I am 26 and my husband is 28. We have no children and prefer a cruise line that is quiet, relaxing, and a provides a calm atmosphere. In the past, we have cruised with Royal Caribbean, and my husband has cruised on Princess. This was our first Celebrity cruise, but we have cruised over 5 times prior.
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise and stayed in the Holiday Inn Express (the one on 84th not 17th street). I was very impressed with the hotel. The room was very large, provided great amenities, and was quiet. The hotel provided a free hot breakfast, as well as free shuttle to and from the airport. There was a fee of $8 per person for a ride to the cruise pier.
Embarkation: We left the hotel at 10:30am and the shuttle dropped off several people at other ships. We were in port with six other ships. Once we were at the correct pier, we were quickly escorted to check in, then given a nice place to sit until the ship was ready for us to board. Total time was less than 30 minutes. We had fun chatting with several other cruise critic members while we waited to board.
Once on board, we were given our choice of champagne or mimosas, There were tables set up around the atrim where you could order drink or specialty dining packages. We purchased the "Savor" package which included 3 meals at the specialty restaurants (2 OceanLiners, 1 Tuscan Grill) and 3 bottles of wine.
We headed to the main dining room to check on our table placement, then went to the buffet for lunch. Our cabin was ready at 1:00. We were booked in one of the "Sweet 16" cabins on deck 6 with the larger balconies. The balcony was indeed double the size of most balconies, including those in concierge class (not aft). We were very happy with our cabin.
Day 1: At Sea
Unfortunately, the seas were very rough at first. The captain said that this crossing was the worst of the season. My husband and I never left our cabin, but spent the day sleeping and trying not to be sick. It was the first formal night, which we missed. The cruise staff switched the production show to another night, and a comedian was on instead (we did not attend).
Day 2: At Sea
Feeling much better this morning, we ventured out to enjoy the ship. The ship is beautiful and very tastefully decorated. We enjoyed the T-Pool almost every day of the cruise. We also enjoyed hanging out with our very large cruise critic group at the Martini Bar every night. What a blast we had! The bartenders began to know us by name, and we enjoyed watching their tricks. As soon as I get the camera out, I will post a video of a 24 martini pour! It was amazing!
Day 3: St. Maarten
Our ship tour (Eco-Snorkel at Pinel Island) was canceled due to lack of participation. We decided to do some shopping, then returned to the ship early for lunch and some relaxation time in the T-Pool. I scheduled a massage, which was wonderful.
Day 4: Antigua
We had booked a private tour through Adventure Antigua for an Extreme Circumnavigation of the island complete with a stop at StingRay City. However, when the speed boat came to pick us up, we were told we were scheduled for the next day!!! We were unable to join the group because it was full. We were pretty bummed, as this was the tour we were the most looking forward to, and had spent the most money on. We were told that our credit card deposit would be refunded, but we will see. I will be sending an e-mail to the company to see what when wrong. Instead of letting this ruin our day, we booked the ship tour to StingRay city (which we had done before), and enjoyed our day despite the set back.
Day 5: St. Lucia
We became 0 for 3 on this island, as our tour to Ti Kaye Village was canceled due to an all day rain. However, we made the best of it by shopping in the morning, and enjoying the local Piton Beer. Then we headed back to the ship for more relaxation time in the T-Pool. We also read a lot during this cruise. We donated 5 books to the library, and I ended up reading a total of 8 books on the cruise. Pure relaxation heaven!
Day 6: Barbados
Today broke the excursion curse! We booked a private tour with SilverMoon and several of our cruise critic friends joined us. We had a blast swimming with the sea turtles, snorkeling a reef and a shipwreck. We ended with a stop at a beach for lunch. This tour was one of the best tours we have taken. The lunch was delicious, and we enjoyed the rum punch on the way back very much.
