My partner and I enjoy sailing on Princess and Celebrity ships during teacher holidays (Christmas and summers.) We are in our mid-40's and consider ourselves seasoned passengers. This cruise was a gift to each other and a way to enjoy the holidays...unplugged
We shared a cab from the CountryInn and Suites with friends we met on Cruise Critic (Hi Bob, Joan, Chrystal, Zolly, Andrea, etc) and were disappointed with the poor service by the porters. One poor guy was doing all of the work while one of his colleagues talked on the phone. After the porter delay, embarkation was smooth. We left the hotel at 11:00 and we were on the hotel at 11:45.
Our stateroom wasn't ready until about 1:15, but it was well worth the wait. The shower was large and there was no curtain to smother you. We appreciated the glass door as well as the many shelves and the little light that stayed on all night. There was plenty to do on the tv while getting ready for formal nights etc.; catching up on account balances, checking our most recent photos and watching one of the television stations. Our stateroom attendant Martessa and her assistant Raoul were wonderful. They made sure we had what we needed whenever we asked for it. When poor Martessa was ill one evening, Raoul brought us a copy of the Celebrity Today in German. LOL He quickly rectified the error.
We ate all of our breakfasts in the Oceanview Cafe. Many late mornings meant we arrived as some of the fresh fruit was being taken away or had been eaten. It sometimes took a while for my partner to get a coffee from the coffee bar. The food was typical buffet; adequate, hot but nothing exceptional. It was difficult to move through the Oceanview Cafe at times as the lines tended to go in tangents. There are food stations rather than one or two lines of food.
Our waiter in the Grand Cuvee Dining Room was Gousti and his assistant Zico were both attentive and knew the menu well. Gousti was just starting as a waiter and was keen to keep us happy and ensure we enjoyed our meals. The bar server Sophia always had Diet Coke at my table; we weren't thrilled with the sommelier but we learned that we could trade in our complimentary bottle of champagne for a bottle of wine of equal or greater value. Yes, we did.
Qsine was definitely a highlight of our trip! You must go at least once and experience this dining treasure with friends. The friends we went with the first time joined us on our second visit and had a totally different experience.
We enjoyed our evening with Jesus (although not a religious experience!) the most as he added a bit more to the ambience as a server. I don't want to give too much away except to say it was difficult to say we all were stumped to name just one favourite by the end of the 3 hour dining event. Well worth the extra money!!
Triple scoop loved the gelato at the il Bacio(?)Cafe! The tiny chocolates available at the cafe itself are a well-kept, delicious secret.
Bistro on 5 was the first restaurant we went to as we embarked. The BBQ Piggy and Cowboy crepes are wonderful. Service is hit and miss, depending on the server. Easily worth $5, if only to get away from the crowds of the buffet.
I enjoy seeing the evening performances in the Celebrity Theatre because they are often good quality. Karen Grainger was my favourite (and not just because she's Canadian, eh), followed closely by Judy Kolba. Phil Tag is talented but his comedy is not my style. We were also entertained by the cruise director, Paul Baya as well as Aquadio, the acapella group. Any other performers we heard while walking through the ship were also talented. On the Silhouette, there was always so much to do.
We had the chance to meet some of the singers, dancers and aerial quad members one evening, between dinner and the Karen Grainger show. They are such hard workers and we have a new respect for their role on the shop.
I enjoyed long afternoon naps while my partner played cards with friends in the Oceanview Cafe. Later in the cruise they discovered that Michael's Club was a wonderful location to play with an ambience more conducive to teaching rookies the art of euchre. The Library is beautiful and the Hideaway has a great little coffee station so you don't have to venture up to the buffet.
How lucky were we to celebrate New Year's twice, once in Atlantic time and then again in Eastern Standard time!! Lively entertainment, great friends and a beautiful evening made it a memorable experience. I heard there were a few passengers staggering back their cabins with a tuxedo on at 7:30 the next morning, I know!
On the second last sea day, we ran in to a "low" that caused 12-15 ft waves. The captain gave lots of notice about this system and provided us with ongoing bulletins on one of the television channels. Sea sick pills (like I can spell that word, starts with a d) were available from Guest Relations, bags were at the elevators. Some passengers being ill; more tales of woe the next day. The doors to the outdoor decks were closed. Fortunately, we weren't bothered by the rocking.
Port and Shore Excursions
This itinerary had many sea days and that's what attracted us. The ports were familiar so we only did one private excursion. Our adventures were pretty standard, shopping in St Thomas, eating pastries in Marigot St. Marten, etc.. We were fortunate to meet some great sales people at the Pandora outlet in St. Thomas. Antigua was disappointing, we were on and off the ship in 45 minutes.
Off the ship and in a shuttle in 20 minutes. The bus from the ship to the terminal slowed us down a bit. The driver of the shuttle told us he needed 8 people before he left for the airport. 10 people and 25 minutes later, he finally left. It may have been the reason we couldn't get a standby flight.
When all is said and done, these holidays are what you make them. It doesn't do much to complain about things that are in the process of or can't be improved. We were fortunate to meet up with some terrific people, experience great weather and enjoy a new ship. It doesn't get much better than that!