We arrived in San Juan on Friday and stayed in the Marriott La Concha hotel. It was beautiful and very nice, but would have been a little expensive without my husband's Marriott points. We had no problem getting a taxi from the airport to the hotel or from the hotel to the pier. We were allowed a late check-out at 1:30 p.m. and headed for the pier. Thank goodness we had read reviews on this site about ignoring the boarding time.
The boarding process went very smoothly. We purchased two bottles of champagne, bottled water and some soda at the duty-free shop. It was great to have the water for excursions and drinking in our cabin.
There were sixteen of us in our group and we had staterooms 7117 through 7131. I thought the rooms were clean and good-sized. Loved the balcony! Anthony was a terrific cabin steward and did an outstanding job taking care of us. I thought the food was good. We had two tables in the main dining room- for 10 and 6. Our waiter Nedim and assistant waiter Ramazan were the best. If they were dismayed about having to serve seven kids (ages 9, 7, 6, 6, 3, 2, and 9 months!) you never would have known it from the way they acted. They were friendly and Ramazan had cold chocolate milks waiting for the kids every night. We chose not to bring our kids on formal nights. Our daughter turned six the Monday of our cruise and the staff sang to her and brought her a little birthday cake. She was in seventh heaven.
On one of the formal nights we booked a reservation at the "casual restaurant" for 6:00 p.m. just for my immediate family. We booked it at the member services desk. When we arrived at 6:00 there was no one there. One staff member came over to us after about 5 minutes and told us that the restaurant doesn't open until 6:30. We cancelled our "reservation" and got food form the Sushi bar. The sushi bar was great.
The fun factory was great for our older girls. They had lots of activities and the staff was friendly and caring. The pizza parties were a nice option. I was really disappointed in the options for the under three set. They said that our son (who will be three in April and is not yet potty trained) was welcome in the fun factory if a parent was with him. He was not allowed in the ball pit or on the slide (due to the "potty training issue", I guess). I was shown to a dark room in the back of the fun factory with a couple of tents, balls and mostly baby toys. It would be nice if they had something in place to help with the younger kids. Our son was eligible for us to hire a babysitter ($8 per hour, minimum 3 hours), but our nine-month old nephew couldn't even get a babysitter because he was under 12 months old. It was not that big of a deal for us since we were with a lot of people and just took turns watching the kids, but it would have been difficult if it had just been our immediate family. We really enjoyed the port-heavy itinerary. We packed beach towels, but discovered that Celebrity provides beach towels for use on the islands. That was excellent.
Our first stop was St. Maarten. My husband and some of the group opted for the Loterie Farm Treetop Adventure Tour. They had a great time, but said that the "strenuous" rating was not an exaggeration. My sister and I took all seven kids on the Butterfly and Beach excursion. The butterfly farm was neat. The kids really liked it. Orient beach was beautiful. We didn't observe any nudity (as we were warned), but were pretty busy watching the kids. Umbrellas were available to use for $5. My parents did the bike tour. That one filled up fast so I would book that in advance. My mom thought that it was pretty strenuous also, but they enjoyed it.
Our second stop was Dominica. Part of our group did the Wacky Rollers river tubing excursion. We took the older girls along (9 and 8). It was really fun and not strenuous. They had plenty of helpers in the water making sure that people did not get too stuck. Our driver offered to take us to Trafalgar Falls afterwards. We took him up on it and for $20 per person (1/2 price for the girls) we got another excursion!
Our third stop was Grenada. Our entire group signed up to do the Carib's snorkel and beach excursion. There wasn't much to see on the snorkeling portion of the trip. They pulled the boat up to a lovely beach and that was really nice. There were some shade trees available and the water was wonderful.
Our fourth stop was Tobago. We easily got a taxi and went to Pigeon Point Beach. Our driver came back right at the time we requested. The beach was nice and the kids had a great time on the beach and in the water. We didn't stay long, but it was nice to get off the ship for a while.
Our fifth stop was Barbados. Part of our group did the aerial zip line adventure and said that it was very fun and not super-strenuous. Another part of our group signed up for the Tiami Sail, Turtles, and Beach. It was our favorite excursion of the trip. The crew was terrific. The beach portion of the trip required you to swim to it, but it was fine for us.
The day at sea was okay, but pretty boring. A good day to pack up, I guess.
Breakfast on the disembarkation day was crowded. The disembarkation process went very quickly. We were told to meet in the Martini Lounge at 8:20 and were checking in at the airport at 9:00 a.m. It was very easy getting taxi. The transfers would not have been a good value for our family.
Overall, we had a very good time. I wouldn't recommend this ship to families traveling with small children, but I don't think the ship is really trying to draw in that crowd. I thought the service was excellent and would take another cruise with Celebrity (without the kids!)