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Sail Date: September 2007
The following is a review of my recent experience with the Celebrity Cruise I took on September 7, 2007 from Seward to Vancouver. Please note this is my travel companion's and my experience. I am 39 and this was my 14th cruise. My ... Read More
The following is a review of my recent experience with the Celebrity Cruise I took on September 7, 2007 from Seward to Vancouver. Please note this is my travel companion's and my experience. I am 39 and this was my 14th cruise. My travel companion is 50 and this is his first ever cruise. On Celebrity this is my 3rd cruise. I am not going to review the ports just our ship experience. We arrived in Anchorage a day before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Captain Cook. Small rooms but we were on their Concierge level which was totally worth it. We booked the Alaska Railroad trip on our own to Seward. This was no problem and our luggage was taken aboard and then on to the ship, just like they do if you book the railroad trip through Celebrity. We did a little exploring in Seward and checked in about noon. No problem getting on the ship less then 5 minutes, but the room was not to be ready until 2pm. We were able to drop off our carry-on bags and get lunch at the buffet. The food there was ok not great. That opinion stayed the same the entire cruise. Eat in the main dining room as it is much better, unfortunately, when you're docked in port the dining room is closed for lunch. After lunch we got off the ship and walked to Safeway to get some 6 packs of soda and bottled water. FYI a can of soda including the 15% gratuity is $2.24. Then back on to the ship. We both thought the ship was well maintained and had no problems with our room. Our room steward was nice and did a fantastic job. The biggest let down on our trip was the communication difficulty we had in the dining room. When I was on the Millennium in 2001 most of the dining room staff were from Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia and other Eastern European countries. This trip most of the wait staff were from India and the Philippines. Normally this would not matter, however, on this trip the waiters and bus persons could not understand many common English questions which made getting your questions answered very difficult. Our waiter actually lied when I asked him about the "always available" food option. I asked about the "Marinated Chicken Supreme" and what it is marinated in. He told me that it's boiled chicken but never answered the marinade question. My companion asked him specifically what the marinade was and he replied that it's a misprint and that it's plain chicken. I cannot digest garlic so the question was important to me. The assistant Maitre D was a great guy by the name of Fazli and he explained the garlic marinade and then I advised him that the waiter needs to be better aware of what's in the food and that he lied. All he had to do was say I am not sure let me check, but he really did not seem to care. In the dining room it is always nice when they bring stuff without being asked i.e. I need a glass of ice as I bring my own drinks to dinner. This only happened once the entire cruise not a big deal but I noticed. The food overall in the dining room was good a few dishes where great. The service was not as good as it used to be on my previous Celebrity cruise. There was a definite language problem in the dining room. We also learned that they do not have English language classes for the staff, which would be a very useful thing seeing as the cruise line mostly caters to Americans. Overall, we enjoyed Alaska very much but I felt the service slipped in the dining room and buffet. The food quality appears to have gone down a bit but still better than my last Princess cruise in 2004. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me. Sorry the review is kinda long. Tim Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We took the southbound cruise on August 10 . We chose to hire a car and drive from Anchorage to Seward at our own pace - enjoying the scenery whilst our 2 year old slept. We embarked at 1pm which was quick and easy. Whilst we had a suite ... Read More
We took the southbound cruise on August 10 . We chose to hire a car and drive from Anchorage to Seward at our own pace - enjoying the scenery whilst our 2 year old slept. We embarked at 1pm which was quick and easy. Whilst we had a suite and preferred boarding at that time there were no waits for either line. In the cabin we hit exactly the same problem as Anon 60. We had selected a CS for the extra internal space and 4 floor to ceiling glass panes - perfect arrangement for a toddler. There are 2 Celebrity Suites side by side. We were in the aft of the 2 so forwards view is limited as you would expect. However, the 4 window and thus most of the rearward view was taken up by a window washer moored to a box ladder frame. Having paid full price and at the time of booking not being advised of the restricted view we justifiably felt ripped off by Celebrity. At a theater a restricted view is advertised as such and carries a discount. However we don't buy RV if CS6106 was at a discount we still would have chosen another. To add insult to injury the windows were not clean and were not cleaned during our 7 days and by the rust on the rails it appeared the cleaner was used infrequently! Celebrity offered a 10% discount on another cruise taken within a year. Having to travel again from Australia, this is worthless to us. As at the date of posting this offer has not been mailed to us, so it may have just been an expedient response shipboard. As to the cruise, many of the tours and attractions of Alaska are 'age barred' to a toddler. However, this was no problem as we just spent more time on ship - with always something to entertain. We found the staff friendly. With many having children at home our toddler was fussed over continuously. She loved the staff at the Cova and the Patisserie. We didn't submit fellow diners in the Cosmopolitan to our toddler at evening time choosing to either use the buffet or eat in the suite. David our butler ensured we got the full Cosmopolitan menu which was good. Only problem was that similar to any hotel, all courses arrive together. We enjoyed sampling all the food outlets. Our daughter loved her daily bowl of ice cream with sprinkles! We especially enjoyed the healthy eating near the spa. We also took a baby sitter one night to enjoy the Normandy experience. The crew continuously commented on how good the weather was and I'm sure that this lifted the demeanor of all on board. We had fantastic viewing most of the time and weather so good the pool was utilized well. What we saw of the entertainment was good. Again, with a toddler 9pm was the latest we would stay up to. Simple pleasure: Buy a crab and an icy alaskan beer at the crab shack at Icy Straights. The freshness combined with the view creates an ambience that will enhance this crab to one of lifes best! Bizarre: Being in the nightclub area (great viewing area at the front of the ship) at 1.30pm sailing toward natures grandeur of the Hubbard Glacier with a cha cha class in the background! Nice Touch: as a suite guest we were invited to a captains club function Embarkation - again fast and easy. Only problem was that I had booked the Fairmont Waterfront expecting to be able to walk across from the Vancouver cruise terminal. The ship docked outside town at an overflow center. If I had of known we would have to take a cab anyway I could have booked cheaper 5* options than $500pn All in all, we had a good time, marred only by the cabin view obstruction. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We - a family of two adults and a 8yrs old child - took #7 Alaska tour followed by a Southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver on the Summit. It was my second trip to Alaska, and my DH and DS's first. First of all, let me thank all ... Read More
We - a family of two adults and a 8yrs old child - took #7 Alaska tour followed by a Southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver on the Summit. It was my second trip to Alaska, and my DH and DS's first. First of all, let me thank all the posters in this great site because their information was priceless and as you'll see, we made great use of it during our cruise. LANDTOUR - Many claim doing the land tour before the cruise is the way to go in Alaska. I agree, since the rhythm on the land portion is quite gruelling, and you enjoy the relaxation on the ship even more. We arrived to Anchorage in the evening, to be transferred to the Marriott downtown. There were many flights arriving so the transfer took quite a while. The hotel is a nice one but there as well mayhem seemed to be reigning (we were checked in three times, since the first two rooms had not been made). The day after, we travelled to Denali on the Wilderness express - it was a very beautiful and smooth ride, and the fact that the weather was so clear we could see Denali from Anchorage certainly helped. After a short visit of Talkeetna (walk to the creek for a wonderful view of the mountain range from there) we went to Denali. The Grande Denali Lodge was a huge letdown (room reeked of smoke, and had a magnificent view of the dumpster and the parking lot). Enjoyed the visit to the dog mushing training facility and learned a lot. The day after we visited Denali Park - the tour (included in the landtour) was the short one, so we didn't go enough inside the park and didn't get to see any bears. We got up very early and felt it really wasn't worth it. Travelled to Talkeetna and stayed at the beautiful Lodge there. Since the weather was glorious, we took the McKinley flight with glacier landing with Talkeetna Taxi. Enjoyed the flight very much. The day after we travelled to Girdwood, with a stop in Anchorage. The Alyeska lodge is really luxurious and we enjoyed our stay there - and the tram ride included in the tour - very much. We took the Glacier jet boat safari, which was truly spectacular and very recommended. The day after we took a bus to Seward, where we boarded the ship. There were many busses leaving together and the company timed the arrival in Seward so there wouldn't be any queuing - we stopped at the Wilderness Sanctuary on the way and enjoyed the detour very much. All in all, we felt the landtour was well organized and very pleasant. A special thanks to our tour director, Styeve and to all tour companions who were very nice, friendly, pleasant and considerate. CHECK -IN went like a breeze. In ten, fifteen minutes we were inside the ship, with our cards, all set. We had checked in online, which of course helped, but still there were no lines at all and the whole process was very efficient. Our luggage was waiting outside our stateroom when we arrived. STATEROOM - Here came the big (and I mean big) letdown of our vacation. Notwithstanding having booked the stateroom almost a year before the cruise, when the choice of cabin was very wide, and after a long research, we ended up with the window washer on the front half of our stateroom (#8063), in a way which obstructed more than partially our view and seriously marred our enjoyment of the stateroom. It appears the washer has been parked in front of that specific cabin (and the one next to it, #8061) for quite a while, but Celebrity does not think it should share the information with its customers or anybody else, or charge less than the full price for that cabin. Unluckily, Celebrity's attitude towards this is not what one should expect from a company which prides on the quality of its service and up to this very moment, no suitable solution is being offered, since Celebrity refuses to take the blame (their executive office even told me it's the ship's blame....). I feel I have been taken for a ride, and that is greatly influencing my overall outlook on the cruise. The stateroom itself was comfortable, the bedding new (I saw crew changing the bedding on deck 3 when we left the ship in Vancouver), the furniture not new but not scruffy either. I strongly recommend upgrading to Concierge Class, due to its many perks - I enjoyed the fluffier towels and bathrobe, my husband enjoyed the stronger showerhead, we all liked and needed the extra space, and priority tendering was definitely worthwhile in Icy Strait Point. We didn't use the room service a lot (since in the morning there was no room to eat in the stateroom due to the sofabed being open and the acrobatics to reach the balcony were not worthwhile due to the obstructed view) but liked the fresh fruit and the tidbits in the afternoon. SHIP - the ship is very comfortable, and full of many different areas which cater to varied tastes. It's not new, but very well maintained. We liked the artwork - especially the great photographs in the corridor, the serendipitous sculptures all over and the glasswork in the main stairway. The service is outstanding, and the crew (whose ratio is almost 1:2 - 950 crew to slightly over 2000 passenger at full capacity) does its very best to be friendly, courteous and helpful. They go to great pains to remember the passengers' names and special requests, even in the common lounges. I enjoyed my morning coffee at cafe Cova, with the day's crossword - which you can pick up at the library on deck 8 - the thalassotherapy pool, an oasis of calm, the Aquaspa cafe and the Gymnasium. Didn't go to any of the shows or movies due to our schedule and the fact that we thought our son should go to bed around ten, even if we could have left