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Martha Lawyer

Age: 50

Occupation:interior decorator

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: February 28th, 2003

Itinerary: Panama CanalMy

husband, Mike, and I were certainly looking forward to our first Celebrity cruise--and we were not disappointed! Our previous cruises: Royal Caribbean Nordic Empress, Grandeur, Vision, Radiance, Grand Princess, Dawn Princess, Carnival Celebration, and Holland America Veendam. I'll try to draw comparisons where appropriate.

After a relatively easy embarkation procedure, we walked up the gangway to be greeting with a complimentary glass of champagne, and a string quartet playing in the Grand Foyer. We knew we were in for a first-class voyage then!

Our stateroom was 5052, which was a standard outside cabin. We really liked the location, between the midship and foreward staircases, and just off the main floor of the foyer (which we called the centrum, I guess a throwback to Royal Caribbean). The stateroom was fairly small but had loads of closet and drawer space. This was a fifteen night cruise, and I had overpacked for it, as usual. There were 3 formal nights, and 4 informal nights, so I brought 15 different evening outfits, 8 or 9 pairs of shoes, plus my husband brought his tux, a suit, and a sportcoat, plus loads of other stuff. We still had room for more hang-up clothes, and not every drawer was filled. There was a small fridge, a safe, a large window, the bathroom was a bit larger than the others we've stayed in ( other than HAL). The shower was actually a decent size. The only negative I can say is "BRING YOUR OWN HAIR DRYER", because the one provided was very poor quality. They provided soap, shampoo, lotion, q-tips, cotton balls, and a shower cap. Our room steward was happy to bring us extra pillows, and hangers. Another thing we liked about the location of this cabin was that right down the hall was a public ladies' room, this was convenient when Mike was taking a little too long in the bathroom!

The ship was well laid out, very clean. It's good-looking, but to my taste not as impressive as some of the others such as the Radiance with its' nine story atrium and glass elevators. Also, art is in the eye of the beholder, I've been "blown away" by the artwork I've encountered on other ships, but did not care for the style of art on this ship.

We had the late seating in the Manhattan dining room, and we were impressed with the quality and presentation of the food. Every night for 15 nights we were presented with wonderful choices, well-prepared. The desserts were out of this world! We also liked the fact that we could pre-order the next nights food--all you have to do is ask for the menu, and if you would rather have (for example) filet mignon the next night, just say the word. We had creme brulee 5 nights out of the 15, but it was only offered on the menu twice. There is a nice buffet for the three meals, also a grill in the solarium serving alternative choices. One of our favorite places to eat was near this grill, at the aft of the ship was an outdoor area with umbrella tables. There was also food presented at midnight, sometimes a lavish buffet, or a theme buffet out by the pool, or at the least, canapes and sweets being offered in the public rooms by roving waiters. We were also very impressed with the "elegant tea" served once a week in the formal dining room. Much nicer presentation than Princess high tea.

After all this talk of food, here's how we burned a few calories. We took advantage of the workout facility, had 10 treadmills, plus state-of-the-art machines. There were a few classes such as pilates, aerobics, etc, buy not a lot going on all day long, just a couple in the early morning, and some in the evening. We are late risers, and wish they had more workout classes in the afternoon.

The entertainment on board was so-so. With a couple of exceptions (The NepTunes, and OnLyne) the entertainers were below the average that one normally finds on cruise ships. The big production shows were fairly amateur--we love seeing this type of entertainment and are usually dazzled by the costuming, lighting, special effects, etc. Not so, here. The "headliners" were nothing too impressive either. There was a piano player "Fred" who sang with a very loud voice--sounded like a bad lounge act, in the Cova Cafe/Martini bar, which ruined an otherwise lovely place to meet and chat with friends.

This cruise was greatly enhanced by a group of about 50 of us that met via internet (Cruise Critic), and had several parties. I highly recommend this if you're looking for a sociable cruise.

There were mainly older people on this cruise, due to the length, time of year, and itinerary, I believe. It's kind of funny to think that, at 50 & 57, my husband and I felt we were at the younger end of the spectrum. There were lots of people in their 70's and 80's. Needless to say, the disco wasn't ever packed. One thing we really liked about Celebrity was that it was a quieter, more relaxing type of cruise. We don't like the hard-sell pushy business that seems to go with other cruise lines, constantly pushing drinks, pictures, art auctions, etc. These things were all available on Mercury, but nobody was hassling us to buy. I will say, if you're the type that likes a lot of crowd participation activities, and lots of partying at night, you may want to try another line.

All in all, this was the best cruise we've ever had-- 15 days and nights of relaxation, fun with new-found friends, and great food. We'll definitely return to Celebrity!!

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