This was our 12th cruise with Celebrity, 5th on the Summit. Obviously, we are fond of her. There was a lot of weird going on with this cruise as it was out of San Juan. I made hotel reservations months before the hurricane with the intent of spending a couple nights pre-cruise in San Juan. I read a lot of reports of the various hotels with regards to opening dates, etc; our hotel was to reopen on the 1st of December, which it did.
I know this is supposed to be a ship review, but details on San Juan night be of value. We had no trouble getting a cab to our hotel; the only wrinkle was that normally, I can get early check in, but on this occasion, we weren't able to check in until an hour after the normal time. Street lights weren't powered, but drivers exercised remarkable restraint with regard to letting people in, and traffic flow was surprisingly smooth. The power was on in most places in Condado and old San Juan. The only obvious sign of problems was at night, you didn't see all the lights on in tall buildings. There are also a lot of damaged cars. As we drove through the city, you could see areas with significant damage, and there appeared to be heightened security. I'm aware that the situation is much more dire outside of that area.
I think it important to mention that numerous local people thanked us for being there. I had a few people give me grief prior to the cruise, such as "Those people are rebuilding their lives, they don't have time to amuse you", which I found rather insulting, and, as it turned out, completely false. I mean at pretty much every restaurant and shop we went to, people said to tell our friends that they welcomed the return of tourists.
So. Embarkation was very smooth. I'd say we were on the ship within 15 minutes of arrival at the port. The Summit isn't a fancy, huge ship. It has no ice rink, roller coaster, zip lines or whatever other non-cruise related activities so many other ships are offering. That's a good thing. My idea of a good cruise is a conversation over a glass of wine with friends, and meeting new people. The Summit is very accommodating in that area.
Cabin: I wrote up the cabin under that header
Dining: We ate in Blu. Service was exceptional, shout out to Donovan, our head winter. I made a point of checking the MDR menu each night, and we had no problem ordering off that menu in addition to the Blu menu if there was an item that looked interesting. There were 8 in our group, so while we all had select dining, we had the same table each night, and didn't have to wait in line. The service was stellar; friendly, accommodating, and just great overall. I don't like a lot of noise when I eat, and it was much quieter than the MDR. I ate dinner at the buffet one night, and it was quite good; they had a "Mongolian Grill" type thing where you put what you wanted on your plate and they cooked to order. Very nice. I had breakfast and lunch in the buffet, pretty standard fare with the occasional nice surprise.
Chef's table: I've done chef's tables on both RCL and Carnival, and throughly enjoyed them. Celebrity's chef's table is significantly more expensive, at $279 for a couple. There were only 6 of us, the wine flowed freely, and was of nice quality. The fixed menu was great, and it was a blast. Was it worth the money? Hard to say. Glad I did it, unsure if I'd do it again.
Common areas: All good, I read about obviously wear, but I didn't really notice anything like that.
Weird bits: They have a jumbotron on the 12th deck and did a "dinner and a movie" type thing. I believe it was $15 pp. For that you got nice little taster courses, and a film. It was a lot of fun. Definitely worth checking out if they offer it.
Staff and Crew: Top notch. Captain Kate was, as usual, very "there". She not only came to the Cruise Critic mingle, she was also there at disembarkation, seeing everyone off.
Pool deck: No deck chair wars. Despite the glorious weather, there was never any difficulty getting a chair. I saw the pool butlers taking stuff off chairs on occasion, but none of the bad behavior so common near the pool.
Disembarkation: The usual. We decided to do the walk off thing with our bags. Getting an elevator was about impossible, but carrying our bags down 11 floors wasn't an option either. We had breakfast in Blu, and then wandered off. I'd say we were through customs in 10 minutes or less. Friends had a 9:30 flight and had no problem making it.
Entertainment: Sorry, I don't go to shows. The solo acts, and cellist/violinist were great.
So great cruise, great people, great ship. Aces all around.
Cabin: We were Aqua class and had a cabin on the 11th deck, toward the aft section of the ship. These cabins have no overhang, so if it's raining, the veranda isn't of much use. And if you "shun the sun', also not the best. You also get a lot of motion in that area, so not a good choice if you are susceptible to sea sickness. The cabin was pretty normal, decent mattress, plenty of storage, etc, etc. My only complaint was water pressure in the shower. It was abysmal, which isn't surprising seeing as you are on the top deck with cabins. Aqua class showers have jets that shoot the water sideway, which were useless as there wasn't enough pressure. The water pretty much drained out of the shower head. We had friends in the next cabin and they had the same issue.
St Thomas is still pretty torn up from the hurricanes. We had no trouble getting a cab, and you could see a lot of damage. We took the ferry to St John, which was in even worse shape. We went to Trunk Bay. There were no facilities available, no chair rentals, etc. We still had a nice time at the beach.View All 269 Beach Reviews
If you shun ship excursions because they are too crowded, look no further. In this case, it was just my wife and I in one kayak, and our guide in another. We got about as close to pelicans as you might want to get, and saw all sorts of fish through the bottom of the kayak. We stopped at a beach, had a beer, and watched monkeys eating melons, which was fun. Great excursion.View All 20 Kayaking Reviews
We went to Jolly Beach. There is a resort called Jolly Harbor where you can pay a fee for chairs, drinks, and maybe food, or you can cheap out like we always do and go to Jolly Beach. Two chairs and an umbrella at $20. Beers are $5, or $20 for a bucket of 6. It's a great beach, the vendors are mild, the sea very calm, although there was more flotsam in the form of sea weed, I would guess form the hurricanes. This was our 4th time there, and we will go again.
We generally don't like beach snorkeling, preferring to be out on a boat, but this was great. The tour is tiny, just us and another couple in a crew cab pick up truck. We snorkeled under pilings for a pier, which was amazing. The way the sun shone down through the water was like being in a cathedral. Amazing sights. They also provided such, which was simple fare, but really good. We thr=oroughly enjoyed this one.View All 52 Snorkeling Reviews
Not exactly ATVs, but that's as close as I could get. This is a very different kind of tour. you are driving a trike, with one or two passengers behind you. Most are stick shift, and the clutches on some were tricky. If you aren't comfortable with a clutch, I'd ask for one of the few automatics. If they don't have one, you might want to pass on this one. You are drive all over the island, and it can get dicey in heavy traffic if you aren't comfortable with a manual. But a great may to see the island, with interesting stops along the way.View All 24 ATV Rental Reviews
Really good snorkel tour. They limit the group to 12, and take you out on a single keeled sailboat. The operators were friendly, and very good with those who were novices. Didn't see any turtles this time, but it was a great tour.View All 171 Snorkeling Reviews