We just got back from our first cruise and everyone in our party loved the experience, to the point that 2 days after our return, my parents booked again with Celebrity: a 14day TransPanamanian cruise.
Colleagues of mine have long trumpeted the great experience of cruise ships, Celebrity in particular. So I finally decided to organize a trip to try it out with my wife and my parents. My wife and I are 40 and 39 respectively, My parents are both 60.
In preparation for booking my first cruise, I spent a lot of time reading ship reviews and readers comments on bulletin boards. I found the information invaluable and I was grateful for the time people spent writing. In thanks, here is my small contribution (pay it forward).
Before I begin, I would like to say that I have tried as mush as possible to give an even handed and constructive critique of our experience.
Cruise: 6 day West Caribbean cruise January 16th to 21st 2005 Ship: Celebrity Summit room 8043 and 8056 Port of departure: Fort Lauderdale Destination: Ocho Rio, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Embarkation (A): Our package included the transfer from airport toship. Celebrity people were waiting with their placard held high as we got to the airport luggage area. They told us to gather under a particular sign once we recovered our luggage. Once everyone was gathered (about 12 people) they walked us to the next terminal (3 minute walk). We were then handed to another friendly Celebrity staff member. After a 5 minute wait we were ushered to the bus and drove for 15 minutes to the port terminal. There we went rapidly through security, the check in counter to receive our cruise pass, pictures for security and souvenir pictures to commemorate the beginning of our trip. About 40 minutes elapsed from the time we had our luggage in hand to being in our cabin.
Room quality(B): We all found the ship to be very clean. Our room was a nice size. There was plenty of storage space (including under the beds). The shower size was decent (we could squeeze in 2 together). Some people might find the beds a bit too firm, but we slept like babies. Noise was not an issue with the hallway or the adjacent rooms.Surprisingly there were some cleanliness issues: - There was a quarter size stain on our bedspread - As I had previously read on a review, the toilet seat seemed weather beaten. The seat was clean but some of the enamel was cracked and chipped (how this comes to be I don't know). - As I had previously read on a review, there was some mild mould in the shower area and a rust stain in one corner of the bathroom. Personally it wasn't bad enough to bother my wife and I. I've seen worse in 3 star Caribbean resorts (I guess the heat and humidity of the tropics makes it a recurring problem). In comparison, my parents room and bathroom were spotless. Note: A couple at our dinner table had room 8048 and told us they had mobile cleaning platform stored in front of their balcony. I later took the time to check this out and found that they did indeed have these platforms on every floor . They slide on rails that circumvent the ship and seem to be stores at the extremities of each ship section (where the ships width changes). Something to look at before you book. The couple complained, But they were stuck with it for the duration of the trip. Service (A): We found all the staff to be friendly and helpful. Here are a few anecdotes:
On the first formal night we ordered room service to hold us over as we got ready for our 8:30 late seating. As our steward was delivering our food I was taking out my shirt only to realize it was quite wrinkled. I knew there was a laundry service on the boat, but you had to ask for it before 9:00am. With my steward before me, I asked him if he had a iron I could borrow in a pinch. He promptly took my shirt and told me he would fix it if I was willing to pay the regular 2$ ironing fee. Within 15 minutes I had a beautifully pressed shirt delivered in person. Now to me, that is service.
I lost My credit card in Grand Cayman. I saw the 8$ minute fee for ship to shore phone calls in my room and decided to see the concierge (before spending 100$ waiting on hold for a Visa agent.) The concierge called the phone number on my wife's credit card and then handed me the phone. In 5 minutes my card was cancelled and a new one send to my home. All at no cost. I then went to the ships bank and had the credit card information changed for our billing.
Our waitress in the main dining room was fantastic (Magdelena from Poland). On our first night of dining, my wife ordered some sort of breaded veal that was not to her liking. I promptly told my wife that she should not be shy about asking for something else. As soon as she asked our waitress for something different , apologies were given and a different meal quickly replaced. The maitre D then came over to make sure that everything was to her liking. Apart from that incident the food during the whole cruise was great.
During morning and lunch buffets staff were usually there to assist you with carrying your tray to your table.
Service for drinks at lounges was not always quick but adequate.
On the 2 first dinners of our cruise a couple at our table was ordering wine by the glass. However, when came time to order a second glass, the sommelier was nowhere to be found. The couple would inform our waitress of their desire to order wine and she would go running in search of the sommelier. On the 3rd night the maitre D came over to our table apologizing about the wine service and informing us that a new sommelier had been assigned to our table.
One morning I sat down with my wife for breakfast and noticed that music was playing on the speakers. Normally the setting was quite peaceful in that area of the ship. But listening to Eminem and other rap impresarios at 7:00 AM was a bit much for me. Within 2 minutes a server came to refill our coffee cups. I politely asked him if it would be possible to turn down the music a notch. He immediately went inboard to the galley and turned off the music. (I guess this was their motivational music while setting up shop, waiting for the first customers to roll in)
Rule of thumb: if something bothers you, don't sit there fuming and complaining on how terrible things are. My experience has been that the crew wants to please, unfortunately they are not psychic. Furthermore each client is different: one passengers nirvana is another passengers hell. In most cases: ask and you shall receive.
Food (A-): The quality and variety of food was very good. The food at the Cosmopolitain restaurant (5 course meal) was usually very good. There was only one dish during the whole week where I found that the meat was a bit tough. If you go with the chefs recommendation you won't go wrong.
We ate at the Normadie restaurant (30$ premium) for my wife's birthday. Well worth the extra money. Food, service and ambiance were excellent. Reserve quickly thought, The restaurant was already fully reserved for the week when I enquired at 10 PM on the first day of our cruise. Only by being first on a reserve list and by inquiring daily did I manage to get in.
