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Everything posted by Rika1

  1. Really enjoying following you on your trip! We're on Reflection starting 2/17, and like you, we'll be suite-less for the first time in a long time, so I appreciated your notes on some extra things you brought (the ice water thing especially). Looking forward to more!
  2. I've never been to the buffet at dinnertime, except when my husband wants a second dessert, so I had no idea they had that much food there in the evening! I know at least some of the crew eat there so I guess that's a fair number of mouths to feed without even considering the passengers. Thank you so much for doing this! We're on the Reflection starting Feb. 17 with a different itinerary. We've been on her before but it's been several years so it's great to see what's happening now.
  3. This was an issue for us on our first E class sailing. I love the food in Luminae but it can be a little much for my husband, who's very much a straightforward-food, meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. He'd been in the habit of requesting the MDR menu in Luminae on past cruises on S class ships. Our waiter overheard us talking about it and told my husband that if he ordered the previous day, they could get him things from the MDR menu. He only did it a couple of times, and I don't think he ever did it for an entree, because we knew it was an imposition. Another time I was saying I'd love to have French onion soup (we had a lot of cold, rainy weather on the cruise) and wondered where I could get some, and the waiter said, "Come for lunch tomorrow and we'll have it." So I did, and they did. We had a fair amount of leftover OBC at the end of the cruise and used it for extra tips for "our" people in Luminae - they were amazing. We're back in S class (Reflection) on our cruise next month, but in a veranda cabin. I'm going to be crying the blues that we can't go to Luminae!
  4. We loved it - in fact, it was the saving grace for us on our Christmas cruise in 2022, because the rest of the ship was packed.
  5. My husband and I took a Christmas cruise on the Apex in December, 2022. The ship was massively full: because so many people come as families, there are tons of kids staying in their parents' cabins, and thus a much higher number of passengers than usual. It was especially a problem because we had bad weather - chilly and rainy for the first half of the trip - so everybody was inside much of the time, and it was noisy and crowded pretty much everywhere. And as I'm sure you're aware, fares are also higher on the cruises over holidays. I'm sure it's a great thing for families, but as a couple traveling on our own, we won't be taking another Christmas (or New Year's) cruise.
  6. You can order of the MDR menu in Luminae on E class ships as well - they just ask you to do it the previous day, due to the distance between the kitchens.
  7. I did Chef's Table on Apex last December and enjoyed it. Food was great - and there was way too much - but the thing I remember best was the couple who were staying in one of the Iconic Suites. We were on the ship during the Christmas storms in the US, and that also affected us in the western Caribbean. They were complaining about how much rocking of the ship they were feeling - to the point that they asked about going into another cabin, but nothing was available but one Edge Villa, and they're in about the same location. I was tempted to offer to trade! 😀
  8. We must be lucky with good sea legs because we weren't bothered by the motion and barely even noticed it in our cabin at night. But I heard of others who were sick or at least uncomfortable (and I think especially on Christmas) so you definitely had company.
  9. I was expecting a lunch buffet, but actually we ordered off a fairly broad menu (don't let the listed prices scare you; lunch is included). Our food was good--nothing extraordinary, but good (and I heard the rum punch was delicious). I had to check my photos regarding shade by the pool, as we sat under an umbrella on the beach. It doesn't look like there are actual umbrellas by the pool, but there are lots of trees and other vegetation around so I imagine you could find shade there. (The umbrellas in the photo are in an area adjacent to the pool).
  10. Sorry to hear that. We were truly surprised by how quiet our cabin was. One night I heard a bit of creaking for maybe 15 minutes; other than that, the only noise we heard was the people upstairs stomping around a bit (I'm guessing they had little ones with them). It occurred to me that given the weather we had, an IV might have been more useful than a balcony.
