42 Celebrity Summit Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Background Information This our second cruise to the Mediterranean again with Celebrity. First cruise was on the Galaxy. We have cruised Royal Caribbean in the past but we prefer Celebrity. Embarkation We took a cab from our hotel ... Read More
Background Information This our second cruise to the Mediterranean again with Celebrity. First cruise was on the Galaxy. We have cruised Royal Caribbean in the past but we prefer Celebrity. Embarkation We took a cab from our hotel on Las Ramblas to the port for $15.00. We did see folks walking however it was a busy bridge and the thoughts of dragging our luggage through the city was not that appealing. We filled out our paperwork on line as was requested. The embarkation line was VERY long and thought we would have had a special line being Concierge Class passengers. This was not the case. The line did move quickly and the folks checking us in were very responsive. Concierge Class We chose to upgrade to Concierge Class as it wasn't all that much more money than a cabin with a verandah. The cabin was lovely. Having a large table on the balcony was a treat. We ordered breakfast every morning. A phone call woke us informing us that breakfast was forthcoming. This was a great start to a very busy day! Lawrence our cabin steward and Joseph his assistant were both very accommodating. A welcoming face upon our departure and return daily! I was concerned about having a cabin on the deck 9 as I had heard that the overhang from the deck 10 was foreboding. This was not a problem. There was also no issue with noise from the deck 10. We also liked the little special touches with champagne upon arrival, daily fruit basket and flowers. We also took advantage of the laundry service that was offered at a minimal charge. Food We found the food fine although I think they have cut back. We had late seating. Service was slow and we would finish after 10:30. We did not see the lavish themed buffets upon leaving each port that we had seen in the past. (which was fine considering the amount of food that was already offered) On sea days we would skip lunch and try to find something around 3pm. There was only pizza or pasta offered at this time. There was one buffet offered at 11:30pm which we did not attend. Flava night was a bit chaotic as everyone on board ship was by the pool. There were not enough accommodations for everyone on deck so we needed to find a table inside. There was little room to watch the band and the decorations that were up made it even more difficult to view the activities. Activities Although we did not participate in the daily activities we did see all but one show. (we didn't see piano player only because we were exhausted!) The ships singers and dancers were fabulous! There were comedians, jugglers, magicians and singers. We would rate all shows A+!!! Fitness Center We did utilize the fitness center on days at sea. The only complaint was that there were several machines that were not functioning and the one that did were not calibrated correctly. Shore Excursions We took several shore excursions offered through Celebrity. (Florence, Athens, Rome and Naples) These were adequate. It was comforting to not have to worry about getting back to the ship on time. The excursions that offered radio transmitters to hear were the best. When this was not available it was difficult to hear the tour guide. Also...they were difficult to understand at times due heavy accents. (although that is to be expected!)There were a lot of people on each tour and moving the masses was not always easy especially when the mean age was 60+. Our favorite was the Angels and Demons tour offered in Rome. We rented a car in Santorini which worked out very well. We utilized the train system in Villefranche. The bus schedule to Eze that was provided by the ship was not accurate. We ended up taking a cab from the train station in Eze Sur Mar then back to Villefranche. This worked out very well as I belive the buses were not quite as reliable as the train system. Disembarkation This process was very smooth. Our flight was at noon and we were to meet in the movie theater by 7:30. We got our baggage and were off to the airport by 8. We were unable to check in until 2 hours prior to boarding. Once we got to the airport there was no direction. We needed to search out someone to direct us to where we needed to be and there was chaos due to the number of people that were waiting to check in. Luckily my husband was able to get tickets from the kiosk otherwise I'm not so sure we would have made it on our flight. From what I later heard the airline had overbooked. Summary This is a very port intensive cruise! If your looking to relax...this is not the cruise for you. The ports were spectacular. Several folks have asked which was our favorite. We could not tell you! They were all wonderful. Such history! From seeing art from the 1500's, the archeological wonders of Athens to sitting in a Piazza in Venice with the locals. It was all wonderful!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Our first trip to the Med. to celebrate a special birthday for Lynda. Flew to Barcelona and stayed 2 nights at the Tryp Apollo which we would recommend given the fair pricing and great location (near waterfront & Las Ramblas - 10 ... Read More
Our first trip to the Med. to celebrate a special birthday for Lynda. Flew to Barcelona and stayed 2 nights at the Tryp Apollo which we would recommend given the fair pricing and great location (near waterfront & Las Ramblas - 10 minute walk). Took a Taxi from the Airport to the hotel. We noticed from previous reviews Taxi would cost 25 E which is what we paid door to door. Took a suite upgrade at the Hotel for 35 E per night however, would not recommend this given the short time you'll be in the room. Found Las Ramblas a lot of fun with lots of places to eat. The street is also a good place to have breakfast with several places offering coffee, juice, toast (jam) & croissant for 5E. Hotel staff told us not to go to Las Ramblas in the evening however, we strolled down during the late evening & had no trouble (nor did we notice any) at all. Used the Hop On/Off Bus for a tour of Barcelona and found this to be great value. We went on the blue and red lines and skipped the green. Got off on one stop and went up the Funicular to Mount Tibadabo which is high above the city and offers great views and reasonable pricing for lunches and beverages. Embarkation was quick and easy. We went to the port around 1 PM as suggested by the Cruise Line however, several people went as early as 11 AM with no problem at all. We registered on line prior to the cruise. We last sailed on the Summit 3 years ago in the Caribbean. We took Concierge service on that trip however, decided not to on this one. Our cabin was entirely adequate and well serviced by Peter and his associate. We tipped our room attendant the first day and were well served throughout the voyage. Laundry(pressing) service on the first day was prompt and reasonably priced. Our cabin was opposite one of the service doors used by the staff. When I mentioned the noise from opening and closing the door during the night disturbed my sleep, Peter told the staff and the problem disappeared the next day. Great service !. Used very few of the activities offered in that this is a very busy itinerary. Musicians were all good and provided both listening and dancing music for all to enjoy. One complaint I and others had is that on the White Night (dining under the stars), once dinner was over, they changed the dancing music to a "techno" theme for the balance of the night. This music was not "age appropriate" in my mind with most of the "over 50"s" leaving early for other choices on board. Front desk and other staff on board get high ratings for being friendly, helpful and efficient. Food and Beverage: While food was generally "O.K." in the dining room, consider this area to have deteriorated somewhat since our last trip on the Summit considering she is rated a 5 star ship. We were at late seating and found on most occasions our dinners were "rushed", hampering our time to visit with our table mates. Very little "Wow" factor on presentation. The salads in particular need to be improved. As an example, the green salads included lettuce that looked old and wilted with very little color. I finally asked for some tomatoes to be included for some variety. Shrimp Cocktails included only 3 pieces of shrimp. (Ask for two orders). Our Waiter tried very hard to make us all happy during our meals as did his assistant. Buffet dining was good with a wide variety of choices. Drink prices expensive. As an example, one bottled beer in the pool area cost $6.90. Our table mates found the dinner wine service not up to 5 star standard. On several occasions and despite several reminders, their white wine was not delivered and served cold. Simple thing to fix but wasn't. On two occasions, they waited well into the dining before their wine was poured. Perhaps more staff are needed in this area. One other item we noticed is that dress code does not appear to be enforced - ie on 2 Formal Night occasions we noticed jeans in the Dining Room. Shore / Excursions: Took the Tender from the ship to Villefranche. Walked to the train station (short distance) and took the train towards Monte Carlo. We got off the train on the second stop at Eze Sur Mer and found a local bus (#83) to Eze. NOTE: If you go this route, suggest you try to coordinate timing for the local buses. In our case, we just missed the 10:00 bus and had to wait an hour in the sun with no place to sit. Also, if the train stations are closed, you can only use coin to purchase your tickets at the machines (not Credit Cards). Eze was worth the trip. Nice village with great views and shopping. Livorno/Pisa/Florence: We did "Florence on your own" as several of our friends on board said Pisa was a waste of time and took away from time in Florence. If doing again, we would probably use the Hop On/Off bus for a tour of Florence. We missed going up the hill south of the city where we understand you get great views. Rome: Strongly suggest arranging for private tours. We used Rome Cabs. Joined up with 2 other couples and toured Rome in a very comfortable Mercedes Mini Van. What a treat. We saw all the major sites including the Colosseum, Forum, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps followed by a very nice lunch arranged by our Driver Salvatore. In the afternoon, we went for a tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Our driver arranged for a Private Tour Guide (University educated with good command of English). Well worth the costs especially when you are sharing with the other couples. NOTE: Our driver made arrangements for all of the tickets needed eliminating long and slow lineups. Naples/Capri/Pompeii: Took one of the Ship' Tours. Weather not so great for Capri but got better in Sorrento which we loved. Capri(outside of a visit to a fantastic Garden) mostly for Shopping. Had a great lunch in Sorrento arranged by our Tour Guide. Would like to have stayed longer in Sorrento. Looks like a great place to visit. Drove to Pompeii (very scenic - make sure you get on the right side of the bus for the views) which was fantastic. Our Tour Guide was very helpful. Make sure you have water and good footwear as the tour is somewhat lengthy. Santorini: Did on our own and used the Funicular to the top of the hill. You can walk up however very steep.Use the Donkeys at your discretion as they can be slow, and take a change of clothes. The smell is terrible. Santorini was fantastic as we expected. FYI - you can rent Quads which two can ride for only 25 Euro per day and well worth it. We found this out too late in the day. Took the bus out to Oia which is absolutely beautiful. Walked around for awhile and then stopped at one of the great restaurants for some food and wine and enjoyed the fantastic view.Took a cab back to Fira and had a great lunch overlooking the ocean and our ship. Several choices for eating. Athens: What a great place. Used Athens Taxi for a private tour with another couple. We got an early start (met us at 7:30 at the Pier)so as to avoid the crowds at the major sites. When we finished our tour of the Acropolis, the crowds trying to enter (Ship's Tours) were very lengthy. Visited the Parthenon and Olympic Stadium as well as other sites. Nice to have a Tour Guide to help you avoid line ups for tickets. Our Guide arranged for a great lunch at an out of the way restaurant where locals eat. We told him we wanted a slow lunch (some can be rushed). He arranged a spot for us to meet after lunch and at this time, we asked and he agreed to change our itinerary ie he had planned for us to visit the Museum in the afternoon. We instead asked for him to drop us off in the Old Town (Plaka) area so we could walk around, shop etc. No problem. NOTE: Prior to our Cruise, some people had told us Athens was not very clean. We found the opposite on our visit. Dubrovnik: Biggest surprise. Did on our own and used ship's shuttle bus. Beautiful city. Walked the wall for 3.5 hrs with friends. Had a great lunch in the town square followed by a walk around the city with a brief stop for some wine. Want to go back and stay for a week or so. Venice: Did on our own and met up with friends later in the day. Lovely place but very crowded narrow streets. Best time was at night listening to the Musicians in St. Marks Square. Found a great restaurant in the inner part of the city and had a very nice dinner. Stay away from the expensive restaurants on the Grand Canal. Went to Harry's Bar for overpriced Bellini's which were fantastic. Disembarkation: Very quick and efficient. Venice Airport can be very crowded on departure dates especially when there are several ships in port. Make sure you know what counter to line up at for check in. (We confirmed this 3 times). Stood in line for 2-3 hours to make sure we got good seats on our flights home. Conclusion: Notwithstanding some negatives noted in our comments, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and the people we met on board some of whom have become close friends. The service and friendliness of the staff was especially noted. The ports are fantastic. Suggest you take private tours when possible as these are normally less expensive and you get much more from them versus the ships tours. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Background Info-I booked this cruise as a birthday gift for my husband who turned 50 during the trip. This was our 5th cruise. The others were to the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera. One on Carnival, one on Princess and three on ... Read More
Background Info-I booked this cruise as a birthday gift for my husband who turned 50 during the trip. This was our 5th cruise. The others were to the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera. One on Carnival, one on Princess and three on Celebrity. This was our first trip to Europe. Arrival & Embarkation-After we passed through Customs in Barcelona we found all of our suitcases. We had purchased transfers to the ship through Celebrity. We had to go outside with our bags to find the Celebrity representative waiting. They took all our bags which were sent directly to our cabin and we were loaded on a coach bus. It was a holiday in Barcelona so the traffic was light (it also meant that many of the sights were closed) and we arrived at the ship in 20 minutes. There were no lines at embarkation & because all our paper work had been completed online, we were on our way to the ship in 2 minutes!! We stopped at the bottom of the escalator at a small liquor store to purchase wine to bring onboard and 5 minutes later (after the requisite embarkation pictures) we were standing in our great cabin 6135! Since it was just noon and the cabin wasn't quite ready we dropped off our carry-ons & headed to make massage appointments & have lunch. Excursions-We booked 4 excursions through Celebrity online before we left. In Villefrance we did the Nice & St Paul excursion. We wandered around the lovely town of Villefrance in the morning, ate crepes at an adorable cafe then lined up and got on a coach bus for our tour. They drove us through Nice to the village of St Paul. I would have liked to spend more time in Nice-it looked (from the bus window) like a great town to spend an afternoon. St Paul is like the town of Eze. It's a medieval town perched up on a mountain filled with cute-artsy shops. The next excursion we purchased was Florence & Pisa on your own. I'm sorry we didn't look into a private driver here. Pisa is worth seeing once in your life for about 15 minutes-not the almost 2 hours that this stop took. Unfortunately the buses have to park so far away that this trip took away from much more valuable time in Florence. I would have been happier with a guide in Florence, there was too much to see on our own. Cruise critic friends took the Hop-on/off bus once we got to Florence-that was probably a better way to see everything. In Rome we had arranged a private tour with Claudio from limoinrome.com/ who met us in a very comfortable Mercedes minivan. We added the private Vatican art-historian/guide for a once in a lifetime tour of the Vatican. Claudio was fantastic! He'd pull right up to a site tell us how much time we would need to see it and then show us where he'd be parked waiting for us. It was because of Claudio's professionalism, insight, timing and driving skills that I felt I got to see most of Rome in a day! The third Celebrity excursion we took was the Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii trip, a lot to do in one day! Impossible to do when there are too many cruise ships in port. Taking the hydrofoil to Capri was easy-it was docked right next to the Summit. When we got to Capri there were many tour groups trying to do the same thing. We waited for the cable car on the bottom, and then waited on top for our entire group to get there. We wandered around the beautiful town for a little while then waited to get back down again. Too many people-too many lines. We walked over to the hydrofoil to take us to Sorrento. After the ½ hour ride to Sorrento hundreds of people all waited together to take the not air-conditioned- too small- local buses to the top of the hill. Our tour guide wasn't as aggressive as some of the other tour guides, so most of the other tour groups piled into the buses that were there while we just waited on the street for one of the buses to come back to get us. I don't know why our coach bus couldn't have been there-it showed up after we finished our lunch to take us to Pompeii. The lunch that was included with this trip was delicious, however we sat in the middle of a shopping district-a scenic restaurant in Sorrento would have been much better. We then drove to Pompeii for a very interesting, informative tour. After a ½ hour stop at a Cameo factory we were back onboard Summit. The first thing we did was cancel our remaining Santorini excursion. I couldn't face the crowds-line-bus thing anymore!! In Santorini we went with 2 other cruise critic (absolutely wonderful) couples that we met on board for a drive around Santorini. John, our Aussie friend had the gumption to actually drive the streets of Santorini (thanks John!) we had a fabulous day driving over to Oia for some breathtaking sites and decent shopping, then to a local winery. We came back to Fira, returned the car & had a fun lunch at the top over looking the bay where the Summit regally sat. At this point there was a long line at the cable car to bring us back down to where we would get on the tenders, so my husband and I decided to walk the donkey trail back down the hill. The steps aren't great & you have to watch out for piles of donkey poo-but it was an adventure!!!! We also did a fantastic private Athens tour with taxigreece.com with another fun cruise critic couple(Hey Bob & Sandy!). The only thing to be aware of is that the taxis in Greece are very small, so if you're going on a private tour with another couple, the back of the vehicle is very tight and someone's going to be stuck in the middle on the hump (that was me!)