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Southern Caribbean out of San Juan
Picking a Cruise: Well when Deb my cruise agent called and said there were a lot of good deals out there she was not kidding. We had a choice of three cruises one out of Ft Lauderdale and two out of San Juan. The clincher was cabin 6143 was available for this cruise. This is one of the secret cabins on the Millie series ships. Extended balcony next to the monster suites at the aft end of the ship. So booked it I did, at a great price. The only thing was this was a cruise after the New Year and lightly booked. This was heavily discounted and I picked up an extra $200 ship board credit as they discounted it even further and even more to the locals.
Getting There is half the fun.
I was taking my long time friend Brian on this cruise with me. My wife had passed away two years ago and we loved to cruise together. So I thought this would be a nice gift for him to try a cruise, as this was his first one ever, after hanging with me in the past tough times. When I looked our airfare to San Juan the prices were very good but I did not book right away, big mistake, as I was trying to get information and held off. I missed out on the soft fares the same day as the cruise – early flight out of Newark to San Juan direct on Continental. I thought they fares would hold a few days and they went to over $600 or so per person. I ended up booking the cheapest air into San Juan - $350 as the day of flights were over $550 at the time and seats were going fast. This ended up as a night before flight out of Newark and land in San Juan the next day – 3AM. I checked for hotels but got nothing as it was late in the game to book anything. What I did see was a chance to upgrade into first class for the trip down for $99 per person. They offer this price when you go to pre-check in for your flight. Well I figured that the luggage cost was going to be $100 for the two of us so why not. I put us into the last row of first class. We got to the airport way early as with the airport security I thought would be a line – there was not any outside to check luggage. So we got through the security line and off I led him to Continentals Presidents club. I then told him if you did not notice – we're flying down first class. This is a nice feature to buy as you get a lot of your money back on the luggage cost. Well we took good advantage of it with the free drinks and free food before the flight in nice comfortable chairs. Watched the sports shows on TV and then walked over about 20 minutes before the flight left. Flying down was nice also with more free drinks and a full dinner. There is also a TV in front of every seat so you can use it for any show on the flight. We also slept the last hour plus of the trip. One note if you are going to book this get into row 2 or 3 as they only have a limited number of dinners and if your in the last row it ends up as no selection.
In the Airport – San Juan
We landed and checked for hotels but there was nothing available in the area. We put our feet up and napped for a few hours – we should have went over to the lounge in the airport hotel and hung out there as it was a lot nicer than the airport. About 6:30am or so we packed up luggage and took a taxi over to the ship. The prices were $19 per cab and a dollar a bag to get there. We were first in line at the pier as we arrived at 7AM.
We put our feet up again – this time in the 80 degree heat of Puerto Rico - and waited till they opened the doors. There were some line shuffles before they opened the doors. While in line we met up with FlyGuy35 – Duane and his wife – who were on the x boards with us. They were doing a back to back cruise. His review may hit here before mine as he wrote it as he went. The waiting and late flight did not work well with us Brian ran out of cigarettes and was lucky enough to get one from one of the crew. There is nothing close to the pier that is open this early so we just sat and waited. I walked about the building a bit as the disembarkation was going on at the far end of the pier which was closer to town than we were. So they opened the doors at 11:30AM and let us in to the waiting area where we filled out some health questions paperwork. There were only about 60 people in line to board at this time. We were the first to check in for the cruise and the first to hit the duty free shop on the pier. Someone had to buy cigarettes. Good price here $25 per carton – or so we thought. The Duty free shop on the pier had liquor, bottled water and cigarettes. Maybe some other types of drinks but I was not looking at that at this time. When finished we went to security and the scanned out bags we had and onto the ship we went. I had two bottles of champagne in my drag bag and that was passed through no problems. We had our security pictures taken and off into the ship we went. There were our greeters with the glasses of champagne, OJ and juice. We walked up from entry deck 4 to out cabin deck level 6. Here is where I first smelled some raw sewerage in the stairwell and the first part of the hall. We went down to our room and dropped off the luggage and went up to the buffet area on deck 10 for some lunch. After a quick bite of lunch Brian wanted to take a nap to catch up from all of the travel we had done. I had my back pack and put that on and headed back into town. I still recommend the plan to arrive the day before in the city of your port. I know it will lessen your stress levels knowing you can bump to a later flight and pick up some extra free flights on the airlines. These days with the way the airlines are running full capacity flights everywhere you may not want to take a bump unless it is for the way home and they get you on the flight following out of the city to your home.
