We are a couple in our 30's/40's, and although this was our first cruise, we usually travel to 5 star all-inclusive resorts. We are not independently wealthy, so we do not usually lead the posh lifestyle, but vacation is very precious to us so we try to make the most of it, while getting good value for our money. I did a lot of research before choosing this vacation, and Celebrity cruises did not disappoint!
Much has been said in the reviews about the layout of the ship and the restaurants, so I won't dwell on the details. Instead, I'll just focus on things that we really enjoyed, and one or two things that we would have done differently.
Pre-cruise: Hyatt place fort lauderdale. Would not stay there again. Old dated rooms. Would try Marriott instead (next door to Hyatt).
Purchased 2 bottles wine and brought them on board. Our cabin attendant cleared space in the fridge for us to chill the white wine.
Food: We ate at Bistro on 5 for lunch the first day. We didn't even consider the buffet for the first day since we were really quite grumpy from our travel and crummy hotel stay. Bistro on 5 hit the spot with both food and service, but it was not so outstanding compared to the rest of the onboard food that we ever went back during the rest of the cruise.
We ate at all 3 specialty restaurants. Yes, they were all very good, no we would not do this again. As my husband said by day #8 - "I think I've had a food overdose". It was just too much of a good thing to eat at all 3 - I would probably just pick 1 specialty restaurant next time.
Main dining room - food was outstanding, service was exemplary. Server Melini and assistant server Aris were eager to please and worked very, very hard. Yes, they had many tables, but still made us feel like we were the only ones in the dining room. We enjoy wine, but we don't purchase it by the bottle, and the wine steward Rita went above and beyond to make sure we had something we liked. She helped us identify why we didn't like something, and listened carefully to what we thought to help us make a better choice. We had the beverage package, so she did all of this even knowing that we weren't purchasing expensive bottles of wine, only those that were included in the package.
Cabin: Inside cabin, deck 8. Perfectly spacious for 2 people. Didn't spend a lot of time in the cabin. Comfy bed. Cabin steward Francisco was always available, very quick to respond to requests, and always greeted us by name. I would definitely book another inside cabin - I don't think that we would have used our balcony anyways since it was too windy at night to sit outside.
Experienced ship people told us that on these bigger ships with stabilizers, you would hardly feel the ship move. Yes, we felt the ship move. Even down on deck 3 midship we felt the ship move. Day 2 we were both feeling out-of-sorts adjusting to this strange new feeling. For this reason, I would not hesitate to pick a more port-intensive cruise. At least then, it's your choice whether to get off the ship, and at least while in port, the ship stops moving.
Side note: We have seen many people refer to staff by name on these reviews, and we have never considered ourselves to be people who do this - but the staff on this ship were so lovely that you couldn't help but want to know them better. They truly elevated our experience from great to outstanding!
Excursions: Okay....here is where we had a problem. In hindsight, the ports and the excursions is where this vacation fell apart. I picked the wrong itinerary. We got a taxi and spent days at Nachi Cocum and Pez Quadro in Cozumel and Costa Maya. The beach days were good, but I have no desire to go back to either one of these places. Costa Maya really is a McPort - made up specifically for tourists. The adjacent town of Mahajual is only marginally better because of the beach.
Costa Rica was good - I booked the Aerial Tram and Zip Line tour with the cruise line, and they cancelled it for lack of interest, so we had to rebook, and booked just the Aerial Tram. This is a good tour if you wish to see plants of the rainforest, but by the time it takes to get there (2hours), you arrive at mid-day, so don't expect to see Monkeys or birds - apparently, they don't like tourists, or the mid-day heat....The guide Eddy was very good for this excursion, giving us lots of information about Costa Rica.
Booked the tour with MyFriendMario in Panama but didn't go - after the let down in the Costa Rica rainforest (we wanted to see monkeys) we were apprehensive about another day at the rainforest.
Went on Delux Cartagena and Fortress tour in Colombia (ship excursion). Tour guide had a very heavy accent, so was difficult to understand. Old city was beautiful, but the shopping time was very limited. This tour felt rushed.
Grand Cayman: 10 minutes before we were scheduled to go on our tour, they called our room to let us know it had been cancelled because the water was too rough at stingray city. This was a huge disappointment. Then the activities staff didn't know if ALL the water activities were cancelled, or just the stingray city tour. We just took a taxi to 7 mile beach and walked, remaining very disappointed that Stingray city was cancelled. Grand Cayman is definitely the place if you are looking to buy jewelry, but it's very expensive for anything else. A personal size pizza and a drink at Margaritaville was $22. Ouch!
The drinks at any of the beach clubs were $10 each (and did not include the chair and the umbrella, also $10 each).
Entertainment: We went to most of the shows, and we enjoyed them.
Activities: Lots to choose from - we only chose a few, but those that we did choose were good. My only word of caution is the Shopping Seminars related to shopping at the ports of call - they are really just one big informercial put on by a "Retail Therapist" (Tana) who sounded robotic in her delivery.
Disembarkation: Ridiculous. Granted, it is not Celebrity's fault that that it took us 2 hours to get off this ship and get through customs. But really, only 4 (Four!) customs agents working to clear over 1800 non-u.s. citizens. It might be the new Oasis of the Seas cruise terminal, but it did not impress us at all.
Overall, I would not hesitate to book a Celebrity Cruise again, or to recommend it to friends.