We are a couple in our forties and we tend to travel with our eight year old daughter. This was our sixth cruise altogether and our first with Celebrity.
We flew in the day before the cruise and stayed the night at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. Our room was slightly dated, but was clean and very comfortable. Our proximity to the cruise terminal as well as our view of the marina and palm trees ensured that we would stay here again. Added bonus was bartender Lori- she was awesome and made a mean Dark & Stormy Night!
Check in was quick and easy. Everyone was friendly and got us on the ship within 20 minutes of entering the terminal building.
As we came aboard, we were handed each a glass of sparkling wine (DD was given orange juice in a champagne flute) and we strolled the atrium area, partaking in the sounds of a DJ spinning club music.
During our tour of the ship, we commented on the ease of navigating the ship and the beautiful, quirky artwork placed throughout the ship.
Cabin 8169 (Concierge Class stateroom balcony) was beautiful but we found out later had an awkward layout - when the couch was folded out to a bed, it was very difficult to get by pull out couch to get to balcony. Cabin attendant Leroy did an excellent job.
Spent sail-away on our balcony, where we enjoyed some of the bottle of sparkling wine placed in our stateroom and waving to the Port Everglades webcam. Afterwards we went up to the Mast Bar to meet up with our Cruise Critic Roll Call group, although the party seemed to be wrapping up with very few folks left to say hi to by the time we arrived.
We had dinner in the MDR three of the four nights aboard. We had a table to ourselves, which was a first on any of our cruises and not something we would care to repeat. We missed the social aspect of dining with others as we've done on previous cruises. Our serving team of Acosta (waiter), Xiomara (Assistant Waiter) and Belinda (Sommelier) were excellent. The food in the MDR was good to very good.
On Valentines Day, DW and I enjoyed dinner at Tuscan Grille, which was excellent; both in food quality and in service.
Please note that even though the ship has a Formal Night, there is not a lot of formal wear going on. Probably due to the short length of the cruise.
Most mornings, we enjoyed breakfast in the buffet area. The variety was amazing and from a personal point of view, a little too tempting! I was involved in a health & wellness challenge at this time and my small plate of fruit & yogurt would soon by followed by a bigger plate of bacon, potatoes and a made-to-order omelette. Om Nom Nom!!
Lunches were split between the buffet and the MDR. Again, there was an excellent variety in the buffet and the food was fresh and hot in both venues.
We found ourselves stopping at Café al Bacio time and time again to satisfy our espresso or green tea needs.
Our only complaint with dining was our room service breakfast. Bacon and eggs were cold.
While we This was completely expected, but we found that Celebrity's Fun Factory came up short against Disney and Royal Caribbean. Program hours are 9:00AM - noon, 2:00 - 5:00 & 7:00- 10:00, with optional lunch, dinner or late night programming at a cost of $6.00 per hour.
Again, having experienced the children's program on both Royal Caribbean & Disney cruise lines, we did not find this program as appealing, with a much smaller area for the kids, less communication from the staff, and fewer educational aspects (unless we just didn't know about them). A good example would be not finding out about the $55 VIP package until our at-sea day when our daughter asked if she could join the lunch-time tour of the ship's bridge. If we had known about this on the first day of the cruise, we may have opted for this package. We also REALLY missed an equivalent to RCL's "Family Time Dining" or Disney's "Dine & Play".
On our at-sea day, we took the tour of the galley. This was something we hadn’t experienced on any previous cruise and we were not disappointed!
Later that afternoon, we participated in the Riedel Glass Comparison, held in Cellar Masters on our sea day. This entertaining and informative seminar was led by sommelier Ayhan very informative and we left with a couple sets of Riedel Vinum series glasses. After the seminar Ayhan graciously let us use his set of Riedel glasses to sample some spectacular Cabernet Sauvignons from Cellar Masters Enomatic dispensing system. We particularly enjoyed the social aspect of the Reidel tasting, enjoying the opportunity to meet some fun and outgoing folks, including three from our home town of London Ontario.
While in Nassau, we followed the recommendation of a fellow passenger and booked the guided walking tour “Bites of Nassau”. Our guide, Lexi, introduced our group of eight to some local delicacies, both savoury and sweet, and brought to life the colourful history of this storied community. We left with happy taste buds and some wonderful memories!
The day in Key West was great - it's one of our favourite ports of call, and this visit didn't disappoint. We booked a dolphin watching tour with Fury, and enjoyed our early-morning walk from the cruise ship dock to (insist name of area here), a quick 10 minute wander. Our morning with Fury was great, although the dolphins were doing their best to hide from us, we were eventually able to spot several out in the deeper water and enjoyed watching them in their natural habitat rather than in an enclosure. We were guided to an area for some snorkelling before heading back to town - all in all, a success.
We wandered Key West for a while in the afternoon, enjoying the laid back vibe and art galleries almost everywhere you turn. Again, a favourite stop for us...
ENTERTAINMENT & NIGHTLIFE
Strolled around the ship looking for "the party" after dinner - bars were mostly empty, pool deck deserted, the bands playing at Reflections and Rendezvous lounge Seemed to be playing to a much older crowd, slow dancing to soft pop from the '70s. DW and I had a bet that we would hear a cover of the Captain & Tennille classic,”Muskrat Love” at some point. Meh..
Martini bar was packed but rather quiet. More than a few of the customers seemed engrossed in their smartphones.
We're not sure, but we went through almost everywhere else on the ship and ended up feeling like we were playing a strange game of hide & seek!
Travelling with an 8-year-old on this particular cruise left us wanting for family -friendly evening entertainment as well. Most shows were later at night - after 10pm - and seemed more appropriate for older audiences), but the show on the final evening was called The Land of Make Believe, and its 7pm & 9pm show times indicated it would be better for families. It certainly entertained us, although its possible we weren't supposed to find it as funny as we did - the performers were great, but the show was so over-the-top campy that we couldn't believe it - we're pretty sure it was intentional, but boy oh boy... if it wasn't... Our minds are boggled.
Disembarkation was a snap, and we were told our luggage was already off the ship & waiting for us a full 45 minutes before our scheduled departure - nice not to have to wait around. We appreciated assistance from one of the pier porters who helped with our luggage, entertained us in the customs lineup and got us a taxi far more quickly than we would have on our own - a worthwhile investment.
To sum up, we're glad to have gone on this trip, and with the deal we got ($100 shipboard credit, free classic beverage package & free gratuities, in theory at least) feel we got good value for our money. That said, there were enough things that we felt were missing for us that we probably won't put Celebrity high on our list of cruise lines for our next vacation.