Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Bermuda, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Celebrity Summit - Panama Canal Cruise Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles January 20 - February 3, 2007
Embarkation Made Easy We arrived at the pier in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 12:30 pm.
After depositing our luggage with the porters, we proceeded inside the terminal and quickly moved through security and arrived at the check in desk within five minutes. After another quick three minutes, we were off to have our Sea Pass photo taken and then we were welcomed aboard! Total time approximately 22 minutes from the time we got to the pier to champagne in hand.
They do an excellent job!
Summit the Ship The physical condition of the Summit was good. We noticed very few rips and tears in fabrics. We did not notice major signs of deterioration, although at the time we boarded, it was not as "clean" as we would have liked.
All over the ship, dust had accumulated; on seldom-used counters, on ledges of framed displays and art figurines, and there were beverage rings on tables in the cocktail lounges and corners all around the ship were needing attention.
The awareness to detail is not happening upon this vessel.The staff was always giving the appearance of cleaning, but in reality; it appears to be somewhat an illusion.
One afternoon I sat in the Coffee Cova, and watched several staff members clean only when they saw or heard footsteps approaching. The laziness of employees cannot be helped I guess. This by all means is not meant to indicate that ALL employees were not performing their duties in a professional and conscientious manner, but from what we noticed there were quite a few that were guilty of not providing a full day's work for a full day's wage.
Our Stateroom We sailed in Stateroom 9160, which you may know has that great oversized balcony.
Our Cabin Steward from Honduras, Jose, came by to say hello and to see if we required any additional services. He has been with Celebrity for twelve years. He was being assisted on this sailing by Larry. Once again, we noticed dust and dirt/grime on shelves in both the main compartment of the stateroom and in the bath area there were debris that remained on the verandah for several days after the cruise started.
The situation improved only after I had a discussion with Ms. Janine Woodruff, the Summit Front Office Manager.
The first night our stateroom was prepared properly and according to guidelines set forth by Celebrity it was the evening that the Assistant Housekeeping Manager, Ms. Snelana "Yanna" Knitl, took the time to oversee the evening set up, which came at the end of Day 8. The level of Jose and Larry's performance up to this point was barely adequate. After Ms. Knitl began monitoring, it greatly improved.
Sea Days and More The first two days of this cruise were sea days. It was nice to sit and enjoy with no hustle and bustle. The sea was rather rough the first two days; in fact Guest Relations told us this was the first time in many weeks they dispensed so many anti-nausea medicine. They also provided us with a trick. If you feel the motion "reduce the liquids you intake!"
THE FOOD Buffet: The Food Buffet on the Summit was in our opinion scarcely acceptable; somehow, they turned simple scrambled eggs into a disaster; the watery egg dishes lacked flavor and were very unappetizing. The omelet stations throughout the ship consistently served over cooked and burnt products. We had heard from other passengers that the waffles were not as "crisp" as most would have preferred, although we do not know this for a fact as we did not try them.
Breakfast overall disappointed us.
Lunch was slightly better, as it did offer variety.
At the beverage stations, the beverage dispensers were often empty or not mixed to the proper specifications. The coffee on occasion was acid-like and clearly old; it appeared that it may be held longer than the brewing recommendations; we later learned the brand we had come to expect had recently been changed. In addition, we also learned it is possible the coffee machines themselves are not being calibrated on an ongoing regular basis.
Dining Room: We opted for late seating in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. The food was delicious and ample, and the wide varities of the entrée items were more than adequate. Our wait staff consisted of a wonderful team of Faruk who is from Turkey, who has been with Celebrity for six years, and his very able assistant Deni from Indonesia. Both were very eager to please.
We give two big thumbs up to this team!
The live stringed music in the dining room that we enjoyed so much on previous cruises on Celebrity is no longer available except for formal nights; and then for only a few moments. This was disappointing as it really was the virtual icing on the dining experience with Celebrity.
Murath the Assistant Maîtrie'd was a disappointment only in the fact that he was not more personable. It was rare for him to stop by our table for anything more than a quick "Bon Appetit."
Normandie Room/Specialty Dining: We originally scheduled specialty dining for the evening of the 26th. Once onboard, the Normandie Staff notified us that the room had a large reservation of 85 persons for that particular evening and asked if we would like to change to another evening as the dining room "may be very noisy."
We opted to change to the 28th.
The Normandie Restaurant lived up to its hype; the food and atmosphere were outstanding! The service was impeccable! The entire staff was able to keep us entertained with a balance of humor, charm, and professional decorum.
