Spring Break in the Southern Carib on Summit: Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Tiki_Man

Celebrity Summit 5
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Spring Break in the Southern Carib on Summit

Sail Date: March 2009
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
Celebrity Summit March 7 - 14, 2009 Review

Background. My wife and I (42 and 48) along with our daughter and her friend (both 16) sailed on the Celebrity Summit from San Juan on March 7th, 2009. The cruise was fantastic. This was the 23rd sailing for my wife (Mary) and I, our daughter's 13 and the FIRST for her friend (it was fun to watch all the "new" stuff through her eyes). Mary and I did the exact same sailing last March, and enjoyed it so much we brought the girls this time.

We had regular Outside Balcony {7129} and girls were across the hall in {7123}. Note of interest, if you are bringing along a companion that is not an immediate family member and under the age of 18, you MUST have Passport AND notarized Letter of Consent from parents. Celebrity asked for and we provided this documentation at the check-in, they even rubbed the area of the Notary Seal to make sure it was an original. Worked out great, the girls had the inside cabin but would come over to our More room to watch sailaways. My lovely wife will also be posting a review that will be more indepth for items such as food, service and overall quality. This review will focus mainly on the itinerary, excursions and my general thoughts/opinions.

Flew from Atl to San Juan on Sat March 7th. Since we do not have to worry about connections, we fly the same day as embarkation to save on a hotel room in San Juan. Delta has several flights on Sat mornings from Atlanta to San Juan, we were on the 8:30 am (Delta actually had First Class seats available for $100 upgrade so I moved all 4 of us up there, it was great and very comfortable). A little delay out of Atl., got into San Juan around 2:00, took more than 30 minutes for luggage, but very simple getting a cab right to the Pier. Porters were there to take luggage and I was surprised at the number of people ahead of us that did not tip the Porter Master. I figured the $10 spent there would hopefully insure that my luggage got on board promptly. After the porters, Celebrity had a pre Check-in area where you filled out a form about any "sickness" prior to sailing. Then on in to the main Check-in area. No wait at all. While my wife was completing this task I went over to an area set up for Normandie Reservations. Asked for 4 for Wed Night at 7:00 pm and they said no problem. Very simple. Walked right on board and to our room in just a matter of minutes. I did proceed back off the ship to go to the Duty Free shop in the Pier lobby. Purchased 2 bottles of Wine, a 6 pack of Diet Coke and a 12 pack of bottled waters. Went back through Security with no problem.

Next order of business was to check on our Table for dinner. Went to the MDR station and he informed me that instead of a table for 4 as requested, we were at a table of 12 (YIKES). However, he showed me that there were 3 other families with teenage children and asked if we would try it to see if it would be okay. Table 449, waiter was Renato (whom we had as a waiter the previous year). We were tentative at first but it worked out great. Other families were very nice, the girls got along nicely and it worked out well. Muster Drill at 5:15 pm instead of late night is FANTASTIC. Seemed very organized, took about 30 minutes, but then we were done and could relax. Our bags were back in our room after the drill, changed for dinner at 6:00 and STARTED our vacation. Sailaway on Deck 10 was fun. Very Very windy, but we listened to the band, did some dancing and enjoyed the sights of sailing past El Morro. Must say that due to the Wind, the seas were very rough the first night. No problems, but did hear several people complaining the next day (oh well, you are on the open ocean, it might get a little rocky).

ITINERARY AND EXCURSIONS Sunday - St. Martin. Kind of a late night on the Sailaway, but we still managed to get up and ready for 8:00 am Mass in the Cinema (well, at least Mary and I made it, since the girls go to a Catholic School they "took a cut"). Turns out the Priest never made it on board from San Juan so No Mass, but at least we tried. Had a quick breakfast and then went to the Cruise Critic meet and greet in Michael's club at 9:15 am. A relatively small turnout, mainly due to Celebrity NOT putting out invitations to several of the people signed up. But still had about 20 people and it was nice to put faces with names and exchange stories. We have been to St Martin several times and decided to just have a beach day with some Parasailing for the girls. Got off the ship around 11:00. Went right to the Taxi stand, had a very nice van that took us over to Orient Beach. We walked left along the beach looking for a good spot for chairs. Picked out 4 at Bikini Beach. Unfortunately, too windy for any Parasailing, so the girls were a little disappointed but still had a good time relaxing on the beach. I swam in the surf for a long time, very fun body-surfing. The people at Bikini Beach were very accommodating, Restrooms were clean. The vendors were a little bothersome but not too bad. The sunbathing "sights" were minimal and overall it was a fun day (EXCEPT for the sunscreen). We decide to go back to the ship a little earlier than planned, but had no problem catching a taxi right out the backside of Bikini Beach. 3 other ships in port that day, so a little crowded on the pier put not bad. Went back to pool area of Summit to swim and relax. As we sailaway, the girls come over to our room and Callie, our daughter's friend is RED, RED, RED. Turns out she NEVER put ANY sunscreen on all day and now she is hurting. Actually turns out she has 2nd degree Sunburn and blisters on her face and shoulders. We took her to ships hospital, but they said just apply Aloe and Yogurt and it will heal. It did and she is fine, but learned a VERY valuable lesson.

