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Fadra Nally

Age: 31

Occupation:Software Manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Century

Sailing Date: August 31st, 2002

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: August 31st, 2002

Since I found most of the reviews very helpful on this website, I thought I would follow the same general format that was useful to me. I was a first-time cruiser before this trip. My husband and I had never been on a cruise. I worked in the travel industry for 4 years and heard a lot about cruises but was still afraid that I might get “bored” or feel “trapped” on the ship. I didn’t feel that way at all!

My husband and I contemplated taking a cruise and decided to take a shot when the cruise prices dropped so low. I wanted a top of the line cruise for a great rate. I was able to get that on the Century. Overall, we were pleased with our choice. The luxury, the service, and the ship itself ensured we would definitely go on a cruise again – but only with a cruise line like Celebrity.

The crowd on the ship was as I had previously read – mainly couples ranging from 30’s to 60’s in age. This is not a party ship (thank goodness) but there was late night music, drinks, and dancing for those who are into that. Since it was the end of the summer, there weren’t many kids on board. This was also much to our relief.

EMBARKATION
We booked only about 3 weeks in advance so we didn’t have any paperwork when arriving at the pier. This was a little unnerving although the travel site I had used assured me that traveling electronically on the cruise was as simple as using an e-ticket for flying. We got to the pier early (around 10:30am) as we were told we could board early. There were no personnel anywhere except for baggage handlers. We had no idea where to go or what to do. Had we arrived after 11:30am, we probably would have been more at ease and could have found the right people to ask. We did end up checking our bags to be loaded onto the ship. We did also receive our documents and the rest of the boarding process went smoothly. Here is a good tip – BRING A PEN. It sounds obvious but we didn’t have one with us and needed it for our luggage tags and boarding documents. We got on board around 11:30am and were able to eat lunch and check into our cabin around 12:30pm. This gave us a good amount of time to relax and get acquainted with the ship.

THE SHIP
The ship was clean, beautiful, and obviously well maintained. We had an ocean view cabin on the 4th deck. I highly recommend a cabin on a lower floor like we had, as you don’t feel the motion of the ship as much. I have been told that the cabins are much larger that that of other ships. Although a little small (what else can you expect?), we had plenty of room to hang our clothes, store our luggage, and spread out. The cabin attendants are wonderful. The moment you sneak out of your cabin, they are replacing your towels, refilling your ice bucket and water pitcher, or turning down your bed. A couple of tips that I read before I went (and also recommend), bring your own hair dryer, a travel iron, and a power strip. Only one outlet in the room!

The most surprising thing was that even at full capacity, we could always find someplace on the ship to be alone. Usually in the evenings, my husband I went to the front of the ship and talked and watched the water while most people were in the casino or at the shows. And don’t underestimate the shopping on board the ship. I searched in every port for the same diamond earrings. In Jamaica, it was a low price but poor quality. In Grand Cayman, it was good quality but a high price. I finally saw the earrings in the ship’s jewelry store for less than both ports at a great price!!! (I couldn’t resist).

ENTERTAINMENT
We went to two shows while on board. They were short (45 minutes) which was nice. But it was basically cheesy cruise ship entertainment. I think the real value of the entertainment is being able to decide 2 minutes in advance that you want to go. Then you simply walk upstairs! There was always something to do (or not do if that was your preference). There was a casino (the slot machines were hot!), a movie theater (complete with popcorn), trivia contests (we ruled at the Ultimate 80’s music trivia), bingo, and karaoke. We even went to a wine tasting class and a cooking demonstration with the executive chef. And if you missed things during the day, they usually taped them and showed them on an in-ship television channel.

THE FOOD
This was absolutely without question the best part of the trip. We looked forward to dinner every night in the Grand Restaurant whether we were hungry or not. I also recommend eating at least one lunch and one breakfast in the restaurant. The food is just as good as the dinner. We would agree that the evening meals were as good as the best restaurants in our city. There were always plenty of things to choose from (including steak, prime rib, fish, lobster tail, etc.) and we couldn’t find a meal we didn’t like. Don’t skip dessert. Even if you aren’t hungry, you have to have dessert – you’re on vacation after all. We have a great rapport with our waiter and by the end of the week, he was bringing our table extra desserts, lobster tails – you name it! Don’t be afraid to ask for two of anything – they will get it for you. The Grand Buffet at the end of the week is worthwhile for the presentation. The food was not as fabulous but the ice sculptures were just beautiful.

