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

by Coloons
Panama Canal
April 16 - 30, 2001

What a fantastic cruise! We sailed on the Mercury about 2 years ago in Alaska and said that was the best cruise we had ever taken. Well, this cruise was even better.

In the last 5 months there have been some bad posts on the message boards about the Mercury and her staff. We did not let these posts interfere with our expectations of the cruise, and are glad we didn't. Weather, can always play a part on the cruise experience and it is up to the individual how they see and handle the situation.

The weather was great except for one day at sea when we had a strong wind. The passengers did not let that stop them from lying out by the pool and relaxing. However, the ship did list 80% Starboard, where our balcony went under water for a few seconds and when it righted its self there were all kinds of fish on it, which the kitchen staff served for dinner that evening. Talk about fresh fish.

This was a very relaxing cruise, with only 5 days in ports and 8 days on the ship you would think we would have gotten very bored. Not the case. We wish we could have sailed another 14 days.

Pre Cruise Stay
We flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before sailing, Easter Sunday. Celebrity had booked our flights with TWA. When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, according to the instructions Celebrity sent us, there was to be a representative to meet us at the gate. No one was there, so we made our way to the baggage claim area to retrieve our bags so that we could put our cruise tags on our luggage (we chose to wait till we got to Fort Lauderdale before tagging our luggage so that if it did not make it to the ship we would know at what point it got lost). Our luggage arrived and we tagged it but did not see a Celebrity representative to ask to make sure they would retrieve our luggage to take it to the ship. We asked another representative from another cruise line if they knew where the Celebrity representatives were. They informed us that we needed to go to a desk were all the cruise lines representatives are located in the baggage claim area. When we got to the desk we informed them that we had our luggage and they told us that it was good that we did not put it back on the carousel because there were no Celebrity workers to retrieve it from only the TWA carousel to take it to the dock. We were glad we didn't follow the instructions Celebrity had sent us. The representative ushered us to the bus which only held two other passengers, who turned out to be two fellow internet friends we were to meet on the ship, and delivered us to the Airport Sheridan in Fort Lauderdale, then took our friends to the Sheridan Plantation Suites where they were to be staying. The hotel was okay, but you have to take a taxi to any restaurants or stores. After our luggage had arrived we contacted another couple, staying in the hotel that we had also met on the Internet to make arrangements to meet for dinner. We had made reservations for the Marks Restaurant (a Celebrity suggestion) which was pricey but very good.

On Monday morning we left our luggage in our room which was collected and then put on truck to be delivered to the dock. The buses were to start leaving at 10:30 am for the cruise ship. There were so many people waiting in line that we choose to wait in the lobby till the line got smaller. It took about 15 minutes to get to the dock. Once we arrived we were ushered into a waiting room (because of the amount of people to be checked in) before we were to go into the area where you could check in. We had joined the Captains Club when we had sailed Celebrity before, so we were able to go ahead into the check in area and checked in right away instead of having to wait.

Arriving on the Mercury
We stepped foot on the Mercury about 11:30am and headed to our Cabin (Royal Suite 1034) to drop off our carryon's and store them in the closet out of the way while the cabin was being cleaned. Before when we were on the Mercury we had a category 2, which we were very pleased with, so you can imagine the pleasure we experienced in having Royal Suite for 14 days. After we dropped off our carryon's we headed to the Palm Springs Cafe for lunch. At 1:00 the Aqua Spa opened for tours, which we did first thing and I booked a Reflexology massage for a sea day. We went back to our Cabin and waited for our luggage to arrive. It arrived by 1:30 so we started unpacking. Mac our butler showed up to help us to get organized. We asked him to book two excursions for us (the Deluxe Cartagena and Fortress in Cartgena, Columbia, and the Carobici River Rafting in Puero Caldera, Costa Rica) and also informed him that we were going to have company with some Internet friends that evening. At 4:30 we had the lifeboat drill and we sailed at 5:00pm. Mac brought in a tray of assorted cheeses and fruit for our little get together at 5:30. Dinner was assigned seating so we were able to meet our tablemates who turned out to be great.