The healthy eating menu at the Aquaspa café and the sushi bar (aft part of the waterfall café) were wonderful.
For those that lack imagination or a culinary pallet, there is always the Waterfall grill where you can get burgers, pizza and fries. There is also a pasta bar at the Waterfall café.
One thing that surprised me (since I didn't read about it in the forums) was to find out that one could reserve casual dining during the entire cruise. So if dressing up isn't your thing, don't fret, there a place for you every night at the waterfall café. So there is something for everybody
I found all the shows done be the Celebrity singers and dancers to be delightful. The aerialists were at times amazing (could work for Cirque du soleil anytime). There were also 2 special guests during the week (I forget their names). One was a British stage singer that was very good. The second was another Brit, versatile on 4 different instruments. She seemed nervous, her jokes floundered and she could have done with a bit more practice (the couple at our dinner table however found her wonderful).
We only spent the first day poolside (with all other days on excursions). I found the pool area relatively restful. The activities staff made a few forays at entertaining but the crowds enthusiasm was mild. If you are looking for poolside with fun fun fun and staff blaring encouragement on loudspeakers all day, this isn't a ship for you. The band prodigy played a few sets in the afternoon and I found them to be of average quality. For total peace and quiet lounge at the AquaSpa. Note: there was some lounge chair hogging by the pool (but plenty of space on the upper deck). Personally, I don't take a towel laying on a chair as an indication of possession. So I am not shy about taking a deck chair that has a towel on it. At worst I would apologize and move on (IF the person ever shows up). I found that most lounge chairs with towels on them stayed empty for hours on end, so why not take advantage of it.
Ports of Call:
Ocho Rio: Dunn's river falls. Only 3 miles from the ship, my wife and I took a taxi (10$ US) there and paid 10$US each to get in plus 10$US taxi back to the ship. That's 40$US for 2. Celebrity wanted 37$US per person. Do things on your own, it's a lot cheaper and you can keep your own schedule. The falls themselves are beautiful and worth the trip, but be ready for the mass of people climbing them. From the ship we walked into town to do some shopping. For the uninitiated this could be an uncomfortable experience since the Jamaicans are continually harassing you. Even once you are in the gated shopping areas, the salespeople are relentless.
Grand Cayman: Celebrity had no excursion on the internet for stingray city, so I booked with Captain Marvin via internet. This outfit is 2 blocks from the pier and therefore convenient. Once on the Celebrity Summit, stingray city was offered (46$ versus my 39$excursion). Unfortunately the trip was cancelled (for the 3rd straight day) because of the swells in the bay. So from the pier we took a 15$ minivan ride to Hell and the turtle farm and got off at 7 mile beach (which was sheltered from the waves) and snorkelled. I was surprised to still se so much destruction 4 months after the hurricane. There are still several establishments waiting for available labour and construction materials.
Cozumel: This was my 5th time on the island. If you like to Scuba, this is the place. It has changed since the last time I was here in 1992. My jaw dropped as we arrived in port to find that we were EIGHT cruise ships visiting that day. My wife and mother did the swim with dolphins experience at Chankanaab. Under the advice of a colleague who previously missed out on the dolphin experience, I booked this excursion well in advance with Celebrity. I was disappointed but not surprised to see how commercial the dolphin experience has become. I did it at Puerto Aventuras 13 years ago and it was a personable experience with only 12 people in a huge basin (it is no longer like that). At Cozumel (same dolphin company) you have a basin half the size with different sections cordoned off : 5 groups of 12 doing the dolphin touch and 3 groups of 12 doing the swim with dolphins. So you've got almost 100 people in the water, with another 100 on the docks waiting their turn. But what you don't know won't hurt you: my wife and mother absolutely loved the experience. We all spent the rest of the day lounging in the sand, snorkelling and visiting the rest of Chankanaab. We all found it to be an enjoyable place (not overly crowded despite all the cruise ships).
Debarkation (D): What a bad way to end an enjoyable experience. We were told to congregate at the cinema at 9 AM for debarkation. After an hour of waiting with no crew member present and no announcements on the intercom, people were getting restless (some had early flights to catch). Finally at 10 AM someone shows up to guide us off the boat. As we were walking out of the cinema the crew member was almost mauled by the scores of people sitting impatiently on the floor in the hallway. Reason: as we walked past them his walkie-talkie blared a voice saying ''Whatever you do, keep them under control as best you can''. In all honesty I don't think the delay was Celebrity's fault (although they could have handled it better). There were only 2 immigration officials to handle all 2000 passengers. Once we got thru customs we got our bags (which were real easy to find since there were hardly any left), we waited 20 minutes for the bus to drive us to the airport. (At this point Celebrity is out of the picture). The airport was pure chaos, the bus had trouble pulling in at each terminal because of the traffic. (the bus driver told us that on weekend Fort Lauderdale can receive up to 14 cruise ships a day. Clearly the airport doesn't have the infrastructure to handle the volume of transfers. Once we got off the bus we were amazed to find that the check-in counter for our airline was OUTSIDE ON THE SIDEWALK. After that line up we encountered another line-up for the X-ray of our check-in luggage. Again the system was completely overwhelmed, with suitcase piled all around the machines that just couldn't keep up. We finally got to the boarding gate at 1PM for our 2 PM flight. That's a 4 hour transfer. We were lucky, because most people were having there flights delayed or cancelled as a winter storm was hitting the east coast.
I hope this review was helpful. P.S.
