We selected the Summit and the cruise because we were very aware that we may hate it, so only wanted to be on board a short time and go to places we thought were not particularly interesting and we wanted to be on a "top end" mid class ship - one that would have good dining, quite spots for relaxing and top class service as this was likely to attract like minded people as ourselves. We also carefully selected the date (although it was DH birthday so limited)it was not school holidays and the time is perfect for the carribean. Finally of course it had to meet our budget which it did and the 10% discount of the Classic Package was a winner for us! The experience on ship met all of our expectations and exceeded in others, we loved it and will definately do it again! I can only find one down side to the whole experience and that is the lack of local cuisine served on board. We stayed three nights in San Juan and were able to eat in the local restaurants and enjoy the cuisine of the area, Mofungo's, Tortillas, rice and bean dishes, as soon as we were on board we were into international foods (which was fabulous) but no sign of local dishes even as a small offering in the buffet section. We also had a lesson learnt, as we booked our three days in San Juan through Celebrity they organised a pick up of our bags from our hotel, this we thought was wonderful until we found out that bags picked up this way are last to arrive in your stateroom so we did not get our clothes until close to dinner time, I was panicking (as a first time cruiser) we were assured by the Concierge at 3.00, 4.00 and 5.00 pm that we should not worry, the last person did give us the confidence to go to the bar and chill, and as we were on the drinks package, got quite tipsy and therefore very chilled!! We were told next time to bring our own bags to embarkation and they get to your stateroom in front of the trucks that contain the hotel bags. We have done lots of land travel so I did a lot of research on what was available to do at each port, mindful that we did not want to miss the ship, so being newbies did not want to go too far from home!
We loved all the efficiency of boarding and and embarkation at the docks, in Bridgetown we decided to get off and walk around on our own, we found the Parliament building and were fortunate to be there in time for a guided tour, they were getting the place ready for a state visit from the Royal Family so it was really interesting. We also visited the Synagogue, tucked around the back of the main town, another interesting site, we were back on board for lunch and really enjoyed having the ship virtually to ourselves for the afternoon.
The next day we had booked a local company to take us Scuba Diving in St. Kitts (Steve's Scuba) worked really well, they were very explicit where they would pick us up (from the dock at the back of the ship) and they had all our equipment on the boat with them so no need to go to their shop, we then sped off for a 45 min boat ride to the Pitons where we did two great dives (DH only snorkels and he loved it to), and they got us back to the boat for 3.00 p.m. in time for Fish and Chips on deck and the boat to ourselves again!
The day after we were in Antigua and booked through Celebrity the Kayaking adventure which was great fun, we chose to go at Midday as it was DH birthday that day so we relaxed over breakfast in the MDR where he enjoyed eggs benedict and I had some perfect poached eggs. We were booked into the Normandie for dinner that night for his special birthday and it was great, the food was top class (we are british and visit France a lot and it met high French cuisine standards), super menu I had my fish filleted at the table, which was beautifully done, we were on the Classics drinks Package and the Semillion was able to source some fabulous New Zealand Marlborough white wine for me within the price range and a Merlot for my DH, and as in the MDR, the glass kept being topped up.
Next day we arrived in St Maartin, we opted to just wander around the town, took a ferry to the main town center walked around the shops, found a really wierd museum (Yoda) dedicated to Star Wars, we also found the local museum tucked around a small corner that had lots of history. We ended up in a coffee shop on the deck fronting the beach and then headed back to the ship, enjoying the ship to ourselves in the afternoon.
Last day was St Thomas and we took an open taxi to Sapphire beach, we hired some deck chairs (no umbrellas but plenty of trees) did some nice chilling on the beach, it was crowed but there was enough room for everyone, had a couple of iguana's for company! We were on the beach for around 4 hours, enough for us and headed back to town and onto the ship.
Apart from the night at the Normandie we ate in the MDR every night, we shared a table with two couples who were similar in age and it was a fun table where we shared our experiences of what we did each day. We never missed a show, although before the cruise I had vowed never to do a show as its not something that would especially appealed to me, I think the fact that you could have your pre-dinner drinks served in the theatre helped me along! We thought the shows were excellent and we had two very funny comedians who performed on two nights and they were great. We also enjoyed Michael's Bar as they had such a great selection of beers (we are English after all!) as a place for pre-dinner drinks or a nightcap.
The weather was great, the ship did have a very gentle movement some nights which I found very comfortable to enjoy and one night I am sure I saw porpoises diving in front of the bow. Our cabin was super with a small balcony which was enough for us and all in all we had a splendid time, the staff were excellent, service in all the dining rooms brilliant and we feel totally spoiled, lets hope we can get to do it again very very soon!