We sailed the last week of February into March. What a wonderful way to escape the snow, sleet and cold of the US's Northeast. Ports: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Barbados, and Antigua.
We are a couple in our mid forties with no children. We cruise for the relaxation, warm and sunny weather, great food and wonderful service. We thoroughly enjoy that feeling of being pampered. Something that Celebrity never fails to deliver.
We flew down the day before sailing so as to reduce our weather induced anxiety. Good choice. Flights were canceled/delayed for much of our area about 6 hours after we took off. We stayed in the Radisson in San Juan. Clean rooms, nothing fancy. Had a family member with points so we went very inexpensively. Didn't land until 6:30 p.m. and after collecting luggage and catching a cab (not hard, many were just outside the luggage area looking for passengers...$30 for 4 of us) we didn't get to hotel until after 7:30. We checked in and headed right for restaurant in hotel. Sandwiches and wine were fine. Service was pleasant and served as a reminder to us New Englanders that life is not lived at break-neck speed in other parts of the world. Breathe in...breathe out.
After breakfast the next morning we ran a few errands to local Walgreen's and whatnot and after checking out at 11:45 we caught a cab and headed to the port. As has been our experience with every Celebrity cruise we've enjoyed (5 in total) we found embarkation to be a breeze. We were Concierge class and found our line to be empty and we were immediately processed. Note, do make sure you "check in" on line before leaving home. We basically showed a credit card, ID and we were done. Champagne/mimosas are always a nice way to mark the start of vacation.
Our cabin - Well appointed and comfortable, as we expected. DH and I had enjoyed the Summit in April of 2010 and brought my mother and her cousin this year because we so enjoyed the last cruise. We preferred this year's cabin as it was on Deck 8 and didn't have the early morning activity up on the pool deck. Our steward, (I waited too long to write this review...I'm blanking on the lovely man's name) was WONDERFUL. We mentioned him to the Hotel Director at the Select/Elite Captain's Club Cocktail party and noted his exceptional service in our departure survey so hopefully he'll get credit for the fabulous job he did. True to Celebrity's fine form, the staff maintain the level of solicitous and gracious service even on our day of debarkation. I've been on cruises where you feel like the staff don't see you once the tips have been paid on the last evening. Not so on Celebrity. The crew actually make you feel like they will miss you.
The food - Our moniker is "NE Foodies" because we thoroughly enjoy food. We ate every evening in the Main Dining Room, (Ronald and Oscar were fantastic!!!)except once where we dined in the Normandy. The dinners in the Main Dining Room were wonderful. Ma, Cuz', DH and I were joined by 2 couples who made for entertaining discussion and it was fun to run into them around the ship. If you like lamb you are in for a treat...they did a lamb shank and rack of lamb that were both out of this world. The Normandy is an experience that we couldn't miss. We love the old world civility and grace that this setting embodies. The food was to die for. The buffet always had something of interest and we never went hungry. Quick note - Based on reviews read here, for the first time we went to the Brunch Buffet in the Main Dining Room on our one day at sea. It was fabulous. It is a must do for anyone who has not.
Common Areas and Entertainment/Recreation - Our favorite spot on the Summit is the Thalosotherapy Pool. We spent some time there every day. The chairs are not quite as comfy as those found on Solstice. Maybe they will be one of the things "Solsticized" in January 2012. DH took advantage of engineering lecture and loved the tour of the bridge. I attended a lecture on opera and loved the galley tour. We enjoyed the comedian and the Broadway show was reasonably entertaining. What we really enjoyed were the musician's around the ship. Where else can you listen to classical, jazz, steel drums and brass all in one day? Love it!!
We got off the ship is every port and wandered a bit. We hadn't been to Barbados so we took an excursion to Orchid World. Drive was a bit too long but the garden was quite impressive and we did get to see a large part of the island during the drive in. While we love the itinerary we really don't need to hike, bike, row, rappel or even shop on every island. We just love the vistas from our veranda.
Disembarkation - Piece of cake. Upon arrival at our prescribed time in our assigned lounge we were immediately invited to disembark. Luggage was well organized and easy to find. The lines through customs were a bit long but moved steadily. Taxis were plentiful and we were at the airport in short order.
Overall, this was a stupendous trip. So much so that we have booked on the Summit for 2/2012. We look forward to seeing how the Solsticizing goes in 1/12 and we are eager to show this grand dame off to two friends who will be cruising for their first time. We know that Celebrity will live up to its reputation and earn two more fans.