We are avid cruisers in our early/mid fifties having completed 25 plus cruises on various lines including Cunard, Holland America, Princess, P&O, Royal Viking Line. Celebrity is our "go to" premium cruise line as we are continually impressed as they seem to keep "upping" their game in regards to quality of service, food and their beautiful fleet of ships. In other words, great value for the money!
We flew in one day before and stayed at the Inter Continental hotel fronting the Bay of Biscayne with a lovely view overlooking the cruise port. A lovely hotel close to downtown and the Bay side market/Marina and only a ten minute taxi ride to the port.
Arrived at the cruise terminal at 10:30am with a 30 minute wait, fortunately we were able to sit in a area as most people had to stand and wait in line. I felt sorry for some elderly people, this problem must be addressed in this cruise terminal. Not enough sitting area unless you are an Elite/ Aqua class or Suite guest. We were on board by 11am and greeted with some refreshments. Having been on other Solstice class ships we are able to navigate quite easily and we always go right to the Sunset bar aft ship on decks 14 and 15.
We at lunch in the Aqua Spa cafe and our rooms were ready by 1pm.
We usually book Aqua Class accommodation when we cruise as we enjoy the restaurant Blu and the Aqua Spa/Persian Garden but decided to try something different this time. We booked a balcony category 1A mid ship with a huge pie shape balcony. Upon inspection of the room I noticed the carpet was not very clean and the counters had reminents of food that had not been cleaned. I called our stateroom attendant and he was promptly in our room very apologetic and vacuumed and disinfected the areas I had mentioned. Needless to say we were pretty demanding of healthy sanitized areas as there has been a blight of Norvo virus throughout cruise ships.
We booked a 5 night specialty restaurant package in lieu of booking Aqua Class accommodation. We thoroughly enjoyed these restaurants except for our second night experience in Tuscan Grill. The problem with these restaurants is the fact that you have far too much food and choice. Essentially you need to starve yourself all day to appreciate all the different food choices. This is a great way although to find out what restaurant you would like to celebrate in. Would we do this package again...no, we like the intimate atmosphere of Blu and the smaller portions and the personalized service. We ate our first night's dinner in Opus the main dining room, the meal and service was very good.
Rating the restaurants- Murano is classy and refined, food was superb as well as the service.
Lawn Club Grill- the surprise of the week...dined there twice, we had the best fillet mignon ever. A very fun casual but classy experience where you can participate in the preparation of your meal including flat breads and grilling your own meat. We left it to the pros and they exceeded our expectations!
Qisine- try it once, very artful with excellent quality and execution. Just too much food.
Tuscan Grill- dined here twice as the package dictates you must. Skip this restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is drab, the female Maitre'd is so superfical...I won't bore you with what happened as the end result was the management made it up to us and we received another specialty restaurant dinner on the last night of the cruise. Quality of food and service is good, just poorly run and managed. Do not pay extra to dine here.
Celebrity activities on board were very good from special speakers to Pool volley ball...I must mention this as our team won the championship against the officers! What fun we had.
Entertainment on board was excellent, the best I can remember in a long time, don't miss the Cirque show second last night with music from the eighties..like "Rock of Ages "or "We will Rock You"...just awesome!
We booked two shore excursions, first one was a boat ride to the Island of St. John which is a 40 minute trip with the captain providing commentary along the coastline of St. Thomas through the Atlantic to the Island. A beautiful alternative to St. Thomas, very secluded, picturesque and amongst the most beautiful beaches with tranquil water and pool like blue/green hues. Go to Trunk Bay, snorkel and beach time, just beautiful!
Second shore excursion was Scuba diving in St. Maarten. A two tank dive where for the very first time I was up close to two Reef sharks!!! A small two foot and an eight foot one swam by us as we were ascending to the surface. A very professionally run operation although somewhat expensive.
The final excursion was the "Hop on Hop off" bus tour of Miami and surrounding towns on the day of disembarkation. We had a very late flight so this was a great way to see the city as well places like South Beach, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and Little Havana. A great way to put in a day.
We were very fortunate that the weather was very warm the entire cruise as well the water was like sailing on glass. The Captain did however divert his return trip to Miami westward to avoid a storm brewing in the Bahamas and Miami.
Speaking about the management as well the officers they were all very visible and engaging.
Special mention goes out to our cabin attendants, Elton and Melvin who were very pleasant and unobtrusive. They did their jobs well and fulfilled all our requests cheerfully. They could not do enough for us. Also a thank you to the Guest Services Officer Meryl Diaz who attended to our issue with Tuscan Grill and rectified it. The Captain's Club Hostess, Rachelle was one of the best...she is a keeper Celebrity!
The Captains Club celebration was very nice although it was obvious that they scaled back there food presentation stations. On the other ships it is quite a feast to the senses! The Senior Officers cocktail party was very nice with the Jazz band and "Big Mike" leading the way. The Captain and Hotel Manager engaged us and asked for our feedback. I have never been on a cruise where I receive a phone call from Guest relations two days in and ask how we are enjoying ourselves and if there was anything they could do to improve our stay.
Adjust, modify and adapt...Celebrity has got it right.
Up to this cruise we enjoyed the Equinox the most as we cruised in Europe, Silhouette twice and Solstice once. I must say I am really looking forward to sailing on the Reflection in the Mediterranean or a Transatlantic in October this year. Being from the north east we needed a short warm weather cruise to warm our bones, the Reflection was a great choice, I can only imagine a two week plus on this beauty.
We have considered going on Oceania, Regent, Silver Seas, Crystal and Seabourn as the all inclusive aspect is welcoming and the food we hear is a notch up from Celebrity. Maybe one day we will but we have not been compelled to make the move when Celebrity fulfills our wishes and desires! We are quite happy and encourage those who have not sailed on Celebrity to try a short seven day cruise to sample it, you will be back! Enjoy!