The chef, who is from Brazil, is Ms. Conceicao Ferreira. She is outstanding and her version of Chateaubriand was superb! One person from our party ordered his well done and it was just as juicy and fork tender as the ones that were served medium and medium rare. This experience is a MUST if you sail on the Summit.
Panama Canal Transit The marvel that is the Panama Canal was outstanding! To witness as the Summit made its way through the locks was everything we had hoped it would be. The transit started before sunrise and we were able to enjoy an audio presentation that was piped throughout the ship as we proceeded thru the canal.
We thought this was a very nice touch.
If you are on a voyage through the Canal and your ship has a bar or a room at the top of the ship facing the bow, try to get there EARLY, as it fills up very quickly.
There is a lot of humidity so it is best if you can be in an inside area with air conditioning for the transit. For this event, the Summit opens the helicopter pad area, which is located behind the Celebrity Theater on deck 5.
Summation This cruise on the Summit as a whole fell well short of our expectations. Toward the end of the cruise, we did notice that there was an increase in cleaning activity and it seems the management team on board took advantage of my observations. The dust that was present throughout the first 10 days of our cruise was beginning to vanish. The stateroom was finally at the level that it should have been at day one. The biggest disappointment for us was that we had to experience this inconvenience, and the fact that we did not get the full advantage of a 14 day sailing in the standard we have come to expect from Celebrity.
In all probability, we will sail on the Summit again; however, it will be with trepidation.
My rating system is a simple one, based on a scale of 1-5 stars 1 Star = Unacceptable. 5 Stars = PerfectionCondition and Cleanliness of Ship = 2.25 Stars Food Quality Overall = 4.00 Stars Food Serving Staff = 4.50 Stars Stateroom Cleanliness = 2.25 Stars Stateroom Staff = 3.00 Stars Other On-Board Staff = 3.0 Stars Final Rating = 3.33 Stars
As with any review, mine is subjective to the experiences of the author. These were our observations.
We went to the Caribbean on this ship. The crew were outstanding!
But what really "made" the cruise for my wife and myself was the entertainment of PERRY GRANT. He was a star in every meaning of the word.
We would recommend his act to anyone.
I hope this review is passed on to Perry. He really was a STAR!!!!!
This was about the 12th cruise for my wife and I and the third on Celebrity. The first was a bust (about 8 years ago) and the second was last summer in the Baltic that was fine. The check-in process was smooth, owing in part to our Concierge class reservation. The line should clearly post the time for boarding (which it doesn't now do). We boarded the ship at 1 PM, but were told that the cabins weren't ready and we would have to drag our carry-on luggage around until 2 PM. We had a bite to eat and went to our cabin anyway and found it ready for habitation.
Overall, the food was excellent. The wait staff quickly learned our likes/dislikes and provided what we needed without asking. Being charged for cappuchino in the dining room still annoys me. Charge a few bucks more for the room and provide it without the hassle of signing a chit. Virtually everything about the ship was first rate. The spa was clean and efficient (Steiner of course). The thalassotherapy pool and two hot tubs near the spa were largely unused and delightful.
The entertainmentwas very good, including the dancers, the commedians, etc.
Exiting the ship was ok, but could have been better. They put the Concierge passengers in the movie theatre until their number/color is called. Unfortunately, there is no way that all of the Concierge passengers could fit in the theatre. We gave up and stood by the gangway until our group was called. There was no Concierge benefit for departing. A few negatives - though not enough to prevent us from going on Celebrity again.
The excursion descriptions were woefully inadequate. In several places, the fact that an excursion is just a bus risk was not disclosed. The cruise director and his staff were not very friendly. They tended to hide most of the time and smiled only when necessary. One trivia session was run by a nice chap who's command of English was so poor that it was difficult to understand the questions.
The bars are very nice, but suffer from a common affliction. The accompanying music is played so loudly, that it is very difficult to engage in a conversation. That was a common theme at all of the indoor bars, especially the martini bar.
Overall, I would rate this ship/cruise as about a 90 our of 100; very good but in need of tweaking around the edges.
Over at another website I've commented and questioned many of the negative reviews on Celebrity in general and comments prior to our cruise and took it all in and want to add my 2 cents.... I think it is due to the unrealistic expectations of Celebrity and comparing them to the High-end Cruiselines... They are what they are.
