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Sail Date: September 2007
The following are our joint observations (authored by Rich, edited and annotated by Marlee) from the 14 day Summit cruise that concluded September 28. This was our third 14 night cruise on Summit over the past twelve months, which provided ... Read More
The following are our joint observations (authored by Rich, edited and annotated by Marlee) from the 14 day Summit cruise that concluded September 28. This was our third 14 night cruise on Summit over the past twelve months, which provided the ability to observe the ship's evolution over that period. The itinerary held many highlights, including a crystal clear day at Hubbard and another in San Francisco. However, this post will focus on the ship and onboard product rather than the itinerary. Before proceeding, I need to quote another, more (in)famous Richard and "make one thing perfectly clear". As you will read below, this cruise had a few warts, especially compared to previous Celebrity cruises. The phrase I used on the end of cruise survey was "some rough edges". These will be documented below. Readers should keep in mind that these were all relatively minor. Both of us continue to believe that Celebrity offers a very solid cruise product, and we both will enthusiastically recommend Celebrity to anyone seeking a great value in a traditional cruise product. Now, on to business... About us: 52/49 years of age, sixth cruise overall, fourth cruise on Celebrity (remaining two on Regent). Marlee has Multiple Sclerosis and is mobility-limited, though not confined to a wheelchair or power-chair full time. Rich is a VP in the finance area of an S&P 500 bank; Marlee does not work due to the MS but has two Masters degrees. Service: Celebrity's high point remains its onboard service. Nearly all the food, beverage, and cabin service staff is absolutely fantastic. Although I can (and will) quibble with certain food and entertainment choices, service of this quality will keep us coming back to X. Although it's almost unfair to single out specific individuals, I do need to recognize Jackviston, our waiter, as first among equals. This was our fourth Celebrity cruise. For the first time, our waiter learned our likes, dislikes, and needs (Marlee's medications have side effects that make saucy foods almost a must) by the second night of the cruise. He made recommendations based on our preferences, steered us away from entrEes that he felt would not be to our taste, and went out of his way to ensure that Marlee received extra sauce. If, after all that, we still received a dish that wasn't to our taste he absolutely insisted on bringing us an alternate entrEe. It was almost like having a long-time personal chef who is able to serve food to our taste without having to ask. "Wonderful" is the only word that describes it. Our cabin attendant, Bernadeth, was also outstanding. Again, she learned our preferences almost immediately and executed to them faultlessly over the length of the cruise. Our bar servers also learned our preferences; one of them, Joseph in the Cova Cafe, even memorized our Sea Pass number so I didn't need to hand it to him each night. Service in the Lido was fine, as was the wine service at dinner. In fact, there were no service errors of significance over the course of a two week cruise. Pretty remarkable when compared to, say, ones last 14 meals in (non-fast food) land-based restaurants. Accommodations: Our cabin was Concierge Class 6143 which is buried deep in suite country; just one Sky Suite was between us and the Penthouse. The cabin was very clean and well maintained. This cabin has two advantages: an oversized balcony with a teak deck that easily accommodated two chairs, two loungers, and two tables. It is also about a foot wider than a normal CC cabin, allowing us to walk past the bed normally rather than turning sideways as we need to do in a standard CC. Unfortunately, the cabin also had one significant disadvantage - noise. The butlers' pantry is just in front of the Penthouses and butlers' carts with room service items wheeled past from early morning to well after dark. Because the corridors directly outside the Penthouses and Royal Suites are parquet (or marble in the case of the Penthouse) instead of the normal carpeting the carts would bang over each transition from carpet to wood. Additionally, there is a service corridor leading outside directly forward of the cabin. The butlers used this corridor to store carts and also to take short breaks in the open air. They were not careful about gently closing the doors; slamming doors were clearly audible in our cabin. Although the period between 10 PM and 7 AM was generally quiet, Marlee has MS and needs to nap during the day. The noise level made this difficult most days, but especially on sea days. As a consequence, we will not select this cabin again. If the afts on 7, 8, or 9 are gone before we book, we will take one of the bump-outs such as 9043. We might also give 6135 a try. This cabin also has an oversized balcony but is farther forward (nearer to the end of the suite section), has no adjacent service corridor and therefore is likely to be more quiet during the day. The cabin had the new bedding installed. What an improvement! We're taking our first HAL cruise in a couple months and I'll be very interested in seeing how X's new bedding compares to what most believe are the best beds in the mass market/premium segment. My guess is that Celebrity's new beds won't be all that far behind HAL's, if they're behind at all. Credit X for listening to passenger feedback and addressing the issue in a very positive manner. Public Areas: As usual, we found Summit very clean and well maintained. Some of the public areas are starting to look a bit tired, in a way that probably will require a refurbishment to fully address. The only significant issue was the loosening of a small portion of the dance floor in the Rendezvous Lounge one evening. This was quickly patched, although the floor does suffer from many cruises worth of stiletto heels. Carpeting is looking a bit worn in some spots and is coming up at the seams in a couple areas. In one case we noted a duct tape repair (presumably temporary). However, no issues were significant enough to significantly diminish our enjoyment of the cruise. The crew works very hard to keep the ship immaculate, painting, deep cleaning, and other maintenance activities are highly visible activities during nearly all daylight hours. Food: Summit does not yet have the Blau Group's new menus. However, Mercury does and Mercury was docked adjacent to us during our stop in Victoria. Daniel, Summit's Executive Chef (soon transferring to Connie, by the way) visited Mercury and returned quite enthusiastic about what he saw. He did not provide many details but indicated that the new items would be added alongside many old favorites. And that they tasted good. Marlee and I are looking forward to the updates. Meanwhile, Summit has introduced a few new menu items since we last cruised in March. The best of these was a seared tuna entrEe with Asian-style seasonings. The fish was perfectly cooked - just a quick sear outside, nice and rare inside. I've never been a big fan of Celebrity's fish (fins and scales) entrEes and I have to admit that I tried this one with some trepidation. But it turned out to be one of the best dinners of the entire cruise. Other entrEes that I don't recall seeing in March (or earlier) include Cornish Game Hen, lobster ravioli, beef tips with beans and rice and Chicken Kiev; all superb. Aside from the new items, I would characterize the dining room food this cruise as a notch below what we recall from our cruises this past March and last October. I believe that I formed this impression largely because the beef, which always used to be a highlight, was just okay this time out. Less tender than I recall. Same goes for the veal chop, which also used to be a high point. On the other hand, many of the appetizers and soups continue to be excellent, as do the chicken dishes. We never stay for desert, so we can't comment there. Entertainment: This is another area that was distinctly below standards set during our previous Summit cruises. There were some high points. Jennifer Fair returned to the ship and presented a lovely program of "popera". Top Notch is still on board and still IMO one of the best party bands at sea. Finally, Guys and Doll (Regent cruisers may remember them as Si and Kathy) did a fine job in the Rendezvous. Kathy remembered Marlee from a 2005 Seven Seas Voyager cruise. Amazing! Unfortunately, the highlights stop there. The Celebrity Orchestra struggled. Last October this group was tremendous, capable of playing just about any style, any song, anywhere. And playing it well. This cruise, though, there was a definite problem in their brass section. I lack the expertise to tell if it was the trombone or the trumpet, but bad notes were rampant. Sad, especially considering how good this ensemble used to be. The pianist in Michael's Club described himself as having turned "fully professional" just recently. It showed. He wasn't horrible, but he wasn't all that good either. He too missed a few notes every now and again. The string quartet was soulless. In March the ensemble played with verve and panache. Finally, Jefferson Ang was still on board. Although even then he was not a high-energy entertainer, in March he performed some uncanny imitations (okay, covers) of James Taylor, Jim Croce, and Paul Simon. This cruise he seemed unfocused and less competent than previously. As for the main-stage entertainment, we missed a number of the shows because the CD (Alan King) started over half of them after dinner. We are late seating; with Marlee's MS a 10:45 show is simply too late for us. Of what we saw, Jennifer was definitely the highlight, along with a funny ventriloquist. Lowlights included a raunchy juggler (please don't ask). Also, should you ever hear the word "Xylosynth", run. There was a point during the cruise when I started wondering if it was me. Maybe I had an unrecognized chip on my shoulder regarding the entertainment. But Marlee was noting many of the same things independently. The bottom line is that I believe my impressions are accurate. Certainly, I did not set out to find fault with the entertainers and I found them very enjoyable on previous cruises. Enough said. Odds and Ends: Non-package internet prices are now $0.65 per minute, a slight decrease from $0.75 previously. However, the computers in the internet cafe no longer offer free use of programs such as Microsoft Word. Those wishing to compose e-mails or blog entries must now do so online, and pay for the privilege. I'm considering bringing my laptop next cruise so I can compose e-mail before I go online to send it. The senior officers' cocktail party for Select and Elite Captains' Club members was at 11 AM. IMO, this seems a bit early in the day to start drinking, even on a vacation and a very strange time for this event under any circumstances. I hope the time for this event returns to shortly before dinner, similar to the regular Captains' Club reception. There is now a small section of the Lido (portside aft, just around the corner from the sandwich station) that serves Indian food at lunch. It was not open every day but was a nice alternative on the days it was open. Embarkation at Vancouver was a nightmare. Disorganized. One long line after another. I don't hold Celebrity at fault for this, the check-in process with Celebrity was fast and efficient. The issue was with the various U.S. and Canadian government officials and with the people hired by the cruise terminal to manage the crowds. Yes, there were three ships embarking from Canada Place that day, but there must be a better way to manage this process. There must be. The hollandaise incident: I saved this tale for the end because it doesn't fit neatly anywhere else. Marlee and I both enjoy the eggs benedict at breakfast. For the first week plus of the cruise they were very good as usual. One day during the second week, our waiter served us the eggs benedict and immediately said something to the effect that "the sauce doesn't look so good". Sure enough, the hollandaise was badly broken, i.e. had separated. Implied in this exchange was that the waiter didn't want to serve it to us at all but was apparently required to do so. As soon as we agreed that the sauce was not correctly made the plate was whisked away and an alternative selection quickly prepared. Although we were disappointed that the waiter did not seem to have discretion to return the dish on his own, the story was over - or so we thought. The next morning, the sauce was broken again. Not as badly, but still broken. This time we ate the dish (we had no time to reorder) but mentioned the problem to the Assistant Maitre D' on duty at the time, and later to Murat, the Assistant Maitre D' assigned to our table at dinner. Note that "mentioned" means just that - a polite exchange of information. We did not present ourselves as upset or angry, just concerned. What happened next both surprised and pleased us. Murat's normal station at breakfast was the Lido on this cruise. However, Murat got up early the next morning to personally review with/retrain the responsible person in the galley in the correct method for making hollandaise sauce. Then, when we came in for breakfast, Murat came down from the Lido and personally prepared Marlee's eggs benedict (I ordered an omelet that morning). Not only was it the best eggs benedict she had ever had, anywhere, this incident typifies the intense commitment of Celebrity's service staff to setting things right, if not better than right. It also points out an improvement opportunity for the galley crew. Galley staff should be made aware that their inattention to detail has consequences. Although they rarely, if ever, see or are seen by paying customers, their product is an extremely important one that directly impacts impressions and enjoyment of the cruise and cruise line. Attention to detail should dominate the thinking and actions of the galley staff as much as it so clearly does dominate the actions of the service personnel. Conclusion: Although not without a few glitches, we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. We will be back on X. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
When my husband, his Mom, and I decided more than a year ago to book a cruise to Alaska, we hadn't considered a land tour, but when our wise travel agent suggested it, we started reading and decided Tour 1 with Celebrity was doable ... Read More
When my husband, his Mom, and I decided more than a year ago to book a cruise to Alaska, we hadn't considered a land tour, but when our wise travel agent suggested it, we started reading and decided Tour 1 with Celebrity was doable for our budget. What a great decision that turned out to be! After a year of reading these boards and planning (and a miraculous last minute change due to availability of a family view category aft cabin), we set out on our Tour 1 (4-night escorted motorcoach/traincar land tour and 7-night Alaska Southbound Cruise). After a long delay in Seattle for our connecting Alaska Airlines flight, we took off for what we thought would be a long boring flight. The first part was just that, but then the cloud cover cleared and we were able to enjoy an aerial view of the islands, glaciers, and snowcapped peaks below. No one on that plane could complain of boredom! We arrived in Fairbanks to be greeted by a tour representative who directed us to the baggage claim area to identify our luggage. Since Mom is mobility challenged, wears two hearing aids, and prism glasses, she requires assistance to walk more than short distances, so I had requested wheelchair assistance. We were pleased to learn that luggage had been taken from the small carousel and all we need do was identify it by applying colored stickers they provided. From there, the luggage was placed into a motorcoach in which we were driven to nearby Pike's Waterfront Lodge. Even though the forecast for Fairbanks had been rain, it was beautiful and sunny there. The Lodge was perched on the banks of the river. The tour representative, Rebecca, met us in the lobby by the fireplace to give us keys, an orientation presentation, and explain what we should expect the next day. We were given two different colored luggage tags and told we could put one color on the bag we wanted to be brought to our room each night of the land tour, and another color on any bag to be stored until we arrived on the ship. I had been prepared for this from posts I had read on this site, so our bags were already segregated for that purpose. How efficient that turned out to be!! During our entire trip until we docked in Vancouver, we never had to lift a bag! I know many who post on these boards recommend "going independent" in your land tours, but when you're travelling with a disabled person booking through the cruiseline made our lives so much easier and allowed us to relax. Luggage for three people for 12 days of changing weather with formal v. casual attire adds up to a LOT of heavy bags. No problem this way . . . That night we ate on the verandah of the lodge overlooking the river. The food was really good, but a bit pricey at $30 per person (including a glass of wine each). The next morning, we arose to get ready and wheeled our bags into the hall outside our door by 6:45a, as instructed, and met our group in the lobby to board our motorcoaches to drive a couple of miles down the road to board the Discovery Sternwheeler for a boat tour along the Chena and Tenana Rivers. I have to admit I was expecting this to be a cheesy commercial enterprise, but it was far from it. The tour guide on board gave us a very informative and educational commentary on each of the segments of the trip. First, we watched a floatplane take off and land alongside us. We witnessed many floatplanes tied behind the residences we passed---it's the best means of travel in that part of Alaska. A little farther along we stopped at the home of the late Susan Boutcher, famed Iditarod champion. Her husband treated us to a look at mushing dogs in training, some puppies, and introduced us to a woman who is there preparing for the next competition. Since there was no snow, the dogs pulled a stripped down ATV. You could tell the dogs love their role---they were running free on the property but hurried to the sled when called and jumped up and down in anticipation when they knew they were being harnessed to pull. Shortly after leaving there, we came upon a sand bar (one that is only exposed during low tide) and were able to watch another bush pilot (this one had replaced his floats with big wheels on his plane) land and take off from the sand bar. It was amazing to see him do so on such a short, and driftwood scattered, makeshift runway. As an added bonus, there was a juvenile bald eagle fishing on the sand, and an adult one soaring overhead. We stopped at an Athabascan Village for a fascinating walking tour and presentation of their crafts, fishing, and culture. This was educational only---not a gift shop anywhere!! We saw our first reindeer here too! Back onboard, we were treated to a snack of smoked salmon on crackers and bought Alaskan Amber beer from the bar. Yummy. At the end of the tour we boarded our motorcoach and headed to downtown Fairbanks. Our driver, Trevor, circled the area while Rebecca pointed out available restaurants and some of the sights before dropping us off for an hour and a half of free time. We chose to go to an Italian restaurant, Gambardella's, that had outdoor dining and good (again pricey) food. Unfortunately, it took an hour for our food to be served, so we had to rush back to meet the coach. Although the food was good, it wasn't worth the wait or the price, so I can't recommend it. From there we enjoyed a scenic ride to Denali, where we checked into the McKinley Village Lodge. This hotel consists of several log buildings clustered along the Nenana River. Our keys were handed to us as we got off the coach at our assigned building (this was another advantage to the prearranged tour---no check-in or out hassle), and our bags were delivered within a half hour. Our room had a beautiful mountain, river, and wooded view. We took a walk before dinner along the river enjoying the sound of the rushing water, the glorious autumn colors, and spectacular views. They had adirondack chairs placed along the verge of the river where we met and chatted with fellow travellers before going to the main lodge for another delicious (alas, another $100) dinner. We set a wake-up call for aurora borealis activity and turned in early knowing we had a very early departure. At 4:30am our phone rang to alert us to the aurora borealis!! DH and I threw on a few clothes and got outside in time for a brief, but remarkable display. There were straight lines of what appeared to be pale green clouds above us. We weren't sure we were actually seeing northern lights until they suddenly rippled (like when a stone is thrown into standing water). It was a WOW moment. This was the first, and best, of two consecutive nights we saw the northern lights. The following night's display was just after midnight. Prior to our trip I had read that the Tundra Wilderness Tour (this is the best choice of tours, by far) was given on a converted school bus and to expect a rough ride. Well, this was like no school bus I had ever seen---the seats were individual, high-backed, upholstered ones similar to our motorcoach, and we experienced no discomfort. The day started out cold, misty, and cloudy, so we were prepared to be disappointed. Again, we had a pleasant surprise---the cloud cover lifted enough that visibility was no problem. We saw grizzly bears grazing on berries, many moose, several caribou, and migrating dall sheep (usually they're so high on the mountains they are only white dots, but these were in the valley and close enough to see detail without binoculars). The tour stops for bathroom breaks and overlooks about every 90 minutes, and the portapotties are clean and well-maintained. As we approached what was to be the turnaround point of the trip, our coach driver (her name was Rebecca too and she was equally charming and gave a great commentary) excitedly announced that she had just received a call on her radio approving her to extend our tour to (I think it was) Stony Pass for a surprise. We're all pretty keyed up already after experiencing so much wild life, but nothing could compare with the surprise in store----only 30% of visitors to Alaska see Mt. McKinley (or as I now prefer the native name of "Denali") peek out of her usual shroud of clouds. The majesty of it brought tears to my eyes. The day had remained overcast, with occasional mist, but once again, we were blessed with what felt like a miracle. We took photo after photo. The return trip added more wildlife sightings (including a caribou with bright red antlers---they had just shed their velvet and the blood vessels were still visible until the sun and weather would dry them), and a flock of ptarmigan (the Alaskan state bird) with their puffy white feathered boots on the ground next to the bus. The driver kept remarking about the foliage being at the height of it's autumn colors---I'm running out of new words to describe the splendor of it all. We were pretty tired when we returned, but after a nap we got on a small shuttle bus to go to the Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre. The ride there was enhanced by the sighting of a big bull moose alongside the road drinking from a pond---how exciting to see the beast so close to us!! I am torn on whether or not to recommend our dinner/show that evening. The "all you can eat" ribs and salmon were pretty good for mass-produced fare, but served in such a hurried and bustling manner (the show can't start until all the tables are cleared, folks!), that you couldn't really savor or enjoy it. The young people who served, and later entertained us, were very talented singers and their operetta was based on an interesting history of the gold rush, but it had a little more "audience participation" than is my preference. It was the usual "is that the best you can do?" prompting for louder audience response---over-used and over-dramatic. Had it been in a theatre setting without all the noise and chaos and audience participation nonsense I think I would have enjoyed it much more, but I am fairly certain I was in the minority. It was my impression that the majority had a rip-roarin' good time, so don't let my negative reaction be the sole basis for your decision whether to do it. By the time we returned to the lodge and were walking back to our cabin, the northern lights appeared. Mom hadn't seen them that morning, so we were thrilled she got her chance. They let us sleep in before leaving at 10:15am for the drive to Anchorage the next morning. Our driver, Trevor, was born and raised in the town of Wasilla, which we drove through on the trip. He entertained us with anecdotes of what his dating life (dates in Alaska are quite different than the usual movie and dinner in the lower 48---snowmobiles and salmon fishing, anyone?). He had us all laughing aloud at his outrageous stories. The day was cloudy, misty and cold in the morning, but, as we had come to expect, clear and sunny in the afternoon. Again, Trevor drove around the area immediately around our Marriott Hotel to let us see the available restaurants, museums, and shopping before Rebecca distributed our keys and set us free for the afternoon and evening. What a room and view!! We were on the 13th floor with a complete wall of single pane glass allowing us a 180 degree panorama of the city, inlet, and mountains. We broke out the binoculars and scanned the gorgeous surroundings, then spied the restaurant we wanted to try---the Glacier Brew House. We were lucky we decided on an early dinner---we waited only 15 minutes for a table, but within that time the wait increased to over an hour. It was well worth the wait. The food, beer, wine, and service were all superb. My husband especially enjoyed tasting the various local beers available. We exchanged bites of each other's food, and I can attest to each of the entrees being first class in taste, as well as presentation. I can see why it is a favorite among locals as well as tourists. Since the last leg of this land tour was to be by train, all our luggage was delivered to our room, but again, we had only to leave it in the hallway the next morning and they transported it to the train and on to the ship. The Wilderness Express glass-domed rail cars are the perfect venue for viewing what turned out to be the most amazing scenery I have every witnessed. The upper floor of the car has comfortable seats for viewing, while the lower floor is a dining room. The group was divided into two seatings for breakfast, and we were in the first. We ordered from an ala carte menu and were served good food on fine linen. We could hear the tour commentator upstairs talking to the second seating bunch, and he suddenly got very excited. The water of the inlet comes right up to the train tracks at high tide (the tide variation is 40 feet!!), and when we looked down into the water there was a rare Beluga white whale surfacing right next to us! The announcer said in the years he had been on this route daily he had never seen one. About five minutes later, however, ANOTHER ONE surfaced! He went on to tell us that their population is rapidly dwindling due to a cancer they are contracting and scientists are scrambling to find its cause before they are extinct. They were easy to spot since they are pure white, but they are so limited in number that sightings are scarce. That was the beginning of a day of awesome sights. We saw more moose and caribou, but more inspiring were the waterfalls, glaciers, and moutains. This is definitely a "not-to-be-missed" tour. I think my jaw spent the day dropped to my chest in wonder. Our next stop was another that I had figured would be so-so. The Seward Wildlife Center sounded to me like a convenient stall tactic for them to have time to off load our luggage to the ship before taking us to it. I was wrong again. This center is fascinating. For those of you travelling with persons with disabilities, much care has been taken to see to it that wheelchair bound persons enjoy the center as well, or better than, those physically adept. This facility is for the study of Alaska sealife, as well as a rescue and medical hospital for them. The exhibits are terrific, and whoever designed the place was a genius at crowd flow. There were lots of buses there, but never did you have to jostle for viewing positions or wait in lines. There were lots of staff members available to answer questions and encourage human/sealife interaction when appropriate. The most surprising fact I learned was that one of the sea birds there can free dive to fish to a depth of over 600 feet!! That's deeper than submarines go! We saw puffin, starfish, sealions, and even life forms that can only be viewed in black light. When we boarded the coach to go to the ship we had one hitch---a missing senior citizen. They searched and searched for him, but we finally had to leave. Rebecca remained to continue to search, so that was our last farewell to her. Fortunately, we had given them well-deserved gratuities before leaving Anchorage. We heard later that our wayward fellow traveller had gotten onto a Holland American tour bus by mistake---I guess they didn't do a head count, or one of their own was missing too! We saw him later on the ship and he seemed to have fared his adventure well. By this point, we can't imagine that the cruise portion of our journey can live up to the land tour, so we were sad to leave Trevor and Rebecca behind. It was a bit intimidating to enter the building at the port to check in, but not only did they have a wheelchair for Mary, but an attendant who pushed it and led us through the entire check-in and security process right to our cabin door. It was very efficient, entirely painless, and took less than a half hour in total. The lines we saw when we arrived moved swiftly and I never noticed a lag in flow. Our family view aft stateroom was a pleasant surprise. We entered into our sleeping quarters (with a king-sized bed), complete with art display cabinets with lower dresser drawers, a generous closet, a bathroom with lots of storage, and large dressing table. The big mirror gave the cabin the appearance of being even larger than it was. We had our own TV built in over the mini-bar. Beyond that, through a sliding divider door, was a living room large enough to house the full-sized sofa, loveseat, and tables, as well as dresser, two end tables, and coffee table. The loveseat would later be made into a bed for Mary, and she had her own TV in there. Through the glass patio doors was an enormous balcony with three chaise lounges, a dining table and chairs, with room left for easy passage in and out---another WOW moment. The tuxedo I had pre-arranged for my hubby was waiting, as promised. We oohed and aaahed at our good fortune for a few minutes before heading out to explore the ship and grab some late lunch. Our cabin was just one floor and almost directly below the buffet area. The food selection was varied and could appeal to any diet or preference. There was a pasta bar, grill, pizza station, ice cream parlor, and salad bar, just to mention a few of the offerings. There were glass circular cutouts in the deck alongside our table so you could look down and see the water. The floor to ceiling windows in nearly every public area allowed unobstructed scenic viewing for the entire trip. Even the spa had great views! The ladies' sauna (saunas in locker rooms are free to all passengers, by the way) had a porthole that was 5 foot in diameter so that you wouldn't miss a sight even in there! That night we had open seating for dinner and the dress was casual, since some were still awaiting delivery of luggage. Ours was delivered less than two hours after we arrived. When we returned, our invitation to the Cruise Critic Cruise Connections party was waiting. It was scheduled for the next morning at 10:15a, sadly meaning that I had to miss the culinary demonstration at that time---I had heard it was good (see the review by tapia). It was fun to meet the more than 50 folks I had corresponded with in the past year, and Celebrity furnished coffee and pastries, as well as souvenir pins and an appearance by the Cruise Director, Allan King. I just realized that this review is taking on novel proportions, so I'm going to take a new tack. I will describe each facet of cruising in general, and go into more detail on the port excursions. Cabin: First rate and better than expected. The balconies on the corner aft cabins had an even larger area, but the ones next to us complained that the wind whipping around the corner prevented them from leaving anything out there---even the furniture was blown into a heap a couple of times. Ours was one in from the corner and protected from wind every side. Inside we had lots of storage---we didn't use it all. Our cabin stewardess, Elizabeth kept a low profile and did her job impeccably. She was there when we needed her, but didn't try too hard to be our buddy like some stewards do. Main Dining Room: Our waiter, Armand and assistant, Budde, went above and beyond our expectations. They even helped Mom remove the lobster from the shell and the lamb from the shank! The food was better than average, but not as good as I've had on previous cruises. I was relieved in a way since it did not tempt me to overeat and I only gained 2 pounds! Our greatest disappointment was they did not serve Alaskan King Crab---my husband's favorite dish. Spa: These folks are the hard-sell bunch. They weren't obnoxious about it, but it was there. I signed up to do an ionotherapie treatment that had always intrigued me (they're far more expensive at home, so it was an opportunity to try it for less $$), but afterward I didn't see any benefit to it at all, and it was rather uncomfortable. I wouldn't do it again. We used the hottubs, saunas, and thalossatherapie pool daily. I thought from the description that the Thalossatherapie one was warmer---it's not shockingly cold, but it's pretty cool. It's a beautiful facility. They did not keep up with filling the soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower, but otherwise, I can't complain. Martini and Champagne Bars: Another daily ritual---visiting Virginia, our server in the Martini Bar. She has a knack for remembering names and greeted us by ours whenever she saw us. The ambience and presentation make for a thoroughly enjoyable time. Try the apple-tini! Entertainment: The show I expected to enjoy least turned out to be best---the ventriloquist was terrific and soooo funny. The Cirque de Soleil show advertised was not on the schedule the entire week, so that was disappointing. The broadway-type shows were pretty good. The singer/comedienne, Judy Kolb (I think that was her name), was pretty bad, and the quartet, the Voicemails, need to revamp their repertoire. They had the talent for singing and harmony, but it was misspent on lame corny numbers. They need to stick with