My husband and I really enjoy cruising and have been on several cruises on several different lines. We had sailed on the Celebrity Summit five years ago to Alaska and really liked the ship.
We chose this cruise based on its itinerary and were excited that we would be able to cruise the Summit again.
We flew into San Juan a couple of days before the cruise, to be able to spend some time wondering the streets of Old San Juan. We stayed at the Doubletree San Juan. The hotel was very nice, but is not near the Old San Juan or Condado area. It was a $20 taxi ride to get into the Old City. We chose to stay there because we are Hilton members and were able to stay free with accumulated points. It was very easy to get taxis there and we would stay there again.
On the morning of March 19, we left our hotel, to arrive at the Pan American Terminal. We arrived at 11:50, were given some documents to fill out and sat down in an empty section to wait our turn to board. We had not been sitting for a minute when we were told to go to check in. There were two other sections of chairs that were jammed full of people waiting, that had arrived before us and I wasn't sure why they weren't allowed to check in first. We just were lucky I guess.
We had checked in online, so all we had to do was give the check in person our filled out document, which was just asking you if you had been sick recently, give him our credit card and get our Sea Pass. This acts as your room key, ID and onboard credit card. We were on the ship by 12:10. Amazing!!
The ship itself is in need of a facelift but we knew that it is going into dry dock in January and is going to be upgraded to a Solstice Class ship. Knowing this, we kind of closed our eyes to things that needed repair. There are many areas along the rails on the perimeter of the ship that are rusted, the carpeting in many places is faded and much of the wood railing that you lean on around the edge of the ship needs to be resealed. Some of the furniture is worn, but not horribly and we noticed that some new furniture was coming onboard with us. That being said, the ship is very well laid out, it is very easy to get around and the spaces have been well used. We never felt crowded, even at the pool and at times we wondered where all the people were. We never had a problem finding an empty table at the buffets and we were always able to find empty lounge chairs somewhere by the pool.
There were many activities to keep you occupied if you desired. The ship offered various activities in one of their large lounges everyday that we were at sea. They were the same choices everyday however. We didn't participate in these, as we left the ship each day. They had additional activities on the at sea day if your wanted to participate.
On this ship they had an expert in forensics and there were hour long lectures each afternoon about various aspects of using forensics in court. There were also lectures about navigation and astronomy.
There were several lectures about choosing wines, as well a a couple of days where there were cooking demonstrations with wine pairings.
There was live music everyday in the afternoon around the pool deck.
Everyday there was a different movie in the theatre if you wanted to do that.
The entertainment in the evening was excellent! The Celebrity performers did three complete shows. The people performing were very talented and the five "stars" all had really good voices. The costumes were fabulous and there were many costume changes in each show. Within these shows were a pair of acrobats that have been with the Celebrity line for a while. They were also phenomenal.
There was a comedian that performed one evening and he was hilarious. He did a late night, adult show one other evening in a smaller venue that I wish we could have seen, but we needed our beauty sleep.
Another night there was a guest singer that was also wonderful. He had a large range and his voice was very pure and powerful.
The smaller lounges had an acapella group which was very good, a trio that played standards, and a pianist/vocalist.
The service was excellent. Everyone that we encountered on the ship was friendly and helpful. We called for an ice bucket change two afternoons and a new one was brought each time within five minutes and room service that we ordered one morning that was to be brought between 8 and 8:30, was on our table at 8:00. Our room steward was great and checked with us everyday to make sure we didn't need anything. We chose Select dining so we had a different waiter each night, but all of them were also very solicitous.
There were two formal nights and the rest were business casual. The majority of the men now wear a dark suit and tie on formal nights instead of a tux, but there were several men we saw in tuxes( my husband included!). Women still dress up on formal night. Not many in long dresses, but there was a lot of sequins.
Casual nights were khaki's and collared shirts for the men, and dress pants with nice tops or a casual dress for women. You didn't see anyone in jeans in the evening.
The food was all acceptable. With the exception of a soup at dinner, that wasn't very good, all the food was fine.
We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch everyday. There are plenty of choices. At breakfast they have made to order omelets, which I had most days, but the variety of food was great.
The lunch buffet also had many choices. Many people have complained about the amount of Indian inspired food, and there is some of that, but there are plenty of other choices. The pizza is particularly good.
We wanted a cheeseburger one day, so got lunch at the outdoor cafe by the pool. It was very good and there were also hot dogs, fries, onion rings and fixings for nachos.
We had dinner every night in the dining room except one night that we at at The Normandie Restaurant. The food in the dining room was good, but nothing was particularly memorable. The food was always beautifully displayed on the plate, the portions were perfect as there are so many courses and all of it was acceptably tasty.
There was also dinner buffet is you wanted and a sushi bar from 5-9 each evening.
Our dinner in The Normandie Restaurant was exceptional! It is an additional $35 per person but worth every penny. Everything we put in our mouths was superb.
The disembarkation process was very easy also. We had placed our luggage outside our stateroom the night before.(Be sure to take a carry on bag to place some items the next morning.) We arrived in a lounge at the time we were given to wait to get off the ship. We arrived a couple of minutes before our 9:00 time and were taken off the ship at 9:00. Once off the ship, you walk into a large warehouse where you pick up your luggage. The longest wait was to go through customs, which took about 30 minutes. Then it was to a taxi and to the airport. It was $25 for the taxi ride, including tip.
As an aside, be sure to sign up for the Roll Call Party. The ship held a very nice party for us. There was champagne and several crew members were there. There were probably 50 people there and it was fun to put names and faces to peoples Cruise Critic handles. The ship also invited everyone from the Roll Call to a bridge tour during our at sea day which was the highlight of my husband's day.
Tobago was the last stop on our itinerary and as it's not an option under port reviews, I'll review it here.
We chose to do the Argyle Falls excursion through the ship. It was a very nice 4 1/2 hour tour.
We left about 9:00 for the hour and 1/2 drive to the falls. Our guide gave us a lot of commentary about the island, it's history and what we were seeing on the way. Once we arrived at the falls, there was a 20-30 minute flat walk to reach the falls. As it had rained the day before, some of the dirt path was soggy and muddy. Once we reached the falls, you had to traverse a creek and climb over several large boulders. The guide was very helpful with that. The falls were beautiful and the pool below was a nice place to swim. The drive back to the pier only took about an hour as we were going mostly down hill.
We arrived back at the ship about 1:30 and stayed onboard.