Century Western Caribbean Cruise November 1997
First of all, our reasons for cruising and for our cruise selection are a bit unusual. A friend of ours (Clint McClure - say Hi for me if you happen to cruise on the Century between now and March 21st) is a dancer on the Century. He left home at the end of August. From talking to him, we were bitten by the cruise bug. My daughter (Amanda - 17) and I have talked about taking a cruise since she was about 12. My husband is not at all interested in cruising -- so -- I decided that my daughter and I along with a friend (Danette) and her daughter (Kara - 13) would take the cruise if we could find a time and a price that we could deal with. Another friend who is a travel agent did the research, and on October 6th we booked our air/sea package.
Our flight left St. Louis at 7:30am, we arrived in Fort Lauderdale right on schedule, we were met by the Celebrity representative and taken right to the bus, which went directly to the terminal. It was great not to have to deal with our luggage or any arrangements from the time we left home. The Century was at a temporary terminal because the Mercury had just arrived for its maiden voyage and was docked at the nicer terminal. I was expecting a nice waiting area and we were met with an air-conditioned warehouse full of folding chairs.
Clint was handing out the embarkation numbers when we arrived, so we got to see him right away. Embarkation began at noon and we were in our cabin by 12:40. The published time for embarkation is 1:00. We got acquainted with our cabin and read about the activities for the day until Clint got off duty at 1:00. Again our cruise became un-typical. Clint needed to go to town to do some shopping, so the first thing we ended up doing once we boarded the ship was to get off!!! They have a free shuttle to a little shopping mall, so we rode to town and back with a lot of crew from both the Century and the Mercury.
When we returned to our cabin, our luggage was waiting. We unpacked, went to lifeboat drill and got ready for our 6:00 dinner seating. The girls ran up on deck to enjoy the Bon Voyage activities and to buy a virgin "Bon Voyage" drink in the souvenir glass for $7.19 (at least it is a glass glass). After dinner, Clint took us on a tour of the entire ship including the "crew only" areas. I'm not going to try to describe this beautiful ship other then to say that she was unbelievably clean and I saw no areas of wear and tear. I have read many reviews that describe her much better then I can. It was very interesting touring the "crew only" areas. The dancers' quarters reminded me of a floor in a college dorm except they have their own cabin steward. We also saw the dressing rooms and backstage areas of the beautiful Celebrity Theater and the crew mess, deck and pool areas. After seeing all of this, my daughter has decided to audition for a stint on a cruise ship when she graduates from high school.
The CabinI was very impressed with our cabin. We were category 11 inside (4026). There was so much storage space, I could not believe it. Two full-size closets for hanging clothes; another closet with 4 very large shelves and 4 smaller drawers; a desk with 6 more drawers, and ; two night stands with 3 drawers each. The vanity in the bathroom had two shelves that nicely accommodated the toiletries for four females. There were two negatives about our cabin. One, (I think this may be true with most cruise ships) there was only one electrical outlet. Luckily I had brought along a three-plug converter that made it possible to accommodate all of the blow dryers and curling irons that were necessary to get four women ready for dinner on time. The other negative was a constant vibration in the headboard wall of the cabin. It didn't bother anyone else in the cabin, but I found it to be very irritating. I am lucky that I am short, because I ended up sleeping with my head a foot away from the wall.
The FoodDinners in the Grand Dining Room were an "event" everyday. The food was very good. I'm not a food expert and some things were a little too exotic for me, but I did have escargot for the first time and I loved it. They did have one item in each category (appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert) that was coded as "light" every evening. My daughter, who is always watching her weight, ordered all of the light offerings each evening and experienced a lot of new foods, most of which she thoroughly enjoyed. Our waiter and busboy were exceptional. They, along with the Maitre d', enjoyed teasing the girls every evening, and we had a lot of laughs. Dinner was always an hour and-a-half to an hour and forty-five minutes so we never felt rushed but we never had to wait for a course to be served, either.
Here's a cute story about the Maitre d' -- after dinner the first night, Kara grabbed a handful of mints as we left the dining room. Amanda yelled at her and told her to take only one. After Kara returned the mints to the dish, the Maitre d' followed her and gave her back a handful of mints behind Amanda's back.
Room service came in handy a number of times. There was not a lot of selection, but everything we had was good, and the hot food was always hot and the cold food was always cold. We had breakfast delivered on the mornings that we had scheduled shore excursions, so we could eat while we were getting ready. We had dinner delivered on Wednesday when we got back from Cozumel too late for our dinner seating. We also ordered sandwiches at 2:00am on Saturday morning.
The breakfast and lunch buffets and the grill service at the pool were also good. We only frequented these areas on the two "sea" days. Kara especially appreciated being able to get a burger and fries, since she was going through fast food withdrawal.
The midnight buffets were delicious. We always went to the buffets during the last half hour because that's when the crew was allowed to eat. There was always plenty of good quality food available, and no lines to deal with. The Century also had something called "Gourmet Bites" on Sunday and Friday nights instead of a buffet. The waiters would walk through all of the public areas with trays of hor d'oeuvres, and you could help yourself to whatever you wanted. This was nice because you could continue whatever activity you were doing at midnight and still get fed.
