Celebrity Summit Cruise April 16-23 2011
We just got back from this cruise with our teenage daughter and her friend and had a great time. The weather was fabulous and I wish I was still on the ship!
To set the scene....we had a C3 cabin (7194) and an inside (7210). We are Captains Club Elite, had Select dining for the first time and had purchased premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage packages in advance. We enjoy exploring the ports and don't really go to shows or organised activities on board and look to make our own entertainment.
Here are the highlights and lowlights of our trip.
Cabin was a good size and in pretty good shape. The balcony looked out over white awnings shading the cabins which jutted out below us on deck 6. We could not see directly down into the water from the balcony, which was perfect for me as I have vertigo and usually am unable to go near the edge of a side balcony. Nice CC options for room service breakfast, but typically we just had pastries and fruit as we were up and off the ship early most mornings. Sparkling wine was nice, as were the flowers, but we had to get the latter removed as they gave me allergies.
Concierge class benefits were pretty pathetic. Bed was hard as a rock, never saw a pillow menu and the pillows we had were flat and hard. Occasionally we saw one of the plush CC towels, but usually we were given regular towels. Afternoon canapes were pretty feeble, small circles of bread with bits of fishy or cheesy paste on them, occasionally shrimp or caviar.
Sadly there were no highlights to his service. I can't help feeling that because we had select dining and all tips were prepaid, he had no real incentive to perform well.
He explained he had just come back after vacation and to let him know if he had forgotten anything. We did let him know about a few things but he chose to ignore them.
It was really hard to get him to increase our towels to 4 bath towels and 2 hand towels. In the end I left a note permanently stuck on the bathroom door. One night we returned to the cabin at 9pm and saw the steward who told us we had no towels but he was going to the laundry for them. An hour and a half later there were still no towels and no steward so we left a note on the door saying we were going to bed and to leave them outside the cabin. At 11pm he woke us up, knocking on the door and trying to get in the cabin with the towels...
At the first port visit he didn't leave beach towels in the cabin. We thought they would be available at the gangplank. They weren't. Spent half an hour trying to get towels via the concierge and room attendant. If we had been booked on an organised excursion we would probably have missed it. In the evening we left the dirty beach towels in the cabin and went to dinner. When we returned the towels were gone and the steward said we could not have more because we had not returned the originals. We insisted we had and he just said "Oh someone else must have taken them away". Here are some more. Totally unnecessary and left us feeling like he didn't really believe us.
We never got a tote bag or a "How are we doing so far" mid-cruise survey. The inside cabin never got a Passenger Questionnaire at the end of the cruise, despite a visit to guest relations and them calling the steward to deliver one. In the end I wrote a letter instead of the survey.
In a dozen cruises on Celebrity, this was by far the worst cabin service we have ever received. Hopefully it was just a one-off.
This was the first time we had tried Select Dining, and from now on it will be our first choice. We reserved dining times and a table for 4 online, several months before our trip.
We requested a table for 4 and were seated in Irfan's section the first night. We enjoyed his service and requested his section for the rest of the cruise, and were accommodated there with the exception of one night when we showed up early and just needed a table for 2. We were offered a shared table for 4 with Irfan or a table for 2 with another waiter. We chose the 2 top, and the waiter again was excellent. Efficient and courteous service all round. I had been concerned that with the tips paid in advance, it would affect the level of service in the MDR but that was definitely not the case.
We were a little worried about getting wine by the glass in the dining room with the drink package. Our concerns were unfounded as the sommelier was excellent and even served us the rose prosecco which they served in the champagne bar, but which was not on the MDR wine by the glass menu, with dinner.
We had one dinner in the Normandie. Sadly it didn't live up to expectations.
The service was very attentive.
I had trouble finding things on the menu I really wanted to eat. I mainly eat lighter food, fish, seafood and chicken, and tend to stay away from cream based dishes and rich, heavy foods. Unfortunately the Normandie menu was mainly made up of these, and the things I ordered really didn't wow me. The menu said that all dishes were cooked to order, but my husbands filet mignon tasted like it had been partly precooked and then finished later. He had a better version of the steak in the MDR the 2nd formal night of the trip. For us it definitely was not worth the $35 per person cover charge.
We loved the drinks package as it gave us the opportunity to try out lots of non-alcoholic cocktails, frozen drinks and specialty coffees that we would otherwise not have experimented with. We thought the selections of wine by the glass and beers were quite varied and acceptable and would definitely choose this package again. I think we more than got our moneys worth!
Our teenagers (aged 16) had trouble getting served sodas either with waiter service or by sitting at the bar, especially in the waterfall cafe aft bar. They were ignored in favour of adults. Regardless of age, I believe all customers should be served in order.