This was our second cruise, the other also being with Celebrity in 2004 and the choice was due to the fact that Celebrity food is supposed to at the top of all Cruiselines in this price range.
No I did not meet the Hotel manger, CD nor was invited to the Captain's table for dinner.... There is no doubt a number of cost cuttings since our last cruise November 2004 I hate to say... They ran out of escargot the third day, which was very disappointing for the kids and frankly inexcusable considering they were in drydock for a week. If you care about activities and prizes for participating they also have been scaled back.... In 2004 I did get visors and t-shirts and this time all I saw was lot's of luggage tags.The Grand Bbuffet (last formal night at midnight) had no shrimp or baby lobster tails as in 2004, but somehow we survived... Prettier to see then eat imo...
Yes some chairs showed wear as did some tiling in our bathroom. Expected on a 6 year-old ship.
Staff very efficient and first class with our room always clean and the Dining Room staff attentive, polite and very personable.Food
Breakfast Buffet - Good, loved fresh waffles strawberry's and whip cream.... Pecan Buns (2 days) were incredible.... Rest as expected, made to order omelettes or eggs, cereals,scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, muesli, smoked salmon....
Lunch - Spa was very nice, buffet okay, plenty of choices, good desserts (particularly pecan Pie, Tiramisu, Croque en Bouche).... Pasta bar & Pizzas Sandwiches, some neat choices, Philly Cheesesteak, Cuban, Croque Monsieur were specials each day along with wraps.... Hamburgers, Dogs & Fries poolside.... Average, but fine...
Afternoon Tea - Nice idea, well done, good choices, some better then others.....
Sushi - 5:30-9:30 Very decent, above average.... Tuna & Salmon stood out for me.... Included Miso soup.
Ice Cream - Hard & Soft serve.... Approximately 8 flavours changed daily a little soft.
Dinner - Happy every night, except the lobster tail was badly over done and tasteless. Ordered meat rare and except for one occasion served properly (maybe medium rare). Nothing exceptional, but all above average and as expected when serving 1,000 per seating.
Entertainment - Shows were quite good, the first comedian was very funny, the other who sang, played instruments was fair to good.... Singers & dancers above average.
Found the Entertainment staff a little distant or hard to find and almost nonexistent. Poolside band was below average (okay at best). Other entertainment seemed quite good.
Lots to do, very nice ship.... Smooth embarkation (shuttle stopped first at Princess and there was a line that looked 200 yards long) and then at Celebrity we were on in 15 minutes. Disembarkation was delayed 30 minutes.
Every time I ask is 11:00-11:30 too early for a flight and always told not to try it... We were off (45 minutes late), called and changed our flight and still at the Airport, checked and through customs @ 10:45.
Used the gym and did like it.... Brand new elliptical trainers and treadmills (with tvs).
300 kids on board, including our 2, and I seldom saw any problems or acting up, which was actually more obvious from some seniors on board, who complained and never seemed happy.
Son 10 used the programs & 13 year old daughter made friends.
Wine.... Brought 2 bottles on board no problem and twice bought cheaper bottles for the room because if they wanted me to check them I did not want to bring them back. Was not stopped.
As for dress.... People do dress casually and I will agree there are some (very few instances) where I would have asked them to leave the room. Otherwise in the Caribbean I wore slacks on the 5 non formal nights, three times with Tommy Bahama shirts, twice long sleeve shirts and sandals (closed toes) and never felt out of place. Wore dark suit formal night, spouse did not wear pantyhose....
These are just some quick thoughts and I certainly think Celebrity does a great job and is a first class line for the price paid.....
On a 1-10 scale it was an 8+ as we did have almost perfect weather.
We just returned from this cruise and were left with several strong impressions about the overall experience. We have been on several cruises, but 1st cruise with our 1 year old daughter. This was a 7 day cruise originating from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean, that went to the following ports: Dominican Republic (Casa de Campo), Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and Nassau.
Overall, we found Celebrity Cruises to offer excellent, friendly service throughout the ship. This included the different dining rooms (main dining, Premium restaurant (The Olympic), casual dining, ocean cafe - where they escort you with your buffet plate if you need help carrying your food, Sushi bar, Pizza, and pool grill). The state room attendants and room service were also first class, being very responsive and considerate to us and our baby who celebrated her first birthday on the ship. We found the Sommeliers to be the brightest folks to liven up the dining experience. The presentation of the food was also very good. Several premium spirits, wines are even tastings are offered, which make for a more unique experience.
