From Valparaiso to Fort Lauderdale is a very long way both in distance and in culture. The journey was fascinating. Embarkation was swift but access to staterooms was delayed due to extensive cleaning following an outbreak of intestinal illness. For the whole of the trip there was constant cleaning by the staff and ubiquitous hand gel. We visited Arica - there is a big hill in the middle of town, Pisco - there are turtles and other creatures to see on a short boat trip during a half day visit, Manta- there is a small but interesting market with local crafts and lots of Panama hats, Colon - there is lots to learn about the Panama Canal, Cartagena - there is a hop on hop off bus which leaves from the quayside. There were lots of shore excursion possibilities in most ports but they were expensive and often ended up as a drive round the countryside. As usual, many people used local taxis or had prearranged tours using local firms. However, for my husband and me, as well as the other 2000 passengers, the highlight was the Canal - a superb, fascinating day-long experience which made the whole trip worthwhile. On board was an expert who provided an on going commentary - excellent! When we finally berthed in Fort Lauderdale we were in a shiny new world surrounded by vast cruise ships and 6 lane highways. Immigration took over an hour ( we have waited for far longer in the past ) and this curtailed our trip to the Everglades Park. We were thrilled by the boat trip but missed the alligator show because people had to be dropped at Fort Lauderdale Airport before we were taken to Miami Airport.
Overall we really enjoyed the cruise. The officers and crew and staff could not have been more pleasant and helpful. Nothing was a bother - even when the sole of my husband's dress shoe came loose Guest Relations-who never sleep - arranged a repair. There was some scrambling for tables in the Oceanview Buffet Restaurant and confusing queueing but the Trellis Restaurant provided a most enjoyable ambience at all mealtimes and we were served by Vincent who had the patience of a saint. We loved the entertainment on board provided by the core group of singers and dancers and the fabulous trapeze pair, as well as the guest performers who came and went. The Cruise Director Esperanza was glamorous and energetic in making sure that everything went with a swing and high praise for Rachel the Activity Manager who never stopped and threw herself into everything ( including the swimming pool ) with gusto, leading from the front and remembering names impressively. There was something for everyone on sea days ranging from daft deck games to learned but entertaining lectures. Or there was the chance to do nothing but look at the sea while sipping the cocktail of the day. This cruise had been long anticipated and did not disappoint. Celebrity sets a standard which is hard to beat. We will be sailing with Celebrity again in the Fall from New Jersey to Quebec. Can't wait to get back on board!!
Very comfortable with lots of storage and a very comfortable bed. Our concierge was courteous and attentive. Nothing was too much trouble. The only irritation was the overhang which meant that the balcony was never in full sunlight.