This was my second cruise with Celebrity. I hated my first cruise with them, which was on the Silhouette in November of 2011, its first cruise out of the USA. I was part of a group, and that was the cruise that they wanted to take, so I figured I would see what Celebrity was like. Even though, as I said, I hated that cruise, the group booked another cruise on the September 22 sailing of the Summit, and I decided to go with them and give Celebrity another chance.
Embarkation went very well, and my friend and I enjoyed lunch at the Oceanview Cafe. When we got into our cabin, I was pleased to see that our shore excursion tickets were there in plain sight. A big improvement over the cruise on the Silhouette, when my tickets were nowhere to be found, forcing me to go to the shore excursions desk and wait and wait on line to ask for the tickets that should have been in my cabin. And the shore excursions guy didn't believe me when I said that my tickets weren't in my cabin. He kept telling me over and over and over that they were in my cabin, and I kept insisting that they were not, and finally he said that he would call my cabin steward and ask him if he had put my tickets in my cabin. And my cabin steward said that he had never been given any shore excursion tickets for me, and the shore excursion guy gave me my tickets without a single word of apology. I eventually found out that that's what happens on Celebrity - when the Celebrity employees screw up or make mistakes, they don't apologize.
My happiness at seeing my shore excursion tickets faded a little as I looked at my copy of Celebrity Today. It said that the Revelations lounge would open at 5:30 PM. I thought that was a little strange, since Celebrity had given our group the right to hold a private party in Revelations beginning at 5:00 PM. and ending at 6:00 PM. When we got to Revelations shortly before 5:00 PM, we saw that it was full of "outsiders." Even though the Celebrity Today newsletter said that Revelations would open at 5:30 PM, some people decided to go there before 5:00 PM. And the Celebrity employees let them in. At least the employees kicked the "outsiders" out so that we could have our private party. This was the first of many indications on this cruise that Celebrity's right hand does not know what its left hand is doing.
My friend and I opted for Celebrity Select dining, because we prefer to get in and out of the dining room at dinner time, instead of having to wait and wait and wait for other people to decide what they're going to have for dinner. I know that they are on vacation, and they have every right to take as long as they want to figure out what they want to eat. But we're on vacation, too, and we don't enjoy sitting around, waiting for people to make up their minds, so a table for two at a time we choose, as opposed to being locked in to a table for eight (or more) works better for us. While we always enjoyed the food, and we always got the table for two that we reserved, we found that the service was extremely slow, and we generally were not able to get in and out speedily, even though we ordered just the main course (no salad, no soup, no appetizers, and no dessert).
We were not at all impressed with the service in the dining room at breakfast. On the Silhouette, the service at breakfast in the MDR was inefficient and rude. On the Summit, it was inefficient but friendly. We were at a table for eight. The waiter carefully took our orders for juice. Three people wanted grapefruit juice, and one wanted V-8. Soon a man came over carrying a tray of juices for us. Nice, but there weren't any grapefruit juices or V-8. Then a second man came over with a tray of juices for us. There was grapefruit juice, but no V-8. Eventually, the man who asked for V-8 was given it. If Celebrity likes to have men run around the dining room carrying trays of juices, fine, but why have the waiter bother writing down what everyone wants, if what we're supposed to do is sit there and wait and wait for someont to come over carrying the kind of juice we want? This was another example of Celebrity's right not knowing what its left hand was doing.
I ordered waffles, and they didn't arrive until after six of the other seven people at my table had finished eating. I didn't know that waffles take so much longer than pancakes, Eggs Benedict, and omelets. And when I wasn't looking, a waiter sneaked up behind me and filled my cup with coffee without asking me if I wanted coffee. I did not want coffee. I asked people later on if Celebrity thought it was a great idea for waiters to fill people's cups with coffee without asking them if they wanted decaf, tea, or herbal tea, or if the waiter thought it was a great idea to pour coffee without asking people what they wanted. Believe it or not, people tended to think that Celebrity had told the waiters to fill people's cups up with coffee without asking them what they wanted. A second breakfast wasn't much better, and we ate breakfast the rest of the time at the buffet (where I could get my juice right away, where I didn't have to wait an eternity for waffles, and where no one gave me coffee that I didn't want and never asked for).
