This was our first Celebrity cruise, although we’ve been on numerous cruises before, primarily on Royal Caribbean ships. We are late-50s/early-60s and we prefer Royal’s smaller Radiance Class ships. Since Summit is that ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity cruise, although we’ve been on numerous cruises before, primarily on Royal Caribbean ships. We are late-50s/early-60s and we prefer Royal’s smaller Radiance Class ships. Since Summit is that same size and we loved the itinerary, we decided to give Celebrity a try!
I’d downloaded the app, filled out the on-line registration and had my express pass both on my phone and printed out. We arrived at the pier around 11:00. They began letting people into the terminal around 11:30 and the process was super fast. The odd thing was that they snapped our photos with a tablet. We’d uploaded photos and I could clearly SEE they were on the staff member’s device, but they took new ones. Not sure why.
We were offered champagne as we boarded. Neither of us really LIKE champagne, but it felt so classy! I really like that they let you go straight to your cabin and drop off your stuff. That’s a HUGE improvement. (Or maybe it’s always been that way on Celebrity??) The room certainly SEEMED ready, but our steward came by and let us know he owed us a beach towel, so maybe that’s why the sign on the door said that the cabin preparation was still in progress? We snapped the obligatory photos of the cabin and headed out to explore the ship.
We were in 3118. It’s among a group of cabins that were carved out of a conference room. Because of that, the windows in these cabins are enormous – practically taking up the entire wall and nearly floor to ceiling. These staterooms are located in a hallway just off the main lobby, but there was no noise. It was really a very quiet location. Our room steward, Neil, was just fantastic. Cheerful, friendly and accommodating. He could not have been more pleasant. I could see him doing well in other customer-facing roles, like customer service or excursions.
DRINK PACKAGE PRESSURE:
Other reviewers have said it and I will reiterate. The first few days, you will be inundated with sales pitches to buy the drink package. We chose not to purchase because it’s a very port intensive itinerary and we had $400 in OBC. As it turned out, we were unable to spend all that $400! We even added a specialty restaurant visit the last night, when we realized how much we had left over. We’re clearly not candidates for the drink package, so I’m glad we didn’t succumb to the pressure.
ST. THOMAS/ST. JOHN:
I booked this date because the itinerary originally included Tortola in place of St. Thomas. We had not visited Tortola in a long time so it seemed like the better itinerary for us. Ultimately, Tortola was dropped in favor of St. Thomas. I might have booked a different date had I known, but it was fine. We LOVE St. John, so we ferried over there. We grabbed a cab (I think it was only about $6) to the Peace Hill trail and took the steep but short hike to the ruins. The overlook offers incredible views. We got some amazing pictures. About ¾ of the way back down the trail, there is a smaller trail leading off to the left. It’s narrow, but easy to maneuver and leads down to Dennis Beach on Jumbie Day. We spent the day on the beach, snorkeling and relaxing in the shade on the beach. I don’t think there were every more than a half dozen people on the beach. Peace Hill is located between Honeymoon and Trunk Bay, so taxis pass constantly. Within moments of reaching the road, a taxi passed and stopped for us. No need to call or set a time in advance. We went to Cruz Bay and had lunch at the High Tide Bar, which is located on the water near the ferry station. It’s lovely there and the service, food (and drinks) are excellent. Unfortunately, my phone enjoyed it so much, it stayed there. I didn’t notice until back on the cruise ship. Customer Service on the ship kindly called the restaurant for me and the manager confirmed she had my phone. She took my address and offered to mail it back to me. It was waiting for me when I got home after the cruise. What GREAT people!! (I of course reimbursed them for their time and the shipping costs!)
TIP FOR ST. JOHN VISITORS:
We were the only ship docked at Crown Bay. All the others were at Havensight. We hurried off the ship to ensure we would have time to get to Red Hook for the 9AM ferry. The taxi drivers didn’t want to take only two passengers and we couldn’t wait for others without missing the ferry. Finally, the woman in charge of assigning passengers to cabs instructed a driver to take us. He was incredibly grumpy about the whole thing, saying he had no intention of rushing to get us there on time as he walked PAINFULLY slowly over to his van. I mean PAINFULLY slowly. He tried to convince us it was a waste of time and that we would NEVER make it by 9:00. Fortunately, we’d done it multiple times in the past, so ignored him. Despite his best efforts to drag his feet, we got there at 8:45 and had no issue boarding the 9:00 ferry.
We chose the “Circle Tour” with D&A Taxi. Having visited the island before, we just wanted a short visit to the French side during the morning, followed by a self-tour of Philipsburg via water-taxi in the afternoon. Our driver was very nice and knowledgeable and it was kind of cool getting a totally private tour just for us, but if I had it to do over again, I’d have done the Bernard’s tour again. All those cruise critic reviewers who rave about his tours are right. It’s the best. But we enjoyed our day. We climbed up to the fort in Marigot, which we had not done before. And we enjoyed the water taxi and the boardwalk on the Dutch side. We were able to eat lunch on the ship in-between, which was economical.