Day 7: Grenada
I really wanted to visit the spice market in the morning, so we headed off the ship early and I stocked up on Star Anis, Nutmeg, Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, and various gift packages for my friends. We then found a taxi and took an island tour. As we had never been to Grenada, we wanted to see the island. Our driver was great and took us to a place to see green monkeys, a waterfall, and a place where we could see each of the plants the spices on the island come from. We also were able to see St. George's University. It was a beautiful campus, however, if I were to attend there, I don't think I would be able to do any studying, as I would just stare at the beautiful beach/ocean! We found the people on Grenada to be very friendly and we definitely would go back!
This night was also our second formal night. We found it odd that formal night be a day in port instead of our next day at sea, but we made it work.
Day 8: At Sea
Just more reading, relaxing, etc...
Day 9: Aruba
We booked a tour with Mi Dushi, as we were on the island during a holiday and many of the shops were closed. I was expecting a lot of people but there ended up only being 11 people, and we had a blast. We snorkeled at the WWII shipwreck the Antilla, then snorkeled a reef. We were able to enjoy the rope swing, and attempted to do flips, although no one but the crew succeeded. We had some beach time as well. Another wonderful tour.
Day 10: Curacao
We spent the morning shopping, then shared a cab with fellow cruise critic friends to Porta Playa Mari. It was a beautiful beach with decent snorkeling. We saw a sting ray and lots of flounder. The beach takes a while to get to, so don't be shocked when the price is $10 per person, each way.
Day 11: Bonaire
We had heard that Bonaire had the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, so we were ready to see what all the fuss was about. We took a water taxi for $20 per person to Klein Bonaire. We spent about 2.5 hours snorkeling the reef on the South East side of the island. The snorkeling was good, but I would not rank it the best. The best we have done was at Buck Island on St. Croix. The water was more clear, more fish, and the coral was better on St. Croix. However, Bonaire had the best snorkeling of this cruise. Once you swam out past the reef, there was a drop off of about 60-80 feet (we heard someone, another guest, say 200 ft, but they are misguided). After snorkeling we did some shopping and I bought the Bonaire sea salt. I bough 4 packages of bath salts that were infused with scented oils. TSA did NOT like them and inspected our bags (checked bags) thinking they were drugs. However, they made it home with us. They offered a free taster of the spa offerings in the Solarium and I enjoyed a short foot and ankle massage, scalp massage, and mini-facial. It was wonderful.
Day 12: At Sea
We signed up for a behind the scenes tour and toured the engine control room. Earlier in the cruise we did a bridge tour. We felt the tours were pretty boring on this cruise, and passengers asked so many questions so the crew were unable to actually tell us about thing. I wished they would have told people to hold questions the end of the cruise. This was our last formal night, and we enjoyed Tuscan Grill for the second time.
Day 13: At Sea
We enjoyed the T-pool one last time. Read out on the balcony, and just enjoyed the last of the cruise.
Day 14: Back to Ft. Lauderdale
Disembarkation was quick and as painless as can be. Since we had a late flight we had booked a ship tour to do an airboat ride through the Everglades. It was a great tour and we saw several alligators along the way. It was well worth the money, and sure beat sitting in the airport for those extra hours.
Overall, the Cruise was great.
We felt the food was much better on Celebrity than on Royal Caribbean. I felt the portions were larger on Celebrity. We did not particularly enjoy OceanLiners, but Loved Tuscan Grille. OceanLiners felt too "stuff" for us, and the staff, while great, seemed uptight. The food was good, but my husband was allergic to most of the thing on the menu or included in the sides, so that made it a bit less enjoyable. We were very glad we could switch our package to include Two Tuscan Grille nights instead of two OceanLiners.
We felt the service was outstanding, but we can't compare that to Royal, because we always had fantastic service through that line as well.
We liked the ship, but longed for more wide open spaces. I think Royal has the leg up on this one.
Celebrity wins for atmosphere. Hands down we enjoyed the feel of this cruise much more than any on Royal. We saw maybe 10 kids, total! We never smelled smoke, and there were no annoying announcements. We will definitely be booking another Celebrity Cruise! In fact, we did book our next one on board!!