23 Celebrity Summit Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We are a retired couple and love to travel. This was our fourth cruise and our third trip to Europe. We have cruised twice on HAL about 35 years ago and on Sitmar around 38 years ago. We cruised again last year on Princess. This year we ... Read More
We are a retired couple and love to travel. This was our fourth cruise and our third trip to Europe. We have cruised twice on HAL about 35 years ago and on Sitmar around 38 years ago. We cruised again last year on Princess. This year we were new to Celebrity. Our port of embarkation was Barcelona. We flew from our home in Detroit to JFK and from JFK to Barcelona. We arrived two days early and promptly checked into the Hotel Jazz. This was a great little hotel and the service was lovely and friendly. The place was spotless; the breakfast was delicious. The hotel was only a few blocks from the Main Square and La Ramblas. We had a great time over-all but had a poor experience with the HOHO bus. The busses are supposed to come every 20 minutes but they were often full and we averaged about 40 minutes to an hour wait for each bus. At no time was there room for us to go up to the top level; it was that crowded. The drivers did not speak English well and misdirected us. The bus broke down and we were stranded for 90 minutes waiting for a new bus. The following day I requested a refund and was told I had to complete a form. A month later, I still do not have a refund. In spite of this we really enjoyed the city. The shopping was great. La Rambla was beautiful especially at night. Don't miss the Sagrada Familia Cathedral and the other Gaudi architecture. The Guell Park was amazing. I felt as though I fell through Alice's Looking Glass in this city. We boarded the Summit in Barcelona about 2 PM. The process took less than ½ hour from beginning to end. We were warmly welcomed with mimosas and escorted to our room. Our room steward, Naik, immediately stopped by, introduced himself and asked if there was anything we needed. He spoiled us the whole time we were on the cruise. I needed an extension cord for my heating pad. He immediately provided this and taped the cord along the wall so we would not trip over the cord. He was our personal genie; whatever we requested, he provided. He always had a smile. If he saw us walking down the hallway, he would open our door for us. Each time we returned to the ship from our shore excursions, the staff would greet us warmly and say "Welcome Home." We had a standard veranda cabin and it was more than adequate for our needs. There was ample drawer space and lots of cupboards. The closet was a little tight but we managed. There was a safe and plenty of shelving in the bathroom. Bring your own hair dryer; the one on the ship is probably an antique. The room was decorated in orange; in early "Howard Johnson's". However, the bed was very comfortable and we had a sofa and a desk as well. Our balcony held two chairs and a small table. We loved the "no smoking" policy. There was a problem with mold in our shower. We mentioned this to Naik and presto, the mold was gone and the shower curtain was replaced. The food in the MDR was very good. Our waiter, Nengah and his assistant Pavel also spoiled us. My husband asked for two helpings of shrimp cocktail and he got it, every night. Our travel companions requested certain flavors of ice cream and those were ordered especially ordered for us - even when they were not on the menu. Everything we ate was very good. If we attempted to order something that was not good, Nengah would advise us to order something else. Pavel especially was very friendly and both servers always had smile for us. There were plenty of choices for food. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the Aqua Spa and the food there was delicious. We tried the buffet from time to time and we were pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. We did not try the grill or the pizzeria. We thoroughly enjoyed high tea; especially the bite-sized sandwiches. The coffee on the ship was foul beyond belief. We were forewarned by CC members and we bought our own coffee. There was a special brunch buffet, a midnight buffet and a chocolate buffet. There were canapEs passed every night after 11. You could eat your way through the cruise from beginning to end. However, all of our dining experiences paled in comparison to our two dinners in the Normandie. I can honestly say that these were two of the best meals I have ever eaten. Our entire group was awed by the presentation. The meal was beautifully plated and elegantly served. The fish I ordered was prepared tableside and flambEed. Once again the staff made us feel as though we were honored guests. This meal is well worth the up-charge; we liked it so much we ate there twice. There was lots of entertainment. For comedy there was Fred Kitts, who proved that you can be funny and be clean at the same time. He appeared twice and had the entire audience laughing. The variety shows were excellent. The musicians and concert pianist were outstanding. The movies were good but were more than a year old. Even though we are not movie buffs, we had seen most of the movies. The movie theater and the show room are very comfortable. There were plenty of activities to keep us occupied on sea days. My husband took two photography classes; I took a class in flower arranging and a refresher class in Excel. One photography class and the flower arranging class was free. There was a charge for the other two classes. There was a guest lecturer on the Olympics and even though I did not get to his lectures, I heard that they were good. There were classes in wine-tasting and several dance classes. If the itinerary had not been so port-intensive, we would have availed ourselves of these. We had an extra sea-day because we were unable to dock in Villefranche (due to poor weather). There were two get-togethers for Cruise Critic members. The pools were beautiful. We loved the Thalassotherapy pool. My husband used the gym. A few in our group used the spa and enjoyed it. There are lots of quiet little places on board to settle down with a book. There is a library with a nice selection of books and a lovely card room. There were few annoying announcements. If there was a disappointment in the cruse it was in the shopping. There was a lot of junk jewelry and clothing and most of it was over-priced. There was little "new merchandise" as the cruise went on. Some of the merchandise looked like it was left over from a garage sale. We broke our camera on the cruise and had to replace it. We were able to purchase a nice camera on the ship. The camera sold at the manufacturer's suggested retail price and we were pleased that we did not have to pay an inflated price. We had planned to do a walking/ shopping tour of Florence but the tours were already booked. We ended up taking the ship's shuttle to the train and the train to Florence. It took a half hour for the shuttle then a half hour wait at the train station. The train ride was 90 minutes and we had to reverse this whole process on the way back. We wandered around aimlessly at the train station until we got a cab. We went to the Santa Crorce area but we had only a few hours before it was time to get back. If you do not hire a guide for this city, take the ship's shuttle to the center of town. You will save about two hours. What we saw of Florence was lovely. We were a mixed group. My husband and I were new to Rome and wanted to sight-see. Two of our companions wanted only to shop. Another companion wanted to do both. Our solution was to hire Driver In Rome. Our driver, Paulo, effortlessly delivered us wherever we wanted to go. He dropped the two shoppers off at a shopping center and took the three sight-seers all over the city. Later he dropped the sight-seers off for lunch, picked up the shoppers and delivered them to the restaurant where they joined us for the meal. The second day we all went to the Vatican in the morning but the shoppers left after two hours while the others stayed to see the Sistine Chapel and the Museum. In the afternoon, we went to the Jewish Quarter. Paulo was unflappable. One note: If you hire Driver In Rome, ask for any vehicle but the Fiat; it was bumpy and noisy. Rome was a treat. A few people in our group learned that Paulo, our driver in Rome, was to be our driver in Naples. He agreed to play a joke on the others in our group and to pass himself off as his identical twin brother, Georgio, He met us in Naples in a different vehicle, thankfully a Mercedes van this time, and the trip was much smoother. Our travel companions fell for the little joke and we all had a good laugh. The weather was awful but we all enjoyed ourselves. We went to Pompeii, to a cameo factory and then for a magnificent drive up the Amalfi Coast. Wow!! We had a delicious lunch before driving back to Naples. We definitely recommend Driver In Rome for Rome and Naples and Florence. Ask for Paulo; he's great!! We had a sea day before turning and doing the Eastern Mediterranean. There were plenty of activities and we appreciated the time to relax. While we were still in Naples we heard that the Summit had cancelled several tours because there was a marathon in Athens. Since we had reserved a guide, we telephoned him and asked him if sight-seeing would be a problem. We were assured that it would not be a problem because our guide had a smaller vehicle and could go around the runners. Imagine our surprise when we got to Athens and our guide told us he could not take us to any of the high spots except for the Acropolis. He could not get to any of the other sights along the marathon route and had to drop us off several blocks away from the Plaka. He arranged to meet us several hours later. We had hired George's taxi service after reading rave reviews about him in Cruise Critic. George's son, Billy, was our driver. Billy was very pleasant but we felt that George's taxi should have leveled with us when we telephoned in advance. We could have cancelled. We paid 250 Euros to be dropped off at the Acropolis and the Plaka and returned to the ship. This service was very expensive for what we received and we were understandably disappointed. We could have hired a regular taxi for that. That being said, the city appeared to be like any large metropolitan city. The Acropolis was beautiful even in the rain. The Plaka was a great shopping area and there appeared to be some excellent buys. We did Istanbul on our own. We arrived about 1:30 on Monday and went straight to the tram upon leaving the ship. People were very good about directing us. Istanbul is a huge city but everyone is very friendly. We took the tram to Topkapi Palace and spent a few hours at the harem and the Palace. The grounds were beautiful. It was not hard to imagine girls as young as 11 or 12 being taken to the Harem possibly for life. It was dark when we left the Palace so we did not want to take the chance of getting lost in the dark. So we walked toward the Grand Bazaar and found the shuttle to the ship. We did a lot of people watching on our walk. The next day we took the shuttle to town and walked to the Blue Mosque. It was