Cruise Ratings
See Reviews For
Sail Date: May 2006
This is a long review. If you want, you can just skip to the end and read the summary. We took our first cruise and first trip to Alaska on Celebrity. Since we were new to cruising and had heard about M-class ships engine problems, we ... Read More
This is a long review. If you want, you can just skip to the end and read the summary. We took our first cruise and first trip to Alaska on Celebrity. Since we were new to cruising and had heard about M-class ships engine problems, we booked air and pretour #1 through the cruise line. Pluses: We got transfers to and from airports, all transportation and hotels were arranged, and X had to get us home if the ship didn't turn up or had engine problems. Since the Summit missed the entire 5/20 voyage and was in drydock, that was a bigger worry than you might think. On the minus side, we had terrible flight schedules, spent too much time just waiting around, and missed things we would have enjoyed seeing. 5/23/06 Had to be to the airport by 5:45 AM, then sat in Seattle for 6 1/2 hours. The flight to Anchorage was behind schedule, so they let all the Fairbanks people off first. We rushed to the gate with 5 minutes to go, and found the plane sitting on the runaway empty with the seats on the tarmac. It was actually pretty funny. We watched the seats being installed and left about 40 minutes late. The air was perfectly clear and the view spectacular. When we got to Fairbanks, the X team was there, herded us to a waiting area, and asked one person from each group to go tag their luggage. Unfortunately, most of the luggage had been lost. We all sat for an hour hoping it would be on the next flight in (it wasn't), and at last the bus took us to Pike's Landing. At this point it was 11 PM Alaska time, we had been up 19 hours and were exhausted. We had to sit through a welcome talk, got our room key, and found the room occupied. Back to the desk, new room, to bed after midnight, and called at 4 AM to be told our luggage was on the way up. The sun was out when we went to bed and at 4. 5/24/06 Up early to rearrange luggage (one bag each checked for ship and 2 small bags each for land tour) and get to 7:45 meeting in lounge. The tour went on the riverboat Discovery. It was a nice trip, interesting but touristy. OK, but wouldn't do it twice. Lunch in Fairbanks, expensive restaurants, blah food. A quick trip to see the Alaska pipeline, then the bus headed to Denali. The roads were bumpy and there was lots of roadside trash, no views. A good time for a nap. We got to the hotel (McKinley Village Lodge) about 6 PM. Wonderful view, but lousy place to stay. We were the first customers of the season, but the room had dust in the corners and even old wrappers. The sheets wouldn't stay on the bed, and the restaurant was truly awful. High prices, and people were waiting a hour and a half for cold food and wrong orders. The place had all new staff and was in chaos. The hotel is miles from Glitter Gluch and the park. There is a shuttle that runs once an hour, but no signs at Glitter Gulch showing a pick up point. If you walk toward the road you'll find another inn with little cabins and a restaurant. Food is both cheaper and better. 5/25/06 River was high and fast with ice on sides, rafting trips canceled. Our tour left on the Tundra Wilderness tour at 7:25. The day was warm and sunny, with Denali in full view. The trip was about 7 hours long, but seemed like 1. Since the plants were just starting to grow, animals were down near the road. We saw a moose, lots of caribou, ptarmigan, snowshoe hares, Dall sheep, and 7 bears. Lots of wonderful scenery, truly a great day. 5/26/06 Sat around waiting all morning; bags had to be out by 7:30 and the bus didn't leave until 12. Shuttle not reliable enough to chance shopping at Glitter Gulch, so everyone just stood around. Record high temps yesterday and today. Arrived in Anchorage at 6 PM just as everything we wanted to see closed. We did walk around, but it was a wasted day. The itinerary says afternoon in Anchorage, don't believe it. The Alaska Experience was still open, enjoyed that. Good prices in their gift shop. 5/27/06 The train to Seward left at 6 AM. Beautiful cars, good breakfast on train. Enjoyed the trip a lot! If you want good photos, try the outside platform. It's cold, but you won't have window reflections. Sit on the right if you can. Great scenery, some animals, and the train was mooned by campers. We visited the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. The 1 1/2 hours there is just about right, no need to rush. We boarded the Summit about 1:30, had lunch and a nap. BTW, yes, you need a passport. Glad we had ours and that we got on early. According to the papers X sent, you couldn't board until 6 PM. There was a big crush from 6-8, and when 9 PM sailing time came, there were still 3 truckloads of luggage on the dock. We headed for the Persian Gardens (extra charge sauna area - $35. a day or $99. for the week.) 5/28/06 Hubbard Glacier day - We booked a low inside midship room because I was worried about seasickness. I never had a bit of problem, and we ended up loving the room. We were hardly in it except to sleep, and it was just a left turn and down the hall when we got back on board after shore stops. Don't believe that "you have to have a balcony". There was adequate storage and the room was larger than I expected. Although the bathroom looked clean, it had a very strong musty smell. Even a fully opened air freshener couldn't hide it. Cruise Critic party at 10:30, enjoying meeting people in the flesh. Hubbard Glacier: Most people headed for upper decks or their balconies. We sat on deck 4. There were very few people, and we could sit in a lounge chair and enjoy the view. Members of the crew would step out, get a quick picture of themselves in front of the glacier and head back in. Glad to see they got to enjoy it too! Take a heavy jacket. It was cold and very windy. We had to stay well away from the glacier, but still got a good look. 5/29/06 Skagway - Ship arrived at 10. We went into town and looked around. Most of what we saw was tourists, t-shirt shops, and jewelry stores. The streets were very crowded. After lunch we took the Whitepass and Yukon train. That was well worth doing. Lots of beautiful scenery and an interesting narration. We missed a lot of it because we were out on the platform taking pictures. Probably would not do it again, though. First dinner in assigned seating - food was so-so. The Cirque de Soliel show that night was excellent. 5/30/06 Juneau - We arrived early. At 8:30 we took the Orca Enterprises whale watching tour with Captain Scotty. After all the rave reviews, I was a bit disappointed. We did see distant tails and blows, but that was it. A young man talked, but after the Capt. Larry build up I was expecting a naturalist or an expert. Later we stopped by an island with harbor seals and an area with eagles. The best part of the trip was seeing the eagles dive for food and seeing one sitting on a post back at the pier. After lunch we took 40 lbs. of dirty laundry, souvenirs, coats, etc. to the post office and mailed them home. Cost $40.00 for delivery in 2-3 weeks, but lovely having less to haul through the airports. We took the Mt. Roberts tram ($24), watched the film and walked the nature trail. Very enjoyable, good views, good film, and we saw a hoary marmot and a porcupine. A whole group of people were quietly watching the marmot when some idiot walked by yelling into his cell phone and scared it off. 5/31/06 Icy Strait Point - Easily my favorite port. They only allow one ship at a time, and shopping is limited, so it's not crowded. Great relief to find someplace that wasn't endless jewelry stores. I did buy a pair of mammoth ivory and jade earrings. You can shop, it's just not the main focus of the place. We took a bear watching excursion. The island has been heavily logged and replanted, so the forest is pretty sad; lots of big stumps and smallish trees. The bus goes through Hoonah, the main village, and over bumpy roads to a muskeg (peat bog). There's a boardwalk over the muskeg, which is a pretty interesting place in itself. We saw a couple deer, but that was it. The bear hunting season had just ended, and they were pretty wary. On the way back a sow and yearling walked in front of the bus and stopped just off the road. She stared at us a while, then calmly laid down and nursed the cub. It was an amazing sight. Afterwards we walked the nature trails and the beach. While we were bear watching, a humpback whale had been playing near the dock, but he didn't come back. 6/1/06 Ketchican - It was a long trip from ISP, so the ship didn't arrive until 1:00. We used some of the free time to download photos at the computer center on deck 4. You can download and burn a CD for $15.00. We had plenty of room on the memory cards, but considered it cheap insurance. When we got to Ketchican, it was drizzling, normal for the port. A rep from Southeast Kayaks met us on the dock and led us to the main office. It's about mile, but interesting. The sidewalk and part of the road is built over the sea, and our guide had lots of stories. They only take 6 people at a time. On arrival, we were outfitted with rain gear and life jackets, given dry bags for our possessions, and lead to a small covered boat. That took us to a larger boat where we got a Kayaking 101 lesson, fitted with skirts, and put in two man kayaks. While we were doing that, a whale was playing nearby, and we tried to follow it. Of course, none of us knew what we were doing and it gradually disappeared. By the end of our time, we got better and completely enjoyed the trip. Had to be my favorite excursion. Most things were closed when we got back to town, so we just walked to Creek St. and enjoyed the sights. We stayed up for the Grand Buffet at midnight, one of those things worth doing once. Beautifully presented food, mobs of people. 6/2/06 Inside Passage - Cruising all day, rainy. Good time to pack and finish getting photos burned to CDs. 6/3/06 Vancouver - had to be up early, so we took a few last pictures and reported to the assigned spot on time, 7:45. Take a book, you'll be sitting an hour or two before you get off the ship. We used the Express system. It's $20. a person, but the ship sends your luggage to the airline and you get a fast trip through customs. You do have to take the ship's bus to the airport, and can't visit Vancouver. The Ship The ship was lovely, a bit worn in spots, but not shabby. We spent a fair amount of time in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth just watching the world go by on cruising days. It seemed to be pretty quiet most of the day. The food was OK, but the presentation was better than the food itself. I preferred the casual buffet to the main dining room. I tended to eat less and got more things I wanted, like extra veggies. In Brief The land tour was less than I expected. Parts were great, parts were dismal. The worst was the morning sitting at McKinley Village (horrible in itself) just so X could flog one more set of excursions. We could have easily left early and had some time to tour Anchorage. Now that I've done it once and am more confident, I'd plan my own tour. The cruise was great, would recommend it. We used it more like a hotel than a cruise ship, skipped most of the activities and entertainment. Two of our excursions were independent, two through the ship, all worth taking. Pictures at http://community.webshots.com/album/551225706QmcEZD Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2006
My Wife, Barbara, and I are experienced travellers from the UK. We started cruising some years ago on the old Swan Hellenic ship "Orpheus". This initial cruise was a real baptism of fire! - but that`s another story. This cruise ... Read More
My Wife, Barbara, and I are experienced travellers from the UK. We started cruising some years ago on the old Swan Hellenic ship "Orpheus". This initial cruise was a real baptism of fire! - but that`s another story. This cruise on "Summit" was our 6th cruise, having travelled before with RCI ("Voyager of the Seas") and P&O ("Oceana", "Arcadia", "Adonia"). The flight out from London Heathrow started with two hours just sitting on the plane waiting for a "technical problem" to be fixed. Arrival at LAX started with the inevitable melee to get through immigration and then we had to scramble for the shuttle bus to Crowne Plaza Hotel. One night here and very comfortable. On arrival at San Pedro, the usual chaotic lines were encountered and I think the cruise line could certainly make improvements in this department. Eventually boarded the ship and were quite pleased with our inside cabin. Met our two stateroom attendants Tina and Holil who were extremely pleasant and efficient throughout the cruise. This cruise was meant to call at Seattle and Sitka, but due to problems with a bearing affecting one of the propellers, these ports had to be missed - apparently due to the ship having to proceed at a much slower speed. We were disappointed about this, but not as much as many other fellow passengers who, despite being given a 200 dollar per cabin refund, free drinks, and a discount off future cruises, decided to adopt a mutinous attitude and demand a full refund and a free cruise (chance would be a fine thing!). This aggressive atmosphere disrupted our enjoyment of some of the public rooms and became an unwelcome topic at mealtimes. The ship, itself, was lovely and a joy to sail on. We enjoyed all the facilities on offer and would certainly be pleased to do a repeat cruise on this ship. The food was of a good standard, although with mass catering you have to expect some areas of compromise. Our two waiters, Edwin and Sal, were truly excellent. Our evening dining companions included another couple from the UK (Yvonne and Reg), and another delightful couple from California (Joan and Greg). Gourmet dining was available, at extra cost, at the Normandie restaurant. The Cova Cafe was a splendid place to have a coffee and delicious pastry plus the added attraction of a string quartet playing popular classical music. Buffet fare was predictable with the usual jostling for position in the lines. Evening entertainment was plentiful and varied, with the main theatre putting on some fabulous shows. One highlight was a classical pianist from the UK who gave the most memorable and witty performances and who received a standing ovation at all his appearances. Ports of call were excellent, especially Skagway and Victoria, and although two destinations were cancelled, we did not feel that our cruise enjoyment had been diminished to any great extent. Disembarkation at Vancouver was a real drag and the subsequent fracas with the coach transfer to the airport was unwelcome. Again, something that should be addressed by the cruise line. General weather conditions were good and the seas, although choppy to begin with, soon settled down. This ship is big and stable and would be a nice introduction to cruising for anyone who has not yet tried this superb way of travelling. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Summit, 7th may 2006 to 20th may 2006 LA to Vancouver via Alaska. Our annual, budget holiday was planned for 12 mths in advance, the itinerary seemed perfect for us travelling to the west coast for the first time from the UK. We Arrived ... Read More
Summit, 7th may 2006 to 20th may 2006 LA to Vancouver via Alaska. Our annual, budget holiday was planned for 12 mths in advance, the itinerary seemed perfect for us travelling to the west coast for the first time from the UK. We Arrived 2 days prior to embarkation for LA and arranged to stay 2 days in Vancouver to get the most our of our holiday. Arrival at port -- Summit was not in berth as ticketed. (Later we heard that it had arrived back late from Hawaii and RCL ship took the berth!) Long lines, as priority suites etc, hadn't been able to get on early. Waited 3 hours until number called, then another 1 hour in line. Lukewarm champagne/fizzy drink! on arrival and shown to cabin as on QE2. Balcony cabin adequate, but worn/tatty in places, cracked floor tiles in shower. Cabin steward lovely, but working against the tide. Room service poor, couldn't get it right ordered via TV menu, pretty straight forward or should have been. Although initial food seemed good in both Cosmopolitan and Waterfall,and other food station positions around the ship, after a few days, our experience was that it was no fresh vegetables at all and very little fruit. Buffet staff didn't understand a word, and because they had the Norwalk virus on the boat recently, most food was served to you in the buffet area, therefore causing more queues. The sanitation arrangements were left to chance, guests had choice of whether to use the alcohol hand wash or not as they entered the food area, we observed most did NOT. The wait staff everywhere do their best, but the majority have very poor basic English understanding and communication skills are poor. Our wait staff in the formal restaurant were excellent, as usual, but fighting a losing battle when the fare is poor. Although steak, chicken or salmon should be available at any time if the menu is not suitable, when we asked for chicken, it was not available. We only were offered it once on the 13 day menu and were refused it when asked for as an alternative. No themed nights as previously encountered on Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas, Panama trip the year before. The atmosphere on the ship is nonexistent, it hasn't any, too many old people wanting the same thing year on year we suspect. Entertainment: WELL!!, the singers and dancers were good, the Cirque du Soleil short preview is excellent, comedian good, we should have had him on earlier in the cruise, he was needed. But other than that the shows were boring, short, 35 mins and other entertainment around the ship again not modern enough, (we are in our fifties) for our taste. Harpists, string quartets very nice but funereal. We found the ship's entertainment director John, to be pompous, irritating and patronising. Nothing extra organised on forced sea days after Seattle and Sitka cancelled even the cinema not showing until 6pm at night. We have all of the daily's to prove it if disputed!! Our impression from this cruise is that the line wants to SELL, SELL and SELL AGAIN, anything any time. ie: usual bingo, casino, extra large area, WINE TASTING CHARGE!, hire of equipment in Gym, Art Auctions, Wine Auctions, shopping seminars, A LA CARTE Normandie dining @ $30 per head, last year $25 we believe. We didn't use it, as we believed we were on a 5* cruise. CLASS OF SHIP:- Next level up from RC!! NOT our experience. Believed we would be getting that type of meal, a la carte, as standard, not army camp/holiday camp style fast food and service. As some of you will know, we had more than our fair share of problems on this trip with the thrust bearing going yet again and the company using us to get the ship up to dry dock in Victoria. Captive audience, a play on words, to get us spend, spend and spending again, at sea missing 2 ports, cut down on time in four and then the final straw, due to the SAFETY OF THE SHIP, NOT THE PASSENGERS FIRST AND FOREMOST. re the bearing, no close up of Hubbard, WE WERE AT LEAST 5 MILES OFF AND HAD TO WATCH HAL Zaandam 360 SEVERAL TIMES and only 1/4 of inside passage and that was at night! Shore excursions!! Well when we got them after being cancelled of course, they were cut to the minimum, due to time in port! We found that they were more expensive than booking on shore. Some were cancelled when under booked, but they didn't tell us until last minute! Poor value, poor organisation, book them yourselves on dock side is our advice to anyone brave enough to still book the Millennium class whilst burdened with the mermaid pod system. CHILDREN:- LESS THAN 10 ON BOARD, WE WOULD NEVER BRING THEM ON THIS CLASS OF SHIP, THEY DON'T WANT THEM. DISEMBARKATION:- Well another not organised debacle, people directed to wrong areas, waiting over an hour because they couldn't get the luggage ramp in place at a different dock than we should have been taken too, we were taken to Ballentyne, not Vancouver Central Cruise Terminal, we had a hefty taxi ride when we finally disembarked 90 minuted later than we should. By this time people from other later slots had joined us and it was chaos to get off, many very traumatised expecting to miss flights other connections etc. SUMMARY:- We are hard working, we own our own business for last ten years, this was our 4th cruise. We realise at our age, this mode will get us to see the world and enjoy top class hotel features on the journey. From this experience, we have realised also that maybe all cruise lines try to absolve themselves from any eventuality whatsoever and can change itineraries whenever they like to whatever they like especially under the guise of safety. We are moderate, discerning people, who also realise that things can go wrong, on our Panama last year passenger taken ill, captain tuned ship round back to Panama. We missed Costa Rica day, WE DIDN'T COMPLAIN, YES WE WERE DISAPPOINTED, BUT WE REALISED THAT HE HAD NO CHOICE AND ACCEPTED THAT. We got nothing from the company not even a drink and we personally asked for nothing. BUT when a known problem exists and it was known before we set off from LA we won't accept that. Passengers who didn't get their cruise on May 20th got full reimbursement and full free cruise for their disruption. We should have been told at San Francisco and been given a choice as to stay on with their offer or leave and make our own way where we wanted with money back, but that may have meant we would spend it with another line providing the holiday we had booked without any problems. They didn't want that did they. CAVEAT EMPTOR! Check your terms and conditions, book with a credit card and ring them to dispute the payment if you do not get what you paid for, and check out review sites and comments to gather all info you can to make an informed decision. DO NOT ASSUME THAT A FIVE YEAR OLD MODERN SHIP WILL BE PROVIDING YOU WITH THE BEST EXPERIENCE YET. We have made some wonderful friends following on from this debacle and we have experienced amazing scenes of people power and community spirit lifting our hearts in today's world of 'keep your distance' personas. We will never book with Celebrity again, the board and shareholders need to look long and hard at policies to survive, if they don't we hope they get what they deserve. ATTENTION TO DETAIL is their complaints system, lip service if you ask us, they do not implement it. Passengers speak with their feet please, if you want to be treated famously as a celebrity, you'll never get your 15 minutes with this line. Celebrity talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. Sad, but we will not be intimidated and our group voice will be heard. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
