2,421 Celebrity Summit Cruise Reviews

Sept. 13, 2002 Vancouver to Hawaii This was our fourth cruise but our first with Celebrity, having cruised on Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines in Alaska and the Caribbean respectively. This was by far the best cruise ... Read More
Sept. 13, 2002 Vancouver to Hawaii This was our fourth cruise but our first with Celebrity, having cruised on Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines in Alaska and the Caribbean respectively. This was by far the best cruise experience we've had. EMBARKATION & DISEMBARKATION: We arrived at the Canada Place in Vancouver at 11:30am for an official boarding time of 2:00pm. The process was the most disorganized event we experienced throughout the eleven-night cruise. Incorrect information from the supervisors and staff was rampant and the entire embarkation process gave the impression that this was the first time they had gone through this seemingly routine procedure. This caused a great deal of frustration and frayed tempers among the waiting passengers. It was close to 2:00pm when we finally boarded the ship and from that point on it became a vacation that exceeded our expectations. Getting on and off the ship from that time on was a breeze. Even with the heightened security measures put in place the process was seamless. ABOUT THE SHIP: The first impression upon boarding is of understated beauty. There is no stunning seven plus level atrium however the 3 level Grand Foyer leaves the impression of a classy entrance for the first time cruiser of a Celebrity Millennium class ship. The Plaza deck has the first level of the Grand Foyer, fabulous Normandie Restaurant (more on that later), movie theatre and conference centers. The Promenade Deck has a small scale Bellagio-like casino, the Rendezvous Lounge for pre and après dinner dancing, (if you're into swing/ballroom dancing) and the first level of the memorable Cosmopolitan Restaurant. The other main activity decks Entertainment, Resort and Sunrise all exude quality. The many lounges are tasteful and comfortable. With 1800 fellow passengers this ship did not appear congested. The Revelations disco is a very attractive venue. You have a long wait for the modern music to be played which doesn't begin until the wee hours. DINING: Virtually every meal in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was superb with excellent service from our Waiter (Croatian), Assistant-waiter (Indian) and Headwaiter (Croatian). Nothing was too much bother, right down to the extra Brie on our cheese plate every night. We didn't have to ask for this, our waiter noticed the Brie was always eaten up and offered. As so many others have mentioned the specialty restaurant, the Normandie, stands alone for any meal we've had at sea. In fact, the Chateaubriand was unequivocally the best we have ever had. Other standouts were breakfast at the Aqua Spa and lunch at the Waterfall Cafe where the food quality matched that of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. There was also a pasta station where the sauce was tossed in with the pasta while you wait. There was simply not enough time to enjoy everything offered as we missed out on most of the high teas and the freshly baked croissants from the Cova Cafe Milano. Recommendation - upon embarkation be at least 5 pounds under your normal weight if you prefer your current wardrobe! ENTERTAINMENT: The Broadway-type shows put on by the Celebrity Dancers were impressive in their colorful costumes and lively performances but as would be expected, lacked the refinement of Broadway. Also, the volume was far too loud. The comedian, Noodles, was one of the funniest we'd seen. He had everyone in stitches. The overall job done by Cruise Director Simon Weir was excellent and he particularly outdid himself on the final night of entertainment. His endless energy and genuine enthusiasm added to the overall success of this cruise. SPORTS: We had lots of fun playing basketball, table tennis and shuffleboard and were surprised that these were available almost every time we decided to play. The Gym was spacious with plenty of equipment available. Only complaint here would be the lack of laundry facilities. We do realize that laundry service is available for a fee. We were thinking that it would be great if workout shorts and tops would be provided at the gym, use them once and pick up fresh ones the next time you go for a workout. We would be happy to pay either a one time charge or daily fee for this. We also thoroughly enjoyed the variety of pools and particularly the Thalassotherapy pool/Jacuzzi. OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Celebrity Summit is a classy vessel. We found it spotless. The crew and staff were all extremely friendly and greeted us with warm smiles and conversation. At eleven days, this was the longest cruise we've been on and found it perfect in length. We are already scouring through brochures to see where we'll go on our next Celebrity cruise. Needless to say, we highly recommend! parkers7700@juno.com December 2002 Read Less
Hawaii to Vancouver Deciding to take this cruise was a no-brainer as far as my husband & I were concerned. It included a chance to see a 4-island Hawaii and included 5 sea days aboard a beautiful new ship. Cinching the deal was ... Read More
Hawaii to Vancouver Deciding to take this cruise was a no-brainer as far as my husband & I were concerned. It included a chance to see a 4-island Hawaii and included 5 sea days aboard a beautiful new ship. Cinching the deal was the bargain basement airfare of $200/pp for a flight to Honolulu and a return flight from Vancouver. There was no way we could have replicated that on our own. We put the savings into a veranda cabin, category 1-A, cabin # 9125 amidships. Since the cruise departed on Monday, May 13, we thought a few pre-cruise days in Honolulu would be just the ticket to starting our vacation off the right way. Since we had booked the air arrangements through the cruise line, we didn't know until almost the last minute what our travel plan would be. We left on Saturday and flew on United to San Francisco, changed planes and then onto Honolulu. Leaving Chicago @ 8 AM, we arrived Hawaii @ 1:30 PM their time. After checking into our room we walked around the grounds and had a light dinner at the Tropics Bar. With the 5 hour time difference, we were totally wiped out by 6 o'clock. The choices for hotel package were the Hilton Hawaiian Village or the Hyatt. We opted for the Hilton and were not sorry in the least. The hotel is right on Waikiki Beach and we had an ocean view room with a partial view of Diamond Head. The grounds are lushly landscaped with lots of tropical flowers & shrubs. The hotel room was equipped with 2 double beds, a hair dryer, iron & ironing board. (Another couple we met at the airport had the presence of mind to ask for a king upgrade which only cost them another $20.) Our room on the 12th floor had its own private balcony to sit out and admire the view. As I said previously, we were really jet-lagged and actually fell asleep by 7 o'clock. This was not a good thing to do even though it was midnight our time. I woke up the first time at 2 AM. I managed to doze till about 3 when my husband woke up and we started to chat. Well, no matter what we did, we could not fall back to sleep and found ourselves wide awake at 4:30 AM lying in bed looking at a map of Oahu and eating chocolate covered macadamia nuts since the first restaurant didn't open until 5:30. When we had checked in at the open air lobby next to the "Super Pool", the desk clerk had given us an envelope from the cruise line with a list of 3 pre-boarding excursions to Pearl Harbor to choose from. There was a representative from Celebrity in the hotel to help you book this. We chose the Arizona and the Honolulu highlights tour for Monday. Another thing I learned was if you are going to spend a few days pre-cruise, pack one suitcase with everything you will need for those few days. We were digging through 3 very packed suitcases trying to find a few items. Our plan had been to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center, but it is run by the Mormons and closed on Sunday. So we decided to hit the Flea Market @ the Aloha Bowl. Asking about transportation, a cabbie quoted us $30 one way. We played it smart and went to the concierge who arranged a bus ride for $8/pp round trip. This shuttle also went to the Arizona and had we known, we could have done both in one day. Celebrity had arranged for transfers from the hotel to the dock for us on Monday anyway. But we got our exercise in and shopped for very reasonably priced t-shirts and hats at the Flea Market. We had just missed the bus to go back by about 10 minutes and thought we had an hour wait when the guy got on his walkie-talkie and called the bus back for us! This was the first of the Aloha spirit that we saw in the islands. The tourist is king and they want us to come back. That day was Mother's Day and we went to a buffet in the hotel. I thought the $40/pp price tag was steep and told Karl so, but he wanted me to have a treat for Mother's Day since we were so far from our children. The buffet was lavish with prime rib and crab legs, but how much can you eat? But the thought was sweet and I didn't complain as I stuffed myself. The next day was boarding day and we went to take the excursion to the Arizona. We had the first of our very clever tour guides who entertained us with stories about the islands as we made our way to Pearl Harbor. We got our admission tickets (free) and then waited about an hour for our group number to be called. The movie is approximately 20 minutes and then you move to the shuttle boat for a trip to the Memorial. It is all very moving and solemn. The actual time on the Arizona is only about 15 minutes as you move through and then the next group is there and you leave. Some people had brought flowers for relatives entombed there and were assisted by the Navy personnel in placing them. We then went on our city tour and went to see Punchbowl Cemetery and I was actually a little disappointed in this as all the pictures I had ever seen had shown rows upon rows of white crosses. Well these are all gone due to the termite problem in Hawaii. The military has replaced them with flat bronze markers. Easier to maintain, I'm sure, but certainly not very impressive. We were not allowed to leave the bus due to time constraints and the fact that too many bus tourists trample too much of the vegetation. Everything we saw afterwards was also from the bus and that was not quite the way I wanted to see Honolulu. Granted, we didn't have to drive and didn't know where to go, but you really don't see any close-ups of anything. If we were to do it differently and had more time, we would have either taken the bus or hired a car & driver to show us the sights. Our tour ended at the pier around 3:30 for our first look at our home for the next 11 days, Summit. It was enormous, but so stylish and beautiful. The raked bow actually extended over the street. We had to identify our luggage to security and show our cruise documents and photo I.D. before they would let us enter the terminal. Porters took our suitcases and we just waltzed up to the Captain's Club desk, showed our documents, were issued our room keys and sent on our way. One more walk through a metal detector with our carry-ons and we were up the escalator to the dock. We skipped the boarding picture and headed up the gangplank where we were greeted with orchid leis. The final step in security was to have our picture taken with our room card for entering and leaving the ship in port. We were surprised not to find the usual line of cabin attendants with their white gloves waiting to escort you to your room. I hope Celebrity has not done away with this service. It was such a classy touch. I thought perhaps because we were now trickling in with the last of the passengers that it was too late for this. We found our room without any problem and were pleasantly surprised by the size and layout. We knew it would be a tad bigger than the regular, non-veranda cabins, but it still was nice to see in person. The Welcome-Aboard Buffet was still going on, so we walked up one deck for some lunch. After lunch, we went up to the top deck and started to work our way down familiarizing ourselves with the layout and being so overwhelmed by the beauty of this vessel. The Sun Deck has a jogging/walking track that 3x around is one kilometer or 5/8 mile. Also a full, screened court for either basketball or tennis, the Revelations disco, and a kiddies pool and play area completely screened in for safety. This ship had so many features that weren't on Century which was our last Celebrity cruise. Besides the 2 pools, there was the thalassotherapy pool which was enclosed and had bubble jets for a water massage. The spa was just forward from there with a nicely equipped gym. I can't speak for any of the spa services as we didn't partake of any of them. People who did utilize the spa spoke very highly of them. There was the library, the music library, the computer room with about 12 computers. (The charge for internet usage was 50 cents/minute.) Of course the casino, card room, Michael's Club for cigar