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P.Enkirch

Age: 52

Occupation:manager

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: March 1st, 2004

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera


After flying from Washington state to San Diego International airport, it was a refreshing surprise to find the cruise ship terminal only an $ 8.00 taxi ride from the airport. Extremely handy.

The Mercury was tied up next to the famous Star of India sailing ship from days of old. What a difference a few years make. The Mercury is a 77000 ton floating premier hotel with all the amenities a traveller could ever wish for.

Embarkation was the smoothest we have ever experienced after a few minutes wait to enter the terminal area due to the extremely tight security checks of our passports along with everyone else entering the area. After removing our bags from the taxi, they were scooped up by one of the many longshoremen delegated to this task and disappeared into the large warehouse.

We then entered the line inside the terminal and within 5 minutes were at the counter talking to a Celebrity rep and being processed for boarding. This went extremely well and 5 minutes later we were heading up the gangway onto the ship. What a luxury to be greeted by ship staff with champagne and then escorted to our outside cabin on deck 4 and offered an explanation of the features inside our stateroom. Celebrity is copying the style of Four Seasons Hotels and is going first class with the embarkation .

Our state room was more than adequate and the bed configuration was as requested, together. Plenty of room under the bed for the suitcases we brought, lots of closet space except there were not enough hangers, lots of drawer space, an electronic safe behind the mirror, 20" TV and the best designed bathroom facilities we've ever seen on a ship. The shower was more than adequate and the controls were the simplest to operate. Air flow into the stateroom is constant with only the temperature adjustment available. Our stateroom attendant performed adequately but never bothered to introduce himself, enquire as to how we were doing or even speak to us other than good morning or evening. We did note that other attendants were much friendlier with their passengers.

The ship itself is kept in excellent condition, very clean and constantly being attended to by the ship's staff. No signs of wear and tear or rust noted.

The public rooms are quite adequate but one half of the ship is always smelling of smoke as smoking is allowed except in the dining areas located inside or the theatres. The library has a fair amount of books to read, mostly fiction. The theatre and conference center got quite warm and stuffy when the movie was playing to a full house. The celebrity thatre which showcased the major entertainment is one of the best designed we have ever experienced with the majority being unobstructed views. The excellent stage setup included a turntable and a section of the stage that rises up from the pit which was well used in the excellent broadway style productions put on by the ship's company.

Dining experiences in the ship ran from fair to excellent depending where you ate. The main seating in the dining room is for 5.45PM on this ship and the second seating starts at 8.00PM. This caused a few issues during the 11 night cruise with people arriving late for the first seating thus delaying the start of the second seating. Our waitress admonished the guests who arrived late at our table twice during the cruise to be on time as being late caused a back up in service. We found that the back up was actually caused by the back up from the kitchen in providing the meals in a timely manner. The times we were late were the fault of the service provided not the passengers arriving 15 minutes late.

Breakfast service in the dining room was perfunctory at best with the menu never changing for the entire cruise. Buffet breakfast had the same probelm of never changing except for small changes ie- smoked salmon was only served 3 times for breakfast, cheese blintzs were there one day and not the next and then back again. Fresh fruit cosisted day after day of honeydew melons, cantaloups, watermelon, orange slices and grapefruit - nothing else. Service provided by staff in the breakfast buffet area was generally excellent except for a couple of occasions where the service staff were too busy chatting to be attentive. On these occasions though, the Maitre D' was quite good in chasing them back to work.

The grill areas were excellent with pizza, hot dogs and the best hamburgers at sea I have ever tasted. Congratulations Celebrity.

There is no real alternative dining in the Mercury except for a limited menu available from 6PM until 10PM for a $2.00 service fee. Reservations were required and service was in the buffet restaurant area. Casual dress was accepted.

The food served on board was adequate most times in the dining room. There was nothing that really wowed us including the only lobster night which was quite chewy and very small. Other passengers said they ordered two as they knew they would be small, oh well - next time. Fish entrees were undercooked a couple of times but all in all everything was properly done and tasty. Desserts were generally very good in the dining room but the selection at the buffet was at times limited.

They ran out of cream for the coffee on the last day at sea and staff did not want to tell anyone so were all searched for the cream and were finally, quietly, told they had none and we should use milk. Should have put signs out.

Our waitress was a little in over her head and rushed most of the time. The assistant was very competent and the Maitre D, Sasha from Croatia, was excellent, always checking with us throughout the journey at night and evening, in the morning and even at lunch. They do work hard, I must admit.

This cruise had a very busy itinerary stopping at Cabo San Lucas(tender port), Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta then on to Acapulco, Zihuatenejo/Ixtapa(tender port) and finally Manzanillo. We journeyed through all these ports on our own throughly enjoying the sights (once we escaped the relentless taxi drivers/tour buses) and had no problems anywhere. Zihuatenejo is deserving of a longer stay and would be an excellent choice for a 1 week stay to experience Mexico at it's best. Acapulco cliff divers were spectacular as promised.

Weather for all ports was excellent for this time.

Celebrity did a great job in the tender ports and we experienced no real problems with catching a tender either going to shore or coming back.

The swimming pools are salt water and during the busy times were a little dirty. The pool in the rear of the ship under the sliding dome, which was never opened more than 2 or 3 feet, is clean but very small and not adequate for any exercise. This ship also does not have a promenade deck that goes all the way around. Their jogging track was adequate but not the same as walking the promenade deck 3 or 4 times to make that 1 mile. We took the stairs most of the time and the elevators, of which there are 10 , are very small.

Disembarkation went very smoothly after receiving our colour to depart and the invitation to meet US Customs on board the ship, so we could receive our passports back again from the ship's guest relations.We were then allowed to wait in our stateroom until our colour was called to go to the Celebrity Theatre to await permission to leave the ship.We waited just 15 minutes before we could leave. The luggage search once off the ship was a madhouse as is any time people are trying to leave the ship. After being told all day before we would be checked by Celebrity Security, no one ever checked us on the way out. Taxi's were waiting right outside and the trip to the airport was quick and painless with hardly any traffic to contend with.

All in all, a very nice and relaxing cruise and we would be delighted to travel on Celebrity again.

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