First cruise with Celebrity and extremely happy with the availability of spa and theatre seating. Fast room service, no matter what time of day, although we were slightly disappointed with the dining room food quality. Dining room wait ... Read More
First cruise with Celebrity and extremely happy with the availability of spa and theatre seating. Fast room service, no matter what time of day, although we were slightly disappointed with the dining room food quality. Dining room wait staff, however, was very efficient. Fast embarkation from Vancouver and no problem with obtaining luggage tags from porters at cruise ship terminal and basically walking on without a delay. We were on board by 1:15 pm and the ticket said boarding wouldn't commence until 2:00 pm. Maybe we were lucky, but we had excellent weather. In Juneau on Sept 18th we had to go back to the ship to shed our coats and heavy shirts because the weather was so hot. The White Pass and Yukon Rail tour out of Skagway was excellent and we would highly recommend this excursion. We enjoyed the masquerade party in the Bar at the Edge and were prepared with masks that we brought from home however the masks made by the cruisers on board were very well done. The verandah room was well worth the money when we were able to stand out on our balcony at Hubbard Glacier and watch the glaciers calving while getting a sun tan, it was terrific. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Our cruise on the Summit was sensational. Our room was really nice and had a balcony that we requested. It was fairly long and narrow but we could get around our king size bed! The service was top notch, from our stateroom attendant ... Read More
Our cruise on the Summit was sensational. Our room was really nice and had a balcony that we requested. It was fairly long and narrow but we could get around our king size bed! The service was top notch, from our stateroom attendant Nelson, to our waiters, Owen and Kusuma, to the assistant maitre d', Cecilita. While the food in the main dining room was average, the presentation and the service was excellent. We did dine in the Normandie and I would definitely rate it a five star restaurant. I enjoyed five wonderful massages, the last being a stones massage. I have never felt so good in my life. I also took advantage of the therapeutic pool, whirlpool, and steam room. My husband loved the track on the top deck and the exercise room as he is in training for a marathon. The buffet food was really very good, especially for being open 24/7. I partook in the library called BOOKS and also checked my email periodically in the internet cafe. We did go to two of the shows, both musicals, and loved the Summit's singers and dancers. The did quite a nice job. We were unable to make it to see the ladder man, once because of the need for an early night, and the second time he appeared, we were dining in the Normandie. We did go to two of the shows, both musicals, and loved the Summit's singers and dancers. They did quite a nice job. We were unable to make it to see the ladder man, once because of the need for an early night, and the second time he appeared, we were dining in the Normandie. Our excursions were first rate even though we only booked one through Celebrity. We did hear of all the other excursions that we took on Cruise Critic. Our most favorite was the Dog Sledding/Helicopter on the Glacier trip, next being Whale Watching, next being the Forest Tram at Icy Straits. The only excursion we were disappointed with was the float plane trip to Misty Fjords, but only the weather was to blame for that. Our pilot was superb, even though we all turned green a few times with the rough winds and rain, we did see spectacular waterfalls, eagles, and the mist in fjords. Celebrity went one step further and I must say that it was the best part of the trip. We took a five day land trip with Royal Celebrity and believe me when I say that it was fabulous. Our cruise director was Cole and our Coach driver was Spiff. Both were nicknames that they assumed at a camp for disabled. Cole was Nicole and Spiff was Sean. We later learned that they were a couple and had been together for six years. They were both excellent at their jobs. Along with the tour, we found them both to be extremely knowledgeable about Alaska, it's people, it's wildlife, and it natural resources. We were so impressed. We toured Fairbanks with excursions to Riverboat Discovery and Panning for Gold which I thought was going to be really hokey, but it was first rate. I could wait until the next day after that. Also on the riverboat tour we stopped to meet famous Iditarod winner Susan ?'s and her husband who also races in the Iditarod Dog sled race. We saw their home and dog training facility along with a demonstration of how the dogs learn to run, an Indian village and fish camp, and a float plane exhibition. Our next stop was a trip to the train where we were in the first two cars that hosted huge leather seats, wonderful dome windows, and fabulous food and service in the dining car. After 4 hours on the train, we arrived in Denali National Park and began our 6-8 hour tour of the park. We unfortunately had to ride the park's contracted bus (not a coach-the difference being a bathroom, ac, heat, etc), but to our good fortune we had Jerilynn, who was not only our bus drive, but also an excellent guide, and story teller extraordinaire! We were blessed. We saw wonderful scenery, eight grizzly bear (pretty far away), a bull moose ( a bit closer), caribou (grazing about 20 yards away), eagles, probably fifty or more doll sheep ( so far away they are known as LWD's--little white dots) and several coveys of Ptarmigan (state bird that looks like a large quail, is brown in the summer and turns white in the winter and has feathers on its feet) that scurried and fed along the edge of the road. It was really an awesome day, even though the cloud cover would not allow is to view Mt. McKinley aka Denali. We found that most people never get to see it. It is the highest mountain in North America. WOW! And there was more...We rode the train again to Anchorage. We arrive around 2pm and puttered around the city. We were left to our own devices (we chose the Museum to tour) before we could check in at 6:30. Mind you, that our luggage was picked up outside our rooms and loaded every morning and delivered to our next destination's hotel room that evening prior to arrival. Most of the time Spiff was driving the coach on to the next stop with our luggage while we were on our excursions like the train, etc. We left Anchorage and headed to Seward. We toured the Indian Museum which was awesome and I wish we had had more time for it, then on to a special stop at a wildlife refuge where we saw big game close up. Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Caribou, Elk, Bison, Eagles, Horned Owls, Porcupine, two 4 month old moose, and about ten bull moose loosing their velvet. We had a guide from the refuge hop aboard and give us a quick tour and then we got off and got to walk around and take pictures. Superb. On to Seward and quickly checked in and walk right aboard the exquisite Summit for seven nights. Our tour was Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Talkeetna, Juneau, Ketchikan, Icy Straits, and then disembarkment (which was ever so smooth) in Vancouver. The days just flew by. There was so much to do and so much more that I wanted to do. We have already to cruise Hawaii next, hopefully on Celebrity. Celebrity is first class. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
Overall an excellent and relaxing cruise. Great itinerary - Alaska and the West Coast in 14 days. Summit is a beautiful ship! Although I don't care for modern "art" I did like the contemporary architecture and furnishings. ... Read More
Overall an excellent and relaxing cruise. Great itinerary - Alaska and the West Coast in 14 days. Summit is a beautiful ship! Although I don't care for modern "art" I did like the contemporary architecture and furnishings. Public areas were spacious, well-kept and rarely crowded - also very light and open. The Thalassotherapy pool was a favorite with us - we went about 7:00pm and had the place to ourselves. Concierge class was underwhelming. I would not pay a great deal more to book that class again, although the cabin does compare favorably with HAL's Maasdam verandah cabins. We ate in the dining room only twice -- I cannot sit in a chair for two hours while waiting for the various courses to arrive. We ate in the Alternative Dining about six times. Service and pace was excellent although the menu is repetitive. It is too bad that the full buffet is not open at dinner times, or at least a little more than pizza, pasta and salad. The Normandie was a great disappointment. The dining experience there is more about the waiters and the maitre d' than about the diners. Service should be unobtrusive, not interruptive. The harpist was the best part of that experience! The Bar at the End of the Earth is totally bewildering to me. Why take a gorgeous lounge with wonderful views and mess it up with curtained divans that block the view? The Celebrity Theatre has wonderful sight lines! It is easy to see well from almost any seat in the house. This was our third Celebrity cruise and will probably not be the last! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2005
We are experienced cruisers but this was our first time on Celebrity. We flew into Anchorage the day prior to our cruise, but due to the length of flight and timing we did not arrive at the airport until 10:05 pm. Thus, we chose to stay at ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers but this was our first time on Celebrity. We flew into Anchorage the day prior to our cruise, but due to the length of flight and timing we did not arrive at the airport until 10:05 pm. Thus, we chose to stay at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott (3 miles from airport and with free 24 hour shuttle). We found the Fairfield to be very nice (appears to be brand new) and the included breakfast was a good way to start the day. We used the shuttle the next morning to go back to the airport and dropped our luggage with the Celebrity rep and were told to be back by 11 to check in for the train to Seward (as it turns out we could have been back later since the train did not even leave until 2 pm). We then took a taxi into the city center and walked around a bit. The weather was crystal clear and we were able to clearly see Mt. McKinley in the distance. Downtown was pleasant and we enjoyed our brief time there. We then used a taxi to return to the airport. We had been told by the Celebrity rep that we could simply ride the bus back from Egan center, but when we tried that we learned we would have to stand in a line for at least an hour to obtain bus boarding passes. It was simpler to use the taxi. The taxi fare from airport to city center is about $16.00 each way. Once we arrived back at airport we went to the train departure lounge and were checked in for the cruise within five minutes. This was simple and painless and so much better than the crazy mess at Egan center. The train ride was nice and we saw lots of wildlife on the way. Some people were complaining that they had been promised dome cars and this train had none. We had not been told that so had no complaints. We did not use the dining car but did have a drink from the bar. I would highly recommend eating before boarding this train as the one dining car was always full and people were still going in for lunch as late as 430 pm when we were to arrive at 6 pm. We had eaten a sandwich at the airport so were spared this experience. Arrival was right on time and right at the dock. Embarkation went fairly quickly with the security screening being the slowest, but even that was pretty fast. We were greeted by an escort (but no welcome drinks) and shown to our cabin. One suitcase was already there and the other arrived within 30 minutes. Our cabin was a standard outside ocean view on the Continental Deck (deck 2) and was very nice. It had a large round window which provided a good view, a queen size bed, a sofa, desk with chair, two night stands, mini-fridge, electronic safe, and adequate storage. The large ledge under the window proved to be a good place to store books, magazines, etc. We were comfortable in this cabin and our attendant did an excellent job in keeping everything clean and made up. No complaints at all about the cabin. The location of this cabin was also quite good as we were just around the corner from the staircase and lifts and had easy access to the rest of the ship. The ship was in excellent condition. We observed none of the wear and tear others have complained about and had no problems getting exercise equipment. Of course it was always around 630 or 700 am when I went to the gym so I am sure that helped. The walking/jogging track on the 11th deck is a great place for early morning walks or runs as well. The ship is laid out so that it never felt crowded and we never had to wait in any long lines for anything. We are not casino people but we did contribute a few (very few) quarters to the slots. The casino is nice and was always busy when open. The shopping area is also well laid out and had a nice selection of items in the shops. We found the whole ship to be very nicel. We found the meals in the main dining room to be generally quite good with a few exceptions. The desserts in general were disappointing and just not well done. The lobster night was a major flop - my wife's was undercooked and mine was so tough and dry I could not even cut it with a knife. Both were sent back and replaced with the veal dish, which was somewhat better. The whole meal was overall poor - the only thing that was even remotely decent was the Baked Alaska dessert. That was the only night things were bad though. We ate in the Normandie one night and it was excellent for both food and service and well worth the extra charge. We had breakfast in our cabin three mornings, once at the buffet, and the others day at the Spa cafe. All were good. The Spa cafe is a well kept secret and is a wonderful place for breakfast and lunch. It turned out to be our favorite place for eating on the whole ship. We had lunch there most days. Great light food and the staff is the same that works in the Normandie. We were told that the food is also prepared by the Normandie kitchen but do not know if this is true. We found the choices of bars and lounges to be adequate and felt that the prices charged were not out of line compared with land based resorts or top end hotels. The Martini Bar and Rendezvous Lounge were the most popular and we enjoyed them very much. The band in the Rendezvous Lounge was quite good. We went to the "Bar At The Edge Of The Earth" and found it to be interesting and different. The White Night there was also an interesting evening but overall few people went to this bar. I suspect that the Cirque characters are beyond the average cruiser on the Alaska cruises and not understood. I also wonder if this feature will be retained in the long run. The spa was enjoyed by my wife a couple of times and we both really enjoyed the Thelassotherapy pool. It was seldom crowded and was very relaxing and soothing. We enjoyed the shows presented in the theatre. The singers and dancers were good and the ladder guy very entertaining. The couple that did the acrobatics were fantastic and the highlight of the shows (they appeared two nights). Overall the productions in the theatre were very good and entertaining. We did like the fact that since we had late dinner seatings that a few evenings the shows for us were before dinner at 700 pm which avoided a real late night. The time at Hubbard glacier was awesome. It was a clear day and the seas were smooth and the ship was within a few hundred yards of the glacier. There was lots of calving and we got lots of excellent photos. In Juneau we had booked our own whale watching trip with Orca Enterprises and Captain Larry. Awesome experience and saw many whales, some so close to boat that their spray soaked us. A big plus that our on board guide was Dirk the naturalist that was also on board the Summit all week. He is apparently hooked up with Captain Larry as well. This was an EXCELLENT excursion. Following that we stopped at Mendenhall Glacier and then back to town for sightseeing on our own and of course shopping. Skagway was very good as well, except that it rained most of the day. We did the Skagway train and it was very good, but as mentioned by others it is not something to do more than once. We found the town of Skagway to be very nice and found a good local bar (Moe's Frontier Bar) and had a good cold beer. A real local place and we were the only tourists there. Icy Strait was another drizzly day. We tendered in and walked around the restored area a bit and then went into the village of Hoonah on the shuttle bus. That was very interesting to see the active fishing village and get a feel for the way the people live there. We really enjoyed that. Ketchikan was also mixed rain and clear. We went to the totem pole area at Saxman (sp?) Village and that was very interesting. We also enjoyed the Creek Street shops. We found Ketchikan to be a nice town and enjoyed our time there. The time spent in each port was more than adequate and it was nice that the ship was close enough (Skagway was the farthest away) to the main part of town that it was easy to come and go. The only tendered port was Icy Strait Point. We wished that Sitka would have been on the agenda. In looking at next years cruise schedule we noticed that Sitka has been added to some of the cruises as well. That would have been a real plus. The last day at sea cruising into Vancouver was sunny and warm and the decks came alive with activity. The area around the outdoor pool was busy with sunbathers and it was warn enough to be on the outside decks in shorts and t-shirt. A wonderful way to end the cruise. Arrival in Vancouver the next morning was an awesome sight. Seeing the city come into view with all the lights still on was very nice. We had requested an early disembarkation as we had a car reserved for our drive to Lake Louise in Banff National Park and the request was honored. We were told to be in the Rendezvous Lounge at 800 am. Once there we had to wait only 10 minutes before our color was called and we were off the ship, claimed our luggage, went through customs, hailed a taxi, and went to the Hertz office on Seymour Street. Once we completed our paperwork we were on the road by 930 am. Very nice indeed. Overall we give the Summit a big thumbs up. The ship is great, the staff excellent, and the overall Alaska experience is wonderful. We will cruise with Celebrity again for sure. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Hi All, I'll try to just hit the highlights of our trip, but be prepared, once I get moving on something like this I can go on and on... A little background is in order. This is our (my wife and I) 4th cruise with Celebrity, 2nd to ... Read More