smokers and various and sundry lounges and nooks and crannies. Everything decorated to a "T" and the famous Chandris art collection all over the ship. The art was pretty modern and I don't profess to understand it, but it fit in nicely and was the topic of more than one conversation. Considering that we had 5 days at sea, all the public rooms were utilized to an extent I have never seen before. First night was open seating dinner with the usual two seatings. I guess since we didn't sail until midnight, they wanted to make sure even late arrivals would be fed. There was a very nice show of Hawaiian music and dance by a hula school for children. I wish I could say we were up for the sail-away party, but we pretty much crashed in our room by 10 PM and didn't wake up until we were sailing into Nawiliwili, Kauai. Kauai is one of the wettest places on earth and it did not disappoint in that regard. We had booked an excursion to the Waialua River and Fern Grotto for our one day there. Unfortunately we didn't see the table at the ship exit which was offering umbrellas. Four buses from the ship all headed for this tour. We had very nice singers on the boat ride for the ride to the Fern Grotto. I have to mention at this point that fully 50% of the passengers were 65+. The others were a cross section of all ages. This was really apparent on this tour. Almost everyone had a cane, walker, splint or wheelchair. I have nothing against the elderly, since I am rapidly approaching that status, but this tour was quite challenging for the able bodied, much less the handicapped. At this point it was raining lightly only to become a downpour within a few minutes. We had to traverse an uneven, concrete path which was quite slippery and had handrails. I couldn't understand how the 2 ladies in wheelchairs were going to make it. The plan was for all of us to gather in the grotto while the singers sang "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" to demonstrate the acoustics of the place. I'm sure it's very lovely and romantic but we couldn't quite appreciate it. I felt sorry for the musicians having to take their instruments out in the rain. After that, Karl swore he would not go on any more excursions. We pulled out of the harbor around 4:30 while we sat and had tea in the Waterfall Cafe. It was lovely with the mist especially if you were warm & dry! This was the day we had booked at the specialty restaurant, the Normandie. This room was another one worth taking pictures of, it was that pretty. I have to say that having done it once, we would probably never do it again. The food was great, the portions larger than the regular dining room, the service very attentive with 3 waiters, but once was enough. It was very formal and I was afraid I'd drip something on myself. To tell the truth, we really don't like dining for 2 1/2 hours on 4 courses. Appetizer, entrEe, cheese, dessert was on the menu. It was quite an experience and I'm glad that we did it, once. This being an 11-day cruise, there were 3 formal nights, 3 informal nights and the rest casual. Our first night we were commenting about how we had forgotten how good their food really was. I did notice a change in the menu where there were now 2 fish selections every night instead of just one. I also found out that I could order a shrimp cocktail every night instead of the usual appetizers off the menu. This was especially helpful to me as I am a Weight Watcher and this was a very low calorie dish. The food was terrific and not having to cook and clean up was a bonus. Wednesday & Thursday we were docked in Lahaina, Maui. I hadn't pre-booked any excursions so we really didn't see anything except the town. Again, if I was to do it again, we would have rented a car and really driven around the island. As it was, we walked all over Lahaina the first day and did some shopping and site seeing, and spent Thursday just enjoying the pool and the ship. This was where our only complaint about the trip took place. The breakfast buffet closed at 9:30 on port days and if you are late sleepers like we are you never get a chance to eat there. Now there was what I would call a compensation breakfast at the back of the Waterfall Cafe from 10-11 with cereal, yogurt, fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon & sausage, a few pastries to be had. After a few days, I was sick of this and on a couple of days, I just had coffee and waited for lunch to be served. It just so happens that breakfast is Karl's favorite meal and he really liked to eat it on the deck overlooking the back of the ship under the awning. We tried ordering it in by room service one day and eating it on our veranda but it was awkward and certainly not relaxing. The Waterfall Cafe had 4 buffet lines and farther down toward the back, an omelet station during breakfast and pasta station during lunch. Then at the very back were the late breakfast and themed lunch was served was also the site of the alternative dinner. They offered salmon, steak & chicken every night if you didn't want to go to the dining room. We never did try this. The pool grill was also busy serving hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and pizza. I had the pizza a couple of times but the crust wasn't as good as I remembered from Century. The aft deck outside the Waterfall Cafe was lovely. The wooden tables & padded chairs were a cut above the plastic I've seen on other ships. Everything about this ship showed class and elegance, but not in an obtrusive way or in a way to make you feel uncomfortable. On Friday, we arrived at Hilo which was another tender port. Maui was also tenders as the port was not deep enough to accommodate our ship. We again went into town and walked around a bit. This was much more modern looking than Lahaina and not as picturesque. Again, we did no tours and pretty much stayed on the ship. Saturday was our final port of call at Kona and we were able to dock here. I had pre-booked online a tour of Volcano National Park. This was an all day tour with lunch. We saw and walked on old lava flows to the ocean and saw the famous black sand beach. We went to the Kilauea crater and it was quite misty and cold. The Volcano House Hotel where we stopped for lunch did a brisk business in sweatshirts, jackets and long sleeved t-shirts. The volcano is still erupting but the lava is now venting about 6 miles away and we were not allowed to go there. Many roads on the Big Island are closed due to lava flows. This was a very informative tour. We learned a lot about the nature of volcanoes and saw some interesting things. We arrived back at the ship about 45 minutes before we sailed for Vancouver. The next 5 days passed all too quickly. The crossing was very smooth and only one day was overcast. However, after the first 2 days, it was too cold to sit out by the pool and a lot of activities were moved indoors. The cruise staff did a good job of entertaining all 2000+ people. I was certainly never bored. There were afternoon and evening shows. This brings me to the entertainment. It was the best I've seen at sea. The production numbers were lavish with many costume changes, often with every musical number. The singers and dancers were very talented. So outstanding were the singers that 2 of them put on an afternoon show one day which was very well attended. The cruise staff had variations on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", "Newlywed & Not so Newlywed Game", "Liar's Club" which were all hilarious. The featured entertainers were Noodles Levenstein, a comedian & juggler named Jeff, and a piano player/entertainer named Bob from San Diego. They were all fine. A few laughs here & there, but nothing to write home about. I thought the production shows were much better. The last day had a passenger talent show which again was very well attended. (I know, you are thinking, what else was there to do?) It was quite interesting and I sure give people credit for getting up there and doing their thing. I won about $350 playing bingo and it only cost me $250 to do so. Of course the casino was open and we quickly got to know several of our fellow passengers over blackjack. I even started to win some before we landed. On Thursday, we passed the first navigational buoy around noon and entered the Juan de Fuco straits about 2:30. This was our first site of land in 4 1/2 days. We did see some whales that morning spouting off our starboard side while we were playing bingo but that was the only thing we saw on the water all that time. Too soon, it was time to pack up all our belongings and put those suitcases out in the hall by midnight. We had booked a Vancouver city tour after disembarking so as not to sit at the airport for 6 hours. It was also very informative and I have to say that those Canadians sure love to garden! We saw lots of pretty flowers. It was a very sunny, cool day which from what the tour guide says was unusual as they get a lot of rain. I guess their climate is quite similar to Seattle. We ended up at the airport and passed through customs. We had to pay a $7/pp airport improvement fee in order to leave! I never had to pay to leave a country before. Our flight to Chicago was great as the plane was not completely full and we were able to have an empty seat between us. I snoozed most of the way and before we knew it, we were home. Our son's first words were: "Boy, are you guys tan!" So I guess we really were in Hawaii. Would we do this trip again? Absolutely we would. Would we recommend it? Again, absolutely. Celebrity hits the ball out of the park every time as far as we are concerned. And the best part, I only gained 1.6 lbs when I weighed in at Weight Watchers the next day! shofer1019@yahoo.comJune 2002 Read Less
Untitled Document Ultimate Western Caribbean, 11-nights. Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale - Key West, FL - Cozumel, Mexico - Limon, Costa Rica - Colon, Panama - Cartagena, Colombia, South America - At Sea - Oranjestad, Aruba - ... Read More
Untitled Document Ultimate Western Caribbean, 11-nights. Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale - Key West, FL - Cozumel, Mexico - Limon, Costa Rica - Colon, Panama - Cartagena, Colombia, South America - At Sea - Oranjestad, Aruba - At Sea - Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island - At Sea - Ft. Lauderdale Evening attire for this cruise: 3 formal / 3 informal / 5 casual nights. The SUMMIT made her first appearance in October. She is sister ship to INFINITY and MILLENNIUM, and like her sisters, she is gorgeous. She holds 1,950 guests with an excellent guest to staff ratio of two to one. SUMMIT is 965 feet long with a beam of 105 feet. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale without incident the day before the cruise. I recommend flying to the port at least a day before a cruise to allow some extra time in case of bad weather or other delays. We stayed at the Amerisuites near the port in Ft. Lauderdale because it's clean and has reasonable room rates. After getting our luggage at the airport, I used the nearby hotel courtesy phone to arrange for their free shuttle. Their shuttle service wasn't running that evening (driver absent), but the hotel desk clerk said to get a cab and bring them a receipt for reimbursement. Cabs are readily available just outside the luggage retrieval area at the airport; it's a 10 minute ride to the Amerisuites, and at check-in we were reimbursed in cash for the cab. The rooms at the Amerisuites include a separate living room area with a sofa bed, and there's a kitchenette with mini refrigerator, microwave oven, and coffee maker for your use. In the cabinets and drawers there are a few plates, cups, and silverware. There's a grocery store and liquor store within a few blocks' walking distance from the Amerisuites, just ask for directions at the hotel desk. Next door the hotel is an Outback Steakhouse, always good food. In the morning, the hotel has a continental-type breakfast in an area near the lobby. Since this was a Monday, there were only a few people milling about. On weekends, this place is bustling with activity and full of cruise passengers. The hotel's courtesy shuttle was running that morning but we decided to take a cab, total cost for two about $10. The taxi stopped at the security check point at the port to show ID and then was waved through. Day #1, boarding SUMMIT in Ft. Lauderdale We arrived at the terminal about 10:30 AM and had porters take our luggage. There were plenty of Celebrity representatives around, checking paperwork to make sure everyone had all the required documents completed in order to make check-in quick and easy. We sat in the designated area for Captain's Club members and Suite guests. We were on the ship quickly after first going through the metal detectors and having carry-on bags checked by x-ray. Celebrity has really made things comfortable for early embarkation; your cabin is ready by Noon. Until that time, guests can relax in public areas on the ship, some bars are open, and there's a 'Welcome Aboard' buffet at Noon in the Waterfall Cafe. We peeked in at our cabin shortly after embarkation and it was ready for occupancy, so we dropped our carry-on bags there and headed down to the specialty restaurant, Normandie, to make our reservations. The Normandie