Our 14-night New England & Canada cruise departing September 7, 2013 was the second of our Back-to-Back (B2B) cruises on the Celebrity Summit, so we were already on the ship when our cruise began. We kept the same stateroom #3092. A glance out my stateroom window the morning of the start of our cruise showed that it was a beautiful sunny day. After breakfast, two dozen passengers who were all doing B2B cruises and not taking a shore excursion on Embarkation Day met in a conference room to fill out Custom Declaration Cards. Then staff members escorted us off the ship to a shuttle bus for the very short ride to Customs and Immigration. When the next agent became available, we were processed quickly and transferred back on the shuttle bus to the ship. It was such an easy and quick procedure. I then went up on deck to snap some photos of the magnificent New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty and Verrazano Narrows Bridge among other sites seen from our ship. Although, before my retirement, I had lived all of my life in New York, I, too, was impressed with seeing the New York Skyline from the ship’s deck while docked in Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey. What a glorious sight!
Our ship’s Ports of Call were Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey, Portland, Maine, Bar Harbor, Maine, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown, P.E.I., Quebec City, Quebec (overnight,) Quebec City, Quebec and Gaspe, Canada. It is a wonderful literary and if you have never seen this part of the world before, I highly recommend the cruise. Every port is exciting, different and interesting. For peace of mind, we booked Celebrity shore excursions in each port. The high quality excursions were interesting, educational, and fun. The guides were well informed and personable. We chose the first week of the Fall Foliage Cruises because we were hoping for warm weather and we were not disappointed. The foliage colors were just starting to turn so if the fall foliage is what you want to see book a later date.
Our Oceanview stateroom #3092 on Deck 3 was conveniently located near the front desk and Grand Foyer, just two decks down from our Main Dinning Room assignment and the Celebrity Theater. Our cabin was bright and quite comfortable with a king bed, end tables and a small couch with multiple small pillows. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors on one wall made the room seem larger. A desk with a mirror and chair plus a glass cocktail table and a wall hanging completed the decor. There were enough drawers, shelves and closet space for our belongings. My only complaint was that the passageway into the room was a bit narrow especially when we both needed access to the closet, drawers, safe or bathroom. The bathroom was of average size and adequate for our needs with sufficient towels and other amenities. I especially appreciated the retractable clothesline in the shower and the nightlight that many ships do not have. Celebrity provided two robes and a large umbrella for use on the cruise. We received a complementary logo tote bag to keep. The attractive ship hallways also seemed a little narrow but still airy-feeling with light colors, landscape photographs on the walls and mirrors on the ceiling. Our steward, Joanne had a new assistant on this cruise and they again did a great job of keeping our stateroom tidy and stocked with amenities.
We took almost all our dinners in the elegant yet understated Cosmopolitan Main Dining Room with its 2-deck tall wall of windows looking back to the ocean. Its center ceiling of glass changed from a glowing yelloow gold to rose during dinner. We requested Celebrity Select Dining on this cruise. Sudarmika from Indonesia and his assistant Melvin from the Philippines continued to serve us throughout the journey at our same table by a window. The friendly hostess, Gabriella told us to skip the reservations line and proceed directly to our table each night. This saved us wait time. Our servers did a superb job serving us, anticipating our needs and offering suggestions for the best choices at mealtime. Although we did not always take their suggestions, we did appreciate their knowledgeable advice.
Head Waitress, Ana from Mexico, handled special meal requests. We had such a wonderful relationship with her that we would often chat with her at the breakfast and lunch buffets. She was personable, helpful, upbeat and knowledgeable. Karen from Columbia was our Wine Stewardess and she did an excellent job of chilling our bottles and refilling our wine glasses. Shah from India was a friendly Assistant Maitre’d who always stopped by our table to ask how everything was going. We made friends with Christian from Guest Services and he was a big help to us with any questions that we had. When Captain Theo was in the public areas of the ship, he always had time for pleasantries. Steve Gayda, our Cruise Director was always available especially on port days. He was very friendly and chatted with everyone - "Hi, Steve!”
Almost all the MDR meals met with our satisfaction. We all especially enjoyed the Mushrooms stuffed with Crabmeat appetizer - always on the menu and ordered it frequently. Other favorites were the beef dishes especially the very tender Prime Rib and, of course, the lobster Tail. Portions were generous and we barely had room for dessert each night. One entrée, however, did disappoint me. Instead of incorporating an egg in with the Spaghetti for Spaghetti Carbonara, the chef simply placed a poached egg on top of the spaghetti. I could not detect any cream in the sauce. This is not the correct way to prepare this dish.
We usually ordered the more unusual flavors of ice cream each night such as Rum Raisin, Cherry Brandy, Rocky Road, Cinnamon and Honey Caramel. The Crème Brulee was another favorite as was the Baked Alaska. Breakfast and lunch were usually in the Oceanview Café. There was always a wonderful selection of fresh salads, entrees, pizzas, pastas, Mexican Grill, Asian Specialties and casseroles as well as deli sandwiches and deserts to please almost everyone. I loved the hash brown patties, the varieties of Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit for breakfast. We enjoyed eating real ice cream at the lunch buffet in addition to frozen yogurts, sherbets, soft serve and sugar free ice cream along with several different toppings. Many cruise line only serve soft serve ice cream at the buffet or poolside. Once or twice, we enjoyed breakfast or lunch in the MDR on sea days just for a change.
