Hi. We are first-time cruisers, and sailed on the Summit on the St. Croix-St. Kitts-Dominica-Grenada-St. Thomas itinerary. My husband and I are 50 and 51, but are very active. We have younger kids, which we left at home. We were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. Cruise Critic was so helpful as we planned our vacation. I especially loved reading other’s reviews so I hope this is helpful to someone.
We took a taxi to the port. Boarding was a breeze – took about 10 minutes maybe? No lines. We got there about 11:15, and were up on Deck 10 by 11:30. We wore our swimsuits under shorts and tees to board. We got some food in the buffet and enjoyed a nice table by the window. The buffet was not crowded at all. The food was decent – nothing special, but we loved the views. Then we walked back to the pool area and enjoyed that until about 1:30. They announced cabins available at 1, but we were enjoying the pool and were in no hurry.
Cabin 9131, Aqua Class
We were in Aqua Class, cabin 9131. It was beautiful. Our stateroom attendant Jose came and introduced himself a little while after we got to the room. We asked him to empty the fridge, which really didn’t get anything cold by the way. The best I can say that it might keep something from getting hot. We asked him to bring a cheese plate instead of canapés, not to bring the tea, and to bring us an ice bucket. There was not one in the room, but he was happy to provide it and refilled it each day without us asking. We received the regular canapés on Saturday, but had the cheese plate every day after that, which was wonderful. They left it in the room even if we weren’t there. When we got back from ports, we would stop and get a drink to go and take it to our room and enjoy our cheese plate and drinks on our balcony, overlooking the port. We would usually stay out there for sail away at 5, then come in to shower and change for dinner.
We had our robes and slippers, and all other AQ goodies in a white bag. We got our Celebrity beach bag the next day and it seemed like they gave everyone the same one. I didn’t see an upgraded bag. But I really liked the bag we got. It was lightweight, and the straps were long enough to stay on your shoulder. The robe was really heavy – I was wishing for something lighter weight. The towels were very plush and nice, but I wouldn’t describe them as oversized. I didn’t see a pillow menu, but we asked for and received promptly firmer pillows and a body pillow. The pillows provided when we got there were small and very flat, although there were 4 of them. We also received an extra blanket after asking. The room got plenty cold with the AC to please my husband, who always likes to sleep colder than me, so I used the extra blanket. We got at least 2 bottles of water a day. There were always extras sitting around the room. There was a bottle of sparkling wine in an ice bucket. We brought it to Blu on Saturday night. At first, the Maitre D said it was a gift and we could give it to someone else but that was it. But then he said he would check on it. Then the sommelier came and said we could exchange it for a nonalcoholic sparkling wine, which we did. On our account, there was a credit for the original “champagne” and a charge for the replacement, which cost a little less than the champagne, so we came out ahead and enjoyed the nonalcoholic champagne.
The room was immaculate – no shower mold, no peeling paint on the balcony rail – it was all beautiful. Somehow the room was always cleaned, bed made, toilet paper folded into a point – every time we left – at least twice a day. I wanted to bring Jose back home with me in a suitcase. We did get a towel animal one day. No noise at all from anything above us. It was a very quiet room. The overhang is really large, and sometimes it was annoying getting pictures, but overall we liked it because it was protected from sun and rain and we spent a lot of time out there. Yes, the shower door did leak a little - we played with it and figured out by the way you close it that you can reduce it to almost none.
I brought a Belkin outlet expander and that was indispensable. We most always had 3 devices plugged in, then I used my curling iron and the blow dryer each day. The blow dryer provided was okay, although it stopped working midway, and they had to bring another one. You do have to hold the button down continuously, so I brought some duct tape to tape it down, then unplugged the dryer when I was done with it. I just rolled duct tape around a pen to have a little handy through the trip rather than bringing a whole roll. The desk in the room makes a wonderful vanity – the lighting is great. So, I ended up storing makeup and hair stuff in the desk – there is storage underneath. I brought a hanging cosmetics bag with clear plastic pockets that stayed hanging up in the bathroom that worked out great.
With Aqua Class, you get access to the Persian Gardens, but we never made it there. We intended to, but we were too busy in the ports each day and with other things. We ended up saving money booking AQ over a standard balcony just because of the special going on at the time we booked. However, I’m not sure we would pay more for it? Perhaps we would try a standard balcony to compare next time, if we go on Celebrity again.
