With so much to do on a cruise ship, we followed my Mother-in-law’s simple rule for traveling with a family group or group of friends on a cruise ship: Have a set time to meet for cocktails before every one goes to dinner together and then enjoy an elegant seated dinner all together.
Formal nights are also a part of our cruise ritual. We very much enjoy the main dining room nearly every night for dinner which means following the dress code on formal nights. For men it is a suit or tuxedo and for the ladies a dressy pants outfit, cocktail dress, or gown. For those not wishing to dress up, Celebrity offers many alternative venues included the buffet and room service at no extra charge for full casual, and the specialty restaurants for smart casual and above. For us it was a nice chance to get pictures taken in our finery.
For pre-dinner we met most nights at the Captain’s Club Elite reception in the sky lounge. This worked really well both weeks for either the 7:30 dining time the first week or the 6:30 dining time the second week when my Mother-in-law joined us for the cruise. The sky lounge is already one of our favorite locations on the ship so the addition of our complementary cocktails and appetizers made it even better. The cocktail hour runs from 5-7, so during the first week we usually met sometime during those hours. Officially, the reception is for 21 and over, but as long as our teens were dressed properly (smart casual or formal), behaving properly, and not drinking alcohol, the hostess let them in towards the end of the reception.
For passengers not eligible for the Elite cocktail hour, there are many other elegant venues in which to meet for that pre-dinner cocktail. Popular spots include the showy martini bar, the ensemble lounge, Michael’s club, Cellar Master, and Passport Bar. While the Elite lounge is something to look forward to after many Celebrity cruises, the first time passengers will have no trouble finding a special spot to enjoy cocktail hour. When we travel with friends or family who are not eligible for the lounge make plans to meet in the seated area in the atrium right outside the Cellar Master Bar and Martini bar.
From cocktail hour we make our way to the main dining room for dinner. Our favorite part of our cruise is the shared family meal with prompt and attentive service and the consistency of the same waiter and same table every night. For us, the 6:00 dining time is a little too early and the 8:30 time is just too late. So we decided to give Celebrity Select, their flexible dining option, a try. With the two weeks back to back, it worked out perfectly. The 7:30 dining time did, however, often conflict with the show schedules, so if shows are important and a guest is just on for one week, I would recommend one of the fixed dining times or 6:30. We were able to attend most of the evening entertainment events which were very important to us including the Broadway production show, Celebrity Roxx, late night comedy and comic magicians two shows. The second week, the 6:30 dining time was plenty early to see the 9:00 shows in the main theater.
For the first week of the cruise we had a table for 4 near the window with our waiter, Buty, for the entire week. He was all the things you want in a waiter: timely, accurate, and courteous.
His assistant waiter also did a great job with refilling the water and collecting plates, ect. We noticed a waiter we adored from a previous cruise, Husaini, just a few tables over, serving the 6 and 8 top tables, and that Buty did not have tables large than a 4 top table, so we arranged to move to one of Husaini’s tables for a 6:30 dining time every night on the second cruise when our party increased to 5. Husaini is like a ray of sunshine and the energizer bunny all combined together, and a very sharp memory to boot. Again, his service was timely, accurate and friendly. He really worked had to keep all of his table well served. His assistant, Sylvia, again did a great job with all of duties as well.
All of the good food and service just made the family dining experience extra special. While we enjoyed our great food, we also had great conversation and laughs. On the final formal night of each cruise we had an opportunity to show our appreciation for our waiters during the announcement of the food and dining managers and our parade of waiters. Celebrity waiters used to parade around flaming baked Alaska, but while they still serve it on final formal night, they have dropped the flaming parade for safety reasons.
For more pictures from our formal nights and cocktail hour please see our gallery page: Cocktail Hour, Formal Nights, and Family Time