Name: Danny Gierhart
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Submit: Submit Review
Date: 20 Jul 1998
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
The reviews that we found posted on the Internet before we cruised were so fun and informative to read, we felt like we needed to return the favor. My
wife Shari and I took the cruise for our 10th wedding anniversary, and it was fantastic! I'll try not to repeat much from other reviews. I should have a fuller
review with s, menus, and other memorabilia posted on my web site at http://www.flash.net/~gierhart by mid-August, 1998.
First, the planning. We booked through Cruise Holidays of Oklahoma City, and they were very helpful answering any questions we had and giving advice.
They also gave us a cool little vinyl and velcro document holder that turned out to be very handy for keeping all of our cruise and airline papers.
Celebrity's air add-on from Wichita was $379 per person. We called several airlines and were able to find tickets with only one layover and convenient
travel time for $249 pp. We didn't get transfers from the airport, but we were able to find cabs for substantially less than the $260 we saved! We also
booked a pre-cruise night in Ft. Lauderdale to avoid all of the travel day stress on embarkation day. (On hindsight, we probably could have saved a lot of
money making our own hotel arrangements.)
FORT LAUDERDALE We stayed at the Radisson Bahia Mar. It was a pretty nice hotel with a private walking bridge to the beach. I would highly recommend
taking a water taxi through 'millionaires row.' You may need to prompt your captain for some commentary if he's not forthcoming at first. We saw
everything from 22-car garages to gold-plated tiles on a gazebo! We ate dinner at a restaurant called 'Shirttail Charlie's,' which we selected because they
claimed to have Florida's best key lime pie. The pie was pretty good, but the French Onion Soup and entrees were excellent. The restaurant is located
right on the waterfront across from the Las Olas shops, so the ambiance was a nice way to usher in the whole vacation experience. On Saturday we
wound up taking a taxi from the hotel to the pier, even though we had transfers from Celebrity. (We just couldn't wait until 2:00 or 2:30 to get picked up!)
THE SHIP We booked a category 2 mini-suite (room #1148). Although it was more expensive, we thought the private veranda and the butler service were
worth it. There was plenty of space to eat in the room or on the veranda, and Lawrence, our butler, was very accommodating and made us feel like royalty
for a week. TIP: If you booked a suite, you should get a gold colored card that serves as your room key, your charge card, and boarding pass for the
week. It will also get you other little perks throughout the week. We were given a white card at embarkation and it took us a couple of days to learn that we
were missing out. Guest Relations fixed that up for us nicely when we brought it to their attention.
After we boarded, we headed straight for the Aqua Spa to book some treatments for Shari. We had to wait in a line for a tour of the spa, after which
treatments could be booked. The tour guides mentioned something about a gold card, possession of which entitled the bearer to first shot at booking
treatment times without having to take the tour first. We didn't know what a gold card was at the time (see above tip), so we waited in line. The tour turned
out to be very interesting, and Shari was able to book fairly decent times anyway. Shari describes the massage as ranging from blissfully relaxing to
excruciatingly painful. She rates her massage and facial as merely 'pretty nice', but didn't care for the post-treatment hard sell that other reviews had
warned us about. We both thoroughly enjoyed the Thalassotherapy pool, however. ($10/day or complimentary with a gold card)
The only thing I can't help but reiterate from other reviews is that this ship is clean! Even in port the outside of the ship was always being cleaned and
painted. The decks were so clean that consuming dropped food would have been no problem - they could have served lunch off of it anyway! This ship is
definitely a class act in its design, décor, and cleanliness.
Meals in the Grand Restaurant were a wonderful experience. The setting is so impressive, the service very attentive, and the food was delicious. Our
dinner partners, Jan and Virginia from Georgia, Charlie and Bonnie from Indiana, and Vince and Ann from Florida were all very enjoyable to dine with.
Sample dinner menus with a recipe on the back are available at Guest Services for $4.95. Our waiter, Zulfikar, had a hilariously distinctive dessert
presentation and rating system, and our busboy Ibrahim was always smiling.
The theater and all other public areas were tastefully decorated and spotlessly clean. Don't plan on a lot of basketball on the 2 courts. One goal is broken
and it's so windy in that area of the ship that the only possible shots are dunks and layups. The shops have some interesting items and some good deals.
All in all, this was a wonderful ship.
SAN JUAN Since we didn't arrive until 4:30pm and had early seating (6:00pm), there wasn't a lot of prime time for sight-seeing. We docked at a pier and
walked immediately to the fort at San Cristobal, which was closing its doors as we arrived. It was still worthwhile to visit, as you could walk on and around
the ramparts even after closing. We wandered through town back towards the pier and stopped in several interesting shops, which gave us a nice flavor
of Old San Juan. It was after 8:00 and fairly dark when we finished dinner, so we stayed on board for an enjoyable evening rather than venture out again.
Having visited the island in 1983, I know that there are plenty of great things to do if you can get there during the daytime. First time visitors get an unfairly
negative idea of this port because of the odd hours that Century visits.
ST. THOMAS The time period we spent in port here was much better, but we really wished for an additional day here. So much to do in so little time! We
purchased our only shore excursion here. We took a ferry to St. John and snorkeled at Trunk Bay. We soaked in the beauty of this place from the ferry
ride, the transfer from the pier at St. John to Trunk Bay, and Trunk Bay itself. This was a morning to remember! We got back to the ship around 1:00, ate
lunch, and headed out to Havensight Mall to shop for souvenirs (the mall is only 100 yards or so from the ship). After shopping, we walked another little bit
down the street and took a tram ride up to Paradise Point. I would have liked to tour the island a little or visit Magen's Bay instead, but time was just too
ST. MAARTEN We tendered into the pier at Philipsburg around 8:30am and immediately took a cab ($5 pp) to Orient Beach. The cab driver dropped us off
at a very nice spot with padded lounge chairs and beach umbrellas ($15 per day for 2 chairs and an umbrella). You could parasail and rent jet-skis as
well (jet-skis were $45 for 30 minutes). The beach was beautiful, but you have to endure old men parading up and down the beach from time to time. Also
be prepared for open-air unisex restroom facilities. You also might also plan on returning to the ship for a late lunch. We had 2 cheeseburgers and 2
cokes for $20 plus tip! We bought inflatable rafts for about $1 each at home and brought them with us. It turned out to be a great investment, and we had
a wonderful time relaxing out in the water. Overall, we had a great time at the beach. We arranged for our cab driver to return at 1:00 and sure enough,
he was there ready to take us back to Philipsburg. We did a little shopping downtown before we returned to the ship.
NASSAU For some reason, we arrived an hour and a half late to Nassau (3:00pm). Since we didn't want to miss our last evening meal with our tablemates,
we knew we had precious little time to get to the beach and return to get ready for dinner at 6:00. We docked at the pier and scurried to take a water taxi
to Paradise Island. The water taxi drops you off a considerable distance from the beach, at least a half mile, so it takes more time to actually get to the
beach. We walked through the grounds of the Atlantis Resort and it was impressive. Definitely someplace we could return to for a week or so. We finally
made it to the beach, blew up our rafts, and floated out onto the beautifully clear waters. Within 5 minutes it began to thunder and lightening. Another 2
minutes and a driving rain began! At least there was no problem getting back to the ship in time for dinner! Again, the time restraint of this stop
(advertised as 1:30pm to 7:00pm) makes it difficult to get the most out of this port. However, on a non-rainy day this would still be great!
In summary, this was a memorable trip which I would highly recommend to anyone. Although I deliberately skimped on my descriptions of the ship since it
has been thoroughly discussed in other reviews, I would be glad to talk with anyone further. Our E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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