Cruise was great but the beverage package was frustrating We were on the Jan 26th southern Caribbean sailing on the Celebrity Summit. We booked our cruise several months in advance. This is my 3rd cruise and my husband's second cruise. We are a couple in the late 40's early 50's.. We were there celebrating our 25th anniversary. We asked but they did nothing special for it.
The embark was smooth and handled well. You cannot take the alcohol they sell at the San Juan port onto the boat except for wine and they do not sell beer there. Our luggage was brought to our room before dinner except for one piece which arrived after dinner. We had already attached the luggage tags to our luggage and I think that helped the luggage drop off to go smoothly. No changes can be made within five days of the cruise and I could not print out our "boarding pass because I tried to print it out within the five days before the cruise.
We left the cruise ship in San Juan to find a church for mass. Stella Maria in Condado ( new San Juan) has an English mass around 4:30. The Cathedral in Old San Juan had a mass around 5:15 but it was not listed anywhere.
Our room was ready when we arrived at 2pm. Our room was clean and our room attendant Jeffery and his assistant were nice. Jeffery explained that we would have to pay for anything taken from the room refrigerator even if we had a beverage package. That was frustrating.
We bought the soda package and I was very excited that they had diet caffeine free drinks, especially caffeine free diet coke. You could not drink the sodas in the room fridge without being charged extra. You need to find an open bar to get a soft drink and hope they have the drink you want. I had a difficult time finding a bar with caffeine free diet coke. When I did find one, they would only let me have one. They said they would have to charge me for a second even though I had the beverage package. My husband who also had the beverage package could get a soda and then I could get two occasionally. When ordering my meal at night I wanted to drink Caffeine free diet coke but by day two the MDR said they wee out of the caffeine free diet coke and wanted me to choose a different drink. They never restocked it even though I asked them too. They said maybe in St. Thomas ( on Friday) but even then they did not restock it. We spoke with other people who had the alcohol drink package and they said they had the same problems with ordering lite beer. The ship ran out early in the cruise and did not get more in. They were told to choose a regular beer insteasd and maybe on St. Thomas they would get in more light beer. These beverage packages were prepaid and they should have stocked the ship up with beverages for the passangers who ordered these packages. Also would it hurt to put some extra of the beverage package requested in the room refridgeerator and not charge extra to take it. It was inconvenient to find an open bar. I am not a coffee person. I prefer a caffeinated diet beverage for breakfast and the bars were not open at 8 am. The fellow who served fresh orange juice was always willing to go find me a diet beverage in the morning, thanks Ricky!
The buffet was OK. The Ceasar salad was quite good but I only saw it offered on the first day on the ship or in the MDR at dinner. We were on shore most days and when returning to the ship between 4 and 5 we were hungry at this time 75% of the buffet was closed so it was hard to get a little something to eat before a late dinner.
The ports were all great and they celebrity handled getting on and off the ship quite well. It was so nice to have cool wash cloths to clean off with when we returned. Another great thing was that they offered beach towels to take with you on shore. Had I known this I would not have taken out own beach towels. This was a nice surprise and I thought you should know so you don't have to pack so much.
Barbados: WE hired a taxi driver for the day for $80. We visited hunt's garden which was quite lovely. It cost $15 per person which does not include the rum punch offered at the end. I think $10 would be more appropriate or off the rum punch for free. Mr. Hunt is a delight and we enjoyed speaking to him. The garden takes about an hour to go through if you take your time but youmay wish to stay another hour to visit with delightful Mr. Hunt. We then went snorkeling at the beach between the cruise chip and the Hilton hotel. There is a sunken ship to see where many fish like to swim. Banks beer is the local beer in Barbados.
St. Lucia: We went to pigeon Island walked the ruins of the fort and the went snorkeling. The currect pushed you out into the ocean so be careful not to go out too far. WE saw fish and many sea urchins there. After that we went to see the Cathedral of the Immaculate conception, the oldest chirch in the Caribbean and it was beautiful. We prayed there a while and then went shopping in the local market for souvenirs.
