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endtried

Celebrity Summit - San Juan to Lesser Antilles Jan 2020

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Intro 

 

Why this cruise? Because I really wanted to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Sounded exotic enough and I had never heard of the country until the US soccer team played a game against them. 

The cruise fit in the timeframe after Christmas when it’s not busy at work for me so I was able to get away without any issues and it was also good timing since my mother had visited from Germany for the holidays and she had always wanted to go on a cruise in the Caribbean.

 

Although having cruised before, I have never been on Celebrity and did not know what to expect but I was definitely very surprised about how much I liked the ship, the food, the crew and of course the itinerary. It was a perfect getaway in the middle of winter and I already booked my next cruise with Celebrity (not till 2021 but there were already a few other cruises scheduled this year and I do not have unlimited vacation days).

 

 

Day 1 - January 4, 2020

San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

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Our flight from DC down to Puerto Rico was supposed to leave at 8am, which it also did just a few minutes. We taxied to the runway where we were sent to the “penalty box”- an area where airplanes wait in case of delays. We would have been the next plane to take off but the runway direction was just changed and the pilots required a new flight plan, which would have increased the flight time from 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours. This would be thrown out the window 15-20 minutes later since we had a medical emergency and had to go back to the gate. Long story short- we eventually took off with a two hour delay due to re-fueling but we were able to go back to the original flight route so reached San Juan only a bit more than two hours late. Still plenty of time to get to the ship but not a lot of time to explore the old town So we skipped that part unfortunately. 

 

The taxi line was well organized and we were soon on our way to the Pan-American Pier. Maybe 15 minutes and $25 plus tip later, the driver dropped us off right next to ship. Check in was quick and easy through an employee only carrying an iPad (we just needed to show the Xpress pass and passports) and lines to get onboard were non-existent at that time.  Definitely the easiest check-in I have ever experience while on a cruise.

 

We didn’t do much for the rest of the evening except participating in the emergency drill and getting since dinner in the Oceanview Cafe, where we made the mistake and stopped in the first section getting something to eat from there. We didn’t realize until we had already eaten that there were other sections to the Cafe but we would definitely explore all the options over the course of the next days. (The scale at home clearly did not like the results when we got back but that’s a topic for another day).

 

First impression of our Oceanview cabin (that we were actually able to upgrade through my the bidding program that Celebrity sends) was great- everything seemed new and well appointed. The bed was super comfy and it was spacious overall. The bathroom was also very nice and we never had any issues. 

 

The ship also was in great shape and we knew we would have a great vacation laying ahead of us.
 


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Day 2 - January 5, 2020

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

 

After waking up way too early and going out for a run on the deck outside, we went early to the Oceanview Cafe to have a nice breakfast outside. This would become our favorite spot and was definitely worth getting up a bit earlier for. 
 

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We docked at the Crown Bay Pier and booked our shore excursion through Celebrity (“St. John’s Island Tour”).
 

After meeting in the theatre and walking of the ship, we boarded a smaller ship to take us to Cruz Bay on St. John. 

 

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The guide explained a lot of things while we passed many yachts, resorts and villas on the way during the 30-40min boat ride.

He also went into great detail what happened to the island(s) during the hurricanes in 2017, which were not only devastating to the entire island but also to the crew on board. The guide explained that he had the longest cai ping trip of his life in 2017 by not having electricity and water for 150 days. 

They mentioned several times how grateful they were that tourists were coming back, which resulted in the entire crew being able to earn a living. 

 

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Eventually we reached Cruz Bay where we boarded a safari-style vehicle that would take us through the island. We passed by several view points and beaches along the way - one of the being Trunk Bay, which has been voted amongst the best beaches in the world. According to our guide though, there are much better beaches ok the island but due to the lack of facilities, they are not being considered, which is good as they aren’t that crowded and attract more locals than tourists.
 

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Edited by endtried

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We had only about 15min minutes to spare before the boat would leave after our island tour but used the time wisely to walk around the little village quickly but also to get some ice cream from a local shop. This sweetened the boat ride back to the cruise ship pier and as usual, going back felt much quicker than going to St. John. 
 

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We quickly ate something for lunch and went to deck 4 to enjoy the quiet time on one of the loungers.
This area would never really be crowded and was always a spot full of serenity for us on each of the coming days. 
mit also came in handy for the frequent rain showers since it was covered and we wouldn’t get wet. 

 

Dinner was also a quick affair in the Oceanview Cafe and after a nice sunset, we fell into our very comfortable beds and that was a wrap for our first real vacation day. 
 

