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Paul Bjorlin

Age: 49

Occupation:Computer Operations and Unix Administration

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: April 17th, 2002

Itinerary: San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale

This would be our first cruise on Celebrity. This would also be our first cruise through the Panama Canal. So you can understand where my opinions come from, I will give some background on myself. I do not like hot weather. I also am very laid back and I am not into fancy things or fancy food. This may make you think, why a Panama Canal Cruise than. We wanted to see the Canal it is that simple. The other ports were not of great interest to us.

We had made our own air arrangements. We flew into San Diego four days early so we could see the zoo and Sea World, along with other things in the city. We boarded the Mercury on a Wednesday April 17, 2002. We were given a ride to the ship by Sheryl, a friend we had met on the cruise bulletin boards. If you ever meet her and her husband you are in for a treat. They are great people.

Boarding went very smooth even with the added security that is now present. We were onboard in about twenty minutes after arriving at the pier. An employee who happened to be walking by escorted us to our room. The room was 4046 on the Continental deck. It is an outside room with a window and no balcony. The room was very nice and had more than enough storage for our things. The one thing I did notice was that the shower seemed larger than the showers I have had on other ships. The water temperature did seem to change while you were taking a shower. I also heard a few other people comment that the water temperature changed while they were in their shower. After a short while our room steward showed up. His name was Karon. There is also an assistant to the steward his name was Jo Jo but we did not meet him until a few days later. They did an excellent job the whole trip of keeping the room clean. They were also very polite and easy to talk with.

Our things were not in our room when we boarded and would arrive around 5:00 in the evening. We read our daily newsletter and than headed out to explore the ship. The Mercury was a little confusing to get around. The public areas were very beautiful and well kept up. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about how the Mercury looked or the maintenance of the ship. Celebrity has a beautiful ship. When the ship finally did start to sail away, there was a very noticeable vibration. The ship never did stop shaking or vibrating when it was moving. The ship also did roll in quite calm waters. The ship did seem to sail its smoothest in rough waters. There was absolutely no roll in rough waters but there still was a lot of vibration. I did here others making the joke that the ship should be called the vibration or the massage. The motion the ship made was not so drastic that it caused problems. It was enough however to cause a few problems for people with a walking disability, such as my wife. This was on rare occasions when it seemed to shake suddenly at a much harder rate.

Of course people want to hear about food on a ship. I am also aware that everyone has different tastes in food, so this is just my opinion. Celebrity is known for good food. For me this ship was the exception. When in the buffet there were very few choices and what was there was not very good. In the dining room the food was also not very good. This was the first time on a ship that I had to send several meals back and get something else to eat. The quality of the food was very inconsistent also. When I did find something I thought was fairly good, the next time I would order it the food was terrible. With the chicken dishes I ordered the chicken was never completely cooked. The beef was very tough and hard to cut and chew. The fish also was not cooked completely. The lettuce in salads was already turning brown. The dining staff did their best to correct any problems with the food.

The dining staff itself was excellent. The Head Waiter was Rudi, the waiter was Saad and the assistant waiter was Anthony. I have nothing but high praise for the work they did and the attentive service they provided. Even though I did not care for the food they still made dining enjoyable. Of course having good tablemates also helped make dining enjoyable. We were seated with two other couples from Vancouver British Columbia. These tablemates were very interesting and loved to have a good time.

Some of my favorite places on the ship were the Navigator Club, Tastings and the Rendez~Vous Square. I also spent a fair amount of time on the Sky Deck in the aft part of the ship, where much of the time it was shaded because of the stacks on the ship. I had read in some past reviews that many public areas smelled of smoke. I did not find this to be the case. I am a non-smoker and most places were fine. Of course the Casino was heavier with smoke. Smoking was allowed on one side of the ship and non-smoking on the other and from what I saw; the passengers followed this.

One thing I usually do when on a cruise is doing a brisk walk around the decks for exercise. This is a challenge on the Mercury. The area they had designated for walking was one level above the pool. This is also the area everyone uses to go from one end of the ship to the other and is also a popular area to lie in a lounger to get sun. This made walking a steady pace next to impossible.

There is an outdoor pool and a pool that has a cover that can be opened. They never did open the cover over this pool. The pool areas are very nice and were used quite a bit. They were never real full but on this cruise the majority of the people on the ship were older. I believe that was due to the fact that it was a longer cruise. I never did bother to use the spa pool so I will not comment on that. The entertainment on the ship was very good. Some shows I did not care for but that was because of the style of show. The entertainers did an excellent job. Along with their normal singers and dancers they featured a comedian, a singer who performs funny songs, a magician, a Broadway show type singer, a pianist and an instrumentalist. They all did a very good job and were well worth going to see. The band they used poolside was excellent and I loved listening to them. They were called Online. There was also a female singer at night that sang the slower songs for people to dance to in one of the lounges and she had an incredible voice.

One thing I noticed and many commented on were the elevators. I always expect slow elevators, however the elevators would bypass your floor or they would change direction many times leaving you standing for a long time. I would walk the stairs more but my wife is handicapped and I have very bad knees so the use of stairs is not something I do. I also did see several elevators being worked on throughout the cruise. I would notice because they would lower them to the floor our room was on and work on them there. With the length of time they worked on them I got the impression that there were problems and it was not just general maintenance but I could be wrong.