Hi All, I'll try to just hit the highlights of our trip, but be prepared, once I get moving on something like this I can go on and on... A little background is in order. This is our (my wife and I) 4th cruise with Celebrity, 2nd to Alaska, 2nd cruise on Summit. The last time we went to Alaska we were on Celebrity's Galaxy and did the round trip from and to Vancouver. We didn't go on a land tour on that trip. We did go on many excursions. It was our 1st cruise and while it was excellent, we found there was a lot to learn about cruising to make our trip better. I feel we're old hands at it now. To start, the overall trip was excellent. Both the land tour and cruise were great. The Summit is an excellent large ship and the crew is quite good, very friendly, and eager to please. It does behove passengers to treat the crew with respect of course, (We think this is a must with anyone anyway.) as a few passengers we noticed were disgruntled, but their own behavior really brought that on. We started our trip with the land portion of the cruisetour in Fairbanks. The hotel was basic and was clean. The food at the nearby restaurant was quite good. After touring Fairbanks we found that there were no deluxe hotels in Fairbanks. We didn't expect much from the paddlewheel boat trip and the gold mine trip, but were pleasantly surprised with them. The people running the the two tours were so good and so nice you had to have a good time. Aspects of both were very interesting. That evening we took an optional flight to the Coldfoot area, well north of the Arctic Circle (still 23 plus hours of daylight up there). The flight and touring in the coldfoot area were gorgeous and interesting. We saw quite a bit of wildlife from the plane. This did start two tiring days as we didn't get back to the hotel until 2:00AM and we had to get our luggage out the door by 5:45AM and leave for the train at 7:00AM. The next day we were off to Denali via the Wilderness Express Train. The train ride and the train itself are spectacular and the restaurant on the train is excellent. Once at Denali we ate lunch and then were off in the park service's school type bus for about 9 hours of sightseeing. We saw spectacular views, and quite a bit of wildlife. Unfortunately, our guide was terrible, but even she couldn't ruin the tour. Virtually the entire bus (34 people) reported her poor performance to Celebrity. I'm sure she'll either correct herself or find she's not leading these tours any longer. We got to the hotel at 9:30PM, ate dinner and hit the hay. We really needed the rest at that point. The next morning we took a great optional trip, whitewater rafting on the Nenana River. We had a great guide. Then off on the Wilderness Express train again to Talkeetna. The hotel in Talkeetna was terrific. We hiked around and got some additional rest. We were supposed to go on a flight to Mt. McKinley, but couldn't due to bad weather (hail, winds, snow). McKinley (Denali) makes it's own weather. I should mention here that the last time we were in Alaska it rained and was in the 50's and 60's the whole time. This time we lucked out. Except for 15 minutes of rain in Denali it was beautiful and in the 70's or higher most of the time with just a few cloudy days. All the guides cheered us for bringing the sun back after weeks of rain. The next day we took our motor coach to Anchorage and had time to explore the city after our city tour. We went to its Art Museum which wasn't bad. The Marriott is an excellent hotel. We found some magnificent but very expensive native art. The city, Alaska's largest by far, is quite walkable downtown, and of course isn't very large. The city has hanging flower pots all over and it's a lovely place with really friendly people. The next day we were off to Seward via a wild animal "farm". They have a large variety of Alaska animals including: Moose, Bears, Caribou, Bison, Sheep and other animals. The scenery was, as usual, spectacular. That afternoon we arrive at the ship at about 3:30PM. Celebrity had already "preboarded" everyone on the cruisetour and we walked right to security and then on the ship without having to do the normal check-in. It was great, and what was better, all our luggage was already delivered to the room. A final word about the land portion of the tour. Our tour guide and bus driver, who were with us throughout the land portion were terrific, knowledgeable, efficient, organized, and a pleasure to travel with. We spoke to some of the other people on the 3 other Celebrity buses traveling along with us and they too said their guide and driver were great. They can make or break the tour. We stayed in the new Concierge Class room on the Sky Deck. There were formally Premium Oceanview staterooms with veranda. Celebrity upgraded the rooms to some extent, but the difference in the quality of the room is really the extras and the upgraded service which was excellent. Touches which we appreciated were upgraded bathroom linens, fresh fruit and flowers delivered in the room each day, and a few canapes brought to the room each afternoon prior to dinner. The veranda had upgraded chairs and a larger table so it was easy to have breakfast, or any meal for that matter, on the veranda. It just made the daily experience all that more enjoyable. On the Concierge Class floor it looks as though they've decreased the number of rooms each stateroom attendant and assistant cover. Anytime we needed something we got it in no time. Furthermore, it didn't take long for them to understand and anticipate our needs which we've come to expect with Celebrity which helps make them the best of the large ship cruise lines. I do think they need to organize the extra services a little better such as the delivery time of the canapes, however, by the end of the cruise they seemed to have worked out all the bugs. The food, as always, was excellent. We did notice, or so we believe, that the number of choices was somewhat reduced. There was still plenty of choice, however, and the food was great. At the Summit's specialty restaurant, the Normandie, the food and service were superb. It was great to have been able to reserve a date and time, 60 days in advance, for the Normandie, due to our Captain's Club membership. We heard some people who were trying to book it on-board were upset that most of the better times were long gone before anyone boarded the ship for the cruise. The Summit's heated saltwater Thalassotherapy Pool for adults only is really relaxing. The first day a family came with their teenage daughter as well as food and drink. None is permitted including the teenager. They were gently asked to follow the rules by the crew, after a few comments from fellow passengers didn't do the trick. They weren't a problem after that. It was good to see the crew enforce the more important of the ship's rules. The dress code was not strictly enforced, but that was about it on non-enforcement. Frankly, I don't know why people want to show up on formal night dressed causally anyway. It's fun to dress up occasionally. It adds to the festivity of the evening. I wouldn't take a cruise like this without my tux. We used the Summit's excellent fitness center each day. Sometimes when it was crowded the staff had to ask people to limit their machine use to the 20 minutes allowed per machine as per the the rules, but they were so nice no one took offense. While the ship is big, it's laid out well and doesn't seem as big as it is. The Concierge Class room also helped in a couple of other instances too. We got tender priority when tenders were used to get from the ship to the shore, and were invited to a lovely grand tea, for Concierge and Suite passengers only, where we met a terrific couple. We had priority debarkation as well, but we would have gotten that from our captain's club membership anyway. I'd like to mention the Cosmopolitan Restaurant staff for a moment. We had met a really great group of people on the land portion of the trip. Even on the ship we all tended to try to stay together to the extent possible. We were signed up for late dinner seating, as is our custom. We find it more relaxing that way. We can have a late excursion off the ship and still get back and take our time getting ready for dinner. The other 4 people assigned to our table were not good, at all, and they intended to eat at the buffet more often than not, leaving us alone those evenings. We were not happy. We talked to 4 of the people we met on the trip on land who invited us to join them, however, their table only accommodated 4. We went to the Maitre d' and he along with his assist went out of their way to switch things around and get us a table for 6 so we could be together. Just another reason we travel on Celebrity. This isn't the first time we've gotten that kind of assistance. The first day out on the ship we visited the Hubbard Glacier. My hat is off to the captain who maneuvered the Summit to within 300 yards of the glacier and hovered there. Most ships never get that close, and even if they do, don't stay that close. We didn't take advantage of the ship's entertainment that much, but what we did see was enjoyable. On the cruise itself we visited, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan. We had been to each of these before except for Icy Stait Point. If you haven't visited an Alaskan glacier from a ship before you're in for a treat. The view is spectacular and the sound (thunder) from the breaking of the glacier into the water is unreal. This is the highlight of the cruise as far as we're concerned. We took the southbound route because you get much more time in each port than the roundtripper we took last time in Alaska. Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan have lots of shopping. All the cruise ships make these 3 stops. It's the excursions which interest us at these stops. In Juneau we took a helicopter ride to 4 glaciers not far outside of Alaska's capital. The weather was perfect. The view spectacular (I know I've used that word before, but it does fit) and the stopover on one of the glaciers on which we landed and got to walk around on was unbelievable. This excursion is not to be missed. From Skagway we took a jeep trip into the beautiful Yukon in Canada. We drove the jeep including off road and saw some great scenery throughout the 5-6 hour drive. We had already done most of the excursions out of Ketchikan so we walked around the shopping area and rested that day. We did manage some extra time in the fitness center while there. At Icy Strait Point we took a Whale Watching trip on a boat. We saw jumping fish, Walruses, Seals and yes...Whales. It was a very good excursion. Not many ships stop here and it's a shame. The shops have some uniqueness not found at the other ports. We found some beautiful items to send home. It was a really nice stop, though too brief, as this was the one port we didn't stay at all day. Celebrity has some great excursions offered and you can easily sign up for them well in advance via their internet site. I've found they cost only marginally more than you can find on your own. Well that's about it. I recommend this trip, Celebrity and the Summit highly. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Let me preface my review by stating the following: The words you are about to read will ultimately fail miserably in capturing the uniqueness of this destination. With that being said... It seems that many reviewers are fond of providing ... Read More
Let me preface my review by stating the following: The words you are about to read will ultimately fail miserably in capturing the uniqueness of this destination. With that being said... It seems that many reviewers are fond of providing every, excruciating detail of their journey to their point of embarkation. I'm quite certain you're not reading this review to find out what I wore on the plane or what my daughter ate for lunch at the Minneapolis Airport. I will save you that pain and say only that our trip from Atlanta to Seward was long. The communication at the Anchorage Airport between Celebrity representatives and arriving guests could have been a bit clearer, but a couple of quick questions rectified the confusion and we were soon on a motor coach (air conditioned and restroom) for a two and a half hour drive to Seward. The tremendous scenery made the rather tedious drive bearable. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for the constant narration provided by our well-meaning bus driver. While I'm sure that some people might find our driver's ethnic background a point of interest, none of those people appeared to be on our bus. We stopped halfway to Seward for a restroom break and to stretch our legs. Fast forward to arriving in Seward. Embarkation process was quick and simple. As for the ship. I am constantly amazed when I read reviews from people who complain that they a saw a loose thread of fabric dangling off of one of the drapes in the main dining room, and that the ship is "showing her age." My opinion: the ship is beautiful. To be honest with you, I think the ship is holding up a lot better than the majority of the guests (did I mention the Alaska itinerary appeals to an overall older crowd)? Summit is clean, decorated in an understated elegance, and roomy enough to forget that there are 2,000 people on board. As for those nitpickers looking under the beds for dust bunnies - surely you didn't spend thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles to look for grease and grime? Our oceanview stateroom (it was myself, my wife, and my 4 1/2 yea old daughter) was small, but perfectly adequate. Bed was comfortable, water pressure in shower was great, convertible chair/bed for my daughter was fine, and the service from our room attendants was attentive without being annoying. Be aware: there is NOT a lot of closet space for clothes, and we had to resort to storing our suitcases under our bed, but again, this is not a big deal. I'll briefly touch on the major aspects of the ship and its amenities, because I really want to focus on the ports of call: main dining room food and service - both were utterly delicious. Entertainment - show in main theatre was surprisingly good. Cirque du Soleil performance - very cool, very interesting, very Cirque. Buffet Dining - long lines of people and food. Quality was perfectly fine. AquaSpa - wife went for a seaweed wrap and massage. She loved the treatment, hated the hard upsell from the staff. Kids program? My daughter seemed to like it, so I guess it's good. Service across the ship was outstanding. The people who work on these ships bust their butts to make your experience something special. This was my wife's first cruise (my second) and she could not stop talking about how much she enjoyed herself. On to the ports... Hubbard Glacier. An amazing introduction to the natural wonders that Alaska boasts. Brief mention about the weather during our cruise: FREAKISH!!! Sunny and warm all week. So I lugged sweaters and rain gear and gloves and hats across a continent - big deal! I'm sure if I had brought nothing but polo shirts and shorts it would have rained every day. The ship hovered no more than a couple hundred yards from the face of the glacier, giving everyone ample time and opportunity to get the perfect picture. Mine is on my desktop as I write this. Next morning arrived in Juneau. Went on a Float Plane Glacier Tour (arranged prior to cruising). The plane was a 10-seater, and by the time I got on I had no choice but to sit in the co-pilot seat. I have about 25 minutes of the flight, from takeoff to touchdown on videotape. The footage? Spectacular. But that doesn't even do it justice. Go! Book a cruise, get yourself on a little plane, point your camera outside the window and be speechless for a half hour. Walked around Juneau for a bit after our flight - nice town, enough shopping to keep you interested. Next day we arrived in Skagway. Went on the White Pass Yukon Railroad tour. Read a lot about it prior to cruise, with everyone saying how wonderful it was. My opinion? The scenery was awesome, as advertised. But it was also a little...long. I mean, once you reach the summit, and the train turns around, you're seeing the same scenery on the way back to Skagway. Glad I did it, wouldn't do it again. Skagway seemed a lot more crowded than Juneau (there were four ships docked when we were there), so we bought the requisite souvenirs and headed back to the ship. Next day brought us to the highlight of our trip - Icy Straight Point. When we thought of Alaska, this was what we had in mind. We arrived early in the morning, so it was still quiet when we landed on the dock. We arranged to go on a whale watching tour, but since we had some time to kill we decided to just walk around and explore. We proceeded to walk through the most serene, luxuriously shadowed, verdant forest I have ever seen. You sensed its antiquity as you walked amongst trees that had to be at least a hundred years old. There was nothing to do in the forest but walk, look, and just be. It was a very special place. 11:30 - we board the boat to look for whales. And we saw some. Managed to get the on video, but The Discovery Channel has nothing to worry about. Next day we stopped at Ketchikan. Signed up for a guided tour of the town and "nature viewing." Mistake! This was through a dockside company that was not affiliated with Celebrity. Note: Do NOT book anything dockside. Our guide left something to be desired - starting with front teeth. When he was not rambling on about his bar tab at a local dive, he was regaling us with tales of when he lived on a little island across from town. Thrilling. Ketchikan was really pretty disappointing. I mean, how much Tanzanite does one really need? Last day was spent cruising the beautiful Inside Passage, and reflecting on what was for us, a wonderful cruise experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2005
My wife and I joined the Celebrity Cruise 7 night cruise/4 night land Tour Southbound commencing 29th August, 2005. Unfortunately my baggage was lost for 4 days so it didn't start well. We can only say we were extremely disappointed ... Read More
My wife and I joined the Celebrity Cruise 7 night cruise/4 night land Tour Southbound commencing 29th August, 2005. Unfortunately my baggage was lost for 4 days so it didn't start well. We can only say we were extremely disappointed by Celebrity's Land Start. The day trip to Denali (THE PARK WAS FANTASTIC) was to say the least terrible. The bus was an old school bus and we were on it for 8 hours, with only 4 rest stops for about 10-15 minutes each - no air conditioning, toilets or facilities. LUNCH (AND I USE THAT WORD LOOSELY) was a disgraceful cardboard lunch box that only one person ate (and was then sick in the afternoon), we were supposed to eat on the bus as we drove. We did see a few animals. We renamed our selves "DLB" Denali Lunch Box Group. The White Water Rafting trip was cold but great as was the dog sled homestead tour. On the second day we then commenced our trip back towards Seward by Coach, again, another lunch box, but at least a better quality and we stopped by the side of the road at a war veterans memorial and just found somewhere to sit to eat. RATE THIS LAND CONTENT OF THE TRIP: 1 OUT OF 5. We would not recommend this to anyone and our Tour director (Chrystal) treated us like children throughout the trip. We then headed back off to Seward, the train trip was really enjoyable, especially after the coach. The booking in at the ship left a lot to be desired, after boarding we were just handed over to a crew lady (who could speak very little English and told to follow her to our room - no welcome or smile or anything - who then guided us to our room and then just left us. On the first day we sent my brand new suit to be pressed as it was crushed from all the travelling. Upon having it returned we discovered it had been pressed with too hot a press and was shiny and the pockets hadn't been straightened out and were showing on the pants - after 3 tries at pressing the pants they concluded that they couldn't fix them and from then on we were in a continual discussion with "Guest Relations" who really weren't that helpful and I had to keep chasing them - Bottom Line they told us to have our Travel Agent (in Australia) talk to Celebrity Cruise Head Office (in USA) about compensation. Still no resolution. Overall the food was plentiful and good quality but the service was very ordinary in most areas, except for Winston and Darwin at the aft bar who were excellent. We booked a couple of tours and one in particular we were looking forward to was the "Glacier View Kayaking" (don't bother) we were kayaking on a lake approximately 12 miles from the glacier - talk about false and misleading advertising. Another major issue was the automatic 15% gratuities added to all beverage purchases which we found extremely hard to justify when a majority of the waiters and bar persons couldn't understand our requests. The fellow passengers we met were the saving grace of the cruise as the majority all were complaining about similar issues. After travelling from Australia specifically to take Celebrity Cruises to see Alaska we were very disappointed and for the first time in our travelling lives completed a critical guest questionnaire and surprise/surprise have heard nothing back from Celebrity at this time. Would we travel Celebrity Again? Depends on the response of Celebrity as we have planned to go cruising to the Caribbean in 2006. But I really doubt that we would spend a lot of money for so little or no enjoyment with this cruise line who treated us like second class citizens. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
