Family of 4 from Orlando (mid-30’s, and two boys, 10 and 7) traveling with in-laws (mid-70’s). We are all very experienced cruisers (20+ for the adults, approaching 10 cruises for the kids). Adults have all sailed Celebrity multiple times, this was the first Celebrity for the kids. We were a bit apprehensive to take the kids on the Edge, knowing it was not designed for younger children, but after speaking with the Camp at Sea staff a bunch in January without the kids, we decided to go for it over Christmas. We generally prefer MSC and RCCL with the kids, and Celebrity without, as they love the slides and activities on the mega-ships, and we like the relaxed atmosphere without them. For this cruise, we booked with Kids Sail Free and Sail All Included, combined with an onboard booking bonus OBC from our January cruise, which made it quite reasonable. I will break down this trip report into various categories. I apologize if it jumps around, as I am adding stuff when I remember it! If you have any questions after, please ask!
We drove down most of the way on Saturday and stayed at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. This left us about 30 minutes from the port Sunday morning. It is a great hotel, right off the turnpike. We love Embassy for the free happy hour every evening and the great breakfast. This specific one also has free parking. We made a Wal-Mart run for a few items we knew we needed that we didn’t have a chance to get prior to leaving and had a great Cuban dinner at a local place in Boca.
Sunday morning, we arrived at Terminal 25 at Port Everglades at around 10:00 AM. We quickly dropped the luggage, kids, and in-laws, and then made the trek to the garage to park the car. Strong suggestion, if you have mobility challenged people with your group, drop them with the luggage. The garage is quite a distance from the terminal entrance, and there are not good crosswalks in between. You are sharing the garage with 4 or 5 other ships, and it gets a bit crazy. By the time we made the trek back and got inside the terminal, it was about 10:30. We quickly went through security and through the iPad check-in. By 10:45 we were seating in the handicap boarding area waiting for them to board us. Right at 11, they started allowing us on board. We went to our rooms to drop our carryon bags (one of the best things on the Edge) and grabbed our SeaPass cards. We had upgraded to the “Drinks and More” package pre-cruise, and we had 4 bottles of wine waiting in our room. We did not attempt to switch them, as we planned to bring them home anyway. The wines were their house Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (Concha y Toro Reservado for both). There were cards in their acknowledging the upgrade.
After dropping our bags, we went to the Martini bar to grab our first of many delicious drinks, and then up to the Oceanview for a great lunch. The ship was still pretty empty at this point, and we had no issues finding seating.
We had select dining, and had pre-booked all of our reservations for 6:00 most nights. We had booked 2 nights each in all of the dining rooms except Tuscan, where we had one. The classic menus were standard Celebrity. They had all of the traditional dished you find on all of the ships, and then the specialty items in each dining room. With this being a holiday sailing, the timing of the menus was quite off. They had a special holiday menu for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The food quality and presentation was good as always. My favorite dish was the beef carpaccio I believe on the second night. The only real food disappointment was that the Saganaki is gone from the Cyprus dining room special items. We asked the chef about it, and he let us know that it had to be removed because it was too difficult and expensive to import the quantity needed now that the ship is US based. The service was great in the dining rooms, except for the first night we were in the Cosmopolitan dining room. We arrived at 6 and were sat promptly at a nice table by the window. We asked the server to please bring the kids food out with our appetizers, as they wanted to go to Camp at Sea at 7. I don’t know if it was the server, the kitchen, or what, but the kids did not get their food until 7:15, and we did not finish until almost 8. Every other night, we were done by 7:15. We spoke to the hostess and dining room manager on our way out that night letting them know the issue, and we never had another problem. We also had a small issue pre-cruise, that one of our party of 6 was accidentally dropped off of our reservations. This was never an issue on-board, as when we arrived each night for our reservation for 5 people, the staff assumed it would be 6 based on the two cabins booked. We also had our reservation dropped for the final night, but when I told them we didn’t cancel it and I had the printed confirmation, they quickly reinstated the reservation even though they were “booked up”.
We had a category 7 Oceanview on deck 3 behind the Martini Bar for the 4 of us, and my in-laws were on Deck 8 in a Category 6 Deluxe Oceanview. The oceanview cabin was fine for the 4 of us. The sofa has a trundle underneath that pulls out to add the 4th bed. This was closed during the day each day to allow for more space. Geneviv from the Philippines was our cabin steward, and she was amazing. The location of this cabin was perfect (and specifically chosen) for its proximity to both Camp at Sea and the Grand Plaza. It was not noisy at all, and easy to get anywhere from it. The deluxe oceanview was a nice cabin as well, however; the location being all the way forward was not convenient. It also had a lot of movement up there. Even though it was a two person cabin, the steward had no problem making up a 3rd bed on the couch for them so our kids could spend a couple nights with their grandparents. I do have to say, Geneviv was not as much of a “ninja” as others we have had, as we constantly had bad timing with her, but it was more our fault as we kept going in and out to change for the pool, etc. She was still great, and if we needed to get in while she was there, she would just come back when we were done to finish.
