Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: February 21st, 2004
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
As first time "cruisers," my wife and I didn't really know what to expect on our vacation cruise, other than what we had read and heard from others who had been on cruises before. We didn't know anyone who had been on a Celebrity cruise before, but we chose the Century primarily for the sail date and itinerary. Most all of the reviews that we read on the internet were good and we really wanted to stop at St. Thomas and St. John, USVI, and Century's longest stop was at St. Thomas.
We got a shuttle provided by our hotel to the dock, and arrived around 12:30pm. Boarding seemed to be a breeze to me. As a frequent flyer for work, I really expected there to be more hassles with security, etc., prior to boarding the ship, but
Celebrity appeared to cover the bases without holding up the boarding process. We were walking up the gangway to the ship within 10-12 minutes of our arrival at the terminal.
Once onboard, we were given a glass of champagne and escorted to our stateroom. I don't know if that occurs on every cruise, but I thought it was nice that we weren't given directions, we were escorted. We had booked a cheap inside stateroom on a low deck about 6 months prior to sailing, but we were upgraded to deck 10 by the time we got our tickets. We still had an inside room, but it was nice to be only one deck below the pool, Cafe, and exercise room. I assumed that we got "bumped up" because of the early booking, but I never bothered to ask!
As for the cruise, we could not have asked for much better weather!! The Caribbean was almost glassy calm for the first 5 days, and the sun was bright, with temps in the 80's every day (but hey, it IS the Caribbean!). We did get a little rain in
St. Maarten, but that was okay, we needed to cool off anyway!
The service onboard Century was great. Our room was always kept spotless, but I only ever ran into the room steward cleaning once. His name was Raymundo, and he did a great job. If he saw us coming down the hall to the room, he would quickly go ahead and open the door for us. He and his assistant would always keep the towels fresh, no matter what time of day or how many showers you might want to take. The bed turndown with chocolates on the pillows every night was nice too.
Our wait staff at The Grand Restaurant was excellent as well. Ahmet was our head waiter, and his assistant for the first half of the week was Nadine (Nadine left the boat mid-cruise to get married!). Nadine's replacement, whose name I don't remember, did a great job as well. They took a great care in learning our habits for drinks, etc. My wife ordered skim milk one night, and they brought out two small glasses. She gave one to me, and so for the rest of the cruise, we both got a glass of milk with dinner every night.
One last comment about service. I don't think I ever encountered a crew member that did not at least smile as I walked past, and most would greet you with a "good day, sir." These manners should probably be practiced by all of us, but it was really nice to be treated so kindly wherever you went on the ship.
The Century is a nice boat, and was well-kept and clean at all times. The exercise room was big enough, and the equipment was plentiful enough so that there was rarely a wait to use a machine when you wanted a workout. The walking track outside on deck 14 could have been aft instead of forward, so that you didn't have to do 14 laps to get a mile, however! As a non-smoker, I wish there had been more non-smoking areas on the ship, however.
Disembarkation was also fantastic. We had purchased jewelry on St. Thomas, so I needed to clear Customs. At 6:45am on
Saturday, I went to the ship's library and cleared Customs in about 5 minutes. Immigration was at 7:45, and was a similar experience. Although the line stretched almost the the back of the ship, it moved very smoothly to the Theater and we cleared with no hassles. We then waited until we were called back to the Theater at 9:00am. We were among the second group called to depart, and we were off the boat and on a bus to the airport by 9:30am. It was awesome.
I have only two negatives regarding the whole experience. The first is that I like more time spent at each port. It seems that you have just enough time to do 1 shore excursion (which we booked through the cruise to save hassles since we had never done this before), and then you pretty much had to get back for the ship's departure. I think my ideal itinerary would be to sail straight to St. Thomas, stay there for 3 days, then sail back!! The other negative that I found was the buffet availability on days when we were in port. The Islands cafe would close by 6pm, and if you were on shore and missed your seating for the Grand Restaurant, your only food option on the boat was the pizza/pasta bar. I just wish they had opened 1 of the 4 buffet lines for people who didn't want to get dressed up after being on shore all day.
Overall, the cruise was a great experience, and one that we may do again in the future.