Restaurant The Normandie is SUMMIT's specialty restaurant, honoring the ship, SS Normandie that made her maiden voyage in 1935 from Le Havre, France, to New York City, US. The specialty restaurant seats about 150 per night in lovely surroundings, complete with original wall panels from the SS Normandie. Spend some time in the restaurant's foyer where you can learn about SS Normandie and see original menus and other interesting ship articles. We made our dinner reservations with the Maitre 'D, Dario Salinovic. A $25 per person fee is charged to your shipboard charge card. You will be served by three or four persons, sometimes simultaneously, as they do things with flair! Attire for the Normandie is dressy, a jacket and tie for men is required. The dinner is four courses and each has a suggested wine from the Normandie's extensive collection. Be sure to see where the wines are stored; the Sommeliers enjoy explaining about the wines. Some wines are reasonably priced and others, well, if you have to ask, you can't afford them! You will have an appetizer, a main course, a cheese course, the entree, and the dessert. For an appetizer, the goat cheese souffle is highly recommended. There is also lobster veloute, Caesar salad, onion soup, boned quail, and others. The entrees include rack of lamb that receives rave reviews, Chateaubriand that is fork-tender accompanied by fresh duck liver and sauce Perigourdine or Bernaise. Other choices include sea bass, Dover sole, shrimp Scampi wrapped in pancetta, and several other selections. All dishes are made to order and most are finished at the guests' table. Take your camera! Desserts are decadent. The chocolate souffle is totally yummy, and there are other temptations including a few bites of each of Michel Roux's favorite surprise desserts. To enhance the enjoyment of your 2.5 to 3-hour dining experience, live dinner music is provided. All this makes for a very memorable evening. Back to the cabin Our cabin was a Category 3, located aft. These cabins are few in number and have generous space, a 271 sq. ft living area and 242 sq. ft. veranda. The bedroom is separated from the living room via a frosted glass and wood sliding door panel, very nice for privacy if two couples or a family are occupying these cabins. In the living room there is a full sofa that makes into a single bed, plus a loveseat that makes into a double bed. A television, coffee table, night stand with drawers, end tables with drawers, and storage cabinet with drawers and shelves are all located in this area. In the bedroom, the twin beds make up into a queen size bed with firm mattress. Extra pillows and blankets are stored at the top of the large, multi-door closet where drawers and a pull down rod for men's trousers, plus a tie rack, are found. A safe with key pad is in the closet and written instructions are provided for use of the safe. A very nice vanity area with more storage, and a corner hutch with glass shelves and decorative pieces (affixed to the shelf for safety), plus more shelves behind wood doors were located in this cabin. There is a television set and VCR. The bathroom is small, wll-lit, with a shower. Nice quality shampoo/conditioner and vanilla-scented skin lotion are found in the bathroom in dispensers. There is ample storage on shelves and below the sink and vanity. A waste bin is also discretely provided below the vanity and pulls down like a bin for use. A hair dryer and shaver receptacle is in the bathroom. (Many veteran cruise passengers take along a multi-plug strip and extension cord for use in their cabin.) The veranda had a shaded area and a large and small table, two chairs, and two chaise lounges. Part of the veranda area is shaded. The colors in the cabin were blue carpeting and orange plaid bed spread, orange print draperies. At first, the orange seemed a bit overwhelming but as time passed, the color scheme seemed appropriate; probably just a sign that we were truly relaxed and enjoying everything! Our cabin steward, Lourence, introduced himself shortly after our arrival. He and his assistant, Munir, did a superb job of keeping the cabin and bathroom pristine, and a fresh supply of Egyptian cotton towels at the ready. Shower caps and vanity packs are supplied. There is a mini-refrigerator in the cabin, stocked with beverages and snacks for purchase; if you ask your cabin steward/ess to remove them, they will do so. A carafe of water and ice are provided twice daily or more if you ask. The Celebrity cabin attendants and Butlers all wear pagers/phones and respond immediately to your calls. If you want to dine in your cabin, you have many options. You may request the restaurant menus from your cabin steward/ess and be served from this menu during restaurant hours, you may order from the items on the cabin service menu, or you may place an order for a light breakfast from the cards at the back of the book you'll find in your cabin. You simply complete the card and place it on your door to have the light breakfast delivered at the specified time the following morning. They even call you several minutes prior to the delivery being made. The cabin service food was hot and tasty; we sampled these meals on several occasions. All of this, of course, is provided to you at no extra cost. The Waterfall Cafe Our luggage arrived shortly after we returned to our cabin so we unpacked and then headed up two decks to the Waterfall Cafe for the 'Welcome Aboard' buffet. Celebrity's white-gloved staff carries your tray to the table, a hint of how pampered you will be for the entire cruise. They will also bring you tea, coffee, water, or juices. These people really want to please you with their smiles and excellent service. Trays are lined with linen. There were many tempting salads, homemade dressings, raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, cold cuts, breads and rolls, various entrees, carved-to-order meats and poultry, fish, etc. Save room for the desserts! You will find some of the best pastries on Celebrity, not only tempting to the eye, but delicious. All foods are fresh, not frozen, and made on board the ship. That includes the delicious ice creams and sherbets in exotic flavors like coconut, passion fruit, guava, mango, banana and others. You must taste these! Frozen low fat vanilla and chocolate yogurt is available each afternoon along with 'tea'. The tea time on Celebrity is a misnomer since a wide variety of garnished finger sandwiches, fresh fruits, luscious cakes, pastries, and cookies are available. There are also sugar-free dessert selections. Oh yes, pizza is prepared fresh in the ovens at the grill just outside the Waterfall Cafe. You can also call to have a pizza (sized like a 'personal' pizza) delivered to your cabin at no charge, in a Celebrity pizza box. The Waterfall Cafe was a very popular place for buffets at breakfast and lunch. At the aft of the ship in the Waterfall Cafe, there is a separate buffet offering different foods each day, e.g., Mexican food, Alaska seafood, Oriental, American, Italian, and so on. Don't forget about the omelet stations; selections change daily and you can also go here to have your eggs freshly scrambled or fried to order (say hello to Tyrone Aiken, Omelet King!) These same areas at lunch turn into pasta stations; pasta selections and sauces change daily but the tomato marinara sauce is always available. Note that the buffets and the omelet/pasta stations are identical in their offerings on each side of the ship. Leaving Ft. Lauderdale Back to the first afternoon and evening on board SUMMIT, the muster begins at 4 PM and lasts about 20 minutes. All passengers are required to take part in the drill; instructions are provided in writing and on the television in your cabin. The place where you go with your life jacket to meet for muster is in the area assigned to your cabin. The crew reviews important safety information and shows everyone how to properly wear the life jacket. After this, you're led to the lifeboat deck with your assigned group until the drill has been completed. Don't forget your sunglasses as you may be assigned to muster on the sunny side of the ship during this drill. The best Caribbean band on the seas, Onyx, began playing at poolside after the muster. At about 4:30 PM, the ship leaves port and sets out to the Atlantic past the houses and high rise condos from which people wave, horns blow, and Celebrity flags fly! Bar wait staff walks around to offer special sail-away drinks, but some of these are in souvenir glasses you keep, so be aware of this and ask if you aren't sure or you may be buying something you really don't want. Shortly after leaving Ft. Lauderdale, the casino and the all the shops open. During the cruise there will be various tournaments held in the casino and many sales in the shops. You can buy anything from toothpaste to diamonds! There's also a cinema on board; however, the free movies shown were not recent releases. Pay-per-view movies are available on your cabin television. The free cabin television choices include the ship's information channels, CNN, music channels, and a couple of movie channels. Often, movies were dubbed over in Spanish. On your cabin television, you can also order wine for dinner, preview and book shore excursions, play casino games, order from the cabin service menu of food, and check the status of your on board charge account. Main seating for dinner was at 6:30 PM, with late seating at 8:30 PM. The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is lovely, a two-level room aft, all non-smoking. Just behind the Captain's Table is a spectacular wall of windows. At night, it's covered with different 'scenes' on draperies, but if you dine there for breakfast or lunch, the windows are not covered. Note that there is an intermittent vibration felt if you are sitting on the lower level of the dining room. This was not bothersome to most I spoke with. We were seated with friends at a table for four on the upper level. We had the best Waiter, Ercan, and the best Waiter Assistant, Deniz! Matter of fact, Deniz was serving as an assistant for the last time, having just received a promotion to Waiter. Always trust the judgment of your Waiter and seek his advice about what's best on the menu that evening. The first few nights, the fish dishes were overcooked, but for the remainder of the cruise, fish was delicious and prepared to perfection. One menu item to avoid is the sirloin strip steak. On every Celebrity ship we try this, and on every ship, it's tough. The menus are changing in January, and hopefully the strip steaks in the restaurant will just go away. I should point out that all the other steaks and beef dishes on board are just fine. There was a Welcome Aboard Show and Introductions in the main theater and later there was an Italian midnight buffet; we did not attend either. The show was called, 'A Taste of Things To Come' and featured the vocal styles of the a cappella group, Metro, and the Celebrity Orchestra, singers and dancers. Day #2, Key West, Florida Key West has arts, crafts, souvenir shops, restaurants, bars (including the famous Sloppy Joe's), water sports, and marine museums. For a small charge, you can take a trolley to tour the town but you can also cover a lot of ground in the downtown area by walking. Excursions available include catamaran sailing and snorkeling, kayak adventures, etc. Check out the Key West Aloe stores for great aloe lotions and similar products. Go to the Key Lime store and have a frozen, chocolate-covered key lime pie slice on a stick but be aware, they are very, very rich. Always take your Celebrity ID card and a photo ID when you leave the ship, as it will be checked upon your return. Bags are subject to hand examination and x-ray. Late afternoon, I met with Nestor, the Assistant Food Manager of the Buffet. This nice gentleman is in charge of the Alternative Dining area, held each night in a roped-off area of the Waterfall Cafe. The menu changes every two days or so. I have menus and will be happy to give you more information if you send me an e-mail. Celebrity has realized that more and more cruisers are enjoying the option of no formal or dressy attire for dinners. One can call to make a reservation here and there is no charge for the meal or service. The entree is prepared to your specification; this and your beverages are served by wait staff. You go to a small buffet area to select and pick up your appetizer, salad, and dessert. I spoke to many passengers who ate here, and they all said the experience was very good, some returning several nights during the cruise. This is the night of the Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party, held in the grand foyer on decks 3, 4, and 5. The Scherzando String Quartet provided music. The show tonight was 'Encore!', a production show featuring the Celebrity Orchestra, singers, and dancers. There were some very nice vocals. I still think Celebrity has a way to go with providing great entertainment. Not that the singers and dancers don't give 100%, it's just that Celebrity remains weak in this area by not providing more headliner entertainment. Day #3, Cozumel, Mexico There is a lot to do in and around Cozumel including shopping for all kinds of souvenirs and liquors (buy your .925 or higher silver