singing and stop failing at comedy. Again, this is my opinion---lots of older folks really liked them. The Normandie Restaurant: For an extra $30 per person, you can enjoy a night in this specialty restaurant for a truly exquisite dining experience. We chose to do the recommended wine pairings, so with gratuity, our bill for the three of us was $200, but worth every penny (and we added additional well-earned gratuity to that). It was not to be missed. The goat cheese souffle and steak diane I had were the best meal I have ever eaten. Some of the dishes (like the Caesar salad, Shrimps Flambee, and my steak) are prepared table side. The waiters choreograph the serving of the main course so that the silver domed covers over the dishes are removed simultaneously exposing the stunning presentation. The decor is tasteful, the harpist plays softly and well, and the staff are true artists. If your budget will allow, go to this restaurant. I'm glad we waited until later in the cruise (the night we left Skagway) because the main dining room would have really paled by comparison. AquaSpa Cafe: Everything we ate from this mini-buffet of healthy choices was great. WEATHER: The forecasts for every port were for rain, rain, and rain, but it only rained on us, briefly, at Hubbard Glacier. The night before was stormy with 10 to 15 foot seas, and my husband was glad to have his Bonine and seabands. He was relieved to have a seasick-free holiday, so they worked well! Hubbard Glacier was overcast and sleeting when we arrived, but stopped after a few minutes, allowing us a very close-up viewing of the glacier---we were in polar fleece and rain jackets and pants and even the sleet didn't cause us discomfort. Juneau started out very cloudy and foggy, but burned off by noon. As a matter of fact, after the first couple of cool days, we enjoyed sunny days in the 70s where we whale-watched from our balcony in bathing suits!!! I had to chuckle at myself for having fretted over the forecasts so much----they couldn't have been more wrong! Now, don't get me wrong, we used our rain gear and made good use of the layers many mornings on the land tour as well as at Hubbard Glacier, Juneau and the morning of Icy Strait Point, so pack them! I'm fairly certain we enjoyed a rare weather exception. Ship Public Areas: I had read in some reviews about wear and tear, but while there was some, it was very minor and not worth mentioning, in my opinion. I found the ship to be clean and well-maintained. The design was ideal for scenic travel---everywhere you look in Alaska is a postcard view, so the care taken to keep views unobstructed was appreciated. Staff: Our cabin stewardess, waiter, asst. waiter, the Normandie staff, and Martini Bar server were excellent. I found the staff at the photo gallery desk, shops, spa desk, the guest relations desk, the bank, and buffet, however, to be abrupt, curt, and almost unfriendly. They did their jobs well, they just didn't seem happy about it. Since I have read so many accounts of how friendly the staff is on Summit, I have to guess that it is the end of their Alaska season and they're tired and ready for their new Hawaii itinerary to begin. I had no complaints to offer them, so I'm not sure how they would have handled problems. Mainly we just went for change, information, and purchases---routine interactions. Their service was adequate, but not outstanding in any way. They needed a pep talk. Itinerary: 1st night casual dining, next day Hubbard Glacier with formal dining in the evening, next Juneau with semi-formal dining that evening, then Skagway (we chose this night to go to the Normandie Restaurant), next Icy Strait Point and our second formal dining night, then Ketchikan with semi-formal dining, Inside Passage cruising with a casual dinner, and last Vancouver. Now for shore excursions---we booked them all through Celebrity and were never disappointed. Juneau: My husband and I had a bet about whether or not our Wings' floatplane to Taku Lodge would be cancelled. Due to the two recent crashes and resulting deaths, I thought it was far too cloudy and foggy to hope for our trip, but DH was certain we would go. We three bundled up in our rain gear and fleece, and, sure enough, at the schedule 10:30am departure time, we boarded the plane. I had worried about Mom having difficulty boarding, but there were portable stairs with handrails and plenty of assistance. The pilot looked like Santa Claus, with white hair and beard. He announced we could take any seat but the left one, so DH rushed to the co-pilot position. Because of the low cloud cover, we flew low for a while, but he soon found a hole in it, and we were able to enjoy scenic flying over the five glaciers and wilderness below. The Taku Lodge is a log cabin structure set up on a hill directly across the water from an enormous glacier, so the setting was enough to get us excited. Inside, the roaring fire and the rustic, but tasteful decor was done using pelts and sled equipment to reflect the history of its previous owner, Mary Joyce, who is famous for a 1,000 mile dogsled trek across Alaska. During our DELICIOUS meal of grilled salmon (it was cooked over the outdoor fire while we first explored the area), fresh lemonade cooled with glacial ice, beans, warm breads, and fresh-baked cookies, we heard about the history of the lodge and each of its current and prior inhabitants. After lunch, we left Mom resting in the porch swing enjoying the view, while we went with a naturalist on a walk through the forest to the foot of a huge waterfall. The lodge's golden labrador retrievers entertained us by playing in the water at the base of the falls. On the return flight, no one was hurrying to ride shotgun, so this time I rode up with the pilot and it was awe-inspiring. The weather had cleared very much by now, so we were surprised to hear that all the helicopter tours had been cancelled for that day when we returned. Once again, we found we had been blessed with an opportunity. Speaking to locals later, we heard that Wings is so respected that when they cancel their flights, everybody else follows their lead. We were lucky they had scouted out that hole in the weather that allowed us one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. If you're on the fence about taking a floatplane ride---I'd recommend it with no hesitation, whatsoever.  BE AWARE--THE COACH DOES NOT TAKE YOU BACK TO THE SHIP!!!   Skagway: We booked the White Summit Railroad and Trail Camp excursion. As had been our routine, we started out bundled up for winter in a cloudy, misty morning. This day never really cleared to sunny, but it was clear enough we didn't miss the sights. We were glad we had read the advice to sit on the left of the train car. Alaska continued amazing us with her spectacular scenery and wildlife sightings. By the time we reached the Summit in Canada and we were ready to transfer to the motorcoach for the return down the mountain it was rainy and very cloudy. When we got to the trail camp at Liarsville the rain stopped and it was pleasant, but a bit cold. This stop was difficult for the wheelchair, so I would not recommend it if you have that particular challenge. It was a pretty cheesy show, followed by panning for gold (I could have missed that too), so while I highly recommend the train to the Summit, the stop at Liarsville was not memorable. The wheelchair we used belonged to the coach, so when he dropped us off downtown we had to help Mom walk a long distance to catch a free Grayline shuttle back to the ship. You see, since we assumed the excursion began and ended at the ship, and I had foolishly thought DH had his wallet and money (while he was certain I had mine---both of us wrong), we couldn't hire a taxi---duh. We were lucky it wasn't raining and there were benches along the way for rest stops. You can bet we were prepared at the remaining ports! ICY STRAIT POINT: Okay---can you guess how the weather began? Right! VERY cloudy and foggy when we tendered ashore to catch our fishing boat for halibut fishing. After filling out the forms for buying fishing licenses, we boarded a small cabin cruiser (I was the only female with five men fishing and two male crew) wearing many layers and full rain gear. We all huddled in the cabin to listen to our captain, who introduced himself as Ora. In the year I had been reading this cruise critic site I had read every post by an Icy Strait Point-born man named Ora, so I asked if he was the same and HE WAS!! I felt as if I were meeting an old friend. He is the proprietor of Alaska Raven Charters (www.alaskanravencharters.com) out of Hoonah and they book charters for Celebrity now, as well. If you haven't read Ora's posts on these boards before, you should---just do a search for his name. They were very informative about Alaskan culture, weather, trips, etc. The good news for those of you booking for 2008 is that he is expanding his fleet to include kayaking trips out of Icy Strait, also, and who better to lead them than someone born and raised there? He has been scouting for perfect routes on his off days, so you can choose fishing and/or kayaking with him. Meeting Ora was just the beginning of a super day. Not only did the weather clear, but the sun came out and it got up in the high 70s!!! We were peeling off layers right away. I caught the first halibut, so they all referred to me as "lady luck". Ora and Ken were very helpful and fun and funny---they shared stories that were ideal for giving us a glimpse into their culture and lifestyle. Their sister boat radioed to say they had just caught an 80 pounder, so we did our best to outdo them. We had so much fun that we didn't mind when none of our fish beat theirs. The day before one of their guests had caught a 300 lb. halibut, so we got to hear the tale of landing that one too! This was my husband's favorite tour, and he keeps wishing we could go back again for the kayaking tour with Ora! Goody---maybe we can budget for a return!!! I'm ready!! We had left Mom on the ship that day, but knew she would be enjoying the sun on the balcony, so we took the shuttle into Hoonah to look around. We visited the marina and saw eagles. Then we walked back along the sea (a little over a mile) and saw some little waterfalls and a quaint old cemetery. We made our way to the ceremonial fire to cast in our cedar chips (these are handed to you when you make landfall in ISP for the traditional rite). The shops at the dock are nicer than most we had seen at previous ports, with more true Alaskan merchandise, and we bought a few gifts for our kids there. What a truly wonderful day. If you're reading this, Oro, thanks so much for showing us Alaska through your eyes. We wish you and your fellow villagers continued health and happiness. Ketchikan: When I read that Ketchikan has an annual rainfall in excess of 150 inches, I decided it would be a waste to book an excursion here. I bought us tickets to the Lumberjack Show only. You see, I let those weathermen and doomsayers convince me that I didn't stand a chance for a sunny day. Wrong!! This was the sunniest day of all with temps in the high 70s from early morning! We rolled Mary around the colorful town and shopped and saw the sights. The Lumberjack Show was predictably touristy cornball fun, but who couldn't have fun in that setting with such great weather?? We got into the audience participation cheering spirit for our "team" of competitors and hooted and hollered with the rest of them. At one point, one of the lumberjacks presented Mom with a wood disc he had just cut off in a race. She blushed like a schoolgirl. That afternoon we returned to the ship, donned our bathing suits and sunbathed on our balcony while drinking martinis. Heavenly . . . Inside Passage: This day of cruising was blissful. I finished our packing in the morning so that I could spend the remainder of the day enjoying the sun and scenery. I helped Mom on a walk around the 11th deck for some exercise and we heard people exclaiming and looked over the side just in time to see two Orca surface directly under us. We also saw many humpbacks---one very nearby kept slapping his fin on the water for about 15 minutes as if he were waving to us! We saw dall dolphin, seals, otter, eagles, and spectacular views at every turn. Vancouver: Since our flight was not until 5pm on Alaska Airlines, we booked a city tour through Celebrity to give us something to do. The positive side to this was that we had a small conference room in which to wait to disembark. It was comfortable and away from the crowds. We were given an attendant to wheel Mary all the way to the bus loading area (by the way, we had this service at every port---both getting on and off the ship), so we were free to locate our luggage and stack it on the free carts they supplied. Unfortunately, our bus was delayed more than an hour and the natives got restless, so we were exposed to lots of yelling, whining, and grumbling. It always amazes me that people actually behave as if the tour operators purposefully cause the delays. Don't they realize that it is in the best interests of the employee (less hassle and better tips), as well as the company, to provide a smooth tour experience? Why would they intentionally sabotage their own tour? But we finally boarded and were given a shorter-than-expected, but nice tour. I am not going to go into a lot of detail about the airport experience we had, because I don't want to end this review on a dour note. Suffice it to say that Alaskan Airlines and Horizon Air do a good job providing for disabled guests when they have the Aircraft Carrier Accessibility Act and Americans with Disabilities Act governing them. That's not the case when they are on foreign soil. They denied us use of a wheelchair for most of that day(even though I requested assistance more than a year in advance when we purchased our tickets). Since we had two full luggage carts and you're not allowed to leave luggage unattended by law, we couldn't provide Mom the support she needed to walk to the food court. She's diabetic and had to make do with an apple I had in my bag for hours. They refused to allow us to check our bags, stating it was too early for our flight schedule. Then, when we finally checked in, we got a wheelchair, but no help. It was a circus trying to get two carts and the chair through customs and immigration. Then we were finally allowed to check the bags and had to go up and down two elevators and walk a mile to the gate. That was when we found out they had CANCELLED our flight THE PREVIOUS DAY and hadn't bothered to tell us at the ticket counter!!! They wanted us to reclaim our luggage and overnight in Vancouver to take a flight the next day! Can you imagine having to repeat that fiasco? Suffice it to say I firmly informed them of Mom's health issues and we ended up on a flight that left within fifteen minutes, and amazingly, they lost only one of our bags in the quick change. This is NOT a user-friendly airport for mobility challenged people. If you must pass through here, be sure you have your own wheelchair and very little luggage. This was my first visit to Canada and it left me with such a bad taste that I may never return. Shame on them . . . That day was a complete nightmare, but it couldn't overshadow what was the trip of a lifetime. My goal is to see to it that our kids get to experience Alaska while it is still pristine and unspoiled. I highly recommend Celebrity cruise line for its cruises as well as land tours. This has taken all day, so no proofreading---I'm going to hit the "send" button! Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
The following is a review of my recent experience with the Celebrity Cruise I took on September 7, 2007 from Seward to Vancouver. Please note this is my travel companion's and my experience. I am 39 and this was my 14th cruise. My ... Read More
The following is a review of my recent experience with the Celebrity Cruise I took on September 7, 2007 from Seward to Vancouver. Please note this is my travel companion's and my experience. I am 39 and this was my 14th cruise. My travel companion is 50 and this is his first ever cruise. On Celebrity this is my 3rd cruise. I am not going to review the ports just our ship experience. We arrived in Anchorage a day before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Captain Cook. Small rooms but we were on their Concierge level which was totally worth it. We booked the Alaska Railroad trip on our own to Seward. This was no problem and our luggage was taken aboard and then on to the ship, just like they do if you book the railroad trip through Celebrity. We did a little exploring in Seward and checked in about noon. No problem getting on the ship less then 5 minutes, but the room was not to be ready until 2pm. We were able to drop off our carry-on bags and get lunch at the buffet. The food there was ok not great. That opinion stayed the same the entire cruise. Eat in the main dining room as it is much better, unfortunately, when you're docked in port the dining room is closed for lunch. After lunch we got off the ship and walked to Safeway to get some 6 packs of soda and bottled water. FYI a can of soda including the 15% gratuity is $2.24. Then back on to the ship. We both thought the ship was well maintained and had no problems with our room. Our room steward was nice and did a fantastic job. The biggest let down on our trip was the communication difficulty we had in the dining room. When I was on the Millennium in 2001 most of the dining room staff were from Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia and other Eastern European countries. This trip most of the wait staff were from India and the Philippines. Normally this would not matter, however, on this trip the waiters and bus persons could not understand many common English questions which made getting your questions answered very difficult. Our waiter actually lied when I asked him about the "always available" food option. I asked about the "Marinated Chicken Supreme" and what it is marinated in. He told me that it's boiled chicken but never answered the marinade question. My companion asked him specifically what the marinade was and he replied that it's a misprint and that it's plain chicken. I cannot digest garlic so the question was important to me. The assistant Maitre D was a great guy by the name of Fazli and he explained the garlic marinade and then I advised him that the waiter needs to be better aware of what's in the food and that he lied. All he had to do was say I am not sure let me check, but he really did not seem to care. In the dining room it is always nice when they bring stuff without being asked i.e. I need a glass of ice as I bring my own drinks to dinner. This only happened once the entire cruise not a big deal but I noticed. The food overall in the dining room was good a few dishes where great. The service was not as good as it used to be on my previous Celebrity cruise. There was a definite language problem in the dining room. We also learned that they do not have English language classes for the staff, which would be a very useful thing seeing as the cruise line mostly caters to Americans. Overall, we enjoyed Alaska very much but I felt the service slipped in the dining room and buffet. The food quality appears to have gone down a bit but still better than my last Princess cruise in 2004. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me. Sorry the review is kinda long. Tim Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
INTRODUCTION: This was our first cruise and we were celebrating our third anniversary so we wanted to do something special and memorable. We are experienced travelers and have been to many different parts of the world and stayed in all ... Read More
INTRODUCTION: This was our first cruise and we were celebrating our third anniversary so we wanted to do something special and memorable. We are experienced travelers and have been to many different parts of the world and stayed in all classes of accommodation from camping, to hostels, to five-star hotels. Simply put, the Summit, her crew, and the Alaska Southbound itinerary exceeded our expectations in every regard. We were so pleased with our overall experience and we offer our strongest recommendation if you are considering this line, ship, or the Alaskan experience. As this was our first cruise, we hope this information might be helpful to those considering their first cruising experience as well. SELECTION OF THE CELEBRITY SUMMIT: We did extensive research online through the popular cruise information sites including Cruise Critic and others reading many expert and cruiser reviews. We were looking for a more elegant and refined cruising experience so that eliminated the mainstream lines of Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess and others. But we were on a set budget so that eliminated the luxury lines of Crystal, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, and similar. This left us with the premium category lines including Celebrity, Cunard, and (according to some sites) Holland America. Celebrity and Holland both offer Alaskan itineraries so we researched the ship amenities and reviews and ended up with the Celebrity Summit. As it worked out, the Holland America Amsterdam embarked the same day from Seward and followed us throughout the journey. She appeared to be considerably smaller than Summit but there were fellow passengers we met that had positive reviews of Holland America. CABIN: We booked a 2A Deluxe Ocean View cabin with a balcony on the Panorama Deck. We were in cabin 8142 which is located on the Starboard side of the ship near the aft elevator lobby. The cabin was clean, well-appointed, efficient, and very comfortable. There was room for all of our over-packing and then some. We enjoyed our balcony immensely and will never sail without one. To sleep with the balcony door open, breathe the sea air, and hear the waves was an outstanding experience. The mattress, pillows, and bed linens were all very nice and we slept as well if not better than we do at home. ITINERARY: We booked the pre-cruise Alaska Railroad transfer to Seward through Celebrity and recommend this option. We arrived and the Anchorage Marriott and were fully checked in and issued temporary SeaPasses within 20 minutes. The scenic ride on the Alaska Railroad glass-domed train was an outstanding way to begin our journey. We saw Beluga Whales, Moose, spawning Salmon, glaciers, eagles, and even a bear in the distance. The train ride was leisurely with a hosted tour guide and the train would slow and stop for the wildlife sightings and other photo opportunities. Prior to arrival in Seward, a Celebrity representative boarded the train and delivered our SeaPasses so upon arrival at the terminal, we skipped the lengthy check-in lines, went straight to security, and were on the ship within minutes. There were a few back-to-back passengers on our cruise who originated in Vancouver the week prior and they all said the Southbound itinerary was more desirable for reasons including an arrival at Hubbard at 1:00 PM vs. 7:00AM, among others. At Hubbard Glacier the weather cooperated beyond our dreams and the glacier gave a "performance of the summer" according to the naturalist on board. I was told that a special glacier pilot boarded the ship prior to entering the bay. According to members of the crew it was the closest the ship had been to the glacier all summer. We couldn't have been more than 1000 feet away and Hubbard did not disappoint. The Captain opened the helicopter pad on the bow for optimal viewing and we were glad we got there early for a spot on the rail. At Juneau we booked the Pilot's Choice Glacier Helicopter Flightseeing tour directly through Temsco. This was an expensive but once in a lifetime experience and was the highlight of our trip. The Pilot's Choice allows the pilot to fly anywhere depending on weather and the best conditions of the day. Again - if you are thinking about this excursion, just do it because you will not be disappointed. TIP: take an empty water bottle so you can fill it up with fresh, pure glacier water. We wished we had a bottle with us. At Skagway we stayed on the ship and enjoyed the spa which was a fantastic day. The indoor solarium pool and sauna were simply outstanding and we ended the day feeling like our bodies were made of jelly. On Monday night (early Tuesday morning, actually) the moon was full and there was a total lunar eclipse. When the eclipse had the moon in darkness the northernlights put on a show that was spectacular. The naturalist on board (Milos) stayed with us outside on Deck 10 aft until the wee hours of the morning providing great commentary and insight. What a night. Icy Straight Point was a beautiful, quiet port of call as only one ship can be tendered at a time. This was the quaintest and most charming of all the ports as there was not a jewelry store in sight. We enjoyed the grilled fresh salmon at the cafe on shore as well as the nature walk. It was quiet and calm and the tribal members running the stores were very friendly. At Ketchikan we booked the snorkeling trip through Celebrity and had a great time. The water was 62 degrees so with the full-body wet suit it was very comfortable. The guides were great fun and very informative. They helped all the first-timers and made sure we all had a great time. The sea life was fascinating and we saw very large and colorful sea stars, urchins, wolf eels, and sea cucumbers. On our day at sea we used the Persian Gardens section of the spa for a day fee and would have done this at least one more time had we discovered it earlier in the voyage. The design is beautiful and the steam rooms, saunas, and heated benches were topped only by the aromatherapy showers. DINING: The Cosmopolitan (main dining) was a beautiful restaurant and the food selection robust, well-prepared, presented, and served. We shared a table with more experienced cruisers and they felt the same way. Treat yourself to at least one dinner in the Normandie specialty restaurant as it is worth every penny of the $30 surcharge. We had one dinner with our main dining tablemates in the "wine cellar" and chose the "Menu Exceptional" with five paired wine flights for an additional charge. We had a great dinner and all agreed it was one of the best experiences we have had in a restaurant. We went back a second night for a romantic dinner for two and sat near the harpist at a window and had the best culinary experience of our life. All the staff are fantastic, particularly when they see you for a second time on the same cruise. We also enjoyed the daily afternoon snacks at the Cova Cafe on Deck 5 (this became one of our favorite spots on the ship for the ambience and music) and the Sushi Bar in the buffet on Deck 10 which we always ate in the open air of the bar at the back of Deck 10. PUBLIC AREAS: Having worked for an architectural design firm, I was amazed by the thoughtful planning and extraordinary attention to detail throughout the ship. We found beautiful colors, textures, woods, fabrics, and light everywhere we turned. This is truly a special ship where comfortable elegance waits around every corner. CREW: We were so impressed with the unobtrusive professionalism and friendliness of all the crew. There were at least 15 to 20 members of the crew who were calling us by first name by the end of the cruise. They anticipated our needs and always had a friendly smile. The level of efficiency we observed left us with a deep sense of respect for all crew members from front line employees to the Cruise Director, Alan King. DEBARKATION: We booked the post-cruise airport transfer through Celebrity and were impressed with how effectively the process was handled. From the time when we first arrived in our holding lounge (Martini Bar Deck 4) it was a little less than three hours before we were enjoying a snack and cocktail next to our gate at the Vancouver airport. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION: Celebrity Summit and Alaska treated us to the anniversary vacation of a lifetime. The ship and service exceeded all our expectations and the natural beauty of the itinerary was awe-inspiring. We highly recommend Summit and the Celebrity cruise line. We were honored to have our first cruise be on board such an extraordinary and well-run vessel and Celebrity will most certainly have our return business in the future. If you are looking for a relaxed, comfortable, elegant experience with high attention to detail - the Celebrity Summit is for you. We hope you find this review helpful and we wish you pleasant sailings. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We took the southbound cruise on August 10 . We chose to hire a car and drive from Anchorage to Seward at our own pace - enjoying the scenery whilst our 2 year old slept. We embarked at 1pm which was quick and easy. Whilst we had a suite ... Read More
We took the southbound cruise on August 10 . We chose to hire a car and drive from Anchorage to Seward at our own pace - enjoying the scenery whilst our 2 year old slept. We embarked at 1pm which was quick and easy. Whilst we had a suite and preferred boarding at that time there were no waits for either line. In the cabin we hit exactly the same problem as Anon 60. We had selected a CS for the extra internal space and 4 floor to ceiling glass panes - perfect arrangement for a toddler. There are 2 Celebrity Suites side by side. We were in the aft of the 2 so forwards view is limited as you would expect. However, the 4 window and thus most of the rearward view was taken up by a window washer moored to a box ladder frame. Having paid full price and at the time of booking not being advised of the restricted view we justifiably felt ripped off by Celebrity. At a theater a restricted view is advertised as such and carries a discount. However we don't buy RV if CS6106 was at a discount we still would have chosen another. To add insult to injury the windows were not clean and were not cleaned during our 7 days and by the rust on the rails it appeared the cleaner was used infrequently! Celebrity offered a 10% discount on another cruise taken within a year. Having to travel again from Australia, this is worthless to us. As at the date of posting this offer has not been mailed to us, so it may have just been an expedient response shipboard. As to the cruise, many of the tours and attractions of Alaska are 'age barred' to a toddler. However, this was no problem as we just spent more time on ship - with always something to entertain. We found the staff friendly. With many having children at home our toddler was fussed over continuously. She loved the staff at the Cova and the Patisserie. We didn't submit fellow diners in the Cosmopolitan to our toddler at evening time choosing to either use the buffet or eat in the suite. David our butler ensured we got the full Cosmopolitan menu which was good. Only problem was that similar to any hotel, all courses arrive together. We enjoyed sampling all the food outlets. Our daughter loved her daily bowl of ice cream with sprinkles! We especially enjoyed the healthy eating near the spa. We also took a baby sitter one night to enjoy the Normandy experience. The crew continuously commented on how good the weather was and I'm sure that this lifted the demeanor of all on board. We had fantastic viewing most of the time and weather so good the pool was utilized well. What we saw of the entertainment was good. Again, with a toddler 9pm was the latest we would stay up to. Simple pleasure: Buy a crab and an icy alaskan beer at the crab shack at Icy Straights. The freshness combined with the view creates an ambience that will enhance this crab to one of lifes best! Bizarre: Being in the nightclub area (great viewing area at the front of the ship) at 1.30pm sailing toward natures grandeur of the Hubbard Glacier with a cha cha class in the background! Nice Touch: as a suite guest we were invited to a captains club function Embarkation - again fast and easy. Only problem was that I had booked the Fairmont Waterfront expecting to be able to walk across from the Vancouver cruise terminal. The ship docked outside town at an overflow center. If I had of known we would have to take a cab anyway I could have booked cheaper 5* options than $500pn All in all, we had a good time, marred only by the cabin view obstruction. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We - a family of two adults and a 8yrs old child - took #7 Alaska tour followed by a Southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver on the Summit. It was my second trip to Alaska, and my DH and DS's first. First of all, let me thank all ... Read More
