Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: May 26th, 2001
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
I had never been on Celebrity before and most of my cruises had been on small ships such as Renaissance. This cruise was for my sister and I, we are both in our late 30's she's single and I'm married. We didn't want a "party" ship but we also didn't want something stuffy and boring. We had narrowed it down to Celebrity, Royal Caribbean or Princess. I'm glad we chose Celebrity.
The crowd was mostly 30-50ish and married couples, I wouldn't really recommend it for singles. We had originally booked an assigned inside cabin through cruise411, a few weeks later I saw an ad from a competitor for “run of ship" for $699 we changed our reservation, I was a little afraid we'd get stuck with the worst cabin possible but were pleasantly surprised when we found out our cabin was on the penthouse deck, mid ship. This location was very convenient for getting to the pool, AquaSpa and islands cafe. The cabin itself was small, but I was impressed by the amount of storage we had, can you believe two women and we had drawers and cabinets we weren't even using! The bathroom is furnished with a hair dryer, we never used it because previous post recommended bringing our own because the hairdryer that is furnished has limited power. We also had a 'tip' to bring a power-bar or outlet extender, this was a wonderful idea as the dressing table has a single outlet and it allowed us to have curling iron and hair dryer plugged in at the same time. The bed was made into a king when we arrived, but we contacted our cabin steward and she had them changed back to singles within a few minutes. We also asked her to empty out the mini bar as we had brought our own things. We asked the taxi driver on the way from the airport to stop at a market (publix) within 5 minutes we had purchase 2 bottles of wine, some bottled water and sodas. We brought the wine to dinner, and were charged a $6 corking fee, but we still were money ahead. The bottled water came in very handy on excursions. The ship was selling water as you leave for the excursion but for about $3 a bottle, I was glad we had our own.
Everyone comments on the food on Celebrity so my expectations were very high. I was not disappointed. We had heard from other b-boards and reviews that it's no problem to order more than one appetizer, entree whatever. This comes in handy on Thursday night, as they have prime rib and lobster, but not together, so if you want to order 'surf and turf' you need to order both entrees. Our table mates (4 young men who had just graduated from college) were very happy to know you could order more than just one thing. Several times we ordered two desserts or would share. We decided it would be very handy if they just put a big 'lazy susan' in the center of the tables. We never went to the main dining room for breakfast. We usually would just hit the islands cafe or order room service. There are cards in your room in which you order your breakfast the night before and indicate what time you would like it delivered. We did this on port days when we had early excursions, so that we could eat in the room as we were getting ready and not feel rushed. They were very prompt on delivery and even call a few minutes before hand to let you know it's on it's way. this is a good idea so that you can make yourself presentable. We took advantage of afternoon "tea" on most days. It was very nice to spend an afternoon in port, then come back to the ship, grab some goodies and sit out on the terrace at the back of the islands cafe and watch as the ship pulls away from port.
I had mixed feelings about this port. Some reviews were good and others were very negative. As it was just my sister and I traveling together I was a little concerned about safety here. We booked a tour with Peat Taylor ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) we had read many good things about him from previous cruisers. He was a joy. I made the arrangements through the internet and he set a meeting place and time. It was $25 per person for a half day tour and stop at Dunn's River Falls. (incl. the $6 entrance fee to the Falls) he took us from the pier to the falls and arranged a time to pick us up in the parking lot after we had climbed. We were there when it opened so they weren't many people there yet. We are both very klutzy and were wondering if we were making a mistake by trying this. It was great. We did the 'human-chain' thing. We were toward the very front of the chain so it made it easier. The rocks can be very slippery, so it was nice to have someone hanging on to you. Peat then took us downtown to shop and recommended some good places. I was expecting some very pushy unfriendly vendors, but it really wasn't bad. I wish now we had bought more coffee!! Since this was our first port we were conservative in our spending, and thought that Cozumel would be the bargain stop but Jamaica turned out to have the best prices and the friendliest people. Peat took us on a tour of the island, fern gully and several residential areas. He was so knowledgeable and proud of his home that you couldn't help but love it too. He asked if we wanted to go to a beach and we did so he took us to Mahogany Beach. he walked us down the beach, restaurant area and didn't leave until we were handed over to one of the employees to make sure we were comfortable and had chairs, drinks etc. Peat even offered to leave me his watch since I'd left mine on the ship. He gave us his cell number in case we wanted to change our pick up time. This was a fun beach with 'banana-boat' rides, music, food etc. I feel we got so much more out of our visit going with Peat than if we'd taken the ships tour. Ocho Rios turned out to be our favorite day.
