I (44) travelled with my husband (52), daughter (21) sailing on 10/01/13. We travelled from the UK to Miami, having an overnight stay in Fort Lauderdale prior to picking up the ship the next day.
Flight was with BA from Heathrow and although late taking off, the Captain made up time and we arrived as planned, no complaint. The food was surprisingly good and choice of films was excellent.
Immigration at Miami airport was not cool! This took about 2 hours and after a long flight was really not what was needed. However, not Celebrity's fault.
Pre-cruise hotel was Gallery One in Fort Lauderdale and this was lovely (see Trip advisor review - Beekite).
Arriving at the ship was fine, check in was speedy, possibly due to late arrival as hotel transfer had 'forgotten' our hotel. Staff at check in were great, friendly and helpful.
Greeted with champagne on arrival at the ship and went to find our cabin (1122).
Cabin was fabulous, plenty of room, storage was more than adequate, lots of hangers etc. There was room under the bed for all 3 suitcases which sorted out that issue. The cabin was clean, balcony was plenty big enough and had footstools and loungers. Fresh fruit and chilled sparkling wine were waiting.The luggage arrived at the stateroom soon after sailing.
We had bought drinks packages, premium alcohol for DH, and non-alcohol for myself and DD.
Muster drill was fine, well organised and as speedy as possible. However, this did not stop some passengers complaining loudly about how it was wasting their time, kind of made you want to say that if it was needed you hoped you were not behind them in the queue for a lifeboat as they wouldn't know where to go!
Sailaway was enjoyed from Sunset bar and this was a good spot, not too crowded.
From reading worries/comments on the forums I can assure you we did not feel we received less of a service by having drinks packages. Staff were at all times, friendly, polite, chatty in all the bars we tried...and DH did try them all!
We opted for select dining as we often don't eat until later in the day, and this worked well for us. The most we had to wait was 5-10 minutes, but this was very, very rare. They give you a buzzer, or suggest you have a seat in wine cellars and then come and get you when your table is ready.
We tried 1 speciality restaurant, Silk Harvest, and can honestly say it was worth the cover charge. The food was exquisite, beautifully presented and there was an extensive choice.
DH is vegetarian and the staff were able to accommodate this with no fuss, giving him plenty of choice. The same is to be said for the main dining room and he was given a separate vegetarian menu each evening on request.
Food in the Oceanview Cafe was excellent although some breakfast items could have been warmer. However, there was always ample choice.
One of my favourite place was Cafe al Bacio. They have a great selection of teas, coffees and hot chocolate as well as some delightful pastries/sandwiches/desserts (depending on the time of day. Good tip - you can ask for some to take away and enjoy later :)
The shows were good and we all enjoyed the ones we saw. There were a few issues with seat saving (coats and no bodies!) but the staff dealt with that as needed.
The ports were excellent, we did partake in ship excursions as this was our first cruise we did not want any stress about being back to the ship on time.
St Thomas - Snorkel Turtle Cove - this was awesome. We got to swim with the turtles and explore the coral reef. St Thomas' shops are mostly jewellers but there was a lovely market in the square which we enjoyed a lot more.
St Kitts - Scenic Railway - This was great, very chilled and the staff are really funny, friendly and proud of their Island.
Barbados - we walked from the ship to the beach and just spent the day there.
Dominica - DD and DH spent the morning Whale and Dolphin watching. They were lucky and saw several sperm whales at very close quarters!
St Maarten - Sea Trek - This was great fun (see trip advisor review -Beekite) and we would definitely do that again. This port also had the nicest beach straight from the water taxi and we spent the remainder of the day just relaxing.
Overall this was an amazing adventure, sure you always get some people who are very demanding of staff, and this is not fun to observe but the majority of the guests on board were friendly and courteous.
The staff were, without fail, polite, chatty, interested and really not bothered if you have 'prepaid' your tips! We did give some additional gratuity to our room stewards and a couple of other staff who we really felt had gone over and above.
We are looking now at when we can cruise again on this amazing ship!