The waiters in the above mentioned bar had a habit of substituting the Rose de Provence (light, crisp and dry) with White Zinfandel (heavy, sweet and headache inducing) and pretending it was the same when they ran out. It would have been better to be honest and say there were out of it and ask if I had a 2nd choice, which I did, and which was not the White Zinfandel!!!!
We had 2 couples hot stones massages on this trip. They were wonderful.
We never purchase the product recommendations offered at the end of the treatment as we are not high maintenance people and the products are very expensive. Usually one polite, but firm "No Thank You" ends the discussion. This time the sell just went on and on and on. I resent having to decline 3 or 4 times and then being blatantly asked why I won't buy the product. Totally unnecessary and unacceptable, and took away from the pleasure of the massage.
I thought that the food on board was adequate, not great but not bad either. I must say that I much prefer the old Raymond Blanc menus to the current Jacques Van Staaden ones. To me, the former were light and continental in flavour and had a lot of flair, and the latter are very bland, heavy and meat-centric, and typical fare you would find in any american restaurant. Sadly I never felt spoilt for choice, and often had to resort to the "Always Available" side of the menu.
Pastries in the Cova cafe in the morning and scones in the afternoon
Light fare in the spa cafe at lunchtime
Coq au vin in the MDR on the first night
Filet mignon in the MDR on the 2nd formal night
French fries from the grill, surreptitiously stolen from my daughters plate!
MDR version of the Mushroom Capuccino Soup from the Normandie.
MDR mushroom vol-au-vent
Evening curries in the Waterfall Buffet
The poached egg station in the Waterfall Cafe
The Normandy version of Mushroom Capuccino - way too rich and creamy
The MDR frogs legs. Now served buffalo style, heavy and breaded instead of the old provencale style
MDR broccoli cream soup with lemon oil - tasted like a lem-sip cold remedy - nasty!
Thai style spring rolls - think they had been hanging around a while, very rubbery.
7. Ship Facilities and Organised Entertainment
The Thalossotherapy Pool - fabulous spa pool with jets and bubbling beds to lie on and a nice quiet area to read in the afternoon.
Cova Cafe - great coffee, excellent service and a perfect people-watching spot!
Aft bar was a great place to enjoy sailaway and watch spectacular sunsets
Cruise Critic get-together was nicely organised by the Summit staff and the Bridge Tour was very interesting
Comedian was funny, especially his slideshow presentation
Crows Nest type Bar was always icy cold
Champagne / Martini Bar spoilt by very loud spanish music coming up from the rendez-vous Lounge a deck below
Trivia was disappointing. I only went once and found it odd that people graded their own answer sheets and that unusually there was not a lot of good sportsmanship amongst the players.
Guest pianist show was very over the top. Sometimes less is more.
Music around the ship was definitely too loud and I don't see why music has to be piped into empty lounges. Some of us just like to sit quietly and watch the world go by.
8. Captains Club Elite Benefits
We received a sheet of coupons in our cabin. Additionally there was a complimentary daily morning coffee and evening cocktail hour in Michaels, and various behind the scenes and Bridge Tours offered for Elites. As this was a very port intensive itinerary, and as we already had the drink package we did not really participate in these.
30 items washed and folded free
$49.99 free internet package
Vase of roses, which had to be removed from the cabin due to my allergies!
9. Ports of Call
St Croix - Went to Sandcastle on the Beach with members of our Cruise Critic group. A relaxing, fun day at a really nice resort.
St Kitts - Took the ships Fan-Ta-Sea catamaran excursion with snorkelling and a lunch on Nevis. Very well organised, lovely well kept catamaran and an excellent crew.
Dominica - Arranged a customised half day tour with Reyno Tours as we really wanted to visit the Screws Sulphur Spa. Walked through the rainforest and saw the spectacular Trafalgar Falls, saw the bubbling spring at Wootten Waven, went in the Botanical Gardens and saw the scenic view at Morne Bruce.
Screws Sulphur Spa was fabulous, 4 hot pools of differing temperatures and a cold plunge pool, all set among lush landscaping. Very relaxing experience and well worth the $10 per person admission fee.
Tobago - Island Girl Catamaran private charter with our cruise critic friends. Beautifully kept catamaran ably crewed by Captain Dan and his crew. Snorkelling and a private beach followed by a delicious lunch on board, more snorkelling and then whilst under sail on our way back, we were accompanied by a group of dolphins swimming alongside and jumping out of the water. This was the best day of the trip!
Grenada - We decided to get of the ship and wander around town and head for the fort. Big mistake. We were constantly hassled by the locals be they offering taxi tours, walking tours, things to buy. They would not take no for and answer and would not leave us alone. Totally spoilt our day, and made this our least favourite port. With hindsight we should have booked a tour here.
All in all we had a great time and would not hesitate to sail Celebrity Summit again.