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Sail Date: July 2004
This was our first cruise which happened at the end of a three week holiday in Alaska, where we had spent time in Vancouver, then Talkeetna and hiking, then Seward. We is me, my husband, Alan, and 12 year old daughter, Kate. I tried to ... Read More
This was our first cruise which happened at the end of a three week holiday in Alaska, where we had spent time in Vancouver, then Talkeetna and hiking, then Seward. We is me, my husband, Alan, and 12 year old daughter, Kate. I tried to separate the review into sections to make it easier to read. EMBARKATION DAY We embarked in Seward, and that morning, had walked around Resurrection Bay to see if we could see the Summit. It was a very cloudy morning, but as we walked, the Celebrity X was just visible through the cloud. Over the next 5-10 minutes, the ship became visible, and I figured that this cruise was about to become a reality. We arrived at the pier at around 11am, since our hotel offered us a ride on their 10.30am shuttle. The terminal was almost empty, and Celebrity staff were still setting up. Being a total novice, I checked about process, and we settled down to wait. Some folks near us had just got off the Summit, and told us we were in for a treat. Good news. While we were waiting, we noticed tables being set up for children, so checked that out, and it was a registration process for kids 12 and under who were all give a wrist band with their muster station on it - a good idea. After not too long, check-in was open, and it took all of five minutes. We had completed on documentation on-line, so it was handing over the SeaPass cards and we were off. The welcome aboard photo I knew about from Cruise Critic, the security photo, and we were on board. Welcome aboard drinks were offered, but cabins weren't ready - we were on board just before 12 noon, and cabins were ready at 1pm. So, we made our way to the Waterfall Cafe for the buffet lunch which also wasn't ready. We were very early!!! We found a spot by the window and before long were eating our first Celebrity meal, which was just as wonderful as I'd read about. At 1pm, we found our cabin - 8049 - and, again thanks to all the photos and reviews I'd read, there were no surprises. It was only a tiny bit smaller than the hotel room we'd had the night before, so I was pretty happy. We sorted things out, unpacked, got our shore excursion tickets and dinner seating, Cruise Critic Party time and venue, and just relaxed. Pinto, our cabin steward, appeared to say hello just before we headed off to explore the ship, and to sort out Ship-at-Sea connection, so we could use the internet in our cabin (the cost was $25/day which included 50 minutes time - this was just about enough for us, but if we went over, we were charged 70c/minute. Very simple to set up, although the length of the telephone cord needs to be increased to avoid falling over cords - the phone is on the opposite wall to the desk). As we wandered around the ship, it felt like I knew where I was going, but it did take me a while to get aft and forward directions imprinted in my brain! We checked out the spa because my husband wanted to use the gym, and wanted a haircut. They could fit him in that afternoon - amazing - and his hair was cut by an Australian woman who lived about an hour or so from Melbourne where we live. It is a small world! The haircut cost $USD 27.50 which, with the exchange rate, is about what you pay here in a mid-range salon. Our bon voyage gifts arrived in the afternoon - I got flowers which were just gorgeous, got Kate (daughter) a sail-away package which was good, and some casino credit for my husband. I had to chase up the sail-away package when it didn't arrive with the other two, but it turned up pretty quickly. On the last evening of the cruise though, I had to sign for the flower and the sailaway package which was a bit odd - why not sign for them when they are delivered? The casino credit was signed for when used (we didn't use it till about day 5 of the cruise; someone rang our cabin to find out why we hadn't used it yet, so we thought we'd better!). Two of our bags arrived in mid afternoon, the other arrived early evening when we got back from dinner. Dinner was casual (we had main seating), open seating. We had a table for four, just near the Captain's table which was great. Had a wonderful dinner and some wine, and headed back to the cabin. There was a message waiting for us from Ossoach, one of the folks I'd been talking with on the CC roll call, so we went off to meet them for a drink before their dinner. After that, we headed back to the cabin, and watched sail away from our verandah. Then, headed to bed. A wonderful first day. CABIN I won't say to much about the cabin, because there's nothing new to add to what I learned on CC boards and the various websites. It was just fine. The constant changing of towels is interesting though, because (like most hotels) the explicit statement is that they are interested in the environment, but they remove towels after one use - not really necessary. We also couldn't find the 'do not disturb' sign which would have been useful once, but we didn't bother with chasing it up in the end. The verandah was great; I used it the most and loved just sitting and watching the world go by - very relaxing. There wasn't much room when the sofa bed was extended, but that was no drama either; we just put it back ourselves if we needed to. We did feel pressure to get out of the cabin every morning so that it could be cleaned which is okay, but I would have liked to be able to just sleep in, and hang around, on one of the sea days. That was the day I looked for the Do Not Disturb sign. In the end, we just headed out to do some stuff on the ship. DINING AND STAFF I've already mentioned that the food was great and lived up to my expectations. The only time I was disappointed was when a lasagna from the buffet was a bit cold. We ate in the Waterfall Cafe for breakfast - the omelettes and waffles are definitely worth having - and for lunch. We did casual dining on the first formal night and had a great time - the staff there were fantastic. They suggest a $2 tip each, but we ended up giving them more because we had such a good time. I think this was the day we saw dolphins swimming in the wake of the ship, and our waiters told us to come back when we were in Skagway, because it was a prime whale watching position, and we could watch whales as we left Skagway. The main dining room waiters, Ben and Baris were fantastic, and our bar attendant, Richard from Jamaica, was the best. After the first dinner there, we never had to ask for anything again - Kate's drinks appeared every night without asking; my tea brand was remembered; and alternatives suggested if a meal didn't turn out. One night we ended up with an array of desserts to try because everyone on our table liked when everyone else was having. The only issue here was that because we did not order a bottle of wine on the first night, the wine person ignored us the second night, and I had to call him back to make an order - after that he was fine, and we tried some great wines, but he had made an incorrect assumption that first night which was not good. We were seated at a table for 10, with two families from Switzerland. I now wonder if they got Australia mixed up with Austria!! They could speak better English than we could speak German, but together, we managed to have a pretty good time. Kate met Nicole, the daughter of one of the families who was also 12, and they had a good time. Kate even managed to play chess with Nicole's brother, and we generally all had fun trying to communicate without too much confusion. I also bought a soda card which I think was a good value for the money. The mug you get is small, but it was okay - I kept telling myself you need to ration soda anyway, since it's not really good for you. ? We ate in the Aqua Spa Cafe once, which was great; I think we should have eaten there more often, because the amount of food you can consume is pretty amazing. The midnight buffet on the last night was a somewhat surreal experience for me. Our waiters kept talking it up, so we felt like we had to go. So, at 11.45pm, we joined a long queue of people to take photos. I'm not sure why so many people turned up to take photos of food - yes, the ice sculptures and carvings were pretty amazing - but it was food after all? The staff kept people moving, and as unfortunate as it was at the time, it reminded me of the time we had viewed Mao Tse Tung's embalmed body in Beijing - pay due homage and leave quickly. We decided that we should try the buffet, and so we waited and waited until the doors opened around about 12.25am or so, and in we all filed. Put some food on our plate, and were seated at a table for 6. Three folks joined us, but maybe because of the hour or the focus on food, we didn't say much to each other. Some people were piling their plates high with Beef Wellington and the like, and I wondered how they could possibly fit it all in - with the food we had eaten that day, it was all we could do to eat a few morsels. Maybe experienced cruisers can enlighten me about the history of the buffet, but I think this buffet was probably an extravaganza we could do without. ACTIVITIES Kate tried some of the Kids Club activities and enjoyed them. She didn't enjoy having to wear the muster band around her wrist (at 12 she felt she was too old), but she didn't take it off the whole time either. We didn't participate in any organised activities, choosing instead to just 'hang around' and enjoy the whole atmosphere. We did go to the cinema most days, and that was good - the movies were recent releases. Alan used the gym most days, and I used the walking track on Deck 11 on the odd occasion. And we tried out some cocktails! SHOWS My husband went to more shows than I did, and he was pretty impressed with them all. The night I went the ship was rolling a bit, and I did have a bit of trouble staying focused. Might have been all the food I'd just eaten at dinner though ?. It is amazing to see folks dance and sing on a rolling ship - very impressive. TIPPING Since in Australia, tipping is neither the norm nor expected, learning when to tip and how much was pretty important for me. We think we just about got it right during the rest of the holiday, so wanted to make sure we didn't mess up on the ship. I decided to pay the tips on my SeaPass account and that worked well. We gave our cabin steward a bit extra in that process, and found Richard, the bar attendant, on the last night to give him something extra in cash. All seemed to work quite well. In chatting with the Assistant Maitre D' to find out when to give him his voucher, he said he didn't agree with the whole tipping process at all, but still took the tip ?. We wondered often during the whole holiday while the expected tip wasn't included in the price we paid, so that the salaries paid to employees could then be increased by the same amount. It just seems a much simpler way to organise things, but that is my non-tipping background speaking! PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS I'd spent a lot of time deciding what to do in the ports; the exchange rate for the Australian dollar meant the really expensive excursions were out of our price range, but I wanted to make sure we did something memorable. Hubbard Glacier This was memorable. We don't have glaciers in Australia, and every town seems to have one in Alaska! It was fantastic getting closer and closer, moving through the ice, hearing the amazing sound when the glacier calves, sipping hot chocolate (I bought one of the souvenir mugs for $10 or so, including tax, which I then used for tea the rest of the cruise), and generally in awe of the size of it all. I've read that Glacier Bay is better, but for someone who has never seen a glacier of any description, Hubbard Glacier is very impressive. Juneau We did the ship's Wildlife and Whale Watching excursion with Allen Marine which was really good. We got off the ship, saw the bus waiting, got on and headed off to Arun Bay to get on the boats. There were maybe 100 or so people on the boat, but except on top of the boat when the whales were around, it was fine. Even then, folks would let you in to get photos at the rail - all very civilized. The whole thing was 4 hours in total and we saw lots of wildlife and two pods of whales, so it was a success for us. We can see whales close to Melbourne here in Australia, but I had to travel to Alaska to see them for the first time! Skagway There was a moose waiting for us at the bottom of the gangway, so we had our photo taken, just for fun. We did the White Pass railway trip here. Because of the exchange rate, we booked directly with the railway (saved us about $50) so could only get tickets on the 8.15am train, which in the end turned out to be a good thing. We had to get up early though to walk into town to the station and pick up the tickets. The sound system in the station is not all that good, so listen hard or you might miss instructions about where to go. The day we were there, there were lots of groups, and they were sending folks in different directions because there were two trains going at the same time. Ours was the train that was waiting at the dock for the Summit passengers; we picked it up just a bit further down the track, and sat in different carriages to the cruise folks. It was a fun ride and we got some great photos, and worth doing. I have to say though, if folks ever come to Australia, try the railway journey from Cairns to Kuranda and the Atherton Tablelands - equally spectacular. Icy Strait Point This is a wonderful little place - the tourist point is set up a little way from the town of Hoonah, and the roads are not paved on the way in. We did a bike ride which was fun, and just the right level