To provide a frame of reference, DH and I are mid to late 40's. This was my 13th cruise and DH's 4th; our second time on Celebrity. Our last Celebrity cruise (2008) DH was seriously injured (that's a story for another time), and we were very impressed with their medical team (I'm an ICU RN, so not an easy sell). We enjoy getting the most bang for our buck, so when we were able to get RT airfare to Puerto Rico for $275 and Celebrity dropped balcony cabins to $649 we felt like it was a match made in heaven! Then 10 days before we left, we were able to upgrade to Aqua Class for $150 pp. We had never experienced AQ, and felt like that was a good trade off to see for ourselves what AQ is all about. We were not disappointed! Bearing in mind that this is a 13 year old ship (although she was dry docked just one year ago for "solsticizing") the Summit was for the most part clean and well-maintained, but not the over-the-top jaw-dropper like you would experience on a brand new mega ship.
We flew in to SJU the day before which was during the San Sebastian Festival, which is like Mardi Gras on steroids. I had won the La Concha Resort in Condada on a bidding travel site for $129/night. Anticipating traffic would be horrible, we left our hotel at 10:30 am and to our delight, we were on the ship in less than 60 minutes! This was by far the fastest embarkation process ever! I must say that being greeted with a glass of champagne is the right way to welcome passengers aboard. Thank you, Celebrity. One of the perks of AQ is priority luggage delivery, and Celebrity did deliver! We had our swimwear in our carry-ons, so after eating lunch we made our way to the pool area and when we returned to our cabin around 3:00pm our luggage was already waiting for us.
Our cabin was clean, the linens were nice, and our steward was friendly and attentive. We were mid-ship, port side and never heard exterior noise. I loved the shower: specialty shower head and glass doors...no more fighting with a shower curtain! The nightlight in the bathroom was nice as were the uber plush robes. We had no issues, but overheard several people having issues with their toilet plumbing and noticed several workers with plungers.
Blu was wonderful: great food, attentive waiters, more intimate setting, and the sommelier very informative and friendly but not pushy. Marcel, the Maitre D' was AWESOME! He was very supportive of his staff, and really made Blu the great experience it was. One morning we showed up 30 minutes before they opened (our mistake) but he seated us and started our breakfast himself since we needed to be off the ship to catch our excursion! Marcel also advised us to come early to dinner the first night so we wouldn't be interrupted by the muster drill. We only ate in the MDR for the sea day brunch and on one of the formal nights. Brunch was very nice, reminiscent of the old midnight buffets with ice carvings, etc. However, we found the staff in the MDR to be unimpressive, inattentive and aloof. The buffets were typical cruise fare, but we found the sushi bar very good as was Cafe Al Baccio.
The entertainment was decent. The Broadway-style shows were pretty good and the Ukrainian aerialists were amazing. The comedian and the "mentalist" were just ok IMHO. I will say that Lisa, the cruise director had some pipes and I wish we had heard more singing from her! There was a Latin guitarist who was really good but had to leave the ship early. But we don't cruise for the on-board entertainment; if it's good, great, if it's not, we're still having a great time and can always find something to do! That's the beauty of cruising. Everyone has different ideas on what makes a great vacation, and cruising provides many choices.
For AQ passengers, there is a special disembarkation lounge with coffee, juice and rolls. Once our number was called we were off the ship quickly and easily found our luggage. We were one of the later groups to leave and our wait in the customs line was only about 25 minutes. Once out of the shed, we hailed a taxi back to the La Concha Resort (this time winning bid of $109/night) for three more glorious days in beautiful San Juan.
Overall, this was a great experience. So great that we booked the Summit's alternate itinerary for next year! What a great way to beat the post-vacation slump....just plan another one!