!! The sites in Athens were very interesting. We also took the scenic drive around the coast to Poseidon's temple-spectacular!! Dubrovnik was probably the biggest surprise. We were met at the ship by Florio of www.queen-service.com. He took us on a full day tour of his beautiful city. We had a chance to walk the wall, do some shopping and then to a delicious homemade lunch at Konoba Konavle restaurant. He then drove us over to the beach resort town of Cavtat. In his very comfortable mini van we were able to see sites that those in buses could only dream of. Our final stop was Venice. Pulling into St Mark's basin with opera playing on the speakers all over the ship was something I will never forget! Most passengers purchased the water bus passes that the ship offered (I think it was a one day pass with unlimited trips for $10 per person.) This was a boat that took the passengers directly from the pier to St Mark's. We opted to walk instead. We wandered past the train station to the Grand Canal then to Cannaregio and the Ghetto. Next, a fantastic lunch of Pizza & Prosecco and to the Rialto Bridge for site seeing and shopping. The following day we checked into The Locanda Vivaldi right on the Riva Schiavone next to St. Marks. They offered a free Murano Glass Tour then from the hotel we wandered from the St Mark's area over to the Academia Bridge. Venice is the perfect walking city! The Celebrity Summit-She's not one of those flashy-glitzy ships. She's grand in a more sedate-refined manner. The ship is not in pristine condition, but who would expect her to be after 7 years of sailing with thousands of people onboard every week. We did express our interest in speaking with Daniel Stacy, the Hotel Director and sure enough we were given an appointment and ample opportunity to sit down & speak with him. Our concerns were all very minor for the most part, but it was a pleasure spending time discussing our problems & suggestions. As cruise critic members we found cards in our cabins inviting us to a Connections party the morning of the first day at sea. More crew showed up than members, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet with the upper echelons of the Celebrity Summit crew including Captain Berdos and John Howell, Cruise Director! We were all invited later on in the week for a tour of the bridge-WOW! It is obvious that Celebrity values cruise critic opinions, as a member it's nice to know they care about our cruising experiences. Our cabin 6135 which was on the Penthouse level in between the suites had a huge veranda complete with 2 chairs & a table that we could have room service meals upon. It also had 2 chaise lounges & a small table. It was always clean & comfortable. As we've done in the past, we tipped our cabin attendant at the beginning of the cruise & experienced outstanding service throughout. Chaise lounges on sea days were a problem. Cruisers went out at the beginning of the day & staked their claim, then disappeared for hours at a time! We always went all the way to the front of the ship & as high up as we could go (I think to the area where topless baiting used to be on the M class ships) and would find chairs there. Somehow they need to do a better job of encouraging people to remove the towels when they leave (otherwise you don't know if someone is still sitting there) and not allowing people to leave their belongings and walking away for long periods of time. I can't give you much info about the Flava night. We chose to eat in the main dining room then went out on deck to find the music ending. It was a picture perfect evening and many people were milling about on deck, not wanting to go inside…the dj just packed up at 11:00 to go play in the lounge without any announcement-it would have been nice if someone could have stayed outside on deck, playing music for a longer time. We only went to 2 shows while we were on board. The first, a medley of Broadway shows was good-the ship entertainment staff is always fun to watch. The second was a magic show that was drawn out & boring. We had second seating dining and by the time dinner was over we were ready to retire for the night. I had requested & received a table for two-which was wonderful, however next cruise we're requesting a table for 8. It's nice at the end of the day to share the day's experiences with tablemates. A few of the cruise critic members were at a table nearby so we would stop by after we were finished to enjoy laughter and desert with them. (Thank you Carol & Ron, Marilyn & John, Phyllis & Frank, and Sally & Ken-I miss you all already!!) We had dinner at the Normandie restaurant twice. The service, food and ambiance were not to be missed. The casual restaurant, the Waterfall café was well worth the $2.00 per person service charge-make sure to make reservations early in the day for this restaurant. The food in the main dining room wasn't bad, but not as good as I remember from past Celebrity cruises. The service was decent-our assistant waiter was more responsive than the waiter, surprising since he was responsible for many more tables. The wine sommeliers were very attentive, but mixed drinks in the dining room were hard to come by. Disembarkation- We requested the last group leaving the ship because we were staying one night in Venice. It seemed that there were no problems with everyone leaving the ship. We went to retrieve our luggage then were escorted outside by a porter. We were taking a water taxi with another cruise critic couple. He walked us over to the waiting area for the water taxis, then dropped our luggage off and graciously accepted his tip. Then we find out that we needed to stop by the water taxi desk before we walked outside to reserve and pay for a water taxi. We then had to walk back inside to make the arrangements that we were unaware of. We also found out that there was a vaporetto right there that has direct service to St Mark's for 6.5 euros per person and 3 euros per suitcase. At the airport if you take the water taxi there is a 7 minute-easy walk to the terminal. Don't allow the porters there to convince you that you need the 40 euro minivan to the terminal door-it's definitely a rip-off (glad we didn't have enough euros & turned down the offer!) It would have been nice if Celebrity printed instructions and available options for Disembarkation for the many of us who were not using the Celebrity transfers. This was the trip of a lifetime! The people-fantastic, the ship-wonderful, the crew-professional & friendly, the ports-beautiful and interesting. We booked the maiden voyage of the Celebrity Equinox for another great trip to Europe-if it's ½ as good as this trip was, it will be spectacular!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We have cruised with Celebrity three times Century Baltic August 2006 Constellation Baltic August 2007 and this cruise Summit Eastern Med August 2008. We were very pleased with the itinerary particularly Villefranche and Santorini. John ... Read More
We have cruised with Celebrity three times Century Baltic August 2006 Constellation Baltic August 2007 and this cruise Summit Eastern Med August 2008. We were very pleased with the itinerary particularly Villefranche and Santorini. John the cruise director was first rate communicative keeping us well informed. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers worked very hard to keep us entertained and Freddie should be on Broadway. THe children found the magician amazing and asked wa she coming to entertain an a local theatre soon! This is the first time we have cruised concierge class (our last 2 cruises were booked last minute)and we had two linking staterooms because we have three children and this worked very well/Our state room attendant Glory was always to hand when we needed something he had the uncanny ability to be always there when needed.He kept both staterooms clean and tidy throughout the cruise notwithstanding three children! Our waiter Jay was humorous and certainly provided a service with a smile.He is transferring to Solstice so I will try and have him as waiter on our next cruise he was that good unless he receives a deserved promotion to Maitre 'D!! The Normandie Restaurant is not to be missed and certainly worth the nominal supplement for excellent meals service and wine selection as are the Soda Fountain stickers for the children. Any concerns 1.One day the waterfall restaurant ran out of butter. 2.The shower controls in the mens changing rooms near the Aqua Spa need upgrading as a couple were loose. 3.THe televisions in the staterooms need upgrading we had a flat panel television on the Century 2 years ago . 4. THe canapes delivered to our stateroom had very dry bread 5.At Venice Marco Polo Airport you cannot check in for the flights until two hours before departure .Our flight booked through Celebrity was 17.15 hours so very hot long wait in the airport with luggage. As the ship was in port all day Wednesday 27th August 2008 and did not sail until Thursday 28th August it would have been nice to have been allowed to stay on the ship until 1-2p.m after vacating our staterooms for a swim/relax by the pool as opposed to sitting when we could get a seat at Venice Airport. However overall a very enjoyable cruise experience and hopefully to be repeated with Celebrity in the not too distant future looking forward to experiencing Solstice next year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
As we live quite a distance from a port, our cruises are almost always preceded by a long flight, so we like a bit of time before we board the ship, to combat jet-lag as well as any airport/flight delays or unexpected occurrences. We ... Read More
As we live quite a distance from a port, our cruises are almost always preceded by a long flight, so we like a bit of time before we board the ship, to combat jet-lag as well as any airport/flight delays or unexpected occurrences. We landed in Barcelona after an uneventful flight, and following the advice in the Rick Steve's guidebook and the information provided by the hotel we took the Aero bus from the airport to the Plaza de Catalunya for a nominal charge of 4.20. (Taxicabs were readily available and would have been about 45.00 to Plaza de Catalunya from the airport). We spent two days prior to embarkation in Barcelona, and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. We stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacette, in a room that had an enormous sitting area, and a rather cozy bed and bath combination. The hotel boasts a nice 24-hour self-service buffet, and is nicely located within a five-minute walk north of the Plaza de Catalunya. We had no organized tours, but the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus came highly recommended and our hotel clerk, Vivian, was most helpful in providing directions and other questions we had. The ho-ho bus is 20.00 per day, and that gives you unlimited stops and transfers from all three routes. The Blue and the Red are the major routes and take about two hours and one and a half hours respectively, with the smaller green route clocking in at about fifty minutes. The buses run every fifteen minutes to thirty minutes, depending on the day and the time of year. They provide a set of earplug style headphones with your admission, and this provides a running commentary in eight languages. (I found that they were prone to fall out of your ears, and as they are a standard microphone jack, you may wish to provide your own headphones or ear jacks). We rode all three lines, and began with the cable cars up Mont Juic (so named because of the Jewish cemetery that existed there centuries ago). After exploring the fort, we went to the Cathedral area (Bari Gotic) and toured the Civic history museum. This was interesting, as it is built right on top of the ancient Roman ruins of Barcino (founded in 10 B.C. by the Emperor Augustus). As you board the elevator that takes you to the bottom level the L.E.D. readout at the top reads "2008" and rolls down at ever increasing speed until it reads "-10", and the door opens. The ruins are covered with catwalks and labeled indicating the function of each area. We toured the maritime museum and the Christopher Columbus monument, and both were quite interesting as well. Embarkation: Although it was only a thirty to forty minute walk down the Ramblas, and a further estimated twenty to thirty minutes from the Columbus monument to the pier (there is a high causeway as you leave land), we took a cab for E11.00. It was quick and we then whisked through the non-existent line (at about 11:30 A.M.). We were in CC cabin 9160 within 20 minutes of entering the terminal - definitely proving the usefulness of online registration! CC Cabin 9160: This cabin is stern facing and had two lounge chairs as well as the usual table and two sitting chairs (A minor complaint - since the deck lounge chairs on the pool area on deck ten are adjustable, why are these in the cabin non-adjustable?). It was clean and our cabin steward (Lawrence from India) could not have been more helpful and courteous. He introduced himself within seconds of our arrival, and had requested items ready in minutes. The ship is well maintained, and satisfied what I'd expect of a seven-year-old ship. Summit public areas and staff: If anything, the staff was even more attentive than any of the four previous Celebrity cruises we've been on (which is something!). Our cruise director John Howell (who has since moved over to Azamara), was amazingly attentive and personally thanked us and sent a gift to our cabin for a suggestion we made. The ship's senior officers were on hand for the Cruise Critic party (another first, and thanks to Captain Berdos and his staff for the gracious welcome!). The bridge tour that was arranged by John, (and thanks again to the Captain and his officers) as a result was fascinating and refreshing as the last one I had was before 9-11. The watch officers (Pierre - 1st Officer and Jamie 2nd Officer), answered every question put to them with obvious relish and vast knowledge and experience. Kudos! The activities staff did their level best to provide trivia, dance contests, pool entertainment, etc. (and thanks to Greg, Brieanna, Jean Michel, Andrea and everyone else), but they had three problems: a rather port intensive schedule (that lead to a large portion of passengers heading to bed early so that they could cope with the August heat and walking demanded in the ruins of ancient Rome & Greece), many who did not have fluent English (meaning they were less interested in trivia or board games, etc), and a surprisingly large segment of children on board (about 450, according to sources). As a result, many interesting activities had little or no participation - and I'm not sure how you could resolve that. Daniel from South Africa manned the concierge desk, and he was first class as well. I was particularly impressed by how he personally handled a gift of Swarovski crystal delivered to my wife at dessert for the late sitting, and arranged champagne to be in our limousine tour of Rome. He didn't miss a trick - well done. The entire group of behind the scenes people worked hard as well. I was struck by how things were coordinated even thousands of kilometers away, as when one of our cruise critic group mentioned on the website during the cruise that she wished that her cabin had a clock radio. Lo and behold, she had a clock radio delivered to her cabin within hours of posting this! I can only wonder which staff member loaned this item (I can only guess it was not standard cabin equipment), but someone must have read this in Miami or onboard, and looked after my friend. When John Howell said that Celebrity pays very close attention to every detail that they can, I took it as partly company advertising, but I apologize: I'm now convinced! Food and Beverage: The meals were the standard that I've come to expect from Celebrity (and I'm a bit spoiled!), the departure of Chef Roux hasn't negatively affected things here. Our waiter at table #501 was Jack, and his assistant was Ida - both did their best to accommodate our needs. Yussef the Assistant Maitre'd handled this well also - when we found it rather warm in the extreme aft end of deck five in the Cosmopolitan Dining Room one night, he opened a door to an engineering stairwell that cooled things off enormously. The breakfast buffet in the dining room concept was nicely presented, as was the Flava buffet on deck ten after Athens. I also enjoyed the pasta bar in the Cafe - it was nice to have it prepared fresh and hot, with fresh vegetables. The waffle bar in the Waterfall Cafe was good as ever, with one caveat: The waffles should not be pre-made and sit in a steam tray - soggy waffles (even warm ones), are less than appealing. I would rather wait for a fresh crisp one. We never got around to the Normandie, but reports from others said it was well worth the extra charge. Entertainment: The times we did go (twice to the Celebrity Singers & dancers, once to the Awards ceremony) we enjoyed, but attendance was sparse. Again, the fast paced itinerary and the August heat wore out more than a few passengers - I compare the attendance rate with an Alaska trip we did on Infinity in September 2003 - and the contrast was dramatic. Too bad, the shows were great and they danced and sang their hearts out! Possibly they might do a drama/comedy play or two so these talented people could show off their acting ability as well? The Cirque acrobatic team was great on the last sea day as well - I never get enough of them. I did find Frontliners (party band) a bit too loud in the deck eleven bar after the award show, maybe it was the close quarters. The activities director, Jean-Michel gave a fascinating talk on the underwater diving he did on the HMS Maidstone (lost over 200 years ago on the French Atlantic coast). His 15 year career and slides were amazing as well as the artifacts that he personally helped recover, such as cannon and ships navigation equipment. Mr. Martyn Green gave a great talk on the Greek islands and Athens, based on his experiences as well. I always enjoy the enrichment lectures - I learn so much that I make a point to seek them out on every cruise. Suggestion to improve the entertainment options might be: more scheduled movies in the cinema (with popcorn - disappointing to no longer see that), and possibly a board games ladder style tournament for backgammon, chess or Monopoly? Shopping: Good prices and very reasonable on some items - we didn't do the spa or the Art Auction. My DW suggests craft items be made available in the Emporium, such as cross-stitch, knitting supplies etc. These could be quite profitable if used in conjunction with the photography area to provide personalized items such as photos of the =X= fleet and themselves. Imagine the reaction of guests who could cross-stitch a picture of himself or herself in conjunction with the ship or a location therein? Or a panel of a quilt, etc? Since the ship is the property of =X=, why not take advantage of an opportunity to make a truly one of a kind memory and enhance brand identification? Shore Excursions: We did VF13 in Villefranche 'Nice and Cannes on your own'. I was impressed with the professionalism of our bus driver who had a very narrow corridor in and out of the 16th century fortifications surrounding the port. We enjoyed the commentary and the walk down the promenade, as well as the drive to Cannes and wandering around. It was Sunday, so many of the stores were closed, but the view remained as spectacular as ever. On the return to the port, I did notice the literally tens of thousands of discarded 'tour identification stickers' from several cruise lines, that lined the stairs and wall, and this is rather disgusting. Tender service was prompt and professional. In Livorno/Pisa/Nice, we did LV31 'Explore Florence & Pisa on your own'. As others have mentioned, the extensive walk to Pisa necessitated by the limitations of the bus parking area was annoying, as well as the length of time spent in Pisa (two hours) was too long. Even if you climb the leaning tower and visit the cathedral/church, an hour would be ample. The journey to Florence was uneventful, but again, most of the museums are closed on Monday, the day we visited. We opted to try the hop-on, hop-off buses, and earpiece issues not-withstanding, were not disappointed. The beauty of the city is revealed when you journey around it, and the view from the hill area south of the Ponte-D'oro is outstanding. You need about three and a half hours to complete both the 'A' and the 'B' routes, but by a bit of a shortcut through the Plaza Santa Maria we saw all of one route and 85% of the other. Rome was spectacular. We had pre-arranged a limousine with two other couples we met on cruise critic, and we had a comfortable six-passenger Mercedes minivan. Our guide/driver, Claudio, met us on the pier at Civitavecchia at 8 A.M. sharp for the trip to Rome. I can't say enough kind things about this man: he spoke excellent English, and was instrumental in making sure we got the most out of our (too short!) day. Our first stop was the Colosseum (where the only surviving 'wild beasts' are feral cats!), where Claudio had purchased tickets so that we bypassed the already forming long line-up. We spent forty minutes there and then went through the Forum area, the Temple of Jupiter and Saturn (now converted to Catholic churches, which was the fate of almost every standing Roman/Greek building!), the Pantheon, the church of Maria d'Minerva, Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, etc. Claudio saved us a lot of time because he knew exactly where to park and minimized the walking that we had to do, and when he couldn't park, he arranged a meeting point for us. None of the bus tours offered by the ship offered half as much as we saw! After the morning's sightseeing, we went to a lovely outdoor Cafe run by some people that Claudio knew, and then the feature presentation: a tour of the Vatican/Sistine chapel with a university trained art historian. Absolutely spectacular, and a once in a lifetime experience. After that, the drive back to the ship and reflecting on what we'd seen. Ah, Rome! In Naples, we did the ship's tour NP03 'exploration of Pompeii'. This was the standard bus tour, and Pompeii was interesting, but it was only the site of the city - I would have liked to have seen some of the artifacts that had been recovered. We walked about a half kilometer back to the bus afterward - I'm not sure why the guide couldn't have arranged to have the bus pick us up at the same point he dropped us off at? The Cameo factory 'tour' (a thinly disguised infomercial style shopping trip) was unspectacular (and very expensively priced!). Then Santorini, where we did another ship's tour SO02 'Volcano Hot Springs tour'. The landscape was interesting if you have never seen a volcanic island before (there are many more interesting ones in the world than this one, in my opinion). The walk to the summit of the new burn island is quite steep and rocky - and there isn't much to see, (in comparison with Hawaii, for example). The swim to the (barely) heated water of the hot springs was invigorating, but beware the rather pointed and ragged rocks completely covering the bay! Also, there was a rather disgusting yellowy lichen-like slime that got on your skin and bathing suit. (Yuk). A special thanks to Mark and his family from England who took some great candid shots of us jumping into the water to begin our swim! Cheers. In Athens we had arranged a private tour a la Rome with George's Taxi. Our driver Antonio met us on the pier at Piraeus and took us to the foot of the Acropolis. The Parthenon was breathtaking, as was the Dionysian theatre, the temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaea. After a stop at the old Olympic stadium, we witnessed the changing of the guard at the Greek parliament/tomb of the unknown soldier, and the Temple of Zeus, as well as a sneak peek at the unfinished new Acropolis museum. We then drove down the Sounion coast for lunch at a lovely restaurant on the beachfront (the temperature was beginning it's climb to 38C it reached a short time later!). we then continued to the Temple of Poseidon on a rocky outcropping high atop a hill with an amazing view of the Greek coast. We then went to the Plaka for shopping and sightseeing, as well as a look at the first century sundial/Tower of the winds. It was a fascinating day and further reinforced the better value of the private tours. Dubrovnik we did DU14 'Trsteno Gardens & Old Town Sightseeing'. The Trsteno gardens a worth (one) look - but the most interesting part was the pre-industrial olive oil pressing room. Dubrovnik and the walls were interesting, and our tour guide Ivana gave us some interesting commentary in regards to the civil war that occurred as Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990's. Ivana had gone through the siege of Dubrovnik as a teenager, and it was evident that the war had left its mark on her soul. We didn't look at the Rector's palace or any of the other museums of 17th century life at the south end of the city, but simply wandered around the town looking at the shops and the citizenry. The view as we left port was one of the most scenic of the trip - possibly due to the timing at 5 P.M.? Venice … I'll simply say that the sights are worth seeing - but be prepared to spend some money! A one hour gondola tour at sunset will run you about 120E (not including gratuity). The museums and the bell tower are worth a look, as well as the Doge's palace. However, anything around the grand canal is usually horribly overpriced - one restaurant wanted 32E for a bowl of consomme! There are far more reasonably priced restaurants if you look around a bit. The hotel we stayed in was the Best Western Ala, about three blocks from St. Mark's Square. It was very reasonable, at 79E per night, but beware the over-priced porters waiting for you as you leave the Water Taxi - I (foolishly) allowed one gentlemen to take our 2 suitcases and 4 smaller bags on his rickshaw-like carrying device WITHOUT negotiating the price - and for his 15 minute effort, ended up paying 50E! Always negotiate in advance in Venice - the locals will take your left arm and charge you for your right if you aren't careful. Disembarkation was swift and efficient - well done. However, more information on travel options in Venice would have been helpful onboard before leaving. We found out that the Vaporettos do in fact allow luggage, but only after boarding a more expensive water taxi. We spent the night and left for Milan on the train, a quick and efficient three-hour tour. We decided to relax in our hotel (close to the Malapensa Airport but far from the city centre) before our long flight home the next day. As a consequence, we didn't see the Leonardo Da Vinci museum or any of the other sights in Milan this trip. Conclusions: The cruise is worth the trip - that goes double if this is your first time in these ports. Second, take (smaller) private tours whenever you can, if possible - you get much more from them, often for less than the ship's bus tours. Third, take lots of Euro, and do not expect bargains compared to North America or the Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Summit, August 3, 2008, Venice to Barcelona. Disregarding nearly every form of airline screwup known to man, the cruise was outstanding. The ship performed perfectly, the crew was very attentive and the ports were each very interesting ... Read More
