My family had been taking cruises to the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean for years. The spring of 2011 was different, though – we’d been to every other destination save Jamaica, and we’d never traveled with Celebrity Cruiselines.
I soon realized, however, that change was good.
Compare the Celebrity Century to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis, and most teens would prefer the latter. However, what the Oasis has in massive amounts of entertainment, the Celebrity makes up for in almost everything else. Not only did we experience the most delectable and diverse cuisine ever – from mushroom gelato to cage-shaped cheese – at the Murano and Grand Restaurants, we also experienced genuine hospitality and kindness. Our assigned waiter at the Grand Restaurant came to know us by name and what we liked and even joked around with us. We befriended him, and I would miss him.
The Century also had the most unique cruise activities we’ve ever experienced. I took a water coloring class; my sister enjoyed a sushi-making session; and we were able to witness ship navigation first-hand. These were things I’d never known could be offered on a cruise – and I was thoroughly impressed.
Then there was the feeling I had when I was on the Century. Never before had I felt it on any other cruise.
It didn't feel like we had to run all around the ship all day to have the best time. This vacation was the first I’d actually found to be relaxing!
Even more than that…
… it just felt like…
Finally, there was Jamaica.
When we arrived, warm sunlight greeted us as we began walking to our destination – the White River, located in beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica. With our tour group, Chukka Caribbean Adventures, we eventually reached one of the calmest bodies of water I'd ever seen.
However, as I got into my inner tube, I realized how true it was that appearances can be deceiving.
A paper for the tour talks about the river's "many moods," but, for me, there were only two – calm (still) and energetic (with rapids)… which meant something for everyone.
We were also able to jump off a 20-foot-high bridge. That was pretty much reserved for thrill-seekers, though – not only because of the height, but also because multiple rocks lay beneath it.
Throughout the tour, our guides were singing songs, making small talk, and telling us a little more about the area, which made the experience all the more pleasant – and made them feel more like family.
After the tour was over and we passed from White River Valley into Shaw Park, we boarded a cruiser, excited to climb Dunn's River Falls.
Don't be fooled. Even the Century says the climb is “strenuous.”
If you don't like having your feet constantly being stabbed by rocks, or water colder than anything you have experienced, don't try it. It was really an activity for die-hard adventurers, and even we ended up complaining.
However, there’s a sense of camaraderie during the climb like no other. Everyone has to hold each other's hands, because if there's an accident, those same people have to try to save you. This makes you feel concern not only for yourself, but for your fellow human being. It's also a bonding experience – my dad and stepmother befriended complete strangers. The climb’s exciting, too! Your heart never stops pumping, especially when you could trip or fall any second. We loved it, and we were disappointed when we had to leave.
Basically, I've been on a number of vacations throughout my life.
None can compare to this one.
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