Cabin: #6143, cat CC Consier Class. 6, Penthouse Deck / Port side of the ship.
This is one of the secret cabins on the Millie ships. The cabin is just slightly larger than the regular CC sized cabins on the ship. But the big selling point on this cabin is the balcony is much larger than any of the other CC cabins on the ship. This and it's sister cabin 6144 located on the Starboard side. I have always found the Celebrity cabins to be slightly larger than the industry standard at just about every level. A lot of room for just two. We had the two beds separated and there was a small one person sofa-sleeper/couch, 2 large closets for storing all your shirt storage or short hanging garments. The third closet has 6 drawers to store other things in. There is also a cabin safe with a keypad to enter your own code, an interactive TV which we did figure out how to get the regular TV on till half way through the cruise. I think the batteries in the remote were just about dead and did not help in this regard. You could have used the interactive TV to access your shipboard account, book excursions, order room service, pay-per-view movies (which seems to be a new revenue stream for the line) and some older movies or TV shows at. There is a small dresser/desk with chair, small glass coffee table, plenty of mirrors in front of the desk and the wall the bed is on. There is also some side storage space on each side of the dresser that would come in handy for bulky items you have in the cabin. There is also a recessed storage area, about 4 or 5 shelves, we put our Champagne and soda on and they fit perfectly. The room was decorated in light wood panel tones and the lighting in the room was perfect. There is also a small refrigerator in the cabin under the TV but we just opened it one time and never used it. Remember if you take out of the fridge the charge goes to the ship board account. The bathroom is perfectly sized for the room. If you bring any wine onto the ship just ask your cabin steward to bring a holder to chill it in. They do not have a problem with this.
Old San Juan
From this pier walking over into Old San Juan is not suggested. I had to go get some soda and a few other things there so off I went. I asked one of the outside security people how long it would take to walk there and she said about 35 minutes. I put the backpack I had on and off I went – made it by running most of it in 20 minutes. Old San Juan is a nice place to walk about for the day if you have about 4 or 5 hours. The narrow cobblestone streets. The lots of small cars moving about and the pastel colored houses with their small balcony's hovering over the street lend to a beautiful walk in most areas like this. As you enter Old San Juan from the harbor side the hill rises up very quickly if you try to walk to the ocean. Follow the signs to one of the two forts located up on the hill looking out to the ocean. The smaller fort in town is San Cristobal. The National Park Service runs the forts and you can do a walking tour of both for the same price. The forts are located about ¾ of a mile from each other and there is not much shade between them. The larger Fort San Felipe del Morro is which you see when you enter or exit the harbor. It looks spectacular as you sail past it at night. If you walk to the forts on the sidewalk well above the ocean you should see many homes down beneath the fort's walls. Not the best place for a home in a big storm but. There are a few parks or squares dotted in old town. Up in the middle about 8 blocks from the pier is one of the plaza / parks. Off this park is a pueblo / small super market. This would have soda, wine, snacks and other items you may want to have for your trip here. I got soda and a bottle of discount local rum here also. I was also shopping for a kite to fly off the ship and got this at a pharmacy right off the square. Do not buy cigarettes in town as you can get them for way less on the boat. Walking back to the boat from the pueblo go as far as you can towards the ships then cut left. Walk along till you see a street that runs to the water front. As you get near the water front there are local artisans selling their jewelry and craft items. Get lucky and there should be a hot dominos game going under the shade tree. Now it's just a long walk back. At this point take a cab back to the ship. It took me about 40 minutes to walk back with a load of soda and things in the back pack. When I got back on the pier area I went into the duty free shop and picked up a bottle of Vodka and a bottle of pineapple rum for $23. I put it all into the back pack then went through the security scanner and back onto the ship. There were no lines at all to enter the ship from checking in or getting scanned.
