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Just back from Summit - April 20


TXCruiser2

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We arrived in San Juan the day before and stayed at Hotel Miramar. We were very pleased with our accommodations, very nice, clean hotel, extremely friendly and helpful staff. Nothing fancy but suited our purposes for an overnight stay. This was our first Celebrity cruise. We have been on Royal Caribbean, Holland and Norwegian. We usually go by itinerary when choosing a ship. My husband and I are in our 50's and 60's, another couple joined us on this trip. I think we got ripped off on our taxi fare to the hotel as it was posted as $17 at the airport; however, we were charged $20/couple. We let it go but I think we would question it next time. We had made reservations at Barrachina's for dinner in OSJ and took the bus from the hotel to the restaurant (after that pricey cab ride!). The bus stop was just a block from our hotel and we only waited maybe 15 minutes. We were dropped off within a couple blocks from the restaurant. The food was very tasty, we had calamari as an appetizer (it was fine) and my husband and I split the Mahi ($22), delicious. We had Tres Leches for dessert - excellent! I have to say after a couple of dances, the Flamenco dancing was a bit monotonous. It was really loud as the show is in a small, cramped room. I wanted to love it and was trying to partake in the culture but it just wasn't our thing. To be fair, we had been up since 3:30am as we had a very early flight so it had been long, tiring day. We took a cab back to the hotel and crashed. Like I said, the room was perfectly comfortable. I had seen some negative reviews so was a little worried but they've obviously been sprucing up the place with new carpet, paint and recently stained beautiful wood doors. One suggestion though, request a room away from the street. We heard beep beep from the cars throughout the night, while our friends didn't hear a thing as they were on the other end of the hall.

 

We woke up surprisingly early as we had planned to sleep in and have a leisurely morning. We walked down to Los Pinos Cafe and had a very good breakfast and delicious coffee. The restaurant isn't much to look at it (we even missed it as we walked by) but it was all very good and super reasonable.

 

We shared a cab with another couple so the six of us and luggage squeezed in the taxi for the short ride to the port. This time, the taxi charged per person so we didn't really save anything by sharing the cab. No matter though as they were such a nice couple that we ran into throughout the week. Arrived at the port around 11 or so and breezed through. There is a small shop at the port for purchasing wine and soda to take on board. Checked out the ship and had lunch. The ship was clean and in good shape but really no Wow! factor. I have to say that the ships on RC are much prettier. We had originally thought we would disembark and do some sightseeing in Old San Juan but since that would mean yet another cab ride there and back since we were at the Pan American Pier, we decided just to stay onboard and relax by the pool. We had an outside cabin and were perfectly satisfied. We had gotten a great deal and decided no need for a balcony this cruise since we would be in port so much. We never regretted this decision.

 

Dining: We had select dining and usually ate somewhere between 6:30-7:00, a little earlier on the first night so we could be done for the life boat drill. We were always seated right away, never had a wait. Most nights we had very good service except for the 2nd formal night which is also the night the restaurant staff sings, the service was painfully slow and a long time between courses. I thought that food in the main dining room started out very good at the beginning of the week and kinda went downhill a bit as far as menu choices. Everything was tasty and no complaints, just nothing to write home about. I didn't really see any issues with the layout of the buffet, it moved along fine, but again as the week went on, it would have been nice to see something new rather than the same choices every day. About mid-week, we found the pancakes and waffles at another station way in the back and the eggs benedict on the other side of the wall. We did discover the sushi which is available at 5:30 every day in the buffet area. It was a nice treat for when you are looking for a snack after being in port all day. Really the best meal was the brunch on the sea day - absolutely fantastic! So many choices and everything tasted good. The Sunset Bar is an outdoor area by the buffet and is a wonderful place to dine but so few chairs?

 

Entertainment: The comedian and illusionist were the highlights. They were both very good and we couldn't stop talking about them. So unusual these days to have a comedian do a 'clean' show and guess what, it was still funny! The piano player was excellent, he's young and just needs to expand his repertoire but everything he played was great. The Crooners, a Capella group were fantastic, we thoroughly enjoyed them. The bands were all very good as were the production shows. Liars Club was hysterical since the comedian joined in. We are usually night owls but with such a busy port schedule we didn't stay up very late so not sure about the late night entertainment.