We never had lunch in the MDR. On my questionnaire, I had no choice but to give the waitstaff in the MDR the lowest possible rating.
We enjoyed all of the shows plus the lounge entertainment - Creszenzo Verde, Joe Nagy, Aldo Brest, the Aqua-Fellas, and the guitar player referred to in the Celebrity Today newsletters as "Johnny Mantra." When we talked to him, we found out that "Johnny Mantra" is a misspelling of his name. He said that he had been on the Summit for over two months, and he still couldn't get them to spell his name correctly. Plus his name was misspelled on his nametag. This was another example of Celebrity's right hand not knowing what its left hand is doing.
On Day 3, we took a perfectly lovely shore excursion out of Portland to see three windmills. We were told to meet at the end of the pier, and I didn't hear about any problems. That's why I didn't understand why we had to meet in the theatre before going on our shore excursion in Halifax on Day 4. I had been to Halifax twice before, once with NCL and once with Royal, and I knew that Halifax didn't have a rule that said that people were not allowed to look for their tour buses but instead had to meet somewhere on the ship. But we were in the theatre at 10:45 AM for our 11:00 AM excursion to Peggy's Cove (with lobster lunch), and by the time the shore excursion people got us on our bus, it was 11:20 AM. And our tour guide, Janet, said that since we were late, we were going to miss some sightseeing that we were supposed to see, but we couldn't see it because we were late, and we had to hurry to the restaurant, because we had a reservation. I figured that we would see it later in the day, but we did not. Janet said that she had to get us back to the ship on time because she had to stick to the schedule, so we never saw what we were supposed to see but missed because it took the shore excursion people took too long getting us on the bus (instead of letting us find the bus by ourselves, as we did in Portland). There were six buses doing this excursion, and it's possible that the other five tour guides did not deprive the people of seeing everything they were supposed to see. I don't know.
On Day 5 we tendered into Sydney, and I'm sure that by now, you've heard of the complete breakdown of any kind of efficiency on Celebrity's part. While the shore excursion people kept telling us that we wouldn't miss out on any part of our shore excursions, I didn't believe them. After all, their inefficiency had cost everyone on my bus to miss out on part of the Peggy's Cove excursion. I asked one of them when the last tender would leave Sydney, and she said 4:30 PM. That was the time posted in the Celebrity Today, so if the last tender wasn't going to be pushed back, how could they be so sure that no one would get cheated?
Another example of the many ways that Celebrity's right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing was that we were told to meet in the Rendez-Vous lounge at 9:30 AM, and the room was packed full of people. There were very few seats in relation to the number of people standing there. And during the time that we were there, waiting to get on a tender, there were supposed to be two trivia contests. I don't know if the trivia contests got canceled or if they were moved to another lounge. I just don't understand why trivia and tendering were scheduled to be in the same lounge at the same time. I asked one of the shore excursion people if they had made a mistake scheduling everything in the Rendez-Vous, especially since there were very few seats relatively speaking for all of the people there. She insisted that Celebrity hadn't made a mistake, since they had thought that it would take only a couple of minutes to get everyone on a tender. A couple of minutes - really? When half of the people had left the Rendez-Vous to get on a tender, there were still more people standing than sitting. That's how crowded it was.
Here's yet another example of Celebrity's right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing. My friend and I received an invitation to the Captain's Club cocktail party. When I read it, I saw that it was scheduled to take place in the same lounge at the same time as our group's private party. I went to Guest Relations, carrying both the cocktail party invitation and the notice from Celebrity that our private party would be taking place in the same lounge at the same time, and I spoke to Melmar, showing him the papers. Unfortunately, although I tried and tried, I didn't succeed in getting him to understand that there was a conflict and that something had to be done about it. He just said that it wasn't his problem, and he wrote down my cabin number and said that someone would call me. No one ever called me. I ran into the travel agent who was in charge of the group and told him. He said that he had already done something about it. We eventually got a new invitation to the Captain's Club cocktail party to be held on another day.
We had a very pleasant excursion in Prince Edward Island on Day 6. It was good that we had to meet inside the Terminal Building instead of in the theatre, so that we were not unnecessarily delayed by the shore excursion people.