We - a family of two adults and a 8yrs old child - took #7 Alaska tour followed by a Southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver on the Summit. It was my second trip to Alaska, and my DH and DS's first. First of all, let me thank all the posters in this great site because their information was priceless and as you'll see, we made great use of it during our cruise. LANDTOUR - Many claim doing the land tour before the cruise is the way to go in Alaska. I agree, since the rhythm on the land portion is quite gruelling, and you enjoy the relaxation on the ship even more. We arrived to Anchorage in the evening, to be transferred to the Marriott downtown. There were many flights arriving so the transfer took quite a while. The hotel is a nice one but there as well mayhem seemed to be reigning (we were checked in three times, since the first two rooms had not been made). The day after, we travelled to Denali on the Wilderness express - it was a very beautiful and smooth ride, and the fact that the weather was so clear we could see Denali from Anchorage certainly helped. After a short visit of Talkeetna (walk to the creek for a wonderful view of the mountain range from there) we went to Denali. The Grande Denali Lodge was a huge letdown (room reeked of smoke, and had a magnificent view of the dumpster and the parking lot). Enjoyed the visit to the dog mushing training facility and learned a lot. The day after we visited Denali Park - the tour (included in the landtour) was the short one, so we didn't go enough inside the park and didn't get to see any bears. We got up very early and felt it really wasn't worth it. Travelled to Talkeetna and stayed at the beautiful Lodge there. Since the weather was glorious, we took the McKinley flight with glacier landing with Talkeetna Taxi. Enjoyed the flight very much. The day after we travelled to Girdwood, with a stop in Anchorage. The Alyeska lodge is really luxurious and we enjoyed our stay there - and the tram ride included in the tour - very much. We took the Glacier jet boat safari, which was truly spectacular and very recommended. The day after we took a bus to Seward, where we boarded the ship. There were many busses leaving together and the company timed the arrival in Seward so there wouldn't be any queuing - we stopped at the Wilderness Sanctuary on the way and enjoyed the detour very much. All in all, we felt the landtour was well organized and very pleasant. A special thanks to our tour director, Styeve and to all tour companions who were very nice, friendly, pleasant and considerate. CHECK -IN went like a breeze. In ten, fifteen minutes we were inside the ship, with our cards, all set. We had checked in online, which of course helped, but still there were no lines at all and the whole process was very efficient. Our luggage was waiting outside our stateroom when we arrived. STATEROOM - Here came the big (and I mean big) letdown of our vacation. Notwithstanding having booked the stateroom almost a year before the cruise, when the choice of cabin was very wide, and after a long research, we ended up with the window washer on the front half of our stateroom (#8063), in a way which obstructed more than partially our view and seriously marred our enjoyment of the stateroom. It appears the washer has been parked in front of that specific cabin (and the one next to it, #8061) for quite a while, but Celebrity does not think it should share the information with its customers or anybody else, or charge less than the full price for that cabin. Unluckily, Celebrity's attitude towards this is not what one should expect from a company which prides on the quality of its service and up to this very moment, no suitable solution is being offered, since Celebrity refuses to take the blame (their executive office even told me it's the ship's blame....). I feel I have been taken for a ride, and that is greatly influencing my overall outlook on the cruise. The stateroom itself was comfortable, the bedding new (I saw crew changing the bedding on deck 3 when we left the ship in Vancouver), the furniture not new but not scruffy either. I strongly recommend upgrading to Concierge Class, due to its many perks - I enjoyed the fluffier towels and bathrobe, my husband enjoyed the stronger showerhead, we all liked and needed the extra space, and priority tendering was definitely worthwhile in Icy Strait Point. We didn't use the room service a lot (since in the morning there was no room to eat in the stateroom due to the sofabed being open and the acrobatics to reach the balcony were not worthwhile due to the obstructed view) but liked the fresh fruit and the tidbits in the afternoon. SHIP - the ship is very comfortable, and full of many different areas which cater to varied tastes. It's not new, but very well maintained. We liked the artwork - especially the great photographs in the corridor, the serendipitous sculptures all over and the glasswork in the main stairway. The service is outstanding, and the crew (whose ratio is almost 1:2 - 950 crew to slightly over 2000 passenger at full capacity) does its very best to be friendly, courteous and helpful. They go to great pains to remember the passengers' names and special requests, even in the common lounges. I enjoyed my morning coffee at cafe Cova, with the day's crossword - which you can pick up at the library on deck 8 - the thalassotherapy pool, an oasis of calm, the Aquaspa cafe and the Gymnasium. Didn't go to any of the shows or movies due to our schedule and the fact that we thought our son should go to bed around ten, even if we could have left him in the Fun Factory for longer. Appreciated the cloth napkins and placemats in the buffet and the offer of help and coffee replenishments from the buffet waiters. Our son liked, all in all, the Fun Factory, the kiddies special area on deck 11. He would have liked to be able to play outside more, and missed the fact that on his first cruise (on Jewel of the Seas) the sports area was attached to the kid's area, whereas on the Summit it is on deck 12 above, and the kiddies' outside playing area is mostly occupied by the pool and a slide for younger children. We would have liked more enrichment programs for him - for example, during our cruising of Hubbard glacier, the children were drawing inside and didn't even notice the glacier if their parents didn't think of picking them up and taking them outside. We enrolled our kid in the VIP programme, whose perks were basically a discounted rate for the extra hours - since the private captain's deck tour and the private theatre tour were a repetition of tours given to all the kids - and a wide screen movie with popcorn. Even if there were over 200 children on board, less than 30 registered for the Fun Factory. The FF staff is caring and professional and we felt comfortable leaving our son with them. The food is really very good and varied and the hygienical standards very high. We spoke to many people during the cruise and everybody seemed to be very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food as well. The fact there are no public announcements on the loudspeakers, as a rule, contributed to the relaxed atmosphere in the ship. Even if I am strongly allergic to smoke, I didn't suffer from it on the ship and the smoking passengers seemed to be very considerate of non smokers. We had no pod issues whatsoever, got to each and every port before the stated time and marvelled at the ship's engines silence. SHORE EXCURSIONS - Due to the fact that for us it was a very long trip and a very special vacation, I chose many excursions, also basing myself on the fact that due to the fickle Alaskan weather we might end up missing a few. In fact, the weather was clear and sunny all the way through the cruise and we ended up doing a few things twice, but since they were very unique, we didn't feel we wasted our money. On the first day, the ship got extremely close to Hubbard Glacier and got a very good running commentary from the ship naturalist. The calving was impressive. On our first stop, Juneau, DH and myself took a very good and scenic helicopter flight with Taku Glacier landing (Era - arranged through Celebrity), and the three of us went on a whale watching trip which I arranged directly with Harv and Marv. It was very nice to be able to go on a smaller ship (6 people max) and we got very close to a pod of nine whales. Jay (Marv) is friendly, warm and really cares that you have a good trip and really loves to share with you his life and experiences. On the way back, we picked up some customers of H&M from Mendenhall glacier, so we got to see it too (and still recommend you do the glacier helicopter flight). I am happy in joining the many of you who recommend Harv & Marv. In Skagway DH and myself went to a White pass bus tour (I am pleased to say I went but it really wasn't very impressed by it) and then I went back to the ship, whilst DH and DS went on a Northern Inside Passage Glacier flight which they both enjoyed a lot (their pictures definitely explain why). In Icy Strait Point all three of us went with Floyd Peterson (F.I.S.H.E.S) on a whale watching tour, which was one of the highlights of our vacation. Floyd is a former fisherman, very quite but he knows his whales; that, the small size of his ship and the relatively calm waters made sure we saw a pod of six whales which came very close to us (we could even smell them and got sprayed by them), together with a jocular sealion. It was very touching and exciting. In Ketchikan, we flew to Neets Bay (spectacular views), and took a short walk to a nearby salmon hatchery, to have a close look at black bears. There were four of them and we spent quite a while looking at them feeding, and could have stayed much longer. It was interesting to hear about the hatchery and the efforts to plump up the salmon population as well. The last day of the cruise we sailed through Inside Passage. The weather was getting worse, which was ideal for the last day of cruising anyways and made for some great misty pictures. DISEMBARKATION - Again, smooth and well organized. We got a letter stating the time we had to get to our (CC) meeting point, got there ten minutes before and in little over fifteen were shepherded out. Canadian customs was quick and friendly and locating the suitcases was not chaotic. We were at the taxi curb in little more than 35 minutes from the time we went to the meeting point in the ship. All in all, we enjoyed our cruise. But we strongly agree with all those who feel that Celebrity is an excellent choice for sunny days. As soon as something gets wrong and you have an issue (either a general one, like a malfunctioning in the ship, or a specific one like a fault in your cabin which was not revealed precruise, which happened to us), then you're on your own, and the level of customer care drops dramatically. And this makes me very wary of recommending the company to others, or considering taking other cruises with them in the future. Which is a great shame, especially for the exceptional crewmembers who really go to great length to give you the experience of your lifetime and take great pride in what they do - and rightly so. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We were a group of eight that took the 5-day land tour option #6 followed by a southbound Summit Cruise August 6-17th. It was our second cruise - the first with celebrity for my husband and I. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip ... Read More
We were a group of eight that took the 5-day land tour option #6 followed by a southbound Summit Cruise August 6-17th. It was our second cruise - the first with celebrity for my husband and I. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would use the cruise line again. Our group ranged in age from 22 to 78. We all enjoyed the trip. The 2 2& 25 year olds expected a younger crowd - despite warnings to the contrary but faired well. If they had been on their own they probably would have felt out of place. ARRIVAL: Went smoothly considering we filled two buses. It was a short ride to the hotel. Note that when you verify your luggage check be sure and for damage - the airline smashed one case in our group but it was not discovered until we reached the hotel - too late to make a claim. FAIRBANKS: Hotel (Sophie's Station) room was nice - large and clean. There is a free shuttle to many locations. It is about a half-mile walk to a Fry's. We ate dinner at the deli there and stocked up on snacks, beverage for the land portion and out wine allotment for the cruise. Hint - one clever couple brought boxed wine. It packs well and holds more! Riverboat tour was a bit quaint but enjoyable with lovely weather. Though very contrived I enjoyed the panning for gold much more than I anticipated. DENALI: Train ride was nice .I took too many photos. Tour thru Denali was long (8 hours) and the ride uncomfortable. I had no issue with the boxed lunch and realize the bus had to be a basic school bus style to navigate the winding road. Be on the driver's side if you do not like being on the edge if a cliff on a winding road. Just enough clouds to obscure a view of "The Mountain." We sighted quite a bit of wild life - most of it a ways away. It sort of turned into a spot the caribou contest. As there is really no other way to see so much of the park quickly, the ride was unfortunately our best bet. TALKENNETA: Loved the bus ride with the view of "The Mountain" clearing on the ride to the hotel way too many photos. Hotel was lovely- the view spectacular. No sleep peeking at the view all night. More photos in morning - sky and views were so clear. Frustrating wait to have luggage properly delivered. ANCHORAGE/SEWARD: Ride to Anchorage was about 3 hours. Stop there brief for lunch about 90 min. Then it was on to Seward to directly board the ship. EMBARKATION: arrived about 2 pm to a large crowed and little help or clear direction. Asking a lot of questions and with some temporary confusion we located the correct line to check in given we had a suite reserved. Once in the correct location it went quickly- probably 30 minutes total to get on the ship. ROOM LOCATION: Probably should have picked a room on the 9th floor- deep overhang above 9th floor obscures view of sky (It would have sheltered us had the weather been poor.) But be careful some rooms on 8th floor have a contraption that seems to service the lifeboats blocking the view. I also picked the portside to view land on the southbound trip. In retrospect it really did not mater much as we approached Hubbard Glacier head on and we were to far out at other times for much of a view. The inside passage was close in on both sides. I abhor smoke and the Portside allows smoking on the balcony so I was often forced back in the room ROOM: Sky suite 9111. Well laid out plenty of room for storage. Woodwork is gleaming and fixtures look nice. Carpet and upholstered furniture needs to be replaced. Step up into bathtub would be difficult for some and results in a low clearance so that anyone over 6 ft tall would have difficulty showering. Others had CC room, Ocean view room and inside room. Basically the same story with less space of course but still well laid out. Other rooms had showers. SHIP: In very good shape for its age. Nicely decorated, ongoing up keep noted. We thought we felt a lot of movement given how smooth the waters were. It was a relief that we had no apparent propulsion issues given other posts I had read. SERVICE: Excellent. We do not ask much of a butler so I cannot attest to extras - but he was attentive and fulfilled the expected tasks. His accent and that of our assistant water made communication a bit difficult. Room attendant was exceptional - room promptly made and cleaned. Towels changed twice a day. Virtually invisible - efficient. Dinning service was enthusiastic and attentive. We received a special request encore of the crème brulee for our whole table after we swooned over tasting the ones ordered on day two. FOOD: Good variety. Our first time cruisers were awestruck. The buffet is a bit confusing and takes some effort to get the hang so you can take full advantage of it. Not too surprising given the size of the buffet. In the main dinning room for dinner fish and beef tended to be a bit over cooked. I am not good at confrontation here and in retrospect wish I had been more assertive. One individual in our group spoke up and received a second seafood meal properly cooked. The next day his beef was almost mooing. When you consider the task of food preparation for so many it is not shocking that they would tend to err on the side of overdone. Some were bothered seeing dinner entrées morphed into a dish for the lunch buffet. I have no problem with that - I abhor waste and you might get a second chance at what you missed the day before. ENTERTAINMENT: Celebrity singers and dancers - good enough. Happily they sang on key - a sticking point with me. Amusing but not a show I would have returned to if not for the aerial act, which was awesome. Trivia was fun. We all enjoyed the comedian Louis Johnson. Many activities we skipped due to lack of interest, time or energy. EXTRA EXCURSIONS: Land based Arctic Circle flight- unique. Not what I expected. It was not touristy and was educational. My husband really enjoyed it - and the nap on the flight back. It made for a very long day returning at 1 AM Alaska Time which was 5 AM at home and the second day of our tour. Glacier landing at Talkeetna was regrettably canceled due to a mushy Glacier We rescheduled with a helicopter landing in Juneau on Mendenhall. This was short but a unique experience we will always remember. Pilot was much less adventurous than the pilot we had in St Lucia reassuring for a very nervous rookie rider in our family. Yukon Exploration and White Pass Scenic Railway- Long day. Alaska is so big it just requires a lot of driving. Excellent weather gave us good views and a good taste of the country. Poor weather would have made for a disappointing trip. The stop for lunch was Ok but we were bothered by the condition of the dogs at the sled ride tourist trap located there. It was just sad. Forest and Nature Tram- Icy Strait has limited options- this would have been a bust but for the Bear and her cub that wandered out on the beach we were exploring. The staff understandably ushered us back on the tram and we returned a few minutes early. Alaska Undersea Tour- I did not expect much so I was not disappointed. Viewing was very limited. It seems a rare sunny day in Ketchikan makes for cloudy underwater viewing. Topside tour was better. DISEMBARKATION: I think we had a service because we were grouped with our family members who had an inside room. The CC class couple went to a different nicer location to wait. I need to ask them how it went. Celebrity damaged a bag - but it was not worth the time and hassle to report it. It popped on the seam so I may be able to repair it. Problems - over cooked food, sky suite shower height, slow disembarkation. Surprise plusses- weather (I know Celebrity had nothing to do with that). I like crème brulee. We had a lovely Dinning room table (#400) next to the Captain's table - near the large windows. Suite was fun but It will be a while before we splurge again like that. We wanted a larger balcony for the group. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
REVIEW: JUST BACK FROM THE SUMMIT: July 27, 2007-August 3, 2007 We had a wonderful cruise on the Summit to Alaska. We want to thank everyone on these boards for helping us with our cruise to Alaska. PRECRUISE: We flew to Anchorage, ... Read More
REVIEW: JUST BACK FROM THE SUMMIT: July 27, 2007-August 3, 2007 We had a wonderful cruise on the Summit to Alaska. We want to thank everyone on these boards for helping us with our cruise to Alaska. PRECRUISE: We flew to Anchorage, rented a car from Hertz, and stayed at the Kingsview Bed and Breakfast, (up in the hills) about 15 minutes from the airport. Since this was our first stay at a B & B, we were a little apprehensive but it turned out to be a great experience. The B & B was immaculate and our room was quite large and comfortable with a private bath and extra sink area. We were served a nice breakfast in the morning and drove our rental car to Seward. The drive was absolutely beautiful with snowcapped mountains surrounding us on both sides of the road. A word of warning about Hertz car rental: they rented us a car that had less than ¼ tank of gas, unfortunately we didn't notice it until we were on the road. Luckily, we made it to the B & B and were able to get gas the next morning. We drove to Seward and picked up wine at Safeway that had quite a large selection of wine for a grocery store. We ate a wonderful lunch of fish and chips at Ray's restaurant at the marina. After lunch we went on the Kenai Fjords (6 hour) Cruise. We read about this excursion on these boards and it was very enjoyable except for the fact that the boat was really rocking. We had to go to the lower level because the movement began to bother us and there were quite a few sick people on the lower level. After about 4 hours, we had seen enough scenery and were ready to get off the boat. The small glacier we visited was the highlight of this excursion. That night we stayed at the Bell In The Woods B & B in Seward. Our room was small with a private bath, but it served its purpose for a 1 night pre-cruise stay. The breakfast in the morning was wonderful and we met some nice people who were also sailing on the Summit. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the pier in Seward at 10 AM because we were very anxious to get on the ship. We were first in line to drop off our bags and by 11 AM we were walking on the beautiful Summit and greeted by Celebrity staff with our glass of welcome aboard champagne. Life doesn't get any better than this! A Celebrity staff member took our carry-on bag and led us up to the buffet area because the cabins would not be ready until 1:30 PM. We ate lunch in the outside area on the back of the ship surrounded by Seward's beautiful scenery. After lunch, we went to our cabin to drop off our bag and tour the ship. PROBLEMS: Our cabin was quite warm and we asked our room steward to check on the air conditioning. Unfortunately, this was the one major problem that we experienced throughout the week on the Summit. We had an oceanview room, but our air conditioning never quite worked the way it should have. We placed numerous calls to Guest Relations about this problem, but the technician never could get it working for any period of time. Throughout the ship we experienced the same problem with the air conditioning. It was so stuffy in the dining room that many people were complaining, especially the men who were required to wear jackets on informal night. SHIP: The Summit is a beautiful ship with a friendly crew who always greeted their passengers. The only place we noticed any signs of wear and tear were in the buffet area where many of the upholstered seats needed to be cleaned. Evidently, some of the seats were redone because some areas were much cleaner than others. Other than that, the rest of the ship was well maintained. The Revelations Nightclub on the top deck still hasn't been redone. We enjoyed the artwork throughout the ship. The atrium area is very striking with the gold metallic fabric on each side of the elegant stairway. Our cabin was very clean and well maintained. We also were lucky that we had new bedding in our cabin. It was very comfortable and when we left the ship in Vancouver we noticed more mattresses were being loaded on. SERVICE: The service was excellent throughout the ship. Our dining room staff was very good and so was our room steward. Passengers seemed happy to be there and we never saw anyone complain. Even though we had a problem with the air conditioning, everyone tried to solve the problem. CRUISE CRITIC GET TOGETHER: We had our Cruise Critic Get Together in the beautiful Michael's Club on the second day of the cruise. Celebrity provided refreshments and everyone was able to meet each other after chatting for so many months. The Cruise Director, Hotel Director, and the Event Director were at the get together and greeted all of us. It was great to finally put names to faces! FOOD: The food was good throughout the week in the dining room, the buffet, and the sushi bar. Our only complaint is that Celebrity doesn't keep the dining room open on port days for lunch, so everyone has to eat at the buffet. We prefer to eat our meals in the dining room and wish Celebrity would keep it open like Princess does. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was enjoyable every night. We like to go to the shows and the performers put on three great production shows during the week. There was one comedian who was also very good and a ventriloquist too. The lounges all had singers every night. EXCURSIONS: In Juneau we took the Mount Roberts Tram up into the mountains and purchased an audio recorder to hear the description of each marked site on the mountain. We hiked and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. In Icy Straight Point we went on the Remote Bush Exploration to look for bears. This was a lot of fun because we had a great guide who led us through the woods with an armed guide there to protect us if needed. We did see about 6 bears and it was very exciting. We read about this excursion on Cruise Critic and highly recommend it. In Ketchikan we went canoeing in a twenty passenger canoe on a remote lake. We were served clam chowder and salmon at the dock and went on a walk through the woods. This was also a great excursion. After that we went to Creek Street, saw Dolly's house and shopped. In Skagway we rented a car from Avis to drive to Emerald Lake. We walked a few blocks to the Avis location, picked up our car, and began our drive. When we got to the summit, the fog became so thick that we couldn't even see our sideview mirrors so we turned around and headed back to Skagway. The scenery that it was great until the fog came in. Now we know why people take the railroad instead. Hubbard Glacier: The Summit got very close to Hubbard Glacier and it was gorgeous. We stood on the helipad for a 360 degree view. The weather was perfect for the glacier with very little wind. We wore our jackets and hats and were very comfortable. DISEMBARKATION: Since we were driving to Seattle with another Hertz rental car, we didn't need to be in the first group off the ship. Everything went very smoothly and we went through customs in a few minutes and into the terminal at Ballantine Pier. This is where the chaos began. There were long lines for taxis and we had to wait almost 3 hours to get one. We even called Hertz to see if they could pick us up, but they wouldn't. Be aware that National, Budget, and Avis all had reps. with signs to load their clients on shuttles and drive them to their cars. By the time we got to the Hertz location it was after 12 PM and we waited in line again there to get our car. We didn't arrive in Seattle until late in the day because of the problems with the transportation to pick up the rental car. Unfortunately, we chose to fly home from Seattle because we wanted to spend the afternoon sightseeing, but it was too late to do much there. OVERALL: This was a great cruise with good food and wonderful service on a beautiful ship. The scenery in Alaska is gorgeous and the weather was perfect (mostly in the 60's with no rain for us). We would cruise Celebrity again, but will probably stay away from the "M" class ships until the pod problems are resolved once and for all. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
I sailed to Alaska with 16 of my closest friends on Friday, July 20, 2007 from Vancouver. The Celebrity representative met us in the airport and directed us to a shuttle which took us effortlessly to the port. The embarkation process was ... Read More
I sailed to Alaska with 16 of my closest friends on Friday, July 20, 2007 from Vancouver. The Celebrity representative met us in the airport and directed us to a shuttle which took us effortlessly to the port. The embarkation process was extremely organized and we were on the ship having lunch before we knew it. Our rooms were ready right after we finished lunch. My room was an inside cabin and since I am a single traveler, I had more than enough space to move around and store things. My friends are mostly couples and they agreed that the rooms were spacious as well. The ship is lovely, very classy. I've sailed before on another line and would never go back to it. We were having a "wine tasting" in the dining room while sailing on the inside passage. Breathtaking views. There were some activities that some of us participated in - such as Merangue lessons, line dancing, trivia quizzes etc. but there was enough for all of us to keep busy if we wanted or to sit and relax in the very comfortable lounges that provided warm wooly blankets instead of towels. Our first stop was Ketchikan. We had our excursions booked before we left for our cruise so even that went very smoothly. We did the "duck tour" which is on land and water. We had a lot of laughs as the tour director was a real hoot. It was amazing how close the ship gets to the town. It was very picturesque. We made a meeting time for us to get together before our late seating dinner for a cocktail at one of the many beautiful and comfortable lounges. Our waiter and assistant waiter were so much fun and very accommodating. Our assistant waiter, Tongdu, memorized everyone's name before the 2nd night's dinner! Very impressive. If we ran into him during the day, he would always say "Hello Miss Karen"... The show was terrific...so much talent. The young lady that sang songs from the Broadway show "Wicked" could easily play the lead in NYC. Our second stop was Juneau where we booked a tour to Mendenhall Glacier followed by a whale watching tour. AWESOME. The Glacier was beautiful. We saw many many whales. It was another wonderful day. Juneau is also a very cute town. There was a comedian at the show this evening...hysterical. We were crying with laughter. Third port was Skagway. We took the White Pass Railroad tour. This train ride was beyond words. What a view and what a comfortable and interesting trip. We were very lucky that the clouds had cleared up so we had a clear view of the tops of the mountains. We had dinner in Normandie - I totally recommend this experience as it is more than dining...it truly is an experience. Service, food, ambiance outstanding. Well worth the $30 service charge (plus tip and wines). I would do this more than once next cruise. There was a ventriloquist this evening and we all took a nap. Last port was Icy Strait Point. We did not book an excursion but went by tender to the dock where there were a few shops. We took a walk through the woods which was very beautiful. There wasn't too much there but we enjoyed the port none the less. Evening show was awesome, again. Last day we sailed to Hubbard Glacier. A SIGHT NOT TO BE MISSED. At 6am we were on deck, wrapped in those nice wooly blankets with a hot chocolate in hand viewing sights that were unbelievable. It was a day to remember. I know this is a rather long review, but I was so very impressed with everything that Celebrity had to offer, that I cannot wait to book another cruise. Breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, cocktails, shows, dancing, teas, casino, games....all 200% wonderful. It was my best vacation ever ! Thanks for listening and if you chose this cruise, you will never be sorry ! Bon voyage, Kaycy Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Just returned from our Southbound Alaska Cruise from Seward to Vancouver. Wow what a week. We had been on the Constellation in March for a 10 day cruise and knew that the Summit was the sister ship and that it would be great. Our venture ... Read More
Just returned from our Southbound Alaska Cruise from Seward to Vancouver. Wow what a week. We had been on the Constellation in March for a 10 day cruise and knew that the Summit was the sister ship and that it would be great. Our venture started by Staying in Anchorage and booking the Alaskan Railway to Seward. We did this on our own instead of thru Celebrity. Under two hundred dollars for two adults and two children. Also took the KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK TOUR in Seward prior to the cruise, it was fantastic! Our room on the ship was great and served its purpose. We traveled with our two boy's ages 11 and 12. They slept in overhead bunks and we slept in the two twin beds placed together. We had plenty of room. Our cabin steward told us we could store luggage under the beds, this was something we did not know so that opened up room in the closet (we has 5 large pieces). Our steward had a hard time understanding English, so we felt there was a slight communication gap, but everyday and every night the room was perfect. We highly recommend that you not pack so many cold weather clothes as we only worn a sweater one time and that was for walking the deck in the evening. We way over packed jeans and sweaters. We wore shorts and fleece with a rain jacket on the day's the weather could not make up its mind. But we had only one day of rain, (drizzle rain) and that was in Skagway. We chose the late seating for dinner and our wait staff was beyond fantastic. We felt they went above and beyond. They even wanted to ensure we brought the boys to eat when we took advantage of the Normandy Restaurant. They insured us that they would be taken care of and that we could relax and enjoy our dinner alone at Normandy. The food was great and Iggy our waiter made recommendation of what was good, and he sure was right. Our 11 year old, even ate frog legs, fish of every kind, and great salads. All based on Iggy's recommendations. The $30.00 charge per person at the Normandy is WELL WORTH EVERY PENNY. Dinner was fantastic. I felt that the waiter did not want me to order the soup and the Goat Cheese soufflE; in fact I thought he was rude, but I ordered it anyway. I highly recommend the Goat Cheese SoufflE and The Tomato Basil cream soup. My Husband loved the Clam Chowder. The cheese selections were fantastic, and the desserts to die for! For excursions: We booked only the Skagway White Pass Railway for my husband and our boys and I did the glass blowing. What a treat for me. We were even served rose hip tea and crumpets. Plus the best souvenir ever is my own blown glass ornament that I got to make myself. It should arrive in 2 weeks. Otherwise we booked when we got off at ports. Juneau we rented bikes and rode out to the Alaskan Brewery and to Mendenhall Glacier, that way we went at our own pace and had a blast. In Icy Straight Point, we hired a bear seeking tour in town; it was only about a $40.00 savings. We unfortunately did not see any bears, but got to see most of the Island with a native giving us all the history. In Ketchikan, we went to the visitor center and booked an overview tour that included the Sagmore Totem Park. We saved about $78.00 and our guide was born and raised in Ketchikan, so we received all the scoop. Once again it was fantastic. We also booked the Lumberjack show at the visitor's center and saved money there also. We discovered that Ketchikan has the best pricing on Native Alaskan Art. But beware there are more jewelry stores then you know what to do with. Enjoy the Art Auction's; the Kids Fun Factory was fantastic. Our kids did not want to leave. We insured that they went in on every port to see Alaska, but if they wanted to return to the ship in the afternoon they could. They loved all the activities and met several new friends. We felt 100% comfortable with them being in the Fun Factory. The staff was great, and they offered activities based on ages. They also offered family activities. Overall we LOVE CELEBRITY and will return again Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Summit Cruisetour to Alaska July 6-17, 2007 Vancouver-Inside Passage-Ketchikan-Juneau-Skagway-Hubbard Glacier-Fairbanks-Denali-Talkeetna-Anchorage There is a lot to report about Alaska and cruising there, and the Cruise Critic site has ... Read More