This was our 10th cruise, second on Celebrity. This was the most friendly ship ever. Smooth getting on and off the ship, well done Celebrity. We booked this at the last moment as the price was just too good to let by. The view of the ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise, second on Celebrity. This was the most friendly ship ever. Smooth getting on and off the ship, well done Celebrity. We booked this at the last moment as the price was just too good to let by. The view of the Hubbard glacier is fantastic. The sounds of ice crashing down off of the glacier is impossible to describe. The ocean was very smooth for the complete trip. CD is a fellow named John and he has an unusual voice that you will either love or hate. Food was great and we thoroughly enjoyed the ship. As usual we attended all the shows. The ladder guy is amazing with his stunts and his humour. The singers and dancers did 4 shows and they were very good. This is more shows than usual however they were very good. The Cirque de Soliel (sp?) is really a lounge at the front of the ship with "ambiance". We were told a number of times it is not a "show". We did not spend anytime there, so we can't really comment on it's value. It seemed a bit too bizarre for our tastes, but I am sure there are those who loved the experience. We arrived in Anchorage and we found this city to be old and dumpy. The Westin Hotel seems well placed if you are catching the bus at the Egan Centre. We stayed at the Sheraton which around 5 blocks away which offered free shuttle service with a smile. The Sheraton is showing it's age though. The ship needs to manage cigar smokers better (not just this cruise). I can handle cigarette smoke from a distance but cigars just "reek" and destroy anything in its path. At the back of the Summit is a beautiful open deck area where one could sit an enjoy their breakfast. However we had one cigar smoker who liked to sit right in the middle of the area. I noted Celebrity also had a cigar stand in this area as well, so Celebrity did nothing to monitor this area. Nothing like a little cigar smoke with your food. We are daily users of the Gym and we were disappointed with the condition of the 4 elliptical machines. 3 of the 4 machines were in very poor condition and only 4 machines total. I am not sure picks the exercise equipment on cruise ships but there seems to always be a line up for the tread mills and ellipticals while the rest of the machines sit empty. They could trade a number of stair climbers etc for more ellipticals. The exercise rooms was large and had nice windows. We were considered "select" with Celebrity as we had gained a similar status with RCCL. That gave us some nice perks including a free wine blending event in the Normandie restaurant. It was very well done by the Bulgarian Wine expert. It was hard work blending 6 glasses of different types of red wine into the ultimate blend. Overall a very good cruise. Our waiter Treavor was from Jamaica without the "Yeah man" accent and Sebastian from Poland made a great team. It was a true Griswald experience. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
After reading other reports it would seem that our experience as first time cruisers on the Summit does not agree with anyone else. We found the atmosphere on board attuned to one object only, that of fleecing their captive customers of ... Read More
After reading other reports it would seem that our experience as first time cruisers on the Summit does not agree with anyone else. We found the atmosphere on board attuned to one object only, that of fleecing their captive customers of their last dollar at every opportunity (hot chocolate at the Hubbard Glacier sir ? $10 - yeah, right). Port excursions were far cheaper when booked ashore (Juneau - Taku Lodge flight/Salmon Bake $244 aboard compared to $180 at the pier). The Alaskan ports were great fun to visit (the object of the cruise) but we were bored rigid on board between ports. The entertainment in the theatre was crass in the extreme, resulting in our leaving each show after 20 minutes. Amateur would just about describe it. I will spare you any comments on the grotesque feeding habits of our fellow passengers The ship was ugly and the internal furnishings banal. Our first cruise will certainly be our last. Value for money?, I'll take Sandals on the Caribbean over the Summit anytime. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
If anyone has any questions about my comments in this long review, I can be reached at pgauker@bellsouth.net. And I mean it! Travel experiences are to be shared! I still get an occasional question from my Summit review from '04 Ft ... Read More
If anyone has any questions about my comments in this long review, I can be reached at pgauker@bellsouth.net. And I mean it! Travel experiences are to be shared! I still get an occasional question from my Summit review from '04 Ft Lauderdale to Panama and back. PRECRUISE PREPARATIONS -- I received an email ad thru Cruise Critic with an offer I couldn't refuse: Air included to Alaska! I hadn't even been planning a cruise this summer but I snatched it up. And as it turned out, flying on Northwest Airlines to Anchorage at 8:10 a.m. I was able to receive Delta Sky Miles, so that was a pleasant surprise. I love free tickets on Delta! And the free transfers by bus with cruise/air arrangements. I chose the Southbound Gulf of Alaska trip because there were more hours in port than on the Northbound trip. We also scheduled late dinner seating to afford us more time on excursions on land, without having the chance of missing the ship or dinner. My brother had taken Summit to Alaska last year and said I should take an inside room since I am so light sensitive. This would assure a good night's sleep, he said. The travel agency gave a two category upgrade, so I was not totally in the belly of the ship. There was no way i could have arranged the trip less expensively by booking my own air. I did not, however, receive a one category Captain's Club upgrade from Celebrity since our pricing was lower than usual. (Read the small print that the upgrade may not be available). My husband said he would be too cold in Alaska so one of my singing buddies went with me. She had not cruised in ten years, and then on Carnival, so was ready for the Celebrity experience I'd described to her after our 2004 cruise on Summit. She said everything in the Bahamas was so artificial that she was ready for some real stuff (nature) in Alaska. And she loved the itinerary which included Icy Strait Point, since she knew someone who ran a fishing charter there during the summer. Small world. Why do I choose Celebrity? Among other things, because the Millennium Class ships do not blow black smoke into the atmosphere, there are no unnecessary announcements made, so you are not interrupted, and the overall experience is more pleasant. I think, too, that a cruise line that doesn't shepherd you as if you were children expects their clients to be adult, and get to their activities on time on their own. Yet they were always there to answer any questions. The passenger to crew ratio makes service excellent, and the passenger to space ratio gives the feeling that there aren't really 2000 people on board. I also choose Celebrity because they still have assigned dining room seating at night. And did I mention good food and service? I liked the open seating for breakfast and lunch in the Cosmopolitan dining room, so I could still meet new and interesting passengers. Yet the buffet was always available if we were in a hurry to get to an excursion. There is little interaction with other passengers at the buffet. I chose Summit because of its Aqua Spa and free use of its adult only Thellosotherapy pool and saunas, and the Aqua Spa Cafe, for yet another dining experience. I did not try the casual boulevard dining nor the Normandy. We enjoyed the free ice cream bar, the design your own pasta and pizza bars, as well as the omelet and waffle stations in the buffet area. The first night I saw some teenagers in the T-pool and hot tubs, but none later in the week. I am glad this rule is being enforced. A few brave teenaged souls did use the unheated outdoor pool, but immediately afterward jumped into the hot tubs! Another way to meet new people is to attend the formal tea in the Cosmopolitan (as opposed to the casual tea held daily in the buffet area). It was excellent and had a good variety of goodies to choose from. But tea is from a bag in a cup of hot water. not brewed. Yes, I gained the requisite 5 pounds on this cruise, despite walking down stairs instead of taking the elevator. I think part of the fun of a cruise is doing the research ahead of time. I went on the Cruise Critic Boards immediately and read other people's advice. There is just nothing like "straight from the horse's mouth." And I love sharing tales with other people there. Thank you Cruise Critic and all its members. And the photos you shared!! Priceless. There were some excursions I originally wanted to book, but found out that bear watching, for instance, except in Denali park, is slim in July, and that some tours were on open boats subject to the elements. Also, some complained of their feet getting cold in kayaks, so it made it much easier to choose among the many many tours available. I went on line to get an idea of what was THERE in Alaska that we could conceivably do in a port day. I compared the ship's excursions and times with what I could book independently, and ultimately chose companies who responded quickly and eliminated those that ignored emails for a week. Over the course of two months I did change my mind a couple of times, but was able to use the same agencies to upgrade, like from a helicopter glacier landing to a helicopter dog sled ride. Anything I'd booked through Celebrity and cancelled was immediately credited to my credit card. However, I did not ever receive an email confirmation from Celebrity, which worried me until I saw the charge on my credit card statement. I wanted to have new experiences and ones that were particularly Alaskan, that I could not replicate in the lower 48. I will tell you about my choices in the port section below. We saved approximately $240 each by booking independent tours. Also, having sailed Summit before, I knew that we'd have to make decisions about what to do on board, as well, since time was at a premium and fatigue had to be planned for. We opted not to attend theater shows and to rest instead. We also opted not to get involved in bingo and the casino which might destroy the peace we were trying to achieve by being close to nature. These were just personal preferences that we selected before we sailed. I also researched what souvenirs might be appropriate, and ordered several ulu knives made by the Ulu Factory in Anchorage before the cruise. Doing this saved me the hassle of trying to bring knives on board, and the slight weight and bulk increase they would have created in my luggage. When I did a search for ulu, some ulu shoes appeared in the search, and I was able to get some Alaskan style boots for Christmas presents for about 80% off. Isn't the internet something? How did we manage before we had it? We had checked the weather daily in the port cities for the two months preceding the cruise, and the variations in temperature and rain versus sunshine presented a packing challenge. But we did manage to stay within the 50 lb. limit per suitcase for domestic flights by taking a carryon with snacks since airlines don't really feed you any more. I had an icon on my desktop from the weather channel, and added each port city, so I was able to get the current temperature and an extended forecast with the click of a mouse It was very helpful. I reported these figures to our Roll Call forum, and the info seemed to help other travellers, as well. I know you've heard it before, but layering is the answer for clothing in Alaska. I did pack too much, as usual. Never used the shorts or the sweaters. But without self service laundromats on Celebrity, I felt there was not too much choice. I did not want to be bothered with remembering to put out clothes to be washed or dry cleaned since my mind was on excursions, not clothing. Although we are only an hour and a half drive to the Atlanta airport from Auburn Alabama, we drove up the evening before the flight to assure getting to the plane on time since our departure was at a very popular hour & we knew the security lines would be long. We were able to book a park/sleep/fly with Comfort Inn near the airport with 10 days of free parking and free shuttle service to and from the airport. This allowed us to avoid leaving Auburn at 2 a.m. to drive to the airport. One more small step in relieving anxiety. There was one change of planes in Minneapolis where cruise people coming from other areas would combine for the 2nd leg to Anchorage arriving at 2:30 p.m.. We had an hour and 3/4 between flights, so looked around the airport and used the moving sidewalks. Saw my only moose there: a rocking moose in a store! There were shuttle buses to Seward leaving every 45 minutes on Friday afternoon, so my anxiety about making the 3PM regularly scheduled Seward bus were alleviated with one phone call when I got my documents. So it really was possible to make the long trip in one day. But a long one! ARRIVING IN ANCHORAGE -- The directions for finding the coaches at the Anchorage airport could have been improved. It seemed that two employees liked to stand together waving the same Celebrity sign, but when you walked in the direction they pointed you in, there was no one at the next "station" to tell you what to do, so there was lots of mumbling and questioning one another, and lots of back tracking and unnecessary walking back to the original employee for clarification. We heaped our luggage together and it was sent to Seward separate from us, but did arrive in a timely manner so we did not have to worry about it. The comfortable coach with large picture windows drove along the scenic Seward Highway, along Turn Again Arm, with the driver narrating along the route, telling us where an eagle's nest was located, giving us descriptions as he drove. We stopped half way for a photo op and bathroom break. Since we arrived in Seward around 7 p.m. there were no lines whatsoever at the pier. I wished we had been able to arrive a day earlier to see Seward and take the Kenai Fjords tour. Seward was my favorite port for scenery and peacefulness. I realize that this may have been my opinion because it was my first glance at an Alaskan port. Check In at the pier was rapid and efficient. We were met with champagne and escorted to our cabin. We had been handed a card saying that for the first night we would have open seating in the Cosmopolitan at 8:30 p.m.. We were too hungry after only airline snacks, so opted not to go to the Cosmopolitan since we were very tired and didn't look our best, either. There was a lovely spread in the almost deserted Waterfall Cafe. Since there is day light until 9:30 we took many pictures of Seward from the aft balcony off the buffet. The luggage had arrived by the time we had eaten dinner. We read our Celebrity Today to decide upon choices of activities for Saturday. The CT will tell you what the dress code is for the evening as well as activities, spa specials, drink of the day, hours of operation etc. The TV provided access to free room service, CNN, and other channels, movies, pay per view movies, your shipboard account, view from the bridge with weather forecast, ship's bearing with local map, or background music. THE SHIP -- The ship showed a little wear but not much. The wear I speak of was in chipped toilet seat covers only, in the cabin and public bathrooms. It was still gorgeous and spotlessly clean. Everything functioned as designed. The ride was smooth and slow. The service remained unflawed and friendly. But our waiters and stewards did not bother to learn our names as they had on our last trip on Summit. Our inside cabin 3046 was on the Plaza deck, convenient to everything, especially disembarkation in the ports! We were near the forward elevator so I ran up to the T pool frequently and used the free sauna and showers in the ladies dressing room. The cabin is exactly the same size as the balcony cabin we had last year, except no balcony. The provided soap, shampoo, cotton balls and Q-Tips were convenient. There was adequate room for all our clothing and suitcases. I had brought extra hangers in the luggage. All invitations to parties and our shore excursions were in the cabin when we arrived. Our steward, Erlene, from the Philippines, and her assistant, Agus, from Indonesia, kept the room sparkling, with extra ice so I could ice my feet per doctor's orders. We removed all the mini bar items and used the fridge for our diet sodas we'd brought with us. The staff was consistently helpful and it was a seamless journey, including leaving and returning to the ship at the various ports. Watch for the difference in tides at Ketchikan! You may have left the ship from the 4th deck and will return via the first! THE TRIP EXPERIENCE -- Sail away from Seward was at 9:30 p.m. in the daylight! Since we arrived so late, we missed the tour of the ship/cabins and Aqua Spa, but I made up for it by having 4 massages. The SPA -- The new girl on the block was Elisha, an American, who had just transferred that week from Celebrity's Constellation. She was so professional and knowledgeable that I scheduled all massages with her. She was the only employee who called me by name. I enjoyed her company as well as her massages. She recommended a particular exercise machine in the gym and demonstrated its use for me. I did use it at 6:30 a.m. several days before my first cup of coffee and papaya in the Aqua Spa Cafe. I checked Celebrity Today for the spa specials and called immediately for an appointment for the following day. The spa rooms are quiet and relaxing. I was not overly impressed with the Persian Gardens. I could detect no scent in them. As far as I was concerned, the free sauna in the women's changing room would do. The changing room contained lockers (get a key from the spa desk) and large showers. MUSTER & CRUISE CRITIC CONNECTIONS PARTY ON SATURDAY A.M. -- Muster drill was held the next morning, and proceeded as expected, other than a screaming toddler who could not be comforted. Then followed the Cruise Critic Connections Party which almost didn't happen. We had had only 22 signed up a week before the cruise. So we were in the process of arranging our own get together, and sending photos so we'd recognize one another. Then I posted to the lurkers on our roll call to please sign up even if they thought they would not attend. Suddenly we had 35! And they attended! It was nice to be able to recognize some of the people during the week after having chatted with them at the party. We attended all the lectures that were provided on nature: glaciers and whales. Here today, gone to Maui for mating. Alaska is their feeding grounds. SATURDAY P.M. -- Hubbard Glacier was breathtaking. The heliport was opened that afternoon for closer viewing. We wore heavy coats, hats and gloves, but it was not uncomfortably cold. We went inside to the Aqua Spa and pool area when we were felt cold. The experience was totally overwhelming. Being surrounded on 3 sides by magnificent mountains and glaciers is simply something the camera cannot capture. We were witnessing evolution as the glaciers calved. This was also the first formal night. Our tablemates were a perfect match and we all enjoyed one another, literally closing up the place, being the last to leave each night. I like to be able to get to know my table mates and waiters and be called by name which does not happen with open seating. Our waitress was Reina from Slovakia, and her assistant was Raphael from Honduras, both of whom gave excellent service, anticipating our needs. After we ran out of breadsticks the first night we always had plenty the other nights. One tablemate was crazy about potatoes, so a plate of extra potatoes appeared every night! The menu was the same as it had been to Panama in '04, so I didn't have to try everything! The Sommelier always had placed the opened bottles of wine some table mates had brought on board. SUNDAY -- In Juneau we docked at the S Franklin Street pier at 8 a.m. We'd been up early to see whales, and were told there had been some, but they disappeared when we arrived on deck. There was a free shuttle bus for a ride to the edge of town, about 3-4 blocks away. We met a representative at the MGT booth across from the Mt. Roberts Tramway at 11:30 for transportation to the helipad for our dogsled adventure on a glacier. We had our email and snail mail confirmations in hand, but alas! the dog camp was socked in, so they asked if we'd want to try again at 1:30. We did want to try again. They were in constant radio contact with the dog camp,so could check the weather there. The understanding was that if we could not get in, we'd just have a glacier landing with a refund of $210 each. That is what had happened that morning, but fortunately did not happen to us. We got in. We'd originally planned to see the Glacier Gardens after the helicopter ride, so were undecided about how we should spend the two hours until the afternoon flight. They volunteered to give us a free ride to the Gardens. We decided to have lunch on board and wing it from there. We WERE able to go to the dog camp via Coastal Helicopters ($395 each) We weighed in (no weights were called out!) and were fitted with boots and given safety instructions. It was our first helicopter ride and all my worries disappeared when we lifted off. The flight was smooth as glass. We flew over Mendenhall Glacier and noted the lack of color. Except for a glimpse of blue in the glacier, it was as if we were living in a black and white world. There were 6 passengers aboard, 2 women in front with the pilot, and 4 in back shoulder to shoulder. The earphones made communication easy, and kept out engine noise. We saw Dall sheep from the air. The mixed breed dogs started barking at the approach of the helicopter, as if saying, '"take me running." The camp was located in a valley below several glaciers. We were surrounded by them. The 3 employees there were highly wind/sun burned and wore only tee shirts in contrast to our heaviest coats, hats and gloves. We heard the thunder of calving and looked around to see if there'd be an avalanche. They said they had about 3 avalanches a week. We were on two teams of dogs so could watch the other sleds from a distance on the mile long ride. Yes, one of the sleds tipped over, but they said it added to the fun. We had not signed a waiver in case of a dog sled accident! Meanwhile, the helicopter returned to the helipad for the next tour group. When we were playing with the dogs it returned once again, with the dogs giving their barks of greeting. We reluctantly left this once in a lifetime experience and returned to the helipad. We flew close to the mountains for better views. Because of our delayed excursion, they dropped us off at the Glacier Gardens and told the other 4 passengers they were getting a different route back to the ship. I'm glad they did because on the map it appeared to be only a 3 block walk, but was actually quite a