by Larry Simon
March 26, 2004
This was the fifth cruise my wife and I have taken, our first on Celebrity, and was definitely the best. Previous cruises were on RCCL ('03); Princess ('03 & '00) and Carnival ('98).
. Taking a bottle of champagne up on deck during the sail-away party as we left Ft. Lauderdale while listening to the great music of Voltz.
. Dancing every night to the music of Voltz in the Revelations Lounge! Voltz was a GREAT band playing everything from reggae to 70's, 80's, 90's and current hits – and even earlier music on the 50's/60's night.
. Laying in the sun around the pool in the afternoon listing to Voltz playing on deck, with occasional dips in the hot tub or pool. In mid-afternoon, an army of waiters would sometimes appear passing out cups of sorbet!
. Sitting on the open aft deck at the Waterfall Café each evening before sunset sipping a drink while listening to the music of guitarist Ron Thompson.
. Coffee on our veranda in the morning. The coffee on board was very good. The only time this didn't work out was the first morning or two when the wind kicked up a salt spray that kept the veranda relatively unusable - not a problem the last eight days of the cruise.
. Fancy martinis in the Martini bar before dinner - my favorite was the "Citrus" martini made with flavored vodka.
. Relaxing to a couples massage at the spa - what a way to relax and lose the tension!
. Sailing around St. Kitts and Nevis on the Fan-Ta-Sea catamaran as part of a sailing, snorkeling and beach excursion. The view was fantastic, the sailing smooth, and the crew was great - as were the snorkeling and serene beach on Nevis, where we stopped to swim and eat a barbecue lunch
. The view of Trunk Bay from a scenic viewpoint at the top of a hill in St. John. The taxis usually stop at this scenic point en route from the ferry to the beach.
. Dinner with our table mates met on board. We were fortunate to be seated with two very nice couples and had nice conversations each night, usually ending when we realized we were the last group in the dining room!
We had a Concierge Class stateroom on Deck 9, with a Veranda. The Concierge Class provided some extra amenities including a special mattress pad and pillow selection. These made the bed the most comfortable we've found on a cruise ship. The bathroom also had a nice sized shower. It was a very nice room overall. Our steward did a fine job, although he had to be reminded about some special requests once or twice. We had him empty the mini-bar stuff out of the fridge so we could keep our own wine in it.
We never made it to breakfast or lunch in the dining room. We found a nice selection of foods for these meals in the café or at various spots around the ship, including the grill by the pool (pizza and burgers) and the aqua spa café, which had great "lighter" meals. We had late dinner seating with a great waiter and assistant. We thought the food was the best of any cruise ship we've been on - especially the fish. Normally I dislike frozen fish (which is all you generally find on mass cruise ships) but the seafood dishes on Summit were great. Every dish I tried, I loved. I heard a complaint from another passenger about the steaks, but I didn't eat much in that category, preferring the seafood and an occasional veal or chicken dish.
The wine list was very extensive. We'd brought our own wine, which we enjoyed about half of the nights in the dining room ($12 corkage fee) as we hadn't seen wine lists like this on other lines, at least for white wine. We ate one night in the Normandy dining room - a $25 per person surcharge, but well worth it for this extravagant meal.
We had room service every morning, at least for coffee, in the room or on the veranda. Orders left the night before were always served on time and preceded by a phone call alerting you to the arrival; orders phoned-in took about 20 minutes.
Neither my wife nor I enjoy stage shows, so we passed on all the singing and dancing shows - preferring to get our evening entertainment in the lounges. However, we did see a comedian and a magician at shows that preceded the late dinner seating.
We loved the party band Voltz. This is a great band with members from various Caribbean islands. They played everything from reggae to contemporary rock/pop music and we had a great time listening to their tunes in the afternoon by the pool and at night in the Revelations dance lounge. We also enjoyed guitarist Ron Thompson, who played contemporary and classical rock/pop music solo on the open aft deck of the Waterfall café. He played the guitar and keyboard accompanied by music he'd pre-programmed into his synthesizer.
There was also a dance band and piano player playing more mature music in other lounges. Neither of these played a style of music we liked that much, although the quality of their playing seemed quite good. Additionally there were pianists, a harpist and a classical quartet that played at various venues around the ship and during dinner. Based largely on the party band Voltz, we thought the entertainment on the ship was top-notch. We danced past midnight every night, settling for the DJ once Voltz finished for the night. Even the DJ did a great job and the disco was more suited to our style than the teenager/very young crowd we've seen on other cruises.
At St. Martin we took a cab to Orient Beach and camped out at Kakao - a place with a nice restaurant, bar, gift shop and chairs/umbrellas for rent. Two chairs and an umbrella cost $20 for the day. Orient Beach is beautiful – a classic Caribbean beach. We enjoyed walking along the beach and swimming. We had a great seafood lunch at the open-air restaurant. There are several establishments similar to Kakao at Orient Beach.
At St. Lucia we took the ship's full day snorkel & beach excursion with lunch. This requires a long (about an hour) boat trip to the southwest corner of the island, where you get a nice view of the Piton mountains. We spent the day at a black sand beach. This was different from your typical Caribbean beach and was a bit rough and rocky. But the snorkeling and view were very nice. The beach was at Anse Mamin on the grounds of the Anse Chastinet resort.
At Barbados we walked around Bridgetown a bit and then took a cab to Mullins Bay beach. Mullins was on the west coast, about a 25-minute cab ride. The beach was very nice but was probably the only beach on Barbados where it was cloudy and rainy part of that day. Everyone else back on the boat had full sun all day!
Our favorite excursion was at St. Kitts, where we took the Fan-Ta Sea catamaran ride I described above. We had a great time. St. Kitts/Nevis was, overall, the most scenic spot I've seen in the Caribbean.
At St. Thomas we went to Trunk Bay on St. John on our own. You catch a cab from the dock to Red Hook, a ferry from Red Hook to St. John, and a cab to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is in a U.S. National Park and there is an underwater snorkeling trail there! Snorkeling was pretty good the day we were there and the beach is one of the prettiest you'll ever see. We got there early and left after a couple of hours so we could return to the ship, clean up and have a late lunch, then do some shopping in the downtown area of Charlotte Amalie.
We like our cruise so much we even signed up for a Celebrity cruise next year!
Link to pictures of our cruise: http://home.comcast.net/~lfsimon/index.html