We are a senior couple, from the UK but young at heart! This was our fifteenth cruise and thirteenth with Celebrity.
We flew out from London Gatwick on British Airways, taking advantage of their new service to San Juan, with a stop off in Antigua. We upgraded to World Traveller plus at a very reasonable price. We had about an hour layover in Antigua whilst a new crew boarded but still got into San Juan at around 5.35pm local time which is about four hours earlier than flying via New York or Miami. On arrival at San Juan we looked in vain for a Celebrity Rep to help us with our transfers, after you collect your baggage at the higher level they then say you cannot take your luggage trolley further. Guess what? No Rep! We then took the elevator down to street level much to the consternation of the porters intending to take a taxi, at this point the Meet and Greet rep appeared! Her English was bad, but eventually she summoned a bus to take us to the hotel. We were the only passengers.
We overnighted at the Caribe Hilton where we have stayed before. As we were the only passengers check in was easy. It was a very nice hotel but big enough that we lost our way several times!
We had instructions to have our luggage out by 11.00am the next morning before a 2.00pm transfer to the ship. Having gone this route before we had different ideas, we took our own taxi to the pier at around 11.30 am. I'm not happy at leaving my luggage alone outside a hotel. On arrival at the pier our luggage was taken (have a tip for the porter ready, he expects it!) and within ten minutes we were checked in and aboard. We are Elite members so maybe our line was shorter. Then it was the usual welcome aboard glass of fizz and within 30 minutes it was announced staterooms were ready.
We had a Concierge Stateroom on the ninth floor, midships, near the elevators, an ideal position. Our stateroom attendant was Peter. Maybe Celebrity were a bit optimistic opening the staterooms early but within ten minutes Peter was back with all requests (cokes to go with our bar set-up, hairdrier, and a request to separate the beds, we sleep better in our own space!). Throughout the cruise Peter was so attentive, a super steward, always a smile for us. And let me tell you, that man and his assistant are heroes, they even managed to find a tiny earring clasp I had dropped without asking.
We did toy with the idea of switching to select dining, I prefer late, my other half prefers early but our table 452 for two was perfect so we stayed on early dining.
The first day we spent at sea. There were plenty of sunbeds to go round, we chose part shade but still managed to burn. We did'nt attend the brunch, maybe a mistake, but we had room service for coffe and croissants and did'nt feel hungry. The pool grill was good, burgers, fries etc. but I did miss the nachos and chilli we had had on Eclipse and Millenium. I love nachos! That evening we made our way to Michaels Club for the Elite happy hour, and were met by Graeme Kellehar, our Captains Club host. What an asset he is to Celebrity! I mentioned to him about a friend who had been on the previous cruise and certain things which had been arranged. By the time we had got to dinner Graeme was back with a different plan!
Dinner takes us on to the very subjective matter of food. The menus were almost identical to those on the Eclipse in 2010. I defy anyone to argue that there was not enough choice. The left hand side of the menu was standard, the right had the days specialities. I was pleased to see the shrimp cocktail was served again in silver dishes, the escargots were divine. Salad plates have grown smaller, as has the cheese option for dessert. But really, there was more than enough, I like the appetisers, soups and salad so very often I could not manage to finish my main entree. Desserts are no longer presented before ordering but that is a minor issue. I still think food was better under the Michel Roux banner but really there are no complaints.
Monday began the port visits which I shall review later. We had the pleasure of being invited to the Bridge for sailaway from Barbados. Sadly my dear one was suffering from too much sun so I went alone. Now, let me tell you that what happens on a cruise does not stay on a cruise! I got to the Bridge to be introduced by Graeme to another much sailed couple. Imagine my surprise when I recognised them as our table companions from 2002 on the Constellation, Ginette Gagne and her husband Laurance from Montreal!!! How strange was that! And please, if anyone knows them, please tell them to contact me, we missed each other on disembarkation.
Activities.....there were plenty...no need to be bored. As long time cruisers we just did our own thing.
Service was marvellous, everyone we met greeted us by name, how do they remember that? Our steward and our wait staff were top class.
There were very few children aboard and very few scooters!! I know maybe the day will come when I need physical assistance so I have every sympathy with those who do.
Entertainment, well we went to the opening show after the Captains welcome and it was very good and well presented. There was a nice young lady in Michaels Club later in the evening on the piano, but for anyone who has experienced Perry Grant...it was not the same! We just had a few drinks after dinner, and quite frankly it was a relieve to get to the stateroom around 10.30 pm and relax with a drink on the balcony ( we had stateroom set-up)
We dined at the Normandie one evening and it was superb. Graeme came along and presented me with a marvellous book..Excite the Senses.
The icing on the cake was that, after a previous hiccup, we were invited to dine on the last formal night on the Captains Table, hosted by Hotel Director, Sheldon Thompson and Food and Beverage Manager, Charles Manheimer. How proud was I!!!! What wonderful hosts, and the other three couples were wonderful company and so interesting. What a way to go!
So we come to the end of the cruise. We stayed on for three further nights in San Juan in the Condado area at the Conrad Condado Plaza. We were upgraded to a lagoon view room which was wonderful. It was nice to see San Juan but next time we will stay in the Old Town where so much was going on.
Now comes my only negative comment!!! We upgraded on British Airways on the outgoing journey and were routed home through Atlanta by Delta. We were assured by BA that we could take two pieces of checked luggage on both outwards and inwards and later were informed by email that we had been upgraded by Delta to Business Class on the return journey and the luggage allowance was the same. This did not happen. We had to pay $150 dollars for our extra two pieces of luggage (one was only a small bag but I was not inclined to repack at the check in desk) on Delta. They refused to accept us as business class even though I had it in writing threefold. At Atlanta I managed to upgrade for $120 dollars each on the flight to Gatwick but we got no credit for the baggage. That was the only sour point.
People say Atlanta airport is a zoo but we thought it OK even after paying $13 for a shot of pre-fly cognac. And they have smoking areas!!!!! Forgot to say, that as a smoker there was plenty of places to smoke on Summit which should not have upset other passengers.
Years pass too long and cruises pass too quickly. I loved every minute on the Summit. She was clean, classy, warm, welcoming and elegant. We sailed her maiden Caribbean back in 2001 and she was every bit as good. We are lready looking at cruises for next year but the choice seems limited for our time slot. I really hope we can stick with Celebrity. Loyalty brings great rewards.
So thank you Celebrity Summit, and all of you from the wonderful Captain Costas downwards. You did us proud.