beautiful. We walked to the Grand Bazaar and spent several hours winding in and out of the shops. We purchased harem outfits for our granddaughters. We found the people in Istanbul to be very friendly. We did not feel at all threatened by being in a Muslim country. Mykonos was serene and beautiful. We shuttled to the town center and walked around for the entire afternoon. It was the last day the shops were open for the season but few shopkeepers were willing to bargain. Still, we enjoyed our sojourn there and took some beautiful pictures. It is fun wandering in and out of the alleys. The little island is peaceful and breath-taking. After leaving Mykonos and another sea day, we arrived in Split. We tendered into town and spent a few pleasant hours shopping the stores and flea markets and exploring the ruins. There is not a lot to do here so a few hours was all we needed. Disembarkation went smoothly. We were one of the last to disembark and we stayed in our cabin until the very end. We were not rushed. We left the ship on schedule and easily found our luggage. Getting a water taxi in Venice took some time but soon we were on our way. We were sorry to leave our adopted home on the Summit. I would like to mention how hard the staff works. Our room steward was on duty from early morning until about nine at night. Our dinner waiters were seen working the buffet at other times during the day. The staff at the Normandie worked the Aqua spa. We heard passengers complaining about the tips that were automatically charged to the cabins. We felt that these tips were not enough for the wonderful service we received. These people sign contacts with Celebrity and work for six months before they return home. Often they send money home to their families. They deserve every bit of their tips and more. We will definitely return to Celebrity. We would recommend this ship to anyone. We spend three nights here and stayed at the Hilton Stucky Molino. The hotel is located on a separate island but there is a complimentary shuttle to San Marco. The hotel is spotless and nice for a splurge. The staff was lovely and welcoming except for the concierge who was condescending and rude. We spent most of our time around San Marco Square. We are avid amateur photographers and found plenty of things to photograph here. We also wandered around other neighborhoods in Venice and Molino. Venice is a beautiful and easily doable on your own. The water busses will take you anywhere. We visited Murano. I am glad we went but we do not have to return. The prices were the same in Venice. Venice is not inexpensive. It cost us 60 Euros to get to our hotel from the pier and 112 Euros to get to the airport. All food is imported and delicious and expensive. In addition to paying high prices (in Euros) you pay a "cover charge" and a "service charge". But spending money is part of the fun. If you are going to visit Venice, budget accordingly. You won't be sorry. When we return, we will bring an extra suitcase for the masks and souvenirs. They are lovely. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We cruised the Mediterranean Legacies itinerary on Celebrity's Summit sailing October 17-30, 2009. With it being our first time in Europe, we were greedy for as many ports of call as possible, and we booked the ship's shore ... Read More
We cruised the Mediterranean Legacies itinerary on Celebrity's Summit sailing October 17-30, 2009. With it being our first time in Europe, we were greedy for as many ports of call as possible, and we booked the ship's shore excursions at many of the ports. By the end of the second week, we were exhausted, and WHEN we do this sailing again, will be a bit less adventurous in the ports and may stay on the ship on some of the port days. By the way, we are a couple aged 47 in pretty good physical shape, but 5 extensive port days in a row later, we needed a rest! When we landed after our red-eye from JFK, which offered very little sleep time as we were delayed on the runway for almost two hours and weren't fed until 10 pm by the flustered crew on our Delta flight which had newly installed lie-flat beds (the seating arrangement seemed to give them fits)Anyway, after only 3 hours of sleep, we arrived in the Venice airport with no transfer arrangements since we had used frequent flier points for air travel. The Celebrity people hooked us up with a local taxi, and 50 Euros later, we were at the ship well ahead of the other people on our flight. Embarkation was a breeze, and when we boarded the ship, we went to our cabin first thing and were allowed access, so we did a quick unpack, then off to explore the ship. We had hoped to explore Venice that day/night since we were over-nighting, but were too tired, so we opted to sleep for 4 hours. Smart move- we awoke refreshed and ready to meet our dinner companions, which is always an anxious part of cruising, but we were very lucky. Seated at a table for 8, we met a couple in their mid-fifties from Chicago, and honeymooners 25 and 32 from Toronto. The 4th couple never showed up at the table, and the dynamics between the rest of us were great. We made fast friends, closing down the restaurant most nights (8:45 pm seating). The food was really good on some nights, not so great on others, but I would say overall very enjoyable. Our Sommelier Sheldon was terrific, and our head waiter Hernan and assistant Ishmael were the best we've ever had. Our cabin was nice and roomy compared to most we have had, with a balcony large enough to accommodate a large table, 2 upright chairs and a small table - we enjoyed breakfast most mornings on our balcony - in late October! The best thing I packed for the trip was a cheap hanging shoe bag which I cut to fit the bathroom door and held all of our necessary toiletries nicely. Our friends had one of the cc cabins at the back of the ship with a HUGE balcony, which I will definitely try for the next time I book ( I think it was #7203)- seriously, the balcony was as big as the room! The ship constantly had tastings and workshops and lectures and other activities - plenty to do on board. The shows were pretty good, and there is a disco for the young and young at heart - although we enjoyed Katie Guglielmo in Michael's Club as much as anything. We loved the wine tastings, and especially loved the Riedel Workshop. 2 weeks of constantly going in ports goes by way too quickly, and we hated for the cruise to end. I packed way too much clothing going for the layered thing I thought we would need in October's climate. We had their version of Indian Summer most of the trip, and a few more short sleeve shirts would have been nice! My advice: stick to one basic color, pack for one week and just launder the repeats. Travel packets of laundry detergent will do most of the job, and the ship's laundry service can do the rest... We ended up in Barcelona, and took the Shore Excursion transfer tour which was a great way to hit the Highlights of Barcelona, and they dropped us off at our hotel Casa Fuster which was very nice. We didn't think to bring a European adaptor for our phones/curling iron, but the front desk happily supplied us with one. I need to address 3 ports here as I only have options for six ports below. Venice: Rating: 5+ - We just walked off the ship and rambled around for the day, doing some shopping and sightseeing and cafe stopping. Had a blast! Very beautiful city and one of our faves - 1.50 euros for very nasty public toilets the only downside. Just go to a cafe and sit and enjoy a cappuccino to take advantage of their bathrooms - it is what we did in every port thereafter and had fun people watching. Barcelona: Rating: 4 - They have a hop-on hop-off bus which hits all the major sights and is a very good value. Gaudi architecture is really something to see. Las Ramblas is hopping and vibrant, but we really enjoyed having dinner in the Gothic quarter (and getting lost trying to get to the restaurant). Alfresco tapas at a little place called "Taller de Tapas" was excellent - especially the shaved artichokes and sauteed mushrooms polished off with a very good wine - Yummy! Athens: Rating: 1 - A very large and modern city- not really to our taste. Graffiti and zooming traffic everywhere. We took the ship's tour which took us to The Acropolis exterior, then on to the Plaka for shopping. Was glad to get to see the Acropolis and Plaka, but after a while all the shops seem the same. We found a little restaurant off the beaten path, ordered Gyros (slightly different from what we know here in the states) and good wine. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
1) Cruise left Barcelona on Oct. 3, 2009 arrived in Venice Oct. 17, 2009. 2) We left home Oct 1st spent a night in Barcelona and stayed an extra night in Venice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Quickly adjusted to time zone as well as not being in a ... Read More
1) Cruise left Barcelona on Oct. 3, 2009 arrived in Venice Oct. 17, 2009. 2) We left home Oct 1st spent a night in Barcelona and stayed an extra night in Venice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Quickly adjusted to time zone as well as not being in a crazy rush on sail day. 3) Stayed in Eurostars Ramblas Boqueria in Barcelona, Columbus Hotel in Rome (During 2 day Rome visit), Hotel Casa Nova in Venice. Rated Cruise 9 out of 10 (Best we've ever had in our 15 cruises) To clarify, we are very picky and unforgiving in lots of areas so a 9 is probably the highest we could give any cruise line. The criticisms of Celebrity is that the Guest Services staff is uninformed and not very helpful. We asked 3 questions of them in the 14 days and all 3 answers were wrong. Grossly wrong. Celebrity, in other areas, reminded me that they are in the business of making money first, being honorable second. Still rated a 9! We bought a Concierge Class Room. NOT WORTH IT!! No priority Tender boarding, pillow menu is a joke, dollar store binoculars were useless, daily canapEs and showerhead was the only thing left and that wasn't worth the up charge. Don't waste your money with this. Still rated a 9! Tours? Be careful. Very overpriced for what you get. They scare you into believing you can't do it on your own. OK, we bought transportation mostly. "Florence/Pisa on your own" was worth the price to not have to hassle with trains and local tour guides. Rome.. Buy a train ticket and do everything yourself. Easy as pie!! Istanbul all on our own, we saw everything our table mates saw without the cost. Still rated a 9! So, why rated a 9? The food was outstanding, the staff was unbelievably friendly, the timing of everything was spot on, our room steward was PRICELESS, the itinerary was 2nd to none, and the weather was perfect. I would certainly recommend Celebrity to anyone. One piece of advice to any Celebrity rep reading this: Your staff should do anything they can to make a guest happy. Your advertisement in the Photos Area said "Buy (3) 8X10 photos and get the Leather Portfolio free." Just because my Embarkation Photo was on sale when I bought it should not have disqualified me from the free Portfolio. This was cheap of you and your supervisor should have realized that I paid over $7,000 to Celebrity and that $5.00 difference between a full priced photo and the sale price wasn't worth me feeling you were greedy and cheap. "We will fix the ad for the next cruise", the supervisor said as she then wished us a good night. If you want more details about any of the ports, ship, tips, hints, etc.. Email me at poopacct@yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
