It is Saturday Afternoon, 03-17-2007, at about 5:00 PM. We got off the Summit this morning and it should be sailing right now from Los Angeles to head back to Hawaii. I wanted to write this article for several reasons. First, it is our first cruise on Celebrity and the first cruise that we used a lot of the resources on Cruisecritic.com to make our decision on. Because of some of the reviews on the Summit, I strongly considered canceling this cruise and selecting a different one.
Today, my wife and I agree that we have never had a better vacation in our 25 years together.
Here are our comments based on comments we read from member reviews. Nothing that we write is intended to suggest others are wrong in their comments. We are all different and we all care about different things. I wanted a luxury cruise for my wife for our 25th anniversary (which was a week before the cruise). I also wanted an extended cruise to get away from the busy office for more than a week. We are 45 years of age.
We live in the Southern California area and drove to the San Pedro cruise terminal. We arrived at the terminal at 11:45 AM and we were on-board at 12:08 PM. There is something to be said for arriving early. There were no lines. We looked down on the pier and saw a long line to board at 3:55 PM.
We were told that our room would be ready at 1:00 PM and were directed to Deck 10 to eat lunch in the buffet area. Our lunch was fine. We saw about 100 people already eating when we got our food. At 1:00 PM we walked to our Celebrity Suite (8106). It was ready and our luggage was not yet there. We prepared to set out to explore the ship.
Condition of Our Suite:
I read and worried about the comments about the ship being "worn out" and in bad shape. There are many of these comments in the member review area. Upon opening our room, I noticed ware marks on the walls (from luggage, I presume) and the sofa looked very worn. One of the two sinks in our bathroom had a large crack in it that had been filled with putty instead of being replaced. I worried that the comments in the reviews would come to be true.
Our butler arrived, introduced himself and pointed out that the sofa was going to be replaced within an hour. When we returned to the room after exploring, a brand new sofa was in the place of the old one. I would think that the sink should be replaced. However, there was nothing present that was any worse that any luxury hotel that we have stayed at. At the end of two weeks, we found ourselves very pleased with our room. In fact, we meet follow travelers at our door and we ended up providing several quick tours of the room.
Condition of Our Ship:
Like the comments about the rooms, I was worried about comments about the ship. We agree that we found nothing wrong with the ship. The public areas were always clean. This ship is not brand new. It's been used; but, there was nothing that disappointed us with regards to the condition of the ship. We saw people cleaning all the time.
We have read that the food is not up to expectations. Gosh, we ate tons of it and loved all of it. We had breakfast in our room every morning. Most morning meals were omelets, breakfast meats, and fresh fruit. We ate lunch on Deck 10 every day. We selected some items from the Spa because they seemed healthy and we were eating all the time. The cheese, bread, and basic salad areas were good. There was nothing very spicy. We always ate lunch on the outdoor aft dining deck. It was great. But, there were some smokers who would not respect the designated smoking areas. One comment to a crew member and they would instantly address the issue professionally with the passengers. During a 14-day cruise you came to realize that it was the same people who disrespected the designations over and over again. This problem was nothing but standard human nature. Desserts rotated. There were about 15 different kinds and appeared on different days.
We ate dinner almost ever night in the dining room. We ate a beef dish every night and were very happy with the quality of the food and the excellent service. Our table mates ate a lot of fish dishes and they were not always pleased. We lost a pair of table mates to a serious ankle injury in Honolulu. We knew no one at the table before the trip and we loved eating with our group. Everyone at our table was more experienced at cruising and everyone of them has been on many Celebrity cruises.
We were invited to eat at the Captain's table on the final formal "gala" evening. That was a wonderful experience.
We ate at the Normandy Restaurant twice. Once while en route to Hawaii and once on the return. The menu was the same; but, we loved it. We will do it again. The cover cost was well worth the attention and courtesy that the waiters afforded my wife.
Hawaii - Our Destination:
I've lived in Hawaii and my wife wanted to go there since the day we were wed. It took me a while; but, I did get her there. We only did one excursion from the ship. It was nice. We rented a car in Honolulu and drove all around the island and did a lot of shopping at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We ate on Waikiki Beach the first night. On the second day, we took a taxi to the Arizona Memorial ($15.00) and spend most of the day at this free site before taking a taxi back. We saved a lot of money on this excursion. We should have rented jet-skis in Kona (we will next time).
This cruise was filled with a majority of people that I would estimate were over 65 years of age. The ship seemed to go to sleep at 9:30 PM. It was great for those of us that did want to stay out. There were no lines, no crowds, no loud or rude drunk fools. I found that people in electric chairs were often dangerous. Many did not seem to care that they were putting others at risk. Lots of people were very nice and deserved to have a nice quiet ship to enjoy their vacation on.
It takes some of these people a lot of time to turn a corner, board or exit a tender or get out of a chair. If you are not prepared to slow down and relax, this little issue will make you appear to be a grouchy ogre. I saw some of them and it was disappointing to have to see people older than me act like children.
We specifically picked this cruise knowing this about the travelers and we wanted a slower pace. If we wanted a hopping, dancing, drunken "Fun Ship" we would have gone back to Carnival.
This is the item that will bring us back to Celebrity over and over again. We had a top category suite on our last Carnival cruise. We rarely saw our cabin attendant. We saw our butler on this cruise 20 times a day. Service was outstanding.
We laughed at the waiters trying to carry trays for everyone. However, I was very pleased to see them take the time to help many elderly people get their food. If I could get my 76 year old mother to travel on a cruise, I would want this kind of extra service for her all the time. Sailing crew helped people with tendering. Everyone said hello.
I could go on and on about the excellent service.
The shows seemed to be geared towards the majority of our travel mates who were older than us. But, we liked all of the shows and went to almost every one.
We were treated to several lectures from naval historian John Maxtone-Graham. He was wonderful. He packed the theater and we made sure that we had front row seats every time he talked.
The shipboard television was weak. We watched the same 50's and 60's black-and-white classics over and over. The classics channel was neat; but, its inventory needs to be expanded. The Travel Channel was filled with static. The music channels could have been wonderful if they had come from XM or Sirius. I would have happily paid a premium.
Bring some of your favorite CD's and your own DVD's.
We both read 3 books. It was great to have time to sit and read.
Shipboard Internet is available but it is slow, troublesome, and expensive. I had to complete an assignment for a graduate class that ended on the second day of the cruise. Because it was a final exam, I could not do it in advance. I spent $250.00 on Internet and had terrible connection problems because of the slow speed. We sent a couple emails via the shipboard email because it was cheaper. Avoid the Internet service if at all possible. The web service on Carnival worked much better.
We loved the service.
The food was fine for us.
It was nice to see the crew be so helpful to elderly passengers.
The pace was slower and entertainment was focused on the generations before ours.
The ship was clean and on-time.
We would have liked better Internet services
We would have liked better in-room musical service.
We used the on-board gratuity system and provided personal extras for superb extra service.
We are not involved in the travel industry.
We have to start a diet in the morning.