of exertion for me - a couple on the ride left half way through, even though the guides asked them not to, because the ride wasn't strenuous enough - they were obviously 'serious' bike riders who wanted to ride rather than see the town and learn a bit more about the area and its people. We rode (8 miles in total) from the dock to the 'international airport' which was an airstrip in a forest - well, not quite - but the most rustic international airport I'd ever seen. Sometimes, the staff have to chase deer off the runway! Back at Icy Strait Point, we had a snack and then headed off to the cultural dancing show, which was really good but, for me, a bit long. The folks here are very friendly and welcoming, and we ended up with three free souvenirs which they were handing out - a woodchip to add to a ceremonial fire, a card with a clan symbol from the cultural show, and a replica coin. ISP is also very different to the other ports we visited, and we liked it. Still lots of tourist shops, but not quite so overwhelmingly tourist. It started to rain while we were waiting for the tender, and we were ushered indoors to stay dry which was nice. The tender line here was very, very long, and it took a long time to get back to the boat. The last tender was scheduled for 2pm; we got on about then, and the line behind us was still huge. We got back on board at 2.20pm in time for lunch at the Waterfall Cafe - which they held open till 3pm because of the delay in getting people on board. We took off as soon as the last tender cleared, and then we sailed very, very fast throughout that night to try and make up time and get to Ketchikan, apparently because the good captain wanted to get a space at the dock rather than have to tender but I have no idea if this was true or not. This was the only night where the ship was rocking because of the speed we were going - walking along the corridors was interesting, and settling to sleep took a bit of adjusting, but we all managed to sleep fine. Next day though, others reported a difficult night. Ketchikan We didn't plan any excursions here, so just slept in and headed off for a walking tour around town (I'd bought the book, Inside Passage Walking Tours by Julianne Chase, which was a good guide). Now, this is the only town where it seemed like tourists were not well liked - the drivers here seemed to make it their job to try and run us over ? No compensations for not knowing where you were going at all! To me, this was the most 'normal' of the ports as well, less like Skagway and Juneau which both seemed to be very focused on the cruise passengers. We visited Creek Street and found the shop Perfect Partners, just up from Dolly's House, which was run by an Australian woman and her partner who spent 6 months in Australia mining opals (which they then sell in Ketchikan) and 6 months running the shop. They make great T-Shirts and aprons, very unique, but sadly have stopped making them because the mass produced variety have made it uneconomical for them to continue. We also stopped by the South East Alaska Visitor Centre which is worth a visit, as is their bookstore where we found some great prints of native totems to take home with us. Inside Passage We woke on the last day at sea, just gently gliding through the inside passage. Very pleasant day amid very pleasant scenery. DISEMBARKING We woke just as we had passed under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, and then slowly made our way to Canada Place to dock. Disembarking was so smooth I couldn't believe it. We got up and had breakfast, then collected our bags and headed to the Rendezvous Lounge at the appointed time (7.55am - we had 1pm flights out to LAX). We waited about 15 minutes, and our colour was called. Headed off the ship and into the room where the luggage was - saw our bags as we came through the door, collected them, made our way to Customs, through that in about 5 minutes, then straight to a taxi and the airport. No problems at all. There were folks in the terminal to give advice and directions as well, so this part worked really well for us. MISCELLANEOUS The muster drill was fun! It was at 10am the second day - the alarms went off, and everyone proceeded to do what they had to do. It took about half an hour, and I didn't see anyone not treating it seriously. I noticed that they put a little red flag up on your cabin door that says 'evacuated' when you leave - all very organised. I was buying our welcome aboard photos one evening; another woman at the counter was speaking VERY loudly to the staff member about her photo processing. The machine had broken down and had been fixed that day, and the woman was being advised that her photos would be ready the next day. She'd obviously waited a day for them, and was saying something like 'are you sure they will be ready because you said that yesterday, and I'm not leaving till I'm sure they will be ready'. Now, this is probably a reasonable request, but she was SO loud and patronising in her tone, I was embarrassed. The staff member was handling it well as I walked away. This was really the only time I heard anyone expressing any sort of displeasure at something on board. I missed our Cruise Critics Connections party because I was in the medical centre getting some pain relief for my back which I'd strained during our hiking trip - it all took a lot longer than I'd expected but the pain relief was worth it! The staff were great (I got the most pain free injection I have ever had in my life there) and the cost was acceptable. We did catch up with Matt (Ossoarch) and his family on the first day of the cruise, and then they graciously invited us to their cabin for drinks on the last evening, which was great. OVERALL I wanted to cruise, my husband didn't, and he is now a convert. We are planning a second cruise. I chose Celebrity in the end because of its reputation for service and we weren't disappointed. Everything on this cruise was wonderful, even when things were only not quite perfect, as opposed to totally perfect (if the latter is actually a state that is possible!). This was a decadent and luxurious experience which was a true vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
Introduction: This was our second cruise aboard a Celebrity Ship and was looking forward to a "different" type of cruise. For those thinking about Alaska, know that an Alaskan cruise is not for you if you are looking for a ... Read More
Introduction: This was our second cruise aboard a Celebrity Ship and was looking forward to a "different" type of cruise. For those thinking about Alaska, know that an Alaskan cruise is not for you if you are looking for a relaxing type of vacation typical of a Caribbean or Mexican cruise. The tours are longer and the weather is usually cool (mid to lower 60s) and damp (good chance of clouds and light rain). While the ship does have a lovely indoor area with its own swimming pool, saunas and deck chairs, there is little time to relax because Alaska is a sightseeing destination (unlike the Caribbean and Mexico where ports are generally the same). Embarkation: Celebrity needs to work on this. We took the train from Anchorage to Seward (about 130 miles) and while the train personnel did take our luggage to the ship, most if not all passengers had to walk the mile from the train to the ship. Seward has about three taxis. Walking to the ship was an adventure. There were no directional signs and the area where the ship was located had a cinder parking lot full of potholes filled with water. My carry-ons took a beating. I would recommend taking the train from Anchorage. It is a beautiful ride through the Kenai National Park, You can have breakfast on board - with their famous reindeer sausage. The sausage was very good but I had this continuing urge to sing Christmas songs (Sorry - My attempt at humor). Getting on board was very easy and fast. I would suggest you fill out your paperwork before you leave home and have your birth certificate/passport and picture ID ready when you arrive at embarkation. It also helped that those on the train were the first passengers to arrive at the ship. The ship: Very lovely and clean. You board amidship, third deck. Since you arrive before your luggage, take a walk around and get familiar with the amenities and locations of such places as the dinning room, spa, night club, and your cabin. Cabin: Clean, but surprisingly had less storage space than I am use to on a Celebrity ship. This might be due to the type of clothes that needs to be taken on an Alaskan cruise. They tend to be bulkier and probably took more room than usual cruise clothing. Cabin attendant was very nice and was readily available. We did have problems with our safe and had to call for help on three separate occasions to have the safe opened. On all three occasions it took a long time for ship personnel to arrive. We almost missed one of our tours because it took nearly 1/2 hour for someone to come. Food: As I said this was our second experience aboard a Celebrity ship and, once again, we were disappointed. Celebrity has a reputation for their outstanding cuisine. The food was just OK. Not that the food was not good, but it was nothing special. In fact, on two occasions I sent back my entree. The breakfasts were plentiful and the lunches were adequate, but, once again, nothing to write home about. One segment of the food was terrific. Every evening they had a Sushi bar. I strongly recommend it. It was some of the best I've ever eaten. Service: Very good. Always available. Met our needs. Entertainment: Outstanding. Night club shows were great. Comedian was very funny. Daily activities were wonderful. There was so much to do that we had to choose one activity we wanted to do over the other. Shopping: Anyone who says there is no shopping in Alaska is uninformed. Imagine getting off the ship and seeing Little Switzerland, Caribbean Gems, and Del Sol in every port! It was like coming home. I call Alaska St. Thomas with jackets and sales tax. Trust me - there's plenty of shopping. Ports: Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon Hatchery were very interesting. Also recommended is the a tram to the top of the mountain overlooking the city and bay. The tram is less than a 1/4 mile off the ship. Easy walk. Hubbard Glacier/Glacier Bay: Outstanding. One of the highlights of the trip. This was one of our sunnier days. The mountains, ice flows and glacier were magnificent. The ship was able to get close to the glacier. I can only say - absolutely amazing. The ship allowed passengers to view the glacier from the helicopter pad located on the front of the ship. Take advantage. It afforded you a wonderful view. Skagway: To me this was the highlight of the trip. The history of the Klondike is told through the historical maintenance of the buildings, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, the Red Dog Saloon (and brothel), and the people living there. Don't miss the small Klondike museum located in the railroad station and be sure to take a tour of the Red Dog Saloon's brothel - no its not currently in use. While we took the railroad to the top of White Pass, our friends hired a local taxi driver who took them along the White Pass trail by car. They had the advantage of periodically stopping, and getting out of the car to view the various highlights along the road to the top. The history of the Klondike is fascinating. Don't miss it! Icy Straits: This was advertised as an opportunity for visitors to see how native Alaskans live unspoiled by commercialism. As you disembark from the tender, the first thing you see is the "native" souvenir shop with soap imported from China and baseball caps with Icy Straits on the brim. It does have a lovely trail through a tall pine forest, but that's about it unless you want to pay $70 per person to see Indian dances. Ketchikan: St. Thomas of the north! Never saw so many stores since we were in St. Amelia. We probably had the most fun here. We got off the ship and saw a taxi with the sign "affordable tours". Yes that was the spelling. We looked inside and I swear the driver was a reincarnation of Gabby Hayes - crumpled hat, white beard and all. He took us all around the town and showed some fascinating places. Was terrific. Vancouver: One of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. Took the double decker bus all around the city. Be sure to stop at Stanley Park and the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden. When planning your trip be sure to stay at least two days so you can see the entire city and travel to Victoria to see the gardens. Disembarkation: Typical. The evening before you are given colored tags to place on your luggage. You wait in a designated area for your color to be called and then you stand in a long line and wait. Vancouver has a very modern and large embarkation building so finding your luggage was easy. By the way, unlike most destinations, luggage carts are free. Take advantage. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
THE SUMMIT We boarded at 11:30 Friday morning, June 11th,. Embarkation was quick, friendly and efficient. Posed for the Welcome Aboard picture and up the gangway we went. Service staff was available with a tray of champagne and OJ. We were ... Read More