We loved the service in Blu. The Maitre D Mazy was great. We had Osvin as our waiter all nights except one when we got there later and his area was full. He was wonderful, as was his assistant Ganna. The presentation of the food, the size of the restaurant, the personal attention and service was all excellent. The food varied. Some things were great. Other times I wished we were getting the MDR food instead. For example, one evening we had Rib Eye. The MDR did as well, but they had potatoes and vegetables as side dishes. We had white beans – they were not good – but I don’t really care for most beans. I had read here that Blu food is not “healthy spa food”, but I disagree somewhat. I wished all week for more indulgent food. You could order the classic appetizers, entrees and desserts – Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, roast chicken, salmon, NY strip steak, crème brulee, apple pie a la mode, cheesecake. At one time or another we ordered all of these, except for the salmon, as we didn’t see anything we cared for on the Blu menu. The roast chicken was not good at all – the smallest chicken I have ever seen – and tough and chewy. My dh ordered it but they promptly offered the steak as a replacement when they saw he didn’t like it. In general, they were always offering something else if you didn’t like something, or if you wanted more. You would never have to leave hungry. DH jokingly called them “food pushers”. Mazy at various times offered to send a crème brulee and even a roast chicken to our room as we left if we were still hungry. On lobster night, Osvin offered a second lobster to dh, which he willingly accepted. Lobster was cooked well and drawn butter was offered, but not the flavor of cold water lobster of course. I loved Blu for breakfast although I didn’t care for their pancakes or the French toast. On the 2nd or 3rd day, I asked why they didn’t have waffles in Blu. That day and every day after they asked if I wanted waffles and I gladly accepted.
Formal nights in Blu were much dressier than I expected. Yes, it is still smart casual officially, but the majority of people were dressed up. My husband brought dark slacks and a button down shirt and wore that on formal nights. I wore black pants and a dressy blouse. Most people were in suits and dresses. I wouldn’t go so far to say we felt out of place, but I was glad we brought something a little nicer for those two nights.
Food - other
I was a huge fan of the regular croissants on the ship – very, very good. The buffet was okay – you wouldn’t go hungry but nothing that wowed me. I meant to, but never tried the pizza or the paninis. I was hoping for Indian food every day, but I only saw it once and we had already eaten at port so I didn’t try it. I didn’t try the sushi, but did find the mini sandwiches late afternoon and brought them back to the room to have with our cheese plate a couple of days. DH enjoyed the cookies. We went to the sea day brunch in the MDR. It was very pretty. We went about 10:45. It was busy but we had no problem getting seated and making our way around to whatever food we wanted. Again, no food that was spectacular but it was fun and we certainly didn’t leave hungry. The melon and pineapple all week was never ripe which was disappointing. In Blu, I figured out to ask for a bowl of berries which is not on the menu instead of the fruit plate. They were wonderful. In the brunch, the chocolate fountain looked great but they only had the melon and pineapple to dip which was not very good. I was wishing for strawberries and bananas. I only got snacks from Café Al Bacio once, and it was a brownie which was good. But generally there was a line of people getting coffee drinks and only one guy working and it wasn’t worth it to wait in line as they had plenty of treats at the buffet. We meant to try Bistro on 5 but never made it.
I don’t drink alcohol, but I love my Diet Coke, and also nonalcoholic pina coladas and other fun drinks. I splurged on the premium nonalcoholic package when we boarded. We had a lot of OBC to use. Overall, I found finding the drinks I wanted difficult and frustrating. There are no soda fountains or a way to get just a soda or even a bottle of water other than finding a bar and waiting in line. At the buffet there is only one small bar as you enter on the mid-ship side. Or you can walk out of the buffet to the back of the ship to the Sunset Bar. Either way, there was typically only one guy working. There were usually only 2 or 3 people in front of me, but if they were making a drink they took some effort, it could be awhile. Then too often by the time I got there, I found there was no Diet Coke. At the buffet bar, there was no Diet Coke at all 4 out of the 7 days of the cruise. I would then try the Sunset Bar, wait in line there, only to find out no Diet Coke there either. It was very frustrating. I had no problem if I was in Blu – they would somehow find them for me, even if it took a while. I had one bar waiter at the Sunset Bar assure me he could find one and was gone a good 10 minutes but finally came back and was unsuccessful. I did tell Guest Relations and they called the Bar Manager and assured me it would be taken care of, but I didn’t notice a difference. When I asked them where I could find a Diet Coke more easily they recommended Café Al Bacio which didn’t make any sense. That was even a longer wait because there was just one person working and they were making very time-intensive drinks for the people in line in front of you. If I had known it would be so difficult, I would have just bought a case of Diet Coke and brought it on the ship with me. My husband did not get a package and brought on some Gatorade. We had plenty of bottles of water in our room with AQ. I didn’t count to see whether it was just two a day or not, but we always had extras sitting around.
As far as nonalcoholic fun drinks, I had no problem getting pina coladas and drank lots of those. But not all the bars could make them. I went to the Martini Bar and asked what nonalcoholic drinks they had and they said none, which I thought was weird. When I pushed him on whether he could make anything at all for me, he came up with a fruity drink which was actually pretty good. The sparkling mint lemonade which I could get in Revelations and Rendezvous was good too.