Monday - Dominica We have pre-arranged to go with Levi Barron on the Rouseau Valley Best Hike which includes Middleham Falls, Titou Gorge and Trafalgar Falls. We have used Levi's tours previously, he is FANTASTIC. Ship arrives at 6:30, clears customs at 7:00 and we are walking off the ship at 7:15 to meet him at 7:30. We are a group of 13, supposed to be 15 but the last couple does not show up by almost 8:00 so we proceed (that couple ended up going with a later tour with another of Levi's guides). I have posted a rather lengthy review of this hike over on the Dominica Site. It was fantastic but very hard. Middleham is a LONG hike over very hilly terrain. Titou Gorge was much more enjoyable and easier. Trafalgar Falls was very crowded and there was a "local" enjoying non-legal smoking substances in the Hot Springs area. Levi ran him off and we were able to enjoy the springs and take lots of pictures. Coming back down the mountain we drove through the Botanical Gardens, up to Morne Bruce for Pictures with Levi and the ship in the background. Overall a very tiring but fantastic day.

Tuesday - Grenada Maybe our least favorite island. We had planned to make it a Beach day at Magazine Beach near the Aquarium, but with Callie's sunburn we decided against it. Slept late, big breakfast. Just walked through the Tunnel to Dot's Spices. Back up to the Fort for Pictures and then back on the ship. Must say that the local Guides and Vendors are VERY AGGRESSIVE and not a relaxing time right in the Pier area. The girls did indoor activities to stay out of the sun. We relaxed by the pool and enjoyed the Drink of the Day (and now have forgotten what it was). Had a very pretty sailaway.

Wednesday - Tobago BEST DAY OF THE CRUISE. I had contacted a private tour, Captain Peter with the boat Zoe. This is a small Jet boat out at Pigeon Point. Corresponded with Peter prior to cruise. He said to find a Taxi and have them call his cellphone for directions. Tobago is set up very nicely. Inside the terminal bldg are just a few Taxi Managers. They take your request and then find you an appropriate taxi. It was simple. Easy ride out to Pigeon Point and the Corado Hotel. Peter was there waiting with his boat. We had to walk about knee deep out to get onboard. He can take a max of 6, but it was just the 4 of us. Girls sat in the front, Mary and I in back and it was a blast. Very comfortable, safe and FAST. We went up to the Bucco Reef area, first ones there, and did some snorkeling. WOW, Peter led the way and found a Sea Turtle, Moray Eel, Nurse Shark sleeping on bottom, Starfish, Cowfish, tons of Parrot Fish and Blue Tangs. School of Squid and lots more. Water was about 10 to 15 feet deep. Very clear. As other boats started to show up, we moved on. He took the boat outside the barrier reef and up to Turtle Beach. Fascinating Island and Peter has tremendous knowledge of the Ecosystem and all aspects of the island, plus his story is very exciting. After riding around for a while we went back into Bucco Reef and went ashore at No Man's Island. Relaxed, took pictures (put on LOTS of sunscreen). Then he took the boat for a "ride". He was going around 45 knots and making hairpin turns. Very exciting for the girls. Lots of fun. We then cruised around slowly in Nylon Pool for more pictures. He had us back at the Hotel at exactly 12:30 and our cab driver was sitting there waiting, just as we had discussed. It was perfect. At sailaway, they opened the Helicopter Pad for picture opportunities. We talked with Gary Walker, the cruise director, but had the most wonderful conversation with Sue Richardson, the Hotel Director. She is basically the #3 person on the ship, only answering to the Captain and First Officer. She is in charge of all hotel operations including food, entertainment and housekeeping. Lovely lady with a charming personality.