him in the Fun Factory for longer. Appreciated the cloth napkins and placemats in the buffet and the offer of help and coffee replenishments from the buffet waiters. Our son liked, all in all, the Fun Factory, the kiddies special area on deck 11. He would have liked to be able to play outside more, and missed the fact that on his first cruise (on Jewel of the Seas) the sports area was attached to the kid's area, whereas on the Summit it is on deck 12 above, and the kiddies' outside playing area is mostly occupied by the pool and a slide for younger children. We would have liked more enrichment programs for him - for example, during our cruising of Hubbard glacier, the children were drawing inside and didn't even notice the glacier if their parents didn't think of picking them up and taking them outside. We enrolled our kid in the VIP programme, whose perks were basically a discounted rate for the extra hours - since the private captain's deck tour and the private theatre tour were a repetition of tours given to all the kids - and a wide screen movie with popcorn. Even if there were over 200 children on board, less than 30 registered for the Fun Factory. The FF staff is caring and professional and we felt comfortable leaving our son with them. The food is really very good and varied and the hygienical standards very high. We spoke to many people during the cruise and everybody seemed to be very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food as well. The fact there are no public announcements on the loudspeakers, as a rule, contributed to the relaxed atmosphere in the ship. Even if I am strongly allergic to smoke, I didn't suffer from it on the ship and the smoking passengers seemed to be very considerate of non smokers. We had no pod issues whatsoever, got to each and every port before the stated time and marvelled at the ship's engines silence. SHORE EXCURSIONS - Due to the fact that for us it was a very long trip and a very special vacation, I chose many excursions, also basing myself on the fact that due to the fickle Alaskan weather we might end up missing a few. In fact, the weather was clear and sunny all the way through the cruise and we ended up doing a few things twice, but since they were very unique, we didn't feel we wasted our money. On the first day, the ship got extremely close to Hubbard Glacier and got a very good running commentary from the ship naturalist. The calving was impressive. On our first stop, Juneau, DH and myself took a very good and scenic helicopter flight with Taku Glacier landing (Era - arranged through Celebrity), and the three of us went on a whale watching trip which I arranged directly with Harv and Marv. It was very nice to be able to go on a smaller ship (6 people max) and we got very close to a pod of nine whales. Jay (Marv) is friendly, warm and really cares that you have a good trip and really loves to share with you his life and experiences. On the way back, we picked up some customers of H&M from Mendenhall glacier, so we got to see it too (and still recommend you do the glacier helicopter flight). I am happy in joining the many of you who recommend Harv & Marv. In Skagway DH and myself went to a White pass bus tour (I am pleased to say I went but it really wasn't very impressed by it) and then I went back to the ship, whilst DH and DS went on a Northern Inside Passage Glacier flight which they both enjoyed a lot (their pictures definitely explain why). In Icy Strait Point all three of us went with Floyd Peterson (F.I.S.H.E.S) on a whale watching tour, which was one of the highlights of our vacation. Floyd is a former fisherman, very quite but he knows his whales; that, the small size of his ship and the relatively calm waters made sure we saw a pod of six whales which came very close to us (we could even smell them and got sprayed by them), together with a jocular sealion. It was very touching and exciting. In Ketchikan, we flew to Neets Bay (spectacular views), and took a short walk to a nearby salmon hatchery, to have a close look at black bears. There were four of them and we spent quite a while looking at them feeding, and could have stayed much longer. It was interesting to hear about the hatchery and the efforts to plump up the salmon population as well. The last day of the cruise we sailed through Inside Passage. The weather was getting worse, which was ideal for the last day of cruising anyways and made for some great misty pictures. DISEMBARKATION - Again, smooth and well organized. We got a letter stating the time we had to get to our (CC) meeting point, got there ten minutes before and in little over fifteen were shepherded out. Canadian customs was quick and friendly and locating the suitcases was not chaotic. We were at the taxi curb in little more than 35 minutes from the time we went to the meeting point in the ship. All in all, we enjoyed our cruise. But we strongly agree with all those who feel that Celebrity is an excellent choice for sunny days. As soon as something gets wrong and you have an issue (either a general one, like a malfunctioning in the ship, or a specific one like a fault in your cabin which was not revealed precruise, which happened to us), then you're on your own, and the level of customer care drops dramatically. And this makes me very wary of recommending the company to others, or considering taking other cruises with them in the future. Which is a great shame, especially for the exceptional crewmembers who really go to great length to give you the experience of your lifetime and take great pride in what they do - and rightly so. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Celebrity Summit June 1, 2007 Alaska (Anchorage to Vancouver) I am a 43 year old who took the cruise with my parents for two reasons. First, I wanted to introduce them to cruising and secondly, I wanted to see Alaska. My purpose in ... Read More
Celebrity Summit June 1, 2007 Alaska (Anchorage to Vancouver) I am a 43 year old who took the cruise with my parents for two reasons. First, I wanted to introduce them to cruising and secondly, I wanted to see Alaska. My purpose in writing this review is to help others through my experience cruising. I have had the opportunity to cruise all the major lines to destinations around the world and have found most cruises are what you make of them. The ship's market focus: Each ship and its itinerary appeal to a certain market. The market focus of this particular ship/itinerary was the 50-70 year old age group. Everything from the entertainment to the level of service catered to that group. If you do not enjoy the entertainment that 50-70 year-olds enjoy, then you will not enjoy the entertainment on this ship. The Broadway-style shows were average but the acrobatics featuring Alex and Sally were great. Most of the entertainment in the bars and lounges also catered to the 50-70 year old age group. If this ship sailed with a Caribbean itinerary, I think it would cater more to the 35-50 year old market. Staterooms were what I would expect, being efficient with space but certainly adequate. The ship provided bathrobes, hairdryer, Q-tips, cotton balls, shampoo, soap, and conditioner. There were also plenty of towels and the cabin service was outstanding. One could call between rooms by dialing the number of the cabin you wished to contact. Room service could be ordered through interactive TV or by phone and was excellent to average depending on how busy they were. There were no laundry facilities or irons on board; however, the ship offered dry cleaning and laundry service at a reasonable price. Dining: I thought the food was outstanding. We chose not to dine in the Normandie cover-charge restaurant because we did not think the food or service could be $30 per person better than what we had in the main formal dining room. The waiters in the main dining room really do attempt to make your experience excellent in every way. The Waterfall Cafe is the buffet with basically the same food every day but with the food changing during different times of the day. For example, the homemade pasta and salad bar were open 12-5 in the Waterfall. Sushi could be found there from 5:00-10:00. There were other food stations open and there were set breakfast and lunch buffet times. There was also healthy choice dining most of the day in the Aqua Spa Cafe. A hamburger/hotdog station was available 12:00-6:00 and an ice cream station 12:00-10:00. The create-your-own pizza station was available 12:00-5:00. During the breakfast and lunch buffet hours, options were plentiful, but the options were basically the same each day. Anyone who complains about the food and service on this ship makes me envious of the quality of food and service they obviously get at home. Health Club: The Celebrity Summit was no better or worse than most cruise lines in this area. They did make you pay for some services and access areas standard on other ships. A dedicated workout and/or health nut would not suffer on this boat. Alcohol: Celebrity Summit had the absolute most expensive drinks of any ship I have ever been on. But in their defense, they have drink prices very much in line with what is charged in Alaska. When a draft beer costs $5+ with tip then you know Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore. After reading most of the reviews and the Celebrity policy on bringing alcohol on board, my advice would be to bring as much as you want on board at the departure port. The ports are in charge of security that day and port security does not care the amount of alcohol you bring to the ship. You merely carry the alcohol on in a bag. My recommendation is to have each bottle in a brown paper bag and put the paper bag bottles in another bag so it is not absolutely obvious what you are doing. Celebrity scans your items after the embarkment day so there is the possibility you could get caught after the first day. For those following Celebrity's alcohol policy, you can only bring two bottles of wine on board per stateroom the day of departure and none after that. The ship's layout was fine once you got accustomed to what was where. I did find the ship in excellent shape for its age and very clean. The hand sanitizer entering all dining rooms was certainly a nice touch. It is easier to utilize the elevators in the area where your room is located so you have a home base elevator. There are three main elevator systems: one in front of the ship, one in the rear, and one at mid-ship. I used the elevator closest to my room to navigate the ship. Shore Excursions: I book most excursions myself, finding I save 20-40% over excursions booked through the ship. I have done this across the globe but found Alaska the easiest because the ports are American ports and practically anyone can book independently with little worry. This does take some advance planning and I hope to make this planning easier for readers of this review with the following suggestions in each port. A bonus to independent travel is you are not on the ship's tour schedule, allowing you to see more for less with flexibility. Pre-Cruise: We stayed five days in Anchorage using Anchorage as a home base to see Alaska's interior. We visited Denali National Park with a flight-seeing tour. We also took the park service six-hour bus ride into the park. The one thing I encourage each person to do is to purchase the Great Alaskan Tour Saver coupon book. It is valuable if you are going to do a pre- or post- cruise independent tour in or around Anchorage/Denali/Seward. The coupons are good all over Alaska, but most are helpful in and around Anchorage, Denali, and Inside Passage. The coupons are buy-one-get-one-free featuring BOGOF tours and hotel reservations. Purchase the toursaver at www.toursaver.com or call (907) 278-7600. We stayed at two different hotels in Anchorage where we paid for one night and received the second night free. We also rented a car from the Avis downtown location getting one day rental free while saving the airport car rental fees. Our flight-seeing tour in Denali was buy-one-get-one-free. Seward, Alaska: We rode the train from Anchorage to Seward. It was an absolutely beautiful trip. We spent the night in Seward before boarding the ship at 11:30am the next morning. If you choose to do this, book your hotel and train trip early as many cruise ship passengers go this route. Seward is around three hours from Anchorage. A rental car is not necessary in Seward. A cab or shuttle can get you to most places of interest. My suggestions for excursions while in Seward include the resurrection bay tour from Renown Tours and the Sealife Center. Both have BOGO coupons in The Great Alaskan Toursaver book. We also took the shuttle to exit glacier. We boarded the ship early to become familiar with the ship's layout while few people were on board. Embarkment was well organized. Hubbard Glacier Cruising: My best advice while cruising the Hubbard Glacier and the surrounding icy water is as follows: 1. View approaching the glacier in "The Night Club" at the front of the ship Deck 11. Enjoy the majesty of the glacier while taking no pictures. Arrive in "The Night Club" an hour before your closest point to the glacier for best seating. 