The Cabin
What can I say but "Oh, the Suite life". Do to very fortunate circumstances we were able to afford a Royal Suit, which we will probably never be able to do again. Unless, of course, we win a huge lottery.

The Royal Suite is 537 sq. ft. with a 94 sq. ft. veranda. The bedroom is separate from the living room and dinning room. In the living room you have wood floors with a huge area rug that the couch, two chairs, and a large round coffee table sit. The wall where the verandah is, is floor to ceiling glass windows with a sliding glass door. There also, is a 29" TV, a VCR, and a multi disk CD player. The dinning room has a round table with four chairs with a back wall that has selves, drawers, cabinets, and the refrigerator. The bedroom is a little bit wider than a category 2 and has a single chair by a floor to ceiling glass window and a door that opens out onto the verandah. You also have end tables on both sides of the bed. There is a 20" TV, a safe and more drawer space on the opposite wall of the bed. The walk in closet has a vanity and separate is a small section with drawers. When you walk into the bathroom you are amazed at how big it is. It is mostly a dark marble. There are two sinks, a whirlpool tub, a separate area that can be closed off for privacy with a toilet, and a huge shower.

One of the things we were most curious about was the size of the verandah. We were hoping it would be wider than the one we had with the category 2 cabin. It was, although, not by much but enough for us to be able to fit two lounge chairs that Mac was able to obtain for us. We also had two chairs with footstools and a small table. One thing we were disappointed in was the fact that the table was not large enough for us to be able sit out on the verandah in the mornings and be served our breakfast. Oh well can't have everything.

The cabin was so enjoyable I had a hard time getting my husband to leave it to go socialize by the pool. Usually it's the other way around and he's the one wanting to go do something. This 14 night cruise turned out to be the perfect one, with all the sea days, and the people we met, for us to live the suite life.

The Ship
We were very pleased to see how well the Mercury has been maintained. It was clean and showed very little wear and tear from when we were on it about two years ago. We had read on the message boards how the elevators glass was all scratched up but we found that it wasn't as bad as we were led to believe, in fact we probably wouldn't have even noticed had we not read about it. Just like any home there is bound to be some wear and tear, which in some ways only adds characteristics to the environment.

The Aqua Spa
My husband enjoyed getting up a few mornings and taking advantage of the fitness equipment. We both liked the Thalassotherapy Pool the last time we were on the Mercury and found that we enjoyed it just as much this time too. Unfortunately the steam room was not working about half the time we went, which was a disappointment. I ended up booking two Reflexology massages and one 1 hour massage during our cruise. My husband had 1 Reflexology massage and four 1 hour massages. On port days the spa usually has special discounts which we took advantage of during two ports (Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas). Our thanks for a job well done to Phillipa and Felicia.

The Food
Although the food was still good we felt it was better two years ago, but we also learned that there is a different menu for the Alaska sailing's than the Caribbean sailing's. My husband loves fish and felt the fish was better when we sailed in Alaska.

We had breakfast in our cabin every morning, which my husband enjoyed taking advantage of having expresos and cappuccinos for free in the cabin that is only offered to suite guests.

For lunch my husband liked to go to the dinning room while I preferred to go to the Palm Springs Cafe because I had a better selection. In the Palm Springs Cafe they had a buffet from 12:00 to 2:00 every day. Next to the buffet pasta is also served daily. You can also choose to go to the outdoor grill by the outdoor pool for hamburgers, hotdogs, and the best French fries. The outdoor grill also would serve one other meat dish (i.e. ribs or chicken). From 12:30 to 2:30 the Palm Springs Grill would offer theme food. For instance they had Chinese one day and Mexican another. On top of all this home made ice cream was also served from 12:00 - 2:00. The lines could be long and except for the day the Chinese food was offered they moved fast.

Dinner was always enjoyable. Joey our waiter and Estefon our assistant waiter did a great job. We had brought our own Champaign (7 bottles) on board so when we wanted a bottle for our evening meal we simply set it out in our cabin and Mac would see to it that it was delivered to the dinning room. Our wine steward was the only one on the ship that we have complaints about. At the beginning of the cruise he never showed up at our table till we were on our entree. One day we decided to order a bottle of wine from our room via TV. We waited 40 min. before we ended up asking the restaurant manager where our wine steward was and our wine. He himself went and got our wine and served it to us. Needless to say after that for the rest of the cruise the wine steward gave us good service.