THE SUMMIT We boarded at 11:30 Friday morning, June 11th,. Embarkation was quick, friendly and efficient. Posed for the Welcome Aboard picture and up the gangway we went. Service staff was available with a tray of champagne and OJ. We were handed an information sheet on what was open and told that our Sky Suite would be available after 1 pm. As we had had a late breakfast, we decided a tour of the ship was in order, and off we went to explore. The Stateroom We were in SS 6125, Penthouse Deck. The room was very well maintained, had a large bathroom, and extra room on the veranda due to location. Gene, our butler, appeared very shortly after our arriving in our room; our Cabin Attendant, Milford, showed up about an hour later. Both individuals were very friendly and quietly maintained the cabin throughout the cruise. Note to Celebrity: 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel and 1 wash cloth per person is a bit chintzy, don't you think? Women use 2 bath towels (1 for wrapping up their wet head and 1 for the ol' body). I know we can ask for more; but really, couldn't ample towels be provided from day one and then replaced as necessary? Also, it's time to replace some of the "suite" robes. Both of our robes showed wear; and one had a ripped pocket. It would also be nice if the cabin attendant would replace a robe that is obviously soiled (mine ended up with quite a bit of makeup on the front the 3rd day out). I put it in the tub with the wet towels thinking it would be replaced, but returned to find it had just been hung back up on the door. The Public Rooms: Overall, attractive and very well maintained. There was plenty of comfortable seating in the various bars; our 2 favorite hang-outs were the Martini Bar and Michael's Lounge. What we found "cheap", however, were the same plain peanuts and borderline stale breadsticks that were passed out each night with your drinks. Come on Celebrity! At least spring for the premium mixed nuts and maybe throw in some pretzels or "chex" mix. The Casino was a different issue, smoke-filled with only a very small designated non smoking space at one end with a few slot machines; if one wanted to play the tables you would have to sit in the middle of all the smoke. The Aqua Spa: Sheer indulgence, outstanding service -- what more need be said? Restrooms: What happened to cloth hand towels? Other than finding them in a restroom the first day, the only restroom I found for women that had hand towels - and not paper towels - was in the Aqua Spa. My husband, on the other hand, said that there were cloth towels in each of the men's restrooms he used. And as for hot, running water in the ladies rooms, it was virtually non existent in most of the public bathrooms I used. Restaurants & Food: Good selections in both main dining room, cafes and buffets. Variety of choices was good, with always a fish, poultry and beef selection at dinner. Top of the list - the chef's Coq o'Vin and roasted quail; fish selections were usually quite good, but tended to be fairly boring in presentation. The lobster is not particularly great (spongy and tasteless). Soups were also lacking in imagination and taste. The same consommE broth was recycled each night into a different "flavor", and the cream soups tasted more like the flour thickener instead of the asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower that was listed. Soup chef needs to pop up the flavor! Celebrity Staff Other than the Aqua Spa staff who provided 5 star service and attitude, both my husband and I felt that while service was efficient, there was no effort to go "above and beyond" what was expected. Bar staff, with the exception of one waiter, could not remember your name or what you were drinking (even though we showed up in the same place every night). On HAL, the bar staff "nailed" our names and drinks after one night. Our dining service was actually very good, with the exception of the Assistant Maitre'd assigned to our area. Our first encounter was on the 3rd night when he appeared at our table and introduced himself. He began asking how we were enjoying our cruise experience. We told him that we were finding Alaska a wonderful place. He then inquired as to the type of "experience" we were having on Summit. We replied that we found service to be adequate, but not stellar. We asked him if there was a lot of new staff onboard, thinking that this could be the "problem" as staff in several areas seemed unsure of what they should do and when. Mr. M'd stated "no" and said that Summit staff was exceptionally experienced. Obviously, our response was a bit troubling to him and from that night on he persisted in showing up at our table and going through lengthy discussions of how we were perceiving staff and service. No matter how we changed our answers to his inquiries (we got to the point that when he said hello, we immediately said "EVERYTHING IS GREAT!), he continued to ramble on and on. I actually hid behind a menu one night in hopes that he would pass us by -- he didn't. And lastly, but actually our first Staff encounter was with Jessica, the Social Hostess. She introduced herself while we checked in; and upon retiring the first night, we found an invitation to dine with the Chief Engineer the following evening, the first formal night. Only problem was, the invitation was for the early seating and we were "late shift." As such, I had already made appointments at the Aqua Spa that I really didn't want to cancel (my vacation, my stress relief time, my dining choice). First thing the next morning, we went to Guest Relations and offered our regrets to the invitation. We returned later to our stateroom and had a phone message from Ms. SH. I called her and again expressed our apologies and tried to explain, but she was not interested in a reason. She was extremely curt and dismissive in tone and hung up the phone after saying, "I got your message from Guest Relations." Ms. SH was also the person in charge of scheduling the Cruise Critic gathering. Once again, her timing was way off - she scheduled our party at 1:30 pm, exactly the time we were entering Hubbard Glacier (and all wanted to be out on deck). So, from a reserved group of 28, we had about 12 people show up, stay for 10 minutes and leave to go see the glacier. Lastly - The "Rules" Celebrity needs to decide whether or not to enforce their own rules: no jeans in the main dining room at dinner and no children in the Aqua Spa/T-Pool. Blue jeans appeared in the DR every night except the 2 formal nights; and children were in the T-pool every day. The spa staff would run the kids off when someone complained (I did one day), but unless someone said something, kids continued to be in the pool. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that children are allowed to "eat" in the Spa Cafe, but not swim in the hot tub or pool. Maybe this whole, one area should be designated Adults Only? Perhaps since Alaska is a very casual environment, jeans should be allowed in the DR except on formal nights? Will we sail Celebrity again? It's likely, but not on Summit. There are many comments on this board supporting a great cruise experience on the other X ships. Chances are, we will give one of those ships a try next year. Overall Alaska experience? Phenomenal! Our comments on the Ports of Call are posted on the "Boards." Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Our 13 day Tour/Cruise Celebrity tour 15 Wow what a trip! Our first time to Alaska (and I hope not our last). We had the best time!! Day One - Our trip began at 7:50 am in Orlando FL. We had a long flight to Seattle with a 1.5 hour ... Read More
Our 13 day Tour/Cruise Celebrity tour 15 Wow what a trip! Our first time to Alaska (and I hope not our last). We had the best time!! Day One - Our trip began at 7:50 am in Orlando FL. We had a long flight to Seattle with a 1.5 hour lay over. When we finally arrived in Fairbanks it was 8:00 pm (12 midnight our time). It was 89 degrees, something we were not expecting. We were met at the airport by Celebrity's reps (very organized) and taken to the hotel, Sophie's Station. There we met our tour guide, Bryn, she went over everything that was planned for the week and gave us our room keys. We had a great room, "The Jacuzzi Suite". It was the best room we had all trip. By the time we went to bed we had been up 21 hrs. But wait it's still daylight out . . . Day Two - We met our tour guide by 7:50 am and off we went to the El Dorado Gold Mine. On the way we made a quick stop at the Alaskan Pipe Line. Very cool. Along the way she pointed out points of interest and Alaskan history, she did this throughout the trip. El Dorado Gold Mine was lots of fun, we had heard that it was a bit too touristy but what the heck we were tourists. Between my husband and I we panned $10 worth of gold which I had made into a pendant. Back to downtown Fairbanks for lunch and to tour the town on our own. In the afternoon we did the River Boat Discovery. It was a 3 hour narrated trip down the Chena and Tannana rivers. We stopped along the way at different spots, like Susan Butchers Iditorod dog camp. Very interesting. Also at an Athabascan Indian Village. Also, very cool. Back to Sophie's Station where the evening was free to do excursions on our own if we chose. A very long but good day. Day Three - On our way to Denali! We boarded the Wilderness Express at 8:00 am. What a beautiful train. The glass dome train cars gave us great views. We chose to have breakfast in the dining car, very reasonable. The next 4 hours we rode through some great landscape, we saw lots of birds and a moose, but we were riding too fast for a photo op. We arrived at Denali at 12 noon. We had two hours for lunch and to tour the town which wasn't very big by the way. At 2:00 pm we boarded a school bus (no other vehicles are allowed in certain parts of the park), to tour Denali National Park. It was an 8 hour ride. 4 hours in and 4 hours back. WOW! What a beautiful place, the landscape and the weather kept changing the farther we went it to the park. We saw lots of Dali Sheep, Caribou, but the highlight of the trip was a Grizzly Bear and her three cubs. Beautiful mountain ranges, but no Mt. McKinley, the weather was bad. We learned that only 25 % of the people that visit Alaska get to see the mountain. We got out of the park by 10:00 pm (still very light out). We stayed at the McKinley Village Lodge, it was beautifully set on the Nenna River, best night sleep up to this point. Day Four - We had the morning to do any number of excursions of our choice, we chose to take it easy and enjoy the ground and walk by the river. One thing Celebrity does is keep you going. Some of the people on our tour went rafting and they loved it. Back on the Wilderness Express by 12 noon. Had a great lunch in the dining car. Again the scenery to Talkeetna was beautiful. We arrived at the Talkeetna Alaskan lodge around 4:00 pm. One of my favorite places. The flowers on the lodges grounds were amazing. We were scheduled to do a helicopter ride and glacier landing around Mount McKinley, but the weather was bad so it was canceled. We took a hike around the lodge and then walked into town. The town is not very big but very quaint. The TV show Northern Exposure was set on this town. The lodge has this beautiful 45 foot stone fireplace which is where we ended another great day. Day Five - On the coach (don't ever call it a bus, it's not a bus it's a coach) by 11:00 am. We headed for Anchorage. Again the scenery is too beautiful to waste on a nap, and I did not want to miss anything. We made a quick stop at the Iditorod headquarters. We saw some puppies there which we got to pet, also for $5 you could take a very, very short ride on a dog sled (not really it was a ATV being pulled by the dogs) but it looked fun. Arrived in Anchorage around 2:00 pm. Again, we had time to explore the town before we got picked-up at 4:00 pm, to be dropped of at the Marriott. Very nice hotel in the middle of downtown overlooking Cook Inlet. Great view. We took a long walk (about 6 miles) on the Costal Trail, saw a fox, came real close to him to take a picture, and he just sat there, I was a bit shocked. Some other people told us they saw a moose on the trail but we never did see it. Anchorage is a very nice city but everything shuts down at 10:00 pm, coming from Orlando it's way too early for us. Day Six - We were back on the coach by 8:00 am. We did a tour of Anchorage for about 45 minutes. Then we visited the Alaskan Native Heritage Center. We learned about many native cultures that are around Alaska. I was not much into it but most people enjoyed it. Then came the drive to Gridwood to the Alyeska Prince Hotel. What a beautiful scenic ride along the inlet, down the Turnagain arm and the Chugach Mountains. We arrived at the Prince Hotel around 3:30 pm, at 4:00 pm, we were scheduled to do an excursion, kayaking in Prince William Sound. Sadly the weather at Whittier was bad so we had to cancel, luckily for us we were able to do it the next day. The hotel is a beautiful resort set at the bottom of the mountain with spectacular views. There is also a tram that went up the mountain, which we took up a couple of times. The views from up there were breathtaking. There was also a very nice restaurant up there, we didn't get to eat there but some of our tour companions did and loved it. We ended the evening at the one of the two fireplaces the resort had. Day Seven - We started the day in a rush, since we missed our kayaking trip the day before, we were able to do it this morning. A van from the tour company picked us up at the hotel and rushed us to Whittier. There is only one way in and out of Whittier and that's through the tunnel. Cars and the train share this tunnel, and if we had missed a certain time we would have missed the kayaking. But we made it. The kayaking was ok. We were expecting to see wildlife, but we didn't see anything but birds, plus it rained almost the whole time, but we had the experience. We would have liked to see more of Whittier, and we had the time, but since it was raining we decided to get back to the hotel. Back on the coach and on our way to Seward we stopped at Big Game Alaska Wildlife Center to get close up pictures of the wildlife we did not see in the wild. The drive from Gridwood to Seward was the most beautiful drive we had taken so far, we rode along the Six Mile River ( I think). We saw some bears on the side of the road. Very exciting! You could start to see changes in the landscape the further south we went. We