I will now give some information on the passengers on this cruise. The majority of the passengers on this cruise were senior citizens. I believe this is due to the length of the cruise. We also met with a few people I had met on the different cruise boards on this cruise. We met some great people on this cruise and had a very enjoyable time meeting and spending time with them. One comment I will make and this is about the minority of people on this cruise, is there were some people who were extremely rude. I am not sure if it was because they were set in their ways or that they are and have always been extremely rude. You would see a great deal of these people being mean and rude to the employees of the line and other passengers. You would notice this especially at the buffet, elevators, show rooms and excursion desk. One example that happened repeatedly is my wife is handicapped and it is very noticeable that she is handicapped. She is slow when going from place to place or even when trying to sit. Many times people would try to push her out of the way to get on an elevator first. A few times people would come and literally take the seat out from under her while she was attempting to free her leg brace to sit in the theater. On more than one occasion I heard passengers screaming at the employees over what most would consider very minor things. I repeat this was the minority of passengers but they definitely made sure you knew they were there.

I will talk some about the ports. I want to remind you that I do not like hot weather and I am not one for lying on a beach or shopping. I hope this helps you in understanding my point of view on these ports.

Our first port was Cabo San Lucas. Here we would have to tender in to the dock. It was extremely hot in Cabo but this would be one of the least humid of all our ports. We had signed up for a Snorkel and Sail Fiesta tour through Celebrity. We boarded a catamaran at the docks and headed out to a rock formation to do some snorkeling. The water was about 53 degrees. To many this may seem cold but from what I am used to this is warm water. There were many schools of small fish and several larger fish but this was not what I consider good snorkeling. After 20 minutes of snorkeling we board the boat again and start sailing to see some of the sights. While doing this, the crew cranks up the music and gets the party started. This was a very good time and this also made the tour well worth the money. If you were looking for just a good time and not that interested in the snorkeling you would enjoy this tour.

Our next port would be Acapulco. There is a couple of set backs to this port. First we arrive late due to a medical emergency where we had turned back and dropped off a passenger back in Cabo. This only delayed us a few hours. Second there was a big special celebration going on in Acapulco, which caused the cruise line to combine all the tours to morning time slots. Here we had picked the Jet over river tour. It takes a little over an hour to get to the place where you take the boat ride. With all tours going at the same time this meant that you had to wait in the heat and humidity for long periods before it was your turn in the boat or to wait for others to finish to go back to the ship. The Jet over ride itself took about 30 minutes and was fun. You go at high speeds down the river and at various points they will spin the boat to splash everyone. This was usually at a place that they would stop and provide information of the area. The boat ride was fun but considering the long drive to and from the river along with the wait in the heat it was not worth the price or the time used up during the day. From there we just went back to the ship and relaxed. That evening there was a fireworks show in town that we could watch from the ship.

Our next stop was in Costa Rica. It is still extremely hot and humid. Here we took a river tour to see the wildlife. This was the best tour of the whole trip. It took an hour and a quarter to get to the river. It did rain off and on while going to the river. Here you boarded a boat and took a slow ride on the river. They would stop and show you all the wildlife they could find. We saw many different types of birds. We also saw monkeys, lizards and crocodile. The guide was very good and very informative. This was well worth the money and the time. By the time we returned to the ship it was getting dark.

The next place we would go was through the Panama Canal. We anchored at night and started for the first set of locks bright and early in the morning. It was interesting at night to see the lights from all the ships waiting their turn to enter the locks as well as see them all anchored in the morning. Lining the ship up for the locks is very time consuming, which is understandable. To raise or lower the ship in a lock it only takes about 8 minutes. It was very humid here and once we got into Gatun Lake we received heavy rain and a few cracks of lightning. It stopped raining before we anchored at the other end of the lake where we again waited our turn to go through the last set of locks. This whole experience was interesting and well worth taking a cruise to experience.

When we left the Canal area we were informed that we would not be going to Columbia due to problems there. We would instead go to Aruba and this would cause us to also miss Grand Cayman due to distance. We got a $25 onboard credit for missing Grand Cayman.

We arrived in Aruba on a Sunday. Aruba shops are not open on Sunday. The cruise line did convince several shops to open for four hours. We would be in Aruba until eleven at night. In Aruba we got on a local tour bus at the pier to take a ride around the island. The price was only $10 and it took a little over two hours. It was interesting to see the island it would have just been nicer if there were other things open.

Now just a few comments that may be helpful information. Security was tighter than any previous cruise we had been on. When you returned to the ship you did go through metal detectors and also have to put your things through an x-ray machine every time you boarded the ship. They were much more careful about checking your boarding card than on any other cruise I had been on also. There was also more security at the docks by local officials than I had ever seen before. The security at the docks would also check to see you had a boarding card before they would let you through to the ship.

Now for my final thoughts and comments. Celebrity Mercury is a beautiful ship and the Celebrity crew overall did a great job taking care of us. Yes I was very disappointed in the food but this is my own personal preference in what I like in food. I am also glad I sailed through the Panama Canal. Would I do this sailing again? No only because I do not really care for the heat and the ports did not really interest me. I went to go through the canal and I have done that now. The canal is not going to change so I have no need to return. Will I sail with Celebrity again? I will not say never, if a great deal comes up on a shorter cruise I may sail them again. I will say that Celebrity will not be at the top of my list to look at for a cruise. Everybody prefers different things and even though Celebrity treated me well and did a good job at this point I still prefer Princess. I will say I have no major complaints about Celebrity or the ship so I can understand why people like Celebrity. It just did not turn out to be a favorite of mine.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at peb@Cruise-Addicts.com

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