Celebrity offered rewards for B2B guests. We received 15% off a shore excursion in Canada, 25% off dinner in a Specialty Restaurant and 20% off AquaSpa treatment. A much-appreciated benefit was a free load of laundry. Another perk was lunch in the Quisine restaurant, an unusual restaurant. As Captain Club Members were received additional rewards for savings on AquaSpa and Digital Printing, wine bottles, Bingo, Laundry, Coffee Drink in a Specialty Restaurant, Internet Savings and Casino Match Play, In addition, our travel agent gave us a free dinner in any Specialty Restaurant, a bottle of wine and shipboard credit. We chose dinner in the Normandy Restaurant. What a treat that was! There were many servers attending us. We received a complementary appetizer before our meal even started. The setting was quite romantic, the service impeccable and the food was divine. Everything was fabulous and I highly recommend this restaurant especially if you are celebrating a special event while onboard. The only hiccup was that the restaurant sent our vouchers to the incorrect department. It took several days for the removal of charges from our bill.
The ship has all the usual shipboard activities including art auctions, dance, fitness (Zumba) and language classes, trivia, arts & crafts, games, bingo and ship tour. In addition, there were various seminars, ice carving and port talks. I very much enjoyed the Champagne Galley tour. We especially appreciated all the Beyond the Podium Speaker Series of lectures given by Smithsonian Journeys Geologist Professor Pat Abbott, Canada & New England Historian Bruce Daniels and Space Exploration Speaker Jim Kennedy, a retired Director of the Kennedy Space Center. My husband and I are deeply interest in the space program. It was why we moved to Florida‘s Space Coast. Therefore, we attended every space talk. Speaker Jim Kennedy used to live in my condominium complex and he is still a resident of the area. It was wonderful chatting with him and his charming wife Bernie.
Some of the many highlights of my cruise were: Rock the Summit and White Night Parties, ice carving, Captain’s Club Senior Officers’ Cocktail Party, Behind the Stage Doors Q&A & Moonlight Serenade with the Production Cast, Broadway Meet & Greet: Andrea McArdle and the Captain’s Gala Welcome Aboard Toast. I enjoyed the, iClass Complementary Class for the iPad and iPad Tips and Tricks. A couple of unexpected delights were riding elevators that looked outside onto the ocean and finding windows to the ocean on the floor of the Oceanside Grill where the restaurant juts out.
The entertainment was wonderful. The various lounges had live entertainment in the evenings. The theater was quite attractive as were all the public areas. Every single night there was a different Celebrity Theater show. I especially enjoyed the big production numbers with the talented singers and dancers. Although these were the same production shows that we saw on the previous Bermuda cruise, iHollywood, Broadway@Sea and Sirens, I enjoyed them all again. The choreography was first rate. The Sirens Show had beautiful stage settings. The costumes for the production numbers were beautiful. The aerialists were marvelous. Other enjoyable shows were Comedian Michele Balan from Brooklyn, NY, Mark Preston, member of The Lettermen, Buzz Sutherland, a very funny, personable person, Doug Cameron - performer, arranger and composer and last by not least Glenn Smith, performer, musician and singer. The only show that I, myself, did not care for but that many others thought was hilarious was Bande Artisque. There is something here for everyone.
There were so few kids on board since the cruise was 14-nights long that I never saw any children in the Fun Factory. Perhaps there were six kids onboard. This was definitely a senior group of cruisers compared with the previous Bermuda cruise, which due to its shorter length of 6 nights was comprised of a younger age group, many working age singles and families with young children. Everyone on the 14-night cruise wanted to eat early, ordered fewer drinks in the theater and partied less late at night.
I did some shopping in the neat shops onboard. I bought jewelry, logo items and apparel. Even my husband made some purchases. There were plenty of daily deals and special sales going on to tempt passengers.
I want to applaud Celebrity for placing cards on the sun lounges reminding guests not to leave their chairs unattended. Sun Chairs are at a premium in pool areas. Unfortunately, I had so little free time on the cruise that I rarely used the beautiful pools, hot tub or indoor Thalassasotherphy pool. I also liked the guests did not have to sign for towels, sports equipment or blankets. Beach towels were in staterooms, also. I was not however, happy that the cruise line reserved two rows of seats in the theater each night for those guests staying in the highest priced rooms. When the line emphasizes that guests may not save theater seats for others, it should follow its own rule. Find another benefit for these guests.
In summary, our party of four had a very memorable cruise. Waters were calm and the weather was good. Entertainment, service and food were fine. Best of all, the ports were beautiful and the excursions were worthwhile. We all hope to travel again on Celebrity.