I am not a nitpicker so I will not go on about unvarnished railings or worn carpets etc. as I saw no evidence of either and I can't possibly see how these sorts of things can affect a cruise. The ship is magnificent,in excellent ... Read More
I am not a nitpicker so I will not go on about unvarnished railings or worn carpets etc. as I saw no evidence of either and I can't possibly see how these sorts of things can affect a cruise. The ship is magnificent,in excellent condition and all evidence is that it is well maintained. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the port of Barcelona at 2.00pm after an eleven euro taxi fare from the Hotel Inglaterra and there was a crowd, but so what? It was interesting to see our fellow cruisers and we were on the ship within 30 mins. Get there at 4 if you want to miss the crowds. CABIN: On Vista deck our cabin was large enough with a good size balcony. Peter, our steward was there to meet us and make us feel comfortable. He also delivered our breakfast every morning and afternoon tea on some sea days. Daily bowls of fresh fruit were a welcome touch and our cabin was kept spotless. Nothing was too much trouble and he and his staff were well rewarded and I am not used to and dislike the whole business of tipping (We had arranged for the automatic tipping to be removed from our account and it was cancelled by Guest Relations without a murmur) FOOD: We dined in the MDR (only "just O.K." food and I agree with the criticisms), Destinations (the ship's best kept secret with excellent service, good food and the best views) and the Normandie. Now the Normandie is an outstanding dining room and really worth getting dressed up for on formal nights. Katerina and her staff have got their act together and provide excellent service with a flair. The food is superb especially the goat's cheese soufflE, the cappuccino soup (yes) the Maine lobster, the chateaubriand and the sensational Grand Marnier soufflE to name a few. The Normandie has it's own chefs and that certainly makes a big difference. For an extra $30 it is an absolute bargain and every cruiser should dine there at least once to make the most of the cruise experience. We had 3 wonderful and memorable meals in the Normandie. Thankyou Celebrity and Katerina! EXCURSIONS: The ship's excursions are way too expensive so we did our research and except for the Amalfi Coast, where we hired Guiseppe of Sorrento Top Cars (350euros) and had an excellent lunch at the Garden Restaurant in Ravello, we visited each destination on our own. We encountered no problems with trains etc. and visited all the places on our agenda. They included Museums (the new one in Athens is a must) lunches ( Da Fortunato at the Pantheon in Rome is one of my favourites) and shopping (Valmar on via Porta Rosa in Florence is amazing for cushions and fabrics). The fact that we had visited many of these cities over the years prior to the cruise meant that we could be selective and could use our short time to advantage. Disembarkation for the excursions was no problem and I found myself walking off the ship at Livorno at 7.01am after 7.00am docking. Well done Celebrity! On all occasions it was a nice touch to a arrive back at the ship to find a stall with wet towels and cold drinks. ENTERTAINMENT: The Broadway type shows were first class presented with enthusiasm and energy. The individual acts were entertaining, but I would have been prepared to pay extra for a realy big name. We were fortunate in that we had perfect weather everyday and the Med. was like a millpond. Countless times I stood at our balcony to make sure the ship was actually moving. Incidentally balconies are certainly worth it and how can I not forget the sun rising over Vesuvius from the comfort of ours. Overall a great experience from a very professional cruising company. As first timers we are now hooked!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was our first Celebrity Cruise with two previous RCCL cruises to Mexico and Alaska. We choose this ship for its itinerary and it is a very port intensive trip to say the least. There are four days in which you have port calls in ... Read More
This was our first Celebrity Cruise with two previous RCCL cruises to Mexico and Alaska. We choose this ship for its itinerary and it is a very port intensive trip to say the least. There are four days in which you have port calls in Cannes, Florence, Rome, and. Naples. We arrived in BARCELONA two days before the ship's departure. We stayed at Condes de Barcelona, one of the hotels on Celebrity's list but we booked it on our own at less than half the price Celebrity charged. Barcelona is a beautiful city and easy to get around. We took a taxi from the airport (30 euro). We elected to see the city using the Hop On & Hop Off Tour Bus. The two-day pass was well worth the 27 euro price. Taxi from our hotel to the ship was another 30 euro (expect a surcharge for your luggage). We had been warned about the thieves and pickpockets throughout the cruise ports. Even then, my wife lost 20 euro to a sneak thief in Barcelona. This Gypsy put a flower in her scarf and when my wife opened her coin purse to give her a coin, the thief grabbed her paper currency and ran. This ruined the rest of the day for her. EMBARKATION: We arrived at 2PM and that was a mistake as it seemed to be the same time most everyone else chose. Celebrity's staff was well organized in spite of the crowd's surge and we were on the ship within 45 minutes. Recommend arriving before noon or after 4PM to avoid the crowds. OUR ROOM: We selected a Balcony room 7194 which is on the far aft Starboard side. The views from the Starboard side (Even Numbered cabins) were spectacular for this itinerary. The size and layout of this room was more than adequate for our needs. The balcony was small but adequate for standing looking out or sitting with our morning tea. There was ample storage for all of our things. Our room steward was great and always had our room spotless. Two Cruise Critic Tips that served us well were to bring a Power Strip for all your electronic gadgets and a nightlight for the bathroom. A Digital Clock came in handy too. We were upgraded to Concierge Class in addition to a significant price reduction several months before our departure. I probably would not have paid extra for Concierge Class but other people will have a different opinion on its value. One of the things we liked about the far Aft room was there was very little foot traffic, The Waterfall Cafe was three floors above which was very convenient to drop in for a quick snack or cup of Tea or Juice. THE SHIP EXPERIENCE: We attended the Cruise Critic Party (~10 AM on the first "At Sea" day) with many of other Roll-Call members. It was enjoyable meeting each other after months of planning together. We found the ship was about 60% Americans and a significant Canadian contingent, numerous Brits, and a bunch of Aussies. We saw very few children on this cruise. The condition of the ship was very well maintained. The T-pool was our favorite relaxation spot on the ship during our "at sea" days. The Fitness Center was very well equipped and in excellent condition too. (I should have spent more time at the Gym and less time at the Ice cream counter) One complaint is with many of our fellow passengers who went out early in the morning of the "At Sea" days to reserve their deck lounges and then not return for several hours later. There wasn't an open deck lounge to be found after 9 AM. SHAME ON EACH OF YOU! DINING: We chose Early Seating even though we knew we might have to rush back from our late tours (but this was not really a problem). We sat at a table for 8 and enjoyed the excellent company of our dining companions. The food selections were ample and the taste was excellent. Portion sizes were not large but we never walked away hungry. We only ate some breakfast and a few lunches at the buffet. The selection was adequate but not extensive. We enjoyed the pizza at the rear buffet area and loved the homemade ice cream. Don't be shy about ordering Room Service (it is included) for your morning Coffee/Tea/breakfast. This was a real time-saver while we were getting ready for those early port tours. (It also serves as your wake-up call ;-) ENTERTAINMENT: There was an enjoyable variety of musical entertainment throughout the ship. The Celebrity Dancers and Singers were excellent. Their Broadway musical was very well done and was equal to some of the original productions we have seen firsthand. The ships band was awesome and we did enjoy their performances throughout the ship and the cruise. INTERNET: There was Internet and Hotspots available on the ships Computer lounges but it was very expensive ($.65 per minute) which could be acceptable (given the location) but the speed was EXTREMELY SLOOOW. It is intolerable to charge a PREMIUM price for such slow speed internet service. There was also intermittent Cell phone connectivity through Verizon at $7.50 per minute. CANNES was our first port of call. My wife took Celebrity's half-day tour of Monaco and the Grand Casino and was happy that she did. I was happy to walk around Cannes and spend a restful afternoon on the ship. FLORENCE: We took a taxi to the train station for 20 euro. The 90 minute train ride (13 euro each way) takes you right into the center of Florence making everything within easy walking distance. WARNING: Be sure to get your ticket validated BEFORE you board. We should have reserved tickets for the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery so we missed out on both due to the very long lines. At least we had a nice lunch there. ROME: We had made arrangements for a private tour with DRIVERINROME. Our driver/guide Paolo was fantastic and we saw much more than we could have with Celebrity's City Tour. DRIVERINROME also arranged for ticket reservations and a licensed Guide for our group through the Vatican which was also awesome. We HIGHLY Recommend using Cruise Critic Connections Roll Call to set up your own group and make your own private tour. It isn't cheap (~150 euro per person) but you'll have a day that you'll never forget. NAPLES: We used Celebrity Tours and were very satisfied. My wife took the Sorrento & Pompeii Tour while I chose the Hike Vesuvius & Pompeii tour. We both had a great day. Our dining companions said that they really enjoyed their DRIVERINROME tour of the Amalfi Coast area. SANTORINI: We chose the Celebrity tour of Oia for a late lunch then returned back to take the gondola back down to the port. Santorini is a beautiful island that I could have spent more time exploring. ATHENS: We joined a group who had set up a private tour with ATHENSTAXI and had another day to remember. George was fantastic driver/guide getting us to the Acropolis well before the crowds. We also hired a licensed tour guide which was another smart move. We had a great time walking around the Plaka and the Acropolis. We ate lunch at a fantastic restaurant that overlooked the city. HIGHLY Recommend a Private Tour with your Cruise Critic shipmates in Athens as a worthwhile investment (~90 euro per person). AT SEA DAY: We ate at the Normandie were very disappointed with our experience as the service was seemingly nonexistent. The food was well prepared and very tasty. I wanted to give a comment to the maitre d' but he was not at his station when we left. So I went in and discussed my concerns with his assistant the following day. The maitre d' later phoned our room offering his sincerest apologies but nothing else. He really missed an opportunity here by not offering to remove the charge from our bill or at least giving us another complementary seating. In fairness to the Normandie, most other people we talked to were very satisfied with their "fine dining experience". DUBROVNIK is an easy port to do on your own. The ships shuttle was $12/pp but we opted to take a city bus (#1A, 1B, 1C or 1 D) for $4eu each way. We used the ATM just outside the Pier gate to get about $50 in local currency and simply walked through the Old Town which was spotless. You can easily see the sites, have lunch and shop in 3-4 hours here. VENICE: Entering Venice was an experience that we'll never forget. The ship passes St Mark's Square around noon and the scenery was magnificent! We had booked the "Secret Walking Tour" through Celebrity and it gave us some familiarity with the city's layout. DEBARKATION: We didn't have a flight out that day so we had one of the latest debarking times. We waited in a comfortable area (the Cinema). Our Bags were easy to find as there were in their designated color coded area. There was a lot of confusion at the exit because another ship was offloading at the same time. We took a Water taxi from the Ship to our Hotel for 90 euro (Celebrity needs to provide better information on this aspect of debarkation). We had also booked two extra days in Venice and are glad we did. Once you get your bearings, Venice is an easy city to tour on foot. It was great fun just walking through the various section of this beautiful city. SUMMARY: We had a FANTASTIC cruise. The itinerary was way too busy to consider it a "vacation" but absolutely enjoyable. We walked about 3-5 miles at each port; saw all the sites with only a basic overview due to the time limitations at each port. We returned to the ship each day exhausted from our travels with a general understanding of what each country and port has to offer. We absolutely recommend the Summit and this itinerary as it was a cruise that we will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My husband and I have returned from the Barcelona-Venice Mediterranean cruise on the Summit. After reading some reviews of the Summit before we went I was a little worried, but everything went perfect and we had a fantastic holiday. ... Read More
My husband and I have returned from the Barcelona-Venice Mediterranean cruise on the Summit. After reading some reviews of the Summit before we went I was a little worried, but everything went perfect and we had a fantastic holiday. Embarkation was fast and very well organized. We got to the port, the baggage was taken away, and we spent 15 minutes at the checking-in desk and then we went on board where a glass of champagne was offered to us. Our cabin was on the 6th floor,concierge class, large enough for both of us and there was a nice balcony with some chairs and a table. Our cabin steward, Seby, was very helpful and gentle. The food in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was excellent. Our seating was at 6:15 too early because we usually got back from the tours around 6. We asked to change to 8:45 but then again, too late! So we usually had dinner at the buffet or once at the not formal restaurant The Dimension which was an excellent choice! We didn't do any of the Celebrity excursion cause I thought they were a little expensive and we are used to travel , so we did everything ourselves.What we used to do: get the hop-on-hop-off in Barcelona, Athenas, Cannes. Pretty easy as they stop near the port(except for Athenas which is around 40 min by bus from the port and I wouldn´t bother to take the bus if I ever get back to Athenas! What a deception!) Livorno we rented a car as soon as we stepped out of the ship (90 euros but could have paid less if we had planned in advance)! I wanted very much to know Cinque Terre (about 1 hour driving from the port) It was perfect! The road is really good and signs every where! Impossible to get lost! Civitavecchia: We walked to the station and caught the train to Rome.We bought the BIRG ticket which covers the subway and tram as well. Naples: Another car rented to get to know the Amalfi Coast , this time cheaper as I had booked in advance: 65 euros. We drove from Naples to Vietri sur Mare and from there to Sorrento. Ravello is a perfect little town and Positano is perfect for lunch! Santorini: We caught the cable car to Fira and then we went to Oia. In Oia we went to Armoud Bay thinking we would swim and have lunch there. But is a bay not a beach, so... We went to a beach close by (beautiful but very hard to walk on the stones) Piraeus: We walked to the metro station about half an hour and caught the metro to Athens. We got off at the Monastery station and walked to the wrong(or right) direction. The idea was to catch the tourist bus (hop-on-hop-off). After walking for half an hour we got to the Acropole. At this point I was already exhausted because of the heat! I didn´t climbed the 150 or so steps ... and finally got the bus. I wouldn´t bother doing it again... Athena was a deception. Dubrovnik: We bought the transfer the ship offered to the entrance of Old Town and I think it was the best idea. There we walked around, visited the Museum , had a beer in the waterfront... Very lovely town. Venice: Sailing into Venice was absolutely fantastic ! An unforgettable experience! I had a stateroom with balcony , but I decided to go to the Tower level where the disco is, and I had an amazing view! I really wanted to share my experience and let you know that the ship is fantastic and I had the holiday of my life! Thanks to everybody who took their time writing tips and reviews. You made the difference Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We started our trip with an extra day in Barcelona, and we're glad we had the extra night, because we were both quite jet lagged and needed to rest up before we tackled trying to see all we could in one day. Not easily done, but we ... Read More
We started our trip with an extra day in Barcelona, and we're glad we had the extra night, because we were both quite jet lagged and needed to rest up before we tackled trying to see all we could in one day. Not easily done, but we got to the major attractions and sights. Finally it was time to board the ship. Just driving to the pier was exciting, seeing that wonderful huge ship just waiting for us to board! The boarding process was extremely fast and within about 15 minutes we were being welcomed with a glass of champagne! The ship itself isn't as flashy as I had assumed, a bit understated, but by no means lacking in any way shape or form. It was just right! We made our way to our stateroom, and were quite surprised that it was almost larger than our previous night's hotel room! Thanks to this site, I knew to pack our swimsuits in our carry-on so that we could relax by the pool before our suitcases arrived, but before we could even change into them, the suitcases were at our door! Leaving Barcelona at sunset, was beautiful, but we were ready to start our cruise. Our first sea day was fun, we got to sleep in and relax by the pool listening to the live band who were quite good. This was our first formal night and I must say that I was quite impressed to see that people really did get dressed formally for dinner. Mostly suits for the men, although we did see a lot of tuxes too. We were planning on having dinner at the Normandie restaurant on this cruise, but didn't end up doing that. The food and service in the MDR was just great so we just continued having dinner there. Our waiter Danny and our wine steward Kevin were great. Our room attendant Newton and his assistant were incredible. I don't know how they knew we were gone, but if we left,then came back in a few minutes, the room would be completely clean! Whenever they'd see us coming down the hall they'd open our door for us, and every time they'd have a warm smile and greeting for us!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My family have recently returned from the Barcelona-Venice Mediterranean cruise on the Summit. Having read reviews of the Summit before we went I was a bit worried, but everything went smoothly and we had a fantastic holiday. We booked ... Read More
My family have recently returned from the Barcelona-Venice Mediterranean cruise on the Summit. Having read reviews of the Summit before we went I was a bit worried, but everything went smoothly and we had a fantastic holiday. We booked the flights ourselves through Easyjet and the money we saved on this paid for a hotel for 2 nights in Barcelona pre-cruise and a night in Venice post-cruise, both of which made the trip even more memorable. We stayed at Hotel Ramblas in Barcelona and Hotel Olimpia in Venice, both of which were perfectly situated for getting around the cities. Embarkation was absolutely amazing. We literally arrived at the port, our baggage was taken from us, we spent 5 minutes at the checking-in desk and then we were on board where a glass of champagne/mimosa/orange juice was waiting for us. Our cabin was quite large and there was just about enough wardrobe space, considering there were 4 of us. We had a balcony, for the first time, which was a real luxury and I loved sitting out on it having a glass of wine, wearing my Celebrity Cruises bathrobe! There is a pitcher of water on the dresser with an ice bucket which is filled each day. Our cabin steward, Sandy, was fantastic and if he saw us approaching our cabin he would instantly get his key out and open the door for us. The entertainment was OK, but not brilliant. The comedian was good and the female singer was quite good, but the rest, although obviously very talented, weren't really our cup of tea. The 3 shows by the celebrity singers and dancers were quite good, although in the last one, which was songs from Broadway shows, I only knew a handful of the songs. Even most of the songs they sang from the Lion King weren't songs from the film, so if you haven't seen the show you wouldn't know them. What was a shame was the fact that the theatre was hardly ever more than 50% full. The Cruise Director, Gary, was excellent and worked really hard. The food in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was excellent. Our daughter has a nut allergy so she was shown the following nights menu every night and told that if there was something she wanted but it had nuts in, then they would prepare it for her without nuts. Our waiters, Owenn and Dennis, were fantastic and very attentive and soon got to know what sort of salad my other daughter wanted as an appetiser. The drinks waiter, Anthony, was also fantastic and some nights our drinks were waiting on our table before we even got there. My only complaint about the restaurant is that the 4 of us were put on a table for 12 (after requesting a table for 8) and no-one else turned up, so we were on the table on our own. The food in the buffet was good, but sometimes there were quite long queues. My daughters, aged 13 and 15, joined the teenage club on the first night and made loads of friends from several different countries, who they are still keeping in touch with. We didn't do any of the Celebrity excursion as, with 4 of us, they were just too expensive, so we did everything ourselves. I have never used public transport so much in my life! Here's a quick run down of what we did: Barcelona: Because we had so much time here we saw everything we wanted to. We bought a metro ticket that allowed you 10 journeys which cost €7.70 and this covered all the journeys we made. If you're there at night don't miss the magic fountains - they were spectacular. Villefrance: We tendered into the port and then caught the train to Monte Carlo. Unfortunately the train we wanted was delayed and then never turned up at all so we ended up waiting on the station in the roasting sun for an hour. Monte Carlo was pretty but me and the kids couldn't face walking up to the old town as it was so hot, so my husband went on his own, took loads of pictures and met us back at the station. We then went back to the ship for lunch, then went to the beach in Villefranche for an hour or two before going back to the ship. Livorno: We caught a taxi to the station in Livorno for €20 fixed price. Then we caught the train to Pisa (actually the train to Florence, but it stopped at Pisa on the way), looked around the Field of Miracles, watched everyone having their photos taken holding the tower up, then caught the train to Florence. It was a Monday so all of the museums were closed, so we looked around and then caught the train back to Livorno. We then had to wait for a little while for a taxi to arrive at the station to take us back to the ship, but we got talking to another couple who were on our cruise so they shared the taxi with us. In Florence don't miss all the padlocks on the Ponte Vecchio which lovers have put there and thrown the keys into the river to seal their love for ever! Civitavecchia: We walked to the station and caught the train into Rome, buying a BIRG ticket which covers you for the metro as well. We got off at Ostiense Metro Station and walked to the forum to buy tickets which get you into the Colosseum as well. The queues were much smaller here and it was great to walk straight past all the people queueing at the Colosseum when we went there! We then used the metro a couple of times to get from one place to another, but on the whole we walked everywhere and got to see everything we wanted. Unfortunately, we hadn't booked tickets to the Vatican thinking that we wouldn't have time, but we would have in the end. We then walked to ? San Pietro station and caught the train back to Civitavecchia. Naples: We walked to the station, through some very iffy areas, and caught the Circumvesuvian train to Pompeii Scavi. We spent a few hours looking around Pompeii, which is amazing, and then got back on the train to Sorrento. From there we caught the hydrofoil back to the ship. Santorini: We caught the cable car up to Fira and looked around. Then we caught the bus to Oia. Be warned, when the bus doors open it is a complete free-for-all with everyone pushing and shoving. In Oia we walked down over 200 steps to try to find the beach, but only found an area where people were swimming off the rocks, so we had a swim there instead which was lovely. Walking back up the steps I thought I was going to have a heart attack! We then caught the bus back to Fira and the cable car back to the ship. Piraeus: We walked to the metro station and caught the metro to Athens. Unfortunately, there were works on the line and we had to get off half way along and get onto a bus to take us the rest of the way, but we still managed to find our way around. We walked everywhere in Athens which was really easy to do. Don't miss the changing of the guard every hour outside the parliament building. Dubrovnik: We bought a bus ticket from the newsstand opposite the port entrance and caught the bus to the old town. We walked through the middle of the old town and climbed the walls at the Ploce Gate where the queues were smaller. After walking around the walls we had lunch and then went to the beach not far from the Ploce Gate. I have never seen water as clear as it was there. We sailed away from Dubrovnik at 5 pm and people were able to go onto the helipad to watch the sailaway. Venice: Sailing into Venice was absolutely amazing, with Pavarotti blasting out of the speakers on the ship. A sight not to be missed. We walked to St Mark's Square, taking it slowly and having a good look around on the 1st day then went back to the ship for dinner. The following day we disembarked at 9 am so caught a taxi to Piazzale Roma and lugged our cases over just 1 bridge to the hotel. We then bought a 36 hour ticket for the vaporettos for €23, which was definitely well worth it as we used it so much. We then proceeded to see as much of Venice as possible before catching the ATVO bus to the airport the following day for our flight home. Sorry for such a lengthy review, but the holiday was fantastic and I just wanted to let everyone know that the ship is in really good shape, the staff are all fantastic and it is really easy to do your own thing in all the ports. I also wanted to say thank you to everyone on CruiseCritic.co.uk who gave such helpful advice before we went. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
SUMMIT REVIEW I hope that this review is helpful and not overly detailed or boring! My DH and I have neither cruised before and selected this particular cruise for the destinations; cruising has made visiting Europe much more ... Read More
SUMMIT REVIEW I hope that this review is helpful and not overly detailed or boring! My DH and I have neither cruised before and selected this particular cruise for the destinations; cruising has made visiting Europe much more affordable than land-based tours. Our overall impressions: Ship-beautiful and still in good shape for its age. Cabin and private balcony were great, wish we had a bathtub! Cabin attendants were fantastic; we were in Concierge Class with our private balcony and really enjoyed it. Each day in port we had breakfast delivered in our cabin and this was the highlight of our food experiences onboard. Spring for the balcony, I cannot even imagine having gone without it. We spent much time there enjoying the sights in private. Food-in the main dining room, presentation was stressed over taste. Some dishes were good but others just not hitting it. However, for the price we paid for the cruise and the amount of food served at dinner, it was fine. The early seating is too early; the late seating is too late: however, other food served during dinner dining hours is slim and hard to come by. Celebrity needs more dining choices for these port-intensive cruises where the hours are not ideal. The Normandie was perhaps worth the $30/pp, experience was fun but the food itself, although presented beautifully, was not tasty enough for 5 stars. I would say go there, my husband would not. ***NOTE: Some other cruisers on this particular sailing gave negative reviews but mentioned the coffee was good. Please note the coffee was horrible, thus those giving negative reviews but thought the coffee was drinkable are not trustworthy. That just makes me laugh! We relished each good cup of java in port as we could barely stomach the stuff served onboard. Entertainment- My DH and I only attended one evening's entertainment, a Broadway revue. It was surprisingly wonderful, especially considering it was onboard a ship. I think Celebrity gets an A+ on the shows, although we only went to this one. With a very port-intensive cruise and late dining, the shows just don't get priority. Ports-Barcelona on Oct31-Nov1 was rainy and cool. We just tried to sleep off Jetlag then spent the morning of Nov1 (sailing day) taking the subway to La Sagrada Familia (easy to get there, worth the visit) then wandering down by the port at the end of Las Ramblas. The taxi driver we hailed at the hotel (Tryp Apolo, very nice!), did try to scam us for 50 euros to get to the ship. I was very glad to have read up and been warned about this beforehand, he finally accepted 15 euros after negotiating with the bellhop but he wasn't happy about it. Overall, I wasn't really taken with Barcelona and will not likely go out of my way to go back there any time soon. Nice -Nov2 was rainy/stormy in the morning. Our tenders really had a difficult time getting us over to Villefranche but the staff was wonderful and very helpful. We used Sylvie diCristo as our private guide in a group of 8. Sylvie was so friendly and easy-going; she tailored our sight-seeing to our wants and made adjustments according to the weather. Our lunch in a restaurant in Eze Village was unbelievable, even though the crepe place she wanted to use was closed. A rockslide along the middle corniche road caused us to have to turn around and use an alternate route but Sylvie's familiarity with the area worked out, we were not late back to the ship and had a great day along the French Riviera. Tuscany- La Spezia was rainy. As you have probably already read, the ship's captain changed our port at the last minute from Livorno to La Spezia and there are many rumors as to why. Rome in Limo was great, although we weren't able to call them from the ship, several members in our private group e-mailed them and without any note of reply, our guide was at the NEW port the next morning. Unfortunately, this port is some distance from Florence and that coupled with the rain decreased our time spent in that enchanting city significantly. However, the guide was very knowledgeable (although I knew some things about Florence that he did not-I'm a history buff) and his connections with a trattoria owner allowed us to sit down and enjoy an authentic Tuscan meal in Santa Croce Square. Timing our entrance at the Accademia just right allowed us to get in to see David without any line. Unfortunately, we did not have time to tour the Duomo or Ponte Vecchio but were provided with a driving tour and explanation of most of the city (this is mostly due to the weather and change in ports). Pisa was mainly a wash-out. Rome-weather was glorious and our Rome in Limo driver, Antonelo, was waiting on us as we disembarked. We set aside the entire first day in Rome for a complete Rome tour & overview. Antonelo delivered what is undeniably the most comprehensive one-day Rome tour that could be imagined. We elected to take the train back to the ship, giving us more "tour time" with Antonelo in the city. Day 2 we reserved a small group to tour Vatican City with Angel Tours, our Irish guide was a graduate art student, and was entertaining and thorough. Although I realize there is so much to see and do in Rome, our 2 days