We are a couple in our late 20s/early 30s. This was my 6th cruise and my 3rd cruise with my wife and I. I have been traveling on Celebrity since I was a child and our last two cruises were both Eastern Caribbean on Solstice and Carnival Liberty. After months of going back and forth about going on another cruise, my parents took the Summit back in November and raved about it. We went ahead and booked Concierge Class after they returned. I have always wanted to travel to the Southern Caribbean and knowing that we only had one sea day was the selling point for my wife.
The ship itself was pretty nice and well maintained. We went on Solstice 4 years ago and were on its 4th sailing, so we knew going into this that A) We were going to be on a smaller ship. B) The ship is going to be an older ship. C) It was not going to be this grand of a ship like the new Solstice Class ships.
I actually like having being on the smaller size ships, as MEGA ships and their crowds can get a little out of hand.
Flew into San Juan Friday early evening and spent the night @ The Embassy Suites near the airport. We used our Hilton Honor points and even though we had many choices to choose from, we chose the ES because of the free cocktail hour and breakfast. I'd rather deal with mediocre hotel food for one meal rather than spend $50.00 for breakfast at another Hilton resort.
Left the hotel about 1130AM and was at the pier within 20 minutes. We were through security and check-in within 10 minutes. It took longer looking around the Duty Free store next to the check-in counter than it did for us to do the above process. Once on board we went to the Ocean View Cafe for lunch and were in our cabins by 145PM
As stated earlier, we originally booked a Concierge Class cabin, but during a random Orbitz.com search on a Saturday morning in mid January, I came across cabins available on Deck 11 in Aqua Class for $100.00 less than what we originally paid. I called Celebrity and asked them if we would be able to switch. They approved and moved us to the new Aqua Class floor on deck 11. Since we had already paid in full we weren't able to get the $100 refund, but in return since it was technically a new booking to another class, we were able to take advantage of the 123 deal and chose the Classic Drink package which I will talk about later. Being on Deck 11 is like being in your own little world! It's well worth it.
The rooms looked brand new. Everything was very comfortable. The ONLY complaint we did have about the cabin was that it was just a bit narrower than other ships that we have been on. We were very excited to hear that the newer cabins on deck 11 had glass shower doors, as the curtains can get a little annoying. ONE word of advice, mess around with turning on the shower and adjusting the temperature controls before getting in. It took me about a minute to figure out what was what.
Since we were traveling Aqua Class we had access to Blu and only utilized it for dinner. We were very impressed with the dinner service and food in Blu. Being able to order something off the main dining room menu was not an issue at all. All of the servers and Maitre D were efficient and the Maitre D even knew us by our first names as we arrived at the podium by the second night. The only little snag that we had was the very last night. Our wait time was usually about 10-15 minutes max on an avg night. The last night we waited for about an hour. Yes we were hungry but we also agreed that along with us, everyone probably packed around the same time and all showed up at the same time. Not a deal breaker here. Things happen!
For breakfast we utilized the Ocean View Cafe and room service for breakfast. Pretty good selection of food in the Ocean View. Depending on the time of day you may find yourself "fighting" for your food, while on others it was not an issue. I'm a big poached egg eater and having access to the poached egg area was a definite plus! My only little gripe that I had about Ocean View was trying to hunt down a bagel or english muffin. They're hidden behind the croissants and you need to ask for them.
Lunch was OK. I'm not a big lunch person so the pizza station kept me happy and cranky free for the afternoon. The one thing that we both wished they had to offer was the Fish/Chicken/Steak cooking/grill station that they had in the evening for the lunch crowd. We scoped out the Aqua Spa for lunch one day and was not impressed. Very small portions and not a lot of options.
Afternoon snacks were good especially cheese and crackers with a glass of wine on the back of the ship about 430.
Room Service was key on. We're big breakfast people so I felt bad for the attendant that had to lug our trays of food to our room. Promptly on time. 90% of the time we got the phone call that our food was on its way within 5 minutes of the original requested time. Even when we did request something in the afternoon it took about 15 minutes upon ordering it
There were not a whole lot of activities that we took part of. We were on a port intensive cruise so we weren't on the ship that much during the day.
