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Robin Leslie

Age: 39

Occupation:Travel Agent

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: December 2nd, 2005

Itinerary:

Celebrity
Mercury
10 Night Mexican Riviera

Robin Leslie

We chose this 10 day Mexican Riviera itinerary for 3 reasons:(1) It was a 10 day,(2)we had never been to any of the 5 Mexican ports and (3) my husband had been dying to get to Zihuatanejo ever since seeing the movie “Shawshank Redemption”.

This was our 6th cruise, 3rd on Celebrity. We always fly in the day before so as to
be relaxed before sailing. It also reduces the stress associated with the possibility of delayed flights and so on. We arrived into San Diego early and checked into the Holiday Inn on the Bay. We picked this hotel because it was directly across the street from the cruise pier. I mean you can literally take your bags and walk across the street and get on the ship. Request a bayview room. When you wake up and step out onto your balcony, you will see that your ship has come in. The Holiday Inn is great for your pre-cruise stay. It’s not a fancy place but nice none-the-less. It has a nice restaurant Elephant & Castle. Great Pub-Great Food.

The afternoon we arrived in San Diego we received a call from the cruise line. We were informed that the ship would be arriving late into San Diego. A passenger on the previous cruise suffered a heart attack. They were closer to Cabo San Lucas than San Diego at the time of the incident so turned around and sailed back to Cabo so the individual could be airlifted to a hospital. In view of these events, the ship would be arriving around 1:00pm instead of early in the morning. That was a bit disappointing but it couldn’t be avoided.

Embarkation:
Well.............it was certainly an adventure! Remember I mentioned that we picked the Holiday Inn so we could ‘literally take our bags, walk across the street and get on the ship’? Was not to be. Since the ship arrived about 1pm, no one could board until much later. Also since the ship had to clear customs, the passengers had to disembark, and the ship had to be cleaned, we wouldn’t be allowed to wait at the pier terminal. They shuttled everyone to the Convention Center a few miles down the road. The Convention Center was large, clean and comfortable. They not only provided a buffet of food and drink, but also allowed us to check in for the cruise. We then had to wait for transport by motorcoach back to the pier. My husband and I had a portable DVD player, so we passed the time watching DVDs.

After about 2 hours we boarded the motorcoaches according to the numbers we received when checking in. So many people were complaining about the situation. Yes, it was a very long day and basically the day was lost because by the time we got on board, it was time to “muster” and then get to dinner. But the purpose of going on vacation is to relax and de-stress. So why work yourself up into a lather over something that absolutely could not have been avoided? Face it........if it was our relative or traveling companion, we would have wanted them to turn that ship around too! Once we arrived at the pier, after waiting on a really long line(and it was a bit chilly that night, actually it was down right cold) we just walked on board. They were offering to take your picture upon embarkation as usual, but needless to say many people declined. Which was a good thing, because the looks on people’s faces.............All I’ll say is DMV:-)

The Mercury:
The stories of her showing her age have been greatly exaggerated. The ship was very clean and although not new, didn’t look old either. I saw no signs of wear on the furniture, signs or anywhere else. Her staff was friendly and efficient.

The Cova Café is very charming. Nice place to have a spot of tea in the afternoon and a smooth nightcap in the evening. That said......I know Celebrity is not into ‘glitz’ but some of the bars, like the Champagne Bar and the Martini Bar sure could use some ‘glitz’ here and there.

The Cuisine:
The food was very good as usual on Celebrity. The menu in the main dining room was varied enough. We had a table for two. Our waiter and his assistant were very capable. After the first night, they remembered our dining preferences. We never had to wait for anything (Go Augustino and Paul O ) After a few days, our waiter even knew what we would like and not like on that evening’s menu. And let me tell you......He was right! The food was always hot, especially the soups(And I like my soups very hot ) The breakfast buffets were very nice, always hot and tasty. The waffle bar is not to be missed!

Our Stateroom:
We booked a Concierge Class Stateroom. Some say that it’s not worth the extra money because these cabins are the same size as the standard balcony cabins. We found it to be worth every penny. The extra amenities were fantastic. Where do I start? Fresh fruit and flowers daily(even flowers in the bathroom), pillow menu, massaging showerhead that makes one want to dance every time you take a shower.