Summit Cruisetour to Alaska July 6-17, 2007 Vancouver-Inside Passage-Ketchikan-Juneau-Skagway-Hubbard Glacier-Fairbanks-Denali-Talkeetna-Anchorage There is a lot to report about Alaska and cruising there, and the Cruise Critic site has an abundance of resources on every topic from moose to mousse. So I'll not replicate what others have already said but offer my perspective. My wife and I have been on 21 cruises since 1991 on Celebrity, Carnival, RCCL and Holland America; to the Mediterranean, Alaska, Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexico. We've had suites, balconies, inside and portholes. I'm 61 and my wife, well...a bit younger. So we've been around the cruising world a bit and have a relatively balanced/informed opinion on cruising. We were tour hosts for 33 people on this Cruisetour, our second time to Alaska cruise and tour the first on Holland America's Ryndam in 1996. The Summit was beautiful and nicely appointed throughout. Some of the reviews here in CC about this ship talk about negatives but we saw few worth reporting. The food was consistently good; there were a few things we didn't care for, but that happens at home too! The service was excellent everywhere and the staff was friendly. I arranged for six of us to dine at the Normandie in the cellar room, it was exceptional and the wine list quite deep. We would have gone back a second time but we also enjoyed the main dining room ambiance and our tablemates, so we ate there all but the one night. We checked out the alternative dining sites and they looked great including a marked off section of the "buffet" with white table cloths, china and glass settings ($2 pp extra charge; I assume it's for tips for the waiters). We had quite a bit of cloudy skies and rain while on the ship with only one clear day when we drove to Canada from Skagway. Four of us rented a car and had a fabulous day, going to Carcross and Caribou Landing. CL was a bit cheesy but Michelle Phillips (http://www.yukonhuskies.com/about_us.html) is a real musher and has a camp there to allow travelers to visit her dogs. We took a sled ride. The dogs love to mush and it's appropriate training for them in the summer. It takes a lot of money to mush so many mushers have opened their camps to tourists; it was a wild ride...I couldn't stop laughing! Michelle was 6th in the Iditarod last year. Ketchikan gets around 150+ inches of rain a year so you have to expect rain there. We did a wilderness boat ride and forest hike. Juneau also had light rain all day. Last time we were there on a cruise stop the skies were deep blue for our helicopter ride to two glaciers. Yes, the sun does come out along the Inside Passage, just not this time. Hubbard Glacier was at a distance, as the ship couldn't get close due to lots of scattered pack ice. Summit's time slot in the bay began at 6:30am and we began to leave around 9am. We were about a mile away in a slight drizzle. I had breakfast and then back to bed afterward. Again, last time we were there I'd guess we were less than 1000 feet away in full sun! So goes Alaska. Something about dress code: All of Celebrity's pre-cruise information says that Informal Night is jacket and slacks for men. No where in any Celebrity policy or brochure does it use the word, required! On ship, the daily newsletter used that word: jackets are required. Now that set's people off who decided to bring the tux for formal night and then wear nice shirts the remainder of the nights. Some of the men in my group were not happy with this new required twist and I must agree. As it turned out, I counted dozens of jacket-less men in the main dining room on both Informal nights! I doubt if anyone was denied entry, but what's the point? At the Normandie on Informal night, gentlemen were offered a jacket upon entry. I tossed my bush jacket over my arm and hung it over my chair (at the suggestion of the maitre'd when I made the reservation). You can't change the rules after the boat sails!! The transfer from Seward to Anchorage was by bus (opps, sorry: coach); the luggage went up on separate transport earlier. We claimed luggage at Anchorage Airport and took a 40 minute flight to Fairbanks. Luggage was picked up by Celebrity at airport where we had to ID ours with little gummed dots and they handled the rest. We did a neat museum tour (too short) and then to Sophie Station Hotel. Excellent all-suite (I think) property. A bit of useless space (kitchen & living room) for one short night. It would be great for a week or so. Out the next am to Discovery paddle wheeler. What a nice excursion (included in tour price)...in the rain, of course. Clear skies the day before, don't you know. We took this excursion years before and they've really improved the activities along river: musher demonstration, video stations inside boat, professional commentary. Lot's of fun, but would be better with sun. Yes, it was touristy but genuine in attempting to show people about native people's lives and how the average Alaskan's live. We then continued with the coach to Denali. We had dinner down the road at the Salmon Bake. They had a huge menu at what turned out to be a large, fun, funky diner/bar. I had huge, luscious Alaskan crab legs. Others had various configurations of salmon and halibut. Yummy! Denali isn't really a town but a gathering of hotels and shops along the Alaskan highway. Plenty of quality shopping, if you're still in the mood. Beautiful views. A Denali Park bus tour was included the next day before we boarded the train for Talkeetna. It was a nice introduction to the wilderness. We saw moose, caribou, snow show hare and a squirrel? The Celebrity train cars (last time we were on Holland America's car) were beautiful with large comfy seats. For the record, the seats do not turn around to face each other (train host doesn't want to do it though it is possible, but not an easy task) and do not have head sets as indicated on the website: http://www.alaskacruises.com/alaska_celebritycruises_info.asp?pageID=602. We got into Talkeetna in time to do the stream-fishing thing at 5:30pm. The jet boat used to get there was worth the price of the whole fishing trip; 4 people caught no fish. Denali (Mt. McKinley) was out in great splendor as we watched the sun set at midnight. The next am was a Chamber of Commerce Day with clear skies and Denali resplendent in snow white against the bluest of blue skies. We did a 4 pax flight with a glacier landing. Pretty awesome. Hard to fully describe but one could see moraines, deep pools of glacier blue pot holes, avalanche remnants, glacier scarred mountains, gravel fields and plenty of forest up and back. The view of Denali from Talkeetna Lodge was incredible. People stood outside with mouths open in wonder. A word about luggage transport. I thought it was very organized, I just wish I knew the details before we left the ship for better planning and communication to my group. On the land portion, only the luggage you want would be delivered to your room each night. They used red and pink tags to ID which is to be delivered and which stays on the bus or goes ahead to the next stop. The smart traveler will repack just one large bag per couple (there was no limit however), to be delivered to your room. You can pack this way on the last night on ship and adjust at the first night hotel where you'll get all your luggage. On your last night of the trip, you'll get all your luggage delivered to your room for repacking, dig out clean clothes or whatever you wish to do. You'll never have to drag your luggage any further than the hallway for bellhops to pick up. Our luggage was always ahead of us and was in our room waiting when we arrived. The exception was Denali (short delay as the luggage was on the coach we arrived on) and the airport where you must claim and check your own, linking it with proper photo ID, etc. One other critical point on luggage is that there is little room on the train for anything but a small carry on. We used modest backpacks the whole trip, including on port excursions from the ship. It was nice to have our hands free of bags, etc. Remember, the train has no overhead since it's all glass. Forget the small roller bag, even the smallest would cramp your leg space. In general, this trip was an active one. Excursions are essential at every port to see any of the real Alaska, and they might be early morning departures, so it's up and at um if you want to take it all in. We had several times when 5 am rising was necessary to see the glacier, get on the coach to catch the train or included excursions, get your luggage in the hallway for pick-up or catch flights. Many optional excursions are also early. Remember, 18-21 hours of sunlight allows for lots of activities that wouldn't be as convenient on the lower 48 sunset schedule. Celebrity get high marks all around. And Summit is similar to other cruise ships and cruise lines with bothersome issues: ship's picture-taking maniacs at every port, constant sales pitching on TV and in daily newsletter, fellow passengers who take in the buffet as if it were a gold plated feeding-trough, over zealous Cruise Directors (although this guy seemed to be a bit more mature and likely not on uppers like the Caribbean shift) and so on. But once observed and laughed at, we just ignore these idiosyncrasies of cruising. Cabin Alert: A window washing machine is stored on decks 8 and 9, in between two balconies. It looks like it could be moved as it is secured simply with truck straps; nothing was designed to mechanically secure it to the ship. They have to store it somewhere, and naturally it created an obstructed view for at least 8 Concierge Class balcony cabins. What a major design flaw that was. We were amidships, 8074. Celebrity is well aware of the problem. We were offered a different cabin but after unpacking, who wants to move. To be fair, they offered to pack everything and move us to the new cabin, however. No deal. I was all settled. Celebrity should sell these as partially obstructed, but did not. Knowing ahead of time and accepting is one thing but finding out on arrival is another. Check with your TA about this issue before you confirm a balcony cabin. My guess is that it is also true for sister ship Millennium. We registered a strong and serious concern about this window rig. After declining the room change, they offered 10% off for us both on our next cruise with Celebrity. Fair enough. If it was warm Caribbean-type weather, we may have taken the room change. The weather was not conducive to balcony sitting. However, the point was well understood: design error... To those who have reported here in these reviews about the problems the millennium class of ships are having with propulsion, I can only say we had none; perhaps it was luck our week. I understand they are going into dry dock in April 2008 to do some "fixing". The ship is wearing well. We saw no raveled carpet or worn drapes/bedspreads. One lounge design negative is the ghastly dEcor in Revelations disco lounge. What kind of nightmare caused that? It was not cool, tasteful or interesting and had a dingy, dirty look. It seemed as if they ran out of design money for the last deck (it's on Deck 11). It's worth ranting about, really! Happy cruising...For more info. Email John: tandoorii@insightbb.com Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
REVIEW START: I just got back from my AMAZING trip to Alaska. First, I'd like to thank everyone on this board for all the help and advice. I've been posting on Alaska for a year & ½ now, reading up on it for more than 2 ... Read More
REVIEW START: I just got back from my AMAZING trip to Alaska. First, I'd like to thank everyone on this board for all the help and advice. I've been posting on Alaska for a year & ½ now, reading up on it for more than 2 years, and I can't believe my trip's over now. I'm going to start with the land tour, my camera / binocular purchase, the ship / celebrity, the ports of call / excursions, and I'll end with packing & some other general items. Mostly, I'm going to do my review in order of the days of my trip. I will also try and include food as I come to days as well. Since I see this turning into a lot of time, I'm going to post in sections. I'll start with my itinerary so you can see where I'm going with the review. Also, I'm going to try & highlight as I go down, this way you can skip some areas that you don't have interest in. My itinerary: June 22nd: Leave my house in New York, get to Newark Airport (NJ) and fly to Anchorage connecting in Seattle June 23rd: Day in Anchorage: Saturday Market, Visit to Salmon Place. Dinner at Simon & Seaforts. June 24th: DM & I left early to go Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park DH & DF left early to go fishing and then had some other activities in Anchorage June 25th: DM & I got back from Brooks falls late & then slept. DH & DF: activities in Anchorage June 26th: Day in Anchorage: Zoo, Lunch at Jenns. Dinner at Marx Cafe. June 27th: Early morning train to Seward, Puffin Encounter, Exit Glacier, Salmon Bake, Godwin Glacier Dog Sled Tour & Helicopter Ride June 28th: Kenai Fjords Boat Trip; Dinner @ the Crab Pot June 29th: Hang Around at Saltwater & Board the Ship June 30th: Hubbard Glacier (Cruising) July 1st: Juneau from 10-8: Mendenhall Glacier July 2nd: Skagway 7-8:30: Train Ride to Carcross & Bus Back July 3rd: Icy Strait Point 7-4: Whale Watching w/Keith @ teck outfitters July 4th: Ketchikan 9-7: Fishing w/Ken @ Northern Lights July 5th: Inside Passage Cruising July 6th: Dock @ Vancouver, Stanley Park July 7th: Fly home non-stop to Newark We stayed at horsetrekkin in Anchorage (http://www.horsetrekkinalaska.com/WebPageArt/Page04.html) and Saltwater Lodge (http://www.alaskasaltwaterlodge.com/seward_lodging.htm) in Seward. Camera / Binoculars: Before I start on the review, just one additional thing on the camera / binoculars I bought specifically for the trip. About a year ago I purchased a Canon S3 IS digital camera after much research on dpforums & other sites. Since I'll be referring to my camera a lot in the review, I thought it'd be good to let you know what equipment I'm talking about. I spent a long time learning how to work it, but I still don't think it was enough. There's so much more to learn. Before I left, I also bought a telephoto lens and a wide angle lens to bring with me. I also bought 10 x 42 Bushnell H2O binoculars at the suggestion of someone on the board to have. They were great and we used them, but not as much as I had thought originally. June 22nd: We left out of Newark Airport (NJ) and flew to Anchorage connecting in Seattle. First, let me talk a little bit about our tickets. I booked using Frequent Flyer Miles: I called the exact number of days ahead I was allowed and got all the seats. What you have to do is call the exact days ahead for the 1st flight and then put everything on hold until you can book the second flight as well. I used 'sister' airlines and was able to get a non-stop back on Cathay Pacific. Now I know people on this board have been lucky and have gotten tickets at the last minute, but I find the seats book up so quickly and didn't want to change my timing or be worried, so that's what I did. Lesson Here: Check your reservations often b/c they change planes and drop seats at the drop of a hat. They did it to me a month out and we got seats, but not the ones we wanted (window / aisle) Also, I heard we could reserve a digEplayer (movie screen to watch movies / whatever) from Alaska airlines. I did so (there aren't many, so do so ahead) for $10 a set. This was a godsend. For a flight that long, I thank god I had it, otherwise DH would have been unbearable. (He is not a great flyer.) For the flight, in retrospect, I also learned you can do a 'stop-over' when using your miles (but, I found out after I made the booking). So, I might have done that and visited barrow (then buying a 1-way back to Anchorage. The flight was fine; everything was pretty much on time. I have no real additions there... So, after we landed in Anchorage, we checked in @ horsetrekkin (http://www.horsetrekkinalaska.com/WebPageArt/Page04.html). Yes, it's a little off the beaten path of most travelers, but worth it. The rate is amazing compared to what you would spend for something even close to comparable. Also, it's a short walk to the zoo. I think the place was very nice and the people were amazing, but it wasn't exactly what I expected. This was the description I was given when I booked: 2 bedroom suite which had private bedrooms, kitchenette, indoor steam room, outdoor hot tub, full breakfast etc. One room has a fireplace with queen bed and futon. The other room has a queen bed. What it was is 2 bedrooms at the bottom floor of their house. You go to the right on the floor you walk in on and there are doors closing in a small hallway with a bathroom and 2 bedrooms, which isn't really what I was thinking of a suite. There is a small fridge and a steam shower there. Everything was clean, but the 2nd bedroom is pretty small. There were no drawers in it at all. The part that really irked me was that there are no locks on those doors. They assured me they were there all the time, but I would have liked some kind of lock and would have felt more comfortable that way. (You could lock it from the inside, but when we were gone the doors were just unlocked.) Since it was on a pretty busy road it just nerve-racked me a little... Moving on—breakfast was wonderful, the people were really great and friendly, and the place was clean. I LOVED the steam shower. Also, it's much quieter out there than in the city. Be aware—if you stay there, you NEED a car. It was $27 just to get into town 1 way. Glacier Brewhouse: We also got in early enough to go to the Brewhouse for dinner. It was very good and we all enjoyed it, but it was more expensive than I thought it would be. If you get there after 6, expect a wait. June 23rd: Day in Anchorage: Saturday Market, Stopped at a Fish Place to see Salmon Jump, Picked up an Enterprise Car, & Dinner at Simon & Seaforts. The first full day I woke up in Anchorage it still didn't hit me that I was in Alaska. Although, once I stepped outside and saw how cold it was, my mind wrapped around the idea that I might be there. I decided to make the first full day we were there a little relaxing and free-flowing since a lot more of our itinerary is pretty intense. So, onto the day... Breakfast was great—eggs, ham, pancakes, home fries....YUM! Great coffee & OJ too. DF got our rental car at Enterprise—we got a great deal for booking early. It's just too bad we didn't get the car earlier because we spent a TON on taxi rides so far. Also, the cab that brought us into town offered to show us a place where the Salmon jumped all the time, so we went. Kind of a mistake because it was $100 and we saw nothing... Beautiful though. If anyone's interested, I can try to give you directions if you want to go yourself. Market: We wanted to go to the Saturday market because I heard on the board it was a great place to go....it was a great stop. We spent about 4 hours walking around finding nice homemade soaps, different booths with everything Alaska, and great food. The people there were SUPER nice to us and spoke with us at length about the state, what they made, and various other topics. We got a cute painting, some nice soap bars, and had some great lunch! Try the seafood soup in a bread bowl because it was fabulous! Make sure you have some time to stop there. Also, I did get some Alaskan ULUs there. I did also stop in the ULU factory (pretty close to the market) and found much cheaper prices at the market. There are several ULU booths there, so just do a lap of the market first and see which one you would prefer. Simon & Seafords: We were celebrating DF's birthday and there was confetti on the table (done tastefully) was a small card. It was pretty cool. Also, this was the best meal. Given, we had amazing food elsewhere, but this was fabulous. DM & I shared an appetizer with Filet and shrimp and something else on it and it was amazing—melted in my mouth! Also, DH had the Salmon & loved it and we had Halibut. DF had the pork ribs and it was his favorite as well. YUMMY!!!!! After dinner, I packed up some things for the next day....BROOKS FALLS. I couldn't wait to see what this great highlight of my trip would be. I was pretty nervous, but excited with anticipation at the same time! June 24th: DM & I left early to go Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park DH & DF left early to go fishing Before I start on Brooks, I forgot to mention something about the 23rd. When we were at S&S all of us dressed for dinner. (no suits, but skirts, nice outfits). I feel like we were the ONLY people there not in jeans. That was something I didn't expect....so, don't feel like you need to dress to go there. Okay, onto the topic at hand: I booked our trip to Brooks Falls with Katmailand. Website: http://www.katmailand.com/bear-viewing/packages.html#brooks more than a year & ½ in advance. That was necessary for me because I wanted to be in a cabin. Since there are only 10 cabins at the place, I know it's hard to get these accommodations, but I was excited about it. I know there has been a lot of bear talk on the boards about where to go and what to do. Also, I wanted a trip that could take me directly from Anchorage because DH & DF would be staying there and it was very convenient. I know this trip is expensive and I knew I wasn't going in 'prime' season, but I crossed my fingers before we left that the bears would be trying to fish anyway. Onto what happened... The horsetrekkin folks were nice enough to give us some bananas, yogurt, muffins, and OJ. They left it the night before so we'd have something in the morning. DH & DF drove us to the airport and dropped us off. Katmailand arranged for a flight to King Salmon and then from there we had another flight to Brooks. The first flight to King Salmon wasn't too bad. We were on a 30 passenger plane (the smallest I'd ever been on) and all-in-all it was an okay hour & 1/2 flight. We landed and were taken by bus (there was a sign directing us where to go) to another plane where they weighed our carry-ons as well as us before deciding which plane to put us on. There were 3 planes -- 1 was a 12 passenger (rough guess) and the 2 others were smaller. I got put in the 12 passenger with DM, she took a tranquilizer, and I got to sit in the cockpit with the pilot. I actually asked where I should sit and he told me anywhere, so I made a joke about the cockpit and he said sure........so, ask and you shall received. It wouldn't have hurt if he said no. So, I was a little nervous about flying on a smaller plans, but the view was amazing. It was just gorgeous. Also, the takeoff and landing was much smoother on the water than with wheels on land. So, with my anticipation at a HIGH, we landed at Brooks. The first thing they have you do is go to the ranger station and attend a bear-training 30-minute presentation with a video. It tells you what to do if you encounter any bears. Then you get a pin saying you completed it to wear around so the rangers know you went to "school." During the class people asked the rangers if they saw bears and one said they hadn't seen anything in 2 days and no sightings were reported. So, at this point I was getting pretty worried--it's a lot of money to see no bears........ The ranger also said they expected the bears to come out any time now and that usually they were out a few weeks before, but the long winter caused the delay. I said a little prayer to myself hoping they would come out--we then decided to check in at the lodge which entails registering a credit card so you can use your "Katmai Charge Card" (a piece of paper that lets you charge things to your room during your stay) and get the keys to our cabin. Since the cabin wasn't ready yet, we decided to have lunch first. Just as I was finishing my salad one of the guys at my table spotted a bear with cubs on the beach. I've never seen a place clear out so quickly in my life. Don't get me wrong, I was at the front of that line, but DM took a little longer. I was awe-struck seeing the gorgeous bears. They were just hanging out on the bear--a mamma and 3 cubs (these cubs were 1 year old). Then, all of a sudden another mamma came into view a little further down the beach with brand new spring cubs--they were so adorable. I got a bunch of shots with 8 bears in the photos--the 4 in the distance and 4 up-close. I was in awe of some of the lenses people had brought with them, but my telephoto lens worked GREAT, so I was happy. I'll try and post some pictures soon. They're too big to upload to the site, but I'll post them somewhere else with a link. It was amazing to watch them. After watching them for about an hour, we hustled back to the cabin, changed clothes to get to the falls, and started out. I won't give you a play-by-play of the rest of the visit because I would pretty much bore all of you to death. It was amazing to experience though. Just amazing. I'm still in awe just thinking about it. It is just unbelievable when you walk outside your cabin in the morning to see how hot / cold it is and there's a bear standing about 50 yards from you! *sigh* Okay, just one more fun story...I was at the lower platform resting a bit and watching a mamma with her 3 cubs before heading to the falls. She was quite a bit off by the beach area, but started to walk down towards the lower platform. About 5 guys were fishing, but only one was on the close side of the bridge to the mamma. She didn't really look like she was going anywhere, but that fisherman caught a fish and the SECOND that happened, the mamma charged. It was a great show—her charging in. *sigh* Anyway, the fisherman cut his line immediately and got up to the platform to safety—mamma didn't get the fish. We then headed to the falls and were lucky enough to catch up with the mamma fishing for the cubs as they were playing. Such an amazing time! Anyway, some other facts--it is a mile & 1/2 from the lodge (where you have lunch & where most of the cabins are) to the falls platform. The lower platform (good viewing, but most everyone goes to see the falls) is quite a bit closer. For some reason, that's not how I was picturing it, so I thought I'd share. You have to walk past the lower platform, down a road, and then along a path in the middle of the woods to get to the falls. The whole time clapping and talking at the top of your lungs so no bears come close... There's also a fire pit in the main room (where they serve food) and lots of people gathered around it in the evenings to read / relax. Make sure you break in your shoes / boots BEFORE you go!!!! I didn't and paid for it! I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have.... DH & DF's day fishing the Deska (an hour & ½ out of Anchorage): I booked DH & DF to fish with akfishermanschoice dot com. They were very friendly and knowledgeable on the phone and I was comfortable with them. Before I went, they advised me to purchase a fishing license & king salmon stamp for DH & DF. Since we were also fishing in Ketchikan over a week later, I purchased them all at the same time. It was easy: $20 for a 1 day license & $10 for a 1 day king salmon stamp. Website: http://www.admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license/. The only annoying part of the website is that you have to purchase each license separately and print them yourself. DH & DF's review: They were on a small boat with nothing to cover them. Of course, because of that, it poured the entire time they were out there and they got soaked. Also, they caught nothing. Well, no, that's not true—DF caught one illegally (snagged on the side), but they threw it back. Both said the ride to where they were fishing was really nice & it was gorgeous scenery. Also, the boat that went out in the morning caught 6/8 fish. Apparently, the best time to go is in the AM, so book accordingly. They both said the guide was very nice as well. I guess remember—it's fishing, not catching. (I should have taken them to Brooks, but they wanted to fish, so oh well.) DF & DH'S FOOD for the 24th and 25th: One night they went to Phyllis's for dinner. The little sign says all you can eat, but it's only for certain hours. They went the second night and had the all you can eat crab, but didn't love it. It was good, but not as good as Ocean City Maryland... Also, they went Moose's Tooth one night which was okay as well. DF said the burgers were a little thin, but it was pretty good all the same. I should also note we had beautiful weather @ Brooks. June 26th: Day in Anchorage: Alaskan Zoo, Lunch at Jenns, Dinner at Marx Cafe. Breakfast: Steve from horsetrekkin served us a great breakfast again—eggs, pancakes, ham, hash browns, OJ, and coffee. Yum. Then we headed over to the zoo. We saw lots of animals, but it's just not the same seeing them out in the wild. DH was excited to see the bears, but it's just not the same. Anyway, it's a pretty small zoo (well, I'm comparing it to the Bronx zoo though). We went through it in about 2 hours (stopping frequently and wandering). At that point, we decided to go to lunch since we had some time. One of the restaurants I looked into, but decided not to book for dinner was Jenns—so, we went there for lunch. We were all in sweatpants-type apparel, but didn't think it was a problem. It wasn't and everything was still fine. But, it seems to me a lot of people go there for lunch on break from work, so there were a LOT of suits and nice clothing...I felt slightly out of place, but it was okay. This also was my 2nd best food recommendation (better than the dinner I would be having later). The wine and food were fantastic! We had a small caesar with the meal ($4.50) because I wanted to compare with Marx. IT was really good. I also had a glass of Pinot Noir and DM had a glass of Riesling, which was fabulous as well—much better wine than at Marx. It was delicious! For lunch DH had pepper steak which he thought was good and I had Scallops which were amazing! DF had a pasta dish and loved it—he's hard to impress with Italian food too. When the waiter tells you the crème brule is the best in Anchorage, he is NOT kidding. Best I've ever tasted. Get it. Eat it. Then ship some back to me. YUM!!!!!!!!! After lunch, we decided to hit Walmart—I can't tell you how funny it is to me to think we were going to Walmart in Alaska, but it is. We hit up the Alaskan section and I got some chocolates. We also got some waters to take with us. Also, we stopped and got some crackers because we bought some salmon at the market on Saturday and wanted to have some of it on the train. Walmart is only a minute or 2 from Jenns, so if you're in the area, it's a quick stop. Then you can tell everyone you went to Walmart while in Alaska. Before I forget again—when you're at the Salmon place at the market, there's a $5 sealed can, a $6 sealed can, and an $11 glass jar—the difference of money is WORTH IT to get the glass jar!!!! I kid you not! They have these all over too and you'll find yourself getting more. We booked Marx Cafe for dinner and it was okay. I think that is because the other meals I had were just superb, so it ended up being okay—it's a great restaurant and the Caesar salad gets made in front of you, but in retrospect I would have gone to one of the others again instead. Also, you do need to dress for this restaurant. DH had filet mignon and said it was great, but liked S&S better. DF, DM, and I had lamb chops—they were delicious. We also had the Caesar salad prepared tableside, which was very nice, delicious. I liked Jenn's and S&S better though. It ended up being $227 including tip and 1 bottle of wine for 4 people. I tried to get to bed at a somewhat decent time to be ready for the big day tomorrow—had to be at the train @ 5:45... June 27th: Early morning train to Seward, Puffin Encounter, Exit Glacier, Salmon Bake, Dog Sledding This morning we got up early & the 6:45 am train to Seward. We were told to get there by 5:45 and we could bring 2 pieces of luggage & 1 carryon. I booked ahead via the railroad. Website: http://www.alaskarailroad.com/arrc8.html. I went the day before to see if I could get tickets so I wouldn't have to be as early, but they told me they were only issued the day of and we should be there at 5:45 since it was a full train. When we arrived, we were the only people there at 5:45—I'm not surprised—how many people actually listen when they say what time to arrive. Most people got there at 6:30... There is a coffee station in the place if you need a jump-start. Seats are assigned when you get there, but there is open seating in the dome car. Right after we started moving, I moved into the dome (right in my car, so it was convenient). I took the first seat on the right. The arm views are great. Sadly, there was a wait for seating up there, so I stayed about 25 minutes getting great shots and then went back down to my seat. I knew glacier views would be coming up on the left given what BQ said before we left and what that guide said. Just ask one of the very friendly, helpful people walking around and they'll tell you about how many minutes you have until you get there. Then make sure you're in the dome for that too. The views from the train were gorgeous. I can see how you really miss out if you drive. Given, I'm sure there are pluses that way as well, but I'm really glad we took the train. This was DF's top 2 things we did the entire trip. I kid you not! After we got to Seward, we met up with Renee from PJs taxi, who I booked ahead of time. Renee was ready and waiting at the train station right by our luggage. She's the only female cab driver in Seward, so you can't miss her. We actually managed to fit all of our luggage and us into her taxi. (This was a GREAT concern for me due to the amount of luggage we had.) Then, on top of that she was also nice enough to store our luggage at her place while we went about our day, which was a great help because we didn't waste a lot of time. THANK GOD for that. Renee also suggested we try to schedule our glacier landing for that day since we had great weather, so I called them up (she had the number handy) and did so. Thank goodness we stored our luggage at her place, our day was so jam-packed it was ridiculous—THANKS again Renee. (I just can't say that enough.) She's a great woman, has lots of information, and gave us great prices. So, after we stored our luggage, she drove us to lunch at Thorns (2 SHORT blocks from the Sealife Center), where we were scheduled to have a Puffin Encounter about an hour later. Lunch was excellent. I got the Halibut basket and DH got the Shrimp basket. It was fantastic—DH even stole some of mine! I highly recommend going there—great price and great food. (another great recommendation from Renee) The total for the 4 of us at Thorns—each got a drink and basket of food was $90.70 (after tip). We also arranged to meet her again later when we were done with the Sealife center to get to our dog sledding. After lunch, we headed over to the Sealife center and signed in and got our tags for the Puffin encounter. It was great. A nice lady showed us around, told us about the birds, and then we got to feed the puffins—they were so cute! One was more interested in eating DM's pants, but he was adorable! A great experience and lots of great information. A lot of the center is for rehabilitation and they ended up building the place with money from a fine for an oil spill. It's a great stop if you have time. Just as we were getting ready to leave, there was an announcement of an eagle fishing at the back look-out. So, we went up there and got some great pictures of him flying and having dinner! Renee from PJ's taxi picked us up a bit later and transported us to the small airport we were taking our helicopter to the glacier and dog sledding. I booked with Godwin Dog Sled Tours who also gave me a great rate for booking early. Website: http://www.alaskadogsled.com/ It was a SMALL Helicopter. All 4 of us couldn't fit, which I wasn't prepared for. But, hey—I flew on a small plane—bring it on! They had some waterproof gear there, but we were all set with our waterproof boots, pants, and jackets. The guy took up my parents first and then we went next. What a great ride! It was very fast, but great. We landed up at the dog camp and it was so cute to see all the dogs—they had around 75 dogs up there and the mushers live up there all summer (they come down once a week to shower). They're training for races like the Iditarod. I even have our mushers card to follow her progress. The people were real nice and we had a great ride around with the dogs. We went about 2 miles, but it just felt so short. I would have loved to have been there longer. The helicopter down was pretty quick and we landed just as Renee from PJ's taxi pulled into the parking lot. What a great experience—lots of those on this day! But, we weren't done with the day yet. We asked Renee to drive us to Exit Glacier, but she suggested stopping to see some Salmon first, which we thought would be interesting so we went. It was awesome—we watched them just jump out of the water over and over again—VERY cool. Have Renee drive you around and I'm sure she'll take you there. So, then we headed to Exit Glacier and started walking. One trail was 1.7 miles and one was 0.3. DH wanted to do the 1.7 mile one, so I went with him and DM & DF did the 0.3 one. As we were walking up, we came to a stream which we had to get across. The water was about 3 inches high, so it was good we had the waterproof boots. On the way up Overlook trail, it was okay and it was a gorgeous sight. Beautiful. I'd highly recommend it. From the time Renee dropped us off to when we got back to the visitors center, it took us less than an hour to do. A warning: on the way back down the mosquitoes seemed to be out in full force and took a liking to DH. It was BAD. Make sure you spray lots of repellant! At this point, I was very tired and we went to the Salmon Bake (driven by Renee again) for dinner. I just had a burger (one of their interesting combo ones) with a pickle you can pick out of a jar. It was very good. YUM! The root beer was great as well. Price for 4 people: $67. Only 1 beer ordered by DH—I was so wiped out by then I don't know how he stomached it. After we finished, Renee picked us up and drove us to get our luggage (at her place) and then out to the Saltwater Lodge (about 10 minutes out of town). As she's driving, she was explaining various things and just as she was saying to watch for sealife, out pops an otter. What timing! I'm telling you, she's got them on a schedule—it was great! Saltwater is gorgeous, had a perfect view, and the rooms were fabulous. Website: http://www.alaskasaltwaterlodge.com/seward_lodging.htm. I reserved the North and South rooms and that came with an "expanded" continental breakfast (more on that later). The rooms looked great—the only thing to be mindful of is that you have to carry all of your luggage up the huge flight of stairs to your rooms. It was so worth it though! At this point, we showered, looked at the great view, and collapsed asleep. The next day we were doing the Kenai Fjords trip with Saltwater and I wanted to be fully rested for that trip. June 28th: Kenai Fjords Boat Trip; Dinner @ The Crab Pot Before I start this part, I just want to say again how gorgeous our rooms at Saltwater were. When we were driving up to the place before you see it, DH got a little scared about where we were going. But, even he was SUPER thrilled. There were windows lining one side of the room the entire length of the wall (which was large). We also had 2 queen size beds in the room. Actually, now that I think back on it, one of them could have been a double bed. The beds were facing on opposite walls, but diagonally from each other. It's hard to get an idea of how big the room was, but it was huge for 2 people. The only part that was small was the shower. VERY small. My poor father had a tight squeeze, but was okay. Okay, onto June 28th. Breakfast at Saltwater was expanded continental. There were bowls of fruit (freshly made that morning—I saw some of it happen), English Muffins, hot chocolate, coffee, and some other things. It was nice. I decided to take some Dramamine—BIG mistake. I was so tired & groggy, which hasn't happened to be before. I'll just stay with the patch from now on—no side effects there. We booked our Kenai Fjords trip through Saltwater to be on a smaller boat to have a better experience. We met our captain and first mate at the little coffee shop and then went on our way. The boat was very nice—there was an inside area (completely covered) and viewing from all the sides. On the way out we saw a whale—our first. It was great and I took lots of pictures. We stayed there a little while and then made our way to Holgate glacier. I was able to sit next to the captain with DH and we had a long talk with him on the way about sealife, various birds, and just heard him talk about the area. I find it interesting that a lot of the people we met in Alaska have been there X amount of years, but weren't born there.