My husband and I just got back from Back to Back cruises of the Southern Caribbean departing San Juan, PR. Jan 16 and finishing up Feb. 2. The only reason that I booked this Cruise line was because Celebrity said that there was no smoking in the Staterooms NOR on the Balconies. and state that a $250. fine will be levied to those who do. Our previous trip to Mexico had lots of smoking on its balconies so we thought that we may have found the perfect cruise line. Wrong. On Jan 26th, smokers checked in to the left of our cabin, above us, and 2 doors to the right of us. Our attendant was called in and she called her supervisor who came down and went into those rooms and set them straight. Smokers smoke so we knew that we were in for a week of smoke. The first week had smoke, but not like the second. Looks like we haven't found the perfect line yet. We had no smoking on the Paul Gauguin in Tahiti nor the Flamingo in Galapagos. I get asthma and we live in California/Hawaii. We don't want to be around smokers anymore. Life is short.
Lunch in the Oceanview on Embarkation day: flawless
Room checkin, baggage: flawless
Room Attendant: Muriel (a blessing)
Port days: on and off shuffle at the pier, flawless
11th floor walking/running track: Husband ran 6 mi. a day up there and I walked a lot (6am.) great place to see the sun come up and the ship come into a new port.
Spa massage: Pamela (superb). Inside therapy pools and sauna- superb.
Healthy eating area-good food both the breakfast and the lunch.
Oceanview Cafe: Breakfast,lunch,dinner, afternoon foods, et al were B rated. Not enough servers. Not enough open sections at one time.
Laundry service: great, remember we were here for 2 full weeks.
Large shower but mold in shower, cracked tile on floor. Soaps and body products- all excellent. Bed- hard. Pillows-thin and hard. Attendant gave us daily water pitcher service and 4 towels and 3 pillows each. Hairdryer-need to hold down button throughout on time. It bothered me (and I don't have arthritis in my hands). The surfacing from the veranda floor is coming off and every time one walks out there we tramped in all the grit onto our rug. This went on for the 14 days. Television-flatscreen and good options. Lighting-good. Sheets/bedding-good. Room Service: had a standing carafe/coffee for 4:30am. daily and he came on time (tipped him for this early extra). Try not to ask me why I get up so early. Menu- limited, but what came in was good.
If we use this line again we will upgrade to a more costly room. If one just evaluated by the room this is a 2 star room, but one needs to look at the whole experience.
Transfer to airport: This could have been less hurried and better organized. Cost for 2 people was 34.00. I think that we could have taken a cab for about the same price and not have had that "herded" feeling.
We were using this ship as a taxi service to get us to all these islands and we did see many! We didn't do ANY shows, venues, dinners, extra anywhere. We rationed out our energy for lots of long island tours and we are glad that we kept to this plan.
St. Croix- We rented a car from Budget at the pier. set it up way beforehand. smooth. Learned to drive on the left. Great place to try. 2 basic roads. Went to Sandy Point Marine Turtle Preserve, and Christiansted then got lost trying to get to Cane Bay. Ended up at Butler Bay instead and had a great time.
St. Kitts-Took the Thenford Grey Island Tour. Excellent. Look no more.
Dominica- Took NEItours.com "Jewel Tour". The was a challenge for us both, but we survived! It rained, we were stuck in the back of the van the whole way,(nobody offered to rotate seats each time we returned to van) a man was car sick so we had to keep stopping, the condition of the roads on this island are just above pot hole level, and there was not great direction from our "guide?", but because we are independent minded, we did ok. Must be flexible on this island. It is really primitive in many places and beautiful. It is a true rainforest.
Grenada- Chris Buckmire (grenadaexplorer.com) tour. Awesome. Only 4 of us for a 4 hr. highly delightful tour of his much loved island. Look no more.
St. Thomas-took the viecotours.com to St. John and did the eco hike to Honeymoon beach. Had a great time. This is a great organized outfit.
San Juan- took the cruise ship tour to El Yunque. Loved El Yunque, but should NOT have taken this tour. Good thing the husband is flexible. Big bus. All the rest of the people were dropped at the airport and we were returned to the ship. This took up at least an extra 1hr of our time. Live and learn. We should have taken a tour from any body else. We did not have to change rooms on the ship nor pack up our things.
Barbados- Rented a taxi at the pier and he dropped us off at Bottom Bay Beach (remote secluded beach, no tour goes here) rated in the top 50 beaches of the world. Then ,get this, we walked to Crane Beach. Yes, it was 4 mi. We had water with us. The beach is beautiful and there is a beautiful resort. Took a taxi from the resort back to the ship. We got to see the entire Southeast area of Barbados. Beautiful.
St. Lucia- Took the Spencer Ambrose Land and Sea Adventure. This really was great. Too much to say here, but look it up. It's really a great trip.
Antigua- Took AdventureAntigua.com Eli's Eco Tour. This is the only way to get to Hell's Gate. Did it all.
St. Maarten- Walked the streets of Philipsburg. Ate chocolate at the Belgium Choc. Store. Wandered around. Went back to the ship and had a massage.
St. Thomas- had scheduled a tour through the ship to St. John to snorkel Trunk Bay, but canceled it. I had pulled a thigh muscle on the boat in St. Lucia and my leg really was hurting, so we went back to the ship and rented movies and I had another massage. Great end of our trip.
As you can see we are adventurer types who wanted to see land and people and learn about these islands. And we did. Would I take this cruise again? Yes, but it would be in a much bigger room. This space got a real "cramped" feel after 14 days.