The ship was 90,000 GRT which made it easier to get around than a much larger ship like the Victory or Conquest. We were never that far from stairs or an elevator. We were midships on the third deck which was very convenient to the guest relations desk. It was also very quiet despite being right below the casino.
There was a fair amount less drinking and loudness than on a Carnival cruise, but I did find that Carnival cruisers were friendlier. Most everyone we met on the Summit was very friendly, but we overheard conversations that let us know there was some "better than you" attitude here and there. Actually, the Summit cruise was about two hundred dollars cheaper than a very similar cruise on the Carnival Victory last year -- the one difference being one more port of call on the Victory. Thus, Celebrity was a bargain, and there were some points where Celebrity did outclass Carnival. I don't remember Carnival providing a pitcher of water and a bucket of ice in the staterooms. The Celebrity cruise director (Damian) did not jump up and down about tipping and giving the ship a perfect score on the comment card. There are educational lectures about the islands and while there are a number of art talks basically centered on getting you to buy something from Park West Galleries, there are activities involving flower arranging or scrapbooking that didn't seem to have any monetary angle -- something that's hard to find on Carnival.
Mostly, Carnival and Celebrity were indistinguishable. The menus were very similar -- chilled soups throughout the week, lobster and baked Alaska on the last formal night, soda packages, and so forth. The professionalism and friendliness of the waiters and cabin stewards were superb on both lines. I suppose if a system works, there's no reason not to emulate it.
There were a few glitches. The ship had a problem with norovirus the previous week, so we were not allowed to get our own beverages and such for the first few days. (The norovirus issue also caused a long delay in embarkation.) What makes me a bit unhappy is that the same ship had a problem with the norovirus two months ago and that very week, a different Celebrity ship (the Mercury) had also experienced an outbreak. Maybe it's bad luck, but it seemed like the line is doing something wrong.
Also, the crew did not take the muster drill seriously at all. We didn't run into any first time cruisers, so maybe they figured it was unnecessary, but the crew members giggled and chatted. It was impossible to hear anything about emergency procedures because of all the jocularity.
The dining room was very loud, and made a bit louder with live classical music. (Actually the music in the atrium and the dining room was much, much less obtrusive than some of the blaring bands they have on Carnival, but in the dining room, it was still too much.) The wake-up call system is primitive compared to Carnival's. So, all in all, it was equal. Except for the apparent problems with norovirus, I suppose I'd be a bit more inclined to go with Celebrity in the future than Carnival if the prices were the same, only because there was less rowdy drinking and more activities geared towards enrichment.
This time we saw a lot of sugar cane fields, and it seemed less dry. We still haven't seen much of the beautiful "Gold Coast" and that would be something to see next time.
Our guide, Edwin, was a safe driver and informative guide.
One suggestion: Bridgetown has traffic jams, so allow for extra time to get back to your ship.
Barbados isn't an undiscovered paradise like Dominica, Grenada, or Tobago, but it seems like a developed, safe destination with beautiful water and beaches.
Dominica had had a bit of a dry spell, and wasn't as green as last year, but still worth seeing. Instead of Jaco (Jacko?) Falls, we went to Trafalgar Falls and Emerald Pool. The pool wasn't much of anything, but my mom felt the walk to the pool through the rain forest made the stop worthwhile. Trafalgar Falls was not bad, but it was a long walk for something that wasn't much better than more accessible Jaco Falls, however part of the problem could be that the lack of rain made Trafalgar Falls less spectacular.
Our tour also stopped at Morne Bruce which is a beautiful place to overlook Roseau and the cruise ships. A great five minute stop for pictures.
The roads in Grenada are some of the narrowest I've seen, but our driver was skilled and careful. The tour stopped at a spice estate which was basically a warehouse where we were shown various things they grow in Grenada including nutmeg, cacao, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, allspice, and so forth. Then we went to another warehouse-like building that processed nutmeg for export as well as produced nutmeg products. It was interesting, if not fascinating. It was odd that neither of these places had much for sale that would interest tourists although the nutmeg factory did have some expensive soap and oil.
We then went to Concord Falls which I might have confused for industrial runoff. Again, to be fair, Grenada hadn't had rain in three weeks, so Concord Falls might be much nicer at other times. Not much to buy there, but there were some merchants making jewelry with brown coral.
I'd really love to see Grenada again, but I'd do something that would allow me to take more pictures of the scenic vistas than to tour the spice plants.
Our driver, Mr. Cool, was very friendly and informative. (He said that a unique St. Maarten gift would be guavaberry liqueur.) The roads in St. Maarten seemed safe and smooth. The locals did not seemed desperate to make a sale and were invariably pleasant.
I think if we went back, we'd have a better experience as long as there was some sun. St. Maarten may not have lush beauty or a unique heritage, but I think it does have gorgeous water, beautiful beaches, and some fun jewelry shopping. I wouldn't mind going back, and hopefully it will be a bit less littered.