by John and Linda
September 23, 2000
We (John and Linda) booked our cruise 6 months in advance on Century with Ernie at Tamarac Travel. We got our deal in the Cruise Bargains at Cruisemates.com which is held the first Monday evening of every month. Being cost conscious, we booked ROS for $600 pp. I had always wanted to try the Celebrity product. We also booked air separately with Airtrans through Travalocity about 4 months out duing a sale period and paid $117 rt online, Raleigh, NC to Ft Lauderdale. Further thanks to these boards, I found a deal at the Amerisuites - 17th St Causeway in Ft Lauderdale for $59. They provide shuttle from airport and to pier and breakfast. The hotel was excellent and we had the business suite with plenty of room and very clean. Shuttle was very prompt.
On Friday nite we were so happy to have dinner with some internet friends at Bimini Boartyard. I've "known" these folks "online" for about three years but never had the pleasure to sit down and enjoy their company before. Thanks to Ev& Bob, Simi & Dick, Ernie and Bill for such a fun nite of fellowship chatting about, what else, cruising. I think the restaurant gave us a private dining room because they looked at us and decided we might be a rowdy bunch.
We got up early on Sat morning and walked to the super market and bought some sodas and tonic to carry onboard and had a liesurely breakfast (continental) at the hotel. Hotel has one van but since the pier is 5 minutes away didn't have to wait long to be on our way to the pier and our home for the next seven days. Checking in was easy and very little waiting. We were on our way to our cabin by 12:15 being escorted by the white gloved steward carrying our carry on bags.
The cabin (we ended up with a category 5 outside cabin) was beautiful with a large window and was all the way aft on the port side. This turned out to be a great location. On Monday night after leaving San Juan the vibrations were really bad but the rest of the cruise was vibration free. Not sure what caused it that one night. There is not the customary bottled water on the vanity that is charged at $3 on other ships I've been on. Instead, besides the silver ice bucket, there is a silver insulated carraf of water for your pleasure. Of course no charge. A nice touch. Also a nice bottle of bubbly and snacks from my TA was waiting. A nice touch I've never seen before was the "throw" that the steward placed on the bed so as not to place your sometimes dirty luggage directly on the bed. Also there were extra blankets in the closet that were sealed in a zippered plastic bags. Robes were in one of the three closets. Towels were the softest yet. Bathroom is of good size and plenty of room for essentials there as well. You will never use all the closet and storage space in the cabins.
After unpacking our carry ons we headed for the Islands Cafe for lunch and it was very good for buffet. Then off to explore the ship. And a beautiful ship she is. Contrary to observations of a few reviews I've read, I found the attrium to be very useful and well designed. No it is not as stunning as the the Centrum on Grandeur. But very comfortable and elegant in it's own way. Pursers Desk, Shore Excursions Desk and shops are located here as well as Tastings, a Cova coffee bar that I really liked. Lots of glass here allowing views of the sea. Shops are well laid out and attractive but about the same merchandise as found on other ships. There is a liquor and sundries shop here as well and yes you can take liquor to your cabin whether bought onboard or in ports. Liquor prices are cheaper on St Thomas and St Maarten.
When we went back to our cabin about 3, our luggage was there and we finished unpacking. Steward upon request, did empty the minibar so that we could put our own drinks in the frig. Then at 4 the lifeboat drill which was about like all others. Did like the life jackets better.
We had late seating for dinner and had the greatest of table mates which contributed so much to our cruise. But dinner the first night was a big disappointment. Several of us ordered the veal picata and it was not good at all. Also the creme brulee that I had so looked forward to was flavored with passion fruit and it just wasn't the same. After that nights meal the food got significantly better and there were some really outstanding dinners served. Presentation was outstanding, the shrimp scampi and the lamb was outstanding. Also the filets and lobster were first rate. Lunch in the DR was excellent as was breakfast when we didn't go to the Islands Cafe. Service was impeccable in the dining room as well as throughout the ship. Room service was there at the appointed time always. The ice cream made on board was as good as I've had. Breakfast buffets were about what is expected and found on any cruise ship except for the breads which were excellent. Croissants are excellent and I must have eaten at least 20 throughout the week. In fact breads were always excellent and loved the breadsticks in the dining room at night. Coffee, well they call it coffee. Just like everyother cruise ship. Music is provided at diner by a 4 piece orchestra playing classical and semi classical music. Dinner can be ordered from room service for any cabin category from the dining room menue.
The only two PA announcements I can recall were the call to mustar and an announcement limiting deck access during a Coast Guard helicopter medivac that took place to remove a heartattack case. Nice to see our US tax dollars at work. Very professional performance by crew and the Coast Guard.
Drink prices were reasonable. Drink of the day was only $2.95 and the large drinks in souvenier glass is $6.25. Always a 15% gratuity is added to bar bills. When getting off in ports there are beach towels given to you. I do wish they were larger like on Carnival. The interactive TV works very well for room service and checking your onboard charge account so there are no big surprises when you end your cruise.
As usual, upon arrival on St Thomas, we taxied to Red Hook and ferried over to St John and Trunk Bay. My favorite island and beach. Truely a pic post card come to life. Then back to St Thomas for some light shopping.
We arrived on St Maarten just as the shops were opening and looked around a bit. Then we took one of many busses to Marigot on the French side. Taxi is $5 pp whereas the bus ride is only $1.50. Shopped the Wed AM market and walked around. Had lunch at a sidewalk cafe and got a bus back to Phillpsburg where we did some shopping. I must say that the people of St Maarten (both sides) were very friendly.
Surprisingly, the entertainment on Century was excellent. Had heard this was a weakness on Celebrity, but they kept us well entertained. The ladder guy was outstanding as was comedian Ed Regine. Scott Peterson was also good. We loved the A Cappella Quartet "Forte`" that sang in differet locations throughout the ship. The ship's party band "Oasys" that played at the pool were super. I am one that really enjoys the production shows and Century didn't disappoint me. Lots of energy and good music. The theater facilities can't be beat. Not a bad seat anywhere. Could a couple of the dancers been better? Well, yes. I really think if a male dancer is going to lift or catch a dancer, they need to be a bit stronger so as not to loose their rhythm. But still enjoyable.
Not once did any staff suggest how we were to rate them on our exiting comment cards. What a relief after being hounded on Grandeur for Excellent ratings, every single night at dinner.
Disembarkation was simple. Did not have to pass through a customs agent this time for the usual question, "do you have anything to declare". And we were in van to the airport by 9:30.
All in all this was a great cruise and I would do it again without hesitation.