OVERVIEW: This was our fourth Cruise, and the second time we have traveled on a Celebrity Ship. There were a total of eight family members traveling with us on this vacation. We purchased our airfare separate from our cruise and stayed in San Juan the day before and the day after the cruise.
SHIP: Two members of our group had previously traveled on Constellation's sister ship. The ship appeared very clean and I think you could definitely tell it was built recently in 2002 vs. other older ships we have traveled on.
EMBARKATION: We checked out of the hotel at one O'clock PM and took a taxi to the dock. The boarding time listed on our documents was listed as two o'clock pm. We were surprised to find that there were not very many people in the short line inside the terminal. Once onboard the ship there was a short line to get inside. Overall there were no delays and we were very happy with the short amount of time embarkation took.
CABIN: Our Cabin 9003 (on Sky Deck/Deck 9) had an adjoining door (which we requested) since we were traveling with our children. The cabin was the most spacious we have seen. There was plenty of closet space for hanging clothes, (and enough hangers for two people), with plenty of drawer space. The door connecting 9003 and 9007 has a lock on it, but only the Asst. Hotel Manager has a keys to lock/unlock the door, not the room steward. We left the door unlocked all week, but it would have been a nice feature to have a sliding bolt lock on our side of the door. The bathroom/shower were bigger than we expected from those we have seen in the past. There is a safe in the cabin which was easy to use and worked well, it has an electronic combination or you can use a credit card to open/close it (no charge). The only noise/music we barely noticed was one night from the deck above, but it seemed to travel through the open hallway rather than through the walls/ceiling and didn't cause us to loose any sleep.
SHIP MOTION: As with any ship it seemed we noticed some motion the first night and the last night. Our Waiter said that those two nights are when motion was most felt because of the open sea. Our cabin was high up and forward so I expected we would notice more motion than someone mid-ship on a lower deck. (Something to consider when booking your cruise). If your have never been on a cruise get some medication or a patch before you go (just in case).
SHORE EXCURSIONS: We used Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions on Barbados (4x4 Adventure & Paradise Beach), and Antigua (Mini Boats Rental).
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: We left the ship and there were taxis waiting. There are set government rates posted on the signs there. We asked to go to a beach that was recommended to us. The driver took us to Dominica Beach I think, (a Public Beach which was busy on this Sunday) which had a few shops (small huts with plastic tarps for walls). The beach was ok overall, but we later realized that this was not where we asked to go. There were other people from the ship at this beach, but not many. You couldn't walk this beach because there were resorts with Security on both sides. No rental of anything available, chairs, umbrella, etc. After returning to the ship and changing we took the free shuttle bus to an area to go shopping. We ended up in a small area near a Marina where there were shops; however the shops were selling expensive items and since we arrived there late in the day not many were open. I only saw one that was geared towards people on vacation.
BARBADOS: This was our second time to Barbados. Went to Harrison's Cave and Island tour last time and it was worth it. Also went to Carlisle Bay Beach. For fewer than ten dollars you can enter, get a couple of drink tokens, a chair, and umbrella. There is a large floating inter tube to dive off of, and other water related items available. This was our second time to this beach. There is shopping in a medium size commercial type covered strip mall where you can buy stamps and mail postcards at the post office, as well as purchase alcohol, rum cake, souvenirs, etc. We were told you could walk to town. It appeared to be about one mile from the ship and we didn't find the need to explore it. I took the Celebrity-sponsored 4x4 Adventure Land Rover Tour & Paradise Beach. I enjoyed the trip which lasted about three hours. Our guide "Tammy" driving "No Big Ting" was a great guide and an enjoyable person to learn from. The adventure visited places that were not accessible to tour buses. The convoy (four land rovers on our trip) went through Fisherpond Sugar Cane Estate and Coffee Gully before passing St John's Church built in 1645. There were panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern Coastline of Barbados. We stopped at Bathsheba where refreshments were served. Rum Punch (with or without alcohol) and Rum Cake. The convoy then traveled downhill into Cattlewash and past Holetown before arriving at Paradise Beach for a brief swim and refreshments before heading back to the ship. Restrooms were available at both stops. It was a great adventure.