Antigua: Here I recommend only going on shore excursions with the cruise line or a reputable firm. WE wanted to go to Cades reef. A taxi driver told us he could take us to Turners beach for $80 round trip where we could take a boat out to the reef for $15 - $20. On the way there he told us that there is no boat at Turners beach so he would just take us to Jolly beach and we could enjoy a day at the beach. We said no you said you were going to take us to a boat to get to Cades Reef. He brought us to Jolly Harbor where he told us he could not find anyone to take us to cades reef. Then he tolfd us he found someone and we should wait. WE waited about 30 minutes and he then said to follow him. We followed him on a 15 minute walk to Jolly beach. There a man, named John Cox had a glass bottom Catamaran called the Cat Snorkel and told us he could take us to the reef for $200 not $20. We had no other choice. We explained that we did not have that kind of money. We could pay him $120. He refuse d and finally agreed that is we bought him $60 worth of gas with our credit cards and paid him $120 he would take us out on his boat. WE paid the $120 first BIG MISTAKE no one else had us pay them first. He left for 20 minutes and came back . Then he drove to the gas station where we paid for two large gas cans to be filled with gas. He drove us back and we waited . Then he told us to go to the beach where he would pick us up with the large catamaran. We waited 20 minutes and he picked us up drove 20 feet from shore and told us just to wait while he yelled to other people around us. After about 20 minutes a fellow came over to the ship and his assistant and this man began to fight as the man tried to board the ship. John Cox's assistant was kicking him in the face and they were fighting and we wqere the only people on the boat about 150 years from shore. We were about to just jump out of the boat and swim to shore rather than be involved in what ever was happening. The fight stopped and John Cox who had our money and $60 worth of our gas told us to get onto a small speed boat that would take us out to Cades reef. These other fellows did take us out to Cades reef and it is amazing. I recommend seeing it but use a professional tour not just anyone and especially on John Cox of Cat Snorkel. We asked for some of our money back since he did not use the big boat or the $60 of gas we provided but he refused and called us crazy. John Cox was rude and he is a con man do not trust him at all. Never pay anyone in advance. The guys in the oat said we paid double what we should have paid and the taxi driver agreed. Our taxi drive picked us up and brought us back to the ship.
St. Maarten: We went to MAHO beach to watch the planes land and take off. It is amazing but be careful. You can get hurt. WE shopped in town by the cruise boat and there we found the best prices on Alcohol.
St. Thomas: We went to Magen's Bay and it was lovely. The beach is clean and the water is calm. We then went to Coki Beach and went snorkeling. The fish were plentiful and very friendly. The beach there is more crowded and it did not feel quite as safe as Magen's Bay.
San Juan: Our plane did not leave until after 3:00 so we needed a place to put our luggage while we toured old San Juan. Right after we exited the port there were tour guides waiting and offering tours of old San Juan for $25 a person. They keep your luggage in the van and they take you to the airport in time for your flight all included in the $25 per person ( great deal).
The MDR was clean and the wait staff was wonderful. It took about 2 hours for a meal as you had to wait quite a while between appetizer, salad/soup/ main meal, and dessert. Some of the food was quite good. The lobster was very chewy and the steak was tough and difficult to cut. The shrimp cocktail was delicious. The French Onion soup was awful. The tilapia was good. They offer three standards for each course , three new offering each night and five additional offerings for the main course. The dining room was very nicely decorated. Each course had a lovely presentation. They offered CrÃ¨me Brulee, apple pie, cheese cake, and ice cream every night along with three additional offerings for desert.
The entertainment was pretty good. I like singing and dancing so those nights were good. The comedian's clean joke night was good but the adult night was very crude. WE did not see the juggler. The acoustic guitarist was wonderful and we bought his CD. The band was pretty good but their choices in music were not good. We were the on the younger side of people on this cruise and the music was more modern. I would have liked to have heard some Jimmy Buffet and some steel drums on the pool deck instead of what the band played. They played the same songs over and over whether it was in the Revelations lounge or on deck. They would only play for an hour and then the people started dancing and they would take their break for 30 minutes and that stopped people from dancing.
I enjoyed the Zumba instruction to get some exercise.
I wish they would have stayed in port until 6:30. It would have given us a lot more time to enjoy the port. Sometimes the boat did not have far to go and I don't know why we had to leave before 5:00. I realize maybe they want the people back before dark but they could have extended the time at shore.
We did have a great time. I am just putting these comments down so others know what to expect and the cruise line has ideas on what to change. I would go on another Celebrity cruise but I would not do a beverage package again unless they changed how it works.