Discover the world of cruise travel

Subscribe Now! Cruise Diva's FREE Newsletter

Make the most of your cruise vacation with information from

Get ready to cruise with cruise gear & more from
The Cruise Shop

 Cruising by the Book ~ Top Picks in 
Cruise Guidebooks

The favorite of serious cruise travelers:
Cruise Travel Magazine
Cruise Travel

Have a question or a review to submit?

Copyright © 1995-2001 
Linda Coffman

Celebrity Cruises' ZENITH
October 2-9, 1999
New York to Bermuda

by Linda Coffman 

CACKLE* Cruise
The CACKLE Crew on board Celebrity Cruise Lines' Zenith
*Cruising And Carousing Keep Life Entertaining

Explaining our zany little group of "chicken people" is the easy part. A chronicle of Charlie the Rubber Chicken's cruising exploits is contained in the article, Charlie "Chicken of the Seas", a light-hearted look at online cruisers and the coast-to-coast bond Charlie helped them forge. (PHOTO: standing--Michael, Bob, Sheryl, Judi, Linda, Eleanor, John; kneeling--Mel)

Through a series of events, including the cancellation of another ship's Transcanal sailings and last minute decisions, Judi & Michael (Drews), Sheryl & Bob (Hoover), Eleanor & John (Harley), and Linda & Mel (Coffman) all arranged to sail together on Celebrity Cruises' Zenith to Bermuda. This is the nucleus of the CACKLErs... folks who've "known" one another online for years, but who had never all been together on a cruise.  

In our case, we've collectively been members of the Prodigy Classic service for long enough to qualify as nerdy.  He may not wish to be exposed, but former Cruises guide George Hall and his wife Linda were honorary members of our flock.  Through the years, on Prodigy's Afloat bulletin board we routinely kept track of one another's travels, triumphs, and sorrows... the final sorrow was that Classic went to that great modem in the sky--signaling a final "good-bye" to stalwart members on October 1st.  

We toasted our Internet friends who couldn't come along and the online service that brought us together as we sailed past the Statue of Liberty the next day...

Zenith CACKLE Cruise in Review

Birds of a Feather
We converged on New York from a variety of locations--all but the Harleys arranged their own airfare and pre-cruise accommodations.  Arriving at the pier, whispers of "Captain's Club" brought smiles from shore side personnel and we were waved to the head of the line waiting to check in.  All except the Drews, that is.  First-time Celebrity guests, they had to queue up but the process was swift and painless--Judi said it was by far the easiest embarkation they ever experienced.

Paperwork accomplished and photos snapped, the Coffmans dropped off carryons, admired their standard outside cabin and headed (where else?) for the buffet.  Then on to the Fleet Bar to meet Peg Caldwell Ott (unofficial "godmother" to New York cruise liner crews) and George and Linda Hall.  The rest of the flock gathered amid many shrieks of recognition and hugs all around... and we were finally CRUISING!

Our standard outside staterooms were located on Deck Six (Drews & Hoover) and Deck Five (Coffman & Harley).  Decorated in soft pastels, and more spacious than we expected, most astonishing was the amount of storage--18 drawers, far more than even the most aggressive over-packer could fill for a week long cruise.  Hotel Manager, Filippos Georgiou explained that the bathroom dispensers for shampoo and lotion and complimentary canvas tote bags are Celebrity Cruises' response to environmental concerns--no more plastic (even drinks stirrers are now wood).  Additional amenities included Frances Denney soaps and personal packets containing shower caps, nail files, q-tips, and cotton balls.  All very handy, as were the robes and personal safe.

Did anyone NOT gain a few pounds?  Other than breakfast the last morning on board, we only went to dinner in the dining room--breakfast, lunches and snacks were from Room Service, the Wind Surf Cafe, or the Grill and Pizzeria.  Several in our small group favor extremely rare steaks and this request was well fulfilled for the most part.  Our waiter Miroslav advised against the New England clam chowder one evening but several of us ordered it anyway.  His advice was sound--it wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best.  

