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Xcitdcruiser

Honeymooners REVIEW of the SUMMIT in the S Caribbean on 22Feb in AQ AFT w DIETARY Req

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The community on cruise critic has helped me immensely and added to the enjoyment of planning & experiencing this cruise – so much that I wanted to give back to the community. Before our trip I would spend hours reading the boards, hoping that a new review was posted, double points if they had any pictures!

 

This is the first review I’ve posted so please bear with me. I’ll type & upload as I get a chance. Feel free to ask any questions along the way.

First up – who are we?

I’m 30 & DH is 32. We are aussies from the land of down under wanting to celebrate our nuptials which kind of went like this:

 

 

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I work in finance (Type A), love travel & am a bit geeky; DH is in the sporting industry, is laid back, enjoys beers & doing manly things. We even each other out. We both love food but I have some intolerances to gluten & dairy which makes eating out a little challenging. We live close to one of the best wineries in the country so have learnt to appreciate the art of wine.

 

An example of my geekiness

 

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http://i161.photobucket.com/albums/t205/nic_kas/IMG_32021_zpse2dcec84.jpg"]

Yep – it’s a plastic sleeve folder filled with hours of research – throughout the trip this folder was our bible.

 

So, why a cruise? Why the Southern Caribbean?

 

We hadn’t had a holiday in a few years so wanted this trip to be ultra special. We decided that we wanted to go somewhere where neither of us had gone before, & a place that we could one day return on a special trip. We wanted a ‘no hassle’ trip. An all inclusive of some sort, but choosing one specific island in the Caribbean was proving to be a tough decision. I thought maybe we could go to 2 x islands...then 3...until I realised that the flights between the Caribbean are nowhere near as affordable as imagined.

 

Then the idea of a cruise came up. All inclusive? Check. Multiple islands? Check.

 

Sounding good.... now I’ve cruised before, i was much younger & under the guidance of my parents but I remembered enjoying it. DH on the other hand..he had his reservations. But i wasn’t about to dismiss the idea just yet. Many, many hours later i decided that a short, port intensive cruise would be best rather than one with many sea days. The worst outcome was being ‘stuck on a boat’ as DH would put it.

 

Then I came across Puerto Rico as a departure point vs mainland US (= less sea days to GET to the Caribbean)....winning..... it was up between Celebrity & Royal Caribbean. Modern Luxury vs Family Holiday. We had a winner. It was our honeymoon & we were going to splurge!

 

Now I’ll be honest & we had our reservations about the demographics of the cruise, but a dedicated craft beer bar? No screaming children? That was enough for us to go with Celebrity. And we are glad we did!

 

So, which route to decide on? I think of the Caribbean & imagine pristine, clear beautiful beaches. I put the question out there & fellow critics pointed me in the right direction; the Barbados route sounded perfect.

 

Ok we have the 7 night cruise selected but we couldn’t fly all of the way to the Caribbean for just 7 nights. Puerto Rico sounded like the perfect island to explore before or after the cruise. What started off as a 10 day trip in the early stages of planning ended up being 4 weeks away from home. The more I looked into it the more I learnt that the island has so much to offer that I knew we would kick ourselves should we not explore as much as we can; as well as the cruise I will also be reviewing Old San Juan, Culebra & El Yunque. I wasn’t going to as its not strictly cruising, but then thought that any portion of our trip could inspire a cruiser to do the same when departing from Puerto Rico on a cruise. And who wouldn’t want to extend a trip :D?

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First off we need to get to Puerto Rico. We wanted the most direct flight – we didn’t want to waste any time on the journey – we wanted to get to the destination!

After many months of planning it was finally time....Qantas / AA ended up being the airline of choice.

This is what we were leaving behind..

 

 

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That’s 111 Fahrenheit. We had broken the record of 12 days over 104 this summer. We must be one of the few that were trying to get to the Caribbean to cool down!

 

Anyhow, we had a 2hr domestic flight to Sydney, then a 5hr layover in Sydney before jumping on the longest flight possible. Literally. The distance between Sydney to Dallas is 13,804km. That’s 15.5hrs of non-stop flying time. It was a long flight & we certainly felt it. I had purchased a AA ticket on the Qantas operated flight & had advised them of my dietary requirements. Now what’s the worst thing that could happen to someone with dietary requirements on a 15 hours flight? Get ill. Well, lucky for me that wasn’t the case. The 2nd worst thing? My requirements had not been communicated to the correct department. I had no food! The Qantas staff felt for me. And they tried REALLY hard. An attendant was ceoliac so she was familiar with the food that they serve on board & oversaw what was given to me. I would wait until after meal time to see what business class passengers had not selected & was given those meals. In the end, I didn’t get ill, but it wasn’t something that i wanted to go through ever again.

