Overall, the cruise was AMAZING and so was the trip to Bermuda. My boyfriend and I planned this cruise and we loved our whole experience. There were some things we'd change for our next cruise, but we would definitely go on Celebrity again. That being said, here's my review:
I really didn't know what to expect, as this was my first cruise. We were driven to Bayonne by family and got dropped off around 10. We sat in the waiting area and we were in group #4 to get on to the ship. We took a shuttle to the ship and were given complimentary mimosas/wine which was a nice touch! We got right on to the ship and went on to deck 10 and of course got a fruity tropical drink. By this point it was about 11 am. So as you can see we got on the ship really quickly. We hung out on the deck and explored until our room was ready. At this time we ate at the Oceanview Cafe.
We ate here the first day for lunch and it was not what I had expected. Everyone I had known who had cruised before had said the food was the best part and that was definitely not the case. The food wasn't terrible it just wasn't anything to write home about for. It was like your last resort if you didn't want to eat anywhere else. I'm sure a lot of kids liked it because I saw a lot of children eating there. The ice cream also wasn't good even though I saw people eating it constantly.
We opted for the AquaClass because we wanted a more upscale experience. I didn't know what to expect in the room but after a few days we realized didn't have everything we were supposed to (bathrobes, slippers, etc) so we asked Dianna (I think that was her name) and she got them for us. She was GREAT. So helpful! (even when our toilet wasn't working the last 2 days). In any event, we did enjoy our veranda and the bottled water in the room. However, we didn't really care about the fresh fruit (apples) or the extra toiletries (I bring my own & my boyfriend doesn't care). The bathroom was small, but there's not much you can do. The room was always kept clean by the staff, although a lot of times we were in and out of the room so we just put up the Do Not Disturb sign.
The AquaSpa was not used. We were going to use it one day at the end of the cruise but I had gotten seasick and we wound up going back to the room. I wouldn't use it if I had to pay for it. Also, the AquaSpa cafe offered salad, yogurt & your normal "healthy" stuff. For us, being on vacation meant we wanted to splurge and dieting was put to the side.
We chose AquaClass so we could dine at Blu but we probably wouldn't do it again. We aren't complaining about it because the food was amazing, but we were just looking for more of that typical cruise dining experience and Blu was more of a traditional restaurant that we would eat at home. We love going out to dinner and Blu was a very nice restaurant and the maitre de was EXCELLENT. We mostly chose to eat there for breakfast after we got a taste of the main dining room.
Cosmopolitan/Main Dining Room:
We didn't eat at the Main Dining Room until the 3rd night of the cruise and we definitely regret that. We should have been eating there the entire time! It was more of a cruise atmosphere and the food was better. Blu had good food don't get me wrong, but we just felt it was more stuffy. Another mistake was that we ate late the first and second nights. We normally would eat around 8-9 if we went to dinner at home and we did that the first two nights of the cruise & regretted it. We missed out on a lot of the night time activities.
GET THE BEVERAGE PACKAGE! We went back and forth with the beverage package and as a first time cruiser I really had no idea what to do. My boyfriend had cruised before when we was younger but he wasn't paying for them then! We do drink so it was nice to have all of our alcohol included (we didn't purchase anything over the $12 cap). We were able to drink wine, beer, fruity drinks, martinis, gourmet coffee drinks and unlimited bottled water, juices, sodas, ginger ale (for when you get seasick!), and sparkling water. It was so easy to just hand over your blue seapass card and get your drink. Plus you don't have to sign anything so you just get your drink and go. The water they give you is either Evian or some other brand but they give you a huge bottle so it's great. Just buy the beverage package if not for convenience. Why cut corners on vacation?
Oh. My. Gosh. We got a $160 credit from AMEX towards a specialty dining restaurant and we are SOOOO HAPPY WE CHOSE NORMANDY! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! If you can afford to do it, DO IT. Take a night for yourself if you're with kids, and GO. We did the food and wine paring and it was AWESOME. We had always wanted to do that at home, but when you are drinking wine that much, you know that you will need a DD and it was hard to plan at home so this is definitely something we were happy we did on the cruise. The staff was GREAT and they made jokes with us & it was just SO amazing. All of the food was EXCELLENT, TOP NOTCH. If you can, GO! You will not be disappointed.
I didn't realize that the ship used to dock in Hamilton, my boyfriend had gone to Bermuda when they did. Wow, I wish they still did that. Or that I didn't know that it used to be that way.