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Edited by endtried

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So far so good, we were on this cruise to and enjoyed dinner in Oceanview a few times.  DH was hooked on the Indian food

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Day 3 - January 6, 2020

St. John’s, Antigua

 

There are supposedly 365 beaches on Antigua- one beach for every day. We unfortunately had only one day and obviously wouldn’t make it to all beaches. Not wanting to fail that challenge, we actually decided to take the “Amazing Antigua”-tour offered by the ship- no beach involved. 
 

Once again we secured spots early on the outside of the Oceanview Cafe and enjoyed the views while inching closer to Antigua.
Due to the close proximity of the islands, we were going really slow each day that it almost felt as we weren’t moving at all at times. 

 

The tour would include stops at different view points and was a good way to see something of the island as the distance we traveled was relatively long and though the countryside. The guide was informative and gave a lot of background info about different topics such as cricket, hurricanes, island life in general so the time passed quickly. 
 

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First stop was at a view point with ruins of the historic Blockhouse followed by another view point at Shirley Heights. 

 

Shortly after stopping at the ruins, a massive downpour started and everybody made it more or less dry back to the bus. Unfortunately there are always these people that don’t understand that the tour guide has no influence over the weather so blamed her for the rain... 

 

 

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The next stop would be at Nelson’s Dockyard within the English Harbor, a UNESCO world heritage site where we got a quick tour by one of the national Park rangers but then had some time to wander around. The weather was much better now and the puddles left by the rain earlier made for some nice pictures. 


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We made it back to St John’s around lunchtime where I took a walk through the busy streets. It was crowded and the midday sun was burning so after taking a few pictures, I went back to the ship and the rest of the day was spent with reading and relaxing- a perfect vacation day. A little exploring in the morning, a lot of relaxation in the afternoon under the Caribbean sun in January- what is not to like? 

 

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One person on the ship hadn’t coped so well and needed to take a rest though... he would not recover till the end of the cruise ... 

 

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Edited by endtried

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Day 4 - January 7, 2020

Fort de France, Martinique 

 

Since we had no excursion booked, we could have slept in but were already up by 6am and went to breakfast about half an hour later to get nice seating outside in the back. This was now our favorite spot and whenever we could, we would eat outside- for breakfast or dinner. 

We already could see the island of Martinique and were at the pier right on time at 8am. 
 

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We walked off the ship shortly after it was cleared and made our way to the public ferry terminal (maybe 15 min walk away) because we wanted to catch the ferry to Pointe-du-Bout. There was a ticket booth across the piers and also a helpful gentleman that eventually also sold the tickets. The all day ticket was 7 Euro but you could also pay a slightly higher fare in $. Both timetable and departure points were clearly marked and it was overall a pretty straightforward affair.

We had done our research online in advance so had a good idea already (vedettestropicales.com).

 

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We didn’t have to wait long for the next ferry and enjoyed the maybe 30min ride over to our first stop, Pointe-du-Bout. We got off, checked out the beach that is literally across the ferry dock so very easy to get to but we had no intention of staying there anyways and made our way towards Anse Mitan, where we planned on catching the ferry back to Fort de France.

 

We walked down the road (literally) and after passing a few nice shops, restaurant and cafes, we reached the nicer beach at Anse Mitan. We found a beachside café where we drank something while waiting for the ferry. There were umbrellas and chairs for rent and while we were there (around 1030/11am), it was not crowded.

 

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Edited by endtried

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We took the ferry back to the city and the dock was now pretty busy with many people trying to board the different ferries. We made our way to the city center where we just walked around.

 

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We couldn’t find the market at first but eventually made it and no time too soon as it was began raining pretty hard at that time. Luckily it last only maybe 10 minutes and we were soon on our way back to the ships. While the main streets were crowded, the smaller side streets were almost deserted.

 

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After walking more than 15k steps, we made it back to the ship where cold towels and iced water was waiting for us. A quick lunch was followed by a not so quick nap and then it was finally time to eat again … after that, we watched a movie and went to bed early.

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On 1/17/2020 at 9:36 PM, bunnyette said:

So far so good, we were on this cruise to and enjoyed dinner in Oceanview a few times.  DH was hooked on the Indian food

 

The Indian station was amazing!  as Vegetarians, we appreciated that station along with the Vegetarian/Vegan Station (which also served Indian cuisine at times).   

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1 hour ago, endtried said:

 

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After walking more than 15k steps, we made it back to the ship where cold towels and iced water was waiting for us. A quick lunch was followed by a not so quick nap and then it was finally time to eat again … after that, we watched a movie and went to bed early.

 

We also loved Martinique (we were on the same cruise).  As a library buff, we enjoyed visiting this gorgeous building.  

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Nice review.  I am glad that your flight delays did not make you miss you ship!

