My parents and I have never been to Maine or the Atlantic provinces in Canada. We heard from many that the towns were quaint and the scenery was breathtaking. What better way to be introduced to these regions then to take a cruise on our favorite line, Celebrity? We booked a little more than two months before on the Summit in concierge class category C2. We are relatively new to cruising as our first cruise was this past April on the Solstice. I had done the research and understood that the Summit is an older ship and not in the Solstice class. I had read the mixed reviews with some critical of the Summit for its aged condition. Knowing all these facts, I lowered my expectations before embarking so there would be no disappointment. What I was really interested in were the ports.
To my surprise, my expectations were slightly exceeded. I thought I would be boarding a ship on its last leg and instead, I was pleasantly surprised at its cleanliness and evidence of a good ongoing maintenance program. Once in a while I would see fixtures and blemishes that would need attention, but they were so minor that they were not enough to affect our satisfaction. For example, elevator buttons that had broken off or minor rust.
Our concierge class veranda stateroom on deck 8 was in pristine condition after we had two problems fixed by maintenance. The sliding glass veranda door was slightly off track making it very difficult to open. Also, the vertical bar in the shower that holds the removable shower head fell off because the bottom screw had rusted out. We notified our stateroom attendant and he summoned the maintenance team that arrived in a matter of minutes. A new track was installed on the slider and the bar in the shower was secured with a new screw in very short time. Cleanliness was very evident throughout the ship. The key is that if you have a problem with something that doesn't work in your room, do not put it off. Tell the attendant and they will make it right.
The quality of food in the Cosmopolitan dining room was excellent. Here you will find the standard Celebrity service with the standard menu on the left and the specialty menu on the right that changes each day. There many five star restaurant quality entrees, soups and appetizers that sets Celebrity apart. I loved the baked Alaska on the second formal night that was brought out in the entertaining parade. The first four nights we were at a table for six but the other three seats were never occupied. We wanted some company. Each of the first four nights, Larry, the assistant maitre d kept calling staterooms that supposedly wanted early dining and wait listed. However, Larry informed us that the passengers were either too busy or were in a party of two and demanded only a table for two because they wanted to be alone. For the last three nights, Larry changed us to a table for twelve that had three empty seats. This made us so happy as we finally had other people to converse with. We had great table mates. Everyone liked each other so much that we all exchanged phone numbers and emails on the last night. Some lived very close to our winter home in Florida and we will probably see them again.
The Waterfall Cafeteria was a mob scene after boarding with long lines. But after that, it wasn't too crowded. The quality of the food was average, with standard breakfast, salads and lunch foods. You take a tray and a plate. For the main course sections of the line, you have to request and be served by the employee on the other side. For some salad and dessert items, you serve yourself. It was ok.
The entertainment had its strong and weak points. It's really a matter of opinion on what one considers entertaining. Personally, I hated the variety show and Broadway medley show with its ghastly bright fluorescent costumes and terrible acting. They were too loud for my parents and were kind of tacky to me. However, the comedian, acapella group and the Paradise String Quartet were the best I've listened to and seen. They really enhanced the entertainment experience and set a standard for cruise lines.
I went to the art auction but didn't participate that much. I was there for the free champagne and the raffle at the end. It was interesting to read all the fine print from Park West, the outside company that does the art auctions for Celebrity. I'm not that educated in art so I would never buy on a cruise ship without first doing research.
The casino was very nice to me. I hit two jackpots and left the cruise ahead $500! Being from the Las Vegas area, I would have liked it more if the casino used the E-Z pay system, where you get a ticket upon cash-out instead of waiting for coins to spit out from the machine and grab handfuls to put in a bucket. I used the hand-sanitizer stations a lot there! The slot tournament was fun, but I thought the prize structure would be higher than a first prize of $340 given all of the people that paid $25 to enter. But Celebrity is in it to make money on board and I'm sure Jason, the casino manager is limited in what he can do given the directives he receives from corporate in Miami. I felt good for the person that won. She was sick and had to pay $400 in services to the medical office earlier in the cruise. The win helped to pay her bill.
