Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

by Annette
Western Caribbean
November 8, 2002

My husband and I cruised on the Celebrity Mercury November 8th sailing. We were celebrating our first anniversary and this was our second cruise. Our first was on the Carnival Destiny. Overall, the cruise was a wonderful experience for the both of us and we had a great time. We sailed from Miami and stopped at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Progreso, MX and Key West.

The Ship
I have to say I really liked this ship. Everything was clean, the decor and wood framing were classy and the lounges were comfortable. The theater was a decent size and it never felt too crowded during the shows. There were a lot of lounge chairs on the outside deck, so it was easier to find a place to sit compared to our last cruise. The ship seemed bigger than I had thought it would be.

We flew into Miami on the day of embarkation and arrived there around 10am. We had thought our flight was too early, leaving Newark around 6am and all, and thinking that boarding wasn't going to begin until 2pm. We were wrong. We were on the first shuttle bus to the port, got off the bus, handed the porters our luggage and preceded to go on the check in line. The line looked fairly long but it moved rather quickly since 10 agents were working at the desks. It was noon when we got on the ship and it was such a nice feeling to be practically the only passengers on there. We ate lunch and by the time we were done, we were able to head off to our cabin and settle in.

The cabin
Our cabin was the lowest category inside cabin located on the lowest deck in the aft section of the ship. We booked a guarantee to save money, but didn't get upgraded since all the cabins were full. The cabin was nice and there was enough room to store our belongings and suitcases. The big downside was that we were very close to the engines, and it got noisy and things in the room would rattle, especially when we were docking. Once we were used to it, it was okay, but still annoying. Next time we'll aim for mid-ship. Our cabin steward was very good and also very quick. We would step out of the room for 10 minutes and it would be clean when we walked back in!

During our tour of the ship, we decided to head over to the spa for the spa tours. Little did we know, when we arrived there, the staff was still trying to find volunteers, so lucky for me I volunteered and got a free reflexology done. DH and I switched off after the first hour and he had it done also. That was definitely a nice way to start the cruise. My feet felt nice and refreshed afterwards. We signed up for Thalassotherapy pool passes and a Razul treatment. The T-pool for those who haven't cruised on Celebrity, is a large Jacuzzi with different stations with jets that massage different parts of your body. One section has these bars in which you lie down in a reclined position. It was very relaxing and the water is equal to your body temperature. My husband and I did the Razul treatment together and it was relaxing and refreshing. Let's just say it involves a steam room, shower and mudů.

The Food and Dining Areas & Hours
I had been looking forward to the food ever since we booked the cruise since we heard so many wonderful things about it. I have to agree with everyone else who said the food was absolutely amazing. The food variety was good and pleased even the pickiest of eaters like my husband. I love to try new things and I had my opportunity several times. For breakfast and lunch we ate at the Palm Springs Cafe. There was never a huge line, although sometimes it was difficult to find an empty table. The table turnaround was very quick because there was always a waiter or two nearby to clean up. For breakfast, there was a selection of fruits, cereal, breads and hot items. The hot items were the same almost everyday. I believe you could also get an omelet made to order. Lunch consisted of salad, cold cuts, meats, the carving station and veggies, all of which were very good. A specialty themed lunch buffet was also available by the covered pool. The ribs and king crab legs were worth it.

We ate dinner during the main seating hours. Based on our last cruise, we liked eating early, so we could see the shows afterwards and not be too tired. Plus, we had gotten back from our excursions early enough, so the timing worked out really well. For dinner, there were choices of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts. Some of the foods listed were difficult to translate so our waiter helped with that. Dinner was excellent every night and I especially enjoyed the filet mignon. I even tried frogs' legs, which were also very good, and they do in fact taste like chicken. Our waiter could have been more outgoing and friendly. I think he needed a vacation. Our assistant waiter and the sommelier were also very nice.

