Travel day - Came in the day before to avoid any possibility of missing this cruise. Flew into Florida via Southwest Airline. Love this airline. We stayed overnight at the Sleep Inn in Dania. So convenient, they have a shuttle service that picks you up at the airport and also will take you to the cruise port for no additional fee. Another great feature at this motel is Walgreens, which is across the parking lot, and Publix is across the street with a Mexican restaurant and a pizza parlor in the shopping area with Publix. We enjoyed a delicious sandwich from Publix with a soda and bag of chips. Just the right start to a lovely cruise.
Embarkation - Arrived at the pier at 12:15pm and had a line coming out the door. Total time to get on the ship was 25 minutes start to finish. The most time we took was deciding if we wanted to get in the Elite line or the CC class. We looked and ten people were in the Elite line and two in the CC class. Opted for CC class line for lazy reasons...didn't want to stand in line.
Room - We had a CC2 which was nice. The same size as a regular verandah with a few extra perks that were nice. The sparkling wine and fresh fruit was nice. Did not have to go out of the room for breakfast had fruit right there! Plenty of storage with the drawers and closet. It seems the verandah could have used just 6 more inches and it would have been perfect.
Connections Party - Celebrity provided the food and drink, but Sue the CD was ill and could not talk poor thing and the officers were busy so none came and it was left up to us. We all enjoyed talking to each other again after seeing most of the people at sail away that had been arranged on the boards. Great CC group!
Ship - The ship looked great with the refurb. All the public areas were clean and I always saw someone wiping down the rails and cleaning somewhere. The only place that there was any issues was the pool area and the Persian Gardens. The hot tubs were down most of the cruise in the pool area and at the Persian Gardens they could not regulate the temps in the steam saunas. Whew one day it was so hot you could not walk in then it was perfect then it was too cool and you could have stayed in the Turkish Sauna all day and not broke a sweat. It seems they always had someone in there trying to adjust. But, it was still a relaxing way to spend an hour.
Service - After a little rocky start we felt very lucky to get our room steward Lourdes and her assistant Priem (sorry for spelling). We were taken care of beautifully, but I think the one thing that RC does right is having the room tags you put in your door so the stewards know they can come in and clean. Celebrity take the hint! Waiters and dining staff were okay but did not feel they cared one way or another. We switched tables half way through the cruise and would have loved our assistant waiter from our first week and the waiter our second week. The concierge Remco was helpful and the Maitre'd was also helpful. I just didn't feel the "I want this to be the best cruise of your life." Feeling I usually feel. I don't know maybe it was me.
Food - Actually I have in the past felt..."I didn't have to cook so it is good"...this time I felt the food was so lacking most of the time and then it shone at others. The Sea Bass was the best but most any of the beef dishes left a lot to be desired. I think the chef needs to forget about the fancy sauces and concentrate on the best way to cook the meat to make it a bit more tender. This is just my opinion. Breakfast was room service most days and one day at Sea Side Cafe and one day in the restaurant for the brunch. Was most happy eating breakfast on my verandah as we pulled into port or cruised the ocean. During lunch they had the best ribs at the grill next to the pool. Would go inside and get a salad then bring it out and devour the ribs. Best lunch around! Specialty Restaurant Ocean Liners - the food was excellent the Lobster Bisque was very good, again more emphasis on the sauces on the meats than the actual cooking of the meat. A very subjective subject so I will not comment anymore.
Ports: St. Maarten - We have done a private excursion and just wandered around town and the beach around town and loved them both. This time I felt our money was wasted with the shore excursion we picked. Actually it was the third one we picked the first two were canceled. Spent way too much money to go to the Butterfly Farm then take the bus to a shopping bazaar just like the ones by the port. Save your money on the Butterfly Farm and Marigot excursion.
Antigua - A very nice excursion. Went to a resort beach that had an open air cafe sitting on the water and had a typical buffet lunch. FYI, Drinks at the buffet were not included so bring the rum punch or just a punch that is provided at the beach to the cafe.
St. Lucia - Again our shore excursion was canceled so we decided to take a chance with another couple and book a tour at the information desk. We used Pursuit Tours and they were fantastic! We took a speed boat along the coast to the other side of the island with stops in the different coves to see the sights. Then stopped and got in a taxi (included in the price) which took us to the mud baths and hot springs at the Pitons. We then went to a waterfall which had another mud bath and hot spring lake to soak in. Warning: The walk to the waterfall is strenuous. I went most of the way but stopped at the viewpoint and watched. We then had a nice drive back to the boat where they let loose and we sped back to our ship! Awesome time! Favorite port #1.
Barbados - Did Harrison Caves and tour of island. Again the caves were fantastic and would do them again in a heartbeat but the tour? I did not understand how it could be called a tour we went to the caves and back to the ship the same way. Nice excursion but lacking any sightseeing. It could have been because they had a bank holiday that day.
Grenada - Loved this excursion! Hi Foxy! We took a 64 year old wooden bus to two forts and then to a beach where we had a lovely swim. Saw a couple from CC on the beach and talked to them for a while. Our tour guides knew so much about and showed their love for this island. I wanted to know what bread fruit was so they stopped the bus, pointed it out and explained how the islanders use bread fruit. I could not believe the houses that were built on the sides of the mountains! I don't think I could live there, but it was beautiful!
Aruba - Have been to Aruba in the past and decided to walk around town where we found the best little jewelry store hidden away. Best shopping day!
Curacao - Again have been here before and decided to stay in town and walk around. Second best shopping day. The town is lovely. The store fronts are such awesome colors in all the pastels.
Bonaire - This was the last stop and the best stop in my opinion. It is not commercialized. It is a real town with local shops. Sure some commercialization but the most authentic atmosphere. Our excursion was one of the best also. Did the Eco Mangrove Boat trip. Loved this excursion - 2nd best excursion we did and our guide was fabulous.
Disembarkation - We were delayed for 40 minutes due to customs, but once our color was called we were off the ship and through customs in record time. We then grabbed a taxi and went to the airport with two hours to spare for our 11:00am flight.
All in all it was a good cruise and the itinerary was the best itinerary we have been on. Can't wait to see some of our cruise buddies on another cruise!