We took the cruise to the Eastern Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale on February 6th. Our first Celebrity cruise.
The best surprise about the cruise was that there were no surprises. The boat was very nice, extremely well maintained. The staff was very friendly and attentive. The food was better than average. The itinerary ended up suiting us perfectly. As has been stated in other reviews, the only shortcoming was the entertainment and night life. Celebrity should put more effort into live shows and entertainment in the smaller venues. The comedian was good, but he had one act and repeated it three nights. The ship really does go to bed at 23:00. The disco was very nice, music was good except there were at most, half a dozen people there. We couldn't figure out why most of the 20somethings didn't go to the club at night. One thing that may help is if there were theme nights, women drink for free, etc. However, on the plus side, we were not barraged all day long by over caffeinated activity directors, unnecessary announcements and ear splitting music that is the norm on other cruise lines. This is a mature crowd that likes to do what they want, when they want and not be annoyed. There were activities during the day but it was up to you to seek them out. There were very few children and most guests were in the 50-65 yr. range and were pleasant and well mannered.
Noro virus. We were sent a letter a few days before we left that there were issues on the previous cruises and were offered the opportunity to cancel and/or reschedule. We took the chance and went as scheduled. The boarding was delayed by two hours in order to give the crew extra time to sanitize the boat. This caused a bit of a hassle checking in since the time was compressed and this resulted in an hour long line up to check in. Once through, everything proceeded efficiently and as quickly as possible.
It turned out to be a complete non issue for us and the people that we spoke to on board. No one we knew encountered any problems. The fact that the crew took significant precautions was appreciated by us and out shipmates. Constantly squirting hand sanitizer in your hands was appreciated by most however, incredibly, a few morons were offended by the procedure. Also, the fact that there was no self service at the buffets was actually a big plus for us. We much preferred the staff handling the food and serving pieces. It was less convenient but in such a minor way that it is ridiculous to complain about it.
Spent one evening dining in Murano. Do NOT miss it. It is well worth the money. The food was excellent. The room is lovely. The service and table side preparation was attentive and not pretentious. If you want three appetizers, go ahead. If you want a few desserts, go ahead. The staff are very accommodating. Highlight, foie gras, souffles for dessert.
Wandered around old San Juan, not much unique. Went up to old fort. Nice views. St. Thomas, good shopping, Coach etc. Visited old Synagogue, was given brief lecture and tour by Cantor. Very interesting. Took group taxi tour of Island. Better option than booking with cruise line. They are all lined up at the dock and easy to find. Shopping. Other reviews had mentioned that St. Maarten had better shopping and prices. We found that prices were the same and shopping was equally good. Take your pick. Don't bother waiting for a better bargain in St. Maarten. Save your time and go to Orient Beach or shop at the dock side shops at the end of the day. In actual fact, we went to the main shopping district on St. Maarten only to be sent to Little Switzerland's dock side store to get the watch that I wanted. They had the same selection and exactly the same pricing as St. Thomas. Sometimes the larger jewelry chains have special pricing on watches. Ask, since they are not very clearly advertised. St. Maarten, went to Orient beach. It is a great way to spend the day. Shop the different beach chair rentals. We took the first one and found out later that down the beach, towards the 'natural beach' area, the rentals were less expensive. We paid $20 for two chairs and an umbrella. The beach is expansive and beautiful. There were six ships docked including the Allure and there was still lots of room on the beach. There are lots of women walking around topless but it really is a non issue. The nude beach may make some of you feel a little uncomfortable. Just sit somewhere else. The atmosphere was very laid back and very comfortable.
The sea days on board were very relaxing and enjoyable. The only complaint is that the "chair hogs" were out in full force. I'm an early riser so I staked out my claim by 8am. Even then, it was slim picking in the choice areas. The pool butlers did walk around putting cards on chairs stating that if the chair was left unoccupied for half an hour, the belongings would be removed. This was a good idea in principle however, there was no follow through. They never went back around to enforce the deadline.
All in all, a most enjoyable cruise.