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1 hour ago, hvbaskey said:

 

The Indian station was amazing!  as Vegetarians, we appreciated that station along with the Vegetarian/Vegan Station (which also served Indian cuisine at times).   

 
Unfortunately I got “stuck” at the stir fry station every night because it was so delicious so wasn’t able to try much else 😊 

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9 hours ago, endtried said:

 
Unfortunately I got “stuck” at the stir fry station every night because it was so delicious so wasn’t able to try much else 😊 

On right now and have had stir fry almost every night!!

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On 1/20/2020 at 5:11 PM, hvbaskey said:

 

We also loved Martinique (we were on the same cruise).  As a library buff, we enjoyed visiting this gorgeous building.  

 

It seems that even many newer libraries have invested in “good looks”... I visited the one in Malmo in Sweden in December and it was just perfectly situated and very pretty. And there is another in Stuttgart, Germany you should put on your list then as well. 
 

On 1/20/2020 at 5:40 PM, mahdnc said:

Nice review.  I am glad that your flight delays did not make you miss you ship!

 

Luckily we had booked through Celebrity so we at least would have had the assurance that they would have taken care of any issues. I now definitely recommend booking through the cruise line if you intend to fly in on disembarkation day. 

 

 

On 1/21/2020 at 5:45 AM, jimbri said:

Beautiful photos!


Thanks!

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Day 5 – January 8, 2020

Castries, St. Lucia

 

Another day, another rain shower to start the day but luckily we were able to avoid most of them by being at the right place at the right time. Until we boarded the cruise, we did not know what we wanted to do. The only tour that looked appealing to us was the “Exotic Garden Bach Tour” so we booked that though the shore excursion desk.
 

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We walked off the ship since the meeting point was outside and were on our way after a short wait for people running late. First stop would be Stony Hill Estate, which is a family home that was built about 20 years. It serves as an event venue and was pretty crowded with other tourists when we were there. We could sample different drinks and cakes and our guide gave us a tour of the property that is laid out on a couple of acres and contains many different species of trees and flowers. Sitting on top of a hill, there was a nice breeze and we enjoyed the walk through the garden with some nice views over the island to the ocean.
 

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Then it was time to board the bus and we made our way to the beach at Gros Islet. Here we had about 90 minutes and after some confusion finally got some beach chairs that were included in the tour (umbrellas could be rented for $10-$15 depending on who you asked and where you want to sit). The beach was quiet hectic and different vendors came by so it was almost more interesting to just people-watch then do anything else.

 

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After a nice time, we made our way back to the ship where once again we retreated to deck 4 and eventually watch the Vision of the Seas pull away ahead of us before we made our way towards Barbados, once again it seemed we were crawling since the distance to the next port was short.

Since the local airport was right by the port, we were able to see some small planes take off, which made for some nice entertainment.

 

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Day 6 – January 9, 2020

Bridgetown, Barbados

 

When we pulled into the harbor (actually pretty early), we did not win the “who goes to the best pier”-game since we were docked the furthest from the actual terminal building. Therefore we started the day with the nice walk (maybe 0.5 mile or a bit longer) to get to the meeting point of our tour. There was also a shuttle that would take you to the building, which was supposed to leave only when full, which turned out not to be true since it passed us on the way with only a handful of people in it.

We booked the “Coast to Coast”-Tour through Celebrity and even though it was a kind of a long time spend in the bus, it was definitive informative and we got to see quiet a lot.

 

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The first stop was at the Highland Viewpoint, where we had the opportunity to taste some rum punch but after some time on the grounds, sunshine turned into liquid sunshine aka a massive downpour and everybody quickly ran back to the bus. But once again it was almost perfect timing since the rain held back until we were almost done anyways.


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Next stop was at Bathsheba Beach- very windy and very good for surfing apparently as well. Definitely not a beach to swim in but it seems that the community would be very nice to spend some days to rest and relax (minus the wind that was pretty strong). There was a little beach bar where you could buy something to drink and buy souvenirs that were almost flying away from the vendors table due to the wind.

 

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The last stop was at St John’s church that was built in 1831 and provided another great view overlooking the coastline. After some free time to spend there, we made our way back to the port.
 

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After we got back to the port, I decided to walk back into the city to walk around and get some more pictures. I also had one more mission. When I travel, I try to go to a fast food restaurant to try something unique to their country (it normally ends up being a different flavored McFlurry) so that option did not seem to present itself since there are almost no McD in the Caribbean but they have their own local fast food chains. One of them was Chefette, a chain that was very present throughout our island tour. The food (broasted chicken) was actually pretty and the logo they have is actually pretty cute as well so after I got my fix, I walked back to the ship. It was hot now and I was glad when I got back to the much cooler ship.

