This was our third Celebrity Cruise and we're pretty much sold that this company is for us. This was also our second trip aboard the Summit. We cruised on it last Christmas in 2012 and found it to be a fabulous trip.
We're also Aqua Class enthusiasts. We love dining in Blu and the extras that come with Aqua Class are wonderful. We used to frequent NCL, but didn't care for their numerous sales-pitches and mass-dining. Celebrity seems more intimate and there aren't as many families with screaming, rude children. Celebrity just seems a bit more "sophisticated" which is the way I like to travel.
Dining in Aqua Class at Blu is truly a privilege. The service is stellar and the whole experience is intimate and relaxing. My husband loves cruising, but hates dressing up for formal nights. Blu never requires passengers to dress formal, so he loves that.
The Summit pool area is spacious and we really loved spending time out there.
Our stateroom was comfortable, roomy (for a boat!), and Bran & Grigorio, our stewards did a wonderful job keeping it clean. Grigorio also opened the panel between our room and my cousins' out on the Balcony. This was really nice, enabling us to sit out there together for wine and good times, especially at night. It does seem that Celebrity is now having its Aqua Class passengers request canapes; at least on board the Summit. This was not the case 1.5 years ago when we first sailed on her. This was one facet of the trip that was slightly disappointing. We only received them twice, and they were both exactly the same. Celebrity is usually very creative with cuisine, so this was not a highlight. Also, to receive canapes one was supposed to fill out a card and leave it hanging on your door. One was also asked to be IN the cabin when they were delivered, which is absurd. Who is going to spend several hours of their vacation day waiting for the steward to show up with the canapes? Nuts!
We did experience some plumbing difficulty. The first time, the problem persisted for about 3 hrs., but we were told it was being taken care of. We had to use bathroom facilities elsewhere on the boat. The problem was solved, but occurred once or twice more during the cruise for shorter periods. The Summit may be starting to show her age???
Showers in Aqua Class are really nice, with the HansGrohe heads and spigots. The bath products seemed to have changed since last summer, when we cruised to AK. I preferred what they used to have. The bed was wonderful and the linens were top-notch.
I will say that we were really disappointed in one of the performances done by the main cast on this sailing. It was a Pirate review themed show called "Sirens", and it was hammy and ridiculous. Though the singing was alright, whoever produced it did a very poor job. Some of the costumes were poor-fitting and the four people in our party all left wondering what on earth the show was about!
Our tour was called "Seeing Antigua by boat", and it was basically a circumnavigation of the entire island. First of all, the boat was WONDERFUL! It was called the "Excellence". After the dismal time spent on board the touring boat in Barbados, this crew was awesome. Friendly, helpful, very safety-oriented.
We saw Oprah Winfrey's home and Eric Clapton's. Stopped at Green Island for snorkeling and the crew made a sumptuous BBQ Chicken lunch. The beach where they stopped was the most beautiful tropical place I think I've ever been, water-wise. My cousin and I swam after snorkeling and had so much fun. It was like being on Gilligan's Island for the day.
On the Atlantic side of the Island, we saw Queen Elizabeth II's yacht at harbor and along the way, they'd point out things of interest. It was an all-day tour, but so beautiful and relaxing! Love, love, LOVED it!
The two stars here are for the TURTLES that graciously showed up for us, prompted by the food the crew offered them! That's the most positive remark I'm able to give on this excursion. And the turtles were stunning. Some were huge and one even paused to nibble on my husband's toe! They come in close, so be aware of that if you have small kids. They're pretty much harmless, of course, but because of their size, they can seem intimidating.
The boat and crew we had were another story. First off, they crammed WAY to many people on the boat. They proceeded with their usual safety talk, but didn't show where the life-vests were located. My cousin, a retired AF Colonel, politely asked for their location. One crewman sarcastically and loudly called to the Captain, "Ah, this man's asked the golden question!" Everyone expected an answer to which there was first, silence. Then, someone saw a bird or something and the Captain launched into another sarcastic response. We were never told the location of the life-vests.
Later, as we were approaching our snorkeling spot, I had the misfortune of asking the Captain a question regarding something he must have already covered and I inadvertently missed. He told me I should have been listening, and did so in a "smart-alec" tone. And that's what the crew and Captain aboard this boat was like all day long.
I couldn't wait to get off the boat and return to the Summit. I had more fun shopping for a brief time in Barbados harbor than listening to those very rude men!
We LOVE San Juan! It's fun to be able to fly into a port, take off from there and have so many more places on the itinerary to visit. It's a picturesque, old-world city with plenty of sites to see. My biggest tidbit of advice is to use TripAdvisor to locate good hotels. Some can be terribly expensive or really scummy! We stayed at the Coral Princess, and it was fine. Be sure to try Puerto Rican food. It's very different, and there are some excellent restaurants that will provide folks with their advice for first tastings.
We certainly learned a lot on this excursion. The overall Soufriere Volcano wasn't really the highlight. The highlight for me was a stop at Maranatha Gardens. I inquired if it was a Christian organization that had built/designed it. I was promptly told "yes", but our guide refused to discuss the organization at all, which I thought was just plain weird! Especially, since she spoke VERY openly and at length regarding the Rastafarian cult pervading the island.
There were several stops, some of which allowed for photo breaks off the bus. My husband and I found the island itself to hold stunning beauty, but the islanders certainly lived in miserable poverty. That much was clear. Also, the dogs we saw in villages were pitifully thin and lackadaisical. Made me feel so blessed to live in the USA.
The actual stop at Soufriere volcano was interesting, but there's not much to see. Next time, we'd probably go snorkeling or go on the Botanical Gardens tour. That being said, we did learn a lot about the island and enjoyed the tropical grandeur of plants we saw along the way. The Banana Plantation stop was especially interesting.
This was one packed port. No less than SIX cruise ships. They had trams running from our ship tot he dock. It was easier just to thread my way through the masses. Our snorkle trip was a big disappointment. They didn't even take us to a reef, but to a man-made wreck site that was way too touristy and didn't even harbor much sea-life. Right before getting out of the water, I saw a small ray, but nothing else too exciting.
Also, the boat used was so packed with people from two different ships, that some poor folks didn't even have spots under a canapy for shade. Several little kids were badly sunburned, despite sun-screen, and one was probably feeling really sick. It was not a good situation, and with what all of us pay for these excursions, we should be treated better!!!
One of my cousins did a bike-ride excursion he enjoyed. Said the bikes were a little sub-par, but the trip overall was thrilling, scenic, challenging, and fun.