by Bruce byron
September 16, 2000
My wife & I just returned from our first cruise on Celebrity's Century. We are late 40's and are experienced cruisers from Oklahoma. We traveled with friends on their first cruise. We booked guaranteed category 2 suites and were upgraded to a category 1 suite. Our first timer friends were upgraded to a Sky Suite. Cabins were identical, the SS is on deck 12 and has a much larger verandah (very nice). Our cabin on deck 10 was centrally located and very convenient to the AquaSpa (Thalassotherapy!! More on this later). This was the largest and nicest cabin we have ever stayed in. It was kept very clean & fresh, and had a marble tiled bath that was large enough to actually turn around in! We loved having a private verandah, it made for a wonderful private place to read & relax.
We booked our air with the cruise line and found the connections uncomfortably close, arriving just 2 hours before ship departure. Fortunately FLL is only 10 minutes from Port Everglades, but we felt like we were the last ones to board. The famed white glove greeting was completely absent and were directed to find our own cabin (not a great start). Our cabin door was locked and someone else's bags were piled in front of our door. With no butler or cabin stewards in sight, we returned to the lobby and asked for assistance. We then were escorted to our cabin properly by a senior staff member who confirmed our assignment and got us settled. The ship sailed promptly at 4:30pm and our bags were delivered to our cabin after dinner at about 7:00pm (we were getting a little nervous).
The Century is a beautiful ship and very well maintained. Most public rooms look brand new and the Grand Restaurant is fabulous! The layout of the ship is somewhat confusing, with few direct routes from bow to stern. I'll challenge anyone to find the Grand Restaurant on the first couple of days from an upper deck, forward without asking directions. The central atrium area seems small for a 70,000 ton ship and often was crowded.
Service on board ship was good, with nothing really exceptional. Our Waiter and Busboy (who were assigned to us at dinner only) were excellent, but open seating lunch service in the Grand Restaurant was miserable. Food quality in the Grand Restaurant was very good and occasionally excellent. Terrific Filet mignon and Lobster and some very good veal and poultry dishes. You will not be disappointed at dinner.
Because we booked a suite, we had butler service which included daily High Tea Service and nightly hor d'eouvres. I could survive very well without this. Our butler always seemed in a hurry and too busy for attention to detail. We did however enjoy full service breakfast in our suite served on linen and china almost every morning. Our traveling companions had a much better experience with their butler and enjoyed the service.
We enjoyed the AquaSpa located on deck 11 forward. The Thalassotheraphy Pool is a very large saltwater & mineral pool (which is available at $16.50 per day/$88.00 per week or n/c if you are staying in a suite) which we found far more relaxing than a regular hot tub. We used this pool every day and found it invigorating and fun! The staff at the spa was helpful and didn't do the typical hard sell on spa products. Note that on in-port days the spa featured specials on services.
We had heard the quality of entertainment on board Century to be iffy at best. Maybe we're too small town, but we found it to be great! All three production shows were terrific. The comedians were funny (not vulgar) and the lounge acts very talented. We especially liked the a cappella quartet Forte. The staff & Cruise Director (Scott Peterson) were fun & engaged with the guests the entire cruise. They seemed like friends by the end of the week. We gave the entertainment and cruise staff all excellent ratings.
When we cruise, we select the ship first and the itinerary second. The Century sails a pretty standard Western Caribbean route clockwise around Cuba. Ocho Rios, Jamaica was dumpy, third-world like, almost scary, Duns River Falls being the big attraction. To do it again, I don't think I'd get off the ship. Grand Cayman was lovely, this could be a destination for a nice (expensive) land based vacation. Cozemel was fun in it's own Mex/Carribean way (party time). Key West is a nice stop and interesting (Conch fritters & Hemingway).
Overall, this was the best cruise we have been on to date. It was a great value (off-off season) and great fun! We are already making plans to do it again!