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Sail Date: May 2007
Just got back from our first and, I fear, our last cruise to Alaska. Celebrity Summit, Concierge Class, one week, Northbound to Alaska, May 2007. Alaska impressed us beyond words. Celebrity did not. I'll admit right away that the ... Read More
Just got back from our first and, I fear, our last cruise to Alaska. Celebrity Summit, Concierge Class, one week, Northbound to Alaska, May 2007. Alaska impressed us beyond words. Celebrity did not. I'll admit right away that the vast majority of passengers had a wonderful time. I'll also admit that at a basic level, Celebrity does a very good job: the new, larger ships have a remarkably smooth ride (when they don't break down...we'd originally been scheduled for last year's cancelled Summit cruise to Alaska), even on high seas, the cabins are of good size, with ample storage and nice amenities, the balconies are worth the extra cost, the beds are comfortable, the food is both good (as has been stated before on the Cruise Critic Boards, we're talking high-class hotel catering good, not three-to-four star restaurant good...but I had no complaints here!) and plentiful, the gym was first rate, and most facilities and functions were clean and in working order throughout. But Celebrity sells itself as more than the basics. Celebrity is about the "experience," about the service and the attitude and feeling like your being taken care of (especially for a Concierge Class passenger). The service we "experienced" ranged from barely adequate to utterly thoughtless. And this put a serious crimp on what was supposed to be a special occasion. Our original room had placed us next to a suite on deck 8. Based on reports we heard through Cruise Critic, we became suspicious that this meant a smaller balcony. Celebrity assured our travel agent this was not the case, but we persisted and changed to another cabin. I've now got photographic proof that, in fact, those balconies ARE smaller. Our travel agent was MOST interested in the picture. Where I come from, we call this "not telling the truth." That pretty much set the tone from then on. It started with our air travel: the cruise air plan had us flying home at a bad hour, with multiple stops, for a trip that would have taken almost twelve hours. We were able to cancel this and book through our travel agent, which cut our travel time in half, gave us a full day in Anchorage, and ended up saving us $100 even after penalties. When we arrived at our hotel in Vancouver (by the way, Vancouver is an AMAZING could easily spend a week there, and we'll post about it on the Boards), we were told that they couldn't give us the king bed we'd requested...this is a 600-room hotel, and we arrived at noon...yeah, right. They at least gave us a 30th-floor room. Embarkation was a complete fiasco. Concierge Class lists "expedited embarkation" as one of the perks...too bad the folks running the show didn't know which line was which, and held us up while they whisked the folks who HADN'T paid the extra $100 for their room through in record time. I finally accosted someone to find out what was going on, at which point they admitted the error. They were not the least bit apologetic; more like annoyed. And even then, they kept it up for a while before expediting properly. GREAT WAY to start your relaxing vacation. While the ship is clean and well maintained, anyone expecting luxury needs a dose of reality: this 1900-passenger ship is in constant use throughout the season, with a four-hour turnaround between cruises, and the wear and tear shows. Our cabin had stains on the carpet, wine stains on a robe, the bath mat was visibly frayed, the TV and telephone occasionally malfunctioned, there was litter in the corner of the balcony...and the room STANK of cleanser when we embarked (smelled like there'd been a fire in the room). It took two days to fully air it out. And let's also be realistic about the staff: most (even the staff members with several years' experience) speak only rudimentary English, which makes anything other than basic requests an exercise in repetition (our next-door neighbors locked themselves on their balcony the first day out, and it took me almost five minutes to explain to the cabin steward that they needed to be rescued). They are not particularly well trained (the sommelier was a joke). And they have an incredible amount of work to do, so while they were very good at responding to direct requests, we didn't have a single instance during the entire trip when someone actually took the initiative to ask us what we wanted, list options that were available to us, or offer a moment's time. A lot of people mention how, once they request something, it keeps happening for the rest of the trip. Well, yes, this does occur. But that's not service. Service is asking. I had coffee set up after dinner every night after the first evening. I don't WANT coffee every night. No one ever asked my wife if she wanted tea, which she often does. This is