We planned our trip meticulously. Because of my husband's ill health, we flew independently to LA & stayed three days in a hotel where we talked & planned what to do whilst on our trip. On the 7th of May, we headed for the port. Seeing the GMT Summit from a distance was impressive & the staff who noted our disabilities were pleasant & very helpful.
We were ushered to the front of the embarkation line. This is where things started to go wrong. We spent almost two hours & numerous denials of already having received our cabin keys to eventually be escorted on deck (no chance of a photo call for us) by a crew member to the guest relations desk. Here we were given a key & asked to return the following day for duplicate keys as they could not do them at the time as the printer was not working. Nor was it working the following day.
We eventually made it to our cabin. It was clean, tidy & adequate. The wardrobe needed some tender loving care, but we had made it to our first big cruise. It would have been lovely to make ourselves a cup of drink but there were no other facilities available except housekeeping.
Our experience in the dining room was pleasant, the staff were very polite & attentive & we were made to feel welcome.
After spending the next day at sea, it was announced from the bridge that evening that the ship would be docking later at night in San Francisco & not as expected the next morning. We arrived just after 1am so no Golden Gate Bridge. Because we left later than planned the same day, we did not get to see it when we left either as it was dark when we went under the bridge. The captain informed the passengers that an inspection of the ship was carried out successfully whilst in port.
On the 10th of May at approximately 13.00 hrs the captain again addressed the ship & announced from the bridge that due to a problem with one of the steering pod bearings, we had to greatly reduce our speed from 22.5 knots to a maxium of 17.5 knots. The reduced speed meant that the ship could continue on its course to Vancouver, however we would not be able to go into the ports of Seattle or Sitka. It also meant that our visits at the ports we did go into would be considerably shorter. He also informed us that the Summit was due to go into dry dock at the end of our cruise 20th May in Victoria. Whilst in the port of San Francisco, the ship had been inspected by a Rolls Royce Engineer & a Lloyds Inspector (who had been flown out from the UK to examine the ship) & was certified safe to continue cruising at the reduced speed until reaching Vancouver. He then went on to say that as compensation, each cabin would receive $200.00 which would be added to our onboard account to spend on board, this detail was later changed but as we were at sea it would get spent anyway. We immediately submitted to the guest relations desk our request to have this money removed from our account but was told this could not be done. I left a written statement that I did not accept this money as compensation for what was fast turning into a diasterous holiday, especially as I received information from friends who where to join the ship on the 20th May that their cruise had been cancelled & that they had got a full refund plus a free cruise to be taken any time up until october 2007. We were disgusted. We felt extremely insulted. A very large proportion of the passengers were angry & upset at the announcement & eventually the captain & some of his crew took a questions & answers session in the packed theatre. The cruise director John addressed the guests in such a patronizing way that he added more fuel to the problem of missing out some ports of call. People were very upset at his attitude.
As the situation was not calming, we were advised that the company would be sending out representatives from Miami to the ship when it docked in Ketchikan to deal with individual complaints. Did they really think that the guests would be fobbed off with a denial of not knowing the ship had a problem before it left San fransico. Why then were staff due to leave the ship in Seattle told to leave in San Francisco? No golf pro left on board.
On the 12th of May it was again announced that the captain had agreed to 2hrs of complimentary drinks (very nice but neither of us drink) & the captain & some of his crew mingled with the guests & encouraged photo shoots. It was obvious that they were trying to get the spirits of the guests lifted, it worked for a few for a short while, but more disappointments to come as it did not last.
On the 13th, we were fortunate to have our meeting with the company representatives from Miami. We had waited almost three hours to see them, still we had nothing else to do. This was a total waste of our time, we gained nothing & Carlos told us that we should be grateful for the cruise we were having. I think not, this could possibly be the last time my husband & I spend a holiday together & we did not plan to be stuck at sea for so long especially for the money we had paid to get on the cruise.
The evening of the 15th of May after the show in the theatre, it was announced by John that as we would be entering the Hubbard Glazier Bay the next day, the captain had agreed to the helipad being opened for use by the guests in order to get the best possible views. Unfortunately, on the 16th of May whilst sailing towards the Bay, it was announced by a tour guide who had joined the ship with his aunt & was to give a commentary whilst cruising the Bay, that the ship was unable to proceed any further as there was already a ship in the bay. It was the next day that the captain informed the ship that due to local regulations, the Summit could go no further because entering would cause danger to the ship already in the bay. I am afraid that we came to the conclusion that we did not enter because of concern for the proplusion propeller & maneuverability of the ship. So we sat bobbing about at sea for close to 5hrs. whilst we waited for a pilot to board to take us down the inside passage. Again, what a disappointment.
Dense fog prevented us from seeing the scenery & as we had to wait until 17.00hrs to sail, it was time to go to the main seating dining for a formal dinner, so again we did not see anything. The night before we disembarked, we received a letter in our cabin offering us a 30% discount off a future Celebrity Cruise if it was booked before we left the ship. This offer was to make up for the disappointment at not seeing the Hubbard Glasier Bay. Had we have gone to the travel office at any time during this fiasco we could have obtained 30% off any cruise just the same. So what favours did they think they were doing us?
To sum it all up...a ship advertising 5-star quality but providing less that 3-star treatment to its guests. Although the crew for the most were friendly & helpful, there were those who continually insulted & patronised the guests. The food in the dining room was appetising, but the menu was staid & unimaginative. As for the Buffet, the food was almost always cold to luke warm. There was very little fresh fruit & vegetables available. The lack of sanitization was blantantly obvious. Although there were dispensers available for general use, we were not encouraged to use them. This from a ship that had already had outbreaks of the Norwalk Virus.
Although at sea longer than was planned, there was no extra entertainment provided. The shows at best were mediocre, and the final evening with the comedian was diabolical. The shore excursions were disorganised, but the ones we did go on were good. However, we lost 6 excursions due to the change in itinerary.
Disembarkation was a total disaster. We were glad to be off the ship because it was an extremely disappointing holiday, which we feel we may never have the opportunity to repeat. It was very expensive travelling from the UK & we will certainly never recommend this cruise line to anyone.