Once again we booked an outside excursion. This time with Capt. Marvin Watersports. The cost for a half day snorkeling/stingray city tour was $35pp. We took a 5 minute taxi ride from the pier to their office, then a shuttle took us to their dock. We used their snorkeling gear which appeared to be nearly new and very good quality. There were about 20 people on the boat, only 1 other couple from our ship, most were staying in hotels on the island. We went snorkeling at 'coral garden' and the reef. The guide coaxed a moray eel and nurse shark out of their hiding places so we could have a photo-op. He told us before hand not to try and pet the eel, yeah right. At stingray city you stand in about 3-4 feet of water on a sand bar, it's a little intimidating at first because these stingray are very friendly!! Just relax and enjoy it's a really neat experience, I'm so glad we did it. We were able to lift the stingray up (the guide will instruct you how, so you or the stingray don't get hurt) they were so soft and had a lot more variety of color than I had realized. Later in the day we went shopping near the pier. Most of the shops that are recommended by the cruise line are within a 5 minute walk of the pier. The island is very clean and affluent. The people we snorkeled with said that rooms run about $200-$300 per night so the island isn't cheap. They seemed to have some good prices on jewelry, tanzanite seemed to be the big thing. At Little Switzerland they had very good prices on perfume and skin care products, from lines like clinique, estee lauder, lancome etc. The prices were about %50-%60 of what we pay in California so we stocked up.
We decided to do a ships tour, since the distance and length of the tour made me concerned about the possibility of missing the ship. We did the ruins of Tulum. It was very pretty and interesting. I'm glad I did it, but it' a lot of traveling and hassle to get there and back. The light box lunch is handed to you as you reboard the bus afterward. It consists of some small cans of tuna, rolls, condiments and zip lock bags of chips, not very impressive after what we were used to on the ship. Definitely some room for improvement there. On the way to the ruins there's a 'bathroom-break' at a little tourist trap, the prices were outrageous. The little shopping area at the ruins also had very high prices. In Cozumel we went to Panchos backyard for a real lunch, this was a very nice place and was the highlight of the day. We bought the usual tourist junk, t-shirts etc. but were surprised at how high the prices were everywhere. The vendors were very pushy and rude. after about 45 minutes of "shopping" we were exhausted and just went back to the ship. Our table mates hit Carlos and Charlies and had a great time (did I mention they are new college grads).
Very, very hot and humid, very touristy. The big attraction is the bars that "Ernest Hemingway frequented" We ended up buying a $5 shuttle ticket to go to a beach. The beaches are man made, not much sand and the water at the edge of the sand is marshy, grassy and polluted. We weren't impressed. We could have skipped Key West and just had another "sea day' or another day in some other port. The only thing good in Key West is the key lime pie.
The entertainment on board was good but not great. The first night with the Celebrity singers and dancers was pretty boring, they seemed to get better after that though. There was a comedian called "ladder-guy" that was very funny. Almost every night was trivia game in the Crystal lounge at 10:15. Big turnout for this, turned out to be lots of fun. The crew on board is very friendly, not just the waiters or cabin stewards, but everyone, from the guys cleaning the inside of the elevators to the busboys go out of their way to talk to the passengers even if it's just to say hello.
All in all we had a great time and hope to sail with Celebrity again. Feel free to email me if you have any questions, it's fun to share and "relive" it.