stopped at a scenic spot so we could take pictures of the whole group, which by the way there were only 28 of us, very good number, everyone in the group was very nice. We made some good friends. We found a lady at the scenic spot to take our pictures, she took pictures with everyone's camera, her dog is in all the pictures. We also took pictures of our tour guide, Bryn and coach driver, Billy. Finally we were getting on the ship! Recaps on the Land Tour Coming from the East Coast not only was the time change was a bit rough on us, but the constant daylight was hard to adjust too also. The first couple of nights it was hard to stay up so late, but we were told it is better to do that so you can readjust your body to the time change. Tour guide--Bryn, (for those of you getting ready to take this tour) is the guide to get. She is young, fun and very knowledgeable about her homeland. She made the trip interesting and humorous. Billy, our coach driver, had great timing, he also had great tunes on the coach. He and Bryn work well together. Food--We were on our own for food for the first seven days of the tour. Be ready to spend a lot of money. Food is very expensive, and we knew that going in, so we took lots of trail mix and protein bars so we could snack on. The best thing was the water. Coming from Florida where we have to buy water, it was the best tap water we've ever had. Celebrity--The whole trip was very organized and very well planned. We were as busy or as laid back as we wanted to be. Lots of options for tour excursions on the land tour, more than I expected. The hotels that were chosen were great, we never had a bad experience with any of the rooms that we stayed in. One thing I loved about the hotels we stayed at was the they are very much into the environment, if you wanted to reuse your towel, all you had to do was hang it up. It saves water. The only thing we did not enjoy about the land tour was packing and unpacking every day. Every morning our bags had to be out either by 6:00 am or 9:00 am depending on what time we left that town. But it was unavoidable. I would do this tour again if Celebrity had someone packing and unpacking my bags everyday (LOL). Alaska Interior--It was the most beautiful and spectacular place that I have ever seen. The flora is incredible, I must have taken a picture of every flower I saw between Fairbanks and Seward, but what the heck it's only film (no digital pictures for me). After all we packed 56 rolls of film. I hope we get to go back soon, there is lots of things and places we didn't get to do and see due to the time schedule, but we will return, (when we get the kid of to college) maybe in an RV. We went to Alaska with an opened mind, spent a lot of time reading this board, and everybody had only good things to say about it. We also knew that due to the weather we might not get to do and see certain things, so when we didn't, we weren't too disappointed, and going in with that attitude helped us have a great time. Now onto the cruise. Day Seven - Before we got off the coach our tour guide gave us our pre-registered package, which included our room keys. We boarded the ship around 4:00 pm. Since we where pre-registered all we did was go thru security. We had our picture taken (smile) and we were on board. Once on board we got our champagne and we were escorted to our room (we've cruise before, and never have we been escorted to our room). I'm liking this. Our luggage was in our room already (very impressive). Peter, our room attendant was there to great us and to go over things with us, he was great throughout the trip. We were very hungry because we had missed lunch, so we headed to the dining room, which started serving at 4:00 pm. Great dinner. Back to the room to unpack. After packing and unpacking for the last 6 days it was nice to know our bags weren't going any where for the next 7 days. We did a small tour of the ship, and retired early. After all tomorrow is another day! Day Eight - We finally get to sleep in. Yeah! We got to relax a bit this morning. At 11:00 am we were invited to an Anniversary, Newlywed Party. (Did I mention that it was our 25th wedding anniversary?). It was a nice gathering with champagne and wedding cake, they also had a photographer there to take our picture, it was short and very nice. Also at 1:30 pm, Celebrity scheduled our Cruise Critic get-together, bad timing, we were just about to get to Hubbard Glacier and everyone was anxious to get on deck, unfortunately we did not get to spend enough time with the group. Hubbard Glacier! What a spectacular show. We had a front row seat, we had a verandah room, but we also went up to the top deck to get the feel of the whole experience. The waiters came around with some hot pea soup in a bread bowl. Very cute. They also, were selling hot chocolate in a mug. The hot chocolate was very good, it was dark chocolate. Tonight was the first of two formal nights. Every one looked great, except I was expecting people to dress-up a bit more than I saw, still very nice. Tomorrow onto Juneau. Day Nine - Juneau, the weather was overcast this day, but still very pleasant. We went up the Mt. Roberts Tram for a quick peak at Juneau from above, great view. Came back down and took a bus (five dollars each way) to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was beautiful, and by the time we got there the weather was very nice. We took a short hike to the water fall and got as close as we could get to the glacier. Back to town for some shopping and a stop at the Red Dog Saloon. We did the evening Whale Quest (through Celebrity). We were taken to Auke Bay, about 20 minutes out of town, where we got on a powered catamaran, very cool. We had a very nice buffet set up for us, something we were not expecting. It was beautiful, we saw lots of Humpback whales and a few seals, something we didn't get to see too many of. There was a naturalist onboard which made it even better. We had a wonderful time. Juneau was a nice port, would like to visit there with more time. Day 10 - Skagway, first thing we did was get on board the White Pass Scenic Railway. Three hours of nothing but beautiful scenery. Everyone kept telling us to sit on the left side of the train, but it didn't matter because we booked thru Celebrity and the first three cars were reserved for Celebrity passengers and on our car there was hardly anyone in it. It was great, I spent most of the time on the observation deck taking pictures. Bring gloves because as you get closer and closer to the summit it gets colder and colder. Skagway is a very busy port, the day we were there their was three ships in port. It was wall to wall people which is not my favorite thing. We went in the Red Onion Saloon. My husband had his picture taken with the Girls. I felt like I was back in the times of Deadwood (a show on HBO). Not enough. time to do everything we wanted to do so we will have to go back, oh well. Day 11 - Icy Strait Point, I think this new port was my favorite of all the ports. It's unspoiled by all the commercial stuff of the bigger ports (did I mentioned that I hate shopping?). It's a simple and beautiful place. We had to take a tender into port, which wasn't as bad as other tenders that I've taken. While we walked along the beach we saw a whale swim by, we heard it before we saw it which was very exciting. The trails there are not to be missed, they are incredible, so take the time to do at least a short walk through the woods. We walked about a mile and a half in to town, saw tons of eagles. It was great, you really get the feel of the people in the town. For you shoppers there are some stores very nicely done in a fishing village setting very quaint. By far the most true Alaska we had seen since we left the interior. Don't miss it. We left Icy Strait at 4:00 pm, this was the second formal evening. Very nice evening, the dining room staff did the a Baked Alaska Parade. Onto the next port. Day 12 -Ketchikan, we got off the ship very early this morning, we were going to see the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show at 9:30 am. We had a blast! At first I did not want to do this show, but my husband said it would be fun, sure enough he was right, it's a family oriented show and the audience gets very involved in it, great show. In the afternoon we went snorkeling, yes you read right, my husband once again talked me into doing this great excursion. I've never worn a wet suite before, I had some experience getting into that wet suit, (I'm a bit phobic). It was beautiful, we got to see lots of star fish, sea urchins and something I never heard off, sea cucumbers. It was a guided tour and they were great, I highly recommend doing it, (by the way it was booked thru the ship). We toured the town for a bit and did some shopping against my will. Day 13 - Inside Passage, we had breakfast in the room and sat on the veranda for most of the morning. The Inside Passage is a very beautiful and picturesque sail. We did all our packing early, so we could enjoy the rest of the day and evening without worrying about the nasty task. It was 89 degrees on this day, lots of people by the pools, no hot chocolate man today, only Pina Coladas. By the way I forgot to mention that every time you came back to the ship from a port there was a crew member with a hot chocolate table, a very nice touch, specially on those days that were cold or rainy. The evening dinner was spent saying good-byes and exchanging e-mail addresses of those we met along the way. Until next trip. Recap The Ship - The smallest ship we have been on, it was the perfect size. It took us a while to find our way around (me longer of course) but over all it's a beautiful ship with lots of great amenities. We were very happy with all of the service that we got on the ship, from all the food staff to our room attendants. We were very happy with our room attendant and the service that he provided for us, we were kind of messy at times. All the crew members that we encountered were very friendly and courteous. The Food - Excellent, everything from the main dinning room to the pasta bar and all the other buffets it was all very good. We especially enjoy the pizza and burger bar, many days we came back to the ship after lunch and enjoyed having those yummy turkey burgers. Oh, and my husband loved having ice cream twice a day. Alaska is a beautiful and great place to visit. We are glad that we did the land tour before the cruise, because you get to see the true Alaska. The cruise was great doing it on the last week, it gave us a chance to recuperate from a very active week. Take lots of film, I shot 38 rolls of film, hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll have the pictures ready to post. Overall we had a wonderful trip, everything that we expected, and more. We had great weather, everything from rain, sunshine, cold and hot, everything you could experience. We met great people that were traveling with us. Celebrity treated us like celebrities. We would sail with them again in the future. You ask three people about the same trip and most of the time you 're going to get three different opinions. It's what you make of it that counts, for us, on this special occasion, it was the best. We thank God for all the blessings in our lives. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
I selected Celebrity because the reviews about its food and service were excellent, and that it delivers good value for the money. I enjoyed this cruise. It is one of the most relaxing vacations I've ever had because I didn't ... Read More
I selected Celebrity because the reviews about its food and service were excellent, and that it delivers good value for the money. I enjoyed this cruise. It is one of the most relaxing vacations I've ever had because I didn't have to re-pack for 14 nights and I didn't have to 'drive' anywhere. The only part of this vacation that caused stress was the lack of a place for kids under 3 to play. The Summit has a fantastic Fun Factory for children, but they don't allow kids under 3 to even enter, not even under a parent's supervision. My kid just wanted to sit comfortably on kid sized furniture and color. I was very disappointed that she couldn't go and play in the one place that was safe. Aside from Celebrity's lack of service in this area, we enjoyed the rest of the cruise. I was impressed by the: SERVICE: How genuinely friendly some of the waiters and waitresses were, especially at lunch time. The Internet cafe staff and computer class instructors were always courteous and helpful. We uploaded our digital photos onto the computers for free and had a lot of fun viewing our photos on the ship. We also copied them onto cds just to be safe and not take a chance of losing any of them. FOOD: The Afternoon Tea - the tea sandwich selection was amazing. Even restaurants in the Ritz do not offer such a selection. The Croissants are addictive. I had to have 2 every morning. And the chefs that cook your eggs to order were fantastic. Dinner: the cold soups are yummy. The escargots are scrumptious. The steak/filet mignon were inconsistent: I had one that was 'melt in my mouth' good, and then I had one that was overcooked. Lunch in the Restaurant was a lot better than the buffet lunch. The service was amazing, and again, they offer the cold soups. Ice Cream- homemade good. I wanted to try all of the different flavors. CLEANLINESS--The public rooms on the ship are spotless. ART--The art pieces are lovely, they add interest all over the ship. Other places of interest: Notes, Words, and the Atrium: The library is a nice touch, although I wish they had more fun 'beach reads'. Notes was fantastic. You could listen to all kinds of songs, would have been better if the room had a view!! The Atrium is very pretty with lovely flowers and plants. The free flower arranging class was worthwhile. PORTS - the selected ports were lots of fun. All