GRENADA: This was the only port we had to tender into. The ship used its tenders and there were tenders from the harbor also tendering in passengers. There was no wait when we tendered, however the tender was full. We were told our tender from the ship would hold 150 people. When arriving onshore in St George, there were small stands set up across the street from the Fire Station. Most of them sell the same items, Spices, Cinnamon, Syrup, etc. There are some shops in town that have more selection. We took a taxi to Annandale Falls which we were told was eight miles from St George. You could dive off a rock ledge into where the falls drain into which was marked as eighteen feet deep. I would say the drop from where you can jump was ten feet up, but the falls were probably another fifteen feet up on the opposite side. The rest of our group went to Concord Falls (a smaller set of falls) and Grand Anse Beach.
ANTIGUA: Six people took a taxi to Dickerson Bay Beach. The other two took the Celebrity-sponsored shore excursion for the Mini-Boats/Great Bird Island. A shuttle bus took us to a Marina where we were given instructions on how to operate a small zodiac boat. The fiberglass hull boat with inflatable pontoons had a twenty five horse power outboard motor and all equipment appeared new. The tour guide told us this was a new operation. Each boat has a cooler which is used to keep items dry. The cooler is big enough to put an average size backpack in. The boat then travel together to Great Bird Island. Once you arrive you can hike up a hill for about two minutes to get some great pictures, or you have about one hour to swim. The water was clear and there was a nice beach but it was suited more for someone who doesn't swim well because it had a gradual drop off, but you could only go out to about five feet deep because of seaweed growing from the bottom/reefs. I felt it was worth the trip.
St.THOMAS: This was my third time in St Thomas; our original plan was to take a water taxi to St John, however since we didn't do that first thing in the morning more than one person said it wasn't worth it because we would have to rush back. There is plenty of shopping within walking distance of the ship. We have been to Meagan's Bay in the past and the view was nice but the water wasn't as clear as the beach next to Coral World which we have also been to. After speaking with a gentleman at a tourist booth who seemed very knowledgeable he recommended Sapphire Bay Beach for Wave runner Rental. It was forty dollars for thirty minutes, and eighty dollars for one hour. I've only ridden a wave runner a few times and opted for the thirty minutes. There was plenty of room to ride, and a second person can ride with for free. The wave runners were full size and looked like a newer model. It appeared they were capable of holding three people. The only problem I found was that the wind was causing good size continuous waves and I couldn't go very fast, but I'd rent one again in the future. While I was riding the wave runner the rest of the group was swimming. There is a resort where we were dropped off, and they would rent you chairs, there was also a bar and a small store where you could purchase soda pop. The beach was clean, and the water was clear. There was a drop off about three feet out if you tried to wade out to go swimming, and the drop off was a bit rocky. We thought the view was better than Megan's Bay.
SAN JUAN: We took a taxi to see "The Forts of Old San Juan" which are "El Morro, San Felipe Castle, Museum & Lighthouse" and San Cristobal, Castle. There is an admission fee at each, you save a dollar if you buy a combination ticket which gets you into both. They are in walking distance of each other, but it seemed a bit far to walk. I enjoyed walking through the forts and wish I had done it sooner on one of our previous trips.
SERVICE: The service on Celebrity is excellent. It really stands out after you have traveled with another cruise line. This cruise was no different. Our Room Stewards were great, and Waitress Sanely and Asst Waiter Lukas at Dinner were excellent. The Captains Club party was nice. We missed the one on the last cruise.
FOOD: It was never ending. I only attended Breakfast once and wasn't impressed with the speed of service. I think the buffet was a better option. Lunch at the Grill or the Buffet always had something to offer. Dinner always offered more options that what I could try in one night. We requested late seating and Dinner 8:30 and it usually took two hours which was fine except that kids club closes at ten o'clock and we were usually just ordering desert at that time. We ordered room service for coffee and rolls in the morning. It came early every morning (beware).
KIDS CLUB: While our daughter had fun and didn't have anything to complain about regarding kids club, the hours they were open were not the best. After 10 pm you pay six dollars per hour, and if I recall correctly the were closed between 12 noon and 2 pm, and closed between 5pm and 6 pm which really cuts out some options we had on other cruise lines. There were two formal nights were Kids Club was free from 10pm to 1am, however those were the nights were we wanted both kids with us for dinner. They just attended 30 min late after dinner was over.
ENTERTAINMENT: We only attended one show with a Comedian on this cruise. He was good.
POOL: The enclosed pool area for Adults only was GREAT. Kids have to stay at the pool outside (ship rules).
DRINKS: A bit expensive, but very good. We found inconsistencies of the drinks in the Martini Bar.
SUMMARY: A great 4th cruise for us. The ship was excellent, we couldn't expect anything more. Can't wait to go on the next one.