 

The captain was very visible (also very young!) throughout the week and joined in on a lot of the activities. The cruise director did a great job and all of the staff went out of their way to be helpful. Fellow passengers were a good mix of mature and young. I would say it was definitely a younger crowd from Holland. Although there were very few young families. Of course, since it was April, wouldn't expect to see a lot of kids.

 

Barbados: booked a private sightseeing island tour for our party of four. Cameron Reid was extremely flexible and reasonably priced. I can highly recommend him so I would be happy to email his contact info. We saw all the highlights that we had read about and he customized the tour according to our wishes. North Point is breathtaking and all the flowers and greenery were just beautiful. We were dropped off at Waterfront Cafe which turned out to be a great dining spot with excellent service and tasty, fresh food. Visited a few shops of course during our walk back to the ship.

 

St Lucia: Went with Cosol Tours. We saw all the main highlights. It is a full day of sightseeing and for $65 a person, a great price. Very professional and very accommodating. They really go out of their way to make sure you're having a good time. We had a short snorkel stop where we saw a decent amount of fish. Would have liked a little more time at the beach to chill out a bit but thoroughly enjoyed our day.

 

Antigua - Booked the Lobster lunch and snorkel with Creole Cruises. This was probably our favorite as far as service, fun and overall experience. The lunch was fantastic - grilled lobster - yum! The only negative was the snorkeling. The reefs are all dead and not really a lot of fish. That was disappointing but the stop to see the starfish was fun and we had a great time. A little pricey but we only had maybe 12 people on our boat so we really enjoy this type excursion vs masses of people. Again, the guides just bend over backwards to accommodate and ensure you have a great time.

 

St Martin - Went with Bernards Tour. Another great choice. They really take care of you and for such a reasonable price. Wouldn't have minded a little more time at Orient and/or Maho but since some of the passengers had an earlier ship's departure time we had to head on back. The bus was a bit crowded but it wasn't too bad as you weren't on the bus for long periods of time and our driver, Sexy, went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable and happy. He even dropped us off for shopping, then took a group back to the ship and came back and got us. What more can you ask for?

 

All of these tours were booked through the recommendations of fellow CCer's so this board was really helpful in planning our trip. Each of these tours included all the soda, water, beer and rum punch you could possibly want. We had originally thought about renting a car in some of these locations but we are so glad we didn't! The traffic and driving is really pretty crazy! It was so much more relaxing to let someone else take care of that and just sit back and enjoy the sites!

 

St Thomas - Ended up going to a little known beach called Morning Star, which is actually part of the Marriott resort. It came from a recommendation of one of the ship crew members who said it is the same beach as Magan's Bay but much less crowded. $25 gets you an umbrella and two chairs. It was a very quiet, relaxing day. The beach restaurant there (part of Marriott) had surprisingly good food. We had nachos that were outstanding and key lime pie to die for.

 

All too soon, the trip was over. How quickly a week flies after months of planning! We disembarked around 9:30. Unfortunately, when we went to pick up our bags, one was missing. The staff at the terminal didn't seem all that helpful and simply said, 'someone probably took your bag by mistake, it happens all the time'. We hung around till everyone cleared the terminal hoping it would turn up and noticed that one black bag remained. Similar to ours but smaller and ours had a bright neon ribbon on it. Anyway, we decided to take a shot and call the owner of that bag since the phone number was on the luggage tag. To make a long story short, sure enough they had our bag. It was a very nice Puerto Rican couple whose very apologetic daughter met us at the airport later and brought our bag to us. We totally lucked out on that one! Even though we thought we had distinctive luggage tags and a bright neon ribbon, next time we will put some other distinguishing mark on our bags. Just including this as a tip! :)

 

Once we had made contact and were fairly confident we would see our bag again we went ahead and took a tour with San Juan Happy Tours as we had a 5:30pm flight. For $25/person, they drive you around a bit, make a couple of scenic stops and then drop you off in OSJ for lunch and shopping. I had thought it would include a tour of the fort but they basically just pointed out the fort which you could go to on your own. We had about 2 1/2 hours in OSJ and then were dropped off at the airport. I guess that was ok, it was nice that they took care of your bags and it was something to do until time to go to the airport.

 

Sorry for the long review, I tried to just hit the highlights but happy to answer any questions.

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