there left me feeling as if I had an idea what this city is about and I did not leave feeling as if I had missed out on much, like we did in Florence. ALWAYS chose a cruise with an overnight in Rome, if possible. Naples/Amalfi Coast- again had a private tour with a group of 8 and we used Drive Amalfi. Salvatore picked us up at the ship very early and skirted the city of Naples, explaining the high rate of crime and other social issues, making it not a desirable location to visit. Our first stop was at Pompeii, Salvatore had arranged an archaeological guide there for 2 hours and Vinny was very entertaining and informative. We continued our tour of the Amalfi coast, stopping many times along the coast to enjoy the view and take pictures. Highlights included an inlaid wood factory in Sorrento (I just happened to see it and asked to stop, which Salvatore obliged) and a fruit stand in Positano. The weather was iffy throughout the day with broken clouds and threats of rain but mid-afternoon it began to break up and we had glorious views during our late lunch in Pontone. Salvatore had taken us to a family-owned restaurant there and we were the only patrons this time of year. The food, wine and limoncello were exquisite! Last stop in Ravello with some time for exploration and shopping in the piazzas then a short drive back through the mountains to Naples and on to the ship. Athens-we chose to "do it on our own" with a few other couples from CruiseCritic.com here in Athens. A significant walk to the train station, which was fairly easy but lengthy, and then off near the Acropolis. The maps and explanations provided by previous cruisers and the ship's "daily" are not very good, our group got lost climbing the Acropolis, which forced us to go down again then make the ascent a second time and then wander aimlessly trying to find the Plaka, which should have been easy. As we were there on Sunday, getting into the Acropolis was free and breath-taking! The weather was sunny and cool, but not cold, making for perfect weather to visit this site. Shopping in the Plaka was a let-down after all the build-up but we really enjoyed a nice lunch of gyros and baklava. My advice: join a private or ship's tour for Athens, I really didn't get to see/experience as much of this city as others by trying to do it "on my own." Sure-cheaper, but not as good! Istanbul- our entrance into the port area was magical, rain clouds clearing and sun peaking through adding shots of yellow around the scene. Our second rainbow of the trip appeared here, photographs were awesome! Once docked, an authentic Turkish band in full costume began playing to welcome us to the city! For the first afternoon, we took the ship's tour bus to the Grand Bazaar with a small group of friends. Trying to rush to Topkapi Palace that afternoon did not seem worth it, so we missed this landmark as it was closed the next day. However, haggling at the Grand Bazaar was so much fun and I went home with some really great memories. That evening, my husband and I joined a college friend of mine that is from Istanbul at the Istanbul Modern Museum's restaurant for dinner. If you have a chance to explore this museum or enjoy their fine dining, please do! The restaurant has a great balcony overlooking the Bosphorus where views of both Sultanhamet/Europe and Asia can be seen. Day 2- I had arranged a private tour for a group from Cruise Critic with a guide recommended directly to me by my aforementioned friend. Selin was very knowledgeable and eager to show us her city. We started with a tram ride to the ferry station and short ride across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of Istanbul, as none of us had been to Asia previously. There isn't really anything to do over there, but watch commuters hurry to and fro but it was fun to take quick pictures then ferry back over to the European side. We took the very new and fun tram up to Taksim Square (Istanbul's version of Times Square) then walked down the pedestrian street, Ikstiklal for a few miles. This was a great way to watch a great mix of residents of Istanbul as well as tourists and visit many shops along the way. We ended up in the Galata neighborhood and visited Galata Tower (14th century), where the view over all of Istanbul from the top was worth the entire trip!!! We continued with a delicious lunch at a local's favorite meatball shop in the old neighborhood, Sultanhamet, then on to tour Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia). We arrived at the Blue Mosque just in time for call to prayer, so a glimpse inside but we chose not to wait the hour until visitors would be let in again for tours. We spent some time nearby in the Hippodrome then decided to head back to the ship. Istanbul is really very beautiful and interesting, a surprise for us all. Mykonos-I hadn't been overly excited about this destination, it was just on the itinerary, and I wasn't disappointed. This is my first Greek island but it was very brown, arid and lunar-esque. The small town itself was quaint and easy to wander around; we just hopped the ship's shuttle bus for the short drive. A lot of the shops had closed for the season by the time we arrived, but it was nice that there weren't too many tourists. We walked to the windmills then along the waterfront, finally stopping at the Music Cafe for lunch. Greek coffee may be strong, but it's fantastic! We did see Petros the Pelican nearby and got his photo. A lot of the buildings are beautiful and make great photos; the gardens and plant-life are surprisingly bright and colorful as well. I still wish we had gone to Santorini instead; Mykonos just isn't all that interesting or exciting as far as I'm concerned. But it did make for a nice, relaxing break after all of our whirlwind touring. Split, Croatia-didn't happen, as I'm sure you've read or heard. We lost an engine and missed this country entirely. I did get some nice shots of the Dalmatian Coast as we sailed by, and Celebrity provided a cabin credit for the missed port, but I'm still disappointed. However, I would have preferred to visit Dubrovnik over Split if given the chance. Venice-due to our extra day at sea and missing the Croatian port, we did not arrive at Venice when scheduled, but a few hours early. Unfortunately, this meant missing that famous "sailing into Venice" experience so many people talk about and I hate that it didn't happen ( well it did, but about 4 am). Disembarkation was smooth and we easily got to our hotel. We chose to stay at the Marriott Courtyard near the airport so that it would be easier to catch our flight at 6:20am the next day. Check-in took well over an hour as the staff there did not seem prepared for both check-ins and check-outs at the same time. If possible, store your luggage at the port, do your sight-seeing in Venice then check-in to the hotel in the evening. We signed up for the free airport transfer for the following morning and I showed up 10-15 minutes prior to scheduled time, but was so far back in line that by the time we got to the airport we almost weren't allowed to check-in and board...the people behind us were denied boarding! So, perhaps schedule your own airport transfer or be in the lobby 45-60 min before the scheduled pickup. The bus DOES pick up right outside the hotel and takes you straight to Piazza Roma, where crossing over into Venice proper is then very convenient and easy. No reason to pay for a taxi or other transportation from this hotel into Venice. Now about Venice itself, we formed a group of friends from Cruise Critic and chose to "do it on our own" again, here. Thankfully, we had two people with us that had been to Venice before and another person that was somewhat decent at reading the crazy Venetian maps. We certainly know there is too much to see in one day, but we did our best! I really enjoyed just walking in and out of shops, visiting with the locals and findings great photo-ops. We enjoyed the Ponte Rialto (Rialto Bridge), Grand Canal, St Mark's Basilica & Square, the Campanile, Doge's Palace, Bridge of Sighs, and an evening Gondola ride. St Mark's Square had been flooded early that morning, but the water was gone by the time we made our way there and it was sunny & gorgeous. The view from the top of the Campanile is a MUST and is very inexpensive. At this time of year, the lines to get into the Basilica were short and it was worth it. Unfortunately, the Bridge of Sighs was mostly under scaffolding for renovation so it wasn't very visible and we didn't have time to tour the Doge's Palace. Our evening meal was spent in a trattoria near Piazza Roma, we did have to pay a cover charge on the meal but it was very good and we all enjoyed it. The night shots of Venice I took are really fantastic. Cruise Critic- What can I say? I have never been on a cruise before until this one, and the information gathered from Cruise Critic was irreplaceable and worth its weight in gold. I had so much fun getting to know people and sharing private tours. I even took the initiative to design a website for our Cruise Critic group that was quite popular (http://www.freewebs.com/summitnov1/) and is still helping other cruisers on similar itineraries. Overall, our private tours/excursions cost less than the cruise line's excursions because the groups were 6-8. The CC party was held our first sea day (the first day) in the morning, and was attended by the most CC members they had had all season, so said the activities director, Rich. We had a good time but there were two problems: 1) Too early, about 9:30 am, so that some people that were jet-lagged or tired simply didn't get up in time to attend and 2) Coincided with the shopping discussion about the first ports and many wanted to go to that. Later in the day, there were fewer activities and more people would have attended that had intended to go. I would like to say that Celebrity was fantastic all-around and that this trip wouldn't have been as amazing as it was without Cruise Critic and all the friends I made here and all the helpful hints and information gathered-Grazie! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our first Celebrity cruise was in early November 2007 on the Century. Until then RCCL (5 times) was our favorite of the 5 cruise lines we had sailed with but the Century blew them all away. We tried NCL this May but were disappointed with ... Read More
Our first Celebrity cruise was in early November 2007 on the Century. Until then RCCL (5 times) was our favorite of the 5 cruise lines we had sailed with but the Century blew them all away. We tried NCL this May but were disappointed with the quality of the food... plenty of choice but poor quality beef. The cruise was booked in early October. We are flexible on dates and find prices drop significantly in the last 4 weeks before a cruise particularly in Europe in November before ships cross the Atlantic for winter. This is fine by us as we find the Med in summer to be too hot. We were looking at going on the Century again but preferred the itinerary on the Summit. The early November sailing was chosen over the mid November one as last year the weather we had whilst on the Century was completely dry whereas there were a few rainy days later in the month. Unfortunately the weather forecast immediately before the cruise was for rain in all our ports for the first 7 days. We arrived in Barcelona the evening before the cruise and caught the airport bus to Placa de Catalunya near to our hotel. It was raining but we had missed the heavy thunderstorms of earlier in the day. We had pre-booked tickets for entry to La Sagrada Familia at 09:00 the next morning and following this we picked up our bags and caught a taxi to the ship for 10 Euro. Boarding was a breeze. We turned up about 11:30 and were on board by 11:45. We went straight to the cabin to see if we had any dining room table assignment card. We did not (as is usually the case for bookings close to departure) so we went to see the Maitre'D. We had requested a table for 2 and as usual had been put on a table of 8 so this was changed. Our balcony cabin was up to the standard we expected. The shower was a good size but a sliding door rather than curtain would have been an improvement. We put the air con on minimum temperature for the cruise duration. It would be useful if we could have turned the air con off at night as we sleep with the sliding door wide open (having discarded the quilts... I did say we don't like it too hot). Our room steward promptly made up our beds with extra foam mattresses as requested. Entertainment: We are not keen on vocalists so didn't go to those shows. Ones we did attend were of the standard expected (similar to RCCL/NCL). We did not use the spa, casino, shops, cinema, gym, pools, photographer, bars or wine service in the restaurant. What makes or breaks the cruise for us is the quality of the food and in particular the beef. Whereas RCCL and NCL only had beef on the daily menu about 3 evenings on a 12 night cruise (apart from the "always available" New York strip steak that NCL ran out of!) Celebrity has it every night and it is excellent. On the Summit we had prime rib the first night (and on two other occasions) steak Rossini the next, filet Mignon, short ribs, Chateaubriand, etc. Our waiter was excellent. I explained exactly how I liked my steak and every one he brought me was spot on. Unnoticed to me he apparently discretely watched when I first cut into a steak to make sure that it was cooked as per my wishes. I have to admit to being greedy and ordering a second portion on the third day and took up the waiter's offer to automatically bring me a double portion of beef from then onwards. These standard offerings were far better than those in the speciality Cagney's restaurant on NCL. Salads were excellent. Soups were good; I don't like clear soups.... So I don't order them! Deserts were very good. My wife had a more varied choice of entrees (chicken, pasta, etc) which she said were all very good with the exception of one pasta dish that she was not keen on (personal taste) - the waiter quickly brought out a replacement entrEe of the beef that I was enjoying so much. Anyone can order room service from the dining room menu during dining room hours as I did on one occasion. I was aware there may be a delay as I know that the food can only be collected from the dining room kitchen at particular times so any delay is more down to precisely when you place the order rather than anything else. My order came promptly and arrived quicker than my wife's order from the standard room service menu. I knew they wouldn't arrive together as they come from different kitchens. Only so much variety is ever available for a fried breakfast. I am not a great lover so often had fruit and toast. We preferred the breakfast in the spa cafe where in addition to the melon there was papaya and strawberries. We never found any queues. The coffee was awful. We finally worked out that you needed about a quarter cup of coffee, quarter cup of cream and half a cup of hot water to make it drinkable. Coffee in the dining room was OK. We had lunch onboard most days. Good variety although not up to the choice on RCCL. Meat quality was good (like RCCL and way better than NCL). My wife reported the pasta to be excellent although it is cooked to order SO YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR IT! Most of the Asians seemed to be getting their food from the Asian counter but we did not partake. The pizzas were not to my taste and were the same stodgy offering with sparse toppings as on RCCL and NCL. I love pizza and those we had ashore in Barcelona, Capri and Venice were wonderful... thin and crispy base with loads of topping. The wonderful home made ice cream bar got many visits. Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. Decaf was always automatically delivered as requested. I was surprised that the baked Alaska was paraded with naked flames. I had understood that safely regulations now largely prevent this and I was not surprised that other dishes were not flamed anywhere within our sight. We did not go to the Grand Chocolate Buffet as this was not the traditional grand midnight buffet which research before the cruise had informed one that this had been replaced by a brunch in the dining room on a sea day and indeed this was the case (with the ice carvings, etc). Ship personnel: We had an excellent cabin steward. We had no problem with anyone. Cream was not always available at the spa cafe out of dining hours but hey just get it from one of the many coffee stations in the main cafe. We had not expected the coffee at the spa to be 24/7. If you don't want to take the shore excursions or shop in the recommended stores then do as we do - research the ports on the internet before you leave home for maps, timetables and don't bother going to the port/shopping talks. The rudimentary maps provided were better than nothing and there was some local transportation information provided. Indeed, the port information was the best of any line I have been on. Shore excursions are never cheap or particularly good value for money but I found Celebrity is considerably cheaper for an identical itinerary than NCL (up to 50%). We did 2 Celebrity excursions. Ports: Nice - After a rainy day at sea came a rainy day in Nice. We had planned to go to Eze but having tendered ashore we decided the rain was not easing and so returned to the ship. La Spezia - It must have been exceptional weather for us not to get into Livorno and this was due to our allocated berth and no other suitable berths being available. I thought that they did well to find La Spezia as an alternative rather than another day at sea (although they did not want to lose out on the profitable Florence excursions). I agree that the tenders could have been more waterproof but the staff were very good in terrible conditions. When we arrived ashore we were given a very nice map of La Spezia and despite the rain we enjoyed a leisurely walk to the train station where we took a trip to Cinque Terre (for a few Euros) which was delightful. On our return we window shopped in the pretty town of La Spezia before getting the tender back to the ship. No problem here but we were probably some of the last aboard before they suspended tendering. My sympathies go to those that had problems later on. Civitavecchia - Day 1 - We pre-booked tickets for the Galleria Borghese so walked to the train station and got a BIRG ticket at the kiosk (don't bother queuing at the ticket office) for all public transport for the day. Surprisingly clear day... no rain at all. Day 2 - Very enjoyable ship excursion to Tuscania. Naples - Hydrofoil and funicular to Capri then a bus to Anacapri. It was a very pleasant sunny day. Athens - ship sightseeing tour of Athens that did not include the Acropolis apart from possible view from a distance. However, since the marathon closed many streets it was impossible to get to the places on the itinerary... not Celebrity's fault. We actually were taken to the Acropolis instead so we have no complaints. Istanbul - Day 1 - instead of waiting for the shuttles we went our own way. The taxi fare would have been the same fare as the shuttles but we drew a little cash from an ATM and took the nearby tram. The tram was quite crowded but the younger people got up and gave us their seats... where else in Europe would you find this? The Grand Bazaar was our destination but was disappointing as many stalls were selling far eastern imported clothing rather than local stuff. Day 2 - As we have stayed in Istanbul before there were not too many sights we wanted to see again. We went in the Blue Mosque, visited the shops behind it and the Mosaics Museum then visited the Museum of Turkish & Islamic Art. Mykonos - A very pleasant port for window shopping. Split - Last year we did not get to Split on RCCL Legend of the Seas due to adverse weather stopping tendering and this year it was due to an engine or pod failure. As the failure was Celebrity's liability we were given $250 OBC per stateroom (inside staterooms got $200). I thought this quite generous and more than I expected. In fact the weather was quite bad so we may not have got ashore anyway. Venice - We took the complimentary port shuttle to Plaza Roma from where we took a water bus to the Lido where we had booked a hotel for the night. The following morning we caught the Alilaguna boat to the airport. In addition to the OBC our account also showed a further 2 x $18.50 credits which I believe may be a refund of port taxes relating to Livorno. This made our on board account in credit. This has since been refunded to my credit card together with a further $39 which is probably a refund of the port taxes for Split. The dropping of the fuel supplement refers to cruises in the New Year and so no one on our cruise will have benefited from this. In conclusion: This was an excellent cruise. It was our 13th cruise and I would put it a close 2nd behind the Century last year. This was because we were so impressed with the Century last year and so was not surprised by the quality of this cruise. I would not hesitate in recommending the Summit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Having just read the previous review, I feel compelled to present a different side to the story. I was on the same cruise and had a wonderful time! Yes, there were a few glitches, such as occur one way or another on most sailings, but we ... Read More
