I wanted a top of the line experience and chose Celebrity over a Crystal cruise because I was told they were good with children. I would like to set the record straight on that issue. Yes, there were plenty of nice kids on board. If your children are 4-6 they seem to do well with them. I had a 12 year old and and 8 year old with me, both of whom were really excited about the activities that were on the program each day. Both actually went to the Fun Factory to attend and were rejected by the staff for various reasons on several occasions, to the point were they basically gave up by the third day. These are kids who have participated in programs at every hotel we have ever gone to that has one. My eight year old son was treated better by the adult guests on the ship when he wanted to participate in a basketball tournament.
The model response at the Fun Factory is "NO." When he asked to play Mancala when the 9 year olds were playing he was told no b/c he was 8. On the last night you could color a t-shirt...he was also told "no." This is the most unwelcoming attitude I have ever seen in any children's program anywhere...even though it sounds very good on paper. As far as the rest of the experience: We stayed in the Royal Suite. The finish was beautiful. lots of nice features, plasma TVs, computer (internet time is 75 cents/minute, which seemed very expensive esp. since the computer was very slow).We had a very nice butler, Carlton from India, who was extremely helpful esp. with unpacking and packing which we greatly appreciated.
The room was always very clean. The bed was comfortable for us, but I would probably go for two rooms instead of the suit next time, b/c the queen sleeper sofa was pretty uncomfortable for the kids. Food--too much everywhere and very ordinary quality in the main dining room---sort of like a Sizzler level with better service. (iceberg lettuce, bottle type dressing) Once we figured this out we went to Oceanliners twice...that cost an additional $120/night for the four of us. Excellent service and more gourmet-type food....had to push very, very hard to get a reservation, though and could only get in two nights even though we supposedly were supposed to have some seating preference after paying for the Royal Suite...it didn't seem to help much.
The shows were a pleasant surprise. The theater is beautiful..and comfortable. We attended 4/5 shows and they were a great bonus for the kids who were constantly told they couldn't participate in the kids program for various reasons. The material was kind of corny, but there was definitely some talent there and it was fun to go. There was quite a mixture of people on the ship...there were definitely some who made you wonder if Celebrity had given freebies or something.
The ports were all fine, except Grenada, where the beach was filled with hagglers non-stop. they also recently suffered a hurricane and the island is devastated, so the beach is basically the only thing to do..we visited St. George's University for a diversion and to escape the unpleasant beach scene. Mark, the shopping advisor gave some advice that I would disagree strongly with...nice guy, seems to have a lot of experience, but he said to purchase things in Barbados and Antigua b/c they need the business more and you would get better deals than St. Thomas...this was not the case for me and I checked on several items...also, the selection in St. Thomas is mind-boggling and is quite limited in the other places. If I had to do it again, I would not have spent one second shopping in the other ports...enjoy the water/beaches and save it all for St. Thomas where you can find anything you want. Excursions- Parasailing in St. Thomas was excellent and felt very safe. Snorkeling in Antigua was from a boat that felt like a bus. The ship was very well organized and they gave you great reading material about the ports every night.