During the times when breakfast, lunch and dinner were not being served, you could get burgers, hot dogs, fries, pizza or enjoy the afternoon teas and midnight buffets. The mini croissants at the afternoon teas were my favorite. We only made it to two midnight buffets during the cruise. The first was Italian themed and it was excellent. I never had ravioli that good before and I am from Brooklyn, so that's definitely saying something. The second buffet we went to was the Grand Buffet. My jaw practically dropped when I stepped into the main dining room that night. The decorations with the ice sculptures, and just the food layout were beautiful. The food was excellent too, of course. I enjoyed the beef Wellington immensely.

The buffet times changed on a daily basis, which was confusing to most passengers. I wish the hours were more consistent. For example, buffet lunch either ended at 2 or 2:30 depending on what day it was. It would have been more convenient if lunch were open until 3pm especially on port days, that way you wouldn't feel rushed in port to hurry back for lunch.

My husband and I really enjoyed the entertainment on this ship. There was a good amount of variety and the shows had themes. Specialty performers included a singer, musician and a magician. On the other nights, the Celebrity singers and dancers did their performances and they were all very talented.

Ports of Call
Grand Cayman - The tendering process was quick and we were among the first tenders to get off since we had an excursion. We actually got there ahead of schedule so we wandered around before meeting the tour guide. I enjoyed this island immensely. We took others' advice and went to Stingray City via an independent tour operator. Swimming with the stingrays was such a unique experience and I would gladly do it again. Our tour guides showed us how to hold the rays and feed them. They were pretty tame and just swam up to you anyway. The water was so crystal clear that you could see them swimming around from the excursion boat. After stingray city our tour guides took us to coral gardens for some snorkeling. It was neat seeing all the different types of fish swimming together.

Cozumel - Our excursion was the underwater bond and snorkel adventure. We had originally signed up to go to Xcaret, which is a big ecological park in Playa Del Carmen, but not enough people signed up so it was cancelled. We didn't know it was cancelled until after dinner the night before. Of course, by then the excursion desk was already closed and we had no idea what was available. We woke up extra early that morning to make it out to the pier to see what excursions had space available so we chose the bond adventure. A bond is a cross between a motorcycle and submarine, so your head is in a glass bubble and your body is in the water. After that was over, we went snorkeling in the same area. There wasn't as many fish as I would have hoped for. I also wish we had more time here because we didn't really get to see much of the island.

Progreso - In Progreso, we wanted to do ruins but we didn't really want to spend 3 hours on a bus to Chichen Itza. We went to Dzibulchaltun instead. It gave us a taste of the Mayan ruins and they were rather neat to see and some were in pretty good condition considering they were very old. The downside was that it was extremely hot.

Key West - Key West is a quaint little town with lots of shopping and history. We walked along Duval street and back via Whitehead street and then went back to the ship. We learned some pretty neat facts about Key West. The weather was beautiful.

Sea Days - During the first sea day, which happened to be the first full day on the ship, we were still trying to get acquainted with everything. We had two get-togethers planned for that day. First was the Cruise Critic party and then the anniversary party. The Cruise Critic party didn't have as big a turnout as I'd hoped for, but nonetheless, we met some nice people there. The anniversary party was very nice and we had our picture taken with the "Happy Anniversary" cake. Also, at dinner, the waiters came and sang Happy Anniversary to us and gave us this really good chocolate cake to share with our tablemates.

The second sea day was a bit rough. We were cruising through a storm and the water was very choppy and it was extremely windy. Some people were still determined to sunbathe! My husband was seasick, so he rested the whole day, I was a little sick in the morning and got better and had my appetite back by lunch.

Debarkation went rather smoothly. We packed up the rest of our belongings and headed over to the breakfast buffet. After that we relaxed in the Pavilion Night Club, which was completely empty. We were off the ship by 9 and at the airport by 10 and had 3 hours to kill before our flight back home. We were finally back home in the freezing cold by nightfall.