My family of 6 cruises frequently to Caribbean and more recently European ports. After achieving Diamond status last year, we decided to try Celebrity again after 14 years of focusing on our (at the time) small children. We loved Royal Caribbean but were tiring of the same menu year after year; and we had enough bruises from the Flowrider for awhile :)
Embarkation in Fort Lauderdale was easy, though we were not directed to the Elite line like we should have been and I jumped on it myself. This saved us a lot of time. Being Diamond members on Royal, Celebrity gives us the Elite status which is nice.
After a delicious lunch in the Oceanview cafe we waited for a short while until the cabin announcement was made. We waited for the attendant to open up our balconies so we three could walk up and down (but beware, you can't lock your balcony door so your companions can come in and take your chocolate!). The connecting door is actually a foyer. The good thing is that all 4 of our cards open a common front door into a foyer, then 3 feet in are the two separate doors that are now unlocked and can be propped open.
Anyone who books connecting cabins with children on Celebrity will know that even if you plan on keeping one cabin for the adults/parents and one for the children, an adult must be on the booking with a child in each cabin. This caused severe issues, I believe, for my husband's on board account, which was never properly linked to our Credit Card. After responding to multiple letters left on my stateroom door, and attempts to correct this by bringing my Credit Card to Guest Services, and phoning the number to the Purser's office; this failure on Celebrity's part to complete this transaction was very intrusive on our vacation time.
The food was a welcome delicious change from the menu we had become accustomed to on the Royal Caribbean ships. Many of us appreciated the nightly steaks, filet mignon, chateaubriand, lobster, souffle, baked alaska, crepes, and other fine offerings not found on other lines lately. One night in the Tuscan Grill was an amazing treat of pasta and steaks enjoyed by all. The first sea day we booked the Champagne High Tea, a white glove service in the Murano dining room featuring dainty sandwiches and pastries, scones, and we were entertained by a trio of string players. The service was excellent and we were truly pampered.
My children (ages 12&14) tell me they miss the pool deck of the Allure and the Freedom class ships. I agree, the pool deck is smaller, the pool is reminiscent of the tiny Disney boat pools, and the hot tubs are small as well. The Allure with its large cantilevered hot tubs cannot be beat. My son also couldn't find a sports bar on this ship, I did not either, as March Madness was winding to a close this sailing. They both enjoyed the teen club, Club X, and the other 115 children in their age group (Junior Teens, 12-15).
The other issue is that when you have a soda package, you sometimes have to wait 5 or 10 minutes to get the actual soda, as the bars seem understaffed and busy making fancy umbrella drinks, of course. Couldn't there be an easier way to get a can of Coke from the fridge rather than wait for a bartender to make 2 daiquiris, 3 pina coladas, and chat up another customer? Seems to me a way to conserve soda.
Our Dining room staff, Nebo and Sally was amazing, our sommelier Aneesh was awesome. He always had a great selection by the glass or bottle for us, and was not put out by requests from the bar either. We miss the sommelier on Royal, they have given that role to the assistant waiter and it is not the same. Aneesh would get us anything from anywhere, not just the wine cellar.
The Elite club members have a nice cocktail hour 5-7 pm with passed hot canapes. Also appreciated by my mom was the espresso drinks available from 8-10 am at Michaels, and the priority tender tickets at Grand Cayman. We probably didn't need them anyway, but were good to have since we had a private boat tour booked for the day. Also 45 minutes of free internet per cabin.
As others have noted, the sun loungers are in short supply on sea days. The adult only solarium was air conditioned and usually had some chaises opening up during the day. Maybe its the kids hogging the sun loungers on the pool deck then?
I had 2 very nice massages in the Spa, and my husband and I used the gym 3 times to keep up our running for an upcoming half marathon. Even at 7 am, the gym is very hot along the windows with the treadmills. These are the first treadmills I have used with no personal fans built into the console. There are no staff that early to prop open doors or place a floor fan, either, so you are just very sweaty at 7 am. They had the usual selection of spinning and yoga classes, and a boot camp for additional fees.
One night we stayed up for the comedy show and the night club, which was very nice. The Molecular Martini bar served creative beverages at 12 dollars a pop, allegedly nutritious, too! If you want a snack at 2 am you must use room service. No food in the buffets.
Good things, food, wait staff service, elite features, connecting balconies, free in room movies, relaxing spa services
Not so good, wait at the bar for soda, on board account screw up with accompanying harassment by the finance staff ruining my relaxed state of mind on the last day.
And we did book another Celebrity cruise for next year whilst on board, taking advantage of a great On board booking credit deal of $400 per cabin on a 12 night Greece/Turkey cruise.
Port updates; Grand Cayman, booked Captain Nick rib boat tour of Stingray City, starfish beach, lunch at Rum Point, snorkel on reef near Rum Point, and real estate tour of fancy seaside homes. Awesome and so nice to have our own boat tour!
Cozumel, beach day at Naachi Cocum, super fun crowd there from the Carnival boat that entertained us, and kids drove jet skis and had a blast. Food was great as were drinks and swim up pool bar. Hot tub says adults only , but was visited by happy kids/teens too. Very crunchy beach with many shells that can pinch your feet, and some rumors of sand fleas but I didn't notice any.
Costa Maya, we booked Mini Boat Blast through Shore Excursions, was a bus ride away at a private beach club, very friendly, the swim snorkeling was too vigorous for my parents, but they could have just snorkeled off the boats, the swim didn't really add much to the fish sightings. The boats are fun to drive and the water is beautiful. All you could drink from the beach bar, limited to Dos Equis beer, margaritas etc. This area is very secluded and quiet.
Honduras, we booked a Viktor Bodden private tour and driver, he took us to the Bodden monkey zoo where we played with monkeys and other animals, then the West Bay beaches, which are a crowded hopping beach party all day long. The food here was good, fresh catch grilled, calamari, nachos, chicken wings, and local beer. Again, nice to have the private van for us so we could leave when ready. There was free internet, but we didn't bring our ipad. The beach has the warmest water of the trip and the softest sand, no sharp stones or shells to step on.