—just a side note. At one point, we turned and saw one seal / porpoise tanning on a rock. I was super excited and started taking lots of pictures. Then 1 minute later we came upon a group of rocks with about 30 seals / porpoises tanning—it made my excitement even higher. I kept wondering what amazing things we were going to see next. On our trip, we saw otters, puffins, and other wildlife. An observation: We also saw some of the larger provider's boats during our trip—PACKED with people. I seriously can't believe the amount of people they fit on those things. We were able to easily walk back and forth across the boat to see things from different angles and those people were lucky to have a railing spot. I was so glad to have been on a smaller vessel with a more private tour. Another reason I wanted to book with Saltwater is that we were able to stay at the face of the glacier longer than the ½ hour allotted by the larger boats. While the larger boats have to keep more of a schedule, we could detour and see more things. Just so you know, it was FREEZING the entire time! It was very hard to stay outside, even with the wind. I was wearing underarmor pants (get them, they are wonderful and necessary), warm pants over it, my waterproof boots, a tank top, a sweatshirt over that, and then my jacket with fleece liner. I also had gloves and ear covers on. Then I put a hat on over that. I was still cold, but at least my head, ears, and body were warm. I just ended up with my nose, eyes, and mouth being cold. Too bad I didn't find a way to cover those! The only thing I wasn't thrilled with during the trip is that we had to pick up kayakers along the way. (One of Saltwater's boats broke down, so we had to take an hour to do this. It didn't cut into our time and wasn't fun, but I guess necessary and not a big deal.) I would highly recommend that kind of trip to anyone going—it was a great experience. Originally I had booked the crab pot for 7:30 that night and I was planning to go back to Saltwater and change. But, we heard they had no dress-code and you needed no reservation. So, after we got done, we walked around town a little and went to the Crab Pot for dinner around 6. We, of course, had crab (seasoned). It was very good—pricey, but good. I also found out from a local that Ray's uses frozen seafood, not fresh. That really astonished me—I guess something to keep in mind for all of you. We also heard Chinooks was good, but we didn't make it there. After dinner, we just headed back to Saltwater (via PJ's taxi—right on time as always) and hung out on the decks there and the beach. I took a book down to the deck and hung out a while reading while DH walked on the beach a while. It really is gorgeous there. I wish we stayed longer in Seward. June 29th: Board the Ship We got up early to breakfast again at Saltwater—expanded continental. Same things were there as the previous day: Freshly made bowls of fruit, English Muffins, hot chocolate, coffee, and some other things. We had to check out by 10, so we were out of the rooms by 10:30 (not too bad) and took PJs taxi to the boat docks. We knew we couldn't check in until after 2pm, but we figured we could drop our luggage off there. By pure stroke of luck, they said we could board at 11am! It was only 5 minutes later, so we stayed and boarded right away—easiest embarkation ever. I told DM & DF we'd meet them in the buffet and headed up the stairs with DH. Only after they were gone I looked and the buffet didn't open until noon. We decided to kill some time exploring. The ship is beautiful. It has a very open feel and the staff is very friendly. Even at this early hour, the staff kept welcoming us aboard every time we saw a member and they always said hello—very friendly. So, upon exploring we found the basketball court. DH then became extremely excited and we played a quick game of HORSE (which I won—we had to kill time, right?). After we met DF & DM in the lunch buffet. This was fantastic—better than the other lines I've been on. I was SUPER excited for the pasta-making station. Also, the Caesar salad making station was a favorite too, but I didn't have it a lot because of the other great things. Since we got on so early, we then decided to make reservations at the Normanie for Skagway (I knew we were going to be too late getting back on the ship for our early seating). This was very easy to do because they have representatives at a lot of sections on the ship to call in reservations. Then I thought I'd head to the spa—hey, if I could be a spa model and get a free service, it sounded good to me! I found out that they do not have spa models for the tours, but use one of the tour members for one thing. Otherwise, you really don't see treatments going on, as I have previously. Stay to do the tour, it's quite interesting. I did learn on the tour the Rasul was broken, so I don't have anything to report on that. I did do a treatment though—more on that later. I also think the Summit's gym is top-notch. It's huge and they offer classes (some a slight amount of money, but most not). By the time we got done with that, I went to check out my room and our luggage had arrived. I finally unpacked after a week of living out of my suitcase—that felt great. By then we just relaxed a bit, showered, changed, and then headed down for the early seating dinner. It is open seating the first night, but we were all hungry by the time 6pm rolled around. It was very good and I liked our wait staff the first night. Everyone was very welcoming. Some tips: You can order fresh berries - raspberries, blueberries, strawberries -- with whipped cream every night for desert. You also can order NY Strip Steak any night or every night. Shrimp cocktail is on the every night menu—no need to ask in advance. Half way through our cruise they ran out of the big shrimp and used smaller ones—still great. The first night's show was a variety show of different performances to come in the week. I liked it a lot. They had two people that did acrobatic-type work—they were amazing. Also, they had Celebrity singers & dancers perform. All in all, I think it was a good first night show and a nice introduction to the ship. We were pretty tired, so at that point, we just went back to sleep. Now I'm going to break a little bit to discuss my room and some additional 'tips' I found helpful before I boarded: Room: I knew that for Alaska, I wanted an Aft Cabin. Since I know those rooms go really quickly, I had my travel agent (who is wonderful, by the way) call and I called also the day rates were supposed to come out to book cabins. (the second the phone lines opened) I ended up actually getting the ones I wanted (after a lot of persistence telling them I should be able to book). Lesson here: Call the day everything comes out to get what you want. I've also found a lot of people are worried about prices dropping after final payment and want last minute fares. With celebrity, I booked this cabin the day rates came out and then had my price adjusted two times by my TA after final payment to credit me rate reductions. She was very on top of getting me those price adjustments and sent me a bottle of champagne for the trip. If you're asking if it was worth it: It SO was. I never ever want to cruise again without an aft cabin. The views are just amazing. I did feel vibrations 1 night, but it didn't bother me—just like the sound of the ocean. Also, DH thought it rocked more in the back of the ship, but it didn't seem like it to me. I LOVED it. Rest of the ship: The staff was VERY friendly and courteous. For example, when I was on Princess, the staff didn't go out of their way to talk to you. But, on the Summit I would get a hello how are you every where I turned. I'll also rate the activities / food each day if I remember them. Some additional things I learned: You can get over-the-counter seasickness meds at customer service or the purser's desk. Free, dispensed a couple of tablets at a time. Also, if you see that they are doing a Internet class, you an get free internet for 30 minutes (you just have to sit though the class). I didn't see that happen during this cruise though. Since it's so expensive, this would be worth it. June 30th: Hubbard Glacier (Cruising) Sadly, this is one of my 'regret' days. It was too foggy to see anything and it was pouring. We couldn't see calving or even hear it. My big regret / upset of the trip. Yes, the day was scenic, but not what I thought it would be. I did a couple of other things this day. The first was a culinary demonstration. Let me say—do NOT miss this. Also, if you can, be the one who volunteers to be the helper. It was fantastic. Well, I like food and cooking, so it was good for me. But, if you just like to eat, I'd still go to this great show because of the food quality. Hey, if you like Martinis, go to that too! So, they make filet and I won't get into any details, but the pastry chef made cake and a dessert. Then the girl who helped invited a friend to the table and they ate it. As we were all drooling waiters came around with tastes of each. I had 2—it was that good. So, I digressed a little—in the middle of cooking, you have to wait about 5-10 minutes for it to actually cook. During this time we had a martini demonstration where the guy threw the bottles around and everything. He had great skills. Anyway, I ended up with one of the 2 martinis. Can you believe 1 lady actually turned down the chocolate martini? If you aren't lucky enough (or eyeing the glass enough) to get one of the 2, they pass around samples of these as well. They also had someone explain silverware in the middle and what fork to use when—me, I just work my way in from the outside. I also went to the art auction this day. While on the ship the art guy holds a couple of lectures and 2 art auctions. Both the auctions are on the "sea days." Hint: When he says to trust him, do so! Today for lunch I also checked out the Aqua Spa Cafe. Some great stuff there & a lot of people don't even bother looking. I found some days of the trip it was PACKED over in the buffet and then there was no one in the aqua spa cafe. Sometimes they have pretty cool stuff. Check it out. Another food-related tip (many know this already): In the cova you pay for coffees, hot chocolate, etc, but the pastries and cookies are free! My one big regret of the cruise was not being able to see anything this day. I put away my disappointment though because there are so many nicer things to see. If I had my druthers I would have planned this trip for 2 weeks later. But, hey, I had an amazing time. I did not let it ruin my vacation 1 bit! July 1st: Juneau from 10-8: Mendenhall Glacier We got off the ship early and first had to get tickets to a bus ($2 round trip all day) just to get to the town area. Once we got here, we paid the $12 a person (round trip) to get to Mendenhall and back. It was easy enough to do since we were the first people off the ship and we had about a 5 minute wait for the bus to appear to take us back to town. We didn't do Mt. Roberts Tram because it was too foggy—good thing I didn't prebook. Mendenhall—it was gorgeous. We took a little hike down to see it and climbed around a bit. I'm not even sure what trails we ended up with (even after I got maps), but I totally recommend at least doing the Photo Point Trail. Something to note: the visitor's center is not free. So, if you climb up all those stairs to go to the center, be aware you'll be paying some money to get in. (it is research money though) The view is nice though. Also, there are some elevators if one needs. I also used this site for trail maps: http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/districts/mendenhall/trails.html I LOVE how it's always light here. My S3IS worked perfectly. I'm sorry, I know I haven't spoken a lot about my camera as I said I would before, but if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. We then looked at shops and went back to the ship—it was a nice and relaxing day. (It's too bad I didn't spread these days out—we needed them!) I also made myself an appointment for the Ocean Wrap on this day. It was a nice seaweed wrap (which they let you try on the spa tour). Then afterwards while you relax (basically in a waterbed) while wrapped you get a massage on your hands and feet. Then you shower everything off and get a full body massage. I would so do it again. Ruth was the woman I had and she was incredible. From someone who gets treatments at home, I can't rave enough. Also, just so everyone's aware: spa services have the gratuity built in already, but you can add more. We also had a martini tasting right before dinner--$10 for the 'tray.' It was 6 different martinis (smaller sized) and was very good. We ordered this so close to dinner the guy actually put it at our table for us to finish! Yum. Extra Let me take a second to put in some things I forgot: Before I left to go to Alaska, I was reading the boards and how everything is informal / casual in Alaska. While this is true, while I was in the Celebrity dining room (main early seating), I didn't see one person skimp on the dress code. While on formal night a few people weren't as dressed up as I've seen in the past, it wasn't anywhere near as casual as I was expecting and I'm glad I didn't take my formal clothing out of my suitcase. July 2nd: Skagway 7-8:30: Train Ride & Bus Back I booked the Carcross Bus & Rail excursion with Chilkoot Charters & Tours. Website: http://www.skagwaysbesttour.com/summitgold.htm. After I booked they sent me a ticket with these instructions: PICKUP INSTRUCTIONS: Ore Dock - proceed to the red weather shelter just across the footbridge. Railroad Dock or Broadway Dock - proceed to the end of the pier and go through the security gate. WAIT for your driver/guide who will be driving a vehicle or carrying a sign with our business name "CHILKOOT CHARTERS & TOURS." You will be picked up at 7:30 AM. DO NOT attempt to board the train at the dock as its destination is different than yours. U.S. AND CANADIAN CITIZENS MUST CARRY A PASSPORT OR BIRTH CERTIFICATE WITH PHOTO ID. GUESTS OF OTHER NATIONALITIES MUST BRING THEIR PASSPORT. Also, this was the itinerary they sent me: Skagway/White Pass Summit/Fraser/Lake Bennett/Carcross. The 4 1/2 hours on the train is actual travel time. There is a 1 1/2 hour layover at Lake Bennett for lunch at the Bennett Depot dining hall. There are also Parks Canada interpretive displays throughout the depot itself and on the viewing platform. The rail trip to Carcross is 6 hours in total, and the Emerald Lake to Skagway portion by bus is an additional 2 1/2 hours. Review of the trip: When we got off the ship there was a big sign right outside the gate of the dock—very easy to find and we took off within 5 minutes of waiting for some others to get off. It was GORGEOUS. We were the 20th trip of people to go all the way to Carcross since they expanded the line. There were only 6 of us in our car and the car ahead of us carried the employees and the one behind of us was empty. So, it was nice to have a train for ourselves. There are platforms between each car—1 section for the car your in and 1 for the one in front of you. So, I guess if it's crowded the people in front of you could block your pictures. Since our train was empty, I got to spend a lot of time on the platform—it was great. I got some amazing pictures—if I flip press the next button of my camera, I got a round of pictures that make it look like the train's moving into the tunnel. I just put my camera in sports mode, didn't move, and held the button down. The people were very pleasant getting to Lake Bennett and explained everything. I liked the crew that boarded in Lake Bennett and took us to Carcross a little better because they stayed in the car with us, explaining things and answering questions. They knew a lot about the area—one of the guy's parents used to live in a cabin on the side too. Oh, and they got the bears out for us! All were great, but the crew from Lake Bennett to Carcross was superb. I'm sure some of you are asking if going all the way to Carcross was worth it? I think it was. When we stopped at Lake Benet and ate (not edible food by the way) some people got off and had to wait about 1 hour extra for a train back. Just in the extra part we saw 2 black bears (one in a tree and one was originally in the middle of the tracks when the conductor called back to us). The scenery isn't as splendid as was seen in the first part though, but there are things to see. Also, I have to say that the ice cream in Carcross was fabulous—DF is still talking about it! The reason I booked the longer trip was to see Emerald Lake—that and the desert were both big highlights! Also, it's very interesting taking the bus back, in effect seeing things from a different perspective. I highly recommend doing this. We went to the Normandie for dinner this night since we got back too late for our early seating. We did not have the wine-with-every course, but now I wish I did. After attending the food and wine tasting in the Normandie later in the cruise, I could tell they knew what they were doing. If you like wine, I'd love someone to report back on this. The food and experience were spectacular and gourmet, while the people were friendly, pleasant, and we were treated like royalty. A couple of highlights—the Caesar salad is made table-side. For those who were reading about Marx earlier—this is a perfect time to go to the Normandie on the ship and skip going to Marx in Anchorage. It was great and made just as well. Also, DF ordered the steak diane which was made tableside. He couldn't stop raving about this either. I had the Goat Cheese appetizer. Let me tell you, I was really weary on ordering this, but it was recommended so I decided to try it. DO IT. YUM! Also, they bring around a cheese cart after dinner. If I knew it was coming, I would have TRIED to save room. I could have had just wine and cheese ALL night. YUM! Dinner was $30 per person + a 15% tip. We tipped more. Tons of people were waiting on us the entire time. Even though I know this is part of going to this restaurant, we had a great time here. On a side note: I met a guy at the high tea the last sea day we were on the ship. The said the only place good is the Normandie and he would only eat there and have pastries from the Cova all day. The tea was okay, but he was actually loosing weight on the cruise because of this. Now, I know people do have their own opinions, but I'm just going to offer mine. The Normandie was great and being treated like royalty was great, but I wasn't about to expect that every night of a cruise. In the main dining room the food was very good—I enjoyed it a lot. But, someone is not about to come out and cook food in front of you. Also, in the Normandie the staff to client ratio is MUCH lower than your waiter, assistant waiter, and sommelier have in the dining room, so they are able to service you better. I thought our dining room staff was GREAT and the service was OUTSTANDING. But, in the Normandie it was a step up from that. It was nice to have once, but certainly not necessary throughout the cruise. Since I'm not sure which night it was, I'm going to put the ventriloquist here. Personally, I find these guys sometimes a bit boring, but this guy was outstanding. Do NOT miss going this night—he was hilarious! July 3rd: Icy Strait Point 7-4: Whale Watching w/Keith @ Teck Outfitters Website: http://teckkoutfitters.com/ I was very excited to go whale watching, but still slightly nervous about getting seasick. Keith assured me we'd be in calm waters, so I wasn't too bad. It was pretty calm, but I'm glad I was wearing the patch. (which I wore the whole cruise and didn't get seasick once) He has a 32 foot cruiser and there was an inside section with a top area above the inside, it was great. The main level was only exposed in the back for viewing and at the top you can view from all angles. They were amazing, amazing! Keith picked us up exactly where he said he'd be and drove us to his boat. His wife drove us back. (Also stopping to get Moccasins with Kathy who is GREAT at it and I LOVE them. I pre-ordered them in my size and they were amazing! Be sure to request colors—I didn't, but loved what I got. I can see this could be a problem with some.) The whales were really close to us the whole time—a mamma and baby and then another whale—we just followed them around. It was amazing. The upper deck was great and open and just the 4 of us were on board. It was fantastic. We saw another boat with passengers from the ship (ship-sponsored) and it was PACKED. 3 floors of nothing but people EVERYWHERE. Crazy! Teck took us exactly where we wanted to go and found the whales for us. Then we followed them around guessing where they would surface—fun in itself. These animals are just so large and great to watch, my breath was taken away doing it. When we got back to the docks, I wondered around a few of the stores. DH & I are really into artwork, so we stopped in the Southeast Artwork store (they have one in Juneau as well). I bought a nice picture of the Northern Lights and they arranged to ship it to my house. On a side note: A few weeks after I got home, the piece came in the mail and it was cut all down the side like a child was cutting the paper down to size. It looks horrible. After taking up the issue with Southeast Artworks (the owner specifically), his final response was to send it to him (paying shipping both ways) and he'll cut it better for me. This is the only truly HORRIBLE experience I had from the trip and would highly discourage anyone from buying something at one of their stores and having it shipped back. You won't get the product you think you are getting. July 4th: Ketchikan 9-7: Fishing w/Ken @ Northern Lights Kind of a rainy dreary day. Since we had fishing starting at noon, we decided to walk around town a bit and possibly shop. I got a great gold-nugget ring which I love and wear all the time, so it was worth the drenching rain to wonder around. Since so many people recommended Anabelles, we headed over there. We each had the soup and then split 2 appetizers (crab cakes being one of them). Also had 2 bud lights (4 people ate total). The soup was very good, the rest was okay—def not my favorite place to eat during this trip. The bill came to $77! I would have rather had the free food on the ship! I also stopped at Ketchikandies and got some of the chocolate covered oreos—whoever said to get those on this board—THANK YOU—YUM!!!!!!! Also, got some chocolate covered pretzels—those were great too. Anyone going who wants to ship me some, feel free!!! This was by far the most built-up town and it was a pleasure to walk around, even in the rain. Before noon I went by our gangplank and took a walk around looking for Ken, our guide to fishing that day. http://www.ketchikanfishing.net/cruise.htm. I was very nervous about getting in a boat because I get a little seasick, but Ken reassured me that everything would be okay. He told me that he would meet me at my gangplank at noon with a sign with my name on it. Then he also gave me a number to call in case he wasn't there, which made me very comfortable. Since he wasn't there yet, I sought sanctuary under an awning for a closed gold shop and waited. He was slightly late and I was glad to have his cell phone number and called him to make sure I was in the right place. It ended up that the people before us forgot to bring cash, so they had to get back on their ship to get it. People, please remember so other people don't have to wait. Anyway, it wasn't a problem and he was there soon enough. We walked right down a gang plank onto his boat. (20 feet from where we got off our boat) A section of his boat was covered, which was great since it was still pouring. But, boy oh boy—the water was ROUGH until we got to our destination. When we finally got there, we started 'trolling.' I'm not a big fisherman, so for those who don't know what that is—it's where you stick polls in the water off the back of the boat and move around really slow hoping the fish bites a pool. So, while we were trolling and the guys were focused on the polls, I was looking around a bit and saw an eagle—it was really cool, so I pointed it out and Ken told me to look at the "eagle tree" instead. I swear, there were 3 HUGE trees PACKED to the GILLS with Eagles on them---it was an amazing sight! So, after I calmed down from that, we kept trolling around—maybe for 2 hours and just caught nothing. Then we stopped to pick up 2 additional passengers who booked for the later part of our trip. All of a sudden, we started catching King Salmon. All of us got one except for DF—he claims he has horrible luck ? But, it was still fun. I have a great picture of me holding my King Salmon! After that, we then were taken back to the dock. I filled out a form to filet & ship my salmon back and ordered some extra from the same place. Two days later DH's grandfather received our fish in a container with dry ice. Everything was packed perfectly. It was GREAT! I got back on the ship after that and took a nice hot shower and went down for dinner. A nice way to end the day. July 5th: Inside Passage Cruising I woke up and just looked outside. It was gorgeous out there. Scenery on both sides of us and it was just beautiful. I could have sat on my balcony all day with a blanket and hot chocolate. What an amazing experience and it was great to see all the land unspoiled by anything else. We had breakfast upstairs at the buffet—what amazing waffles by the way!!!! Thank you for whomever on the board made sure I didn't miss them! Since it was such a great sight, we stayed at the aft of the ship to watch the scenery while eating breakfast. A few days earlier I convinced DM to go to the wine & food pairing with me today. So, a short while later we left to go (it was pretty early). We sat at a table for 6 at the Normandie and 2 other couples joined us (both very nice). We then sat though a great explanation of wine and food (much better than many others I've been too). Also, on the last ship I was on (Princess) I went to an event like this and once you were done with your glass, you were done. So, I assumed it was the same way here. But, the couple next to me finished their glass VERY quickly and all of a sudden someone came over and refilled their glass. I thought this was very interesting so I started drinking what I wanted to. If you ask me, $9.95 for 4 bottomless glasses of wine is a GREAT deal. I drank more than 4 glasses. It was entertaining, interesting, and I learned a lot. I highly recommend going. I arranged to meet DH at the room an hour after the wine tasting started (little did I know that it went for 1 hour & 45 minutes). He played basketball in the meantime, but wasn't too thrilled with my "tardiness." So, keep in mind that it's longer than 1 hour. A short while later, we went to the art auction. (probably not a great combination—drinking and then spending money) DH & I found some pieces we both liked (which is pretty hard for us) and bought a few pieces of art to decorate our house. The prices were great and I really did enjoy the host. We also made an appointment to meet with the people right after dinner, arranged to frame the art, and had it shipped home. (except 2 pieces which we carried to our hotel in Vancouver, on the plane, and back to home) The reason we had to carry some pieces was because the gallery had only a few left, they were 'specials,' and came with the frame. [They do let you know this prior to bidding.] We then went to the room to pack. It was just so sad that we were leaving the ship and ending that portion of our trip. I tried not to think about it as I packed everything up so I would be ready to put our bags outside at the appropriate time. I went on my balcony again before dinner and it wasn't that cold out there. It was gorgeous to look at all the majestic beauty of mother nature. *sigh* I wish I was back there right now. Also, since I had an aft balcony, I could see the 3 other ships following us. What a sight! Dinner was great, as always and I came back to the room stuffed. I glanced up and there was the most gorgeous sunset setting on the 3 other ships behind us. I took a few pictures and marveled at the sight a minute—it did take my breath away. July 6th: Dock @ Vancouver That morning we got up, ate at the buffet, and then sat on our balcony for a while just taking in the scenery. Once our steward said he needed the room, we left and went to the Concierge Lounge. This place was VERY stuffy and VERY small. It was hard to get in over people's bags and to find seats. The theater, where a lot of the rest of the ship was, I heard was much better. Anyway, if you could I would try and get off as soon as possible. That means that when they give you the questionnaire; make sure to fill it out that you have plans. I did have plans and wanted to explore Vancouver, but I still got the "Independent Traveler #2 color." It was not fun just sitting there. But, once our color was called and we got off the ship, it was VERY smooth getting our bags and getting a cab. They call people when they have cabs available and such—we had no wait and customs was a breeze. So, once off the ship, I directed our cab driver to our Hotel. I booked on priceline in April and got the Pacific Palisades hotel. I read it was in a great location, but wasn't that amazing a hotel (run down…). In my opinion, the hotel was fine. It was clean and the rooms were MUCH bigger than I expected. Once we got to the hotel, I dropped our bags with the Concierge (and got tickets for them) and we headed over to Stanley Park. We walked from the hotel and got a big lost once in the park trying to find the aquarium. I didn't want to specifically book anything, so it was the most disorganized time of the trip. In retrospect, I wish I planned it better or booked with the trolley. The aquarium is nice and pretty small. The only thing I saw which I really haven't seen anywhere else is the Beluga Whale. It was pretty interesting to see. Make sure you go during the show time, otherwise you really don't see much. Otherwise, I could have lived without it. Also, so you know—from the hotel down Robson St. toward Stanley Park I could consider the "bad part" of town and the other direction from Robson St would be the "good part." Sadly, we were so wiped out; we thought perhaps there was only the "bad part." I wish we booked a tour than try to do this ourselves. Anyway, after we went to Stanley Park, we chose to walk back to the hotel and said we'd just walk into a place for lunch. Since it was so hot outside, we just wanted A/C or to sit outside in the breeze. The 1st two places we walked into were so hot from the ovens, we just couldn't stay. Finally, we tried a Greek pizza place (which I thought was interesting in itself) that was pretty close to our hotel. Now, I'm as surprised as the next person, but the food was SPECTACULAR! I'd recommend it if someone could find it. I got baked ziti and it was great. DF & DM shared a pineapple pizza & loved it as well. Then we got back to our hotel and DM & I decided to see if anyone at the spa was available for reflexology. People were, so we booked and I got DH an appointment as well. It was OKAY. I wouldn't go there again. It wasn't real reflexology, it was just a foot massage, poolside. For a foot massage with screaming kids in the background, it was good. But, that's not what I would be paying $75 for. Yeah, $75—it wasn't worth it! I had pre-booked the Zin restaurant at our hotel ahead of time and we headed there for dinner after relaxing a while. Dinner was good, but nothing compared to the rest of our trip. Also, since we were so wiped out at that point, I was just happy we didn't have to go far to get there and there was no wait when we did arrive. After dinner, we just collapsed in bed and watched TV a bit before turning in. July 7th: Fly home non-stop to Newark I noticed there was a crepe place outside our hotel and was all about having breakfast there. I love crepes and you just can't get a good one in New York. YUM, boy oh boy it was good. Highly recommended. Then we got a cab to the airport. Miraculously, we got through security and to our gate in record time. We were about 2 hours early, so we decided to walk around a bit and left DF with the bags. When I got to the airport I was surprised to see a sign that pointed to an aquarium. To all those who don't know already, it's just a fish tank. If you went to Stanley Park, don't even bother. Not worth it. Since I was already in debt from giving my credit cards a workout the whole trip, I didn't want to shop. Around lunch time, we decided to grab something from the food court and bring it back to DF and have lunch. Since he wasn't allowed into the gate, he was sitting outside it when we left him there. Just a quick note: Once you are in the gate area, you can't come out. There are bathrooms and a vending machine in there, but that's it. So, I wouldn't go in until you know your flight isn't delayed… Sadly, our trip has come to an end. It has been great writing this review / journal, as I got to relive the experience. Any questions / comments I'd be happy to answer. Some other quick notes before I completely end that I hope can help others.: PACKING LIST: Other: I bought under armour (it's like long underwear) for the trip because both me & DM get very very cold. It worked. Get some if you think you'll need it! I also got buzz off apparel (shirts) to wear in Katmai National Parks and didn't get bitten. I recommend that as well. A lot of the guides were wearing them. Gloves Ear Covers Waterproof Pants My Columbia Waterproof jacket with a removable fleece lining. I got this from a guy I met through e-bay that sells discounted jackets, which he picks up at the outlet store. He can get most anything you want, which I loved. I got one for everyone going for the holidays last year. Papers: Passports Copy of Passport to keep either on me or in the safe Cruise tickets Alaska Documents / Lists Alaska E-mails on Excursions & Confirmations Alaska Insurance Copy Journal & Pen to write things to not forget in Front & Back Copies of the credit cards I'm bringing Put a copy of the itinerary in each of the bags in case of a loss - it helps! Medication / Cleaning Stuff Clorox Wipes Hand Sanitizer PeptoBiz Band-Aids Kleenex Sea sickness patch Dramamine Cough drops / Halls Advil Liquid Gels Medicated Chap Stick Gum Zinc Pills: Same as below Airbourne: Take a few days before the trip & take daily Toiletries / Personal Hygiene: Insect Repellant: Deep Woods Off w/100% Deet Sunblock Face Sunblock Travel Size Moisturizer & Cleanser Travel Sized Lotions & Body Wash Plastic Zip Loc Bags—many. Put some in camera case Shampoo & Conditioner Razors Body lotion Aloe Vera gel Deodorant Toothbrush/Toothpaste Listerine Dental floss Hair Brush Hair Ties Make-up (minimal) Jewelry: Watch, … Glasses: Prescription Sun, Regular Sun, Regular Contacts Liners Flat Iron Perfume Camera Stuff: Camera Case w/ Camera & stuff Lenses Lens Cleaning Stuff Battery Charger Extra Batteries Extra Memory Cards IPOD with Camera Connection to download pictures: This worked out great for me b/c I took so many pictures. I could just download them to the IPOD and then I downloaded them again to my computer when I got home. Extra headsets IPOD Charger Other: Binoculars Books & Magazines Little Wallet Type Bag Wallet Purse Cash to spend & for tips Celebrity Credit Card Cell Phone & Charger Throw-a-way ponchos? Fishing License Sleeping Mask to block the light Clothes Pins / Office Supply Binder Clips (to keep the light out) Backpack Insulated Mugs: use on the decks when looking out @ the glaciers & things Umbrella (celebrity provides them on the ship, so bring only for lunch) Duct Tape Post-it notes Ziploc bags Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Celebrity Summit June 1, 2007 Alaska (Anchorage to Vancouver) I am a 43 year old who took the cruise with my parents for two reasons. First, I wanted to introduce them to cruising and secondly, I wanted to see Alaska. My purpose in ... Read More