jewelry at great prices), water sports of all kinds, excursions to ruins, adventure tours, dolphin encounters, etc. We were in port with five other ships that day; oh yes, the town gets very busy. Taxis are abundant and cost about $5 per person from where most of the ships dock to the downtown area, a bit more to go to beaches. I had the pleasure of meeting today with Mr. Daniel Elias, Hotel Manager on SUMMIT. He was recently promoted to this position, and one can understand why immediately. This man leads by example, shows attention to detail without any fuss, and he is very charming and warm. His job is to provide Celebrity's guests with an exceptional cruise experience from a hotel perspective. He supervises all personnel and ship functions except, of course, for the Captain and the food and beverages. These things he accomplishes with perfection and sincere Greek hospitality. Tonight's show was 'The Hilarious Comedy of Noodles Levenstein'. We missed this show, but others said Levenstein was entertaining and they enjoyed his performance. The Tex-Mex celebration was held poolside beginning at 11 PM, with Onyx playing. There was also a Mexican buffet. Day #4, At Sea A day to catch sun or sit around the pool or take part in any of the on board activities including organized sports, culinary demonstrations, bingo, arts and crafts, wine tasting, etc. I have copies of all the scheduled activities for each day on board SUMMIT, so let me know if you would like specifics. Remember to read your daily ship's newsletter to keep informed of each day's events because Celebrity has a policy of making no announcements on the PA system. Don't try to go to everything or you will ruin your cruise! I think it was this morning that the ship had a problem. We decided to eat in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant for breakfast to sample the Eggs Benedict and the banana pancakes (the only things not available at the buffet). Suddenly, the ship began to list to one side and there was a pronounced shudder. The silverware and some plates and glasses slid off tables, and the sounds of breaking china could be heard from the galley. An announcement came on the PA system that the ship had suffered a loss of power in the electrical steering system and the technicians would be working on it. We were told that the ship would proceed slowly on course until the problem was resolved. This took about 30-45 minutes, and another announcement was made saying everything was once again normal. Over 700 souvenir mugs in the gift shops, Lalique crystal bowls in the suites, numerous pieces of china and glassware in the galley, were all lost due to sudden and severe listing. There were a large number of elderly guests on this cruise and most of them seemed to be enjoying themselves but unfortunately, there were a few who needed medical evacuation from foreign ports (a good reason to buy trip insurance!). There were many New York and Florida residents on board. And yes, there were some guests on board who seemed to find fault at every turn. So, if you happen to be on a cruise with one or more of these people who may be speaking out loud in the negative, remember that they are probably not very happy even when they're home. I believe that a cruise vacation is what you make it. If you ever encounter a situation on board any ship that you dislike, go see the staff at Guest Relations. You can believe it, no cruise line would purposely make a guest unhappy about their cruise experience. This morning I met with 'Sam' who is the Assistant Maitre D' in the AquaSpa Cafe , located forward in the ship in the thelassotherapy pool area. Sam can also be found in the Normandie Restaurant. He was obviously proud of the AquaSpa Cafe and encouraged us to be sure to feast on the poached salmon served with grilled asparagus and ratatouille for one of our on board lunches. (We did so and it was delicious!) In this cafe, you select from light and lean cuisine. A chef stands by to prepare your entree as you wish. If you don't like poached salmon, simply ask for it to be grilled. The menu here changes every couple of days. They also serve a spa cuisine breakfast. All of these offerings are well worth exploring, so don't miss them. The thelassotherapy pool on board SUMMIT is in a lovely indoor area, and use of it is included in the price of your cruise. The warm sea and mineral water bubbles up to soothe you. There are Jacuzzi tubs and saunas in this area, too. The teak deck chairs with lumbar supports and head rests are very comfortable, and one would see guests snoozing here or enjoying the quiet area with a good book. Soft, pastel blue towels are provided for use after the thelassotherapy pool or Jacuzzi, or to place on the deck chairs. The spa on SUMMIT is an amazing place and well-recognized as being one of the best and largest at sea. For spa enthusiasts, you will be in sensory heaven here with a wide choice of treatments including Rasul, aroma stones, salt rubs, aromatherapy wraps, massages, etc. Some 'ceremonies' take about 5 hours to complete and are advertised for 'guests who desire complete rejuvenation'. Spa treatments are not included in the price of your cruise, but are charged to the credit card you gave for on board charges. SUMMIT's gym contains state of the art equipment. It is at the forward portion of the ship, allowing for an unobstructed sea view while you walk or run on treadmills, or use the bicycles. We only saw about a dozen or so children on board SUMMIT for this sailing, but all of them had happy faces as they were escorted by the ship's children's program staff to various organized, age-specific activities. Tonight we dined at the Captain's Table, a large table all the way aft on the lower level of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. We met first with Amanda Reid, Social Hostess, in the Champagne Bar, to enjoy a cocktail with our other tablemates. Amanda is truly gracious and makes all guests feel special. Shortly after the main restaurant opened for second seating, she led us all down the restaurant's grand staircase to the Captain's Table. Excellent wines, great food, and interesting conversation were had by all. What a special formal event to enjoy and as always, long stemmed red roses were presented to the ladies upon conclusion of the meal. The ship's photographer had delivered the complimentary Captain's Table photograph to our cabin by the time we returned there that evening. The show tonight was 'A Night of Stars!', featuring the Celebrity Orchestra, singers, and dancers. Day #5, Limon, Costa Rica To appreciate the beauty of Costa Rica, you have to book an excursion! Some excursions take you into the interior sections to view the rain forest; other excursions were available including sightseeing tours and white water rafting. Local vendors had set up tables and booths outside the small port terminal building. Handicrafts and souvenirs of all kinds were available for purchase and haggling over price was expected. Outside the fenced-in terminal building, you will be approached by local taxi drivers and tour operators. We walked a few blocks to the market area just to have a look. The area is dirty. The people here are obviously poor, but we were not approached by panhandlers. From the market, we walked along the sea wall. There's a city park near the market area, quite lush and overgrown with tropical plants and trees. Coffee is a recommended purchase in Costa Rica and if you have any questions, the ship's Port and Shopping Guide is available to assist you. Her talks run continuously on the ship's television in case you don't want to go to the Celebrity Theater to sit and listen. Of course, she does give away nice door prizes at these talks! Coupons for discounted merchandise in all the ports are available at her talks as well as at the ship's gangway when you exit for your day in the ports visited. As on other cruises, art is auctioned almost daily for those interested and free art is sometimes given away along with champagne, just for attending. This is in the area of SUMMIT where the Cova Cafe de Milano is, so stop by and enjoy some hot-from-the-oven croissants and pastries (no charge), and specialty coffees, liquors, and teas. Pleasant harp or other music is played in this area. The guest participation 'Newlywed - Not So Newlywed' show was held tonight in the Celebrity Theater. In the Revelations Club, Metro and Onyx performed. Day #6, Colon, Panama The port terminal building is fairly new and clean. A group of Panamanians performed as we exited the ship, dancing and playing their musical instruments. They were interesting to watch and hear. Tips were being placed in the hat of one member of their company. There are many excursions available, but we had arranged a private tour with Giovanni Smith, a tour conductor. His supervisor is Raul. Both speak English. Giovanni first drove us the 15-20 minutes to the Panama Canal Gatun Locks. It was of great interest to see this in person, up close, how the huge and heavy ships are moved along the Canal. Don't miss this tour! Full transit through the Canal takes 8-9 hours and ships have paid over $200,000 to do so, still less money than having to sail around South America. SUMMIT was built to Panamax standards, allowing her to go through the Panama Canal, but she barely fits with only inches to spare all around! After the Canal tour, our driver took us through what he called the 'rich' neighborhoods, homes he said were mostly occupied by Americans, with burglar bars on all windows and doors and lush, tropical landscaping. We also saw the Hotel Washington and El Catedral. We then went with him through the downtown area, an extremely busy and very noisy place. We didn't shop here, but waited until we were back at the various shops and vendor stands at the terminal building. Again, haggling for price is expected here. A word about arranging your own tours and shore excursions. It was unfortunate to witness and hear an American couple and Panama police deep in a 'lively discussion' about the couple's 'misunderstanding' of tariffs and taxi fares. Apparently, the couple did not set a price for exactly where they wanted to go in the taxi. The driver took them where they had asked to go, on a tour of the Gatun Locks at the Canal and then to a beach area. These tours are separated from one another by a large distance, and each costs $40 USD. The couple concluded their tour(s) and refused to pay the driver the $80 he was owed. Police became involved. Be sure you clarify with all taxi drivers or tour operators, the details and price of your tour or shore excursion before you get in the car. How did this end? Mr. Salama, President of the Panamanian equivalent of a US Chamber of Commerce became involved and kindly paid the driver $20 after the couple finally paid $60. We have never experienced this kind of misunderstanding with the many drivers and tour operators we have used. If you're uneasy about these things, it's probably best for you to participate in a ship-arranged shore excursion. Back on the way to the ship, a troupe of Panamanian children in brightly-colored dress performed dances and sang for the crowd. SUMMIT has an internet cafe where you can connect for 95 cents per minute. For $6.95 you can have a photo taken and send it with two e-mail messages. On board, there were classes available for how to use Word, Excel, etc. The show in the Celebrity Theater tonight was 'The Magic of Broadway', featuring the Celebrity Orchestra, singers, and dancers. Day #7, Cartagena, Colombia, South America Book an excursion to see Cartagena and surrounding areas. It is not advised to go out on your own here. Friends went to the Monastery and the Fort and enjoyed these tours, but said they were surrounded by hundreds of children panhandling and asking for American dollar bills. The excursion buses stop for a brief period of shopping on the way back to the ship. Coffee and emeralds are big sellers here. The ship's Port and Shopping Guide can provide valuable information. At the new terminal building, several shops and a bar have set up business and this is within walking distance of the ship. A wide variety of souvenirs are available here. While on SUMMIT, visit the Conservatory Floral and Gift Boutique where you will find a peaceful setting and beautiful Emilio Robba silk floral arrangements, orchids, plants, and candles. For formal nights and other special occasions, corsages and boutonnières are available for purchase. For cigar and pipe smoking guests, Michael's Club offers a private lounge that is well-ventilated and very comfortable. Enjoy a cognac here. Hannakuh services were held on board SUMMIT this week in the Celebrity Theater. For those interested in board games, cards, listening to music on CD's, or reading, all of these are available on SUMMIT in Words (the library) and Notes (music library). Tonight, the show features Metro and Kirby St. Romain, the 'sound effects' guy. Big Band dancing follows the show in Revelations, with music played by the Celebrity Orchestra. Day #8, Oranjestad, Aruba This is one happy island, really! That's what it says on their car license plates! Walking into town for shopping and a casino takes only a few minutes. There is a mall in which you will find designer clothes