2. View the departure from the glacier at the Waterfall Cafe Bar on Deck 10 at the back of the ship. This is where you can take the best pictures without fighting the crowds. The ship's initial approach to the glacier is characterized by passengers fighting to get the best position to photograph the glacier. The departure from the glacier is characterized by very few people taking pictures on Decks 10 and 11 where the best photo opportunities exist. Juneau, Alaska: We rented a car in Juneau and my advice is to book early. Car rental companies sell out when cruise ships are in port. We chose Rent-a-Wreck [(907) 789-4111] because they were the only company that would pick up and drop off at the dock. This is a good choice if you do not mind older cars. The ladies at the agency were also very helpful in pointing out places of interest. We visited the Mendenhall Glacier, the Alaskan Brewing Company, Glacier Gardens Rainforest, and the Shrine of St. Therese, all outside the city of Juneau. The price just for the Mendenhall Glacier and Glacier Gardens tour through the cruise ship was $61 per person. That would have cost us $183. Our total for the rental car was $57.50 Admission to the Glacier Gardens Rainforest was $22 each, but we had BOGO coupons from the Great Alaskan Toursaver. We did much more for our money by renting a car and using the toursaver. The area around the cruise dock is completely touristy featuring a tram, shops, and bars. I recommend the Red Dog Saloon for its entertainment value and you can order a Coke if you prefer not to drink. Skagway: This was another car rental port for us. We went with Avis and booked directly with the Skagway office at (907) 983-2247. Sourdough rentals is another option if you do not mind older vehicles. Both companies are in the tourist district near the cruise ship docks. Skagway is all about the Gold Rush of 1896. The two major tours are the scenic White Pass Railway and the Skagway Street Car Tour. The ship charges $112 per person for the 3.5 hour rail tour and $42 per person for the two hour street car tour. A couple would shell out $308 for the two excursions through the cruise ship. My advice would be to rent a car and take Klondike Highway 2 into Canada. (You will need a passport/proof of citizenship.) The Klondike Hwy follows the same route as the railroad but at a substantially cheaper price. The bonus for car rental tours is that one can stop to take pictures at their leisure. We took the road all the way to Whitehorse. Most tourist turn around returning to Skagway in either Carcross or the Emerald Lake. The Red Onion Saloon is a good place to visit a brothel museum although the entertainment is not as lively as the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau. The Red Onion is near the cruise ship dock. I also heard good things about the Days of '98 show that plays at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 7:00pm. The show plays at the Fraternal Order of The Eagle Hall located at 6th avenue and Broadway near the cruise ship dock. One could take the two hour Skagway Street Car Tour at the end of the day depending on when your ship departs. Icy Strait Point: There is not much at Icy Strait Point but the visitor center and the Zip Rider Zip Line experience. We toured the visitor center (about an hour) and then caught the shuttle to the town of Hoonah. Hoonah was what I believe to be a very authentic Alaskan fishing village. The town is walking distance from the cruise ship dock. There is a path that follows the road into the village. Sample the halibut pizza at the grocery store. Hoonah had very friendly people and the highest concentration of bald eagles of any place we visited. The shuttle was around $5 dollars per person for the round trip into Hoonah. Ketchikan: No rental car is needed in this port because most attractions are located within walking distance. My recommendations are as follows: Visit the Totem Heritage Center and Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery/Eagle Center. They are located next to each other at the top end of town less than one mile from the cruise ship dock. The last part is up hill so I suggest a cab/shuttle going up. Walk and follow the creek back down through the Creek Street Boardwalk. It is a beautiful walk and there is history, restaurants, and shops throughout Creek Street. Both the Tribal Hatchery and Totem Heritage center open at 8:00am in the summer. The Hatchery is informative and an extra special experience if the salmon are in town. The Hatchery offers the most up-close bald eagle experience you will get in Alaska. The Totem Pole Heritage Center is all about history and heritage. You can buy a combination ticket to both and each offers a guided tour. My other suggestion for Ketchikan is a Misty Fjords floatplane tour with a lake landing in the fjords. You can save between $30-$70 by booking yourself online instead of through the cruise ship. We went with Southeast Aviation (www.southeastaviation.com), booking a month in advance. Other highly recommended floatplane companies include www.promechair.com and www.islandwings.com . Book early for best prices. Disembarkment: Very easy in Vancouver. The airport shuttle was $12 per person and I left immediately for my flight back to the East Coast. Vancouver is a beautiful city if you have time to visit. I wish I could have stayed two nights but needed to return home to earn money for my next cruise. I hope this helps. Happy Travels! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
June 1, 2007, this was the day that my mother, myself and approximately 70 others would wrap up our Celebrity operated tour portion of our Cruisetour and board the Summit. We had flown into Fairbanks on May 26th and spent the days seeing a ... Read More
June 1, 2007, this was the day that my mother, myself and approximately 70 others would wrap up our Celebrity operated tour portion of our Cruisetour and board the Summit. We had flown into Fairbanks on May 26th and spent the days seeing a very small segment of Alaska's interior. (Remember approximately 1% of Alaska is inhabited.) Roberta, our Tour Director and Sheila, our driver had provided us with a week of boat rides (Riverboat Discovery III), city tours, panning for gold and enough scenes of Alaska's vast wilderness to boggle the mind. I know this isn't "cruise related" but I heard not ONE negative comment concerning Roberta or Sheila from anyone. They were supremely professional, fun to be with, informative while also sensing when enough talk was just enough. Anyway, onto our cruise.... Roberta said good-bye to us at our last loading of the motorcoach (they get cranky when you call it a bus), and left us in the capable hands of Sheila. She provided commentary while driving us safely to the last leg of our journey, delivering us to the port of Seward and the dock where Celebrity's GTS Summit was berthed. The bus pulled onto the dock early afternoon and we said our farewells to Sheila as Celebrity's cruise representatives met us and guided us through embarkation. We had a rear cabin, stateroom 7206 Concierge Class awaiting us. Embarkation went very smoothly and my mother and I were cheerfully checked in very quickly (I would estimate under 10 minutes). We then took the short walk from the side doors of the processing center to the gangway of the Summit, with the obligatory stop in front of various signs to allow the ship's photographers to capture the moment of our boarding the Summit. Upon entering the Grand Foyer we were greeted by smiling faces and glasses of champagne to set the tone and a subtle reminder to assure us we were now in the capable hands. We took our room keys and handed them over to the room staff that would walk us to our stateroom. Outside our stateroom upon our arrival was all our baggage waiting for us, as they had been delivered early in the day, so we would not have to wait for them to off-loaded from our bus we had been riding. Before our door closed, Victor, our room attendant was introducing himself and assuring us if we needed ANYTHING, that we were to pick up the phone and push one button (he demonstrated) and his beeper he kept pinned to his belt, in the small of his back went off immediately. We had been handed tickets as we left the embarkation building with an opening dining time for us to eat our first meal aboard. Victor informed us we could, as CC passengers head to the dining area at our convenience to eat whenever we pleased that first night. We opted to take a few moments, catch our breath and do some room/veranda inspection and a minimal amount of unpacking. The beds were separated per our request and on our desk where fresh flowers along with a card stating our seating information for our evening meals along with an envelope that contained our tickets for the various excursions we had pre-booked online months before our journey was to begin. The veranda doubled our living space as the aft facing cabins have huge outdoor spaces, covered partially by the deck above and much of the remaining overhead had canvas sections whipped to pole structures providing protection from the weather and the decks above. On the veranda were four adjustable lounge chairs, a dining table, two chairs accompanying that along with a small side table. After settling in, we headed down to their Cosmopolitan Restaurant to taste their fare. The first meal, (the general seating one) was a bit lack luster, taste wise. I chalked it up to it being nearly impossible to show off with people coming in over the course of the afternoon, however that meal, as did the next two evening meals had us walking away afterward going "It was okay, but...." The food was certainly edible, but lacked that final touch or flourish to put the meals over the top. Let me say right now, the breads and bakery department, responsible for all the pastries were just outrageously good from the start. They did not miss a beat. I heard one woman mention she didn't care for them due to the pastries not being sweet enough for her taste. I prefer the taste of fruits in my danish versus "sweet". So you'll hear nothing but accolades from me in that department. My sister had cruised with Celebrity on the Millennium a couple months previous and came away with the same concern about the food. "It was ALMOST really, really good... but" She thought it might have been that they had gotten a new executive chef on board and they hadn't quite worked out all the kinks yet. Sadly, I was afraid that it was just a general malaise that had settled over the whole of Celebrity's kitchens. I am more than pleased to announce however, that just about half way through our cruise someone in the kitchen started tasting the dishes prior to them being served. From that point on the plates were all spot on! Served at proper temperatures, seasoned properly and with a certain flair that put them in that category where you just KNEW the chefs were on there game. The plates were always pleasant to look at, now the taste was there to back it up. It was a pleasure to walk away from the evening meal with a huge smile on one's face, reflecting back on what you had just shared with table mates. Speaking of table mates, on our first night of scheduled seating,one of the two formal nights, we were the only two at a table for six. Herculano, our superb server, eased our fears that we would continue to eat by ourselves. We were, after all, there to meet folks; laugh together and share tales. Sure enough by the next night others that had eaten by themselves got moved to our table and we had just a terrific time with our new acquaintances from Ohio and Colorado. Both couples were wonderful company and a pleasure to share a meal with. Our last night aboard we opted to make reservations for the Normandie. I can't say enough positive things about the whole experience in the Summit's specialty dining area. This was the "finest" dining my mother had ever experienced and they absolutely made her feel welcomed and explained in very non-threatening terms how the evening was scheduled and the menu options. The maitre'd was warm, funny and very approachable. The whole staff there took great pride presenting what was surely one of the best evenings we had ever shared. It was truly memorable. The solo harpist was directly in front of us and played through out the evening adding nicely to the ambiance. If you are a wine drinker I would recommend paying the additional $29 dollar surcharge (above the $30 pp for the evening meal) for a five course meal married to a glass of wine chosen by the chef for each coarse. My mother isn't a wine drinker so we opted for the four course meal that exceeded our expectations. I have to say clearly, I went in there with pretty high expectations. My mom just loved the experience and the food and I was thrilled we had such a wonderful time. On the other end of the spectrum from the luxury that is the Normandie Restaurant is the 10th deck eateries. Buffet lines galore with pasta and pizza stations, shepherds pie, sandwiches, the ice cream bar along with many international foods available for you to try. Don't miss the sumptuous waffle station where the deep waffles are made fresh to your order as your turn comes in line. Want to eat healthy? They have a section at the forward end devoted for you. I personally didn't feel cheated by their curry chicken and rice plate. Try the figs in light syrup for a desert a time or two. You may change your mind if you thought healthy meant depriving yourself. Onto other things, but obviously food, coming first in my review hints at my priorities! LOL The entertainment aboard the Summit was generally very good. The Celebrity Theatre is very nicely layed out. With excellent lines of sight from nearly every seat. I will admit now, I was hoping to have the daily schedule in front of me now to help refresh my memory of the names of some of the entertainment. I do not. There was the Theatre, there were performances by a ventriloquist one evening that was very funny, at times I was