This is a wonderful cruise on a great ship. The stops are Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Curacao and Aruba. The really nice thing about this cruise is that due to the departure date being on a Friday out of San Juan. You do not have a lot of other ships in port with you at any of the stops.
We live in upstate New York, and as you all know, the weather has been really nutty with regards to snow. We flew down to San Juan the day before our cruise and thankfully we made it through Atlanta the day before they cancelled 400 flights in and out of the city. Delta flights were not only on time, but early for both flights. Luggage arrived safely.
Upon arrival in San Juan, if you have made your own ground arrangements to get to a hotel, or to the ship. The procedure is...after you get your luggage, you get in line, tell the taxi dispatcher where you are going and how many pcs of luggage you have. You are then given a slip telling you the price, and you make your way to the taxi. Prices by the way start at $15 and go up depending on your destination. Bags are $1 each. These lines can get long. Therefore, i suggest you get the porter, who bypasses everybody standing in line and takes you directly to the taxi. It can save about 30 minutes.
We stayed at the Radisson hotel and Casino in Condado. We were 1 block from the beach. There is a Walgreens and a little market within walking distance. There are also a lot of nice little restaurants in the area. The hotel was $210 with taxes. We had a beautiful room with a king bed. 2 free drinks at the bar and a buffet breakfast in the morning. The restaurant in the hotel offered a special for dinner at $10 pp which was excellent and the service was outstanding.
The next day, we arrived at the ship at about 12pm. They say that check in starts at 3pm, but early arrival is ok. Celebrity for some reason did not provide luggage tags, so, the procedure is. You arrive, YOU haul all your luggage into a line, where you show your ID and your cruise ticket. You than haul your bags forward until you arrive at the porters who than tag your bags. They have really done nothing since your cab has dropped you off, yet they seem like they want to be tipped. It's a bad system.
After you finally get rid of your bags, you proceed inside where you fill out the health form. Follow the signs to your check in counter and make sure you have your ID, cruise paperwork and credit card ready. If you fill out your paperwork online prior to arrival, it saves time. Check in takes about 10 minutes and you are on your way to the ship.
You will receive a glass of champagne or orange juice upon arrival, and you will be directed toward your cabin. They will tell you that your room will not be ready, but just head there and see. You can drop your carry ons if the room is ready.
Our cabin was 7203, which is concierge class, at the aft end of the ship. This cabin has a large balcony, with 4 lounge chairs, and 2 regular chairs and a table with room for 4 to eat, if the plates are not to large. Be careful when you book these cabins. Some of them are located next to the Family size cabins, which can be noisy with children. Also, if you choose this type of cabin on deck 9, you will be right below the aft bar..
The concierge class cabins are really no different than the regular balcony cabins with exceptions of the amenities. You have your choice of pillow type, 2 robes, 2 large beach towels for your use. Small binoculars, a golf umbrella, a bottle of champagne, fresh flowers and fruit daily. The bathroom has a better quality of shampoo's and conditioner. I don't remember the brand. There are 2 hair dryers. Q-tips and cotton balls. They now have a large flat screen television also. The room service menu for breakfast in concierge class is a little better than the standard menu. The card can be found in the back of large leather bound book used for ship information. The big difference is, you can obtain fresh squeezed juices from this menu at no additional charge. The lido is using orange drink, or lemon drink in their area.
If you do order from room service, whether breakfast or dinner, you must be very specific. Try not to order off the television unless the order is simple. You must specify if you want butter for your toast. Ketchup with your fries. HOW you want your eggs prepared. Failure to do so will result in things like dry toast and no ketchup. You get the drift here. They don't send anything unless you ask for it. That being said, you can also call and order a cheese plate with just Brie and Cheddar with french bread, and that is what you will get.
Meals were hit and miss. In the main dining area, they now have what they call the standard menu. IE.. items that you can get everyday. There is also the daily menu which changes. You can always find something you like. All meals as i said were hit and miss. Some things were wonderful, some things were bland. Taste is subjective.
Service was so-so. Not great, but not bad either. I certainly will not remember our waiters as we have on some past cruises.
The usual stuff for breakfast and lunch up at the lido. The first few days i suggest you walk ALL the way around, you may find something that you did not know they had. Sandwich bar, pizza station, Asian food, poached eggs, omelets, fried eggs, sushi in the evening. There is a lot of variety, you just have to look for it.
Ice cream, breads and pasta's are still made on board and are very tasty.
I have done the port reviews in the port reviews section.
Unfortunately, all was not great on our cruise. Many, Many people came down with the Norwalk virus. My wife got it 3 days prior to disembarkation, and i got it the day of disembarkation. It certainly made for an interesting flight home.
Also, one of our bags did not make it down to the baggage claim area. We searched the entire area and finally had to leave to catch our flight. As of 48hrs after the cruise, we were still waiting for information about our bag.
Flying out of San Juan has become a lot better over the past few years. After grabbing a taxi at the pier, our cab driver hauled to get us to the airport on time. The fare was $23 Try not to get a flight prior to 10am, it's tough to make it on time.
Again, we grabbed a porter at the airport, and this again is a good idea. We were unaware that all bags need to be x-ray-ed for food items prior to check in. The porter took care of everything. After that x-ray, we proceeded to Delta where there was no line, check in was fast and our bags were checked. You then proceed to security, where the usual stuff happens. Their metal detectors are very sensitive, i had to remove my belt and watch to clear. There is still not a lot of room in the departure area's, but what can you do. Our flights ran late due to strong headwinds and the fact that we had to abort our takeoff due to Iguana's on the runway. That's something you don't hear much about here in Buffalo. LOL
Was it a good cruise? Yes, with the exception of getting sick at the end, all in all it was much better than last time.