…Catch up on Part 1: Murano and Santa Barbara, California
Catalina Island, California
Yesterday, Celebrity Century was anchored off a foggy Catalina Island, which intriguingly shrouded the landmass in visual mystery, at least in the morning until it later burnt off. Then the island was back to its usual blend of a Mediterranean-like atmosphere paired with delightful California kitsch under a perfect springtime sun.
The crescent-shaped bay is lined with eclectic shops and restaurants ranging from trinket vendors and ice cream parlors to beachwear retailers and seafood joints, all punctuated by the famous casino, a theatre used not for gambling but for various entertainment offerings. In fact, the island hosts many different events throughout the year such as jazz festivals and an upcoming silent film benefit.
The bay itself is home to anchoring boats, aquatic rentals, shuttlecraft from the mainland and once the vintage S.S. Catalina steamship, itself a shuttle in its day before retiring and sadly capsizing in the bay of Ensenada, Mexico – where Century is docked today. After partially sinking in 1997, it remained abandoned until around early 2010, when it was finally scrapped and removed.
Catalina is in many ways a time capsule, feeling in part like a tropical version of Disneyland’s Main Street; the architecture is timeless and the colors are vibrant. It’s always a joy for us to just stroll along the town of Avalon and take in the sights and do some shopping. Inevitably, Catalina is a great place to pick up a new favorite Hawaiian-style shirt for my dad and I.
The Edwardian-period Lloyd’s Confectionery of Avalon is where you’ll find Catalina’s signature saltwater taffy as well as it would seem every other candy and ice cream selection. Here we discovered delicious chocolate-covered cinnamon bears before grabbing lunch down the street at the eclectic El Galleon with its Mardi Gras and clipper ship decorations. Their culinary fare includes tasty scallop chowder and crab melt sandwiches.
The Grand Restaurant
Back onboard the Celebrity Century, we enjoyed dinner in the main dining room and were quite pleased with the improved service. Our waiter and assistant waiter team of Ainullah and Nikola were friendly as expected – with Nikola in particular being quite the character, but the highlight of the service was the speedy and consistent course pacing, which has been hit or miss in the past. The only disappointment was that my mom ordered a Shirley Temple from the bar staff that never arrived during the hour and a half we spent in the restaurant.
The food quality itself has remained consistent with our past experience onboard Celebrity Cruises with premium selections and perfect portions. As for the appetizers, the shellfish risotto was just alright, but the caprese salad was refreshing and tasty. The standout of the meal was the grilled rib eye steak entree topped with blue cheese butter. The hearty course consisted of quality meat and was nice and filling. My banana fondant dessert was also well prepared and a pleasant finishing touch to the evening.
One thing that is true of a four-day cruise is that it’s difficult to get a thorough sense of a ship within a short timespan. Consequently, our Live Cruise Review from onboard the Celebrity Century is less extensive than usual, but we will still followup with a Post Cruise Review in the coming days to give you as many concluding thoughts about this great vessel as we have been able to gather amid the port-intensive itinerary. Read our concluding report here…