We were on the first Summit sailing after the “Revolution” for a 5 night Dutch Antilles cruise from San Juan. This was our first cruise on Celebrity. We did a lot of research before our cruise, so there were no surprises and we were overall very pleased with our cruise. I am going to break it down into segments.
Best Western Plus Condado Palm Inn & Suites, Condado San Juan
This hotel was adequate for a 1 night stay. Our room was clean. The breakfast was edible and it was free, so we didn’t expect too much. The price was right as it was high season and we didn’t want to pay in excess of $250. This was our first time in Condado. It reminded me of a kitschy beach town – lots of souvenir shops. We did eat at Orozco’s and I would highly recommend them. Great service and we tried the Trifongo (as recommended by our taxi driver from the airport) – which was fantastic. We went into the lobbies of La Concha – stunning! and the Marriott Stelaris, which was also beautiful. We asked the concierge to get a van for us when we were ready to leave for the ship. We left the hotel around 10:30am and we were all checked in and on the ship by 11:00am. We took a little tour around the ship and ate the concierge luncheon in the dining room. The menu was limited, but the food was very good – the choices were short rib, salmon and chicken.
Our Room -
We had a concierge balcony – room 8169 towards the rear of the ship. Our room steward was okay to sub-standard. Our travel partners had many issues with him, including a missing bowl of chocolate they had put out to entertain on their cabin crawl. He suggested that maybe they put it on the breakfast tray by accident. They were not too happy with that or him at all. He didn’t know that there was a pillow menu – which there was as confirmed by our concierge. As for the room itself, we were pleased with the overall size and the amount of storage. Also there were plenty of outlets and places to recharge our electronics. I also liked the light strip at the bathroom door, so no nightlight was needed.
We did get the late afternoon tray of appetizers. Some were good, others pretty strange. Sometimes we could have used a utensil or some sort of cracker or chip to taste the appetizer, but were not provided with such. For instance there was a lovely beet salad, however, nothing to eat it with and I did not want to eat beets with my hands, lol. Also there was a lovely shrimp salad, same thing. However, I did pick out the shrimp and then washed my hands.
The Ship –
We thought overall very beautiful. However, we though some of it is going to be very hard to keep clean. Some furry chairs at the martini bar were already looking a little used where one would put their hands to get on and off. We loved the solarium and the bubbling pipes!
We loved the layout of the Oceanview Café and the stations were well placed and there was a good flow. The only stations that had lines were the pasta station, the omelets and waffles – the maker only made 4 waffles at a time. There was a nice variety of food and it was very good. As for dinner, we only ate at the main dining room –The Cosmopolitan Restaurant at the 6pm seating. Our server, Xiomarra, was very nice and prompt. On the first evening, we were already at our main entrée by the time the beverage person came around. We complained, and it was rectified for the remainder of the week. Our sommelier was lovely. The food was very good. I was expecting over the top amazing from all I had read about Celebrity, but I wouldn’t say that it was. Overall we were very happy with it and the selections except on our last evening. The deserts were sometimes were lacking flavor. We were seated by the rear big window on the 2nd floor and had those funky tall coffin-like chairs. I hated them – so very, very hard and heavy to move and impossible to get in and out of. Also, it was very uncomfortable and my server found me an extra pillow and at times I added my airplane pillow!
Ship-wise, the bar staff seemed to be overworked and not enough of them. I waited many times just for a bottle of water, which often was at room temperature and not chilled.
Cruise Director –
We had Patrick. We saw him only pre-shows on the stage, but never walking around on the ship. He did teach and demonstrate Salsa dancing at the Salsa deck party. Boy can he move! He was not that personable, but got the job done.
We did not know what to expect, so we brought cards just in case. I am happy to report that we didn’t touch them.
Monday – Comedian Phil Tag, only one show at 9:45. He was pretty good. There was also a Salsa party on the deck and the CD Patrick showed us how to dance. His dancing was amazing and we had a great time!
