This was a healing cruise for my Mom and me - my Dad died unexpectedly March 5 - and for my dear friend and her 15 year old daughter and 11 year old son - they are enduring a brutal never-ending-divorce. We drove from just north of Orlando to Miami Saturday morning without incident or delay arriving at the Miami port right at 12:15 p.m. We were all so very excited! We were going to enjoy every single moment possible on this cruise! Mom and I breezed right through check in as we have passports. I had told my friend - MANY times - that they all needed state issued birth certificates and gov issued photo id. Short version of the story - she did not bring her birth certificate! I don't have to tell you, I was furious - especially since I paid for everything! Again, short version: the Celebrity land-based crew were awesome. They did everything they could short of producing her birth certificate. As wonderful as they were, my husband was more so. He had dropped us off and headed back. He turned around, came back, and sat in the hot sun - with my precious Morkie - waiting to see if my friend would be permitted to board. She was not! I took the two kids and my Mom and we boarded the ship. Just as we were about to sail, my friend called me asking for a certain bag that was in their cabin. So, I dashed off the ship - by now, all ship board crew members knew the story of the children who's mother wasn't able to sail with them because she didn't bring her birth certificate - raced the bag to her and dashed back on the ship!
Still keeping the short version: My friend returned to Miami to the passport office first thing Monday morning, received a passport, boarded a plane to Jamaica with ample time to join the ship in Ocho Rios. The Drama did not end here. There was something wrong with the plane and they had to exit the plane and board another. Short version - she barely made the ship in Ocho Rios, but make it she did. Crew members were there to escort her children to her and to assist with warmly welcoming her aboard. It was GREAT!
On to the ship review: Staterooms: I booked 4117 and 4119 two of the very few adjoining cabins on the ship. The cabins were spacious, clean, and had ample storage. Unfortunately, directly above 4117 is an area that houses the ship's gargantuan garbage disposals/pulverizers. And, yes, they went at all hours of the day and night. It was awful! I think the guest services people - especially Remco - felt VERY sorry for me what with my having to supervise 2 children and change my excursions, etc. They ended up moving Mom and me to a concierge class cabin with a balcony. Needless to say, we are never going back to no balcony! We are completely hooked. The bathrooms in both cabins were spacious and had ample/creative storage. The shower is quite comfortable, great water pressure, and roomy. I do carry a suction mount soap dish and shampoo bottle holder for the shower and they came in very handy. We also appreciated the retractable clothes line in the shower.
Ship Info and Service: I LOVED this ship and crew and cannot wait to return for a romantic cruise with my husband. All of the lounges, shops, public areas, theaters, etc. were clean, tastefully decorated and appointed, comfortable, and, most importantly, the perfect size! We were on a Christmas cruise with over 3000 passengers and hated it. This, with around 1800 passengers, was like I imagine heaven... Ship crew ALL greeted us and worked to take care of us. I was apprehensive about this as I had read several negative reviews. Thankfully, we experience nothing negative. When Remco, again, I just can't say enough about this guy :), received the go ahead to move Mom and me, he personally came to find us to ask if we would object to moving (HA!) and arranged for a steward to assist us with transferring our things. Additionally, guest relations sent us a complimentary bottle of wine on top of the champagne and fruit in our new cabin. Many of the crew recognized that my last name is Serbian and shared that they were from Serbia...interesting and made for an immediate personal connection that they each made it a point to greet me by name whenever they saw me. The crew also went out of their way to make sure the 2 children were well taken care off during the days and evenings when their mother was not aboard. What fabulous people! When Lisa, the cruise director, and I were speaking, I mentioned that I had met Hon'Nee my Cruise Critic friend (that's another whole story on it's own)and her mother and we enjoyed dinner together at Murano's. Lisa was excited to learn that there was a Cruise Critic group aboard and insisted on arranging a meet and greet/reception for us even after I said it was rather small - maybe 20 people - They put the announcement in the Daily thingy and set us up in the Rendezvous Lounge. They provided 2 waiters, drinks (champagne, mimosas, etc. and sodas) and heavy, delicious hors de vordes. Several officers, one of whom was Captain Zulu from South Africa, and Lisa all joined us. Unfortunately, US equaled 4!!!! Mom, me, Hon'Nee, and her Mom. I was embarrassed, but the Celebrity people insisted we eat, drink, and enjoy!!! And so we did.
Dining: we tried it all (buffet, main dining, Murano, room service) with the exception of the sushi and loved everything except the ice cream. It wasn't as rich as say Bruster's. But, who wants ice cream anyway? There was so much decadent food - bread pudding with butter rum sauce!! Baked Alaska!! Frozen Drink-of-the-Day!! I will agree with one poster that the drink waiters were not that plentiful, but, hey! It wasn't that hard to saunter up to the bar for a soda fill up or a frozen drink order. It allowed me to move around and meet more of the terrific crew! The desert buffet was OUT OF THIS WORLD! Don't miss it!!!
Activities and Children's Club: we enjoyed all of the shows. Word to parents - they really mean it when they say ADULT comedy. Do everyone a favor: don't take your children to the adult show(s). The kids programs are phenomenal. All of the crew working with the kid programs either have or are earning degrees in education! As a teacher and a parent and a grandparent, I find that nothing short of amazing! We especially appreciated the fact that church services were provided every single day of the cruise. This was especially comforting to Mom and me as it was Easter Sunday and Dad's 1 month since passing was April 5 and we were on a ship. Dad loved to sail and he really enjoyed the Christmas cruise we just took so it seemed appropriate that we were on a ship, attending Catholic mass, and remembering Dad.
Disembarkation was painless, with the exception of the customs lines. That was ridiculous! I think there were only 2 or 3 agents for a ship of 2000 passengers. Nonsense. Oh well. We snagged a porter and he took all of our bags all the way to the parking garage. What a blessing he was!!
For future cruises we will try to book only cruises offering a sea day between each port.
I cannot emphasize enough what a great time we had and how fabulous the crew were to us. They worked very hard to ensure that we all had a memorable cruise experience and as a result, we did and can't wait to return to experience more of the CHARMA' of the Celebrity Century!