Our trip began by leaving a lovely 2 degree midwest winter and arriving in Florida with the temp of 87. We fly Southwest so always go into Fort Lauderdale. In the past we have come in only one day early and stayed in Fort Lauderdale. This trip we come in on Thursday and stayed at South Beach. In the past we have consistently used QLS shuttle service, which is great, but I read about SAS on these boards and they quoted us a cheaper price to South Beach ($15.00 each). SAS called us as we were getting our luggage and arrived a few minutes later. They had a couple of other people in the van who had to be dropped of at another hotel, but this was no problem and we were soon dropped off in front of our hotel. I would definitely use SAS again.
South Beach - We had some reward points and stayed at the Beacon. This hotel is right in the middle of where you want to be. Right on Ocean Drive and easy walking to everything South Beach. I had read about this hotel on Trip Advisor and it had pretty good reviews. Yes the room was small, but it was clean. No we didn't have a view, our room overlooked the fire escape and back alley and at 7:30 both mornings the trash truck dumped the dumpster. It was still a great place to stay. The staff was very friendly and the room was clean. We definitely liked South Beach and will probably stay here before our future cruises.
Celebrity here we come - The morning of our cruise we took a cab to the pier around 11:00. It took about 20 minutes and after check in we were on the ship by 12:30. Very easy and on par with other lines we have cruised.
The ship was very nice, as we expected with it being new. The champagne welcome was a great little extra that you don't get on other lines. We did some exploring then we decided to start making use of the drink package we had purchased. We took up seats at the Martini Bar (with the ice bar top) and spent the rest of the afternoon sampling. In the past we would have gone up to the buffet, but we had so much fun in the Martini bar that we drank our lunch and three martini's each later we headed to find our room. This bar is the hot spot for this ship. In reading previous reviews I was expecting the Molecular Bar to be the "go-to" place, but on this cruise it was the Martini bar and the two times we went to the Molecular bar it only had a handful of people.
ROOM- we were in room 7305. This is the room that is last on the side at the back of the ship. It has been described as having a larger balcony but no view down or back. The room itself is similar to other cruise lines size wise, but it had some nice Celebrity upgrades. First, the rounded bed made it feel like there was more space to move around. The bedding was very comfortable. The bathroom had that wonderful curved shower door. Storage is similar to other lines. The balcony was the hidden gem. It had a overlap above that provided covering and the extra space allowed us to stand further out from the ship which enabled us to see down the whole ship side without leaning over the railing. Looking down you see the solar panels, but they were not a problem at all as you could see past them easily and into the ocean. Not being able to see the back of the ship was never an issue for us since looking forward and out was such a delight.
DINING- We had Select Dining and our dinner times varied from 6:30 to 8:30 on any given day. We always sat at a table for two. Yes the tables were close together, but if the dining room wasn't full, they made sure to separate the diners. Most of the nights we had a table by the window and on the last night there was a full moon which made this a beautiful view. We aren't that picky of eaters and we found something on the menu each night that we enjoyed. The Beverage package again was a big plus as we each had a couple of glasses of wine at dinner and then my husband had a Kaluha with his dessert. We ate at two speciality restaurants. Tuscan Grille was a wonderful experience with the best filet I've had in a long time. The staff was wonderful and it was a great anniversary dinner. Qusine was also great. The food was good and the presentation is worth the money alone. We made a point of eating a very light lunch that day to save room and it worked out pretty good as we tried several items. Both speciality restaurants dinners were accompanied with glasses of wine.
ENTERTAINMENT- Somehow the seven days flew by and we never attended a show. We spent alot of time listening to the live band D'revalation. They were very good.
In follow-up, we loved Celebrity. We loved the beverage package, we drank latte's in the morning, bottles of water during the day. Soda at lunch and numerous cocktails. We never once signed a slip or had anyone treat us rudely because we had the package (someone mentioned this on the boards). I took our final bill and added up what we would have spent without the beverage package and found that we came ahead. This trip was one of the best we have had and will definitely travel with Celebrity again.