For dinner one evening we met with our Internet friends and the Captain's wife and her mother at the alternative dinning at the Palm Springs Grill. Here you order your entree then go and get horderves and salad. I ordered the Salmon, which was the worst meal I had on the ship. It was way over cooked and I had a hard time chewing it. I think part of the problem may have been the fact that 16 people (all of us) showed up all at one time, which they were not use to. Even though I did not enjoy the food it was still worth going just to be with our friends that evening. If you asked me if I would go again or not? May be. Everyone has an off day and it might have been the chefs' day.

The Entertainment
We knew what it was going to be like when we booked with Celebrity so there were no surprises here. It was a little better than two years ago, however this is one area that Celebrity needs to improve on.

We enjoyed going to Kareoke nights with our friends and a few of us even had nerve enough to get up there and sing. Of course everyone was amazed at how well we did and the offers started pouring in for us to do an encore the next Kareoke night. There was Kareoke 3 nights and we attended all 3.

When we cruise I usually like to go and play Bingo. On this cruise however, I only went two times. Seems I was busy doing other things such as reading, sleeping, partying, sleeping, siting on the balcony or just sleeping. Yes, you guessed it; my favorite entertainment on the ship was SLEEPING. Rest and relaxation what can I say.

I only went to the casino a couple of times, as did my husband. I decided I would rather buy some ear rings in Columbia than to loose it on the ship. However, my last night on the ship, I did close down the casino and ended up winning $100 on the slots. My husband also won some.

Fellow Cruisers
The average age was 50 to 60. We are in our mid 40's and enjoyed being with this age group as we would have with a younger age crowd. On board we met with 6 other couples that we had emailed and met via the message boards on the Internet. They were a great group and just made this cruise even more enjoyable. Our tablemates also turned out to be a fun group and we really enjoyed meeting them. It seemed every where we went on the ship we would run into some one we knew.

The Personnel
Our Internet friends and us were all surprised to find out that Captain Adamidis's wife had been following the message boards and knew of our group meeting (40/50's Club) on the 17th. She showed up with Danielle the Social Hostess (who we enjoyed meeting very much) and escorted us up to the Bridge for a tour. The Captain's wife is a wonderful and interesting person who loves to meet new people. We would meet or just run into her several times during our cruise and she was always available. She has some of the most interesting stories which come to find out will be published in her first book soon. Captain Adamidis was also seen often around the ship and available to passengers if they wished to talk. In fact they want to hear from passengers no matter what they have to say (good or bad).

The staff no matter who, were friendly, courteous and polite, even our wine steward. We received excellent service everywhere, with the exception of our wine steward. Mac our butler went beyond the call of duty with all the parties we had, by seeing we had cheeses, fruit and plenty of ice for wine or beers. Joey and Estefon were always there if you needed anything and even if you didn't. They made a great team. We didn't get a chance to talk to Ray Carr, the Cruise Director, much but when we did he was very friendly. The message got out that if you submitted a blank tape he would tape the Mercury today show that he did of us going through the Panama Canal. When we ran into him we asked if we could also get the show he did when we were in Aruba with the Duncan Donuts (it was so funny). He said he would be happy to do it.

The Ports of Call
Oranjested, Aruba - We left the ship and walked to end of the dock where all the jeep and car rental agency's were located. We had reserved a jeep through Avis. We told them we would be there at 7:30 am and they said they would be there. After waiting till 8:00 and they did not show up we decided to rent a jeep with another agency. We headed to the Lighthouse, Santa Anna's Church, Natural Bridge, the Caves with carvings, the Island dump, and Baby Beach. We got lost a couple of times, thus found the Island dump, but always managed to find our way. We covered all of this in about 3 hours. When we returned to Oranjested we wanted to go to a store on the opposite side of town and because of the traffic it ended up taking us about as long as it did to drive around the island. By the time we returned in the jeep... more to come???