were walking distance from the port, except Victoria, where we took a bus to the Butchart gardens. Instead of taking the Grayline bus, the more economic and flexible choice would have been renting a car. There was an agent at the port. The Grayline bus tour was fine, but first you had to pay $5 to take the bus to the Empress hotel, then you have to get in line to buy the ticket to go to Butchart Gardens, then you have to wait for the bus to arrive (the bus goes every hour). So, we spent a lot of time waiting in lines and waiting for the bus. ALASKA: HELICOPTER glacier landing - the most fun excursion we did in Alaska was the helicopter ride in Juneau, landing on a glacier. We went with Temsco because they were recommended and they also did not charge our 18 month old. Everyone at Temsco was super friendly. The helicopter ride itself was breathtaking. We took a lot of pictures. We brought a water bottle and took some glacier water, it was so fresh and crisp! The experience was fantastic. WHALE watching: it was ok. We saw some, but didn't get close at all, so the only pictures we had were of them from afar, spouting water. I was hoping to see them a lot closer up, and more of them. Another boat had a close encounter, so it's just luck. WHITEPASS Yukon River train excursion - it was very scenic, but it's questionable whether a 3+ hour train ride is worth $90. ENTERTAINMENT: The comedians were fantastic! The music provided by the various groups of musicians and DJ was memorable. It was so nice to have a cup of tea in the Cafe watching and listening to the 4 Sounds Quartet. The DJ played the most fun and appropriate music by the pool area, I love sitting there enjoying the scenery and the music. We also loved watching people dance to the guitar music and singing in the lounge. They really made a contribution to the overall cruise experience. Areas Celebrity could improve on: --Let kids under 3 have access to a room where they could hang out and play. --The coffee. A couple of times, it was really good, nice and strong. But, most of the time, it was weak or acidy. I couldn't figure out where the good coffee came from. --Room service. They claim that there is 24x7 room service, but when you want to order dinner using that day dinner menu, instead of the 'room service limited offerings', get ready to wait at least an hour for your food. For breakfast, you could only order what's on the breakfast menu. Even if you know what's 'available' at the buffet, you can't have it if it's not on the menu. This contradicts the 'bend over backwards to make you happy' message Celebrity tries to convey. --Tell the spa staff to stop trying to sell their products. It takes away from the 'de-stressing' treatments you just had. The treatments were really good. The specials they have on Port days were good. --Yoga. I paid $10 for a yoga class. The teacher was not experienced (she had to consult a book during the class). They should NOT charge extra if they did not hire an expert in that field to teach. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
Summit 7/11/03 - Alaska Southbound (Seward to Vancouver) Age: 40 Occupation: Business Analyst Number of Prior Cruises: 4 Cruise Line: Celebrity Ship: GTS Summit Sailing Date: July 11, 2003 Itinerary (abbreviated): Seward, Hubbard ... Read More
Summit 7/11/03 - Alaska Southbound (Seward to Vancouver) Age: 40 Occupation: Business Analyst Number of Prior Cruises: 4 Cruise Line: Celebrity Ship: GTS Summit Sailing Date: July 11, 2003 Itinerary (abbreviated): Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver Beware, this is a long review About Us For this trip, I left my wife and son at home and headed off into the Last Frontier with my father-in-law. I had never done this since being married, but my wife wasn't interested in going to Alaska - her loss - and my mother-in-law thinks she doesn't like cruises - something that is inconceivable to me! We didn't plan this trip in advance, but fell upon a price I thought I'd never see again in my lifetime for an Alaskan cruise ($700pp inside guarantee), and booked it only 3 weeks before departure. This was my father-in-law's first cruise and my 5th. Previously, I had sailed on Premier's "Atlantic" for a 4-night Bahamas cruise, a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Disney's "Magic," a 10-night Circle Caribbean on RCCL's Grandeur of the Seas, and a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on RCCL's Enchantment of the Seas. About our Fellow Passengers On our cruise, the average age was about 55. The ship was full with almost 2000 passengers on board. As usual their was a wide range of age groups. There were about 30 children on board, another 20 teenagers, and a few some honeymooners. Everyone else was approaching mid-life crisis, soon to be retired or already retired. No loud partying - just the way we like it. If you like to relax on your vacation, Celebrity is for you. The Bad News I'll start off with the exciting (read "bad") news for this cruise. Then I'll leave that bit of trouble behind and give you the good news - because, despite the problems, we were in a beautiful place, the weather was terrific most of the time, and we had a great time! Please note that this information has been culled from various sources including my own experience, newspaper articles, web reports, and conversations with members of the Summit's deck crew. On 7/9/03, two days before our cruise's departure from Seward, the GTS Summit struck a rock below the water line in Yakutat Bay after visiting Hubbard Glacier. Although the collision was obvious to the crew and many of the passengers, we were told that some passengers did not even notice the event as it was occurring. At the next regularly scheduled stop at Valdez, divers were put over the side to inspect for damage. At that time, the divers noticed that the starboard prop had a "slice" in it. However, due to poor visibility, no other damage was evident and the Summit proceeded to its final port - Seward. During this leg of the voyage, the crew noticed that the water level in the starboard ballast tank was rising, indicating a possible breach. Upon arrival in Seward, divers performed a second inspection that resulted in the discovery of additional damage. There the divers found a 140-foot long crease along the hull - as if somebody drove their car along a post and it just put a dent all the way down the length of the side of the car. In the middle of this crease, the divers discovered a 10-foot long by 5-inch high hole through the hull of the ship that breached the starboard ballast tank. It was determined that the damage to the prop was not critical, and neither was the crease. However, it was obvious that the hole would need to be repaired before leaving Seward. The repair involved welding a temporary seal to the outside of the hole, then draining the ballast tank, and going into the ballast tank from the inside of the ship. Once inside the ballast tank, the repair crew fabricated a steal box that was welded to the inside of the hull over the hole, and finally, the entire box was filled with a marine compound to form a permanent seal. Once completed, both the Coast Guard and Lloyds approved the repair plan, and the ship was finally able to sail. The repair has been approved to be kept in place and monitored on a continuing basis until the next scheduled dry-dock for the Summit in 2005. What made this most frustrating for me personally was not the fact that the ship was damaged - hey, stuff happens - but rather the fact that complete information was not provided to the passengers, and worse, misinformation was given. For a company like Celebrity who is renowned for their service, I found this alarming. We did all our check-in (documentation, ticketing, proof of citizenship, cabin assignment, etc.) in Anchorage that morning. We were never told of a problem. Then, we spent several hours on the train to Seward (with a cruise rep on board) and were told nothing. We finally found out about the problem upon getting our room key in Seward. At that time we were handed a letter that started off "As you already know......." WRONG! The letter told only about the hole in the ballast tank, the fact that we would miss our port at Juneau and that Celebrity would be giving us a $300 per cabin credit, that there would be an open bar before dinner on Friday, that excursions were available for booking in Seward, and that the ship would depart Seward at 9:00pm on Saturday. We were never told about the crease or the damage to the prop. Most importantly, we were never told that this happened when the ship was under the command of a Marine Pilot, and not the Captain - it never occurred to many of the passengers that pilots are used for anything other than going in and out of ports. Next, was the issue of not reporting what was known when it was known. The captain had made periodic announcements throughout the day on Friday and Saturday stating that the repairs were moving along as expected. The only thing we noticed was that the language regarding our 9pm Saturday departure time was changing slightly as the day went along. First it was "confident." Later in the day it became "hopeful." Finally at 9:30pm on Saturday we were told that we would be leaving "sometime after midnight." On Sunday morning we awoke to a very familiar picture - Seward. During breakfast we were told that the repairs we taking longer than expected, that we would be missing our second port of call at Skagway, that we were again "hopeful" that we would be departing by 3:30pm, and that once we were under way, we would be advised of additional compensation. We were told that we could take a tender into town and that the last tender would be leaving at 3:00pm. With this in mind, we made our way to town to find a pharmacy. There we purchased a newspaper for the sole purpose of finding yesterday's baseball scores. It wasn't until we returned to the ship that we noticed that the Summit was on the cover of Sunday's Anchorage Daily News - top of the page no less. This is where we finally learned of the damage to the prop and the crease in the side of the ship. Most upsetting (from a customer service standpoint) was a quote from a Coast Guard officer that was made sometime on Saturday afternoon. The Coastguardsman was commenting on the cruise lines statements that the ship would be leaving on Saturday evening at 9pm: "But the Coast Guard was skeptical that the ship would leave so soon. 'I don't think that's possible Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jim Robertson said. They've got a lot of work to do.' Passengers apparently hadn't heard the official line." After reading that, we were just a bit peeved. We had been strung along with misinformation for at least a day. It appears that it had been obvious to everyone in the know that the ship would not be leaving on Saturday, yet Celebrity apparently kept that story alive until we woke up on Sunday morning. At 3:15pm on Sunday, we were told that the repairs we completed, that we were awaiting approval from the Coast Guard and Lloyds to sail, that we should be sailing by 6pm, and that there would be an open bar for the next hour. Mayhem instantly ensued at every bar on the ship. The sight of grown men and women fighting over six packs of beer was almost enough to make me wretch - and I do mean that they were walking away with a six pack in each hand. We finally left Seward at 6:30pm on Sunday. Shortly thereafter we were advised that Celebrity would be providing each passenger with a 50% off coupon for a future cruise as compensation for the delay - in addition to the previously announced $300 on-board credit per cabin. Now on to the good news! Flights and Embarkation For this cruise, we booked our own air and pre-cruise hotel using FQTV miles. We had non-stop flights on Continental from/to Newark, NJ. We arrived Anchorage at 8pm on Thursday, took a cab ($25 incl. tip) from the airport to the Anchorage Hilton. The next morning we got breakfast and walked the two blocks to Egan Center for check-in, arriving at 8:30am. We were one of the first passengers there. The check-in took us about 20 minutes. We were given a card that was to be exchanged for our room key in Seward. We were also told that we were being "upgraded" from a bus to the train departing at 12:30pm for Seward. We checked our bags there (trucked directly to the ship and delivered to our stateroom), and left our carry-on baggage with the attendants for retrieval prior to boarding the train. The concierge at Egan Center gave us information on what to do while we waited for the train. We ended up going to a Northern Lights slide show at the Arts Center across the street, walked down to the waterfront for a bit, and returned to Egan Center at 11:30am. Around 1:00pm, we were loaded onto a bus for a short trip to the train station. Each railroad car was set up with 4-person "booth-type" seating tables. We were seated with a very nice couple from northern Florida and had a great time with them. During the trip, light meals and beverages were offered and delivered right to our table by a crewmember. Simple snacks were also available in the bar car at the rear of the train. An on-board guide narrated portions of the trip and gave us advance notice of photo opportunities. The trip is about 4 ½ hours long - it may be frustrating for those eager to get to the ship. By contrast, the bus took only 3 ½ hours with an enroute stop. For the first 50 miles or so, the train parallels the highway used by the buses, and then turns inland away from the main road. The scenery was beautiful, sometimes spectacular. We were able to see large scenic sections of the Cook Inlet, a fly-in housing development with a grass runway in the backyards of the homes, a few eagles, sheep, moose, alpine glaciers, and lakes. Just before arrival in Seward, we were given additional forms to fill out - we don't