This was our 4th cruise for my wife and I and our first cruise with our 5 year old. We have been on a lower-end Carvival and two Royal Caribbean cruises (Adventure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas). This was our first time with Celebrity. We were a group of 7 traveling with my parents and my sister and her husband. This was my parents first cruise so we thought Celebrity would be a good choice because it offered the best itinerary for the money at the time of our booking.
The ship itself was nice, it seemed rather big from the outside but once we got in it appeared more small. For the most part, the ship seemed clean and inviting but I did understand what other reviewers were saying when they mentioned that it still seemed dated even after its recent renovation. I was taken back by the whole decor. They have some very odd artwork throughout the ship which kind of made it feel "cold." Some of it when you see it will make you scratch your head and say..."what they heck were they thinking." Everyone tends to have a great first cruise and will often compare all their others to the first....which we often do. Our first, real, cruise was with Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Sea so we couldn't help but notice how small, underwhelming and muted things seemed to be on this ship. I often found myself wishing we would have taken my parents on Royal Caribbean for their first cruise but it ended up being nice.
Embarkation went really smooth. We had a 7am flight from Tampa to San Juan and arrived at the pier at around 11:30am. We went through security pretty quick and was able to board the ship right away but didn't get our room till about 2:15, which is normal.
We reluctantly selected an Oceanview stateroom because other people in our party didn't want to spring for a Veranda/Balcony. We were on the back of the ship on deck 6 which wasn't real bad but we did have to walk a lot. The bathrooms on Celebrity are bigger than what I remember Royal Caribbean to be but I think the staterooms are bigger on RC. It was my wife and I and my 5 year old in our cabin so it was a bit tight. We did ask our stateroom attendant, Max (who was awesome!!), to take the glass table out of the room so we would be able to move around...this made it a bit easier. Like I just mentioned, Max (our stateroom attendant) was fantastic. He was so nice and doting on my 5 year old ... it really made his vacation special...Thanks Max! Every time we turned around Max seemed to be there asking us if we needed anything. My dad joked one time that he doesn't ever have to open their cabin door because Max always seems to be there ready to open the door for him. Max was the attendant on all 3 of our cabins and all of us had phenomenal service from him. One night I guess Max saw us from coming from a distance and hid around the corner and jumped out when my son got close. It scared him (in a good way..lol)and both Max and my son laughed and laughed over that. Our last night my son fell asleep at dinner and didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Max. I mentioned this to Max while he was sleeping so I noticed that Max made a special effort to come to our cabin on our last morning before disembarking to see my son and say goodbye.
We ate at the main dining room (MDR) every night and had a pretty good meal each time. We took the liberty to order several entree's and appetizers so we got to try many dishes. There were a few that I thought kind of stunk but for the most part it was pretty good. People should avoid going to the specialty restaurants and paying extra because eventually I think the food in the MDR will suffer because of it....then the cruise value will decrease because your having to pay for good food...think about this folks! The food in the buffet restaurant was pretty good as well. I felt it had lots to choose from. In order to see it all you do need to walk around the entire place because the stations for various items are scattered. I over-heard people saying that they didn't have certain items but in all actuality they did. If they put everything in one spot the lines would be terrible.
I thought that the activities on the ship was a bit lacking compared to other cruises. They didn't really advertise much and some things got cancelled. My dad likes playing bingo and they eventually had it one night but I noticed the prize money was really low so the second time people weren't interested in it and it was cancelled.
I thought the service on the ship was pretty good, for the most part. Again we had fantastic stateroom attendant and MDR waiter and assistant waiter. I was shocked, however, how uninterested the staff was at offering alcoholic drinks. Other cruise lines really promote their "drink of the day" and even offer various souvenir glasses...Celebrity had none! We had to hunt down a waiter during the first show on the cruise because we didn't see any walking around. I remember on RC, waiters already had popular drinks made and walked around with them to get people to buy one. Another time, in bingo, I asked for a Caribbean Breeze (the drink of the day) and the waiter told me that there wasn't a bartender around that could make that drink ...only quick ones like rum and cokes...can you believe that?!?! In the MDR they didn't even walk around with after dinner drinks like Royal Caribbean does....very strange. The only logical thing I could think of as to why this was happening was the fact that maybe they sold a lot of the pre-paid drink packages and were trying to save money. If this is true, its better in the long run not to buy the pre-pay alcohol packages because it will limit the service and what they promote. Another disappointment was the lack of towel animals. Yea, it seems small but its an extra touch that kids and new cruisers love. Why they don't do this anymore is beyond me because it takes seconds to make one if you've ever seen them do it.
The entertainment was not the best at all. We were very disappointed in the musical shows. To describe them I would say they were a lot like the art work scattered around the ship....ODD! One show was like the typical, music of movies but it was just weird with a few popular songs mixed with some very odd costuming and singing. The comedian on board was great and we went to both of his shows.
Port 1 (St Croix)
We booked an non-cruise line excursion that took us on a snorkeling trip to Buck Island...awesome!!
Port 2 (St. Kitt)
We paid for a non-cruise line sight seeing tour once we got off the ship...again, awesome!
Port 3 (Dominica)
We paid for a non-cruise line sight seeing tour once we got off the ship...fantastic...loved it!!
Port 4 (Grenada)
We paid for an on-board excursion: Champagne Lobster cruise...very nice! Best lobster I ever tasted...but you only get half!!!
Port 5 (St Thomas)
We paid for an on-board excursion: St John Tour....very nice. I thought this was the most beautiful island that I have seen so far. We then ferried back to St. Thomas and took a taxi to Megans Bay...again very nice.
Overall, we had a good cruise. Luckily we picked a busy itinerary so we only had one sea day. The staff really went out of their way to make sure you had a good time and the service was great. This is probably the friendliest staff I've ever encountered on a cruise ship. The cruise lacked in its entertainment (music shows), the adult beverage offerings, and the little things like towel animals and souvenir glasses etc. It was a bit of a disappointment to go from a bigger ship like RC has to a smaller on like the Summit. If I went with Celebrity again it would only be for the itinerary.
Last think I wanted to mention, if you are wanting to just do a sight seeing tour I would highly suggest you just get one off-ship. They are 1/3 of the price and you get way more flexibility on what you want to see and when you want to be back and they are much less crowded!!...keep this in mind.