distance away! The folks at the Gardens arranged a cab for us to return to the ship. We rode up steep mountain paths in a golf cart type vehicle to an overlook of the Juneau harbor. There were several tour buses from the ships there, so we met lots of people. Our cab ride back to the ship was $20. The ship departed at 10 p.m. We viewed this sail away from our window table in the Cosmopolitan, second seating. I had made 4 masks (at home) for the women at our table for the Cirque du Soleil, and we donned our white clothing and dutifully went to the Bar at the Edge of the Earth at 10:30 for the experience. It was a little loud for our tastes, but interesting. MONDAY -- In Skagway we were at the forward position on the Railroad Dock, so easily walked to the "public" part of the dock to meet our tour bus. We had ordered room service sandwiches and a fruit and cheese plate, and packed the potato chips and cheese in ziplog bags I'd brought from home, so had a snack during photo ops. on the 6 hour excursion to the Yukon. We were met by Frontier Tours with a placard with our names on it!! Such service! There were six of us in a van for the climb to Canada. We took the city tour combined with the over the summit and into the Yukon trip with Yukon Murray's guide in hand. We followed the steepest route of the gold rush rather than the adjacent alternate routes some took, thru the Chilkoot and Chilkat passes. We also had arranged for a dog wagon ride at Caribou Crossing (near Carcross) before descending back into town. These dogs were huskies instead of the mixed breeds at the glacier. There were puppies to cuddle and play with at both locations. I was pleased to learn that people in the Yukon use their dogs for transport when snow makes the roads impassable. I guess I liked it because it had seemed to me that the sole purpose of offering the dog rides was to raise money for the Iditarod and other races. There was an excellent museum on site, as well, and a gift shop with books. Total $145 per person. f you feel you cannot afford to spend $400+ for the helicopter glacier dogsled ride, you can still get the feel of the dogs loving to pull and run, by the wagon ride without snow. The presentation about the dog sled was better at Carcross than at the glacier. When a dog is injured and has to ride IN the sled, he/she is given a seat where he/she can look out to watch the action. I love it! They alternate their lead dogs, and on our wagon ride the usual lead dog was well back, but constantly barking his instructions to the other dogs, and turning back to the musher to say he was ready. We made a quick stop in the village of Carcross and had our passports stamped if we wanted. The log homes had no running water or central heat/air. Without the gold rush, would there even be a town there? There were no bears at the usual bear viewing spots, but did see an eagle's nest. Everything we saw was explained to us and having such a small group, we could easily ask questions. We stopped for photo ops several times. Sailaway at 8:30 p.m. We used room service since we were exhausted. We are 65 and 68. TUESDAY -- We discovered that the chocolate croissants from the Cova Cafe are much superior to those served in the Waterfall buffet or Cosmopolitan Dining Room because they are hot. Icy Strait Point the next day. So isolated! From the ship we could see the town of Hoonah about a mile from the tourist center. Tender to shore began at 6:30 a.m. for those who had 6:30 fishing trips scheduled. Whales had been spotted, but none showed up for us. It was raining slightly so many people stayed on board Summit. We are glad we went. We had not scheduled any excursions since we were to call a friend from Auburn who worked in Hoonah during the season. We were unable to reach him, however, so just enjoyed talking to the people who lived there and visiting the free salmon museum. For those who had not booked a tour through the ship, there were tours available at the dock for people like us. We did not take a tour, however since visibility was poor. We were given a wood chip in a small paper bag and invited to add it to the fire at the ceremonial spot a block down the beach. We were wearing our rain gear so walked the block on the beach rather than on the board walk. The idea of joining our spirits with theirs was very touching. We spent most of our time in the Spirit Gift Shop. This was the only shop that was entirely "native" run. In December, if their profits are good, they will be allowed to purchase the shop. They were given a grant and learned how to run a business. So far it appears that their studies have made the shop successful. This is the only shop where native made articles, crafted from natural materials could be purchased. This appealed to me rather than simply a native design that had been sent to China or elsewhere where they were mass produced. I purchased jade and ivory earrings, the ivory coming from a wooly mammoth found in the permafrost. I learned from a woman in her sixties that the missionaries had discouraged the use of the Tlinget language during her mother's childhood, so many children back then had not spoken Tlinget. However, it is now being taught in the schools. The native children had gone to college as far away as Yale, and some had returned to teach in the local schools. There seemed to be a status symbol in paying your own way to a lower 48 school rather than taking free grants to go to college in Alaska. I learned that the Haida tribe had been the "slaves" of the Tlinget, although it was more of a caste system than slavery as we think of it. We had been discussing various forms of slavery prior to this admission. Funding for the Icy Strait Point project had come from Juneau and there was a five year contract with RCCL/Celebrity, with only two stops a week by cruise ships. Only one ship is allowed per day. This may increase to 4 days per week with only one ship per day. It's hard to top dog sledding, but I believe the lasting impression of the people of Hoonah rate as the number one experience of the cruise. Today was the deadline for deciding if you wanted to tip through your shipboard account or in envelopes using cash. I chose to tip through the account since I'd used a Celebrity credit card for my sea pass! (double points) WEDNESDAY -- In Ketchikan we were at dock 2 Tongass Store at 8 a.m., a short walk to the Sunshine/Rain gauge where we met our tour driver for our first tour of the day, the amphibious DUCK trip through town and into the harbor. Wish visibility had been a little better, but after all, it was Ketchikan where it is almost always raining. We did a little souvenir shopping for tee shirts and baseball caps, books on totems etc. before returning to the ship. After lunch we ventured again to the dock to meet our driver for a flight to the Misty Fjords with Alaska Seaplane Tours ($198). Earlier in the day they'd had to turn back due to poor visibility, but they had seen bears. So we left with the understanding that if we could not get good views of the fjords we'd have a couple of landings and turn it into a wildlife viewing flight. We did make it to the fjords but could not see much, so looked for bear. None for us. We did see Salmon jumping, however. The flight was pleasant, and the earphones made communication good. THURSDAY -- We cruised the Inside Passage. People were spotting dolphin, salmon jumping, but no bears or whales. While crossing from port to starboard for different views, we heard music and looked into the Celebrity theater. The early show was going on. We were able to get a glimpse of some of the acts we'd not seen by not attending any shows all week. They also showed the footage of film for the souvenir video. My, what rambunctious activities we missed by resting! We packed, said our good byes, and placed our luggage outside our door by 11 pm. FRIDAY -- Those who were using US Direct services met in the Celebrity Theatre at a designated hour after we docked at Canada Place. This process could have been improved. In theory it worked perfectly, but in reality, there were not enough instructions given frequently enough. Ideally one person from each party would stand in a line and approach the stage where boarding passes and luggage tag receipts were distributed, and then join the rest of the party to go to the coaches for the trip to the airport. However, all passengers did not hear the "one person in a party" announcement, and the aisles were full of whole families struggling down the steps with carry on luggage. To soothe the unhappy campers, everyone was told to sit down. Well, I saw that everyone who'd received a boarding pass was walking out to the bus, and we were still sitting, as instructed. I asked an agent and he told me to proceed to the bus, but wanted to know exactly who had told me to sit down: the lady who had given me my boarding pass! Unbelievable. On our short tour of Vancouver enroute to the airport we saw that gasoline there was .99 Canadian, but that was for only a litre! Therefore their gasoline was over $3.00 US per gallon! The Vancouver airport was quite something. There were several features for tired passengers that I found intriguing: massage stations, a coin operated massage chair, 3 sleeping capsules with blankets, and internet services. Their designated smoking area was in an enclosed room of a restaurant with full view of our departure gate. Their disembarking passengers did not stream out into the waiting area for embarking passengers, so there was no hubbub. I was very impressed at the calmness. We had two hours before our flight home, so had the opportunity to look around. The US Direct Vancouver program for $20 (available only to people with transfers already purchased & are booked with participating airlines. You will be given forms where you may opt for this program earlier in the week and pay for it on your sea pass) saved us hours of slow lines. We did not see our luggage after it was placed in the hall at midnight the last night at sea, until we arrived in Atlanta. Every Canadian who worked for the program was courteous, friendly, and stationed at any corner where you just might take a wrong turn. So it was very smooth. And we did not have to remove our shoes in the security line! Our Delta flight attendant had us do exercises before we landed after our 5 hour flight. We all laughed when she asked us to put our left legs behind our heads! Non-stop is the way to go. We collected our baggage, took the shuttle back to Comfort Inn to pick up the car, which took approximately 1 hour in total from landing to getting in the car. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
This was my first cruise in July '05 and it was one of the most pleasant experiences I have had. My mom's dream vacation was to always go to Alaska, so my brother & I joined my parents and off we went. My dad really want to ... Read More
This was my first cruise in July '05 and it was one of the most pleasant experiences I have had. My mom's dream vacation was to always go to Alaska, so my brother & I joined my parents and off we went. My dad really want to see Anchorage so we flew there nonstop from Atlanta just so we could spend a few extra days before embarkation. It's worth it to get there a few days just to explore. Anchorage is a really neat city with a lot of history, I enjoyed it. We decided to take the train down to Seward, and besides the cruise, this was another amazing experience. In order to get to Seward you could either ride a bus (BORING!), or take the train. The train takes you through lush scenery, you go through the mountains, down by the ocean. It was seriously breath taking. When you're in the mountains you just see valley's of green for miles. And you can see a ton of wildlife on the way. The ride down there is about 2 hours, and they do serve lunch on board the train. We got to our ship and check in was a breeze, no lengthy lines or anything. My parents were staying in a balcony room, while my brother & I shared an inside state room. We were 15(him) & 19(me) at the time, we're 17 & 21 now. So it was a place for us to just sleep and shower. We mainly hung out in our parents room to watch the scenery. Your never without scenery on an Alaskan cruise, and this is one cruise you DEFINITELY want a balcony, or atleast a window for. I honestly don't remember the port of calls in order, but I know we went to Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway. Our final port of call was Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Which is where we debarked. Celebrity Summit was a very elegant ship, the food was excellent. The coolest part was on the last night when the wait staff came out with Baked Alaska flaming on their heads, it was so funny, and appropriate! The shopping on board this ship was very nice too. I walked away with some very beautiful pieces of jewelry. My brother was definitely all over the teen scene on the ship, he made friends quickly and we never knew where he was. There was nobody really my age on board, so I hung out with my parents, and did things with them. The casino was nice, not smoke filled or too rowdy like other cruise ship casinos. Also the shows were great. There was a magic show, and a few cabaret like shows as well..very nice. The cruise director(i so forget his name as this was 2 years ago), was excellent. I remember he would be on tv all day inside you room telling you what was going on. You could also order room service through your tv 24 hours a day. The spa was very nice as well. I got a massage one night after dinner on the ship, and it was very relaxing, and professional. The fitness center looked top notch as well. Our steward was very nice as well, he had a few other people to help him. And everyone on board was just wonderful. You couldn't walk down the hall without being greeted by someone, and them asking you how your day was and how you were enjoying your cruise. The shore excursions were very nice too. In skagway we did two shore excursions as we had a lot of time there. My brother & dad took a helicopter ride up to the top of a glacier, I'm not sure the name of it. They said it was a really neat experience, not only to ride in a helicopter, but to be atop a huge mass. And then as a family we went to the Mushing camp, where there were HUNDREDS of huskies. The dogs would pull you in a fake mushing exercise. You were basically strapped into a go-kart like device, and about 15-20 dogs pulled you around a trail...it was a ton of fun!!! And afterwards you could learn about the life of Mushing, and how the dogs & trainers survive and what they endure. And then you could play with the dogs, and there were husky puppies on site as well. The majority of the dogs were VERY friendly...some were not, but that's expected. All in all it was a great cruise, and my parents & I would definitely sail with Celebrity again. We plan on heading to the Mediterranean soon and we hope to join Celebrity in doing so. :) Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
We arrived into Anchorage and toured the state a couple of days before our departure. Anchorage is very overpriced for regular hotel rooms. Example: Fairfield Inn-$200/night. (And they were sold out!) Souvenirs are expensive in Anchorage, ... Read More
We arrived into Anchorage and toured the state a couple of days before our departure. Anchorage is very overpriced for regular hotel rooms. Example: Fairfield Inn-$200/night. (And they were sold out!) Souvenirs are expensive in Anchorage, best souvenir shopping was in Ketchikan. Took train down to Seward, it is an early departure 6 a.m. but worth it for the beautiful scenery. Very nice ride and on time. The train will transfer your luggage directly to the ship. DO NOT BUY ANY ITEMS IN SEWARD !! It was so overpriced that we thought they were kidding. Example: 24 exp. Disposable camera $18.00 Embarkation was fine despite Celebrity training several new employees. Food was very good especially the fruits. Menu every night included choice of meats, poultry, fish or combo. Lunch was the only meal that was good for food but bad for enjoyment,our fellow passengers showed up pushing and shoving in line when there was no need. Ports: Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan all have the EXACT same stores. There are out of state vendors that built stores in the city to capitalize on the tourism. There are 23 jewelry stores in Skagway with a population of only 400 year round residents. WARNING: Most stores pay a 25% premium to be on the cruise company's recommendation list. You WILL pay more if you shop at these stores. Jewelry stores WILL negotiate prices. Best souvenirs shopping seemed to be in Ketchikan. Our favorite port was icy straight because this was what Alaska is really about and ALL local Hoonan, AK vendors. Excursions: Take a Float Plane, it is well worth the fee but take one in the Northern most portion versus the last southern port,(Ketchikan). You will see more in the North. The White Pass train in Skagway was nice and you may sit on the left side but you must change seats at the mid-way point. It is the only way to be fair to all passengers. The Lumberjack show in Ketchikan is a must see and enjoyable. The Totem Bite state park was $60/per person for a state park that is free to all entrants. The park was nice but $60 for a bus ride? The whale excursion is a guess where the whales are. There is no guarantee that you will see any whales. Best chance to see whales for us was at icy point straight. We saw five from the beach. We were a little disappointed on the commercialization of each port except Hoonan (icy point). There are typically 4 cruise ships in port at one time and ALL TOURS are available on shore without pre-booking them on the ship. We had no problem saving $700 by booking excursions as we disembarked at each port. Go with a positive attitude, it is such a beautiful state! Hope this helps, I appreciated the info passengers shared with me before our trip. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
We booked concierge class for the first time, and were delighted. We especially liked the choice of pillows. Small thing perhaps, but the goose down was sooo soft. We rented a car, and drove down to San Diego, as we're from So. Cal. ... Read More
We booked concierge class for the first time, and were delighted. We especially liked the choice of pillows. Small thing perhaps, but the goose down was sooo soft. We rented a car, and drove down to San Diego, as we're from So. Cal. and after returning the car, boarded with almost no hassle. Our daughter was in an inside cabin alone, and to our surprise, loved it! She liked the coziness, and the darkness, which you don't get a lot of in Alaska. I love the fresh air with a balcony, and sitting out on the deck,exalting in the wonderful scenery. It was Very chilly, though, and I stayed bundled up in blankets. We enjoyed the Pacific Coast, but had been in the ports many times, but Victoria, B.C.. was wonderful! A tip for cruisers; Don't take the Greyhound bus for the $5.00/person. If you're a walker, it's about 15 min../walk, otherwise take a cab! They're not expensive, just grab one just outside the ship, and you don't have to sit in the hot,crowed bus, and then when you want to go back to the ship, the line is horrendous!! We broke from the line, after paying $15.00 for the three of us, and the cab was $8.00, fast friendly, and Much better than standing in line for an hour. Live and learn. My husband thought the food had really improved since we had been on the Summit 3 years ago. We had a wonderful waiter and assistant. Marius and Glenn. Our slightest wish was fulfilled, and so polite and friendly! We loved the dining room, but the buffet was excellent also. Our daughter adored the Sushi. I liked the Aquaspa, and their cold fruit soups. Delicious! The shows were not to our liking, although the comedian was very funny. The Broadway show, was to our surprise, Exactly what we had seen in 2002! Thought they changed the shows every year. Our room stewards were very efficient, and every afternoon they brought a little plate of canapes. My family didn't like them,but I'm sure they were fine. The concierge/room service breakfast was not remotely OK Cold, slow, and the strongest coffee this side of espresso. So, we just ordered juice and coffee, and ate upstairs. 14 days was perfect. We just started to get the first twinges of homesickness, and voila! we were in Vancouver. We all loved this cruise, and the staff were fantastic! We'll definitely sail the Summit again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
ALASKA INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE: Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait/Hoonah, Hubbard Glacier, and Seward. My husband and I chose to go on an Alaskan Cruise for our wedding anniversary. We tried to do something special each year for ... Read More
