May 25, 2002
Well, we just got home at midnight last night. We had a very nice vacation aboard the Century. "We" are my mother, father and myself-18, very recent high school graduate. We found the ship to be very clean, tidy, and in all around great shape. We flew to Florida on Friday, and were very happy with the decision as we were able to avoid that stress sailing day. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites, lovely hotel, large rooms, small rates. Saturday, we took their comp. shuttle to the pier. Embarkation was really easy. We boarded about noon and our cabin, 8175, was ready, so we moved in.
Skipping ahead to Sunday- The day at sea was nice, we just did a little exploring, sat by the pool, and ate... and ate... and ate. There were several fun pool games that afternoon, I recommend taking part. That was formal night, so we all got dressed up and looking good. I wasn't sure what to wear for formal nights, but found out that most teenage girls recycle old prom/semi formal/ homecomming dresses. The men, even teens, wore nice suits and ties, or tuxs. Dinner was great.
Jamaca was awesome. We hired a private tour guide we read about here, Peat Taylor. He gave us a wonderful tour of the country side before taking us to Dunn's River Falls. My parents had some trouble with the falls, but I loved it! After we finished, he took us back to the ship and then shopping. Warning... the merchants are very pushy, but it was a fun day.
Stephanie's dad takes over here: Stephanie really loved Grand Caymen--shoping at dock-side was wonderful. I don't know what the current hip word is but she wants to go back. It was HOT--especially in the lifeboat/tender...try to get near one of the exits. We're from San Antonio, so we should be acclimated. We ate at a British style pub recommended by the ship's shopping/excursion coordinator. I think it was the Landmark and it is adjacent to the pier. Great food at reasonable prices and the staff is friendly.
Cozumel was neat. We loved the "Catch the Wave" snorkeling excursion. At first I was not impressed because they only go a few hundred yards from the international pier and getting there by taxi is a problem. Let me explain. Cozumel has two cruise ship docks. We arrived at the downtown pier and transportation was included to the other pier in the tour price. The represantative for the tour operator said the taxi union is so strong they can't run their own transportation so they herd you into taxis for the ride to the other pier which is about three miles away. The boat ride just takes a few minutes because you don't go far at all from there. The area is about the size of two football fields and is just off-shore. The coral is not spectacular compared to other sites we visited over the years. But all that doesn't matter too much--it is a nice, compact area and they take good care of you. Take the glass-bottom boat ride (included in the price) and the drinks and lunch were great. The included equipment was the best house equipment we've ever used. It was clean and the mask sealed perfectly for me...a first. Stephanie loved the shopping and she and I had a great lunch when we returned to a favorite downtown restaurant--Palmera's. Check the money exchange rate before you go--the menu is in Peso's so when you see $680 price for a meal, don't have a heart attack. Great chocolate brownie/ice cream thing for desert. (Unlike NCL, Celebrity does not feature chocolate stuff and it's ice cream is a little wierd.) Celebrity's deserts are good, but fancy.
We rested at the second day at sea. We were tired. Key West was hot. Lots of things to do. My wife went to the Audubon House, Stephanie shopped and I walked accross the island to an Eckert's drug store that has one-hour photo processing. We didn't want to have our film zapped at the airport and wanted double prints so we could share with our tablemates. They did four rolls of film for me (including two underwater one use camera) in just about two hours while I explored that end of the island. Hint: take a taxi if you want to do this...it is a long hike and the walk back is enough. I loved the Mel Fisher shipwreck exhibit but some others were not impressed. Lifting one of the gold bars was a treat.
Entertainment was great. Unfortunately, it was the last cruise for the troupe of singers/dancers we saw. But they were first-rate. Certainly the equal of the NCL ships we sailed before. The dancer's work in the library at other times so you can meet them. The commedian/juggler was very good. The house band was great. And it was a treat to hear Mark Preston, one of the original Lettermen. He has a great voice.
I don't understand other reviews that were critical of the ship's condition. We found it first rate, clean and very comfortable. No vibration that I noticed contrary to one review.
Food was excellent but it seemed the portions were not as lavish as on NCL. There was more than enough, it may just be that fancier food is smaller. Go figure.
Criticism: They should have coffee, tea, etc. available at all times. NCL had something open 24 hours for coffee and tea. Soft drinks are expensive ($1.95) and should be included as freebies. Also, it was a major undertaking for one table-mate to get coffee with his meal. They served it after the meal. He wanted it as he ate.
Table service was a little stiffer than we've experienced. NCL's waiters played to the customers...especially the teens and kids. That playfulness was totally lacking. That said, the service was excellent and we have no complaints. The seating arrangements could use some work. The ship must not have been full because there were emply chairs at many tables. Our table had the three of us and one other couple...jointed by three empty chairs. The next table over had two empty chairs.
Cabin housekeeping service was wonderful--excellent in every way.
Debarkation was the easiest yet. You clear immegration in Key West so you need your passport or birth certificate on that day every time you go off the ship. Customs at Ft. Lauderdale was a snap.
We took the Everglades airboat tour with airport drop-off. The airboat was great but the rest of it was not that interesting and we went and napped on the bus.
Stephanie says the teens seemed to be traveling with friends from back home and they never seemed to circulate. She didn't feel comfortable with any so she stayed with us most of the time.
Enough for now. We'll post again if we think of more things.
Stehanie (and her dad, Bill)