Well, I wrote a nice write up about this cruise earlier, and when I hit submit it had an error, so this will be a condensed version!
I was a first time cruiser on this ship, and had no preconceived notions of how cruising "should" be. That being said, hubby and I had an absolutely fabulous vacation, and don't understand why some people are complaining. Boarding was a breeze, hardly any lines to be found and a "champagne" welcome as you step on board was a great precursor. Our meals were for the most part terrific, I wasn't keen on the pasta sauce at the buffet and I had one not so great sirloin steak there as well, but that's really the only negative things I can think of. The main dining room had delicious food in small-ish portions, but still enough to fill you up. If it's not, then just order something else!
The cleanliness aboard was apparent, and there are hand sanitizer dispensers all over the place, so that was nice to see. After boarding and heading up to the lunch buffet, I did notice some tables and food stations could use a quick cleaning, but I heard that they had zero down time between our cruise and the one before it, so I will cut them some slack for that. The rest of the time, it was well-kept. The staff was polite and friendly, I didn't have any language barrier experiences with any of them so that was a plus. I can't say enough about our room attendants, those guys worked so hard all day long cleaning all of our rooms, and were very courteous and took good care of us. My husband thought they actually cleaned too much, replacing soap and little shampoo bottles after only one use! We went back and forth to our room a good amount, and they were always apologizing if they weren't quite done cleaning yet. Great job to those guys!
Our room on deck 2 was fairly quiet and we slept well each night. Heard a bit of noise early in the AM but got back to sleep quickly. Our waiters at San Marco were also wonderful, always smiling and professional, and quick to get us what we needed. Prompt serving of food as well. The food was all really good quality in my opinion, but it could be a little bland for those that are used to things being seasoned well. No fault of theirs, I'm sure it is done to please the majority of people's palates. Dessert was FABULOUS, get the creme brulee and cheesecake. My hubby thought the chocolate cake was lacking, however. Lamb was terrific he says.
The activities were plentiful during the day, something for everyone. Dancing lessons, Zumba and exercise classes, crafts, shopping, art exhibits, wine and spirit tastings, group activities like pool volleyball and the Dancing with the Stripes competition was hilarious- officers paired with guests "dancing with the stars" style. Late night music and nightly shows in the theater as well as tours of the ship and a lecture or two. Take your pick! Or, you can grab a lounge chair in the sun or in the shade and drift from one nap to the next with a cocktail in hand- we did some of both. The entertainment was actually entertaining, much to my surprise. The crew is energetic and enthusiastic, but the aerialists seriously steal the show. I had no idea that would be happening on board! Comedian was funny, and the magician was convincing me magic was actually real. The last show of the cruise was a little cheesy, but it did get a few laughs out of us and they were still really good.
Our ports were Falmouth Jamaica and Georgetown Grand Cayman. I liked both for different reasons. Jamaica had the best swimming beaches and food, hands down. Soft sand, clear water, occasional waves, nothing to fear in the ocean and no seaweed to be found along with amazing jerk chicken and rice and beans. The Chukka beach was uncrowded and we basically had it to ourselves. There is a gift shop, bar, restrooms, showers, lounge chairs and umbrellas. The only downside if there was any, are the numerous local vendors asking if you want your hair braided, bead jewelry, fresh fruit, wood carvings, etc. They generally stay off to the side, but a few walk up and down the beach and may ask you (from a distance), if you are interested. If you aren't just say no and don't walk down the beach. We did walk and ended up supporting a couple of them. We got two bottles of rum at the gift shop, but found out its a much better deal when you are back at port. Buy them there!
Grand Cayman was commercialized and touristy, but felt a lot safer. The water was the most amazing turquoise blue, I didn't know it existed in the real world and clearer than you can imagine. The beaches were FAR more crowded with three ships in port, and the water was somehow chilly compared to Jamaica even though the temp outside was the same. It had some amazing fish swimming up to the shoreline, but there were a few urchins hiding beneath the rocks near the shore and it was very rocky at certain points in the water and along the beach- so do bring shoes that can get wet! Jamaica did not have this issue. We've been to the D.R.- Punta Cana for our honeymoon which are known for their beaches, and we thought that these two beaches exceeded theirs.
All in all, this was an amazing trip. I can't really complain about anything. Everyone is there to make you happy and enjoy your vacation and getting off the ship in Miami was a bit of a rude awakening. I really wanted to stay longer! If you aren't impossible to please and want a relaxing cruise that caters to adults, Celebrity is where its at in my opinion. Don't worry about the negative remarks, you won't regret it!