This was our 6th cruise, second on Celebrity. We are a family of 6, 2 adults 4 children - ages 10-17. My husband really wanted to go on this cruise. I was reluctant due to the crazy time of year, higher cost of travel, and I just wasn't in the mood to cruise. Then we read the negative reviews about the condition of the ship and the food. So my attitude going in was reluctant at best.
Here are my memories of the week.
We arrived in San Juan on Friday night and stayed at the Embassy Suites in Carolina. Great choice. Big hotel, casino, free happy hour and breakfast, great pool. We walked to Metropol for dinner. It was packed with a combo of locals and tourists. We sat in the bar area and had great service and good food.
Saturday - everyone was excited to get to the ship. We ate breakfast hit the pool for about an hour then took a cab and arrived at the ship around 12:30. No lines, no waiting, and we were through security and ticketing in about 30 minutes. We were greeted with champagne and by 1:30 our rooms were ready. Impressive!
We had 2 AFT concierge class rooms. 7208 and 7206. This is our third time choosing AFT balconies and I don't think I can ever cruise without one now. The condition of the room was good. Roberto was our attendant and we saw him only 2 times. He did a nice job. The bathrooms were very clean, no sign of mold or loose tiles. Shower curtains looked new. The bed was comfortable, and the linens were good, but the blankets do need updating. The curtains, while dated looking, were in perfect condition. The balconies are huge - bigger than the staterooms. We had 2 chairs, 2 loungers and 2 tables. We could have fit 2 times the furniture and had plenty of space. I read people worry about privacy and noise in the aft cabins. I find these balconies to be very private and quiet - with no wind and no engine noise that some complain about. The only noise we heard was the bar band playing beautiful relaxing music during sail away from the ports and the peaceful rippling of the wake. We sat on the balcony at every sail away and enjoyed the beautiful views and music - by far my favorite part of cruising! As we pulled out of San Juan at night - YANNI was performing at the Fort. You could see the light show and part of the stage. Cool to see and a little extra flare for the start of the trip.
Our original plan was to get off the ship and go into San Juan for the day. But our kids wanted to explore the ship. So we spent a few hours just checking out every level with our 10 year old navigating with the map. The Summit is in excellent shape. We are seriously considering booking another trip on her soon to check out the changes that are coming. I have a great eye for detail and little things out of place and we were at no time put off or shocked by unsightly things. The ship is not brand new however and I suppose anyone who is disappointed must be comparing her to a brand new ship. We checked out every public area and were thrilled to see good things! No funky smells, no stains on carpets, one valance in the buffet needed to be fixed that I saw. The ship was very clean and classic - beautiful!
Food - I have read many complaints here about the food on Celebrity going down hill. We did not find that to be the case at all. We had dinner all but 2 nights in the dining room. Our servers Sheldon and Jose were excellent. Never missed a beat and were relaxed and fun with the kids. We found the steaks to be excellent on this trip - from the NY Strip in the dining room to the fillet in the Normandie - exceptional! The buffet offered great variety and we found most items to be very good. We live in the Chicago area and eat well - the Summit food was excellent.
Shows - we went to every show except Sirens. They were all family friendly and good. The comedians were both very good. We hit a movie one night after dinner and they provided delicious REAL popcorn - not gross movie stuff! We loved that! Alejandro was the cruise director, what a nice young man - good energy. We were both getting off the ship in St. Thomas at the same time and let him know that he was very good - and not annoying!!
Casino - spent a little time here. Nothing to write home about - so yes, I didn't win. Machines and tables were active but not overly crowded.
Shopping on board - always great on Celebrity! We did not do any high end shopping, but my daughter got a nice watch and purse.
Ports - We really enjoyed all the ports and did excursions at all of them. Snorkeling in St. Kitts (excellent) and St. Johns (very good), Whale & Dolphin watching in Dominica (excellent), Beginner SCUBA in St. Croix (loved it) and shopping in St. Croix - took a cab to Christiansted (many shops were closed because it was Sunday), Eco Kayaking in Grenada - beautiful island - excursion was just so so.
Complaints - not many! The amount of paper you get in cabin daily is extensive and we felt compelled to read everything. The only thing I really do not like about cruising is the constant badgering to SHOP. Celebrity does less badgering than most, but it annoys me to be constantly hit with the latest promotions in the spa, shops, in port etc. Like QVC on the high seas!
Compliments - We made friends with Claire Lin the photographer. She was so good at her job! We ran into her several times early in the cruise and after seeing the pictures she took of our family, we made a point to seek her out every night and ended up buying all the pictures we took! We found every staff member we encountered to be so friendly and pleasant. The level of service and the kindness of the staff really made our cruise!
Comparisons - My kids were initially disappointed that we were not going on Royal Caribbean again. They love the level of kid amenities on those ships. But after 1 day they had no complaints about the Summit. The spent loads of time socializing with the many kids on board, met new friends, stayed out WAY too late (ugh), hung at the pool, basketball court and played ping pong and had a blast. For adults - this is just my kind of cruising. NO crazy partiers, relaxing music and low key activities by the pool during the day, great food options, excellent entertainment options. Fun dancing, wonderful high end service.
Many things worked in our favor this trip. Great weather in the US made for easy travel both ways. No delays coming or going. This was really a great break from the stress of Christmas. We were forced to shop early and wrap everything before we left. Just so relaxing once we got there.
We will be back to Celebrity soon!