bad as a college dorm. Kathleen says she hasn’t had as much of a problem as I have and thinks it has to do with where our cabin is situated on the ship. Since we are used to aft cabins and on this cruise we are mid-ships, that may be true.

The other little thing we both don’t like is the sink. They installed one of those high-bowl sinks where the sink sticks up off the top of the vanity surface. To us, it is just a way to splash a lot of water. And I should mention that though there is a lot more shelf, drawer and closet space in the room, there is less shelf space in the bath. This needs improving. Just an extra rack in the shower would help.

One other thing that a Cruise Critic friend had a problem with is that there are no longer night stands with drawers. Just a small (attached to the wall) shelf just big enough to fit the telephone on. There are some rather large cabinets above the bed on either side that made a nice place to store my camera and books.

Lastly, the ship (and this is especially noticeable in the cabins) creaks. She is an old ship. And the refit was just that, a refit. So not everything fits together perfectly. In our cabin that meant a squeak in the verandah door that kept Kathleen awake three different nights. And we ran into a couple on the second morning of the cruise who said that their cabin was creaking so loud they were going to demand either “a new cabin or a flight home.” We didn’t see them again so maybe they went home.

Other great stuff

The refit worked wonders in other areas as well. We felt the buffet was very open and inviting. They removed all the dividers between the food service area and the seating area, used light wood throughout and created the most inviting buffet restaurant we have ever seen. After suffering through a very crowded buffet on Galaxy last year it is a wonder to us that there are always entire section of the buffet seating that are open at breakfast and lunch and we have never had a problem finding seats. Our guess is that when they removed the dividers between food and seating areas they added about 100-200 extra seats. And it makes the buffet much more inviting.

Kathleen likes the overall decor all around the ship. She says it’s not garish, but understated with some incredibly nice hardwood floors.

I should mention that Century had the best gym of any I have seen in our Celebrity travels. Old reader of my stuff know that I complain about how hot it is in the gym. Well this one is well air conditioned which makes it a delight to work out on the still, almost-new machines. Other than the two sea days, the gym was empty most of the time.

A note about service

This is Celebrity so I don’t usually write about service. We have always found it astounding and this cruise was no exception. From our cabin steward Jose to our assistant waiter Wii (hey we have his video game) everyone who took care of us was up to Celebrity’s very high standards. They truly do “treat you famously.”

But two people really stood our for us on this cruise. The first was our waiter in the dining room, Paulo from Portugal. We have had some pretty amazing waiters in our time but Paulo was the BEST EVER! I can’t stress that enough. And it wasn’t just how he handled our table and served us in the dining room. It was the way he went out of his way at breakfast and lunch to look for us in the buffet to make sure we got the royal treatment there as well. I truly started looking for him every time we had breakfast or lunch because it was like finding an old friend.

The other person who served us beyond belief  is already famous. We had read about him many times on Cruise Critic but we had never sailed with him and to be honest, we really weren’t sure how much we had heard was just hype. But folks, I am here to tell you, Sudi is back! Back in the Martini Bar on Century. After 11 months off he is back and he is great. And there was no hype, just fact. He is by far the best bartender I have ever seen. He cares about every customer. We could tell when he went out of his way to help Kathleen celebrate her birthday with not one but two complimentary martinis (one a chocolate one with a candle) but also wrote her name on the ice bar board with a huge happy birthday.

Sudi is the best. If you have never seen Sudi in action. Click this link. It will take you to a movie of him making us a martini that isn’t on the menu. One night we asked him if he could make us a mojito. He said he could do better than that, he could make us a mojito martini. And folks, that’s all we drank for the rest of the cruise.

What doesn’t work

As much as we like all of that I really feel there are some areas where Century’s redesigner’s really fell flat. The biggest of these for us is the Martini Bar. If you don’t know us you should know that we are not big drinkers. That said, we love to congregate with friends in the Martini Bar on Infinity. It is right on the way to dinner and a great space. On Galaxy it was still on the way to dinner but kind of hidden away just in front of the dining room. But both of these were far better than what is on Century.