 

We arrived in Dallas excited to be touching down on US soil. Well, that was before we realised the amount of lining up we had to do – I can’t tell you what we were lining up for, but there were a lot of lines & we were in them for a long time. But that’s ok, we had another 3 hours wait in Dallas.

This would be a good time to mention the Admirals Club Membership. For $99 we were able to purchase a membership for 30 days allowing entry into any of the Admiral lounges, as well as Qantas. This allows you one guest (I was kind enough to take my DH) & we can both enjoy the complimentary wi-fi, drinks & snacks at the airport lounges in slightly more comfortable chairs than those at the gates. We calculated that we could visit 6 lounges during our return journey. That equates to $16.50 to enter each lounge. For BOTH of us. So, a little over $8 each. One drink during each visit & it would have paid for itself. It worked :D

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Love your review so far--can't wait to hear about what you thought of the Summit but am also loving your entertaining writing!

 

If your marriage survived the air trip to SJU I am sure you will have a long happy marriage. Congrats!

 

Please let us know which ship shorex you did if any, and how you found good healthy food.

thanks for your review.

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Awesome review so far! Can't wait to read the rest :D:D:D

That is an impressive trip "Bible" I need to up my game ;) I just used a folder with clips haha! Your is very official ;)

 

My husband and I also took our honeymoon on Celebrity this past December. I need to write a review too! I just haven't had the time :( They are fun to write but time consuming once you add in picture selecting and uploading.

Edited by CruisingGatorGirl

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Javalina thank you for your kind words - there were a few times on the trip where we thought marriage counseling would be the only way, but we managed. In fact, we did so well I want to do it all over again! :p

 

Unfortunately (fortunately?) I am only able to eat healthy - no sugar or any processed foods for me! I'm not too sure whether I put on weight because all the walking we did would have balanced it off. But i certainly did not go hungry.

 

We did something different at each port so stay tuned!

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I have recently returned from Miami with A.A. We were offered the Admirals Club Lounge at a cost of $55 p.p. so your price was good. We declined , way over priced for one flight! We sat at a gate close by and logged on to their Internet though!

 

I too have a Lactose sensitivity. I ordered vegan meals. We had actually booked via BA, but were assigned A.A Trans Atlantic flights.

On the outward flight I was served a vegan meal. Fine.

On the return flight I was served a Gluten free meal, fine, except that I was given a pat of butter. I requested dairy free creamer, which the American Airlines plane had, the BA flight did not.

 

I noticed that hotels in US have packets of dairy free creamer in the rooms, when a coffee machine is provided. Has anyone noticed them on cruise ships? Much better than asking for Soya or Lactose free milk.

Edited by upwarduk

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So we are in Dallas & off to the Admirals Lounge we went & stayed for a few hours until it was time to board. When we arrived at the gate ready to board, we knew our flight was delayed because our plane was nowhere to be seen. It was delayed. And the announcement that came through said something along those lines. They couldn’t FIND the aircraft, it was parked at an incorrect bay. This caused a 2 hour delay. We were really surprised by how calm all of the passengers were. Every so often someone would get up & ask a question. Civilised. Polite. If this were to happen in Australia, all hell would break loose! The differences didn’t end there – we were so surprised by the amount of luggage that passengers were bringing onboard! Back home we are allowed one item, up to 7kgs & a small personal item such as a handbag. If you try to board the plane with anything more, you are turned away with the additional items being checked in & you will pay for it. We sat it our seats & watched people squash, rummage, push items into the overhead compartments; we were surprised that they would be even be allowed on the plane. Somehow everything fit. And off we were on the last leg of our journey.

 

The flight was non eventful; we tried to sleep but the combination of excitement, hunger & being uncomfortable didn’t blend well together; a handful of hours later we arrived in San Juan. We left our home town at 6am on Thursday & we arrived at 1.30am on Friday morning. This journey was over 30+hrs!!

Edited by Xcitdcruiser

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The first thing we noticed in San Juan was the humidity – it hit us hard. Unsurprisingly the airport was not very busy so there were plenty of taxis available. Our destination was Villa Herencia in Old San Juan. I had read it is not a well known place amongst taxi drivers so I was armed with the address & closest attraction. El Convento. This came in handy when the driver gave me a blank look. $26 later for a 20 minute drive we arrived at the quaint b&b that I was so eager to see. It didn’t look like much from the outside but we were wowed as we walked through those doors. It used to be part of the Carmelite convent (built over 300years ago) & eventually separated from now what is known as Hotel El Convento. That night it took us very little to go to sleep..

 

This is what we first saw, the ‘hallway’

 

 

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The ‘sitting room’ where one checks in. This is the only place in the building that you can access wi-fi, we generally sat around after breakfast or before dinner catching up on emails. Apart from its old world charm & matching furniture one of its most notable features is the art displayed

 

 

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& I've only just realised that there is a limit of photos you can upload at once...