concerned that he might go past the point of good taste, however everyone rolled with laughter and he kept it edgy and fun without seriously over-stepping that boundary. There was a female/male team of "aerialists" that performed amazing feats and kept the audience captivated. Of particular note was young Mr. Meyer. (his name I recall clearly) I don't want to give too much away, but he's a musician that plays a unique instrument and had the majority of the audience in attendance giving a standing ovation at the end of the evening. The musical cast were in fine form and gave a very nice show and provided good entertainment. The Celebrity Theatre Band was just top notch for a cruise line. The musical director and pianist (one and the same) ran a very tight group of musicians. Kudos to her. The one group that I didn't really enjoy was a group of four young male a cappella singers going by the name of The Dischords. They certainly didn't sing discordantly, however as a former singer their blending wasn't quite there, their tune selection suspect at times and they generally didn't do much for me. They were certainly nice enough gentlemen and their enthusiasm was there, but just came up short in my humble opinion. The member with the curly head of longish hair, singing, I believe 2nd tenor didn't get highlighted nearly enough. When he did take the lead in a song, I tended to enjoy his portion the best. For the "lounge acts", I generally really enjoyed them. There was a young man soloing with a guitar that had a clear voice, sang well and chose songs that were both appropriate for him and was very enjoyable in an intimate arena. Another group I initially had concerns with was "Guys and Doll". As I was passing through the ship I heard them and continued on, as her voice was a bit rough. Much to my pleasure, perhaps half an hour later I was passing back through and this time she caught my attention with her singing, in a positive way. As I sat down in the Martini bar, able to look down on their forum and ordering up a "martini flight" (a sampler of 6 different mini-martinis) I realized that on my first pass through the ship hearing them, they had just started their first set and were getting warmed up. After the lead singer's chords got going they presented a most enjoyable show with a small dance floor that often had several couples out dancing into the night. Her voice, after she his full stride has hints of Ernestine Anderson minus much of the vibrato. On to the room and the one or two concerns. The layout didn't seem to be as tidy and sensible as compared to the staterooms aboard Holland America's Zaandam. The beds on the Summit were between the television and the sofa. That led to my MAJOR concern: My bed. My mother's was sleepable, however mine had so many lumps and the foam was so broken down I had to call Victor, the attendant to the rescue on two occasions. After two attempts of adding feather mattress pads (or were they simply feather duvets called to another purpose?) Victor made the bed semi-sleepable. Other than those two points the room was quite nice and the shower(only) was sized to make for comfortable showering. The Summit had something in between the automatic gratuity charges that many cruise lines appear to use. Several days prior to disembarkation they leave a note in your stateroom saying that if you want to give the standard tips for all those that made your cruise something to remember, simply return a slip and they'll add it to your final bill. If not, the following day your attendant will leave a series of envelopes, nicely banded in your room to divvy gratuities as you see fit. It a nice option to be able to work it either way. We certainly appreciated the efforts of some more than others so opted to deliver our gratuities via the envelopes, ensuring those that performed above and beyond were properly compensated. During the cruise, both berthed and tendered, operations allowing us to get ashore were smooth and seamless. If one is scheduled for an early morning excursion through Celebrity, they provided passes to ensure one was able to at the designated pick up area in plenty of time. The variety and depth of excursions available through Celebrity seemed more than sufficient for us first time Alaska visitors. The cruisetour and excursions provide a very nice overview of many different areas that Alaska has ready to be explored. Nature, history and cultures are wonderfully diverse and varied. If, on the other hand shopping is high on your priority list, Chez and her husband present many informational seminars on what stores ashore will assist you in making your jewelry, craft and fine arts purchases. Don't overlook the onboard art auctions if you're in the market for a new piece for your wall. They're great fun to participate in, or just observe. Sadly, disembarkation must also be discussed. Not that it was handled poorly, simply that meant our journey was over and it was time to return to reality. As Allan, the cruise director said so succinctly, "Now it's time to make your own meals, make your own beds, and remember the chocolates that sat upon your pillow each evening." Prior to arrival in Vancouver the ship's staff verified everyone's departure times and then issued tags for your luggage and cards for the passengers. It told you where to gather and the proper time to arrive. Don't get there too far ahead of your scheduled time, as you'll find the crowd is constantly shuffling in and out as various colors and numbers are called. Listen closely to the staffs directions, if you're to disembark forward or aft. Then it's passing through customs, inspections and on to your intermediate or final destinations. We opted to visit Victoria for a couple days post cruise, so after clearing customs we had a short wait for the Pacific Coaches motorcoach to arrive where we boarded and went via ferry to Vancouver Island. It is my understanding upon my return to home that there were 3 cruise ships that essentially were trying to clear Canadian Customs all at the same time. They apparently were understaffed and the nerves of many travelers got a bit frazzled. Hopefully this was a fluke, as when we passed thru Vancouver one year earlier (we were originally scheduled to be on the May 20th Summit cruise that was canceled due to pod problems) it was very smooth and what we thought was a huge crowd that would take us a couple hours to clear, we actually made it in well under an hour. In summary,did we love the cruise? Absolutely! The tour portion also. The excursions? Fantastic. The food; nothing to complain about. The entertainment, nice quality for cruising. Our treatment aboard, very, very nice. With all that said, will I cruise the Summit again? Most likely not. Nor are we likely to take any other Celebrity ship that has the pod propulsion system. It is incredibly smooth, to the point when we originally backed away from our dock, and I was standing at the aft end, I didn't realize we were underway. Try that with a conventionally powered vessel. But you be four days away from a vacation that you've planned nearly a year ahead of time, got all excited about then to have them reach into your chest and yank your heart out and tell you it has been canceled. Due to a problem that has plagued this class ship for what? Over 10 years now? My question is simply, why can't you fix it? With the brain trust that HAS to have been puzzling over this issue for so long, when will it be behind you? When the fleet of the Millennium Class ships is retired? Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
This was our 7th cruise, first on Celebrity. Additionally, this was our first try at a 14-day cruise. We arrived in Vancouver the night before and stayed at the Riviera Hotel. Good location, but the hotel was "aged." ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise, first on Celebrity. Additionally, this was our first try at a 14-day cruise. We arrived in Vancouver the night before and stayed at the Riviera Hotel. Good location, but the hotel was "aged." Embarkation on the Summit was excellent, no delays in getting paperwork (as long as you completed the "X-pass" ahead of time) or in processing through U.S. Customs. We found our cabin, 7173, to be nice, and though we asked Elizabeth for an egg-crate mattress pad, none was to be found. The balcony was very nice, a little larger than normal, which came in handy while we were at Hubbard Glacier. The M-class ship was nice, not too big, not too small. The grand foyer was very drab/professional and not decorated for extended viewing. The Internet Cafe was fabulous - though some of the connections were a little slow, service (by Dennis) was exceptional. The Normandie was a very nice treat, and we were fortunate to get the "Wine Room" for our dinner. The food was great as well as the service, but honestly, since it took over 3-hours to accomplish the dinner, I was getting a little restless at the end. The Theater was fabulous, great seating, great shows. The cast had 5-singers with every one having a first-rate voice. Clear and above, the best singing group we've heard on the high seas. In the Main dining room, we had the late seating and a table of 10 (fellow CC members) that made evening dining a blast. Lets just say I didn't have a bad meal, and most were very, very good. Most of my selections were the beef, but i will add that several of the others had fish and poultry dishes and their reactions were different; some good, some bad. My advice is to choose wisely. I took out the Spa package to use the Persian Gardens, and really got my money's worth. The Thelassopy Pool was a real treat and loved the built in seats. The three steam rooms were very relaxing, thou one room only had enough for 4-adults. The fitness facility is one of the largest I've seen and the treadmills and bikes were always working. We did experience some medical issues, as Pebbles needed to use a wheelchair for several of the ports due to a leg injury shortly before the cruise. That cost us $171 to "rent" the wheelchair for 12 days. Then in San Francisco, I developed a mild ear infection and went to the infirmary at 9am and was second in line. At 11:30, I left the infirmary and missed my excursion. Bottom line, don't get sick on the Summit and don't be in a hurry with the Dr's Staff. The reason: All crew members go first, all followup visits go next, and new customers go last. As for the ports, all of the Alaska ports were fantastic. Individually beautiful with a multitude of things to do and see. The captain proceeded to amaze one and all by getting the Summit within 80-yards of Hubbard Glacier. We had a fantastic show of calving, cracking and shooters; in fact I ran out of film and had to switch over to the digital camera. Seattle, however, was another matter. Celebrity was at its worse as they required all passengers to get off the ship to clear US Customs. Well, that meant close to 2,000 folks getting off the ship and onto a port area that was not designed for this size of a crowd. Add to that the monstrously under-supply of buses (4-yep, that's right, 2000 people and 4-buses) that for $3 per person, we could catch a ride to any of 5-stops in Seattle. Well, 90 minutes after waiting in an unbelievable line, we finally got on a bus. The story was they couldn't get drivers; and when we got back to the cabin, we had a not saying they would refund the $3 per person charge. Would we sail on Summit again, maybe. Will we sail on Celebrity again, probably not as HAL, RCCI, and Carnival are all ranking higher on our list. The Summit is a well maintained, well staffed ship and folks will get their money's worth. But #5 in the world (Conde Nast 2006 rankings)???? Really... Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
We did a 13 night land sea cruise. We were greatly disappointed with the air arrangements made with Celebrity. We flew from Vancouver to Seattle to Fairbanks arriving in Fairbanks at 1:30 A.M...We started our land tour at 7:55 the ... Read More
