Food excellant I like how a sample of the desserts were presented by the waiter on a tray nice to see the portions.
Food good portions served in the restaurant.Good attentive waiters thank you Julio and Jilanto. Maitre D visited the table everynight.
Breakfast catered for every taste, American, English etc
Particularly enjoyed the special brunch put on one day in the main restaurant.
Afternoon tea was special with custom made sandwiches and warm scones.
Plenty of loungers around the decks and an abundance of nice good quality towels available around the pool.
Had a balcony room pretty much the same as on most ships kept nice and clean by Standley our cabin steward who was always polite and around when needed.
Entertainment was very professional with good shows and an excellant orchestra.
Spa treatments were offered around the pool at discounted prices which was something I had not seen before on a cruise
No complaints about cleanliness or staff all excellant. In facts the ladies loos near the restaurants had a member of staff cleaning all the time when it was the busy times 10 out of 10 for that.
Cold drinks, towels and sanitizer available on the port before boarding back on ship 10 out of 10 for this as well.
Only downside if there was no late show the ship could be quite quiet at night after 10pm but the chocolate buffet and the last night with the Beatle tribute was a really good night and well attended.
All in all a memorable trip.
Travel operator: Dial a Flight
For the "techy's", she is 865ft long, 105.6 ft wide, and has a draught of 26ft. She's powered by gas turbines.
For the lady's, there's no soot from the funnel so sunbathing in white bikinis is fine.
My wife and I boarded at Fort Lauderdale, having stopped the previous night at the Holiday Inn Express on State Road 84 - that hotel provides complimentary shuttle to/from the airport and seaport and is only 15 mins. drive from both. Check-in and security checks at the purpose built dock-side facilities was fast and efficient - much of the paperwork can be (and was) completed online weeks before departing. As we entered the main foyer on deck 3 we were greeted by a waiter offering complimentary champagne. A fine start.
Exploring the layout occupies the next hour or so and whilst there are 11 public decks there are signs directing you to the nearest elevators throughout and it relatively easy to get to grips with the important places such as your cabin, the bars, restaurants, pools and spas, Several lifts are located in three clusters, fore, midships and aft - or as my wife better understood, pointy end, middle and the back.
An extensive buffet was available from the time of boarding, generally not before 1.30pm until very late in the afternoon. The ship departed on time - always a good sign, unless you happen to be left on an island having forgotton to adjust your watch - more later.
We both cruised several times before, and twice with Royal Caribbean International (RCI)- part of Celebrity, and as we both enjoy wine with dinner I checked-out the wine packages. There are none. Unlike RCI, Celebrity do not have any package whereby a number of bottles may be purchased (select as you consume) at a discount. However, they boast an impressive wine list, varied in both price and choice. I believe the lowest bottle was a little over $20. There were many acceptable wines in the the £25-35 range - both red and white.
Dinner is served in one major restaurant with two sittings. Main seating is (I believe) 6:00pm and we find this a little early, especially on those days when visiting a port. The 8:30pm sitting gave us more time to relax, especially during that period between about 5:30pm and 7:00pm when the pools and jacuzzis are less crowded. The centre of the ship on the uppermost decks houses the outdoor pool and spas and is well supplied with sun loungers. The poolside has padded, reclining loungers both in the full sun and in full shade (under the uppermost deck above). There are areas with partial shade on this level, but on the topmost deck it's wall-to-wall sun - and breeze. Depending upon the conditions and the direction of travel the wind can be pleasant to painful. Towels are always in plentiful supply - we changed ours mid-afternoon for fresh ones.
I mentioned that quiet period in the late afternoon - most often, the ship departs the port of call at about 6 or 7pm and the perfect place to enjoy this is in the Thalassotherapy seawater bath. An amazing pool, able to hold perhaps 40 people but best with just a handful. As the ship departs port and meets open water this large bath starts to move and waves, coupled with the powered air-bubbles creates a wonderfully exhilerating experience. Of course you miss the view of the departing island/port.
Our cabin was on a low deck and inside. It was practically in the centre of the ship and whilst there was no porthole, window or balcony the cost was lower and the cabing dark when we wanted to sleep. A reasonable size and very well laid out, we had a mini-bar, telephone, t.v. (with CNN but no BBC), plenty of storage and hanging space, a small settee and coffee table and a large, very compfortable double bed.
The bathroom was bright, spotlessly clean and with a large mirror, well lit and in reach of the wall mounted hair-dryer received almost 10 out of 10 from my wife (she's never fully satisfied). The shower was large but suffered slightly from temperature indecision. There was a 110/220volt shaver socket in the bathroom and several US, and, unusually, at least one European power sockets in the main cabin. We had no problem charging mobile phones and toothbrushes.
With the responsive and effective aircon. temp. control in the cabin we could shower and dress for dinner and maintain our cool.
The main restaurant occupies two decks and from the lower (ours) the upper portion appeared to be a large balcony. There's no difference in service between the two levels. When booking, you have the choice to elect to sit with others at dinner (always the same dinner companions throughout), on a large or medium size table - or be seated on your own. We're pretty sociable and joined another 8 guests at our table. By the end of the 11 night cruise we were all grat friends and have emailed each other upon our return.
