December 9, 2002
Ultimate Caribbean - 11 night - RT - Ft. Lauderdale Ship Ambience: Ship was huge compared to previously sailed Maasdam and Noordam. We enjoyed theRevelationsLounge during the day. This was on the 11th. deck-forward with 180 degree view of the ocean ahead of us. Exercise room is very well equipped and located directly under the Revelations Lounge. Pool area was lovely. However, each day in the ship newspaper, passengers were asked not to reserve deck chairs at the pool. But by 8am, avery chair in the shady areas had personal belongings and towels on them. When others came to the pool after breakfast, there were quite o few squabbles and ships officers had to be called. There were announcements asking people to please observe a basic dress code and not wear the robes at the pool or in other public area. These are intended for cabin use only. But quite a few people wore them anyway. Rules are posted but not enforced so, we went with the flow and had to get out early enough to reserve a chair before breakfast.
Cabin: We had a lovely cabin on the starboard side, with a balcony. Our cabin steward and her assistant were excellent.
Food: We found the food to be not as good as on HAL ships. There wasn't much variety and some dishes were inconsistent. One night I ordered what was described as roast sirloin of beef and I was served a meat that looked like pot roast and was very tough. The soups were all very thin and not too tasty. There was a French Onion Soup one night that was nothing at all like it should have been. I thought it was Lipton's Onion Soup with a crouton in it. There were a few meals that were good. Our waiter and his assistant were excellent. The food at the breakfast and lunch buffets were a little better than the dinners in the dining room. Embarkation: We arrived in Florida a day early , so we were at the ship by 11am. We sat in a huge waiting area until they started to board. At the announcement, at 11:30, hundreds of people ran to get on line. There was no semblance of order at all. There were three long lines leading to only two security check points. We were in our room by about 12:30 and went to the Waterfall Cafe for lunch. We were scheduled for early dinner at 6 pm. Many times during that afternoon I checked on the luggage delivery and was told they would all get to us eventually. At 5:30 we walked around and found our luggage in the hallway on another floor. Needless to say, I followed them to our room, and there was a mad dash to change for dinner. Others we spoke to did not receive their luggage until 8pm. We were told that the delay was caused by more intense luggage screening. But, in watching these "delivery men" at work, I fail to believe that there can not be a better system in place. The tags should have been color coded for the different floors instead of being all the same color, thrown into a heap and delivered haphazardly, one piece at a time.
Entertainment: We went to all the shows, but they were mediocre. Of the 11 nights of shows, I only enjoyed about 3 of them. One excellent comedian was on twice, and one production of show tunes was very good. We also went to the lounges some evenings. The music for listening and dancing was excellent for the age group on this cruise. We are both in our sixties and that was about the median age. Ports of Call: Cozumel-we took a taxi with other people and spent an enjoyable day in the shopping area. Costa Rica-Went on one of the bus tours offered by Celebrity.Panama-Did not go on a regular tour. We took a taxi to the Gatun Locks and the driver took us on an additional tour and then back to the ship. Aruba-We got off the ship intending to walk over to the shopping area. However, there were vans with drivers offering to take people on island tours. So, we went on one of these and were dropped off at the shopping area after the tour. By then it was around noon and extremely hot so we didn't stay too long. Unfortunately, the day we were to anchor and tender to Grand Cayman had to be cancelled. All the ships in the area were told to leave because of very high winds and rough seas. We cruised back to Ft.Lauderdale and had an extra day at sea. Most of the tours offerd by Celebrity included swimming and snorkeling which is why we avoided most of them. Disembarkation: As on the other ships, we filled out a form regarding flight information and received the appropriate color coded tags. The process went very smoothly and we were off the ship by 10am. The luggage was lined up ina nice orderly fashion and easy to find under the correct color sign. If they could only deliver the luggage to the cabins in this same orderly procedure. Final Note: I would rate this cruise as 4 out of 5 stars. The ship was beautiful, we met some lovely people, and we had a nice relaxing time. The food, the entertainment,and the embarkation could have been better. I might try Celebrity again after I try Royal Caribbean and Princess.