and various items. There are beautiful Dutch handicrafts and collectibles available in shops located a few blocks away from the immediate downtown. All kinds of souvenirs are also available from local vendors set up all along the main walkway. Many of us took excursions or tours to see the beautiful beaches and other island areas. Tonight in the Celebrity Theater, we are treated to the piano performance of international recording star Antonio Salci. Later, there is the fun 'Island Night Celebration' and be sure to take your camera to capture your favorite 'melons on parade!' Onyx plays at poolside for this event. Enjoy the tropical fruit and sherbet buffet (yes, there are lots of other things to eat at this buffet, too!) Day #9, At Sea Lots of deck chaise lounges for sunning were available on this cruise. Pool and deck chair towels are available pool-side. Your cabin attendant will put large, nice quality beach towels in your cabin each time the ship goes to a port. They ask that you return the towels to your cabin for pick-up. The towels are available for purchase for $29 each. The cotton, waffle weave bathrobes for use in your cabin are also available for purchase at $49 each. A lovely surprise tonight, chocolate-covered strawberries and fine wine, are delivered to our cabin! We very much enjoyed these as we sat on the veranda with only the sound of the ocean and the beautiful night sky full of stars. In the Celebrity Theater, comedian Noodles Levenstein entertained along with vocalist, Darby Pope. Day #10, Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island SUMMIT and all ships visiting Grand Cayman Island anchor off the island and tender (boat) service is provided to shore. Tenders run continuously throughout the day; it only takes about 10 minutes to accomplish. If you are not on a shore excursion purchased on board, you will go to the Celebrity Theater to get a tender ticket and in a matter of minutes, you'll board the tenders. Once on the island, we took a taxi ($3 per person) a few miles out of town to the part of Seven Mile Beach that's wide and has soft sand (towards Conch Beach). Close to town, the beach is narrow, the sand is very coarse and full of shell bits, and there are rocks immediately off shore. Although the beach is public property, there are some motels and hotels that have staff posted at their alley-way entrances charging $3-$5 per person to allow you to cross over onto the beach. This is supposedly because you might use the 'facilities' at their properties. These places also charge extra for chairs, umbrellas, etc. Some taxi drivers may take you to these places, so clarify this point with the driver if you want these facilities or not. If not, tell the driver to drop you at a public access. Grand Cayman Island like Cozumel and Aruba, has an abundance of shopping and excursion activities. If you have never snorkled with the stingrays, this is your chance! The excursion boat takes you out to a sand bar where you can stand in shallow water to watch or snorkel with the stingrays. Remember to take along a disposable underwater camera. Buy plenty of film and your disposable camera before you leave home. On board, a roll of 36-exposure Fuji film for 35 mm cameras is over $12. In the ports, it's not much less. If you are a fan of the Tortuga Rum Cakes available at the stores in Georgetown, they cost the same on the ship as they do in the stores. Tonight, 'Classique, La Danza' was the show in the Celebrity Theater. Also performing were Antonio Salci and the Chinese Acrobats, Ming Li and Guidon Xu. After the show, 'Le Grand Buffet' opened at 12:15 AM for guests who wish to take photos. Shortly thereafter, it reopens for those wanting to indulge in the impressive buffet. If you haven't seen this buffet, it's worth attending. Celebrity has done away with every night Midnight buffets. It was explained to me that there are so many opportunities to have food (this is an understatement!), the second seating dinner guests don't finish up their meals until 10-10:30 PM, and the amount of buffet food that they were discarding was enormous. On nights when there are no Midnight buffets, wait staff circulate throughout the ship's lounges serving 'Gourmet Bites' from Midnight until 1 AM. These are delicious tid bits of various kinds including excellent Beef Wellington and crab puffs. Dessert items such as chocolate truffles and lemon tarts are also brought. Day #11, At Sea A somewhat cloudy day, probably reflecting the gloom of knowing the cruise vacation is about to come to an end. Tonight, it's customary to tip those whom you feel have given you excellent service. Last night, envelopes were left in your cabin for this purpose. Tipping is by nature a very personal matter, but suggested guidelines for tipping are as follows: $3.50 per person, per day for the Waiter and Cabin Attendant, and Butler, if you had one; $2.00 per person, per day for the Waiter Assistant. There are other suggested tip amounts that are less, for the Chief Housekeeper and the Maitre 'D. This is the packing day and tonight before midnight, you will place your packed luggage outside your cabin for pick-up. Colored tags will be provided to you by your cabin attendant to affix to the luggage. The color represents when you will be leaving the ship the following morning. Captain's Club and Suites, and those with the earliest flights, leave the ship first. Don't forget to leave something out to wear tomorrow morning, plus medications, valuables, and any airline and other documents you need! The Farewell Show tonight featured comedian Kirby St. Romain, vocalists Metro, and the "Our Cruise in Review" video. Tonight is also the final jackpot bingo. The amount won on this cruise was well over $2,000 to a lucky retired woman. When asked what she would do with the money, she quickly replied, "go on another cruise!" Day #12, return to Ft. Lauderdale Since the tragic events that occurred on Sept. 11th, each cruise passenger including children are required to report in person this morning to US Immigration Officers on board the ship. A letter of instruction is provided to you by your cabin attendant the night before. You take this letter with you, along with proof of citizenship and photo. The times for reporting were staggered; we reported at 7:45 AM, our Canadian friends reported at 6:30 AM. The line was long, but the entire process moved right along and only took 15 minutes. Afterwards, we ate breakfast in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant with our friends. It's open seating (meaning you may be eating at a table other than where you were assigned for dinners, and you may be seated with strangers). Ercan, our Waiter, saw us and escorted us to 'our' table in his section, a very thoughtful gesture. If you wish to have breakfast elsewhere on the morning of debarkation, you may arrange for Cabin Service or go to the buffet in the Waterfall Cafe. We waited in our cabin until about 8:30 AM after breakfast, and we were off the ship by 9:15 AM. You'll locate and fetch your luggage down in the terminal building. It will be placed in the 'yellow' area if your colored luggage tag was yellow, red area if tag was red, and so forth. Porters are available to assist you with your luggage. Plenty of taxis are available outside and if you arranged transport via the cruise line, a bus will be waiting for you (and others) who've made such plans. A taxi ride to the airport is about $10 for two persons. There will be plenty of Celebrity staff to help you this morning. This cruise was wonderful! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like further information. This was my seventh cruise on Celebrity . Cheers, Kristine FL2NH@together.net January, 2002 Read Less
Southern Caribbean Embarkation With all of our flight re-scheduling and changes we were very happy just to arrive at the pier. This was around noon . We have had most people recommend that you plan to arrive the day before in the city ... Read More
Southern Caribbean Embarkation With all of our flight re-scheduling and changes we were very happy just to arrive at the pier. This was around noon . We have had most people recommend that you plan to arrive the day before in the city of your port. We agree with this as it will lessen your stress levels knowing you can bump to a later flight and pick up some extra free flights on the airlines. These days with the extra security and the lack of direct flights this seems to be the rule. Once on the ground in the home port your home free. Relax it's just a short drive to the ship. I will say I had never had my id checked so many times in one day as our travel day through the airport and on the pier. After a great flight down to Miami - First class the airline over booked our original flight - we found the Super Shuttle service from Miami to the pier in Ft. Lauderdale. About an hours ride - driver got lost - and not as expensive as I had thought. This was only $23 per person to the pier. A good value from a limo standpoint service. We relaxed once we got our luggage and were seated in the van. As I said before we arrived about noon at the terminal and dropped off our checked luggage with the porters on the pier. Making sure we had our bag tags for the ship now on our luggage. No problems here. Boarding was already taking place. The original line to get inside was about 100 deep at this point but moved rather quickly. They were checking id and tickets here and also giving out some cruise card to fill out and also your boarding group number. We are in the Captains Club so we just showed our cards and bypassed the wait for the group area to the line for carry bags screening. After the baggage screening we checked in for our room keys. While we were waiting we asked about getting our Credit card hooked into our ship charge account. They did this right on the pier. We also met Amanda the Cruise hostess. We had met her on one of our previous trips on the Galaxy. Like others have stated being part of the Captains club get you past some of the wait lines. Onto the Ship. We met one of the Cruise staff up on the deck - Donnell. If he knew what he was in for from me he would have us put off the boat at this point. I have a great time with the cruise staff while on board. Cabin: #3058, cat. 10, Plaza Deck This is one of the regular sized cabins on the ship. 170 sq. ft. We have always found the Celebrity cabins to be slightly larger than the industry standard at this level. Very roomy for two. We had the two beds made into a queen, there is a small one person sofa-sleeper/couch, 2 large closets and a pull down bar for doubling your shirt storage or short hanging garments. The third closet has 6 drawers to store other things in. There is also a cabin safe with a keypad to enter your own code, an interactive TV which we barely used, so you can access your shipboard account, book excursions, order room service, pay-per-view movies (also, newly released movie videos - no charge), dresser/desk with chair, small glass coffee table, plenty of mirrors in front of the desk and the wall the bed is on. We found the side storage space on the side of the dresser on the 4th day out. The light wood panel tones were perfect for the lighting provided for the room. Also a night light next to the plugs on the dresser. The bathroom is perfectly sized for the room. If you bring any beer or wine onto the ship just ask your cabin steward to open the refrigerator under the TV. Then stow your wine or beer in the fridge. If you remove and keep / use any of the items they will be charged to your shipboard account at the end of the cruise. Just tell the cabin steward you are doing this so he will know not to replace missing items. We are most always inside cabin bookers and users. This being our 18th cruise we have booked about half the time between inside and outside cabins. Now we prefer the inside cabins. This was in a great location for both of us. Just down the hall from the main lobby. 