Upon returning I went to the room and dropped off the back pack put away my purchases and looked in the corridor for our bags. Nothing yet. It was about 2pm at this point. Time for more food and another trip to the buffet area on 10. Everything looked great and as I do on all trips I eat a lot of fish. So I tried it from the buffet. Also some small deserts and other offerings. I was shocked when the fish was tough and chewy. It tasted just O.K. nothing special. Well I thought this was just a bad batch. Later I went to the other side and tried another piece – same thing – tough and chewy. I like fish warm, semi firm and flavorful from the spices and sauces created to go with them. This was not the best trip for that. The luggage showed up about 6PM that night.
The Cosmopolitan Restaurant like all the Celebrity and Millennium service ships is spectacular. Soft lines and the flowing stairway to the upper level was picture perfect. The space between tables was good enough to allow all to get between the tables easily. We were one the second seating on table 511. Upper level on the Port side of the ship. The waiters central work area(s) were in the front corner of the ship and were behind a wooden screen that matched the décor of the room. All I saw the whole time were full tables as I entered and exited the dining room every night. This is just an observation but the people sitting two to a table did not seem like they were having as much fun as others at larger tables. Just my observation. The line does have an extensive menu for things you can get every night. The very good choices from there if the regular menu did not have anything you wanted. We did get the shrimp cocktail a few nights but as noted elsewhere in the review the sauce was not that great. The escargot was just as good as it always is. Fresh hot and tasty. Crème Brule off the desert menu was just a spectacular as I always remember it. Too bad Kathy was not on this trip. She knows the right wine to have that makes this desert absolutely pop alive in your mouth as you savor both at the same time. The first night I did not see any fish on the menu that struck me to order it. But there was lamb shank which my wife Barbara always ordered. Now I know why. Just like my mom used to make. Great flavor along with the vegetable offerings it was presented with. I did notice another night the table next to ours had what looked like an oriental shrimp and fine noodle dish. I special ordered it for the next night and it was as good as anything I have ever had at dinner on any cruise. There were some good fish dishes on the menu and I tried them, some were good some not the best. One night I ordered the baby back rib lasagna, but failed to read past that. It came as a pastry shell covered with spinach. I don't like cooked spinach. I tried to find the ribs underneath it but gave up. I tried the salmon off the regular menu. This came back as a very small piece and it was tough and chewy…. At this point everyone else was done with their dinner and I passed on trying anything else this night. In conclusion for the dinner offerings I would give Celebrity a less than spectacular grade this trip. If you have read any of my past reviews you would see me ordering multiple dinners and enjoying all of them. This time I only did this one time with not so good results. Service by Hernan was excellent. He could not do enough for me even on the bad food nights. All things considered the combination of the new menu and old standards works well.
The Ship Public Areas.
Central Foyer Areas - Deck 4
This includes the entry area where you board – Deck 4 – You can look out and down onto the central foyer area where the main desks are located. Deck 4 has the Casino where we got to see a lady hit a royal flush in hearts the first night before dinner here. Someone told me the odds on that were somewhere about 450,000 to 1. Well that passenger was happy for the rest of the cruise. $21,000 plus. There were a lot of black jack and Texas holdem tourneys on the boat. They have one electronic table for Texas holdem and it drew a lot of people each night. There are a lot of slots and other game tables in the casino. Enough to keep a lot of people busy. Celebrity on-line was also on deck 4 just to the starboard side of the main foyer area. I did not notice many people in here when I passed by. But you can internet from your room so… Forward of the casino on the port side of the ship is the Michaels club. Great place for the 4pm to 6pm elite meet spot for a relaxing drink and to share the days travels. I was the only person from elite level to make it there every night. They issued you a white elite entry card but did not check it after the first day for me as they knew me by face. There were about 10 or so regulars who used this area most nights. It is a nice place, with this itinerary, to watch the ship sail out of port. As you exited the Michael's club you would have been in the main area for the photography studio and picture displays. Some very nice photos were taken by the ship photography staff on this trip. They have face recognition software now so they will link the pictures to your stateroom and you can view them on line. Forward of this is the Celebrity Theatre. Large enough to hold about 1000 people. I did not get to see any shows this trip. After so many cruises the shows seem to blend together. They did have Noodles Levenstein as the comedy performer on this trip. Where did they dig this guy up from. He was not funny a few trips ago and even longer ago when he was working cruise ships. Our dinner table also put forward this opinion on him. From the Grand Foyer on deck 4 heading aft is the Rendezvous lounge. We had most of the trivia contests here with the cruise staff. They were mostly attended by about 6 players all days and as the week went on more people joined in. Great fun. Most nights there was Karaoke or a dance band in this area The Champagne / Martini bars Deck 5: This is just above the Rendezvous Lounge through the hole in the floor. This is another subdued color toned area that is a nice quiet place to hide just before dinner. Have a quiet drink of champagne or the special Martini of the day.