Our roll call wasn’t huge but I met some very nice people. We had an informal get-together on embarkation day at the Sunset Bar at 5. Then the official one was Sunday at 5 in Cellar Masters. Not many people, but it was nice. There were several couples on the same Dominica Tour which was fun, and one other on the tour to St. John.
Overall Passenger Mix
Everyone was so very nice. I did not see any rude passengers, no elevator problems. I saw lots of please and thank you and politeness and helpfulness. Everyone seemed to be using the hand sanitizer, I saw no buffet issues – taking food and putting it back, etc. I saw no unruly kids. In fact, I only saw about 10 kids total on the ship. There were no babies in diapers in the pool, no kids in the hot tubs. No kids in the adults only area. Everyone I talked to was intelligent, well-traveled, and interesting. However, I will say that the mix was older than we expected. We are 50 and 51 and I felt the majority of the passengers were a generation older than us. I lost count of how many times I saw someone that looked just like my Dad. I had heard that cruises out of San Juan had a large number of locals. I didn’t see that at all. It must just depend on the cruise – offers being made, holidays, etc.
The ship was elegant, and very quiet. That was nice during the day. We both thought it was too quiet in the evenings. I heard no loud music, no rap, no techno - ever. The only popular music I heard was a couple of times by the pool in the late afternoon. Usually even the pool was quiet, and if you didn’t want to hear the band, you could go in the T pool area. I thought there would be a nightclub/dance club we could go to after dinner. There was not. You would have various entertainers going on for short periods – you would wander one place and listen for 45 minutes which is how long they played, then you could wander somewhere else and watch something else for 45 minutes. After a band played for a short time, they would then switch to Family Feud or some other silly game. You never got momentum where there was a place you could always go to hang out and meet friends and dance. The piano player and guitar player were excellent and very enjoyable to listen to for their short sets, in Michael’s Club usually. For the ballroom dancers, there was a low-key Latin Band in Rendez-Vous for a while most evenings. The floor was small but okay – they played some rumba, cha cha, salsa, even an occasional fox trot. It was okay. It did not have the energy of a salsa club, but good for a little dancing. The floor at Revelations on 11 was a sticky linoleum of some sort – awful for ballroom or swing if you wanted to spin, but there wasn’t much opportunity up there to do that sort of dancing anyway. They would have their theme nights there – 50’s and 60’s (which was packed), Motown, etc. We went up there one time for a “DJ party” and the music was old, too quiet – not what we were wishing for.
Sunday, St. Croix
We did the Big Beard’s snorkeling to Buck Island, half day. It was a gorgeous day. The Big Beard’s staff said we got a great day and we agreed. The water was clear and warm, the snorkeling was great. I had heard horror stories of large waves, strong currents, difficult snorkeling, but I didn’t experience any of that. Yes, much of the coral is dead, but there was a great variety of fish, including a nurse shark. We did the half day thinking we’d rather eat a restaurant in Christiansted than a beach bbq. However, after we returned from snorkeling there really wasn’t much in Christiansted that interested us – it was Sunday and pretty quiet. We took the taxi back to Fredericksted, and just went back onto the ship for lunch at the buffet. DH went back into town and did a little shopping, but not much there. As far as other things to do, I heard Rainbow beach was small and crowded. The Gecko ATV tour had mechanical issues. So, I’m glad we did what we did, but not sure what we’d do if we ever go back on a Sunday.
Monday, St. Kitts
We took a taxi to Cockleshell Beach, Reggae Beach Bar. I think it was $28 plus tip. We got there early – about 9:30 am - and had our pick of chairs and an umbrella – right in front. $5 a piece – so $15 for 2 chairs and an umbrella. Beach service for drinks and lunch – it was very relaxing, but nothing fancy. Food was very pricey but you’re paying for atmosphere. We had great pina coladas here. They had clean bathrooms but again not fancy. We rented a 2 person kayak for an hour which was fun. Not much to see snorkeling. It got crowded as the day went on – most all chairs filled. DH got a massage on the beach. No problem finding a taxi to take us back which was a van with a shared cost so a lot cheaper. We left the beach about 2.
We did the Bumpiing Tours Rosseau Valley Treasures – which included Champagne Reef, Titou Gorge, and Trafalgar Falls and hot springs. It was really incredible, and we were lucky to get Levi himself as our tour guide. I loved all the stops and Dominica is a beautiful island. Not really beaches here, so you want to take a tour to the interior somewhere. I highly recommend Bumpiing Tours.