We saw all 3 main production shows, plus the acrobat show in the club, and the Eden Revelations show. The production shows were great, engaging, and entertaining. The kids loved them as well. The acrobats were entertaining as well. The Eden show was interesting. We had a hard time following exactly what was going on, but they performed well and had some fun tricks. During the day, there was tons of trivia, movies, etc. to keep people busy.
The biggest downside to this Casino is that the smallest minimum table for blackjack was $15. I have never seen such a high minimum as the cheapest table, but the Casino Manager’s answer was that they are still filling them, so why not! I played quite a bit of roulette as usual during this cruise. We had the $50 each promo from the Drinks and More, as well as a couple of hundred dollars of non-refundable OBC with nothing else to use it on. For both the Drinks and More credit as well as the non-refundable OBC, they give you promo chips to use. These must be played through and cannot be cashed out. I used them on roulette, and the dealers were great about paying out any winnings in cash chips instead of giving you back the colored ones that were still under the promo amounts. I did pretty well during this cruise, and was actually able to convert the Drinks and More credit plus $250 of OBC credit into cash, plus another $150 on top of that! I love that the Celebrity casinos are entirely non-smoking.
Camp at Sea:
Our boys absolutely loved the Camp at Sea program. For the first time in their nine cruises, we could not get them to leave! The younger group played lots of games that kept them very active, and the older group had scavenger hunts daily that had them exploring the ship. They loved the freedom of the hunts, and the activities were great. Spicy from Mexico and Andre the manager from Brazil were the kids favorite counselors. They both made friends on the ship and had a blast. They had a bunch of family themed activities for the holidays, including a holiday carnival, gingerbread house making, and family scavenger hunts. They also had Santa arrive on the ship on Christmas morning and parade around all of the public decks, before stopping in the Grand Plaza for pictures and gifts. Each kid got either sunglasses or earbuds from Santa (Celebrity branded of course). Also, not Camp at Sea related, but on the holiday theme, there was a nightly Hanukkah “Service” with prayers, electric candle lighting, songs, latkes, and donuts. It was nicely done and very well attended (at least the first couple nights…after that we stopped going because other activities got in the way).
Key West we missed due to the weather. Captain Kate did not think we would have a window to depart if we made our way in, so we had an extra sea day. To dock in Key West, the winds have to be below 25 knots, to sail through the 8 mile channel, and you can not enter or exit when it is dark. We would have been able to get in, but based on the forecast, getting out before dark would have been a challenge.
Off-topic, but speaking of Captain Kate, she was the most personable and entertaining captain we have ever sailed with. She truly loves her job, and I think if she could hold a dual role of Captain and Cruise Director, she would.
This started off a bit rough, as the tram on the pier was not operating and it is quite the long walk. I think this might have been because it was Christmas, as it was operating every other time we have been there. There were 4 ships in port, and we were docked next to the recently crashed Carnival Glory. The back of the Glory looked like a Florida roof after a hurricane…Nothing some tarps and duct tape can’t fix! We took the shuttle over to the downtown/beach area and got a table at the Krazy Lobster. You can use their tables, chairs, umbrellas, hammocks, and kayaks for free if you sit there. They also have $5 for 5 Coronitas or Dos Equis small bottles, and the food it pretty good. We all got the $25/hour massages on the beach, and it ended up being a great day.
We always highly recommend the food tours or cooking class with the Cozumel Chef in Cozumel. They take you were the locals eat and teach you about authentic Yucatan cuisine. We have done the tours a few times, and now we tend to just walk the island away from the tourist areas and eat our way around. For this time, we got a cab since we had my in-laws with us. $50 for 2 hours + tip, and he took us everywhere we wanted to go. For this trip, we chose a local place with whole fried snapper and ceviche, as well as a local taqueria. We also grabbed some empanadas and baked goods at a local bakery. We have never felt unsafe in Cozumel and have wandered our way around most parts of the island. We love it there!
We tendered over and walked around a bit. We had planned to take the public bus to Public Beach (Calico Jacks), but nobody was really in the mood for a beach day by then, so we skipped it. Grand Cayman is not one of our favorite ports, but we are not big snorkelers or divers, and living in FL, the beach is not always inviting!
Drinks and More:
As I said earlier, we had the 4 bottles of wine waiting for us in the cabin. The $50 casino credit per person also not an issue, and the Casino cashier knew exactly what it was and how to handle it. We received the invitation for the wine tasting, but did not end up going due to other activities. Our mini-bar was restocked for us every day, with the Tito’s, Pringles, Kind Bars, and the two wines, as well as the sodas.
This was a great cruise. The kids loved it, which allowed us to love it! We have tentatively booked the Apex for next Thanksgiving with the kids again, as they begged for another Celebrity cruise after this week. We’ll see how the deals come in through wave season to determine if we keep it, as it is quite high right now.