Our table for eight at late seating was a festive one, situated on the port side with banquette seating.  Zenith's dining room is a low-ceilinged room with shiny panels overhead and can get somewhat noisy as conversations become animated over the course of the week.  However, there is plenty of room between tables--and, more importantly--AT the table.  

Miniature copies of the menus (with some excellent recipes) can be obtained for $4.95 from Guest Services.  Linda's favorite, Chocolate Mousse Cappuccino, is among the recipes.

An example of how Celebrity's people go an extra step... Mel is fond of hot chocolate and teased our assistant waiter Gyula about not having marshmallows to put in it.  During our first day in Bermuda, instead of spending his hour and a half of free time napping or relaxing, Gyula went to a supermarket in Hamilton and on his own bought marshmallows.

From boarding, when white-gloved stewards accompanied us to our cabins, to buffets in the Wind Surf Cafe, where stewards carried our trays to tables, we didn't have to lift a finger.  During a rainy day in Hamilton, umbrellas magically appeared at the "beach towel" desk just off the lobby.  Now and then bar servers were sparse, but not often.

Having fun yet?  Don't want it to end?  Reserve your next cruise on board with your Social Hostess.  No fear, your local travel agent isn't cut out of the deal, the booking is transferred to the agent of your choice and any future "special" fares will be honored as usual.

A View From The Bridge
Thanks to a nod from Peg Caldwell Ott, we received an invitation to join the Captain on the bridge as we sailed from St. George's.  What an impressive sight!  We glided away from the dock and past the Norwegian Majesty--silently.  Absolute quiet was required on the bridge and we were glued to the view before us... sailing the Zenith through the cut was like threading a needle.  With onlookers waving from shore, the Captain inched us through and we were on our way to sea.  It was readily apparent why were unable to move to St. George's from Hamilton during a windy thunderstorm the previous day.

Bermuda Highlights
What can you say about a place that has pink sand beaches, pastel dwellings, and crystal clear water?  Everything is clean and bright and the residents are cheerful... Bermuda is as close to a perfect destination as a cruiser could hope for.  

While some of us had "been there, done that," others were newcomers to the island.  No one lacked for diversions--a particular favorite pastime being rides on the ferry.  Following a bit of shopping and a visit to Chit Chat Internet Cafe, I discovered the Bermuda Historical Society Museum.  Located in Par-la-ville, a gracious Georgian style home once occupied by William Perot, it's a gem tucked away behind a wall on Queen Street.  Intriguing photographs chronicle the growth of Hamilton from a quaint residential town to present day bustling business center and more recent exhibits include a tribute to the Chaffee School, closed in 1995 when the US Naval Air Station was decommissioned.  Particularly interesting are the official souvenirs commemorating the coronation (that didn't happen) of King Edward VIII and the many china, crystal and silver objects displayed in the dining room cabinets.  The chandelier over the dining table is magnificent.  Stroll through the adjacent park and drop in on the museum--there is no admission charge but donations are welcomed.  The curator offered me a choice of postcards, "The only thing you'll find free in Bermuda."

As mentioned above, Zenith was unable to move to St. George's as planned and spent an extra night in Hamilton.  We were pleased that we'd be there for Harbor Night--then disappointed that the merchants and crafters wouldn't be setting up tables along Front Street because of the weather.

Our time in St. George's was short but memorable.  Princess Anne of Great Britain "greeted" us and the Coffmans were off to explore on a moped while everyone else went to the Swizzle Inn for lunch and what else (!) Bermuda Rum Swizzles.


  • Formal nights were quite FORMAL, with glittering gowns and tuxedos in the majority.  

  • Announcements were curtailed except when necessary.  Photographers were somewhat more aggressive than on Celebrity ships in the past.  At the lifeboat drill every child had on an appropriately sized life vest.

