Celebrity Summit Review
February 11 -- 18, 2012
March 4, 2012
We returned from our seven day cruise on the Celebrity Summit out of Puerto Rico a few weeks ago. This was a terrific cruise itinerary visiting five ports in seven days i.e. St. Croix, St. Kitts, Dominica, Granada and St Thomas/St Johns -- all wonderful & interesting ports. We had such a great time; I thought I'd write this review while our cruise experience is still relatively fresh in my mind. Beware; this review is a long one!
My wife & I booked this cruise in May, 2011 on the recommendation of our cruise specialist (Mrs. Bev Miles) with Carrousel Travel located in Minneapolis, MN - we consider Bev to be the best cruise specialist of all time - if you are considering a cruise, please call her. She told us Celebrity Cruise Line was refurbishing the Summit (launched in 2001) in late 2011 and it would be ready to sail again in February 2012. The ship's Captain told us Celebrity (owned by Royal Caribbean) spent over 20 Million dollars on restoring the Summit back to the beautiful ship she is.
Day One, Saturday, February 11, 2012:
We got up at around 4:30 A.M. so we would arrive at the Hubert H. Humphrey terminal by approximately, 6:30 A.M. Our air transportation was booked via Sun Country (air charter) out of the Hubert H. Humphrey terminal located next to the MSP main airport terminal. With this airline you cannot schedule your seating until two hours prior to flight departure without paying extra for window, isle, bulkhead and/or emergency exit seating & yes, you still pay $25.00 extra per checked bag. This prompted our decision to simply "get there early" and take the best seating we could get. We checked our luggage (received decent seating - together row 13) and our flight departed on time at 9.00 A.M. We are both in our 60's and I must say age is catching up with us. Our flight landed in St. Thomas at around 1:30 P.M. central time -- 3:30 Caribbean) approximately 80 people departed & were replaced by about the same number. During the hour it took for this stop, we simply waited in our seats. It only took about a half hour to fly from St. Thomas to San Juan. However, we were on the ground for another hour waiting for a gate to open for us. All together, the flight was approximately 6.5 hours.
By the time we got our luggage and took a cab to the ship, it was around 6:15 P.M. We were concerned as we had early (6:00 P.M) seating, fortunately it only took a short amount of time to present our documentation, receive our sign & sail cards & board the Summit. Check-in was the best ever; considering how late we arrived it was not surprising we were processed so quickly. We went to our cabin (#8151) balcony, cleaned up a little, deposited our carry-on luggage & went to the Cosmopolitan dining room. We were escorted to our assigned seating; A table for two and introduced to our head waiter (Mike Fernandez) from the Manila, Ramazon/Turkey and Kristiana from Russia. My wife & I agree, of all our cruises these individuals provided not only the best service we've ever enjoyed but also made us feel special and right at home. I can't say enough good things about them and hope Celebrity appreciates & rewards them for the hard work they do every day with a smile. By the time we returned to our room, our luggage had arrived so we unpacked, settled in and sat on our balcony to enjoy the view as we departed San Juan and sailed off to (St. Croix) our first of five stops. We were full, tired & happy so we turned in early to prepare ourselves for the next day; a full day of Caribbean sunshine.
Day Two, Sunday, February 12, 2012:
St. Croix, USVA
The summit has been remodeled with new carpet throughout, including staterooms & I believe our bed, bedding, bathroom and practically entire stateroom had been remodeled and updated. Our "king" size bed was not quite as comfortable as our bed at home (you always sleep better in your own bed) but it was none-the- less very comfortable. We turned in & slept so soundly we did not awake Sunday morning until 9:30 (still on central time) 11:30 Caribbean. We missed breakfast so we went to the Oceanview Cafe on deck 10 for lunch. The Ocean view buffet is outstanding not only for it's great variety of foods but the quality is above reproach. I really enjoyed their "carving stations"; roast beef, pork, ham, turkey, lamb (something different every day) is offered and delicious. Being from Minnesota (cold six months out of the year) when we cruise we enjoy eating outside, we found the Sunset Bar (deck 10 back of the ship) to be just the spot. FYI, smoking is allowed on the port side of this lounge so we ate on the starboard side & it was fine.
By the time we finished lunch it was already getting late so we decided to go to shore, shop for a while & come back to explore the Summit. From what we saw, St. Croix is a very beautiful island however, unfortunately we didn't get a chance to tour it as we would have liked so I am by no means an expert.
This was our 8th cruise - twice on Royal Caribbean, & Norwegian and once on Princess, Costa and Carnival however our 1st on Celebrity. I've read Cruise Critic reviews by passengers under the age of forty who seemed to be disappointed with Celebrity. I agree only in as much as if you prefer a younger group of cruisers, try Carnival!