Dinner comprises a starter, soup, salad, main and sweet course. I'll avoid going into great detail as food is so subjective. I will say that the sweets could be improved by offering a wider variety. Overall, quality was very good, service was first class, choice (in my opinion) good (except sweets) and quantity was more than acceptable (perhaps too much).
Most often, late seated guests were able to watch the "show" in the large, three-deck high theatre BEFORE dining. On a couple of occasions, the "show" was after dinner at 10:30pm. I do find that the effort required to get ready for dinner early in order to watch a show is often not worth it. I prefer a show after dinner. However, the quality of the shows varied greatly during the 11 nights. Again, tastes vary but I do feel there's too much emphasis on singing and dancing and more comedic entertainment is required.
Immediately prior to dinner we found Michaels' Club on deck 4 featured a charismatic piano player. Perhaps the downside was his presence every night - again, some variety would have been of benefit. A pre-dinner cocktail was welcome though.
The casino beckoned on only one occasion and as expected we lost a small amount in a smaller period of time on the quarter dollar slots. Talking with other guests I determined that less money was paid out than at a typical Vegas casino so I avoided loosing further amounts.
This same deck housed the online internet room. For $2 you can send or receive an email with the outside world. For $0.75 a minute you can surf the net. Expensive, but useful in the event the mobile doesn't have a signal. Between ports there's no mobile signals so emergency contact with home can be useful. You are informed of your "shipboard" address when you receive your info. after booking and before departing. When an email arrives the message light on your cabin phone flashes - very smart.
Breakfast can be taken in several ways. Room service (fill in the request the night prior), buffet choices - and what a huge choice - or seated in the main restaurant on what is called "open seating". As you arrive you are escorted to a table by a waiter and yoou may join others seated moments earlier, or be joined by others shortly afterwards.
I like this option as you need new people and the discussions over breakfast can be most illuminating. I once sat next to Jeb Bush's secretary, but sadly, obtained no state secrets.
We did find though that the flexibility of eating what we wanted, when, and how much (or little) was best provided by the buffet located aft on deck 10. Whilst most of the ship internal areas are smoke-free the very rear of this deck has covered seating where smoking is permitted. Cigars may also be smoked in this area and it's easy to carry your buffet food through the automatic doors. We don't smoke but I don't recall this area being overly occupied so smokers should not worry.
Lunch may likewise be taken in several styles. Buffet, open seating or fast-food style b-b-q. There's also a wonderful cafe in the the Thalassotherapy spa area - serving a light and healthy option. Desserts here were often much beter than in the buffet/dining room and could be enjoyed with a clean conscience :)
I may have featured on the dining aspects of the cruise but to be honest, food is ever-present and along with the port of call that day forms the main focal points of each day.
Entertainment during the day was available, but often undersubscribed. Our particular cruise visited Grand Cayman, Aruba, Colon in Panama, Limon in Costa Rica and Cozumel island in Mexico before returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Practically every other day was a "sea day" and the focus on those days is around the pool and upper decks. With a large majority of senior citizens the greasy pole competition, knobbly knee etc didn't feature. There were quizzes, cookery demonstrations, bridge classes and loads of keep-fit events. Alternatively, you could simply lie in the sun and be waited upon by attentive waiters/waitresses or prop-up a bar for a light refreshment.
When in port access to the dock was trouble-free apart from Cayman Is. where a tender boat service is required. This is free, regular and efficient - just don't forget to get the last tender back on board otherwise the ship WILL depart without you.
There are a huge number of shore excursions that can be booked on board the ship - all appeared to be well organised but perhaps overly expensive. It's often best to arrange, perhaps with your dinner table guests, a private trip using local taxis or tour operators. We've done this many times on many Caribbean Islands and had wonderful trips usually with a chatty, knowledgeable driver and at a considerable saving compared to the ship's rate. Some ports require a little caution for security purposes. Colon in Panama is one such place but even here we found a tout outside the port building keen to take a group to the Panama Canal. 19 of us occupied his small coach and had a wonderful 3-4 hour excursion for $15 per person (a modest charge levied for the Panama Canal entry fee on top).
Debarkation from the ship was well planned. We had a pre-booked transfer to the airport and labels were provided for our cases - these to be left outside the cabin by midnight of the last night. After dinner, our group of 10 migrated to the bar for a farewell drink and it was 2am when we placed the cases outside. No problem, they were waiting us in the customs hall dockside next morning.
Coach transfer was smooth, on-time and our flight home lacking trauma - Continental Airlines departing/arriving on schedule.
In summary, I've rated this ship 5 for cleanliness. Not only was it spotless throughout but all public areas and particularly the food areas, had self-dispensing anti-bacterial hand-washes and all passengers were actively encouraged to make use of these. Even upon return to the gangway from port, it became automatic to wash hands. I heard of no illness whilst on board.
Food gets 4 - there's always room for some improvement.
Staff get 5 - the cabin steward, waiter and his assistant were excellent throughout.
Entertainment gets a modest 2 as it was lacking variety and I was not pleased Cirque du Soleil's contract had not been renewed at the start of Jan. 2007.
Mike & Viv
Travel operator: The Cruise Specialists
Ask a Question
Got a question? Ask our community of over 1.5 million users.