Too often I have read scathing comments from a disgruntled reader who is willing to trash a whole cruise because of one bad experience. You will probably find that your cruise enjoyment will reflect your view on life. If you are easy going and enjoy life, chances are you'll enjoy your cruise. If you have an axe to grind or you are bitter and disappointed in life or you think you deserve better because you feel you got a bum rap in life, then you'll probably find something drastically wrong with your cruise.
Also, perspective is the key. What value did you get for the dollar. Some people seem to want to pay for a Pinto and then complain that it doesn't drive like a Porshe. The mid-range cruise ship offers transportation (ports of call), lodging, meals and entertainment for 100$ to 150$ a day per person. You will be disappointed if your expecting the same experience as if you had gone to Vegas and spent 300$ on a room, 200$ a ticket for a show (cirque du soleil, Celine Dion) and 100$ per person for a 5 course French meal. That's 450$ per person (double occupancy), not 150$.
My wife and I took the above ship for a holiday cruise. Overall it was a very good cruise, but we noticed that Celebrity is slipping a bit from our prior experiences. This includes such items such as lack of bar attendants for lounges near the pools, (which is surprising) fewer assistants to help with carrying lunch trays for senior citizens (which is a nice touch) and poor shows were the major items noted.
Food was great, and the Normandie specialty restuarant was a nice experience but not really worth the $60/couple. Food choices were good and the healthy choice type menus for lunch are a welcome item to standard shipboard fare. The Cova Cafe was great for pastries, etc.
Unfortunately it rained New Years Eve so the outdoor bash was a non-event. Indoors was good, but outdoors is much better when weather permits. We had a concierge class cabin which includes some nice touches and found this very enjoyable (canapes (sp) , towels, snacks, etc) . Cabin service was superb.
Entertainment leaves a lot to be desired, especially for the extra amount we paid for a holiday cruise. Stage shows were routine, butbilled as great, and comedians were marginal. Hopefully the upcoming Cirque de Soleil shows will improve this category.
We also took disadvantage of Celebrities extend a stay program, and what a disaster. They have selected poor vendors for transportation between the pier and airport on non-sailing days - causing waits of 1 hour or more, no information on pickup times at the hotel, etc. It's better to book it yourself and take cabs - it's a lot less bother.
Celebrity has a thing they do with CruiseConnections where they have people sign up before the cruise and talk via emamil and then host a party on board. We signed up but were never told about the party. Celebrity claimed no knowledge, but they didn't want to check their own website with me standing there to show them that people had signed up-- and Celebrity goofed.
We didn't go to Grand Cayman - which was good considering other reports, we went to Curacao instead which was nice. We saw one couple get evicted from the ship in Aruba for drugs on board. They had a rough trip back with no airline ticket and the holiday planes full ----------don't even think about drugs - they watch that carefully. The guy was in shock - and stood on shore watching the ship all day before we pulled out. (His wife didn't look too happy)
Overall a good cruise, but Celebrity needs to take more attention to the details and improve their extend a stay programs.
Ship: Outstanding - at 91,000 tons is perfect size - never felt crowded but was easy to get around. Line: This was our 15th cruise (on multiple lines), 3rd on Celebrity & we have decided to simplify life & stick with Celebrity from now on. They do things right!! Cabin: on Deck 9, Concierge Class. Great location, cabin (190 sq ft) on the small side but adequate. More than adequate storage. Food: Couldn't be better. There were always plenty of dinner choices and I found the fish entrees to be especially good.
Ports: Key West, Cozumel, Puerto Limon, Colon, Aruba, Grand Cayman. Best excursion was visiting the indigenous natives at Colon - the Embera Tribe. All ports had something to offer. Overall: Obviously well pleased. We had a problem at disembarkation with missing luggage and the cruise line worked with us and the luggage was located, our tour waited and it turned out well. Highly recommend Celebrity
My husband and I sailed on the Summit December 11- December 17, 2004. Cabin # 8098
We have sailed on several of the Celebrity Cruise ships before. Millienium, Galaxy and the Constellation. Our previous experience on these ships were excellent. The customer service and the food was excellent.
To our disappointment, we were shocked at the quality of the food served. The dinning room food was awful, it was not the Celebrity quality food that we have received in the past.
The lunch buffet had repeats of the previous days lunches. We were served scallops one night, and I became ill after eating them.
It's ovious Celebrity is owned by Royal Carribean, We stopped sailing the Royal CARRIBBEAN cruise line for the same reasons.
I know companys are cutting back to save money however the prices of cruises are going up and the QUALITY OF THE FOOD IS GOING DOWN.
Our cruise was an eleven day cruise, I could not wait to get home to get a decent meal. I refuse to eat left overs everyday.
I pray Celebrity is reading this review. I took two weeks off my job for a much needed vacationand relaxzation period.
Celebrity, I am shocked at you allowing this to occur.
Celebrity has won many awards for it's cusine. I must say, If I had to vote for this one I would rate you below par.
A very dissapointed customer
I am writing to express my utter disappointment with the services provided for those of us who incurred the additional expense of Concierge Class cruising. Much was promised; little delivered!
More particularly I wish to alert all potential travelers against paying an additional premium to dine in a "specialty" restaurant. This elitist temptation at participating in the outmoded and blatantly biased imposition of a "Class Conscious" clientelle, now sickens me for having given in to temptation.
Never can I e recall receiving such little value for money spent. Instead I was insulted by the pomposity and arrogance of much of the staff. Voicing my displeasure brought me an invitation to return "free of surcharge" but my experience had been so deeply offending that 'wild horses...etc!
This was not my first Celebrity Cruise but it may well be my last.
Stephen Blanchard PH. 2408 Toronto, Can.