Tuesday – the show by the ship’s entertainment staff was “Soundtrack”. It was a great show and the singers were really, really good. We also attending the Silent Disco which was a real hoot. There was also a late night adult show with Phil Tag.
Wednesday – Was a performance by 2 members of the American Ballet theatre – they did the piece White Swan. Then there was a violinist, Katarina Rosse who was simply amazing. Then there was another modern ballet performance from the 2 stars. A beautiful, wonderful night.
Thursday – the production show December ’63. Again, it was fabulous. This entertainment crew is probably the most talented we have ever seen on a ship.
Friday – Production show “Life”. This was the best of all.
Somewhere in here was a comedy show with Brian Bradley which I liked better than the other one.
There were also several Trivia games throughout the day and evening which we joined in on. Bingo was only done once, on our last day. That was disappointing. There were no electronic packages – the cards were the tear the flap kind.
We only booked 1 excursion – Old and New San Juan with airport drop-off – from the ship. We booked independent operators for the islands.
St. Kitts – We booked the Grand Tour of St. Kitts with Thenford Gray. We were 6 of us in a lovely air conditioned van. Our driver and tour guide was Sackville Gray. He was very knowledgeable of his island and we loved his tour. We went to Carambola Batik at the beautiful Romney Manor and grounds, Brimstone Fort and the amazing outlook on Timothy Hill of where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. We also went to a black sand beach for approximately 40 minutes. My first black sand beach and boy is the sand hot! I would highly recommend this tour.
St. Croix – Sadly, this island has barely recovered from hurricane Maria. We did an island tour with Prince Taxi. He was very knowledgeable and personable. However, we ended up in an open air vehicle – website advertised air conditioned van. Also we waited at the port while he tried to fill up 2 vehicles. Unfortunately, we ended up in the vehicle with a different driver. He knew nothing about the island and made no commentary. However, at times Jaylen (the owner) would stop his vehicle and come over to ours to point out something of interest. The part I did not like of this tour was a stop by a bar in the country which had pigs that the tourists feed O’Douls to. I felt uncomfortable with this and our time would have been better spend seeing a more beautiful part of the island such as the tide pools. Basically it was a ploy to share some tourist dollars to his friends at the bar. We went to the Cruzan Rum factory – interesting tour and the Pina Colada’s were wonderful. We spend about 40 minutes in Christianstaad. Wish we had more time there. It was very quaint and lots of nice shops and restaurants. We were supposed to have time at the end of the tour for a beach visit, but there was no time due to the late start.
Antigua – The gem of these 3 islands. We took a tour with Scenic Tours Antigua with our tour guide Ray. Again we were 6 of us in a very well maintained air conditioned van. Ray was wonderful – full of energy and very knowledgeable. He took us to all the spots that had amazing vistas. We went to Nelson’s Dockyard, Shirley Heights and ended with a trip to Jolly Beach (which was stunningly beautiful). We had a great day and I would highly recommend this tour.
Service Comments –
Spotty, especially bar service. But I wanted to again complement our dining room server Xiomarra. Our excursion in Puerto Rico - Bacardi rum factory with airport drop off was cancelled. We went to the excursion desk, and even though it was during their closed hours, the girl Alina saw us and helped us rebook our excursion to the tour Old and New San Juan and printed out new luggage embarkation tags for us. She was very helpful.
On our first day on the ship we learned our flight had been cancelled and we had to call Southwest to change it. The day before disembarkment, Roberto in the Innovations (Apple) store was not too busy, so he helped us log into our flights the day before and sent the boarding passes to the new computer area printer. Very helpful!
The ship was beautiful. My husband and I liked the size of the ship - we are small ship people. My younger brother and his wife prefer the Oasis size ships of Royal. We tried not to expect too much going into this knowing we were the first cruise after the refurbishment. I would say it went pretty seamlessly. One thing we did feel, however, is that Celebrity is very class driven. Dining venues and lounges for upper reward levels took a disproportionate area of the ship, especially for one this size.
Overall we enjoyed our first Celebrity cruise and I am pretty certain it will not be the last.
This cabin was roomy and had plenty of storage for all our things.