Basically you have 2 1/2 days where you're actually in Bermuda. Where they dock you in Bermuda there isn't much to do. You can go to the beach & get frozen yogurt. There is a restaurant and some shops but nothing amazing. The first day we were there we went to the beach very early and beat the crowd. We wound up staying for about two hours and then the rain started so we left right when that happened. It was expensive to get on the beach, get a chair and get snorkelling equipment, but my boyfriend said that was his favorite part so you decide what's important to you. It was $10 per person to get on the beach, $20 for a towel (we forgot ours, so we bought one because we needed one and I wanted a souvenir anyway), $15 for a chair (which I used) and the snorkel and flippers were about $20. So you're looking at $65 just for us to go to the beach for 2 hours. Then again a lot of that was on extras, so you decide. A huge group came in before it started to get cloudy & started raining, and the guy next to me started farting without a care, so it was kind of a sign to leave! Went back on the ship to eat lunch, got dressed & went on our glass bottom boat tour (more on that later). After the glass bottom boat tour we went to Hamilton. The city is super clean and nice, has a lot of luxury shops as well as souvenir places. Go to Hamilton for your souvenirs. There was one store we went in and I got t shirts and other things and it was the cheapest one, and had all the same things as the other stores. I forget the name but wait to go to Hamilton to buy your Bermuda stuff.
Ferry is cheap and times are good, but it is SUCH A PAIN to take. You wait like herds of cattle for 20 minutes before you get on the ferry, then it's a 20 minute ferry ride to Hamilton. It really takes a lot out of you. We went to Hamilton for a few hours and wound up coming back to the ship. A lot of people stayed in Hamilton for a night time festival but we did not do that.
The next day we took the ferry to St. George's. The line was really long & we were afraid we weren't going to get on. My boyfriend had told me that St. George's was kind of just for an hour or two because there wasn't much to do and that it was more historic. It's definitely a must-see and I would say his description is accurate. I can't see spending more than half a day there. We took a taxi from St. George's to Hamilton. Everyone was warning us to not take the taxis because of how expensive they are, but honestly it was worth it. They charge you the meter rate, and it cost $40 for both of us to go from St. George to Hamilton and it was a relaxing ride. We were able to rejuvenate! For us, spending $40 on a taxi was worth it when you cut out the almost 1 hour it takes to wait for a ferry, get on a ferry and get to your destination. You decide what is worth it to you.
The last day in Bermuda we did our dolphin excursion and went back on our ship which was nice and quiet because people were still exploring in Bermuda. It leaves around 4:30 so you do have a good part of the day to do things.
Next time we would do one full day in Hamilton and take a taxi to do it. We would go to the beach the other days & stay the full day instead of taking so many trips back and forth!
Shopping onboard is good - nothing crazy. They have cute jewelry in the one store and Swarovski. It's a fun thing to do when there's nothing else you feel like doing. Bought a watch in the fine jewelry store. Just make sure you know the prices of things before you go. I got a Citizens watch for 40% off and it wound up costing me in the $100's range. They had other brands too that I would wait on to get from Macys or another department store on sale, but honestly if you are only going to save a dollar here or there, I say buy it on the ship because it gives you a memory too. They had some Fossil, Guess, Steve Madden and Big Buddha in one of the stores.
Shopping in Hamilton is awesome. My boyfriend surprised me with an early birthday present. He got a me the Louis Vuitton purse I wanted at the Louis Vuitton store in Hamilton. I was able to convince him to do it because there is no tax! I say only use 1/3 of your spending money on the ship and the rest in Hamilton and splurge.
Lots of kids in the pool. I didn't like going in the pool when we were at sea because it made me sea sick. You definitely feel the boat moving when you're in the pool. My boyfriend loved it though. He doesn't get seasick. I had brought 2 books with me and had a great time laying out on the deck and reading and drinking fruity drinks. This is also where the beverage package comes in handy. The burgers and hot dogs on the deck are amazing too. We didn't have a hard time getting good spots. You do find some chair hogs but it's really not that hard to find a chair in the sun, even at prime sun hours.
Great drinks, nice place to go before/after dinner.
Most of the excursions meet right outside of the ship.
Main Dining Room
Buy Beverage Package
Get More Involved In Activities
Lay Out More
Manage time in ports better
Not get up so early!