The only complaint that I have in relation to the food and drink department was the absence of any free soft drinks after 2:00 in the afternoon. I would fill a large travel mug with lemonade or fruit punch before 2:00 so that I had something to drink at the pool all afternoon. It would have also been nice if lemonade and fruit punch were available with the midnight buffets. It was awkward to go to the bar to get a soda and then get back to your food in the buffet area.
The Activities & EntertainmentThe Island Night and TexMex poolside parties were a lot of fun and a great way to burn off a few calories before the midnight buffets. We had a lot of laughs watching the poolside games and the "Liar's Club" game. Amanda and Clint danced in the talent show and we totally enjoyed all of the acts. Amanda received a T-shirt, a certificate of participation and a handwritten thank you note which I thought was very nice. I just wish it had been held at a different time. 5:15 on formal night made getting ready for our 6:00 dinner seating very difficult and I think that cut down on attendance. We can't very well critique the production shows because we are anything but impartial. I think they were very entertaining. The Celebrity singers and dancers are a very talented group of young people. The shows had a lot of energy and the pyrotechnics added a lot (the only complaint that I had was that sometimes there was so much smoke from them you couldn't see the dancers). Other entertainers in the main theater were jugglers, a comedian, and Mark Preston (formerly of the Lettermen). Ballroom dancing music was almost always available in the Crystal Room and there was also a live band in the disco part of the time. We did get a little tired of the band in the disco and we enjoyed it more when the DJ was playing.
The Century does have one show that I think may be unique, because the disco is an observation area during the day and the dance floor is covered by a dome. At 11:45 on Saturday night there is a short production to "Raise the Dome". It's a lot of fun and it gives you something to do while you're waiting for the midnight buffet.
They seem to offer a large selection of activities and entertainment on the ship. There was almost always something going on that would appeal to all ages. Again one minor complaint -- the pools and whirlpools closed at 6:00pm. We would have liked it if they would have stayed open later. I want to highly commend the Entertainment Staff on the ship. They were always working and they did an excellent job keeping everyone entertained. They were the nicest, most helpful, energetic group of people that I have come across in a long time.
Ocho Rios, JamaicaWe got a cab ($25 round trip for 5) and went to Dunn's River Falls. The admission fee was $6.00 per person and $5.00 each to rent surf shoes (bring old tennis shoes or your own surf shoes, if you can). It took about an hour and-a-half to climb the falls, and it was a fun thing to do once in your life. Once we were back in town, the cab driver tried to tell us that our fare was $50 instead of $25, but I had specifically asked the dispatcher before we left if the fare he quoted was round-trip, so I refused to pay more then that. We found the people of Ocho Rios to be rude and obnoxious, and because of that I will not go back to Jamaica.
Grand CaymanWe were on the10:45 Stingray City Shore Excursion ($38 each). The seas were rough, making snorkeling difficult, but we still enjoyed the trip. The stingrays are fascinating. The people here were very nice and I would like to go back someday and see more of the island.
Cozumel, MexicoWe rented a Jeep ($60 for the day) and went to the east coast of the island: miles of beautiful deserted beaches. We relaxed in hammocks, swam, ate nachos, drank sodas and rum punches, tried to communicate in Spanish and had an absolutely wonderful time. The people were very friendly and we had a lot of laughs having our pictures taken with "Elvis the Iguana". We came back to town around 4:00. We walked through "Carlos and Charlies" so that we could say that we had been there. We did some shopping and were back on board by 6:30. I would definitely go back to Cozumel.
Key West, FloridaHere, we took the Catamaran and Snorkeling Shore Excursion ($39 each). This trip was wonderful. I would have enjoyed snorkeling longer, but I think the 45 minutes was enough for most people, and the catamaran trip out and back was so relaxing; I had forgotten how great traveling on a sailboat can be. The crew on the boat was exceptional. Kara was afraid to snorkel after the rough seas we had experienced at Stingray City. One of the crew took her by the hand, made sure that all of her equipment fit right, gave her a raft to float on and held her hand until she was comfortable in the water. This extra effort was appreciated, and I would take this trip again. Key West is a beautiful town that I would like to go back to.
DisembarkationWe were out of our cabin by 8:15. We went to Clint's cabin and visited with him until 9:30 when we left the ship. We picked up our luggage, turned in our paperwork and found our bus to the airport. At the airport we ran into our first hassle. The cruise line had not confirmed our reservations for our return flight. We got on the flight but we were not able to sit together. We arrived home right on schedule.
CommentsAs a first time cruiser I can't rate this cruise in relation to others, but I thought it was wonderful. Many times we would look at each other and ask "where are all of the people??" There were supposed to be 1,700 passengers but we rarely encountered any crowds. We frequently felt like we had the place to ourselves. There were a lot of activities that we would have liked to participate in, but there just was not enough time to do everything. Every member of the staff and crew that we dealt with were friendly, helpful, and professional. The ship was beautiful and we felt like we were being pampered at all times. My next cruise will just have to be longer!!!
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