not great service. It's MINDLESS service. I'm not slagging the staff; they work very hard at a job that is strenuous, monotonous and often humiliating (would YOU want to spend four hours in a fuzzy dolphin costume hawking disembarkation picture, or sit in a men's room that no one visits offering men spritzes of aftershave?). I AM slagging Celebrity, which promises a level of service they don't deliver. Their prime directive is to serve Celebrity's needs, not yours. Concierge Class does offer some nice amenities (the towels are particularly good), but the cabin steward? Fuggedaboudit. We had one meeting during which we asked for the things that hadn't (and should have) been placed in the cabin, and that was the last we saw of him (beyond the hallway). So no, there were no extra tips on this trip. Which brings us to the other reality of cruising on Celebrity: relentless, relentless marketing to induce you to spend more money. EVERY conversation with a Celebrity employee seems directed at some additional expenditure which he/she just HAS to bring to your attention. This all led up to the intriguing spectacle of the Baked Alaska Parade (actually Neapolitan ice cream in a gooey meringue) on the last formal night, which was followed by a prolonged spiel from our waiter soliciting extra tips. Waiters actively soliciting tips? Tacky, tacky, tacky. Of course, this might explain why we got the vouchers for the two bottles of wine our travel agent sent us AFTER dinner on the third night. We bought a bottle on the second night. Wonder when we'd have gotten them if we hadn't. The one excursion we booked through the ship, a late trip on the White Pass Railway, almost left without a bunch of people. The trains have tracks that extend out near the ships, and the early trips left from there. Ours, it turns out, did not. We passed a knot of people, including a woman in a wheelchair, waiting at that spot. Being suspicious, we continued down the dock to the ship...which is where we were supposed to go. If we hadn't told the White Pass representative (no one from Celebrity was around) about the other people (she was very surprised), and gone back and told them, they all would have missed the trip. Also, the trip started way late, and since there was no one from Celebrity around, there was no way to verify whether or not the ship was going to leave without us. We ended up back on board two minutes before they pulled the gangplank. Fifth day, my wife opened one of her drawers before bedtime to discover that two plastic bags (one for Scott's bubble wrap and the other for Barnes and Noble) had been put IN the drawer during turndown. Kinda creepy, since WE didn't bring those bags into the room. We had requested a walkoff disembarkation (Celebrity has a press release claiming this is offered on all cruises). In response to an item in the daily schedule specifically telling us to verify with the Guest Relations Desk if we wanted to do this, we filled out a request....only to be told it wasn't going to be offered. We asked them to double-check this and get back to us, which they HALF PAST MIDNIGHT, waking us out of the first sound sleep of the trip. When we were assigned disembarkation, despite having told them on three separate occasions that we wanted to get off as early as possible, we were assigned to the LAST group to leave. They did, when we went to the Service Desk, fix this. The last night, we decided that we wanted to do a room service dinner. Too bad they'd already removed the cabin book so they could update it for the next trip. They told us to use the TV, but it was on the fritz. When I finally, after about three tries, convinced the cabin steward over the phone that we needed the room service menu back, he finally, grudgingly, showed up...with the dining room menu, not the room service menu. This was another example of the English-language problem, but it was also another example of a Cabin Steward who had better things to do that pay attention to a passenger. My wife wanted a pizza, not a pork chop. Just how far did they go to get you to spend? The hot tubs next to the outdoor pools (the free ones) ran throughout the cruise. The water was never above tepid, and often stone cold. A stone cold hot tub in Alaska? But hey, the hot tubs in the Thalassatherapy room next door were nice and warm. Of course, you have to PAY to use those one.... I could go on, there's more. But you get the drift. If you can look past all this, the cruise is fine. But you shouldn't have to look past this. Celebrity promises more, and they don't deliver. We payed a lot of money to spend a few days with OTHER people taking care of the details...and I'm sorry, cruise prices may have dropped a lot, but this was still a very expensive vacation. And we never felt that we could trust anyone to do anything. So next time we visit Alaska, we'll take the road. Even though it's a long, and not a very winding, road. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
