This is my first review on Cruise Critic after hanging around on this board for many months! We left Greenville, SC around 3pm Thursday, March 8 and drove to Jacksonville, FL and stayed at the Hyatt Place near the airport. Wonderful hotel and I would definitely recommend it. We left early Friday morning for our trip to Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and it was good but not great.
Saturday morning, I woke early with so much excitement for our embarkation day! We got to the Cruise terminal by 10:15 and were one of the first few to enter the waiting area. They call you by stateroom type. We were the first there in Aqua Class and no one was there for suites so we were the first to go through the line! I was so excited... only to find out we had to go to another waiting area. I had read about people sometimes being able to board by 10:30 but unfortunately, there was a hang up and we were not able to board until 11:45. After our picture, we were met with Mimosa, champagne and orange juice. We headed straight to Bistro on 5 (tip I learned from Cruise Critic)and enjoyed a very nice lunch. The crepes are very good but we never made it back there the rest of the week. We toured part of the ship and then our staterooms were ready and we headed to check them out. We were on Deck 11 in Room 1632 and our friends were next door in 1634. Our room steward immediately opened the panel on the balcony so that we could visit. We changed into swimsuits and were headed to the pool when our luggage arrived. We took the time to unpack and before we knew it, it was time for the muster drill. People talked over the video and I couldn't hear well. We were in the Ensemble Lounge for the drill. After the drill, it was time for Sail-Away. We went to the Sunset bar and had my first of many virgin pina coladas! Our cruise critic group was to meet at the Sunset Bar and I talked to a few members but it was hard to know who was CC. Leaving Miami was beautiful and I got great pictures of South Beach which was EXTREMELY crowded...maybe because it was spring break for so many people? We toured more of the ship and then it was time to dress for dinner at Blu! We were the first to arrive and chose our table by the windows. Jack and Lizette waited on us all week and we usually sat in the same seats each night. We enjoyed several sunsets from our table! We had shrimp cocktail, corn soup and Filet Mignon. Everything was outstanding but I especially enjoyed the soup. We had Coconut Creme Brulee for dessert. We then headed for the Intro show in Eclipse Theatre. It was a good show but not great!
Sunday morning, we awoke to our coffee being delivered. We enjoyed our balcony with our friends for coffee. We ate in Blu for breakfast and it was a good way to start our first day at sea. We headed for the pool and found chairs on Deck 14. It sprinkled rain three times in about an hour. We kept moving from the deck to the solarium pool. All pool areas were full. It was very hard to find seats. We ate cheeseburgers from the Mast Grill for lunch. Very relaxing day. We dressed for dinner in our formal wear even though it is not required in Blu. There were many others dressed in formal attire too. My husband and I ordered Lobster Bisque soup and Lamb. Soup was great again. I was not thrilled with the lamb and Jack insisted on bringing me a steak. We went to the Pop Rock show and I was not impressed. We did enjoy the A cappella quartet Uncommon Ground throughout the ship during our week. We came back to our room and was surprised with towel animals. Swans. I was not expecting this because of Cruise Critic reviews but I loved them on our last cruise and was excited with our steward's attempt. I enjoyed looking over the Celebrity Daily and highlighting what I wanted to do the following day.
Monday, I had coffee on the balcony and then went back to bed for a little sleep. My husband is an early riser and he enjoyed walking every morning on the track. Late morning, my friend and I enjoyed the wonderful waffles in Oceanview Cafe. There was a line for the waffles every morning we were there. We sat by the pool for a little while and then had our lunch at an aft table outside of the Oceanview cafe. I enjoyed the cafe but I got really spoiled in Blu and didn't enjoy fighting my way through the lines. We arrived in San Juan around 2:30 and we went to the relaxation room to watch us dock. I took lots of pictures and didn't realize til later that the windows were tinted and my pictures didn't turn out great. We decided to go on one of the tours at the end of the dock for $20.00pp. It was a great way to see some of the sights but we only had 30 minutes at the fort and that wasn't long enough to even walk to the entrance and back! Next time I would like to be able to go inside the fort. We stopped by Senor Frogs and were very disappointed in the atmosphere and food. Could not get internet connection even though they advertised free wifi. We enjoyed a fish dish in Blu but I can't remember the name of it. Our friends decided not to go to the show but I am so glad that we went... The magician/comedian Neal Austin was super! I was laughing so hard that I was crying within minutes! I wished he could have performed another night so our friends could have seen the show.
