Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Florida cruisee: Norovirus and culture clash dampened cruise
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Norovirus and culture clash dampened cruise
The Summit has more going for it than not, but our cruise was negatively colored by illness aboard and a huge culture clash of passengers. First the good: the crew aboard the Summit is exceedingly well trained to provide outstanding service. It never varied from the most congenial, polite and gracious service in every venue. Even the public restroom staff were apparently trained to greet and chat with passengers. The restaurant staffs were a bit more subdued and harried toward the end of the cruise when longer hours and additional work were added to their already tough schedules due to the norovirus.
Our cabin, a concierge class veranda, was perfectly designed for relatively spacious comfort. It did have the usual tiny bathroom, which was very ordinary with nothing to indicate the premium cabin category. There was a frig, which needed to be unlocked by request or was unavailable otherwise.
I would like to note that the ship's review is quite incorrect on several More points, such as internet availability in the cabins, the cost of internet (max was 65 cents per minute) and other points. It needs to be updated.
Food was not up to prior standards of Celebrity, which we attribute to the downturn in pricing aboard any/all cruise lines. They simply cannot afford to provide costly meals at the prices charged for a cruise now. However, the prep was terrific, the quality good and the variety excellent. Of note was the unbelievable accommodation made for my gluten and dairy free diet. It was amazing how well they handled it and with complete grace. Kudos to them! Staff was very well informed about ingredients, which I found amazing. Again - Celebrity or the Summit in particular must train their staff very, very well.
Very unusual for us: we took two shore excursions. One was to Provencal villages out of Marseilles and the other was to Alhambra from Malaga. They were both done very well and for very fair prices.
The ship's design is user friendly and is chock full of public spaces. The interior design is very elegant and not glitzy. It is a beautiful ship. It is aging, which was only of note on the exterior (veranda, and when viewing the ship's hull). All exterior public spaces are still looking great, though.
We felt that food safety and sanitation could have been handled a lot better from embarkation on, which probably contributed to the spread of illness, pegged as a norovirus as per a letter in each cabin from Captain Berdos. I hate seeing serve yourself buffets as any germs from passengers are transmitted via serving pieces and beverage stations. That stopped, with staff handling all food and beverages, once the illness was announced. How widespread the virus was, we will never know. It didn't affect our group of 4 but we are scrupulously careful about hand washing, touching public door knobs, elevator buttons, banisters, etc. Being sick on vacation is lousy and we go to extremes to avoid it.
The culture clash aboard the Summit was our second episode this year. Celebrity dumps their unsold cabins in Puerto Rico. There were 900 Puerto Ricans aboard, 1/2 the passengers approximately. They do not mix well culturally with N. Americans, the vast majority of the usual passengers. Enough said except that everyone we spoke with to a person, including loyal Celebrity cruisers, said it was the last Celebrity cruise they would take. Celebrity needs to take note as it was a huge problem and one that staff was unable to handle any better. We will be writing a letter to Celebrity with our concern but don't expect any apology. A couple we met had taken a lengthy S. American cruise over Christmas 2008 and said that Celebrity had sold the ship out to S. Americans, which caused another huge culture clash. They are very well traveled, frequent Celebrity cruisers, and mild mannered people. The response they received from their letter to Celebrity was that since "they are Canadians, they are quite sheltered and unaccustomed to other cultures." It was a huge insult to them and they will never again sail Celebrity. We concur. We are sorry because we love the staff, the ship and the service. But, never again. Don't anyone accuse us of prejudice or intolerance or lack of worldliness. Not true on any count. It was simply a mix of cultures that aboard a ship does not work. It was felt by everyone, including the Puerto Ricans, who were vocal in their complaints also. Less
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