We flew into San Juan as we have found it is better to begin a cruise there when your are doing the Southern Caribbean. We stayed a night at the Hampton Inn in the Isla Verde area as we have done before. It is nice, convenient to the airport and nearby beach area. The Intercontinental on the beach a few blocks away has a neat restaurant right overlooking the beach. Good place to relax, have a few cold ones and a bite to eat. We also enjoyed hanging out at the bar/grill by the pool at the Hampton Inn. They also provide a good breakfast in the morning. The next day we did a late checkout and taxi to the pier where we dropped our luggage and were aboard ship fairly quickly. We walked around the ship to get our bearings and our room was already available. We had a stateroom with balcony which is the only way for us to go. For us it is worth the extra money to look out at the sea and have coffee on the patio in the morning. There must have been some type of illness on the previous sailing because we were told that everyone from the captain on down spent the morning scrubbing down the entire ship. And for a few days we were like the boy in the bubble as we could not touch anything in the restaurants including salt, pepper or any condiments. Staff wearing gloves served us everything including water or coffee. After three days they must have gotten the all clear and we went back to the normal hygiene practice of prell everywhere but could serve ourselves.
Our room was nice, well kept and in good condition. I know the ship had recently been in dry dock for updating and we did not think the wear and tear of the ten years or so was visible and everything seemed in good shape and clean. I was especially impressed at the effort that was made to keep common areas such as bathrooms clean.
We had heard some criticism of the food on cc but found the food selection, quality and service to be outstanding. Maybe Celebrity heard and acted on the comments. Of course you can't please some people. They want Walmart pricing and receive Ritz quality. We did not expect five stars and do not think giving stars is even appropriate when the ship is trying to turn out dinner for several thousand people in a short time. What we was received was very good and if ever there were a doubt something else was quickly substituted. One night without me ever saying anything our headwaiter could tell I was not really enjoying my entre so he came over and inquired whether he could bring something else and did so promptly.
We were very pleased with our room steward, our head waiter and his assistant, as well as the rest of the ship staff. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and very accomadating.
We were not blown away by the entertainment but found it satisfactory overall. I do think Celebrity could do better on their sailaways from ports. The sort of caribbean group that played sometimes was just weak to okay. My wife really got tired of hearing "Buffalo Soldier". I think they had a limited repertoire. There was a kind of folk singer guy who we found playing sometime on the back of the ship and he was great. But the cruise was almost over by the time we made the discovery. I told Celebrity they should have him do some sailaways. Also told them they should have some signage outside restaurants,etc. telling people where various entertainment is each day. They do move around and perform at different times. I know the daily sheet gives that information but some signage would be helpful.
Celebrity did an excellent job of getting us on the ship and as good a job getting us off. We had an early flight back to Atlanta and received the luggage tags to get us off the ship as soon as it cleared customs. We appreciated their responding to our need.
We will definitely sail Celebrity again. We prefer the larger RC ships and their sailaways are better but feel Celebrity provides a very good product and service for the price. Princess comes in third for us from our single experience mainly because of the strange design and flow getting around their ship. But we would go on Princess again if the itinerary were only available there.
Looking forward to our next cruise. Haven't done the Mediterrean yet and hope to do it soon.