This was our first cruise on Celebrity; we both have cruised before. We had adjoining staterooms on the Summit on Deck 9 in Concierge Class. My wife and I occupied one stateroom, and our 16 year-old daughter and her friend were in the other. After reading the reviews here, I was a little concerned that there wouldn’t be much for the teenagers to do onboard; more on that later.
We drove in from Pennsylvania. Embarkation at Cape Liberty was a breeze – we were checked in and on the ship in about half an hour. Our staterooms weren’t ready till 1:30, so we enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Waterfall Café. Once we got to our staterooms, it took about 5 hours to get all of our suitcases delivered to us. It does not appear that there is any benefit to being in Concierge Class as far as that goes.
The staterooms were clean enough, although the balcony was dirty – cigarette butts left there by some previous guest were never cleaned up all week. There were never enough towels and never enough ice, in spite of daily requests for the same. (You would think they would remember after a day or two.) Our stateroom attendant “Joaquim” was nowhere to be seen all week. We would call for ice or towels, and most of the time they were never delivered. We did not leave a tip for him.
On the positive side, the beds were surprisingly comfortable and the rooms quite spacious. We were offered daily breakfast room service, although we only ever ordered coffee. It was delivered every day almost spot-on as to the time we requested (they call your room first so you can get dressed). The bathroom was clean and the shower decent, which is good, since my wife and I are both tall.
The dining options were plentiful, though we did pace ourselves so as not to be stuffed. The buffet breakfast and lunch were overall quite good; I especially enjoyed the poached egg bar in the morning, and the sandwich specials at lunch changed daily. If you are so inclined, the Aqua Pool area has a good selection of healthy choices which also change on a daily basis.
Each evening we ate in the main dining room at a set time of 6 pm. This proved advantageous since we always had the same wait staff. We were fortunate to share our table with a wonderful family of four from Pittsburgh who had two nice daughters who hit it off with our girls. We thought the food in the MDR was quite good. The menu has a left and right side – the left side is always the same (prime rib, shrimp cocktail, etc.) but the right side changes daily. My wife and I always ordered off the right side, and we had some excellent dishes. We liked that the portion sizes were not that large so you didn’t feel stuffed (yes we always found room for dessert).
On the downside, the service in the evening, especially for drinks, was very slow. They have a wine steward – and that’s all he does. They have a bar server who gets drinks (but not wine). They have someone who refills your water. But there were long periods where they disappeared and we found ourselves with empty drinks. However, our server was very pleasant (he was from Turkey) and it was hard to be too upset about such trivialities. I will say that many evenings we were in the MDR for about two hours. We never did visit the Normandie Restaurant, but heard good things from other passengers who did.
Entertainment was good, but not great. For three nights we saw the same cast do some variation of Broadway music; it got old after the second night. There was a comedian (sort of funny) and two fantastic Cirque De Soleil-like acrobats that were absolutely amazing. They also had a vivacious pianist who was awesome. If you were so inclined, on the last night, you could go hear the comedian do an R-rated version of his comedy. We didn’t go, so I can’t comment on that.
The teenagers were able to find other teens to hang with. They complained that the teen activities were geared more for 12 year-olds; they recommended breaking the teens up into two groups of 12-14 and 15-18 year olds. But there were many evenings where they rolled into bed after 3 or 4 am! All in all, if your teens are somewhat extroverted, they will be able to make new friends easily. Most days they slept in till noon, then hung at the pool all afternoon, joined in on the line dances at the pool, and were back to the room by 5 to get ready for dinner. After dinner, we didn’t see them until the next morning.
The pool area gets incredibly crowded on days at sea. We had to get there by 7:30 am just to claim our four chairs. We witnessed some catfights over the chairs; so be forewarned. Get there early and place something personal on your chairs, and be sure to actually sit there once in a while, or you will risk losing them.
My wife got the alcoholic beverage package and let me tell you, it was a good deal. Since most drinks are $6-$8+, we figured that if you like to drink 7 or more drinks in a whole day, it’s worth it. (And if you don’t like a drink, you can leave it without feeling guilty.) The bartenders give you a good pour. I would recommend a visit to the Martini Bar on deck 5; the bartender there puts on quite a show!
My wife and I really enjoyed the area in the back of the ship on deck 10 – for eating breakfast, lunch, and enjoying a cigar late at night. There is a bar there, and they also occasionally have a guitarist on the deck – he was great. We did gamble a bit on deck 4 – we were surprised how most of the time it wasn’t very crowded.
There are also many places on the ship that are quiet. For having 2,000+ passengers, we were surprised at how easy it was to find them. Do yourself a favor and explore each and every deck. There are plenty of activities if you so choose to partake of them. The aqua aerobics was fun, but I was a bit winded due to the fact that the water in the pool is really warm.
If you have a smart phone (BlackBerry, iPhone), be warned that there is data service on the ship, but you will get NAILED by your carrier! We took Verizon’s advice and turned off our data as soon as we boarded (or put it in airplane mode). You may be sorry if you don’t, once your bill comes.
Bermuda is awesome. I want to live there! We did two excursions – an island tour and a beach excursion. Both were great and highly recommended. On the third day, the girls went parasailing, and my wife and I took the ferry into Hamilton and hung out for a few hours. The locals tell you that prices in the dockyard area are much higher than other places in Bermuda, and they are correct. We really liked St. George’s and Hamilton. On the last night in port, the girls found a club in the dockyard area that was open from midnight to 3 am ($10 cover), and they went and danced the night away, saying they liked the music much better than what they had heard on the ship. BTW the drinking age in Bermuda is 18, but the teens said they were never carded. And…you can find REAL Cuban cigars in Bermuda, if you are so inclined.
Coming back from Bermuda to New Jersey had the ship traveling at a much higher rate of speed, but we didn’t get seasick. The girls and many passengers that we saw had those patches behind their ears, and they said they never got seasick.
Disembarkation was easy, in spite of the pouring down rain. If you have a lot of luggage like we did, I would highly recommend hailing one of the guys with the big carts. He got us through Customs and it was a breeze. We were on our way back to PA by 10:30 am on Sunday.
All in all, it was a great cruise. Every day was fun, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.