Summit, August 3, 2008, Venice to Barcelona. Disregarding nearly every form of airline screwup known to man, the cruise was outstanding. The ship performed perfectly, the crew was very attentive and the ports were each very interesting in their individual way. The good: Unless otherwise indicated below, everything was good! The Summit is a great ship, and the major onboard facilities all seemed to be working. I didn't catch any reports of mechanical issues anywhere. We had cabin 7158 (starboard/aft/veranda) and there were no problems with water pressure, temperature, air conditioning, noise, etc. Despite financial pressures apparently causing some staff retention problems (declining buying power of the US dollar world-wide), I never ran into any bad attitudes in the staff or crew, and John (Cruise Director) did an all-around excellent job. Because we had the combination of late dining and early port calls, the DW and I only attended a few of the evening shows, but the guest entertainers and theater company did a quality job with the stage. Also, the lounge acts in the various venues around the ship were very good. No complaints at all. We had two Cruise Critic meetings during the cruise, and I feel very positive about the exchange of information. At least to me, it sounded like RCL/Celebrity monitors CC and takes the feedback to heart. Keep up the good work! We did dine in the Normandie restaurant twice, and the experience was exceptional. The service and ambiance were fantastic, and the food was generally perfect. I normally despise liver in all of its forms, but I got out of my comfort zone by ordering the fois gras, and it was magnificent. I hate it when that happens! Now I'll need to risk it again some time, and I know it won't be that good anywhere else. The not-so-good: The wait at embarkation was too long, and too hot. The building facility is very basic. Our inbound flight was delayed, but I'm glad we didn't get there on time. Two more hours of waiting in that lobby would have been too much! We were on an Acropolis tour in Athens and the crowds were massive. Our group made it to the top, but the access to the site was closed shortly thereafter because the hill was simply overwhelmed with tourists. It was exciting to stand in the midst of so much history, but the amount of reconstruction and scaffolding around the monuments was definitely a detraction. On our way out of the site, trying to locate our tour bus was a joke. We were running around the parking lot, through continually moving buses, looking for a little paper sign in the front window. After each lap, everything moved around so there was no way to work methodically through the area. In Rome, our original tour was cancelled, so we rebooked to a tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's and the Coliseum. I was really looking forward to the Vatican museum, and spending some time with their incredible art collection. No such luck. In reality, the museum tour is just a path to get from the edge of the Vatican property to the entrance of the Sistine Chapel. We were herded quickly through a couple of galleries of statues, paintings and tapestries and that was the sum total of the Vatican Museum experience. What little we did see was magnificent, but it wasn't a museum tour. Regardless, the Sistine Chapel was interesting and St. Peter's is awe inspiring. The tour of the Coliseum was pretty much as expected. The entire day in Rome was hot (very), crowded and rushed. I guess I can understand the rush to some extent, given the amount of history that we were trying to cram into a few hours. Florence has way too much to see in one day, and that makes any tour a challenge. We went to the Accademia Museum to view the David, then continued a walking tour around several of the larger buildings in the area, including the Duomo complex, Ponte Vecchio bridge, Palazzo Vecchio, etc. The tour description indicated about 2 miles of walking, but I would estimate closer to 4 miles. I routinely walk over two miles as part of my exercise routine, and this was longer. The crowds were not as bad as Athens or Rome, but it was still very busy. I'm glad we didn't stand in line for the Uffizi Gallery - about a two hour line for people without reservations! We have cruised with Celebrity before, and fresh morning waffles were a favorite. Unfortunately, the Summit appears to have sacrificed quantity for quality. I was never able to get one hot off the griddle, as there was always a pre-cooked buffet pan waiting. Still OK, but quality definitely suffered. The Interactive TV system is flaky. About 25% of the time it wouldn't respond at all for ordering room service or checking an account balance. One of our breakfast (room service) orders simply disappeared. I never was brave or desperate enough to attempt a pay-per-view movie with it. Mysteries: Even the Normandie dinner lobster was over-cooked and rubbery. I also had trouble getting a steak, filet or lamb chop any less cooked than medium. I like rare, and that was seemingly impossible. Cold soups were excellent, but the desserts were weak, with the exception of the Normandie specialties. If you order a root beer float at the Cova (it's on the menu), you're not going to get what you're expecting. More like a thin shake. Good, but not a float. The "Notes" area is now an Acupuncture clinic. Didn't try that one. The photographer assigned to taking formal-night photos in our area of the dining room seems to have some problem with couples putting their arms around each other. He was adamant about people being "shoulder to shoulder" with arms down. It was annoying initially, but turned into a running joke at our table. Overall, I give the whole cruise four stars out of five, and I would do it again any day. Some Photos: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/565510557NHDaZd Later! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This was a great cruise with very friendly staff.We had an ocean view stateroom for 3 people and it was very clean but a little small. The washroom was on the small side but it was good and clean. Dining was great! Our waiter was very nice ... Read More
This was a great cruise with very friendly staff.We had an ocean view stateroom for 3 people and it was very clean but a little small. The washroom was on the small side but it was good and clean. Dining was great! Our waiter was very nice and very patient. Our sommelier was pretty good as well. The food in the main dining room was very good but the soups were not as good. The desserts are a must every night! The buffet, on the other hand, was okay. The food didn't have much variation (it was the same everyday). It was also very hard to find the table where your family was sitting because it was a little crowded and the buffet was very big. The food was fine though. The only complaint i have was that the latest the buffet opened until was 11pm and sometimes on a cruise i would wake up in the middle of the night wanting something to eat and the buffet was closed... Room service was great and was always free of charge. The pool grill was amazing! The nachos were delicious and the hot dogs were very good. They also had onion rings, fries and hamburgers.The shows were always very exciting every night. They had magicians, singers, dancers, acrobats and bands come and perform for us and were always fun and entertaining. A great way to end the day!Embarking and disembarking was very smooth and the staff were always very pleasant and open.We had one shore excursion which was for the port of Naples. The tour guide was very nice but it seemed that they really wanted you to buy something at the music box shop they took us to and if you didn't buy anything, they seemed kind of angry. The shore excursion prices very on the pricy side as well. Otherwise, the shore excursion was very smooth, fun and well-planned. You can book an excursion before your cruise and on board as well.Although the ship was full, it never felt too crowded and the fellow passengers were very friendly too.Will definitely go on Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We're in our 20s and it was our first time to Europe. The ports are very intensive but very worth it. Its only intensive if you want it to be, we wanted to see everything so its more tiring for us but very fun. If you want more info, ... Read More
We're in our 20s and it was our first time to Europe. The ports are very intensive but very worth it. Its only intensive if you want it to be, we wanted to see everything so its more tiring for us but very fun. If you want more info, you can go into Boards, Roll Calls-Members only (Just register real quick, Roll Calls-Summit (under the Celebrity Connection tab), click on SUMMIT *** -- May 23, 2008 -- ***Europe***. You will find alot of helpful information regarding our cruise. Also, lots of information when you click on Boards and go down to Ports of Call and click on Europe and then Mediterranean - Eastern & Western. We read so much before going and it was worth it. We met friends on the SUMMIT *** -- May 23, 2008 -- ***Europe*** forum and booked private tours. That's the best thing we did and I highly recommend it. Our tours are longer and has great flexibility. You have the driver for the day and you can tell them where you want to go or stick to the schedule that they have already. You save alot of money too. We usually have about 8 people for our tours. We had 14 people for our tour to Athens. The minivan fit 16. We booked Full-Day Athens tour through AthensTaxi. http://www.athenstaxi.org. Our guide's name was Margarita I believe. She was great. She went with us into Acropolis for a little bit and also Museums. Very comfortable Mercedes. It was about 60 Euro/person. The van has great A/C and they gave us cold water bottles. The full day tour with a licensed tour guide and the drop off at the port will cost 700 Euros (for up to 10 passengers plus 40 Euros per each additional person). We had 14 so the cost was about 62 Euro/ person. Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi Coast: We booked through http://www.aptours.it 510 euro for 8 people = 68 Euro per person. We asked to be dropped off in Sorrento and take the ferry back to Naples, bad idea. We heard it was a beautiful ride from previous passengers so we requested it. However, the sea was a little rough and I felt sick. Also, we can't really see the view because they closed the Hydro ferry and it was hot and humid. I would definitely ask to drive back to Naples instead. We heard alot of people who took the cruisetour to Capri got really sick. The sea was rough that day and it was a long ride to Capri. Our friends told us half way there, they passed around brown bags in case people felt sick. Alot threw up. Pompeii was ok, not as impressive as I thought it would be. Not alot of bodies/statues, Maybe it got moved somewhere like museum? Not sure. Sorrento was ok, nothing special. We loved the Amalfi Coast and Positano. Positano is so beautiful. Instead of 1 hr, we requested to have 2 hours here. The view is beautiful. We booked through www.UnforgettableTusany.com for Rome & Florence/Pisa tour. *Rome: We had Walter Rose as our driver, he's the best. He's been living in Rome for the past 22 years so very knowledgeable. Rome become our favorite city because of Walter. We got to see the Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Catacombe, Colosseum, Trevi, his favorite church (very beautiful) & see the Vatican through a keyhole and many more places. It was 460 or 520 for 8 people. I think 520/8 = 65E/person. Highly recommend Walter through Unforgettable Tuscany. Drove a Volkswagon minivan. Very nice with AC. Florence/Pisa: We had Alberto as our driver. He was handsome and nice. Mercedes Minivan for 8 people with great AC. 520E/8 = 65E/person. We stayed 1 night in Barcelona, Spain at Apsis Spendid Hotel. Highly recommended. Booked online through www.Booking.com it was only 90Euro, close to La Ramblas and pier. Very good customer service & very nice room. Free internet. Dubrovnik, Croatia; Santorini, Greece; Venice, Italy; Villefrance, France; and Barcelona, Spain are all easy to do by yourself. Dubrovnik, Croatia: We took the cruise's bus to the city center. about 10 minutes for 10 Euro. We ate seafood at Kamenice (excellent seafood: oyster, fried calamari & steam Mussels. Recommended by locals) and walked the city wall. Very beautiful. Santorini, Greece: Took the cable car uphill rather than walking or donkey ride. We shared a rental car with another couple. Only 35 Euro, they booked online. YOu can also rent when you get there. Very easy to drive around. Driving up the mountain, the road is a little narrow but Jay was a very good driver. Rental place gave a good map too. Oai was beautiful. All the houses are very white, wear sunglasses. :) Venice, Italy: We bought the Venice Youth Pass (under 30 yrs old) for 2 days. It was about 22 Euro each, if I remember correctly. You can ride water taxi & public buses. Cheap,Very easy and convenient. Make sure you look at the price rather than ask the person. In the Rick Steve's Book it said a different price, the girl at the desk told us a different price. I asked her if they have a sign, she said she doesn't know. How could you work there and not know where the price list is? I looked around and saw the sign, the price she quote me was higher than the posted sign. Goodness, trying to rip us off already. :( Villefrance, France: Very easy. We took the public bus #80 right across the street from the pier. It goes uphill to the Pharmacy, you get off and catch bus to Nice or Monte Carlo. Or you can walk from pier uphill and catch bus. "Bus #82 and 112 connect Villefranche with Nice (westbound) and Eze (eastbound), but you must walk a ways uphill to the main road to catch them. You can also take Bus # 80 from the Hotel de Ville stop near the tender dock to Nice, or use it to transfer to 82/112 at Col. de Villefranche. Travel time to Nice is about 15-20 minutes, and to Eze is about the same. Fare is E 1.30 each way. Be careful as there is also a town called Eze Sur Mer, that is not Eze village." We took the bus from across the pier, got off at Pharmacy and catch bus to Nice. Got off Downtown Nice, explore, went back to the bus station in Nice and catch a bus to Eze. The bus from Eze does not run as often to Monte Carlo. We missed the bus from Eze to Monte Carlo by 1 minute, we didn't look at the schedule because we were eating. We took the taxi instead. We had 4 people, the taxi driver said if we have 6 then it'll be 60 Euro. We found 2 people who wanted to go to Monte Carlo so we split 10E each. We didn't want to wait for another hour for the next bus. Monte Carlo was nice. The casino was a lot smaller than what we imagine, only a few tables. I'm sure there's a lot of private rooms. Some of the tables said the minimum to play was 1,000 Euro a hand. Wow. Casino doesn't open until 2pm, that's why we went to Eze first. Its 10 E to get in per person. You can dress casual, as long as no jeans and sneakers. We left before 5pm. I heard after 5pm, its formal and I believe they said tuxedo. My hubby won 70E at the casino so that was good. From Monte Carlo we took the metro back to Villefrance. Barcelona, Spain: Again, very easy. Taxi is cheap here. Took the free shuttle from pier to Christopher Columbus statue. We stayed on cruise until 9:30am instead of leaving at 8:10. The cruise dock at 7 am. We stayed overnight in Spain so there was no hurry to get off. There were very long lines for taxi and bus. I think a lot of people were unaware that there's a free shuttle to the Columbus statue. We saw long lines but asked for the free shuttle and they showed us, we got right on the bus and was on our way. No wait at all. Dropped off at the Columbus statue, we were either going to take the bus or taxi. We heard taxi very cheap. My hubby speak some Spanish and negotiate with the driver. Taxi ride was only 9 E from Columbus statue to our hotel. We didn't want to pull our luggage on the bus. We stayed at Aspis Spendid, very nice hotel and we highly recommend. We met some people at the hotel who's going on the next Celebrity Summit cruise. Gave them some tips and suggestions on the trip. They were going to explore the city and head down to the cruise, they had 4 people and the driver that they asked the front desk to hire charged them over 200 Euro. I told them our taxi ride was only 9 Euro, it was too late, they couldn't cancel. Taxi are very cheap in Barcelona, so use it. We bought the tourist bus tickets to explore the city. Got to see everything we wanted on that bus. Hop on Hop Off bus. It makes 40 stops so you can get off and on anywhere you want. I believe it starts at 9Am and stop at 8Pm. Last minute, we decided to fly to Paris. RyanAir is dirt cheap. It was only about 29.99 Euro per person. Wow!!! They do charge you per checked bags, it was about 10E per checked bag. Still, excellent deals. RyanAir depart from a small airport in Spain into a small airport in Paris. We looked at rates and read recommendations from the Rick Steve's book. Hubby booked a taxi driver from our hotel to bus station, from bus station we took the taxi shuttle to the small airport (forgot the name). I thought Ryan Air would be small since its so cheap, its actually very big like Delta. We bought the priority pass for Ryan Air so we got on first and choose our seats. RyanAir is dirt cheap so no service which was fine by us, since it's a short flight. Hubby booked a taxi from Paris airport to our hotel in Paris. The taxi fit probably 8 people, when we arrived at the airport the driver had a sign with our name. When we got to the taxi minivan, there were 6 other people in the taxi already. Driver drop those people off, give us a great tour of the city and took us to our hotel. Driver was very nice & helpful. He said traffic is terrible in Paris so take the Metro. Europe has great metro system, very fast and convenient. We bought the metro pass to go within the city (zone 1 & 2). 2nd day we took Metro everywhere. We took all 4 tour bus routes to see everything. The double deck bus was convenient. It was kinda chilly so I switch between 1st deck and 2nd deck. My hubby like to sit up there so he could take lots of pictures for me. ? The 3nd day in Paris, we took the metro to Versailles to see King Louis Palace. Amazing palace. We bought the Versailles Pass for the day at the Metro station. The Pass get us priority line to go in and got to see the Garden and the Spectacular Fountains. The Pass is only sold at certain locations so be sure to check. We couldn't buy it at the station where we were at so we had to buy it at a different station. The pass was good for all day even when we got back into Paris and use it all over town. They say the pass is only good to go from Paris to Versailles and back, we didn't know it work all around Paris as well. The Versailles Pass was 25Euro each and that include tickets to the palace (priority line) & garden and train tickets. Great deals. We read that in the Rick Steve's book too. ? From our hotel, we booked the Golden wings shuttle (recommended by Rick Steve's book) to the Charles De Gaule Airport (Paris main airport) to fly home. Rick Steve's Europe & Rick Steve's Italy book was very helpful. I bought both. Great details. Highly recommended. Cruise: It was very nice & formal. We're always exhausted after touring so its great getting back on the cruise to relax. What I read is true, if you're on this itineraries to explore then you won't be in your room a lot so get an inside or ocean view. We like to see outside a little so we went for Ocean View. We were hardly in our room and if we were we're usually asleep. Our 2001 OV room was the first one front aft so we're next to the crew cabin or crew area. Its pretty quiet. I had allergies so some nights I didn't sleep and it was quiet. You get 24 room service with limited menu for FREE. You can order your room service through tv or phone. Internet & Phone: Phone in the room is very costly, about $6/minute. The cruise has an internet room, charge about 40/50 cent per minute. We had our cell phones from the states with us and it works fine when we're at port. The cell phones has great signal on the cruise when it docks, better signal when closer to land I guess. Tmobile charge us for roaming and also voicemail messages. Make sure you have call forwarding turned off by the phone company before you travel. We didn't know and got charge for all voicemail that was left on our phone when we turn it on. Service: We love the service on this cruise. Very formal and classy. You get service everywhere you go. Our beds are made twice a day so very nice. The only difference is that we requested a table for 2 but we got assigned to a table of 6. First, we weren't comfortable but it actually turn out great. We made great friends, we share stories everyday, hangout on the cruise and even on ports. It turned out great and we learned a lot from each other. Without CruiseCritic.com & the people we met at our dinner table, we probably didn't really know anyone. We're so glad that we found CruiseCritic.com. Whoever created it, we're thankful from the bottom of our hearts. It's the best website for cruisers. It was our first time to Europe so we're a little nervous. The website took all the worries and feared away. We learned so much from the website that we had all our questions answered and saved so much money for excursions/tours. Everyone on the website was so helpful and sweet. The Cruise host a party if we have 25 or more people registered for the Cruise Critic Connection Party. We had about 60+ who registered. We met quite a few at the party. I organized some tours and didn't know if we'll get along with all of the people or if they would showed up, it worked out perfectly. Everyone showed up and we all had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
