Celebrity Century Cruise Review by OneStrangeGuy: Sailing with Children.
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Sailing with Children.
I am a grandfather, age 65, who traveled with two young ladies, age 7 & 9. (Just Grandpa and two grandkids.) We flew from Denver into San Diego the day of our cruise, arriving at 11:30 Am. This actually gave us time to check our baggage at the pier, and see some of Downtown San Diego before boarding for a 5:Pm departure. Boarding was a breeze. I had expected that there might have been some questions about the children traveling with a grandparent with a different last name. I had all of my paperwork in order, including notarized travel authorizations from the girl's parents just in case. I had booked with a military discount and was also prepared with my DD214 and discharge, just in case. We simply presented our passports, and walked on board the ship.
We had a '9B' (Steerage class :-) ) inside cabin #9075. This was a (Rotated, forward/aft) cabin right next to the forward elevators. To accommodate the three of us the beds were split, and a cot was erected between the two More standard beds. This necessitated getting into bed from the bottom, as the width of the cabin was all bed. This presented no problem at all for us. The cot was folded up each morning leaving plenty of room during the day. The cot might not have made a really comfortable bed for an adult, but my granddaughter had no complaints at all. Our cabin was clean, quiet, comfortable, and plenty big enough for our needs. Our room stewardess was seldom seen unless she was needed, and did an amazing job. She even possessed the amazing ability to remove chewing gum from the carpet!
Having chosen select dining, the first evening we ate in the main dining room. After totally rejecting the 'children's menu' (They wouldn't even look at it), and demanding standard adult menu's, they won over the heart of our waiter. The two girls then immediately proceeded to befriend the dining room manager quickly establishing a first name relationship. On the days when we got up early enough, breakfast, and lunch were generally enjoyed in the buffet. Every one of the dining staff went out of their way to provide the girls with anything their hearts desired, and the girls loved it! I don't think there was a night that we left the dining room without being presented a specially wrapped plate of cookies. Home made Ice Cream, almost any time they wanted it was also a big hit! My girls like to wear dresses, and we had a different dress for dinner each night. We also had ball gowns for formal nights, which the girls really seemed to love.
The 'Kids club' is called "The Fun Factory". A young lady that possesses more energy than anyone I have ever met ran it, with three other helpers. She just never stopped, and never seemed to get tired! The kids absolutely loved the place. My nine year old was able (With my permission) to sign herself out, but never had a desire to do so. There were about 40 children on the ship. Some were infants, and some older teenagers. Around 18 children were enrolled in the Fun Factory. They ranged in age from 3 through 12, and were divided into two groups. The Cadets consisted of ages 3 through 8. The two very cute three year olds, by choice, participated less than the slightly older kids. Nevertheless, they seemed to be accepted, and fit into the group very nicely. The Ensigns consisted of the older kids. They were often seen around the ship in small groups as they participated in scavenger hunts and other activities. Sometimes the Cadets and Ensigns did their own things separately. At other times the two groups did things together, and the two groups of kids seemed to mesh seamlessly. Children over the age of 12 were not excluded, and occasionally joined the activities, but they generally seemed to prefer a more adult venue. Families were also occasionally encouraged to join the activities. Two of the children celebrated birthdays on our cruise. A quartet of singers were recruited from the entertainment staff to sing for the party in the Fun Factory.
Our cruise Critic group was a very active one, and the girls were welcomed at all of the activities. They did miss the Slot Pull, having more interest in the Fun Factory than the gamboling. We also enjoyed a Sail away party, Gift exchange, Cabin crawl, Scavenger hunt, Group lunch, Etc. We participated in the gift exchange as a family. Nevertheless the girls cleaned up, receiving special gifts from many of our group.
One can't help but notice that most cruise ship crewmembers ate not from the US. I had noticed that on Holland America the crewmembers all 'spoke' English, but in fact didn't really 'understand' it very well. This made conversations, or sometimes even simple requests to food service staff difficult. This is not the case on the Celebrity Century, and I suspect on the Celebrity fleet. It seemed as though every crewmember that I met spoke English almost as though it were their native language.
I spoke briefly to the cruise director. When I commented of the staff's acceptance and even fascination of the girls he commented that many of the staff had children of their own at home. (Several did speak of that.) And even if they didn't, seeing the kids was still a special treat and helped to invigorate them. There did seem to be a lot of Senior Citizens on board. The girls in their fancy dresses seemed to draw special attention from the staff even relative to the other kids. The dining room manager told of his son at home. I don't know how long he had been away, but said he wouldn't get home again until February.
Overall, we had a great cruise. The Century may be an 'Older' ship, but it is in great condition. The 'Mid sized' ships seem to have a special appeal to me. The food was absolutely outstanding, there was definitely no shortage of it, and there was a fine selection. There were more activities than anyone could attend. Even a prude like me could find something interesting to do. In my opinion the entertainment rated very good. Dancing and acrobatics on a moving ship can't be easy, but they made it look like it was. I've seen better shows, but not on a cruise ship. We had a good selection of four Hawaiian ports; two were 'tendered' ports. I don't believe that the 'tendering' process is ever an enjoyable one, but Celebrity made it go rather smoothly. It still seemed to take forever to get ashore! Less
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