I must start by saying we enjoyed this cruise very much, but we are not sure if we would sail Celebrity again. Here's why:My wife are in our 40's, we have sailed with Royal Caribbean almost exclusively for the past 8 years or so, and we achieved Diamond Plus status last November. We booked this cruise because of the itinerary and embarkation port. We live about twenty minutes from Fort Lauderdale, and we love the fact that we would be able to see Barbados, St. Kitts again without having to fly to Puerto Rico (which is nice, but flying is a pain). We were looking forward to trying out Celebrity and making comparisons to Royal.The embarkation/debarkation and in general the procedural processes on this cruise were nearly identical to Royal, but once we boarded and found our lounge chairs at the pool the subtle differences became apparent. I say subtle because for the first couple of hours and even days in some cases we got the feeling something was wrong, but couldn't put our finger on what it was. It was very odd. It was like being introduced to someone who strongly resembles someone you know well. You start to act toward them as you would your friend, and are puzzled when they don't respond the same way. You keep expecting them to say or do certain things, and they act differently. Very disconcerting.For example, the pool was all wrong: It was very bland and unexciting. The bright vibrant colors at the Royal pools were missing, and the staff with a few exceptions were just as bland. We kept trying to joke and interact with the waiters and waitresses and they remained very serious. I felt like I was in an episode of Dragnet, "Just the facts, sir." We did like the upbeat electronic music they played in the mornings as a contrast to the Caribbean steel drum music in the afternoon which we enjoyed too.The ship was very big and the public areas below deck were beautifully decorated in a very modern style which we really liked. However, we got the impression that the ship was like your grandparents house: Very clean, and beautiful, but you're not allowed to touch anything. On the pool deck the security staff were always standing at pools edge as if waiting for someone to make a splash. My wife called them the "pool nazi's" and while we understand their purpose, they could have been a little more discreet. We were also chastised for walking barefoot to the guest relations desk, as we were at the pool and needed to quickly check on something and didn't want to walk all the way back up to get the shoes. Oh, the humanity! You would have thought we went without pants.While I'm on the topic of customer service I need to comment on Celebrity's policy of allowing two bottles of wine per stateroom. Put them in your carry-on bag. We put them in our luggage, big mistake. When my bag didn't arrive with my wife's I asked the stateroom attendant, and he told me that sometimes they didn't arrive until 7pm. I had to dine the first night in my swimsuit. We've never gotten our bags after 5pm on a Royal ship. We checked back after 7pm and still no bag. We got a message on our phone telling us our bag had been flagged by port security and we needed to go to deck two to get it. There were about 30 people on line ahead of us, and before we got to the front (about 20 minutes) there were another 30 behind. When I opened my bag to show them I only had the two wine bottles I was allowed to have they told me they couldn't tell if it was liquor, and I could take my bag. Great! At that point I vowed never to sail Celebrity again. I mean it was embarrassing. If Celebrity is going to allow wine, then at least broadcast on the web site that it must be carried on. I only saw one bottle of liquor on the "confiscation table" and it appeared that most of the people in line had either approved wine or irons in their bags. Celebrity, is it really worth it?A note on the beverage package:We considered purchasing the package because we do have several drinks a day on these cruises, but we weren't sure if it would be worth the expense so we passed. We were glad we didn't take it. We drink mostly mixed drinks, and on Celebrity many of these are $6.00 or less (including Long Island Iced Teas). If we had purchased that package it would have been about $100.00 per day x 10 days. (You can do the math) We drank quite a bit and our bar bill was still only about $300.00. I don't think the "convenience" of not having to sign a receipt is worth $700.00 but you have to make up your own minds on that one. If we had tried to get our money's worth I doubt we would have remembered much of the cruise anyway.Other things we noticed:The food in the main dining room is much better than Royal with the the exception of the soups. All the ones we tried were bland and had no flavor.The specialty restaurants food and service were outstanding, with Tuscan Grille being the best, then Silk Harvest, and then Murano. Next time we will do two Tuscan nights and one Silk Harvest.The entertainment was lousy and did not compare to even the worst shows we have seen on Royal. The ventriloquist was so-so and the opening comedian was terrible. People were walking out of shows. The hot glass show was good.We like the set-up of the casino better than Royal, but stay away from the "Ultimate Texas Hold-em" game. We never saw anyone win at that one on any night. No smoking in the casino was a huge plus. We had fun there.We didn't think we would like or even use the grassy deck on the back, but we were wrong. Some days it was very relaxing to sit and sip a cocktail watching the sea go by with grass between your toes. A very nice touch.If you have kids younger than teenagers this is not the ship for you. There was nothing for them to do except swim in the pools. We saw no other youth activities.The Captain's Club activities in the Sky Lounge every night were very good with a good assortment of drinks and finger foods, but the A Capella quartet became annoying after the first two minutes. They kept popping up all over the ship, and we just couldn't understand why.The cabins on this ship are very nicely appointed, but have a little less storage than their Royal counterparts. However, they made a lot of noise. Even in medium seas they creaked and made little noises all night. My wife had to wedge wash cloths in the bathroom and shower doors just to keep the noise down a bit. Must be a design problem, because we have never had this to this extent on the Royal ships.In all we did enjoy the cruise, it's just that we enjoy Royal a little more.
Too noisy. The cabin creaked even in calm seas. My wife had to wedge washcloths in the bathroom and shower doors to reduce the noise level.
The last time we were at St. Kitts we were able to rent a car for about $45.00 and drive all around the island exploring. It is beautiful, and at one point we actually considered retiring to the island. However, we were told that the government had greatly increased taxes recently and the rental car rates jumped to over $100.00 for the day. We had a short day in port and there was no way were going to pay that rate. We decided to take a taxi for $16.00 each way to the Shipwreck Bar and we hung out there and did some snorkeling (Just OK).
This is a beautiful island, but you have to get out of the city to see most of it. We rented a jeep at the only rental place at the pier. On e of their employees didn't show up for work that day and the process took almost an hour due to the long line.
We drove up to the north end of the island and saw Animal Flower Cave. Then drove down along the east side of the island enjoying several beaches and the beautiful cliffs/rock formations.
A word to the weary, we drive on a lot of the islands, and I am very good at reading a map. Even so, we get lost in Barbados every time we go, because there are nearly no road signs anywhere. To us, half the fun is finding our way back to the city, but if you have any doubts about your abilities in this area then get a cabbie to take you.