After several months of consideration and weighing all of our options, we have booked our next cruise. It will be aboard the Celebrity Summit traveling from Barcelona and visiting the Canary Islands, Madeira, St. Maartaan, and ending in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
You may remember from previous articles we agonized over whether or not we should venture out and try something new for us on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas which was doing a similar itinerary at the same time. We really weighed all of our options and ultimately we decided on the Celebrity cruise mostly because we liked the connection to the sea afforded by the slightly smaller Celebrity ship. It features a panoramic window in the dining room off the back of the ship. The Voyager has a centrally located dining room with only side windows. It also has a more interior feel with many extras like the promenade and the ice rink being interior. We really like to have a connection to the sea, and we felt like the Summit would better provide us with that feeling. We also have to confess that our familiarity with the Celebrity product and our past enjoyable experiences with the line swayed us to stay with what we liked.
The second aspect about which we agonized was which category of room to book. When we took the same category of ship, the Celebrity Infinity, to Hawaii in 2005, we had originally booked a std Ocean View room. When we got to the pier we were informed that we had been upgraded to a Balcony cabin. The Ocean view which we had booked had two upper and two lowers, giving the occupants more floor space. When we were upgraded to the balcony, we gained a veranda, but lost one of the uppers. Hence, our sleeping accommodations were one upper, one King, and one sofa bed. When the sofa bed was out, “you had to leave the room just to change your mind” It was a little crowded with all the beds out. On the next two cruises we were on the smaller Celebrity Mercury. This ship does not offer any standard balcony cabins for four. We choose a Family Ocean View for those cruises. These rooms have a queen, a sofa bed and an upper bunk. they are also about 50% bigger than the rooms we had booked before. So for this cruise, we had to decide if we wanted to go budget and book an ocean view with two upper and two lowers, a standard balcony, or the even better Family Veranda cabin offered on the Millennium class ships.
After much price comparison, we decided to spend just a little extra and go for the Family Veranda cabin. The only caveat was that Celebrity was only offering those cabins as a guarantee. So when we booked, we couldn’t see which cabins were available. Also, if we booked these cabins we could be upgraded to a Sky Suite or Celebrity Suite, neither of which would be our first choice. Ideally, when booking the FV category of cabins on Celebrity’s Millennium class ships, we want to book the corner cabins. They have a bit more space in the cabin and huge balconies. I was thrilled this morning when I learned that we had been assigned out cabin, and it was not only indeed a FV but also a corner. I found a great photo tour online of this class of cabin. These pictures are actually from the Millennium, but the ships and cabins are nearly identical.
Now that we have our cruise and our cabin booked we need to find airfare and accommodations in Barcelona. The cruise leaves the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we are thinking of flying on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to avoid the rush. The prices for those fares including the return trip from San Juan are running around $700.
Leaving on Tuesday will give us three full days in Barcelona. We’ve also found that three days opens further options in accommodations. There are many tourist apartments located in prime areas of Barcelona that offer accommodations for four or more for about the same price as a double hotel room. The only catch is that you must rent for three days. We have perused the listings on VRBO.com and Rentals Barcelona and using the information from my guide book and online research, we have been able to narrow our choices down to a few nice apartments that rent for around $150 a night.
I guess my next course of action is to get a guide book on the Canary Islands and find a Hotel in San Juan. It should be a fabulous trip.