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Trip Report: Celebrity Century (W. Caribbean)

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I've just returned from a 7-day Christmas cruise on the Celebrity Century - it was my first cruise - and it was WONDERFUL.

I went with a group of 10 family members, including my husband. We are a couple in our twenties, and our group ranged from my 8 year-old cousin to my 81 year-old grandma.

Hubby and I flew from LAX to FLL on a red-eye...we arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 6:30AM and were able to get on the boat at 11:30AM. On the bus, from the airport to the pier, they took care of our bags and they were taken to our staterooms in time for us to change before dinner. On board, we were greeted with champagne and then we raced to our room to drop off our things.

The room was very nice - we had a lovely ocean view on the 9th floor. The bedcover had seen better days, and there were some minor stains in the bathroom sink - but otherwise the room was perfectly acceptable. Also there was ice and a water carafe - a nice little gesture. Behind the mirror was a room safe - tricky to figure out (you have to BANG it closed) and later, our stateroom attendant unlocked our mini-bar for us to put away our own drinks and bottled water. The TV did have ESPN which hubby loved and CNN - also you were able to watch some informational channels about the different ports of call.

The first day was really fun because it was like an extra day at sea! We had lunch at the buffet and then met up with our group.

The food on the Celebrity is supposed to be a major draw - a Michelin starred chef designed the menu and dinners in the Grand Restaurant are supposed to be 5-star. Well, I am certainly not a person who regularly dines in 5-star restaurants, but that food was NOT 5-star. The food was always beautifully presented and often good - but nothing exceptional! My little nitpickies - the lobster was overdone and tough, the soups were always overly salty, and the pastas were a horror. Stick to the meats and you'll be happy though.

The service was exceptional and lovely - our waiter and assistant knew all of our names - joked with the kids and flattered my grandma (she was the one treating all of us to the cruise!). We all loved them.

There were a few formal nights - and you are generally expected to look nice for dinner (no shorts or jeans, etc allowed in the Grand Restaurant for dinner). I thought this was nice even though the men in our group griped about it. I definitely over packed - the restaurant was FREEZING - I wore a cardigan over every flimsy dress AND a scarf to dinner every night! I should have just packed 1-2 dresses and more cardigans/pashminas. For the men, one suit was definitely enough.

Our first port of call was Jamaica - we did Dunn's River Falls - and it was so much fun! We did it ourselves - just paid for a shuttle to take us to the falls ($3.50pp roundtrip) and then paid $10pp to get inside the park. It was really a great experience. The falls end at a pretty beach - and if the weather wasn't so crummy - overcast and occasionally rainy - it would have been a great place to relax after the climb. The falls were challenging - the algae on the rocks make them slippery - and there were a couple older gentlemen who climbed back down after the first little bit of the climb. As long as we went slowly it went fine - the biggest worry is losing your footing or falling into a hole and twisting your ankle - luckily our little group (minus grandma who had climbed it 10 years ago) made it up without incident and have some great pics!

After the climb we went back to the shuttle at the pre-arranged time and went back to the boat for lunch in the Grand Restaurant. I had read that some people felt very hassled on the way out of the Dunn's Rivers Park by people trying to sell trinkets - I thought it was no big deal, while hubby found it to be really a nuisance. Oh, well. After lunch, we went and shopped near the pier - my little cousin got an adorable T-shirt "I climbed Dunn's River Falls" and we got some Blue Mountain coffee for hubby's parents (he says he's known about this coffee since he was a little kid b/c his family used to be in the coffee business - and it's THE best)...

Next port - Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We docked early, so hubby and I uncharacteristically hauled out of bed early to walk near the pier. It's so touristy though - you can't tell you're in Grand Cayman vs. Cozumel vs. some other nice pier....Anyway, we had booked an excursion for reef snorkeling AND stingray snorkeling - because the water was choppy - the reef snorkeling got canceled but we decided to go ahead with the stingray excursion. It was a really neat experience - they are spooky at first but so soft and it was very very cool to be able to play with them. It was exhausting b/c the water was so rough - I slept on the boat and bus ride back to the ship...

Next port was Cozumel - we unfortunately signed up for the Atlantis submarine excursion. My uncle wanted to do this one b/c it was something that we could all do together - well, it sucked. The boat ride over was so choppy - it was the only time that I felt seasick - and I wasn't the only one. Horrible. And the submarine ride itself was no big deal - I was like, "whatever". For $94pp - can you say RIPOFF!! Yech. Afterward, we went took a taxi to Chankanaab Park - it was gorgeous -the snorkeling was not great, because the water was a bit rough. I got out early but my aunt stayed in for a while and said there were a TON of fish when a little girl busted out her cheese-whiz. Sigh...the water was a bit too cold for me, and water was getting in my nose...But it was nice just laying out on the beach chair - and I snoozed and snacked and read my book. I wish we had just spent the entire day there - there were botanical gardens and other things I wish we had time to explore.

Key West was the last port - hubby and I opted to walk around and shop on our own. We didn't want to pay the $20pp for the Conch Tour which everyone else did - they actually liked it alot, but I thought it was nice just wandering - plus there was a Coach outlet on Duval Street that I found fascinating. We did go to the little aquarium that was near the pier - it was really neat! We went at the feeding time and saw them feed the sharks and stingrays...Also hubby made friends with the turtles and a horseshoe crab - really fun.

Overall, a wonderful experience. I was definitely in need of serious R&R and this trip provided it. We were very indulgent - breakfasted in our rooms - sometimes taking a nap after each meal! It was also wonderful because we were with family that we don't get to regularly see (the other group members live in Canada and we're in California) - so it was really special. It was fun to get dressed up every night and be pampered. All in all, a great experience though it will be a looooong time before we cruise again. I think we are definitely land-lubbers - but we were very please overall with Celebrity :)

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