Then there are the incredibly soft pink towels(yes I said pink). The bath rug matched the towels(yes I said rug) and was just as soft. Every 2 days or so they changed to a serene mint green ensemble. Even the lotion provided in the bathroom was of higher quality; better than the normal watered down alleged lotion. The other nice thing was the expanded breakfast room service menu. The fruit smoothies were excellent. The delivery was on time, every time. They’d give you a call to say breakfast was on it’s way. And they mean it. Within minutes there’s a knock at your door. Everything fresh and hot. The bathrobes that you receive are much nicer than the ones provided in the other staterooms. So plush and roomy, not so small you can hardly tie the belt. You also get personalized stationery as well as little ‘business cards’ with your name and ship information on them(not sure what we were supposed to do with them, though). On some evenings along with the not-so-impressive chocolates on the pillow, we were left little gifts like cloth passport holders, a silver picture frame and beach bag. Those were unexpected treats. The bottom line is if you like things like that(and we do) it’s worth it to upgrade to a Concierge room.

The Spa:
Many of the spa treatments are pricey but they do have specials on certain days. I took advantage of one special they were offering for a Hot Stone Massage and Facial. It was wonderful. Definitely a MUST DO. But beware of the Hard Sell afterwards. They have you trapped in that little room filled with the smell of all kinds of wonderful oils and such, you’re already feeling soft and supple and then they try to sell you hundreds and I do mean hundreds of dollars worth of stuff you probably can get at CVS. One thing I didn’t like was that after showing you how all these products are so good for you and will solve all your beauty problems, I was made to feel guilty for not taking their advice. They should go a little easier on folks. Sometimes all you want is a massage !

Activities:

My husband enjoyed the Golf Clinics and Golf Lessons with the Golf Pro, Roger. Since he has only recently started playing golf, they were very helpful to him. For me it was the Celebrity Discover Enrichment Series, lectures based on Crime Fiction. It was featured every sea day. Lecture-Cruise, Lecture-Cruise “and never the twain shall meet”. Never thought I’d ever attend a lecture anywhere, least of all on a cruise. But it was thoroughly enjoyable. All about why we are so fascinated with murder and such(CSI, Law & Order, Agatha Christie, etc)Very interesting.

There seemed to be a lot of things going on, a lot of activities provided but I must say that the Cruise Director...........left a lot to be desired. He wasn’t charming, didn’t have any charisma at all. No accent either(I love a man with an accent).

We visited 5 ports of call. Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Acapulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, and Puerto Vallarta. We also had a total of 4 days at sea. It was just enough and not too much. The weather was great and we had no rain. Low humidity too. Out of the 5 ports I would say that Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Ixtapa are not to be missed. We scheduled tours through Celebrity for all ports except Mazatlan. We figured we would just play it by ear. While in the marketplace at the pier, we decided to go on a tour and another cruise couple recommended Mazatlan Van Tours. It was reasonably priced and a great tour. Our tour guide spoke English and gave us a wonderful tour of the city. I believe the tour guide’s name was Luis, but not sure. He was a outstanding guide. We also chose as a tour in Puerto Vallarta, a Mexican Cooking Demonstration. We learned how to make salsa, guacamole, and enchiladas. That was very enjoyable. You have to try it.

Disembarkation:
This was the fastest, easiest disembarkation we have ever experienced. The night before, we received in our staterooms color coded luggage tags as well as a letter with the time and place we were to go to wait to leave the ship. We were told to meet in the Pavillion Night Club at 9:20am. When we arrived we were preparing ourselves to wait for some time along with all the other people. Well within 10 minutes we were walking down gangway. We were in shock. But there’s no time for shock: we had to prepare to walk into this gigantic warehouse and search for our luggage among thousands of black bags just like ours. We were in shock once again. The luggage was arranged so neatly in the warehouse and there were so many of Celebrity’s employees on hand to direct you to the appropriate area, that we found our luggage in less than 5 minutes. Since we were staying in San Diego overnight and flying home the next morning, we needed transportation, not to the airport but our hotel, the Sheraton San Diego. How would we find a taxi among the many and harried passengers trying to get to the airport on time for their flight? Once again, we were stunned. As we exited the pier terminal, there was someone directing us to a waiting taxi. It was unbelievable! All in all, disembarkation was a breeze and a pleasure.

By the way, the Sheraton San Diego is a great hotel. The breakfast buffet in their restaurant is awesome. And their Sweet Sleeper Beds...............Need I say more??

Overall Impression:

In our opinion the 10-day itinerary was the way to go if you have the time. After 3 or 4 days, instead of your vacation being half over, you discover you have a whole week left. It’s an exhilarating feeling !!

The only thing we really didn’t like was the fact that the average age onboard was 60+. Now, my husband and I are in our late 30's and are not party animals by any means, but come on? And these weren’t even pleasant elderly people. If they weren’t complaining about something, they were literally jumping in front of you on the buffet line. It was horrible. I don’t know if Celebrity is gearing their advertisement to attract older cruisers, but the only commercial I’ve seen on TV has older people in it, not like Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

Would we go back on Celebrity again? Sure, but not anytime soon. We think we’ll go for the ‘GLITZ’ next time.

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