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Kimberly Fried

Age: 36 to 45

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 3 to 5

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise with Celebrity. Our first, was on the Century two years ago.  We had tried another cruise line last year and just didn't find it up to the standards of our first cruise on the Century.

Our group consisted of my parents and my husband, my 7 year old and myself.

The week of Christmas is always a hit with the children and there were over 450 on ours....We found them to be well-behaved and appropriately dressed.

The ship was beautiful - spotless - the staff was terrific and the food good.  However, because of the many reviews that talked about the "fabulous" food, we were a bit disappointed. (The food was better on the Century.)

As for the Itinerary - we had never heard of Calica, Mexico.  We chose to go to the famous park there - Xcaret - It was well-worth the $39.00 entrance fee.  My son and I snorkeled through a semi-underground river for over an hour and had a wonderful time there.  (The water was very cold - but also, very clear.) There were gorgeous animals - much like a zoo atmosphere, as well as a bay for more snorkeling and fun in the sun.  None of us had ever been to a park or area like this and we all agreed that it was a great day.  The gift shop there is very very reasonable - especially for cotton fabric clothing for women. Several women purchased outfits that could be worn to casual evenings on the ship.

In Calica, right off the ship there is a little market set-up. It doesn't really have much to offer, but the silver there is pretty - if you have time to spend to look through all of it.  The prices are very high - but we just cut the price in half and offered that - they accepted - so the price actually was reasonable -

Another highlight was the Snorkeling with the Stingrays - Although I had read the reviews, again, they were misleading to me.  First, don't bother to take your fins - they won't allow you to wear them, as if you kick a stingray, someone or something could be damaged --- Next - you really don't need a snorkel - the water is only about 3 1/2 feet deep - with about 35 people around you, in clear water, there's really no need for a mask.  Also - the stingrays come to you - they slide along your body - the swim up to you and push against your stomach - My son has never been so scared in his life - I thought it would be fun!  He is a very good swimmer and has been snorkeling several times - but he was never in a position where the creatures came up to him - and on several sides at one time.  Before you book this with a child under about 12 you really need to explain what they are going to experience -

As for shopping - we found the best shopping by far in Cozumel - the silver prices of jewelry just couldn't be found in the state - the craftsmanship was just wonderful.  Many women commented to those of us who did purchase jewelry that they wish they would have bought something -

For Key West, we did the Trolley tour - we had been several times before to Key West, but only shopped.  The tour gave us a nice overview of the area and was interesting.  We still had more than enough time to shop after the tour was completed.

Also, the shops on board had sales that were very good.  We purchased several Russian dolls on a "sale" day.  Last week we were at the Flea market - the same $8 on the ship was $59 at the Flea market!  Exactly the same - We told the salewoman at the Flea market about the price difference - her answer was - "yes, but you bought the cruise from them" - So, if you've already bought the cruise - we say - buy the dolls too!

The ship has a tour of the Kitchen - we recommend it.  It only takes about 1/2 hour and is quite interesting. This tour is not listed in the daily paper - You need to go the the Reception Desk and request being placed on the tour. There is no tour of the Bridge available.

On a down side -

Newsflash...This is NEW - If you want to have liquor in your cabin - Bring it on board with you!!!! You can not buy it at the ports and bring it into the ship with you. They take it and give it back to you the last evening of the cruise....We wish someone would have told us - before we boarded~!

The entertainment was almost "awful". The ladder man that everyone talks about was a really nice guy - and entertaining for about 10 minutes - but an hour of a guy on a ladder - come on.  He entertained a second night and that's when all of us hit the movie theatre.  The comedian on board was very bad. And, some of his jokes were not appropriate for children (I'm not that conservative - but this entertainment - especially the early show should be fit for children to watch - or there should be a warning of sorts for parents.)

On another evening we all opted for the movie after watching about 5 minutes of the show --- it just wasn't entertaining.

The on-board dancers/singers were upbeat and fun to watch -but it was very much like watching your High School play with a few more bells and whistles.

Would we recommend the Mercury? Absolutely. Celebrity is a first class effort - We can't even imagine the obstacles they have to overcome in order to ensure all of the guests had as much fun as we did.

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