Deck 3 as you walk down the tan marble / stone staircase right in front of you is the guest relations area. This is mostly for guest services such as the Consier, Captains Club, shore excursions and your ship account services. The Normandie Specialty restaurant is also located on this level. The Normandie is one place I love as my wife and I were in here a few cruises back and it was one of the top five dining experiences I have ever had. I had the best service here at guest relations and the worst experience in my 24 plus cruises. I just checked the second day to see if my On board cruise credits had been posted and they were. But there were four charges on the bill and we had only charged one thing on the ship. There were two bottles of wine and a movie charged to our room. I checked with the young lady at the desk and she was great in helping me get all the problems resolved and told me when to expect each charge to be removed. I came back the next day and checked in again with the same young lady, all are officers of the ship, and the charges were all removed and explained in full. Great service. I had another small issue and question the next day and the same young lady was working and I waited for her to be free and got my query answered – as it could not be handled by the Consier, who had the time for a short talk and information exchange, again nice smile great service. The worst happened the next day when, I am Elite level and can invite an officer to dinner at my table, I stopped by and asked the young lady who had given me great service all these times, with her supervisor there which I requested and I explained the great service she supplied, if she would like to come to dinner in the main dining room the last formal night if she wanted to. Well I thought I explained it and they said the schedules were not set yet and she would get back to me. As I was leaving another male officer – two bars / security and a desk supervisor accost me and start ping ponging me between them saying "she is not allowed to go", "She does not want to go", "We don't have the schedules set yet so she can't go", "Your not allowed to ask that of her", and so on and this went on for 3 to 5 minutes so I gave up and left. They never asked me what I was intending or why. They just verbally attacked me and treated me like dirt. If you go back and read any of my cruise reviews you would see that I love cruising and this line in particular. I went back to my room and even my friend Brian could see something was very wrong. He told me to shake it off which I did. But any other time I was on the ship and the male officer went by me the rest of the trip he game me a dirty look or a smug expression that he showed me. Not the type of treatment I come to expect from the line. I found three other charges on my ship board account that added up to about $25 in charges but did not even go back to dispute them as I was not going to bother.
Walking up one level from deck 4 to Deck 5.
There is a great view of the whole foyer level area. The area is mostly the Cova Cafe Milano which you can get your specialty coffee here all times of the day or night. There is also a small bakery and sweet shoppe. They would have some great treats displayed here every day. Not a lot of people were about this area unless you wanted that Espresso or cap chino. The shops and the specialty boutiques were just forward of this area and they stocked a nice selection of merchandise. The daily sales the shop staff offered covered a lot of items. From gold and silver chains to watches, and plaster statues. Their area on deck 5 Just on the opposite side of the cafe forward hosted the Art auction area for the ship. The duty free shop was on the starboard side of the ship. This was where you could get cigarettes or liquor. The ship has a fine selection of Liquors priced just a little bit more than on land. They did not carry all the local brands for the Caribbean rums, but enough to cover a wide range. So check the prices before you go ashore to save yourself the time and effort of bringing back a bottle you save .25 cents on onshore. The shops also had a discount watch sale, on quartz watches, that the women of the ship were all over.