THE ITINERARY
Ocho Rios –
Again, I had done my research in advance and booked an excursion with a private tour guide – Peat Taylor. I highly recommend his tour. He takes you to Dunn’s River Falls, Fern Gully, through a Jamaican neighborhood (pointing out nutmeg and allspice trees), and then dropped us at a great Caribbean buffet called The Ruins. This place had jerk chicken, jerk pork, friend plantains, and all the Red Stripe and Rum Punch you want for only $14 each. The food and hospitality was great. Peat then dropped us off for shopping and came back at whatever time we were ready to return to the ship. If we had additional places we wanted to see, he would have gladly taken us there. It was like having our own personal tour guide! You can set up your own tour with him through e-mail oneiltay@cwjamaica.com The shopping was not
so great and everyone wants to sell you something. We bought some Jamaican Rum Cream but saved our money for another port.

Grand Cayman –
This was definitely our favorite port. Again, the shopping is not so hot so I would save your money. The only thing we bought were the Tortuga Rum Cakes. If you stop by one of the bakeries, you can sample them all! But the snorkeling is incredible! We booked another private tour with Captain Bryan (http://www.cayman.org/captainbryan/). I cannot recommend them enough. The tour group was small enough that we got personal attention. We traveled on a trimarand. So we sailed smoothly, quietly, and comfortably into our snorkeling sites while watching other groups crammed onto double decker motorboats. Our guide gave us personal attention, brought food for us to feed the stingrays, and even grabbed his favorite stingray Suzy for us to hold and take pictures with. It was an all around incredible experience that we will never forget. They also took us to two other sites for snorkeling. It was like swimming in an aquarium!

Cozumel –
We spent our vacation last year in Cancun so we had some idea what to expect. I love Mexican food, culture, people, shopping so this was also a favorite port. We rented a VW Convertible Bug for the day. If you are looking for fabulous beaches with no one around, you should definitely drive to the other side of the island. The beaches are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. We made it back into town and had food and sangria at Pancho’s Backyard. This place was recommended by the ship and was very good. We did some shopping and bought some sterling silver jewelry (please don’t pay the first price they give you!). I got some great deals and we ended up buying most of our duty free purchases here (liquor, perfume, etc.).

Key West –
Plenty to see and do here and we would definitely go back. The shops have really interesting things if you are into unusual finds. There are also some good antique stores. But we recommend taking a walk down Whitehead Street. It was quite a hike but we got to see some beautiful old homes including Ernest Hemingway’s home (if you are a cat lover, you must go and see the 60 descendents from his original cats – look for those with 6 toes!). We also went into the Key West lighthouse where we got a great view of the island and our ship. Finally, we stopped at Captain Tony’s for a beer (the oldest bar in town), had some Key Lime pie, conch fritters, and then headed back to the ship.

DISEMBARKATION
Getting off of the ship was not the nightmare I expected it to be. We packed out luggage, kept a carry-on (just like we read). We got up early to have our final breakfast in the Grand Restaurant. Then we went to a waiting area to be called. Here is another tip: go to the Hemisphere Lounge on the 12th deck. This place was consistently empty throughout the trip but we thought it was one of the nicest. We were able to lay down and look out over the water as we were waiting. They let you off of the ship according to how late or early your departing flight is. Ours wasn’t until 8:30pm so we were one of the last ones off of the ship. However, even with that being the case, we waited less than an hour to get off and were able to get our bags right away. I think the smartest thing we did was take a cab to and from the airport. There were crowds of people waiting for shuttles. We walked through the crowds right to the taxi line and got in a cab immediately. Within 10 minutes we were at the airport and the ride was only $10 for two of us. We went standby for an earlier flight and made it home early!

After 6 days, I think we were ready to get off of the ship. Unfortunately, it was a 7 day cruise. We still enjoyed our time and would certainly go back. I can’t say I would make every vacation a cruise but I did enjoy being able to see multiple ports without having to unpack and repack. Because we took our first cruise on Celebrity, we would probably only sail with a top cruise line in the future – we have been spoiled! One warning for new cruisers, even if the ship doesn’t feel like it rocked very much, you will continue to rock for the next few days after you are back on land! I still feel like I am swaying!

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