Caribbean-island hopping is best to do by cruise ship says Helen Lewingdon.
Time has flown so quickly since disembarking from my Caribbean cruise on the Marella Celebration. For me, this was the perfect holiday choice: that’s because the vessel is relatively small by today’s standards, carrying approximately 1300 passengers. This makes it very easy to get around the ship without getting lost (as I usually do).
A friendly atmosphere is prevalent throughout the ship, due to the fantastic crew and repeat passengers who return time and time again; some have several of their next adventures booked whilst enjoying the current one. Over the years, I’ve sailed the seven seas with many different cruise lines, including 6-star liners, but have never felt more comfortable than I did on the Marella Celebration.
Once arrived on board, my luggage was sharply delivered to my cabin at a lightning bolt speed, which gave me time to settle in and unpack before my evening meal and the general emergency drill: an international safety regulation for every passenger on board – sorry, there’s no getting out of it. Of course, a pre-dinner cocktail was a great welcome bonus after a fairly long journey!
Morning has broken, and I headed straight for the main restaurant. As much as some are drawn to the buffet, I love the whole experience of being greeted by my waiter, choosing from the menu and then having my breakfast freshly cooked whilst enjoying copious amounts of tea and coffee of course.
On sea days, you can fill your time with learning to dance, take a guided tour of the ship, test your knowledge in a quiz, try your hand at soft archery, play crazy golf or table tennis or just relax on a sunbed with a good book. And once you’ve finished your current book, take it to the library and swap it for another – simple as that. Beam at the many demonstrations such as ice carving, beauty and wellness, get pampered in the spa or even learn to make an animal out of a towel.
The majority of my downtime was spent slurping speciality coffees at the Coffee Port, sipping cocktails with the accompanying background of live music, or taking the time out for some retail therapy at the Broad Street Shops where you can purchase a wide range of duty-free goods at fairly reasonable prices. Planning your country-ticking days ahead, you can collate information on all the ports of call by visiting Destination Services or even book an excursion directly with them.
Lunch is served in the Meridian Restaurant, Lido Restaurant and Terrace Grill: choose which one depending on if you want waiter service, buffet style or light bites. As the night draws in, you can choose whether to opt for a four-course meal at the Meridian (with a fresh menu daily) or treat yourself to a gastronomy wonder at one of three speciality restaurants where you’ll need to pay a small supplement fee – it’s best to book your table in advance. The Kora La serves an Asian fusion menu while the Hot Stone is a hotspot where you’ll cook your steak, lobster tail and much more on your own hot lava stone. Mistrals, a personal favourite for me, allows you to create your own Land and Sea inspired menu and even be serenaded at your table, as I was.
There was no greater joy than retiring to the Broadway Show Lounge for a different themed production every night: such as Moulin Rouge which featured a 6-minute Can-can piece – I was exhausted just watching! As if the crew doesn’t work hard enough, they spent the little free time they have entertaining us with their very own ‘Cruise Show’, and to top it all off, a Comedian was flown in especially, leaving us all in absolute hysterics. Eleven o’clock struck and I concluded my evening in Liberties, the hot on board Nightclub, followed by a final midnight splash at the Casino.
The passengers onboard the Marella Celebration are like family to the ship, they come back time and time again: a testament to a truly spectacular cruise.