Going up to deck 10 and in the middle is the Pools and Hot Tubs
The main pool was about 45 feet in length from front to back and about 20 feet wide. Great place for swimming some laps in the early AM before it gets crowded. I would say up till about 10AM you could do this without any problems. The shallow end was 5 feet and the deep end 6. If the ship was going in and out of port, as it did on our trip 5 times you got a few waves in this pool. Real nice to be in as you pulled away and music was playing on deck. Just drift with the waves. There are a lot of pool chairs in the well open area on deck 10 around the pool. But beware of the chair hogs on sea days. They were not as many as I expected on out Friday sail back sea day. The books and towels come out at about 7:00 am or so. These are the people who put a towel and book or shoes on a bunch of deck chairs and use them for less than an hour each day. The ship does it's best to try and stop this practice but.... Everyone's on vacation and why argue with someone as trivial as a deck chair. Good hint if you need a quiet place in the sun. On the starboard side forward of deck 11 their is a stairway that looks like it goes nowhere. Wrong. This is up to deck 12 forward. Bring a towel there are lots of chairs here. And the wind screen cuts down the breezes coming over the ship as it moves. On port days their are plenty of chairs available to use all day. So don't bother marking a spot. They also have cushions for those in the well and around the pool. There are also 4 hot tubs in this pool area. You should not have to wait to get a spot on a port day. Nice and relaxing to sit in the bubbles. But don't stay in there too long as it may have an adverse effect on you. Join the conversation or just relax in the bubbles. The second pool just behind the larger pool looked to be about 20 feet long by 15 feet wide shaped in a crescent. The depth of this pool was about 3 and half fee to 4 feet. Great for the kids and adults to lounge in to play in most of the time. Nice place to relax in as the house band played and the ship was leaving port. All to pools are chlorinated salt water, so your safe and can float easier. The first day the water was cool but it warmed up as the week went on.
Going forward on deck 10 and towards the front is the Thalassotherapy Pool
This area is just forward of the open pool area. It's the bubbles pool with the water spouts. This is a great feature on all the Millennium Class ships. They also have the light and healthy breakfast and lunch served in this area. I tried it several times. You could not get some of the offerings anywhere else on the ship they had here. There was not a big selection but all looked great as I passed by. This area is a nice hide away for Adults only and if you not into being in the sun all the time. The entire area is covered by a large tinted glass structure. The T pool area as I call it is in the right spot if you need to hide for awhile. The focal point is the pool itself, it is like entering a giant tub, but not as hot as the regular hot tubs. . There are jets of water shooting out from the sides and pool bottom, huge faucet-looking jets overhanging the four corners (great back massage). One each side of this pool there are chrome, in-water, loungers. The bubbles come from under this area and refresh you slowly. There is room for about four people to lay back and relax on the bubbles as they float you away. There are also have two hot tubs in this area one on each side. Around this pool area are very comfortable, pillowed (lower back and head), teak lounge chairs. This area does get crowded as the afternoon progresses. But later in the day - about 5pm or so empties out.
Forward of the T pool area is the Aqua Spa, Sauna & Gymnasium
I used this facility each morning. To say the least it's large. Great place to get a massage and other spa treatments. Gym has a large floor for aerobics and other workout related exercises. They have a small free weight area to one side and there is a large selection of weight level for hand held dumbbells here. There are about 20 nautilus machines of all types you can use. I stuck to about 10 of the machines that I worked on my knees, core and legs with. There are also about 12 walking / running machines you can sign up for when the morning use crush is on. There was not much of a crush this trip from the time I was in there about 7:20AM each day. There a lot of elliptical training machines here also. You may want to bring headphones as you can plug them into the running and elliptical machines. They look forward where the ship is going. A great place to work out in the Early AM - see the sun come up and watch the ship dock all while getting in shape. There are also a lot of different of bikes you can use fir spinning classes or on your own if you like. There were some free classes offered each day by the fitness staff. One day as I was leaving the ladies of the spa were leaving their morning meeting. Seemed like an endless line of beautiful smiles and blue cover coats or long shirts – whatever they may be as to their uniform. I always feel Celebrity ships have a lot of workout equipment and a great area for it along with a large staff to help you. Running as a workout – the best area. Deck 11 Running / Jogging / Walking track: A good idea to use on calm days for everyone. First the deck is not measured correctly. They sat 3 laps equals about 5/8 ths. of a mile. Well in my way of measuring it is not that close, as far as I see. I would like to think that six laps around is closer to one mile than anything. If your going to run or jog be sure to do this before 7:30 am - you finish time for your workout - or you will hit a mass of walkers. There were not that many walkers on board this trip. I also like to reverse run some days. This because of things walkers do not understand. Like when you are turning on the curves and stress on your legs and knees. But if your walking then you should stay single file as you move between the chairs so as to allow others room to move past you. I only ran into about 3 or 4 runners on the ship and this was not on consecutive days. More of hit or miss on their schedules. My wife and I used to walk the deck for her exercise about 5:30 PM each night to catch the sun going down and the beautiful sunsets at sea. Please always try to keep in mind that this is others vacation and no one owns the deck so try to adjust your running or walking if others are about.
