Cruise from Puerto Rico down the Lesser Antilles
April 2015
The "Summit" of Celebrity Cruise

Now I would like to describe my experience on the cruise ship "Summit" of "Celebrity Cruises". You can already look up their internet homepage to get acquainted. The reason to join a cruise was not that much to enjoy being on a ship but more so to be able to visit most of the Lesser Antilles islands in the shortest possible time.

If I would have traveled individually to the islands it would have taken much longer, even if I stayed only one day on one island at a time. And visiting one island a day was enough to see most important sights and to discover places worth to come back some day for a longer stay.

By the way, I would have had to pay more for island hoppings and hotels than the 1173,43 Euro for the two weeks cruise. That's the price after a 10% discount for senior citizen (over 50). I really didn't pay any cent more than that on the ship, even if there were many temptations, like ordering a small bottle of Heiniken for 6.50 USD. Even Heino, the beer addict, did resist. More about later on. Now take a look first at the following self-explanatory photographs.

Remark: The photos on the right side may not be correctly adjusted if you use Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. I propose to use the Explorer or Edge of Microsoft instead (even if most people prefer the others).

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Our cruise ship "Summit" in the harbor of San Juan
First inspection of the swimming pool on the main deck number 10
First inspection of the indoor swimming pool with this sculpture at the other end
This is the fitness studio Here you can train for the marathon
Last glimpse of San Juan and the fortress by night
I have booked the most expensive inside stateroom. The difference to the cheapest one was not that much, only 30.00 USD per one week cruise. The expensive one was on an upper deck. I preferred it because it's quicker to get to life boats or jump down in case of a sinking ship. I also took the one in the front of the ship, because I have heard that in the back you can hear some more noise from the engines.

Our stateroom had the number 9014. First digit is the deck number 9. That was very convenient: Just one flight up to deck 10 and you were next to the beauty parlor, the fitness studio, the saunas and the indoor swimming pool area, etc. While you continue to the back of the ship you pass the outdoor swimming pool until you reach the Ocean View Café and Grill. That was the only restaurant with no extra payments and was open 20 hours a day. Look up the internet for the deck plan and all the facilities.

And why did we take an inside stateroom? Because it is much cheaper than one of the next ocean view staterooms, i.e. 70.00 Euro per one week cruise. The difference was even greater on the same deck 9. We didn't need a window when we were sleeping and jumping out was not possible either. Since each week is a different cruise you should book the same stateroom for the second week, otherwise you have to change the room, that means packing and unpacking in between.

The stateroom was very well designed to provide for ample storage room, a table and desk with chairs, a bathroom with hot shower. The beds were together as one double bed in the middle when we entered our stateroom for the first time. We asked housekeeping to separate them what they did right away.

The fridge we only used for our "smuggled" bottles of beer. The prices of the mini bar are very high. For example: A Heineken beer 6.50 USD, half a bottle Chardonnay for 24.00 USD, one shot Bacardi rum for 8.50 USD, a soft drink for 3.50 USD.

The laundry prices were even more outrages: A short sleeved shirt for 6.00 USD, undergarments for 3.00 USD and a pair of socks also for the same price. So you better take enough clothes with you. I had bought 15 underpants for around 15.00 USD, so it was even cheaper to throw them away after the day's use.

Whom I am telling all this? Probably not to the experienced cruisers. For me it's the first time and it was all new to me and maybe for others too, who never did it, yet.
Our stateroom with beds Our stateroom with the rest
The first day we were on sea, because the first destination was Barbados, the farthest island on our cruise from Puerto Rico. The sea was very calm. I didn't feel that I was on a ship if you don't take a look out to sea. The captain, a Greek, actually didn't have much to do. He joined the crowd several times. He was very funny. He even jumped with suit and tie into the swimming pool to join the waterball competition. I don't know, though, whether he was able to handle his ship in a hurricane and maybe jumping from the ship first the same.
Looking down from the afterdeck on the first day at sea
You also could do a lot by joining all the activities offered. Starting with "Walk a Mile" at 7:30 a.m. It continues with various programs and events until the "The Party" lasting until late after midnight. I have counted 62 activities or events on the list "Summit Today" issued every day anew. Most are free, except for some Fitness Classes, like Indoor Cycling, and some games in the Fortunes Casino, and some others, but very few. So, it does not get bored if you don't leave the ship and you do not have to spend more money. So what sense does it make where you are cruising around if you do.
Arobic in the morning with the cruise ship's entertainer
The food in the Ocean View Café and Grill was very good and versatile. You could eat American, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Spanish, Caribbean (even German on one special day a week). You name it they got it (almost): Hot and cold; salty and sweet, healthy and unhealthy, many cakes and ice creams with different flavors. Following drinks were free: various teas, coffee, water, fruit juices. All the other drinks have to be paid for. And they were expensive as I have mentioned before.

If you didn't want to think before each extra drink then you could have booked the Celebrity Beverage Package. The Premium Package did cost 59.00 USD plus 18% gratuity a day, yes a day. It included all non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails, beers and wine by the glass and alcoholic cocktails and spirits. We declined to take this because we didn't want to get drunk every day having a hangover and miss the excursion next day. We could have rather ordered a beer or two for 6.50 USD each a day, still much less than the package price.