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This was our bed & the gorgeous paintings displayed.

 

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The formal dining room where a continental breakfast is served. There is an enormous dining table with mismatching chairs that can be seen from the street. They serve coffee, tea (no herbal), orange juice, toast, spreads, two types of fruit, cereal & freshly home baked cookies (if you are up early you can smell them from the kitchen!) DH was happy with the variety but apart from the fruit there was nothing else I could have. During the booking process they reassured me that I could be catered for as they bake their own bread but when I asked the employee there they kept telling me that they buy the ‘healthiest’ bread in the store. I just smiled. As a result we generally had lunch earlier rather than later.

 

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I enjoyed sitting across from this painting at breakfast...it was only on the last day that i realised it was actually a little gruesome..

 

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Last but not least Villa Herencia has this gorgeous terrace. It was like a hideaway amongst a busy city. This was taken on the way up the stairs looking in the open ‘hallway’ below

 

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On the terrace there were many plants, cool looking bathtubs that you can make use of, the obligatory cats, seating & a relaxation couch (not sure what it’s actually called, I just made that up). One of my fav pics is below. We spent a few nights up there taking it all in. VH have an honour bar with more alcohol than one can taste during one stay along with mixers. This was a sweet touch adding to the b&b’s charm.

 

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We stayed at VH for the first 3 nights of our trip & 3 nights post cruise (which I'll touch on later). It's a small b&b with 8 rooms or so over two floors. It doesn't have a lift/elevator but the employees are happy to help. It doesn't have the shiny bits & pieces of a hotel, but it does have this boutique feel about it. It's location is excellent. We walked everywhere in OSJ. There are no safes in the rooms, but the front door is always locked. Each room is given a key to their room as well as the front door. Our room was small, the furniture a little too big for the space, but I think it added to the charm. Showers were always hot (massive plus for me) & the water pressure was ok - good enough to wash my hair ;)

 

VH has a special place in my heart, unsure whether it is as magnificent as I recall or whether it was becaase it was the first accommodation we stayed in, but i would book it again a heart beat. DH states that it was his fav accomodation of the entire trip!

 

I should also mention that it is one of the more affordable places in OSJ!

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Awesome review so far! Can't wait to read the rest :D:D

That is an impressive trip "Bible" I need to up my game ;) I just used a folder with clips haha! Your is very official ;)

 

My husband and I also took our honeymoon on Celebrity this past December. I need to write a review too! I just haven't had the time :( They are fun to write but time consuming once you add in picture selecting and uploading.

 

I read your review & loved it! Thank you for sharing the adventure.

I'm only now starting to realise how long this will take me to post...but I figure that i probably spend 10 x that over the last few months in preparation :)

 

DH laughed at me when i showed him the trip 'Bible' but guess where the first place he went searching when he needed something.... ! In reality it was really simply to set up / keep - each port/city had its own sleeve. When something was booked, confirmations went into the corresponding sleeve. Easy peasy!

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I have recently returned from Miami with A.A. We were offered the Admirals Club Lounge at a cost of $55 p.p. so your price was good. We declined , way over priced for one flight!

 

I forgot to mention that $99 membership is valid for 30 days. Maybe the $55 is a once off entry fee?

 

I too have a Lactose sensitivity. I ordered vegan meals. We had actually booked via BA, but were assigned A.A Trans Atlantic flights.

On the outward flight I was served a vegan meal. Fine.

On the return flight I was served a Gluten free meal, fine, except that I was given a pat of butter. I requested dairy free creamer, which the American Airlines plane had, the BA flight did not.

 

I found the code sharing of flights too confusing. Qantas on domestic are excellent but they ended up mucking up my request on the way home also!

 

I noticed that hotels in US have packets of dairy free creamer in the rooms, when a coffee machine is provided. Has anyone noticed them on cruise ships? Much better than asking for Soya or Lactose free milk.

 

Although I didn't look for them, after experiencing the X service even if you did have to ask for them it wouldn't be a problem for them.

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Great review and pictures, thanks for sharing your cruise with us!! looking forward to the rest!:):)

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What a wonderful start to your review! I can already tell I'll stick with this one until the end! Just like I did with cruisinggatorgirl's review of her engagement trip :)

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We aren't even cruising the Caribbean but I know I'll be eyes-glued to this review until the end!

 

Love the photos!

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Thank you for taking the time to share your photos and review! It is a blessing to have so many people that take the time to share with others. I have been a part of CC for a few years and I can tell you that the information here is invaluable!

 

Looking forward to your photos and review.

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I'm so following this .... thank you for sharing. and congratulations on your wedding! ;)

 

my previous cruises have been with NCL, and am doing my first Celebrity in 45days. I've also been scouring the boards for information, and consider included pics a plus. I know this isn't the ship I'll be on, but I still an curious.