The best Ports were Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. In PR,we took a shore excursion to the Bacardi Rum Distillery and City tour…this was fantastic, the only complaint was that we didn't have enough time to do everything! Our little one even enjoyed herself here and at the huge fort near the port we had docked. St. Thomas, was hot, but beautiful. The tram to the top, was a quick way to get a dynamic view of the terrain and coastline. This port is definitely a shopping Mecca, that doubles the amount of alcohol that can be imported back to the US.
Our biggest frustration and disappointment, however, was in the overall diversity of the ships food choices and people - both the other cruisemates and staff. I grew up in the US and am of Indian origin, having lived in the US all of my life, aside from basic ignorance or curiosity, I honestly never felt a hint of discrimination toward me or my family because of our heritage or diverse tastes. I did not find this to be direct on the cruise, but several experiences over the course of the week, let us to this comment. For starters, if you are a "meat & potatoes" type, this is a great cruise for you, as there are virtually no choices - except for Sushi - of Asian, Mexican or Middle eastern food, e.g. Indian (no curries, tandoori chicken, naan, dosas, etc), Chinese (not even a single egg roll, peking duck, dim sum, etc), Thai (no Pad Thai, Panang curries, Satay, Lebanese (no falafel, gyros, hummus) , Spanish/Mexican (no paella, or even Tex-mex fajitas, burritos, etc.)….with food being such a big part of the experience, we found that lack of spice to leave a very bland taste in our mouth.
As we had been on cruises before, we never had a problem with this, and actually look forward to this part of the cruise. We did ask several of the staff from these parts of the world, why this was the case. We were told that Celebrity doesn't keep the spices on board, that mostly Americans travel on this ship and they don’t eat this type of food….well, that didn't seem very American to us, as the US thrives on diverse cuisine, as does the UK where many passengers were also from. This striking difference coupled with what we perceived as significantly fewer Asian staff - which we learned Celebrity had stopped recruiting compared to other cruise lines.
We also felt slighted a few times when we were seated in the main dining room for lunch and the Olympic Restaurant. These were open/unassigned seating, however, when asked to be seated on a different table, and there were plenty available, which were not afterward used, we felt that the maitre'd did not want to seat us on the better the tables. This didn't happen every time, but enough to feel like he wanted to put us to the side, or "out of site" from the other guests. Now, I think we are good looking couple in our mid-30s and got many compliments on our daughter's behavior and our appearance, but we did not feel like we received due importance or interest initially…we did however, get excellent service after being seated at the table. We also didn't see nearly as many Asian families, as expected, despite this being a 2000+ passenger ship.
For the kids under 3, there isn't much help here. We did get baby sitting one night, but it seemed to be hard to get and booked for other couples we had met. The kids pool was broken, although there were nearly 40 young children sailing, and there were NO high chair available except for the last lunch of the cruise.
So, all in all, a great experience, regarding the service quality and food quality of the continental and Italian variety, but much to be desired in the diversity of the food selections and the people - both cruisemates and employees - along for the experience.
This was billed as AROUND THE HORN, something I had looked forward to for a long time. It didn't happen. In 2002 we had been on this ship for the ALASKA trip. It was well nigh perfect in all respects. But by Dec. 2006 many things aboard had gone downhill. The promenade deck no longer encircled deck 4. Staff who were supposed to run some deck activities were no-shows. There was not much in the way of 'danceable' music. Cards and games were hard to come by.
A 3-hour wait for return tender service in Punta Arenas was incomprehensible. A dance floor under repair for 7 days finally opened with a STRING QUARTET playing classical music. Shore excursions were over-priced and could easily be duplicated privately for half the money. The ships' propulsion problems had us missing many scenic views (never saw the Chilean Fjords!) because they were passed in the middle of the night. There were 1980 passengers for this trip and many were totally unhappy. Celebrity will not enter the picture for our future cruises.
The Memorable Celebrity Staff:Master - Captain Michael Karatzas Hotel Director – Renato Chizzola Chief Engineer – Ioannis Pepes Cruise Director – Nick Weir Food and Beverage Mgr – Shelton Thompson Front Office Manager - Janet David (Philippines) Restaurant Mgr – Chaydee (Australia) Maitre D – Chi- Ka (Poland) Our Butler – Xavier (India) Stateroom Attendant – Maria (Philippines) Waiter – Emil (Bulgaria) Captains Club Hostess - Delia
We just returned from the western transatlantic on Celebrity's Millennium ship from Barcelona, Spain to Fort Lauderdale, Fl on Sunday December 10th.
