We left cold snowy Arkansas on the 21st of January heading to Miami. Arrived Miami about an hour late due to tarmac delay to de-ice the wings in Arkansas. We left bitter cold to arrive at a very rainy, but 77 degree Miami.
Spent the night at the Holiday Inn Downtown, across from Bayside and about ten minutes from the cruise terminal. We've stayed here before, not a five star hotel, but very clean and accommodating.
Friends from Ohio were flying in as well. After check in we all headed to Bayside. Grabbed a mid-afternoon snack and walked through all the stores and headed for dinner at Lombardi's. After a filling dinner, we headed to the CVS pharmacy, to buy wine for the cruise. Amazingly CVS has a nice selection of wines. After CVS we headed back to the hotel.
Saturday morning began with a nice breakfast, followed by a quick repack and hailing a cab.
Got to the pier and cruise terminal without incident. A quick check-in, no hassles at all. Followed by a short wait to board the ship. On board we walked the ship a bit and then selected "The Bistro on 5" to have lunch. Most things on board are included in your cruise fare, however, ships have specialty restaurants that require an additional fee. Bistro on 5 was an additional $5 per person, well worth it as it wasn't crowded and offered a nice selections of made to order sandwiches and salads.
While having lunch the announcement came over the PA that guests staterooms were ready. So after lunch we went to our cabin. Our cabin was next door to our friends, which made things convenient. Cabins were very roomy and our balcony was one of the largest due to its location on the hump. This is where the ship extends out a bit, quite nice.
The ship is very well laid out and navigating throughout the ship is rather easy. The ship in all has sixteen decks. Deck two has the medical clinic as well as the gangway for getting on and off the ship in ports. Deck three hosts the Guest Relations and Shore Excursion desks and the Grand Foyer. Deck four and above host the gift shops, bars, restaurants, spa, theater, and Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria. Guest cabins are on all decks.
Our ports of call were Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Roataan, Honduras. We got off at the latter three, foregoing Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman, although very nice, requires the ship to anchor out beyond the reefs and then tender its passengers to shore. Tendering is not our favorite thing to do, as many times the water is rough and you end up bobbing up and down for the twenty or so minute ride in.
Costa Maya found us at our favorite haunt, Pez Quadro, where the girls got massages on the beach, like $25 for an hour, and John and I sat and drank beer. After the girls were done we ordered lunch. Pez Quadro is clean and the food is great. John had a super deluxe nacho plate, Susan had lobster tacos and Lee and I shared a combo plate. After lunch we walked the shoreline and caught a cab back to the ship.
We were supposed to take an island tour in Roataan, but Susan was not feeling well, so Lee and I got off and shopped the local area.
Cozumel found John and Susan swimming with the dolphins, while Lee and I took a Salsa and Salsa tour. This is the same group we did this tour with in Matzatlan in 2007. And it was equally as fun. Check out their website at salsaandsalsa.com, you can also find them on Facebook.
The ship was great. We dined in the Moonlight Sonata, which is the main dining room, three of the seven nights aboard. The other nights found us sampling the specialty restaurants. Qsine, which is very unique and a dining experience that took a bit over three hours. Murano's, probably our favorite. The presentation very personal, as some meals and desserts were prepared table side. Lastly was the Tuscan Grille, an Italian Steakhouse. Very elegant and the food pretty darn good. As stated earlier, each of the specialty restaurants required an additional per person fee which I think was like $15 per person.
The ship also offered the Mast Grill where one could enjoy burgers, hot dogs fries, Polish sausage, onion rings and more. And the Oceanview Cafe which was a buffet, and open for each meal. Not your usual walk down a long serving line, rather they had several islands with each island offering a different cuisine. Everything from eggs to order, Belgian waffles, stir fry, sushi, salads, carved meats, smoothies, desserts and a lovely ice cream bar. I'm sure I'm missing something, but you get the idea. Also offered is the AquaSpa Cafe, and yes, by the name you've guessed that serve up the healthy foods. We walked by a few times, but never sampled any of the offerings, although it all looked so good. But hey, we were on vacation, who thinks healthy!!!!
The one show we saw was great, a female impressionist. She sang with the voices of Cher, Celine Dion, and Michael McDonald to name a few.
The ship was pretty spectacular and believe this or not had lawn. Yes real grass! They had golf putting, bocce ball and even had a picnic on the lawn. Very serene just sit on the lawn and watch the sea go by. They had a Solarium that was adults only which they enforced and it offered a very nice quiet place to read and relax.
I think it was the day we were Roataan that we decided to take in a movie while on board, we went to see Social Network.
The most interesting bars were the Molecular bar which specialized in drinks created a mixologist, the liquid nitrogen was the neatest. The Martini bar and Crush were very cool. Crush was a table with ice that specialized in vodkas. Every flavor, brands etc. Quite entertaining to say the least.
Many different clubs and lounges, too many to mention individually.
The only complaints were the dance venues. The best music was by the D'Revalations and most of the time they performed in the Grand Foyer 3. Dance floor not big enough and the down staircase basically led to the middle of the dance floor. There was a Big Band hour performed by the ships orchestra, however, they didn't play any Big Band, so just not sure why they labeled it a Big Band Dance Hour. The Sky Lounge, which had a wonderful dance floor was seldom used except for theme stuff, and then the place of course was packed.
Overall the cruise was great and we surely recommend it. Usually on ships past, everything gets quiet by eleven, not the case with this ship. At one in the morning the ship was still alive with activity. So Celebrity must be doing something right!!!!