  • Production shows were high energy and entertaining with very talented singers and dancers. An Entertainment Host explained the incongruity of American music timeline with a shrug and, "It's a British production." Made sense to me.

  • The casino was unkind to us, but George Hall witnessed some winners.

  • Mel found a massage in the spa after treadmilling to be a satisfying experience.  We all enjoyed the cushioned pads on deck chairs and loungers around the pool.

  • Judi loved being able to pull up their onboard account balance on the cabin television set.  She found it really was instantaneous..."One night Michael went to get me a Coke for the morning and before he was back (less than two minutes), it was POSTED!  I tend to check our balance manually every evening, and this made it so much easier!"  Linda is hanging her head in shame... she never figured out how to use it, but it might have been the bad battery in the remote control.

Memorable Moments

  • Thanks to the creative (or warped) mind of Bob Hoover, we had matching tee-shirts to wear the first day at sea.  Being an old salt, and Zenith regular to Bermuda, we accorded George Hall the honor of Tour Guide.  Eight of us stood with our backs to George, shirts emblazoned with the official logo of GEORGE'S BERMOODA TOURS ("and this is the famous Bermooda Triangle"), and... he DIDN'T notice!  Maybe poor George was just too overwhelmed with the inflatable bucket of Coronas he had just been presented.  Or maybe he needed to increase his medication earlier in the week.  It was a real "gotcha"--on us.

  • Each evening as we entered the dining room, the Maître D' and waiters asked, "What's for tonight?" OUR waiter and his assistant were having such a good time that other waiters would leave their stations (and ho-hum guests) to see what was happening.

  • Charlie the Rubber Chicken appearing at formal night dinner in a tuxedo (borrowed from Meghan Anne and Barbie's main squeeze, Ken).  

  • Eleanor Harley is known from coast-to-coast as a woman with a penchant for soup--all but the clear ones (a waste of time, according to the Soup Queen).  For consuming EVERY non-clear soup the Zenith's chefs offered, "Soupy" received the Campbell's (mmm, mmm, good) Soup award... an inflatable can in the familiar red, white, and black design that stood nearly as tall as Eleanor.  Is someone spending a LOT of time on eBay these days?

  • The "fish stories" told by Mel and his fishing pal, Harry Borders.

  • The Drews' "feather" bed. What? You expected polyester?

  • Trading chickens for foo foo Bon Voyage drinks.

  • Various special styles of cocktail napkins mysteriously appeared beneath our stemware.  For inside the stemware, we wish to thank Mary Ann Rizzo and Jacki and Mike Dalton.  Other special courtesies turned up with regularity... the Wednesday vintage "Cheap Red Crap" that we so generously passed along to George's table (we were afraid to remove the screw cap), a lovely pizza on formal night, and the really special bottle of Chardonnay sent from a colleague on the Horizon.

  • The "chicken sandwich" prepared by Eno, our favorite bartender in the Fleet Bar (cream cheese and chives with rubber chicken on white).

  • And... realizing that Sheryl is the mastermind of the Hoover creative genius.

Back in New York...
We shared a final breakfast in the shadow the Queen Elizabeth 2 and vowed to have a reunion one day soon.

Mel and I went off to gather up things left in our cabin and await announcement of our disembarkation number. In the mid-ship lobby we ran into Guest Relations Manager, Nickos Batistatos who helpfully escorted us off the ship the moment the ship cleared.  No waiting for us... VIPs!!!... or, maybe he just couldn't wait to get us off so things could get back to normal???

By the time we reached New York all of us were Captain's Club members and we were among the first to debark. The luggage gathering process was quite easy at that point AND everyone managed to get a Porter and taxi right away.

Cruising to Bermuda

  • Beautiful Bermuda -- Pink sand and sparkling water.  A cruise is the ideal Bermuda get-away.
  • Bermuda -- Probably the most popular misconception about Bermuda is that it’s a Caribbean island.  It isn’t.