ALASKA INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE: Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait/Hoonah, Hubbard Glacier, and Seward. My husband and I chose to go on an Alaskan Cruise for our wedding anniversary. We tried to do something special each year for our anniversary. Choosing the Alaska Cruise was perfect. We flew from Hawaii to Vancouver, B.C. (which was our port of embarkation). The Summit is such a fascinating ship...our embarkation went smoothly, and our cabin was on the same deck as the foyer of the ship. It made it easy going on and off the ship when we went to each port. The cabin was very clean and comfortable, and the Stateroom Attendant and everyone else had professionalism and excellent customer service. Our Dining experience was wonderful...every evening for dinner we sat at the same table with the same people. Our reserved table was larger than most, we had twelve people at our table, and it was very nice getting to know one another and becoming friends with everyone. The Waiter & Assistant Waiter for our table had outstanding customer service and knowledge. One of our shore excursion was Kayaking. That was a lot of fun. The instructor said...this would be a test for couples. It was a 2-person Kayak and it was important to be in sync with each other. Most of the ports we docked at we walked around the town and shopped. Each port was beautiful, surrounded by snow capped mountains. Our last port was Seward, and this is where we disembarked. We had to catch a flight on Alaska Airlines to Vancouver...spent a night in Vancouver, then flew back to Hawaii. I would not do a one-way cruise again. I would prefer returning to the same port. All of the crew on the Summit were courteous, thoughtful, and all had professionalism with their positions. Things may have changed, but the experience we had during our cruise was very memorable. In summary, I thought the Celebrity "SUMMIT" was a very classy ship in every way. I've tried and would love to go on that ship again, but it has not been active where I am interested in visiting. I cruised on the Celebrity Mercury, but comparing it to the Summit...it was a disappointment. I love to travel, but since my traveling partner & husband died, I have not traveled as much. Going on a cruise is the best way to travel! Aloha, Rainbow777 Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
I was on the Summit cruise of 5/7. First I want to say the crew was GREAT. To our waiter Bobbo and assistant waitress Tamera, we miss you. I have read many of the comments from people calling many of us cry babies or so what if you were ... Read More
I was on the Summit cruise of 5/7. First I want to say the crew was GREAT. To our waiter Bobbo and assistant waitress Tamera, we miss you. I have read many of the comments from people calling many of us cry babies or so what if you were at sea, you had a cruise experience. The first thing I have to say is if I wanted days at sea, I would have taken a Cruise to Nowhere, out of New York and saved the airfare to the west coast. How much BINGO can one take at $30.00 a pop per person, twice a day ($120.00 a day) when at sea? How much Pictionary, Name That Tune or battle of the sexes trivia can you play? How much time are you going to spend in the pool sailing the North Pacific in May? I have to admit it was funny seeing people on lounge chairs around the pool dressed from head to toe and with a blanket. How many drinks can you down (at 5.95 to 9.95 per drink plus 15% gratuity) a day. I did enjoy the Martini Sampler Special they had twice during the cruise. Six varieties of martinis at 2 oz. each. After a couple of specials you forget about the rest of the day! Did I mention the Wine Auction, the Art Auction or the diamond and jade specials, how about the gold chain by the inch, starting at 99 cents per inch! If that does not interest you, the Casino is open when we are not in Port. This cruise was doomed from day one! I was told the ship got in late from Hawaii. When we went to board the ship, we had to go up an escalator and at the top was an enclosed area with a doorway going out to a walkway that led to the gangplank to board the ship. The line backed up and people piled on top of each other at the top of the escalator. People were screaming for help and to stop the escalator. Two people were cut up and hurt pretty badly. Celebrity had no personnel at the top of the escalator. A few days later we were talking to one of the people hurt and they told us Celebrity tried charging them $300.00 for medical care!! After we left port later that night, one of the crew members I was talking to told me they had a problem with the ship coming back from Hawaii and that is why they were late. We were to dock in San Francisco on Tuesday at 8 am, but on Monday night the Captain announced we would be docking at 12 am due to some maintenance needed. SF was nice and we were supposed to leave at 6 pm. We sat at the dock in San Francisco till about 7:00, when there was an announcement that it would be another hour till we left. The ship FINALLY left a little after 8:00 pm. Late Wed. morning the Captain announced that due to a bearing problem we would not be docking at Seattle or Sitka because the ship could only due 17.4 knots to be safe instead of 22 knots. Later the Captain stated that Lloyds of London inspected the ship and they were told if they kept the speed of the ship at no more then 17.4 knots per hour they could continue the cruise. The problem with that was at that speed, they could not make all the ports and had to cut time at the rest of the ports. People were very upset and they demanded a meeting. I have to give the Captain credit; he stayed at the meeting until every question was answered. When the captain was asked if he knew about the ship problems while we were in SF, his answer was I would not insult your intelligence and tell you no. When someone got up and asked for a show of hands how many people thought they should get a full refund, the Captain raised his hand. This was all on video tape. This meeting started about 1 pm PT on Tues. May 10. The same day, at 12:16 pm ET (9:16 am our time) it was posted by South Florida Business Journal; Celebrity will dry-dock Summit and cancel May 20 cruise to Alaska. Passengers will be given a full refund AND a FREE CRUISE!! We did not find out about this until the next day. Celebrity gave us a $200.00 credit per cabin. In Ketchikan we left at 2 pm instead of 4 pm so we had to cancel one of our excursions. We arrived in Skagway late. On May 16th we were supposed to arrive in Hubbard Glacier at 9:00 am and stay till 1:00 pm. We did not arrive until 11:00 am and then we never got near the Glacier. The Captain said it was because there was another ship in there and only one at a time could go in. We left there at 1:00 pm. The only way I could see the Glacier was with a pair of binoculars. On May 18th we were suppose to Cruise the Inside Passage. We did not cruise the first 775 miles of the passage, only the last 225 miles. We arrived at that point of the Inside Passage about 9:00 am. The Captain announced that because of the fog, and that we would not be able to see anything, we would sit in the Bay until 5:00 pm when the fog would lift. By 11:00 am the fog lifted, at 3:30 pm the fog rolled back in. We found out that was a lie, the reason we sat there was because they had no pilot to take us in and he would not arrive until 5:00 pm. At 4:52 pm I was standing on our balcony and watched the pilot boat drop off the pilot. He boarded right below me. Then we took off but you could not see more then 60 feet ahead due to fog. Our dinner was 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. When we left the dinning room the passage was clear so we got to see the Inside Passage for 1 hour then it got dark. There were other things that happened, there were meetings in the grand foyer each day we were out at sea with anywhere from 300 to 600 passengers at each meeting. Over 1000 people signed a petition to join a class action suit. On the last day Celebrity said they were giving us 30% off our next cruise. That means I have to save up the other 70% and the airfare to see what they took away from us. What are the highlights of a cruise to Alaska? The things you can only see from a ship, Hubbards Glacier, the 1000 mile trek along the Inside Passage with wondrous wildlife and waterfalls. Spotting whales and orca and just the natural beauty of it all from your balcony or up on deck. If anyone tries to tell me that Hubbards Glacier and the Inside Passage are days at sea I must say no way, those are spectacular sightseeing days. Why else did we take a cruise? To unpack once, and besides, its impossible to drive from town to town in Alaska. If I had been given the choice of disembarking in SF and taking another cruise, I would have. We saved for 2 years and booked 9 months in advance. I spent 9 months researching as much as I could so that we would have the best experience possible. Unfortunately I did not research Celebrity or the parent Royal Caribbeans corporate treatment of customers. I hope Celebrity does the right thing on their own without having to file the class action suit. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
This was my second cruise, the first being a 4-night RCCL sail to Key West and Cozumel with my sister in August 2003. It was the first for my husband, and it was our honeymoon. Overall, we had a wonderful time, and thoroughly enjoyed our ... Read More
This was my second cruise, the first being a 4-night RCCL sail to Key West and Cozumel with my sister in August 2003. It was the first for my husband, and it was our honeymoon. Overall, we had a wonderful time, and thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. We did, however, experience some disappointments that I'll mention below. GETTING THERE & EMBARKATION -- We flew into Anchorage on Thursday, and awoke bright and early (New Jersey time) on Friday morning. After an early breakfast at the Sheraton, we walked around Anchorage for awhile. Since nothing was open, we went back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and caught a lift to the Egan Center from the bellman. The line to check in was about 15 minutes long, and we were relieved of our baggage. We had about 2 hours to kill, which we spent in the galleries of Anchorage, buying our first souvenirs. Our departure for the train station was delayed somewhat, but we were eventually on our way. The train ride was beautiful, and a wonderful welcome to Alaska. It took almost 5 hours to get there, however, and due to the aforementioned jet lag I was a little sleepy. When we got to the cruise ship terminal in Seward, we were promptly greeted with an official letter informing us that there was a mechanical problem with the ship, and therefore we would be arriving in Juneau and Ketchikan several hours late. (They did, however, offer us a free happy hour on one of the days, as an apology.) I immediately panicked, realizing that we had a heli-hiking excursion planned in Juneau with Northstar that we were in danger of missing. Never fear, once we had gotten to our stateroom, I called on my cell phone, and the nice woman at Northstar said "We've been waiting for you to call!" They had already gotten a call from the Summit and had automatically rescheduled us. STATEROOM -- The stateroom was quite nice. We had ample room, and enjoyed our balcony, despite the chilly weather. In Ketchikan, it was nice enough to sit outside and enough the evening air. Overall, I thought the room was a step above RCCL's Enchantment of the Seas, and I particularly enjoyed the robes. Our stateroom attendant was another story. We didn't even see him for the first 24 hours on the ship, and throughout the cruise his service was inattentive and disappointing. At times, I had to call Guest Relations to request service on the room (i.e. getting the bed made). He was full of excuses and reasons why he couldn't do the things that we perceived to be his responsibility, and made us feel guilty for asking for the most simple things like more ice when we ran out. FACILITIES -- The ship itself was very nice, and we loved all the contemporary artwork on display. We rarely felt crowded; even though there were plenty of people on the ship we always seemed to be able to find a spot to sit, drink, etc. The spa was quite nice, and my husband enjoyed a massage on each at-sea day. I got a pedicure on the first day, which was lovely, but I must mention that the salon does not have driers, so it took a long time for my toes to dry! Not a problem in a warm weather destination, but I really wanted to put my shoes back on and I ended up smudging a big toe. I avoided the spacious, nice-looking gym like the plague, but did take a Pilates class that was so-so. (I do Pilates 2X week at home, and it was clearly for newbies.) My expectations were low, however, so it was not a letdown. DINING -- We were excited for the Celebrity dining experience, given what we had heard in advance about Celebrity's cuisine. Unfortunately, we were somewhat disappointed in this respect. (A caveat: as New Yorkers, we consider ourselves to be pretty sophisticated diners, and picky ones at that. The French Laundry in Napa is our gold standard, and it's hard to measure up to that.) We had breakfast each day in the Windjammer Cafe, which is the traditional breakfast buffet. We were pleased to see that it was almost always easy to find a table, and the staff was always available to carry a tray or pour more coffee. In general, I thought the breakfasts were very good, and we particularly liked the waffles made to order and the pain-au-chocolate available from the bakery. DH was disappointed by the bacon (too soggy), but he is really picky about bacon. We also had lunch each day in the Windjammer, and by about the third day we were really sick of the lunch options. There were always hot entrees, salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, etc. available, but for some reason the food itself just didn't look or taste that good. A couple of times I got a veggie burger from the pool grill, which was good. But overall, we were disappointed by the lunch options. A few times I felt like I really couldn't find anything to eat. The ice cream, however, was always delicious. Due to the wacky port schedule, we only ate dinner at our assigned seating (early) three times at the main restaurant. However, our waiter was great, and the food was decent -- not terrific, but certainly passable and sometimes very good. As a vegetarian who sometimes eats fish, I was able to find plenty of options on the menu. My husband is a real meat eater, however, and he had some trouble getting meat cooked properly (i.e. medium well came back medium rare, etc.) Again, he is picky, but it's worth noting. We also ate one night in the Normandie, the Summit's specialty (read: costs extra) restaurant. It happened to be the night we were in Juneau, and they extended our port time to midnight, so for that reason, perhaps, the restaurant was almost empty. We greatly enjoyed both the meal and the wine, and recommend it to others traveling on the Summit. ENTERTAINMENT -- We didn't really do much of the shows, although one night we WERE the entertainment when we were contestants in the Newlywed/Not-so-Newlywed Game. I'm pleased to report, we won! Since we were already awake, we went to the comedy show at midnight, which was terrific. Other than that, the shows didn't interest us, and we were jet lagged anyway. PORTS -- We loved this itinerary, despite the delays, and feel like it gave us a good taste of Alaska. Hubbard Glacier: Not really a port, but worth mentioning how great it was to get so close to such a huge glacier. We arrived quite late, just in time for the early dinner seating. It was a disappointment, because earlier in the day, Jessica, the social hostess, had invited us to sit at the Captain's table. However, we really didn't want to miss the glacier, so when it because clear that we would miss dinner (around 5:30 or so) we called her to politely decline. She seemed a little rude, but I got over it quickly because the glacier was terrific. Be sure to bundle up for this one, it got cold quickly. Juneau: As it turns out, we didn't get into Juneau until just after 2 p.m., so we had already rescheduled our heli-hike twice. We walked to the State Museum, which is worth visiting if you don't want to shop and want to learn a little about Alaska's history and people. At 4 PM, we went to the Red Dog to wait for Northstar to pick us up for our now very late heli-hike. By 4:30, they still hadn't arrived, so we used a pay phone to call -- turns out that the weather was so bad that we couldn't go. Huge disappointment, but Northstar handled it well, and I wouldn't hesitate to book with them if we ever went back. It was getting late, but I still wanted to do something before our 7:30 Normandie reservation, so we caught the last shuttle out to the Mendenhall Glacier. I would definitely recommend this, and wish we had more than the 30 minutes before the last ride back to explore this area. Skagway: In Skagway, we took the White Pass Railroad up, which was breathtaking, and a must-do for visitors to this port. To get back down, I had the brilliant idea of taking the "bike down" excursion. My husband and I are 42 and 30, respectively, and we bike for fun on the weekends, so I figured this excursion would be no problem. However, I underestimated my dislike for rapid descent. While I was picturing a leisurely bike down with many stops for pictures, the guides told us that they expected us to maintain a consistent speed of 15 to 20 MPH, and not to look anywhere except right ahead of our bike. So much for leisure! I quit halfway down because I was definitely the slowest in the bunch and just wasn't enjoying it. Icy Strait Point: We really loved this port, and highly recommend it to others. We started with the whale watching excursion. It was a big boat, so even the 200 people on board didn't make it feel crowded, and we never had to struggle to see on the 2nd floor outside deck. And boy did we see a lot! There were humpbacks everywhere you looked; it was definitely the most memorable part of the trip. (The expert guide did mention that the number of whales we saw was over the norm.) The port itself is tiny and brand new, and feels somewhat Disney-fied to me, as if any moment we might see Mickey and Donald in salmon-fishing outfits, manning the cannery. But the exhibit on the cannery was interesting, and we would have loved to have more time to explore the trails around the area. Given the short port time and the amount of things to do, one probably doesn't even need an excursion in this port. Ketchikan: We didn't have an excursion planned for Ketchikan, so we decided to just wing it, which turned out to be a good idea, given that we didn't arrive until around 11 a.m. or so. We ended up renting bikes from the Lumberjack Show, and biking out to the Totem Pole park. Word to the wise: the Lumberjack show closed at 3:30 that day, so we had to have our bikes back by then. So, we only had a quick 1-hour ride. The rest of the time we shopped for gifts for family and so on. Disappointingly, however, most of the shops were closing at around 6, so despite our extended port time (due to late arrival) at a certain point there was nothing open so we just got back on the ship. All in all, it was a wonderful vacation and we really enjoyed our time on the Summit. However, when planning our next cruise, I do think that we will explore other cruise lines as well to determine if there is another line that might take service and cuisine to the next level. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Ship: Summit Cruise: Alaska 7 Day Northbound Date: Aug 2004 I will try to evaluate the different aspects of this particular cruise as best I can. Embarkation: Somewhat slow cattle-call type operation. We completed all of our ... Read More
