We flew round trip, direct flights, out of Washington National to Ft Lauderdale on US Airways. Both are good airports and Ft Lauderdale International is right next to the Port Everglades cruise terminal. Don't buy transfers because you can grab a cab on arrival/departure and get to the terminal/airport in about 15 minutes for about $15. We have also driven to the terminal and it has excellent covered parking garages. Boarding was simple, with a glass of champagne presented on entering the ship, and we were in our cabin in about 20 minutes. Be sure to check in on the internet in advance and get a boarding pass as it really speeds up the process.
Our cabin was Celebrity Suite 6104 and we were very satisfied with it. Celebrity Suite's don't have a balcony so are quite large, 467 square feet, and the wall facing the ocean is solid floor to ceiling windows. There is a dining area with table for four. The bedroom is completely separate, which is nice if one of you wants to watch More
TV or read at night without disturbing the other. The bathroom is a little small but has a double sink and the bathtub has "whirlpool jets." Those jets cause the bathtub to be so high that it is difficult to get into. If you want a cabin with a balcony, we recommend a Sky Suite - we've booked them before and were very satisfied.
The ship was clean and well kept. Being of medium size, it's easy to get around and the elevators are properly located.
We had breakfast in our cabin every day. Meals served in suites offer the same menu as the dining room and the food is brought to your room and served by your "Butler." The quality and preparation of the breakfast food was very good. Armando, our Butler on a previous cruise, was excellent.
We usually had our lunch in the "Seaside Cafe," that offered a full cafeteria style menu 24 hours a day. The selection of food was excellent and quality generally good. The "Cova Cafe" served excellent coffee, cappuccino, and pastries.
Our major criticism concerning food concerns evening meals in the main dining room, the San Marco Restaurant. In general, the ingredients were good but preparation was unacceptable. Any beef dish was improperly cooked and carved (e.g, cut with instead of across the grain). Seafood dishes were inedible. Almost every dish, for some strange reason, was heavily spiced with cinnamon. The only exceptions were the chicken dishes. One evening, after the appetizers and soup, we waited almost an hour to be served the featured entree, chateaubriand. No one explained the delay and we finally found out from the maitre 'd that they had run out and we would have to order another dish. Before they ran out the Captain and his entourage of about 12 officers were served chateaubriand. In over 45 cruises, we have never encountered anything like that. We would like to emphasize that the problems were not with the waiters or maitre d's, who were excellent, but with the food service managers - they don't know their business and should be replaced.
Overall, we were very satisfied with the servers in the dining areas and bars.
The ship's activities and entertainment were mixed. The Bingo program was not well presented and the staff members in charge seemed more interested in their own agendas than the passengers. The stage shows included two excellent comedians (particularly Rich Ceisler) and we were told that the production numbers were outstanding. We do have a major criticism of the bridge program, or lack thereof. There was not a Bridge Director on board and the staff members assigned to handle bridge sessions announced in the ship's paper were not interested. On one occasion were waiting to enter the room designated for bridge when a lecturer next door, who had not finished his lecture on time, marched in with his audience and took over the bridge room. The ship staff member who was designated to handle bridge said nothing and walked away.
The highlight of the entertainment was Perry Grant, an outrageous singer/commentator/gay/you name it guy who lives on the ship and performs every night in a rather small lounge. He has a cult following of about 25 people who book cruises just to see him. On of the best entertainers we have ever seen. There's no way to appreciate him without being there but you can get a hint at the web site http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-us&vid=7715c115-9472-4e95-9d11-7ffdfc5ec214 The video sound is so poor that you can't understand it but you'll get an idea of his shtik.
We had visited all the ports (St Thomas, St Kitts, Barbados, and St Maarten), but went ashore and walked around. Were very pleasantly surprised at the improvements on St Maarten. The cruise ship terminal was all spiffied up, with nice shops, and an efficient little dock to take a ferry boat downtown to the Dutch capitol of Phillipsburg (half of the island is Dutch, the other French). They also paved the road from the dock to downtown, with a wide, clean, cement sidewalk (unusual in the Carib). The beach area is the best we have ever seen in the Carib, with a spacious promenade, all spotlessly maintained, and nice shops and restaurants.
Disembarkation was well done and we were at the airport by 9 AM.