Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: February, 12th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We just returned from our first cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. No one single word can describe the great time we had. The entire experience was beyond all expectations.
We flew from Portland to Ft. Lauderdale through Dallas/Ft. Worth the day before we sailed. My take on the flight is if you can avoid American Airlines, do so. Of four flights (two to Ft. Lauderdale and two returning to Portland) not one flight left on time. We flew home via Chicago/O’Hare and left Ft. Lauderdale so late we missed our connecting flight to PDX. We were forced to spend the night in Chicago with only the light clothing we had in our carry on bags. It was cold in Chicago! I am glad we spent the night in Ft. Lauderdale before we departed. It was comforting having the time buffer to make sure that we made our sailing time. It also made getting to the ship and embarking a relaxed pleasant experience.
We embarked the ship with no hitches. The entire process was orderly and well planned out. We had an inboard cabin on deck 9. The cabin was comfortable and stocked with a mini-bar (all items for a charge of course). Judith our housekeeper kept our room spotless and always had a smile on her face. The bed was two twin beds pushed together. This was a bit uncomfortable at times but we were usually so exhausted by the time we headed to bed we barely noticed.
First port was Ocho Rios Jamaica. We had booked an excursion online through Phil Lafayette. I cannot say enough good things about Phil. He met us at the dock and immediately started memorizing the names of all the people for that day’s tour. Phil is a wonderful guide to the area. He showed us around town while explaining the plants, animals, and customs of his beautiful home. Phil is proud of Jamaica and in not shy about showing off his country. We had a blast innertubing on the White River and then climbing Dunn’s river falls. The vendors at the fall’s park are very aggressive but Phil will show you how to avoid them and will take you to some great shopping. Lunch for us was a cheeseburger is paradise at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. This is a hopping place and my only regret was that we had to be back on the ship before the nightlife there really got started.
Second port was Grand Cayman. Again we had booked online, this time through Captain Marvin. We found their office just down the street from the pier and were soon on our way to snorkeling and swimming with the stingrays. Our guides were friendly and knowledgeable. In my mind you cannot go wrong booking through Captain Marvin’s. The snorkeling was fantastic in the beautiful waters around Grand Cayman but the highlight was definitely Stingray City. As soon as the boat anchored the stingrays started swimming around us. They are friendly gentle creatures that will take squid directly from your hand. Grand Cayman is still recovering from hurricane Ivan and many businesses are still closed. The bus driver for our group said that normally there are over six thousand hotel rooms available on the island and right now there are just over five hundred available.
Third port was Cozumel Mexico. We did not book any specific tour here; this day was shop till we dropped. Great deals on jewelry, clothing, and art. The people here are friendly and the shop owners will work some great deals if you a willing to bargain with them.
The next day was a full day at sea. We got up early and staked out chairs by the pools. As stated in another review this area fills up fast. I had a massage and we spent a great day around the pools reading, swimming, and drinking cold Coronas. A few notes about the ship at this point. While this is one of Celebrity’s older ships (about 10 years old) but it is kept in immaculate condition. We always saw crewmembers cleaning, polishing and touching up the paint. The ship ran smooth through the water even at high speeds.
Last port was Key West. Again we did not book any specific tour and spent the day wandering museums and shopping. While we had a great time in Key West (it’s our kind of place) the town is definitely and adult party place. People walk the streets drinking and smoking paraphernalia is displayed in storefront windows. During lunch we listened to a woman trying to get people into the strip bar across the street. Again the locals are friendly and not aggressive but people with little kids may have some explaining to do to their children.
Finally back to Ft. Lauderdale. Our flight did not leave until late that afternoon so we booked a tour through the ship to visit the Everglades and an alligator farm. This was great fun and then the tour bus took us with our luggage directly to the airport. Disembarking the ship was smoothly ran and well organized. Customs came on board that morning and reviewed our forms so leaving the terminal was a snap.
We would definitely recommend Celebrity lines. The crew was friendly and always helpful. The food was beyond excellent. Andy our waiter and Jesus our assistant waiter were friendly, engaging, and topnotch professionals. A couple of small knocks on the food. First was the coffee. The after dinner coffee was passable but the coffee at the buffet was awful and I am pretty sure it was instant. My wife told me the bacon was bad as well. Again these are small dings and an otherwise outstanding eating experience (I especially liked the sushi bar every evening). We could not have asked for a better first cruise. We are already starting to plan our next cruise (we are hooked), probably on Celebrity to Alaska.