Celebrity Cruise Converts
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
HOTEL We booked our pre-cruise hotel through stay123. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Plantation, FL which provided a restful nights sleep in a very spacious room, breakfast the next morning, transportation to and from the cruise port, plus we could leave our car in their well-lit parking lot for the whole 14 days for free.
Celebrity embarkation was speedy, as the lines were short and personnel were very efficient. We arrived at the pier at 11 AM and they sat us in consecutive rows as we arrived, we were in row 3. We boarded quickly & were having lunch by 12 noon. Rooms were ready at 1 PM and our bags arrived by 4 PM.
Our Deck 3 interior room was the most spacious we have ever had. We usually get an interior, as we can turn out the lights in the afternoon and take a power nap! We had been concerned about noise, as we were only 5 cabins from the grand foyer and right under the casino. Absolutely no problem with noise. It was actually More
very convenient, as it was a 3 minute walk to the Moonlight Sonata. After dinner, back to the cabin to freshen up, then just walk down the hallway towards the bow, up one flight of stairs and we were at the Eclipse Theater. Plenty of storage - loved the cupboards above the bed.
Our assigned seating in the Moonlight Sonata dining room was for 6 PM. Food was fantastic and since we had a table of 12 - we made numerous new friends. Our very efficient waiters were Ersin and Oswaldo. After we had noted that we like escargot to Ersin, it was offered the next evening. So, if you don't see what you want on the menu -- just ask!
We loved the way the Oceanview Cafe buffet was set up with multiple stations, it never seemed crowded. Our favorite place to sit in the Oceanview Cafe, was outside. One morning, we were fortunate to see a double rainbow as we ate breakfast. Loved the omelet station, the fresh fruit, the pizza, the sushi and of course the ice cream station with toppings!
We ate lunch several days at the Aquaspa Cafe in the Solarium.
Everyone who has been at the pool, will agree that the smell of hamburgers from Mast Grill will drive you nuts! But their seasoned French fries were the best! I usually had the fries with a hot dog - no bun - double sauerkraut.
Our favorite Celebrity Show was comedian Buzz Sutherland. We were hoping he would do more shows during the two weeks, but he left the ship in St.Thomas. Celebrity should hire him for a longer contract. We really enjoyed the magic of Jamie Allan's show "iMagician". How did he do that? Theater Production Cast was typical high energy singing and dancing. Enjoyed the Perry Grant show in the Celebrity Theater, but didn't appreciate his lounge show -- too repetitious with the "what's in your house" routine.
We caught three of the Corning Museum of Glass Hot Glass Shows up on deck 15 near the Lawn Club. George, Ryan and Everett made some stunning pieces of art and also graciously answered numerous questions from the audience. Loved the grass at the Lawn Club, where we participated in several bocce tournaments.
Music -- we loved the "a cappella quartet" Top Shelf - although the Ensemble Lounge was way too small of a venue for the number of people who wanted to watch and listen. Found the "Fully Functioning" band to be a bit off-key.
On Thursday February 7th the outdoor pool had a very exciting guest vs. officer volleyball tournament.
POSITIVES & ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
+++++ We witnessed several times, pool attendants removing towels and personal items from lounge chairs after a half an hour. It was noted in the "Celebrity Today" paper Chair hogs be warned!
+ Cruise personnel very pro-active with spray sanitizers in dining venues.
+ Automatic doors on public bathrooms
+ Celebrity has a very good limited policy on smoking
+ OBC could be used towards gratuities
- Cabins need more hooks for: lanyards, wet bathing suits, hats, wet towels, back packs, shawls, etc
- Music was way too loud in many areas. Especially the piped-in music at the adult Solarium pool (people were trying to read or snooze)
- Pool deck needs a few trash cans with a flat top where dishes and cups/glasses could be left
- Meals were great, but the main entree should be offered in a regular size and a petite size. So we can order dessert!
We arranged all of our cruise port tours independently, based on reviews from various sources, including Cruise Critic. Please check out our detailed port adventures.
