This particular cruise left fron San Juan. In short, the cruise and crew were outstanding. Check in was from 1-1/2 to 2 hours, a bit long.
Every evening the Celebrity Today newsletter is delivered to the stateroom, listing the next day’s activities, description of the port of call, plus where
to shop at that port. I took two excursions only, to ports I hadn’t yet seen, opted to walk around the ports instead.
Shore excursions assembled at the pier. The newsletter also listed the activities for the day, entertainment at night, plus the different times to eat.
The entertainment staff was good, however, I found shows pretty much the same on all cruise ships, too Americanized. A more international flavor and flare would be good. There was always something going on though, a small band at one of the lounges, of course the main show in the Celebrity Theatre, something by the pool, even late night disco. The casino and shops opened when the ship was sailing.
As alcoholic beverages and soft drinks aren’t covered in the price, they are a bit pricey so watch what you spend. Everything is put on your sea pass credit card; also acts as your key to the cabin and getting off and on the ship. For US $5.00 you can purchase for a day, plus service charge, unlimited
soft drinks (sticker placed on back of sea pass card). You get to keep the bottle with a picture of the ship as a souvenir. Coffee,
tea, juices and water (not bottled) are available 24 hours.
The buffet at the Watergrill Cafe were good, although I sometimes ate breakfast at the Aqua Cafe for a lighter meal (fruits, breads, cereal,
yoghurt). The line at the Watergrill Cafe was usually long unless you came at the right time. What does one expect with over 2,200 guests aboard a 91,000-ton ship.
The Cosmopolitan Restaurant served tasty fancy dinners. A few of the evenings are formal. The head chef we were told was from
To work off the food, they have excellent gym facilities. I walked on the top deck rather than use the treadmill.
When you disembark to return home, you are given a new tag with a colour code and number, instructions on what time to meet at which
designated area. Bags are to be placed outside your cabin by 11:00 p.m. on the last night. Do not pack what you’re going to wear the next day, medicines,
passports, air tickets and anything else you may need; you won’t see your luggage until you disembark, clear customs then head for your tag colour area to
Ports of Call
First stop: Philipsburg, the Dutch side, Saint
Maartin, the French side. I like this port, easy to walk around.
The main area for shopping, eating or getting to a beach is about a
10-15 minute stroll from the ship. I headed to Fort Amsterdam, stopping
in a few shops along the way for a quick browse. I passed by
beautiful St. Martin Tours Catholic Church, once a
courthouse (built 1793), now a post office.
The steep walk toward Fort Amsterdam was worth it for the view.
The fort is located behind Divi Divi Resort. Since 1631, it has looked
out over Great Bay, was Netherland’s military outpost until two years later when it was captured by the Spanish. The view
Making my way back, I headed to the
beach. Taking off my shoes and socks, I welcomed the cool water on my
hot feet. I walked along the beach onto the promenade then back to
the main street and to the cruise ship I had seen before from a
Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, the volcanic island of Dominica
has few beaches. If that’s what you’re looking for, this island
isn’t for you. But for those who love nature, exploring in a relatively
untouched 29 mile long, 16 miles wide land, this surely would be your choice.
The perfect shaped colourful rainbow that seemed to last
forever entertained me as the van made its way out of Roseau, the
capital of Dominica.
The fresh air was perfect for our 15-minute hike up through the lush rainforest toward Emerald Pool.
Usually when ships are in this area it tends to be busy, but we lucked out. The sound of the 15-meter waterfall was lovely. You can have a dip in the pool if you want. I
wished I had brought my umbrella that was provided for me in my cabin. We
sought refuge from the waterfall downpour, neat but wet, of course. No need for the air conditioning on the way back.
We headed off to the Carib Indian Territory, home to the
world’s last surviving Carib Indians. After the Indians sang and danced
for us (with some audience participation at the end), we walked around
the village of Kalinago Barana Aute. Our tour guide explained about
the plants they grow, some for medicinal purposes, canoe building, various ways to cook. The sun’s full force dried me quickly from the waterfall’s earlier downpour. Strolling the path,
I was entertainment by the spectacular beauty of crashing waves.
The tour lasted six hours as opposed to four that I read online. I was eager to get back on the ship and have lunch so I took a quick
picture of Dominican Museums, which gives an overview of the history
and people of this beautiful island. I’ll for sure visit Dominica again.
Next, beautiful Grenada, known as the Isle
of Spice. It was in political turmoil in 1983 when U.S. troops had
to intervene. After the Grenadines built a healthy tourism for
themselves, in 2004 Hurricane Ivan tried to put a damper to that. Once
again, the people are determined to rebuild.
After a quick lunch and freshening up, I walked under the Sendall Tunnel
(built 1825) to get to the waterfront of Carnegage, found Tout Bagay
Bar & Grill. I sat at the bar area looking out toward the water and
houses on the hill with a $5.00 glass of wine.
Athough there is a hint of development on the island of Bonaire, I do
hope it remains unspoiled for a long time. We went to the
southern part, home to protected flamingos on
Goto Lake. We passed by gorgeous Rincon Village built by the
Spanish. It remains the oldest settlement in the Antilles. Next
was Washington National Park, opened in 1969, a museum and culture centre. To top off the 3-hour tour, we had a
view from Seru Largu (Long Hill) of Klein Bonaire, Kralendijk and our
ship. It was a bit hazy but great nonetheless.
Our ship docked at Oranjestad, Aruba. A
short walk to the terminal, I took bus #10 (the stop is on the left
side at the bus depot, there are signs to the beaches). For US$2.30
return or $1.30 one-way (have exact change), the ride was about 15-20
minutes to Palm Beach. Busy with huge hotel chains such as Radisson,
Riu Palace and Westin, I walked the white sandy beach for a while then
made my way back to Radisson. I sat down at one of the lounge chairs
despite the “for guest only” sign. I took a chance and sat down (did
not use my towel from the ship so I didn’t stand out). I figured if a
staff person told me I had to leave then I would. I continued to walk further
down the beach, passing by a sand castle that a sun worshipper said was
built the day before; I was surprised it was still there.
Couple of hours was enough for me so I grabbed the bus back in front of
Occidental Grand Aruba. Next time I plan to visit Eagle Beach; it has
sugar-white sand and gentle surf, ideal for swimming.
The sun was beating at full force walking the town of Oranjestad.
Though not complaining since in over 48 hours I would be back in my
cold hometown, I could have used my cap. Despite feeling touristy, this
capital is still pretty. There’s a palm-lined thoroughfare along the
centre of town with Dutch-style pastel-painted buildings.
After walking around and taking pictures of such sites as the Protestant
church of Aruba, and Dr. Elroy Arenda house built between 1922-25,
resorted 1998, I stopped off at The Paddock. There was a cow on the roof,
and a Christmas tree decorated with Heineken memorabilia: beer
cans, coaster and boxes under the tree. I sat on the patio, had a
couple of glasses of wine and a view of my ship, plus an older sail
boat and I watched planes fly by ready to land at Reina Beatrix
The last day onboard was spent on the sea sailing toward San Juan.
After quickly packing, filling in custom forms for Puerto Rico, and
attending a half hour seminar about disembarking, I was free to spend
time in the sun, soaking up the heat as much as I could. I found a quiet
spot on the top deck in front of the ship. Few people were there.
Everyone else was by the pool where there wasn’t much breeze, but plenty of loud music. On the final night, instead of the dining room, I ate outside in the aft 10 deck, having my favourite bartender
make me one last martini, soaking up all the warmth I could. Then I
dragged myself for a last night’s sleep,
dreading the thought of returning to winter, and dreaming about my next