Summit Sailing - San Juan 2/9/08 This was my 2nd cruise (1st with HAL - Ryndam to Alaska last summer), and my husband's 1st cruise. We went with another couple (I met her on the Alaska cruise). Overall, the cruise was good. However, the ship is in need of refurbishment. All of us flew into San Juan a day early, just in case we had weather issues.
On Saturday, we headed over to the cruise terminal about 11:45am. We had to sit in plastic chairs for about 20 minutes until they began the embarkation process. Once it started, we were quickly 'checked in', and walked onto the ship. After having some champagne, we headed to the buffet, since we were told not to go to our cabins until 1:00pm. When we got to the buffet, we were disappointed that only the pizza section was open (and it was already 12:30pm). After about 15 minutes, other parts of the buffet were opened. What I don't understand is that the other days of the cruise, breakfast is open in the buffet until mid-morning, and lunch buffet is open at 11:30 or noon. How come on the first day of the cruise (which is the last day of the previous cruise - when breakfast is shut down at 8:30am), lunch wasn't ready by noon? Well, we finished lunch, and headed to our cabin.
We had a cabin on deck 2 with an outside window. Our friends had a Veranda up on the 8th deck. Our room was small, but adequate. Yes, there were many signs of wear and tear. The toilet seat had very noticeable nicks. There were marks on the walls of the cabin. But those things didn't affect our cruise. Our cabin attendant (John) was nice. When we got to the room, there were 2 'bath' towels. Now I am a relatively small person, but these towels were barely able to wrap around my body. I asked John to always bring us 4 towels, and he did. I also asked had him remove the items in the mini-bar/fridge. After checking out the cabin, we headed to the pool to relax. However, the pools were not open for swimming. There were nets covering all the pools until much later that afternoon. I don't understand why the pool was available for people to swim in.
Dinner the first night was open seating. We went to dinner with our friends, and sat at a table for 6 with another couple. My husband ordered a Murphys beer with dinner from the menu, and after much searching, the waiter came back and told him it hadn't arrived on the ship yet. Here are some other dining observations. The Aqua spa's lunch we all enjoyed. We would check out their selections, and then move to the other buffet to fill up our trays. The only thing we had from there for breakfast was some fresh strawberries (for a few days until they ran out!) For breakfast, I went to the omelet station on the buffet, and had a freshly made omelet. No complaints - it was good. My husband had waffles a few times, and was disappointed that on the last morning, the waffle station was closed. Why?? The best part of lunch was the guacamole from the Waterfall Grill (where the burgers are made next to the pool). The Caesar salad was also good. Most of the prepared foods were just OK - nothing special. Dinner in the Cosmopolitan restaurant was interesting. The first night we were at our assigned table was also the first formal night. We were at a table for 8, and only 4 of us were there. The Assist Maitre D' (Anslan? from Turkey) came over and told us that he would be assigning us someone to join our table the next night. He was very nice, and checked in with us during each dinner. Any special requests had to go thru him. My husband wanted Escargot, and Anslan put an order in for him to have it every night going forward (but not the first night at our assigned table). Our waiter (HR from Croatia was great!) We were always the last table to leave the dining room each night. I think HR was a little rushed to get his 3 tables served. Some of the sauces were too heavy and under-seasoned. One dish - pasta with shrimp, scallops and maybe had a heavy sauce that didn't go with the dish. The New York Strip was so tough that while SAWING it with my steak knife - I knew it wasn't the best cut. The steaks they served on the menu (tenderloin & petit filet) on formal nights were much better! The salmon one night was overcooked. I always asked for extra vegetables (broccoli and asparagus), and while they did bring them every night, they were well done. I had asked for them to be lightly steamed. My husband continued to have beer problems with dinner. He asked for the Murphys the first few nights, but they had to search each bar on the ship to find a can. Then they were out. He finally gave up and ordered Sam Adams. One of the nights, they served a spinach salad with dinner. This was the best salad with dinner yet, as the majority of the salads are composed mostly of iceberg lettuce. The night after they served the spinach salad, I requested it. Well, as it was a special order, I couldn't get it that night. But Anslan put a request in for the future nights. Even when I asked if they could just put some spinach on a plate, and I would have it with the dressing of the evening, I was told no. I don't understand why, as they have baby spinach leaves on the lunch buffet every day.
The evening entertainment on the ship was good. The Celebrity singers and dancer did a nice job. The comedian (Fred Letts?) was great! We didn't go to any movies, as they had been out for a while, and we had already seen any we wanted to see. We did not go to any of the night clubs or use the casino. The fitness center was OK. They could use some lighter dumbbell weights to supplement what they already have. A big issue in the fitness room was the lack of the purell wipes. Sometimes there was a container, and most of the time it was empty. There was never any Celebrity staff in the fitness room to ask for more. Once there was a spray bottle with some type of cleaner. There were purell wipe containers near the elevators going into the Waterfall Cafe. These were often empty. There were no purell wipes near the Cosmopolitan Restaurant or Aqua Spa Cafe. On HAL, there were purell containers all over the ship, and there was usually an attendant standing near them as you walked into meals to squirt it into your hand. Comments regarding time by the pool. Why didn't the pool butlers pick up the towels that were being blown all over? Or the towels sitting on chairs with no other belongings? It was also interesting to note that the people picking up cups from the bar, wouldn't clean up anything else. As an example, my husband had ordered a drink and finished it. Earlier he had a cup of tea. He placed his empty bar glass in the tea cup, and only the bar glass was picked up.
The only excursion we went on was the Wacky River Tubing in Dominica.We both enjoyed it. There were 18 people in our group, and we had 6 guides who kept us moving in the right direction on the river. The guides stopped us a few times to regroup, and kept us entertained with some jokes and cheers. We would definitely recommend this excursion. Disembarkation was fine. We changed our time to be in the last group off the ship, since we were headed to the airport for a flight just before 2:00pm. We managed to stay by the pool (closed for use), until the announcement came for all remaining people to disembark. In general, Celebrity was good, but Holland America is nicer, a little more upscale, superior service, and the food quality is better. If I hadn't gone on HAL last summer, I would have thought that Celebrity was great, but since I did, I could see the differences.