TIP FOR ST. MAARTIN VISITORS:
The French side of the island is recovering from the hurricanes much more slowly than the Dutch side, due to a lack of help from France. Don’t expect it to be the same as you remember.
I absolutely love this island. I don’t understand why so many cruise passengers dislike it. There is no Diamonds International. The only shopping is among the local artisans. For us, that’s better! We love the rain forest, the black sand beaches and all the breath-taking natural beauty the island offers. And we love touring with Levi from Bumpiing Tours! This time we visited the Emerald Pool and the Carib Village. It was a great day.
TIP FOR DOMINICA VISITORS:
Get away from the ship! See a world that is NOTHING like where you live. Enjoy a totally new experience. You’ll be glad you did!
You almost can’t do a southern Caribbean itinerary without Barbados. That said, it’s not my favorite port. It’s heavily developed and modern. The beaches are beautiful, but finding one that’s not crowded is difficult. We visited Harrison Caves on a previous cruise, which is an interesting thing to do on a cruise because it’s totally different than a beach day. This time, like on our last cruise, we went on Calabaza Catamaran for a day of snorkeling, great eating, unsurpassed service and the best rum punch you’ll ever taste!
This was our first visit to Grenada and we didn’t really know what to expect. I booked a private tour, in order to see as much as possible as the time we had there. We ended up being a tour of four, after our new friends were advised the tour they’d booked through the ship had been cancelled. We toured with a company called Tropical Adventures, owned by Vaughn Francis. Our guide, Mike, was OUTSTANDING! So friendly, entertaining, knowledgeable and accommodating. We went all over the island, stopping at Grand Etang Park (definitely interact with the Mona Monkeys – they’re incredible!), the nutmeg factory, the rum factory, the chocolate factory and Concorde Falls. The tour even included a great lunch at a little local restaurant. What a fantastic day!
TRIP FOR GRENADA VISITORS:
There is so much to see on this island! I found the chocolate factory particularly interesting, with lovely gardens in additional to an interesting process. Concorde Falls was beautiful.
- We did notice the sewer smell others have mentioned on several occasions, but it didn’t seem to hang around long.
- Air conditioning died a couple of times in the third floor cabins. People took to propping open their cabin doors to let in the A/C from the hallway. It was fixed relatively quickly both times, but was uncomfortable for a while.
- The wine selection on the ship is pretty mediocre. I think you can get some better wines in Cellar Masters, but in the dining room and at the bars, the brand they serve – at least in my opinion – is horrible. We like smooth, full-bodied red wines. The “house” reds are NOTHING of the sort. We ended up finding a wine we thought was pretty good called Excaliber and bought it by the bottle. I believe it was about $39, which isn’t bad for the ship.
- If offered the show “All McCartney” you should definitely attend. It was GREAT!
- The Martini Bar is THE happening place on board, but it can take a LONG time to get a drink there. The gentleman next to us referred to his drink as the 20-minute martini, based on how long it took to be served.
- The gelato shop is rarely manned. You have to go over to the pastry shop and ask them to send someone over if you want gelato.
- The Scoops ice cream is outstanding – nearly as creamy as the gelato. In my opinion, it make the fee-based gelato unnecessary.
- We visited Le Petit Chef twice. (We had a lot of OBC to use on the last day, so we did the other version of the show, Le Petit Chef and Friends.) I can relate to the sentiment that it’s not something you’d want to do over and over again (although we hugely enjoyed both shows), but it’s definitely worth doing! We loved it; it’s so unique! If they keep adding new shows, they can hopefully encourage repeat customers. By the way, we went to the early show both times and there were no children either time. Some folks have deemed it a “kid” event.
- Eddy was a great cruise director – friendly, funny and outgoing without being over-the-top.
- You can’t hear the captain’s announcements when in your cabin and the volume control knob does nothing.
- Also difficult to hear the announcements when in the Oceanview Café. It’s just too loud.
- The beds and bedding were absolutely the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced in on a ship or in a hotel. Really fantastic!
- The updates to the ship are really lovely. The cabins have plenty of storage. The sink vanity is a little narrow, but the sacrifice gets you a decent sized shower.
- People have complained about not having a little table in their room for room service. We had one – not big, but big enough
- As others have said, the area behind the Oceanview Café, near the Sunset Bar, needs more shade!! This is a pretty big deal as people LOVE to sit out there. It is hot and the sun can be blinding depending on the time of day. They really need some covering out there. This was the only part of the refurbishment I feel was a HUGE mistake.
CELEBRITY VS. ROYAL CARIBBEAN:
Which do we prefer?? There were a lot of things I really liked about Celebrity. The food and service is a notch above Royal in my opinion. And the beds…so comfortable and not at all ROCK-like. But we missed some of the events some passengers might view as childish or less upscale - like the belly flop contest, the 70s party, the piano bar and mini-golf. I would definitely cruise on Celebrity again, but with all other things being equal, I’d probably opt for a smaller Royal Caribbean ship. Read Less