We have done several TA cruises on the Millie and this was just as good as the others. You would think it would be boring to see the same ports all the time but we enjoy getting away and the sea days are very relaxing.
The Millie had a problem with its pod and needed extra time to get to FLL so Celebrity decided to skip Naples to give some extra time if winds and sea conditions necessitated it. We did arrive on time on 12/10 but U.S. Customs did a thorough job of insuring the ship was fit for embarkation. When a ship isaway for 7 months the Feds do more checking I was told.
Barcelona: We took a flight to JFK from Orlando and a non-stop flight from JFK to Barcelona on Thanksgiving Day and we arrived in Barcelona at 7:30 am (an hour early) on the day of departure. We were tired and even though I paid for transfers I didn't want to take a 2 hour tour of Barcelona since the ship would not be ready for boarding for 4 or 5 hours. I gave Celebrity our luggage and took a cab to the port (36 euros with tip). It took about 34 minutes to get to the pier from the BCN airport; we arrived at 8:45 am. Since the ship was in Barcelona overnight by the time we arrived most passengers had debarked.
Upon boarding I was reunited with many of the same personnel that we met on previous sailings, Hotel Director, Mr. Renato Chizzola, Captain Karatzas, Chaydee and Delia.
As I said in the past, Celebrity staffers make everyone feel special with hello's and smiles.
We were up for 30+ hours and really wanted to get some rest once we boarded so we took a schnooz for a few hours. It revived us and kept us going till our normal midnight bedtime.
On day 2 we docked in Nice but we didn't get off the ship. It was hard to get up before 1 pm and we decided to stay aboard. The weather was not that nice, raining and cool, so we spent the day in our cabin just chilling out and relaxing.
On Day 3 we arrived in Florence, Italy and met our tour guide, Driver in Rome and 8 of had a great 9 hour tour. Remo did not come but his driver/guide was very good and we had a great tour. There was a marathon that day in Florence and many of the streets were closed so we had to be creative. Lunch was ala carte and Susan and I had pizza and salad. It was good but not great. We got back to the ship in plenty of time.
On Day 4 we arrived in Rome and met the owner Remo for a great tour. Remo was on time and was his usual funny self. He showed us all the sites and took us to his favoirite restaurant for a 5 course lunch. We had lots of wine and had a fabulous time. Remo played his accordion and sang during lunch. It was a fast fun 9 hours in Rome. For each 9 hour tour we paid him (8 people) 72 euros each which is a great deal compared to the cruise ship rates for the same tour.
For the remaining ports, Corsica, Malaga and Tenerife we did our own thing touring the cities.
The Cruise Director, Nick Weir was outstanding and was very visible on the ship. I ran into him frequently and he always engaged me in great conversation. Nick is Simon Weir's older brother and does a 6 week stint on Celebrity every year. Nick is a game show host in the UK and does some Television work in Las Vegas where he lives with his wife. Nick is a class act and great to hang with. The entertainment on the ship was outstanding, Helen Jayne, Mario Andrea and Nick Weir who did a great one man show. Also, the dinner quartet from Poland was outstanding. A new jazz group joined the ship in Malaga and although young, were very talented and did an amazing job. The singer Janelle Monet has a sweet soft voice and can really do justice to any song.
We dined in the Olympic Specialty Restaurant three times and were never disappointed. On night one I had Steak Diane and my wife the lobster/shrimp dish. On night 2 I had the rack of lamb and Susan had the same as before and on night three I had the tenderloin (no spices) with a big baked potato and Susan had the Dover Sole. All the meals in the Olympic were memorable and excellent.
The stateroom was in great shape, the furniture seemed to be reupholstered and the housekeeping staff did a good job of dusting and maintaining the status-quo.
Smells: On day 14, I was on my balcony at around 3:30 pm and was almost asphyxiated with that sewer odor and I called to find out what was going on. It was a sea day and they are allowed to dispel gray treated water which explained the foul smell. The odor was not inside the ship thankfully but it was not pleasant being on the balcony for a few hours.
I would rate this transatlantic a 10. It was nice to see the Millie again after a year. We met some great CC posters and spent a lot of time with them. It is always nice to know a few guests on board and this medium provides us the means to pre-met passengers.
The one big negative is that the ship ran out of Johnny Walker Blue in Europe and couldn't buy any so we were disappointed!!! Had to do without Mr. Blue.
