Let me start off by saying that this was the first cruise that I have ever been on and the first time that I have been to the Caribbean. I really hope that this will answer any questions that first time cruisers have. I booked this cruise as a Christmas present to my boyfriend. We just graduated from college last May and he just (a week before we sailed) came back from active duty in the Army. We are a little younger (both 22) from the normal Celebrity crowd but we welcomed the quiet peacefulness of the ship. San Juan: We arrived in San Juan on Friday afternoon and checked into a local hotel in Old San Juan. We stayed at Da House. This hotel was perfect and cheap. Staying in Old San Juan made all of the difference. We walked around the city and explored the road between the sea wall and the sea. It was a blast. Later that night we got some local cuisine and hung out at a Salsa bar. The next morning we checked out of the hotel, left our bags with the front desk, and explored the fort El Murro. We took a taxi from the hotel to PanAmerica pier where the Summit was taking off.
Embarkment: The easiest thing ever. We were told to get to the pier no earlier than 2, but since there was no traffic our taxi got us there at 1:25. I thought that we might have to wait until 2, but we were welcomed on the ship right away with a glass of champagne. One thing that I have to warn you about though.... They take your picture twice before you get on the ship, and these pictures are used the entire time that you are on the ship....be warned that you will not look good in these pictures!
Day 1: The first stop on our itinerary was St. Maarten. We had no plans and no idea what to do there. We got off the ship wearing our bathing suits and planned to go to the beach. We just took a taxi to Orient Beach. The beach was nice but super crowded and everyone was trying to sell you something. Plus the taxi fare to get to the beach was super expensive. (Our dinner table friends took a water taxi to go shopping and then to a smaller beach....I think that they had the right idea) While at Orient Beach we went parasailing. We had never gone before and St. Maarten seemed like the place. It was super fun, but I don't know if we would spend the money to do it again. On our way back to the ship we drove through the downtown area...which we had no idea that it existed. We saw a bunch of shops that we wanted to visit but by that time they were closed.
Day 2: On day two we were in Dominica. At this stop we booked Levi Bumpiing Tours in advance. DO IT... This was probably the best decision that we made on this trip. The whole thing was beyond wonderful. We booked the shorter tour with the snorkeling at the end. Very satisfied.
Day 3: We were tired from the previous two days and since it was a short day in port we just walked around Roseau and checked out some local stores. There were people trying to sell you stuff left and right. Because there were taxi drivers everywhere we decided to head back to the ship early. We had explored everything and was tired of everyone trying to sell you stuff. Looking back I wish that we had taken a trip to Grand Anse Beach. You can get a water taxi for next to nothing and it would have been nice to have another beach day.
Day 4: We didn't get into Bonaire until 1:00 so we had a shortened day. We booked a tour with the Woodwind and had a good time snorkeling with the sea turtles. Any excursion in Bonaire with snorkeling is money well spent.
Day 5: This was our day in Aruba. We really wanted to book a snorkel trip to the shipwreck site, but Celebrity really dropped the ball. Long story short, all of the excursions that they had were booked and they refused to give any alternatives. We just took a taxi to Eagle beach and it was an uneventful day.
Dining: We chose the 8:30 seating for dinner. It was nice to be able to spend the whole day off the ship then come back, nap, take a shower, go to dinner without feeling rushed. Our waiter was beyond fabulous and he totally made our cruise. Overall: We got exactly what we wanted and more. The ship was huge and beautiful. Even though it was a full ship it didn't seem like there was masses of people on the ship. We felt very relaxed and comfortable the entire time on board. Neither my boyfriend nor I experienced any seasickness.
Advice: For a first time cruiser. Book the cheapest room you can with the best itinerary. I don't think that you will be disappointed. We originally liked a different cruise line with a different itinerary but chose Celebrity because it was a few hundred dollars cheaper. Maybe on our second cruise we will try a new cruise line but that will only be to gain a different perspective. ENJOY!