November 15, 2004
Ship: Am comparing this cruise/ ship to previous cruises the past 4 years on a variety of ships ( Costa Atlantica; RC Radiance of the Seas; Norwegian Sun; Carnival Spirit and Legend and HAL Osterdam. This three year-old ship is tastefully decorated, in a low-key way. It does not exhibit the glitz and gaudiness of the new ships we have been on in the past four years. All common areas are coordinated in terms of color and fabrics, most pleasing to the eye. At 91,000 tons she is indeed large and very spacious. Much varied and beautiful art work throughout the ship. Very nice common areas including Celebrity theatre .. one of the nicest, best decorated and well set up in terms of rows, fixed tables, and space for people to get by those already seated. Revelations lounge . large area for dancing on deck 11 (where the DJ and band plays every night. Waterfall cafeteria (breakfast and lunch) - light, bright and nicely decorated; Cosmopolitan main dining room. Elegant in a word!
I also felt that the ride was a little bit smoother than most ships! Had no problems with the much publicized gas turbine engines.
Ships guests: Only 30 children on this ship! More mature average age than most ships. All well behaved! Many, many dressed up on the ship's three formal nights. Most men wore tuxes. Could not help but notice that there was a significant amount of British residents on this ship.
Room: 7193 far aft, port side is spacious 1B category (190 sq. ft.) with small balcony. Lots of storage room. Larger stall shower than most ships. Lots of shelves in bathroom, below the sink. Hair dryer in bathroom above the commode. Balcony room is comfortable though not as large as we had on HAL's Osterdam last Xmas. Balcony is cramped and confining. Note: the balcony rooms at the dead back of the ship have larger balconies.
Route: Key West; Costa Rica; Panama; Aruba; Curacao (substituted for Grand Cayman). Key West: Took the $22 Conch train tour that we booked on land. Same price as ship . but 30 minutes longer than ships' tour. Nice way to get the flavor and feel of the whole area. Did a $25 pp private taxi tour of Costa Rica with the Tortuguero canal. When you get off the ship go past the tour vendors and walk into air-conditioned building right before the main road. Tours are cheapest there . by almost half. Canal ride is mostly a very pleasant boat ride. We did see a few sloths, and a lot of birds, and lizards. No crocs. Nice shopping at the pier numerous vendors' stalls . offering beautiful wood products, cutting boards, entire salad bowl sets for $25. Your can certainly find some nice souvenirs there . and some bargaining can be done. Probably the best souvenirs of the whole trip!
Missed Aruba due to virus or food poisoning (from meal the night before? . Scallops) .. very ill the whole next day. Was not the only one who got sick on the ship. The last four days we heard many comments about people who were sick. First ship I have been on where I got sick.. Fernette Branca (bitters) did not help. That's also a first.
In Curacao, we took a local (group bus) tour of the island $25pp- 2 hours. Although we did not shop down town, the bus did drive through many streets. Looked like a lot of shops. Island is charming, upscale, very European in feel and yes, those colorful painted houses are everywhere on the island. Shopping at the pier is dismal. Walk from the pier to downtown is easily 15-20'. It was definitely the rainy season in Curacao.
Entertainment: This got better as the cruise went on and overall was very good. Four shows by Celebrity singers and dancers .each one was better and better and incorporated more sets. Two female vocalists had superb voices. Samantha Jay . talented British musician (plays 3 instruments) and Tommy Bond (pianist) were great entertainers. Kevin Flynn was a good comedian, but we have seen/heard funnier on most ships. Celebrity band players were great - played all types of music. Very versatile.
Cruise Director: Don. Very nice addition to the ship. He is the right age (maturity) related well to passengers of all ages, particular the mature audience that is prevalent on this ship. He is most visible at night in the Celebrity theatre and the various venues. He was in a word most . a gracious host. His young assistants could learn a lot from him.
Ship's newsletters: Best of any ships. The most informative, the longest and simply well done. You were never lacking for information even on a ship where there were very few PA announcements.
The food in the Waterfall Café (breakfast and lunch) was mediocre at best. Not appetizing, not great tasting. Pizzas were good if you got a slice fresh out of the oven. The pasta bar always had overcooked pasta and weak tasting sauces. Hamburgers and hot dogs ok, nothing special. French fries were good if you got them right out of the deep fryer. Did not sample the sandwich station, which is at the back end of the ship, not conveniently located.
Many of the meals in the Cosmopolitan restaurant ultimately were disappointing. Soups consistently over salty, appetizers nothing special. Entrees . Roast beef repeated constantly . fish definitely not a chef's forte. Desserts were also nothing special. There were a few exceptions . Rack of Lamb (offered two nights out of 11) was very good, but overcooked each time. Rack of Veal (last night) was actually good. Lobster (tail) was ok. Not mushy as described by other reviews, firm but lacking a good taste that one would expect. It was nice size, however.
Exceptions: Coffee onboard is very good. Gratis beverages: tea; lemonade; punch and guava juice.
We found the lunches at the Cosmopolitan restaurant even more disappointing than the Waterfall café.
Bread was good on this ship!
Aqua Spa café: This is a separate low calorie, cold plate area located past the pool where creative and light breakfasts and gourmet looking lunch plates are created. Very nice touch. Cold soups also available. Appetizing in looks and taste. No other ship has this upscale menu.
The Normandie: The $30pp alternative dinner. Don't miss it. It will be the only best food you will have on this ship. Room is beautifully decorated. Service is supreme and food the best you will have anywhere. Try the warm goat cheese soufflé. The Chateaubriand for two . most divine cut of meat . and any of the desserts . especially the Bombe
Again, those of you who rebel at paying additional for a meal . don't let the meager $30 cause you to miss the best meal you will have on any ship . or even on land. It is that special.
Pools: High marks for decent pools. Large salt water pool 15' x 35' - could actually do laps when it was not too crowded. Thalassotherapy pool .. adjacent to main pool is next to Aqua Spa café and actually is a very large Jacuzzi that has three forms of stimulating, pulsing action: on each side . a set of pipes that you lay on that bubble and pulsate; in the center . one very large pulsing stream that you "try to stand in front of" and get the biggest blast of bubbles from . and four sky high spigots that come down on your shoulders and give you one heck of a shoulder massage. This gratis pool is a godsend for adults . and it is free. No $15 a day charge. Thank goodness.
Gym: Well equipped . as nice as you will see on any ship. With appropriate amount of weight bearing equipment! None broken I might add .. as we have seen on many ships, and which most ships do not have? Nice workout, exercise floor. A lot of exercise classes (free and paid for . are offered.).
Can't comment as we did not use . but the spa services were always busy. Since it is next to the gym we could easily see this. The ship appears to offer a myriad of spa packages.
Food: 1- 2
Cruise Director (Don): 4- 5
Ship's Events: 4-5
Ship's Newsletter: 5