As previously avid supporters of Celebrity (Century, Galaxy, Millennium and Constellation) this little four-night junket left us with doubts about our favorite cruise line for the first time. Perhaps Celebrity isn't geared up for the four-night experience and maybe it was just dumb bad luck on our part to book it, but we came away slightly bewildered, somewhat disappointed and wondering if our favorite cruise line is changing its focus?
This was our first cruise on Summit. Once you've experienced the M Class ships, getting around is a piece of cake. Summit did not however, seem quite as well appointed or elegant as Constellation and our Category 2A balcony cabin looked somewhat tired and perhaps in need of refurbishment.
EMBARKATION: Timely, except that a pleasant gentleman with a big smile handed out Debarkation Forms (the ones you fill out to get OFF the ship) in the embarkation lounge and failed to advise us we needed to complete them prior to boarding. This proved to be embarrassing and a bit awkward when we got to the Captain's Club desk to check in. The agent wasn't pleased, nor polite, that we hadn't completed the form and questioned my statement that we'd not been told to fill them out before boarding. I scrambled for our return flight information and filled out the form but I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened had I packed our return flight info in our checked luggage? And also, the last thing you want to think about on sailaway day, is debarkation!
CABIN: This was partially my mistake, but forewarned is forearmed. I asked for Cabin 9173, slightly aft of mid-ships on the Sky Deck because it had an angled balcony. We've been in cabins on the Sky Deck before on two other Celebrity ships and never had a problem, but 9173 had a major flaw. In the wee (wee) hours of the night/morning, there was something very noisy going on upstairs in the Waterfall Cafe that sounded for all the world like a roller derby. We learn something new everyday. I learned never to book this cabin!
One additional lesson learned...some cabins have drop-down third berths in the ceilings. Unless you're not opposed to potentially having a family with children in the next cabin, you might want to avoid locating next to one of these cabins. So check your deck plans before you make your cabin selection.
We are empty-nesters with a grandchild. We love babies, especially our own, but were not necessarily ecstatic when we discovered the couple in the adjoining cabin had brought along their two year old grandchild. I don't know why I thought families with children were put in specific areas on each deck. Obviously, they are not.
FOOD AND SERVICE: We had requested a table for ten (there were four of us, two couples in our 50's). We got a table for six on the upper level. The two gentlemen assigned to the remaining two seats at our table had requested a table for two and the maitre'd had told them not to worry because we were all "about their age". NOT. Thank Heavens they were delightful guys but a little offended by the suggestion they looked twenty years older than they were!
It appeared the usual matching of tablemates wasn't deemed important for a four-night cruise as I heard this complained about more than once. Some people had it worse, assigned to tables taken up mainly by family groups traveling together. This can be a miserable situation. Or perhaps we were all just displaced by the corporate groups? Either way, it was a disappointment and didn't appear to have been given thought to.
Service was very good to excellent and we loved our 2nd in command at table, Milton Alexander from Honduras who had a lovely smile and a great sense of humor. We all like and expect competence in the dining room wait staff, but personality is important as well. Celebrity seems to be overlooking this lately.
The food was shaky the first night, but excellent every other night of the cruise. The Normandie was superb, thanks to the excellent staffers who rotate between Summit and Millennium. I knew I recognized them! Top notch food and service!
There cannot be much of an excuse for the ship's not having received their wine order before our sailing. Two out of the four nights onboard, the wines we ordered were not in stock for this reason. Disaster!
Cafe Cova...read my lips. Starbucks would be better, much. Understaffed and sometimes unpleasant wait staff. We've noticed this trend on other M-class ships. What's up here?
ENTERTAINMENT: Went to The Night of Stars, the first night's entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre. It was pathetically amateurish and rather creepy. It came off looking like a porno film with everyone wearing their clothing. Weird. We didn't bother after that.
Where were the comedians? Where was The Newlywed Game?
Every time I cruise on Celebrity, I wonder why on earth they don't bring in some small jazz groups. I'm tired of Yellow Bird and steel drums.
SCARY STUFF: Returned to our cabin on sailaway night shortly after 1 AM. Hubby removed his shoes and immediately stepped on something sharp. Ouch! We flicked on the cabin lights and picked up what amounted to an entire pile of large, sharp shards of glass embedded in the carpeting all over the floor on his side of the bed! Someone had broken something in the bathroom, cleaned the bathroom and hadn't bothered to check or vacuum the rest of the cabin. Housekeeping had to send someone up at 1:30 AM to do so and I'm sure the noise woke up the two year old next door.
CELEBRITY HAS GONE CORPORATE? Arranged to meet our fellow cruisers in the Martini Bar before late seating. We were astonished to discover a corporate meeting going on down in the public atrium below the Martini Bar, where normally there is a dance band between dinner seatings. My husband cruises to get away from corporate speak. I can't print on this website what he said about this one.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: Only two stops on this four-nighter. Both times there were as many as four to six other large cruise ships in port. Wow, lots of folks! Getting to our shore excursion in Cozumel was a disaster. Many people missed their group because ship's shore excursion personnel didn't know where groups were assembling. Just too many people in port for the transportation to be appropriately handled. Instead of the usual large, air-conditioned bus we were stuffed into van taxis four passengers per seat for a thirty five minute drive over unpaved roads. Corporate groups got the big buses with a/c. Most unpleasant and mildly sweaty.
OVERALL: Maybe, after all, it was just dumb bad luck.