My husband and I decided to take our 5 children on a spring break cruise. We were initially hoping to book a Royal Caribbean ship, but our options were limited because we decided to book at the last minute...typical for us...procrastinators! We usually sail during early June but decided to try something different this year. We had many reservations about taking our children on a Celebrity cruise mainly because it does not cater to children. But, in the end we decided to do it anyways because we thought that with 4 ports we would be too exhausted to need the ships amenities and we were also hoping that with a smaller kid population that they would actually get more personalized attention at the kids club.
Well, it rained almost the entire cruise so we had to turn to the ship for entertainment and the kids club wasn't a good fit for us.
Embarkation. Easy. No problems. On the ship before noon.
Disembarkation. A nightmare. They claim that customs is now slow because of the sequestration. Our time to depart the ship was 8:30. It took over an hour standing in line. Make sure you have some entertainment and comfortable shoes. We were in the first group off the ship. I feel sorry for the later groups.
The ship. Attractive. Looks new. Pool is ok for an adults only ship, but with kids you are going to miss the slides and toys. My kids still enjoyed it but my little one came to me on the last day saying that it was way too full and that people were touching him. Yes, the pool was too full of people. We enjoyed looking at the art. Towel games wasn't too bad. Last day (only day with sun) I good good seats at 8:30 am. It did fill up within the next hour, but I thought I was too late. Go figure.
Staterooms. We booked 3 concierge class state rooms 9364, 9366, and 9370. They were non connecting, but the balcony partitions were opened so we had easy access to all 3 rooms and they certainly felt connected. The rooms were clean. Linens nice. Loved the robes. Fruit was 3 pieces daily.. usually oranges and apples. Loved the welcome bottle of champagne. Toiletries were ok. Showers were nice and hot! Water pressure excellent. We had to ask for extra soap. TV entertainment was limited. Royal Caribbean and Disney have much better TV entertainment for the kids. Loved being able to see cruise photos on TV before going downstairs to look for them.
Smoking. This is not supposed to happen but there was a daily smoker on the balcony. We couldn't see them because they wouldn't come to the rail, but we could smell the smoke. My stateroom attendant could smell it too. We called guest services and were told that the there wasn't anything we could do and that people break the rules all of the time. They claimed they would send someone to check it out. Nothing happened. Typical Celebrity. They are good at saying "Sorry, there is nothing we can do.". I had this problem on the Allure last year and we were told that smoking on the balcony is permitted so we had to let it go. But, Celebrity has a non smoking policy and doesn't care to enforce it. Not cool.
Dining room. Food is not fabulous. On the Millennium my husband and I did speciality dining almost every night which was worth every dime. With 5 kids the age limits on the restaurants and the costs for 7 are prohibitive. We had couple of good dishes, but otherwise I was surprised at how unimpressive the dishes were. The salmon was undercooked and the lobster on lobster night was rubbery and fishy. But, the entire wait staff was incredible. If you have young kids you must request Baron. My kids learned his name the first night and kept asking to go back and see him. It's clear that he enjoys making kids smile. It was a pleasure watching them look forward to interacting with him. His assistant waiter Floriano was also a hit with the kids. The women in charge of beverages (wine and other drinks) were super sweet as well. Baron knows neat tricks that the kids love (and the adults too!). Super cute. That crew cancelled out the assembly line underwhelming food.
Bars. Went to the Molecular Bar a few nights. The bartenders were moody. One actually got agitated when we asked for a drink. She told us she needed a break then proceeded to walk off for a few minutes and then came back. I guess she was having a bad day but I thought it was pretty unprofessional. The bar in Oceanview cafe had some kind of orange drink mix that they tried to pass off as freshly squeezed orange juice. That was kind of annoying when you have the premium drink package. I also felt like I had to give extra tip to get service with a smile. I got tired of everyone looking so overworked so I made sure I flashed some green to get them to warm up. Not too cool to feel that way. I wonder how they divvy up those so called tips on the drink packages??
Entertainment. Heard a few lounge singers. I've heard better. We didn't feel that the shows were going to keep the children interested so we didn't go. The Allure last year had fantastic shows. With all of the rain we missed the kid friendly shows so bad! No movie theater or good movies. This is the first cruise with the kids that we didn't see a new currently in theaters movie with the kids. We missed that. Tried the casino 3 nights. It didn't have energy. I didn't hear people acting like they were winning and didn't hear any bells that made me think money was being won. I guess it's a good thing because I typically get the gambling itch really bad. I didn't catch it here. I didn't spend a quarter of my gambling budget. Guess I will spend it at the mall!
Kids club. My 10 year old daughter loved it. I was a little uncomfortable with them allowing 9-11 year old girls run around unsupervised on the ship. My daughter said they were going up to drunk people asking them questions as part of scavenger hunt time. When I told her I thought that that seemed inappropriate her answer was that they were told that they are not allowed to go into any one's staterooms! OK... I let her do it so she wouldn't feel left out but certainly I can see some potential issues with that. My 8 year olds were grouped with 6 year olds and at some times 3-5 year olds. Playing pirate and running around saying Arrrgh! is not going to excite the typical 8 almost 9 year old. I went to drop them off once and they were watching a movie with no option to blow off steam in a separate area. Not cool! They had fun at times, but didn't feel stimulated. Celebrity needs to reassess what they think kids are doing now. My kids wanted to play dodge ball and go on scavenger hunts. They wanted to play the Wii with the 9-11 year olds. So, if you are hoping that somehow the kids club could be better than a Royal Caribbean or Disney the answer is no. My 13 year old felt intimated by the huge 16-17 year olds that were in his club. Totally understandable. He didn't go back. 13 is a hard age to crack so I'm going to blame that on him.
Ports. Not going to go to much into detail. Cozumel- went to Nachi cocum. It rained, but I will go there again in the future. Not a cruise excursion. I wrote a little something about it on Trip Advisor. Grand Cayman- stayed on the ship, weather was horrible. Jamacia- hung out at the port a little, regretted not doing an excursion, weather improved towards the end of the day; we've done Dunn's in the past (it's a must do); Labadee- we were fortunate enough to rent a cabana (we were on the wait list). We loved cabana 10. Awesome. Learn about the different beaches on Labadee before you set up shop. Some are less rocky and wavy than others. Learn about how pushy they can get on Labadee when it comes to tipping. If you are not prepared you may come away feeling like you got taken advantage of.
Bottom Line- Celebrity cruise line does not cater to kids. But, they are welcome on the ship. If you must cruise celebrity have back up plans for activities in case of rain. There are no slides, pool toys, movie theaters, cool shows that kids like, or even a good selection of channels and movies on the television. Bring some board games and other forms of entertainment. If you have a 8 year old boy who is the rough and tumble type, the kids club will likely be a bad fit. Ask early if they can hang with the 9-11 year olds. They might accommodate you. We didn't ask early enough (that's what I was told when we asked too late).
We had a nice time because we tried to focus on being together as a family and getting to know each other better. But, I will not be taking my children on another Celebrity cruise.
Good luck with your decision!