But first a word about tipping. Century had in place the best tipping system I have yet experienced (please do not start the tipping arguement here). Traditional tipping was still in place. Envelopes to the room Thursday night, suggested tipping amounts, NO POOLING OF TIPS. In addition, if you so desired, you could fill out a form and have tips added to your sign and sail (not automatically added where you had a choice to remove, the other way around). These tips were also NOT POOLED. You were actually given vouchers to put in the traditional envelopes that the person turns in for cash. So you still handed out your envelope and your server knew they had been tipped.
I thought the system to be the best of all worlds.
On to St Martin on Wednesday. Supposed to be an 8am to 330pm port stop. We were shut out at the pier by four mega liners Navigator of the Seas, Victory, Caibbean Princees and Glory) and had to tender. We were on the second tender away from the ship and did not hit the pier until 930am. Last tender scheduled to leave a 3pm. Given the rather short time in port and the throngs of people hitting the streets and cabs and beaches we skipped our usual trip to Dawn Beach. Gram hit a small gallery and bought a few inexpensive prints and a ceramic ornament. We stopped in one or two jewelry stores to find matching emerald earnings to a pendant bought a few years back. Found exactly what we wanted at Pearl Gems. They specialize in pearls, but carry other items. Gram shops in their store in Aruba.
We strolled along the beachside of the stores , browsed here and there and stopped for some appetizers and cold beer at The Greenhouse (down by Bobby's Marina). Same owners as the Greenhouse in St Thomas. We people watched and took some
photos as we walked slowly back to the main pier. Back on the ship early, we organized our shopping, had lunch and sat around the pool. Thelosotherapy of course,
pre dinner show tonight, Michael MacGwire. We saw him in Les Miserables on Broadway back in 1987. He was excellent and Gram got an autographed CD afterwards. We killed the pre dinner time in Michaels Club with Julio Urbina on piano.
Nice dinner with good conversation about our tablemates island adventures.
Island night on deck after dinner, we didn't have the energy so called it a night after a nice nightcap with John and Shirley (our tablemates from Manchester) at Michaels.
Thursday was another beautiful sea day. Gram bought Celebrity bucket hats for the kids in the onboard shop. I liked these baseball caps they had so we decided "what the heck" and went back and bought those for them too. The at sea time on this cruise was plentiful and we had smooth seas and 85 to 88 degree temps. It was lovely .
Thelasotherapy of cousre in the early evening, then got ready for formal night. Captains Club Cocktails in the Hemisphere lounge. This was as nicely done as I have ever seen. Great service, drinks, music, dancing and the obligatory "homage" to the retired couple with 58 Celebrity and 67 RCCL cruises.
Dinner was excellent, I skipped the lobster in favor of a veal dish. Superbly prepared.
Production show was very well done.
A comment on our wine steward (sommolier?) . He wanted to be helpful, but, I do not like to have my wine selections questioned, nor do I want to explain them to someone else. If I ask for advice , give it. If I don't and I order a bottle of wine, serve it. Just me.
A comment on our head waiter. We made no special demands, however I observed others who did. He was superb. Charming, professional, helpful and his "area" ran like clockwork. I would not have known the maitre'D if I tripped over him. Never physically saw the man but his dining room was as well run as any I have seen. Open seating service, sometimes a problem, was as smoothly run as the evening meals. Part IV
and a final comment or two later.