Having just read the previous review, I feel compelled to present a different side to the story. I was on the same cruise and had a wonderful time! Yes, there were a few glitches, such as occur one way or another on most sailings, but we refused to let them deter us from enjoying our vacation to the max. We had booked a veranda guarantee and were okay with our room assignment, a 2A room, but were first to arrive at the port and put our name at the top of the waiting list for an upgrade. We were told that it would be later in the evening before the upgrades would be available. Sure enough, while we were at dinner we received a call telling us that a CC room was available for $200/pp. Too late to move that night but we we did so first thing in the morning. The small difference in space was well worth the extra money as it gave us the elbow room we needed to be comfortable for 14 days. We did have some glitches with table assignment in the MDR. Our assigned table turned out to be at a group table and we were not part of that group. We were taken to a table upstairs and several ladies joined us, making 4 at a table set for 7we had requested a table for 8. The next night they were gone and a very nice single woman was there but she had asked to be placed at a singles table so she could meet people. We took matters into our own hands and talked with the maitre d'we were moved to a table for 8 with 2 couples traveling together, and were later joined by a 4th couple. We had a delightful time both on and off the ship with these folks and we all went to Normandie together one evening. We ended up with great servers, Rosario and Inacio (spelled correctly) who were of Roman Catholic Portuguese descent from Goa, India! Very interesting to hear their stories. I was delighted when the change was made to anchor off La Spezia because we had planned to visit Cinque Terre that day and it was so much easier. One man's pleasure is another man's pain, obviously. There was a Tourist Information booth right across the street from the dock area and we got a map and walked to the train station took 10 minutes to our destination. Our tablemates were among the group caught on shore while the weather died down. They were taken to a nearby ship and allowed to wait inside out of the worst of the weather. We did every port on our own took public transportation everywhere trains, metro, subway, buses and had a ball. The only exception was a great private tour we did to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast with some fellow Cruise Critic membersthat was a fun day! I am very anti-ship tours as I think they are a) overpriced; and b) way too insular to really experience a place. I know they work for some people, just not us. And when I add up the money we saved, it was enough to buy us three handmade Turkish rugs in Istanbul NOT at an 'approved' ship's store. I wasn't willing to subsidize the cruise line and we found a great shop on our own. They arrived a few days ago and look wonderful in our home. And yes, it was a disappointment to miss Split, but a) stuff happens, and b) they gave us a $250 shipboard credit that could be converted to a cash refund if your account balance was less than that amount. That went a LONG way to assuage our hurt feelings! In general the ship was in very good shape. We loved the thalassotherapy pool in the evenings after a long day touring one of the highlights for us. The only minor issue was the less-than-lovely and somewhat worn orange carpeting in our stateroom, which clashed with the blue bedspread and upholstery, and curtains of some very odd and unflattering print. I guess we could have let that ruin our cruise but in actuality didn't even notice after the first day. The staterooms need a cosmetic redo, but we had a wonderful, wonderful time and wold do it again in a heartbeat! Oh, and Venice is a must-see what an amazing place. can't wait to go back! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
I had been researching this cruise itinerary for over a year, ever since the Travel channel featured Samantha Brown's first cruise, I fell in love with it. We convinced 4 friends into coming along and we booked for Oct. (after ... Read More
I had been researching this cruise itinerary for over a year, ever since the Travel channel featured Samantha Brown's first cruise, I fell in love with it. We convinced 4 friends into coming along and we booked for Oct. (after researching the weather patterns, precipitation and temps.) and high season vs. a less busy time. We booked thru a travel agent so really had no contact directly with Celebrity. Our flight with Air France was uneventful however the leg room seemed tighter than when we flew Lufthansa in 2004. Arriving in Venice, it took a little longer than expected to get to the ship, this time cut into the afternoon time that we had thought we'd be touring Venice on our partial First day. Note: next time we'll go a day early!!!!!!! Our embarkation went smoothly, we found our balcony cabin much to our expectations initially. Upon further observation we did notice that the carpet by the slider balcony doors had a worn pattern, some molding above the mirrored wall was not in place, one hinge to the cabinet door over our TV was broken off, the bathroom toilet seat was scratched and showed wear, there was mold in the shower and by the corner of the bathroom door on the inside the paint was chipped and rusty. These small areas mentioned did not by any means take away from our cruise experience, these are just things that we had not expected since Celebrity is known to be a "notch above". Our room steward, Dominique, was very good, he kept our cabin spotless every day, all day. Refilled our ice and water containers and was attentive to our needs and requests. Our bed was very comfortable and although I sleep poorly at home most nights, I slept like a log every night while on the ship. Sail away from Venice was spectacular!!!! Slowly leaving the harbor, passing the small canals and bridges with tourists waving, hearing the church bells off in the distance while music played on the ship, it was emotionally very moving. We chose the Summit for the itinerary, we knew it was intense and were prepared for it as much as one can be. Our impression of the Cosmopolitan was very good. We had requested a window table for 6, the total of our group. Our assignment was #492. Mookie and Bojan, our wait staff, were outstanding. Very personable, knowledgeable of particular menu entrees and attempted to meet our every request with graciousness and a great sense of humor. On other cruises we never saw the maitre d' except for the last night. On the Summit our assistant maitre d' was present every night, traveled from table to table and spoke with many. Our waiters remembered our names and our individual likes. The buffet was not the best experience quite a few times. The varied menu was accommodating (sushi, Asian, British breakfast, etc.) but often it was disorganized and disappointing. Sometimes lines were very long and/or stations closed during serving times. If one came in later from an excursion and went to the buffet for dinner rather than the main dining room you might find only three options (pasta, chinese and pizza). We had heard raves on cruise critic roll call about the waffles but the machine was broken the whole cruise. The pancakes were less than appetizing but the omelets were fine. The hamburger grill by the pool was a good break from the buffet also. Room service for breakfast was substandard, at least for us. We had gotten hooked on it on our last cruise (with another line) and looked forward to breakfast most days in our cabin. The menu selection was limited with NO 'write ins'. The food ordered and the food delivered were not the same and that which was delivered was cold. The main dining room for breakfast was very quick, had nice options and was less stressful than the buffet. I would recommend that Celebrity carry diet caffeine free soda and ice tea as there is nothing available except water in that category. We found that the first 4 or 5 days we were unable to serve ourselves. Everything was roped off and "hands off". Areas that were stainless were smeary and unattractive. Later we deduced that this was the result of bleach "bathes" of most all surfaces in an attempt to disinfect the ship of germs as much as possible, we then appreciated Celebrities efforts but felt that signs should have been posted to alert guests of wet bleach as one of our party had a blouse and sweater ruined by leaning up against it. After several days, things relaxed and it was easier to serve yourself and enter stores and areas without having to first be instructed to sanitize your hands. The Normandie was very enjoyable. The atmosphere, quality of food and service were very good. We noted the choreography of serving and individual interactions of the servers. Well worth $30.pp, a real special treat. Entertainment was varied and for the most part good. Several highlights were the pianist, the magician, the aerialists. Some of the shows and the talent were not as good as we have seen on other ships. This itinerary being so intense required planning. We booked most of our excursions through Celebrity and found each to be well organized, the guides were informative, personable and well spoken. Each was accommodating and thoughtful with scheduled "WC" breaks. Celebrity was well organized with getting guests off of the ship to meet the buses. We ventured out on our own in a number of ports and fared well with making proper connections via train, shuttle or metro. Never found pick pockets to be a problem but we were prepared and alert. Doing your homework ahead of time and being as informed as possible aided in things going smoothly. Live music could be found all around the ship, this was delightful and the Rendezvous lounge was always "hoppin". James the cruise director was outgoing, welcoming, humorous and helpful. The heated therapeutic pool was heavenly and so relaxing at the end of a long day, there were plenty of lounge chairs with attractive navy blue covers, the towels were plentiful and in good condition. Before we left home we were concerned about keeping in contact with our family at home. Cruise critic writers had suggested internet cafes in ports, as cell phones didn't seem to be an option. We found the ships internet room very convenient and for making short contacts with home, easily accessible and affordable. Disembarkation went smoothly and efficiently, we were off of the ship, had retrieved our luggage, were onto the bus and at the airport in a timely fashion. One very important alert to cruisers, be sure to read the small print in the booklet that Celebrity sends to you. Be aware of the 'GFO' desk, that's Guest Flight Operations desk, when you arrive at the airport, if you have any problems including with your flight, call the 800 phone number listed in the booklet. Celebrity states that they will resolve your problems. We were unaware of a "GFO" desk reference, we had no reason to think that the cruiseline would help us with our flight home, we thought we were on our own once the cruise was over. Unbeknownst to us, our flight carrier and time had been changed and we missed our flight. Being stranded in another country, having cashed in our Euros on the ship, we were handicapped, it was a horrible stressful way to end a delightful vacation. So be aware!!!!!!!!! This Mediterranean cruise was one that many only dream of, it came true for us. All in all it was a fantastic trip, the small negatives that I have mentioned didn't spoil our trip at all. I mention them to try to put things into prospective for those that may not have traveled the Summit yet and are reading comments from different perspectives. You'll find the cruise line staff very friendly and helpful for the most part. Hearing them say, "Welcome Home" each time you reboard at the end of an excursion day, gives you a nice feeling. We're not going to find perfection every where we go, if so, they wouldn't let us on board!!!!! Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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