Celebrity Century 5-day -- Great short cruise!: Celebrity Century Cruise Review by mncyclist

Celebrity Century 5
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Celebrity Century 5-day -- Great short cruise!

Sail Date: February 2010
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
We had a great time on our recent 5-day cruise on Century, departing from Miami, with stops in Key West and Grand Cayman. This was our first cruise on Celebrity, having been on Princess, NCL and Cunard in the past, and we found that Celebrity had many nice touches that we appreciated. Although we've come to favor 10-day cruises as just right for us, we went on this cruise due to the right timing and sharply discounted price, even for a Concierge cabin.

My main concern before the cruise was the age of the Century (now 15 years), having chosen previous cruises for the newness of the ships. Our concerns were unfound and we thought the Century was very elegant, filled with interesting artwork, well maintained and up-to-date, with many nooks and crannies around the ship. It is a very accessible size and it never felt crowded, even in the buffet area. The only place the age of the ship was evident was in the occasional window with condensation trapped between the panes of glass, More making the window opaque. But I can recommend the ship with confidence, as long as someone isn't interested in the newest innovations.

The Concierge-level cabin (standard size) was cozy, but had plenty of storage and a very well designed bathroom, especially the shower. It seems that the designers went for more storage and bathroom space at the slight expense of cabin living space (my wife and I would bump into each other at the narrowest point between the bed and the fridge). The balcony was just fine and the sliding door seemed brand-new and very sturdy.

We liked the food in the main dining room, which was probably a notch or two nicer than we've experienced before (with the exception of Queens Grill on Queen Mary 2, which is a whole different category). The buffet restaurant was very classy, with many different choices, including a rather nice poached egg station for breakfast at the very aft area, with many clever variations of poached eggs, served in white ramekins. The Spa Cafe was also a nice treat.

The only problem we had was with Celebrity Select dining, which the staff on this ship is clearly still trying to figure out. As we boarded, we could see the final touches being made on the Select dining area, which was the upper level, starboard side, which involved cutting many larger tables into numerous tables for two. We actually only had problems on the nights when we had failed to make a reservation. On other lines, we became accustomed to simply showing up whenever we wanted as part of their "anytime dining" concept, with few problems. It turns out that Select dining on Celebrity works best when you make a reservation ahead of time, in which case, we were seated right away at a table for two. Celebrity just needs to reinforce that reservations are essential to avoid frustration.

The one major flaw with the Century may not matter to most guests, but as with some other ships, it's a shame that it lacks a promenade deck that goes all the way around. The usual side sections of the deck 6 promenade are gorgeous, with teak flooring and much greater width than usual -- very nice for an evening stroll after dinner or a show. And I can deal with the aft section that wraps around the ship, albeit requiring a flight of stairs up to deck 7. But when you try to go forward, you hit a dead end, "crew only" zone, with no apparent way to get around to the other side. Similarly, up on the pool level, there weren't any decks that allowed you to walk all the way around the ship outdoors without going up and down some stairs. I guess I'm a traditionalist who thinks that all ships should have proper promenade decks that wrap all the way around (QM2 was the best!).

Overall, we had a great cruise and we'd consider Celebrity again. Less

Published 02/08/10

Cabin review: CC9196

Concierge Class Cabin #9196, starboard side, near aft elevators. Very nicely arranged bathroom -- shower much larger than Princess, with cleverly designed shower curtain. Three closets for storage and additional cabinets above the bed, desk drawers, shelves above the fridge. The location right next to the aft stairwell/elevator lobby was very convenient, especially to up to the buffet or down to the main dining room, but we could sometimes hear the elevator chimes. There was some noise from a next-door cabin, coming in through the TV enclosure.

Port and Shore Excursions

We reserved a rental car through the local Avis agency, which picked us up near the tender pier and took us to the Avis office at the airport. We were on the road in no time and we found the driving around Grand Cayman to be a breeze, as long as you remember to stay on the left. Given the large number of ships in port, our objective was to get as far away as possible, which meant driving toward the East End as soon as possible and making a bee-line to Queen Elizabeth II botanical garden. We needn't have worried about crowds as we had the place to ourselves at first and even when a busload of cruise passengers showed up, we didn't even notice. The highlight was the blue iguanas, which started to emerge as the temperature rose. We spotted 6 of them in all kinds of places, including right in the middle of a garden gazebo -- remarkable creatures and great to see them in the wild. On the way back toward town, we found lovely Smith's Cove public beach, which had a nice little beach, showers and bathroom and some decent snorkeling. We also stopped at a big supermarket for snacks. Overall, we had a great time in Cayman.

We spent our entire time in Key West walking all over town. Our main objective was the Hemingway House, for both the man and the cats and we weren't disappointed. The whole place smells like there are a lot of cats around, but we found nice spaces to relax in the garden and write postcards while being visited by some of the resident cats. It was a joy just to walk around the quiet back streets and look at all of the cottages and gardens, stopping at the occasional snack bar. We made our way to the historic wharf area, which had many nice yachts to look at and then went down to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, which we thought was a real hidden gem. It has nice beaches, walking trails and a huge fort to explore and we could see the ship in the distance, so it's in (long) walking distance.

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