We did a 13 night land sea cruise. We were greatly disappointed with the air arrangements made with Celebrity. We flew from Vancouver to Seattle to Fairbanks arriving in Fairbanks at 1:30 A.M...We started our land tour at 7:55 the following morning this made for a very short night at the Sophie Station Hotel..accommodations at this hotel are just adequate...Restaurant: breakfast buffet was good but the dinner service was very poor. We were very fortunate to have an excellent tour director and bus driver for the land portion of our tour. They were both very knowledgeable and friendly. We enjoyed the Riverboat cruise and sights on the route, with the visit to an Indian village. The tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine was just a little bit of fun. Train ride on the Denali Wilderness Express was enjoyable with excellent breakfast and lunch offered at a reasonable price although we had to wait for good while for our turn to eat...we had a small breakfast early before we got on the train. Tour guide on train very informative. Denali Wilderness Lodge a very poor choice of lodging..rooms cheaply furnished, dining room service almost non existent and very over priced. Would not recommend to anyone. Wilderness tour was a little long in the school bus, saw some wild life..moose, Dall Sheep, black wolf, but no bears. In Talkeetna, we did the McKinley Glacier Flight, did get to see the face of Mt. McKinley even though snow storms were all around us, did not land on Glacier as an aircraft from another airline was stuck in the snow...we were all happy with our pilot and flight. Talkeetna Lodge was much better than Denali Anchorage Hotel O.K.  Free time to roam. Visited the Alaska Native Heritage Centre..We enjoyed this as it gave alot of history on the settling of the land by various tribes. Alyeska Prince Resort excellent accommodations, enjoyed dining at the Seven Glaciers on the mountain. A little pricey, but well worth the money. The next day was a lost day waiting to board the ship at Seward. Embarkation very rapid, stateroom al little smaller than on some other cruise ships. Dining Room experience excellent, waiters both very good,food delicious. Buffet Experience not as good...one person making omelettes one at a time, with line ups. Buffet stations somewhat disorganized butter not beside buns at omelette station etc. There didn't seem to be the natural flow so people could pass through the line as quickly as there is on some other ships.. there were alot of individual stations, you would have to wander to several different stations to get what you wanted. Food also was somewhat redundant with not a great variety, especially in the evening if you came back late from excursions and had missed the main seating. Entertainment shows were not as good as we have seen although did enjoy the Celebrity Orchestra and ventriloquist. Music in the other areas often very good but much to loud for our liking. WE did excursions from the ship and although pricey did enjoy them.. In Skagway did the 6 hour motorcoach and train tour into B.C.,with the visit to Liarsville for Alaskan Salmon, a theatre show, and a visit to THe Red Onion Saloon. In Juneau did the Helicopter Flight onto the Mendelhall Glacier...we were crowded in the helicopter, they should think about only putting 3 people into the back seat or less depending on the size of the individuals. Icy Strait Point was a stop of interest, but because of the rainy weather were not able to visit the village proper. Ketchikan was the most disorganized stop,with some of the clerks in the stores not as friendly as we had found people in other destinations. We toured the Saxman Village, the tour bus left a half hour late which then put us at the wrong time to go into the LumberJack Show which we had to wait almost an hour in very rainy weather. The LumberJack show was worth the wait. Lots of gift stores and jewellery stores in all the ports, but that is one's choice to visit or not... Skagway had some very interesting buildings could do a walking tour. Hubbard Glacier was beautiful with the icebergs calving etc. Disembarkation was much better than some of the other ships we have been on even though you did sit in the movie theatre and wait till your number was called. As for sailing with Celebrity again I am not sure, never say never! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
My boyfriend and I sailed with Celebrity Summit on June 17, 2006. We booked the cruise portion through an online agency and handled our airfare separately. We arrived in Vancouver the evening before, and stayed at the Best Western ... Read More
My boyfriend and I sailed with Celebrity Summit on June 17, 2006. We booked the cruise portion through an online agency and handled our airfare separately. We arrived in Vancouver the evening before, and stayed at the Best Western Richmond, located near the airport. Several days before this, we booked the Vancouver Shuttle (888-941-2121), the cost was $12, and they took us directly from the hotel to our ship. We arrived at the ship at approximately 2:30, and embarkation was a breeze. We had room 6048 on the Penthouse Deck (Deck 6). It is the port side stateroom that has an extra large balcony as the ship gets wider just past our room. The room was clean and our preordered flowers and alcohol package were waiting for us. Dining was superb; we ate nearly every dinner in the Cosmopolitan restaurant. We did need to make a seating change the first night, but it was not a problem and the rest of the evenings were just perfect. They anticipated our beverage needs (we had a soda pass), and anything extra that we wanted. We did dine at the Normandie restaurant one evening. The food and service was wonderful, but if you miss it, no worries, the main restaurants food was excellent as well. One note, we loved everything except the breakfast in the Cosmo restaurant. It was awful, and we never ate there again. Room service was great. We had coco or tea every night with either cookies or crackers and cheese. On the last night, they were even able to get one of the desserts that I had enjoyed from the dining room. We are in our 30s and we felt that the activities were limited aboard the ship. We went to about half of the shows, but didnt feel like we missed out as the view from our balcony was a better show. We spent most evenings on the balcony just enjoying the view. My only serious complaints were the smokers who seemed like they were everywhere. One other complaint would be the AquaSpa. My boyfriend had a massage, and the entire time that he had his treatment, they were attempting to up sell him on other services. He found it difficult to relax while under hard sell tactics. I have mixed feelings about the shore excursions. We took the Gold Rush tour in Juneau, and while I enjoyed it, I feel that the Mendenhall glacier tour would have been much more appealing. In Skagway we took the Pilots Choice Helicopter tour. It was wonderful. I would definitely do this one again. You land right on the glacier and get to walk around. Sitka was the biggest disappointment. We took the Russian Historical Tour, believing that we would learn about the Russian history of Sitka. The tour was nothing more than a $43 pp bus, that took us to two sights that were well within walking distance, and then to a Russian dance performance that was very amateurish with standing room only. Icy Straight Point offered very little as far as culture. However, we did take the whale watching tour. We saw nearly a dozen humpback whales that surfaced, flipped there tails and flapped their arms in the water. One even jumped out of the water. It was amazing and completely unexpected. Disembarkation went smoothly enough with the exception that to take the train to Anchorage, we had to be out of our stateroom and in the meeting place by 5:45. The train was wonderful and we saw many different types of wildlife. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
This is a long review. If you want, you can just skip to the end and read the summary. We took our first cruise and first trip to Alaska on Celebrity. Since we were new to cruising and had heard about M-class ships engine problems, we ... Read More
This is a long review. If you want, you can just skip to the end and read the summary. We took our first cruise and first trip to Alaska on Celebrity. Since we were new to cruising and had heard about M-class ships engine problems, we booked air and pretour #1 through the cruise line. Pluses: We got transfers to and from airports, all transportation and hotels were arranged, and X had to get us home if the ship didn't turn up or had engine problems. Since the Summit missed the entire 5/20 voyage and was in drydock, that was a bigger worry than you might think. On the minus side, we had terrible flight schedules, spent too much time just waiting around, and missed things we would have enjoyed seeing. 5/23/06 Had to be to the airport by 5:45 AM, then sat in Seattle for 6 1/2 hours. The flight to Anchorage was behind schedule, so they let all the Fairbanks people off first. We rushed to the gate with 5 minutes to go, and found the plane sitting on the runaway empty with the seats on the tarmac. It was actually pretty funny. We watched the seats being installed and left about 40 minutes late. The air was perfectly clear and the view spectacular. When we got to Fairbanks, the X team was there, herded us to a waiting area, and asked one person from each group to go tag their luggage. Unfortunately, most of the luggage had been lost. We all sat for an hour hoping it would be on the next flight in (it wasn't), and at last the bus took us to Pike's Landing. At this point it was 11 PM Alaska time, we had been up 19 hours and were exhausted. We had to sit through a welcome talk, got our room key, and found the room occupied. Back to the desk, new room, to bed after midnight, and called at 4 AM to be told our luggage was on the way up. The sun was out when we went to bed and at 4. 5/24/06 Up early to rearrange luggage (one bag each checked for ship and 2 small bags each for land tour) and get to 7:45 meeting in lounge. The tour went on the riverboat Discovery. It was a nice trip, interesting but touristy. OK, but wouldn't do it twice. Lunch in Fairbanks, expensive restaurants, blah food. A quick trip to see the Alaska pipeline, then the bus headed to Denali. The roads were bumpy and there was lots of roadside trash, no views. A good time for a nap. We got to the hotel (McKinley Village Lodge) about 6 PM. Wonderful view, but lousy place to stay. We were the first customers of the season, but the room had dust in the corners and even old wrappers. The sheets wouldn't stay on the bed, and the restaurant was truly awful. High prices, and people were waiting a hour and a half for cold food and wrong orders. The place had all new staff and was in chaos. The hotel is miles from Glitter Gluch and the park. There is a shuttle that runs once an hour, but no signs at Glitter Gulch showing a pick up point. If you walk toward the road you'll find another inn with little cabins and a restaurant. Food is both cheaper and better. 5/25/06 River was high and fast with ice on sides, rafting trips canceled. Our tour left on the Tundra Wilderness tour at 7:25. The day was warm and sunny, with Denali in full view. The trip was about 7 hours long, but seemed like 1. Since the plants were just starting to grow, animals were down near the road. We saw a moose, lots of caribou, ptarmigan, snowshoe hares, Dall sheep, and 7 bears. Lots of wonderful scenery, truly a great day. 5/26/06 Sat around waiting all morning; bags had to be out by 7:30 and the bus didn't leave until 12. Shuttle not reliable enough to chance shopping at Glitter Gulch, so everyone just stood around. Record high temps yesterday and today. Arrived in Anchorage at 6 PM just as everything we wanted to see closed. We did walk around, but it was a wasted day. The itinerary says afternoon in Anchorage, don't believe it. The Alaska Experience was still open, enjoyed that. Good prices in their gift shop. 5/27/06 The train to Seward left at 6 AM. Beautiful cars, good breakfast on train. Enjoyed the trip a lot! If you want good photos, try the outside platform. It's cold, but you won't have window reflections. Sit on the right if you can. Great scenery, some animals, and the train was mooned by campers. We visited the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. The 1 1/2 hours there is just about right, no need to rush. We boarded the Summit about 1:30, had lunch and a nap. BTW, yes, you need a passport. Glad we had ours and that we got on early. According to the papers X sent, you couldn't board until 6 PM. There was a big crush from 6-8, and when 9 PM sailing time came, there were still 3 truckloads of luggage on the dock. We headed for the Persian Gardens (extra charge sauna area - $35. a day or $99. for the week.) 5/28/06 Hubbard Glacier day - We booked a low inside midship room because I was worried about seasickness. I never had a bit of problem, and we ended up loving the room. We were hardly in it except to sleep, and it was just a left turn and down the hall when we got back on board after shore stops. Don't believe that "you have to have a balcony". There was adequate storage and the room was larger than I expected. Although the bathroom looked clean, it had a very strong musty smell. Even a fully opened air freshener couldn't hide it. Cruise Critic party at 10:30, enjoying meeting people in the flesh. Hubbard Glacier: Most people headed for upper decks or their balconies. We sat on deck 4. There were very few people, and we could sit in a lounge chair and enjoy the view. Members of the crew would step out, get a quick picture of themselves in front of the glacier and head back in. Glad to see they got to enjoy it too! Take a heavy jacket. It was cold and very windy. We had to stay well away from the glacier, but still got a good look. 5/29/06 Skagway - Ship arrived at 10. We went into town and looked around. Most of what we saw was tourists, t-shirt shops, and jewelry stores. The streets were very crowded. After lunch we took the Whitepass and Yukon train. That was well worth doing. Lots of beautiful scenery and an interesting narration. We missed a lot of it because we were out on the platform taking pictures. Probably would not do it again, though. First dinner in assigned seating - food was so-so. The Cirque de Soliel show that night was excellent. 