Ship: Summit Cruise: Alaska 7 Day Northbound Date: Aug 2004 I will try to evaluate the different aspects of this particular cruise as best I can. Embarkation: Somewhat slow cattle-call type operation. We completed all of our documents online, but still waited about 45 minutes between checking in and going to customs. My advice: Be early! (We thought we were, but I guess not) Room: Very nice accommodations! Our 1A cabin was perfect for the two of us. The balcony is essential if you like spending time alone enjoying the scenery. Early morning in the Inside Passage is not to be missed. We were on the ocean side of the ship, but our views and scenery were just as good as the land side, so starboard or port, either is great. Like a bus driver in Juneau told us, there is nothing on that ship that you have not seen before, so look outside! Food: Frankly we were disappointed. Food is supposed to be a highlight of most cruises, but not this one. Buffet: The buffet was never what we could call "good". The food was mediocre at best. We often joked that what was served in the main dining room one night would be found on the buffet the next. We were not wrong. Main Dining Room: Dinners were mostly just average. (We missed one night because we were too late, and one b/c of my wife's sea sickness) We had two "very good" meals out of five dinners in the main dining room. One of those meals was filet mignon- hard to foul up a good cut of meat unless you burn it. None of the meals were really bad, but not one single meal really stood out as excellent either. We tried a wide selection of main courses but found most to be bland. I guess the food was geared towards a less adventurous palate than mine. My wife and I enjoy wine with meals and ordered bottles off of the wine list. The list is not bad, but seems to be focused at persons who may not enjoy wine with dinner regularly. Wine also expensive (just like a restaurant, but with about a 20-30% premium). Surprisingly, lunch in the main dining room was where we had our best meal of the cruise. A creative curry lamb dish was excellent! Don't ever eat the buffet if the main dining room is available. Breakfast in the main dining room was the choice for my wife and I after the 2nd day at sea. Hands down superior to the buffet. Selections are constant throughout the week but eggs benedict one day and a bagel with lox and cream cheese the next is not a bad rotation. Sushi: Not a bad substitute when you miss your main dining room sitting. Good quality, but low selection. Highlight: The bread on the ship was all excellent. Every meal! Overview: Nothing was spectacular except the bread. Buffet was not good. Main Dining room should also always be the cruiser's first option on this ship. Service: The staff of the ship were all excellent at their jobs! The persons that we had the most contact with were our room steward and our wait staff. Both were excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter were both top notch and would have been at home working in the finest restaurants in the world. I cannot say enough about these guys! Sylvanus (waiter) and Cosmo (asst. waiter) were both so attentive and helpful! They made sure that their end of the dining experience was all that it could be. Our assistant maitre'd was also very good at his job. He checked with us every night! Our room steward was attentive and efficient. We always returned to a clean room after breakfast and dinner. Very efficient. Shore Excursions: My wife and I both enjoy "going and doing", but we made some poor choices of shore excursions. Almost all are overpriced for what you get. We spend close to $1000 for 3 excursions for 2 persons. Too Expensive! This must be how they make up the profit margin for cruise tickets. We did enjoy the excursions we booked through the ship, but they were all a little too regimented and follow the leader for my wife and I. Crab feed in Ketchikan was not nearly as adventurous as it sounded. We enjoyed the experience, but we would try something else if we had the opportunity. White Pass Railroad in Skagway was beautiful, but 4 hours on a hot train with obnoxious people can be too much. Ditto about trying something else. We had the most fun on our independent and self guided trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. Also the cheapest! Juneau is a do-it-yourself town, so save money and book activities when you go ashore. We also really enjoyed the ATV expedition in Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). This was "going and doing" as my wife says. The guides and the activity were fun and exciting. I recommend trying to do some excursions on your own through the independent operators on shore. Some excursions will not be cheaper, but some will save you money! In Juneau and Ketchikan, there are tour operators on or around the cruise ship dock. Skagway and Hoonah will be a cruise-ship-only excursion towns. Disembarkation: Painfully slow! There must be a more efficient way! Waiting in the corral area for your color to be called is not fun especially when things are running slowly. Help yourself and be late for this. After Cruise Activities: We were do-it-yourselfers after the cruise. We planned 4 more days of activities after the cruise and had lots of fun in Alaska. We fished and toured and had a great time. Don't be afraid to do it yourself. The only thing we fill we missed out from a cruisetour was the train ride north from Seward, but our activity schedule was more conducive to rental car travel. Likes: - Excellent wait staff!!! - Being catered to - Having our food arrangements made (even though not spectacular dining, no thought to where we were going was needed) - Having a room steward to answer questions and take care of our needs! - Seeing sights that can only be seen by cruising Disappointments: - Very regimented life aboard ship - Very expensive activities and excursions - Disappointing food and expensive drinks - Embarkation / Disembark slow and arduous Overall: We enjoyed some aspects of the cruise and grew to dislike others. Nothing against Celebrity, but we probably will not cruise again for some time. After you have a few drinks and go on some excursions, cruising is not such a great deal financially. The style of vacation doesn't really suit our interests or our desires. We were much happier on shore after the cruise when we had a loose itinerary and a more freewheeling approach. We are already thinking about our next trip to Alaska! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
We did the Summit Alaska gulf cruise 7/04 and can only sum it up in one word - Wow! We've taken 4 other cruises but this was our first to Alaska and our first on Celebrity. The sum of the parts were greater than the whole, and since ... Read More
We did the Summit Alaska gulf cruise 7/04 and can only sum it up in one word - Wow! We've taken 4 other cruises but this was our first to Alaska and our first on Celebrity. The sum of the parts were greater than the whole, and since the parts were all excellent, the whole was inevitably grand. On embarkation in Seward, we were greeted in the 'grand foyer' by dozens of suited attendants offering trays of champagne and mimosas as one personally escorted us to our cabin, an inside cabin which was sufficient in space and amenities- much preferable to wandering down neverending corridors trying to find our cabin. This personal touch set the stage for our entire week on the Summit. With 1900 passengers and over 900 staff members, your every need is met with anticipation by a nearby attendant. The vistas were a constant unfolding of nature's grandeur as we visited the quaint ports of call. We admired the array of original artwork onboard in the public areas; the meals and service were outstanding. We particularly enjoyed the (included) room service, starting each day with coffee and croissants in bed. Our 11-year old loved the kid's program, giving us some much-needed time alone and keeping her entertained. We liked the age bracket for her group; there were 55 kids in her group age 10-12, though they were rarely seen or heard! We didn't plan excursions in advance but recommended it since many were sold out; however, we arranged our own 'tours' at the ports and were charmed by the Alaskan residents who are friendly, helpful, and still maintain that Pioneer spirit. There were too many niceties to list, like hot chocolate offered at every port of call, the free thalassotherapy pool, robes in our cabin, and a smooth, speakerless debarkation in Vancouver. We were sorry to see our days of being treated like 'celebrities' end and now that we're back to reality, we truly do feel like the commercials say: "This is a temporary exile..." Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
My husband and I traveled with our 2 year old daughter in our room, with his parents across the hall. The staff was very accomodating with our needs, even bringing us a second crib choice. We used the onboard babysitting while the baby ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with our 2 year old daughter in our room, with his parents across the hall. The staff was very accomodating with our needs, even bringing us a second crib choice. We used the onboard babysitting while the baby slept and we went to late seating. It worked out so well. The wait staff was extremely attentive and helpful during meals and the food was outstanding. I highly recommend the 191 square foot or larger suite if traveling with a young child, the extra space was necessary. Overall food experience was outstanding, we learned to rely on our waiter's top picks for both entree and desert. The spa was exceptional and the therapy pools were quiet and a childless haven when the baby was with grandma. My sister brought her 5 year old son and he could not wait to go to the Fun Factory every day, very high reviews there. After the cruise the baby went home with grandma and we went on the land tour (tour 17). The most amazing thing was the organized departure from the boat and lack of baggage handing by us. We did the land tour and never handled our luggage except for putting them out our hotel door at a specified time. We saw other tour groups (not Celebrity) handling their own bags. Compared to other cruise lines, we found the clientele more sophisticated and savvy. We found the staff on the ship to be extremely professional and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
To return the favor to those cruisecritic members who were so helpful to me I wanted to "pass it on" to those of you who are just now beginning to plan your cruise of a lifetime! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our cruise ... Read More
To return the favor to those cruisecritic members who were so helpful to me I wanted to "pass it on" to those of you who are just now beginning to plan your cruise of a lifetime! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our cruise of the inside passage from Seward to Vancouver on the beautiful Summit. Thanks to others suggestions, we chose the Celebrity Suite which was really unbelievable. The "window wall" offered an unparalleled view each day of the fantastic sites of this beautiful area of the world. In fact not having the balcony seemed to us almost a blessing as our view was unobstructed by a balcony wall. And if we wanted to be outside there were so many options on the decks that we never missed an outside balcony. This was one thing I had worried about as I have always enjoyed the balcony suites on other ships. But the Celebrity Suite has won my heart now! The separate bedroom was a delight, along with the jetted tub in the bathroom. (I will share one negative in case some of you have difficulty in getting in to a tub) The bathtub in the Celebrity suite is quite deep because it has the jets. But this makes it quite high when you are trying to get in and out of it. The shower is also in the tub so it is necessary to climb in for either a shower or a bath. This could present a problem to some. But that is my ONLY negative (slightly) comment about the whole trip. The staff was incredible. The food outstanding. We did prefer the dining room to the buffet though as it had a better quality. And be sure to book dinner in the Normandie for a real treat. We so enjoyed our evening there with every detail of fine dining attended to. The Summit is a beautiful ship in so many ways that it is difficult to say what we enjoyed the most. My husband would vote for the Golf Simulator as he thoroughly enjoyed his time there. But I would honestly say that I enjoyed our suite the very most. We had wanted some relaxing down time and the suite truly offered us the space to do just that. We had breakfast in our room most mornings. (Food was delivered on time and hot too!) Sitting there watching those views while enjoying a beautiful breakfast was a real treat for us. The CD player (library of CD's available too) added even more. We also enjoyed the in suite computer as we had needed to stay in touch with our office each day. Every afternoon the butler brought by afternoon finger sandwiches, cookies, and coffee, tea, or even cappuccino. And then just before dinner he came back with some appetizers!!! The staff was very present to your needs, but not "in the way". We simply loved it all! Be sure to visit the Revelations lounge on the 11th floor for the most outstanding views. We especially enjoyed rising early (5 am) on the last day (thanks to a cruise critic member suggestion) to watch the Summit cruise in to Vancouver!! You would really miss something if you didn't see that. We also truly enjoyed the newest stop on the Summits list at "Icy Straight". What a delightful place! Take the walk through the beautiful pine forest and stop and sit a while on a bench along the shore to watch the whales swim right past you!!! The local Alaskans that work there are a real delight to visit with also. Icy Straight offers you a taste of true Alaska. We loved it! We had chosen not to do any shore excursions during our Summit cruise. We know that most people totally enjoy those and say that you do not get a true Alaskan experience without them. We beg to disagree! While we know that we might have thoroughly enjoyed doing some of them, we needed the "down time" from our busy lives more. We had chosen instead to do a pre cruise 6 hour "day cruise" of Prince William Sound out of Wittier the day before our Summit Cruise. (Beautiful!!! We saw 13 glaciers and all kinds of wildlife!!) (another cruise critic member suggestion!!) And then a post cruise 2 day train trip on the Rocky Mountain Railroad from Vancouver to Banf. (Absolutely fantastic. Be sure to choose the Gold Leaf Service!!!) This proved (for us) to be a good decision. We still enjoyed so much and not rushing off to do each days excursion during our 7 day cruise gave us time to really just enjoy what we were seeing. A cruise can be exhausting IF you don't take time to be still too! I just wanted to add this comment for those of you that are planning your trip. Do not worry about trying to fit everything in. Take time to just enjoy whatever you do plan to do. You will find that actually that seems to be the lesson that the Alaskans that you meet will teach you. They have a very laid back way of life. They enjoy the simple things like the beauty of the wildlife, the mountain views, the moving water, and especially in summer...their beautiful flowers! And nothing brings a smile to their faces more than seeing the cruise ships come in to their town! Alaska is wonderful in so many ways. But cruising with Celebrity on the Summit made it almost seem like a dream! We give Celebrity a "standing ovation"!!! Tell Mr. Elias (the Hotel Director on the Summit) hello for us. We were privileged to be invited to sit at his table one of the formal nights. Talking with him about his job and his love of customer service on the Summit revealed to us why his staff seems to care so much!!! Enjoy your coming cruise on the Summit. You are in for a real treat!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
I would like to return the favor to the many Cruise Critic members who helped me to decide which cruise to take. I am sure glad that I did take the advice, and would encourage everyone considering a cruise to do your research and find the ... Read More
I would like to return the favor to the many Cruise Critic members who helped me to decide which cruise to take. I am sure glad that I did take the advice, and would encourage everyone considering a cruise to do your research and find the ship that meets your needs. My wife and I were celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary and decided to take a first trip without the kids. Alaska was the chosen destination, so I set about doing the research. Summit was highly recommended due to its level of service, and everything written was true. We found very little lacking, and have lots of good things to say about our experience. Even the most mundane things about a cruise can turn out to be fun, if you let them. We met a couple at the Lifeboat drill and made fast friends with them. Another cruiser got us all laughing when she coined a nickname for herself as "Sponge Barb- Square Boobs" in reference to her fashion statement in the life jacket. We found the food to be well above average. We eat out frequently, and the food was at the top end of the restaurants that we frequent. There was a selection of Fish, Poultry, Pasta, Beef and Variety at every dinner, so everyone could find something good to eat. The only disappointing dinner I had was a fancy version of a pork chop that was a bit on the dry side. We had hoped to be able to order Lobster more often, but it was offered only on the formal night. The chilled fruit soups that I had read about were just as good as advertised! The salads were terrific, and the main courses with the one exception were excellent. I am not much of a "fancy" sweet eater, but my wife certainly enjoyed the desserts (plural). The service was very good. Christian (from Chile) was our Waiter, and Serkan (from Turkey) was the Asst. Waiter. We found them to be a good blend. Christian was obviously formally trained and very efficient, but Serkan provided the comedy and made for great conversation night after night. The meals were served in a timely manner, and the presentation was terrific. The entertainment was inconsistent. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were well beyond the "high school cabaret" that I have seen written up here before. There were some very strong voices amongst the singers, and the dancers were obviously well trained. The Impersonator, Paul Boland, that was on the ship was very good, and had the audience participation that a good entertainer can get. The comic (name forgotten) was using cast off jokes from Henny Youngman and we almost got up and walked out. The only saving grace was that he kept the show clean. I attended a couple of the lectures, and wasn't too excited about them. I am a big US history fan, and was excited to attend a lecture about US presidents but the Political Science Professor giving the lecture frankly wasn't very well prepared. The Naturalist that gave a talk about the wildlife wasn't a very good speaker, and we didn't bother attending a 2nd one of his lectures. Simon Weir, the Cruise Director, was everything he was billed to be. I didn't have that much energy when I was 10 years old and had eaten 5 chocolate bars and drank two Cokes. He was always on the top of his game! The room that we had was about what we expected. Our attendant- Edwin- always had it prepared whenever we returned to the room. There was a glass coffee table that we really didn't want to be tripping over, so he simply moved it out on to the balcony where it fit perfectly. The only concern we had, and we can't prove anything, is that my wife had put some earrings in the safe in the room. When we returned to the room they were pinned to a note on the desk saying that they had been found on the floor. Nothing missing, but my wife is a very organized person and is convinced that someone went in to the safe and then returned the earrings in order to get a bigger tip......Just too much of a coincidence since the backings of the earrings were locked up......and what are the chances to dropping two earrings? The ship itself was gorgeous. We met for drinks with our new friends each night in the Rendezvous Lounge before dinner. By midweek the waitress knew us by name, and knew what we would be drinking without being prompted. Since we are not big drinkers that truly was the first time I felt like Norm going into Cheers! We didn't get involved in any of the social events so I can't speak to those, and we mainly booked our own shore excursions as per the recommendations I got from Cruise Critics' Ports of Call bulletin board rather than booking through the ship. We thoroughly enjoyed Ketchikan, Icy Straits Point and especially Skagway. Juneau was somewhat disappointing- except for a bus tour out to Mendenhall Glacier on the MGT tour bus that was driven by a local gal (Kathleen) that gave us lots of good insights. Mendenhall Glacier was part of that tour, and it was awe inspiring. However I wasn't inspired enough to join the kids who went swimming in the lake from the runoff! Talk about a Kodak moment. Ketchikan was visited on the 4th of July, so many of the shops were closing for the big parade that afternoon. Celebrity even entered a float in the parade, and boy were the crew members having fun on that one. We took a flightseeing tour (independently) through Southeast Aviation and felt that it was a great deal.....especially when using the 2 for 1 coupon in the Toursaver book. We then sat up on our balcony and watched the parade go by on the main street of the town. Shops closed down early- but that is the spirit of a small town and we loved that touch. We also found that the prices in Ketchikan were the best of all the stops on the cruise....but didn't buy enough stuff there and ended up paying more later. The White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway was my favorite shore excursion- and yes it does make a difference to sit on the left side of the train on the way up the mountain! What beautiful views, and lots of history involved. Be sure to take a camera along. The Red Onion (or was it Dog?) Saloon was very cute. They offered tours of the old brothel upstairs with the waitresses all dressed up as "Sporting Women" for the bargain price of $5 for 15 minutes- the same as in 1898. Icy Straits Point is a new stop for Celebrity. The locals there are very enthusiastic about having the tourists, and at the same time are keeping the island from just being a tourist trap. We took a long walk through a spruce forest and along the tidal pools along the beach and then took a shuttle bus into town. If you are into seeing bald eagles- this was the best spot we found in the harbor in the town of Hoonah near the fishing boats. Icy Straits Point is a beautiful area and unspoiled by the commercialism that you see at so many other ports. (Diamonds International hasn't arrived) We also enjoyed Seward after finishing the cruise. The Kenai Fjords tour through Alaska Heritage Tours was excellent. We say plenty of wildlife on our 8 hour excursion that included dinner at Fox Island. The only thing we were somewhat surprised by was the constant hawking of shopping bargains that were set up by Celebrity. They even had a designated "shopping guru" that gave seminars and obviously was getting a kickback from the local stores for pointing cruisers their way. You had to walk through 4 blocks of tourist traps in Juneau before you could see anything else. All in all we were very pleased with our first cruise, and will return to cruising again in the future. Can't say it is the only way to travel, but Celebrity and the Summit certainly earned future business from us. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
My wife, Beth, our daughters Heather, 20, and Hayley, 18, and I were on the July 3 Cruisetour #15 (July 9 sailing of the Summit). Pre-cruise: The limo picked us up at our home at 6:15 Saturday morning. No traffic to the airport and ... Read More
