This was a first-time cruise for my husband and I, and we were celebrating 35 years of marriage. It had been some time since we had a vacation of this length and distance from home.
Pre-cruise we flew into San Juan, PR the Friday before departure and stayed at the San Juan Radisson Hotel. Not an "over the top" luxury hotel, but it certainly satisfied our need in an area where we had never been. It was close to a number of local restaurants, had cab service available to anywhere, and had a roof-top pool that was away from crowds and masses of tourists. The dining room was not quite what we had hoped for as far as food options, but it worked out considering the tremendous rain storm on Friday evening.
Saturday afternoon was a $20 cab fare to the port, and a manageable wait to board the ship. A line that moved along quickily to grab our cruise paperwork, passport, and credit card, and we were greeted with champagne as we boarded the ship. Let the adventure begin!
Since we had never cruised before, we were overwhelmed with the size of the ship and the many venues available to us. We were able to check into our room as soon as we boarded, and we quickly changed to head to the pool. We were met at our cabin door by our room porter (Reggie), who was very happy and accommodating. The pool was already crowded with passengers who had the same idea -- relax and await our sailing. A number of pool porters made it easy to grab a cocktail while we soaked up the sun and relaxed.
We had the late seating for dinner, so we lounged around until it was time to head to our room again in order to change for dinner. The main dining room was beautiful and we found ourselves seated with a number of other cruise passengers around our same age group and all looking for a relaxing vacation. The food options were wonderful -- one page of standard fare followed by a page of evening offerings -- and as much as you could possibly hope for as far as options and quantities. Just as our appetizers arrived, our ship set sail and my husband's eyes were like saucers -- "we're moving!" We came to love our wine steward, and he came to truly know us! Every evening he knew exactly what wine we wanted with our dinners.
It was a bit of a challenge getting used to "sea legs", but we eventually mastered it and began enjoying our time aboard ship. The lull of the ship's swaying made for an easy night's sleep.
Our mistake was not signing up for shore excursions before boarding the ship. We figured we could do the islands by ourselves, but were swammed with locals all offering to transport us to anywhere we desired. The first 2 days we were a bit disappointed we had not made plans for excursions. At that point, we signed up for island tours on the next 3 islands. We truly enjoyed 3 of the 5 islands that we traveled to, but would have loved all if we had set up excursions ahead of time and didn't listen to people back at home that told us we could handle arrangements on our own.
The daily newsletter left in our room made it easy to decide what to do each day, but there is so much to offered that it is impossible to do it all and still feel like you are relaxing.
- We enjoyed the Martini Bar daily. The bartenders were accommodating and very entertaining -- loved them all.
- We enjoyed the pool daily. Difficult some times to find a spot in the sun unless you reserved your seat early in the day. The pool could have been a little larger, but it worked for this size ship.
- We enjoyed the main dining room daily (and some mornings for a sit-down, hot breakfast too). We couldn't understand why we should pay for meals elsewhere on the ship when the main dining room had so much to offer.
- We also enjoyed the daily buffet -- breakfast some morning, lunch most afternoons, and daily Sushi before our dinner. The additional restaurants on ship are great, but not sure if we would spend the extra money for the offering.
- We enjoyed the Theater offerings every evening. The shows were great and cocktail service offered was wonderful too.
- Some of the extra activites we enjoyed: ice carving at poolside, vegetable and fruit carvings by a master chef poolside, the galley tour, Gelato station, and the many bars that offered cocktail service and some entertainment.
We were disappointed by the offerings of musical entertainment. Much of what was offered was Latin music, and we felt it must have had to do with our departure from San Juan. We were hoping for more diverse offerings -- standards, jazz, easy listening, oldies, etc. Even at poolside, we had hoped for a steel drum band and were surprised by the Latin ensemble that played daily. The musical entertainment was our major disappointment of this cruise.
Our cabin (outside view) was ample for the 2 of us. We managed to find enough storage for our belongings and stow-away for our luggage. Considering the little bit of time we spent in the cabin, it was just perfect for our needs. We were both totally surprised how the cabin space worked out so well for us.
Disembarkation was long and drawn out. Luckily we didn't have anywhere that we definitely needed to be on our last ship day. We were the last group off the ship and the line at Customs was very long as well. Once off the ship, we had to find a cab back to the Radisson San Juan for our last night before heading home. Again, the Radisson served us just fine. On our last day we took a tour of the Bacardi facility as well as a tour of Old San Juan -- a must for any traveler to San Juan! We truly enjoyed San Juan and would look to go back in a minute to see more of the island and the rich history here.
Celebrity Summit was a great ship for us based on our age group, the size of the passenger list, and the offerings onboard. We would definitely travel Celebrity cruise lines again. We are now sold on cruising!