This was my 8th cruise, 5th Christmas Cruise, 6th Cruise out of San Juan. I have cruised with Norwegian, RCCL, and Carnival before, but this was the 1st Celebrity Cruise. RCCL has been my favorite, but I had heard very good things from friends about Celebrity so we decided to give it a try. I traveled with my husband and 3 daughters ages 17, 15, and 12, and our friends who have 3 daughters ages 9, 5, and 1.
HOLIDAY: This was our 5th Christmas to cruise. We are Catholic and enjoyed Midnight Mass and the Priest on board. The ship had Christmas Caroling and Santa on board, and a traditional Christmas dinner. We were a little disappointed that the singers and dancers didn't do a Holiday show. We used wrapping paper to decorate our doors for Christmas and Hanukah, and strung lights around the inside of our rooms. The friends we travel with are Jewish and they enjoyed the Hanukah services.
SAN JUAN: People complain about San Juan and I just don't understand it. My family loves leaving from there. We always arrive 2 or 3 days early and stay at the Marriott to unwind and get relaxed before the cruise. We love the Marriott, they have a great pool and my daughters enjoy the beach. We enjoy Old San Juan and Condado. I like starting out somewhere tropical. We cruised out of New Orleans a few years ago and it was cold there, as well as the first and last days at sea. We enjoy knowing we will be warm the whole time. We have gone to the mall the last couple of years to finish our Christmas Shopping and had a good time. We always eat at the restaurant AJili Moli, it has great Puerto Rican food. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the ship around noon. No problems, very fast and easy. Went straight to our cabins.
CABINS: Our group had 4 balcony cabins 7180, 7176, 7174, and 7172. They were all the same except that 7180, 7176 had larger balconies. Typical cabins, small, nothing out the ordinary. Not a lot of closet space. It was enough for my husband and I but my daughters could not fit all of their clothes in the closet.
SPA: My friend and I ran straight to the spa after dropping off our carry-ons, husbands and kids in our cabins. There was already a huge line at 12:45. We stood in line for at least an hour, and by the time we got to the front of the line many of the prime (at sea, morning) appointments were taken. Several people cut in line with friends in front of us which was really annoying. We each booked a package of 3 massages, a facial and reflexology. The spa was ok. I was disappointed that there was not a relaxation area for between or before treatments. They did not give you a robe or slippers and if you wanted to use the steam room it is an extra $30 a day. The massages I had were good, the reflexology ok, and the facial not that great. (The esthetician had horrible breath.)
THE POOL: The deck was covered with chairs but of our 3 sea days we could only find chairs one day. People were up saving chairs at 5am. One lady paid Celebrity employees to save her chairs even earlier. Was anyone in the saved chairs? NO. Many chairs were empty but saved all day. We tried to get chairs at 8am the 1st day with no luck. The last day we got chairs at 6:30am and most were taken at that point. We made sure someone in our party was at our chairs at all times, because people were fighting over them and security hung around all of the time because of arguments over chairs.
THE ACTIVITIES: We are used to a more lively ship. The sail away party was fun, but we couldn't stay long because midnight mass was scheduled at 11:30 and we sailed at 11. The masquerade party in the edge of the earth disco was fun. There were not a lot of activities going on during the day. The casino was small and busy most of the time. I actually won about $400 which is unusual for me. KIDS
ACTIVITIES: The 5, 9 and 12 year olds travelling with us really enjoyed the kids club. We had to drag the 5 year old away from it she had so much fun. The 12 year old was a little more bored. They had one activity for the baby which was like a gymboree class. My friends took the baby to one and said it was ok. The teenagers activities were virtually nonexistent on the ship. They had a dance every night at midnight, in the room used by the younger kids. (My teens were very disappointed after cruising on RCCL Adventure last year, that had a real, large, flashing lights, teen disco, a Johnny Rockets, a huge arcade, a rock climbing wall, and a miniature golf course all back in the teen area.)
On the Constellation most of the teens hung out on the top deck and got drunk every night, or gambled in the casino which was not policed at all, because there was nothing for them to do.
THE PORTS: We prefer more ports, but one was taken out for Christmas.
DOMINICA: Very poor country. The people in the streets are scary looking. The country is full of drugs. My teens said that many of the kids they met on board bought drugs here. We rented a 28 pax van with driver for the 10 of us for $200 for the whole day. He took us to the rainforest and falls. It was beautiful, but having just spent a week in the rainforest in Costa Rica in Nov, I would prefer a beach. The beaches are not good. My husband and I got off at Champagne Beach to snorkel while the rest of our group saw more rainforest. We had to walk a ways on rocks, but the snorkeling was very worth it. It was some of the best snorkeling we have ever done.
ARUBA: Been here lots of times. Husbands rented a car and went to Baby Beach to snorkel, We took a cab to the Marriott and relaxed at the beach. Always a good time. Adults had dinner at Iguana Joe's while older kids babysat younger ones on ship.
CURACAO: 3rd time here. Love it! Went to Port Marie last year and loved it. Went to the Marriott this year and had a great day at the beach. All right snorkeling off of the beach. Rented a room at the Marriott for a 1/2 day for $75 so we could use their towels, facilities and have a place for the kids to shower and nap. Worked out great.
ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were pretty good with the singers and dancers. We had one good comedian, and a ventriloquist that we didn't really enjoy.
DISEMBARKATION: Very good. Stayed in our room until 9am and walked off ship. Porter picked up bags and we took a cab to spend New Year's eve at the Old San Juan Sheraton. (the Marriott was sold out).
NEW YEARS, SHERATON: It is all right for a one night not more. Clean, no beach, tiny rooftop pool, horrible service. Had dinner at a great restaurant called Pikayo, excellent food, but very expensive. Watched fireworks all around for miles from roof of Sheraton at new years. OVERALL: Nice ship, fun cruise, would recommend for older couples, not for teenagers. We hope to sail Celebrity again someday but until our kids are gone we will be sailing RCCL.