We chose to do the "Express Departure". No tag color, no putting luggage in hall the night before. We just had to be physically able to take our own luggage off the ship. We were told to meet at the Passport Bar on our deck by 7:45 AM. At 7:30 AM we put our luggage in an organized, snaking line around the bar. The ship was cleared at 7:45 and we had to go down one flight of stairs to exit. We breezed through customs and were one of the first 50 people off the ship. Less
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Cabin review: 123156
Cabin 3156 Catagory 12 Interior
Our Deck 3 interior room was the most spacious we have ever had. We usually get an interior, as we can turn out the lights in the afternoon and take a power nap! We had been concerned about noise, as we were only 5 cabins from the grand foyer and right under the casino. Absolutely no problem with noise. It was actually very convenient, as it was a 3 minute walk to the Moonlight Sonata. After dinner, back to the cabin to freshen up, then just walk down the hallway towards the bow, up one flight of stairs and we were at the Eclipse Theater. Plenty of storage - loved the cupboards above the bed.
Port and Shore Excursions
We were in Antigua on Thursday January 31, 2013. We booked this tour independently based on positive reviews for $58 each. We were not disappointed! We had lovely weather for our day with Antigua Paddles Eco Adventure Tour. We were punctually met at the appointed meeting place & drove 11 of us to Conrad & Jennie's beautiful house. Bus was not air-conditioned, but not a problem, as it was only a 1/2 hour drive each way.
Tour started on a 24 foot flat-bottomed Carolina skiff with 115 horse powered Yamaha motor to the waiting 13 foot kayaks. We paddled through mangroves for about 50 minutes, stopped while our guide found a sea cucumber and a sea urchin in the shallow waters, which he then put back into the water. As we approached the dock to return the kayaks, we all lined up and had a short race back.
Saw nesting Pelicans on an island on the way to Bird Island. Climbed to the top of Bird Island (about 5-8 minute walk that was steep and rocky at times) Terrific view from this vantage point and well worth the climb. Then we went snorkeling for 30-40 minutes.
When we returned, Conrad greeted us with chilled aromatherapy face towels. We were able to change out of our wet bathing suits and had time for refreshing Rum or fruit punch and Jennie's homemade banana bread, while we strolled through their beautiful gardens. They had a parrot (Sweet Pea) that would sit on your shoulder and loved having her photo taken. We arrived back at the cruise pier by 1:15 PM with enough time to shop a bit.
We had been to Aruba before and just got off & did a bit of jewelry shopping and had an iced cold beer at an opened-air bar while watching tourists at the stalls across the street.
In Barbados we independently booked the Elegance Catamaran luncheon tour for Saturday 2/2/13.
We were warmly greeted by Sarah, Cally and Ashley. We were offered warm banana bread with coffee at the outdoor table, in case we hadn't had time for breakfast. Then off to the snorkeling sites. First we snorkeled with sea turtles. What an experience! Then they repositioned over several shipwrecks - where myriads of fish were hanging out.
Cally was our captain & he was always smiling (who wouldn't like to have his job!) The cost, $100 per adult, included transportation to & from the catamaran, use of snorkel gear for the sea turtle & shipwreck sites, Bajan lunch consisting of chicken, flying fish, "cheesy" macaroni pie, rice casserole, a black bean salad and a tossed greens salad. If you had room, Sarah served a homemade moist carrot cake for dessert. Drinks (beer, wine, Rum punch, soda, water and a full bar setup for mixed drinks) served often by Mr. Ashley.
The best part of this catamaran tour is that they limit it to only 14 passengers. Plenty of room either in the shade or in the sun, we personally liked the front trampoline area with the warm sun on our faces while having a cold beer! They also had very convenient steps in the back on both sides where you could get into and out of the water easily.
We decided to just walk into town and see the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. Walked through the Rif Fort entrance and then past several tourist stalls. The bridge was longer than I thought it would be. It did not open while we were there, but when we returned to the ship we did see it open while we were in the Sky Observation Lounge. Very amazing!
While doing my research, I did read that if the Queen Emma Bridge opens and you need to get to the other side quickly, there is a free ferry next to the bridge.
We walked back to the cruise port and bought 3 Goudas -- plain, herb and pepper. We served them last night to commpany, they were delicious!
We contacted Clement Baptiste through his website & we booked his 4 hour Grenada North East tour for Sunday February 3, 2013 that went to Grand Etang Rainforest and Annandale Waterfall for $25 per person.