This was our second cruise and a cruise that we had been looking forward to, especially the shore excursions. We booked through an Internet company better than 60 days in advance but were told the only thing available was a Veranda ... Read More
This was our second cruise and a cruise that we had been looking forward to, especially the shore excursions. We booked through an Internet company better than 60 days in advance but were told the only thing available was a Veranda handicap room. We were told to be "happy" with this because they are larger than the regular Veranda room. I called Celebrity several times prior to sailing to ensure they wanted us to have this stateroom over another and to make arrangements for our anniversary celebration. We were told to keep that cabin and that the anniversary arrangements were in order. Onboard, there were disabled everywhere. I felt terrible keeping that cabin. Embarkation was mostly organized with the moving of a gangplank and numerous senior citizens taking their place in front of us. (This was an issue throughout the cruise, especially when it came to dining and viewing Hubbard Glacier. Seniors that I saw who could barely get around, became sharks during these two times.) My advice to anyone reading this is to thoroughly complete the online registration to streamline the embarkation process. I missed one step and it took several minutes longer thanks to the late arrival of a passport. Our cabin was clean and our luggage arrived piece by piece until time sail. It was at that time that we meet our cabin steward who was helpful at first, but strange. Over the next 7 days we often found him just outside our door, only to have him say, "Mr. ****, is there anything I can do for you"? The service was nice but then he twice walked in to our stateroom without announcing himself, both times we were undressed, both times just to drop off a brochure that he had days before slid under the door. In the bathroom we laid out our toiletries intending for them to remain in those places but they got moved under the sink, daily. The sink leaked into one of the shave kits ruining everything inside. We found the bed to be extremely uncomfortable. If you can afford a massage in the absolutely beautiful Spa, the metal cot with a 4 inch mattress won't matter. Our steward was gracious enough to bring another blanket but it just didn't make it better. When asked for additional hangers he returned with several horribly bent metal dry cleaning hangers that obviously belonged to his shipmates, not the cruise line hangers like I had requested. Every day he would place our change, tie clips and misc. items in our wine glasses.(???) Good thing we didn't need those in the room. Notes to the steward didn't help. He was just creepy, violating and didn't do his job. The food was great as was the service in the dining areas. We found it to be some of the best service anywhere in all service industries. Our waiters were entertaining and down to earth. They were part of the dinner party at our table every night and we truly looked forward to seeing them and seeing what the night would bring. The Waterfall Café had good food for on the spot eats, that is if you don't mind pizza and pasta. They could, however, use a change of menu throughout the week. They could also use a good floor, mirror, window and wall cleaning. Disembarkation day, it was nasty- almost too nasty to eat in there. The carpet and glass portholes were sticky and had the same food around the portholes that I'd seen days before. If you drink soda, get the 35.00 soda pass. It will get you unlimited sodas during the cruise. If not, sodas are costly. Be careful when approached by someone asking you if you want a drink in a fancy glass. Their slick sale and your excitement will cost you at least 10.00. You do get to keep the fancy glass. Shore excursions were a disappointment overall as far as price vs. value goes. The industry has the monopoly on port tours so it is tough to find activities to do on your own and fully catch the history and nature of the area. The gold panning is a blast and Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake in Juneau is a must! Stay away from the Eagle Preserve Wildlife River Adventure Jetboat cruise in Skagway/Haines. This will cost you $173.00 each and you see nothing but a few eagles nests from a very long way away. Our boat broke down in the middle of the river after making everyone onboard, including the captain who had to be replaced, sick from gas fumes. Then they had to race around looking for birds finally getting us back to camp for a hurried hot dog and reckless bus ride back to the ship. In Sitka, the Russian and Raptor tour was the best tour we took for the money and the education of Alaska. Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest was also a fantastic tour for the price but be careful scheduling this and other whale watching tours. We saw several whales on this tour thanks to our superb captain but were scheduled to take another whale watching tour in Icy Strait Point the next day. (Cancelled due to gale force winds.) The Sea Otter tour more than satisfied our whale watching needs without needing another tour and should be considered by everyone seeing Sitka. Hubbard Glacier is remarkable but claim your viewing spot early and stay there. Some folks will do anything to see a chunk of ice thousands of years old. If you have a balcony cabin, stay there. You will get a premiere viewing without the pushing and shoving. The entertainment was geared towards the seniors. It's hard to sing Karaoke to 70's songs when you are sitting in a crowd of 70 and 80 yr olds. It is also hard to stomach a swing lounge band playing Grunge Metal at half beat, worse yet those same seniors are slow dancing to it. Kurt Cobain is rolling over in his grave. Yes, give the seniors a place to play. We want a place to play when we are seniors. But we ask for the same in return. Give us a 30-50 something's that like a beat a lounge and a band. We also don't play Bingo and Bridge. How about some ship board activities designed for us? The Cova Café is a Starbucks Pub on the high seas. No caffeine withdrawals here. They can make any coffee drink with or without alcohol and include a fresh Parisian pastry on the side. Of course, all of this comes at a price, a high price. Our happiest experience on this entire cruise would have to be with one staff member from the Security Dept. He greets everyone coming on and off the ship and only says, "Happy, Happy, Happy". He is known ship wide as Mr. Happy and even if you are having a bad port experience he is there to brighten up the day. The last item on this review is going to be Norovirus. Per Celebrity Reps. after our return, there were cases of Norovirus on our ship during our cruise. Midway through the cruise, PSA's started running explaining the virus and whenever we entered the ship we were watched and forced to use hand sanitizer. We had done this all along. Within 24 hours after returning home, both my husband and I became VERY ill with what we now know to be NOROVIRUS or Norwalk virus. Thankfully, we didn't get ill on the cruise but this is one heck of a stomach virus no matter where you are. Celebrity explained that unless greater than half of the ship gets ill it is not obligated to disclose it to others onboard, but that they would take our info and add it to theirs. Nice, and right now someone else is sleeping in that bed in that room. Disembarkation was a snap, done within 1 hour. We took the train to Anchorage. Eat before you get on the train as snacks are the only thing served. Your tour guide will keep you entertained for the entire 4 hour ride so keep your camera ready. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise, Norovirus, strange steward and being mid 40's in a mid 70's crowd. Your cruise is what you make of it and even though Celebrity forgot my anniversary altogether, we celebrated, saw great creatures and learned about one of the last pristine areas, Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
We stayed in cabin 2052 and were pleased with this basic outside class cabin. This ship has many rooms with balconies which are nice for this type of cruise. This was our first time with Celebrity and our third time cruising SE Alaska. ... Read More
We stayed in cabin 2052 and were pleased with this basic outside class cabin. This ship has many rooms with balconies which are nice for this type of cruise. This was our first time with Celebrity and our third time cruising SE Alaska. The ship had mechanical problems with the starboard stabilizer requiring the vessel to reduce maximum speed to 17 knots. We were informed of this fact after departing San Francisco on the fourth day at Sea. We were to skip Seattle and Sitka (which were important ports to us) and given $200 credit as fair compensation. Despite the media reporting 4 or 5 unsatisfied customers aboard, that number was much larger when you consider a packed theater meeting and daily public meetings in the foyer. Company representatives were sent to us in Ketchikan and we had an opportunity to express our unhappiness. The corporate staff was unconcerned about their reputation or repeat customers. They listened, but made no offer for reasonable compensation. We missed two ports and did not get close to Hubbard Glacier. We left prematurely due to icy water and another ship that was in the bay. If they had not changed the schedule, we might have gotten in during our allotted time. They missed the pilot to cruise the Inside Passage during the day so we sat at sea until 5 pm waiting for the next one. We cruised The Passage in the evening missing many scenic views. We came into San Francisco and Vancouver early (1 AM) docking where pier lighting and noises disturbed your rest on the starboard side of the ship. We spent more days at sea and where many activities are very costly. Drinks and activities were much higher than our past cruises. The attitude of the crew was very good but I grew tired of the cruise director and his lip service. I did not trust him after