September 28, 2002
It was with happy anticipation that I returned to CENTURY for a third time. CENTURY made her debut in December, 1995. For a ship her age, she is still attractive and kept clean and polished in most areas. Some areas that need refurbishing include the pool deck and the indoor buffet carpeting and seating. CENTURY is going into dry-dock soon and hopefully these areas will receive some attention.
Our pre-cruise stay was at the lovely Renaissance Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale. The room overlooking the waterway was perfect. All personnel at the hotel were pleasant and professional. The hotel provides airport pickup - gather your luggage and use the courtesy phone to call for your ride. It only took about 15 minutes and we were on our way in the hotel van. Be advised that due to increased airport security, you must walk to the extreme end of the sidewalk outside luggage to get to the hotel pickup area - turn right out the doors after you retrieve your luggage.
We enjoyed watching CENTURY arrive early in the morning. That signature Celebrity "X" is always a welcome sight! The bellman got us a cab for transportation to Port Everglades, only a few minutes away. After a quick stop at a nearby liquor store for some wine and sodas, we were on our way and at the port in 10 minutes. There was no problem taking these items on board the ship in our carry-on luggage. We are Captain's Club members and were on board CENTURY around 11 AM.
Our cabin was 9095 on Vista Deck, a standard outside cabin, and it was ready for occupancy upon our arrival. As you wait to board CENTURY, you will be given a sheet that explains where you may snack, eat lunch, or enjoy other areas of the ship if your cabin is not ready. There is a safe in each cabin and it's easy to program - look for the instruction card. The safe is behind a large mirror that also hides additional storage space. You will have plenty of places to store all you bring on board throughout the cabin, closets, and bathroom; however, you may wish to bring additional hangers, or ask your cabin attendant for more. Extra blankets and pillows are found in the closet.
Your cabin television - in addition to several channels for news, movies, and network programs (depnding on location and satellite reception) - allows you to place an order for wine for dinner, shore excursions, cabin service meals, check your on board purchases, etc. There are pay-per-view movies, too. CENTURY has a cinema in which recent movies are shown (no charge) and popcorn is provided.
Upon going to the restaurant to see where our dining table would be, we literally bumped into a dear friend, Jorge, with whom we've sailed on at least half a dozen Celebrity cruises. He was recently promoted to Restaurant Manager, and we wish him all the best with his new position!
Our table, #618 on the upper level of the beautiful restaurant, was the setting for a week's worth of excellent dining experiences. Our new tablemates (Andrea & Lem; Tricia & Chris) are new friends, and we could not have asked for nicer or more fun people! Our Waiter, Luke, was great to see again. You can always recognize Luke by his constant, big smile, dimples, and meticulous attire. He and his Assistant, Sandip, were very attentive and professional, but kept us entertained with many after dinner puzzles and tricks. Our table of six sampled almost all the dining choices during the week and all dishes were very good. As always, the beef was tender, prepared as requested, and delicious.
Hurricane Lili diverted us to an itinerary not planned and many passengers were openly hostile and complaining about this. This is not the first time I have experienced an itinerary change due to hurricanes, and I do appreciate that some (including us) really wanted to spend time in the Western Caribbean ports, but please don't bash Celebrity or the Captain! You take your weather chances if you cruise at this time of year.
San Juan was our first stop, arriving just before dark and staying until 12:30 AM. I felt sorry for those passengers who wanted to see the island. At least it was beautiful leaving there, with all the city lights. We arrived at St. Thomas the following morning, and it was the first time ever here without other cruise ships. This, of course, delighted the shoppers and those who wanted leisurely and personalized service for tours, beaches, etc. After a fine day here, we headed for St. Maarten. For those who are used to arriving in St. Maarten at the 'old' pier right at town, be advised that it's gone. A new pier was constructed and requires a walk into town. Be prepared for a little hike, sometimes in places where there are no sidewalks. Take water if it's hot and humid outside! Cabs to town are available at $3 per person. St. Maarten has great prices on liquor, for those interested. Jewelry is also a big seller here. The next port was Nassau and CENTURY shared pier space with 4 other cruise ships, so the area was packed. Exercise extreme care if walking in the 'downtown' area as the drivers are fast and don't care if you are a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Take a cab to see Atlantis. We stayed on the ship.
What is in need of improvement on CENTURY is in the indoor Islands Café. If you have never been on a Celebrity cruise before, you might not know they usually do much better. I feel I can be a little critical here because I've been on so many Celebrity cruises. This is the first one I've ever taken where there were trays remaining on tables, and some of the wait staff (who normally carry trays for most everyone) seemed less than enthusiastic to get the process going, although in fairness to them, they smiled and were pleasant once they made their way over to take your tray. The food was different . among the choices, Shepherd's Pie . this seems very grade school cafeteria-style food. There were other dishes that seemed odd but to each his own, and no one goes hungry. When the choices in the buffet don't tempt you, there is always the grill with hot dogs, hamburgers, and specialties of the day including Italian food. On CENTURY, go all the way to the back of the ship in the buffet at lunch and you will find a waiter serving your choice of the homemade ice creams and sorbets of the day. Delicious! For frozen yogurt fans, it's available every afternoon. There's pizza at the grill during the day and evening, and if you call Cabin Service, they will bring one to your cabin in a to-go box. Late afternoon is 'tea' time in the buffet, tasty finger sandwiches, fruits, cookies, pastries, and cakes. One time on each cruise, there is high tea service in the main restaurant, a real treat if you have never experienced it.
We used Cabin Service for breakfasts on numerous days and were never disappointed. The food arrived as ordered (even multiple write-ins on the established menu) after a phone call to announce the food was on its way. Good job! We found this to be more enjoyable than dining in the Islands Café. The main restaurant is available with open seating for breakfast and lunch on most days.
Absent on this cruise was a seasoned Social Hostess. There were all the usual cruise events and activities, wine tasting, pool games, horse races, art auctions, shopping talks, and more. Be sure to read your daily newsletter, delivered to your cabin each evening for the next day's activities. If you would like additional information, send me an e-mail and I can give you more information. There were shore excursions, quickly pulled together due to the change in itinerary; however, many were cancelled due to lack of purchase. When you cruise, don't try to do all the activities offered on board or on shore excursions as you will exhaust yourself and turn your relaxing cruise into a forced march! For those who love spas, you will not be disappointed here, with many exotic and standard land-based services from which to choose, but the charges can be high, so look for their specials. The gym and gym equipment is free for use, but some exercise classes and instruction have a!
Performances in the show theater was typical Celebrity fare, the singers and dancers were very good. I wish the 'Ladder Guy' would take a land-based vacation - seems he is a Celebrity staple. Be sure to enjoy the special poolside nights where you will see 'Melons on Parade' during the Island Night (fruit and sherbet) buffet, and the Tex-Mex buffet and activities are a lot of fun. There are a couple of other midnight buffets, but Celebrity also does 'gourmet bites' - petite sandwiches, kabobs, various appetizers offered by waiters who circulate in all the lounges. Cabin service is available 24 hours/day, if you are still hungry.
In thinking about whether I will return a fourth time to CENTURY, I think the answer is no. I have been on board several of Celebrity's MILLENNIUM-class ships for 10 and 11 night cruises, and I have enjoyed these ships more than the CENTURY-class ships. Had I known we would end up doing an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, we would have been on MILLENNIUM! Still, CENTURY provided us with a good cruise, we met wonderful people, and reconnected with several familiar faces from other Celebrity cruises, and I wouldn't hesitate recommending CENTURY for those looking for a Caribbean cruise at a terrific price on a premium cruise line!