Why we are leaving Celebrity Cruise Line after 25+ cruises

Hi all! Long time, no write. Two weeks from today you will be hearing a lot from me as we start our next major adventure—almost a month in Europe. But before I get into that, I thought I should do a post to conclude our Celebrity Millenium cruise as well as answer the big question I have been getting from friends who want to know why we are abandoning our cruise line of choice since 2004—Celebrity.

Actually, they kind of abandoned us. Back in 2004 when we sailed on Infinity through the Panama Canal, we fell in love with a certain kind of cruising and that kind of cruising isn’t there anymore. Truth be told, we aren’t that kind of cruiser now either but let’s just say we have grown apart. But even though we have changed, Celebrity has changed in so many ways that we find just sad.

We have sailed on every ship in the old (and now retired) C class, all but one of the S class and all but one of the M class. Our Millennium cruise last May was our final one with mainstream Celebrity and maybe our worst with them yet (We will return to the Galapagos on Flora in 2024) but that doesn’t really count. Here are the changes X has made that really bother us:

  • Celebrity has bought into the caste system that so many other cruise lines are now into. When the majority of the ship can’t even see forward of the ship (other than from the gym) on sail away, this is just wrong. Some have bought into it because they sail in a suite. Most of most cruisers won’t have one. If you have money to buy into the “suite” life then they treat you well, otherwise, you are cattle.
  • The ridiculous Infinite Verandas. Call them what they are: an outside cabin that you pay more for and the window opens. And when the window opens, the AC goes off. And they are noisy. And the Captain can do whatever he wants with them (leave them open, close them all). Every single long-time X cruiser who we know that has tried one has said they will never get one again. Don’t believe me? Check out this video: Click here!
  • Celebrity has basically killed their Captain’s Club loyalty program. We worked hard and were ultra-loyal to become Elite Plus cruisers with them and now with their new “all-inclusive” program, they have negated 90% of the benefits to their loyal customers. We used to get 240 minutes of WiFi for free—now everyone gets it for free. We used to get a cocktail party for Elites members but not anymore. Now everyone gets free drinks so why bother? We used to get a lot of things. What do we get now? A bag of laundry and priority tendering (not worth anything).
  • When they brought out the Edge class they started refurbing the M and S class but doing things that I just hate. First, they took the wonderful Martini Bar (long a feature on all X ships) and made it a HUGE, impersonal place that is not the intimate, conversation spot that it used to be. Then they enlarged the gym by extending it out over the bridge where there used to be an open area you could stand and look forward. They made everything beige. Our stateroom on Millennium was so beige, that it was sometimes hard to tell where the bed was—it just disappeared into a sea of beige😜. I could go on about all the blah stuff they have done to ships we love but why bother? Suffice it to say, their designers all are big into calm and soothing.
  • Digital everything is horrid. It’s amazing to me that Celebrity is owned by Royal Caribbean because RCL has the best internet at sea. Celebrity’s is horrible. Streaming is a joke. There were people on our Millennium cruise who tried to do an e-Med COVID test to get out of Canada and the chances of doing that online were next to zero. Their television choices are a joke. Movies that said they were free weren’t. And yes, who watches TV on a cruise? People trying to avoid COVID, people are quarantined, and people are sick. But nothing. Eight blurry channels and movies that said they were free until you got to the final screen and then it said $14, for an old movie. Even the map that shows where the ship is or the webcam on the bow were blurry. How can you not get a clear webcam video? We can get a better one with our Ring doorbell.  Oh, and their app (compared to others we have sailed with) is pretty poor.
  • Food—this has long been one of X’s strong points but not anymore. First, they removed so many restaurants that we loved. On our Millennium cruise, we didn’t go to a specialty restaurant, even once. They were either boring or ugly. And don’t get me going about the stupid Petit Chef which is all about the show and not the food. X replaced an incredible restaurant (Qsine–where the food was interesting and amazing) with this cartoon version of a restaurant. They took away the United States Dining Room on Infinity years ago (as well as the other ship-named specialty restaurants on the M-class ships) where we had some of the best meals of our lives and they removed Murano (a kind of successor to the United States Dining Room).At the same time, the food in the other venues got worse as well. On our May cruise, we sailed in Aqua Class so we ate our breakfasts and dinners in Blu, the Aqua class dining room. How bad was it, here’s what I had to say in my ship’s review:“The food was horrid. I actually sent back three different dishes. I have NEVER done that before. It embarrassed the staff in Blu. But when the pasta tastes like rubber (I tried to cut it with a knife and it would NOT cut) or the fries are cold when they get to the table, what else is there to do?
    You have ceased to care about little things. For instance, the Daily had Cinco de Mayo all over the cover. In the past when we have been on board over that type of holiday, there would have been Mexican food maybe…but nothing but the everyday chips, cheese and refried beans at the buffet. Not even salsa. Speaking of the buffet…so much of the food was cold. The door next to the salad station was kept closed but the door across from the pizza station to the Sunset Bar was wide open. Result=cold pizza and warm salad. And try to get someone to take a drink order and return before you finish your lunch or dinner—good luck”. 