  11. I was going to post live throughout the cruise, but the ship's internet had other ideas, so this will be more of a summary (albeit a long one). For some context, we are long-time Celebrity cruisers in our 60s (me) and 70s (DH). We don't drink much and are fairly quiet in our pursuits on board and off. This was our first cruise since January, 2019. Executive summary: We had a good time despite a very crowded ship and less than ideal weather. The Retreat absolutely rocks! Arrival: We left home a day before the cruise started; we always do that, but it was especially important this time because of the major winter storm working its way across the country. We were about an hour late arriving at FLL, and were astonished by the number of major flight delays that showed up on the arrivals board (mostly on Southwest, which was a harbinger of things to come). Check-in on the ship the next day was a breeze. They have a special check-in area for The Retreat, where they escort you to comfortable chairs before asking you a few basic questions, pointing out the service area (coffee, tea, soda, fruit, pastries), and inviting you to go to the ship whenever you're ready. The ship: The ship was very crowded because of the holiday; we heard estimates of anywhere from 500-700 kids on board (I assume that included teens, and we saw a lot more teens than younger kids on board). There were also many more young adults than we usually see on Celebrity, cruising with their families. The staff mentioned a few times how full the ship was, and you could really feel it. The weather made that worse, as our first few days were cold and/or rainy so the outdoor spaces weren't getting much use. In fact, I heard that they eventually opened up the Solarium to families because otherwise the kids had nowhere to swim. We've sailed on most of the Millennium- and Solstice-class ships, but this was our first time on Edge class. We found the Grand Plaza to be not so grand--a disappointment compared to the Grand Foyer on other ships, and very noisy most of the time, but that was by no means a deal breaker. Otherwise, we liked the ship and especially The Retreat features. We didn't get as much time on the Retreat Sundeck as we would have liked due to the weather; in fact, they were handing out blankets one afternoon when I went up and found a quiet spot out of the rain and wind. But toward the end of the trip when the weather improved, I enjoyed my time up there. In addition to loungers (with the same problems as on Deck 14, with people reserving them and then disappearing), they have comfy sofas, chairs and even rockers in various nooks and crannies, many in the shade. There's a bar with a limited lunch menu and tons of attendants available to serve drinks (or, one afternoon, to distribute little cups of pistachio ice cream). The Retreat Lounge was nice as well, and we visited it during afternoon tea a little more often than we should have, and it was a popular spot for pre-dinner drinks, quieter than the Grand Plaza area. By the way, we struggled at first to get into the Retreat areas--you use your SeaPass card to do so--because we weren't doing it right. Place the card against the electronic device and hold it there without moving it for a few seconds. We kept waving the card at the device instead and it doesn't work! I hope that saves someone the frustration we experienced till we finally learned the answer. Our cabin: We've stayed in Sky Suites on other ships (and just once in a Royal Suite that I got for a tiny upgrade fee in an amazing bit of luck). We prefer Sunset Sky Suites, but they were all taken when we booked this trip. Aside from the smaller balcony we loved our suite (11211, port side, just behind the aft elevator lobby). It was a bit of a walk to the special areas of the Retreat but we didn't mind. Plenty of storage space (with tons of hangers), and room to move around except on the balcony, which really had too much furniture for its size. The cabin was surprisingly quiet - they've done a good job of designing doors and drawers and such so that they close securely and don't rattle when the ship rocks. Or at least, it seemed so to us; the captain said 10-foot seas were expected one night but the ship always felt pretty stable to us. Then again, we're good at getting our sea legs and aren't really bothered by a little motion. However, I met a couple at the Chef's Table dinner who were in one of the Iconic Suites (Deck 12 above the bridge); they complained about the motion up there and in fact had asked Celebrity to move them. But nothing was available except an Edge Villa, and those are near the bow on Deck 15, so the ride wouldn't have been any smoother. (If only we'd known sooner - we would have been happy to trade with them! :-D) The food: We ate in Luminae every night except the Chef's