2 decks down to walk to the gangplank to get off the ship. We both like to walk a bit more on the ship when we can. This location got us to walk the length of the ship through the lounge areas or past the cinema to go to the dining room for sit down meals. Also walk up the central stair case to go to the Shops, Casino, Theater. Our most used location was to the card room on deck 5 when we needed. Taking the central area elevators enclosed by glass was great. Being able to look out to sea or to the inside if you wanted. We were told that the ship had hit some rough seas just before we got back into Ft. Lauderdale. This was at night and we did not feel any rocking at all. The weather for all 10 days was great. It looked like we would get rain the second sea day out but it went right over us. Dining Room The Cosmopolitan Restaurant like all the Celebrity and Millennium service ships is spectacular. Soft lines and the flowing stairway to the upper level was picture perfect. The space between tables was more on this ship than I had remembered on past cruises. We were lucky in that there was always two people missing from the table next to ours as they preferred informal dining upstairs each night. The waiters central work area(s) are now in just a few places in the dining room. Not the 20 or so small ones you are used to seeing. The only negative thing is if there are any handicapped people on board in wheel chairs. Their access paths into and out of the dining area are a bit cramped. Meaning you would have to move your chairs to allow them in or out. But no worries there. It's their cruise also. You don't own the ship. The dinner music was fine. If we had a table you could see the musicians playing so much the better. I did go into the first seating for dinner one night to look for someone. There were a lot of tables not full near the entrance and upstairs. This owing to the fact that more people prefer late seating for dinner. Service provided by Jose and Fernando was excellent as we have come to expect on the Celebrity ships. I did take someone's advice and on the first night pre $20 tip the bus boy - Fernando - requesting he bring my wife and I Ice tea each night. And he always kept the glasses full. As always another wonderful dining experience by both of us. You can also get Shrimp Cocktail each night even if it is not on the menu. They carry certain items like this each night. Central Foyer AreasThis includes the shops on deck 5. We found the Cova Cafe Milano on deck 5 to be a nice area to sit and watch the people go by. If you did not notice the Coffee bar is on the Starboard side of the ship. This had Espresso and other Coffee delights on their menu. Just across from this area was the small bakery and sweet shoppe. They would have some great treats displayed here every day. This area was bypassed by most. The Offices on the ship seemed to enjoy this area when taking their breaks from ship work. The shops and the specialty boutiques had a nice selection of merchandise. The daily sales the shop staff offered covered a lot of items. From gold and silver chains to watches, and plaster statues. Their area on deck 5 Just on the opposite side of the cafe forward hosted the Art auction area for the ship. We walked through the shop area. They had a fine selection of Liquors priced just a little bit more than on land. They did not carry all the local brands for the Caribbean, but enough to cover a wide range. So check the prices before you go ashore to save yourself the time and effort of bringing back a bottle you save .25 cents on onshore. The shops also had a $10 watch sale, on quartz watches, that the wife and some of her cruise friends bought. Pools and Hot Tubs The main pool was about 45 feet in length from front to back and about 20 feet wide. The shallow end was 5 feet and the deep end 6. If the ship was going in and out of port, as it did on our trip 5 times you got a few waves in this pool. Real nice to be in as you pulled away and music was playing on deck. Just drift with the waves. There are a lot of pool chairs in the well open area on deck 10 around the pool. But beware of the chair takers. They are out in force on the sea days starting about 7:00 am or so. These are the people who put a towel and book or shoes on a bunch of deck chairs and use them for less than an hour each day. The ship does it's best to try and stop this practice but.... Everyone's on vacation and why argue with someone as trivial as a deck chair. Good hint if you need a quiet place in the sun. On the starboard side forward of deck 11 their is a stairway that looks like it goes nowhere. Wrong. This is up to deck 12 forward. Bring a towel there are lots of chairs here. And the wind screen cuts down the breezes coming over the ship as it moves. On port days their are plenty of chairs available to use all day. So don't bother marking a spot. They also have cushions for those in the well and around the pool. There are also 4 hot tubs in this pool area. so you would not have to wait to get a spot. If their not full just amble up and into the warm water. Join the conversation or just relax in the bubbles. The second pool just behind the larger pool looked to be about 20 feet long by 15 feet wide. The depth of this pool was about 3 and half fee to 4 feet. Great for the kids and adults to lounge in while the deck games were played and leaving port to the band playing. Remember the pool is chlorinated salt water, and was comfortably refreshing. Some days when they exchanged water it was a bit cool till later in the day. The Thalassotherapy Pool This area is just forward of the open pool area. It's the bubbles pool with the water spouts. This is a new feature on all the Millennium Class ships. They also have the lite breakfast and lunch served in this area. And it is lite. Not a big selection but in the right spot if you need it. I found this is another great hid away. If you are not a Sun worshiper. the glass ceiling and front part of the ship block a lot of the direct light. This is like entering a giant tub, but not as hot as the regular hot tubs. . There are jets of water shooting out from the sides and pool bottom, huge faucet-looking jets overhanging the four corners (great back massage). One each side of this pool there are chrome, in-water, loungers. The bubbles come from under this area and refresh you slowly. One of our dinner table mates, when the bubbles were not working, stopped two officers as they were walking through the area and asked are one of you in charge of getting the bubbles turned on in this pool. You guessed it. The Captain. He stopped at a house phone and twenty seconds later there were bubbles. The pool area itself was not too crowded but the bubble beds were. They also have two hot tubs in this area one on each side. Around this pool area are very comfortable, pillowed (lower back and head), teak lounge chairs. This area does get crowded as the afternoon progresses. But later in the day - about 5pm or so empties out. Celebrity Theater I'm not big into the shows. Being we have been on a lot of cruises. But the theater is great. The best looking one I have seen on any ship to date. The chairs are way to comfortable - fell asleep during the first show. The fake flames in boxes on the side are a nice touch. We just went in to see the welcome aboard show and the comedians. We liked Noodles, but his act is just re-cycled ship jokes. The best show was Kirby St. Romain. Great topical humor and got the entire audience singing. All the dancers were great along with the Metro the 4 singers. Aqua Spa, Sauna & Gymnasium Used this facility each morning. To say the least it's large. Great place to get a massage and other spa treatments. Gym has a large floor for aerobics and other workout related exercises. They have a small free weight area to one side. There are about 20 nautilus machines of all types you can use. Me I stuck to about 6 or 7 machines that I worked on my knees and legs with. There are also about 12 walking / running machines you can sign up for when the morning use crush is on. They look forward where the ship is going. A great place to work out in the Early AM - see the sun come up and watch the ship dock all while getting in shape. There are also a lot of different types of bikes you can use and another 4 machines the looked like a cross between skiing and running. There were also a few stair steppers. A lot of workout equipment for a ship. Great area. Deck 11 Running / Jogging / Walking track: A good idea to use on calm days for everyone. First the deck is not measured correctly. They sat 3 laps equals about 5/8 ths. of a mile. Well not even close as far as I see. I would like to think that six laps around is closer to one mile than anything. If your going to run or jog be sure to do this before 7:30 am - you finish time for your workout - or you will hit a mass of walkers. I also like to reverse run some days. This because of things walkers do not understand. Like when you are turning on the curves and stress on your legs and knees. But if your walking then you should stay single file as you move between the chairs so as to allow others room to move past you. I had the pleasure to meet a group of three ladies on board that would walk in the early AM for about 40 minutes. They all met each morning and were religious about this. Their outfits always matched. There were just a few runners on the boat so we were in the minority. My wife and I would also walk the deck for her exercise about 5:30 PM each night to catch the sun going down and the beautiful sunsets at sea. I always try to keep in mind that this is others vacation also and I do not own the deck so I try to adjust my running. Did so on land two times. In St. Kitts and Barbados. But it's hot out there. Another great treat for the wide range of passengers to use. Sports Deck 12 Mid ship: This is where most of the outdoor games are played. Each day the Cruise staff has a Darts, Basketball, and other competitions up hare. They also have Volleyball , paddle tennis and other games you can play out here. It's a bit windy when the ship is at sea but on port days just fine. We did not have a lot of dedicated Volleyball players here as we could only get one game going the second sea day. Rendezvous Lounge - on Promenade Deck - nice lounge where they cruise staff hosted the daily Trivia challenge and some nights had team trivia and other things going on. There was also the Battle of the Sexes team trivia that was played 5 times on the cruise. Sorry ladies - the men won all 5 on our trip. Just great fun if Rani is the host. Champagne / Martini bars Deck 5: This is just above the Rendezvous Lounge. This is another quiet place to hide just before dinner. Have a quiet drink to discuss the nights activities or reflect on the day gone by. This has a large hole in the floor to look down into the Rendez - Vous Lounge if you had wanted to. *Revelations - on Sunrise) Deck Forward - deserted most of the day. This is another great place to escape to with an early morning coffee and view the sunrise from inside. They held the Anniversary party here. I could not tell you what was up here in the late night. But there's a great dance floor and room for a band here. They have bar service in this lounge from 5:00 PM till the last person leaves for the night. *Waterfall Cafe Bar (area) - stern. This is where the morning and lunch buffet area are served. As you get to the stern - rear - of the boat in the early AM to the sides is a station that will prepare an omelet of the day for you. And at lunch these stations turn into a pasta of the day station. At the back just before you go outside - at lunch time is another specialty area. Don't miss this if you can. Some great treats await you as you go for lunch. The best cake we had was when we had our welcome aboard lunch up here. Just at the end of the buffet line. Remember - your on a cruise - They make it - you eat it. Or at least sample a bit. The area inside around the waterfall during the morning and noon meal hours is always busy and crowded. We found walking outside to the stern - back of the boat outside afforded us a table available all the time. *Celebrity On-Line Room - Deck 4. Great furnished room for Internet use. Not used much by this group of passengers. Hey I'm on vacation. But if you have to be an on-line junkie this is the place. *Notes- music library - One place on Decks 6 & 7 that I missed completely. Looked nice - Library setting. *Conservatory (Floral & Gift Boutique) - Sunrise Deck - This is just above the midship entrance to the Waterfall Cafe. They have their own stairway up to it. I had a hard time trying to figure out what plants were fakes and what were real. You can get on-board flowers from the shop every day. *Fortunes Casino - Had a nice selection of different slot machines. From Nickels to the big buck ones. The layout of the room puzzled me a bit - where they placed the tables. And I think there was only one Caribbean Stud poker table. The crowd from the theatre had to pass through this room to get back to the lounge areas. Also they have gone to the automated deck shufflers so the house picks up a big advantage here. The wife like the video poker machines but played and lost her money there. Food: Cosmopolitan Restaurant (main dining room) - Dinner: Excellent as far as I could see. Beef selections were outstanding as my wife had told me. I had the fish/seafood dinner offered each night. This and the sauces offered were the highlight of my trip. The food was as usual up to the Celebrity standards. - Breakfast: I had breakfast in the main dining room 4 or 5 days; Ordered something different each day. One time I just ordered scrambled eggs with some bacon and sausage. The plate came and it was more food than 2 could have eaten. I tried but had to push it away after getting just over half through it. Wifey did not get up early except for the last day and missed out. Something to do with beauty sleep I guess. As with the dinner menu here all was done to perfection. - Lunch: Made it here only 3 or 4 times. Good variations off the luncheon upstairs at the waterfall. Being on vacation and getting waited on is great. Take the shore. I'll take the cruise and the service. Waterfall Cafe Dinner: alternative dining - This is in the back of the ship. Our friends did this most every night. They would order their main entree. But the appetizers, salads, desserts, are all buffet. Limited menu. They said everything was very good here. You were requested to make reservations. This is a good alternative if your out on a tour and coming back late and do not