the fifth day. Embarking was okay but disembarking was frustrating. They have a smooth get off the ship that is favorable for the cruise line, but a real pain after you get to the airport. You will lug your bags around along time going through immigration, security, and customs. Bottom line on this cruise is: The cruise line is in control of the schedule and you are going to be subject to their best interest and schedules. Long itineraries are open to changes and you have no control. The food and service crew was exceptionally good. They took very good care of us during dining. The ship had many lounges and places to sit. Weather was clear and snow covered the mountains. Towns were crowed when you unload 4 ships in a port. Elevators worked well to move people about the ship. Room Service was fair. We enjoyed the cruise but will consider this experience on future vacations. People that were not there have no room to attack cruisers that went through this experience. People can chose to hear the truth or disregard it...We won't do it again with Celebrity or a long sailing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2005
My wife and I joined the Celebrity Cruise 7 night cruise/4 night land Tour Southbound commencing 29th August, 2005. Unfortunately my baggage was lost for 4 days so it didn't start well. We can only say we were extremely disappointed ... Read More
My wife and I joined the Celebrity Cruise 7 night cruise/4 night land Tour Southbound commencing 29th August, 2005. Unfortunately my baggage was lost for 4 days so it didn't start well. We can only say we were extremely disappointed by Celebrity's Land Start. The day trip to Denali (THE PARK WAS FANTASTIC) was to say the least terrible. The bus was an old school bus and we were on it for 8 hours, with only 4 rest stops for about 10-15 minutes each - no air conditioning, toilets or facilities. LUNCH (AND I USE THAT WORD LOOSELY) was a disgraceful cardboard lunch box that only one person ate (and was then sick in the afternoon), we were supposed to eat on the bus as we drove. We did see a few animals. We renamed our selves "DLB" Denali Lunch Box Group. The White Water Rafting trip was cold but great as was the dog sled homestead tour. On the second day we then commenced our trip back towards Seward by Coach, again, another lunch box, but at least a better quality and we stopped by the side of the road at a war veterans memorial and just found somewhere to sit to eat. RATE THIS LAND CONTENT OF THE TRIP: 1 OUT OF 5. We would not recommend this to anyone and our Tour director (Chrystal) treated us like children throughout the trip. We then headed back off to Seward, the train trip was really enjoyable, especially after the coach. The booking in at the ship left a lot to be desired, after boarding we were just handed over to a crew lady (who could speak very little English and told to follow her to our room - no welcome or smile or anything - who then guided us to our room and then just left us. On the first day we sent my brand new suit to be pressed as it was crushed from all the travelling. Upon having it returned we discovered it had been pressed with too hot a press and was shiny and the pockets hadn't been straightened out and were showing on the pants - after 3 tries at pressing the pants they concluded that they couldn't fix them and from then on we were in a continual discussion with "Guest Relations" who really weren't that helpful and I had to keep chasing them - Bottom Line they told us to have our Travel Agent (in Australia) talk to Celebrity Cruise Head Office (in USA) about compensation. Still no resolution. Overall the food was plentiful and good quality but the service was very ordinary in most areas, except for Winston and Darwin at the aft bar who were excellent. We booked a couple of tours and one in particular we were looking forward to was the "Glacier View Kayaking" (don't bother) we were kayaking on a lake approximately 12 miles from the glacier - talk about false and misleading advertising. Another major issue was the automatic 15% gratuities added to all beverage purchases which we found extremely hard to justify when a majority of the waiters and bar persons couldn't understand our requests. The fellow passengers we met were the saving grace of the cruise as the majority all were complaining about similar issues. After travelling from Australia specifically to take Celebrity Cruises to see Alaska we were very disappointed and for the first time in our travelling lives completed a critical guest questionnaire and surprise/surprise have heard nothing back from Celebrity at this time. Would we travel Celebrity Again? Depends on the response of Celebrity as we have planned to go cruising to the Caribbean in 2006. But I really doubt that we would spend a lot of money for so little or no enjoyment with this cruise line who treated us like second class citizens. Read Less
Celebrity Summit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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