Three friends and I (in our 20s and 30s) just returned from a Summit cruise to the Southern Caribbean. This was my fourth Celebrity cruise. I went on a Millennium cruise in the Mediterranean about 18 months ago and though the ship's layout was basically identical, I found the Summit to be better maintained but a little something missing that was on "the Millie." Maybe it was the European itinerary or the longer cruise but the service on the Millennium was warmer and more personal. Overall, though, I was very happy with our Summit cruise.
EMBARK/DEBARK: Both were a breeze. From taxi pulling up to card in the cabin door, about 10 minutes.
CABINS: We were in "steerage," the lowest cabin category on the lowest deck. The rooms were roomy enough, well maintained, and had plenty of storage space. Our complaint with the room was that we must have been located very near the galley and at all hours of the night there was banging and clanging of what sounded like carts and dishes. We had to sleep in earplugs about half the time. Our friends a few doors down the hall did not have the same problem.
SHIP: The Millennium-class ships really do have a great layout. They never seem too crowded (though the cruise was not sold out) and it is very easy to find your way around after a day or two on the ship. Not too big, not too small. We all fell in love with the solarium area with the thallasotherapy pool, cushy chaise lounges, and Aqua Spa Cafe. We spent most of our down time in this area where it isn't as loud (pool band was pretty awful) or windy (our at sea day was incredibly windy). All of the public spaces were well maintained and it seemed that the carpet was new, everything was freshly painted, etc.
ENTERTAINMENT: This was a somewhat mixed bag. The singers and dancers were overall the best I had seen on a cruise ship and the Broadway night was actually very good. (We are a hard group to please, living in the theatre district in New York.) The Elk Island Trio in the Rendezvous Lounge was fantastic. The special 'international singing sensation" (I can't remember her name) had a good voice but was way too cheesy for my taste. Maybe the older folks enjoyed her more. And the pool band was pretty god-awful. The first time we heard them singing we thought they were doing karaoke by the pool.
DINING: Overall, pretty good. I don't feel like Celebrity has gone downhill from past cruises. The food in the dining room was above average I would say with the soups, appetizers, and desserts being better than the entrees. I got the vegetarian entrEe most nights and those tended to be the best. The food in the Waterfall Cafe/Grill was, as usual, not awful but not great. Their pizza was pretty good and the grill station edible but that's all. The wraps/sandwich station hidden way in the back was very good, as was the Aqua Spa Cafe and the tea time sandwiches. We didn't eat at the Normandie restaurant this time.
SERVICE: A notch down from other Celebrity cruises. We really liked our waiter and felt OK about our stateroom attendant until we decided to order room service one night from the dining room and it was a big ordeal between our stateroom attendant, the room service folks, and our waiter (who ended up calling us in our room to take our order for the third time). Everyone just seemed really put out that weren't doing what we were "supposed" to do by going to dinner in the dining room. That is one thing that annoys me about cruising in general, if you miss a night of dinner or don't order all your courses everyone basically accosts you about it. At least that has been my experience. Overall though our waiter was great and our stateroom attendant kept our room looking great but was put out if we asked for anything extra (the room service, extra towels, etc). We also found this cruise to be pushier than most with the photo taking and the hard sell on wine courses, etc.
St Martin: Two of us did the America's Cup Sailing Regatta and two did the Loterie Farm zip line excursion. Everyone had a great experience. (Be warned: both of these can be a lot of work.)
Dominica: By far our favorite port of the cruise. You have to get out of the area around the pier (which is a little grittier than many Disney-fied Caribbean islands) and up into the rainforest. Dominica feels like an undiscovered Garden of Eden. We did a tour with Levi of Bumpiing Tours (highly recommended), who I found on the CC boards. We started at Titou Gorge where we swam through crevices into a cave with a waterfall—spectacular and like nothing else we had ever done. We went to the twin waterfalls, Trafalgar Falls, and walked down to the hot springs, fed from the volcanic activity of the island. We also visited Wooten Waven Sulphur Springs and ended with a snorkel at Champagne Reef. It was really cool to swim through the bubbles coming up from below the reef (again, volcanic activity) and we also thought the sea life was pretty good. Mostly we saw big fish (a good number of them) but also an octopus and a sleeping shark. This is an island I will go back to and stay a week. We heard some folks (mostly older) complaining about this island and from what we could tell they just stayed close to the pier or went to a beach. To enjoy this island, you have to get into it. Go up into the mountains (even though the drive is kinda treacherous) and wear your swimsuit and jump into the waterfalls and streams and pools. I think going outside of your comfort zone a little (hiking down to see things closer up and getting wet) is the best way to enjoy Dominica.
Grenada: We took a (kinda long) taxi ride to Magazine Beach/Aquarium Restaurant as recommended on the CC boards, but we were in port such a short time (and slept in a while) that it really wasn't worth the trip. We were only there about an hour and a half and the beach just really isn't that pretty for the long trip. It wasn't crowded but it was nothing special and there were lots of sand gnats and just seemed to far away to be worth the effort, though it was nice to see some of Grenada on the taxi ride. Next time I would go up into the rainforest here or go whale watching or just suck it up and go to Grand Anse Beach, which is supposedly really crowded but is closer to the pier.
Bonaire: This was my second favorite. We did the Klein Bonaire Beach Break excursion through the ship and the only complaint was that it was too short. We were only on the beach about two hours, which wasn't really enough time. The beach is very pretty and the water bright turquoise until it drops off about 15/20 feet (?) from shore. I would guess the dropoff is about 30/40 feet deep and there is great sea life all along the wall. We didn't see anything other than big fish and lots of little ones but the coral is really beautiful. There were a lot of people on this beach and a lot of people snorkeling but it was still enjoyable.
Aruba: We rented a car for the day (through Amigo Rent-a-Car, which went very smoothly) and drove to a couple beaches. Even though I saw only two beaches, I was a bit underwhelmed by Aruba after hearing about it for so many years. Our first stop was Eagle Beach, which was beautiful but super duper crowded and the second stop was Baby Beach. The water was pretty (and seems like you can walk for 15 minutes before the water even comes up to your waist). We drove out to Baby Beach (about 20 minutes from the pier?) because it was supposedly the best snorkeling. Granted we only snorkeled for a short time and it was very cloudy and we seemed to be on the tail end of an excursion of about 20 other folks snorkeling there, but I definitely didn't see what the fuss was about. My friend snorkeled way out where the rocks end and the little bay meets the larger ocean and apparently there was some better stuff out there.
The last day we did an excursion/airport transfer in San Juan, the El Yunque Rainforest tour. I thought it was well worth the minimal fee. Most of the tour was driving, though our guide was great and told us a lot about Puerto Rico on the drive. The rainforest was beautiful (especially the view from the observation tower) but after Dominica was a bit anti-climactic and without the same character.
Overall, the ship and Dominica made this cruise fabulous. I would recommend this ship and this itinerary.