want to rush to dinner. Also good for kids who meet others and don't want to sit down in the main dining room and wait. Waterfall Grill Outside at the pool. Lunch: Get in line for your hamburgers, good hotdogs, and pizza. Drinks are right nearby. Normandie Restaurant - alternative dining with reservations and an additional charge. Jacket and tie are required all the time. This is a more upscale dining experience. They tell you to plan on dining for at least 2 1/2 hours. Believe it! They had a three string musicians that played throughout the evening. We dined there on Sunday night. The inside is spectacular. The 5 star rating is well earned and deserved. We did this off a recommendation of a past cruiser. Well worth the cover charge for each person. Where can you dine in a 5 star restaurant for just a cover charge. They also have an expanded wine list to cover most everyone's selection. Some of these wines and champagnes are not offered anywhere else on the ship. Me I thought it was well worth it. Dario the assistant MaterD waited on us. Each dish was more spectacular than the last. I can only say there is a difference dining in a 3 and a half star restaurant upstairs and a 5 star in the Normandie. Try it. You will be pleased. They can only serve about 120 people a night. So when you get on board. Find the elevators on Plaza Deck 3. Just behind them is the entrance. Book it for one night. If your with friends take them. They have tables that we saw could accommodate up to 8. Shore Excursions: We don't do them. Just got off the ship and looked around and shopped in the port area. Golfers beware. Your trip to Mahogany Run will tie you up for the full day on land. Staff: *Our cabin steward was excellent. It was like he was a ghost. I saw the others working in the area but not him. We would only give him about an hour in the AM to clean up and whenever we returned, the room was perfect. He also opened the small ship fridge in the room and let me store - cool my beer. What service. *Dining room wait staff -waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter - Great. Although we never saw our area MaterD. They worked tirelessly for our group. Getting everything and not missing a beat. Those 6 and a half Lobster tails the brought me were the capper of the trip. We did not order wine upstairs with dinner but our wine stewardess was always asking if we would like anything. Smiles all around. We requested the first night and got Ice Tea on the table every night of the cruise. Something we really appreciate. Passengers: This was the shorter 10 day cruise. And some of the northern schools were out on vacation. Hence a few more kids on board. It would have been nice if those darn kids didn't keep beating me at the adult games. Darn you Katie. But any sailing over 7 days attracts a bit older crowd. I would have to say the average age was about 50 years old. There were a lot of young kids on the cruise and we saw them with their camp counselors playing about the ship each day. They have a real good program for the younger kids on board. As the kids get into their teens they tend to stay away from the ship programs. This was a normal friendly group as you will meet on most any ship. Just relax sit down listen - strike up a conversation and the sit back and listen. One thing I am catching onto is that just about everyone we talked to has cruised at least 10 times. The long timer on this trip was 32 cruises with Celebrity. Darn this was only our 9th. The 10th will be in February 2003 out of Tampa. It's never too early to plan. Met a lot of nice groups of people by doing different games and thing on the ship. As everyone who cruises each to his own. Me I'm active and see a big cross section of people. Cruise Staff: Donnell, Rani White, Mike, Lisa & Peter. There was also Bingo Bob but we did not run into him much. This had to be one of the best cruise staff on the Celebrity ships. By the third day they all knew who I was. By the 6th they were wondering if we pay the line can they send this guy off the ship.... Laughing here. I have a great time doing games and Trivia with the cruise staff and anyone I meet along the trip. They make the trip special if you like to be active and do these types of activities. Disembarkation: The Summit arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale some time in the early AM and was cleared by customs at about 8. We had air reservations out of Miami for a 1:20 PM flight. So there was no rush to go anywhere. Just one bag misplaced this time around. Off our record 3 a few trips ago. But some luggage looks similar to others. We got a porter then went outside to find our Super Shuttle limo. They did not show up. Got Van service over to the left of the terminal to Miami airport. Took about 45 minutes to get there to our terminal - American. The van service was even less than we paid for the trip to the pier - just $31 for both of us. The American attendant helped us find a cart for luggage and put us into the correct line area to check in. They also checked all our baggage before it was sent onto the plane. Is this one of the few airports that does this? Well no problems here. In the air and back in Jersey by 4:35 PM. Darn it's cold up here. Ship Impressions: This ship is the most attractive one we have been on. The Celebrity ships just get better and better. I liked the central atrium area. Not the top to bottom of the ship. Too large and you get too much noise in the area. The artwork is placed at intervals about the ship. You may or may not like some of it. But it is all tastefully done. Ship is also laid out real well. I would have to say that everything about the ship is beautiful, and tastefully put together. From the cabins, public areas, pools, spa, sauna, gymnasium, shops, the Conservatory, to the lounges, and the open-air deck space. The ports we traveled to were fine. Most people like to island hop. We liked the 2 days at sea, followed by the 5 islands, and then 2 more sea days. If anyone has questions about the 10 day cruise on the Summit, just email back and I'll try to answer them. We have already booked our next Celebrity trip - August and working on our trip for next winter out of Tampa. Keep planning - Keep Cruising.... With Celebrity. Tom Treimel June 2002 Read Less
We just returned from a wonderful 10-day cruise on the lovely Summit. We live in the state of Florida and were able to obtain a bus (Cruise Connection) that came into our town to pick us up. This service is prompt and very comfortable. ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful 10-day cruise on the lovely Summit. We live in the state of Florida and were able to obtain a bus (Cruise Connection) that came into our town to pick us up. This service is prompt and very comfortable. They made one stop to stretch our legs, get a snack or have a cigarette. When we arrive at the port, all the buses were backed up at the terminal so we had about another half an hour wait to disembark. The procedures at the terminal had changed since the last time we cruised on the Century. We had to stay with our luggage and had to show the baggage attendant our tickets. After this check point, the baggage was then taken into the ship. We then proceed with our carry-ons to the terminal, where we were given a group number. We waited maybe another 15 minutes for this number to be called and we proceeded with our carry-ons to be x-rayed as we walked through the metal sensors. We then reached the area for our welcome aboard pictures to be taken. After this we went on to the counter to show our passports and tickets. We received our Summit card to be used for our cabin and for leaving and entering the ship. When we boarded our ship with this card, our picture was again taken to be reviewed each time we entered or left the ship with our cards. Our room had been upgraded from the 9th deck inside to 2nd deck with a window. The only problem this presented was our luggage. If I had known before, we could have written this new number on the tags (there is an area on the tags for any changes). The room attendants did not have this change, so we went up to deck 9 to meet the people who had our old room and gave him our new room number. "Thank you Jerome, for looking out for our luggage". My last piece of luggage wasn't showing up, so we went looking for it and we found it sitting at the end of the hall on deck 9. The ship and employees are all very pleasant, there are several shore excursion to choose from. The excursion to St. Johns Island to snorkel sold out early. Here are the excursion we did, these were booked before via internet: St. Maarten - We took the "French Connection". It gave you a good understand of the island, the sub was not that great. But we snorkel, so we have seen better. St. Lucia - We just went into town and walked around. WHAT A MISTAKE!! You should either stay on the ship or take one of the excursions. This island is very lush and has several excursions to choose from, take one. Barbados - We took the "Catamaran Sailing & Snorkeling". This is a GREAT trip and a very professional crew. We would do this again. St. Kitts - We walked around the town and this town had charm. St. Thomas - We took the "St. John Safari/Snorkeling" excursion. There is another excursion which is only a safari on St. John Island and that is an excellent excursion. The excursion on St. John that we took, takes you to snorkeling at Trunk Bay. This is a beautiful island, snorkeling is lots of fun using a marked trail. There are several excursion offered at St. Thomas, I don't think you could go wrong with a bad excursion. Also off of the docking pier is "shop till you drop" stores. We did this in the morning, liquor is very cheap and so are other items. You will enjoy the stores!! Also, when you arrive at St. Thomas you are now reentering a U.S. territory and you will have to met with immigration to show your passport. This is done early in the morning, our letter was 7:05 a.m. But once this is done which goes very quickly, you do not have to repeat it when you arrive at Ft. Lauderdale. We did not dine at the Normandie Restaurant, but from everyone who dined there, they all enjoyed it very much. The food selection was all tasty, especially the lamb for dinner. The Waterfall Cafe for lunch was fair, but the meatloaf was tasty. We only ate upstairs at the Cafe when the dinning room was closed for lunch. Never hesitate to return any meal you are not satisfied with. Our waiter was very accommodating and one day at lunch my husband found a hair in his meal and they were so apologetic. There are many activities to partake in aboard ship, if you like bridge, this is a ship for you. I found on the days we were out at sea, that after sunning in the morning I enjoy a afternoon reading my book in the room called "Notes". Check it out, the music selection if very extensive. The shopping aboard the ship offers several store selections. I really have nothing negative to say about the ship, except the incident of the room change and luggage find when we boarded the ship. The ship production shows are very good. The comedians are only fair, but this is a personal taste. When arriving in Ft. Lauderdale, our luggage was found quickly and our bus waiting for us. This is a wonderful ship, we were in the Western Caribbean on the Century and also on a short 4 day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy. The Celebrity line is first class and the Summit a joy too cruise on. Bon Voyage joanr@mpinet.netJanuary 2002 Read Less
10 Day Ultimate Caribbean Embarkation First, we'd recommend to all, if possible, to plan on arriving at your host port a day before sailing from two reasons: 1. with air travel, the way it is, you may not arrive in time for ... Read More