Table night. We had reservations for Eden the last night but canceled them; we're going to be on the Edge next December for a longer cruise and we'll probably try some specialty restaurants then. Honestly, the food in Luminae was so good that we didn't feel the need to move, despite having a lot of leftover OBC we could have used. And our waiter and the rest of the team (kudos to Bhavit, Anish, and Ian) knew us by then and made the experience even better. While the Chef's Table experience was fun (especially the Executive Chef telling us how to make risotto), the food that night was no better than what we'd been eating every night at Luminae. We did miss the quieter atmosphere at Luminae on other ships in the past; others here have mentioned that it's much louder and busier, and we noticed that too. In the past, my husband had usually ordered from the MDR menu while I ordered from Luminae's menu. Although we knew that he could still do that as long as he did it the night before, he found that he didn't need to. He frequently ordered one of the "always available" appetizers (usually French onion soup or shrimp cocktail) but always found an entree that worked for him. Also, on past cruises, my husband always wanted to go to Oceanview Cafe for breakfast and lunch, but this time I convinced him to eat at Luminae more often and he enjoyed it. This was unfortunately in part because our first breakfast at the Oceanview Cafe didn't impress him - we were there a little after 10:00 and the food was mostly cold. Also, again due to the crowded ship and the weather outside, it was usually hard to find a table. Luminae is only open for lunch on sea days, but we ate a couple of lunches off the ship and one at the Retreat Sundeck, so we really weren't in the cafe that much this trip. We also had room service breakfast a few times and it was always fine. The Celebrity app and the Internet This was the first time we'd cruised with an app of that sort, and I really liked it. The daily event list, the ability to move something to your calendar (and then get a reminder), and the ability to turn the lights on/off and open/close the curtains while lying in bed were all great. You could also sign up for excursions, make dinner reservations, and message other people in your party. We had premium internet access, one device at a time for each of us. You could move it from one device to another pretty easily, which we both did. However, for the first four days or so, the Internet was practically unusable, except to use the app. I'm glad it was bundled into our fare and we weren't paying extra for it. I'm sure the crowded ship and the larger-than-usual number of younger people made it worse. Then one morning it was noticeably better, so I went down to the iLounge and asked them about the plans for Starlink on the Apex. At first they said it would be available starting with the next cruise, but after I mentioned noting an improvement, they confessed that it had been installed the night before and they were testing it. I didn't run a speed test, but it was much better. Youtube videos would still pause periodically, and I wouldn't have wanted to try to watch a Netflix movie unless I'd downloaded it before the cruise, but I did download some Kindle books and Facebook and Instagram became usable again. The shows and activities: I think we're atypical in this regard; we don't enjoy the theatrical production shows. We attended one on the first Evening Chic night and it did nothing to change our minds. The tech features of the theater with its huge digital screen are impressive, and the musicians and singers were fantastic, but the acrobats and dancers just didn't impress us and it seemed repetitive and frankly boring after a while. We did, though, enjoy the show the first night, with Nick ??? (forgot his last name) on the piano and the Celebrity Orchestra. We also attended Claire Maidin's show and Rockumentary, but had to leave both of them early because it was so RIDICULOUSLY loud. Mind you, we both have mild hearing loss and wear hearing aids; however, even with our hearing aids removed, the sound was painful and we couldn't stay. We tried sitting in different areas of the theater but it didn't seem to matter; the sound blasted at us no matter where we were. This was disappointing, because we are both musicians and would have enjoyed those performances at a lower decibel level. We did enjoy some music at other venues--my favorite was a Christmas Eve performance in the Retreat Lounge by a jazz singer and a guitarist whose names I didn't get. Perhaps because the ship was so full, many of the activities seemed to take place in venues that were too small. For example, there was a "Musical Bingo" game on Christmas Day in the Grand Plaza with people sitting on the steps, on the floor, basically