We are sailing from Miami to Barcelona on Celebrity Cruises. It is 10 years since we last sailed with Celebrity and we have fond memories of a classy ship with good food. But in 10 years, I have grown a little older, gathered a few wrinkles, don’t move as well as I did, and no longer have that youthful appearance. Celebrity seems to have suffered in much the same way.
The ship, The Century, carries 1800 passengers and is one of the older ships in their fleet. However it claims to have had a $30,000,000 renovation. The only change we can see to our cabin is that some of the fittings in the bathroom have been upgraded, and the washbasin has been replaced by a large pasta bowl. I know food is a big part of cruising, but the bowl would be of more use in line at the buffet than in the bathroom where it is virtually useless for anything other than brushing your teeth.
We splurged for a cabin in “Concierge Class”. But the cabin is tiny and there is hardly room for us, let alone a concierge should he ever care to visit. The cabin is so small that a regular bed is too long to fit in, so they have specially designed a bed with a rounded end which allows you to just squeeze by should you wish to travel the full length of the cabin. The main reason to want to get to the other end of the cabin is that this is where the sofa has been placed. “Sofa” is a very generous term for a very ungenerous piece of furniture. It is basically nothing more than a large chair, with no arms. Two people would not be able to sit on it were it not rammed up against the end wall so preventing anyone from falling off.
The rounded bed may allow for mobility around the cabin, but does little to encourage a good night’s sleep. The most comfortable position is in the middle of the bed, where it is almost full length. But two things discourage you from sleeping in the middle. One is the fact that it is two single beds pushed together so there is an uncomfortable join in the middle. The other is your partner, who unfortunately also wants a place to sleep . So you are forced to sleep on either side of the bed, where it is considerably shorter. Either your head is rammed up against the headboard or your feet hang over the end of the bed. If you are over 5ft 10 inches tall, then you don’t get to make the choice – you suffer from both.
The bed linens and pillows all appear to be new and luxurious, but for some inexplicable reason they have kept the old bedspread, which encourages a complete lack of desire to get anywhere near it, let alone lie down on it. The bedspread is maroon and fuzzy. Not a warm and cozy fuzzy, but a hair ball sort of fuzzy, caused by years of friction from the hundreds of previous occupants rubbing their body parts on it. We ask for it to be removed..
The laminated wood fixtures have scratches and dings. But most disturbing of all is the ceiling, which somehow has acquired multiple dents . We have given some considerable thought as to how those dents might have got there, but our more entertaining suggestions have been deemed unsuitable for publication.
Once outside the cabin there are occasional signs of refurbishment, most notably in the spa and gym area which looks quite luxurious, with a spa cafe, serving small portions of healthy foods, a much needed change from the laden platters of unhealthy food in the buffet.
The gym itself is well equipped with new machines, and it is here we go every morning to try and work off the excesses of the previous days. It is also here, that I have my very first sight of a Brazilian. It is at this point, dear readers, that those of you with a more sensitive disposition, might like to avert your eyes, for the Brazilian I speak of has nothing do with a samba dancer or soccer player . Indeed, I have to wonder why it is that this particular adornment, or, to be more precise, lack of adornment , has been named after the inhabitants of that country. I only ask out of a surfeit of curiosity. Those of you who have not averted their eyes at this point, (and believe me I wish I had) will no doubt be wondering how this came about. Suffice it to say that all was unwittingly revealed by a nubile young woman doing stretching exercises in a pair of short shorts that were perhaps not designed for such a purpose .
Sometime later the same young woman happened to stand beside me in line at the Spa Cafe. She smiled and said Good Afternoon. I almost replied that we had already met, but I managed to say little and moved on to enjoy the rest of my day.