This go around I am putting up some cruise staff pictures so anyone who has cruised X may get to see a face from the past of some staff member they were fond of.
My photo Link:
This was our fifth cruise, two others on Celebrity (Horizon, Summit)one on Holland Ryndam, one on Dawn Princess. We would be hard pressed to ever cruise on another line than Celebrity as they simply stand a notch above the others, particularly in the areas of cuisine and service.
If your idea of great food is a visit to the local mall food court, Celebrity is not for you. Their main dining room offers delicious and meticulously prepared high continental cuisine. From the wonderful appetizers, to the delightful soups, delicious entrees, and "to-die-for" desserts, the Mercury simply shines. Everything is made from scratch, and the ice creams, sherbets, and breads all are freshly made on the ship. One taste of their consomme and it immediately becomes obvious that they know food preparation.The quality of the meat and seafood is what you would find in a better restaurant, in fact every meal in the Manhattan restaurant is what you would expect in a four or five star restaurant.
The buffet also provided a huge variety of food that ranges from good to excellent. Don't miss the cheese station that offers gourmet aged cheeses or the homemadeice cream and sherbets offered daily. The sushi bar was quite good, the pasta station excellent: even the poolside grill provides a great hamburger and the best french fries we ever have had.
The service is exemplary: everyone we dealt with on the ship bent over backwards to meet our desires. The crew was happy, based on our lengthy conversations we shared with them. The ship was spotless and showed little sign of her age. Staff constantly were cleaning, polishing, and sanitizing the public areas.
The oceanview stateroom was comfortable and pleasant. The shows ranged from good to great in our opinion. Lots of activities are provided daily, and the culinary demonstration was very interesting.
The ports are typical cruise ports typified by hordes of obnoxious cab drivers, hawkers, and vendors. We did not partake of the excursions as we enjoy the shipboard experience more than spending a day on an excursion. We have found little differences between cruise lines in this regard. Embarkation and debarkation was orchestrated well.
We loved the Mercury, in her understated beauty, and the overall experience was the best we have experienced on any cruise. We saw no sign of corner cutting in the food compared to past Celebrity cruises, as indicated by some reviewers. In fact the Mercury was rated the best in the world for cuisine by Conde Nest.
Compared to our Holland and Princess experiences, which also were quite pleasant, all the Celebrity cruises stand above them in the areas of service and food. Celebrity truly tries to provide a gourmet food experience and succeeds, the others provide good food.
Embarkation at San Diego went fast with only 15 minutes from start to finish. We parked at Aladdin Parking a mile away and took their shuttle to the cruise dock. Fast and efficient in all regards.
My husband and I have cruised 6 times on Princess and Holland America. This was our first Celebrity and will be our last. We bought the tickets at a great discount because of the Norwalk virus scares in the spring along with the firing of the ships captain for being drunk on duty. We assumed they would have cleaned the ship and found a sober Captain by November and were intrigued to find out why Celebrity would consider themselves above Princess and Holland America cruise lines.
Our room inside cabin was adequate with plenty of storage. Not as fancy as Holland America in décor and electronics and bedding but with about the same amount of space as HAL and bigger than the Princess cabins we have been on. Later on we found that the sheets were threadbare, the towels were well used and just like everything else on the ship, the bedding needed to be replaceddue to extreme wear and tear.
The first problem we had was with the seating for dinner. We had been put on second seating and we cannot eat that late. We asked to move to first seating and was denied. This is usually not a problem as we enjoy eating the nightly buffet upstairs on the Lido deck in every other ship we have been on. Not on Mercury. Mercury DOES NOT have a nightly buffet. They will take a few people for a FEE in the buffet area. I resent having to pay a fee to eat in the buffet room for dinner.
I would like to say the food was horrible straight away. Nothing was remotely cooked correctly in any meal and we are not fussy eaters whatsoever. The bacon was raw and clumped together when cooked. You could not get just one piece; you got a hunk of luke warm fat. Scrambled eggs were cold and overcooked, I could go on and on but you get the idea. Lunch was the same. We ate salads most of the time for lunch because the food was just so totally unappetizing. It took them 7 days of a 10 day cruise to find the salt and pepper shakers and put them on the tables in the buffet. Amazing. The tables were not cleaned from one user to another to the point where you had to ask a cleaner to stop talking to another cleaner and actually clear any of the tables so that a person could sit and eat at every meal.
The sushi bar at night reused the sushi. I accidentally pushed in one of the self served California rolls with the tongs while trying to serve myself and we were amazed to find the same piece on the tray the next night when we went back. The pizza bar had pizzas sitting under lights for hours and would not make anything new as long as it was under the warming trays. The hamburger grill did the same. Nothing was freshly made. None of the cooks seemed to care as well.
The ship was dirty. Not just used but filthy. The windows were caked with salt spray and you could not see out of many of them. The chairs in the Grand Foyer had holes in the arms. The elevator floors were marked and scuffed up badly and in desperate need of refinishing. The ashtrays and beer bottles were not picked up on the promenade deck for 4 days. I finally asked the front desk on day 4 to send someone up to the PROMONADE deck to take care of the more than 20 beer bottles and 5 overflowing ashtrays that had not been touched since we departed San Diego. It took them 5 more hours to attend to this.
The Promenade Deck you could not walk around because it was blocked off at each end. Since this was Mexico with 90 plus temperatures you would think they would have this deck ready for people to walk without getting in the sun.
The biggest problem I had was a freak occurrence that happened at the Cova Café where we sat daily for cappuccinos while playing cards. It has about 30-40 small café tables that seat 4. They also served small sandwiches and pastries in the morning which made up for the food in the buffet slightly. We were sitting there sipping our coffees and eating some snacks along with 4 or 5 other occupied tables in our first day in port in Cabo San Lucas. A man walked into the area with a mask over his face, a chemical tank on his back and a long wand in his hand. He proceeded to spray all the chairs that were not occupied including the two at our small table. The chemical that he sprayed bubbled on the chairs. It drifted into the air and onto our food and drink. We sat in amazement and tried to talk to him to ask him what in the heck he had just done but he was a man on a mission, spraying all the other chairs. We sat there truly puzzled and amazed at this. We stopped eating and drinking and moved away, however we ended up with a slight case of diahhrea for the rest of the cruise that I attribute to this idiotic behavior.
Other things to note that were truly truly wrong. The movies for a 10 day cruise in the theatre were 4 older movies and they were repeated for the entire 10 days both in the theatre and on the television in the room. I think it is incredibly cheap to offer a 10 day cruise and have only 4 movies. The library was only opened a very very few hours a day and it took 3 times to find it actually open during the times he said it would be. The game room had been changed and put into the Michaels Smoking Lounge and there was never anyone there to hand out cards or games. The place stunk to high heavens of cigar smoke from the time you got off the elevator. The first day of two days at sea on our way home they decide to wash the promenade deck at 9 am till 11 am so nobody could go outside.
We never saw any officers on this ship, The shops were lacking items in every department and I saw the head of the flower shop berating her employees so many times we started calling her the Dragon Lady every time we walked by.
Overall I give this ship, the Mercury, a failing grade from start to finish. The ship looked like it had not been repaired or items replaced in the many years since it had launched. I have been on HAL and Princess ships the same age and felt they were brand new. I will never EVER consider Celebrity again. Not when HAL and Princess do it so much better consistently. What a horrid time and a horrible waste of money.
Valparaiso,Chile to Fort Lauderdale, via Panama Canal
We arrived in Santiago and stayed again at the Santiago Sheraton hotel. Had nice lunch in the top of the San Christobal tower section of the hotel. What a beautiful view of the city which is 571 meters above sea level.
We went to the Los Dominicos market again and looked around and then walked through the local downtown section eating at a nice sidewalk caféé (Lomits).
We had arrived on Friday March 17 and Saturday night we went to a local dinner show at Los de Adobes Argomedo and after the show had great fun dancing.
The next day Sunday March 19, we had luggage picked up outside the room and we went on a private pre-arranged tour to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso being dropped off at the ship by 5:00 PM. This is about an 80 mile drive.
We sailed just after 9:00 PM for Arica, Chile which is close to the border with Peru in the North of Chile. The shipboard atmosphere was jolly and we had a nice cruisecritic meeting with a very good attendance. Our captain Apostolos Bouzakis was acharming Greek fellow. Simon Weir was our cruise director and we had previously had him on another cruise when the Millennium sailed the Baltic Sea, her second voyage. He is the best. His brother Nick was the C.D on the South American Horn Cruise in February 2004, and is also very good.
Wednesday March 22, after two wonderful sea days, we arrive in Arica, Chile at 7:00 AM. We had previously booked a short local ships tour of the city and the Geoglyphs in the area. It only lasted about 4 hours but did go up the El Morro mountain around some very winding curves on roads without guard rails. In Arica, they still talk very much about the Pacific War which was between Chile and Peru. We did not take the trip to the Lauca National Park which seemed to be a very long ride. We returned to the ship, had lunch and then walked back into the city and to the Main Street, which is kind of a hang out and pedestrian walkway.
We returned to the ship and were scheduled to depart at 6:00 PM. We noticed that we were not departing but went to early main seating dinner. We went to the Celebrity Showroom after dinner to watch the Pampas Devils Argentina Tango show. While sitting in the showroom we were advised that around 4:30 PM a fatal accident occurred and 12 of our fellow passengers were killed while returning from a tour. We were delayed in Arica for 15 hours while the captain assisted those in need and the chief concierge left the ship to fly to the states and bring families of the deceased to Arica. A doctor and nurse from the ship were sent into town to the hospital to assist with the two injured passengers who had each lost their wives in the accident. For a video see: http://us.video.aol.com/video.index.adp?mode=2&pmmsid=1481730
We arrived in Callao, Peru at 11:00 AM Friday March 24, 2006 after two days at sea, four hours behind schedule, where I was to take a Nazca Lines tour. Due to the delay, the Nazca Lines tour that I had booked was cancelled and Celebrity credited my account ($535) for this one tour and in addition gave myself and my wife a free tour of Lima, Peru. (10 Kilometers from Callao). Celebrity was under no obligation to do this and had not had anything to do with booking the fatal tours. Everyone on board was proud of the way Celebrity handled the incident. We had a very nice tour of a very ancient city. We departed Callao, Peru at 8:00 PM.
On Sunday March 26th 8:00 AM after two days at sea, we arrived in Manta, Ecuador. We were aware of the high incidence of Malaria in this area, but the Plasmodium is transmitted by the Anopheles Mosquito which is really a night biter. We took no medication since we spent only the day there. Manta is the center for the Ecuadorian Tuna industry and is the home of Charlie Tuna. Manta has been a major port since the pre- Inca era. The road from Manta to Montecristi has many warehouses and factories related to the tuna fish industry. We visited a factory that processed the Aqua nut into the Ecuador marble and bought several of the small figurines. Montecristi is the home of the Panama Hats and we visited a market with many handicrafts including the famous Panama hats. A lot of the small children are trying to sell goods, but they are very polite and not pushy or aggressive. They are very beautiful people.
Tuesday, March 28 after two days at sea we arrived for the Panama Canal transit. My old map from 1995 did not have the new Centennial Bridge on it that was built in 2003, but otherwise was very helpful in letting us realize exactly where we were. I had previously made notes on the "Path between the Seas" which made the sacrifices of the people who built the "Big Ditch" much more impressive. It makes one realize that this is indeed a "Wonder of the World". It takes about 8 hours to undergo the approximate 50 miles of the canal which runs from southeast (Pacific) to northwest (Atlantic). One can get confused at times if you see the sun setting in the East. Since 1999, the canal now totally belongs to Panama, but the U.S still has Howard Air Force Base close by for security. Apparently Japan and the United States are the biggest users of the Panama Canal.
We entered the Miraflores locks (two locks) about 7:00 AM and then into Miraflores lake. We locked through the Pedro Miguel locks (one lock) to reach 85 feet above sea level in to the Culebra (meaning snake) Cut a 9 mile section crossing the continental divide and now named the Galliard cut after a Major Galliard. At the end of the Galliard cut is Gamboa and the portion of the Chagres River that feeds the Gatun Lake. There is another dam higher up on the Chagres River (Madden Dam) to help control this river that can had been known to rise 14 feet in 24 hours.
While cruising the canal I took a picture of a tourist boat that I considered to be very overloaded with people and it was just about the time the ferry out of Bahrain had capsized because of being overloaded. What I saw in the Panama Canal was an accident looking for a place to happen.
Thursday, March 30 after another 2 days at sea, we arrived at Aruba at 7:00 AM. This is a long skinny island, but has some beautiful beaches. We elected to spend the day at MoomBa Beach located between the Holiday Inn and the Marriott Ocean club. This turned out to be a very comfortable beach with natural trees for shade. Lounges were free with purchase of drinks and food.
April 2, 2006 we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and after a nice breakfast on the balcony finally walked off the ship and flew home without any mishaps. It was a great cruise only marred by the terrible accident outside of Arica. Pictures at: gallery