We like early dining because you're done eating by 7:30/8:00 and you can still enjoy the 9:00 P.M. evening show in the Theater. This evening was the first of two "formal" nights and we were invited to meet the Captain and his staff in the theater at 8:30 P.M. The captain (from Greece) must be able to choose his own staff as most were also from Greece. My wife & I enjoyed a glass of complimentary champagne & toasted the Captain & his staff. After, we stayed in the theater to take advantage of the evening feature "Stars in their Eyes" which was a combination of singing & dancing. It was good, not great but entertaining. The show was over by 10:00 so we returned to our stateroom & turned in for the day.
Day Three, Monday, February 13, 2012:
Basseterre, St. Kitts, West Indies
Another beautiful day! Sunny skies and low 80's greeted us as we gazed out over the beautiful island of St. Kitts from our balcony. It is very Caribbean, tropical and lush. We made no plans to tour the island, instead deciding to simply go ashore and wing it for the day. We shopped at many different stores and purchased presents for our children & grandchildren. While shopping we entered the main square and while viewing St. Kitts version of "big ben" which is a four faced clock tower we were attacked by monkeys. That's right -- monkeys. We were standing there, minding our own business when out-of-the-blue two young native men with little monkey's dressed in diapers tossed one of them on my wife's head & another on my shoulder.
They immediately wanted to take photos of us with the monkeys. Neither of us are big "monkey" fans but we were surprised and caught "off guard" by the aggressiveness of these two men, we reluctantly agreed. As luck would have it, we didn't have any small bills on us so it cost us a twenty for the pleasure of having the monkeys crawl all over us. Beware, should you run into this type of situation just say no thank you & keep on walking. I can't believe, I let a similar situation happen a few minutes later when approached by another native who suddenly started to coat my arms & face with the gel from a fresh aloe plant. Again, it happened so quickly I didn't react fast enough to tell him to get lost. It cost me another twenty for a few photos of him; as he said making me "look ten years younger!" Again, please be mindful as you walk around the St. Kitts square so this doesn't happen to you.
After these experiences, we decided we'd had enough and returned to the ship. We went to the Oceanview cafe on floor ten, had a late afternoon snack and sat on a lounge by the pool for a few hours. There is a hamburger/hot dog place called the "mast grill" on the starboard side of deck ten by the pool which serves the best hamburgers we've ever had on board any ship. The burgers are 1/3 pounders, grilled to order with whatever condiments you desire i.e. bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, etc., served on a toasted bun. Ummm.
We returned to our room which as usual was cleaned to perfection, our stateroom housekeeper was a young fellow named "Bart." He was outstanding; in fact, my wife asked him if he wanted to go home with us. He greeted us daily with a smile and always asked if there was anything more he could do for us. If you're lucky enough to have him as your housekeeper please say hello for us.
We finished our day with another wonderful dinner and capped off our evening by seeing comedian Fred Klett perform in the theater. We suggest you see Fred if you get the chance as he is scheduled to perform on the Celebrity, Summit for the next few months. Fred's comedy act is clean & hilarious, the best act we've seen on board for a while -- enjoy!
Day Four, Tuesday, February 14, 2012:
St. Valentine's Day
Roseau, Dominica, West Indies
More sunshine & 80 degree temps. We awoke to look out at the beautiful island of Dominica from our balcony. Dominica is very green, lush and Caribbean tropical with rain forests & spectacular waterfalls. We decided to tour the island on our own rather than go through the cruise line. This was very easy to do, when we arrived on shore there were a number of local tour providers available offering a 4 hour tour for $25.00 pp. Note; A similar tour booked through Celebrity will cost you $45.00 pp. We had a terrific time on board a clean, air conditioned bus with five other couples. We took photos of the jungle greenery, flowers, waterfalls, mountain lakes & streams. Our tour guide & driver was born & raised on the island, provided a ton of information and he made several stops along the way i.e. the rain forest, water falls, & places of interest. I purchased a fresh coconut & drank the juice from it while discussing island history from the vendor -- a great experience. Note; It was sad to see how poor the people of this island appear to be, zero middle class, very poor or wealthy. Our guide mentioned that gas was currently selling for $6.15 per gallon -- made us realize, we don't have it so bad at home after all.
We arrived back on board around 3:30 P.M. and went to our room; showered, changed, got ready for dinner & relaxed on our balcony. When seated for dinner, every woman was presented with a complimentary Valentine's Day long stemmed rose -- nice surprise! We ordered champagne, toasted each other on the day, our vacation and time we spent together. We finished the day by attending the theater presentation of "Sirens" which was very similar to the show we saw on Sunday evening (singing & dancing) again, good but not great.