From Amidships to the Aft – Waterfall Café.
This is the normal morning buffet area and night time sushi and casual dining area.
Breakfast: Celebrity has a nice variety of morning choices. They have expanded on the normal with the waffle station at the far end of the café area. Fresh and hot along with pancakes and other egg specialty types here. Everything was great but they did not switch up the waffle toping from day to day. I remember they had a few choices on past cruises this time only one the whole week. Everything was fresh, hot, well presented and tasty. I do wish they had brioche upstairs in this area but they are only in the main dining room. You do have to ask for them and I did this three times and they were dropped off at my table all three times – great service. There was also a station for omelets and other specialty makes along with their large selection of morning rolls and pastry. Overall an excellent set of choices.
Lunch: Here is the rub on lunch – it did not change that much from day to day – at least from what I was looking at. Most days the fish was a bit chewy and I tried it just about every day. The make your own pizza area was always well used as the lines there never seemed to stop. There is a pasta station to make your own and the line here was long every day. Then one type pre made and one thing I did want to try was tortellini one day but this was about 2pm and they ran out. I asked if there was more but they had none there. I checked later and no more was brought out. This was the only day they had it on the menu. All the other days it was just Mack & Cheese. Not what I was looking for. The lunch choices were just about the same every day. My friend Brian pointed this out on the 5th day. Some days I just gave up and ended up making a salad, which I had never done in the past 24 plus cruises. The outside grill was also always busy making Hot Dogs and Hamburgers along with tacos outside near the pool every day. You could also get nachos and cheese every day – usually no wait for a taco or nachos. There is also a place that would make a sandwich for you. This was in the area where you got your morning waffles. There were two ice cream stations just as you entered the waterfall café area from amidships. Great selections, I think about 7 every day with toppings (something to keep the kid in you going), – but no rum raisin – only in the main dining room. Also soft server ice-cream in cones every day. Nice. Along with the juices, coffee and tea available at all the drink areas – good for a quick lunch or to linger through. Waiters are assigned to ever seating area in the waterfall and the deck area on the aft of the ship. They will clear your plates away and were always asking if you needed a drink or a refill. Great service touch. The best place to catch some fresh air in the tropical breezes and sit under the awning or out in the sun.
Sushi and dinner: Nice area to come into when Sushi was served about 6pm. They had at least six types of sushi presentations each night out. The Waterfall also covered the casual dining for those who likes to get away from the Main Dining room. There is a $2 cover charge to sit in this area and you should call ahead. But they do take walk up's. You pick your appetizers out and they bring the main course. I have been told this is a limited menu so there may not be all those choices available.
*Sports Deck 12 Mid ships: This is where most of the outdoor games are played. Each day the Cruise staff has a Basketball and other competitions up there. It's a bit windy when the ship is at sea but on port days just fine. We did not have a lot of dedicated players for any games till the final sea day then it was packed.
*Revelations - on Sunrise Deck Forward - deserted most of the day. We did have some trivia games here and the Wii sports games. This is the perfect place to escape to in the AM with the first cup of coffee. Nice and quiet to see the ship slip into the port of call. The Acapella quartet and Accent the party band played here at nights.
*Notes- music library - One place on Decks 6 & 7 that I only stopped to get a world atlas for one of the trivia contests. It did me no good. Another nice quiet place to hide and read in. - Library setting.