If i ramble a bit during this review please forgive me.My lovely lady and I decided to have a dream cruise on the celebrity summit and spent the best part of eighteen months planning this. We flew from Dublin to Venice with Aer Lingus who ... Read More
If i ramble a bit during this review please forgive me.My lovely lady and I decided to have a dream cruise on the celebrity summit and spent the best part of eighteen months planning this. We flew from Dublin to Venice with Aer Lingus who promptly lost one of our suitcases, which as it turned out did not come on holidays with us at all. It stayed in Dublin airport for the entire time.This would have been a complete disaster had it been my lovely ladys case which was identical to mine.As you can imagine a ladys clothes are much more difficult to replace then a mans. The concierge on the ship did everything in his power to locate my bag but as aer lingus never even bothered to look for it I was never going to get it sent to the ship. Embarkation This was a breeze due to the fact we did not arrive till 9.30pm.Our bags were taken straight up to our suite for us. We then met Ricki our Butler who showed us around our suite.The penthouse is huge and so is the veranda.Ricki the butler over the next twelve days became a friend and I can't find words to explain just how good this man was to us.Back to the penthouse, DO NOT EVER BOOK THIS SUITE BECAUSE YOU WILL CRY WHEN YOU HAVE TO LEAVE IT.We developed cabin fever and it was very difficult to motivate ourselves to explore other areas of the ship. I wont bore you with details of all the shore excursions we went on other than to say that they were all celebrity tours and we found them to be excellent.Venice,Dubrovnik, Santorini,Sorrento,Rome etc all wonderful. The ship we found to be elegant,beautiful and absolutely spotless. I cannot say enough about the staff on the summit. I did not find even one person that didn't greet you with a smile, or a good morning, good afternoon or a welcome back.We have some particular favorites we would like to give a mention to Ricki our butler, our stateroom attendants Josephino and Hector. Our favorite bar staff in the casino Shelby and Michael who made excellent vodka mules for us. Regina in the martini bar who made excellent martinis and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Captain Yannis Berdos and his hotel director Raffaele Bernardini for their wonderful hospitality and attention to detail.One or two final things the food we found to be excellent and the thirty dollars extra for the Normandie restaurant was worth every cent.If you cruise on the summit do not miss this experience.I cannot comment on the shows in the theatre as we didn't make it to see them (cabin fever)However a quick mention to the flava of the med night which was great fun. Everyone dresses in ALL WHITE and there is a buffet with fabulous treats and a great show put on. To finish I will just say we will be cruising with celebrity again next year. It just goes to prove first impressions make all the difference.Well done celebrity summit. PS I would like to give a special mention to the Laundry staff who knowing that my bag was lost, had my clothes cleaned almost before i had them off.Many thanks. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Some background. We are a well traveled 42 year old couple traveling with our 16 year old daughter. We have been on 3 cruises prior to this one. We have never taken ships excursions and have always done our trips on our own, with our own ... Read More
Some background. We are a well traveled 42 year old couple traveling with our 16 year old daughter. We have been on 3 cruises prior to this one. We have never taken ships excursions and have always done our trips on our own, with our own planning. This was an extremely busy cruise and the extensive planning made it easy. We did much more than the ships tours at 1/10 the cost and on our own time and leisure. We clearly understand the cost/benefits of some cruise lines and itineraries and had appropriate expectations. Venice Upon arrival from multiple delayed flights, we arrived after we had been quoted 90-100eu for a water taxi, but since we met up with another cruise critic couple on the plane we decided to spit the cost. When the taxi service realized there would be two hotel stops the rate went to $135eu. We had planned on purchasing the Vaporetto pass for the 72 hours, but we didn't and thankfully so as we did not use it once while there. Venice was smaller than I expected and can be done easily on foot which is what we did. We did get lost a few times, but that just added to the fun of this incredible city. We spent 2 nights prior to boarding at the Westin Europa and Regina on points and were upgraded in both our rooms. After 2 days in Venice, we were thoroughly exhausted. The crowds were incredible and we did our best by staying out of the crowded tourist areas during peak afternoon times. We used the free Rick Steve's podcast audio tours for many of the sites here and really enjoyed the Frari Church and its history. Embarkation We decided to spend the day in Venice and show up around 4pm on the first day in port since we had the next day here too. We opted to spend the 100eu to get a water taxi from our hotel to the ship via the Grand Canal. Embarkation had started 4 hours earlier, so there was no one around. Once on the ship we knew our bags would be a while so we went to the Waterfall Cafe for a snack and made reservations for the Normandy that night at 8pm. After 3+ hours of our bags still not showing up we had our room attendant go search for the bags. He was unsuccessful; however they did show up a few minutes later giving us little time to change for dinner. This was VERY disappointing seeing there was no one checking in and it should not have taken nearly 4 hours to get our bags. Others said they too were late getting their bags, in fact we saw some bags showing up 3-4 days later at port from misrouted airlines. The Normandy experience was just OK, we commonly eat at high end restaurants so we are not easily impressed. Service was fine, if not annoying with their high level of attention. The food was well prepared and flavorful, about what I would expect from this level. Croatia We were told the ships shuttle was $10/pp. We opted to take a taxi for $10eu each way making our R/T taxi ride about $30 for three of us, about the same if we had take the lemming (Ships) bus. We used the ATM just outside the Pile gate to get about $50 in local currency and did the wall tour, backwards (Clockwise) as recommended. We then walked around town, had lunch away from the tourist areas and returned by walking up to one of the many taxi's waiting at the walls entrance for a quick ride back to the ship. We did see some walking on their own, but I don't think they were walking to the old town area which is an impractical distance to walk. Croatia is an easy port to do on your own and I would recommend anyone to do this on your own. You can easily see the sites, have lunch and shop in 3-4 hours here. Santorini I had given my family the choice of the donkey up or down the hill. They hesitantly agreed to go up the hill on the donkeys. It was the one experience of the whole trip that will NEVER be forgotten. As you get off the tender you will be guided by the donkey men who will try and get you to ride one of their donkeys up the hill. It was $5eu per person. I was surprised to see they just put you on a donkey and tell it to go up the hill on its own. Now, I use "on its own" because it is just that. You are at the mercy of the donkey to go or stop at its leisure. I found that yelling did nothing. Reaching back and slapping its' rear got it going. If one donkey stopped they all stopped. If one passed your stopped donkey, they would join up and start again. I would highly recommend doing this just once for the experience. Once we went into town we found not too much to do on our own, so we rented a car for the day and went to the far end of the island and went to the beach. After a few hours on the beach we then drove back to Oia for a late lunch then returned back to take the gondola back down. Santorini is an easy port to do on your own. I would recommend simply taking the city bus to Oia for shopping and lunch and return to Fira for more shopping. This is a leisure port that anyone can easily do on their own. Athens I had read so many horror stories about the taxi drivers here that I would not even respond to their requests for a taxi ride. We opted to walk from the ship to the train station. We were told it was only about a 20 minute walk when in reality it was more like 45 minutes since it turned out to be about a mile and a half. The taxi board at the Cruise ship terminal says a taxi to the Acropolis should be $8eu, but I did hear people pay $20eu for a taxi to the Acropolis, if true would really be the way to go. Be careful, taxis try and get an agreed rate then at the end tell you that was per person. We had a great time walking around the Plaka and the Acropolis here on our own. Took the train back and once again walked back. Probably did about 5 miles walking on this port and could have cut out about 3 miles had we taken a cab. Naples Without a doubt, Naples was one of our favorite ports because we went to Sorrento. We opted to take the hydrofoil over to Sorrento for a couple hours then take the train back to Pompeii and back to Naples. We underestimated the time we wanted to spend wandering around Sorrento, due to the incredible shops and scenery. We then walked over to the Sorrento train station which stopped right at the entrance to the Pompeii ruins. Again, even with umbrellas, it was hot out and only felt like seeing a cursory view of the ruins. We got right back on the train and got off in Naples. We made the easy walk over to Da Michele for some authentic pizza. A 16" margarita pizza was $4eu, a tasty bargain to say the least. After a late lunch we made the easy walk over to the port and back on the ship. Rome We set new records as the tour desk did not even have times earlier than 7:50 for the train schedule. We not only got off the ship by 7:10, we were on the 7:30 train which put us in Rome for the 8:40 arrival at the St. Peters stop. An easy 20 minute walk to the entrance of the Vatican put us with plenty of time to spare for our 9:15am prepaid entrance to the Vatican. We were traveling with another couple we met on the ship that did not reserve their entrance to the museum and proceeded to get in the line that was already 1000 ft. long. Surprisingly, by the time we got our tour group together and to the tour entrance, our friends were already inside the Vatican museum entrance AND bought their tickets making their wait at 9am about 10-15 minutes. After pounding out the Vatican museum and seeing the Basilica in about 3 hours, we took a taxi to the Coliseum, walked it and the Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps.. (Note- Make sure to buy your Coliseum/Forum/Palatine tickets at the Palatine ticket booth, just 100 yards from the Coliseum). The line to get tickets at the Coliseum was at least 45 minutes long and we were able to walk right in. From the Spanish Steps we took the Metro back to the Termini station for a 4pm train back to the ship which should have given us about an hour and half safety margin About half way back the train stopped for no apparent reason. We sat on the tracks in the middle of nowhere for about 45 minutes until we continued our journey. We found out later the trains went on strike and ALL trains had stopped. Ironically there was an accident on the highways which delayed 13 tour buses and the ship left port at 8pm, an hour later than scheduled. Florence We took the ships shuttle to the port entrance and walked the three blocks to the train station. The train takes you right into the heart of Florence making everything within easy walking distance. We had booked 11:15am reserved entrance to the Uffizi and after seeing the lines, we were glad we did. We went up at 10am to see if we could get in earlier and they didn't bat an eye issuing the admission at 10am. Using Rick Steve's Uffizi audio tour we were able to see, in detail the pieces that were of interest to us. We then proceeded to Santa Croce (Which I highly recommend) to see the burial place of many famous historical figures. We then took the train ride back with a 1 hour stop to take the requisite pictures in Pisa makes this an easy do it yourself port. Villefranche/Monaco This is such and easy port to do on your own. We took the city bus into Nice and walked around for a bit, but since it was so hot we opted to head up to Eze. We walked back to the bus terminal and took the 20 minute ride up to Eze. We walked around for a bit and decided we were too worn out from the previous 3 intense days and it was hot, so we opted to head down to Monaco. We did not realize the bus only ran down to Monaco like once every 1.5 hours so we had a quick lunch right next to the bus stop in Eze. We tried to get a waiting taxi for the 7km ride to Monaco, but they wanted $50eu for the 15 minute ride. After a brief walk around Monaco, we jumped on the wrong train back to Villefranche that was actually the express train to Nice. Once in Nice, we jumped back on the train for the 7 minute ride back to the ships tender early in the afternoon. Debarkation We were scheduled to meet in the lounge at 7am to disembark. Instead we went to the dining room and finished around 7:30am and made our way directly to the gangway. There was no one around and we walked right off the ship. Since the others in our disembarkation group had already exited and claimed their bags, we simply walked right up to the baggage carousel and picked up our bags and walked to the waiting taxis. We were told the taxi should only cost about $10eu to Las Ramblas, but baggage was extra. Our taxi driver quoted us $25eu and he explained it was because there is a $2.40eu per person port charge and $1eu per bag. We argued a bit and tried to walk off. He convinced me this was the going rate and he would run the meter to prove it. On the way at one intersection our taxi pulled up to another taxi and our driver said "Punta Punta" meaning he had some whining customer (to put it politely). After taking a round about way to our hotel (Le Meridian) the meter read $8eu. I simply got out of the taxi and asked the bell men to intervene since they were well armed as to the costs of the taxi service. They too thought he was a rip off and told him he was ripping us off. He finally agreed to take $20eu which I reluctantly agreed to. Barcelona Barcelona is an awesome city. We went first thing to Sagrada Familia and found it incredible and a definite "do not miss" on our trip. Was used the subway which I found to be one of the best in the world, I wish the USA could take some notes here. An older couple befriended us during open seating at breakfast that morning and asked to join us for our day in Barcelona. When we were getting on the subway a man and woman pushed her as they went on board and tried of open the ladies purse. Unsuccessful, they jumped off the subway train just as the doors were closing. The rest of our day was spent wandering Las Ramblas, having Tapas and just getting lost. The next morning we found the bus that left just up the street that went directly to the airport for $4eu person and really didn't want to deal with the taxi drivers again. After we got on the bus we watched the others in line waiting to board. We saw two men at the end of the line with no baggage, we watched as they slowly tried to open the baggage of the passenger at the end of the line. My wife knocked on the window to get his attention. He looked at her and she motioned to the guy behind him. He simply smiled and told the crook she was trying to talk to him. Fed up with crime in general, I climbed over everyone trying to get on the bus and told the man he was about to be a victim from the two crooks standing in front of him. I told off the thieves and told them to leave. We had been warned about the thieves and pickpockets throughout the cruise ports. We saw nothing in any of the other ports to make us look over our shoulder, with the exception of Barcelona which we encountered 2 incidents in less than 24 hours. Barcelona was one of our favorite cities, but after the criminal experiences, we would have to seriously reconsider ever coming back here. The Ship Experience John, the ships cruise director met us at our cruise critic get together with some hors d'oeuvres and light drinks. He had some of the staff attend as well. John mentioned he follows cruise critic very closely and reads ALL the reviews (Hi John!) I was glad to see such reception from the crew to our group as well as a great turnout from the Roll-Call. The sports deck was still closed during most of our trip since they were still finishing the refurbishment from dry dock that was not completed. The condition of the ship was good. I was surprised to see a need for significant refinishing on the rails on the 10th floor near the T-Pools. This is easily repaired and I was surprised this was not taken care of in dry dock. The food was about what we expected, good, not great. Portion sizes were not large, but they were appropriate. Food Selection was good at the dining room. We never ate at the buffet, but had some snacks here. We found the selection decent, but not extensive. We enjoyed the pizza at the rear buffet area. I loved the homemade ice cream on board, but found the lines unacceptable. We watched as many as 16 people waiting in line with one attendant is not right. I complained to the food service manager on duty and he grabbed someone out of the hallway and told them to scoop ice cream for a while. That lasted about 2 minutes and the clerk would disappear without shortening the line. Once again I brought it to the attention of the food service manager and he once again grabbed someone walking by to assist. As to the ship, it was about what we expected. It was a well run machine, classy and efficient. The 12 days gave us ample time to form friendships and recognize familiar faces in port. We found the ship was about 60% Americans and for the most part they were upper middle class and respectful. Entertainment The Celebrity Dancers and Singers were expected to be typical and we were not too interested in seeing another high school type production. Boy, were we wrong! The quality of the dancers and singers was excellent. Their Broadway musical was very well done and in our opinion was on par with some of the original productions we have seen firsthand. Granted the sets were limited, but this is a cruise ship and you only have so much to work with. I guess we went in with low expectations and they were far exceeded. We did not go to see the 4 acappella singers in the theater as it did not interest me. We did see them performing all over the ship and felt the ship was relying on their mediocre performance too heavily throughout the cruise. The ships band was awesome and we did enjoy their performances throughout the ship and the cruise. We were just too tired to see the comedian in the theater his first night. I love a good comedian and again, I skipped him partially due to low expectations. We did see him on one of the last nights and found him hilarious and regretted not seeing him on his first night. I read on other reviews complaints about the cost of drinks on the ship. To anyone who has ever ordered a drink at a nice restaurant or ANY restaurant in Europe knows $6-$8us for a mixed drink is an incredible bargain. We found $6eu for sodas commonplace in Venice, that's about $10us for a soda let alone a mixed drink which we found as high as $20eu or $30us at some ports. Sodas on the ship ran $1.95, which is cheaper than any sit down type restaurant I know of here in the States, let alone in the EU. Shuttle costs I found the whole idea of the ship charging for shuttle services offensive. I soon expect them to charge for tender services as well. We never used the shuttle since they don't start until about an hour after the ship docks which was an hour less time in port for us, so we did it our own, for less money too. Taxis were readily available right at the ship at all the ports, however some of them did not want a short trip to the train station or to town, they only wanted to do all day tours for a small fortune. 4 days of intensity We choose this ship for its itinerary. It is a very intensive trip to say the least. There are four days in which you have Naples, Rome, Florence and Nice/Monaco all back to back without a break making the next day which is at sea very welcoming. I wish they could have simply done the overnight in Rome which would have broken up the intensity and given much need time to see more of Rome as well. The Room We thoroughly researched which room we wanted on the ship. We knew this was a very port intensive trip and we wouldn't spend much time in the room. We opted for outside room 9001 which is on the port side. We loved the size and layout of this room since our 16yo daughter was sharing it with us. Our room steward asked if we wanted the sofa bed left open and we did. The room gave us the open sofa bed, the king size bed then a nice sitting area with 2 chairs and a table PLUS the vanity with another chair. The room size is about 250sq. ft. which puts it in the suite category for the outside cabin price. One of the things we liked best about the far forward room was there was very little foot traffic, even from the crew staff quarters in front of us which I read other complain about. Just one floor up was the spa cafe which we ate at almost every morning. Usually a breakfast of cereals, breads and bagels, fresh fruit and yogurts made us eat better and the fact the buffet was so far away made it uninviting. The spa area and T-Pool were very convenient as well. In fact the first week I never used our rooms shower, it was easier for me to use the locker rooms to shower in. They even had free razors and shaving cream to use here. Summary Overall we had a great trip. The itinerary is way too much to consider a vacation; this was an intense history lesson. We walked about 3-5 miles at each port; saw all the sites with only a basic cursory view due to the time limitations at each port. We returned home exhausted from our travels with a great understanding of what each country and port has to offer. We would definitely recommend the Summit and this itinerary as it was a trip we will not soon forget! I should be able to post some of the 1500+ pictures we took and you can view them here: http://picasaweb.google.com/lawsons.pictures/SummitCruiseJune162008 If you have any questions, feel free to email me at jlawson@Bigvalley.net Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We recently returned from the June 16 cruise from Venice to Barcelona on the Summit. We had a fantastic cruise and were very happy with this ship and itinerary. We are a couple in our late 40's with two daughters ages 7 and 11. This ... Read More
