Year Started: 1988
Ships in Fleet: 10
Summary: This premium cruise line features beautiful ships on itineraries world-wide. Excellent cuisine, great service, roomy staterooms. Modern Luxury at value prices.
Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Seniors.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Overall Service.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Luxury Travelers. Singles.
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!!!!!
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:
We had reservations about going on Celebrity Cruise Lines because of a bad experience on the Millenium, when the crew stole all our cash and jewelery out of our room safe. And if that wasn't bad enough, we were called liars when we reported it. but we decided that enough time had passed and we should try them again. We were glad we did because this cruise on the Infinity was a real pleasure and we had no problems whatsoever.The Ship Celebrity Infinity was far above our expectations; very well maintained, a very clean and very well run and managed ship. The ship was laid out very well, very easy to get around and after the second day you didn't need a floor plan. It had a crew that made you feel genuinely welcomed every day. They were exceptionally courteous, helpful and they always projected a feeling of thoroughly enjoying what they were doing on the Infinity. Room & Steward We had an inside room on Deck 7 (7054) just forward of the front elevators. The room was much larger than other reviews had led us to believe. The bed was very comfortable, a lot of closet and drawer space and a bathroom that was well designed with a lot of storage space and a shower that was larger than other ships we have been on. We regret that we have misplaced our steward's name. He was fantastic! Our room was always neat and clean with the greatest towel animals we've ever seen. He added his own personal touches which had us laughing over them every day. "A word of warning" -- The safe in this room doesn't always lock unless you push in on the door real hard while locking it. I reported it, but it never got fixed. Entertainment We found the entertainment on the ship to be really great. We went to all of the productions in the Celebrity Theatre and found them to be top notch. The groups that performed in the various lounges were excellent and it was nice to dance to music that we grew up with. Dining First of all, while the selection of food was excellent, the quality was mediocre when compared to other cruise lines we have been on. The main dining room was absolutely magnificent and featured traditional seating which is what we prefer. We had a very good waiter and assistant waiter but because of the amount of tables they had to take care of service was quite slow. The menu had many selections but as usual were written so no one without a culinary degree would know what was being served. The servings were plentiful but the quality was less than desirable. Buffet The buffet had many choices and it takes a few days for you to discover where everything is. They have many different areas such as a pizza, pasta area, soup and sandwich area, grill area, oriental food area plus the regular buffet lines. If you couldn't find what you wanted to eat, you probably didn't walk far enough. Starting at 5 PM they had a huge sushi bar; bigger than we have ever seen on any other ship. The staff in the buffet area were exceptionally helpful and courteous. There was always someone wanting to carry your tray to your table and while at your table you were bombarded with coffee or tea refills, assorted juices and assorted pastries.
One very neat thing that we found and took advantage of was what the Infinity called "Casual Dining" and it is only featured at the evening meal. This is offered on the buffet deck in the aft quarter of the dining area. It is set up to look like the downstairs dining room complete with table cloths, linen napkins, waiters and menus. Reservations are a must, as they have a limited number of tables. The dress is smart casual. We liked it because it was far quieter than the main dining room and the service was just as good, but faster as there were fewer tables. We ate there three nights out of seven and would highly recommend you trying it. If you are interested, you can look at the menu for that area at the purser's desk and also make your reservation there.The Alaskan Experience We have been dreaming of an Alaskan cruise for the past five years but were really disappointed with the weather. Unfortunately we had cold and rainy weather every day and when we had visibility all we saw were pine tree-covered islands and snow-capped mountains. We were glad we went but would not do the cruise again solely because of the weather being so unpredictable. We were also going to take the five day train tour but decided to fly to San Francisco after our cruise and are very glad we did as we had a wonderful time with very nice weather. Alaskan Ports Ketchikan: We elected to take the walking tour. Maps are available from the Chamber of Commerce building right at the pier. There is lots of helpful information there and people who are eager to answer any questions you have. The