Overall, we had a fabulous time. The vacation had me at 85 degrees. Walking around in shorts, while it was freezing at home was heaven. We are 3 experienced cruisers, me(37), DH(41), and DD(4). The adults have been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian.
Pre-cruise hotel Flying in on Friday my daughter started running a fever. By the time we got to the Marriott Stellaris, she was miserable, so we called a doctor suggested by the hotel. The MD came in a couple of hours, diagnosed strep and we ran across the street to Walgreens for zithromax. As a result, we saw very little of the hotel outside our room. However, we were happy with our room and the MD.
The ship The Summit is a very elegant ship, easy to navigate, with appealing public rooms. For its age, the ship is in great shape. The only maintenance issues we noticed were some mushy spots under the carpet entering the Cosmopolitan dining room and our cabin bathroom needed some refreshment.
Entertainment A highlight of the cruise for us. We really enjoyed the band that played in the Rendevous lounge, while we had pre-dinner drinks. The production shows seemed a cut above the shows we've seen on other ships. I think having 5 singers really bolstered the quality of the shows. My DD was absolutely mesmerized by the singing and dancing. I missed the pianist, but the comedic juggler was very fun.
The cabin We were in 6026, which, although it is not apparent on the ship diagram, has a larger than average balcony. A very nice feature, as the standard balcony is tiny! However, we were so busy on the cruise we didn't get to enjoy the balcony as much as we wanted to. The cabin itself felt a little tight, though the bathroom shower did seem a little bigger than usual. Very quiet location, we never heard any noise at night. Pascoal, our steward, took good care of the room and was very unobtrusive.
Food We enjoyed the food in the Waterfall Cafe and Aqua Spa. The ship had a great selection of fruits and breads. I especially enjoyed the papaya (usually in the Aqua Spa). We also ate waffles every morning. Yummy! Be sure to get them fresh off the griddle, they lose a lot if they sit in the warmer. We never waited in line for more than a minute or two at any meal. Food in the Cosmopolitan was a little hit or miss. However, they were very accommodating about bringing out another entrEe or making any switches. Dinner in the Normadie was fantastic! Definitely, a highlight of the cruise.
Ports Busy, busy, busy! In St Maarten we did a snorkeling trip through Captain Alan. The weather was not ideal, we had some rain and the water was murky, but we still had a blast. Captain Paul took us out with his wife Carol, both were a lot of fun, very warm and welcoming. We coordinated with some others on our roll call (Hi, Bin and Mom, Jun and Jen), so we only had 7 on the boat ($420 for all of us, plus $60 for taxi, round trip). We just did some souvenir shopping in Dominica, most of the excursions were adventure oriented and not really appropriate for a 4 yo. In Grenada, we took a water taxi ($4 per person, one way) to Grand Anse Beach. We rented two chairs and an umbrella ($15) and played in the sand and water. Full service beach with lots of people eager to bring drinks, braid your hair, or sell some spices. A very fun day. In Tobago, we went to Pigeon Point (taxi $20 each way up to 4 people). We rented two chairs ($4), lots of free shade. Great beach, we took a glass bottom boat ride ($15 per person) to Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool. Also a full service beach, but be careful with your currency. Prices are listed in Tobagan dollars, make sure you ask for the price in U.S. dollars (roughly 5 Tobagan dollars to 1 US dollar). Port taxis also charge much higher prices than other, non-port taxis. In Barbados, we went out with Captain Jason on Shasa Catamaran ($70 per adult, $35 per kid, transport included). Awesome! We were under windpower the whole time, incredibly peaceful. We were the first boat to arrive at the turtle spot, so we were swarmed with hungry, friendly turtles. There were only 11 of us on the boat, four from our roll call (Hi, Jill, Charlie, Carol, and Dennis). My overall port advice... Be sure to bring lot of cash if you're not doing all your excursions through the ship, everybody prefers or requires cash. It's also a good idea to have lots of small bills, most places expect you to bargain and it's hard to keep to a lower price if you don't have correct change!
Fitness Center I went 6 times on the cruise and still managed to gain two pounds! But, I don't think I can blame it on the gym. The gym had lots of treadmills and elliptical machines, plus other assorted cardio equipment. Most had their own tvs, so bring ear buds if you like to watch tv while you work out. There were also a lot of nautilus-type machines and a small free weights section.
Embarkation and disembarkation Embarkation was very easy. We arrived at 12:30 and walked right on. For disembarkation we spent some time sitting around the ship before our group was called at 9:45. There was a long line for taxis, but mostly painless.