First off, on the other ships, the Martini Bar is totally non-smoking. On Century, half is a smoking bar. The only problem with this this that it is a much smaller bar. So if you are a MILITANT non-smoker for health reasons (as I am) you are out of luck. We would sit as far as we could get from the smoking side of the bar and still be inundated by the smoke.

There lies the other problem. Some designer decided to take up half the width of the ship, right behind the Martini Bar with the computer center. That means that the bar is only half the width of the ship. Therefore it is a truly small bar.

If you think I don’t know what I am talking about, even Sudi, the the most famous bartender on the high seas agrees that the Martini Bar on the Century is much too small.

Another that needs work is flow. There are just too many places where stairways end and then move to another place to continue up, where decks end and to get to someplace at the back of that deck you have to go upstairs and come back down. We full realize that this was part of the original design and really can’t be fixed but nothing was done at all to improve it. Even some signage would help.

Our good friend Andrew (Blazerboy) mentioned one other thing that bugged him but since I was working out inside I had not noticed it. The outdoor “jogging” track on Century is on deck 14 forward and is SMALL. I mean very small. It looked like a full circuit was about 30 yards. It was almost a small circle. I don’t remember Galaxy’s being that small.

Other small quibbles   

We realize that some things just can’t be fixed without building a new ship but our table in the dining room was at the very aft/port corner of deck six. (Century has a two deck dining room that includes deck five and six.) If the ship was underway it was very hard to hear anyone at the table talk in a regular conversational voice. If the ship was in port and just starting up, it was next to impossible due to engine noise. If it was this loud on deck six, how bad was it on deck five? We don’t want to know.

Also, we have had it with tables for 10. Our table was a 10 seater but there were only eight of us. This meant that hearing anyone at the other end of the table anyway was difficult. But with the noise of the ship, it was awful. From now on we are going to request a table of eight or smaller unless we are traveling with more friends than that as we did recently in Alaska.

Another strange change during the refit had to do with the removal of the T-Pool (one of our favorite places to relax on Infinity) to replace it with a Persian Garden. The Persian Garden is a series of sauna, steam rooms and showers. We understand why that was done as it is a revenue producer that they charge extra to use. But the really strange thing was that the Persian Garden was closed on our cruise to be refurbished. Refurbished? It was just put in less than a year ago. Problems maybe? No explanation was given.


Also added in the refit was a specialty restaurant, Murano. We have dined in the specialty restaurant on Infinity (The SS United States) too many times to count and this allowed us to make a great comparison. First, you can tell that they carved Murano out of an area that had not been designed as a restaurant. It was much more crowded, louder and the table side prep that could be done rather easily in the SS US had to be done two tables away. They have a cheese course where in the SS US they pull the cheese cart up to your table where you can select one of the 21 cheeses. In the Murano, they couldn’t get it within two tables of us.

We thought the food was great but the entire experience suffered (in my opinion) because of the noise level and poor planning of the space in the restaurant. I should add that this was not enough that I would skip eating there. The experience is still one of the best meals both in terms of food and service and well worth the $30 cover charge. Another small quibble was that we had a particular wine we were looking for to go with our chateaubriand for two and even though it was on the wine list, our sommelier said it was no longer available. Of course he was quick to point out another wine that cost a few dollars more. That wasn’t the problem. The problem came the next night in the dining room when mentioned it to our sommelier there, she found the wine we were looking for in less than ten minutes. This just screams at us that he really just didn’t want to take the time to find it

A few final comments

Now that we are off the ship a few final comments. And please don’t take these as any indication that I have a problem with Celebrity. I love Celebrity. They are my cruise line of choice. And I recommend them to everyone. In fact I go out of my way  to tell others about them. I don’t like recommending something and then having it be a poor experience for those people. And I like them so much I would love to see them change those little things. The entire experience was great just these things need improvement.

Temperature. Kathleen felt that it was cold in most public spaces on the ship. Many others mentioned the same thing. Since I like the cold, it didn’t bother me that much but I fully understand. I have to say though that I loved the cold in the gym. My biggest complaint about the gym on Galaxy and Infinity is that they are too hot to workout without dying.