Ship: Am comparing this cruise/ ship to previous cruises the past 4 years on a variety of ships ( Costa Atlantica; RC Radiance of the Seas; Norwegian Sun; Carnival Spirit and Legend and HAL Osterdam. This three year-old ship is tastefully decorated, in a low-key way. It does not exhibit the glitz and gaudiness of the new ships we have been on in the past four years. All common areas are coordinated in terms of color and fabrics, most pleasing to the eye. At 91,000 tons she is indeed large and very spacious. Much varied and beautiful art work throughout the ship. Very nice common areas including Celebrity theatre .. one of the nicest, best decorated and well set up in terms of rows, fixed tables, and space for people to get by those already seated. Revelations lounge . large area for dancing on deck 11 (where the DJ and band plays every night. Waterfall cafeteria (breakfast and lunch) - light, bright and nicely decorated; Cosmopolitan main dining room. Elegant in a word!
I also felt that the ride was a little bit smoother than most ships! Had no problems with themuch publicized gas turbine engines.
Ships guests: Only 30 children on this ship! More mature average age than most ships. All well behaved! Many, many dressed up on the ship's three formal nights. Most men wore tuxes. Could not help but notice that there was a significant amount of British residents on this ship.
Room: 7193 far aft, port side is spacious 1B category (190 sq. ft.) with small balcony. Lots of storage room. Larger stall shower than most ships. Lots of shelves in bathroom, below the sink. Hair dryer in bathroom above the commode. Balcony room is comfortable though not as large as we had on HAL's Osterdam last Xmas. Balcony is cramped and confining. Note: the balcony rooms at the dead back of the ship have larger balconies.
Route: Key West; Costa Rica; Panama; Aruba; Curacao (substituted for Grand Cayman). Key West: Took the $22 Conch train tour that we booked on land. Same price as ship . but 30 minutes longer than ships' tour. Nice way to get the flavor and feel of the whole area. Did a $25 pp private taxi tour of Costa Rica with the Tortuguero canal. When you get off the ship go past the tour vendors and walk into air-conditioned building right before the main road. Tours are cheapest there . by almost half. Canal ride is mostly a very pleasant boat ride. We did see a few sloths, and a lot of birds, and lizards. No crocs. Nice shopping at the pier numerous vendors' stalls . offering beautiful wood products, cutting boards, entire salad bowl sets for $25. Your can certainly find some nice souvenirs there . and some bargaining can be done. Probably the best souvenirs of the whole trip! Transportation vehicles were on strike the day we pulled into Panama. All ship's tours were cancelled. Shopped at the pier. Not much there, except large, local supermarket where we bought inexpensive souvenirs. Heineken Draft beer was only 65 cents per can at liquor store right at pier (vs. $4.50 on board). Needless to say we brought cans on the ship. Most interesting thing at the Panama pier were the miniature monkeys children were passing around . $1 for a picture. Sweet little creatures. Enterprising young children.
Missed Aruba due to virus or food poisoning (from meal the night before? . Scallops) .. very ill the whole next day. Was not the only one who got sick on the ship. The last four days we heard many comments about people who were sick. First ship I have been on where I got sick.. Fernette Branca (bitters) did not help. That's also a first.
In Curacao, we took a local (group bus) tour of the island $25pp- 2 hours. Although we did not shop down town, the bus did drive through many streets. Looked like a lot of shops. Island is charming, upscale, very European in feel and yes, those colorful painted houses are everywhere on the island. Shopping at the pier is dismal. Walk from the pier to downtown is easily 15-20'. It was definitely the rainy season in Curacao.
Service: High point of this ship is its service. Superb! Employees seem genuinely happy, eager to meet and greet and willing to help out in anyway they can. "Mendes" our room attendant was the most efficient we have ever had. Our waiter/assistant ( waiter (table 484)- Erol and Clikson were wonderful. Clikson even performed a magic trick every night at the end of the meal and shared the secrets of the magic with us. We tipped all of these individuals beyond the suggested gratuity (which we charged to the room). Extra tip given in cash the last night.
Entertainment: This got better as the cruise went on and overall was very good. Four shows by Celebrity singers and dancers .each one was better and better and incorporated more sets. Two female vocalists had superb voices. Samantha Jay . talented British musician (plays 3 instruments) and Tommy Bond (pianist) were great entertainers. Kevin Flynn was a good comedian, but we have seen/heard funnier on most ships. Celebrity band players were great - played all types of music. Very versatile.
Cruise Director: Don. Very nice addition to the ship. He is the right age (maturity) related well to passengers of all ages, particular the mature audience that is prevalent on this ship. He is most visible at night in the Celebrity theatre and the various venues. He was in a word most . a gracious host. His young assistants could learn a lot from him.
Ship's newsletters: Best of any ships. The most informative, the longest and simply well done. You were never lacking for information even on a ship where there were very few PA announcements.
Embarkation/Debarkation: Smoothest, easiest and quickest of all the ships! Wonderful and greatly appreciated! I doubt that this system will ever be topped anywhere else.
Food: Unfortunately this is a very weak point of this ship and perhaps shocking since everything else is so well done. It was not only our opinion, but also that of our table mates and many people we met. The only exceptions being the Aqua Spa Café and the The Normandie alternative restaurant, which I will cover further down.
The food in the Waterfall Café (breakfast and lunch) was mediocre at best. Not appetizing, not great tasting. Pizzas were good if you got a slice fresh out of the oven. The pasta bar always had overcooked pasta and weak tasting sauces. Hamburgers and hot dogs ok, nothing special. French fries were good if you got them right out of the deep fryer. Did not sample the sandwich station, which is at the back end of the ship, not conveniently located.