Celebrity Summit June 1, 2007 Alaska (Anchorage to Vancouver) I am a 43 year old who took the cruise with my parents for two reasons. First, I wanted to introduce them to cruising and secondly, I wanted to see Alaska. My purpose in writing this review is to help others through my experience cruising. I have had the opportunity to cruise all the major lines to destinations around the world and have found most cruises are what you make of them. The ship's market focus: Each ship and its itinerary appeal to a certain market. The market focus of this particular ship/itinerary was the 50-70 year old age group. Everything from the entertainment to the level of service catered to that group. If you do not enjoy the entertainment that 50-70 year-olds enjoy, then you will not enjoy the entertainment on this ship. The Broadway-style shows were average but the acrobatics featuring Alex and Sally were great. Most of the entertainment in the bars and lounges also catered to the 50-70 year old age group. If this ship sailed with a Caribbean itinerary, I think it would cater more to the 35-50 year old market. Staterooms were what I would expect, being efficient with space but certainly adequate. The ship provided bathrobes, hairdryer, Q-tips, cotton balls, shampoo, soap, and conditioner. There were also plenty of towels and the cabin service was outstanding. One could call between rooms by dialing the number of the cabin you wished to contact. Room service could be ordered through interactive TV or by phone and was excellent to average depending on how busy they were. There were no laundry facilities or irons on board; however, the ship offered dry cleaning and laundry service at a reasonable price. Dining: I thought the food was outstanding. We chose not to dine in the Normandie cover-charge restaurant because we did not think the food or service could be $30 per person better than what we had in the main formal dining room. The waiters in the main dining room really do attempt to make your experience excellent in every way. The Waterfall Cafe is the buffet with basically the same food every day but with the food changing during different times of the day. For example, the homemade pasta and salad bar were open 12-5 in the Waterfall. Sushi could be found there from 5:00-10:00. There were other food stations open and there were set breakfast and lunch buffet times. There was also healthy choice dining most of the day in the Aqua Spa Cafe. A hamburger/hotdog station was available 12:00-6:00 and an ice cream station 12:00-10:00. The create-your-own pizza station was available 12:00-5:00. During the breakfast and lunch buffet hours, options were plentiful, but the options were basically the same each day. Anyone who complains about the food and service on this ship makes me envious of the quality of food and service they obviously get at home. Health Club: The Celebrity Summit was no better or worse than most cruise lines in this area. They did make you pay for some services and access areas standard on other ships. A dedicated workout and/or health nut would not suffer on this boat. Alcohol: Celebrity Summit had the absolute most expensive drinks of any ship I have ever been on. But in their defense, they have drink prices very much in line with what is charged in Alaska. When a draft beer costs $5+ with tip then you know Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore. After reading most of the reviews and the Celebrity policy on bringing alcohol on board, my advice would be to bring as much as you want on board at the departure port. The ports are in charge of security that day and port security does not care the amount of alcohol you bring to the ship. You merely carry the alcohol on in a bag. My recommendation is to have each bottle in a brown paper bag and put the paper bag bottles in another bag so it is not absolutely obvious what you are doing. Celebrity scans your items after the embarkment day so there is the possibility you could get caught after the first day. For those following Celebrity's alcohol policy, you can only bring two bottles of wine on board per stateroom the day of departure and none after that. The ship's layout was fine once you got accustomed to what was where. I did find the ship in excellent shape for its age and very clean. The hand sanitizer entering all dining rooms was certainly a nice touch. It is easier to utilize the elevators in the area where your room is located so you have a home base elevator. There are three main elevator systems: one in front of the ship, one in the rear, and one at mid-ship. I used the elevator closest to my room to navigate the ship. Shore Excursions: I book most excursions myself, finding I save 20-40% over excursions booked through the ship. I have done this across the globe but found Alaska the easiest because the ports are American ports and practically anyone can book independently with little worry. This does take some advance planning and I hope to make this planning easier for readers of this review with the following suggestions in each port. A bonus to independent travel is you are not on the ship's tour schedule, allowing you to see more for less with flexibility. Pre-Cruise: We stayed five days in Anchorage using Anchorage as a home base to see Alaska's interior. We visited Denali National Park with a flight-seeing tour. We also took the park service six-hour bus ride into the park. The one thing I encourage each person to do is to purchase the Great Alaskan Tour Saver coupon book. It is valuable if you are going to do a pre- or post- cruise independent tour in or around Anchorage/Denali/Seward. The coupons are good all over Alaska, but most are helpful in and around Anchorage, Denali, and Inside Passage. The coupons are buy-one-get-one-free featuring BOGOF tours and hotel reservations. Purchase the toursaver at www.toursaver.com or call (907) 278-7600. We stayed at two different hotels in Anchorage where we paid for one night and received the second night free. We also rented a car from the Avis downtown location getting one day rental free while saving the airport car rental fees. Our flight-seeing tour in Denali was buy-one-get-one-free. Seward, Alaska: We rode the train from Anchorage to Seward. It was an absolutely beautiful trip. We spent the night in Seward before boarding the ship at 11:30am the next morning. If you choose to do this, book your hotel and train trip early as many cruise ship passengers go this route. Seward is around three hours from Anchorage. A rental car is not necessary in Seward. A cab or shuttle can get you to most places of interest. My suggestions for excursions while in Seward include the resurrection bay tour from Renown Tours and the Sealife Center. Both have BOGO coupons in The Great Alaskan Toursaver book. We also took the shuttle to exit glacier. We boarded the ship early to become familiar with the ship's layout while few people were on board. Embarkment was well organized. Hubbard Glacier Cruising: My best advice while cruising the Hubbard Glacier and the surrounding icy water is as follows: 1. View approaching the glacier in "The Night Club" at the front of the ship Deck 11. Enjoy the majesty of the glacier while taking no pictures. Arrive in "The Night Club" an hour before your closest point to the glacier for best seating. 2. View the departure from the glacier at the Waterfall Cafe Bar on Deck 10 at the back of the ship. This is where you can take the best pictures without fighting the crowds. The ship's initial approach to the glacier is characterized by passengers fighting to get the best position to photograph the glacier. The departure from the glacier is characterized by very few people taking pictures on Decks 10 and 11 where the best photo opportunities exist. Juneau, Alaska: We rented a car in Juneau and my advice is to book early. Car rental companies sell out when cruise ships are in port. We chose Rent-a-Wreck [(907) 789-4111] because they were the only company that would pick up and drop off at the dock. This is a good choice if you do not mind older cars. The ladies at the agency were also very helpful in pointing out places of interest. We visited the Mendenhall Glacier, the Alaskan Brewing Company, Glacier Gardens Rainforest, and the Shrine of St. Therese, all outside the city of Juneau. The price just for the Mendenhall Glacier and Glacier Gardens tour through the cruise ship was $61 per person. That would have cost us $183. Our total for the rental car was $57.50 Admission to the Glacier Gardens Rainforest was $22 each, but we had BOGO coupons from the Great Alaskan Toursaver. We did much more for our money by renting a car and using the toursaver. The area around the cruise dock is completely touristy featuring a tram, shops, and bars. I recommend the Red Dog Saloon for its entertainment value and you can order a Coke if you prefer not to drink. Skagway: This was another car rental port for us. We went with Avis and booked directly with the Skagway office at (907) 983-2247. Sourdough rentals is another option if you do not mind older vehicles. Both companies are in the tourist district near the cruise ship docks. Skagway is all about the Gold Rush of 1896. The two major tours are the scenic White Pass Railway and the Skagway Street Car Tour. The ship charges $112 per person for the 3.5 hour rail tour and $42 per person for the two hour street car tour. A couple would shell out $308 for the two excursions through the cruise ship. My advice would be to rent a car and take Klondike Highway 2 into Canada. (You will need a passport/proof of citizenship.) The Klondike Hwy follows the same route as the railroad but at a substantially cheaper price. The bonus for car rental tours is that one can stop to take pictures at their leisure. We took the road all the way to Whitehorse. Most tourist turn around returning to Skagway in either Carcross or the Emerald Lake. The Red Onion Saloon is a good place to visit a brothel museum although the entertainment is not as lively as the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau. The Red Onion is near the cruise ship dock. I also heard good things about the Days of '98 show that plays at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 7:00pm. The show plays at the Fraternal Order of The Eagle Hall located at 6th avenue and Broadway near the cruise ship dock. One could take the two hour Skagway Street Car Tour at the end of the day depending on when your ship departs. Icy Strait Point: There is not much at Icy Strait Point but the visitor center and the Zip Rider Zip Line experience. We toured the visitor center (about an hour) and then caught the shuttle to the town of Hoonah. Hoonah was what I believe to be a very authentic Alaskan fishing village. The town is walking distance from the cruise ship dock. There is a path that follows the road into the village. Sample the halibut pizza at the grocery store. Hoonah had very friendly people and the highest concentration of bald eagles of any place we visited. The shuttle was around $5 dollars per person for the round trip into Hoonah. Ketchikan: No rental car is needed in this port because most attractions are located within walking distance. My recommendations are as follows: Visit the Totem Heritage Center and Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery/Eagle Center. They are located next to each other at the top end of town less than one mile from the cruise ship dock. The last part is up hill so I suggest a cab/shuttle going up. Walk and follow the creek back down through the Creek Street Boardwalk. It is a beautiful walk and there is history, restaurants, and shops throughout Creek Street. Both the Tribal Hatchery and Totem Heritage center open at 8:00am in the summer. The Hatchery is informative and an extra special experience if the salmon are in town. The Hatchery offers the most up-close bald eagle experience you will get in Alaska. The Totem Pole Heritage Center is all about history and heritage. You can buy a combination ticket to both and each offers a guided tour. My other suggestion for Ketchikan is a Misty Fjords floatplane tour with a lake landing in the fjords. You can save between $30-$70 by booking yourself online instead of through the cruise ship. We went with Southeast Aviation (www.southeastaviation.com), booking a month in advance. Other highly recommended floatplane companies include www.promechair.com and www.islandwings.com . Book early for best prices. Disembarkment: Very easy in Vancouver. The airport shuttle was $12 per person and I left immediately for my flight back to the East Coast. Vancouver is a beautiful city if you have time to visit. I wish I could have stayed two nights but needed to return home to earn money for my next cruise. I hope this helps. Happy Travels! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Flight: Newark NJ to St. Paul Minneapolis to Fairbanks AK was 8 1/2 hours. Fairbanks airport was small, easy. Went to baggage area, met rep, tagged luggage, boarded bus off to hotel. Sophie Station, Beautiful huge suite, clean, full ... Read More
Flight: Newark NJ to St. Paul Minneapolis to Fairbanks AK was 8 1/2 hours. Fairbanks airport was small, easy. Went to baggage area, met rep, tagged luggage, boarded bus off to hotel. Sophie Station, Beautiful huge suite, clean, full bathroom amenities, ironing board, hairdryer. Fast food in walking distance, great restaurant, Zacks with large portions. Received luggage, tagged what was to be stored and what we wanted to keep. Fairbanks,Riverboat Discovery: Great cruise, views, informative and fun. El Dorado God Mine: Huge gift shop, fun and delicious free cookies. Pump House restaurant was $13.00 each way by taxi, food was delicious and atmosphere was worth it. Denali: Wilderness Express Train, beautiful views, comfortable, good breakfast, $9.00 ea. Denali Wilderness Bus tour: Old school bus, rough ride but worth it for the scenery. Give you a snack box. Stop for bathroom every 90 minutes. Bring binoculars, good zoom on camera. Highlight of trip to Alaska, "A must Do". McKinley Village Lodge in Denali, log cabin like units, clean, comfortable, good food. Beer battered Halibut was the best ever eaten. Denali: Husky Homestead Tour: Jeff King's Iditarod Dog Sled Camp, informative, fun, good value for the money, held a 9 day old puppy. Talkeetna, small lovely town with great little stores, best pizza at Mountain High Pizza owned and operated by a guy from Pittsburgh Pa. Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is beautiful. Breathtaking views from rear of Mt. McKinley. Could stayed there forever. Saw McKinley best at 7am with no clouds at all. Mahay's Jet Boat: informative, great views,saw eagles and beaver activity, nice nature walk. Anchorage: Stopped 2 hours here for lunch. Ate at the food court in the mall. Great stores for authentic Alaskan handmade purchases. Bought a beautiful doll and had it shipped home from store. Seward was just a port only town, so we boarded the ship directly. People ask if CC class is worth the extra money and upon boarding it was worth every cent as there were hundreds in line and because we had CC class we were directed into a CC line and we were number 3 in line to check in. It was great. CC Cabin 6143 was great. It was a little bigger then the other CC cabins especially the balcony area. Champagne and fresh flowers and fruit were waiting for us. Cabin was clean, had hair dryer and all bathroom amenities including sewing kit, shampoo, lotion, soap and hair cap. Snacks each day at 4 were nice. With CC class you also get priority tendering. You are directed to Michaels Club where you are served coffee, tea and pastries until your tender is ready. Then you are directed to the tender and board with no waiting in any lines. Same method is used at disembarking of the ship. So CC class is really worth the value for the stress free lines. Ship was beautiful, easy to find everything, fast elevators. I saw no wear problems, performance was perfect, no delays on any arrivals and no missed ports. Service was perfect in all areas, all service areas were ready to help with anything you needed. They were pleasant and always ready to assist you. Normandie Restaurant is worth the extra charge. The service and pampering you receive over dinner is wonderful and the food is delicious. Our friend forgot their reading glasses in her cabin but they brought her a box and opened it and it had every power of reading glasses you could need. Entertainment: We only saw one show as we cruise alot and the show we saw was like all the others with the broadway singers and dancers. Celebrity does need to do more work in this area to kick up their entertainment a notch from all the rest and make it more exciting with better headlines and better acts other then singing and dancing. Juneau: Great Shopping port, Alaska T-Shirt Factory is a great place to buy souvenirs. Bus to town is $1.50 roundtrip and a short distance. Easy to get to Roberts Tramway. We did the Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Tour. To do it again, we would probably book with a private Whale watching group as there were so many people on board through the ship that it was difficult to see the sightings when one did occur because someone would be in your way. Better to go with a private tour with less people. Mendenhall Glacier was good but again with a tour, you have to go at their schedule, and it was not enough time to be there. We would have liked to stay and watch the movie, but we did not have time to do that. Hubbard Glacier: beautiful, need binoculars, rain gear, and good zoom on camera. We had heavy icy flow in the water and could not get very close to it at all. We were very far away. It was cold so dress warm. We wore t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, windbreaker hat and gloves. Skagway: Great town with nice store for shopping. White Pass Yukon Expedition: We went up by bus and back by train. Another highlight of cruise and "A must Do". Sights were beautiful. Stopped at Caribou Crossing in Carcross for lunch. Was delicious and fun. You can eat in a covered wagon. Wildlife Museum was beautiful. We had extra time so we were taken to Emerald Lake. A "must see" view. Beautiful and breathtaking. Icy Strait: tendered, zip line is available here, small port area with little shopping and museum. Can take bus into town. We did whale watching tour and again there was alot of people but sightings were better here then Juneau. Ketchikan: Great port again for shopping and souvenirs at the Outlet Store at Salmon Landing. We did the Duck tour. It rained all day, but we put on our rain gear and did not let it dampen our spirits. We ate at Steamers. We had King Crab and dungeness crab. It was delicious. Inside Passage was very scenic and relaxing. We used our balcony mostly for viewing only. It was too cold on all of the days to just sit out. Vancouver: Waited in private lounge area till color was called, loaded onto a bus and taken to airport. Get a cart when you go into airport, they are free. Pick up your luggage, go through check in, then customs, unload your luggage on conveyor belt and go to your gate. Summary: Celebrity was perfect throughout the vacation. We had no problems anywhere at anytime. Everything went like clockwork. The important thing to remember is don't overpack. Alaska is jeans and t-shirt territory. Leave the dress clothes at home. You will have your coat on most of the time and no one will even know what you have on under your coat. So lighten your load. Dress in layers. T-shirt, hoodie and windbreaker and rain gear like a poncho. Take a good set of binoculars and make sure your camera has a good zoom ability. If you have a digital camera, take extra cards with you to hold more shots as you will take more pictures on this cruise then you did on any other cruise you have been on. We ended up with 1200 photos. Take something to waterproof your camera also as you will hit rain at some point along the way. The Must Do's and See's: A land tour before the cruise to see the interior of Alaska. White Pass Railway. Denali Wilderness Tour. Emerald Lake. A private Whale Tour. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
This was our second cruise on Summit, and we were looking forward to being back onboard. We had previously been to the Mexican Riviera in October, 2005 with an outside balcony. For Alaska, we decided to try Concierge Class, and did NOT ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Summit, and we were looking forward to being back onboard. We had previously been to the Mexican Riviera in October, 2005 with an outside balcony. For Alaska, we decided to try Concierge Class, and did NOT regret that decision at all! :) We were travelling with a local group of 29 people, and prior to our cruise we had booked a land tour through Premier Alaska Tours, encompassing Anchorage, Fairbanks and Denali, which was exhausting, but very nice. 10-13 hours a day on the bus/train can wear you out, and we were even more glad to see Summit waiting at the pier on June 15. Embarkation: As we walked in, there were two queues: HOlland America and Celebrity. We went to Celebrity, where the first thing they had was a couple of tables. These had Handi-Wipes, followed by very nice representatives with cookies, hot chocolate and water. How welcoming!!! We had CC booked, so we followed the signs to CC registration; NO, that's right, NO wait, NONE! (It is good to note at this point that the members of our group who didn't have CC only had about a two minute wait for a representative. This was such a fast and smooth embarkation! From there, security was about a five minute line, photo for the "we're going to Alaska" was a breeze-through, a two minute walk to the ship, right onboard with no wait. When we walked on, there was the usual line of white-gloved staff waiting to take your carryon and seapass, hand you champagne, and walk you to your cabin. Ahhh, yes, this is vacation, this is Celebrity!! Public Rooms: The Summit, as for any ship on the water more than a year, has constant "fixer-upping" going on, but overall is in very good shape. There are the usual little things that one could point out, but they certainly don't detract from Summit or ruin a cruise! The Centrum on Summit is beautiful, gold and marble, very serene looking, in muted tones. Cabin: Concierge Class 7200 was right next to aft, and perfect; situated between two floors of cabins instead of entertainment/sports decks, sleep was a breeze. The views were great, and our cabin attendant, Victor, was a dream! Our first morning, I wandered up to Cova Cafe to surprise DH with lattes and FRESH (yum!)chocolate croissants from the patisserie. I saw Victor on the way back and he told me that I could have written them in on our Room Service menu, and he'd bring them, even from Cova Cafe. (very cool, the balcony with lattes). He kept our cabin in great shape the whole time that we were there. THe pillow menu (isotonic, conformance, goosedown, body) is wonderful; I am a "pillow girl" and Celebrity did not disappoint. His assistant, Danny, was also great, always cheerful and helpful. Fitness and Recreation: We did not work out while on Summit, but we did, as before, use the Persian Gardens. Yum!!! Very relaxing, and another of Celebrity's apparently little-known secrets. Value for Price: Yes, Celebrity costs a bit more than some of the other mainstream lines, but in my opinion, the y are well worth it!! Dining: The dining Room was excellent, food always fresh and well-presented. Acosta, our waiter, and Ivan, his assistant did a great job of making sure that we were well-fed and more than satisfied. We also took my family to the Normandie one night, as we had dined there on our previous cruise, and wanted to treat them. From beginning to end, the Normandie was "an experience", and a heavenly one at that. Entertainment: We went th four of the seven shows, and found them all to be very enjoyable. The Celebrity singers and dancers offer a variety of talents, and the other stars will keep you entertained as well. The Celebrity aerialists are particularly breathtaking! Service: As before, impeccable and top-notch! Thank you Celebrity!!! Shore Excursions: Glad we booked with the ship. We had a golf trip booked at Skagway, and to get there, we took a catamaran to Haines (the golf concierge went with us- Sharon, wonderful!!). This catamaran only runs every so often, and due to the game running long, we missed the return catamaran. The next one wouldn't be till 5, which didn't affect us as we didn't sail till 9, but there was someone with us from Celebrity's Mercury, also booked through the ship, and his ship departed at six, had to be back onboard BY 5:30; the catamaran trip was a half hour. Sharon and our Haines guide, from Alaska Mountain Guides, managed to get us on a chartered little island hop plane a couple of hours sooner; they filled the time in between with a tour of Haines disc golf and such, which was great!! Other tours were the Taku Glacier jetboat, the Mt. Roberts tram, the zipline at Ketchikan, the Kawasaki 4x4 mules at Icy Strait Point. All were well-organized and a blast. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
June 1, 2007, this was the day that my mother, myself and approximately 70 others would wrap up our Celebrity operated tour portion of our Cruisetour and board the Summit. We had flown into Fairbanks on May 26th and spent the days seeing a ... Read More