We recently returned from the June 16 cruise from Venice to Barcelona on the Summit. We had a fantastic cruise and were very happy with this ship and itinerary. We are a couple in our late 40's with two daughters ages 7 and 11. This was our 7th cruise overall and our 2nd on Celebrity. Most of our other cruises have been on Princess, so we couldn't help making some comparisons here and there. This was also our first European cruise. I've tried to separate our comments by topic so that you can skip the ones that don't interest you. We had a very active Roll Call for this cruise which was a huge help in pre-cruise planning. PRE-CRUISE/EMBARKATION: We flew Delta from PHX-ATL-VCE and arrived the day before the cruise around 11 am. We had decided to splurge on a water taxi to our hotel, Locanda Orseolo, provided that we could be taken directly to the hotel's canal side entrance rather than St. Mark's Square. Upon arrival at Marco Polo airport, we went to the Venezia water company's desk in the airport terminal. We were told that because of the tides we couldn't go directly to the hotel but had to be dropped off at St. Mark's. Knowing that low tides cannot occur at noon, we decided to walk with our bags out to where the water taxis depart. We asked again there and found someone willing to take us directly to the hotel. Thanks to tips we've read on Cruise Critic, we told the driver we wanted to take the "scenic route" through the Grand Canal rather than the shorter more direct route. We agreed on a price of 120 Euros. We had a very nice trip through the Grand Canal and then to Canal Orseolo, where we arrived at the "water window" for our hotel, Locanda Orseolo. The driver knocked on the window and it was opened by Igor, who immediately greeted us by name. Our luggage was handed in through the window and we then climbed in ourselves. We picked Locanda Orseolo based on the great reviews it has received on Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor. We were not disappointed. We had Room 14, which is a 2 room suite that looks out onto the canal. The first room had two twin beds and the second room had a king bed and a nice bathroom. The hotel is charming, ideally located, and the staff could not have been friendlier. We only wish we had arranged to stay two nights instead of just one. We dropped off our bags and set off for some immediate sightseeing in Venice, including a visit to St. Mark's Cathedral. We returned later to meet a couple from our Cruise Critic Roll Call who were also staying at Locanda Orseolo. We all went to dinner together that evening. We had hoped to take an evening gondola ride but it started to rain so we ended up at Harry's Bar for overpriced bellinis. The next day we had a nice breakfast at Locanda Orseolo including their famous crepes. We did more sightseeing in Venice, including the Secret Doge's Tour. We also took a lovely gondola ride. Finally it was time to go to the ship. We shared a water taxi from the hotel with the couple from our Roll Call. This time we made the mistake of not fixing the price ahead of time, and not asking to be taken on the shorter, direct route. So we ended up with another scenic trip from the hotel through the Grand Canal to the cruise terminal, at a cost of 110 Euros. We got to the cruise terminal around 4 pm and were able to board quickly and easily. INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE SUMMIT: We have been on the Infinity to Alaska so we were familiar with the layout of the ship. We really like the size and layout of the M-class ships better than our other favorite line, Princess. We had connecting staterooms (6093 and 6095 -- Category 2C) located midship on Deck 6. Because we have young children, we also liked the fact that we could have cabins that connected with an interior door, which is virtually impossible to find on Princess. I do prefer the location of the closets in the Princess staterooms, though, because you don't block the doorway when you use the closet. Our rooms were clean and comfortable and we liked our room steward, Rolando, who made sure to always greet us by name. CRUISE CRITIC CONNECTIONS PARTY: We had an active Roll Call for this cruise. We had 59 people signed up for the Connections Party. We had an informal get together after sailaway at the Mast Bar, and the official party was at 10 am on the first sea day in Michael's Bar. We had about 25 show up from the Roll Call. The Cruise Director, John Howell, was there along with the Hotel Director, Raffaele Bernardini and the Food & Beverage Director Robert Flack. There was also someone from Celebrity's Miami office, as well as Kim, the ship's activities director. They were all very gracious and happy to chat with us. John Howell gave a nice introduction and said that they read Cruise Critic regularly! DINING: Dinner the first evening was open seating. The next night we went to the dining room for our regular seating. We had main seating and Table 440. We had requested a table for 4 but they led us to a table for 8. I immediately started to panic. I was worried that we would be seated with people who would not like being seated with children. But just as I was fretting about that, another family was seated at our table with two children ages 6 and 10 (ours are 7 and 11). Kudos to Celebrity for matching us up so nicely. We had excellent service every night from our waiter Cecil and his assistant Sam. We are used to Anytime Dining on Princess, but we enjoyed getting to know our wait staff and not having to bother with reservations. We thought that overall the dining room food was good to very good, and pretty comparable to what we have had on Princess. Salads were a weak point in my opinion. They always had fancy descriptions but usually didn't consist of much. As for desserts our comments go both ways. On the plus side, the desserts routinely showed freshness, richness of ingredients, and the execution of a skilled pastry chef. Sometimes on Princess (particularly the buffet) we find the desserts to have a supermarket "slice of sheet cake" quality. Not here. On the minus side, we felt that the breadth of the offerings, while wide, was skewed towards mousses, Napoleon cake-type dishes and Eclair- type pastries, with not enough in the pie, cobbler and fruit varieties. On these cruises you can eat a lot of puff pastry. One night we ate in the Normandie and thoroughly enjoyed it. We always dine in the specialty restaurants on Princess and we found both the Normandie and the SS United States (on the Infinity) to be far superior to Sabatini's and Sterling Steakhouse, in terms of the service and the food itself. I had the filet mignon with truffle sauce, and DH had the rack of lamb. Both were excellent and of course the goat cheese soufflE was heavenly. The whole experience took 3 hours, probably about 30 minutes longer than was really necessary, but very enjoyable nonetheless. We were quite happy with the Waterfall Cafe for breakfast and lunch (when not in port). We especially liked the waffles at breakfast and the Asian food available at lunch. The Waterfall Cafe had a much better selection of food, and the food itself was definitely superior to the food we've encountered at the buffet on Princess. The burger grill at the pool was also surprisingly good compared to our prior cruise experiences. We also thought that overall the service onboard was excellent, professional but also very friendly. In addition to our wait staff and room steward, we had especially good service from the Fun Factory staff and at the Cova Cafe, which became one of our regular stops. One of the hidden gems on these ships is the pastry bar at Cova Cafe, which has free, delicious, still-warm pastries in the mornings and both savories and desserts in the afternoons. Cova Cafe is also a great place to get Gourmet Bites, the late night passed hors d'oeuvres and sweets. LA FLAVA: According to John Howell, the Cruise Director, this is a new concept for Mediterranean cruises. The night we were in Naples, the ship put on a big Mediterranean buffet poolside on Decks 10 and 11, with lots of extra tables and chairs for outside dining. Everyone was encouraged to wear white (or togas) and there was a band and dancing. The dining room was also open if you wanted to eat at your regular seating. It was very pleasant to sit outside and watch the sailaway from Naples. DRESS CODE. We felt that the dress code was followed pretty faithfully in the dining room. We've read a lot of heated discussion about the dress code outside the dining room. Yes, on formal night we did see people in casual attire in the internet cafe, the photo gallery, the shops, etc. Nobody seemed concerned. We also saw a few people in what I would call "smart casual" attire at the shows. Frankly, the shows were never full (perhaps due to the busy itinerary) so I couldn't imagine them turning anyone away. Also, nobody was dressed sloppily - just not formally. What really struck us, however, was that on formal nights there were a lot of empty seats in the dining room, and that increased with each formal night so that by the time of the third formal night, there were quite a few tables that were empty or near empty. We felt sorry for people at two tables near us. Both were tables for 8 but one had only 2 people present and another had only 3. The port intensive itinerary presumably affected the turnout. At the disembarkation talk on the last day, John Howell announced that effective August 1, Celebrity will be dropping informal nights and will only have formal and smart casual. A big cheer broke out in the Celebrity Theater at this announcement. Of course, we had already read it weeks ago on Cruise Critic! ENTERTAINMENT. On our one prior Celebrity cruise (Alaska in 2006) we thought that the production shows were inferior to Princess. This time they were excellent. But there were a lot of them—maybe 5 of the 12 nights there was a "Hits of Broadway"-type show. If you like these shows (and we do, to a point), they did a good job. Aside from that the shows consisted of two vocalists, a pianist, and one comic. The pianist was Hyperion Knight and he was very accomplished and entertaining. While Princess offers multiple show venues, the Celebrity Theater is the only venue for anything besides small lounge-type acts. On the plus side, there were always plenty of seats available at the shows, so one could plan to show up at the 9 pm show at 8:59 and be assured of a decent seat. Also, because we were determined to get the kids to bed every night by 10 or 11, we didn't see the late night shows and can't report on them. CONDITION OF THE SHIP. One thing we'd like people to take away from this review is: don't believe everything you hear or read. Or: some people just like to complain. If one's standard is a ship in mint, maiden-voyage condition, then, sure, one can find disappointment, because tiny cosmetic imperfections accumulate over the years, even with constant maintenance. But if one judges the ship the way that one would judge a hotel on land, it's just fine. FUN FACTORY/CRUISING THE MED WITH KIDS: The Fun Factory was excellent. They told us there were 330 kids on board, including 170 teens and the rest in the 1-12 age range. Our 7 year old wanted to spend every available moment in the Fun Factory. Our 11 year old didn't spend quite as much time there, but did enjoy activities like the scavenger hunt, foosball, karaoke, etc. One of the reasons we opted for a lot of private tours was that we figured it would make it easier to tour the ports with kids. For the most part, that was true. Also, these ports almost all involved lots of walking over cobblestone streets with lots and lots of stairs and steep inclines. We were glad we didn't have to deal with a stroller. We felt like we got quite a workout every day (and therefore deserved dessert every night, LOL). DISEMBARKATION. No complaints here. We had a Celebrity transfer to the Barcelona airport. We had a 1 pm flight. The transfer went smoothly. Then however we had to wait in an hour long Delta line to check in. More Delta snafus followed in Atlanta, but that's not Celebrity's fault and we made it home exhausted and jet lagged but very happy with our cruise experience. PORTS OF CALL: VENICE: The ship spends the first night in Venice. On Tuesday we took the Celebrity shuttle to St. Mark's Square. The shuttle costs $20 pp, but they didn't charge us for the kids, which was much appreciated. We walked to the Bell Tower and took in the panoramic view from there. We then walked to the Guggenheim, which we should've checked on first because it was closed. So we went instead to the Accademia museum. We then walked around the Rialto Bridge and market areas where our kids were amazed by the variety of unfamiliar vegetables, meats and fish. In particular, we saw an entire shop devoted to varieties of horse meat. We fed some bread to the pigeons at St. Mark's Square and took the shuttle back to the ship. Sailaway from Venice was spectacular. The ship was docked with the starboard side facing Venice, so everyone lined up there for the view. But after the ship backed out of the dock, it turned so that the port side had the view of Venice for the actual sailaway. The Captain opened the helipad for an additional viewing area. It was a very memorable experience. The next port was DUBROVNIK. This was supposed to be a tender stop but the Captain was able to dock. We paid $10 pp to take the Celebrity shuttle bus to the walled fortress. We walked the wall and took in the incredibly picturesque views. Afterward we went back to the ship for lunch and dropped the kids off in the Fun Factory. We then returned on the shuttle to do a little shopping and wandering through the streets. We didn't appreciate until we got there what a nice port stop Dubrovnik is. You can easily enjoy it on your own without needing a tour. SANTORINI: This was the only port where we used a Celebrity shore excursion. We took the trip to Oia and Fira, which includes a stop at a winery. Santorini was hot and the sun was intense. Arm yourself with hats and sunblock! It's quite beautiful, though. Afterward we took the cable car back down the mountain and returned to the ship. ATHENS: We had booked a private tour with Spiros taxi service. Spiros sent his colleague Dimitris who met us at 7:45 am. (We knew from email exchanges to expect Dimitris.) Dimitris was an excellent driver and was one of the highlights of our trip. Our first stop was the Acropolis. We got there quickly and beat most of the crowds. We saw the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, etc. On our way back down, we passed the busloads of Celebrity tours trudging up the hill. Next we went to the Temple of Zeus, and then the Olympic Stadium. All along the way Dimitris provided us with helpful and entertaining commentary and stopped at several picturesque vistas for photo ops. We also went to the Royal Palace where we saw the changing of the guard. We went to the top of a hill (not sure of the name) with an incredible panoramic view of the city, including the Acropolis. Dimitris took us to a small Greek restaurant for lunch and then we went to the archeological museum where we saw artifacts from the Neolithic through classical ages. We then went to the Plaka for some shopping. If I were to do it over, I would've skipped the Plaka because to me it was just lots of cheap touristy stuff I didn't want to buy, and I would've preferred to spend more time seeing the ruins. We were surprised by the tremendous amount of graffiti in Athens. But we were very satisfied with our tour and returned to the ship around 4 pm, which gave us time to get cleaned up and ready for dinner. NAPLES: We arranged private tours for Naples, Rome and Florence with RomeinLimo. They gave us a bit of a discount for booking all three tours with them. We shared these tours with a couple we met on the Roll Call, so there were 6 of us. Our driver was waiting for us at the dock with a Mercedes minivan. As we drove through Naples, we certainly saw evidence of their garbage strike. Our tour took us first to Positano, then Sorrento where we had lunch, and finally to Pompeii. The minivan was configured so that one row of seats faced backward, which proved to be a problem on the extremely winding roads around Positano and Sorrento (reminiscent of Highway 1 in California). At least two of us had to ride facing backwards and whoever was in those seats felt carsick. So we had to keep taking turns. If you have any tendency toward being carsick on winding roads, make sure they don't give you a van with rear facing seats! After our experience in Athens with Dimitris, we were hoping to hear interesting commentary from the driver about the Amalfi Coast and the area around Naples, Positano and Sorrento. Our driver was certainly polite and professional, but was apparently not inclined or prepared to give us any commentary. We know that these are drivers, not actual guides, so we can't complain that he wasn't doing his job. But we had high expectations after all the rave reviews we'd read. Anyway, we had a nice lunch in Sorrento and took that opportunity to call Duman of RomeinLimo and request that for our next stop (Rome) we have a driver who would give us a little more information. We had a nice lunch in Sorrento. We had arranged with RomeinLimo for a private guide for Pompeii. We picked her up in Sorrento after lunch and she rode out to Pompeii with us. Word must have filtered back about our call to Duman, because the guide said that she understood we wanted to hear about Sorrento. So she filled us in on Sorrento before moving into her remarks about Pompeii. We arrived in Pompeii and she took the six of us on a private guided tour. Pompeii is fascinating and not to be missed. ROME: Once again our RomeinLimo driver met us at the dock. Duman certainly came through on our request for a more talkative driver. Mauro was wonderful and we would highly recommend him as a driver. He gave us a brief history of the founding of Rome as we drove from the port to the City and basically kept up a running commentary (in a helpful, entertaining way) at every opportunity. We encountered bad traffic on the way into Rome and immediately fell behind schedule. We finally arrived at the Coliseum and Constantine Arch. Mauro hustled us out of the car and dashed over to the ticket line at the Forum to get us tickets. We were actually going to the Coliseum, not the Forum, but when we got up to the entrance to the Coliseum we understood why Mauro had bought our tickets at the Forum - much shorter ticket line. We breezed in past the huge ticket line (but immediately some of us got bogged down in the women's restroom line). We spent about 45 minutes at the Coliseum. From the Coliseum, Mauro drove us over to the site of the Circus Maximus (chariot races, etc.) and we also saw a view of the Forum from above. He then drove us past the building that was the Fascist headquarters where Mussolini would stand on a balcony window and give speeches. We sort of zoomed past the Mouth of Truth and some other sites I couldn't keep up with. Mauro then drove us into a sort of courtyard with lots of diplomatic cars that turned out to be the site of the Knights of the Order of Malta, which is a Catholic order that is its own sovereign entity and has its own diplomatic relations with other countries. We saw various persons buzzing around in very impressive robes, capes, medals, etc. Apparently Mauro knew there would be activity there because it was St. John the Baptist Day. Our next stop was Trevi Fountain. We also drove by the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon but didn't have time to stop. We grabbed a quick lunch at a panini shop and then met our private guide (again arranged by RomeinLimo) for the Vatican. Our guide, Sara, then took us on a brief tour of the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Sara was a good guide and gave us lots of information, but there just isn't time to do this port justice! All too soon we were driving back to the port. On the drive back, Mauro gave us his personal recipe and tips for making our own limoncello. If you are looking for a driver in Rome, ask for Mauro! FLORENCE: Florence was the last of our tours with RomeinLimo. As in Naples, our driver was polite and professional but not talkative and didn't offer any tips or suggestions. Our first stop was Michelangelo Square with a beautiful view of the City of Florence and the Ponte Vecchio. We then went to the Accademia to see the statue of David and also the Bound Slaves. After that we went to the Uffizi. RomeinLimo had taken care of advance reservations for us and our driver showed us where to buy our tickets and enter. In retrospect, we should've been better prepared for what we wanted to see in the Uffizi. We spent a lot of time wandering sort of aimlessly. We got to the end and realized we'd somehow missed the Botticelli rooms and had to backtrack to see the Birth of Venus as well as Da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi. These museums don't seem to give out the sort of helpful maps we're used to in the US, so come prepared with your own map or guide book. Other people from our Roll Call brought their own audio guides on MP3 players, and that seems like a great idea we'll try next time. After the Uffizi we grabbed a quick lunch and bought some souvenir Christmas ornaments. We then went to the Baptistery and saw the famous doors by Ghiberti known as the "gates of Paradise." We looked at the outside of the Duomo but didn't have time to go inside because we had to move on to visit Pisa and the famous Leaning Tower. As with our visit to Rome, I felt that we just didn't have nearly enough time to explore this beautiful city. If I were to do it over (and were limited to just one day) I'd come better prepared with a list of what I wanted to see and be assertive with the driver about it. We sort of passively went where the driver took us and I think we didn't make the best use of our limited time. VILLEFRANCHE/NICE: Our final port was Nice. This time we shared a tour with two couples so there were 8 of us. The tour company we used was Med-Tour and our driver was named Janic or Yanick (not sure of spelling). He was an excellent tour guide. He first drove us to Nice, which is France's 5th largest city. We parked by the market and courthouse and walked through the market area. We then drove to St. Paul, a charming medieval fortress that has been turned into boutiques and art galleries. Our 7 year old bought a stuffed toy seal in one of the gift shops. Yanick told us that St. Paul is a big hangout for movie stars. We then drove to Monaco. Yanick explained that Monaco is the name of the state, the name of the capital, and the name of one of the 5 districts of the state of Monaco. Monte Carlo is another of the 5 districts in the state of Monaco. We made our daughter leave her stuffed seal in the car while we had a nice lunch at a restaurant near the Grand Palace. We then toured the Grand Palace, which involved an audio guided tour of the grand apartments and public reception rooms. It's an impressive palace and I would recommend a visit. We then went to the Cathedral and saw the graves of Princess Grace and Prince Ranier. We returned to the car where we discovered that in cleaning out the car Yanick had inadvertently thrown out the toy seal. Many loud tears followed. Yanick assured our daughter that he knew where the seal was and could retrieve it, even if he had to jump in! He then took us over to Monte Carlo where some of our group went to the Grand Casino and the rest of us did some shopping and gaping at the expensive yachts. We met back up with Yanick who had miraculously retrieved the seal and assured himself of a big tip. Lastly we drove to Eze, which Yanick told us was founded by the Moors. Eze seemed similar to St. Paul but with more restaurants and hotels in addition to boutiques and art galleries. We had a nice stroll through Eze and then returned to the ship. After all the museums we'd visited in Italy and Greece, it was nice to end with a tour that was pure sightseeing and shopping! One thing that surprised us about our port visits was the fact that, with the exception of the Grand Palace in Monaco, none of the public museums or institutions took credit cards. In the US, we take it for granted that such places take credit cards to pay for admission. In Italy and Greece, however, these places were all strictly cash and ran around 11 Euros pp, with no reduced admission for children. So you go through cash very quickly. SUMMARY: All in all this was a great cruise. We came home with great pictures and great memories. We look forward to cruising on Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Cruise Review Celebrity Summit 6/16 - 6/28/2008 My wife, two children (boy age 20, girl age 17) and I sailed on the Celebrity Summit on June 16th, 2008 from Venice to Barcelona. This was our first cruise on Celebrity, but we are ... Read More