Pool area was well kept and there were plenty of deck chairs when I wanted to be there. My parents loved the saltwater Thalassotherapy pool with its water jets and massaging water that would pour down from above.
Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze. But the cruise terminal at Cape Liberty is old and ugly. It needs to be bulldozed and rebuilt closer to the ship so you don't have to take a bus to the gangway. We had car services that dropped us off and picked us up right on schedule when we returned.
All in all, this was a good cruise with high standards of service that Celebrity is known for. I enjoyed this millennium-class ship sailing.
What a quaint, picturesque town with great little shops and quality restaurants. Words don't do this island justice. We all took the Best of Bar Harbor tour. This started with a tour of Bar Harbor. We went on to see the breathtaking Acadia National park. You can see the ship from many vantage points at the park. An interesting fact on the island of Bar Harbor is that they prohibit national chain stores to preserve the historic integrity and beauty of the island. No Walmart, McDonald's, Starbucks, Wendy's, Home Depot, etc. I kind of like that.
A great destination for history buffs and a beautiful city. Museums, parks and historic churches are just a few of the many things to take advantage of. Don't miss the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic featuring exhibits from the Titanic. Over 120 passengers were laid to rest at the nearby Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Our tour guide taught us that Nova Scotia (translates as "New Scotland"), almost became part of the United States when a group of Americans invaded the citadel. But George Washington was apparently not aware and never sent the necessary reinforcements to take over!
The feature of our tour was Peggy's Cove, a beautiful fishing village (with a population of sixty people) near St. Margaret's Bay. There are some impressive rock formations to hike on and explore. However, watch where you are stepping and be careful not to walk on wet rock. Wear strong shoes. There were a few quaint shops along with a lighthouse that provides postcard quality photo opportunities. A huge stone carving by William Degarthe is a tribute to the working fisherman in the village. On the way to Peggy's, our tour included a lobster lunch at the Shore Club in Hubbards Beach. At night they have lobster suppers including an all you can eat salad bar, unlimited fresh cultivated Mussels, Fresh boiled lobster with potato salad and a choice of dessert with coffee or tea. The shore club features Nova Scotia's last great dance hall and is open every Wednesday through Sunday from mid May to mid October. Nova Scotia lobster has a distinctive sweet taste that we loved.
At this port our group split up. We didn't spend any time in Portland so I can't really mention much about it. My father went on the shore excursion to New Hampshire to ride the Cog Railway up Mount Washington. My mother and I went on the Kennebunkport tour.
My father said the 2-hour ride to New Hampshire was breathtaking. However, it became very cold, windy and foggy at the top of Mount Washington. Unfortunately, there was not a good view that day for this reason.
Kennebunkport is the kind of quaint, peaceful town that anyone would want to live in. It has a lot of beautiful cottages and a great shopping area. I can understand why former President George H.W. Bush loves this area so much and makes it his summer residence. A few in our tour group met him as he made a drive into town with the secret service to pick something up at the drug store. Our tour bus drove by his residence and it is beautiful and well guarded. From what I understand, buses are not allowed to stop while driving on the road in front of his residence.
Both of these points of interest are difficult to do on your own. I would suggest booking shore excursions through your cruise line.
St. John, New Brunswick was a boring city. It is not worth it to do a shore excursion here. Just explore on your own. We got off the ship and only spent three hours walking around. There is some shopping, but nothing interested us. The best thing about the city that I will give the a lot of credit for - Free Internet :-). That's right! Instead of paying sixty five cents a minute for dial up speed in the Celebrity Summit's I-Lounge, you can go to the St. John Library in the shopping mall, walk up the stairs to the second floor, and get to use the Internet for up to one hour for FREE! And the speeds are higher than the cruise ship too! I took advantage of this.