First Time Cruisers with... Celebrity
Going on holiday is an almost-constant battle between wanting to return to your favourite place, or wanting to explore new and exciting destinations. We very much recommend an annual combination of both, but if that approach isn’t possible, our travel experts are on hand to get to know you, your preferences and travel styles to make some tailored recommendations for your next adventure. That’s exactly what we did with Jane & Dorian, who came to us wanting to plan a special trip to celebrate their 10th Anniversary.
As we’re sure you’ve seen on our social media, we love a cruise. This couple have been keeping a close eye on everything we’ve been posting – from boutique vessels, to adult-only luxury ships and even the ‘megaships‘, sailing with a small city-load of guests onboard each week; they’re all as incredible as each other, but have different advantages depending on exactly what it is you’re looking to get out of your holiday. During an initial conversation with them, we did a little digging to find out the kind of things they looked for – a modern hotel, plenty of dining options, some entertainment, preference towards all-inclusive – we had a couple of strong contenders to share with them…
Jane & Dorian didn’t necessarily have a destination or itinerary in mind, but we were working within a range of dates in July 2023 but would ‘love to explore the Greek Isles’. Whilst our travel experts enjoy a good challenge, fortunately the Greek Isles & Adriatic Coast is a popular spot during the summer months, so we managed to find some fantastic options.
At first, the chance to sail with one of our favourite brands, Azamara, was almost too hard to ignore. Impeccable service, a perfect balance between luxury & casual, delicious food and a port-intensive itinerary – what’s not to love? The 4 x Azamara vessels often get referred to as a ’boutique hotel at sea’ by her guests; with a maximum of just under 700 guests, these are around 30,000 tonnes and ideal for navigating smaller ports & nestled harbours. Many guests who have sailed and tried many different lines will end their ‘cruise journey’ with a brand such as this; they enjoy the intimate feel and at times, relaxed pace.
But when we saw a fantastic option with Celebrity Cruises, we simply knew it was the perfect choice for Jane & Dorian’s first ever cruise. Embarking on an 11-night journey around Italy, the Greek Isles & Turkey (which matched their anniversary date, bonus!) would have been a fantastic itinerary on any ship, but this happened to be on the newest ship in the fleet, the Celebrity Beyond®. Delivering a truly modern luxury experience at sea, this was bound to impress these first time cruisers.
Offering a range of stateroom & suite options, a whopping 32 distinct restaurants, bars & lounges, a tranquil spa & fitness centre, a range of entertainment options of a high calibre and much more, 11 nights on one of the newest ships in the world almost isn’t enough. Combined with the brands ‘All Included’ – where Classic Drinks, WiFi & gratuities are included in the price of the cruise – this makes anyone’s first time at sea easy to get to grips with and enjoy. (And our travel experts are always available for all your questions before you go… this couple had a lot, but don’t tell them that!)
Whether you’d prefer an Inside Stateroom – stylishly designed with ample living space – because you’ll be spending more time exploring the rest of the ship, or you may want to splash out on ‘The Retreat’, Celebrity’s Suite Class which include a range of uplifted amenities and perks – the Iconic Suite features 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, large living room, dining area & giant terrace boasts over 2,500 square feet of indoor & outdoor opulence – there really is the perfect type of accommodation for every type of guest.
All the guests we know love to eat & drink; they’re definitely in the right place. Featuring 32 food and beverage venues, including eight specialty restaurants and an array of bars and lounges, every experience will excite your palate and leave you wanting more. These include a number of complimentary dining venues offering a variety of cuisines, as well as specialty dining experiences, for something to really impress the tastebuds. There’s always something to see or do, too – live music in the Grand Plaza, fantastic cast productions & guest entertainers in the The Theatre, everything you’d expect (and more!) in The Club and even immersive performances in Eden.
Our travel experts know the ins and outs of this brand and many others – we are cruise experts after all – but what better way to get true insights than from the unbiased view of Jane & Dorian’s first cruise, ever! We asked them a few questions about their cruise on the Celebrity Beyond®, so that they can inspire others who may be wanting to embark upon their first adventure at sea. It’s never too early, or too late to try a cruise and our travel experts are here to find the perfect option(s) for you.
This was your 1st cruise! Have you always wanted to try one?
I’ve done a little trip up the coast of Croatia on one of the very small boats, but this was definitely our first proper cruise and a totally difference experience!
What did you love about sailing with Celebrity Cruises?
What can I say …. everything! It’s one of those experiences that I can’t describe; I want to win the lottery so that I can take family and friends and experience it again, together! It was so indulgent. The service and the food were amazing. The ship itself was very spacious; you never felt like it was at full capacity. The artwork and sculptures were breathtaking. I loved being able to get dressed up every night, but it didn’t feel forced – you were made to feel like celebrities! Maybe that’s where the name comes from?
