We wish we had done a back to back, Celebrity is top notch. We can't complain about much, the food was excellent, the shows entertaining, staff was so nice-accommodating, cabin was tight but doable with ample storage and the weather was 95% perfect.
EMBARKATION-We got to the pier early. We were hell bent on scoring a good parking space and we did. We were steps away from check-in and even closer from where we exited the day we returned. We did all our own luggage, it was painless.
PUBLIC ROOMS-The ship is easy to navigate. There was never a problem getting a seat at the shows, a machine in the casino (payout was typical, I guess it's all about knowing when to cash out and walk away), a table at the buffet or a last minute shore excursion. The public rest rooms were immaculate.
CABIN-As said before, we felt our cabin was a bit tight but the bathroom was one of the largest we've had in a very long time. It was a great location, quiet with easy access to stairs, elevators, Internet, library, etc. Beds were very comfortable and linens were wonderful.
RECREATION AND FITNESS-The gym was state-of-the-art but way too small for a ship this size. We managed to get a piece of equipment the first sea day and when we were finished, every single machine was taken including the areas to stretch and work out with weights. We were in port for the next 4 days so we didn't even attempt to go back and blew it off the last sea day as well so it's being judged by the one-time visit. There are signs limiting you to 20 minute workouts but didn't notice one person paying attention and it's obviously not enforced.
FOOD- We headed to the buffet on embarkation day and we had the first of many build-your-own pasta lunches. They had several different pastas with a huge selection of add-ins and a few different sauces. You build it, they toss it in a fry pan so it's hot and fresh.
We had breakfast at the buffet several times as well, everything we tried was very good. We both especially loved the french toast. We had no problems getting a table at breakfast or lunch and never encountered any lines.
We tried all three specialty restaurants and the Bistro on Five which serves crepes and paninis. While all of the places were very good, we favored some over others. We did like the The Bistro so much we returned. The tables in the main dining room were way too close for our liking and glad we didn't eat there often even though we felt the food was far better then most other cruises we've been on. We don't think anyone will be disappointed with the selections offered on this ship.
Try not to miss the brunch on your first sea day. It was wonderful.
Cabin service was limited to the door menu and used more as a wake up call with coffee and juice. ENTERTAINMENT-The shows each night were a step above what we've seen on cruises lately. We're originally from NY so we know Broadway vs. cruise ship. We were pleasantly surprised by the caliber of talent on board. There had an illusionist who was pretty good and mixed in the 7 nights they had 3 production shows which they're now taking to new levels with Cirque du Soleil type aerial acts. We also saw an amazing talent performing classical music, on a xylo-synthesizer, at the speed of light. A super group of 4 young guys that did A cappella, Jersey Boys and Motown performed 2 nights, opening and closing, but you could catch them all around the ship at different times.
There was something going on all over all the time. Some of the other things we did were the Hot Glass Show put on by Corning. It was great but like the name, it was HOT even if you managed to get a seat in the shade. We also did a back stage and galley tour, both were enlightening.
SERVICE-Typically good everywhere we went. Staff was engaging, personable and certainly nicer then either of us could ever be 24/7.
SHORE EXCURSIONS-We did 3 of the 4 ports on-our-own. We only booked one through the cruise line and it was fine. We do feel most of the cruise offerings are over priced. They buy in bulk, it should be less or at least competitive.
GRAND CAYMAN-We did Atlantis submarine at this port. We went down over 100 feet, it was the only way these chickens were going to ever see what's down there as neither of us do water related anything. It was interesting, saw a lot of fish, coral, reefs, etc. It was $84 pre-booked on the Internet and $105 from Celebrity. It's an easy 5 minute walk from where the ship docks. The water was beautiful, the typical Caribbean blue.
COZUMEL-Cozumel brought another first for us, we para-sailed. It was amazing! It's not easy to take off or land but we did it, a bit clumsily, but no broken bones. This was the only excursion through the ship. It was $50 on-your-own, $84 through Celebrity. We had no idea you could get this walking distance from the ship thus our reason for booking with the score excursion desk.
COSTA MAYA-MAYA CHAN-an all-inclusive day resort. It was only about a 10 minute ride but because the roads are so poor it takes more like 20+. This was a little piece of heaven, one of the best kept secrets of this island and the bargain of the century.
Once you get there, you're escorted to your private 8X10 thatched hut with a bed/chaise, pillows and reclining Adirondack chairs. During the morning, they bring around fresh fruit followed by their signature drink, chips with salsa and guacamole and free flowing booze, anything you want from beer, mai-tai's, Bailey's, soda, bottled water, etc.
Lunch is a buffet-all you can eat fajitas with the trimmings. They're made fresh by a local grilling seasoned chicken, steak and fish. They were DELICIOUS.
They have kayak's for your use (encourage races), snorkeling equipment and water chairs. They also have bikes and will escort you on a 2 mile ride. They offer scuba diving for an extra charge as well as massages which we jumped on. It was as good as you get anywhere else for multiple times the price. It was right on the beach under a burlap tarp, $45 for an hour.
This all-inclusive was $49 PP which paid for the transportation, food, drinks, equipment- all but the massage. We we did leave a tip in the Love Box at the bar. What an amazing day! We're going back to Costa Maya in January, we'll definitely be returning to Maya Chan. www.mayachanbeach.com or email@example.com
ROATAN-We had a private taxi tour with Rony's Tours who we found on-line here with great reviews. We contacted him via the Internet and he personally did the tour in his air-conditioned van. He did exactly as we asked, just to see the island with some photo stops and tons of information about their economy, education, prices, etc. Rony worked for Celebrity Cruise lines for 4 years so he knows the ropes and his English is great. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ronystours.com He was wonderful!
We were so pleased overall that we bought into the max of future cruises the last sea day. Your allowed 3 per cabin and with this you get certificates for family/friends as well. Our biggest complaint was that it went far to fast.