Cruise Review Celebrity Summit 6/16 - 6/28/2008 My wife, two children (boy age 20, girl age 17) and I sailed on the Celebrity Summit on June 16th, 2008 from Venice to Barcelona. This was our first cruise on Celebrity, but we are experienced cruisers. We have sailed five times on RCL, twice on Disney and once on NCL America. We were fortunate that Celebrity gave us credit for our past cruises and so made us Select members of the Captains Club. This made the cruise a lot better given the extra invitations we were given for special events. In general, we were extremely pleased with this cruise. We loved the ship. The service, the food and the attitude were all outstanding and the itinerary was fantastic. We did a lot of pre-planning (with the help of our friends on Cruise Critic) to help make the most of every port. This was our first long cruise and we found the pace very relaxing, even towards the end with four port calls in a row. Pictures showing some of the highlights can be found at: http:\\ summitcruisecriticroom dot snapfish dot com/snapfish Pre-Cruise and Embarkation: The entire process was very smooth. The online check in form worked very well and I thought we were completely set up for our cruise. It turned out that there were a couple of small problems, but more on that later. We flew United Chicago - Frankfurt - Venice and had no problems enroute. Upgrades and status help! We arrived in Venice on the day prior to embarkation day in order to get over jet lag and see more of Venice. We stayed in a very nice little hotel not far from St Marks Square (Ca Dei Conti). We took a water taxi from the airport after claiming our luggage (100 Euros, booked on line in advance) that was supposed to take us right to the hotel. As it was low tide, we were dropped a few blocks from the hotel and ended up carrying all our bags through the narrow streets. After we were in Venice a few days we found that was a pretty common occurrence. As we learned after, make sure you negotiate this in advance with the water taxi driver. After a great evening and morning in Venice, we took another water taxi to the cruise ship terminal. While expensive to take it again, the advantage was this time it picked us up right at the hotel and dropped us right where the baggage is picked up by the cruise ship. We went right to the new, modern terminal and proceeded to the counter. It was approximately 4:30 pm on check in day and there was no one in any line. We went to the Captains Club line where our Seapasses and boarding information were ready. A quick check of our passports and we were on the way to ship. A short walk to the ship and we boarded. Well, three of us boarded. The Seapass card for my wife did not work and so she was held up. After a few minutes to confirm her identity, we were all allowed to board. Unfortunately we needed to go to the guest relations desk for a replacement card. Cleared up, we went to our staterooms. We found both rooms ready and waiting. We had a Concierge Class Veranda stateroom on deck nine, with the standard inside stateroom across the hall for the kids. Waiting for us in our room was a chilled bottle of Champagne, snacks and all of our information for the first day aboard the ship. Since our luggage had not arrived we set out to catch the shuttle boat back to St Mark's Square to find a restaurant for dinner. The shuttle cost 20 dollars per person round trip, but we found that a bargain compared to the water taxi. A better deal was probably the Venice pass to use the public shuttles. Others can comment on that since we did not use them. Our dinner was nice, but I would not recommend the restaurant. The Ship: Contrary to prior comments on this site, we found the Summit to be in excellent condition. We saw no evidence of worn carpets, frays, faded wall coverings or damage. The ship is beautiful and well appointed. We really liked the layout and the myriad of different areas to explore. Even with a sold out cruise we never felt like the ship was crowded, and even after 10 days we were still discovering new places. With three banks of elevators it was easy to get around the ship. Being on deck nine aft, it was a quick walk up one flight to the waterfall buffet for breakfast. We enjoyed this size much better than the Adventure class RCL ships. It just seemed classier and more intimate. Staterooms and Stewards: We found our stateroom (9157, port side aft) very nice and larger than other veranda rooms we have had on other ships. The layout was very good, with plenty of storage space and hangers in the closet. The bath was much larger than others, with a full size shower. The mattress was a little hard, but we liked the selection of pillows offered in Concierge class. We also enjoyed the other benefits of CC: a daily fruit bowl and appetizers, the robes, and fresh flowers in the room and bath every day. There were two standard American outlets at the desk, as well as two European outlets. There was a TV with both a selection of channels and pay per view. Our veranda was spacious, with pads on the chairs. The kid's inside stateroom (9159) was larger than others we have had as well. Our stateroom service was the best we have had on any ship. Jose our steward was almost always available and did an excellent job. Our room was always clean and all of the amenities were always refreshed. He did a great job dealing with our kid's room and working around their mess. Jose and his assistant were always cheerful, always friendly and very helpful. Again, the best service we have ever had. Administration and other services: We had a couple of small problems with administration. I had used the on line check in function on the Celebrity website to enter all of our information and obtain our boarding documents. It was very easy to use and I thought we were completely set up to board with no problems. However, there seems to be a problem between the website systems and the ship billing and administration systems. Besides the non-working stateroom card mention above, shortly after boarding we received a note in our stateroom saying the seapass cards for both our kids were no longer eligible to charge and that I had to return to the guest relations desk to authorize them again. Then when my son tried to buy his first beer at a bar, he was told that he did not have my permission to do so, even though I had set this up in advance. I again had to go to the guest relations desk to straighten this out. This made three trips to fix things I thought I had set up prior to leaving home. We had no problems with our bill, though we heard other passengers complain a lot about mis-billing. We also found it interesting that the system for tipping is different than other ships. On Celebrity you can opt to put the daily recommended tips on your Seapass account, along with extra if desired. However, there are no coupons and envelopes to hand out to your servers. Instead, there is a pre-printed thank you note from each server acknowledging your tip. None of our servers mentioned the tip on the last day, so we had to assume they received it and they were happy. One very weak area on the ship was the internet service. I understand that satellite internet on a cruise ship at sea is still not perfected, but this service was extremely slow and prone to error out repeatedly. On top of this the prices were extremely high. There were many passengers extremely upset with the poor officer in charge of this area. My recommendation is to buy the plan with the most minutes at the lowest price per minute, because you will burn a lot of minutes simply signing on and getting to wherever you need to be on the internet. There was a Cruise Critic party at 10:00 am on our first sea day (4th day of the cruise). They provided juice, coffee and pastries and most of the senior officers attended to meet us. The Cruise Director, the Head of Hotel Operations and the Head of Food service all spoke, as well as mingled with us. It was a great chance to meet everyone we had met on line. We had met on the sail away day at the mast bar, but some did not make it to the first meeting. The added benefit was the ability to chat with the officers later in the cruise based on our first meeting. I found them all much more approachable and relaxed compared to RCL hyper intensity. Itinerary: This was a fantastic itinerary. Obviously the ports are great, but we also liked the pace of the cruise. The "soft start" of boarding the ship but staying in Venice an extra day was very nice, and having three sea days interspersed gave us plenty of time to recharge and enjoy the ship. We especially liked having a sea day as the last day, which meant we could get ready to disembark at a leisurely pace. I was apprehensive about the longer cruise but it was very nice. Food, Dining Rooms and Specialty Restaurants: In general, we found the food to be excellent on the Summit. This goes for almost every venue, and for the entire cruise. I think the only place that was just satisfactory was the fast food buffet near the pool, and we should have stayed away from there anyway. The menu and the quality in the Cosmopolitan restaurant were very good. Over the course of 7 meals eaten there, I think our family of four was disappointed with 3 entrees. Deserts were very good, as were the appetizers and soups. The chilled fruit based soups were especially good. I agree with another review that most of the salads were nothing special, but passable. The service in the Cosmopolitan was excellent. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very good and bent over backwards to make sure we were happy. I can say there was not a single service lapse over the course of the cruise. Our only complaint was the tendency of the wine steward to be pushy with both wine and the special wine events on board. It gave us the impression that we were always being sold something. We did find some nice wines available on the menu. We had the early (6:15 pm) seating for main dining. This was not really our preference since we worried about getting back after excursions and getting ready in time, but it actually worked out. Our waiter told us the first night that they were trying to be more flexible on both timing and dress code due to the port intensive nature of the cruise. While they would be strict on formal nights, on informal nights even though it said ties were required for men, it was not necessary. This is a moot point since on the last day the CD announced that informal nights were ending August 1st on all Celebrity ships. We came to dinner several times at 6:30 and even 6:45 once and still got out be 8:00 no problem. They were experimenting with some different formats and times on our cruise, which led to a little bit of confusion for both passengers and crew. While in Naples, they substituted the regular seatings in the dining room with a pool side Mediterranean buffet with entertainment called "Flava". They asked everyone to wear all white and put on a nice spread. However, it was not clearly communicated what was going on and besides the fact that we did not have all white, we were not too excited about the meal and so went to our regular seating time. We had missed the change to an open seating night starting at 7:00 pm rather than our regular 6:15 seating. We ended up having a drink in a nearby bar and waiting until the dining room opened. We saw some similar confusion as they converted the traditional midnight buffet to a brunch buffet on our second sea day. It was a great idea and worked out great, but the staff was very confused when they were overwhelmed right at 10:00 am when it opened. They quickly adjusted and all worked out. The Waterfall buffet was much better than buffets we have had on other ships. There was a broader selection no matter what the meal, and the quality was higher. A pleasant surprise was the dinner offering in the buffet. After a couple of the long excursion days we did not feel like dressing for dinner and so ate at the buffet. There was a good selection of sushi, cooked to order pasta, salads and very good pizza. We ate our dinner on the back deck of the Waterfall cafe, sitting outside listening to the guitar player and drinking the drink of the day. This was a great place to watch the sail away from port and enjoy the sunset. The Normandie restaurant is the best specialty restaurant we have dined at on any ship. The menu, the food, the wine selection, the service and the show (tableside preparation) were all very good. My wife ordered the Dover Sole and loved it. I had the rack of lamb prepared encroute and enjoyed it very much. There is a set 5 course menu you can pair with wine for a total of $57 per person extra, or there is an ala carte menu for $30 per person charge. Wines were reasonably priced and the desert soufflEs were very good. It was not hard to make a reservation, though as a Captains Club member we were allowed to make one reservation on line prior to the cruise. Reservations were available throughout the cruise, though tended to be booked up on the last couple of days. A hidden gem is the Cova cafe on deck 5. While there is an extra charge for the coffee drinks, there is a fresh pastry bar with warm pastries at no charge. They also carried quiches, and stocked small sandwiches later in the day. Our favorite was the almond croissants fresh out of the oven. Another tip is to use room service for breakfast. We placed an order each night (via the TV or the order form to hang on your door) and had coffee and breakfast delivered precisely on time. The selection was broad, but we stuck to cereal, fruit, toast and pastries. This was ideal to have it delivered while getting ready in the morning. This was great for getting us all ready to go for early morning excursions. Bar service was very good at all every bar. Drinks were good, though a little more expensive than usual. We enjoyed the martini bar and the bar in the casino. The Euro 2008 football tournament was on during our cruise, and the casino bar became the gathering place to watch the games. Our only complaint was that the quality of the coffee was inconsistent. Entertainment on board. There were several Broadway style shows during the cruise, as well as a comedian, a juggler, a concert pianist and acrobats. We saw some of the production shows and the comedian. The production shows were better than we have seen on other shows and the talent of the entertainers was very good. The comedian was very funny. We did not see any of the other shows, but we heard from others that the pianist was very good. A highlight was a vocalist from the Australian production of the Phantom of the Opera. We did not see him, but other passengers were raving. As noted above, we really enjoyed the guitarist on the waterfall Cafe deck aft. He was very good and had a broad repertoire. The dance band for deck parties was also good. Our kids enjoyed the DJ in Revelations each night. The liveliest place on the ship most nights was the casino. Given the intensity of the port schedule, most passengers seemed to go to bed early. The casino seemed to be the most active bar and venue on the ship. Besides the normal games and slots, most nights there was a Texas Hold 'Em game, either in tournament format or a cash game. Sign-ups for the tournaments were early in the day and the chairs filled fast, so go early. As mentioned above, we had the added benefit of almost daily football games as part of the Euro 2008 tournament. It was great to mingle with fans from around Europe cheering for their home team. The slots did not seem as tight as I have seen on other ships. We enjoyed the gym and the spa. The gym is very well equipped, though was very busy on sea days. Excellent weight and aerobic equipment, and they held spinning classes and other fitness events. Private fitness classes were available. I received excellent service and treatment in the spa. Two different types of massages were very well done. As a note, given the length of the cruise and the number of sea days, it was not nearly as hard as other cruises to make an appointment in the spa. Excursions: For this cruise we decided to do a combination of ship excursions, exploration on our own and private tours. In addition, since we had done part of this itinerary before on an RCL Cruise 4 years ago, we were free to try some different things in the ports of western Italy. Almost all worked out very well. We found the ships excursions generally well run, with good guides and nice transportation. The excursion desk on the ship was pretty organized and there was minimal confusion in the morning as the excursions lined up. All of ours left on time and returned to the ship on time and we generally felt we received pretty good value for the price. I did hear some grumbling from other passengers about problems with guides, and the ship excursions for Rome were all late due to a huge traffic accident on the highway from the port. Here are our excursions by port: Venice: Prior to boarding the ship we explored Venice on our own. The only activity I arranged in advance was the Secret Itinerary of the Doges Palace. This tour is given two times a day in English and must be booked in advance. There are several websites to book this but we booked it through a website found on the cruise critic board. It is one hour and well worth the extra money (16 Euros per person). It is a guided tour and seen are the torture chambers, the back offices of the Doge, the cells where Casanova was kept and the attic armament display. You can then explore the rest of the palace at your leisure. We also did the Murano Glass Factory, Burano Lace island tour booked through the ship. A tour boat picked us up at the ship and took us first to Murano, where we visited a glass factory. We saw artisans blow glass vases and make a glass horse while the process was explained. We then visited their shop where we had the opportunity to purchase their items. We then had 45 minutes to explore the island, visit other shops or simply have a cappuccino. My son and I did the latter while my wife and daughter did the former. Then it was back on the boat for the long ride to Burano Island. This is famous for lace production and has lots of small shops and restaurants. My wife and daughter watched the artisans make lace while my son and I had another coffee. The boat then took us back to the ship by approximately 1 pm. It is a long (45 minutes out, 30 minutes between islands, 1 hour back) time in the boat, but very pretty way to see more islands. My wife and daughter enjoyed this excursion a lot more than my son and I, though it was interesting. Dubrovnik: We did not do an organized tour or excursion for this port. This is a tender port normally, but we were lucky enough to get a docking position, which saved time waiting for tenders. The ship arranged for shuttle buses for $10 round trip. You can order these ahead, or buy right at the bus with your seapass. A five minute ride into town from the port took us right to the walled city of Dubrovnik. This was a very pleasant surprise. It is a medieval walled city, beautifully restored after damage from the 90-91 war. The thing to do here is "walk the wall". For six Euros per person, you can ascend the stairs and walk the top of the wall that completely surrounds the city. One side of the city is right against the ocean, and so when you look over the wall you look down on spectacular waves over the rocks. For eight Euros per person you can rent the audio tour wands. At stations around the wall the history of the city is explained. It is over a mile around and has some steep steps in places, but we did not find it too strenuous. Spectacular views. A place not to be missed in Dubrovnik is the Buza Bar. There are actually two Buzas, one with railings and one without. These are small bars outside the city wall on the ocean side. The trick is to find the small door way through the wall and make your way to the bar. The non railing bar is better, with closer views to the ocean. No food, but local beer, wine and soft drinks. The bars are visible from the top of the wall as you do the tour. After walking the wall we found a small restaurant and had a nice lunch. There are many to choose from. Find one with a menu