The group assembled in Amsterdam – twelve of us altogether, a blend of clients, family and friends.
Shocked at the cost of 4 and 5 star hotels – I spent a great deal time online researching properties in the heart of Amsterdam for our one night pre-cruise stay. Finally settled on the Toren – and we were very pleased. It is a small, 35 room boutique hotel on a canal just around the corner from the Anne Frank house.
The Toren, by coincidence, has just been recommended in last week’s TA Magazine as one of the best small hotels in Amsterdam. (Just call me a trailblazer, if you like!) Our room for 3 cost 260 Euros ($405) for one night without breakfast and was nicely appointed, on the ground level with canal view.
We boarded the Celebrity Century on the afternoon for a 5pm sailing.
A quick recap of our experience of the ship:
– Cabins were well appointed and designed, contemporary in décor having been refurbished in 2006. All of us were on the starboard side aft on Vista deck in Concierge Class verandah cabins. Our cabin had an adjoining door to the one next – perfect for keeping an eye on teenagers, who seemed to multiply like rabbits at times. We’d peek in there and see two or three (two belonged to us) – then a few minutes later and there would be 10 or 12! The verandahs also had an adjoining door that could be opened.
– Food & dining was excellent! We were given a table for 12 – oval in shape – positioned up against the floor to ceiling glass windows over looking the wake of the ship (see photo). Made for some very beautiful sunset dining – since we were on the late sitting and the sun typically sets at around 9p or 9:30p at this time of year in these climes. Also, we dined one night in the “Murano” – the very, very upscale small restaurant off the main lobby. The food and service was simply outstanding – probably one of the finest dining experiences I have ever enjoyed – and well worth the $30 p/p surcharge. Advance reservations are required.
– Ports & Shore Excursions – the ship is so large that we had to tender in at two ports (Edinburgh & St Peter Port) and in other ports we were at least a long walk or short taxi ride from town. The exception was Amsterdam itself where the ship was docked within blocks of the train station and the older, center section of Amsterdam.
The upscale Silversea line has solved this problem with one of their expedition ships – at least in London – I could not believe my eyes – but there it was – tied up to the HMS Belfast in the middle of the Thames! (The Belfast is now a floating military museum, permanently anchored in the river – see photo.) Talk about letting your passengers step off the ship right into the middle of things!
– Entertainment – It was typical, formulaic cruise ship fare, a couple of comedians and couple of singers and a production show. The production show got my vote as “best-in-show” – pardon the pun.
– Front Desk – service was generally very good, prompt and friendly. A great deal of shipboard account business could be answered quickly via the cabin’s flat panel TV – there was a channel – private to your cabin – that updated your onboard account daily. This is a nice feature allowing for periodic checks to make sure no one in the family (no names will be mentioned, but you know who you are!) was going ‘overboard onboard’ with charges.
Overall, it was a great cruise – my first with Celebrity – but certainly not the last. They produce a high quality product – and the perks of the Concierge Class cabins are well worth it.