BACKGROUND: We have a group which travels together every other year to the Southern Caribbean. For this particular cruise, we added new people and ended up with 27 people. Ages range from mid-40's to mid-70's.
SAN JUAN: Best Western at the airport. We arrived at 8:00 PM and it was very convenient with just rolling luggage from the terminal to the lobby of the hotel. Room was clean and nice enough for a quick stay. We have been to San Juan several times and did not want to do any sightseeing especially since we arrived after 8:00 PM.
EMBARKTATION: Some of the people in our group met a great taxi driver when they went for dinner Friday night. So, they arranged from him to pick us up at the hotel for transportation to the pier. On the way to the airport, he stopped at a local grocery store so that we could buy water, wine and soft drinks. We arrived at the ship at approximately 11:30 and were checked in and on the ship within 45 minutes.
SHIP: After reading all of the negative reviews about the Summit, we were more than pleasantly surprised. Sure, the ship is showing a little age, but you really had to look for it! We were greeted with champagne and all of the staff was extremely friendly. Since we boarded early, we could not go to our cabins. We, therefore, went to the Waterfall Cafe for the lunch buffet. Before going there, we went to the Aqua Spa Cafe and nothing there really appealed to us. I will have to admit, I was slightly concerned about the quality of the food after our first meal at the buffet. When we had our first dinner in the MDR, there were no more worries. The food was actually quite good! Although maybe not as good as six years ago when we were on Constellation, but we thought it was better than the food on Princess and RCCL. Our waiters were not as good as some we had in the past, but they were nice enough. That was partly our fault because we had three large tables and we sat at different tables each night. While it was fun visiting with different people each night, we missed being able to develop a relationship with a particular waiter.
WATERFALL CAFÉ: This is where the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are served. The fried eggs, omelets and waffles were our favorite for breakfast. We tried room service for breakfast on the first day, but found the food to be lukewarm and not as good as the fresh off the griddle food. We also loved the sushi which was out at 5:30 each day. Oh, we have to mention the pizza and pasta - excellent! We did not eat dinner at the buffet so we can't really comment on that.
NORMANDIE: We only had dinner there once and it was unbelievable! I would definitely go there again and wish we could have worked another night in during the week. The steak and lobster was wonderful as well as the goat cheese soufflE.
AQUA SPA CAFÉ: This was my favorite place on our last cruise on Celebrity, but I only ate there once this time - just wasn't as impressed. The T-pool was great, though!
COVA CAFÉ: This place is awesome! Great pastries in the morning, sandwiches at lunchtime and tapas in the evening. They also had espresso coffee and tea. I am not a coffee drinker, but everyone seemed to like it.
POOL GRILL: The hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries were just ok.
CABIN: We, along with four other couples in our group, had our first aft cabins. They were amazing and we are not sure we can do any other cabin in the future. In our group of 27, we celebrated three birthdays during the week and the size of our balcony was perfect for parties! A few in the group would go up to the buffet and bring plates of sushi and other hors d'oeuvres. The only slight "bump in the road" was the fact that we didn't have a room steward for two days! We did have a nice assistant steward who didn't know what to say when I asked about our steward. He finally said that our steward had "checked out" and a new one was in training and would arrive in a day or so. Celebrity tried to cover up the fact that there was no room steward and I would have handled it much better if they had just told us the truth. They told us the assistant was our steward and he was "just shy". At the end of the second day, the supervisor introduced us to our real steward who had just flown in from Baltimore! We didn't lack for anything and the entire ordeal gave all of the people in the cabins near us a reason to laugh!
EXCURSIONS: We chose this particular itinerary because we love all of the islands even though we had been to them previously. There's always more to see!
ST. THOMAS: We took the cab/ferry to Trunk Bay on St. Johns. In reading about this trip on CC, we were a little concerned about getting there and back in time. We just made sure we were off the ship at 8:00 so we could catch the first ferry at 9:00 and it was all very easy. It was absolutely beautiful and definitely worth going. We caught the 1:00 ferry back and felt that we had plenty of time to enjoy the beach.
ST. MAARTEN: On our last cruise, we used Bernard's Tours and liked it enough to use him again especially since we had some newbies in the crowd.
ANTIGUA: This was our favorite day! We went with Creole Tours and had a wonderful day of snorkeling as well as having a terrific lobster lunch on the beach.
ST. LUCIA: After reading all of the wonderful reviews of Herod, we thought this was a no-brainer! Maybe it was like someone telling you how good a movie is and when you go, you just don't get what they liked about it! We found the tour to be boring and we think we just caught Herod on an off day! We had a driver on the van who said nothing and Herod came along to give us a history of the island. However, he spent most of his time on the phone speaking Creole and actually seemed bothered that he had to talk to us at all. All of the people who write glowing reviews about him can't be wrong, so we chalked it up to just catching him on a bad day.
BARBADOS: Previously, we have done catamarans on this island and really enjoyed it.. For this visit, we wanted to actually see the island and decided on Glory Tours. Without going into much detail, there was confusion about the cost and we had to pay an extra $44/person after we had already prepaid for two private tour vans. I definitely would not recommend Glory Tours!
ENTERTAINMENT: We were busy with excursions and entertaining in our cabin and therefore, didn't have a chance to take part in the various entertainment venues. We thought the Broadway type shows were ok but not great. Some of the people in our group really liked the comedian, but we didn't have a chance to see him. Also, there was a group of five (I think) guys who sang and everyone seemed to like them as well.
CASINO AND BINGO: As usual, we helped support the jackpots in the casino! We don't usually play bingo, but a few of us did this time. The only ones winning were the ones who had the computerized cards.
DISEMBARKTATION: Very organized and easier than on past cruises. One couple in the group used the service where you get off the ship at 7:30 with your own bags. They had an early flight to catch! Others had late flights and they took advantage of the San Juan excursion which is sponsored through Celebrity. They were pleased with that especially since their luggage was taken to the airport and they didn't have to worry about it all day!
SUMMARY: We have sailed on Carnival, RCCL and Princess with this being our second time on Celebrity (first Constellation and now Summit). We really like Celebrity as it just seems to be better overall.