why these were not given to us in Anchorage. Upon arrival at 5:30pm, we were ushered into the check-in building where we stood in line for another hour waiting to get our stateroom keys, get the now infamous letter announcing our late departure, go through security, and board the ship. We were in our stateroom at 6:30pm and our luggage was already there waiting for us. Upon boarding we were told that we had missed the first open seating for dinner and that we would have to wait till 8:30pm to eat - in Anchorage we had been told that tonight's dinner would be open seating from 6pm to 11pm and that we could go to the dining room any time we liked. Being that we had not eaten on the train, we went straight to the dining room anyway where we were immediately seated without question or comment along with several other people who had also just arrived from the train. Normally we play by the rules, but at that point in the evening we were tired, upset and hungry. We were frustrated that the "welcome party" advised us that we couldn't go to the dining room till 8:30, yet the dining room staff had no problem seating us right away. Overall the embarkation process could have gone better. Why we were told by Celebrity to be at Egan Center at 8am when no one departed for Seward until 1pm? Why did we have to check-in at Egan Center if we were made to stand in line again for an hour at Seward? Why the misinformation given to us in Anchorage about dinner that evening? This is a long tiring day, especially considering that people from the West Coast tend to fly into Anchorage that same morning, and Celebrity didn't make it any easier. This is an area that definitely needs improvement. Our Cabin We had booked this cruise at the last minute and had taken an inside guarantee. Previous to this cruise, I had always cruised outside with a verandah, so I didn't really know what to expect. Celebrity assigned us to a wheelchair accessible room on Deck 2 immediately adjacent to the forward stairs and lifts - cabin #2022. When we arrived we had to inform our Steward to separate the beds. Obviously our reservation request for beds apart had not been acted upon. The room was comfortable and about 50% larger than the standard staterooms. The bathroom was enormous by cruise ship standards. The room was decorated with veneer walls and furniture, had a mini-bar (you have to ask the Steward for the key), and a set of drawers in the closet along with the safe. Each bed had its own bedside table and lamp. Also included were a desk, chair, convertible loveseat/sofa bed, coffee table, interactive TV and VCR. Lighting in the stateroom was good. However, storage was inadequate - we basically lived out of our bags for the week. As I never got a chance to inspect a regular stateroom, I'll have to assume that the storage problem was unique to the wheelchair accessible room. Water pressure in the shower was rather poor also. On past cruises, I wanted to take the shower home with me, but not this one. Overall Level of Service With the exception of the way information about our delayed departure was handled, we felt that the service was exceptional! We were always greeted with a smile and a "good morning" by every crewmember we came into contact with. When we asked questions or advice from members of the crew we were always taken seriously and we never had the impression that the crewmember had given the same tired answer to hundreds of other people. If a photographer offered to take our picture or a bar waiter offered us a drink and we politely refused, they graciously left us alone. In the overall service category, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the crew a 9+. Overview of The Ship The Summit is a beautiful beast, and in almost spotless condition. The passenger to space ratio is excellent. Even though the ship was almost filled to capacity, we rarely encountered long lines. The layout is good and it is easy to find your way around. Every landing has directional signs and information about what is on each deck. The outdoor pool area is spacious although indigenous chair hogs took up many of the chairs - the outdoor pool was well used in Seward where the temperatures were in the 80s. The indoor pool (T-pool) was well used every day of the trip but never felt crowded. The exercise facility and spa looked great, although we never used them. And, the sauna's have picture windows! Food The Cosmopolitan dining room is on two levels. Dining assignments are found on a card in your stateroom upon boarding. The table numbering system is excellent with 400's on deck 4, 500's on deck 5, odd numbers on the port side and even numbers to starboard. When I travel with my wife, we prefer a table for two and we always had to stand in line at the Restaurant Manager's office to request it. On this cruise we requested a large table. Instead, my father-in-law and I were assigned a table for two - go figure. I felt that the food was excellent at every facility on the ship. The only exceptions were the scrambled eggs from the buffet line at breakfast - it's kind of hard to make good eggs when you're cooking 200 of them at once - and the first evening I got a cool prime rib. However, all meats I ordered were cooked exactly as requested. I had smoked salmon every morning, and shrimp cocktail every evening. The dinner menus varied and it is difficult not to find something to your liking. The presentation was excellent and our waiter answered any menu related questions we posed. Our assistant waiter remembered our drinks from the first day and he had them on the table before we arrived for dinner each night. Hint: even though they were not on the menu, shrimp cocktail is always available as an appetizer and New York Strip steak is always available as an entree. There is never a problem ordering multiple appetizers or entrees. If you want it, don't be afraid to ask for it. The breakfast and lunch menus in the Cosmopolitan dining room were very good although the breakfast menu never varied. The service during these meals was also very good. We did not eat at the Normandy Restaurant, but everyone we spoke to that had done so gave us rave reviews. They all said it was worth the $25pp cover charge. We ate at the casual dining area one evening. The menu was not as good as in the main dining room, but again, the food was delicious. On RCCL the casual dining was simply buffet style and not very good food. On the Summit, the casual dining is full service table seating. Our server there was very good. Important note: When we were done with dinner that evening, I handed our server our card to have the gratuity charged to our stateroom. He seemed surprised and I asked him if it was more appropriate to give cash instead. He replied that the card was fine - it was just that very few people actually tip in the casual dining areas as recommended by Celebrity. I guess that people think this is a cover charge that Celebrity keeps. Not true. This is a gratuity that goes directly to the server. Please note that most servers in the casual dining area during dinner hours are on their first contracts and almost never work in the main dining room during the length of that contract. These people work for $500 per month and never get to share in the tips given to the regular dining room staff. If you do eat in the casual dining area for dinner, please remember to tip your server. Several afternoons we ate at the Waterfall Grill on the pool deck. This is not RCCL's crappy pizza, burger, hotdogs and fries. Everything was really good, especially the pizza and hamburgers. On RCCL this area is an afterthought thrown in so people can grab a snack at odd hours and it really sucks. On Celebrity, this is a real dining venue - for fast food anyway. The breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent - far better than RCCL. One note, especially during lunch: I would suggest that prior to getting any food, you walk along the entire length of the buffet (and I mean all the way to the very back of the ship by the outdoor deck) and survey the offerings. The first time we ate lunch in the buffet area, we were finished with lunch, stuffed to the gills, and as we were walking out of the buffet we then found another serving station that we didn't even know was there. That day we missed out on carved ham, steamship round and the sautEed pasta station. BUMMER! The service in the buffet area is excellent. Trays are covered with linen. Servers will try to meet you at the end of the line to take your tray, escort you to an open table, and make sure you have something to drink. During breakfast I made a remark to my father-in-law about how I wished that they had cranberry juice in the buffet area. Evidently a waiter overheard me because two minutes later two glasses of cranberry juice appeared at our table. I asked the waiter where he found it - I thought I'd just hadn't seen it myself - and he told me that he went downstairs to get it for us. Now that's service! Entertainment I have never been on a cruise with better entertainment! I went to the show every evening. There were four Broadway-style shows. All of them were very good and appeared to be geared to all adult age groups. The cast of dancers and singers was larger than any previous cruise I had taken - 17 performers in all. The orchestra was awesome too! In addition to the regular cast, an acapella group and two Chinese acrobats were folded into the stage shows. In addition to the shows staged by the Celebrity Singers and Dancers, there were two headliner shows. The first of these was Craig Dahn, a concert pianist whom I'd seen previously on the Enchantment of the Seas. He is a very flamboyant guy and a little strange, but he is a very good pianist. However, the theme song to the movie "Titanic" didn't go over well with this group of passengers - go figure! The second headliner was Jeff Nease, an absolutely hilarious comedian who made good-hearted fun of everyone from the captain to members of the audience. The final night was a variety show with encore performances by the acapella group, the Chinese acrobats, Craig Dahn and Jeff Nease. I thought the stage entertainment was first rate! On-board entertainment included music acts at the pool and in several of the lounges. A quartet played each evening before and after dinner, and there was also a harp player and a piano player. There were two karaoke nights and although there were a few people that couldn't hold a tune to save their lives, many of the passengers were really talented. One woman was absolutely fabulous. As an encore, she did a duet with another gentleman who was equally as good. Casino The casino was quite large and had all the usual games of chance. I spent several evenings playing blackjack in the casino and actually managed to win all my money back by the end of the cruise. I even saw several people winning large jackpots at the slot machines - and that doesn't every day on a cruise ship. All the dealers were very friendly. Itinerary and Ports of Call Day 1 - Friday - Seward See Flights and Embarkation, above. Day 2 - Saturday - Seward A Princess Ship was in port at the main pier and overnight we had moved to the coal dock. Tender boats were now in use to/from Seward. After breakfast we went to the Excursions Desk and booked a 1:00pm Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise ($72.00pp) and then took a tender into town. The weather was perfect - not a cloud in the sky and temps in the mid-80s. Due to our delayed departure, Celebrity had arranged complimentary shuttles and free admission (normally $12pp) to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. It was a rather small facility (as compared to the major aquariums on the mainland's East Coast) but had quite a few interesting displays. There was a Harbor Seal tank, a Stellar Sea Lion tank, and a seabird tank (Puffins, Kittewakes, Murres, etc.) Tanks can be viewed from above the surface and below the surface. There was a hands on display for kids (and big kids) where they allow you to "pet" starfish, sand sharks, etc. This is a very interesting little place. Prior to our tour we stopped at a local waterfront eatery to get a bowl of clam chowder. Unfortunately I wasn't impressed by it - I've had much better in New England. Met our tour at the dock. The tour was run by Kenai Fjords Tours. This boats were large and in excellent condition. The tour was approx 3 hrs long. The boat takes you all the way down to the end of the bay. Along the way the captain will stop whenever an animal or group of animals is seen. On our tour we saw seals, otters, sea lions, puffins and murres, and a humpback whale. The whale put on a show for us - it was like we were at Disney! We got within a 200 feet of the whale. Immediately after the captain idled the engines, the whale breached! It continued for a total of 5 breaches! Then it showed us it tail flukes several times, and finally spent about 10 minutes slapping its pectoral fins on the water. The captain was amazed, the on-board biologist was amazed, and the passengers were in awe! We were told that a show like this is rarely seen here at this time of the year and that even in Hawaii we would have been very lucky to have seen that much so close up. Made the day stuck in Seward worth it. Returned to the ship around 4:30pm. Day 3 - Sunday - Seward Still moored to the coal dock and tenders in use. Went into town in the morning to go to a pharmacy as all the onboard shops were closed because we were in port. This is where we bought the infamous copy of the Anchorage Daily News. Returned to the ship and spent the afternoon in the pool, T-pool and hot tubs. Finally departed Seward at 6:30pm. Day 4 - Monday - At Sea (Hubbard Glacier) Weather was overcast, foggy and low 50s. Crewmembers advised us that as we got nearer to the glacier, the fog usually lifts. They also said that, believe it or not, the weather was perfect