This cruise was my 7th cruise and my husband's 1st cruise. I've been on Celebrity 5 times and Carnival once.
We stayed 2 nights pre-cruise at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. A great place to stay!
Our itinerary was:
Half Moon Cay
I picked this cruise for my hubby's first for several reasons--
--it left from Fort Lauderdale (easy flights for us)
--it went to Aruba and Curacao, which are in the very southern part of the Caribbean and would most probably have nice warm weather in January
--it had 3 sea days to relax
--I wanted to try another cruise line
--Half Moon Cay was a new port for me
--the price for a balcony guarantee was right for us
I've been to Aruba and Curacao twice before on previous cruises.
We had a very nice time on the Westerdam. The ship's interior was nicely done and very classic. It was spotlessly clean! We enjoyed the promenade deck.
We had a VH guarantee and got a VA veranda cabin just off the aft on deck 8. It was a good location for us. Sometimes a little noisy from the lido deck above but, never really bothersome. We REALLY enjoyed the balcony!
The service was good both in our cabin and the dining room. In the dining room we had a set reservation at 6 pm each night at the same table for 6. We especially liked our waiter, Supardo. The food was very good, especially if one stuck to the waiter's recommendation. We asked him every night what the best selection was and went with that. We were never disappointed! Sometimes our table-mates were disappointed with their choices--they didn't ask for a recommendation :)
Our fellow passengers leaned toward the older side of the curve. Most were very nice and we enjoyed them. A few were pushy and demanding.
We didn't care for the nightly shows (only went once) or the other entertainment. It got very quiet after 10 pm.
Half Moon Cay was very nice (8 am-3 pm). The weather was a bit cool and cloudy but, I still managed to get sunburned :( We just walked down the beach until we found a quiet place and lounged in the chaises.
Aruba was OK (1 pm-11 pm), kind of odd hours. We were late arriving (1:30'ish). We took the public bus with another family for all of our transportation. We beached it during the day at the Amsterdam Manor hotel ($5/person for a towel, chaise and palapa table umbrella) and finished the early part of the evening by doing a little browsing/shopping in the high rise area and back to the ship by 8 pm.
We loved Curacao (8 am-5 pm). We're divers and dove there with the Dive Bus. It was a great time! Suzy and Mark (the owners) are really great and run a super dive shop.
Overall, we had a very nice time. The food, service, passengers and ship were all good. We just think for our next cruise we will go with Celebrity. I've enjoyed my 5 other cruises with Celebrity and think my hubby would too. HAL was just a little too sedate for us (and we're pretty low key people).
I do think that HAL has better itineraries than Celebrity though.
We would certainly go on HAL again for the right itinerary and price but, it might not be our first choice if all things were equal.