Many of the meals in the Cosmopolitan restaurant ultimately were disappointing. Soups consistently over salty, appetizers nothing special. Entrees . Roast beef repeated constantly . fish definitely not a chef's forte. Desserts were also nothing special. There were a few exceptions . Rack of Lamb (offered two nights out of 11) was very good, but overcooked each time. Rack of Veal (last night) was actually good. Lobster (tail) was ok. Not mushy as described by other reviews, firm but lacking a good taste that one would expect. It was nice size, however.
Exceptions: Coffee onboard is very good. Gratis beverages: tea; lemonade; punch and guava juice. If you like soppresata salami . the real stuff . it usually was at the Waterfall café every morning. No prosciutto until the last night at the Cosmopolitan . on melon as an appetizer. One meager slice. I asked for more.
We found the lunches at the Cosmopolitan restaurant even more disappointing than the Waterfall café. We gave up easily on the served lunches.
Bread was good on this ship!
Aqua Spa café: This is a separate low calorie, cold plate area located past the pool where creative and light breakfasts and gourmet looking lunch plates are created. Very nice touch. Cold soups also available. Appetizing in looks and taste. No other ship has this upscale menu.
The Normandie: The $30pp alternative dinner. Don't miss it. It will be the only best food you will have on this ship. Room is beautifully decorated. Service is supreme and food the best you will have anywhere. Try the warm goat cheese soufflé. The Chateaubriand for two . most divine cut of meat . and any of the desserts . especially the Bombe (white and chocolate mousse). Don't miss the cheese trolley with the finest aged cheeses that you can sample. Make sure to pick the aged goat cheese!
Again, those of you who rebel at paying additional for a meal . don't let the meager $30 cause you to miss the best meal you will have on any ship . or even on land. It is that special.
Pools: High marks for decent pools. Large salt water pool 15' x 35' - could actually do laps when it was not too crowded. Thalassotherapy pool .. adjacent to main pool is next to Aqua Spa café and actually is a very large Jacuzzi that has three forms of stimulating, pulsing action: on each side . a set of pipes that you lay on that bubble and pulsate; in the center . one very large pulsing stream that you "try to stand in front of" and get the biggest blast of bubbles from . and four sky high spigots that come down on your shoulders and give you one heck of a shoulder massage. This gratis pool is a godsend for adults . and it is free. No $15 a day charge. Thank goodness.
Gym: Well equipped . as nice as you will see on any ship. With appropriate amount of weight bearing equipment! None broken I might add .. as we have seen on many ships, and which most ships do not have? Nice workout, exercise floor. A lot of exercise classes (free and paid for . are offered.).
Can't comment as we did not use . but the spa services were always busy. Since it is next to the gym we could easily see this. The ship appears to offer a myriad of spa packages.
Overall Rating: 1-5 (1 being the lowest; 5 the highest)
Food: 1- 2
Cruise Director (Don): 4- 5
Ship's Events: 4-5
Ship's Newsletter: 5
Melinda from PA.
The Summit is a wonderful and fun ship. I truly loved cruising our FLL becuause of the proximity to the airport. Mom and I had a great time onboard the Summit, by second time on Celebrity and Concierge Class. Embarkation was a little delayed but by 1:00pm we were having lunch and exploring the ship. I meet some CC friends onboard and,....... with drink in hand, sailed off to Key West.
The service was wonderful (as always) and so were our tablemates! The staff is superb, but the ship was in need of drydock (which by now has undergone, I hope). I love Celebrity and look forward to my Dec. cruise in 05' (if I can wait that long:)
Happy cruising on the Summit or any wonderful Celeb ship you're on!
Here's my review of our trip on the Summit, April 16th thru 26th, 2004. I had only been on two other cruise lines, RCCL (7 days), which happened to be my first cruise and Holland America was my 2nd cruise last year, 2003.
Embarkation was a breeze. I could not believe how quickly we got on the ship. We arrived at 11:15 am and was on the ship by 11:30 am. The champagne welcome when you entered the ship was a very nice touch. They were still getting our stateroom ready when we boarded, so we walked around the ship, made spa appointments and had lunch, then it was off to see if the room was ready for our arrival. They were done and we dropped off our carry on. The room was adequate, but not as large as last years cruise. The room that would have been equivalent in money and space to our stateroom from last year would have been Celebritys' Celebrity Suite, which did not even have a balcony or verandah. Therefore, we chose the 1A which turned into the Concierge Class because of the balcony. Wewould have had to go up to the Royal Suite which would have been a little larger, but would have had a large verandah, in order to get equivalent to what we had on last years cruise. The money difference would have been approximately $2,500.00 more per person going into the Royal Suite. We had breakfast a few times on our balcony, but found it to be quit small. We also had dinner a couple times and had to be very creative with the placement of the dishes and lids.
One thing that Celebrity doesn't do that would have been nice was to bring your luggage into your stateroom and not leave it in the hall. We unpacked our clothes and put them in the drawers and closet and discovered that the shower had quit a bit of mildew in it and looked as though it had not been cleaned in a month. As soon as we brought it to the Chief Housekeeper, Yani's, attention, it was taken care of and cleaned . We had a new Cabin Attendant, Edwin. It was his first trip, but once he realized what we wanted, which basically consisted of ice, everything was handled and he was very accommodating. When Edwin wasn't around, his Assistant, Bijoy was right there to answer our needs.
Around 2:00 we headed for the pool bar to have a drink, relax and to meet some of the people from the Cruise Critics board who would be meeting at 3:00. It was a lot of fun putting the faces with everyone who we talked with on the boards for so many months prior to sailing.
At 4:00 we had The Muster Drill which went very smooth and done in record time.