On one of the sea days, there was a coupon in the Celebrity Today newsletter for seniors to bring to the casino to get $5 worth of slotplay. So my friend and I took our coupons to the casino, where we had to wait on a very long line to see someone. When we finally saw her, she gave us cards that said that we should be given $5 worth of slotplay, and she said that we had to run around the casino and find the casino technician, and he would give us our slotplay in return for the cards. She said that she had no idea where he was, that we had to run around and look for him. When we finally found him, it took a long time to get our slotplay, because he would take a few people's seapasses and disappear with them, and he eventually returned with the slotplay loaded onto the seapasses.
I thought this was extremely inefficient on the part of Celebrity. We had no idea why we had to spend so much time waiting on line for the woman to give us cards. Why couldn't we have just been told to look for the casino technician and give him our coupons? We spent so much time getting our $5 slotplay that by the time we got it, we just gambled our $5, cashed out our winnings, and walked out. Celebrity didn't make any money off of us!.
On Day 8, we took two very pleasant excursions in Quebec City. While we had time to eat lunch between the excursions, we did not have enough time to go anywhere and eat lunch and then return to our cabin, so the day before, we made sandwiches at the buffet and stashed them in the refrigerator. Although people will tell you that the refrigerator is not cold enough to store food, yes it is
It rained on Day 9, the day we went to St. Anne de Beaupre and Montmorency Falls. It didn't matter to us that it rained while we were in the church, and as for the falls, we were glad that we had seen them the day before in our afternoon countryside tour.
I was annoyed to receive a note at the last minute telling us that our meeting time for our Gaspe excursion on Day 11 had been changed to 7:15 AM in the theatre, where we had to wait for a tender. I did not want to take an excursion that met that early, and I didn't think it was fair that we were unable to cancel the tour and get our money back. Celebrity couldn't have cared less. We were originally supposed to meet in the Rendez-Vous. At least now there would be enough seats for everyone. But I heard people complain that they were never told that the meeting place had been changed from the Rendez-Vous to the theatre. Either the shore excursion people didn't notify everyone, or the cabin stewards didn't deliver the notes. I don't know.
What everyone on the excursion did not like was that we were divided into two groups to go into a small, cramped room in a lighthouse and watch a movie. We didn't like it because we were a group of 52, so there were 26 people in each group, but there were only 15 seats in the room, so 22 people had to stand. And when we went to Le Manoir Le Boutillier and had a tour, we were again divided into two groups. The problem was that there was not enough room in the rooms for all 26 people to enter. I told Sylvie, the tour guide, that in both instances, we should have been divided into three or four groups. She agreed with me, but she said that she had to stick to the schedule, and there wasn't enough time for us to be divided into more than two groups.
However, the schedule went out the window when one woman on the bus wanted to stop at a drugstore to make some purchases, and the rest of us had to sit on the bus and wait and wait for her to pay for them and leave the drugstore. Then it occurred to me that maybe the woman had asked Sylvie earlier if she could go to a drugstore, and Sylvie said sure, and she decided to carve out the time by dividing us into only two groups at the lighthouse and the manoir. Well, I hope that woman gave Sylvie an enormous tip, because I doubt if any of the other 51 people on the bus gave her a generous tip.
Then came Day 13, the infamous day that we had to tender to Bar Harbor. When we finally, finally got to Bar Harbor and got into our tour bus, our tour guide told us that since we were one hour late, we would get only a five hour tour instead of the six hour tour that we had paid for. She said that we were supposed to see some gardens, but now we wouldn't get to see them. The tour included a lobster lunch, but we didn't get to eat until 4:30 PM. That's too late for people with diabetes who need to eat regularly, or for people who have to take medicine regularly with food.
After lunch, the bus took us to Cadillac Mountain, where we were supposed to see the sun set. We would have seen it set, except that it was raining. We were taken back to get a tender. We had to get on the end of an enormous line. We got on line at 6:45 PM, and we got on a tender that left at 7:30 PM. That was supposed to be the time that the last tender left Bar Harbor, but I was sure that there would have to be more tenders later on. What about the people who weren't going to show up and get on line until 7:20 PM?