you like and sit. We found the food good and the service excellent. Prices were a welcome relief from Venice. Santorini: On Santorini we did a combination of a ship excursion and exploring on your own. My son, daughter and I took the volcano and hot springs tour through the ship. A large wooden boat picked up the tour group at the ships gang way (Santorini is a tender port) and took us to the volcanic island in the center of the Santorini group of islands. This is a still active volcano with sulfur, steam and a lot of lava rock. The boat docked on the island and our tour guide led us on a 1+ mile hike to the top of the island. It is a strenuous hike, but we took several breaks and there is an opportunity to catch up. They give you water before you leave the boat, so take it, you will need it. The views from the top are spectacular and the guide points out hissing steam and sulfur deposits at the top. After a rest at the top, it is time to hike back down to the bottom. Closed shoes are better for the hike as there are a lot of rocks and dust. After boarding the boat, we sailed to another small island where we anchored off shore. We then had the opportunity to jump in the water and swim into a small cove to the hot springs. They are really warm springs, with the temperature increasing about ten degrees. In the cove we could stand up and feel the iron laden mud. The guide recommended that we rub the mud all over for therapeutic affect. After lingering for about 30 minutes and washing off the mud, we swam back to the boat. There is a life guard out with the swimmers and you can wear a life vest if desired. The cool water felt great after the hike up the volcano. The boat then dropped us at the base of the cliff in Thira. Included in the tour were round trip cable car tickets to get to the top of the cliff. I highly recommend the cable car versus either walking or riding the donkeys to the top. One woman described the donkey ride to me as the worst experience of her life! Thira is a nice village of shops, restaurants and bars. We met my wife at the top of the cable cars. She had taken the tender ashore and spent the morning exploring the village on her own. We had a wonderful lunch of Greek salad, Gyros and wine at one of the restaurants right by the cable car stop. My wife and daughter took a cab to Oia, the village at the end of the island (featured in the Sisterhood of the Traveling pants) and had great time exploring the shops and viewing the scenery. There is also a bus that runs there, and it is about a 20 minute drive. My son and I decided to walk down the switchback steps to the boat dock, since there was a very long line for the cable cars. After a beer at Vertigo (great bar), we started down the hill. Bad decision. Not only was it hot, longer and harder than we anticipated, about halfway down the walkway becomes covered with the leavings of the donkeys. This makes for slippery and smelly walking down the path. It would have been better to wait 20 minutes for the cable car! Athens: We booked a private tour for Athens. On a previous thread we had received a recommendation for Spiros Taxi (www dot athenstaxi dot net) It was easy to arrange and cost 220 Euros for the day for 4 people in one car. All arrangements were by email and we were allowed to tailor our tour. Manos met us when we exited the ship and led us to his new Mercedes yellow taxi. Manos spoke excellent English (he had lived in the states for 20 years) and was very nice. It was still a little tight for three in the back of the cab and it was tough for the air conditioning to keep up. We did not have a very good day in Athens. It was a combination of our guide, the heat, a long day the day before on Santorini and general tiredness. Manos was nice enough but did not get off to a good start at the Acropolis. He started out well with a nice drive through the city along the shore, making it to the Acropolis ahead of most of the ship excursions. However, he just parked at the bottom, pointed to a path and said walk to the top. We purchased tickets on the way up, but they have no guides to hand out with the tickets. A 10 euro ticket gave us entrance to all of the historic sites in the city. I missed the booth where private guides offer to tour you around the Acropolis for 18 Euro's per person, so we wandered around the top on our own. It is still awe inspiring, but we missed something with no guides or book, and we had accidently left ours back on the ship. The signs at the various monuments only describe the restoration. I highly recommend either hiring the guide or bringing a book to help you interpret the sites. That being said, most of the ruins on the Acropolis are pretty self explanatory, and the Parthenon is an awesome site. I was disappointed to find out the museum was closed and will be for another year as they build a new one and transport all of the displays. Our driver (not really a guide) did point out the prison of Socrates nearby after we walked down the hill. After leaving the Acropolis we spent the rest of the day seeing the other sites of Athens. We stopped at the temple of Zeus, the 1896 Olympic stadium, the new stadium complex, the Agura market museum and the Plaka market place. We lunched near the antique market part of the Plaka and then spent the afternoon wandering the shops in the touristy section of the Plaka. In general, Athens is a big city with a few interesting sites to see. Not our favorite place on the cruise. We ended up back on the ship at about 4 pm. Naples: We took a ship excursion titled Taste of Sorrento and Pompeii in Naples. This was a very nice excursion with some interesting new things to see. We started with about an hour bus ride from the port to the hills above Sorrento. We stopped at the entrance to a farm. We were shuttled down the hill by small van to the actual farm complex. We entered a beautiful shaded Veranda, covered with flowers and grape vines, with olive tress all around. Tables were set for the tour group on the Veranda and we were served a morning snack of home made mozzarella, ricotta, salami and bruschetta, along with olives, olive oil and wine. While we ate we were given a demonstration by the owner of the farm on the making of cheese and the pressing of olives. When finished, we toured the farm to see the animals (huge pigs) and see the fruit and olive trees. After the tour we ended in their shop and winery where their homemade goods could be purchased. A specialty was lemon cello. After leaving the farm we travelled into the town of Sorrento. We were dropped off and given time to wander around ourselves. Lunch was on our own. We found a nice restaurant for pizza, and then my wife and daughter wandered the shops of Sorrento. My son and I found a good place for a glass of wine and to watch people. After leaving Sorrento we then went to Pompeii. This is an awesome experience and our guide was very good. We enjoyed the tour and seeing the sites. We spent about two hours seeing a small fraction of the site. It was extremely hot, but interesting. Pompeii is not to be missed if you have not been before. The tour made the obligatory stop at a cameo factory on the way back to the ship. In my opinion this was a waste, but we stopped for 30 minutes and still made it back to the ship by 5 pm. Rome: We booked a private tour for Rome. On our last cruise we had done the ship excursion and the ones offered on Summit this time were not any different. On a Cruise Critic thread I found a recommendation for RomeCabs (www dot romecabs dot com). Their website was extremely easy to use and very informative. I contacted Stefano, the owner by email and I was able to easily book the tour. It was substantially more expensive than Athens, but becomes more economical the more people on the tour. We wanted to just have our family of four since the purpose of our trip was to be together prior to our youngest going off to college, so I booked a tour for 500 euro's for the day for the four of us. Stefano becomes much more economical if you have more people to share the tour, as 8 people would only be an extra 100 Euros (600 total). Entrance to the Vatican museum was extra, as was a private tour guide for the Vatican. We booked a VIP entrance at 1:15 PM to the Vatican to make sure we could get in without waiting, and arranged for a private guide through Stefano. He can help arrange both of these options if necessary, but you can also book directly through Presto tours on line (www dot prestotours dot com). Be careful to only book the VIP entrance if you are not using a tour guide or arranging it separately. Stefano was not sure who would meet us at the ship, but told us both Marco and Maurizio were available. When we disembarked in Civitavecchia, we were pleasantly surprised to find Stefano himself there to greet us. He loaded us into his new 8 passenger van and off we went. The van was very comfortable and Stefano speaks excellent English. We immediately felt at ease as we left the port and he began telling us about what we would be seeing for the day. As we sped towards Rome on the freeway Stefano described what we would be seeing on the tour and described the countryside as we passed. Unfortunately as we got closer to Rome there was a very bad accident on the freeway, bringing everything to a crawl. This affected the ships tours that day as well, as it took everyone an extra 30 to 60 minutes to make it to the city. Stefano got off the main highway and took us in some back roads to avoid the traffic, but the slowdown did cost us 30 minutes. The upside was we saw some parts of Rome not normally seen while on our detour. We spent the morning seeing a lot of the normal sites: the Pantheon, Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps and a few other churches and interesting buildings and monuments. We skipped the Coliseum and the Roman Forum on this visit since we has seen them on the last trip. We ended the morning near the Vatican and found a great place for a quick Panini lunch and a gelato. Along the way Stefano told us a lot about the history of Rome and sights were seeing. He had a special permit to be able to park very close to each site, so we did not waste a lot of time walking. On our last visit we had compromised and only seen St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican in order to allow time for the Coliseum and Forum. We regretted missing the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum. We wanted to see what we missed on this trip. After lunch we met Presto Tours at our designated meeting place near the entrance to the Vatican Museum at precisely 1:15. The Presto agent (an American kid in Rome for the summer) ushered us in past the waiting line and picked up our tickets at the window. Stefano had arranged for our private guide Antonalla to meet us at the entrance, and soon all five of us were in the museum. The Vatican Museum has a newly remodeled entrance to allow for easier entrance to the exhibits and to better handle the crowds. Antonalla did an excellent job of showing us the art on display and explaining the history of the museum. The vast displays of priceless art are simply amazing. Unfortunately, 2 hours is only enough time to see a fraction of the art, but we did see quite a bit before making our way to the Sistine Chapel. The Chapel is awe inspiring and beautiful, especially since the paintings have all been cleaned. It was crowded in the small chapel and the guards constantly yelled for the crowd to quiet down. Upon leaving the chapel we made a quick walk through the Basilica and then completed our tour. We were there almost three hours total and missed a great deal of the Vatican. One note, they were very lax in enforcing the dress code of long pants for men and shoulders and knees covered for women. I wore shorts that day that barely covered my knees and I saw a few women with bare shoulders. Our guide told us it all depends on the day and the guard. It was very hot, so that is probably why they were lax. Upon finishing at the Vatican we were close to the time where Stefano felt we need to leave the city to miss the traffic. He took us to a hilltop overlook with a great view of the Vatican on one side and the rest of imperial Rome on the other. A much shorter drive had us back to the ship a little after 5 pm. We had an excellent day with Stefano and I would highly recommend his service. As and added not, several of the other people from our roll call also used RomeCabs. Four couples split the private tour and I heard it went very well, and it was much more economical than ours! Livorno (Tuscany, Florence and Pisa): We opted for a ship excursion for this port. Since we had done Florence and Pisa on the previous cruise, we decided to do something a little different. We took the Tuscan Countryside, Volterra and San Gimignano tour. This was a nine hour ride through the countryside with a visit to two medieval towns on hilltops. The highlight was a stop at a farm for an excellent lunch of local cheeses, meets, pasta, olives, wine and bread. This was an outstanding meal and we really enjoyed talking with the rest of the people on the tour while enjoying traditional Tuscan dishes. Both towns were beautiful, dating to the 12th century, with original stone walls, churches and buildings. In Volterra we visited an Alabaster workshop and had time for a mid-morning cappuccino in the town square. In San Gimignano (after lunch), my wife enjoyed the myriad of shops displaying local wares and my son and I enjoyed a glass of wine in a sidewalk cafe. We enjoyed this excursion very much, but it is more sight seeing and shopping. The Tuscan country side was spectacular. Villefranche (Nice, Eze and Monaco): We woke in the morning to find the ship anchored in the bay with our cabin facing Villefranche. Absolutely beautiful. While we had signed up for an afternoon excursion for my wife and daughter for Nice and Eze, we scratched that plan and decided to visit them on our own. Three of us (my son had enough of shopping) departed the ship in the morning via the tenders and took a short walk from the pier to the bus stop. The cruise shopping specialist had given us detailed directions on how to use the bus system to get around. It is very easy and convenient. For one Euro we rode 15 minutes from Villefranche into the center of Nice and spent the morning walking around, seeing the shops, eating Croissants and drinking cappuccinos. I had enough around noon and went back to spend the afternoon on the ship. My wife and daughter took the bus to Eze and spent the afternoon in this beautiful medieval village on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. It is full of small shops and at the top there is a great place to view the coast, with a great view of the Summit at anchor in Villefranche. Another short bus ride back to Villefranche and they were on the tender back to the ship. None of us visited Monaco on this trip. Barcelona: Since we flew home from Barcelona on Disembarkation day, we did not do an excursion in Barcelona. However it is a beautiful city and if you have never been before, make sure you spend at least one evening there to enjoy it. Disembarkation and departure: This was the smoothest we have had on any ship. However, I am assuming our ease of disembarkation was partially due to having a Concierge Class Cabin, since we had special tags and were supposed to have priority handling of baggage. We had signed up for the ships transfer to the airport at $28 per person. In hindsight I think I could have hired one taxi for the four of us for less, but the ship transfer worked fine. One unannounced benefit of CC was a separate waiting lounge with coffee and pastries in the cinema on deck 3. It was not crowded and the Concierge came repeatedly to announce departure times based on the color and number of luggage tags. Our instructions were to be in our lounge at 7:45 am, but we took our time based on our past experience of hurrying up to wait quite a while to leave the ship. When we got to the lounge at 8:00 am we found that our number had already been called and we could leave the ship immediately. Off the ship, we waited about 5 minutes for our luggage to make it to the claim area and then boarded a bus for the airport. There was a little confusion among the staff on which bus we should take, but it was quickly sorted out. After a 20 minute ride to the airport, we were dropped at terminal A. Since we departed from terminal B, we had quite a walk with our luggage, but a small inconvenience. We did learn something about Star Alliance. While United allowed three bags per person on the way over due to my status with them, since we originated on Lufthansa on the way back, we were only allowed two bags per person checked luggage, even though we were upgraded. This caused a little scramble at the airport, but we shifted things around and made it home. We were routed Barcelona - Frankfurt - Dulles - Chicago, so this made for a long day, but we had no trouble and it was nice to be home with a full day before going back to work. This is a great ship with a great crew. We would sail again on the Summit and Celebrity in a heartbeat. We look forward to our next opportunity to do so. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
It's always tough flying west to east...we departed IAD to BCN via Heathrow on BA. Everything on time, and excellent service. US airlines could take a lesson or two from European airlines. Traveling were my wife and I and our two ... Read More
It's always tough flying west to east...we departed IAD to BCN via Heathrow on BA. Everything on time, and excellent service. US airlines could take a lesson or two from European airlines. Traveling were my wife and I and our two semi-grown children, 23 and 19. We stayed a night in Barcelona and boarded the ship the following day. Celebrity arranged flights and pre-cruise hotel and did a very nice job of it. It was effortless for us. We were greeted at the airport by a Celebrity agent and taken to our hotel, the Apsis Atrium. It is an excellent hotel - small but nicely appointed room, and excellent service. After checking in, a tour was made available, which we took advantage of. If I had it to do over again, I'd have stayed two nights. Barcelona is an amazing city. One evening didn't do it justice. I am glad that we at least took the tour we did. A word on tours, and about everything in Europe - nothing is inexpensive. An evening tour with a light dinner was about US$500 for four of us. Of course no one took dollars - Euros are the currency of choice. We knew it would be expensive, and it was worth it, but do be aware. It's not for the faint of heart. Wednesday morning we just left our bags in our rooms, had a nice breakfast and boarded the bus for the ship. Again, it was effortless. Best of all, we were checked in and on the ship in less than 15 minutes. In 9 or 10 cruises we have never had such an easy embarkation. Maybe we just got there at the right time. Whatever. We were thrilled. The ship was in excellent shape, and very pleasant - much less flashy than Royal Caribbean ships. The kids prefer the RCCL megaships. The Summit was fine with me. The cabins weren't ready until 1:00 so we grabbed a bite at the Waterfall Cafe on deck 10. It was the usual cruise ship buffet fare - not great, not bad. One feature we really liked on this ship was an open rear deck behind the Waterfall Cafe where you could actually sit outside and eat or have a cigar while the ship was moving. We were there a lot. Our cabin was a Concierge Class on deck 8. It was a typical cabin, although the balcony had a dining height table and we ate breakfast there most days - lovely! The shower was larger than on RCCL ships we've been on, but not much. All in all, a very typical modern stateroom. No flat screen TV's yet on Summit, but we didn't watch much TV. As to dining, it was OK but not spectacular. We had second seating with another couple - very pleasant company. The service was excellent - you just tend to take it for granted on cruises. The food was occasionally very good, more often pretty ordinary but seldom bad. Deserts were a bit of a disappointment. Some of the ships we've been on had excellent pastry chefs. The Summit...not so much. Entertainment was weak. There was a club band and a string quartet at many of the lounges that were quite good, but the main stage entertainment was uninspired - the usual cheesy "Hooray for Broadway" stuff. There were two comedians in twelve nights, and neither was better than OK. It was a bit of an older crowd, so they seemed to be keeping things very tame. We were on this cruise for the itinerary, and I got the sense they realized that and didn't put a whole lot of effort into the entertainment. Most shows were lightly attended. Service was universally excellent, a notch above our service experience on RCCL and Princess, but just a notch. Our cabin attendants, Virginia, and Mario were superb. The ports: Barcelona: As we said, it is a wonderful city. Cosmopolitan, beautiful architecture, a lot going on. We would have happily stayed longer. Cannes: We took a ship shore excursion to Nice. Not a good guide. I think that, more than anything made the whole French Riviera forgettable. Our least favorite port. We heard Monte Carlo was the place to go. Livorno: Here, we took a private tour (www.pleasantravel.com). Mariano, the designated guide wasn't available, so Paolo was our guide. You should definitely look into private tours. Not cheap, but with four of us it wasn't bad - 450 euros (about US$700) for the day. First stop was Pisa. It was amazing. The leaning tower is the least of it in some ways - the baptistery and cathedral are even more amazing. For 15 Euro a head you can climb the tower. Do it! From Pisa we went to Florence. Beautiful, crowded, touristy - we spent too much time looking at leather stuff, but loved Florence and the Tuscany countryside. Rome: What can you say? We did a private tour again with Mariano Fiorentino from Pleasantravel.com. He was wonderful. Rome is too much for a single day - Look! There's the Vatican...the coliseum...Trevi Fountain...Spanish steps...whew...too much. We'll need to go back to really see it, but a wonderful sampler. Naples/the Amalfi Coast: This was our favorite port. The Amalfi Coast is the most beautiful place we've ever seen, and the people were warm and welcoming. This was where Mariano was from, and we could not have had a better guide. He even took us to his home, a form on the mountainside with his own vineyard and fresh lemons. We will definitely be back. We went to Pompeii on the way back and stopped there for about an hour...not enough time. Athens: A great one day city...the Acropolis is magnificent...we went from there to Cape Sounion. A lovely day. Went on the ship shore excursion - big bus, medium guide. Private tours are better. Santorini: We'd been there before, but it is fantastic. All of those pictures you see of a blue church dome with the Mediterranean in the background - that's Santorini. It really looks like that.. as much sculpture as architecture. It's hot there, so dress comfortably. We took a tour out of laziness, but you can just go up the cable car and do it on your own. Dubrovnik: The only bad weather day we had. We've been there on another cruise, and it was a nice surprise. Very old and impressive walled city and a taste of post-communism to make it interesting. They seemed very intent on letting the world know it's safe there these days. The war is long over, but its influence does live on. Venice: An astonishing city. Be on deck when you sail in or out. It's just breathtaking. It's crowded and full of tourists, but still a highlight. Saint Mark's plaza with all of the cafes and bands was wonderful, and the gondola ride was too expensive but required. Venice is another place we will return to. We took the secret walking tour from the ship and enjoyed it very much. Disembarking and getting to the airport was fine. Marco Polo is a nice modern airport. Lufthansa to Frankfort to IAD - no muss, no fuss. We took this cruise for the ports, and we were not disappointed. The shipboard experience was fine, nothing special, but the ports were all special. This is a nice way to get the flavor of Italy and Greece, with a touch of France, Spain, and Croatia. Take private tours. Expect to spend a lot. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This was our first experience with Celebrity. I personally have been on approximately 40 cruises in my lifetime. We sailed a fantastic itinerary in the Mediterranean - one of the reasons we chose to sail on the 12-night Celebrity Summit. ... Read More
