The first time I sailed on Celebrity was my baby moon in February 2001. It was a relatively new ship called the Galaxy, and while it was nice at the time, cruising has certainly changed over the years. Rooms with balconies were extremely limited, but we splurged and got an ocean view cabin (porthole really) and thought we were traveling in luxury.
This year we were looking for something to do over Christmas and started looking at the Celebrity Summit. I got a last minute deal, literally booked after Thanksgiving, for their Aqua Suites, which are Celebrity’s Spa Suites and allow you unlimited access to the Persian Garden (steam sauna heaven). You also get your own dining room, BLU, which offers more personalized service.
We tried the Summit’s two speciality restaurants, Tuscany – a steakhouse, and Qsine – a tour around the world with food and presentation. I loved Qsine, though the staff seemed to have a hard time selling it. They kept pointing out there was an iPad menu and it was like Tapas and cost $45. Say what??? We eventually were offered a good deal and off we went to Qsine, and what a feast it was. Presentation was more than half of the experience and the food was amazing.
We also had the opportunity to see some of the Caribbean Islands that were affected by the hurricanes of 2017. We left from San Juan and flying in we could see the blue tarps covering roofs everywhere. (The airport was also missing some of its roof). We met a couple on the ship who manufacture clothing in Puerto Rico and they had been living on a generator for 6 months.
Our first port of call was St. Thomas, where we took a sailboat snorkeling. Snorkeling was okay but the reefs were pretty bare because of the storms. Listening to the captain speak about still being without electricity made us realize that our presence and tourism in general really mattered. The Marriott Hotel, where I frequently sent clients, had been demolished.
Next up was St. Lucia, which is my husband’s favorite island in the Caribbean after we visited it on the Galaxy in 2001. Though we didn’t make it back to the volcanos, we did spend a great day ziplining through the rainforest. Next it was on to Barbados where we spent the day on a private beach club I found for $30 per person. It was a beautiful day as Barbados has some of the best white powered beaches. Our entry even included a snorkel trip and some complimentary cocktails! Well worth the money. No hurricane damage.
Next up was Martinique where you could definitely feel the French influence. We didn’t do any excursions here, just walked through the downtown area and checked out the shops, churches and old buildings. Someone in our party was coming down with a cold which met a trip to the local pharmacy. Though they only spoke French, I think they understood what we were looking for and gave us some medicine we’d never heard but seemed to do the trick. We ate some amazing crepes at a nice little outdoor cafe in a park and then wandered back to the ship. No hurricane damage here either.
Our final (and favorite) stop on the cruise was St Kitt’s. We took a catamaran to Nevis, and sat on the beach next to the Four Seasons . Fantastic lunch and snorkelling. I booked this excursion directly through Celebrity for less thana $100 per person. Though a “cattlemaran” excursion on a cruise can be hit or miss, the crew on ours was fantastic and really tried to keep all the passengers engaged and happy. Well worth the money. No hurricane damage
One night we paid $20 each to do something called “The Taste of Film” where they’ll show a movie at night on a huge outdoor screen and service small plates from Qsine that are tied in to what’s going on in the movie. We watched a movie called Chef with Jon Favreau which was still in theatres. Food was excellent and service was attentive. We also watched movies and college bowl games up on the rooftop during the day where they had cabanas and drink service.
Shows otherwise were lackluster and entertainment was lacking but they did food, wine and spa fabulously. Spa on board is a Canyon Ranch Spa offering an array of services.
One of our favorite parts of the Summit was Captain Kate, the first female Captain of a commercial cruise line. This woman was incredibly accessible and friendly. We’d often see her onboard talking with the passengers and seemed to remember some from previous sailings. She’s since moved up to one of Celebrity’s larger ships, the Equinox, but she’s definitely becoming the face of the company.