My wife, Beth, our daughters Heather, 20, and Hayley, 18, and I were on the July 3 Cruisetour #15 (July 9 sailing of the Summit). Pre-cruise: The limo picked us up at our home at 6:15 Saturday morning. No traffic to the airport and check-in/security was relatively painless considering this was July Fourth Weekend at LAX. Celebrity had us booked on a "one stop/no change of plane" flight from LAX to Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines, pretty much as good as could be expected, departing 9:30 am...it arrived only 23 minutes behind schedule in Fairbanks at around 4 pm. The Royal Celebrity (as the combined Royal Caribbean/Celebrity tour operation in Alaska is known) personnel were there to meet us near the baggage claim area and led us to a waiting area near their desk while RC tour people found our luggage for us (impressive since we had not yet attached the ship luggage tags). There was a chart showing the names of all the passengers on Tour #15 and to which of the three buses we were assigned. After a short wait, they loaded the entire group of incoming passengers on a bus and delivered us to the Sophie Station hotel where we met our tour director, Sara. There were three buses on this tour, each with about 44-46 passengers, labeled 15A, 15B and 15C. Most of the people on our bus were, I'd guess, in their 50s or 60s. Our kids were the only younger people on the bus. In fact, my wife and I may have been among the younger folks on the bus, but, as one gets older, there's far less difference between 45 and 65. Even still, the kids seemed to enjoy themselves just fine, making friends with all the, ahem, "older folks". Sophie Station Hotel, Fairbanks, looks like an ordinary two-story apartment building both inside and out, but, as a hotel, it works quite nicely. Every room is a suite—with kitchen, living room, balcony and bedroom—so the accommodations were ample. There is a Fred Meyer store (the northwest's equivalent of a Wal-Mart) a block away—also, a Safeway, some fast food places (Quiznos, Taco Bell, Subway). Otherwise, the location is quite ordinary. We ate dinner about two blocks away at The Castle and it was, perhaps, the best meal I had in Alaska. $29.95 for a Seafood Platter with Halibut, LARGE Shrimp and Scallops and the best Crab Legs I can remember. The second day was filled with two included excursions: After a stop to view the Pipeline up close and personal, we headed out to the Eldorado Mine—Rather hokey but fun train ride through a gold mine complete with actors portraying gold miners and culminating in a panning for gold experience that guaranteed everyone at least 8 small grains of gold in their pan. Afterwards, they weighed it for you in the gift shop and sold you a $40 locket and chain to keep it in. Every woman on the bus left with such a locket. Riverboat Discovery—Also somewhat hokey but interesting riverboat tour of Fairbanks ending up at a somewhat staged "Indian Village" with various demonstrations of local culture along the way. However hokey these excursions were, they filled the day and offered photo opportunities and interesting times. Monday, July 5, we departed Fairbanks by train to Denali. The Wilderness Express train is really just two railcars on a long train that also includes similar cars owned by Holland America, Princess and the cars of the Alaska RR itself. I'll assume the HAL and Princess cars are all substantially similar to the Royal Celebrity cars. The cars have two levels: The Glass Dome covered passenger compartment up top with plush comfortable leather seats and ample room to move around and the restaurant section down below. There were more than enough seats for everyone on the top level, but the restaurant had to operate in two shifts. Interestingly enough, the meals in the restaurant were reasonably priced ($8-9 range). We arrived at lunch time at the McKinley Chalets and were on our own for lunch with limited choices. Went to he more casual restaurant in the hotel for a pretty good burger. After lunch, we boarded the infamous school buses for the 7 hour Tundra Wilderness Tour, departing around 4 pm. We got somewhat lucky on the wildlife side as we spotted several caribou, dozens of Dall Sheep, a mother grizzly with three cubs, a moose and a wolf—which actually walked right alongside our bus. Unfortunately, the mountain itself was clouded in with no chance of any kind of view from that side. After that, on to our hotel, the McKinley Village Lodge, which was actually several miles off on its own in the middle of nowhere and somewhat rustic. The next day, Tuesday, July 6 (Of course, with no real night to speak of, it all seemed like the same rather long day), we again boarded the train and headed for Talkeetna. Along this leg, the skies cleared and the scenery was spectacular and we had several clear views of Mt. McKinley from the train. In Talkeetna, we hit the hotel jackpot as the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge was downright spectacular. Our rooms had a dynamite view of the Mountain. We took a shuttle into town and had dinner at the local pizza place (there's only one), then returned and watched an amazing sunset over Mt. McKinley (and not a bad sunrise only a few moments later!). Most of the bus was out on the rear patio of the hotel cameras blazing away. From the next day on, it was all Motorcoach (bus) to the ship. In the morning, we boarded the bus (with Sara and our driver, Ryan) for the drive to Anchorage stopping along the way at the Iditerod Headquarters. After a couple of hours on our own to find lunch (Teriyaki Box—eh, you'll get no great recommendation here) and shop, we headed over to our hotel, the Anchorage Marriott Downtown. That night we had a pretty nice dinner at the Glacier Brewing Company. The next day we had our Anchorage City Highlights Tour—the Salmon ladder, the Alaska Native Heritage Center (interesting dance and music presentations and displays) and a lot of driving around town. Then back into downtown for lunch (we went to Humpy's—a local favorite-fish and chips, fish sandwiches, etc. and beer). Thursday night we spent in Girdwood at the Alyeska Prince Resort, another extremely luxurious hotel. We took a shuttle into town (what there was of it) and had a nice steak dinner at the Chair 5 Restaurant. The next morning, we took the included ride up the Gondola to the top of the mountain, then returned to the hotel for lunch. They let us check in for the ship at the hotel that morning, but the bus didn't leave for the ship until 1:30 and stopped at some wildlife zoo for a visit before getting us to the Summit at the rather late hour of 5 pm.  Okay, so now it's Friday Afternoon, July 9 and we finally embark on the Summit…Having checked in earlier at the hotel, the embarkation is easy as we skip right to the security screening…When one of the crew leads us to our cabins, my wife and daughters are somewhat confused. They thought we were in a Cat 4 with the kids across the hall in an inside—but, without their knowing, I switched to a pair of Sky Suites, #6122 and #6124. Imagine their surprise! The suites are nicely appointed and about 1.5 times the size of the "normal" balcony cabins. The walls are wood-paneled, the closet more ample, the bath has marble counters, lots of storage and a full bathtub. Our Butler, Ashwin (from India) comes in to introduce himself and to explain all of the things he can and will do for us. (Afterwards, he does the same in the kids' suite and they immediately order breakfast in the suite for the next day). For us, though, it's a bit of overkill—if that's possible—We have a butler, a Cabin Steward (Gabriella from Hungary) and an Assistant Cabin Steward, Ozy, all practically tripping over each other trying to help us. I rarely opened my own door for 7 days. Champagne was waiting in the rooms twice—on day one and on our anniversary. Every day, Ashwin brought us a basket of fresh fruit, a plate of appetizers and then a plate of pastries/desserts. Anything we could think of was taken care of almost immediately. I always thought the service in the ordinary Celebrity cabins was extraordinary—but, in the suites, it's three giant steps beyond that. Dinner first night was open seating. They gave us a card when we checked in asking that we attend the second shift of open seating at 8:30—which worked out fine with the late hour of our boarding. It gave the girls the chance to head for the spa and make appointments for the week for massages, facials, hair, manicures—none for me, thanks. With the late dinner seating, the show was at 10:45—titled A Night of Stars with the Celebrity singers and dancers. Frankly, it was not their best show. My daughters were highly critical of one of the female singers' vocal abilities. Saturday was an at-sea day—sailing Hubbard Glacier. First, though, a little unfinished business: 10 am, we had the infamous muster drill. Do we ever amass enough points to skip this? Oh well. We did have a busy morning. After the Muster Drill, we had the Cruise Critic Reception at 11:00 and then off to the Anniversaries/Honeymoon Reception at 11:30. Even though we had rather large verandas, my wife wanted to see the glacier from the Heliport. Normally a crew-only area at the front of the ship, they opened it to everyone for the glacier. And what a SPECTACULAR sight. With clear weather and a beautiful day, we sailed into the bay and extremely close to the glacier, an immense wall of blue ice with a large amount of calving (major chunks breaking off and crashing into the sea). The ship spent quite a while turning around in the shadow of this wonder and it was an awesome experience. Dinner was at last our regular seating (Main) and assigned table…Then the Captain's toast—This was the First Formal night. Then the show—AGAIN the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, this time with The Magic of Broadway (a little better than the first night). After the show, we opted to watch the Karaoke. Sunday meant Juneau. We disembarked after breakfast and met the van for our tour right at the pier. We opted to ignore the ship's offerings and went with Coastal Helicopter for their Icefield Glacier Landing Excursion ($180 per person). It was absolutely magnificent. The entire excursion took about three hours with a lot of that in the ride back and forth to the airport. But that flight and Glacier landing made it all worth it. The ship's similar but costlier excursion takes you on a much shorter flight to the closer Hubbard Glacier, but Coastal took us up over some incredible mountains and onto the very upper reaches of Herbert Glacier, to the north of Mendenhall. Two copters with 6 passengers each made the trip and we landed on some incredibly blue ice with unreal views in all directions and walked around the glacier a bit before getting back into the copters for the flight back. On the way back, we jogged over to Mendenhall Glacier and followed virtually its entire length, then over the Mendenhall Valley and back to the airport—probably the highlight of our cruise. Back in Juneau, we wandered the usual array of gift shops and the now-familiar t-shirts, sweatshirts, goofy hats and ulu knives. Then, back to the ship. For the show tonight, they finally made up for the back-to-back singer/dancer shows—they gave us TWO distinct shows, one at 9, the other at 10:45. The 9:00 show was singer/impressionist Bob Anderson. Entertaining—his expressions and mannerisms were more impressive than his voice impersonations—and some of the younger crowd (like my daughters) had trouble relating to who all these caricatures were (Sinatra, Deano, Sammy, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Bobby Darin, Tom Jones, etc.), but the show was entertaining. The 10:45 show was a comedian, Cary Long—Funny, but a fairly typical cruise performance—jokes about the differences between men and women packing or asking directions, etc.—and then a few songs by an A Capella quartet, Soul'd Out, who were actually VERY good. Monday was Skagway. We elected to do a 6 hour Yukon Horseback Riding tour ($149 per person) through Southeast Tours…We walked into town to the Southeast Tours office and our driver, Dave, took the four of us and two of our fellow Summit passengers in a van to Emerald Lake, somewhere north of Carcross, Yukon, stopping along the way to see some bears and moose as well as the "World's Smallest Desert". We arrived at Joanie's Yukon Horses and did a two hour horse ride through some magnificent countryside, then the ride back to the ship. If you like horses, then call these guys. The ship's horseback riding excursion is only a 3 hour total trip and doesn't leave the Skagway area—so, you're deciding between seeing all of the White Pass scenery (train or bus) versus riding horses—but this option gives you both. Show for Monday night? It's those Celebrity Singers and Dancers once again, this time in Classique—at least they've added a couple of aerialists. Tuesday was time for the brand new port for this season--Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska. I was actually quite impressed with the facilities—obviously freshly developed for their first cruise season, everything was freshly painted and in great condition. They've taken an old cannery and filled it with museum, gift shops and other cruise oriented uses. The Tlingit locals seemed sincerely happy to have us visit. They were friendly, warm and accommodating. We opted for the Whale Watching excursion (having used Juneau for helicopter day). The boat was a 200+ passenger large vessel as opposed to those 25 person jet boats you hear about in Juneau so I was a bit apprehensive as to what we might really see, but all of that worry was soon alleviated. We sailed out to Point Adolphus near the entrance to Glacier Bay and found ourselves surrounded by dozens of whales, some far off, others very near the boat, often passing in pods of 4 or 5 or 6. It was quite a trip. Our onboard naturalist was Hoo Kook (aka Howard, aka Hoonah Tlingit Boy from the Cruise Critic Message Board)—he was excellent, both knowledgeable and entertaining. The last tender back to the ship was 2:00 pm so it was a short time to shop at Icy Strait after the tour and then back onto the Summit for the Second Formal Night. Show this night was Samantha Jay, a rather bubbly English girl who played the Violin, Oboe and Saxophone in an all-instrumental performance. She was very good, but I'm not big into instrumentals. Wednesday was our final Alaskan port—Ketchikan. We made no advance plans here. We let the girls sleep in and wander into town on their own. My wife and I just got off the ship (Curiously, due to the large number of ships in port, they had to tender us in—they didn’t get to dock the Summit until mid afternoon when some of the other ships had left). Luckily, one of the perks for having the suite (or was it for Captains Club? I’m not really sure…but, I think it was the suite) was that we got Priority Tender Tickets and were able to get onto a tender before any of the other non-excursioned passengers. Along the pier and in the Visitors Center Building, there was ample opportunity to find any tour you wish. We decided to do a two hour city/salmon hatchery/eagle/Saxman Village Totem pole tour with Northern Tours ($30 each)…It was just about perfect and gave us a nice overview and a chance to get out of town and catch the Totem Poles at Saxman for a fairly low price. Afterwards, we tendered back to the ship for lunch, then back to Ketchikan for a walk around to shop and take photos at the very scenic Creek Street. Back on the ship, it was Informal night—and it was Lobster night (Our very good waiter, Ben and his assistant Alberto, brought me three very large lobster tails—I was quite a happy cruiser). The show, no I don’t believe it, was again the Celebrity Singers and Dancers with Encore. Okay, so they did get a little bit better as the cruise went on, but FOUR such shows on one seven night cruise is just a bit much!!! We were pretty much worn out and couldn’t stay awake for the Midnight Gala Buffet. Thursday Morning at-sea, I finally got to play Scattergories and Team Trivia. Only four of us played Scattergories and Amy, our wonderful Activities Director, awarded us all prizes—Celebrity Garment bags. Several groups showed for Team Trivia. I teamed up with my Scattergories mates and we won this competition—I got some sort of Celebrity Nylon Strap—not sure I know what I’m supposed to do with it. At 10:15 at night, they had the final Farewell Trivia. My kids insisted we play as a family. When Amy said they were giving out T-Shirts, my daughter Heather looked at me and said “We’re going to win those t-shirts”. She was right. Boy, I love Trivia. Now I have more stuff to add to my growing collection of Cruise key chains, water wallets, luggage tags, luggage locks, fanny packs and water wallets Okay, here’s the worst thing that happened all cruise: The ship had some sort of engine problem Wednesday evening and we did not leave Ketchikan at 7:00 pm as we were supposed to. In fact, we didn’t leave until very early the next morning as they had to wait for a part to arrive. No problem, they told us, there was ample time and they would still get us to Vancouver Friday Morning on schedule. No Problem, we got all of our ports in, and we got the same amount of time on the ship we were supposed to—BUT—because of the delays, we got a very different experience than we bargained for Thursday. Thursday was to have been our day for Cruising the Inside Passage. This was the day you were supposed to look forward to if, like us, you had suites or verandas on the STARBOARD side of the ship. With no ports to visit and the whole day to lounge around the ship, this was the day when magnificent scenery would finally appear on OUR side of the ship, when we could sit out on that oversized sky-suite balcony, get served by our Butler and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Inside Passage we had heard so much about—ALL AFTERNOON long. Unfortunately, by the time the now-delayed ship made it to the narrow passageway, we were in the middle of dinner and night was quickly approaching. The Summit cruise most of the length of the Inside Passage in the dark. I think we used our verandas maybe a total of an hour the entire trip. Alas. C’est la Vie! We did have the Guest Talent Show at 3:45 (which I gladly would have missed for the Inside Passage from the Veranda!) The show Thursday night was a variety hour of Comedian Cary Long, a capella group Soul’d Out and instrumentalist Samantha Jay. Somewhere during that evening, we slipped into our cabins, packed and left the luggage in the hall. Friday Morning, July 16, we disembarked the Summit in Vancouver around 9:45 and boarded a bus to our 2 night post cruise hotel (booked through Celebrity), the Sutton Place Hotel. I cannot picture a more perfect hotel for Vancouver. First of all, the rooms were quite large and comfortable, the furniture was beautiful 18th Century style dark woods and the hotel had an air of elegance. Our intent in Vancouver was to simply relax and unwind, eat—and the women wanted to do some shopping. Well, the location of the Sutton Place was perfect for just that—the corner of Burrard and Robson. Robson is possibly the trendiest of shopping streets in Vancouver and Robson, for about three blocks to either side of Burrard, has to have the greatest concentration of (largely unique) restaurants in Vancouver. The massive Pacific Centre Shopping Mall runs along Granville bordering on Robson about three short blocks from Sutton Place. My three women were in heaven. We also took a short walk and ferry (and taxi back) to Granville Island (Wonderful Farmers Market, cute shops, nice restaurants and great Photo opportunities) one day. Then, Sunday came and it was time to go home…The voucher for airport transit was good for the Airporter Bus from the hotel. We had a 3:57 pm flight on Alaska Airlines—3 hours later, non-stop and we were back in SoCal. At least I now have the Constellation next July to look forward to. A few notes: Simon, the Cruise Director, was first rate-one of the best. I can’t say enough about Amy, the Activities Director and Stephanie, the Future Cruise Consultant/Captains Club person. They were both exceptional The brochure says 2 Formal, 2 Informal, 3 Casual. It was 2/1/4. My wife MADE me dress up with the Sports Coat on one of the Casual days anyway. The male tablemates wanted to kill me for setting such a bad example and raising THEIR wives’ expectations. The Summit was beautiful. Celebrity never lets us down in that department. Always do the Land portion first. Vacations should get easier as they go along. Putting your luggage outside your door at 6:00 am every morning gets old fast. They do let you tag some of your bags with a different color tag and they’ll leave them on the bus so you don’t have to schlep all your luggage in and out every night. I packed all of my cruise only stuff—like the tuxedo, sports coat, long pants, etc in one case and tagged that for the ship only…I used my other case for only things I would need on the land portion. Unfortunately, my wife and daughters never figured out this method of packing. Ice Cream at the Waterfall Café makes each afternoon—except the day they ran out of chocolate and vanilla and all they had was Rum Raisin and Pistachio. I hate fruits and nuts in my ice cream. The After Eight (Mint Chocolate Chip) is outstanding. The Main Dining Room is great. We ate ALL of our meals there this cruise. I just wish they’d throw the Chocolate Souffle from the Normandie onto the Main Room dessert menu one night. That or Crème Brulee EVERY night. They had an invite only Elegant Tea in the Normandie one afternoon just for the Suite guests, I believe. Only nine of us showed up, total. It was still very nice. There are only so many T-Shirts, silly hats and ulu knives one man can take. Alaska was beautiful, but, if I had to choose, my preference is still the Mediterranean on the Millennium that we did last August. 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

Find a Celebrity Summit Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise