Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Ferrelll: MIssed the ship but made it to the first stop.
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MIssed the ship but made it to the first stop.
The cruise on the Celebrity Summit was to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. We've been on 8 cruises before but have never been to the island of Antigua, Barbados, or St. Lucia. We like the shopping on St. Martin and St. Thomas so the itinerary was perfect. Normally we, like most cruisers, go to the departure port the day before the sailing. In this case I let the Celebrity agent talk me into flying into San Juan the same day. But it was still my decision. The ship left around 8PM that evening and the plane was to leave from Raleigh to Fort Lauderdale at 11AM that morning.
Well, everything was perfect. We boarded the plane in Raleigh on time and taxied to the runway. While we were about to take off the Captain came on the intercom and told us we had to return to the gate because of a bad thunderstorm in Fort Lauderdale, it was spring break and crowded and they only had one runway open. Since we were delayed from taking off two hours and we had a one hour layover we More missed the plane to San Juan by 15 minutes (the plane was delayed taking off). Celebrity was notified in Raleigh of our demise and they said they would track the trip from there on. We did have another plane to San Juan that would barely get us there in time but that plane was also delayed. Bottom line is that we arrived in San Juan around 7:30PM and by the time we got our bags we missed the ship.
Celebrity had a person meet us at the baggage claim who informed us the ship was leaving without us and that they were taking us to a very nice hotel (Condado Hilton) on the beach. We were to stay there overnight and Celebrity would take us back to the airport the next day to send us back to Florida (Miami this time) from there we were to fly to Barbados, which was the first stop of the Summit on Monday AM. The flights went as scheduled but we didn't arrive in Barbados until 10PM on Sunday night. After some minor issues in Customs we were taken by taxi to another very nice hotel ACCRA Beach Hotel and Spa. The next morning Celebrity had a taxi take us to the ship. Whew...we missed the first night and the day at sea but finally made the ship.
Once we got to the ship we waited a while for someone to come and meet/greet us. After getting through to the ship security someone showed up and gave us our keycards. And that was pretty much it. Not that we expected a musical band playing for us but maybe someone with a smile and someone to welcome us on the ship. We took our own bags to our room and decided to skip Barbados and tour the ship like we would have the day at sea. The room was nice and the balcony was big since we were on the suite section of the 6th floor. (in a balcony room not a suite)
We heard other people rave about the fun times they had on Barbados so except for the poor untidy area where the ship was docked we really couldn't judge the island. We had pre-scheduled an excursion tour of the island but when we discovered we would get to the ship after it was scheduled to leave I called to cancel it on Sunday. As part of our package we decided to get the GO123 beverage package. We tried to get a drink that day and were told our keycards didn't have the beverage package approval.
So we went to the Guest Relations desk. They looked up the beverage package in the file and gave us new key cards with it included. We asked Victoria at the desk about getting reimbursed for some expenses while traveling to Barbados. She said Celebrity would pay for taxi services but not food or lost time on the ship. She told us that it was not Celebrity's fault that we missed the ship. (Not in a friendly tone) My wife told her we had travel insurance that we got through Celebrity and asked how to contact them? She said we could get that information on the web. Well, the only web available was in the Ship's overpriced Internet Lounge which is reported to be very slow.
So the rest of the day we thoroughly enjoyed the ship and the pool and hot tub.
On Monday night we got a card in our room that said the excursion was cancelled that morning for lack of people and that we would get a credit to our room. The next day we stopped by the Guest Relations desk who said we should get the credit the next day (again we got the stone-faced representative) and they had no record of it. She sent us to the excursion desk who said since the excursion was paid for pre-trip we would get a credit on our credit card and not get a ship credit. Finally an accurate and straight answer.
The next stop on the ship was St. Lucia where we took the mini-bus tour to the two Pitons and the trip through the active volcano. The trip was fun and showed many beautiful parts of the island. It gave us some breath-taking views of the Pitons and the trip through the volcano and the gardens was well worth the time and the cost.
The next stop was Antigua where we booked an excursion to the beach. I forget the name of the beach but it was next to the Sandals Resort. There was a bunch of us from the ship and it got pretty crowded. They gave us a rum punch in a small plastic cup and the restrooms were clean and the water was perfect. The vendors carrying scarfs, hats and shirts walked by constantly so that was a negative. Overall the beach trip was a success.
The next two stops were St. Maartin and St. Thomas. We’ve been there before and had been on the island tours so we decided to spend the days in town. The shopping was good but we noticed that the stores had people outside the store trying to entice you to come inside. We didn’t remember those folks before on previous cruises. In San Thomas we took a mini-bus into town for a few dollars and caught one back. In St. Maartin we caught the water taxi near the ship.
The Summit appearance overall was above average and the food was average or slightly above. We had open seating but we never had to wait and it gave us a chance to meet other people on board. The wait staff was very accommodating and helpful. Like others the best deserts were the Chocolate Lava Cake and the Crème Brulee. We had them most every night. We enjoyed the shows and liked the theater. It was big and roomy.
Disembarkment went smoothly and this time our plane left on time. But be aware that the buses take you to the airport while your luggage goes on trucks. They take you to a non-busy gate where you wait for them to drop off the luggage. Once you get your luggage to have to tote or pull it to the other gate which is a good walk away. Luckily it wasn’t raining. Make sure you go through the luggage x-ray room first or they will send you back. Try to get Pre-Check In on your tickets if you can. It will save you a lot of time waiting to go through customs. Also, San Juan airport does not have free WIFI available at the gates so don’t be disappointed when you get there.
Back to the missed boarding. Since we booked through Celebrity they paid for the hotels and airfares to get us to our first stop. Taxi service was also provided. They didn’t pay for the meals or the “lost ship time” however we had travelers insurance that paid for our missed time on the ship and the meals we had getting to Barbados. So book through the cruise lines, don’t travel on the day of sail, and get the insurance. Overall the Summit was average compared to Royal Caribbean and a few larger Carnival Ships we cruised on. But the itinerary was perfect and we had a great time. Less
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