We are Elite Celebrity Circle members effective with this cruise. The Summit has two itineraries for Southern Caribbean sailing from San Juan during winter months and we visited St. Croix, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Thomas. We had been to all ports except Grenada previously, some only once, and some multiple times. I booked the cruise less than 6 weeks from sailing and there were many deals to be had since the ship had many vacant cabins in all categories. I booked a guarantee inside at a phenomenal price (much less than an average of $75/day and was upgraded to cat. 10 (2 levels) located near the guest relations desk immediately.
We booked air with Celebrity and were scheduled to connect in Chicago both ways with American. I had printed our boarding passes the day before flying (to be same day as sailing on April 12) and went about my usual last day packing etc., and discovered a voice mail on my cell phone after 10 pm on the way to bed that one of the flights was changed for my husband which was to arrive in San Juan after sailing time. Obviously, this was not acceptable, so we both called Celebrity and American trying to get flights together the next day. It was about 2 hours of aggravation later that we were finally both booked on flights on USAir connecting through Philadelphia (American did not want to book USAir, even though they had merged since it was not finalized). Long story short, we made our connecting flight, but our luggage did not and was due to arrive approx. 2 hrs. later on the next flight. We waited at the airport for the luggage when we would rather have been enjoying the ship, but Celebrity would not be responsible for getting our luggage to the ship. We had to take it personally to a truck for transport to the ship and we boarded a small bus. Embarkation was a breeze as usual and we were in our cabin in less than 30 min. with our champagne or Mimosa (love Celebrity). Luggage did not arrive until sometime between 6 when we went to dinner and 7:45 when we stopped by our room prior to the safety drill. Sailing was at 8. We always go to dinner the first evening at a specialty restaurant as Celebrity offers BOGO prices and we chose the Normandie Restaurant. Dinner was phenomenal as was the service and our casual clothes from traveling were accepted there as well. We had completed all but dessert and the waiter suggested we return to our table after the safety drill for it which we did.
Sunday was in St. Croix and we had done the snorkeling at Buck Island (highly recommend) previously so we elected to take a local bus for $16 RT to the port of Christiansted and walk around on our own. Some shops were open (this was Palm Sunday) and we stopped by a local restaurant/bar as well as saw some of the government buildings and a church after walking along the boardwalk. Visitor's center provides a local walking map. Went to dinner at our assigned 6 pm MDR table and met a family of 4 traveling together (elderly parents with son and his aunt).
Monday we docked at St. Kitts in the pouring rain, but the weather improved as the day progressed. We had booked thru Cruise Critic roll call a catamaran tour with Blue Water Safaris to Nevis and though we had showers later also, we enjoyed snorkeling and lunch onboard the cat before reaching Nevis. We were there for approx. 2 hrs. and there was a small craft type store/restaurant a short walk from the beach and another bar in a hotel in the other direction if desired. All in all, I wouldn't suggest going to Nevis, but we had been to St. Kitts before.
Tuesday was our third trip to Dominica, one of my favorite islands. We had tried to snorkel at Champagne Reef previously, but the water was too choppy, so we were anxious to try this again and booked a Celebrity excursion called Trafalgar Falls (which my husband had visited while I did a different excursion previously) and Champagne snorkeling. We viewed a Sulfur Springs site and drove to a parking area to walk to the Falls and on the walk, we came across a crab. There are two falls at elev. of 125 and 75 Ft. drops. Continued on to an area where we snorkeled (walking along a boardwalk for a ways, but then down on very large rocks, making walking in flip-flops extremely difficult). We snorkeled for about 45 min. total ending with Champagne Reef which is highly over-rated. There were small bubbles coming up from the sulfur area and you could feel the heat also, but overall, this is not worth going to above any other snorkeling site.