5/30/06 Juneau - We arrived early. At 8:30 we took the Orca Enterprises whale watching tour with Captain Scotty. After all the rave reviews, I was a bit disappointed. We did see distant tails and blows, but that was it. A young man talked, but after the Capt. Larry build up I was expecting a naturalist or an expert. Later we stopped by an island with harbor seals and an area with eagles. The best part of the trip was seeing the eagles dive for food and seeing one sitting on a post back at the pier. After lunch we took 40 lbs. of dirty laundry, souvenirs, coats, etc. to the post office and mailed them home. Cost $40.00 for delivery in 2-3 weeks, but lovely having less to haul through the airports. We took the Mt. Roberts tram ($24), watched the film and walked the nature trail. Very enjoyable, good views, good film, and we saw a hoary marmot and a porcupine. A whole group of people were quietly watching the marmot when some idiot walked by yelling into his cell phone and scared it off. 5/31/06 Icy Strait Point - Easily my favorite port. They only allow one ship at a time, and shopping is limited, so it's not crowded. Great relief to find someplace that wasn't endless jewelry stores. I did buy a pair of mammoth ivory and jade earrings. You can shop, it's just not the main focus of the place. We took a bear watching excursion. The island has been heavily logged and replanted, so the forest is pretty sad; lots of big stumps and smallish trees. The bus goes through Hoonah, the main village, and over bumpy roads to a muskeg (peat bog). There's a boardwalk over the muskeg, which is a pretty interesting place in itself. We saw a couple deer, but that was it. The bear hunting season had just ended, and they were pretty wary. On the way back a sow and yearling walked in front of the bus and stopped just off the road. She stared at us a while, then calmly laid down and nursed the cub. It was an amazing sight. Afterwards we walked the nature trails and the beach. While we were bear watching, a humpback whale had been playing near the dock, but he didn't come back. 6/1/06 Ketchican - It was a long trip from ISP, so the ship didn't arrive until 1:00. We used some of the free time to download photos at the computer center on deck 4. You can download and burn a CD for $15.00. We had plenty of room on the memory cards, but considered it cheap insurance. When we got to Ketchican, it was drizzling, normal for the port. A rep from Southeast Kayaks met us on the dock and led us to the main office. It's about mile, but interesting. The sidewalk and part of the road is built over the sea, and our guide had lots of stories. They only take 6 people at a time. On arrival, we were outfitted with rain gear and life jackets, given dry bags for our possessions, and lead to a small covered boat. That took us to a larger boat where we got a Kayaking 101 lesson, fitted with skirts, and put in two man kayaks. While we were doing that, a whale was playing nearby, and we tried to follow it. Of course, none of us knew what we were doing and it gradually disappeared. By the end of our time, we got better and completely enjoyed the trip. Had to be my favorite excursion. Most things were closed when we got back to town, so we just walked to Creek St. and enjoyed the sights. We stayed up for the Grand Buffet at midnight, one of those things worth doing once. Beautifully presented food, mobs of people. 6/2/06 Inside Passage - Cruising all day, rainy. Good time to pack and finish getting photos burned to CDs. 6/3/06 Vancouver - had to be up early, so we took a few last pictures and reported to the assigned spot on time, 7:45. Take a book, you'll be sitting an hour or two before you get off the ship. We used the Express system. It's $20. a person, but the ship sends your luggage to the airline and you get a fast trip through customs. You do have to take the ship's bus to the airport, and can't visit Vancouver. The Ship The ship was lovely, a bit worn in spots, but not shabby. We spent a fair amount of time in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth just watching the world go by on cruising days. It seemed to be pretty quiet most of the day. The food was OK, but the presentation was better than the food itself. I preferred the casual buffet to the main dining room. I tended to eat less and got more things I wanted, like extra veggies. In Brief The land tour was less than I expected. Parts were great, parts were dismal. The worst was the morning sitting at McKinley Village (horrible in itself) just so X could flog one more set of excursions. We could have easily left early and had some time to tour Anchorage. Now that I've done it once and am more confident, I'd plan my own tour. The cruise was great, would recommend it. We used it more like a hotel than a cruise ship, skipped most of the activities and entertainment. Two of our excursions were independent, two through the ship, all worth taking. Pictures at http://community.webshots.com/album/551225706QmcEZD Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
My wonderful experience on this cruise demands I address some of the negative comments appearing here. The ONLY negative thing about this cruise was the poor manners of some passengers. The vitriolic of some revealed their motive as pure ... Read More
My wonderful experience on this cruise demands I address some of the negative comments appearing here. The ONLY negative thing about this cruise was the poor manners of some passengers. The vitriolic of some revealed their motive as pure greed. Their critiques also demonstrate they do not understand the contract they entered with the cruise line and presume that all lines are the same. Each has a niche market. Just because you have a favorite detail from another cruise (e.g. children's programs), you can't assume it will be repeated by every line in the same manner. The printed and TV advertising of Celebrity clearly demonstrates it quietly elegant adult product. That's what I experienced and that's why I'll always choose Celebrity. Embarkation was interrupted by an accident on an escalator which resulted in many staff members rushing to aid the passengers affected. Since this happened outside the sight of most persons in line, the reasons for the temporary delays were unknown. DINING: The main dining rooms feature a menu by Michele Roux. The expectation is Continental fare. The choices were so varied as to create daily debates on what to choose. Vegetables are used more as a decoration with the protein. If a person wanted additional vegetables, a word to the waiter would produce a platter full. Our waiter IGOR was very knowledgeable about the menu and helpful in making choices. Some critics focus on the buffet. It seems that they were unaware of other wonderful dining options such as the SPA Cafe which offered fruit and vegetable based spa cruise for breakfast and from 12 to 8pm. If people read the daily paper or the brochures their travel agent provided, they would have realized that there were many more options available than they utilized. FRESH FRUIT was part of every dining venue and I personally brought whole fruits back to my room. The NORMANDE has a $30 upcharge. The quality of the service and food were 6 star! If you were fortunate enough to have a Restaurant on land available to you with the same fare and level of service, the meal would cost you at least $150. The Harpist and the String Quartet played a wide variety of selections from classics to popular show tunes. The harpist was happy to perform Bach-like variations on "Happy Birthday" for a friend. On another occasion, she played selections which subtly connected to my profession (she was aware of this through a conversation I had with her at breakfast in the Spa cafe). Entertainment: Good but did not attend all offerings. On the extra sea days, additional day time concerts were provided. Unfortunately, the demonstrations in the Atrium made it impossible for the musicians to function in the Cova cafe during the afternoon orgy of bad manners and greedy demands. Overall, a fabulous cruise was affected by a mechanical problem. The captain did everything he could to focus on preserving the major destination ALASKA. Our weather was fabulous. Having met the Captain personally he is a true gentleman. If Celebrity wants to improve its product, they need to develop a policy to prevent the unpleasant public meetings initiated by disgruntled passengers. I believe their contract would allow them to discharge disruptive persons at the next port FOR THE SAKE of the MAJORITY of passengers who were denied what they paid for, NOT by Celebrity but by other passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
I was on the "ill-fated" Summit cruise that was affected by pod issues, resulting in two missed ports and various other "problems" including only a distant view of the Hubbard Glacier and a late (night-time) sail ... Read More
I was on the "ill-fated" Summit cruise that was affected by pod issues, resulting in two missed ports and various other "problems" including only a distant view of the Hubbard Glacier and a late (night-time) sail through the inside passage. While these issues were disappointing, they were not enough to significantly hamper my enjoyment of the trip. More troubling (to me, at least) was the pervasive negativity of a large group of disgruntled passengers who met frequently and publicly to complain about the situation and discuss possible courses of action. Still, I found the ship, the trip, and the entire experience to be quite good to excellent. Just as some background, I'm a 37-year-old guy traveling with my 64-year-old father. I have cruised twice before (both times on Carnival), and my dad has cruised twice before, (once on Cunard many years ago, and more recently on Princess). I think that both of us are relatively easy to please, although we are certainly not lacking in all standards... EMBARKATION - We showed up way earlier than we had been told to, and the ship had arrived a bit late from Hawaii, which led to some waiting. Interestingly enough, the very first people I spoke to while waiting happened to be from our roll call! So already, before even boarding, I had some Cruise Critic friends! We waited outside for about an hour, then were allowed inside to do our paperwork. This step took no time at all. We then were handed "A" cards (first group to board) and asked to wait in a seating area. This wait turned out to be quite long (at least 45 minutes). Because the line kept moving and more people (group B, group C) came over to the seating area, all the chairs were soon full and there was barely room to stand. Finally, they allowed group A to make their way onto the ship. If they hadnt been ready (or close to ready) to allow people onto the ship, I think it would have been better to keep them outside... We got our picture taken and then proceeded up an escalator to make our way onto the ship. Shortly after we got up there, we heard a commotion behind us. We couldn't see what had happened, but it turns out that people kept boarding the escalator even though there was no room at the top to clear away, and a pile-up with some injuries resulted. I never did learn how serious these injuries were, but I hope a lesson is learned and that security guards (from the port, I would think, rather than from Celebrity) are placed at this escalator. We entered the ship, I got a mimosa, but we were told that we couldn't go to the room yet. I would have loved to have at least dropped off my carry-on, but I didn't want to inconvenience the room steward, so I waited. We went to the spa first to purchase Persian Garden passes (as I thought - incorrectly - that there were only a limited number available at the $99 rate). We then went to the excursions desk to book a tour that hadn't been available online. Next was the Normandie, where we reserved a dinner for later in the week, and finally, the computer lab where I signed up for a class and my father signed up for a package plan of internet minutes. In a very short time, we had spent an AWFUL lot of money!!! We then went to the Buffet for lunch (which was just average -- more on that later). CABIN - After lunch we made our room down to our room, Aft corner FV #7199. Well, I had been told that this was a great room, but I wasn't really prepared for how great it would be. It is really a suite with two completely separate rooms as well as an ENORMOUS balcony. My dad and I were going to have two twin beds, but after seeing the room, he decided that he would be happier sleeping on the fold-out couch in the sitting room with me in the queen bed in the bedroom. Fine by me!!! The room was very smartly designed, making it even roomier than it would otherwise have been. There was an abundance of counter space, drawer space, and closet space. I had been concerned about having room for all the stuff I had packed for a 13-day Alaskan cruise, but it was no problem at all. Even the tiny bathroom was functional. My only problems there were the fact that you had to lower the toilet lid to flush (what a stupid design, but that was the case throughout the ship) and the fact that the temperature in the shower was very difficult to regulate (either scaldingly hot or a bit too cold with very little middle ground). I wouldn't say that the decor of the room was fantastic. It was fine, clean and everything was in reasonably good shape, but it clearly hadn't been decorated with the highest of standards. That was fine with me, but I expected Celebrity (with all of the hype) to be better than Carnival in this regard. Instead, it was pretty even between the two lines (and I haven't sailed with Carnival since they upgraded the bedding). My cabin steward was Elizabeth and she was EXCELLENT. She wasnt the most warm and fuzzy cabin steward I have seen, but she had a great personality and a nice sense of humor. She far exceeded our needs and expectations. SAIL AWAY  After a very easy and uneventful muster drill, I got to enjoy the sail away with a group of Cruise Critic folks from the roll call on the 10th floor aft deck. It was a beautiful afternoon, and aside from a blowing flag that was determined to attack us, it couldnt have been more lovely. I was very glad to meet some of these people here (and again at the CC party the next morning), but with a couple of exceptions (notably, my