Off we went to Revelations Lounge for our sail away. We met one of the bar tenders, Omar, and became fast friends. He always had a smile on his face and was eager to please. He never forgot exactly what you wanted and how you wanted it. The DJ in the Revelations Lounge name was Ginge. He was most accommodating in playing what you wanted to listen too.
The door decorations we put up seemed to multiply; thanks to some wonderful and wacky people we met.Rick and Kathy. They decided one night, as we were up in the Revelations Lounge dancing, that they were going to sneak down and put all these balloons on our door. We now refer to them as the balloon people as well as other loving and adoring titles. They also enjoyed moving around our fish every day in different positions on the door. Many people commented that it was easy to find their own rooms by our door decorations. We also decorated the balcony with these tropical flags. Next year we will choose some brighter and bolder colored ones so they can be seen easier when we look up from land.
I can't comment much about the first 2 days at sea as I was a little sea sick. I'm not sure if it was really rough out, or the size of the ship that made it roll more than the smaller ones I have been use to, but it was a rough couple of days for me. Quite a few other people were talking about the motion and pitching of the M Class ships as well. I was told by another passenger about this wonderful pink pill which you only take once a day. What a difference it made. I went down to Guest Relations and they gave me an envelope with 4 pills in it. I used them for the last sea days going to the different ports and the 2 sea days coming home. It didn't bother me the port days, but the seas weren't as rough. Could have been because we were between land masses, or just in my head. Who knows? All I can say is thank God for the little pink pill and for Brian upstairs at the Waterfall Bar who suggested I try this certain kind of Italian bitters. I know I'm going to spell it wrong, but here goes.Fernet Bianca. It was the worst tasting stuff I had ever put in my mouth, but within minutes my stomach was settling down. I've never eaten a tree bark, but I can only assume that would be a similar taste.
I had a massage the 2nd day at sea which was glorious. Between the little pink pill, the bitters and the massage, I was feeling much better. I think I actually floated out of the spa.
Besides having the breakfast bar each morning, they had an omelet station. They also had a waffle, pancake and French toast station. Very nice touches. During lunch, not only did they have the lunch buffet, but they had a pasta area where you could get pasta and whatever kind of sauce with all the trimmings that you would want made right there to your liking. In the back of the Waterfall Café they had a place that made a special and different kind of sandwich every day (i.e.: philly steak sandwich, tuna melt, reuben, etc.). That too was a nice touch.
One of my favorite places before heading to dinner was the Martini Bar. Their Chocolate Martinis were to die for and my sister enjoyed the Dirty Martinis. We always had Rose Ruiz who waited on us. She always remembered what we liked. One night we did the Martini tasting, but I didn't find anything I liked better than the Chocolate Martini.
Another of our favorite places was the Casual Dining Blvd. It was in the back of the Waterfall Café and opened around 5:30 pm. They ask that you make a reservation sometime during the day if you are planning on going there to eat. There is no additional charge. It had wonderful food. Equivalent, in my opinion, to the Cosmopolitan Dining Room. The head waiter was wonderful and very attentive to every little detail. The staff under him was friendly, and seemed to enjoy their jobs immensely. The tables were set with linens and very well done. On the other side of the Casual Dining Blvd. was the Sushi Bar. If you liked Sushi, it was excellent. Just beyond the Casual Dining Blvd. and the Sushi Bar was the aft deck. We would wander out to the aft deck after dinner to have a drink and listen to the performance of Ron, who if you closed your eyes you would think that it was Santana performing. A couple we met on the ship had their stateroom in the aft about 3 floors under Ron and his music. They said they loved sitting out on their own balcony having a drink and dancing to his music. Very Romantic.
We did not get a chance to eat in their specialty restaurant, The Normandy, but heard from others it was well worth the extra money. $30.00 if I'm not mistaken. Expect to spend approximately 2 to 2½ hours dining at The Normandy.
They have two pools, both of which are saltwater. One is their regular pool where all the activities,entertainment and music is. They also have the Spa Pool which is heated and has an area on each side of the pool where it is really bubbly. Almost like a hot tub. The Spa Pool is for adults only.no children.
Well, everyone has heard of the pool chair "Hogs". They are alive and well on the Summit. But, the Pool Attendants did a wonderful job of overseeing and making sure everyone had a seat and if chairs were left unattended too long, there belongs were moved. There was a group of people on the ship that took over the Spa pool area. They had 2 tables that they played cards at and were VERY loud and also had about 5 of the teak lounge chairs with all their stuff on them that they weren't using. No matter where you go you'll find people with little to no manners. What a shame they were brought up by wolves.
A lot of fun things happening daily poolside. A definite area not to miss. You will be entertained. The music was great too.
The age group on our cruise was about the same age group as last years cruise. We didn't notice any difference in age from one ship to the other.
They had some very interesting pieces of art throughout the ship. Very Contemporary.
I will always remember Simon Weir (Cruise Director) and his rendition of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" Not only did we see it in person at the show one night, but we watched it the next day on the Celebrity TV while getting dressed for port, when they showed it, over and over again. And we laughed, over and over again. Definitely not to be missed. The Assistant Director, Stewart Turnbull, was one of the best we had seen. His expressions and energy was unsurpassed. Hopefully Stewart will get his own ship soon and become a Cruise Director. He definitely deserves it. Lauren, on the Activities staff, was a major asset to the team. She had only been on the ship for 1 month, which surprised me, as she seemed so comfortable with her position that I thought she had been on for years. She had this infectious energy and fabulous smile. She's definitely a keeper.
On Celebrity they had Karaoke and also a Talent Show put on by the passengers. I have to give credit to all those who got up there and sang and danced. What a great time. Some of them were even good.
