EMBARKATION: We embarked from Ft. Lauderdale on a Monday, which was preferable due to less cruise traffic in Port. We arrived early around 11:30, waited about 1/2 hour and started to board first since we were in Aqua Class. The room was not ready, but we relaxed in the lounges and library and walked around the ship to familiarize ourselves with the layout. The room was ready by 1:30. The shipped sailed at 5:00. The muster drilled did not require wearing the life jackets and standing outside like sardines. Sat in one of the lounges, watched a video, and we were on our way. Much preferred than the old way. One thing to look for is the ship allows two bottles of wine to be brought aboard per cabin. DO NOT pack it in your checked luggage. They will pull the luggage, not deliver it to your room, you wait until the ship has sailed to be notified, have to go get it on deck 2, open the luggage and show them what's there. You might have to wait a very long time in line waiting to retrieve the bag. Then you have to bring it to your cabin. My recommendation for Celebrity (and anyone thinking of this) is to suggest a more preferred way of bringing the wine aboard, perhaps in your carry on, and put it in their literature.
CABIN: The room was in excellent condition, well decorated and very clean. The beds have extra room underneath for luggage due to a higher level off the floor. The shower was glass enclosed and large enough for anyone. The balcony was spacious and very clean. The flat screen TV was also a nice touch since it was out of the way. Had more TV channels than usual, which was a change from the past. Reception at times was spotty due to the satellite, I assume. Flowers everyday, fresh fruit and bottles of water as promised. With the cabin in Aqua Class comes unlimited access to the Persian Gardens and Relaxation Room. Well worth the extra price.
FOOD: Room service was excellent since we usually ate a light breakfast in our room before going to the Blu restaurant for breakfast. Exceptional food. Nice atmosphere not waiting in a line of an omelet or eggs in the Oceanview. Always had a table looking out on to the water. We ate in the Blu every night. Loved the menu, very diverse and the food was excellent. My wife indicated she to them she could not have salt in her food, and the people in charge could not have been more accommodating. She was able to order the night before for special preparation of her food. The food over all was not salty, superbly prepared, which cannot be said for main dining room food. Service was exceptional as well. It was open seating, starting at 6:00. For the most part, you could have the same table every night if you arrived at approximately the same time. Tables for two were present in a sufficient number. At times and certain locations, they were a bit close to the table next door. Not a problem, however. As a result, we usually had the same waiter and assistant, who could not have been more friendly and professional. We also ate at the Tuscany one night. The food was of high quality as well as the service. Too much food and a bit on the salty side. Ate only once (dinner) at the Oceanview buffet. Very good but nothing exceptional. Excellent sushi. Ate lunch usually at the Aqua Cafe. Very well done and very healthy.
ENTERTAINMENT: For the most part, very well good, excellent dancer and musicians. Typical cruise ship stuff except for acrobatic act which was very high over the theatre. Outstanding. Great dance bands played in the foyer usually every night. Many dancers took advantage of this.
EXCURSIONS: Well organized. You wait in the theater for your excursion to be called, not outside standing on the dock, waiting in the hot sun. Panama for me was the highlight and seeing the Canal in operation. Costa Rica (rain forest) and Columbia (old city tour) were interesting. Costa Maya was a total waste. Nothing to do but shop near the pier. I'm not a big fan of Cozumel, but if you like water and diving, it's your place. Enjoyed the tour on Grand Cayman, especially the Botanic Park. Saw iguanas up-close. Beautiful flowers and foliage.
DISEMBARKATION: From what I read in the past, it was supposed to be flawless. Everyone said normally the ship is cleared by 10-10:30. Not this time. Let me emphasize it was not due to Celebrity. Customs took it upon themselves to slow the process up considerably. By 10:30, at least 1000 people were still in line. I can only imagine how many people did not make their flights. Disgraceful. Shame on Customs & Immigrations. One suggestion would be to pay the $20 per bag to have them pre-checked with you airline. Our bags were last seen outside our room until we reached our destination. Perfect. And you even get your boarding passes printed. Do not need to hang around the internet room on the last day. Arrived on a Friday, again less port and airline traffic. Less ships in port. None of that Saturday/Sunday congestion.
LAST POINT: The smoking restrictions, especially on the pool deck, were not enforced very well (if at all). Still smelled smoke on the balconies. If Celebrity and the cruise industry are really committed to limiting or banning smoking, they need to get serious. I suspect they do not want to offend groups of people who traditionally come from countries that allow smoking in all venues.
Aqua Class: The room was in excellent condition, well decorated and very clean. The beds have extra room underneath for luggage due to a higher level off the floor. The shower was glass enclosed and large enough for anyone. The balcony was spacious and very clean. The flat screen TV was also a nice touch since it was out of the way. Had more TV channels than usual, which was a change from the past. Reception at times was spotty due to the satellite, I assume. Flowers everyday, fresh fruit and bottles of water as promised. With the cabin in Aqua Class comes unlimited access to the Persian Gardens and Relaxation Room. Well worth the extra price.
You really need to see the Panama Canal in action. Great engineering. Colon looks nice from the ship but the shops near the port are pretty junky with the usual tourist stuff.