This was our first experience with Celebrity. I personally have been on approximately 40 cruises in my lifetime. We sailed a fantastic itinerary in the Mediterranean - one of the reasons we chose to sail on the 12-night Celebrity Summit. I read many, many reviews online prior to our departure and understand Celebrity to be an "upscale" line, but we did not find a thing to differentiate it from our previous cruise experiences or from other cruise lines. Embarkation was not what we imagined with an "upscale" cruise line. The embarkation facilities were sloppy, the person who checked us in was unable to speak English and had to appeal to her supervisor to assist us. She did not say "hello" nor did she say "thank you or have a good trip". The ship itself was in good shape, mostly clean with minor repairs needed. For example, the chairs in the Rendezvous Lounge, one of the main lounges, appear in need of great repair and seem to be the originals from the ship's launch in 2000.However, the ship did appear mostly in good shape. We found the food to be very mediocre and our best meal in the formal dining room came the 2nd to the last night of our 12-day cruise. Up in the Waterfall Cafe' the "informal" evening meals were of the same variety each and every night - you had a choice of sushi, asian food or pasta. The asian selection was quite tasty, the sushi quite dry and the pasta (no matter what ingredients added to it) quite tasteless. On this particular cruise we were quite disappointed to say overall that our best meals were breakfast - except for the bacon which was fatty and rarely cooked to crispness. We did note that the best day to get bacon was the last day when we were in port (Barcelona) awaiting disembarkation. I am convinced this is an intentional tactic to stir people away from eating probably what is their most expensive breakfast item. I know it sounds crazy, but I truly believe it to be the case. We did have great service in the main dining room, however, it was very professional and not personal. In general, on other cruise lines we took the time to get to know our waiters personally. Our service team rarely had time to talk or just didn't seem to want to. But I must say, they were extremely professional and always had the desire to make sure we were completely satisfied. In all cases, delivering the correct order and allowance for multiple orderings of entrees. One item which also constantly annoyed our party was the taking of pictures while eating. Yes, this is done by most cruise lines but does not live up to Celebrity's "upscale" reputation. Additionally, the photographer never asks "would you like your picture taken". It's simply "ok, by yourself or you two get together"...etc. The shows were hit and miss...they had 2 "large scale productions" during this 12-day cruise - typically what you would get in a 7 day cruise. The shows were hit and miss, the first being excellent. The second, very mediocre. The entertainment around the ship was also very mediocre. We met each night for drinks at the Rendezvous Lounge. The band Diamond Quartet sang pretty much the same set/songs each evening. You do have to give it up to the lead singer as he truly tries his best to enjoy what he is doing. But the sets get very old quickly. The entertainment throughout the ship was just mediocre. The friendliness of the staff and crew did seem to be a "notch" above most other lines (with the exception of the Purser's Desk) on which we have sailed. When returning to the ship from port, security would "welcome you home". One thing I did notice however was that any Celebrity representation was missing at disembarkation. This always irritates me as this is their chance to tell their guests "thanks for sailing", etc. - a last chance to leave their guests with a lasting impression. They did have 10 or so staff members from what appeared to be several departments lined up, standing just to the side of the main atrium stairwell but they said nothing and you would not have seen them unless your turned around as you disembarked the ship. In fact, there appeared to be no Celebrity representation anywhere between actual disembarkation and the luggage warehouse. This has amazed me as we have experienced the same with other lines. Very recently, we have noticed that one line has improved greatly in this regard. Our cabin steward (Gatot) and his assistant were probably the best we have ever experienced. They were attentive to every need and called us by name each time they saw us. One complaint we did have is the storage space within the cabin - not much. Since we had sailed on Royal Caribbean several times previous and the privileges cross RCCL brands, we were invited to the "repeat passenger" party. This could not even compare to other lines' passenger parties in terms of food and drink offered. On one day, they also held a Captain's Toast which was scheduled for 15 minutes each. Very tacky to us. In fact, the Captain was very impersonal on this particular ship. At noon on the last day, he made an announcement from the bridge regarding our current position, how many miles we had traveled since Ville France, temperature, etc. At then end of his update he simply said "we hope you have an enjoyable trip home". One additional item which we felt we would not experience on an apparent "upscale" cruise line was the placement - 2 times throughout the cruise - of our running "Sea Pass" account total. It was folded and placed behind the room number placard on the outside of our cabin door. They did not place in an envelope. Very tacky. We were also displeased with them pulling into a port and then charging to take their shuttle, transporting us to the main downtown/center of 3 different ports. In Venice, Celebrity charged 20.00 to take the tender to town. Likewise, we were billed 10.00 by Celebrity to take the shuttle into each of Dubrovnik and Livorno. It simply did not sit well with us. We talked that we would much rather them just add it to the price of the cruise. We did notice that the price for drinks were quite a bit higher than other lines which we have sailed recently. A 12 ounce can of Bud-light, for example, was 5.00 (excluding the automatic 15% tip). A Corona was 6.00 (excluding the automatic 15% tip). Not that we did not have a very high "Sea Pass" bill at the end of the cruise, but drinks were pricier than what we have experienced recently. I do have to commend them on the itinerary they put together. We visited so many great ports and will have memories from each port for most of a lifetime. Overall, we had a decent experience but were not too impressed with the Celebrity brand. Our party of 8 was pretty much in agreement that we would "probably not" sail on Celebrity in the future. We simply did not see the things that others have reported to make this a line which stands out. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Let me begin by noting, We are from Connecticut, in the USA, and travel 5 Star or we don't travel.  We have very high standards,  want a luxury vacation, and are willing to pay for it. We are in our late 50's, as were most on ... Read More
Let me begin by noting, We are from Connecticut, in the USA, and travel 5 Star or we don't travel.  We have very high standards,  want a luxury vacation, and are willing to pay for it. We are in our late 50's, as were most on board. Only a few children (maybe 4 on the entire ship).  If you have children, this is NOT the ship for you.  Your best choice if you are traveling with children would be to travel Royal Carribbean, it has a lot to offer for children and families and is a lovley line. We did not want a cruise with children...we wanted to indulge our senses and our minds and enjoy the solitude and quite. We chose Celebrity Summit as we wanted to travel to some ports that the larger ships could not enter, and thus changed our reservation from the Celebrity Solstice to the Celebrity Summit.  I was a bit concerned with my choice of Celebrity Summit prior to booking, as it is not a new ship. However, it went into dry dock and was referbushed in January 2009.  They did a great job renovating this ship. The only negative we found was some of the areas of this ship could have had an update, but not to worry.  You would have to look really, really close to notice. The balcony in our state room was not updated as well as the rest of the ship.  The lounge chairs and tables were a bit worn as were the lounge chair covers.  I feel they should have paid attention to this, as we love to sit on the balcony in the evenings and view the exodus of the ship to a new port.  However, do not let this change your mind about Celebrity Summit...such a little thing should not sway your decission. I mention it only as I am quite exact when speaking about things and do want to make my point.  I read many, many reviews and felt I had made a good choice. Yes, there are some minor, very minor, elements that could have been renovated, but all in all, for the trip itinerary, ship ambiance and elegance,  the price...a tremendous value.  The ship, all is all, is in great condition for it's age. Beautifully appointed.  I would certainly travel on this ship again.  The attitude of the Staff were far beyond my expectations.  You see the commericals on TV, etc. and wonder?  Well, it is all true, and then some. The staff remember your name every single time they meet you.  You are treated in the highest regard.  They do all they can, and then some, to make your voyage amazing and memorable and do it wonderfully, every single day. The public rooms were well appointed, silks and damask, marble, quite luxurious and all in beautiful prestine condition.  All dining was serviced with linens and fine crystal and china...in all restaurants.  The cuisine in the main dining room was simply wonderful.  A wide variety in every category of the meal, and well presented.  Quite amazing.  We dined in the specialty restaurant "The Normandie", 6 of the 12 evenings and will say the service and food were superb.  We really felt like royalty...honestly!  The cuisine was elegant and delicious...not one single complaint. Like any 5 Star restaurant in the states. Just delightful. We were quite impressed and are still remarking about it.  You must try the Spa area...The Persian Room has 3 steam rooms, one more wonderful than the next. A sauna and thermal heated seating that is just divine. There is an extra cost for the Persian Room, about $99.00us per person.  You can use the room as much as you like, whenever you like during the entire 12 days.  It is wonderful. We indulged ourselves every day.The stateroom cabins on this ship were quite ample in size, with down comforters and pillows (you had a choice of 4 pillow/comforter types).  The decor was lovley, crisp, elegant and quite well appointed.  As we chose Consierge Level Cabin, we were welcomed with Champagne and canapes, fresh flowers and a bowl of fresh fruit upon arrival.  Also, every evening we were presented with a silver plate of canapes prior to dinner and flowers and fresh fruit daily.  Quite amazing.  A lovley stateroom...no towel animals on on your bed on this ship...just simple elegance, well maintaned and lovley.  Our cabin steward and assistant were amazing.  Just pick up the phone and they were there in minutes...really...minutes, to tend to you every whim.  Really wonderful.  I must train my husband better. ha,ha,ha.  We truly enjoyed our cruise and are already planning our next.A few very important items:  (1) PACK LIGHT!  I am a clothes horse and found you do NOT need all that stuff.  Also, It cost 180-Euro for each bag that was over weight, in total 360-Euro in extra baggage charge at the airport.  Pack light...you can purchase a lot of things for 360-Euro!  (2) Use your ATM-Debit Card or Credit Card to buy Euro.  Do not use Travelers Checks, they are not easy to to use and most businesses will not accept them. (3) If you are traveling in Venice, Italy on a cruise.  You will need travel accommodations from the ship to the airport or to a hotel if you are staying on for a few more days on your own. There are no cars in Venice.  You MUST book a reservation with a Watertaxi.  As you exit the ship, you will be directed to the "Security Building" and there, at the end of the building is a "WaterTaxi Reservation Booth".  Make a reservation immediately.  You will be given a numbered ticket and then procede to the dock.  If you do not get the reservation, you will not get to the airport or hotel.  Cost about 50-80 Euro, depending upon where you are traveling.You are welcome to email me for more detail and photos.  cmndiva@msn.comThis is a superb travel ship and I would travel on her again.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was our first cruise and as yet we havent decided if we would do it again! If we did venture onto the seas it would be with another cruise line. We arrived at the Summit in Barcelona, we had arranged our own flights from Manchester as ... Read More
This was our first cruise and as yet we havent decided if we would do it again! If we did venture onto the seas it would be with another cruise line. We arrived at the Summit in Barcelona, we had arranged our own flights from Manchester as the Celebrity option was more expensive and went via Frankfurt!!! and also our own taxi to the port - saving us a fortune. We were met with a long queue to check in - again I was glad I had done it all online and so we had a quick trip onto the boat where we learnt we could not get into our cabin for another 3 hours!We sat beside the pool and have to say we were very dissappointed with the first impressions.The pool area was crowded and a bit shabby. When we got into our stateroom ( concierge class with balcony)we were again dissappointed as the room was shabby and the carpet was worn.The curtains had holes in the lining and the net curtain was torn.There was a stain and a small hole in the bedspread too.On the very small balcony were 2 chairs and a lot of rust!! It was also a tight squeeze when our son's bed was out and it was impossible to get onto the balcony if he was in bed.Our room steward was Peter, who was very good and solved any issue straight away but the room was not good!! The public area's are better on the whole and in particular the martini/champagne bar was nice. Breakfast was in the waterfall cafe and although it was ok it was a bit of a scrum and we had difficulty finding a chair on a couple of occassions so we opted for breakfast in our room which was ok but the order was never right! As said before the pool area could do with some improvement and was overun with spanish teenagers the whole time who were really noisy and rude.   Dinner in the main restaraunt was good overall although on some nights we were struggling for choice.Our waiter was excellent though and made it a good dining experience overall. Our wine waiter was also very good and attentive throughout.We didnt dine in the waterfall cafe at night as we dont like to do this on holiday( and it was $2 extra!!) - we were looking for a bit of luxury. The soda package is a rip off as it doesnt include water!!!!!! The wine was expensive too and we felt we were being ripped off the whole time - this included the trips we booked and any photo's we bought.Overall we felt Celebrity were trying to get as much money out of us as possible at every opportunity. Turning to the trips, we took 4 by celebrity, Rome on your own ( you got a coach there and back) which did give us some useful tips on how to beat the queue's, Pompeii which was really good due to the great guide and Athens which was dire, again due to the guide and Pisa which was really good although expensive. Disembarkation was slick and well organised. When we docked in Santorini - we gave up and spent the day on the boat as the queue for the cable car was huge and didnt seem to be reducing - due to the number of cruises in that day.Dubrovnik was fab and we will go back there again as was Venice.We took the summit tranfer which at $20 was very expensive but it was the last day and we were too tired to care! The destinations were definitely the high point of ths holiday. The entertainment was poor - the shows in the theatre were on at weird times so we werent able to catch many ( the last dinner sitting was changed to 9pm which was too late especially with children and the earlier one to 6.30 which is much too early in my view) The dancers were ok and the 'orchestra' were out of tune the whole time.The band around the pool were absolutely rubbish, they couldnt sing and were much too loud - very intrusive as was the music in 'Rendevous'it was like they were playing a stadium!!! Our son ( aged 9 ) was hoping to make some new friends but the kids programme was really poor and the kids club was taken over by sulky american teenagers - it was like 'so raven' i n real life.The club seemed poorly supported and the facilities for children were really poor, old and tired. Overall we had a nice time as we kept ourselves to ourselves and the service of the staff was excellent but Celebrity really need to upgrade the ship and the value for money.The staff also seemed very stressed to get a 'excellent' recommendation on the customer comment cards and we got the impression they would get in trouble if they didnt get it. Would we cruise again?? maybe.With Celebrity - probably not. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We were finally on our way to Alaska. We were originally booked on the 6/ 3/2005 sailing that was cancelled due to pod problems. We ended up going to Bermuda last year on the Horizon after our cancellation and used our free cruise on the ... Read More
We were finally on our way to Alaska. We were originally booked on the 6/ 3/2005 sailing that was cancelled due to pod problems. We ended up going to Bermuda last year on the Horizon after our cancellation and used our free cruise on the 6/17/06 Alaska sailing on the Summit. We flew in one day early from Knoxville, Tennessee and stayed at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. The hotel is beautiful but very expensive.After arrival we went out for some sightseeing in Gaston and a bite to eat at a small pub type restaurant. We had originally booked this hotel on the understanding that the Summit would be docked across the street at Canada Place. However, this was not the case. We had to take a short bus ride to Ballaytine Pier to board the ship. The bus left from the hotel at 11:00 AM and we were onboard by 11:45. Embarkation was easy and efficient. Our room was a balcony cabin, number 7160, on the starboard side of the ship. The cabin was nice, but when the sofa bed is pulled out, it makes it hard to get to the balcony. You must climb over the bed to get out to the balcony. Our first port of call was Juneau. We took a bus tour on our own out to Mendenhall Glacier and the Chapel by the Lake. We had a Tlingit tour guide named August. He was very informative and the tour was a good value for the price. After the tour we went out to the Hangar Restaurant in The Wharf. We had a bucket of King Crab legs and some Alaskan Beer. It was pricey but they were worth it. Next up was Skagway. Shopping was good here especially at Corringtons Ivory Shop and Museum and we also went to the Red Onion Saloon and had had a snack before our trip on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. The weather was perfect, and the scenery was spectacular. I would highly recommend the train to anyone. The next port was Sitka. We had no tours scheduled, the town was packed, and it was raining. So we went back to the ship and spotted 5 or 6 eagles from the balcony. We had a good time watching as the mother fed her babies in the nest. Our last stop was Icy Strait Point. They allow only one ship a day to visit. We had a Whale Watching Excursion booked through Celebrity. We saw several whales but did not get close enough to get a good picture. We also saw sea lions and eagles on the boat ride. After the excursion we went to a small restaurant by the dock. We had a whole Dungoness Crab. They were 18 dollars each and well worth it,even better than the King Crab in Juneau. The next day was Hubbard Glacier and was much better than we had expected. The "White Thunder" was unbelievable and the calving was magnificent. We also saw seals on the way out of the bay. The food in the main dining room was very good. Our waiters, Augustine and Niyazi, worked very hard to please us. The beef dishes seemed especially good, but my son was partial to the lamb. Food in the buffet during breakfast was very good, especially the waffle and omelet stations. The cheeseburgers and hot dogs at the waterfall grill were also very good, but the line could get long. The sushi bar was good, but not quite as good as on the Infinity in February. The shows were very good, we enjoyed the Celebrity singers and dancers, and also the comedian, Don Gavin. The aerialists were unbelievable. The Cirque de Soleil show was okay overall, but the acrobat was very good, but the clown portion was not. Overall the Summit is a wonderful ship, well taken care of, and we had fantastic service. I would recommend the Summit to anyone and would be happy to sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Celebrity Summit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.1

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