I chose to use their internet for $2.00 per email instead of using mine for $.75 per minute. By using theirs, I could write a very lengthy email or spend as many minutes on writing as I wanted. But remember, it is $2.00 per email whether you send one or you receive one. I had timed my self and on an average per email, either reading from my husband or writing to him, I spent an average of about 10 to 15 minutes each time. So I figured I made the right choice.
Now on to shopping, my favorite. Found some great jewelry and linen deals in St. Maarten. Also found a lot of the jewelry to be less money in St. Maarten than in St. Thomas. I really liked Mac at Ballerina Jewelers in St. Maarten at the terminal port as soon as you get off the ship. He would really work to get you his best price possible. They also have another store in town as well. The French side was very quaint and we enjoyed a great lunch at the marina. In St. Thomas I wouldn't go anywhere else but Celebrity Jewelers in Haversight Mall which is the shopping area as soon as you get off the ship. The person to see there is Mark for great deals. They also have a store in downtown St. Thomas as well. The Liquor in St. Thomas is about the same in St. Maarten, but if you get it in St. Thomas, you can bring more back. St. Lucia was a fun place to get off and take the ferry and go shopping. They have this wonderful shopping area with all kinds of stuff and local crafts. The people were very friendly.
In Barbados I found this wonderful sterling silver jewelry and acquired a couple pieces.
As far as St. Kitts goes, unless you have booked an excursion, there isn't much shopping there. This island is flatter than the other islands we went to. It does look like they are trying to get together a nice area of shops, but doesn't look like it will be finished for some time. Maybe at the beginning of next season.
Disembarkation was smooth. What takes the longest time is to find your suit cases. We even saved the flags from the balcony decorations and tied them to our suit cases hoping to spot them quicker, but they seemed to blend in. Maybe next year I'll paint my suit cases a neon yellow to find them quicker. Happy sailing to all. Remember, it's the journey that counts.
This was our second cruise with Celebrity and it exceeded almost all expectations. We elected to take an 11 day western Caribbean excursion from Fort Lauderdale. The ship is truly magnificent in design and decoration. We also booked a sky suite which is about the size of an average motel room but includes a decent outside private balcony and an acceptable couch/coffee table area for snacks or lounging. Although certainly not spacious, the room was attractive enough to be a pleasant refuge if one decided not to go to the pool or just wanted to relax. Suites include the services of a butler which seems a bit pretentious but was a very nice touch. He welcomed us aboard, kept our wine bucket filled, brought us finger sandwiches and pastries at 3, canapes at 6 and chocolate cake and milk at 11, all automatically.
Embarkation was painless and quick. Our first stop was Key West (been there, done that) which was packed, followed by Cozumel - a more littered version of St. Thomas. Only get off the ship in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica if you are going on a tour. The townis tired, dirty, and depressing. Next was Colon, Panama with universally enjoyable tours - we went bass fishing in Gatun Lake and had a ball - everyone we spoke to also raved about their tours. Next came Aruba which was fun and interesting. We could not get off the boat at Grand Cayman due to high sees (there are no large piers there so access to the island is only by tenders); then back to Lauderdale.
As to the Summit, despite having almost 2,000 guests on board, we rarely felt the least crowded. The layout and amenities of the ship are extremely well done and the decoration and cleanliness amazing. There are numerous cocktail lounges and common areas with new disoveries almost daily. Food service and quality were uniformly better then expected. Although the portions in the main dining room are not large, there is always the option of ordering more at no charge. The Normandie fine dining restaurant is well worth a visit and the Boulevarde restaurant on the 10th deck is a lovely respite for a quiet dinner. We had sailed on Infiniy before and felt that the overall food quality had improved this year.
The staff were some of the best we have ever experienced, exceeding even that of four and five diamond hotels. From the cocktail servers to the room attendants, every member of the staff without exception was courteous, polite and professional. This attitude even included the casino - whereas dealers, croupiers etc. in mainland casinos are often bored, surly and only interested in depriving you of your money as quickly as possible, on Summit they were charming, helpful, and willing to let you ponder a bet.
Nitpicking criticisms: Celebrity is by and large a line that caters to adults. Although there were a fair amount of children on board, it is clear that they do not seek out the younger market. We found therefore screaming kids at the pool, unsupervised by their parents to be a real although occasional annoyance. They should restrict the main pool from all children under 12 and give them their own area. The Captain's Club is a rip off - don't bother. For the extra $ 35.00 or so that it costs to join, have a couple of drinks at poolside or hit the slots instead. We scheduled a tour in Cozumel and were informed they had already left when we arrived, both the tour operator and the ship blaming each other for the screwup. Another tour was cancelled claiming not enough people signed up. Both of these cancellations were irritating. Lastly, some of the onboard lectures are simply excuses to try and sell you something. I had expected an interesting lecture on Rembrandt one day and a lecture about amber another, and instead, listened to a sales spiel in each case for reproduction etchings and for the on board jewelry store.
All in all it was a wonderful experience. We give anyone our highest recommendation and fully expect to join the Summit next year to tour the eastern Carribean.
This was the fifth cruise my wife and I have taken, our first on Celebrity, and was definitely the best. Previous cruises were on RCCL ('03); Princess ('03 & '00) and Carnival ('98).
. Taking a bottle of champagne up on deck during the sail-away party as we left Ft. Lauderdale while listening to the great music of Voltz.
. Dancing every night to the music of Voltz in the Revelations Lounge! Voltz was a GREAT band playing everything from reggae to 70's, 80's, 90's and current hits – and even earlier music on the 50's/60's night.
. Laying in the sun around the pool in the afternoon listing to Voltz playing on deck, with occasional dips in the hot tub or pool. In mid-afternoon, an army of waiters would sometimes appear passing out cups of sorbet!