As far as the beer consumption is concerned I mentioned before that Heino was a beer addict. As soon as we did get from the ship he always was looking for an opportunity to buy a beer. The average price of a beer in a restaurant on land was less than half that of the ship. In a supermarket you could get one for around 1.00 USD.

So, it was very tempting to "smuggle" a couple of beer cans on board and put them in our fridge. Actually, it was not allowed to bring any drinks. Every bag was x-rayed before getting back on board. But I dared with one can and it worked, or better the x-ray didn't detect it. From now on also Heino did it with several beer cans. Next morning he took the empty cans back to land for the trash bin.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between You can almost eat any time
There is always enough of any kind
I have to mention that there are other restaurants on the ship, which are either part of a more expensive cruise package like "The Blu" restaurant for the AquaClass guests or you have to pay extra. The meals are supposed to be much better. I would rather eat in a restaurant with at least a star in the Michelin at home. By the way: In these restaurants you have to wear a smoking or similar during two formal days a week. That's not required in the only one Ocean View Café and Grill.

Now take a look at following photos so that you can get an idea about the highlife and highlights aboard. These are, however, only few examples. The guests are of mixed nationalities. Mostly from North America. Also a small contingent was from Germany. There was even a German speaking Guest Relation Officer. All information brochures and programs are also available in German. Also a ship's daily news paper was printed in German.
There was even a buffet at the swimming pool Only during special events at the pool
For example: Waterball competition Crew (with the captain in a suit) against guests
Spectators watching the match Examples of the clientele of cruise ships
Old people Fat people
Crazy people Young people
Entertainment people like a Filipina as a dancer
More so as a singer with a Philippine Band
Another day at the pool A special invitation for a sun downer
Having a last drink before dinner and before sunset
Last look out to the sea to check the weather
If you want to have some quietness then you can retreat either in the "Celebrity iLounge", where you can check your emails and surf in the internet, or you can read books in the Celebrity Library. But beware: The cost for a minute internet connection is 0.66 USD or 59.00 USD for 90 minutes, for example. And it is not as fast as at home, because it's a satellite connection. You also could use the internet via Wi-Fi with your own notebook or smartphone with the same price options. I suggest to use the internet on land. You will always find an internet café much cheaper or a pub or restaurant with free Wi-Fi, if you order a drink.
You can surf in the iLounge or read books in the library
Since there are also many wealthy people on board, there are also many opportunities to spend even more money. So there are jewelry shops and art shops catering for this kind of clientele. One art shop, Park West, was regularly conducting auctions for paintings. And you can win money if you guess beforehand what a certain painting will be sold for. This is a scheme just to lure people to the auctions. Be careful to raise your hand in a frenzy agitated by the auctioneer. You may regret it because there is no cancelation possible.
Or you can visit the art gallery with many nice paintings
being auctioned by Park West
Every day there is a show in the theater at 7:00 p.m. and again at 9:00 p.m. (the exception is on the departure day when the General Emergency Drill takes place). I have watched the show on many occasions at 9:00 p.m. and I enjoyed it very much.
Or going to the theater with a changing show almost every night
Another event I went was the open air music show with the Philippine band and the Filipina singer. If you had enough of loud disco music and dancing then you can relax at many other places. There are so many of them you always find one which suits your taste (drinking wine in the Cellar Masters, for example) or your bank account (gambling in the Fortunes Casino) .
You can dance almost all night
Wine tasting with live music or going to the casino to gamble
with small money to lose at the one arm bandits
or big money with the big guy or try your luck at the roulette
There are so many things I have left out, also because I didn't check it all out. You can find more information under and by searching the internet for other people's opinions in any forum.

One last thing. What about getting sick? There is a sickbay called the ship's medical facility. You should have a travel health insurance if you need medical attention. It can get expensive. Heino couldn't hear with one ear all of a sudden. The doctor found only dirt in his ear and charged him 213.00 USD for just cleaning it. Only if you have a contagious disease you will be treated for free, because the ship fears that you can infect other passengers and maybe even start an epidemic.

Most people don't know how to best avoid catching germs. I always cover my hands with a paper towel or a tissue when touching a toilet's door handle. I never did see other people doing it. And what did I see at all the inside ship toilet's doors? A sign telling you exactly this. And it provides a paper towel dispenser and trash bin just beside the door. The same procedure should be adhered to for all other public touching possibilities, like bars on a bus and train for example.

One important information for the final disembarkation in the morning back in San Juan: If you have plenty of time before your flight in the afternoon and want to do some sightseeing in between you can use the luggage storage facility available in the Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan, 104 Cli Fortaleza. A taxi from the pier to the restaurant cost 10.00 to 15:00 USD and takes 10 minutes. A taxi from Old San Juan to the airport cost 22.00 to 27.00 USD and takes 25 minutes.

A final word: There may be people who had more and different experiences with cruise ships. This was just my first one and actually it is not my world. It was just a means to get easily on many different islands as I mentioned in the beginning. I wanted once to book a cruise to the Antarctica (which however was thwarted by some circumstances). This also would not have been possible with any other means of transport, though.

Or maybe someday I will be so fragile and afraid to get seriously sick, that I will again join a cruise and maybe die during one. But then I have to get a newly devoloped ailment or disease on the ship because the travel health insurance will not pay for already existing conditions and the prices for treatment I would not be able to afford. I may be even rejected by the captain if I am too old. This just happened with a 82 year old man who was forced to leave the cruise ship AIDA.

Created November 2015

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