Celebrity has some of the most beautiful and best-designed ships in the industry, true contemporary stunners. Everything — from the extraordinary spa facilities to the half-acre of grass on the line's Solstice-class ships, to the martini bars and romantic seating areas with egg-shaped chairs and daybeds — is tasteful with a modern edge. It's a design aesthetic that has influenced the rest of the industry, too, and now ships are popping up on other lines with style choices that seem ripped right from Solstice.
What We Love
The Art Collection: The cruise line's $60 million collection is contemporary and daring. Included are works by notables such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Koons, David Hockney, and Anish Kapoor. On some of the Solstice-class ships, original art is even created live as passengers watch glassblowers in a hot glass show.
Unforgettable Spas: The spas, operated by Canyon Ranch SpaClub, are spectacular, with thalassotherapy pools and Persian Gardens. Each is an oasis of calm for passengers who come on board for much needed R&R. Best of all, there's a café full of healthy treats outside the spa on the pool deck, with Greek yogurt parfaits at breakfast and low-fat chicken salad (served with tasty plates of mango with mint and spices) at lunch.
Innovation: Celebrity has been a risk taker in recent years, putting on an avant-garde, adult-oriented stage show and introducing the first self-serve wine bar at sea. You can even buy Apple products duty-free on board — and learn how to use your new devices, too, in organized classes scheduled throughout the sailings.
Best Known For
Great Buffets: The line has beefed up its culinary game: The Oceanview Café is one of the best buffets in the industry, and you'll find decent cuisine in the main dining room and specialty (for-a-fee) restaurants. Celebrity has also launched a partnership with Bravo's "Top Chef," resulting in theme cruises with a variety of "cheftestants" on board.
Attentive Service: Crew members are not only well-trained, but allowed to think on their feet to meet special requests — even difficult ones, like remembering you like your dirty martinis with extra olives or finding a tub to bathe a baby in.
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Who It's Best For
Couples: Twosomes age 40 and up who don't need a constant lineup of activities enjoy the combination of romance, a little decadence, and opportunity to relax. During the day, the quiet corners feel like an elegant place to find time alone. At night after dinner, you'll find a variety of places to dance or toast with cocktails together in an atmosphere that feels both sophisticated and celebratory.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Expect Crowds: Although each ship provides plenty of cushy hangout places, with a couple thousand people (or more) on board, there are times when you'll have to get in line, such as when disembarking at a port of call.
The Kids Program Is So-So: The line has facilities and activities for kids, but they lack the excitement of the programming on some competing lines. On some sailings, there are so few children that the kids club hours are limited and the feeling of being stared at by guests who came looking for peace and quiet (and even an escape from their own children) can be intense.
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.