Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: August 1, 1999
Bermuda (8/99) - New York to Bermuda
August 1, 1999, 7 Nights
This was my fourth cruise, (one previously on Celebrity and two on Princess), but it was the first cruise for my seven traveling companions. I believe that a NY to Bermuda cruise is an ideal itinerary for first-timers. If you get seasick (as one of our group did), at least you’ll still have four days in port to enjoy.
The eight of us hired a stretch limo to transport us from suburban Philadelphia to the Passenger Ship Terminal on the Hudson River in Manhattan. The traffic was
horrendous, as several ships were all in port. The limousine service was worth every penny as the driver negotiated the crowded streets. We arrived at 1:30 and discovered that they had begun boarding, even though the tickets had said embarkation would begin at 2:00PM.
Our Celebrity check-in was a breeze. Within ten minutes of arrival, I was in my cabin. We had four cabins in a row, 6062, 6066, 6070, and 6072, outside rooms on the Caribbean Deck. The cabin was slightly smaller that on the Crown and Regal Princess, but certainly adequate. The two lower beds were arranged in an "L" shape, with a small dresser between them. On that dresser was the in-room TV which had the Celebrity channel, CNN, ESPN, and two movie channels. There was also a desk, with drawers, and two desk chairs. The closets were plenty roomy with lots of hangers. One closet had eight small drawers. In the same closet was a programmable vault. The bathroom was small, but manageable. No matter what I did, the mirror insisted on fogging over completely every time I showered. Even if I left the door open, or even if I took a cool shower, the mirror was completely steamed. However, that was the only inconvenience. The towels were plentiful and ample. The supplies - shampoo, lotion and soaps - were adequate.
Instead of waiting for our luggage to arrive, we all hurried up to the Coral Seas Cafe for the luncheon buffet. The cafe was extremely crowded, but we soon discovered that the Celebrity reputation for fine cuisine is well deserved.
After lunch, we returned to our cabin and found our luggage waiting. At 4:15, we assembled for muster and went through the drill. Berthed beside us was RCCL Nordic Empress. She was headed to Bermuda too and she pulled out just ahead of us. We would spend the entire week shadowing her at sea. We were also beside her when we were docked in Hamilton.
Cruising out of NYC is lovely as you get the amazing view of the skyline and you pass right by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
A visit to the Guest Relations desk informed me that the sailing was sold out. As the week progressed, I became acutely aware of this fact as we encountered crowds everywhere. I had sailed Celebrity once before (June, 1994) and that experience, plus all of the marketing and advertising for the line, had led me to form the opinion that Celebrity is a sophisticated, "grown-up" cruise line. Well, that opinion has changed. This cruise was packed with kids, from infants to teenagers. And I mean packed! Everywhere I went I found groups of unattended kids. And the staff seemed to encourage the family atmosphere in the activities. (For example, we went to Bingo one day and half the players were children. Fair enough, but the bingo-caller constantly encouraged the kids to react to the calls by cheering or booing. It was my first encounter with a Bingo riot. Needless to say, I didn’t go back for any other Bingo sessions.) So, if you want to bring the kids, Celebrity is now the way to go. If you don’t want to spend the week getting knocked over by kids running through the ship, consider another line.
We had second sitting in the dining room, and we filled our own table for eight. Our waiter, Jose, introduced himself and told us that he was from Portugal. Our assistant waiter never said a word to us. He never smiled, he never spoke, he seemed miserable. He and Jose had no rhythm and our service suffered. I felt sorry for Jose because he was frantically trying to do both jobs. The food, however, was always superb. Really wonderful. I’m a fan of cold fruit soups and I was thrilled with the number of choices I had throughout the week (to name a few...black cherry, rhubarb, mango, tropical fruit, strawberry, apple).
I had all seven dinners in the dining room, although they did offer the casual reserved dining option in the cafe. I had six breakfasts at the buffet and the final morning in the dining room. The buffet service was perfect for me for breakfast. Counting that first lunch before we sailed, I had two lunches in the buffet. I had three lunches in the dining room and the other two on land. In all cases, the food was wonderful.
I was a bit disappointed with the choice of activities on the sea days. It was quite limited, with most options being geared toward the younger crowd poolside. I also disliked the fact that there are no deckchairs on the promenade. I usually like to sit on the promenade and read while I listen to the ocean. No such luck on the Horizon. And, on the days we were in port, the activities were extremely limited, since they seemed to assume everyone would be on land.
We docked on Tuesday morning, around 11AM, at King’s Wharf, and stayed there until Thursday afternoon. At 3PM, the ship moved to Hamilton, where it stayed until Friday afternoon at 3:00PM when we sailed for home. Personally, I like being docked out at King’s Wharf. It’s quieter and less congested, but there are still things to do right nearby.
We bought Bermuda transportation passes...$21 for a three day unlimited use pass. The bus and ferry system is wonderful and easy to use, and I’m a fairly lazy traveler so that says a lot. I journeyed to St. Georges for some exploring one day, and made my way to Horseshoe Bay Beach another day. Of course, I spent some time shopping in Hamilton, as one must. Overall, though, I didn’t do too much on land since it was not my first visit to Bermuda. I recommend the Frog and Onion Pub for lunch. Also, if you go to the Swizzle Inn, the upstairs dining room is much nicer than the downstairs.
This is probably a good point to mention the cruise staff. The entertainment staff was excellent. The orchestra, the singers, and the dancers, were all great. Our cabin attendant was superb. I already mentioned our waiter situation. Even that, though, was still fine, just not as excellent as other ships have been.
The production shows were very good, not particularly special. There were two pre-dinner orchestra performances that were wonderful. One night they did an hour of Dixieland jazz and the other was an hour of big band music.
I did not purchase any excursions, although my friends did. Two of them went on the undersea walk---helmet diving. Several went on the glass bottom boat ride. They were all quite satisfied.
By the way, don’t let anyone tell you that Bermuda in August isn’t hot. It was extremely hot and very humid the whole week.
On Sunday morning, I awoke in my bed and looked up to the window where I saw the World Trade Center towers! After being in Bermuda and at sea, they were a startling site. We disembarked quite smoothly and had to gather our own luggage, but it was easy. Then, we found our limo and headed for home.