Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by CTFireChief: Southern Caribbean on the Celebrity Summit
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Southern Caribbean on the Celebrity Summit
I arrived in San Juan on time via an AA direct flight from CT. Everyone in our group of 71 wasn't so fortunate (some chose a US Airways with a connection instead to save a few bucks instead) and they arrived on board just an hour or so before the ships departure! (Always take the non-stop, in the winter especially!)
My stateroom was a balcony cabin # 6036. It was spacious, comfortable, clean & well maintained by Neves, a fine cabin steward. There were plenty of drawers & closet space & the bed was comfortable. I had no toilet issues, but several of our group that had Concierge Level cabins did for a few days. After some pressure from our Travel Agent, who accompanied us, they were given $100 onboard credit & dinner in the Normandie for their inconvenience, which seemed fair.
The food was better than I had expected -it was outstanding actually. Though I would say that service in the main dining room (Cosmopolitan Restaurant) was slower than I More preferred (there was a lot of down time over a 2 hour meal.) The buffet was very varied, and was always very good! There were Eggs Benedict at the breakfast buffet each morning & sushi every day at 530p. There was also pizza & a nice pasta station available most of the day/evening. My favorite spot on the ship after we returned from excursions, & during our one sea day was the Waterfall Cafe Bar on Deck 10 aft. It's a great spot for sail away! Devon, the bartender was very attentive & friendly. The best part though, was that is where Charlie Butler, a guitar player entertained each day from 430-530p (and again at 10p.) I especially enjoyed his spirited poking fun at the "Flag Guy" who would come up from the engine room each day once we left port, to lower the Maltese national ensign off the stern. That was something to look forward to in & of itself! Kudos to the Celebrity Summit for hosting a terrific Superbowl Party in the Celebrity Theatre. Lot's of fun & food (& drink available for purchase.) Because of the Superbowl, they moved the first formal night to the following night (Monday.)
One of the things that I noted, and really enjoyed was the involvement of the ships officers' with the guests (& not like on Carnival where the officers are cruising the bars at night seeking out the female guests.) There were several events that many of the ships officers were involved in. "Dancing with the Stripes" their onboard version of Dancing with the Stars! Ships officers (male & female) would team-up with guests for a dance contest that was judged by an American Idol like panel of judges. The Captain, who could often be seen walking about the ship & also mingling with guest's, held a very informative Q&A in one of the lounges (with the Hotel Director & Chief Engineer on the last day.) Then there was the Officer's vs. Guests pool volleyball game. We won 2 games to 1! Lots of fun & all were very well done! It was a nice touch.
Entertainment was what you would usually find on any ship. Production shows were good -but nothing special. Guitarist Charlie Butler and the Piano Bar pianist Tammy Rafferty were really terrific! They only had one comedian, although he did appear on two different nights. His name is Don Gavin -& he was very funny! I do think they should do a late night comedy show, at least on one night. Singer/Musician/Impersonator Travis Turpin was pretty good too -but he should expand his repertoire with tunes that people are more familiar with. He is no doubt a talented guy though. They also had two dance bands (one Latin,) an Acapella Quartet, and a violinist/accordion playing duo, as well as a party band called Fusion that played every night. There was a movie theater onboard as well. And, of course a casino!
I really liked that Celebrity was not pushy with photos, drinks, excursions, bingo, in port shopping or really marketing of any kind. It was there, but not in your face. That alone will get me back! The cruise Director, Keith Cox was easily one of the best I've seen in nearly 20 cruises! He is very professional, always visible, and frequently interacting with the guests. This was Keith's last week on the Celebrity Summit, and when he returns from vacation he will be on the Celebrity Infinity doing Alaska (as will Charlie Butler & Tammy Rafferty -you have to believe Keith personally assembles a strong entertainment package for whatever ship he is on!)
Our Travel Agent put together a few private excursions for our group.
In St. Croix, USVI we did a catamaran/snorkeling sail on the Renegade by Cap'n Big Beards out of Christiansted (http://bigbeards.com/). We were picked up at the ship by bus, & transported across St. Croix from the pier in Frederiksted. After a brief "warm-up" snorkel stop along the way, our destination was the reef at Buck Island, a US National Park. Buck Island has a very healthy reef -the type that I've only seen previously while scuba diving. Buck Island is really a great destination. We saw much coral of many varieties, and plenty of fish including barracuda! We made a stop on the way back at a private beach area for a nice lunch of burgers, dogs, & Mahi-mahi, and of course rum punch!
