First of all let me state we had a GREAT time.
[B]Pre-cruise:[/B] We arrived one day early and stayed at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Hollywood. Got the room from the internet for $60. This is a good location. If you want to go to an excellent dinner try Argentango. This is an Argentinean steak house that certainly rivals Morton's or Ruth's Chris for a fraction of the cost. The trip to Port Everglades is a short taxi ride away.
Embarkation: Excellent. We showed up at the published time (12 noon). They had already started boarding. Since we had all our docs filled out we were through the process in less than 10 minutes. As soon as we stepped on board there was a glass of chilled champagne handed to us. Great start!
Stateroom: Booked a category 2B stateroom - 7103 on the Vista deck. Wonderful location and really enjoyed the balcony. However... the tile in the shower was full of black, yucky mildew. I even took a picture that I will be sending to Celebrity so they are aware of the quality of cleanliness in our bathroom. Unbelievable!
Service: Mixed. I loved the fact that ALL staff greet you with a smile and a look in the eye - from service crew to officers to seamen. Our stateroom attendant was reluctant to put out any extra effort and let it be known. One time we ordered room service and he told us he wouldn't be able to put our order in for over an hour because if he did it right away he would have to "stand in this big long line". Hummphh. Then there's the matter of the dirty shower that was never rectified. The dining room staff was excellent. All of them. Truly enjoyable people. As is true with human nature, we got friendly and not so friendly service at the bars. I wondered more than once if they had given up being nice since they get tipped no matter what service they provide. All in all I was pleased with the bar staff
Entertainment: Excellent. Top of the line production shows. Good, first run movies in the cinema, with a variety throughout the week. Wonderful band by the pool. The comedian was hilarious. Plus there is lots going on on a small scale throughout the ship, from a four piece ensemble playing classical music to a harp player.
Food: Wonderful. The dining room food was first rate. The food in the Normandy restaurant was worth every dollar. It was really nice to be able to get room service 24 hours a day, and they also had a service where you could hang a tag on your door to order breakfast delivered to your room at a certain time. The buffet was just so-so, but I find that to be true of most buffets. Pizza on board was truly good.
Ship: Really nice. Public areas are very clean and well maintained. The layout is such that you never feel crowded (except at the pool on sea days). The Emporium (shopping area) has a great selection, and prices certainly rivaled those to be found on shore. Dining room is lovely although noisy. Lots of comfortable seating throughout the ship - inside and out. We loved the glass elevators.
Visiting ports of call: Mixed. When we had to tender it was REALLY slow. In fact, we lost 2 hours on Grand Cayman waiting our turn to get on a tender. BUT, there's nothing like being greeted with an ice cold wash cloth after spending a hot humid day - which is what they do when returning to the tenders for the trip back to the ship. When we actually docked it was usually early and easy access on and off.
Shore excursions: Only booked one through the ship. That was for a barrier reef snorkel in Belize. Had a really good time. The catamaran picked us up right at the ship. Great company and I would recommend them to anyone considering a snorkel trip in Belize. Booked two things outside of the ship. First was the Royal Swim with the Dolphins in Cozumel. Truly the experience of a lifetime. Do it if you're ever there. You will love it. The other was a day at the Sante Wellness Center in Roatan Honduras. They picked us up at the ship (my husband and I plus another couple), drove us to the center about 45 minutes way, where we had massages and hand and foot reflexology sessions. Got to lay about for awhile then they served a wonderful lunch of chilled shrimp and salad. I'd recommend it to anyone, but book early because they only take a maximum of 10 people per day in order to keep the quality of their service up.
Disembarkation: Best I've ever experienced. The main dining room and the buffet are open on disembarkation day. You get to take your time getting out of the room, then you go to one of the lounges (assigned I believe by the time your transportation home is scheduled for) and wait to be called for disembarkation. You get to leave with a good impression.
Other: The published schedule of evening dress was different from what was actually scheduled on the ship. All the brochures and the website said 3 casual, 2 formal and 2 informal. There was only 1 informal and 4 casual. Which means I bought an outfit I didn't need. Luckily I left the tags on and was able to return the dress. My husband ordered a tux from the ship. It was delivered to our stateroom the first day, fit perfectly and was picked up on the last night. Couldn't have been better. We brought our own wine. 6 bottles. Paid the 12 dollar corkage fee in the dining room. This was more a matter of wanting to be sure we had wine we liked than trying to save money. Worked out well, and the Sommelier was more than pleasant to us with her service. Once again the published information was incorrect. This time it was the cost of the Normandy. One of the pages in the in-room binder said $25 and another page said $30. It was $30 - and worth every cent. I found the people on board to follow the dress code for the evening pretty faithfully. Lots of evening gowns, tuxedos, and dark suits on formal nights. Cocktail dresses and suits or sportscoats on informal nights and what I would call "resortwear" on casual nights. In the daily flier they state that they enforce the dress code, but I saw a few people out of sync with what was requested and they were still allowed into the dining room.
Final thoughts: We are long time Princess cruisers and thought to try Celebrity for the first time. Celebrity was about equal. We will probably return to Princess for future cruises because we get special incentives for being past cruisers. Every time we've been on Princess we've received a free upgrade of at least 1 category and once all the way to a balcony stateroom. From the sounds of the info on Celebrity you have to pay $30 to be a member of their captains club, whereas it is free on Princess.
I hope this information is helpful. Happy cruising everyone!