For another take on the food, here’s what my brother said about the food we ate in Blu on the Millennium cruise in his post-cruise evaluation:

“While the service was outstanding, the food in Blu was poor or boring; if Blu were a restaurant in our city and we went there for dinner we would never dine there again. When we were on Holland America their “Orange” dining had bold and spicy selections that were remarkable. Holland’s breakfast selections were better and more extensive. Some notable food failures in Blu: veal scallopini that was so rubbery it was difficult to chew, pasta undercooked that it was sent back, and salsa that was only chopped tomatoes. The bread spreads offered with butter at dinner in the 3-bay tray were usually ground carrot, corn and peas. The carrots, corn and peas were BABY FOOD. Nothing was added to them; just BORING. The beet had some taste, but the carrot, corn and pea were just YUCK. On past cruises, there were other more tasteful options, e.g., olive tapenade. The dinner bread was just ok; on past cruises, there were more options in the bread basket, e.g., brown bread, and olive bread. The bottled wine selections were mostly “out”.  The wine menu on the Celebrity app noted too many wines that the ship did not have.”  

All of this just makes me sad. If we have to pay extra to get a suite we may as well take that money and move up to a better line like Viking Ocean (where we are going) or Oceania (we will try them in 2023). With Viking for the same price as a suite on X, we get a ship where everyone is treated equally except for just a few unnoticeable perks you get for being in a suite.

So that’s where we are on Celebrity. We still plan on doing one more cruise but on Flora to the Galapagos in 2024. But we won’t sail on one of their big ocean ships again unless someone offers us a free cruise. After more than 25 cruises, we will kind of miss them. But not enough to put up with all this. We just want the old Celebrity back…but we know that’s not going to happen. If you are new to Celebrity, we wish you well but just know you really missed their glory years.

Stick with me here on the blog. I will be back with a preview of our upcoming Viking Cruise in the next week. Then (I hope) there will be almost an entire month of travel to report on.

It’s not called quitting if you quit while you’re ahead. It’s about being aware and being strategic enough to know that you got to get out of the pool at some point. You got to put your clothes back on and dry off. —Nipsey Hussle

9 thoughts on “Why we are leaving Celebrity Cruise Line after 25+ cruises

  1. Mike

    You know that I pretty much feel the same way, although our last X experience was much better than yours. Oceania is now my favorite line. Perhaps after our January Viking cruise, it might move up.

  2. Susan MacGregor

    Morning Jim & Kathleen: we do not have your extensive cruising experience and our last Celebrity cruise was per-pandemic. We were briefly on an Edge class ship, but two days is not enough to compare with the Solstice class. We are not ones to sit out on the balcony so those rooms are not ones we will book (unless they are on promo as the same for Ocean View)
    Having written the above, we have slowly expanded our experience with other cruise line(s) and disembarked from the Nieuw Amsterdam (HAL) and when others on board asked for our thoughts vs Celebrity we told them that the service and the food was comparable to what we had experienced with Celebrity.
    Our next cruise is with Celebrity aboard the Flora in the Galapagos and we have booked with Viking to visit Norway in January of 2024 – experienced and crazy Canadians that use to dogsled and skijoring (Fraser- I am just tech support)
    Looking forward to your next journey and posts 😎

  3. Beth

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Jim. After 18 cruises with Celebrity and having reached Elite Plus status (now worthless), I discovered MSC in 2016. I cruised with friends who were in the Yacht Club, and once introduced to that experience, I have never looked back. I will now be going on my 7th MSC cruise come December. The Yacht Club is a fantastic experience and priced fairly – even for a solo cruiser. You really should check them out!

    1. Hi Beth,
      Not the way we are headed. We want to do smaller lines that can get into smaller ports. Our trip in September is on Viking Sky which has 970 guests. So we can get into ports that the big ships can’t get into.

  4. Tell me more, please. Viking Sky in September from where to where? What category of stateroom are you in? This is the 21 day cruise I sort of remembered reading about. If so, believe it starts out of Amsterdam so you’ll be staying in Banks Mansion, for sure.

    1. Watch for the next post. I will have a map of where we are going. This one is from Athens to Barcelona. But we are going to meet Steve and Jamie in Amsterdam for a couple of days first. And yes, we are doing two nights at The Banks.

  5. I do wonder how many die hard Celebrity fans have stuck with them. We have haven’t amassed nearly half as many cruises as you but did reach Elite status and although the new ships dared to be different, they should have left the older ones completely alone. We have one last cruise in January 2024 then we are also pulling up the drawbridge. Everything we enjoyed has gone!

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