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Kathleen Ah Sam

Age: 45

Occupation:Office Manager

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: January 13th, 2006

Itinerary: n/a

Celebrity Cruise Line
Mercury Cruise Review
Mexican Riviera

Kathleen Ah Sam

I found the reviews on this site to be very helpful and informative prior to my cruise and promised myself I would write a review upon my return. I hope this review is helpful to others.

Let me start by saying there were 9 total in our party, with ages ranging from 45 to 75. My husband and I being the youngest (45 and 52). We went with our parents and their friends. I found knowing the age of the reviewer to be helpful to me.

This is my 4th cruise and my first with Celebrity cruises. We have gone on Norweigan, Holland America and Peter Deilmann (France River Boat) prior to Celebrity. Our last cruise prior to this one was on Holland America to Alaska in June 2005.

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet and hopefully somewhat helpful. The cruise left out of San Diego on January 13th. We flew in the night before (we are from Hawaii). Check-in was, as I had read on this site, a breeze. We did do the online check-in prior to our trip and am not sure if that helped speed it up. We were given champagne on embarking and then were free to roam the ship. The mandatory lifeboat drill was done later that day and was definitely not as strict or serious as we experienced on Holland America. Which to me is not a big deal, but others may not like it.

On to the Sail Away. San Diego is a beautiful harbor to sail out of – but it was chilly (COLD to us Hawaii people). They had a Sail Away party, with special drinks and party like atmosphere on deck. Here is a comparison to Holland America. Holland America also had a Sail Away when we left for our Alaska cruise, but they pushed (no…shoved) the special drinks down your throat! Celebrity already got a gold star in my book for their lack of pushiness on this first night!

That friendly, yet professional, non-pushy attitude of ALL the waitstaff continued on our entire cruise! We know these people are working hard and trying to make tips, but I never felt that any of them were trying too hard! They were always there with a friendly face and excellent service…but certainly made it feel genuine!! I have to say – they all made the trip even more wonderful!!! One morning I even told my husband … “I feel like a movie star!!” Not realizing that is their slogan….never even saw the commercial until I came home!! So they are certainly accomplishing that!

Also not sure if it was just this particular 10 day cruise, but even the clientele on the ship was great! Everyone was very friendly! The clientele did appear to be a bit younger than the other cruises we’ve been on. I’d say the “average” age was probably closer to 55 to 60 than what I’ve experienced as 65-70 years.

The Mercury is an older ship and in reading reviews before we left, some thought it was definitely time for an overhaul. I thought it looked fine and was clean and certainly big enough. We had a harder time finding each other on this ship than any other!

The food was WONDERFUL!! The best I’ve had on any cruise line. They were always serving something at various buffets. The times are staggered so you are never are too late for a good bite to eat – not the case on Holland America. The only thing they didn’t have on the Mercury was a separate specialty restaurant. At first we were disappointed, but after 10 days were not disappointed at all. The meals in the dining room were delicious every night and the portions were perfect!

If you like to gamble on cruise ships, the Mercury had the largest casino I’ve seen on board. It had a fun atmosphere and seemed large and less smoky than the other casinos. I usually don’t spend time in the casino while on a cruise, but did this time. We gambled a little every night after dinner (late seating). I actually won $800 one night…almost enough to pay my bar tab!!

The dress attire. Because it was a 10 day cruise, there were more Formal Nights. The informal and casual nights are a bit more dressy than we’ve experienced on other ships (no jeans in the dining room). There is no snobby attitude, they just suggest it in the daily schedule you get. I happen to appreciate it. It gives an overall feeling of being in a 5 star resort. I don’t like getting dressed up, sipping cocktails and eating a gourmet meal and looking around and seeing people in jeans and t-shirts. Again, there is no feeling of snobbery and you don’t have to be in a tuxedo on casual or informal (or formal for that matter) nights, just nicely dressed. My husband used to dread the dressing nicely part (we’re from Hawaii which is very casual), but with a sport coat and a couple of nice shirts and ties, and just a nice shirt without a tie and he’s good to go. He doesn’t even mind anymore!