walking tour covered all of the highlights of Ketchikan and was about one and a half miles. The usual souvenier shops are all over town but the small privately owned shops are giving way to the big retailers. Unfortunately as the morning wore on, the harder it rained so we were anxious to return to the ship and change into dry clothes instead of shopping. Juneau: We rented a car from Rent-A-Wreck which we found on the internet. I called them personally to make a reservation and was pleasantly surprised from our initial contact with them. They were very helpful and friendly and truly happy we had chosen them. One of the main reasons we did was they were the only rental car agency in Juneau to pick us up directly at the pier and then drop us off at the end of the day. That in itself was a great saving. We paid $57.50 for the day which we thought was a great deal. Once we were picked up we were driven back to their office to do paperwork and pick up our car. We were given a great map with attractions highlighted that were must sees as far as they were concerned. We went to the Mendenhall Glacier, the Mendenhall State Park and then drove up the coastal highway to a shrine located in a great little park with amazing flora and fauna that is so unexpected in a place like Alaska. On our way to the shrine we almost hit a black bear walking across the road. When we got back to the ship and told people they said we saw a bear just driving around, while people who were on excursions to see bears didn't see any at all. We decided to eat lunch down the street from the Rent-A-Wreck office at a place called the Sand Bar Restaurant. Please don't let the exterior scare you away. It is a bar and restaurant -- nothing fancy at all inside or out, but the greatest fresh, fried halibut we have ever tasted. The owner was very friendly and cordial and made us feel very welcome. After lunch we went to the Alaskan Brewery. If you like really good beer you won't want to miss this. You can take a tour and also sample the varieties of beer they make. They also have a nice gift shop. All in all it was a great day, probably the best of the cruise. Icy Strait Point: You have to tender in and once you get on land there is not much to see. You can walk around a little and there are some shops to go in, but not much else to do. We went back to the ship in about an hour or so. A note about scenery watching if you are inside the ship: We found the best place was the Constellation Lounge, located above the Bridge, and if you can get a seat up front you will not be disappointed. The only thing that would be better is if you have great weather and can see everything out on deck. Just a note for women about clothing: Everything you have read about layering clothing is true especially if you have the weather we did. I was so glad I brought long-sleeved tops, sweaters and my windbreaker to layer with. I also either wore jeans or wind pants. Unfortunately I never wore capris or shorts as the weather wasn't warm enough. Also a must is either a windbreaker with a hood or an umbrella if you have rainy weather. Disembarkation Very, very smooth and we got our luggage right away. Right outside the building were plenty of taxis to take us to the airport. The taxi cost about $30 for the trip to the airport.
I cannot give this cruise or cruiseline my personal approval. We took the 2 week cruise to the Hawaiian islands. Staff were friendly, but a bit burned-out. The formal dining room food and service was great, (a big thanks to Vladimere our waiter)but the buffet was dismal at best, and seating arrangements were chaotic, at both lunch and breakfast.
Forget room service for anything but coffee. Ship was clean, but poorly designed.Except for the outside dining at the rear of the ship, the overall deckplans were tiresome.The concourse and atrium areas were small and outdated, the hallways suffered from poor ventilation, the pools were cramped, and many wet areas showed wear and algae. The hot tubs were warm at best, and most needed repair. Marketing seems to be the name of the game, sell, sell, sell.(drinks, jewelery, future cruises, photos, art etc.)
Forget entertainment, unless you still remember the Ed Sullivan show. Of the two weeks on board, we couldn't bring ourselves to sit through an entire night's entertainment. The casino slots paid well, and the men's sauna was a plus. Unfortunately, no steamroom is available without paying $99 for a basic spapackage. We had a concierge class stateroom, which means we got an extra two feet of room and a free bottle of bubbley on arrival, and flowers, and rather tasteless hors d'oeuvres each day and a full size couch, but little else. Each time I tried to call the concierge desk, the line was busy or closed, and there is no operator available on the ships phones. I later found out , only one person is available as the part time concierge.(she did work very hard to help) Overall we enjoyed the cruise, but it took extra effort to find what was what , and how to get around on shore, unless you were part of a ships tour. If you are under 50 years old, find a different cruiseline!! :
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.
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