for viewing the glacier. Too much sun and you can't see the colors very well, plus the glare gives everyone headaches - even when wearing sunglasses. Because of our delayed departure we were at Hubbard Glacier on a different day than scheduled and earlier in the day than scheduled. In this regard we lucked out as we were the only ship in the bay that day and had plenty of time at the face of the glacier. We arrived Yakutat Bay area around 10am where an Alaskan Marine Pilot (we hoped not the same one as from the last cruise) and two Alaskan Native guides boarded. By 11am we had positioned ourselves on Deck 12 above the Revelations nightclub on the Observation Deck. The crew had removed all the chairs from this area for the day to allow room for the large crowds of people. They did leave all the small tables in place and people were using them to stand on to get their heads and cameras above the windscreen. We had guessed that this deck would be the best place for viewing. We guessed right! Get there early though. Once we were close to the glacier, it got very crowded. We saw several seals and sea lions sitting on small ice flows - they swam away as the ship approached. Entered Disenchantment Bay around 11:30am. There it was about 40 degrees with a light breeze. As predicted, the fog lifted, and a little bit of sun came out to enhance the colors of the glaciers. We able to get within ¾ of a mile of the glacier face, and spent almost 2 hours hovering there. The guides were on the PA system giving information about the native people and their legends about the bays and glaciers. The Captain slowly spun the boat around so everyone could get a good view. Words and pictures cannot adequately describe this place. I can only say that it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. When the glacier calves it sounds like far off thunder. If you are patient, you'll see it calving too. If you are lucky enough to go to Hubbard Glacier on a cruise, bring a good camera with a long lens stabilizer, a good pair of binoculars, a warm jacket, hat gloves, and sunglasses. Pick your viewing spot carefully and early. The rest of the day was spent cruising offshore. Day 5 - Tuesday - Sitka Arrived Sitka at 7:00am in pea soup fog. At the sun warmed the air, the fog slowly lifted to reveal a naturally beautiful harbor area. There is no dock for large vessels in Sitka. All ships anchor in the harbor and use tenders. A Holland America ship was in port with us. We met our tour group (Russian American & Raptor Tour) in an on-board lounge and were then escorted to a reserved tender. As we were anchored at the far end of the harbor, the tender ride was almost 15 minutes long - plenty of time to check out the scenery. Our tour bus driver was a character and very informative. This tour includes a one hour stop at the Alaska Raptor Center where we were given an audience with a Bald Eagle named Volta for approx 10 minutes - The Eagle and his handler were sitting on a small stage not less than 10 feet from me. The handler gave an informative lecture about the bird and how he came to live at the Center. Then you are given some time to visit the gift shop, see the other bird pens outside, walk the nature trail and make phone calls. Next stop is the Sitka National Historic Park. It includes a small museum dedicated to the history of the battles fought between the local natives and the Russians in the early 1800s. Also on hand was a gentleman who was doing carvings. There is also a short nature trail that goes into the woods and the bus guide will point out a few things there. Not a terribly interesting stop, but that's just my opinion. Finally, this tour winds its way through town. The guide told us a few tales about the town and some of its key structures, and then dropped us off across the street from St. Michael's Cathedral - about a 5-minute walk back to the tender pier. We spent about 10 minutes there, did some window shopping (some nicer things can be had here but most prices are quite high) and then took the tender back to the ship. Day 6 - Wednesday - Ketchikan Arrived Ketchikan at 8:00am. Weather was in the low 60s with drizzle and rain all day. This is completely normal for Ketch. A nice day there is when the sky is overcast and it isn't raining. Although this was originally scheduled as a tendering port, we ended up at the dock - the Infinity was anchored in the harbor instead. There were two Princess ships at the dock. Later in the afternoon, one of these ships left port and the Infinity then weighed anchor and moved dockside. The tidal range in Ketch is huge - 30 feet or more. Because of this, the crew had to keep moving the gangway location. In the morning it was on deck 1. By late morning it was on deck 2, then on deck 3 by noontime, and finally moved to deck 4. Then the whole process reversed itself again later in the day. Our tour at Ketch was scheduled for 2pm so we spent most of the morning shopping, making phone calls and walking around. The shopping in Ketch is very good the prices for souvenirs are very reasonable. Tongass Trading Company is right at the pier. It is a large store with a very wide variety of items - they are a complete Alaskan outfitter. For this port we had selected the Totem Bite State Park & Town Tour. We met a rep on the pier and were pointed in the direction of our bus. We had a very informative driver/guide. She is a professional tour guide and has worked all over the world. The tour included a 20 minute narrated bus ride through town. Then, on to the park that is about 10 miles North of town. The tour guide provided umbrellas for the walking part of this tour. The forest trail into the park was jungle-like - Ketchikan is actually a rain forest. I thought the park was very interesting. There are several totems in the park and each one has its own story. There is also a Clan Lodge that was typical for the semi-nomadic natives many years ago. The building is big enough to house several families - although not in a style that we are accustomed to. No nails are used in its construction and the whole building can be dismantled and floated to a new location as needed. When the food supply fizzled, they just moved to a better location. The end of this tour was a 15-minute visit to the park's gift shop. Even if you don't buy anything, there are museum quality displays in the shop and sample of salmon and crackers were provided to each tourist. The tour ended with a trip directly back to the pier. Day 7 - Thursday - At Sea (Inside Passage) Weather was great. Highs in the mid-70s and sunny. Scenery is beautiful. Again, pictures and words will not do it justice so I won't go into much detail. I will tell you that as the day goes along and you get closer to Vancouver the scenery gets better. Much of the afternoon is spent going less than 10 knots. At points the passage is so narrow (with mountains shooting straight out of the water on both sides), that in order to make turns, the ship has to stop completely and thrusters are used to "swivel" the ship before continuing onward. Disembarkation (Vancouver) & Flight Home Best disembarkation process of any cruise I've been on! On past cruises we had been asked to get out of our rooms, find some place in a public area and then wait for our bad tag color to be called. This made for an absolute mob scene on the deck where the gangway is located. Even though people were told to stay clear of this area, no one ever seemed to pay attention. It always left a sour taste in my mouth and is a bad way to end a vacation. By contrast, Celebrity also uses colored tags, but combines them with numbers so that there are many more groups of people. Each group contains less than 100 people. When given your tags, you are also given a letter that tells you what public room to assemble in and what time to be there. Announcements are not made over the general PA system. Instead, announcements are only made in the room where that color is supposed to be assembled. This way, you don't have a ton of people hanging out in the gangway area waiting for their color to be called. They have to go to their assigned public room or they won't be able to hear their announcement. When your color is called, a member of the crew leads your group to the gangway. And because the groups are small, the waiting times are very short at each of the stations - immigrations, baggage, customs, etc. We were asked to meet in the theatre at 8:00am. Our color was called at 8:15am. We got off, went through immigration, got our bags, went through customs and went to the taxi line - all in less than 15 minutes. Dispatchers handle the taxi lines. The line was not long and we waited for less than 5 minutes to get a cab. We told our driver we were paying by credit card. Total cost including tip was $28CAD (about $20USD). We were at the airport at the check-in desk by 9am. Because we were so early, none of the lines were long. For those returning to the US, this is the procedure at the airport: You pre-clear US customs in Vancouver so you from that point on, it's like you're on a domestic flight. There is no curbside check-in. Porters are available, but if your luggage in not on rollers, I strongly suggest you rent a cart - you'll see why you need it in a moment. You check in at your airline's ticket counter where your luggage is tagged to its final destination and then given back to you to carry through the airport. Then you are ushered through the duty free shop - there is no option to avoid it. Once out of the duty free shop, you line up to pay the YVR airport improvement fee - $10CAD or $7 USD payable in cash or by credit card. Then, on to US immigration and customs where you fill out your US Customs declaration while waiting in line to see an immigration officer. Once past immigration, you hand your customs declaration to a customs officer - most people are just sent on their way at this point but some are asked to go into an inspection room for a formal interrogation and search of their luggage. After you clear customs you go through checked-baggage security where you are subject to a random search of your luggage. At this point you put your checked baggage on the conveyor belt. Then you take your carry-on baggage through a traditional magnetometer and x-ray security checkpoint. Finally, you are free to walk to your gate. We arrived at the gate two hours before our departure. Smoking lounges are provided in the gate areas. Typical airport vendors are also available in the gate area - food, newsstand, and souvenir shop. Our inbound aircraft was 20 minutes late arriving so our flight boarded and departed about 10 minutes late. Final Thoughts Even with all the problems in Seward, I'd do this trip again in a heartbeat. The scenery is spectacular. If you've never been to Alaska or the far Pacific Northwest, you need to go! The service on Celebrity was the best of any cruise I've taken. The food was a few notches better too. Although Celebrity is still a mass market carrier, they do a lot of little things that make you feel like you're part of a first class operation: Things like a welcome glass of champagne, personal assistance at the buffet, full service casual dining during dinner hours, robes in every stateroom, real terry cloth towels in the public restrooms, padded covers and throw blankets on all deckchairs (at the T-pool the deck chairs are teak and have lumbar pillows), abundant supply of towels by the pools (unlike RCCL where they give you two pool towels in your stateroom and have none on deck), no obnoxious announcements all day long for bingo, etc. All these small things add up to a very pleasant environment on the ship. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
7/11/03, the day we've been waiting for has finally arrived, we go to seward, alaska to day for the beginning of our cruise southward to vancouver. imagine our dismay when we check in and are handed a letter stating we will not be ... Read More