Thursday - Barbados Arrive into Barbados and immediately notice the number of ships in Port, 5 in all. Barbados is an origination point for Seabourn and they had one of their ships embarking new passengers. Our tour for the day is the Silver Moon Catamaran. Thanks to suggestions from SweetAir, a CC friend we made on last year's trip, we signed up well in advance and were placed on the smaller of the 2 Catamaran's that Silver Moon sails. It was very nice. Only 13 passengers with Ben and Tony along as the crew. Huge boat, can normally hold 40, so we had plenty of room to spread out, very worthwhile. The other Silver Moon was also nice, it held 24 but seemed to have plenty of room also. Not a complaint, but Capt Ben is a very young man that really "likes" being Captain. He basically said that the wind was too strong and the Turtle location would be too crowded so we would NOT be sailing up to Crane's Bay to feed the turtles (which was the main purpose of the tour). Several other boats did sail up there and had a wonderful time with the turtles. Oh well, his boat - his choice. We sailed South, down past the Hilton. {Sidenote concerning something we saw. As we were sailing along, all of a sudden a couple of Scuba Divers surfaced about 200 ft away from our boat. At first I thought they were from shore, but then noticed a couple of dive boats about 500 yards away. I mentioned it to Ben and he just said they were drift diving and ignored it. I have logged over 100 dives and never had a drift dive where the boat was not at the PICK-UP point instead of drop off. Rather strong current was pushing the 2 divers farther away and they were waving their Fins in the air trying to get attention of the dive boat. I spoke to Tony about this and he was getting concerned also. Just as I was about to ask Ben to maybe "make a phone call" the dive boat roared to life and took off after the divers who were more than a half mile away at this point. Everyone ended up okay, just a little scary and very nonchalant from our Captain.} Anyway, back to the Silver Moon tour. We anchored off a beach that had an artificial reef. Swam a lap around the reef, saw a lot of little fish but nothing spectacular. Back to the boat for lunch. It was GREAT. Flying Fish and Chicken, plus several salads and bread. The beverages were wonderful also. Mary enjoyed the Rum Punch, the girls had cokes, punch or water and I had 2 or 3 or 10 Bank's Beer (local to Barbados). After lunch we sailed back up to the shipwreck area for more snorkeling. Very crowded but Ben found a good mooring buoy. Tony led this swim, brought along bread to bring the fish close. We did a little free diving through the wrecks. Mary unfortunately scraped her heel as she was going through a passage. When we got back to the Silver Moon, Ben's only comment to her was - You are bleeding on my boat. No offer of band-aid or any first-aid at all. Luckily Mary had a little kit she brings along in our bag that had band-aids, and after another couple of rum punch's all was fine. Sailed back to the harbor and off at exactly 2:30 as promised. Sailaway was BEAUTIFUL. Sunset was perfect and enjoyed the departure. It was formal night, the girls got all dressed up and had fun having formal pictures that evening. Lobster dinner was good (Renato brought me 3 of them). The Baked Alaska parade was fun to watch, sort of corny but still fun.

Friday - At Sea As expected, ALL the good chairs around the pool were "reserved" by the time we had enjoyed the Brunch and decided to get some sun. However, we were lucky that a brief Rain Shower came over just as we were looking for chairs. People grabbed stuff and the staff cleared the towels, so suddenly lots of chairs became available. We ended up with 2, beside the pool, and enjoyed the "pool activities" for the afternoon. We had packed 90% of our luggage early that morning so we were able to relax by the pool, listen to the music and appreciate the last full day of vacation.

Saturday - Departure This was a very organized and simple disembarkation. We had Red 1 tags. Ate breakfast around 7:00, got to the Theatre at 8:00 and they called our color by 8:15. Walked right off the ship without any line. Plenty of porters helped with the luggage, zipped right through Customs, out to a cab and we were through Security and sitting in chairs at our gate by 9:15 (for a 12:50 flight). Airport got REALLY REALLY crowded and no chance to upgrade, but all in all, it was a fine flight home. At our house in Atlanta by 7:00 pm.

Celebrity is certainly our favorite cruise line. This was our 6th time with X and we are looking forward to more. Concierge Class would have been better again this time, but just not available with an inside cabin across the hall for the girls. Food overall was good. AquaSpa for breakfast was perfect amount. The Poolside Grill did a wonderful job with Burgers and Side items. Dinners were Hit and Miss. I tend to eat more fish on cruises and it is hard to prepare fresh fish in a large dining setting. Did have Oso Buco (sp?) one night and it was FANTASTIC. Service was good. Our Steward, Santana, was above average. If we needed something taken care of, he was very fast to accomplish the task. The Ship is in fine shape. No Complaints or comments at all.

I have attached our Shutterfly album. Scroll down to the Summit March 09 cruise. http://summitcruisemarch09.shutterfly.com/ Also, these are the websites of the Tour Operators we used. http://www.bumpiingtours.com/ http://zoe-tobago.com/ http://www.silvermoonbarbados.com/htdocs/contact/index.html

Once Again - We LOVED the cruise and give 2 Thumbs Up to Celebrity. Tiki Less

Published 03/26/09

Cabin review: AC7129

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