After extensive research on Cruise Critic prior to our cruise, I found most of the posts to be partially, if not all, valid. Spent a night prior to cruising in Old San juan. Stayed at the Sheraton and found the staff to be very kind, check-in was a flash and they upgraded us to a 7th fl. balcony. Even honored the hotels.com price that I showed at the front desk. $159.00 Great hotel to walk about and see Old San Juan. You canNOT walk to the pier from there though. Everything is a $20.00 cab ride. You could walk from the resort Marriott area which was about 1 mile and a half from the Panamerica pier. (wouldn't do it with a lot of luggage)
We arrived to board at noon and sat in chairs till 1:30. We are fairly patient people and it appeared to go smoothly. We were on the ship by 2. We did have our first encounter with some islanders who appeared to be angry and rude....I noticed the Celebrity staff having to verbally warn them to not cut in the lines.
Upon boarding the ship, we found the staff to be FANTASTIC! In fact, for the entire cruise. From wait staff to floor cleaners to railing wipers. They all smiled when you smiled and greeted you eagerly. We never had a complaint on our cruise so I don't know how negativity would have been handled.
The ship was easy to navigate, well marked. I could see how some would complain that the carpets were warn or there was some wear and tear, but get a life! Who sits in their room on a cruise? T.V. was a little outdated, but who watches T.V. on a cruise? Room was slightly larger than NCL, balcony slightly smaller. Room attendant Jose was great.
Meals were better than NCL, although I found it tough eating at the late seating. Too late.(Liked NCL's freestyle eating) Loved the creme brulee and other desserts. I found the buffets to be better than Golden Corral's. We did not frequent them because they seemed to be the gathering place for the islanders. They would actually throw their small pieces of trash right into the buffet area as they stood in line. Rudely elbow you out of the way, never saying "excuse me". Cutting in line and even hoarding food like sugar packets and baked goods in their pockets.
The ports were GREAT and the fact that you were docked at each was SUPER! The only port with aggressive people was grenada, be firm with NO and they were very respectful. We never did an excursion, just walked the islands and found our own diving, never had a problem. Keep in mind I am an x-cop and my husband is a firefighter.
Overall, compared to especially Carnival, NCL, RCI, we found Celebrity to be well above average. The ONLY reason we may not do Celebrity again is that evidently when a ship does not fill out of San Juan, they open the rooms very cheaply to Puerto Rican residents. Being of latino decent myself I was appalled at the rudeness. Especially being rude to the staff. Half way through the cruise I refused to step aside in the halls as they did and rather enjoyed crashing into a few. They also thought nothing of disrupting a cruise event like ice carving. The staff handled it admirably, however, security should have. MANY older cruisers informed us that they would never book this ship again.
Sad that one group of rude people could cast a shadow on a GREAT cruise. And it was!