everywhere. And we tried to attend an Abba sing-along/dance evening event at The Club (DH loves Abba) but, again, it was crammed full of people. The ports: Key West: The temperature was in the 50s with a cold, biting wind; we got off the ship and walked around a little, but that was all. Belize: I was supposed to go cave tubing, but it was chilly and rainy so I decided to cancel. We had heard that the port area wasn't very nice so we stayed on board (and watched "Top Gun: Maverick" in the theater). Cozumel: We went to Nachi Cocom and enjoyed it, though three times in two hours we had to run for cover from major short rainstorms. Great place for people looking for a quiet day on the beach. Grand Cayman: We went on a ship's Stingray City/Coral Gardens snorkel excursion that, frankly, was awful due to high winds and waves, and the boat not anchoring in sufficiently shallow water at Stingray City. The crew: How the crew manages to stay so friendly, helpful, and all-around wonderful, especially with the ship as full as ours was, I don't know, but they are amazing and are Celebrity's greatest asset. We ended up with almost $350 in unused OBC and signed it all over to extra tips for the crew (I hope it actually gets credited to them). Some of the little things will stay with me; for example: After I asked for ice for my water at dinner one night, a glass of ice automatically appeared on the table every night after that. When I expressed disappointment one evening that the French Onion Soup my husband was enjoying wasn't on the lunch menu in Luminae the next day, they said they'd make it for me (and they did; it was delicious). Up on the Retreat Deck one day, the attendant didn't just bring me a Coke Zero and a glass of ice; she insisted on opening and pouring the drink for me (and brought me a blanket). Rajeev, our butler, who was always cheerful and friendly, melted my heart the last evening when he asked for a good-bye hug. Summary: If you haven't given up on this lengthy review, thanks for making it to the end! I would probably not go on another holiday cruise due to the crowds, though had the weather been better the crowding would have been less of an issue. However, I'll probably favor Edge class ships in the future because of the Retreat Sundeck and Lounge; I know the older ships are being retrofitted to some degree but the full experience on Apex was fantastic. We have a Sunset Sky Suite on the Edge on our next cruise (New Zealand next December) and are looking forward to it.
  12. I noticed this morning that the internet was faster and wondered if Starlink had been installed overnight. Asked at the iLounge a short time ago and they said it was just installed last night and they are testing it. Should be officially live starting with the Dec. 30 departure from Ft. Lauderdale. I wish they could have gotten to it a week earlier. Premium wifi has been horrible this week - a Christmas cruise with an overloaded ship, lots of kids, and bad weather, so it stands to reason that it couldn’t keep up. I was going to do live posts from the ship but this is the first time I’ve even been able to log on to the site. More later.
  13. I noticed this morning that the internet was faster and wondered if Starlink had been installed overnight. Asked at the iLounge a short time ago and they said it was just installed last night and they are testing it. Should be officially live starting with the Dec. 30 departure from Ft. Lauderdale. I wish they could have gotten to it a week earlier. Premium wifi has been horrible this week - a Christmas cruise with an overloaded ship, lots of kids, and bad weather, so it stands to reason that it couldn’t keep up. I was going to do live posts from the ship but this is the first time I’ve even been able to log on to the site. More later.
  14. Thanks to all! We're booked with cavetubing.bz and it sounds like we should be fine.
  15. Thank you so much for this wonderful review! We will be boarding the Apex this coming Friday for the Christmas cruise, and I'm even more excited now after reading your vivid and detailed account of your week.
  16. Hello, I booked with cavetubing.bz based on recommendations here and am looking forward to the trip; however, I saw a Youtube video today showing a cave tubing expedition that ended with the people having to climb up over rocks, with some fairly large upward steps, that makes me very nervous. Not sure what company they were with so I don't know if it was something special, but I'm trying to find out. That kind of climbing scares me and if it's necessary I would probably not go on the trip. Here is the video. Can anyone advise me?
  17. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! DH and I will be on Apex for Christmas and your posts gave me a lot of ideas.
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