Celebrity prides itself on service and you know what? They did it again. All the employees were so friendly. We loved Bernard our room attendant. Every time he saw us he greeted us with our first names and asked us if there was anything he could do for us. One evening later in the cruise we were out late having fun, my sweet tooth kicked in, and I had a chocolate chip cookie fit. Ocean View was out and I did not want to stay up late to order room service. The next afternoon I went to Bernard and asked him, "Is there anyway you can drop off a plate of cookies tonight during turn down?" For the next two nights after I asked, there was a plate of cookies waiting for me when we returned to our cabin. HEY! It's the little things in life that matter and he went out of his way to help me out HA!
Waiters in Blu were great. Bar servers were out and about during the day, however most of the time we just walked to the bar and got own drink. The servers @ The Sunset bar were on key and very friendly.
DRINK PACKAGE: We really got lucky on this one. As stated earlier we upgraded to Aqua Class after paying for our cruise in full and was eligible for the 123 promo. We chose the classic drink package and it was well worth it. We are beer drinkers during the day and I was upset before leaving that they did not offer Michelob Ultra Light on the menu. Within 10 minutes of boarding the ship I found out, if you have enough people request that you would like that beer on board, Celebrity will do it. I guess they ordered over 25 cases of beer for this cruise and ran out on the very last day!
A lot of people debate over should I get the classic or premium package. Let me tell you, if you like Absolute and regular name brand spirits you're OK. If you can handle a regular glass or even bottle of 8.00 wine back home you'll be OK with the offerings. NOTE: If you are a Sauvignon Blanc drinker, it is not available in the classic UNLESS you go to Cellar Masters where they have a SB that falls under the $8.00 category.
The entertainment on board was OK. We didn't go to many shows the first few nights but we did enjoy The White Party @ the pool deck one evening. They also had a magician on board who was actually quiet entertaining but had to keep it pretty clean for the kids and those who get offended easily. The BEST night was Adult night in the theater. The Newly Wed/Not So Newly wed game and comedian following was very entertaining. I have read a few reviews about people complaining about the comedic being offensive. If you heard the Cruise Director say right before it started, " If you get offended easily...." that might be your que to leave the theater.
Lisa the Cruise Director and Manuel the Social Director do a daily TV show on the Celebrity Channel. At first we were like, "so cheesy, etc, etc" but by the end of the week we were actually laughing at their goof ball antics and really enjoyed them.
I did say earlier that our last cruise was on Carnival with another couple. The ONLY thing that I can say I REALLY missed from Carnival was being able to go out to the pool deck in the morning and watch Headline News on the big screen TV while having breakfast. Even catching a late night movie by the pool was missed just a bit.
Port 1 (St Croix)
We booked an non-cruise line excursion that took us to Sand Castle beach. For $25.00 you get 2 lounge chairs, 1 umbrella, & 2 rum punches. Not a bad deal. They also have a lot of cool sea glass that you can go digging for in the sand to take back home.
Port 2 (St. Kitt)
We paid for a non-cruise line sight seeing tour once we got off the ship...went to Cockleshell Beach. Awesome spot, great drinks, food, and service. A MUST if you want to get to an off beaten path beach.
Port 3 (Dominica)
We originally wanted to go to a hot springs spot that we found online, however the cab drivers seemed not to want to take us there. We were offered the island tour that took us around the island and dropped us off @ Emerald Falls. For $30 bucks a person and for what we saw, it defiantly beat the hot springs spot we wanted to do. The tour guide was great and we learned a lot about the island.
Port 4 (Grenada)
We paid for an on-board excursion: Glass Bottom Boat Kayaking. I recommend this for anyone who knows how to kayak or enjoys it. It takes a lot of work especially when going upstream in the ocean. The guide on the tour was great and we learned so much about the island from him. If you can get a tour in Grenada do it, the shopping center on site is somewhat of a disappointment.
Port 5 (St Thomas)
We have been to St. Thomas numerous times including spending a whole week there a few years ago, so we have seen and done just about everything on the island. We walked to town, did the shopping, and had lunch at Gladys' Cafe. Gladys is worth it! We planned on going on the Sky Line in the afternoon as that is about the only thing we have not done there. When we arrived: OPEN only 9-12PM. Yea, we were a little disappointed however we made the best of it and went to Fat Turtle Bar in Yacht Haven, had some drinks, and then went shopping at Haven Site.
Quick and Easy. Off the ship by 845 (Group 7) at the airport by 915. Lots of cabs waiting to take you to SJU.
Overall, we had a great time! Everything worked out great. The crew, the people we sailed with, and the islands worked out so well. Will we be doing Celebrity again? Of Course! I want to do the other Southern Caribbean itinerary next winter, but a Mediterranean Cruise on Celebrity next spring is taking priority over it.