My fear as a first timer was the possibility of sea sickness; we went armed with tablets, but you could hardly notice we were moving. Also, I thought it might be chaos getting on and off the ship at ports… how wrong was I! It was so well managed; it took less than 5 mins to disembark at every port. The Celebrity excursions were well organised. You met at the theatre where you were assigned a number. Within 5-10 mins it was your turn to walk straight off the ship and onto the coach. The four main dining rooms were fabulous. We never booked and always got a seat next to a window straight away, regardless of the time we arrived which varied from 7-9pm. I couldn’t believe we had a waiter, assistant waiter and sommelier looking after us. We also enjoyed speciality dining in the Rooftop Garden, Eden and Fine Cut restaurants, of which Eden and Finecut were my favourites; I’d recommend at least a 3-night specialty dining package but if on a budget the main dining rooms were still to an excellent standard.
Your itinerary was fantastic; sailing out of Rome and calling at Santorini, Mykonos, an overnight in Istanbul, Ephesus, Athens and Naples. Did you have a favourite port?
That’s a difficult one… I absolutely loved Santorini and Mykonos. Fira and Oia were so quaint and beautiful, with the whitewashed buildings, blue domed roofs, windmills and fantastic photo opportunities wherever you went. Mykonos Town was similarly stunning and the shops were amazing. We also loved Naples, where we went on a trip to Pompeii. The guide was fantastic briefing us on that area of Italy during the journey and the whole site at Pompeii is jaw-dropping when you think how old it is. I think that this cruise itinerary in general was very good, as it had a variety of big cities and smaller towns, so a great mix!
For your first ever cruise, you sailed on Celebrity’s newest ship, the Celebrity Beyond®. What were your favourite parts of the ship?
I went to all the theatre shows, and they were truly wonderful. I’ve attended many West End shows and the entertainment on ship did not disappoint or feel second class. If I was a solo passenger, I might have gone to some of them twice! After the shows, we tended to head over to the Eden Bar. I can’t explain how and why but it has such a relaxed vibe. Quoting Celebrity, it’s a ‘multi-level, architectural masterpiece’. You can’t help but keep looking around, there is so much to see. During the day (after a trip or on sea days), I loved to settle down on a comfy sun lounger at the side of the ship, away from the main pool area. You could always get a seat around the pool area and watch/take part in the activities, get chatting to someone, but I much preferred the loungers up near the Sunset Bar, where I was always by myself with 10-15 beds either side empty; reading a book and watching the sea/horizon felt so relaxing, almost like being on your own dessert island. There was always waiter service around the ship, but when I wanted to have a wander, the Sunset Bar was my favourite spot. Again, for such a beautiful place I could not believe how quiet it was at times. In the afternoons I used to grab a wine/cocktail, wait for the Captain’s announcement and watch the sail aways. It was great to be in such a lovely bar and be able to choose where to sit as the were so many prime spots available. The sail aways were fabulous.
You opted for a Deluxe Inside Stateroom. What were your thoughts? Would you choose the same again?
We loved it. It was big enough, the bed was huge and comfy, and it had everything we needed. There was plenty of room under the bed to store the suitcases. I didn’t miss a porthole or a balcony at all. To be honest I think we spent about an hour a day in the cabin awake. I enjoyed being out and about the ship so much that I’d leave it til the last moment to get back to the cabin for a shower, to change and go back to the theatre ready for show time! I’m glad we chose to spend our money on a 5* ship with an inside cabin rather than a less luxurious cruise line and an upgraded cabin. The quality of the food, the service and the top entertainment were always a priority for me over cabin type.
What did you think of their ‘All Included’ offering of Classic Drinks, WiFi & gratuities?
We upgraded to the Premium Drinks package to really make the most of what was available; it was a small extra supplement per day but totally worth it for the elevated selection & quality. The drinks on the ship (to purchase) are very expensive, so I was glad that we had the package as it meant you didn’t have really think about what you were spending or whether to have that nightcap or not! Standard Wifi was perfectly fine for messaging and emailing. We didn’t need anything else.
What did you think about the size of the ship? Did it feel big? Was there enough going on?
There was definitely enough going on! I needed to be realistic because I wanted to do everything; there’s activities all day whether you’re docked or on a sea day. I could easily have stayed on for a back-to-back cruise as there were so many things I missed out on! I always had the daily schedule with me and was dashing from post to post at times!
Do you have any top tips for other first time cruisers out there?
Book with TRAVLUX! When I first booked, I looked at a lot of Celebrity Beyond and general cruise YouTube posts, but as it got nearer to the time I joined the Facebook Celebrity Beyond group and also one specific to the actual cruise itinerary we were going on. I picked up tonnes of knowledge of what to expect and tips such as taking magnetic hooks for the cabin! I used them to handbags and hats on the cabin walls!
Book with us today
Now is always the best time to book your next holiday and we’re here to take all of your stress away. Simply get in touch with our travel experts for an initial consultation and whether you need a little inspiration or know exactly what you want – with a little help from us – you’ll soon be jetting off to your next destination.