This was an anniversary cruise and we flew in from Boston to Miami. Two problem issues to talk about just to get them over with, then on to the fun part...
Problem 1: The transfer from airport to the ship insisted we stow our carry-on in the luggage compartment below the bus. The bus was transporting passengers to two different Celebrity ships,and all the carry-ons were taken off at the first stop in error. Horrified (you know why it's called a carry-on)we were able to walk to the first pier and collected the bags. Others were not so lucky as theirs had already been loaded onto the wrong ship. Word to the wise, Just say "No" and keep your carry-on with you.
Problem 2: Tuscan Grille specialty restaurant was anything but special. We were seated in an area with empty, bare tables (no place setting, glassware, silver) all around. Our server described the menu selections, took our order then disappeared to take care of tables on the "nice" festive side of the room. Our entrees were dropped off, and from then on no one checked to see if we needed anything, how was our meal, would we like coffee or dessert...Nothing. I wrote to the Manager on a comment card, and the charge was removed, so only 2 hours of the vacation was wasted. I cannot recommend it, but hopefully others have had a better experience. Now for the excellent part of our trip. The aft veranda cabin was wonderful, "D" our steward took great care to make sure we had everything we needed, and was always smiling, pleasant and efficient. He kept the ice filled and everything clean and neat. There was very little noise from the engine on the back of the ship until it needed to dock -- then the vibrations gave us an early wake up call!
We had the Classic beverage package and didn't notice any difference is service between those who were paying as they went and us. Again, the bar servers and the deck servers were quick and friendly, remembering our favorite beverages.
We took second seating with a table for two, and the service was a bit rushed, but we both found the food to be very good with a wide range of selections. One night we had dinner in the Murano specialty restaurant as an anniversary gift, and the entire experience from start to finish was outstanding. We were seated in a cushy booth, and the wine steward, maitre d, meal preparation, presentation and service rivaled any land-based 5 star that I have dined in. It is a splurge, but for us well worth the expense.
Two shore excursions: Golden Eagle in St. Martin and Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas. Both were a good value, including snorkel, snack and ample water time. As an added bonus, I got to see wildlife close up on Sapphire Beach. While lounging under a tree, two iguanas began quarrelling on a branch over my head. apparently one was knocked out of the tree right into my lap. We both screamed, I dropped by Banana daiquiri and the poor lizard jumped back into his tree.
Those around me were quite amused; me, not so much. Waste of good booze...
Finally, disembarkation was a nightmare. No fault of Celebrity, it's due to the budget cuts in Homeland security. There were only two customs agents clearing the entire ship. We were scheduled to disembark at 9:00, finally got off the ship at 10:15, found our bags after 15 minutes and then waited another 45 minutes in line to get through customs. I was so glad our travel agent warned us to take a later flight -- Miami airport security was no picnic either.