Clement met us and 6 other passenger in his new air-conditioned van. Clement was a terrific guide, very knowledgeable and well spoken. When it states that this is a historical tour that is exactly what you get! Clement gives you his personal account of Grenada's political history and you can tell he loves his country.
Clement was one of the safest drivers we have ever had on a tour, which was appreciated as the road up to the Grand Etang rainforest was very curvy with one tricky hairpin turn. We actually ascended to over 1900 feet above sea level. We stopped at a local spice stand to purchase nutmeg and also saw Mona monkeys. On the way down we stopped at Annandale Waterfalls (open Mon-Fri 8-5 and weekend 9-5), which had a $2.00 per person entrance fee to actually see the falls. There was a man at the entrance that was charging $2.00 to take your picture with a monkey that was on a leash.
On the way back to the cruise port, Clement stopped at an overlook - so we could take photos of our ship in the port from a high vantage point, we also got to see Grand Anse beach when several passengers asked to dropped off.
I had heard that the roads in St. Lucia are a little rough and most tours to Jalousie beach were by bumpy 2 hour bus rides. So instead, we booked the St. Lucia Jalousie Beach Break Tour with Spencer Ambrose for Friday February 1, 2013 based on his high ratings. So glad we did! Spencer's tour takes you by speedboat equipped with two 300 horse powered outboard motors. We meet Spencer at 9:45 and by 10:30 we were at Jalousie beach with a beer in hand!
Did I mention how impressive the Pitons are? Well, Spencer's tour is the best way to see them. Spencer even made a special stop on the way back so we could get the perfect photo-op of the Pitons from the water. Not to mention that you get to spend a lot more time on the beach.
The cost of $85 (cash) per adult, $60 per child (5-12) includes: speedboat ride to & from beach, reserved beach chairs within feet of the Piton, a cooler with a choice of rum punch, water, diet/regular coke and local Piton beer and an authentic buffet style Creole lunch served on the beach. Lunch was fresh made by local women: jerk chicken, rice, pasta salad, potato salad, vegetable salad and plantains.
We were on the beach until 3:30. Then on the ride back to the cruise port we did a one hour tour of the coastline. We saw the bat cave, that is a cleft in the rocks that is 4 stories high, the natural "fish on the rocks" pictograph, went into Marigot Bay and saw Mick Jagger, George Foreman and Sofia Loren's homes, plus the UFO house! Also on the coastline we saw Howard Stern's house and Mick Jagger's private dock. Next we saw where "Pirates of the Caribbean" was filmed. It is called the Lady's Slipper and there were 5 local boys who jumped off and then swam to our boat for $. We were back in time to visit the shops at the port for an hour.
Spencer and his marvelous crew (Terry, Wayne and the "lunch ladies") are truly exceptional people and we are so glad we booked with him and will do so again when we return to St. Lucia.
St. Maarten/St. Martin we booked the "Tiki Beach Island Tour" tour through Island Marketing Ltd. for Wednesday January 30th, 2013. Tour was $69 per person for a 6 1/2 hour tour that included: an air-conditioned van, a stop at Simpson Bay to see the mega yachts, a half hour shopping stop at a colorful street market in Margot, a stop at Maho beach to see planes take off, ferry ride to & from Isle Pinel. Reserved lounge chairs, umbrella, snorkel gear and lunch with reserved tables were included at Yellow Beach.
Our tour started exactly at 9 AM with only 4 passengers, so it was almost a private tour! Makesia was our driver and she showed us the whole Island. St Maarten has very few traffic lights, but instead uses traffic circles. Shopping at the Margot street market was interesting, lots of local crafts and clothing.
By 11:30 we were on the ferry to Isle Pinel, Our lunch was a large portion of ribs with French fries. The other two people in our van ordered a lobster lunch which they got to hand pick from a lobster trap in the water on the beach.
Just a short walk on a sandy path and we were at a protected marine park Nature Reserve to snorkel. After a total of 3 1/2 glorious hours on the beach we boarded the ferry back to our van and we were returned to the cruise pier by 3:30 PM.
Had been here several times before and we decided to stay on board. Also there were 6 or 7 cruise ships in port that day (22,000 tourists)and the Celebrity Eclipse had to tender into port. I did hear that passengers were tendered directly into the shoppping district.