*Conservatory (Floral & Gift Boutique) - Sunrise Deck - This is just above the amidships entrance to the Waterfall Cafe. They have their own stairway up to it. I had a hard time trying to figure out what plants were fakes and what were real. You can get on-board flowers from the shop every day.
*Our cabin steward was excellent. Seby and this time I did see him a lot. The room was kept spotless, well for the most part but the spots were Brian and I, and there was always a full ice bucket, water, clean glasses, fresh towels and fluffy pillows. We were in and out at all hours of the day and he still got the room clean and ready every day. We also got to meet the butler staff, Seby's friends, in the hall area every day. Part of the tip I gave out during the cruise was a lot of candy. Something they all liked and did not get on a regular basis. This was small Halloween sized of skittles, starburst, snickers, baby ruths, milky way, M&M's and a few other types. I brought 3 large bags on the cruise and gave it all away. These guys were great with service requests and any small bit of information needed. They kept my pub buddy full of ice for keeping my beer cold. What more could I ask for. In service.
*Dining room wait staff -waiter, Hernan - Great. Table 511 near the aft section of the second tier of the dining room. The 4## tables are the lower level and the 5## tables are those above. Hernan was great. He was always checking to be sure we had everything we needed. Smiles all around on the service level. This was well appreciated by both Brian and I.
Passengers: This was the short 7 day cruise. And right after the new year so it was not fully booked about 3 months out. There was a large discount to the locals and they took advantage of it. The ship was split about half locals and half everyone else. Hey they paid their money to cruise and they had a good time of it. The pools were never crowded with kids till the last sea day. As this trip was port intensive. I did see a long line of kids coming from their talent show the last sea day – it was a long line. There were many groups. Same normal friendly people on this trip. I held a x meet in my room two times to have everyone put faces on their keyboard names. Well attended by about 20 people the first time and about 16 the second. You find out that people doing different things on and off the ship.
Cruise Staff: Anna, Sara, and Leuis They ran almost all the games and adult activities. Sara was fantastic with her energy level when she was hosting the Karaoke.
Celebrity Elite Perks:
These were two sheets of discount vouchers and free services in my cabin when I entered. A very nice cross section of things to do at discount and events. There were also two separate entrance cards for Michael's club. I used the Michaels club every day for a nice quiet time for a drink. I used the one coupon to get my tux cleaned and pressed during the cruise. Check the celebrity web site for the other nice benefits for each level. Most everything else with the coupons I gave away to the other people from our x group. Someone should use them. Celebrity did well with these perks. Other than offering a free discount shoppers book or a tour at a discount I can't think of anything else to add to their list.
Ports of Call:
This was a port intensive trip. Below are the ports and a short comment on each.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas – We or at least we tried to walk to the top of the hill where the tram goes. I made it up and down but Brian did not and he went back and took the tram. I missed him on top as I had gone back down by the time he got there. I missed out as he stayed about 2 hours up top at the bar with our fellow dinner time table mates. Did some shopping in Al Cowans and the drug store.
St. Croix, U.S.V.I. – I think we went to Dickensons beach this port. This was a short cab ride there. Walking down the beach I hear someone calling my name "Tom"… I turn around and there is my next door neighbor – I kid you not. They were staying at an all inclusive next to Sandals on that beach. We – acting on my neighbor's advice – walked to the end of the beach about 100 yards short of the small cliff and used the chairs and no one bothered us. What struck me as we walked down at about 10AM there was only about 20 or so people on this ½ mile beach. Not really anyone about or in the water. We went swimming and sat back and relaxed for 3 hours then walked back – now the beach was packed from end to end. Where did they come from???? Nice place where the waves were great.
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Walked off the boat and into town. Here is where I buy my Vanilla to bake with each year. I think a 1 liter bottle is about $5 US. Great price.
St. Johns, Antigua – This is where there are beaches right off the boat to the left or right. There is a park with facilities to the left but we walked down about a half mile plus to a cinder block wall from a house and just parked it there. Big slanted sand beach. We just bounced about in the surf for an hour or so. Got out and went back at it again. There was a lot of dead coral from the reef on the beach. We picked up some pieces as they were selling the same types in the market we passed through on the way back to the ship.
