Having never been on a cruise before I was very unsure what to expect. We booked about 7 months in advance... Myself (30) and my partner (47) travelled with his parents (whom had both been on cruises before).
Having used to work in the travel industry I am keen to know everything i need to before travelling so naturally I read every review possible and joined forums to ask questions which were very useful.
Questions before I travelled I wanted to know;
Do I have to pay my on board spending with a credit card - the answer is although you do have to give a credit card number upon check in onto the ship you can pay your bill at the end of the cruise with debit card, card or travellers cheque.
Are drinks packages value for money and is it worth getting one? The answer for us was no we didn't get one and nor was it worth it for us. The reason for this is we are not all day and night drinkers however did enjoy drinks in the day and in the evening. I would say on average we purchased (between 2 if us) 2 bottles of water, 2 coffees from the coffee bar, 4 cocktails, 4 vodka and oranges and 4 Guinness (or beer) and afew cans of red bull and coke a day. Some days we had more but generally not any less. We also bought a bottle of champagne in NYE ($70) and a lot of other bits I between such as gifts etc ... Our bill by the end if the holiday came to approximately $1300 - this included the 15% charge that is charged all drinks you purchase. This works out about Â£800.00 for 2 weeks. We could have saved on this by using the free drinks but we chose to buy nicer coffees etc. This was also using the mini bar on a daily basis.
Are there any free drinks available on board and how often? In the dining room (ocean view cafe) and at the pool bar 24 hours a day there is coffee, various types of tea, hot water with honey etc as well as an ice machine with water, fruit juices and lemonade. With this in mind you don't have to purchase soft drinks at all.
Boarding was a fairly easy process (it seemed quite long for us as we started travelling the previous day from the UK having flown Manchester to Heathrow, then Heathrow to Miami then had an overnight stay in fort lauderdale (Marriott - very nice). The queue to board the ship looked long but the queue went down quickly. Once onboard we had a wonder round then we all had to go to the safety demonstration - this wasn't a problem either.. Once this was over it was time to relax for the next 2 weeks and the staff are so brilliant they let you do just that.. (To the point where when we finished drinks and returned our glasses to the bar they were almost offended) and one waiter said to us "this is your holiday and that is my job" which was very kind of him.
Our 1st port of call was Laberdee. I was dubious about this place due to the trouble with Haiti but it was lovely. Not alot there apart from a large beach with sun loungers etc, 1 small gift type shop, some jet ski's and a zip rope excursion from my mountain over the sea onto the beach which was very fun to watch. All kinds of ages were doing this and had it not been our 1st day of relaxing would have been tempted to have a go myself.
That was NYE..... It was a fantastic place to enjoy something different. Everyone dressed up in tuxedos and nice dresses is just my scene. Men were given party hats and women were given tiaras to wear and there was a lovely menu in the moonlight sonata. We spent later in the evening in the ocean sunset bar at the back in the ship with a guitarist playing who was very good. Just before midnight we headed towards the pool area which was very busy so we went to the martini bar and got a seat and a bottle of champagne followed my many various cocktails and a trip to the casino and night club.
We didn't do any organised trips with celebrity as my parents in law had already been to most of the places we got taxis to places of interest as and when we wanted to. Although the trips on offer we're an excellent selection I think they may have been slightly overpriced. As soon as you doc in all places there are plenty of taxis and on shore companies offering the same excursions and you can barter with them so if you feel comfortable doing this at is also an option.
Although all places we docked were lovely, my favourite places... Aruba, St Marten and Curacao. All had quite a lot of things going on. Aruba has a fantastic range of boutique shops such as Gucci, Kenneth Cole, Prada, Diesel, Louis Vuitton , etc..... Curacao had lovely buildings, nice shops and an interesting bridge. St Marten had a nice beach we used with waterspouts, more good shop and generally nice. In Antigua we just got a taxi who took us for a tour then took us to a nice beach for a couple of hours. In Bonnaire we got another taxi to a beech - it was called link beach. Take note there are no sunbeds on this beach. It is known for windsurfing and the day we went it was very windy but very hot therefore all burnt so we warned you think it's cool but is definitely not.
Food - is absolutely fantastic. Could not fault a thing. We breakfast either in moonlight sonata (saves you eating so much and is nice to be served) and in coda view cafe - excellent choice (so much temptation) and both very good. We didn't always have lunch but if we did was in ocean view cafe - again lovely and so much choice and every evening we ate in moonlight sonata. Our waiters were Balkan and Norman - both excellent, so helpful and want to please. I would guess we were easily pleased as we never asked for anything other than the norm but got the impression that others did by looking around. We also enjoyed ice cream in the parlour on 5th floor next to the coffee shop. You do have to pay for it in here but is worth it. Although the free ice cream available in ocean view cafe is very nice.
The rooms - we had a deluxe ocean view with a balcony (6162) which said obstructed view (it didn't) it was just the lifeboats below which don't obstruct anything. Cabin was lovely, large double bed. Room under the bed for 2 suitcases and plenty of drawers, cupboard and wardrobe space with hangers etc. We had a balcony with 2 chairs and a
Cakes / cookies are free in the coffee shop (even though you pay for coffee, tea etc here). Thankfully we only found this out afew days before the end of the trip.
We only watched 1 show in the theatre, this was because the one we watched was like a circus type show. Although it was good, it wasn't our scene. My mother and father in law did watch a couple of other shows but said they were not as good as those they saw on the p&o cruise they went on. I heard the comedian was very much aimed at American guests ( which is understandable).
However a band I really liked we're twist of 8. I never heard the same song twice in 2 weeks and they were brilliant. Heard them as normal and acoustic - both excellent. We spent a lot of time in passport bar where they played mostly.
A word of advise on tipping.... We paid our tips upfront for waiters and cabin staff when we booked our cruise. I would not do this in the future. Although they are aware you have per-paid. We gave them all tips again on New Years Eve and again at end of the cruise as they were so good. We also tipped the bar staff who in bars we used alot at the end of the cruise as well as additional tips we signed on our account when signing for drinks.
To sum up an excellent cruise and could not fault a thing..... Please feel free to ask any questions.......