We went to Grand Anse Beach on our own. This was our favorite beach – long and beautiful. I had heard Umbrellas was good and emailed Umbrellas and they recommended taking a regular taxi right to their location so that is what we did. However, when we got there, there were no chairs available in front of Umbrellas. Either they never have them, or we were too early. We ended up walking back up toward the spice market in the main area of the beach and got two chairs and an umbrella for $15 right in front of Native Spirit Scuba. It would have been better to take the water taxi, which is what we did to go back. We did a 1 hour Hobie Cat ride/tour with Thayne from Native Spirit which was awesome. Very nice people there. We did have one woman who brought us drinks to our chairs early in the day and offered us a lunch menu but we weren’t ready for lunch yet. Then we never saw her again. To eat, we just got some snacks from vendors in the spice market area and brought them back to our chairs. We never made it back down to Umbrellas as it was a pretty long walk. As for the chairs, you just pick what you want, and a guy comes and collects your money. After Native Spirit, it appeared between there and Umbrellas the chairs were all for just the resorts. But where we were, there were plenty for rent.
Thursday, Sea Day
Sea day – slept late, had a snack in the buffet for an early breakfast, then hit the brunch about 10:45. Ate too much and took a nap. Spent the afternoon at the T pool and the outdoor pool. I can see why people like sea days – it was very relaxing.
Friday, St. Thomas
We wanted to see St. John, and we had OBC to use, so we thought a good way would be to do the Celebrity excursion Self Explore St. John to get the ferry there and back. However, it wasn’t as great as we expected. Celebrity advertised it as a 6.5 hour tour. When we purchased it from Shore Excursions they said it left at 9:30. However, we discovered after purchasing that you met for the tour at 9:45 and the boat eventually left after 10 and we were told to report back to the boat at 2:45. There was less time on St. John than Celebrity said there would be. Even though it was a good price - $35 pp – I would just do it ourselves next time. We could have gotten off the ship at 8 am and had more time on St. John. We took a taxi to Trunk Bay and planned on snorkeling. We did a little, but it was a yellow flag day and stormy which made the visibility very poor. It's a National Park, so nothing fancy. Bring a credit card or lots of money if you want to rent chairs or snorkel equipment. To rent two folding chairs and a pair of fins required a $50 deposit. You have to carry your own chairs to the beach. The beach even with only one cruise ship in town was quite crowded and it was a challenge to find a place to sit. But it is pretty. We went back to Cruz Bay and had lunch and did some shopping before taking the boat back.
We traveled with just 21 inch carry-ons and another smaller bag. A beach bag for me and a backpack for dh. We stocked up on a few things at Walgreens in San Juan – sunscreen mostly – that wouldn’t fit in the quart bag. We brought some travel laundry soap and washed out some things midway through the cruise. It worked out great actually. We mostly wore shorts, tshirts and swimsuits anyway. We chose “Self Assist” or self disembark. The instructions said to report to Normandie between 7-7:30 but we did not. We left the room by 8 then went up to deck 10 and got some snacks at the buffet and sat out at the Sunset Bar. Our plan was to check our bags at Barrachina in Old San Juan then walk to see El Morro before going to the airport for a 1:10 flight. DH didn’t want to get to Barrachina before 9 as that is when they open for bag check. We left the ship about 8:15 but unfortunately Customs was very slow and crowded. Somehow we chose the slow line and didn’t get out of the port until a little after 9. By the time we got a taxi and made it to Barrachina, it was 9:30. We hurried and walked to the fort, then got back about 11. We got virgin pina coladas in to-go cups and headed to the airport. From Cruise Critic, I knew to go through the USDA (agriculture) inspection first, but it is not obvious at all, and even our taxi driver didn’t mention it. Lots of people having to get out of other lines after waiting a long time, to go get their bags checked then come back and wait again. Ag check was very fast if you knew to do it. Line at Southwest to check bags was about 20 minutes. United was way longer. Time in the security line was average – about 20 minutes I’d say. Food lines were long in Terminal C and choices limited. We ate lunch then boarded our plane for home.
We had a wonderful time, and are definitely sold on cruising. The ship was not perfect for us, but most things were great. I’m not sure that a “perfect” ship exists. We loved that the Summit was smaller and never felt crowded. We felt pampered and the service was extraordinary. Almost every employee was amazingly friendly. You were always greeted, even passing a cleaning person down the hall. However, we wished for nightlife geared towards a younger crowd. And on my perfect ship, they would have a Diet Coke fountain that I could access anytime. We talked to others closer to our age that we met on the ship and they felt the same as us as far as the passengers being older than they expected and not enough nightlife to their tastes. Someone else also mentioned their troubles getting a soda on the ship. I would like to come back and do the other Summit itinerary. I think if we did that, we would probably try to go with friends and “make our own fun” as we will know there’s not much going on in the evenings.