7/11/03, the day we've been waiting for has finally arrived, we go to seward, alaska to day for the beginning of our cruise southward to vancouver. imagine our dismay when we check in and are handed a letter stating we will not be leaving tonight due to the fact that they hit a rock coming out of hubbard glacier 2 days ago and divers are now working under the ship to repair the damage. damage control was on-- there would be a open bar this evening and each cabin would receive a $300 credit to spend on board. people were fairly understanding until the next night when we still did not sail and along with the cancellation of the port of juneau, we now learned that skagway would also be cancelled. luckily the weather cooperated! it was 85 degrees and the pool area resembled a Caribbean cruise, not alaska including marimba music. the bar was opened again for an hour prior to dinner. now people were becoming anxious, would we ever get to sail. met a man in the internet cafe who was working on a letter to celebrity management, possible class-action suit? the next day was sunday, i spent a great deal of it at the wonderful thalassotherapy pool in the aqua spa area. they have wonderfully designed loungers w/lumbar pillows, plaid blankets as well as large towels, and floor to ceiling windows, but people are beginning to complain about still looking at seward harbor. apricot sours were one of the drinks of the day and quite tasty. the bars were opened to free drinks once again at 3pm, music was wonderful at the pool, weather again was Caribbean- like, and many were getting a sunburn. quite a few missed the formal dinner that night, probably due to the open bar! we heard the engines rev during dinner and sail-away began. shortly thereafter the casino opened and the ship recouped most of the open bar money very quickly! my resolution was to spend very little time there, but of course resolutions are made to be broken and the next night i got my money back, winning a $250 jackpot on a jack in the beanstalk slot machine. fun, fun! mon, 7/14 up early to walk the jogging track on 11th deck. 3 times around is 5/8 mile. quite a few hardy souls were up there. foggy and cold, now people are wishing they were back in seward. stopped by the omelet station next for a cheese omelet. very difficult to remain on my dr. adkins diet with all the wonderful food around. 10 am we finally had a lifeboat drill, proof that we truly are sailing. we are on our way to hubbard glacier today. hope the fog clears so we can see. also some apprehension lingers about striking more ice or rocks. it did clear up and the glacier was indeed impressive. it even calved for us, sounded like thunder. the sun came out and the ice wall looked blue, what a sight! green pea soup was served in bread bowls and hot chocolate abounded. guess we are in alaska after all. at 4:30 an enrichment lecture was held, rivers of ice, i learned a lot about glaciers. that night a wonderful show was held in the celebrity theater. singers, dancers, and a pair of exquisite chinese acrobats performed. tuesday 7-15. we arrived in sitka at 7 am. so foggy you could barely see it, but by 9 when we exited the ship, the sun came out again. the amount of sunshine on this trip was incredible, it was as if god was trying to make up for the hole in the ship. by this time the front page of the anchorage daily news had circulated with the story of the "rock puts hole in cruise passengers' plans" 7/13/03. sitka is a beautiful little town. for $7 you can buy a shuttle ticket and get on and off all day at all the highlights. we headed for the raptor center where they rehabilitate injured birds. did you know a raptor is a bird who hangs on with his claws? medical treatment is sophisticated and many are able to return to the wild after retraining and flight training in a special room. those who are unable to fly again are made into educational trainers and either kept or sent to other areas for educational purposes. we next stopped at the totem park and museum which was quite interesting and was next to a very interesting trail into the rain forest. huckleberries, salmonberries, and blueberries abounded. good bear food, i didn't stay there long! had lunch at the shee-atica lodge. had a wonderful, sandwich, soup, and sampled alaskan beer which was quite good. rack of lamb in the dining room that night was wonderful, what has happened to my diet? wed, 7-16 ketchikan: a rainy day. natives here say this is their typical weather. decided to go see if we could go for a float plane ride to the misty fiords anyway. found an opening at taquan air. our bush pilot was ernie and it truly was a pleasurable flight. magnificent scenery and a landing in a quiet lake, sometimes bear are seen here, but we did not see any. salmon were jumping right out of the water however. the two men with us got out and stood on the floats, we were not that brave. after the flight, shopping was excellent right near the pier and i outdid myself. moose shirts for my grandchildren, a ring for me, alaskan fleece vests for my daughters, and an alaskan nativity scene with a rabbit fur to display it on. my views on hunting and trapping have changed since a trappers talk on the land portion of my trip. denali national park is an excellent example of a nearly perfect ecosystem and it has stayed that way for years and years with some help from the government. 7/17/03 last day of sailing was through the inside passage. again scenery was impressive and we sighted 2 humpback whales, some porpoises, and a sea otter. had dinner tonight in the normandie restaurant. you can step back in time as the ambience is of the first 1000 ft ocean liner. tableside preparation, a menu to die for, dozens of cheeses in the cheese course, and the chef michel roux's bite-size surprise dessert made it a 2 1/2 hour gastronomic experience. dr atkin's: see you on monday. all in all, despite the sad beginning, it was the experience of a lifetime. as i sit here playing a hobo jim cd and remembering sights, sounds, and quiet wildness, i know i want to go back! 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Sail Date: July 2003
Just returned from a 7 night cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver on the Summit. all i can say is "wow!". we were part of a large family gathering (18 people) ranging in age from 18 months to 85 years. i had some trepidation about ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver on the Summit. all i can say is "wow!". we were part of a large family gathering (18 people) ranging in age from 18 months to 85 years. i had some trepidation about taking our kids (including the baby) on this line, as i feared it might not be as "family friendly" as the other lines would be. i have cruised on carnival and rccl in the past and considered both a very good experience. when we first boarded the ship, we did the traditional "walk around" to explore. the first thing we noticed was the signs at the pools and on the playgrounds stating that no children in diapers (even swim diapers) were allowed in any of these areas. in my mind i was gearing up for a long week. however, from that point everything got surprisingly better. the itinerary was great, but what really surprised me was the service and attitude of the entire crew on board this ship. they were fantastic. from the housekeeper to the waiter even to the wine steward, everyone on board went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. our older kids found plenty to keep them happily occupied. my wife and i were treated like royalty. the shows were top caliber and family friendly (we found the carnival shows to be a bit risque for our kids to view). one night featured a comedian that had the audience roaring (and not a bit of profanity was used! - hadn't seen that in a while). the food was consistently excellent and served in a prompt and attractive fashion. even the children's menu changed nightly. we ate at the normandie one night (without the kids) and found that to be a delightful evening. we utilized in room baby sitting three evenings - that was both affordable and of high quality. in comparison to previous cruises, we found this ship to be very classy - not cutesy and not stuffy. we didn't find our bath towels folded into animal shapes when we returned to our rooms, and the waiters didn't perform card tricks tableside. however, we never got the raised eyebrow look of "why would you bring a child on board" either. i've always seen disney as being held up as the standard for excellent attention to customer service. i think celebrity should be added to the short list for other companies to model as well. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2003
Ok, I admit it. I was really, really ready for this cruise, and had every intention of enjoying it. It should surprise no one, then that I did enjoy myself. What is surprising is the degree. I have been booking my clients on Celebrity ... Read More
Ok, I admit it. I was really, really ready for this cruise, and had every intention of enjoying it. It should surprise no one, then that I did enjoy myself. What is surprising is the degree. I have been booking my clients on Celebrity ships in Alaska all summer, so I decided that I just had to try my own wares. Everything I have heard about Celebrity was good, and I had done a ship inspection of Millennium in Ft. Lauderdale in April, so I was pretty sure of what to expect. I did want a suite, and was pleased to be able to pay to upgrade immediately on boarding to Sky Suite 6120. I couldn't talk my teens into the Celebrity Suite a few doors down which was also available, as they really wanted a balcony. I told some very nice folks about the Celebrity suite though, and they enjoyed it greatly. First thing, the butler, Jonathan was wonderful. He was sweet and non-intrusive, but managed to show up every time I needed him or Julio, the cabin steward, even when it was something as mundane as helping my son knot his tie correctly. The suite was not huge, but perfectly adequate for three adults, including a lanky 6 foot tall teen-aged boy and had a lovely deep bath-tub, plenty of storage and room for three deck chairs and a small table on the lanai. There was a bowl of fresh fruit and a full ice-bucket with a nice bottle of champagne waiting for us on the table. The fruit was replenished daily by Jonathan, along with all sorts of little goodies throughout the day. We really enjoyed the breakfast service in our suite, and used it every day of our cruise. Jonathan would quietly slip my coffee tray inside the door at 6, without waking the my teens, then arrive brightly with a 2 course serving of breakfast complete with white linen and flowers. In the afternoon, he would bring me my cup of tea and little cakes for everyone to enjoy on the balcony. Before dinner he would show up with canapes. While we were at dinner, he would turn down the wonderful deep feather beds, leave good-night cards and Italian chocolates on the pillows and lay out the special body pillow I ordered from the pillow concierge. He looked great in his tails, but I could easily imagine him rocking out with my son in a band---it turned out that he also played electric guitar, and he and my son spent time talking shop. Right around the corner was "Notes" the music library, where my son set up shop with his electric guitar and headphones, and spent much of the week. I used it quite a bit too, and we found that our taste for rock, alternative and metal was satisfied by the selections. We were able to save our playlists all week. I often got my headphones and settled down to listen before dressing for dinner. Dinner was just plain fun. Our fun-loving waiter Nyoman was from Bali, and loved to do magic tricks and challenge his tables to puzzles. We often stayed long after everyone else had left to watch Nyoman's tricks and listen to his stories of home. Alex, his young assistant waiter was from Latin America, and my client's daughter (who spoke fluent Spanish) and my daughter flirted shamelessly with him to everyone's giggles (and his blushes). The food was very good, varied and fresh. The best food we had on board, however, was in the specialty restaurant, the Normandie. It was well worth the surcharge. The meal took over three hours, and we were treated royally by a well-trained team of waiters. The spa was another high point of the trip for me. I discovered the Turkish gardens the first day, and bought a trip-long pass for myself and my daughter. We both used it at least once, sometimes twice each day. I especially liked the floral scented turkish bath and peppermint scented showers. We all enjoyed the thalassotherapy pool, and I discovered that I could have a light meal nearby...cold soup and fruit and vegie plates. One of the most outstanding things that I noticed was the efforts of every single staff member, from the guy I startled while climbing out of the engine casing to the officer grabbing a quick bite at the sushi bar to greet me with a smile and an enquiry as to how I was enjoying the cruise. Everyone seemed delighted to share stories of home and showed and honest interest in my children and myself. It really made us feel at home and among friends during our entire trip. The single sour note on the entire trip had nothing to do with Summit itself. I had signed us up for a number of shore excursions, and really had an uneven experience. The rock-climbing in Skagway, Seaplane flight in Ketchikan and sportfishing in Juneau were excellent. Otherwise the shore excursions varied from hokey to downright awful. We could have enjoyed, for instance, the white-water rafting in Valdez if not for the fact that the protective gear they gave us to wear stank so horribly of body odor that it was apparent that it had not been washed in recent memory. All of our clothes, including our jackets reeked afterwards, and could not be worn for the rest of the trip. The driver and guide was informative but unfriendly and on occasion downright rude, which surprised me as he was a local high school teacher. We do not blame this on Celebrity of course, but I do think they should keep tabs on the companies they book tours with. The only unpleasant part of the cruise was, predictably, leaving the warm cocoon of the ship. The concierge and guest relations had little information about services in Seward, and I felt let down, as no help was offered to help us get the information we needed. We were leaving on the evening train, and needed information on where we could leave our luggage. We were given an address which we were told was a place to pay to store the bags---it turned out that the train officials were glad to store our luggage free of charge, as well as keep our hand-carried items locked up in the office so we could get to them throughout the day. When we assembled in the theater to await our group's call to leave, CNN was playing loudly on the screen with scenes of the war and the stock market quotes I had not looked at all week. What a rough way to leave our little fantasy world! I would have much preferred them to show the week's ship video, leaving us with happy memories of our trip. My daughter commented that perhaps someone should tell them to practice "gentle release", just as a hand-fed wild animal is allowed to leave it's comfortable cage a little at a time. Those welcoming glasses of champagne on boarding sure would have helped my mood on leaving as well! All in all, not only do we give Summit and Celebrity high marks, we are already planning our next cruise on the Summit when she is in our home waters in May of next year. I told my kids that when I get old, they needn't put me in home, just set me up in my suite on the Summit, and I'll sail happily into the sunset! Read Less
Celebrity Summit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.1

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