Day Five, Wednesday, February 15, 2012:
Granada, West Indies
What great weather! This morning we woke & gazed off our balcony to see the Island of Spice -- Granada, West Indies. The clear, sunny skies and beautiful turquoise blue Caribbean water invited us ashore. We had such a terrific time touring the island of Dominica the previous day; we decided to do a "repeat" of Granada today. Another wonderful breakfast buffet in the Oceanview cafe had us full, happy & ready to roll so we headed ashore. Again, we found a number of local tour guides available and eager to accommodate us. We agreed to a 3.5 hour tour with four other couples at a cost of $20.00 pp. (we thought was a good price) as compared to $45.00 PP. booking through the ship. Our tour guide & driver was a Grenadian native & he provided an excellent documentary of the island. The vehicle we were traveled in was clean, air conditioned and comfortable.
We made a number of stops along the way and met some very interesting people. One stop was a small spice vendor who demonstrated the preparation and benefits of fresh, handpicked Grenadian spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa beans, basil, saffron, clove and bay leaf/allspice. A really interesting stop & we purchased some spices to take home with us. Next stop was at an 18 acre, crater made lake (Antoine) which was surrounded by rain forest & park preserve -- beautiful. Our last stop was at a water falls where for a small donation you could watch young Grenadian fellows dive off the top of the falls into a small pool below. We videotaped this and marveled at the bravery and/or depending on how you look at it (stupidity) of these men risking their lives for a few dollars.
We returned to our ship by 4:00 in the afternoon, and went to our cabin to freshen up, relax and prepare for another terrific dinner. Note; If you enjoy an excellent "CrÃ¨me Brule" the celebrity, chef serves up the best I've ever tasted. I had it for desert every evening! We finished our day in the theater with a comedy presentation of one of Canada's favorite comedians; Mr. David Merry. Again, an entertaining performance! We returned to our room at around 10:00 P.M. & sat on our balcony for about an hour or so before retiring.
Day Six, Thursday, February 16, 2012:
Day at Sea.
We always look forward to our sea days and today was no exception; another beautiful day -mid-eighties, clear blue sky with a mild breeze. We skipped breakfast this morning as the celebrity scheduled a breakfast/brunch for 10:00 A.M. -- 1:00 P.M. In the Cosmopolitan room on deck four. We slept in and arrived at a little past ten to find what turned out to be one of the finest buffet dining experiences ever.
The room was packed with people trying everything from filet mignon & jumbo cocktail shrimp to any type of eggs, pancakes, French toast & basically everything you can imagine -- I think I gained about five pounds - it was worth it!
After this much appreciated treat, we returned to our room and prepared ourselves for a day of lounging around the pool, socializing and just plain enjoying our sea day. This evening was the 2nd of our "formal" dinners so we started getting ready at around five o'clock. We enjoyed a terrific dinner of lobster, crab & steak, topped by champagne and desert. We were full so returned to our room & changed into something more comfortable before heading to the theater for this evening's entertainment. Tonight, we were treated to two comedians; Fred Klett whom we enjoyed on Monday evening teamed with Dave Merry whom we saw on Wednesday evening. They were very good, but we were full and tired from a day in the sun so we returned to our room to relax on the balcony before turning in.
Day Seven, Friday, February 17, 2012
St Thomas, USVI
Our last day -- Where did the cruise go? We finished a beautiful week of weather with another glorious day -- sunny & mid-eighties. This was our 4th visit to St. Thomas which we think is one of the most beautiful of all the Caribbean islands we've seen. We decided to simply go ashore, shop awhile and have a drink at Senior Frog's which was conveniently located to where the Summit was anchored. We returned to ship early and spent our last afternoon relaxing by the pool.
On Friday (the last full day of your cruise) you must have your luggage packed and your suit cases outside your stateroom door by no later than 11:00 P.M. You are provided with color and number coded tags to place on your luggage so you can easily locate them the next day as you pass through customs. We sadly packed, cleaned up and went to the Cosmopolitan dining room for the last of our terrific cruise dining experiences. We shook hands with our friends; Mike, Ramazon and Kristianna who had taken such good care of us all week & wished them well. They truly were the best!
We finished our week as we started it with a trip to the theater. We enjoyed a final performance of all the singers & dancers who had entertained us this past week. We again enjoyed it & reluctantly returned to our state room to turn in early as we were asked to be "out of our stateroom" by no later than 8:00 on Saturday morning
Disembarkation, Saturday, February 18, 2012
San Juan to St. Paul
We were out of our stateroom by 8:00 A.M. but our number wasn't called to disembark until approximately 10:45 so we lounged by the pool until we had to leave. Our flight was not scheduled to depart until 6:00 P.M. After retrieving our luggage & clearing customs (which took about an hour) we caught a cab to the airport. Our game plan was to check our bags, get our seat assignments and take a cab to the Marriott Resort & Casino to spend the rest of the day. Upon arriving at the airport we discovered we could not check our bags until after 4:00 P.M. Rather than taking our luggage with us to the Marriott we instead hung around until we boarded our flight home at 5:45 P.M. To say we were a little disappointed would be an understatement! Oh well, another cruise gone by. Sorry this review has been so long but we hope it will help you. Happy cruising!