 

and, Happy Friday Y'ALL! :)

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Our first full day in Old San Juan. It also happened to be Valentine’s Day – very fitting. Within the first hour we decided that this is the most romantic city we’ve even been too. Coloured facades, iron wrought terraces, cobblestone streets & alleys. Just beautiful.

 

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We slowly made our way to Castillo San Cristobal, the ‘small’ fort (if that is even possible)

 

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We went at our own pace but there were tours that you could do. We also didn’t realise that is was President’s Week so entry was free (winning!)

 

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Some images that I took..

 

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This was a very cool looking terrace – appeared to be some sort of bar at the top. We wanted to go have a look but ended up forgetting about it. Has anyone been there or know what it is?

 

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We found this fort really interesting. We were there for about 1.5hrs before the heat got to us & it started to get crowded (lunchtime). Make sure that you have sturdy footwear & plenty of water when exploring. I did notice a lady with a walker & another in a wheelchair – I think this fort would be the easier of the two if you require assistance. The other fort appeared to have more stairs.

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With our stomachs rumblings we set out to find our first Puerto Rican meal. I had done a lot of research on where to eat, mainly on Trip Advisor. I figure that life is too short to eat terrible food! Our first stop was Cafe Puerto Rico by Plaza Colon. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but we went in anyways. We were directed to the first level where we were the only non-locals. Just the way we like it! I had heard of the popular dish, the mofongo so went with that. Prior to our trip i had looked into the main ingredients that Puerto Rican cook with, plantains being very popular. Bonus! They are not fans of butter, or flour which was a very big help to me. I asked the lady for the mofongo with shrimp & they were able to make it for me in a tomato sauce rather than the creamy one on the menu. At this point I still wasn’t sure what mofongo was, but it was the best thing ever!

DH wanted something ‘light’ so went with a chicken salad. It was the biggest chicken salad we had ever come across. Despite the massive portion sizes we both made a dent with the help of our lunchtime cocktails :D DH had a Mojito & I went with the Cafe Puerto Rico Special. Boy it was special – it was the strongest cocktail I had! And i paid for it later.... Excluding tip, lunch was $42. We were both stuffed & declared that we loved Puerto Rico!

 

What followed didn’t surprise us – an afternoon nap prompted by jetlag, full belly & alcohol. Life was good.

I had something special planned for Valentines Dinner, a visit to Marmalade, the No. 1 rated restaurant on Trip Advisor. They were offering a special of 5 course meal with matching wines for $150pp. It was a lot of money, but it was a special occasion & this was THE place to go in San Juan. The restaurant itself was very modern. The menu is creative, matching foods that you wouldn’t think to match together. They are organic, sustainable & support small producers & local farmers. I had made the booking months beforehand & had notified them of my requirements. Sure enough as we were seated the chef came out & went through each item describing in detail the ingredients, what i could eat & what i would possibly love. It all sounded great. We tasted, indulged & experienced. By the 4th course we felt like we couldn’t move. We managed all 5 courses but swapped the last wine pairing for a coffee & herbal tea. We can see why some people love this place, the service is excellent, & the food is unusual. But....... we weren’t able to rate it that highly. We all tasted ok, but we didn’t want ok, we wanted to be wowed We wanted it to be memorable. It all sounded so much better in theory but unfortunately it didn’t quite do it for us. When you also consider the price, we wanted to be blown away. But we weren’t. And the icing on the cake? That night i was violently ill. I’m not sure what exactly it was, but something didn’t agree with me.

Although it didn’t live upto expectation I’m glad we went. We were in OSJ for a week & wanted to experience as much as we could. Had we not been, we always would have wondered what it would be like to dine at the top place in San Juan. Would I go again? Only for free. Would I recommend it? Not if it were your only meal in OSJ.

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Great review and pictures, thanks for sharing your cruise with us!! looking forward to the rest!:):)

 

Thank you for reading!

 

great review, do you like to publish your "bible"?:D

 

By the time I finish this review, it will be much better than my "bible" as hindsight is a wonderful thing!

 

It would be very easy to set up though, a folder filled with plastic sleeves, a few labels to stick on each sleeve. 1st sleeve will be flights, 2nd, travel insurance, & third passports. The remainder can be filled as you book any excursions or find any 'must do's' in each port. It was a lot of fun seeing the folder get thicker :)

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What a wonderful start to your review! I can already tell I'll stick with this one until the end! Just like I did with cruisinggatorgirl's review of her engagement trip :)

 

Many thanks! I hope you enjoy the rest. Cruisinggatorgirl's was def entertaining!

 

An ambitious review to be sure- GREAT so far!

 

Thank you - this review will not be done overnight, but it WILL get finished! I'm finding that the comments are certainly encouraging.

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