There was also a shuttle running back to the ship, which was very much appreciated at that point.

 

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“Boring” but definitely relaxing afternoon was to follow evening- reading, dinner, movie, sleeping.

 

Edited by endtried

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Great review!!  Can't wait to board the Summit next year with a similar itinerary so I am following along.  Your pictures are just beautiful!

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Day 7 - January 10, 2020

St. George’s, Grenada

 
Another early morning run On the jogging track on a seemingly deserted ship to start the day. 

 

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We had booked a tour with A&E Tours through their website and were supposed to meet in there cruise terminal. When the meeting time passed, we were told that we would be waiting for another couple that never showed up. Another couple took their place and we were off soon thereafter.
 

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First stop was Ambakaila Spice Place, where we got a demonstration about the usage of nutmeg and the different purposes and could browse through the little shop for some spices. All the questions we had were answered here. Our guide did not seem to be that knowledgable but we still had a good time throughout the day because getting facts after facts can also be tiring so we enjoyed it and got the info we needed. 

 

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Next stop was at Annandale Waterfalls where we stopped for some pictures. It was actually an ad-on to our original tour since the couple that joined last minute had wanted to see it. It was nice to see the flexibility. 

 

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We then drove to Laura’s Herb and Spice Garden where we got a tour and explanation of a lot of the different spices and plants they grow there. They also had some species for purchase but the prices seemed about the same as in the side shop during our first stop, where the selection was actually much bigger so we were glad to have done our shopping at Ambakaila’s. 
 

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The last stop was at a rum distillery where a tasting was included (many different types of rums in tiny cups) and of course all flavors were for sale in bigger bottles. I don’t drink but the prices seemed pretty good most shoppers bought at least 1-2 bottles to take back. It was pretty busy as it seemed that most tours were stopping here. We were offered a tour of the facility but passed on that. 

 

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After that, we made our way back to ship. The tour was well priced at $28 per person but we had to pay the different entrance fees as well but regardless of that- ship tours would have been more expensive and even though the ride was a bit harrowing at times, we has a good time and got to see what we wanted to see. 

 

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Instead of returning back to the ship right away, I went back into town to take some pictures. Since it was Friday, it wa shuttling and bustling with a activity- the market was hectic and a lot of people besides tourists were on the street. 
 

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Back to the ship afterwards and I got some reading about the history of Caribbean done. For dinner it was back to the Oceanview Cafe to get Stir-Fry. We hadn’t been to the main dining yet and received a note in our cabin that they were missing us. Sorry- we would never go. Besides not wanting to dress up, we liked the food and the fact that the whole area never felt crowded.

 

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Edited by endtried

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Day 8 - January 11, 2020

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

 

We finally made it to the real reason why we picked this cruise. Leading up to the departure, there were not many excursions that were on sale on the Celebrity website. They gradually added them but we already made up our mind back in October and booked the Pirates of the Caribbean- Tour with Topdawg. 

When we walked of the ship and passed through the cruise terminal, an employee from the tour company welcomed us and directed us to the correct bus. No issues at all.

 

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After making our way through the hectic and busy streets of the city center (it was market day and many people came into town to sell their produce on the streets), our first stop was Fort Charlotte, where we got a very good view across St Vincent and could even spot some neighboring islands (part of the Grenadines).

The roads were narrow and some people had to resort to the free rum punch that was offered not to faint with the edge of the street being barely off the cliff. Our driver did a fantastic job throughout the day though and there was no reason to be concerned. 

 

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After the first (windy) stop, the liquid sunshine caught up to us while we made our way to the other side of the island to stop at a local beach where some fisherman had just caught what looked like a swordfish and once again- few minutes after stopping, it started to rain.
 

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The tour guide assured us that it was dry season by now but they had seen much more rain during the last week then before.

 

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Next up was a stop at Wallilabou Bay, or Port Royal as it is known in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This was definitely the hotspot for island tours as it was crowded. 

 

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We then stopped at a beach for about one hour, where we decided to have lunch. A quick shower was once again on the books but luckily the little restaurant we ate at had a little tent/canopy set up so we couldn’t care less. The resort where the beach was located is actually up for sale. Looked fine to me but my savings are probably not sufficient enough. 

 

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The tour guide had promised us one last surprise and surprised we were - we came around a corner and a beautiful birds eye view of the Harbour and our ship. 
After the stop, we made our way back to town where it was still busy. 

 

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We had a quick snack in the Oceanview Cafe and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on Deck 4, which is luckily covered by the lifeboats so the frequent (but quick) showers didn’t bother us. 

 

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Edited by endtried

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