June 1, 2007, this was the day that my mother, myself and approximately 70 others would wrap up our Celebrity operated tour portion of our Cruisetour and board the Summit. We had flown into Fairbanks on May 26th and spent the days seeing a very small segment of Alaska's interior. (Remember approximately 1% of Alaska is inhabited.) Roberta, our Tour Director and Sheila, our driver had provided us with a week of boat rides (Riverboat Discovery III), city tours, panning for gold and enough scenes of Alaska's vast wilderness to boggle the mind. I know this isn't "cruise related" but I heard not ONE negative comment concerning Roberta or Sheila from anyone. They were supremely professional, fun to be with, informative while also sensing when enough talk was just enough. Anyway, onto our cruise.... Roberta said good-bye to us at our last loading of the motorcoach (they get cranky when you call it a bus), and left us in the capable hands of Sheila. She provided commentary while driving us safely to the last leg of our journey, delivering us to the port of Seward and the dock where Celebrity's GTS Summit was berthed. The bus pulled onto the dock early afternoon and we said our farewells to Sheila as Celebrity's cruise representatives met us and guided us through embarkation. We had a rear cabin, stateroom 7206 Concierge Class awaiting us. Embarkation went very smoothly and my mother and I were cheerfully checked in very quickly (I would estimate under 10 minutes). We then took the short walk from the side doors of the processing center to the gangway of the Summit, with the obligatory stop in front of various signs to allow the ship's photographers to capture the moment of our boarding the Summit. Upon entering the Grand Foyer we were greeted by smiling faces and glasses of champagne to set the tone and a subtle reminder to assure us we were now in the capable hands. We took our room keys and handed them over to the room staff that would walk us to our stateroom. Outside our stateroom upon our arrival was all our baggage waiting for us, as they had been delivered early in the day, so we would not have to wait for them to off-loaded from our bus we had been riding. Before our door closed, Victor, our room attendant was introducing himself and assuring us if we needed ANYTHING, that we were to pick up the phone and push one button (he demonstrated) and his beeper he kept pinned to his belt, in the small of his back went off immediately. We had been handed tickets as we left the embarkation building with an opening dining time for us to eat our first meal aboard. Victor informed us we could, as CC passengers head to the dining area at our convenience to eat whenever we pleased that first night. We opted to take a few moments, catch our breath and do some room/veranda inspection and a minimal amount of unpacking. The beds were separated per our request and on our desk where fresh flowers along with a card stating our seating information for our evening meals along with an envelope that contained our tickets for the various excursions we had pre-booked online months before our journey was to begin. The veranda doubled our living space as the aft facing cabins have huge outdoor spaces, covered partially by the deck above and much of the remaining overhead had canvas sections whipped to pole structures providing protection from the weather and the decks above. On the veranda were four adjustable lounge chairs, a dining table, two chairs accompanying that along with a small side table. After settling in, we headed down to their Cosmopolitan Restaurant to taste their fare. The first meal, (the general seating one) was a bit lack luster, taste wise. I chalked it up to it being nearly impossible to show off with people coming in over the course of the afternoon, however that meal, as did the next two evening meals had us walking away afterward going "It was okay, but...." The food was certainly edible, but lacked that final touch or flourish to put the meals over the top. Let me say right now, the breads and bakery department, responsible for all the pastries were just outrageously good from the start. They did not miss a beat. I heard one woman mention she didn't care for them due to the pastries not being sweet enough for her taste. I prefer the taste of fruits in my danish versus "sweet". So you'll hear nothing but accolades from me in that department. My sister had cruised with Celebrity on the Millennium a couple months previous and came away with the same concern about the food. "It was ALMOST really, really good... but" She thought it might have been that they had gotten a new executive chef on board and they hadn't quite worked out all the kinks yet. Sadly, I was afraid that it was just a general malaise that had settled over the whole of Celebrity's kitchens. I am more than pleased to announce however, that just about half way through our cruise someone in the kitchen started tasting the dishes prior to them being served. From that point on the plates were all spot on! Served at proper temperatures, seasoned properly and with a certain flair that put them in that category where you just KNEW the chefs were on there game. The plates were always pleasant to look at, now the taste was there to back it up. It was a pleasure to walk away from the evening meal with a huge smile on one's face, reflecting back on what you had just shared with table mates. Speaking of table mates, on our first night of scheduled seating,one of the two formal nights, we were the only two at a table for six. Herculano, our superb server, eased our fears that we would continue to eat by ourselves. We were, after all, there to meet folks; laugh together and share tales. Sure enough by the next night others that had eaten by themselves got moved to our table and we had just a terrific time with our new acquaintances from Ohio and Colorado. Both couples were wonderful company and a pleasure to share a meal with. Our last night aboard we opted to make reservations for the Normandie. I can't say enough positive things about the whole experience in the Summit's specialty dining area. This was the "finest" dining my mother had ever experienced and they absolutely made her feel welcomed and explained in very non-threatening terms how the evening was scheduled and the menu options. The maitre'd was warm, funny and very approachable. The whole staff there took great pride presenting what was surely one of the best evenings we had ever shared. It was truly memorable. The solo harpist was directly in front of us and played through out the evening adding nicely to the ambiance. If you are a wine drinker I would recommend paying the additional $29 dollar surcharge (above the $30 pp for the evening meal) for a five course meal married to a glass of wine chosen by the chef for each coarse. My mother isn't a wine drinker so we opted for the four course meal that exceeded our expectations. I have to say clearly, I went in there with pretty high expectations. My mom just loved the experience and the food and I was thrilled we had such a wonderful time. On the other end of the spectrum from the luxury that is the Normandie Restaurant is the 10th deck eateries. Buffet lines galore with pasta and pizza stations, shepherds pie, sandwiches, the ice cream bar along with many international foods available for you to try. Don't miss the sumptuous waffle station where the deep waffles are made fresh to your order as your turn comes in line. Want to eat healthy? They have a section at the forward end devoted for you. I personally didn't feel cheated by their curry chicken and rice plate. Try the figs in light syrup for a desert a time or two. You may change your mind if you thought healthy meant depriving yourself. Onto other things, but obviously food, coming first in my review hints at my priorities! LOL The entertainment aboard the Summit was generally very good. The Celebrity Theatre is very nicely layed out. With excellent lines of sight from nearly every seat. I will admit now, I was hoping to have the daily schedule in front of me now to help refresh my memory of the names of some of the entertainment. I do not. There was the Theatre, there were performances by a ventriloquist one evening that was very funny, at times I was concerned that he might go past the point of good taste, however everyone rolled with laughter and he kept it edgy and fun without seriously over-stepping that boundary. There was a female/male team of "aerialists" that performed amazing feats and kept the audience captivated. Of particular note was young Mr. Meyer. (his name I recall clearly) I don't want to give too much away, but he's a musician that plays a unique instrument and had the majority of the audience in attendance giving a standing ovation at the end of the evening. The musical cast were in fine form and gave a very nice show and provided good entertainment. The Celebrity Theatre Band was just top notch for a cruise line. The musical director and pianist (one and the same) ran a very tight group of musicians. Kudos to her. The one group that I didn't really enjoy was a group of four young male a cappella singers going by the name of The Dischords. They certainly didn't sing discordantly, however as a former singer their blending wasn't quite there, their tune selection suspect at times and they generally didn't do much for me. They were certainly nice enough gentlemen and their enthusiasm was there, but just came up short in my humble opinion. The member with the curly head of longish hair, singing, I believe 2nd tenor didn't get highlighted nearly enough. When he did take the lead in a song, I tended to enjoy his portion the best. For the "lounge acts", I generally really enjoyed them. There was a young man soloing with a guitar that had a clear voice, sang well and chose songs that were both appropriate for him and was very enjoyable in an intimate arena. Another group I initially had concerns with was "Guys and Doll". As I was passing through the ship I heard them and continued on, as her voice was a bit rough. Much to my pleasure, perhaps half an hour later I was passing back through and this time she caught my attention with her singing, in a positive way. As I sat down in the Martini bar, able to look down on their forum and ordering up a "martini flight" (a sampler of 6 different mini-martinis) I realized that on my first pass through the ship hearing them, they had just started their first set and were getting warmed up. After the lead singer's chords got going they presented a most enjoyable show with a small dance floor that often had several couples out dancing into the night. Her voice, after she his full stride has hints of Ernestine Anderson minus much of the vibrato. On to the room and the one or two concerns. The layout didn't seem to be as tidy and sensible as compared to the staterooms aboard Holland America's Zaandam. The beds on the Summit were between the television and the sofa. That led to my MAJOR concern: My bed. My mother's was sleepable, however mine had so many lumps and the foam was so broken down I had to call Victor, the attendant to the rescue on two occasions. After two attempts of adding feather mattress pads (or were they simply feather duvets called to another purpose?) Victor made the bed semi-sleepable. Other than those two points the room was quite nice and the shower(only) was sized to make for comfortable showering. The Summit had something in between the automatic gratuity charges that many cruise lines appear to use. Several days prior to disembarkation they leave a note in your stateroom saying that if you want to give the standard tips for all those that made your cruise something to remember, simply return a slip and they'll add it to your final bill. If not, the following day your attendant will leave a series of envelopes, nicely banded in your room to divvy gratuities as you see fit. It a nice option to be able to work it either way. We certainly appreciated the efforts of some more than others so opted to deliver our gratuities via the envelopes, ensuring those that performed above and beyond were properly compensated. During the cruise, both berthed and tendered, operations allowing us to get ashore were smooth and seamless. If one is scheduled for an early morning excursion through Celebrity, they provided passes to ensure one was able to at the designated pick up area in plenty of time. The variety and depth of excursions available through Celebrity seemed more than sufficient for us first time Alaska visitors. The cruisetour and excursions provide a very nice overview of many different areas that Alaska has ready to be explored. Nature, history and cultures are wonderfully diverse and varied. If, on the other hand shopping is high on your priority list, Chez and her husband present many informational seminars on what stores ashore will assist you in making your jewelry, craft and fine arts purchases. Don't overlook the onboard art auctions if you're in the market for a new piece for your wall. They're great fun to participate in, or just observe. Sadly, disembarkation must also be discussed. Not that it was handled poorly, simply that meant our journey was over and it was time to return to reality. As Allan, the cruise director said so succinctly, "Now it's time to make your own meals, make your own beds, and remember the chocolates that sat upon your pillow each evening." Prior to arrival in Vancouver the ship's staff verified everyone's departure times and then issued tags for your luggage and cards for the passengers. It told you where to gather and the proper time to arrive. Don't get there too far ahead of your scheduled time, as you'll find the crowd is constantly shuffling in and out as various colors and numbers are called. Listen closely to the staffs directions, if you're to disembark forward or aft. Then it's passing through customs, inspections and on to your intermediate or final destinations. We opted to visit Victoria for a couple days post cruise, so after clearing customs we had a short wait for the Pacific Coaches motorcoach to arrive where we boarded and went via ferry to Vancouver Island. It is my understanding upon my return to home that there were 3 cruise ships that essentially were trying to clear Canadian Customs all at the same time. They apparently were understaffed and the nerves of many travelers got a bit frazzled. Hopefully this was a fluke, as when we passed thru Vancouver one year earlier (we were originally scheduled to be on the May 20th Summit cruise that was canceled due to pod problems) it was very smooth and what we thought was a huge crowd that would take us a couple hours to clear, we actually made it in well under an hour. In summary,did we love the cruise? Absolutely! The tour portion also. The excursions? Fantastic. The food; nothing to complain about. The entertainment, nice quality for cruising. Our treatment aboard, very, very nice. With all that said, will I cruise the Summit again? Most likely not. Nor are we likely to take any other Celebrity ship that has the pod propulsion system. It is incredibly smooth, to the point when we originally backed away from our dock, and I was standing at the aft end, I didn't realize we were underway. Try that with a conventionally powered vessel. But you be four days away from a vacation that you've planned nearly a year ahead of time, got all excited about then to have them reach into your chest and yank your heart out and tell you it has been canceled. Due to a problem that has plagued this class ship for what? Over 10 years now? My question is simply, why can't you fix it? With the brain trust that HAS to have been puzzling over this issue for so long, when will it be behind you? When the fleet of the Millennium Class ships is retired? Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
First let me start out saying we have never cruised before-- So this was all new to us! We flew into Seattle and stayed at the Hampton Inn,Tukwila (they had free shuttle and breakfast) Wonderful hotel- great beds and a budget price! We ... Read More
First let me start out saying we have never cruised before-- So this was all new to us! We flew into Seattle and stayed at the Hampton Inn,Tukwila (they had free shuttle and breakfast) Wonderful hotel- great beds and a budget price! We took a shuttle down to the Amtrak (15 minutes away)--Because of the advice we received on this board we were first to arrive at the Amtrak station and got the seats of our choice-- This is a wonderful way to start out your vacation-- very relaxing--narrative and the views are to die for! A quick cab ride brought us to the ship-- easy to get through security and onto the ship-- a lunch buffet was waiting for us as they readied the rooms. We spent the extra to get concierge class-- Well worth it! we were pampered by the staff-- the room was spacious (for a ship!) lots of storage in the room-- and We spent so much of our time on the veranda that it was like a second room! We found the Summit to be a beautiful home away from home--everything sparkled and truly I can say that I never saw any crew member without a smile on their face!! We were greeted by name everywhere we went and were only met with kindness everywhere on the ship. We found the passengers on the Summit to be a nice mix of middle age to retirees-- not alot of younger couples. I think this is due to the lack of adventuresome activities! which was fine with us-- As I mentioned we spent most of our time on the veranda looking at the views. We did go to the shows at night-- nice variety-- from comedians, to musicians to musicals-- We had breakfast in the room almost everyday! gotta love room service-- and lunch was split between the main dining room and the grill! Dinner was in the main dining room-- we had early seating but if I were to do it again I would choose late seating-- its always light in alaska so our timing was always off! Early seating had us rushing to dinner each night after a day of excursions. Later would have allowed us to linger in the room or the bar--- All and all I would highly recommend the Summit-- especially to ALASKA!! You won't find better service or a more appointed ship anywhere! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
My husband and I are in our early 60's, we travel a great deal on business and pleasure throughout the U.S. and have also been to the Med. on the Millennium. This was our third cruise to Alaska on the Summit. Our two prior cruises ... Read More
My husband and I are in our early 60's, we travel a great deal on business and pleasure throughout the U.S. and have also been to the Med. on the Millennium. This was our third cruise to Alaska on the Summit. Our two prior cruises were 14 nights from San Diego. This year we selected a 7 night N/B with 6 night land package to Fairbanks May 25-June 7. Our northbound itinerary was Vancouver, Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Seward. One night at the Anchorage Marriott, two nights at Talkeetna Alaska Lodge, one night at Grande Denali Lodge and two nights at Fairbanks Pikes Waterfront Lodge. We allowed Celebrity to book our round-trip flights from Los Angeles/Fairbanks(Air Canada & Alaska Airlines). Also booked one night pre-cruise hotel at the Fairmont Waterfront. It's a wonderful hotel with a great view of the water and Canada Place. After great night at the Fairmont we were transferred to the Summit by bus late morning. Being Celebrity Captain Club members we breezed through embarkation and went directly to our stateroom with our welcoming glass of champagne. We booked a CC aft on the starboard side. We prefer aft because it seems quieter with less hall traffic. Our stateroom was immaculate and we immediately met our room attendants who I must say were the best we've ever had on any cruise. I asked for extra down pillows and they were on our bed by the time they were turned down that evening. We headed for the buffet lunch and for a look around the ship. I will have to say that we were very disappointed to see that our favorite lounge (Revelations) still has much of the ugly effects of Cirque du Soleil. Hopefully that will all go away when the ship goes into drydock. We sat outside on the rear deck for sometime and then went back to our room to unpack as all the suitcases were there (my 100 lbs. of clothing mostly). I take a long shoebag to hang inside the bathroom door where I can store lots of stuff. Muster began just prior to sail-away and we noticed that many people were still boarding the ship due to flights that were held up from bad weather on the east coast. We have early dining and after muster went back to room to freshen up for dinner. We selected a table for six and were very pleased to see we had a huge window next to our table and we could also see out just past the Captain's table. Our tablemates didn't have dinner but one of them came in to let us and the waitstaff know they would be coming the next night. They turned out to be a very pleasant family that we spent many enjoyable evenings. We stuffed ourselves and then took a long walk around the ship before finishing our unpacking. It was a beautiful evening as we watched the ship sail away from Vancouver...our balcony was so comfortable we popped open our champagne and relaxed the rest of the evening. The bed felt great although I know they haven't replaced the mattresses as yet, and I have a bad back...slept like a baby. We always have breakfast in our room and did so while we cruised the inside passage. We had made appts. for a couples massage that day so went to the T-Pool and then on to the Spa for our massages. Love that place! The T-Pool is free and reserved for 18 years or older. There were a couple of children in the pool but since there was hardly anyone in the pool it didn't have any impact. Had lunch at the Spa Cafe (our favorite). We played bingo and won a bit of money, went to the casino and surprisingly won a bit more. Dinners were exceptionally good and we think even better since our last Summit cruise in 2005. I won't go into each and every port except to say that we rented a car in Skagway and drove up to Emerald Lake, etc. It's just a beautiful drive. In Juneau we did the whale watch and Orca Point Lodge excursion. Also had booked a private tour in Ketchikan to Misty Fjords. We saw lot and lots of whales, harbor seals, bald eagles and other wildlife. We particularly enjoyed ISP (Hoonah) as we hadn't been there on our other cruises. We took a private tour with Capt. Floyd and had a wonderful cruise around the island. Saw lots of humpbacks, brown bear (one in the parking lot) and also a mama bear with her cub frolicking on the beach. After a great week aboard the ship we disembarked at Seward and took a very comfortable drive on our "motor coach" to the Anchorage Marriott. Marriott was a very comfortable and lovely hotel. Our tour guides were great! They stay with you on the entire coach and train trip. They hand out your keys on the bus pre-arrival and your bags are waiting for you in your room. I had called the hotels ahead of time and requested a King bed non-smoking with a view of the mountains in each hotel and lodge. Celebrity made sure that we got what we asked for each time. That is where I think Celebrity is a cut above - OUTSTANDING SERVICE! Anchorage is a great little city with lots of shopping and we had really nice weather for late May early June. We then took the motor coach to Talkeetna. What a beautiful drive and a great lodge! Our room was looking right at Denali (Mt. McKinley). The clouds had lifted and we had spectacular views of the mountains almost the entire time we were there. We took a float trip down the river, very relaxing. Had a great night sleep. We boarded Celebrity's beautiful Denali Express to Denali. There were only 32 of us so we had the entire train to ourselves, more than 80 seats. You ride up in the dome portion and the dining car is downstairs. Food was superb as was the scenery. Our guides were young, witty and fun. We arrived at Denali Lodge..very, very nice. As usual our suitcases were waiting in our room. We stayed up late every night as it never really gets dark that time of year. I took a picture of Denali at 12:30 AM and it was still light. The following day we took the Denali Park tour. Saw a huge mama brown bear with two cubs and also a mama moose with her two calves. As nature will have it, the mama brown bear killed one of the moose calves right in front of us. The moose escaped with her other calf by running into our group, never saw people move so fast. After our tour we then boarded our train for the long trip to Fairbanks. We had a delicious prime rib dinner on board the train( before arriving at our hotel. The hotel is nice but it is located right next to the airport so the noise can be deafening at times. We took the paddlewheel and the goldmine tour...it was lots more fun than we expected. They take you by the Iditorod sled dog camp where they put on an exhibition...quite interesting. Then a bush pilot shows off his expertise by taking off and landing right over and next to our boat. We had planned to take the Arctic Circle flight but since we were pretty tired decided to rest up for our long flight home. If we ever do it again we'll forego the trip to Fairbanks and spend more time in Denali and Talkeetna. Talkeetna has bush pilots that land their planes (with skis) on the glaciers. It's quite an experience. All in all, we'd say it was our best cruise ever on the Summit and we were very impressed with how well organized the tour was compared to other ships tours. We saw many others waiting in hotels to get their rooms, keys and transportation. We never had to do that. We can hardly wait for our next cruise with Celebrity! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Just got back from our first and, I fear, our last cruise to Alaska. Celebrity Summit, Concierge Class, one week, Northbound to Alaska, May 2007. Alaska impressed us beyond words. Celebrity did not. I'll admit right away that the ... Read More
Just got back from our first and, I fear, our last cruise to Alaska. Celebrity Summit, Concierge Class, one week, Northbound to Alaska, May 2007. Alaska impressed us beyond words. Celebrity did not. I'll admit right away that the vast majority of passengers had a wonderful time. I'll also admit that at a basic level, Celebrity does a very good job: the new, larger ships have a remarkably smooth ride (when they don't break down...we'd originally been scheduled for last year's cancelled Summit cruise to Alaska), even on high seas, the cabins are of good size, with ample storage and nice amenities, the balconies are worth the extra cost, the beds are comfortable, the food is both good (as has been stated before on the Cruise Critic Boards, we're talking high-class hotel catering good, not three-to-four star restaurant good...but I had no complaints here!) and plentiful, the gym was first rate, and most facilities and functions were clean and in working order throughout. But Celebrity sells itself as more than the basics. Celebrity is about the "experience," about the service and the attitude and feeling like your being taken care of (especially for a Concierge Class passenger). The service we "experienced" ranged from barely adequate to utterly thoughtless. And this put a serious crimp on what was supposed to be a special occasion. Our original room had placed us next to a suite on deck 8. Based on reports we heard through Cruise Critic, we became suspicious that this meant a smaller balcony. Celebrity assured our travel agent this was not the case, but we persisted and changed to another cabin. I've now got photographic proof that, in fact, those balconies ARE smaller. Our travel agent was MOST interested in the picture. Where I come from, we call this "not telling the truth." That pretty much set the tone from then on. It started with our air travel: the cruise air plan had us flying home at a bad hour, with multiple stops, for a trip that would have taken almost twelve hours. We were able to cancel this and book through our travel agent, which cut our travel time in half, gave us a full day in Anchorage, and ended up saving us $100 even after penalties. When we arrived at our hotel in Vancouver (by the way, Vancouver is an AMAZING city...you could easily spend a week there, and we'll post about it on the Boards), we were told that they couldn't give us the king bed we'd requested...this is a 600-room hotel, and we arrived at noon...yeah, right. They at least gave us a 30th-floor room. Embarkation was a complete fiasco. Concierge Class lists "expedited embarkation" as one of the perks...too bad the folks running the show didn't know which line was which, and held us up while they whisked the folks who HADN'T paid the extra $100 for their room through in record time. I finally accosted someone to find out what was going on, at which point they admitted the error. They were not the least bit apologetic; more like annoyed. And even then, they kept it up for a while before expediting properly. GREAT WAY to start your relaxing vacation. While the ship is clean and well maintained, anyone expecting luxury needs a dose of reality: this 1900-passenger ship is in constant use throughout the season, with a four-hour turnaround between cruises, and the wear and tear shows. Our cabin had stains on the carpet, wine stains on a robe, the bath mat was visibly frayed, the TV and telephone occasionally malfunctioned, there was litter in the corner of the balcony...and the room STANK of cleanser when we embarked (smelled like there'd been a fire in the room). It took two days to fully air it out. And let's also be realistic about the staff: most (even the staff members with several years' experience) speak only rudimentary English, which makes anything other than basic requests an exercise in repetition (our next-door neighbors locked themselves on their balcony the first day out, and it took me almost five minutes to explain to the cabin steward that they needed to be rescued). They are not particularly well trained (the sommelier was a joke). And they have an incredible amount of work to do, so while they were very good at responding to direct requests, we didn't have a single instance during the entire trip when someone actually took the initiative to ask us what we wanted, list options that were available to us, or offer a moment's time. A lot of people mention how, once they request something, it keeps happening for the rest of the trip. Well, yes, this does occur. But that's not service. Service is asking. I had coffee set up after dinner every night after the first evening. I don't WANT coffee every night. No one ever asked my wife if she wanted tea, which she often does. This is not great service. It's MINDLESS service. I'm not slagging the staff; they work very hard at a job that is strenuous, monotonous and often humiliating (would YOU want to spend four hours in a fuzzy dolphin costume hawking disembarkation picture, or sit in a men's room that no one visits offering men spritzes of aftershave?). I AM slagging Celebrity, which promises a level of service they don't deliver. Their prime directive is to serve Celebrity's needs, not yours. Concierge Class does offer some nice amenities (the towels are particularly good), but the cabin steward? Fuggedaboudit. We had one meeting during which we asked for the things that hadn't (and should have) been placed in the cabin, and that was the last we saw of him (beyond the hallway). So no, there were no extra tips on this trip. Which brings us to the other reality of cruising on Celebrity: relentless, relentless marketing to induce you to spend more money. EVERY conversation with a Celebrity employee seems directed at some additional expenditure which he/she just HAS to bring to your attention. This all led up to the intriguing spectacle of the Baked Alaska Parade (actually Neapolitan ice cream in a gooey meringue) on the last formal night, which was followed by a prolonged spiel from our waiter soliciting extra tips. Waiters actively soliciting tips? Tacky, tacky, tacky. Of course, this might explain why we got the vouchers for the two bottles of wine our travel agent sent us AFTER dinner on the third night. We bought a bottle on the second night. Wonder when we'd have gotten them if we hadn't. The one excursion we booked through the ship, a late trip on the White Pass Railway, almost left without a bunch of people. The trains have tracks that extend out near the ships, and the early trips left from there. Ours, it turns out, did not. We passed a knot of people, including a woman in a wheelchair, waiting at that spot. Being suspicious, we continued down the dock to the ship...which is where we were supposed to go. If we hadn't told the White Pass representative (no one from Celebrity was around) about the other people (she was very surprised), and gone back and told them, they all would have missed the trip. Also, the trip started way late, and since there was no one from Celebrity around, there was no way to verify whether or not the ship was going to leave without us. We ended up back on board two minutes before they pulled the gangplank. Fifth day, my wife opened one of her drawers before bedtime to discover that two plastic bags (one for Scott's bubble wrap and the other for Barnes and Noble) had been put IN the drawer during turndown. Kinda creepy, since WE didn't bring those bags into the room. We had requested a walkoff disembarkation (Celebrity has a press release claiming this is offered on all cruises). In response to an item in the daily schedule specifically telling us to verify with the Guest Relations Desk if we wanted to do this, we filled out a request....only to be told it wasn't going to be offered. We asked them to double-check this and get back to us, which they did...at HALF PAST MIDNIGHT, waking us out of the first sound sleep of the trip. When we were assigned disembarkation, despite having told them on three separate occasions that we wanted to get off as early as possible, we were assigned to the LAST group to leave. They did, when we went to the Service Desk, fix this. The last night, we decided that we wanted to do a room service dinner. Too bad they'd already removed the cabin book so they could update it for the next trip. They told us to use the TV, but it was on the fritz. When I finally, after about three tries, convinced the cabin steward over the phone that we needed the room service menu back, he finally, grudgingly, showed up...with the dining room menu, not the room service menu. This was another example of the English-language problem, but it was also another example of a Cabin Steward who had better things to do that pay attention to a passenger. My wife wanted a pizza, not a pork chop. Just how far did they go to get you to spend? The hot tubs next to the outdoor pools (the free ones) ran throughout the cruise. The water was never above tepid, and often stone cold. A stone cold hot tub in Alaska? But hey, the hot tubs in the Thalassatherapy room next door were nice and warm. Of course, you have to PAY to use those one.... I could go on, there's more. But you get the drift. If you can look past all this, the cruise is fine. But you shouldn't have to look past this. Celebrity promises more, and they don't deliver. We payed a lot of money to spend a few days with OTHER people taking care of the details...and I'm sorry, cruise prices may have dropped a lot, but this was still a very expensive vacation. And we never felt that we could trust anyone to do anything. So next time we visit Alaska, we'll take the road. Even though it's a long, and not a very winding, road. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
This was our 7th cruise, first on Celebrity. Additionally, this was our first try at a 14-day cruise. We arrived in Vancouver the night before and stayed at the Riviera Hotel. Good location, but the hotel was "aged." ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise, first on Celebrity. Additionally, this was our first try at a 14-day cruise. We arrived in Vancouver the night before and stayed at the Riviera Hotel. Good location, but the hotel was "aged." Embarkation on the Summit was excellent, no delays in getting paperwork (as long as you completed the "X-pass" ahead of time) or in processing through U.S. Customs. We found our cabin, 7173, to be nice, and though we asked Elizabeth for an egg-crate mattress pad, none was to be found. The balcony was very nice, a little larger than normal, which came in handy while we were at Hubbard Glacier. The M-class ship was nice, not too big, not too small. The grand foyer was very drab/professional and not decorated for extended viewing. The Internet Cafe was fabulous - though some of the connections were a little slow, service (by Dennis) was exceptional. The Normandie was a very nice treat, and we were fortunate to get the "Wine Room" for our dinner. The food was great as well as the service, but honestly, since it took over 3-hours to accomplish the dinner, I was getting a little restless at the end. The Theater was fabulous, great seating, great shows. The cast had 5-singers with every one having a first-rate voice. Clear and above, the best singing group we've heard on the high seas. In the Main dining room, we had the late seating and a table of 10 (fellow CC members) that made evening dining a blast. Lets just say I didn't have a bad meal, and most were very, very good. Most of my selections were the beef, but i will add that several of the others had fish and poultry dishes and their reactions were different; some good, some bad. My advice is to choose wisely. I took out the Spa package to use the Persian Gardens, and really got my money's worth. The Thelassopy Pool was a real treat and loved the built in seats. The three steam rooms were very relaxing, thou one room only had enough for 4-adults. The fitness facility is one of the largest I've seen and the treadmills and bikes were always working. We did experience some medical issues, as Pebbles needed to use a wheelchair for several of the ports due to a leg injury shortly before the cruise. That cost us $171 to "rent" the wheelchair for 12 days. Then in San Francisco, I developed a mild ear infection and went to the infirmary at 9am and was second in line. At 11:30, I left the infirmary and missed my excursion. Bottom line, don't get sick on the Summit and don't be in a hurry with the Dr's Staff. The reason: All crew members go first, all followup visits go next, and new customers go last. As for the ports, all of the Alaska ports were fantastic. Individually beautiful with a multitude of things to do and see. The captain proceeded to amaze one and all by getting the Summit within 80-yards of Hubbard Glacier. We had a fantastic show of calving, cracking and shooters; in fact I ran out of film and had to switch over to the digital camera. Seattle, however, was another matter. Celebrity was at its worse as they required all passengers to get off the ship to clear US Customs. Well, that meant close to 2,000 folks getting off the ship and onto a port area that was not designed for this size of a crowd. Add to that the monstrously under-supply of buses (4-yep, that's right, 2000 people and 4-buses) that for $3 per person, we could catch a ride to any of 5-stops in Seattle. Well, 90 minutes after waiting in an unbelievable line, we finally got on a bus. The story was they couldn't get drivers; and when we got back to the cabin, we had a not saying they would refund the $3 per person charge. Would we sail on Summit again, maybe. Will we sail on Celebrity again, probably not as HAL, RCCI, and Carnival are all ranking higher on our list. The Summit is a well maintained, well staffed ship and folks will get their money's worth. But #5 in the world (Conde Nast 2006 rankings)???? Really... Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
14 day turn around cruise (Vancouver/LA) Alaska and West Coast. This was our 4th celebrity cruise and 1st on Summit. Cabin 9101 was wonderful- close to elevators but quiet and Santana the room steward was amazing, he was better than the ... Read More
