Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Mumbldyplex: First Celebrity Cruise, First Bermuda Cruise, First Disability Cruise
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First Celebrity Cruise, First Bermuda Cruise, First Disability Cruise
This was a great cruise choice for me and my wife, one of us recovering from surgery and using a cane and walker, the other needing a break from several months of caregiving. We've cruised on Princess 6 times, but never on Celebrity. We've also, in the past, chosen cruises because of their destinations (Alaska, Baltic, Black Sea . . .). This was the first cruise we've been on just to be on a ship & where we needed disability access. We didn't much care where it went, as long as it left from NY and returned.
Arrival at the port was easy from Manhattan via car service (45 minutes, $75 including tolls & tip). Bags got took, we got directed to the disability-embarkation line & then onto the shuttle bus to the ship (ramp access for walkers & wheelchairs). Boarded fast (ramp attendants helped with the walker), went to deck 10, where I'd spotted a good-looking teak-furnished bar (the Oceanview) aft, got beers & buffet lunch (lots of choices, but the salad & More panini bar was closest), enjoyed the view starboard to Statue of Liberty, port to the Verrazano Bridge. We got to the terminal at 11. By noon we were seated & drinking & eating.
At 1:30 the cabins were ready, so we took the elevator one floor down to our balcony cabin on deck 9, directly below the buffet & next to the elevator. Our steward Wilfred saw the walker & asked what kind of assistance we'd be needing through the voyage. We simply asked for some flexibility on his part, because the post-surgery patient would likely be in the cabin a lot, sleeping & reading. Wilfred worked around our schedule the whole trip, with ease and grace. (I like to tip the room steward on arrival as well as on departure.)
One of our bags was at the cabin when we arrived, the other appeared after the Emergency Drill (4:15) but before departure (promptly at 5).
For dining we opted for Celebrity Select (equivalent to Princess's Anytime Dining). Sometimes we ate as early as 5:45, sometimes as late as 8; sometimes we reserved, sometimes not. It didn't seem to matter. We were always seated promptly & always ate at a table with 4-6 others. No problem navigating the walker even to the farthest reaches of the room, where the waiter valet-parked it close by. The food was fine, nothing outstanding. I particularly appreciated the starred "chef's selection" and the wine-by-the-glass recommendation, which I chose every night. The overworked sommeliere somehow managed to get everyone's wine order straight. Service was prompt, efficient and as friendly as it could be. The only hitch was on the one formal night, when the room was full & the staff slightly overwhelmed. (I was a little miffed to be one of only a handful in tuxedo on formal night.)
We ate in the Cosmopolitan (main dining room) every night and the Oceanview (buffet) all other meals, in the latter always snagging a table outdoors in the aft bar area, one of the most comfortable (and underused) places on the ship. In the buffet, the one with the walker was able to circumnavigate the place, pick & choose, wheel the food around on the walker's seat, or take the offered help from the waitstaff to carry the plate out to our table. A huge variety of stuff available, so (depending her mood and medication) she might return with zucchini pasta, bean salad, fruit, Asian noodles, yogurt, scalloped potatoes, cassoulet and a pastrami panini.
We also spotted people with motorized scooters, which they reserved in advance from the cruise line. After a test drive, we decided to try one next time, if mobility is still an issue.
Didn't try any of the specialty restaurants, although our tablemates said the Normandie was great, the Bleu was quiet (maybe too quiet) and QSine was hilarious (you order from an iPad and get things like Disco Shrimp, with flashing lights). We had different dining companions each night - all middle-aged to elderly Americans like us, from NY, NJ, CT, PA, Maine, Toronto, Kansas, CA, Illinois, FL. Many were Celebrity and Bermuda repeats. School had started so there weren't many kids.
Didn't use room service - the menu is limited to standard breakfast stuff and sandwiches.
We didn't go to any shows, and some of the bars seemed dead. There was a great singer-guitar player named Brandi Paige, who performed at various places around the ship, usually to not many people (five of us gave her scattered applause in the Oceanview Bar on sailing night). Favorite bar was the Martini Bar, with its frozen bar surface and juggling bartenders. Action picked up there around 4PM (including port days) & seemed not to stop. Good place to make friends, as the same people return regularly. I used the well-equipped gym and (indoor) Thalassapool twice, one usually empty, the other always full. The pool staff was good (and discreet) about wrangling kids from adult areas and policing chair-hogs. The outdoor pool had a lot of people and music and a great-looking hamburger bar, which we didn't try.
Disembarking was as easy as embarking. We chose 9AM for our departure time, and guest relations said we'd be through customs & ready for car service at 9:30. Ta-da! Promptly at 9:30, our bags were in the car & we were back home in Manhattan an hour later. Less
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Cabin review: 2A9132 Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2A
Great location (near aft elevators to restaurants) for a person with mobility problems. Big shower & lots of drawer, closet & shelf space. One of us uses a walker, which folded for storage on the balcony (or in the shower!).
Port and Shore Excursions
BERMUDA (KING'S WHARF) PORT REVIEW
Given that one of us uses a walker, we weren't even sure we'd leave the ship when in port, but we did, all three days. We didn't use any of the ship's excursions, because none really fit our needs (and we couldn't predict our stamina anyway, this being our first cruise post-surgery).
DOCKYARD (KING'S WHARF) was a good introduction. A little train pulls up to the ship, loads passengers and circumnavigates the port, making several stops. The last car has a disability symbol on it, which doesn't mean it's reserved for people with disabilities, but rather that it's the only car that can accommodate walkers & wheelchairs. If you've got a walker or wheelchair and the car is full, folks won't necessarily leave to make room for you. We just stayed on the train for the roundtrip. Later, the non-disabled one of us took a walk to Snorkle Beach (essentially a wading pool) and the Fort (don't miss it, the ramparts walk is superb!).
ST. GEORGE'S is a 40-minute ferry ride away, only 4 ferries a day and the ferry line is long. Everyone gets aboard, though, and the crew is fine about helping people with walkers. On board, there's a pretty good lecture about the town. St. George's, despite being hyped as relaxed, quiet, quaint and low-key, is actually . . . relaxed, quaint, quiet and low-key. And pastel. And accessible! Built to accommodate motor-scooters, every outdoor flight of stairs has a ramp alternative. Even St. Peter's Church (oldest Protestant church building in this hemisphere), which has a daunting staircase in front, is reachable through the rear churchyard by rolling up the side streets. To see the rest of the town, we simply rolled up one street, then down another, most of the sights being right there. Tavern by the Sea is a great lunch spot, overlooking the bay. The return ferry "line" is more like a mob, but everyone gets on board. People with walkers and wheelchairs should arrive early.
HAMILTON, a 20-minute ferry ride away, is a cinch. Good shopping, ramped sidewalks, original Bermuda shorts available at The English Sports Shop on Front Street (they also have a shop in St. George's). The streets are arcaded in case of rain. The ferry ride there and back passes some wonderful homes and properties, though town-house style developments seem to encroach more and more.