I was on the tender that smashed into the rocks or sandbar or whatever it was. I will not go into all the details here, as you can read about it in the Celebrity thread about it. But I will say that my friend and I got back to our cabin around 8:40 PM, and as we were too upset to eat, we decided to see the 9:00 PM show.
The fact that they had 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM shows that night annoyed me. I believe those were the times on 12 out of the 14 nights that they had the shows. I thought the shows should have been held later that night, since the last tender (if all had been well) was supposed to leave at 7:30 PM. We went to the 9:00 PM show, and the theatre was practically empty. I heard later on that the theatre at the 7:00 PM show was practically empty, too.
After the show, we saw some more entertainment, and then we went to the buffet for pizza. The Celebrity Today said that pizza would be available until 1:00 AM. This was yet another example of Celebrity's right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing - we got there at 11:15 PM, and the pizza station was closed up tight. (Maybe they keep printing that there is pizza until 1:00 AM just like they keep printing that "Johnny Mantra" will perform - they just can't be bothered to print something a little more accurate.) Luckily, there were cold cuts, cheese, and rolls, so we didn't go hungry. At about 11:20 PM, we heard a passenger ask an officer why the ship hadn't left Bar Harbor yet. The officer said "I don't know" and kept on walking. I figured that they were still waiting for tenders to come in. I found out the next day that the Coast Guard came on the ship, and the captain had to get special permission from them to sail the ship to Bayonne, because there weren't enough lifeboats for everyone. The captain was the one who told us this the next day.
On the morning of Day 14, we received a call asking us to go to an 11:00 AM meeting with the captain to discuss what they called "the unfortunate incident" with the tender. My friend didn't go, but I did, and you can find out what happened by reading the thread about the tender. You will read how the captain announced that no one was injured (which was NOT true), and how the passengers (not the tender crew) handed out life jackets, and how the tender didn't have enough life jackets for everyone, and how the tender crew never told us one word about what was going on, and so on. And how no one said that they were sorry or asked my friend and me if we were okay. Well, 2 out of the 93 people said that they were asked. Not nearly enough.
A Maine lobster was one of the offerings for dinner the final night in the MDR. Someone had told me that the crew were going to fish for lobsters when we were in Bar Harbor, and that we would get lobster on the final formal night. I said that I didn't think so, because the night of the day we were in Bar Harbor couldn't be a formal night, and the next night would be our final night of the cruise, and the final night was never a formal night. But we did get lobster, even though it wasn't a formal night.
As soon as he put the lobster down in front of me, the waiter ran off. (I had Celebrity Select dining, and this was customary. The waiter would run off as soon as he served our food, not to reappear until a half hour or more later.) He ran off so fast that I didn't have a chance to ask for butter. I had had a lobster lunch on two of my shore excursions, and at both places, small cups of melted butter were served with the lobsters. But I guess Celebrity figured that we didn't want butter. So I took some butter from the butter dish and smeared it in my butter plate and speared pieces of lobster with my fork and smooshed them into the butter. It was better than nothing. Eventually, the waiter showed up with melted butter, but, for some reason, he wanted to pour butter on the lobster shell. Why would he do that? It's not like I eat the shell. I asked him to pour some butter into my butter plate, and he did, but you could see that he had no idea why I preferred butter to be in the plate instead of on the shell.
During the cruise, it seemed whenever Guest Relations called me, my friend was the one who answered, and when she was asked who she was, she would say "Jane Smith," and Guest Relations would say that they had no record of anyone named Jane Smith in my room. They insisted that I had the room to myself. But then we started getting phone messages from Guest Relations that were left for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Those people from Guest Relations had no record that I was staying in my room. When we returned to the room after dinner on Day 14, there was a note for Mr. and Mrs. Smith from Guest Relations. I told my travel agent about this, and we laughed and laughed. Clearly another example of the fact that Celebrity's right hand doesn't know what its left hand is doing.
I had hoped to be off the ship by 10:30 AM, and when we got into the car, i saw that it was 10:35 AM. Excellent! Our driver asked us if we could just hide in our room and stay onboard for another cruise. We said no, because you have to swipe your Seapass when you leave, and they would know who hadn't swiped their Seapass. Then I told him about Mr. Smith, and I said that maybe Celebrity was looking for Mr. Smith, since he didn't get off the ship, and we all laughed.