. Sitting on the open aft deck at the Waterfall Café each evening before sunset sipping a drink while listening to the music of guitarist Ron Thompson.
. Coffee on our veranda in the morning. The coffee on board was very good. The only time this didn't work out was the first morning or two whenthe wind kicked up a salt spray that kept the veranda relatively unusable - not a problem the last eight days of the cruise.
. Fancy martinis in the Martini bar before dinner - my favorite was the "Citrus" martini made with flavored vodka.
. Relaxing to a couples massage at the spa - what a way to relax and lose the tension!
. Sailing around St. Kitts and Nevis on the Fan-Ta-Sea catamaran as part of a sailing, snorkeling and beach excursion. The view was fantastic, the sailing smooth, and the crew was great - as were the snorkeling and serene beach on Nevis, where we stopped to swim and eat a barbecue lunch
. The view of Trunk Bay from a scenic viewpoint at the top of a hill in St. John. The taxis usually stop at this scenic point en route from the ferry to the beach.
. Dinner with our table mates met on board. We were fortunate to be seated with two very nice couples and had nice conversations each night, usually ending when we realized we were the last group in the dining room!
We had a Concierge Class stateroom on Deck 9, with a Veranda. The Concierge Class provided some extra amenities including a special mattress pad and pillow selection. These made the bed the most comfortable we've found on a cruise ship. The bathroom also had a nice sized shower. It was a very nice room overall. Our steward did a fine job, although he had to be reminded about some special requests once or twice. We had him empty the mini-bar stuff out of the fridge so we could keep our own wine in it.
We never made it to breakfast or lunch in the dining room. We found a nice selection of foods for these meals in the café or at various spots around the ship, including the grill by the pool (pizza and burgers) and the aqua spa café, which had great "lighter" meals. We had late dinner seating with a great waiter and assistant. We thought the food was the best of any cruise ship we've been on - especially the fish. Normally I dislike frozen fish (which is all you generally find on mass cruise ships) but the seafood dishes on Summit were great. Every dish I tried, I loved. I heard a complaint from another passenger about the steaks, but I didn't eat much in that category, preferring the seafood and an occasional veal or chicken dish.
The wine list was very extensive. We'd brought our own wine, which we enjoyed about half of the nights in the dining room ($12 corkage fee) as we hadn't seen wine lists like this on other lines, at least for white wine. We ate one night in the Normandy dining room - a $25 per person surcharge, but well worth it for this extravagant meal.
We had room service every morning, at least for coffee, in the room or on the veranda. Orders left the night before were always served on time and preceded by a phone call alerting you to the arrival; orders phoned-in took about 20 minutes.
Neither my wife nor I enjoy stage shows, so we passed on all the singing and dancing shows - preferring to get our evening entertainment in the lounges. However, we did see a comedian and a magician at shows that preceded the late dinner seating.
We loved the party band Voltz. This is a great band with members from various Caribbean islands. They played everything from reggae to contemporary rock/pop music and we had a great time listening to their tunes in the afternoon by the pool and at night in the Revelations dance lounge. We also enjoyed guitarist Ron Thompson, who played contemporary and classical rock/pop music solo on the open aft deck of the Waterfall café. He played the guitar and keyboard accompanied by music he'd pre-programmed into his synthesizer.
There was also a dance band and piano player playing more mature music in other lounges. Neither of these played a style of music we liked that much, although the quality of their playing seemed quite good. Additionally there were pianists, a harpist and a classical quartet that played at various venues around the ship and during dinner. Based largely on the party band Voltz, we thought the entertainment on the ship was top-notch. We danced past midnight every night, settling for the DJ once Voltz finished for the night. Even the DJ did a great job and the disco was more suited to our style than the teenager/very young crowd we've seen on other cruises.
At St. Martin we took a cab to Orient Beach and camped out at Kakao - a place with a nice restaurant, bar, gift shop and chairs/umbrellas for rent. Two chairs and an umbrella cost $20 for the day. Orient Beach is beautiful – a classic Caribbean beach. We enjoyed walking along the beach and swimming. We had a great seafood lunch at the open-air restaurant. There are several establishments similar to Kakao at Orient Beach.
At St. Lucia we took the ship's full day snorkel & beach excursion with lunch. This requires a long (about an hour) boat trip to the southwest corner of the island, where you get a nice view of the Piton mountains. We spent the day at a black sand beach. This was different from your typical Caribbean beach and was a bit rough and rocky. But the snorkeling and view were very nice. The beach was at Anse Mamin on the grounds of the Anse Chastinet resort.
At Barbados we walked around Bridgetown a bit and then took a cab to Mullins Bay beach. Mullins was on the west coast, about a 25-minute cab ride. The beach was very nice but was probably the only beach on Barbados where it was cloudy and rainy part of that day. Everyone else back on the boat had full sun all day!
Our favorite excursion was at St. Kitts, where we took the Fan-Ta Sea catamaran ride I described above. We had a great time. St. Kitts/Nevis was, overall, the most scenic spot I've seen in the Caribbean.
At St. Thomas we went to Trunk Bay on St. John on our own. You catch a cab from the dock to Red Hook, a ferry from Red Hook to St. John, and a cab to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is in a U.S. National Park and there is an underwater snorkeling trail there! Snorkeling was pretty good the day we were there and the beach is one of the prettiest you'll ever see. We got there early and left after a couple of hours so we could return to the ship, clean up and have a late lunch, then do some shopping in the downtown area of Charlotte Amalie.
We like our cruise so much we even signed up for a Celebrity cruise next year!
Larry Simon email@example.com
Link to pictures of our cruise: http://home.comcast.net/~lfsimon/index.html