Celebrity Zenith Gulf Cruise

**Update 1/18/2006 – Finally got the pictures developed and posted. Check out the gallery **

Mich and I recently came back from a cruise through the Western Caribbean (Gulf of Mexico) on board Celebrity Cruise Line’s Zenith ship.

This is only our second cruise, the first being back in 2002 when we did a Carnival cruise on the Fascination to the Bahamas.

I’ll post pictures as soon as we get them developed. My little DiMage X50 camera is still in the repair shop recovering from damage sustained after a couple of drops to the floor during the Halloween party. Hopefully we’ll have it back this coming Thursday. In the meantime we’ve dusted off our old film camera (and we picked up an underwater disposable for the cruise shore excursion).

Overall we enjoyed this cruise. It was billed as 4 nights and left Miami on December 22nd (2005) at about 5 pm. So really there are about 3 1/3 days of cruise enjoyment. Since you dock at 8:00 am the last day there really isn’t much you can do but wait to get off the ship.

The first stop was in Key West, Florida. We had heard that there was nothing terribly spectacular to see unless you enjoy marine museums so we loitered on the ship in the morning and had a satisfying breakfast before heading out to explore. Never having been to Key West before any and everything there was going to be interesting. We decided to walk the streets with the purpose of ending up at that “You are at the Southernmost point of the Continental U.S.” marker and getting our picture taken there.

The weather was pleasant for us, probably mid-60’s but feeling warmer in the sun, so we were able to wander around in short sleeves comfortably. We didn’t have very long in Key West so after our photo op and exploring a few local shops, we stopped off at a coffee shop and Mich enjoyed her Java fix while I indulged in an oversized cinnamon bun.

The next stop was in Cozumel, Mexico where we indulged in the “Clear Kayak and Beach Snorkle Combo” hosted by the Uvas Beach Club and Marine Park. This was interesting for anybody who is new to kayaking or snorkling but, given Cozumel’s reputation for gorgeous reefs, was very dissapointing on the scenery front. The sea bottom was mostly sand punctuated with largely unspectacular rock outcroppings. We did get to see some little stingrays and, to Mich’s satisfaction, a reasonably large starfish. But for anybody already comfortable and familiar with snorkling and kayaking I’d have to recommend passing on this venue. The guide and the folks working at the venue were all great but there was really very little to see in the water.

Since our ship docked off the port outside of the city, we paid our cab driver an additional $6 to have him drive us into town rather than back to the port after the kayaking so we could explore there.

Cozumel city was VERY quiet that day, this was the 24th of December after all. All the shops were open but there were much fewer people wandering around than I expected. After the girls finished exploring the local shops (OK OK because the local shops were closing and they couldn’t look any more) we headed to Carlos N Charlies, a local hot spot for some drinks before heading back to the ship.

We met Jan and Miera (I’m sure I haven’t spelled that right…) at our dinner table on the cruise ship and had coincidentally all chosen the same shore excursion so we hooked up for checking out the city. They are the other folks you will see at our table in the pictures.

One thing I would change if I could would be to have stayed in Cozumel much later. We were there for most of the day, but the departure time of 8:30 (it changed several times so I’m not sure what it ultimately ended up being) was a little soon for my tastes as I was enjoying the “scenery” at Carlos N Charlies.
Speaking of which, I’d like to thank the girls from our cruise ship who were also in the bar and provided the entertainment for the evening. Carlos N Charlies was pretty quiet when we arrived until they showed up. I think we’ve got some pictures so I’ll post some representative ones when they are developed.

The Zenith itself was a pleasant ship, a little smaller than the Fascination, which is all I know to compare it to, but plenty large enough for us. The Zenith is an older ship that is apparently due for renovation so it wasn’t all sparkling and new. The stateroom was clean and service was pleasant. All the of the ship’s staff that we encountered were helpful and polite.

Our favorite haunt on the ship was the Cova Café. For Mich the Coffee was great, for myself it was the Hot Chocolate Melange that comes as my highest recommendation.

We would definitely sail with Celebrity again.

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