T-Pool buddy Carol), I didnt get to hang out much with these people over the course of the cruise. Next time, I hope. FOOD: DINING ROOM  At our first late-seating dinner, we were taken to our table, and I have to admit, I was not pleased. Our table was close to the entrance of the Cosmopolitan on deck 5, and you couldnt even see most of the beautiful room. I would have MUCH preferred to have been seated more aft in the main part of the restaurant. Moreover, we were at a 6-person table, and I would have preferred a bigger one, as I really enjoy meeting my tablemates. The four tablemates we had seemed perfectly nice, but quiet. They all spoke English fine, but it wasnt a first language for any of them. I dont think we had much in common. I considered asking to switch tables, but I didnt want to hurt anybodys feelings. As it turned out, I grew to really like our tablemates a lot, and I wasnt disappointed that we had decided to stay. From the beginning, I really liked our waiter and assistant waiter. Our waiter was quite formal and stern, but the assistant was a big clown and VERY funny (although still extremely good at his job). It made for a good mix. The food selection was extremely good. I eat seafood, but no other meat, and I wasnt sure how many choices I would have. As it turns out, when I added the vegetarian menu to the regular menu, I nearly always had two or more choices I could eat per course. The food quality was mixed, although certainly much better than what I normally eat. Some courses were fantastic. Others were just good. I dont think I had more than one or two dishes over the entire cruise that I DISliked, so that was pretty good. My main comment for the dining room would be that I would have preferred to have SMALLER portions. I was usually getting full during the salad course, stuffed beyond capacity by the entrEe, and forced to skip dessert because there was just no room. With smaller portions, I could have eaten all five courses without feeling TOO stuffed. If others wanted more food than offered in the smaller portions, they could always order more than one of any given course& I also think this would cut back on waste. I find a great deal of waste to be downright IMMORAL, and I was distressed to see just how much food leaves the table uneaten (and thats not even considering how much is probably wasted behind the scenes). NORMANDIE ROOM  We dined here twice, and Im really glad we did it. The room is beautiful and the service is the best Ive ever experienced. The selection (for me, at least, given my limitations) was trickier. There were a number of appetizers that appealed to me, but not a lot of entrees. I think I exhausted them in my two visits, and would have had to repeat if we had gone back. I wonder if I had asked for a second appetizer instead of an entrEe, if that would have been acceptable? Given the size of the appetizers, it would have definitely been enough food& As for the quality of the food, I enjoyed it, but it was definitely not the best food I have ever had. I was disappointed by the goat cheese soufflE. Based on the word soufflE, I expected something light and airy with some kind of bread-like characteristics. Instead, it was very dense and custard-like. It was quite tasty, but I was expecting it to be the be-all-and-end-all the way I have heard it described. Other dishes were very good, but I wouldnt say great. My father would disagree. He ordered the same thing both times we went (foie gras and Dover sole), and said it was the best he had ever had. My favorite part was the cheese course. Im not a big cheese fan, and I simply let the cheese steward choose for me, and I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the variety. Bravo! SPA CAFÉ  This was one of my favorite places on board to eat. The food here (particularly the desserts) was quite yummy. Once again, portion size was too big, especially since they are trying to be light and healthy. I do think the set-up here was bad. There is just a narrow walkway between the serving area and the drink station. It often ended up congested as patrons getting food, getting drinks, waiters, and even just folks trying to cross to the other side of the T-Pool area jammed it up. If they ever re-design, they should move the drink area& BUFFET  I thought this was the worst food venue on board. Neither the selection nor the quality was particularly great, and the traffic flow was AWFUL (due largely to the waiters who were there to help people carry their trays). If people need to have their trays carried, they should hand them over promptly and GET OUT OF THE WAY. Instead, we ended up with crowds of people and waiters standing around waiting to move (should I get that extra roll?) oblivious to how much they were in the way! PASTA/PIZZA/DELI/WAFFLE/SUSHI/ICE CREAM STATIONS  I really appreciated this variety, and it was nice to know that there would always be something good to eat. I availed myself mostly of the sushi (basic, but pretty good quality), but when the mood struck, it was nice to get pasta made to order, etc. CASUAL DINING  Never did it, so I cannot report. COVA CAFÉ PASTRIES  I DID avail myself of several almond croissants. Yum! OTHER SHIP FEATURES: GYM/SPA/T-POOL  I spent a great deal of time in this part of the ship. I think they do a great job of utilizing the space to keep it functional and pleasant. The gym was busier than I expected, but at most times of day, it was very adequate for everybody. It was well laid out and very nice. I wasnt that thrilled with the Persian Garden, as it was kind of dull (although pleasant enough). It was almost always empty, so there was nobody to talk to, and it was too dark and moist except in the outer room to read or do anything else. If it were free, Id avail myself again, but I dont think Id pay for it. I would simply settle for the free sauna in the changing room, which was quite nice with a window out to the ocean. The locker room itself, though, was not maintained often enough. There were always wet floors and towels strewn about. The guests should clean up after themselves, but absent that, there should be cleaning staff checking in REGULARLY. I had two spa treatments (a facial and a seaweed wrap), and neither one was beyond serviceable. I have gotten facials at a number of spas, and this one did not compare favorably. I hadnt really understood what a Thallasotherapy Pool was before I experienced it, but it was actually really nice. I would prefer fresh water to salt, but the added buoyancy was interesting. The hot tubs here were nice, but Im not sure why there was so much sand in them. The area around the T-Pool was a great place to relax with a book or a friend& CASINO  I spent an inordinate amount of time here! I had horrible luck, but the dealers were SO nice (especially Helen) that they made losing money much easier to swallow! I dont play slots/video poker, so I cant really comment there. There were 4 blackjack tables  1 regular, 1 single deck, 1 non-smoking, and 1 higher limit (usually $10/hand), although they werent all open most of the time. There were also 2 Three-Card Poker tables, a Caribbean Stud table, 2 Roulette tables, and a craps table. I actually feel that they should have had MORE Blackjack tables. The Caribbean Stud table was almost always empty (if it was even open), the second Three-Card Poker table wasnt open EVER on the whole cruise (as far as I can remember). Even the second Roulette table rarely got any play. The blackjack tables, especially the sole regular table ($5, multiple-deck, smoking allowed) were FAR AND AWAY the most popular tables when they were open. COMPUTER LAB  It was really nice to be able to use their computers FREE to upload and organize photos. The interior computer room where they held classes was fine, and the instructors there were very helpful. The 24-hour computer room with windows overlooking the sea was GREAT. CINEMA  It was a great, comfortable room. Unfortunately, I didnt make it to any movies, but I did attend one lecture here. CELEBRITY THEATRE  It is an EXCELLENT space. I saw several of the shows here, as well as a few enrichment lectures. I almost always sat towards the front, but I think that all of the seats were pretty good. SHOPPING EMPORIUM  I was not impressed with this area (although Im not much of a shopper, and Im clearly not the one they are designing it for. I just found it confusing. The different stores are not clearly defined nor labeled. At one point, I wanted to buy some Chapstick. I had NO IDEA which store would have it  there wasnt one that was called Gifts and Sundries, for example. Eventually, I found it in the duty-free liquor store behind a display of Scotch. Right! That makes sense! ATRIUM AREA (INCLUDING COVA CAFÉ, GAME & CARD AREAS, ETC.)  This was a lovely part of the ship, but not one I utilized often (with the exception of the computer room). Part of the reason for this was that it was the preferred meeting area of the disgruntled passengers, so I tried to stay far away. LIDO DECK/SPORTS DECK  This, too, was a nice part of the ship that I never used because it was Alaska in May. On a Hawaiian or a Panama Canal itinerary, Im sure Id be there all the time! CONSERVATORY  I completely dont get this space. They advertise it like its such a great feature, but WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT SERVE?! Its not a place that guests can hang out or anything  there is basically no furniture. The two times I went up there, there was NOBODY THERE. Im confused& BARS & LOUNGES  My favorite one as far as the appeal of the room was THE BAR AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH. I thought it was slightly over-the-top but still fun and beautiful. I sometimes went up to the beds at the front of the room overlooking the bow with a cup of coffee and a book and just relaxed there in the mornings. My favorite bar to DRINK was the Martini Bar. I have to admit, Im not a big drinker, and I maybe had 7 or 8 cocktails over the course of the 13-day cruise, but after I discovered the Martini Delight, that was the ONLY drink I had from then on& ENTERTAINMENT  I probably went to about half of the main shows. I would have gone to more, but too much of the time, they scheduled the show for late-seating guests for 7:00 (BEFORE dinner). Well, the reason I prefer late-seating is because I dont want to have to rush to get ready for dinner, and I CERTAINLY dont want to have to rush because of a show& I much preferred the nights when the shows were after dinner. To me, the taste of Cirque du Soleil was the best show. The production shows were mixed. The singers were quite talented, but not tremendously appealing or exciting. The dancers were just okay  rarely was the whole group in synch, and its not like they were doing such difficult dances! My favorite element of these shows was the aerialist team of Rebecca and Phillippe (and I doubt I am alone in that assessment). The stunts they do are so gorgeous and unbelievable that they took my breath away every time I saw them. Whatever Celebrity is paying them, it is NOT ENOUGH. I didnt see any of the musicians or comedians. ACTIVITIES  I didnt really participate in any of the trivia games/crafts/etc. Its just not my style. Fortunately, there were always other things I wanted to do. ENRICHMENT SERIES  I made it a point to attend 4 out of the 5 lectures given by Nature Lady Leneh Trowbridge. It would have been all 5, but the first one conflicted with my Cruise Critic party  I caught it later on TV. This was a real highlight for me. I learned so much, and it made the sights I saw in port so much more meaningful. I couldnt recommend this series enough. Im not sure if she will be with the ship throughout the season, but if she is, seek her out. There was also a physicist on board giving enrichment lectures, but I didnt go to his. PORTS: SAN FRANCISCO  My dad and I rented a car and drove out to Napa Valley, as he is a wine connoisseur. It was gorgeous, and I had a lot of fun (although I drank too much wine at the tastings). I would have liked to have seen more of San Francisco itself, as the weather was FANTASTIC, but by the time we drove back, it was almost time to leave. The docking location was awesome  right next to Fishermans wharf. KETCHIKAN  Cute town with some nice little shops, but nothing too out of the ordinary. We did an excursion with a raft ride and a rainforest hike. The excursion itself was fun (we saw a BUNCH of bald eagles), but the drive to get there was quite long, and the fact that people were complaining ON THE TOUR BUS about the problems with our cruise was a bit much to take. Even if they were not willing to let it go and try to enjoy themselves, they should try to allow others to do so& Once again, we had absolutely gorgeous weather (a rarity in Ketchikan). JUNEAU  We bought a pass to ride up to the top of the mountain, saw some spectacular views, and watched a Tlinget film. I wanted to hike around on the trails up there, but my dad thought it was too dangerous given the snow levels. We then explored Juneau a bit before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we took an excursion involving a helicopter ride and a landing on the Mendenhall Glacier with a hike (approximately 45 minutes) on the glacier. It was potentially quite fun, but we had an older gentleman in our group who was probably not up to the task physically. He was much slower and had a few problems (falling down and the like). None of this would have bothered me much, but on top of that, he would always dilly-dally around with his video camera and absolutely refused to follow directions, even