Now my view of the cruise and ports. The first day is at sea and if you are looking to bake in the sun….you’ll do so wearing a sweater. It is very chilly sailing away from San Diego. It was beautiful – just chilly.

Our first stop was Cabo San Lucas.
I’ve never been to Mexico so wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve heard a lot about Cabo and was excited to go there. We took a 4-hour bus tour of a glass blowing factory (factory???? It was a shack, but welcome to Mexico); visited a restaurant and drove along and saw the sites. Our guide was friendly and informative. But I have to say, I wasn’t impressed with Cabo. I can’t imagine it as a destination resort – but that is just my personal opinion.

Our next stop was Mazatlan
– again did the 4-hour bus trip. We didn’t know if our guide was informative or not, since we didn’t understand a word he said! He smiled a lot though and that helped. We saw the Indian Flyers and that was an interesting show – everybody enjoyed that. I was looking forward to the shopping (which I read was good in Mazatlan), but hadn’t seen anything I wanted to buy. Kind of like all other cruise towns – jewelry and t-shirts. Maybe I just didn’t know where to go.

We then went to Acapulco, where we didn’t have a tour. We asked the Travel Desk what to do and they told us we could walk to the “old town”. Do NOT attempt this. It was very very hot (even for us Hawaii people) and when you get to the old town, it is like a ghetto. Luckily my father-in-law was smart enough to hire a guide about half way through our walk. The guides are all over the place and follow you around telling you they will give you a tour. We found a wonderful guy, who showed us his tourist credentials, drivers license, etc. He quoted us $40 for a 2 hour tour. We ended up spending 4 hours with him (he said just pay him what we thought he was worth). He took us to see the cliff divers, the jewelry factory, old town, new Acalpulco and Senor Frogs (basically the same places a tour bus takes you) – but with no time limit on any of it. He seemed to know everyone in Acapulco! His driving was interesting – could have been because he was drinking a margarita as he drove! Having taken 2 bus tours so far, I have to say, paying a driver is MUCH better – a lot more fun and a lot cheaper!!

The Sail Away from Acapulco is beautiful. We didn’t eat dinner in the dining room that night – opted to stay on deck and eat from the dinner buffet. The temperature is perfect and they have a band playing and a party atmosphere. I definitely recommend this for a change of pace.

The next day was at sea and you could certainly bake in the sun then!! It was very relaxing to read by the pool and bask in the sun!! On days like this, I wonder why I leave the boat at all!!

We then stopped at Ixtapa. We didn’t take a tour in this town and it’s a short stay there (5 hours). Having already been to 3 ports, I wasn’t sure whether I even wanted to go into town. Decided about 11:00 that we would (leave at 2:00). I was very disappointed that I didn’t go earlier. My favorite port so far. Very very pretty and better shopping and just seemed more like a quaint little town (I’m not very adventurous I guess). I understand there was another part of town that was even prettier that we didn’t have time to go to. Another person in our party agreed, that this was their favorite port. Not sure why we are there such a short time.

We did the 5 hour Resort Tour in Puerto Vallarta. The bus takes you to a 5 star resort and you can lay by the pool or on the sand and they provide you with lunch. My husband and I enjoyed this – we are sun worshippers however and have the sun damage to prove it!! Not sure our parents enjoyed it as much as we did (they are in there 70’s).

Then it was back at sea for 2 days. I was looking forward to this – again I love being on the ship almost as much as seeing the sites! It gets chillier to closer you get to San Diego, so spent time indoors, playing bingo and reading and gambling. Certainly have a lot going on!

Overall, it was a wonderful cruise! If I have a choice on our next cruise to choose Celebrity over the others, I will definitely do so. If you haven’t sailed with Celebrity, I highly recommend it. If I don’t seem that impressed with Mexico, it could just be me. I’ve never been to a third world country. The people of Mexico are very warm and friendly, although obviously very poor, were gracious people.

I hope this cruise review was helpful. Happy Cruising!

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