Grenada on Wednesday was our first time there and well worth visiting. We took another Celebrity tour called Grand Etang, Annandale Falls, and Fort Frederick, a 4 1/2 hr. tour to allow us to get back for lunch on board. This island is somewhat like Dominica (but better roads) with hills & mountains and many switchbacks driving through the countryside. We visited a Spice Estate (on the spice island) and the falls were unusual with ferns growing off to the side. We also stopped in the Grand Etang Park and saw Mona Monkeys and a lake from the visitor's center area. After stopping at the Fort overlooking St. George's, I asked the bus driver if he could drop us off several blocks away from the ship so we could walk downhill stopping to see things along the way so as not to have to climb uphill from the port and there were others who did the same.
It was probably about our ninth visit to St. Thomas (after a sea day where we participated in the complimentary galley tour and watched the ship's version of Dancing with the Stripes), and we decided to go snorkeling (sailing past "Frenchman's Cove" called now where we spent our honeymoon nearly 40 years ago) at Buck Island again (which has a shipwreck) and we enjoyed it as well as we would have enjoyed our other option of visiting St. John (definitely one of my faves) again. The Summit docked at Havensight area and upon our return from Buck Island and eating lunch on board, we did a bridge tour by invitation (we believe due to the Cruise Critic sign-up) with only a few others in attendance. Bridge tours nowadays are done while docked or anchored for security reasons (on all cruise lines).
San Juan on disembarkation was easy since we elected to take the Bacardi ship's tour as our flight left after 2:30 and the bus tour included a stop for lunch (not included) on the way to the airport. All pax were disembarked from the bus at the same location with our luggage. Tour was interesting and free samples were provided.
Review of ship -- public areas, cabin, service, entertainment, etc. This was our first Millenium class cruise and I thoroughly love the deck plan of the ship and we enjoy this size ship as well. Since this was a port intensive itinerary, it was not necessary to have a lot of activities, but there was no lack of them. Service as always on Celebrity was excellent, though our waiter in MDR seemed unsure of himself (probably recently promoted from Asst. waiter and his English needs improvement). There was only one problem with my steak one evening (tough and too well done) so I sent it back and got another entree. Normandie was the only specialty restaurant we ate at (see above embarkation day for review). Shows in the theater are as one expects and I went to the theater backstage tour conducted by two dancers and the production manager. Went to several functions in lounges and enjoyed them, but did not go to the comedian's show or bars to be able to review piano player or Martini mixing. Tried the gelato which was great. The house band Xtasea was very versatile and excellent (drummer sang as Louis Armstrong and lead singer did several known singers as well as Cruise Director Kyle was Elvis, among others). I discovered since I inquired from the Food & Beverage Director Martin Fowler at a Q&A session about a new program which was to be tested on the Summit several weeks after our sailing regarding the serving of food at the buffet Oceanview Cafe where pizza is always available and there is a station for ice cream/sundaes. The new program requires that guest place their order which will be served on a plate at their table, rather than everyone using the same serving utensils, thereby avoiding contamination should guest not sanitize hands or otherwise improperly handle utensils. I am anxious to learn the results of this new program. The ship is in excellent condition for entering service in 2001 and I would not hesitate to sail on her again. I loved the layout of the cabin, especially the bathroom which included adjustable/removable showerhead and large shower area with soap, shampoo and conditioner provided several times during cruise. Storage area in room was ample with a drop down bar for small items to be hanged as was storage in bath with shelves in cabinet under sink. Desk area has built-in corner area beside it for flat-screen TV, mini-fridge and drawer area. Luggage went under the bed. There are internet packages and wi-fi throughout the ship; we did not use the casino. Shopping on board included several shops with additional kiosks available in the hallways and some things on sale at all times. I used the fitness center early on the sea day and got a massage one port afternoon -- both were good.
Summary -- We enjoyed Celebrity as well as the Summit immensely and we picked the itinerary for the new port for us of Grenada, plus our faves. Embarkation was easy as well as disembarkation through customs and on to our tour. No complaints with the only down part of this cruise being the fact that there is no early sea day and the cruise critic meeting was on Sunday morning at 10 and most people were on a tour; however, we did attend with a few others and met the Captain, Hotel Director, Food & Beverage manager (previously met on the Equinox) and Chief Engineer and were able to ask individual questions of each. Can't wait to sail with Celebrity again (our fave line)!