when all of our safety was involved! Seriously, when we got off the helicopter and were told to proceed directly to a spot about 30 yards away where our gear and our guide were waiting, he took 3 steps from the helicopter, turned around, and started filming! We were still under the rotor, and him standing there blocked every other person from getting off and going where we were supposed to go. To me, that was dangerous. If I were running the tour, I would not have allowed him to proceed& While we hiked, he fell behind (partly due to his camera shenanigans), and we had to wait for him repeatedly, thus shortening the distance we covered on our hike& It was still a great trip, though. The glacier itself was fascinating, and my first helicopter ride was interesting. Somebody else on the helicopter said he saw a family of bears crossing a stream, but he didnt bother mentioning it to the rest of us! Can you believe that?! SKAGWAY  I really enjoyed the tiny town of Skagway, and I thought it had the best souvenir shopping of any port we visited. We also took the BEST excursion here! We basically took a catamaran ride across the fjord (seeing eagles and mountain goats, along with amazing scenery) to the town of Haines, then rode a bus 25 miles upriver, then floated down the river in 8 person rafts through the heart of an eagle preserve. It was such a gorgeous day, and the feeling of being right in the middle of nature was unmatched (the rainforest we hiked in Ketchikan had an actual wooden boardwalk built through it so it wasnt so natural, and the glacier in Juneau constantly had people and helicopters coming in and out). This river felt isolated enough that you could feel like youre seeing the real Alaska. Moreover the guides who paddled the rafts were AWESOME. They are all young people who spend their Summers out there because they absolutely love it. Their passion is infectious, and they know SO MUCH about everything we saw& HUBBARD GLACIER  While this is not a port per se, it was a destination. We didnt get in close, and I wasnt particularly impressed. However, if people hadnt been complaining so much, I dont know that I would have realized how much we missed -- I will say that I learned (almost by accident) that they opened up the front of the ship where helicopters land for viewing of the glacier, and when I got there, it was a right party! Now, I dont think this was announced anywhere, and I think that most of the people there were Captains Club and suite guests -- If they were the only ones invited, Im a bit put off by that. I find that quite exclusionary. If everybody was invited, Im not sure why I didnt hear about it sooner. Does anybody know? INSIDE PASSAGE  Once again, not a port, but what was supposed to be a full day of phenomenal scenery turned into an hour or two of full-on gorgeousness before we had to go to dinner and then it turned dark. This was a disappointment to me, as I was really looking forward to the opportunity to see so much& VICTORIA  I absolutely loved this city, and could see myself living here. We shopped and explored in the morning, then did a whale-watching excursion in the afternoon. The excursion was VERY successful, as we got to see a huge pod of orcas over the course of close to an hour. We may have even seen all 26 members of the pod, and we got to witness a variety of behavior including 3 separate breaches! Wow!!! We also saw bald eagles, seals, and various other wildlife. The problem, though, was that this tour was TERRIBLY OVERBOOKED. They brought about 45 passengers, and the boat probably shouldnt have carried much more than 35 TOPS. Even if EVERY seat was utilized on the top deck, the back deck, and the interior cabin, there wasnt enough room for everybody to sit (I stood for most of the 3 hour + excursion). Never mind the fact that as crowded as it was, we certainly couldnt pick a preferred viewing location! I would have given this tour a very high ranking if there had been 25-30 people aboard& DISEMBARKATION  We ended up waiting quite a while in the Celebrity theater while they called tons of colors and numbers before ours. Im really not sure why we couldnt stay in the cabin till our number and color was called. I believe that is how they do it on Carnival. Still, it was no big deal and the process once they called us, including customs and immigration, was amazingly quick and efficient. I was very sad to end the trip, though, so I wasnt going to be happy on this day, no matter how well everything went! If only I could go back and do it all over again! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Arriving in LA to board this ship at three in the afternoon is a good idea, arriving later is better. The two o'clock crush turned literal on this cruise when a pile up occurred at the top of the escalator because the upper level ... Read More
Arriving in LA to board this ship at three in the afternoon is a good idea, arriving later is better. The two o'clock crush turned literal on this cruise when a pile up occurred at the top of the escalator because the upper level was filled but the people kept coming up with no place to go when they reached the top. The food was excellent and always served with a smile in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. My visits to the buffet were rare, but what I ate was good. Buffet fans I spoke with complained only about the chopped up arrangement of the buffet, and the lack of a full dinner buffet. All of the staff from every department were courteous and seemed to go out of their way to greet you as you passed by. It seemed like they were all genuinely happy you were on board. Entertainment in the public areas was quite good and diverse. Some nights in the Celebrity Theatre the entertainment was exceptional and the other nights it was standard cruise fare. This specific cruise got into a problem that originated from the propulsion system but led to mistakes, miscalculations and a near passenger mutiny that ultimately left a bad feeling with everyone, but the ship itself is beautiful and sparkling clean with a wonderful group of people in all the departments that I encountered.I plan on sailing on the Summit again in December for a round trip to Hawaii out of LA and I hope they have new mattresses by then. My first mattress was very lumpy and worn to the point you could not find a smooth surface on it. The second mattress was not nearly as bad but it, too, had seen better days (or nights, as it were). Overall, it's a good cruise for the over 50 group who prefer a more traditional, elegant cruise experience. If you have kids, book on Carnival or RCCL where far more is offered for the young families to do. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Ship: Summit Cruise: Alaska 7 Day Northbound Date: Aug 2004 I will try to evaluate the different aspects of this particular cruise as best I can. Embarkation: Somewhat slow cattle-call type operation. We completed all of our ... Read More
Ship: Summit Cruise: Alaska 7 Day Northbound Date: Aug 2004 I will try to evaluate the different aspects of this particular cruise as best I can. Embarkation: Somewhat slow cattle-call type operation. We completed all of our documents online, but still waited about 45 minutes between checking in and going to customs. My advice: Be early! (We thought we were, but I guess not) Room: Very nice accommodations! Our 1A cabin was perfect for the two of us. The balcony is essential if you like spending time alone enjoying the scenery. Early morning in the Inside Passage is not to be missed. We were on the ocean side of the ship, but our views and scenery were just as good as the land side, so starboard or port, either is great. Like a bus driver in Juneau told us, there is nothing on that ship that you have not seen before, so look outside! Food: Frankly we were disappointed. Food is supposed to be a highlight of most cruises, but not this one. Buffet: The buffet was never what we could call "good". The food was mediocre at best. We often joked that what was served in the main dining room one night would be found on the buffet the next. We were not wrong. Main Dining Room: Dinners were mostly just average. (We missed one night because we were too late, and one b/c of my wife's sea sickness) We had two "very good" meals out of five dinners in the main dining room. One of those meals was filet mignon- hard to foul up a good cut of meat unless you burn it. None of the meals were really bad, but not one single meal really stood out as excellent either. We tried a wide selection of main courses but found most to be bland. I guess the food was geared towards a less adventurous palate than mine. My wife and I enjoy wine with meals and ordered bottles off of the wine list. The list is not bad, but seems to be focused at persons who may not enjoy wine with dinner regularly. Wine also expensive (just like a restaurant, but with about a 20-30% premium). Surprisingly, lunch in the main dining room was where we had our best meal of the cruise. A creative curry lamb dish was excellent! Don't ever eat the buffet if the main dining room is available. Breakfast in the main dining room was the choice for my wife and I after the 2nd day at sea. Hands down superior to the buffet. Selections are constant throughout the week but eggs benedict one day and a bagel with lox and cream cheese the next is not a bad rotation. Sushi: Not a bad substitute when you miss your main dining room sitting. Good quality, but low selection. Highlight: The bread on the ship was all excellent. Every meal! Overview: Nothing was spectacular except the bread. Buffet was not good. Main Dining room should also always be the cruiser's first option on this ship. Service: The staff of the ship were all excellent at their jobs! The persons that we had the most contact with were our room steward and our wait staff. Both were excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter were both top notch and would have been at home working in the finest restaurants in the world. I cannot say enough about these guys! Sylvanus (waiter) and Cosmo (asst. waiter) were both so attentive and helpful! They made sure that their end of the dining experience was all that it could be. Our assistant maitre'd was also very good at his job. He checked with us every night! Our room steward was attentive and efficient. We always returned to a clean room after breakfast and dinner. Very efficient. Shore Excursions: My wife and I both enjoy "going and doing", but we made some poor choices of shore excursions. Almost all are overpriced for what you get. We spend close to $1000 for 3 excursions for 2 persons. Too Expensive! This must be how they make up the profit margin for cruise tickets. We did enjoy the excursions we booked through the ship, but they were all a little too regimented and follow the leader for my wife and I. Crab feed in Ketchikan was not nearly as adventurous as it sounded. We enjoyed the experience, but we would try something else if we had the opportunity. White Pass Railroad in Skagway was beautiful, but 4 hours on a hot train with obnoxious people can be too much. Ditto about trying something else. We had the most fun on our independent and self guided trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. Also the cheapest! Juneau is a do-it-yourself town, so save money and book activities when you go ashore. We also really enjoyed the ATV expedition in Hoonah (Icy Strait Point). This was "going and doing" as my wife says. The guides and the activity were fun and exciting. I recommend trying to do some excursions on your own through the independent operators on shore. Some excursions will not be cheaper, but some will save you money! In Juneau and Ketchikan, there are tour operators on or around the cruise ship dock. Skagway and Hoonah will be a cruise-ship-only excursion towns. Disembarkation: Painfully slow! There must be a more efficient way! Waiting in the corral area for your color to be called is not fun especially when things are running slowly. Help yourself and be late for this. After Cruise Activities: We were do-it-yourselfers after the cruise. We planned 4 more days of activities after the cruise and had lots of fun in Alaska. We fished and toured and had a great time. Don't be afraid to do it yourself. The only thing we fill we missed out from a cruisetour was the train ride north from Seward, but our activity schedule was more conducive to rental car travel. Likes: - Excellent wait staff!!! - Being catered to - Having our food arrangements made (even though not spectacular dining, no thought to where we were going was needed) - Having a room steward to answer questions and take care of our needs! - Seeing sights that can only be seen by cruising Disappointments: - Very regimented life aboard ship - Very expensive activities and excursions - Disappointing food and expensive drinks - Embarkation / Disembark slow and arduous Overall: We enjoyed some aspects of the cruise and grew to dislike others. Nothing against Celebrity, but we probably will not cruise again for some time. After you have a few drinks and go on some excursions, cruising is not such a great deal financially. The style of vacation doesn't really suit our interests or our desires. We were much happier on shore after the cruise when we had a loose itinerary and a more freewheeling approach. We are already thinking about our next trip to Alaska! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
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
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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