Castries, St. Lucia – Last stop. We walked through the shopping areas and were comparing prices for liquor and cigarettes. I think St. Kitts or St. Johns had the best prices on those items. This is where I took a picture of one of the local girls dressed up like a Flamingo dancer – turns out waitress costume for the local slot casino to the right as you exit the hospitality area from the ship. Well picture taken and they gave us $5 coupons to try our luck. I tried a poker slot machine and just won the free $5 back. But we moved to another machine to allow Brian to play. He put in all his dollar tokens / coins. I hit the max coins and he spun the wheels. Well 3X 3X 7 came up. 540 coins. This was a quarter machine. Well he asks me what next. Cash out and leave….. He ended the trip on a high note.
Others on the trip did more in the ports and the like so they will cover this in their review.
Brian did go on a coco bean plantation tour one day as another one of our dinner table mates had a medicine reaction and could not go. This was to be a 4 hour tour. Brian came back and said it was 6 hours in a bus on roads with no guard rails as they wove around 300 foot mountains and he would have rather had someone stick pins in his eyes… Well so much for that tour.
Disembarkation: The Summit arrived back in San Juan about 5AM and was tied up at about 6AM. We cleared customs at ????AM who knows what time. Brian and I walked off the ship with out luggage – Express checkout about 9:30AM and were over to the airport about 10AM. Our flight home was at 1:45PM and took off right on time. Baggage cost us $50 per person even with all the weight I left behind from the candy and champagne not coming back with me. Well we did not have any delays and landed a bit early so no problems there. We were back into Jersey by 4:20 PM. Darn its cold up here. Now we just waited a half hour for the luggage… L Maybe Continental had a slower plane it went on.
Ship Impressions: This ship is in the Millie series of Celebrity. Not the newest. There are a few signs of wear here and there. Mostly the here wear spots were the outside railings which could all have used a sanding and varnishing – all around the ship on multiple levels. Entering the ship and on a few days near the main stairwell amidships there was a smell of raw sewerage. This was not one day but I think three times when I was passing through the area I caught it. This is one of the few times I did not get about the complete ship all the time. Problems I also saw on a daily basis was no one seemed to be tasked to clean the left over plates and glasses off the upper deck areas. I constantly saw passengers cleaning up a mess, myself included; from a late night get togethers on deck 11 and 12. The deck area on 12 both forward and the sports area was a mess most of the cruise with plates and plastic glasses about all the time. I still like the central atrium area. But once you have been on a Solstice class ship I think going to any other Celebrity ship is a step back. But these are still wonderfully beautiful ships. The artwork in the stairwells could be changes in some spots but most was very nice. You may or may not like some of it. But it is all tastefully done. Ship is also laid out real well. There is not a long walk – other than from dinner to the show at night – that is very far to go. The cabins, public areas, pools, spa, sauna, gymnasium, shops, the Conservatory, to the lounges, and the open-air deck space are beautiful sight lines and color patterns. The ports we traveled to were the top of the Southern Caribbean and were fine. Most people like to island hop. And hop we did with five islands in five days. There were beaches aplenty to taxi or walk too. I would have rathered had an extra sea day somewhere in there and one less port but no problem there. There were also things that seemed to change – as in they are trying too hard to sell things on each trip. Like in most recent cruises – other than this one – I would get invitations to ship events like the elite party, regular meet the hostess, and a lot of things like wine tasting. This trip I counted 4 letters in the door that were direct buy, buy, buy…. Credit card, Art, whatever.
Two invites one to the elite party and one to the x meet – which was poorly scheduled. I had more people in my room than they had at their meet. I also inquired about an engine room tour from the engineering captain. He took my name and room number and said he would send invite for when and where to meet. That never came. Another slight disappointment.
If anyone has questions about this 7 day cruise on the Summit, just email back and I'll try to answer them. In conclusion this was the worst Celebrity cruise I have ever been on and at this point because of the front desk service whipping I took it looks like I will be taking some time away from cursing – maybe a year plus instead of my regular one a year. I still like Celebrity but was and still am, after two weeks at home, shaken by my experience. Have fun wherever you go.