Music. About the third day of the cruise, Kathleen remarked to me, “Why do we always have to have music in the background?” And she was right. And it seemed the music got louder every day. From music in the buffet, to loud recorded music in the Cova Cafe while we drank our morning coffee to music playing at the Sunset Bar there was always music. Fairly loud, fairly obnoxious music. Does X have something against conversation? I really wish they would turn it down or better yet, off.

Pictures. If you have ever been on a cruise you know that pictures are a big part of it. The photo staff of the ship takes your picture about every 10 minutes. Or at least it seems like they do. We admit, we usually end up buying 5-7 photos on each cruise we have done. This cruise we bought exactly 0. Why? All the photos we saw were grossly overexposed. All the faces were bleached out. And it wasn’t done in the camera, it was done when the photos were printed. We (after being told to look for it by others) noticed that if a number of prints were made of the same picture, that each successive print was better exposed than the previous ones with the skin tones being more lifelike and less ghostly. It was really sad.

Dress. This is a tiny quibble but I would love to see them really enforce the dress code. I realize that the flames may come my way but in the dining room on the last formal night, I looked one table over and there was very nice looking woman dressed in a very nice formal dress. Next to her sat her date/husband in jeans, a blue tee shirt and tennis shoes. What the heck was that about? How did he get into the dining room full of formally dressed men and women dressed like that. And how did his wife let him get away with it.

Norovirus. I mentioned above that we were asked to sign a release upon boarding that we had not shown any symptoms of any infectious stomach ailment before boarding. Obviously X was worried. So worried that we later found out that if you had any kind of stomach ailment and went to the medical clinic, you were immediately  quarantined for three days. We had one friend who was stuck in her room for six days out of 11. She was given the choice of a voluntary quarantine or immediate disembarkation from the ship in whatever port we were in that day. Awfully harsh because we are pretty sure she didn’t have it but just had an upset stomach. On a more personal note, Kathleen got food poisoning one night. She was really sick for about an hour. We think it was the pork she had for dinner. I later told her that if she got sick once more I was going to call the infirmary. Good thing I didn’t because we would have been quarantined as well.

Disembarkation. This wasn’t necessarily bad, just strange. The night before we arrived back in Barcelona we received a letter under our door. It said, “You are REQUIRED (my capitalization) to report to Michael’s Club for disembarkation at 7:00 am.” Required? 7:00 am? And we swear we actually know two people who were “required” to be off the ship at 6:00 am. They didn’t even start serving breakfast until 6:00.

Smoke. I am sorry but I have had it. I am now going to progress from a serious non-smoker to a totally radical, off-the-wall anti-smoker. I cannot count the times on this trip when I was forced to either leave a public room (the Martini Bar, the Sunset Grille and other places) or to abandon our verandah because of second hand smoke.

I know, I need to get a life right? WRONG! Every time I get hit with that much smoke it means a massive sinus headache that knocks me out for quite a while. A very painful headache. Smokers, if you have ever had a migraine, imagine it in the front. (I had an accident in 8th grade that damaged my sinuses--makes it much worse.)

And once I had a cold, it was even worse. Not only did my sinus attack me but the throat that was already sore was raw. Part of this is X’s fault. As I mentioned before the Martini bar allowed smoking while the Martini bars on Infinity and Galaxy do not. And it’s time to ban smoking on balconies or to NEVER put a smoker next to a non-smoker. And what was really sad was that some of Cruise Critic buddies were smokers. I don’t mean to aim this at them, but please see it from my side. Nothing I did on the cruise affected your cruise. Some of what you did affected me. In a very bad way. And that is not fair.

Due to this we are going to take a really strong look at booking a cruise on Celebrity’s spin-off line, Azamera as they have banned all smoking on their ships except in two designated public areas. How sweet is that?

That’s about it unless I think of anything else before I post this. Or Kathleen adds anything when she proofs it. Please feel free to e-mail me or post on Cruise Critic with questions or comments. If I dish it out, I better be ready to take it.


What you should know

Century views

From left to right above

  1. 1.The Red Man sculpture on deck 11 forward.

  2. 2.The Martini Bar in blue (it has many other colors).

  3. 3.The main restaurant.

  4. 4.Seating area in the buffet. Lots of light and very airy.


All about Century

The incomparable Paulo