Tuesday, we ordered room service breakfast because we were docking in St. Martin early. The balcony table was not big enough to hold all of our dishes! :) We had booked Bernard's tours through the internet based on reviews from Cruise Critic. Our driver was Junior and he was very funny and tried his best to give away his rum punch! Thankfully, our van of 15 or so were not big partiers. We had several children with us. Junior was very knowledgeable and we made several stops for pictures. My biggest complaint was that we only had 30 minutes in Marigot and only had time to go to Sarafina's. I am glad that we didn't miss that experience though! They had the best pastries I think I've ever tasted! We went to Orient Beach and were very close to the nude beach. I was shocked at how close those people would come to our area of the beach. We did a little shopping in Phillipsburg before going back to our ship. We ate dinner in Blu and saw the circus show. I enjoyed the acts but not the music and dancing. We wanted to go to the Newly Wed game but sleep sounded better at the time! I hate we missed it.
Wednesday morning we ate breakfast in Oceanview Cafe again. We shopped in the port area before hiring a taxi to take us to a beach. I had researched and wanted to go to St. Friar's. Our driver, Queenie, stopped to let me take some pictures of beautiful beaches. We passed a sign for Carambola Beach Resort and I asked Queenie about it. She said it was a "Classy" beach. It was in walking distance from the other beach so we stopped at Carambola. I am so very glad that we did. It was like a five star resort. There was a beautiful bar and restaurant with lots of seating in a beautiful setting with windows all across the front with a great view of the beach. Very nice restrooms with attendant. We paid $10.00 for each chair and umbrella but it was the best 30.00 I've ever spent. Lunch was a little pricey too but the whole ambiance of this place was worth it! Our chairs were very nice wooden ones with comfy cushions. I would definitely go back to this beach! I will try and post pics on the boards later. We ate in Blu and went to the Karen Grainger show. She is a female impressionist and was so talented. It was recommended not to miss the masque theme party. I was so disappointed in this show. Oh well...to each his own!
Thursday morning was another day at sea so I slept late and we all went to the brunch at 10. I am so glad I got there at the beginning because it would have been impossible to get good pics when everyone was milling about. The food was beautiful and good. The strawberries dipped in chocolate fountains were my favorite. We enjoyed another pool day and we also visited the Persian Gardens. Loved those loungers. We tried to use them at other times during our cruise but this was a popular spot! Went to Blu again and I did not write down in my notes what I had for dinner but I am sure it was good. We didn't try any of the other restaurants or the MDR because we were so happy with Blu and Jack and Lizette. We went to the show Ovations. Again, I didn't enjoy this show. I really enjoyed the visiting guest shows much more than the regular shows.
Friday, we woke up to a really bad thunder storm and lots of fog. Within an hour, we had outrun the storm and were in blue skies again. We ate in Oceanview cafe again. Again, we sat by the pool, shopped for some deals and the husbands went to the crew talent show and said that it was really good. We packed our luggage and went to dinner at Blu. The voyage to remember show was really good because they brought back Karen Grainger and Neal Austin. Several nights we ended up on the aft deck outside Oceanview Cafe enjoying coffee. This was our last night so we headed out to have our last nighttime coffee.
I woke up around 4:30 or 5 am to the noises of our home away from home docking in Miami. The skyline was beautiful. We didn't have to disembark until 9:30 so we ate our last breakfast in Blu. It was very sad to say goodbye to Jack and Lizette. It is amazing how close you get to the wait staff. They work so hard for you all week and you feel like friends by the end of the cruise. Disembarkation was very organized and so easy. A porter helped carry our bags all the way to our vehicle and we were out of there by 10:00 am.
Some things that I didn't know before our cruise. The mirror in the bathroom has an oval area that never fogs. Great feature! There was a lighted make up mirror in the drawer at the desk area.
Some things I knew about but enjoyed. In Aqua class, we had footstools on the balcony! Enjoyed the fresh flowers and the fruit bowl! We were upgraded to Aqua and I don't know if I will ever be able to cruise in any other stateroom again! I felt so spoiled and pampered on this cruise. Celebrity got everything right. We will definitely be back!