In Bassterre, St. Kitts we did another catamaran/snorkeling sail (65' Irie Lime) with Blue Water Safari's (http://www.bluewatersafaris.com/) that included a snorkeling stop at Shitten Bay (where I saw an Caribbean reef octopus), followed by a terrific lunch onboard the catamaran, and then a few hours of beach time on Paradise Beach in Nevis. The beach was OK, but certainly nothing to write home about. The crew was excellent & it really was a great day! Rum punch-a-plenty! The marina with the catamaran was located just a short walk from the ship. (I did the scenic railway tour last time I was in St. Kitts, & would have done that again if not for this catamaran trip!)
In Roseau, Dominica I had set up a trip for 7 of us from my group with ExtremeDominica (http://www.extremedominica.com/) to go "canyoning." We were met by the owner Richard, who brought us to his shop in Trafalgar (in the rainforest) for equipment fitting & a short training exercise. We donned our wetsuits, helmets, & harnesses (& I rented a Go Pro helmet cam for $35) and headed to the canyons. They have great videos on their website of canyoning. They are very professional, extremely safety conscious & informative. It's an experience that I am very glad that I did! Thank you Richard, Jeffrey, & Nagi for the experience -& Liz for the great lunch after! All very well done!
In St. George's Grenada we used Sunsation Tours (http://grenadasunsation.com/) for a 7 hour island tour. Our driver/guide was Carl. He used a microphone, spoke clearly & was very informative. I'd definitely ask for him if I did this again! We went to the Goyauve Nutmeg Processing Station, Annandale Waterfall, Grand Etang National Park & Crater Lake, through the rainforest, Fort Frederick, and then a fabulous lunch at The Beach House near Grand Anse Beach in St. George's. We were supposed to stop at Grand Anse Beach, but time just didn't allow it. I do believe that we saw every single product that they grow in Grenada on this tour! Grenada is a great place to get gifts for friends/family. They sell sealed bags containing 5-6 different spices for $5. (All spices that you bring home must be sealed.) The #1 spice to buy in Grenada is Saffron, because it is very expensive back home. Grenada is a lush beautiful volcanic island. To this day, Grenadians remain very appreciative of Americans, because of our Marines & Rangers liberating them after a Cuban government backed coup in 1983 -where 18 US servicemen were killed, and 116 were wounded. A tour guide at Fort Frederick made sure that we knew that.
In Scarborough, Tobago we hired a taxi to bring us to Pigeon Point Beach. When we walked off the ship, the "hassle factor" was pretty high. Lots of pushy people trying to get you to take a taxi or tour of some kind with them, much like in Jamaica. They were insistent on our taxi ride being "two way" & wanted a time to pick us up (and I didn't want to have to leave the beach at a predetermined time.) After telling them many times that isn't what I wanted, we finally just walked away. We were approached by a taxi driver who said he'd just bring us there. His name was Curtis, and he was an off-duty police officer driving a taxi on his day off. He was very friendly, and he still offered to set up a pick up time, but was fine with "no." Pigeon Point was a nice beach, very shallow with a small reef to snorkel. I saw that many people took glass bottom boat rides there. There were plenty of places to buy food & a "Stag," the T&T beer! There were plenty of rest rooms & outdoor showers to rinse off as well. Oddly enough, when we were ready to leave Pigeon Point, he had just dropped someone else off & approached me to see if we needed a ride back to the ship! There would have been no trouble getting a taxi there, but we gladly accepted!
Unfortunately Celebrity uses the Pan American Pier -not within walking distance to Old San Juan. My return flight wasn't until 7p, so we stayed on the ship until about 1030A, then I, and others in my group took a taxi into Old San Juan, checked our bags at the Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan & walked around town for a few hours & then came back to Barrachina for a great meal before heading to the airport! A very relaxing day after a very active cruise!
I know it's a long review, but I hope that you'll find it helpful!!! The ship & crew were terrific (Captain said at Q&A Summit was going into drydock in January 2012 for updating) The itinerary was terrific too. I wish I did a back-to-back! Less
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