14 day turn around cruise (Vancouver/LA) Alaska and West Coast. This was our 4th celebrity cruise and 1st on Summit. Cabin 9101 was wonderful- close to elevators but quiet and Santana the room steward was amazing, he was better than the butler we had on our last cruise in a Sky Suite. All Concierge Class amenities were in place and refurbished as needed. We used laundry service several times on the ship and it is reasonable, very fast and they did an excellent job. The food was better on this cruise than on any of the past 3 cruises. We especially enjoyed our dinner at The Normandie. It is certainly worth the upcharge of $30 per person. Our waiter and Asst MD were fantastic and we had a great table for 4 upstairs on the rail. Perfect for us. This was our first experience on an M class ship and while we enjoyed most of the amenities, several public areas were a disappointment. First and foremost the Grand Foyer- it seems very empty and almost institutional (cold and unappealing), some lighting/sculpture would help tremendously. The Cova cafe is set up so that the space is not well defined, seating is inadequate and the huge coffee bean sculpture next to the card room would be better removed and additional tables set up for seating. The string quartet was wonderful but they had no place to play and ended up stuck in a corner of the Grand Foyer (which isn't very grand at all) where no one could really sit and enjoy their music. The Cova set up on Mercury is much more inviting and appealing. The layout and set-up of the Aqua Spa was confusing and didn't "flow" very well. The spa was very nice and I really enjoyed the huge window in the sauna but the changing room was poorly designed (lockers too close to counters, everyone seemed to be in each others way) and the changing rooms should be further back in the Spa area not off the elevator lobby. It was strange to change into my robe for my treatment and have to walk all the way around the gym or thru the elevator lobby to get to the check in desk. These things aside, Summit is a lovely ship and we enjoyed our cruise tremendously. We're sailing on Summit again in 2007 to Hawaii. Embarkation in Vancouver was very smooth and debarkation in LA was as well. Debarkation was helped a lot by the fact that we had cleared US immigration in Seattle a few days before, so customs was the only formality that morning. Getting a taxi outside of San Pedro was a bit of a wait, just get your bags and stand in line. The queue moves quickly but it seems disorganized and several people tried to jump in queue. The transportation manager calmly directed them to the back of the line but there were some upset people as the wait was over 30mins. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
Let me say this up front: This was the best, bar none, of all eighteen cruises we have taken. That being said, you might expect that it will be for the most part complimentary. This is not to say that there were not some little glitches ... Read More
Let me say this up front: This was the best, bar none, of all eighteen cruises we have taken. That being said, you might expect that it will be for the most part complimentary. This is not to say that there were not some little glitches along the way, but certainly nothing that would be construed as cruise disasters. Travel: All travel arrangements were made through Celebrity. They did a good job of meeting our time and airport criteria. We used Alaska Airlines. In this we were quite satisfied. Since we had never seen the NW coast, we chose to fly to SeaTac airport and bus to Vancouver. This was not a good decision. First, we were very late leaving SeaTac as the bus waited for late arriving passengers. They never did arrive. Second, the bus was not in real good condition. The brakes squealed, the transmission bumped and jumped, and generally it rode quite rough. This made the three hour ride most uncomfortable. In addition, we got to Summit only a half an hour before scheduled sailing. Embarkation: Since we were so late, embarkation was no problem. In fact, I was told by someone an acquaintance already on board that we were the next to last to get onto the ship. Because of this, I can make no first person assessment of the boarding process at a busier hour. Our late arrival also contributed to not receiving the usual greeting found on Celebrity. We were not greeted, did not receive a glass of champagne, and there was no music playing in the lobby. Not a big deal, but it did take some of the glitter off the arrival. We were, however, escorted to our stateroom. First Impressions: Since we had not eaten in more that twelve hours our first mission was to find something to eat. This was not difficult since a buffet was still available on the Resort Deck. Although it was a little crowded, we had no problem finding some good food and a nice window table. There was attentive service at these tables to provide any assistance we might have needed. We returned to our room to find our bags already there. This was about as quick as we have ever experienced. Unpacking was easy. There is plenty of storage in the cabin. Note: The shelves in the closet fold up so it is no problem to hang long garments. The bags fit easily under the bed. The room itself was not as big as some we have had on other ships, but was well laid out and easy to get around in. There was a small sofa, a table, and vanity next to the sliding doors to the verandah. The verandah was big enough for two chairs and a small round table. This was sufficient for snacks, etc, but I wouldn't have wanted to try a complete meal there. The bathroom was adequate. Large enough to towel off after a shower and well stocked with toiletries one might need. There was however little above sink storage. I had to put my gear under the sink. My wife made do with the small shelves and some cabinet storage. All-in-all, the room was clean, tidy, and comfortable. Our steward, Sudi did a good job of keeping it that way. If we had and problems or requirements, he attended to them right away. He also offered to store our bags if we did not have room for them. After unpacking, we took a familiarity tour of the ship. We found it to be easy to find our way around. Aside from a few small wear spots, the ship is in good condition. After some of the comments I have seen about Celebrity ships not being well maintained, I expected to find a few problems. None found. In addition to being a beautiful ship, there is a plentitude of interesting art to enjoy. In your walk-around, do not miss the greenhouse. Beautiful flowers of all sorts. It was a good start for the week. Ports and excursions: All off boat activities were booked via internet prior to sailing. This is a convenient way to assure availability. To be sure, one could go on-shore and find similar tours for less money, but there are risks in doing it this way. There were three off-boat ports on this cruise: Juneau, Sitka, and Icy Strait Point. I will touch on each of these briefly. Juneau: This was a tender port, as they all were. Aside from a short wait to get our tender ticket, it was no problem. (CC passengers get priority for tenders). The area immediately off the dock is a typical tourist area. Lots of stores catering to the memento trade. It was late in the season so most were selling out there stock at great prices. It would be a good place to do some Christmas shopping. We ate at the Twisted Fish Restaurant on the dock. Good food at Alaska prices. Our tour out of Juneau was a whale watching boat ride and a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. The bus and boat were very nice. Our guide was knowledgeable and interesting. We did see plenty of whales. In fact, we were somewhat delayed returning to the dock because one animal decided he liked our boat and came close and would not leave. Law says that the skipper could not start the engines while "Spot" was so close. Consequently, we were somewhat late getting to the glacier and by that time is was raining and a little cool. Still, all in all, a very nice tour. Sitka: Not my favorite port. Prices were very high and seemed more "touristy" and we found in Juneau. We did have a very nice meal at the Victoria Hotel. This is a short walk down the main drag past the Russian Church. Our tour in Sitka was another boat ride, this time looking for sea otters, seal, sea lions, and or course, whales. We saw plenty of both, along with some great scenery. This tour included a naturalist who kept a running narrative throughout the entire trip. Icy Strait Point: This is a new stop developed jointly by the State, the local Indians, and the cruise line. If you want big time entertainment, glitzy stores, and plenty of shopping, don't get off the ship. It is not here. If, however, you would like a glimpse of what old time Alaska might have looked like, this is the place. It consists of an old cannery,its support buildings, a nice walking trail in the nearby rainforest, and the town of Hoonah. (maybe a thousand population). We took a walking tour through the meskeg and along a small stream to look for bears. We didn't find any, but it was interesting none-the-less. Hubbard Glacier: Not a port, but a great experience. Summit entered a short fiord to find the glacier face. Great weather and calm seas allowed the captain to come within 75 yards of the face. What a great experience. Plenty of calving, great photo opportunities, and some Baily's lace hot chocolate made a memorable two hour visit. Entertainment and activities: This ship provided plenty of diversions for those so inclined. We did not see many shows so I can not give a good review of those. Folks who did see them said they were enjoyable. The one show I did see was performed by a group of very talented musicians, but the selections were somewhat dubious for a cruise venue. (Titanic??) There was plenty of music around the ship to suit most any reasonably adult taste. Dancing was provided in at least two rooms. The casino was sufficient but not particularly friendly to the casual gambler. One can find the usual trivia games, bingo, art auctions, and cooking schools on board. We particularly enjoyed the wine tasting and the wine/food paring seminars. If you are an oenifile, get involved. One disappointment was the Photoshop seminars. The instructor, although well versed in the material, was poorly prepared, had no teaching experience, and in my mind caused more confusion than education. The food: For many folks, the dining experience can make or break a cruise. They would not be unhappy with the food on Summit. We took most of our meals in the Cosmopolitan Room and found quality and service to be first rate. Josue and Rameses our servers did an excellent job. In addition, the Sommelier Clint Clive gave great advice and took good care of us. We had one meal in the Normandie Room, a specialty restaurant. Don't miss it. It costs a little extra, but the experience is worth it. Five star dining at sea is truly something to remember. Disembarkation: A piece of cake. A leisurely breakfast in the dining room, finish packing in the stateroom and a short wait in the Cinema had us off the ship by 9:00AM. Since we were bussing to SeaTac, our luggage was already on the bus and we only had to clear customs to leave. Another long ride to Seattle on a better, but not good bus. We did at least get a great stop about half way there. This was a good thing since the light in the head on the bus did not work. As I said in the beginning, this was a wonderful vacation on a good ship crewed by a friendly, cheerful, helpful group of people. We are ready to go again. I almost forgot to mention Naomi, the Concierge. She was always ready to help when we found some little problem. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
Overall This was the trip of a lifetime! We've been wracking our brains to come up with something that's *not* positive and there is nothing coming to mind. We live in Portland, Oregon and this was our third cruise, second to ... Read More
Overall This was the trip of a lifetime! We've been wracking our brains to come up with something that's *not* positive and there is nothing coming to mind. We live in Portland, Oregon and this was our third cruise, second to Alaska and second time cruising with Celebrity. We decided on this trip to fly to Vancouver and arrived two days early to enjoy the sites and sounds of our favorite North American city. It would be so easy to spend a week or more in Vancouver all by itself. The city truly has something to offer everyone and the food is incredible!! Every culture and cuisine is represented proudly and deliciously. Embarkation - Ballantyne Pier, the ugly stepsister to the gorgeous Canada Place in Vancouver is not the most glamorous of cruise terminals, however, embarkation was handled smoothly and the only line was waiting to get through security. It is always a joy to be embarking on a Celebrity ship knowing that the smiles and complimentary champagne are just steps away! We left our hotel (Westin Bayshore has a WONDERFUL location in the city) at 11:45am and were having lunch in the buffet by 12:40pm, in the room and gasping at the size of the balcony by 1:15pm. Dining - Beautiful presentation on everything. Very few things really made me giddy, but I enjoyed all the food with little exception. The service is where Celebrity really shines. We had nothing but great service no matter where we went. Our assistant Maitre d'Hotel for evening dining was extraordinary. His name is Marco and he is quite a character. We always tend to get to know our dining staff very well because my husband is a vegan. This usually presents difficulties in most places, but not on Celebrity. They have a dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu with the items marked appropriately. That alone could win my loyalty with Celebrity, but it is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Pizza and sushi were also very popular with us on this trip. Delicious! Public Rooms - The Celebrity Theater is everything a venue of this type should be. It is large and open with wonderful acoustics and not a bad seat in the house. The dEcor is interesting and comfortable. What more can you ask for in a theater? The furniture everywhere is comfortable and every public room is inviting. The Bar at the End of the Earth is a bit unusual looking (it was originally designed by the Cirque du Soleil folks for their show before it was moved to the theater and modified) but who wants to hang out in rooms that all look alike? We did not eat in the specialty restaurant because of my husband's dietary restrictions. I did stop in there and the space is lovely. The main dining room was a wonderful space. The two-level Cosmopolitan is vast and lovely with an exceptional number of windows. Our table (#550) was on the second level over looking the winding staircase famous from all the Celebrity commercials. We also had a fantastic view of the huge picture window that frames the Captain's table. This view on an Alaskan cruise is definitely the one to have! We did not have a chance to dine in the Aquaspa cafe but our tablemates that did found the selections to be both healthy and delicious. The buffet is limited in both scope and hours, but you will never go hungry on the Celebrity Summit. Entertainment - Lots of musicals in the evening, we did not attend these. However, we did make it a point to see the Cirque show and it was absolutely amazing. They have revamped the show so that it is more of a "taste" of what a real Cirque show is like in person. We would not hesitate to go again or to recommend it to everyone. During the day there were lots of activities for every taste and talent: Bridge games, trivia, Bingo, organized exercise and sports--really something for everyone. Cabin - We had the most perfect cabin for the money spent. We were in a Family View aft cabin. This cabin is designed to accommodate 4 adults very comfortably, but if they are not sold by the 90-day (final payment) date, these rare gems are released to the public. There is a private hallway perfect for luggage storage, a large main room with double the closet space of most cabins, an extra room with both a sofa (queen fold out bed) and a loveseat with an additional dresser and more storage. Where this cabin really stands out is the balcony. All 241 sq feet of it! We were on level 7, just above the Penthouse suites which are the only accommodations with larger balconies than the Family View cabins. Since the cost of a penthouse is approximately 5x what we paid, we were very fortunate to have snagged this cabin. Since it was a corner, the balcony gives you a view of about 270 degrees. Amazing!! Service - This is where Celebrity really stands out from the other mass-market lines. The service is amazing. EVERY employee that sees you greets you with "Good Morning Madam" or "Good Evening Sir." They all make eye contact, they all smile genuinely, they listen when you request something and thank you when you compliment their work--which we did often! We truly felt that we were treated like royalty. The dining room staff was amazing. Other lines we have cruised on will shine at dinner, but may not be as impressive during breakfast and lunch. Celebrity is on the case 24 hours a day. There were three assistant Maitre D's that we must recognize personally: Marco Piccolli for our dinner hour and both Martin and Yussef for breakfast and lunch. These young men not only provide amazing service themselves, but also make sure their staff is top notch. Our room steward and his assistant seemed to always be working. Our rooms were always cleaned within moments of our departure, and on the one day we stayed in the room all day (glacier viewing) they apologized for coming in to clean while we were there (we were on the balcony the whole time). If you're lucky enough to have Wayan for a room steward, let him know that his fabulous reputation precedes him. Fitness - I must admit that this is not an area we spent much time in. Most of our physical activity came from walking the length of the ship and around the various ports of call. I did glance into the fitness room though and it is state of the art. Shore Excursions - We found the selection on the Summit to be vast. After doing lots of research on our own, we booked two shore excursions with Celebrity and one outside of celebrity just because of the fabulous reputation of the tour operator (Captain Larry at Orca Enterprises in Juneau - they're the best for whale watching!!). Some folks reported on Cruise Critic that they found they could save a little money by booking some excursions outside of the cruise line, but the difference was small enough on the excursions we were looking at, that we chose the peace of mind that you get from knowing if something goes wrong or gets cancelled, we don't have to deal with it, Celebrity does. :) Since Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are the same company, they are the only two lines that currently stop at Icy Strait Point, an RCCL sponsored port. This is the equivalent of a private island, but it gives folks a chance to see what real, small-town Alaska is like. We heard many people raving about their experience in this lovely location, and we will sail with Celebrity again just for the opportunity to show both sets of parents the same places. I have heard others who were puzzled as to why the ships stop there at all. The biggest complaint was that there is nothing to do here. DH and I couldn't disagree more. Yes, you will not find a giant shopping mall or a Diamonds International branch, but that should not be why you're coming to Alaska in the first place. We did not book an excursion in Icy Strait, but spent the day touring the little town on our own, relaxing along the wonderful picturesque beach and generally enjoying the absolutely idyllic weather we were lucky enough to encounter. We felt very lucky to have the opportunity to experience it. The best day of my life: Hubbard Glacier. On our first Alaska cruise, we were unable to reach Tracy Arm due to a landslide so this was our first glimpse of a glacier. We'd been told Hubbard is the best and now we know why. Weather in September in Alaska is usually sketchy to say the least and we weren't holding out much hope as the ship headed straight into the thickest fog bank we'd ever seen as we were on approach. I was standing on our balcony and I went to get DH to see what was happening. As we progressed, the fog started to slowly, steadily dissipate, as fog will do. Then, we started to see these incredible tree covered mountains on either side of the ship and the fog kept fading and fading and the sun kept getting brighter and the sky more blue. Suddenly, there it was, wrapped around the ship on three sides--the most awesome ice field I've ever seen. It was coming at us from all directions and we spent the next couple of hours completely enthralled with the beauty and wonder of it all. If you've never seen a glacier in person, this is the way to do it. We were fortunate to have the best weather imaginable for this day. The glacier is a living thing that cracks and groans as it prepares to calve and melt. The captain got this incredibly huge ship within 250 meters of this beautiful sight. It's hard to get perspective on it, but when one of the ship's tender boats takes a photographer out to get really close pictures and film, you can clearly see how huge the glacier really is. The ice at the foot of Hubbard Glacier is about 400 years old: it takes that long for ice to traverse the length of the glacier. The glacier routinely calves off icebergs the size of a ten-story building. Where the glacier meets the shore, most of the ice is below the waterline, and newly calved icebergs can shoot up quite dramatically, so that ships must keep their distance from it as they ply their way up and down the coast. It was clearly the most amazing thing I have every seen in my life and I can't wait to experience it again. Children's Clubs - We were not traveling with children and as it was post-Labor Day, there were very few of them on board. I did peek my head into the clubs and found myself wishing I'd had an opportunity to sail a ship like this when I was a child. Disembarkation - Pretty standard stuff here with a similar experience to what we've had before: Tag your bags and have them in the hallway by midnight. It's always sad to leave when you've had so much fun on a vacation. We rose early and had breakfast in the dining room with our traveling companions, went back to our cabin to grab our carry-on items and by the time we reached our designated meeting place, they were calling our number to leave. It was very smooth all the way through, luggage was easily located, porters readily available and there is a designated person grabbing cabs, mini-vans and limos for folks as they leave. Very well executed. Value - This trip was worth every penny. Celebrity is not the least expensive and not the most expensive, but the value is definitely there and we will be back. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
We did a 13 night land sea cruise. We were greatly disappointed with the air arrangements made with Celebrity. We flew from Vancouver to Seattle to Fairbanks arriving in Fairbanks at 1:30 A.M...We started our land tour at 7:55 the ... Read More
We did a 13 night land sea cruise. We were greatly disappointed with the air arrangements made with Celebrity. We flew from Vancouver to Seattle to Fairbanks arriving in Fairbanks at 1:30 A.M...We started our land tour at 7:55 the following morning this made for a very short night at the Sophie Station Hotel..accommodations at this hotel are just adequate...Restaurant: breakfast buffet was good but the dinner service was very poor. We were very fortunate to have an excellent tour director and bus driver for the land portion of our tour. They were both very knowledgeable and friendly. We enjoyed the Riverboat cruise and sights on the route, with the visit to an Indian village. The tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine was just a little bit of fun. Train ride on the Denali Wilderness Express was enjoyable with excellent breakfast and lunch offered at a reasonable price although we had to wait for good while for our turn to eat...we had a small breakfast early before we got on the train. Tour guide on train very informative. Denali Wilderness Lodge a very poor choice of lodging..rooms cheaply furnished, dining room service almost non existent and very over priced. Would not recommend to anyone. Wilderness tour was a little long in the school bus, saw some wild life..moose, Dall Sheep, black wolf, but no bears. In Talkeetna, we did the McKinley Glacier Flight, did get to see the face of Mt. McKinley even though snow storms were all around us, did not land on Glacier as an aircraft from another airline was stuck in the snow...we were all happy with our pilot and flight. Talkeetna Lodge was much better than Denali Anchorage Hotel O.K.  Free time to roam. Visited the Alaska Native Heritage Centre..We enjoyed this as it gave alot of history on the settling of the land by various tribes. Alyeska Prince Resort excellent accommodations, enjoyed dining at the Seven Glaciers on the mountain. A little pricey, but well worth the money. The next day was a lost day waiting to board the ship at Seward. Embarkation very rapid, stateroom al little smaller than on some other cruise ships. Dining Room experience excellent, waiters both very good,food delicious. Buffet Experience not as good...one person making omelettes one at a time, with line ups. Buffet stations somewhat disorganized butter not beside buns at omelette station etc. There didn't seem to be the natural flow so people could pass through the line as quickly as there is on some other ships.. there were alot of individual stations, you would have to wander to several different stations to get what you wanted. Food also was somewhat redundant with not a great variety, especially in the evening if you came back late from excursions and had missed the main seating. Entertainment shows were not as good as we have seen although did enjoy the Celebrity Orchestra and ventriloquist. Music in the other areas often very good but much to loud for our liking. WE did excursions from the ship and although pricey did enjoy them.. In Skagway did the 6 hour motorcoach and train tour into B.C.,with the visit to Liarsville for Alaskan Salmon, a theatre show, and a visit to THe Red Onion Saloon. In Juneau did the Helicopter Flight onto the Mendelhall Glacier...we were crowded in the helicopter, they should think about only putting 3 people into the back seat or less depending on the size of the individuals. Icy Strait Point was a stop of interest, but because of the rainy weather were not able to visit the village proper. Ketchikan was the most disorganized stop,with some of the clerks in the stores not as friendly as we had found people in other destinations. We toured the Saxman Village, the tour bus left a half hour late which then put us at the wrong time to go into the LumberJack Show which we had to wait almost an hour in very rainy weather. The LumberJack show was worth the wait. Lots of gift stores and jewellery stores in all the ports, but that is one's choice to visit or not... Skagway had some very interesting buildings could do a walking tour. Hubbard Glacier was beautiful with the icebergs calving etc. Disembarkation was much better than some of the other ships we have been on even though you did sit in the movie theatre and wait till your number was called. As for sailing with Celebrity again I am not sure, never say never! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
This was our second cruise and a cruise that we had been looking forward to, especially the shore excursions. We booked through an Internet company better than 60 days in advance but were told the only thing available was a Veranda ... Read More
This was our second cruise and a cruise that we had been looking forward to, especially the shore excursions. We booked through an Internet company better than 60 days in advance but were told the only thing available was a Veranda handicap room. We were told to be "happy" with this because they are larger than the regular Veranda room. I called Celebrity several times prior to sailing to ensure they wanted us to have this stateroom over another and to make arrangements for our anniversary celebration. We were told to keep that cabin and that the anniversary arrangements were in order. Onboard, there were disabled everywhere. I felt terrible keeping that cabin. Embarkation was mostly organized with the moving of a gangplank and numerous senior citizens taking their place in front of us. (This was an issue throughout the cruise, especially when it came to dining and viewing Hubbard Glacier. Seniors that I saw who could barely get around, became sharks during these two times.) My advice to anyone reading this is to thoroughly complete the online registration to streamline the embarkation process. I missed one step and it took several minutes longer thanks to the late arrival of a passport. Our cabin was clean and our luggage arrived piece by piece until time sail. It was at that time that we meet our cabin steward who was helpful at first, but strange. Over the next 7 days we often found him just outside our door, only to have him say, "Mr. ****, is there anything I can do for you"? The service was nice but then he twice walked in to our stateroom without announcing himself, both times we were undressed, both times just to drop off a brochure that he had days before slid under the door. In the bathroom we laid out our toiletries intending for them to remain in those places but they got moved under the sink, daily. The sink leaked into one of the shave kits ruining everything inside. We found the bed to be extremely uncomfortable. If you can afford a massage in the absolutely beautiful Spa, the metal cot with a 4 inch mattress won't matter. Our steward was gracious enough to bring another blanket but it just didn't make it better. When asked for additional hangers he returned with several horribly bent metal dry cleaning hangers that obviously belonged to his shipmates, not the cruise line hangers like I had requested. Every day he would place our change, tie clips and misc. items in our wine glasses.(???) Good thing we didn't need those in the room. Notes to the steward didn't help. He was just creepy, violating and didn't do his job. The food was great as was the service in the dining areas. We found it to be some of the best service anywhere in all service industries. Our waiters were entertaining and down to earth. They were part of the dinner party at our table every night and we truly looked forward to seeing them and seeing what the night would bring. The Waterfall Café had good food for on the spot eats, that is if you don't mind pizza and pasta. They could, however, use a change of menu throughout the week. They could also use a good floor, mirror, window and wall cleaning. Disembarkation day, it was nasty- almost too nasty to eat in there. The carpet and glass portholes were sticky and had the same food around the portholes that I'd seen days before. If you drink soda, get the 35.00 soda pass. It will get you unlimited sodas during the cruise. If not, sodas are costly. Be careful when approached by someone asking you if you want a drink in a fancy glass. Their slick sale and your excitement will cost you at least 10.00. You do get to keep the fancy glass. Shore excursions were a disappointment overall as far as price vs. value goes. The industry has the monopoly on port tours so it is tough to find activities to do on your own and fully catch the history and nature of the area. The gold panning is a blast and Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake in Juneau is a must! Stay away from the Eagle Preserve Wildlife River Adventure Jetboat cruise in Skagway/Haines. This will cost you $173.00 each and you see nothing but a few eagles nests from a very long way away. Our boat broke down in the middle of the river after making everyone onboard, including the captain who had to be replaced, sick from gas fumes. Then they had to race around looking for birds finally getting us back to camp for a hurried hot dog and reckless bus ride back to the ship. In Sitka, the Russian and Raptor tour was the best tour we took for the money and the education of Alaska. Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest was also a fantastic tour for the price but be careful scheduling this and other whale watching tours. We saw several whales on this tour thanks to our superb captain but were scheduled to take another whale watching tour in Icy Strait Point the next day. (Cancelled due to gale force winds.) The Sea Otter tour more than satisfied our whale watching needs without needing another tour and should be considered by everyone seeing Sitka. Hubbard Glacier is remarkable but claim your viewing spot early and stay there. Some folks will do anything to see a chunk of ice thousands of years old. If you have a balcony cabin, stay there. You will get a premiere viewing without the pushing and shoving. The entertainment was geared towards the seniors. It's hard to sing Karaoke to 70's songs when you are sitting in a crowd of 70 and 80 yr olds. It is also hard to stomach a swing lounge band playing Grunge Metal at half beat, worse yet those same seniors are slow dancing to it. Kurt Cobain is rolling over in his grave. Yes, give the seniors a place to play. We want a place to play when we are seniors. But we ask for the same in return. Give us a 30-50 something's that like a beat a lounge and a band. We also don't play Bingo and Bridge. How about some ship board activities designed for us? The Cova Café is a Starbucks Pub on the high seas. No caffeine withdrawals here. They can make any coffee drink with or without alcohol and include a fresh Parisian pastry on the side. Of course, all of this comes at a price, a high price. Our happiest experience on this entire cruise would have to be with one staff member from the Security Dept. He greets everyone coming on and off the ship and only says, "Happy, Happy, Happy". He is known ship wide as Mr. Happy and even if you are having a bad port experience he is there to brighten up the day. The last item on this review is going to be Norovirus. Per Celebrity Reps. after our return, there were cases of Norovirus on our ship during our cruise. Midway through the cruise, PSA's started running explaining the virus and whenever we entered the ship we were watched and forced to use hand sanitizer. We had done this all along. Within 24 hours after returning home, both my husband and I became VERY ill with what we now know to be NOROVIRUS or Norwalk virus. Thankfully, we didn't get ill on the cruise but this is one heck of a stomach virus no matter where you are. Celebrity explained that unless greater than half of the ship gets ill it is not obligated to disclose it to others onboard, but that they would take our info and add it to theirs. Nice, and right now someone else is sleeping in that bed in that room. Disembarkation was a snap, done within 1 hour. We took the train to Anchorage. Eat before you get on the train as snacks are the only thing served. Your tour guide will keep you entertained for the entire 4 hour ride so keep your camera ready. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise, Norovirus, strange steward and being mid 40's in a mid 70's crowd. Your cruise is what you make of it and even though Celebrity forgot my anniversary altogether, we celebrated, saw great creatures and learned about one of the last pristine areas, Alaska. Read Less
Celebrity Summit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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