We are a family of 6 with four children ages 2, 17, 17, and 15. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Princess, but this is our first cruise on Celebrity.
We flew to Fort Lauderdale and took a taxi to Embassy Suites in Miami where we stayed the night before the cruise. If you value your safety at all, DON'T stay at this hotel. We were given a room that was ok in terms of aesthetics; however, we would have been fine with it for one night IF it had been safe. My daughter was electrically shocked by a faulty GFI outlet in the bathroom. Thank God there was no water on the floor when it happened as that could have been much worse. Thankfully, she is ok but had red streaks running up her hand and arm for an entire day. My husband went to the manager of the hotel to explain what happened, and the manager seemed to not care at all. He was very apathetic about the situation. My husband, and electrical engineer, began to explain how serious this issue could be, yet no reaction from the manager. Three maintenance people showed up to try to "fix" the outlet, but they had NO clue what they were doing. I had to take my 2 year old and push him around in a stroller inside of the hotel lobby for TWO hours while they were "figuring" it out. It was 10 PM and way past my toddler's bedtime when they finally decided to give us another room. The next morning we received a call saying they could not accommodate us at the scheduled time for our transportation to the cruise port. We spent 45 minutes arguing with them and finally were given the shuttle at the correct time. We asked if we would receive any compensation for what we had experienced, and they said no, they could not offer us anything. They need some serious training on safety and service.
On to the cruise... we arrived the port at 11:30, and we were on the ship by 12:30. The lines were not too crazy, but a bit quicker with a 2 year old would have been nice. Once on the ship we were so impressed with the phenomenal decor of the ship; it is truly a masterpiece. Every detail of the ship was well thought out and executed perfectly. We had viewed pics from other cruisers, but no picture really does it justice.
We then had lunch at the Ocean View Cafe. We sat outside to enjoy the beautiful view of Miami. The food was better than any buffet we have experienced. It is a buffet though, so not five star either.
We hit rough winds the first night and into the second day, so I was in bed and in the bathroom often that day. I do tend to fall prey to motion sickness, but this is the most I have ever felt a ship move. I don't know if that is due to the stabilizers not being as good as the other ships I have been on, or if the winds just happened to be worse on this cruise than on other cruises. My husband did not get sick, and my kids did not vomit but did feel sick. Our stateroom attendant, Romeo, advised me to go to guest relations desk and get meds. I am not one to take meds without knowing all about them; however, I was so sick that I just took one immediately. By the next morning, I was good as new; I call them miracle pills now. I can't take Dramamine or Bonine, so I will definitely get these before our next cruise.
We dined in Opus dining room every night. We did not see the need to visit the specialty restaurants. The food in the dining room was excellent. There were a few dishes that were a bit off throughout the week, but overall a five star food experience. Our waiter, Bernard, and our assistant waiter, Miodrig, were excellent. They were very patient with our two year old, and they were always very keen to our needs. Bernard even serenaded us a few nights. The service was top notch here.
Our stateroom decor was beautiful, and the bathroom was spacious (for a stateroom) and also tastefully done. The closets were fine for space, but it would have been nice to have a few more drawers in the room. Our attendant, Romeo, was great. He was always there to assist us in any way, and he kept the room very clean. He went out of his way several times to ensure our stay was great.
We attended most of the shows. They were all good. No, they were not Broadway quality, but we weren't on Broadway. I am glad that we attended them. The magician/comedian was excellent, and the costumes and music for the shows were tasteful. We were not able to play the game shows like Family Feud; however, we participated in the "Iron Chef" cook off. I was a judge, and it was quite fun.
The pools and chairs were crowded on sea days, but that is expected. I did not like how people reserved the chairs at 6 AM and then did not use them until noon. I don't mind reserving chairs, but use them. We were still able to find a chair most days and we did enjoy the pool one day. This is one area that Celebrity could have thought through better. The pools are very small, and only a few of them. The towel s were always available, and the service people were always around to take your dirty towels or dishes or whatever. We did notice that there were no trash bins around, which is a good thing... but.. when you have a leaking ice cream cone from a two year old, it can be challenging to find somewhere to put until someone takes it from you.
The one negative thing I would say is about the spa. I booked a mani and pedi for the first full day at sea, and when I arrived for my appointment, they said it had been canceled. I did not cancel it, so I am not sure what happened. They could not reschedule me until the last day at sea, which at that point was useless; I just asked for a refund which I did not get until after I visited guest relations and they spoke with the spa.
We visited three ports: San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and St. Kitts. We took an excursion tour in San Jan. Don't take it. The historic fort at the beginning of the tour was nice; however, the two hours after that are terrible. The guide was awful, and the cities were not impressive. I would not visit this port again. St. Maarten was beautiful. We have been here before, so we knew what to expect. We took a tour and submarine excursion, and it was great. In St. Kitts, we went to the beach. The tour there was great, and the beach was nice. I was impressed with the tourism growth on this island. I would definitely visit here again.
St. Maarten and St. Kitts were good shopping experiences for us. My husband bought me a beautiful tanzanite and diamond ring. I have wanted one for so long, and you can definitely get good prices there along with duty free, tax free. If you are looking at jewelry, don't pay the first price they give you. My ring was $5900 and we walked out with for $1272.00, so negotiate.
Disembarking was easy. We did the express walk off with our luggage as we had an early flight. We were off of the ship and through customs in 30 minutes or less.
Overall, Celebrity wins in service and in decor over the other cruises we have been on in the past. We would like to see a bit more in terms of programs for teens, and they should really open up the play room for two year olds and under more than a few hours a day. There is really nothing for these little ones to do on the ship. We did not mind staying with him at all in the play room, but it was only offered 9-11 am and 5-6 pm (right before dinner when we are getting ready). Other than that, we loved it and will cruise with Celebrity again.