After a disappointing trip on the Millennium left me wondering where the modern Luxury had gone, I seem to have found it on the Summit reposition from San Juan to Bayonne!
We had a somewhat poor experience this past January on the Millennium in Asia/Komodo itinerary, but I decided to give Celebrity one last chance for the sake of so many wonderful past cruise memories.
I am very glad I did! I have elite club status and I took this trip with my sister, who had never been on this cruise line before. We were both treated to fantastic service and all the amenities anyone could ask for!
We took a cab to the port from the Condado Conrad Hilton, a most forgettable place, compared with my past 5 experiences in this wonderful city.
From the time we arrived at the pier at 2pm-things were as smooth as silk! We boarded immediately, rooms were ready.
Before even going to our cabin we signed up for the Chef's table. This is something I had wanted to do for some time, but it books up so quickly I have never had the chance before. It's offered on 2 nights only 10 guests per night, and we signed up for the second dinner. We went to our cabin and then realized our rsvp was for our overnight in Bermuda. So we quickly tried to change it to the St Thomas port day, only to be told it was already fully booked.
No problem! The manager of the Normandy added us in to the first night making the table for 10 a table for 12. We then saw that our Captain's Club Hostess was the beautiful Ti Ann, who my husband and I had had the pleasure to get to know on the Solstice it's first season. I immediately went to say hello. She gave me a very warm greeting, asking after DH Jimmy, and from that moment on addressed my sister by name. Very impressive! There was a list, as is usual of elite events in my cabin, and Ti Ann always left a message on the phone to remind us where and when to meet foreach special event. There were many offered. Wine tasting, high tea, Elite cocktail party, Captains club reception, behind the scene tours, ect ect. She was always in attendance mingling with everyone. I heard nothing but wonderful comments on numerous occasions from the other captain's club members.
Ti Ann is a real gem, warm, friendly, sweet and a great listener as well as a great source of information. She is simply X!
But more on the Chef's Table event...
I must say, the whole experience from the toast in the wine cellar to the tour of the galley to the table side flambe preparations by the executive chef through to the table service overseen by the dining room manager-everything was impeccable! Oh, and did I mention very delicious?
We each received a long stem rose, an 8x10 photo of all the guests we dined with (a great fun group, I add) and a beautiful coffee table book signed by our Executive Chef. This is a very time consumptive dining experience, so keep it in mind, we did have to sacrifice the elite/select cocktail party to do this, but oh well, it was worth the sacrifice!
Some general points on the cruise to mention:
+Officers were very visible and friendly.
+Our assistant maitre D, Anatoli, saw to our every desire in the Select dining each night, which meant a lot to us, as we were traveling without our husbands (for the first time). We never had any problems getting a table at 7:30 each night. Anatoli came to check on us each dinner and we were even able to have a 4 top with another couple we had made friends with one night and at a table of 8 friends we met on board on another night. We would just appear, and things would be arranged immediately. Magic! Fantastic!
=I did notice an element of disorganized confusion in the select area, but these professionals were bending over backward to serve everyone at peak hour, and since no is not in the Celebrity vocabulary, a certain amount of this is unavoidable.
This was my first select dining experience on Celebrity and I will definitely do it again.
=The food itself ran from wow to huh? 3 of the 7 dinners we took in the Cosmopolitan were huh? But for the most part we enjoyed our dinners, and one night we requested a cheese course, and received a wonderfully ripe double creme brie with fruits and crackers. Yum!
=Drinks were, as usual, excellent. I did not have a drink package, as I prefer to avoid that much temptation. It did seem harder than normal to get bar service, I think perhaps because so many guests took advantage of the 123 deals. But, it was still ok, as I only drink occasionally anyway.
++Service in customer relations and the lounges everywhere was perfect. Staff and crew always smiling with warm hellos everywhere.
This is the most important factor to me, and it makes me feel happy and at home on board these wonderful Celebrity cruise vacations. This is what Modern Luxury means to me.
-As is usual with this cruise line, I personally can skip the shows, yawn. One was so irritating I left midway through the vocalist's act.
-Party band sucked eggs! A real disappointment, as I love the live party bands and banging R&R music.
The keyboard was uneven and at times glaring and the guitar riffs were often just wrong!!!
Singer was not a particularly fun front man, plus he was off key much of the time.
+But there was one special surprise I am glad we did not skip out on.
Our last night onboard in Cosmos lounge there was a Broadway Review preformed by the vocal leads. Wow, I even got a bit nostalgic for NYC! Great! I would have loved to have heard some contemporary songs sung by these powerfully talented individuals.
-I only did one ship sponsored port excursion in Tortola as our sail away was at 2pm and it's a long way to Bermuda. A total waste of a trip. Open airbus ride, speaker didn't work well and I had a difficult time with the driver's accent anyway. Driver missed all the photo op stops that other drivers were already at and then we only got only one measly hour at the beach from 10:15 to 11:15 am. Then we were back on the bus for 35 minute ride back at breakneck speed to the pier. I could kick myself for not taking a cab on my own!!!
This was, all in all, a very memorable cruise for us. Great staff and crew made us smile. We met some lovely couples who shared their time with my sister and myself. We had fantastic weather. We lived the luxury life at the spa. We basked in the sun on the pool deck, went to Sapphire Beach on St Thomas, a nice alternate to Meagan's Bay if you've done that beach already. We rode the fantastic public transportation services on Bermuda (25 bucks each for a 2 day unlimited bus/ferry combo ticket can't be beat)!
The first afternoon we ferried straight to St George, where we shopped & walked to Tobacco Bay for great photo ops. That night we went to the Snorkel Bay Beach Bar to party late night....Interesting and I'll leave it there.
Second day we were off to Hamilton to shop and then Horseshoe Bay beach and saw the beauty of this island on the buses in comfort.
We also walked to Snorkel Beach that afternoon to check out this sandy beach, and it seems to have the right name. Snorkeling should be good along the wall there. For our last bit of time we shopped on the pier which, IMO was a bit more overpriced and a bit less friendly than Hamilton and a lot more overpriced and also far less friendly that wonderful St George.
-Last sea day. The passage north can be rough, and it was. From the evening we sailed out of Bermuda till 6 or 7 the following night ugh! We drank ginger ale and stayed out of the cabin as much as we could. We stayed occupied and just suffered a little upset and dizziness. Others were not so lucky I'm sad to say. This is the price sometimes paid on this repo, and I probably will not repeat the journey.
Disembarkation took 3 minutes from when our number was called to the bus and another couple of minutes to the terminal. A baggage porter immediately took us to our section loaded our luggage, and whisked us to immigration which all took less than 5 minutes! Remarkable.
Now I just need to decide what to book as our next trip with Celebrity, my favorite line to cruise!
Thank you X !