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Celebrity Summit, Southern Caribbean, Dec 2013


JohnG
"Our 25th Anniversary Cruise in the Southern Caribbean Sun"

Overall Rating: Excellent

TRIP INFO

Sail Date:12/14/2013
Destination:Caribbean - Southern
Departed From:San Juan
# of Nights: 7 Nights
Cabin Type: Balcony
Sailed As: Couple

RATINGS

Food:<p>0</p>
Itinerary:Excellent
Cabin:Excellent
Entertainment:Very Good
Overall Value:Excellent
Spa/Fitness: Didn't Use
Embarkation: Excellent
Debarkation: Excellent
Staff/Service: Excellent
Overall Rating: Excellent

COMPLETE REVIEW

We booked this cruise as our 25 wedding anniversary cruise on one of our favorite itineraries and lines. We had sailed aboard the Summit in 2008 and were curious to see the “Solsticizing” results.

Flying into San Juan with an afternoon arrival, we found several other couples headed to the Summit and were able to join in a single taxi and save some money. Taxis are regulated and the dispatcher gives you a slip to give to the driver with the price on it. They do charge $1 for each piece of luggage.

As Elite members of the Captains Club, we had priority embarkation, but there were really no lines. We were aboard within a few minutes of arriving at the pier. I had booked an aft-facing balcony in concierge class to surprise my wife. The balcony is very large with 2 chaise lounges, a table and four chairs. We enjoyed it when entering and leaving each port, but the itinerary is so port intensive, with only 1 sea day, that there was really not much time to use it.

As usual, the staff in the concierge class cabins is very professional, and we always enjoy the perks: welcome bottle of sparkling wine, flowers, fruit, and daily appetizers.

We had selected late dining as usual and were seated at a table for 2 along a wall on the aisle into the dining room. Not really in the middle of things, but there were only tables for 2 there, and the wait staff and wine steward were able to be very attentive. We had opted for the 1-2-3 option for the beverage package. It was contained in our room key, so when we would order beverages, they just took the card, registered it, and returned it, with no receipts to sign. The wine list by the glass offered 5 red wines, 2 white wines, and a prosecco that were $8 or under, so we had no difficulty. We enjoyed the menu selections, with a wide variety. I generally don’t order steaks on cruise ships, but had many choices of food, seafood, lamb, and more.

We were looking forward to the grand brunch and were not disappointed. They instituted this on our cruise in 2008, and have maintained it. Another thing they were trying out on that cruise was an Around the World wine tasting. It is sort of like a wine festival, with tables set up with wines from six countries. You could sample any or all of them, repeatedly over a 2 hour timeframe. Italy, France, Australia, US, South America, and Spain were represented.

On our anniversary night we made reservations in The Normandie, the specialty supper club. It was an especially memorable dinner, and we exchanged anniversary gifts there. While it is dimly lit, the anniversary ring I gave Karen was in a box that had a light installed, and when she opened the package the light lit up, showing the ring with a small ruby, a blue sapphire, and an emerald, the three stones I have given her on our previous cruises over the years.

Each evening from 5-7pm in Michaels Club they have a free wine and beverage time for Captains Club Elite members.

We enjoyed it and met several other couples there each night. They also presented hot appetizers during this time.

We had met the Captain’s Club hostess during these happy hours, and she had learned that we were celebrating our anniversary. We received an invitation in our cabin to be seated at the Captain’s Table on the second formal night. It was to be hosted by the Hotel Manager. His wife was also aboard. Those invited met in the wine bar for champagne at 8:30pm and then were escorted into the main dining room to the head table. There were name place marks, and individual dinner menus. The menu was a bit different than the dining room menu, and included a choice of grilled lobster or beef Wellington. The also poured Pouilly-Fuissé and Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. There were just three guest couples, and three officers, including the hotel manager, and two had their wives with them. We had a wonderful time, and it was the first time in over 70 cruises we had ever been invited to this seating. My wife get all the credit for attracting the attention of the Captain’s Club hostess and that resulted in this treat.

We did enjoy three productions shows in the theatre.

The ship was decorated for Christmas, with plenty of poinsettias, and the last day the grand staircase had been covered with gingerbread houses.

The ship sailed round trip from San Juan. Our ports were Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten, and St Thomas. We had sailed from San Juan a number of times, and due to our mid afternoon arrival, we did not go ashore. In Barbados, St Lucia, and Antigua I chose to do inspections of the Sandals resorts there, and enjoy the resorts.

In Barbados Sandals had just taken over a resort that had formerly been Almond Causarina, and more recently a Couples resort. It was still being transitioned, and won’t be up to Sandals standards until later this year. In St Lucia, we had been to Sandals Regency Le Toc and Sandals Grande St Lucian a number of times, and were eager to see Sandals Halcyon. This is a smaller, 169 room resort and no buildings are taller than a palm tree. We loved it, and it is constantly fully booked. In Antigua, as I have a couple booked for a honeymoon at the Sandals Grande Antigua in a beachfront Club room, I wanted to take photographs of the view for them, which I was able to do. In St Maarten we did what we usually do: rent a car on the pier, drive to the French side to Marigot, stop at a supermarket there and buy inexpensive burgundy wine, bread and cheese, and head to a beach for the day.

In St Thomas, my wife had reserved 2 spots on a private sailing yacht we had sailed on before. We sailed to St John and anchored at Honeymoon Bay. While snorkeling I saw great coral, barracuda, turtles, and tropical fish. They then served a grilled lunch, sparkling wine , and other beverages. There were just one other couple besides us, and the master and he was assisted by his mother, who was in St Thomas visiting for the holidays. It was a great trip.

The day we returned to San Juan, we had a later afternoon flight home, so we had reserved a car which we were able to pick up at the rental office at the nearby convention center. We drove to El Yunque, the National RainForest, for a drive through and picture taking. Then we drove on to Fajardo and the beach, which I hadn’t been to for over 35 years. It is not developed, including condos, but the water is still memorable.

In summary, the Summit exceeded our expectations. The staff was really exceptional. We really look forward to your next Celebrity cruise, aboard the Celebrity Reflection, the newest Celebrity ship.

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