This was only my second cruise but it was a very memorable vacation none the less!!
After landing in San Juan and getting our baggage, it was very easy to find our Celebrity welcome party and get our baggage onto an awaiting truck and get loaded up on our transport from the airport to the docks. All told it probably took us an hour from getting off our plane to getting to the ship.
The security at the dock was very well handled and I couldn't believe that we had to x-ray our carry-ons 3 times before getting on the ship, but better safe than sorry! It only took about 15 minutes to check in and get our cruise cards and make our way to the gangway. Once we finally made it onto the ship, it was refreshing to have a gathering of the ships crew in the main lobby to welcome us aboard and offer us COMPLIMENTARY champagne and/or mamosas (NCL charged you right off the bat if you wanted a drink upon boarding).
The main elevators are right next to the boarding point and we made it to our stateroom in a few minutes. We were greeted right off of the elevator by our stateroom attendant, Santana, who showed us right to our cabin and thoroughly explained what we could expect of him and his staff...and he did not disappoint!!! He was one of the main reasons why our cruise was as wonderful as it was! If he saw my wife and I get off the elevator, or saw us coming down the hallway, he rushed to meet us, open our cabin door and asked if we needed anything. He left no stone unturned if we made a request and handled everything as quickly as possible! Definitely a remarkable man!
Getting our luggage was a little slow, but apparently they x-ray everything looking for contraband, including alcohol. If you have alcohol in your luggage in anything that resembles a liquor bottle, rest assured that you will have to go and retrieve your luggage yourself and hand over your liquor until the trip is over.
The first formal night, we had the privilege of being invited to the captains table. I have no idea how we scored that, but it was very nice. We dined with 4 other couples and the Food and Beverage Manager, Craig...I can not remember his last name. A very nice man who obviously takes great pride in his job. He fielded questions from everyone about what he does and how he does it. He was very informative and gave us all a greater appreciation of the almost flawless operation that goes on behind closed doors and below decks to feed almost 3000 people 3 meals a day.
Our waiter, Jesus, and assistant waiter, Damir, at our normal table #439 at the early seating in the Cosmopolitan were smooth and efficient, making our dining experiences an absolute delight. And the food...fit for a king! Every meal I ate was wonderful. Very well put together with choices for just about anyones liking. Always a beef, chicken, veal or lamb, and a fish dish. Aside of the A La Carte menu, there was also an Executive Chef's pick every night, which was made up of his choice from the menu that evening of appetizer, salad, soup, entree and desert all of which complimented each other. Absolutely exquisite!
Being one that enjoys libations, the bartenders and waiters were out of this world. The first gentleman I had the opportunity to meet was Carlito in the Celebrity Theatre. This guy not only did a bang up job ferrying drinks to our party, but went out of his way to say hello when he was off duty and saw us on shore. Super great guy and deserving of every tip he got and then some.
The next was Putu at the Pool Bar. Great guy, very funny and entertaining, with a great memory, not only remembering our names, but what our favorite drinks were and having them ready for us if he saw us walking up to the bar.
The last guys for me to rave about are Kelby and Ivan at the Aft Lounge on deck 10...one of the few places you could enjoy a cigar and a fine cognac. Kelby is a fine gentleman from South Africa that has a wealth of knowledge of cigars and the liquors that compliment them. I spent many an evening chatting with him, smoking a fine Cuban Cohiba and sipping a snifter of Covasier.
Ivan was always quick to ask if you needed a drink, or refill the one you had. Very pleasant man and always had a smile on his face. No matter how busy it was, his service was impeccable!
The rest of the staff that we had the opportunity to meet were all just as friendly and accommodating. The ones I mentioned above were the ones who really stood out!!