10 Day Ultimate Caribbean Embarkation First, we'd recommend to all, if possible, to plan on arriving at your host port a day before sailing from two reasons: 1. with air travel, the way it is, you may not arrive in time for sailing, and 2. after spending a night in the home port city, your stress level is not the same as the 'day of,' and worrying about 'getting there.' After a good night's sleep, and a relaxing morning at the Ft. Lauderdale AmeriSuites, we decided to go to the cruise terminal about 11AM, just to see if we'd be able to board early. Procedures started about 11:30AM, and was a bit confusing at first, but things smoothed out and we were on board the Summit before noon. Hint: If you are a 'Captain's Club' member, tell the host/hostess when they hand you a number, which allows you to go to the head of the line. Cabin: #9040, cat. 1A, Sky Deck. This was one of the larger cabins we've had (other than suites) Very roomy (191 sq. ft), with two beds made into a queen, a sofa-sleeper/couch, more than enough storage space, plenty of space to move around, safe with a keypad to enter your own code, interactive TV, so you can access your shipboard account, book excursions, order room service, pay-per-view movies (also, newly released movie videos - no charge), dresser/desk with chair, large glass coffee table, plenty of mirrors and lighting, brightly decorated, carpeted, and accessorized, good sized bathroom and shower that is large enough so the curtain isn't attracted to your body, and a refrigerator which is actually set up as a minibar. Hint: we removed all the items and stowed them away and replaced at the end of the cruise - otherwise, you would be charged for "missing" items. Before you do this, count the number of bottles and snacks, and if anything is missing (there's a list) tell your room steward/stewardess right away. The balcony, though not huge, was a little larger than standard balconies on other ships, maybe because it's a new ship. The balcony measure approx. 4.9' X almost 9,' with 2 chairs and a small cocktail table. Although stateroom #9040 was one of the best cabins we've ever had, the location was less than desirable, for several reasons. First, being on Sky Deck, we were directly below the Thalassotherapy Pool and the crew/staff started rolling the towel carts above us at 3AM.......... and it's like a train - you can hear them coming and hear them going........ all directly above your cabin! Second, we had a little rough seas our first 2 days out of Ft. Lauderdale, which in itself wasn't bad, but the location of our cabin's balcony (more toward the bow) prevented us from using it too much because of the salt spray. But the next 8 days were wonderful. And third, a problem for sun worshippers, because of the superstructure, there is about a 20' overhang above Sky Deck, so 90% of the day was shady, which didn't bother us. In hindsight, we would book an aft or stern cabin and, probably, on Panorama or Vista Deck. Dining Room The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is a very attractive, 2 level affair, with a beautiful mural curtain that covers the entire stern, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling picture window. There is also a center staircase between the two levels. Spacing of tables and chairs was uncrowded, and one could easily sit or leave without bumping into someone at the next table. Since we were on the second level, we didn't notice, but some guests said the first level was somewhat noisy, which kind of made sense, since it held almost twice the capacity as upstairs. A nice touch was the dinner music provided by a pianist or a instrumental quartet. Pools and Hot Tubs The main pool has 2 parts, sectioned off for the deep end (approx. 6' deep) and the wadding end (approx. 4' deep). There are ample lounge chairs (many with cushioned covers), and easy to find on the Pool Deck or Sun(rise) Deck, except on sea days, when you get the typical lounge hogs, who 'reserve' their spot at 6:30 in the morning and don't show up until Noon, or later. There are 4 hot tubs spaced around the pool, and most of the time, 1 or 2 remained unoccupied until the afternoon. Hint: The pool is chlorinated salt water, and was comfortably refreshing for this Northerner, but for some with thin blood, it was cool. The Thalassotherapy Pool is the latest fad on the Millennium Class ships, and a very nice one at that!. It's like entering a giant hot tub, but not too hot. There are jets of water shooting out from the sides and pool bottom, huge faucet-looking jets overhanging the four corners (great back massage), and chrome, in-water, loungers on two sides, with bubblers underneath (can accommodate 6 easily). There are two hot tubs, one on either side of the pool, and neither was crowded at any time. Hint: This pool is off-limits to children, and, it is also chlorinated salt water........ but, warm. Surrounding the TPool area are very comfortable, pillowed (lower back and head), teak lounge chairs. Again, gets busy, as does the main pool, in the afternoon. Celebrity Theater We aren't into shows! But, this theater is something to behold. We were fascinated by the decor, sight lines, comfort, lighting, etc., of this venue. Just the "flames" on each side of the gallery is something to check out (actually, light silk scarfing, lighting, and a blower, give the illusion of a flickering fireplace - great affect). We 'visited' often, but didn't see any shows (sorry). But, through the grapevine, we heard, "fantastic," to "very good." But, the productions were as follows: "A Taste Of Things To Come," "Encore," "The Comedy Of Cary Long," "A Night of Stars," "International Showman, Craig Dahn (pianist)," "The Magic Of Broadway," "Celebrity Variety Showtime," "Celebrity Showtime" (comedy & song), "Classique - La Danza," "Celebrity Farewell Showtime." Aqua Spa, Sauna & Gymnasium: Again, although we didn't use this facility, it is quite impressive. There are saunas for men, saunas for women, saunas for couples, and a fitness center and aerobics studio (treadmills, cycle machines, step/stair masters, weights, benches, etc.) that seemed to bring up, in my mind, 'Gold's Gym.' Again.......... sorry. I didn't do anything here, and I've never visited a 'Gold's Gym.' But, that's our impression. Other Public Areas While walking the ship, we frequented/visited the following: *Rendez-Vous Lounge - on Promenade Deck - nice lounge where we got together with other members of various cruise bulletin boards. *Reflections - on Sun(rise) Deck - deserted when we brought our (very) early morning coffee up to view the sunrise. Very nice! We're sure it was hopping late at night and into the wee hours of the morning, but we enjoyed it well after all that was done. *Waterfall Cafe Bar (area) - stern. Again, another nice place to have early morning coffee and pastries. Outdoors, and predawn to dawn. *Celebrity On-Line Room - Deck 4. Fun to play on the internet....... if you know what you're doing. You can send/get e-mail, surf, explore your favorite sites, check stocks, find out about upcoming ports, send postcards with a digital picture of you, or plan your next cruise. ($0.95 per minute for internet time; $6.95 to send postcards to up to 2 e-mail addresses). *Notes- music library - very interesting. Headsets, computer technology, lots of bells and whistles. Never quite got the knack, but it was fun and entertaining. *Conservatory (Floral & Gift Boutique) - Sunrise Deck - amazing plants and floral arrangements; some not real, but lifelike. Very interesting to see. Visited several times, and saw something different each time. *Fortunes Casino - WE LIKE THIS ROOM. Got lucky!!! We only played the quarter slot machines, and came away.......... well........... not big losers. The machines were kind to us this sailing. This is very busy between dinner and shows, and after shows. But you can always find a machine, either quarter or dollar ones. The nickel machines are something else. You have to reserve one before you board (joke) or wait for someone to die. The tables were busy and got more active as the night went on. *Emporium Gift Shops - much like the same on most other ships, just a little larger and with a little more "stuff." Enjoyable to visit each day to see what's "on sale," (or what they want to get rid of). Food Cosmopolitan Restaurant (main dining room) - Dinner: very good to excellent. Beef selections were outstanding, fish/seafood was very, very good, and poultry (duck) was good. Everyone seems to be interested in the dress code for evening dining. For the 10 day cruise, it was: Day 1 - casual, Day 2 - formal, Day 3 - casual, Day 4 - informal, Day 5 - casual, Day 6 - formal, Day 7 - informal, Day 8 - casual, Day 9 - formal, Day 10 - casual. - Breakfast: had breakfast in the main dining room 4 days; eggs benedict every time for me, fried eggs over medium for Barb; all with hash browned potatoes, bacon, toast and bagels, juice, coffee, and pastries. Everything was done perfect. - Lunch: never made it to the main dining room. A first - only cruise in 16, where we didn't experience lunch in the main dining room at least once. Waterfall Cafe - Dinner: alternative dining - main entree is ordered, appetizers, salads, desserts, are all buffet. Limited menu, but very good. Reservations are requested for dinner seating. Anyone with a late shore excursion (like us) might want to consider the Waterfall Cafe, especially if they have early seating. - Lunch: Buffet style, much of the same items every day, pasta bar different every day and ice cream bar (good stuff, i.e. nonfat free, goes fast). Also, there is a theme food bar in the aft section of the Waterfall Cafe, which varies daily - Italian, Mexican, etc. Most food items are portioned out by the servers, and if you want a little more of something, you have to ask; but that's not a problem - they're just programed to give one scoop! - Breakfast: Fair to good. No changes in the menu items from day 1 to day 10. Most items are warm when you get them, but then you have to wait forever (seems like it) for toast or bagel, and then move on to another station for eggs the way you want them (usually a line). Everything is lukewarm, at best. Waterfall Grill - Lunch: very, very good hamburgers, good hotdogs, and pretty good pizza. Normandie Restaurant - alternative dining with reservations and an additional charge. Jacket and tie are required all the time. A more upscale dining experience. Plan on dining for at least 2 1/2 hours. Minstrels visiting your table. Ambiance. People who dined in the Normandie compared it to the finest dining they've ever had. Rated 5-star by everyone. Shore Excursions On other cruises, we do no excursions or just one or two. This time we did three! *St. Maarten - Catamaran ride to a deserted island, on the Golden Eagle ($69pp). Nice, invigorating sail to and from the island, with all the beverages you could consume (this was an older crowd, so not too many took advantage of this), and a nice 1-1/2 hour stay on a pristine beach, with just us (small boatload of people), and another small group later on. Crystal clear, warm, water, pure white sand, and, oh, yes, more liquid refreshments. Also, you were entitled, if you dared, to get a mud bath done with the assistance of the crew. The sail back to the dock included sandwiches, all you could drink champagne, as well as other drinks. It sounds like a lot of liquid was consumed, but the operator made money on this excursion - most of the booze stayed in the bottles, and they didn't get carpal syndrome, by opening too many beers. This was one of the best excursions yet, and we will do the exact same thing next time. The Golden Eagle staff did everything right and enhanced this pleasurable trip. *St. Lucia - North Coast and Beach Tour ($35pp). Nice narrated bus ride through the Castries area, visited the Caribelle Batik Shop, Pigeon Island Park and then about 1 hour beach time at Reduit Beach. Nice bus ride and nice beach (some hawkers) but next time, we'll do it on our own. *St. Thomas - St. John Safari/Snorkeling ($48pp). Fun trip, but also one we'll do on our own next time. We've visited St. Thomas about 9 times, but have only been to St. John once, so we booked this excursion (on the internet, about 1 month before sailing). We, and passengers from the Dawn Princess boarded the Island Girls (a ferry/tour-type boat for the ride to Cruz Bay. Nice narrative/informative ride over. Once there, we boarded an open-air taxi bus for our ride over (this must have been the 'safari' part) to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay was our very first Caribbean excursion ever, and this beach hasn't changed - it's still as beautiful as ever. Anyone who hasn't visited this beach at least once, should do so, whether by an excursion or on your own. Staff *Our cabin stewardess was excellent. She knew we were out (early) in the morning and, as most of them do, when we're gone for diner. We didn't see much of her, but she and her assistant did a great job of taking care of our cabin. *Dining room waitstaff -waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter - fair at best. Got the job done, sort of, but not with much enthusiasm, except for the sommelier - she was one of the best we've had the pleasure of dealing with. Again, talking to others, they gave their waitstaff rave reviews. We just happened to get a combination of duds. *Rest of the staff and crew - all were pleasant, smiled, said "hello," but not overly friendly. Can't really put our finger on it, but would have to say they were a little standoffish, but not offensively so. Passengers Since most longer sailings attract an older crowd, this cruise was no exception. A very rough breakdown is as follows: About 62% of the passengers were 50+ years old, the 30 - 50 year age group was about 27%, and then a big drop off, to 8% for young adults (20 - 30 yrs. old), and about 3% teenagers or younger. This was probably the friendliest group of passengers we've come in contact with. Most everyone struck up conversations with total strangers, whether it was in or around the pool areas, Waterfall Cafe, out on deck, in the hallways, on excursions, or cabin neighbors. People just wanted to chat. You could tell everyone was there for the same reason - to enjoy.R Disembarkation The Summit arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale around 6AM and was cleared by customs very early (a formality, since everyone had to 'visit' a customs official on board ship in St. Thomas). Since we had made air reservations almost a year in advance for a 10AM flight, we didn't think we'd have a prayer in making that flight. But, midweek, we spoke with the staff at the Guest Relations Desk (Purser's Desk), about our predicament, and they assured us that there wouldn't be a problem. We would be issued (and received) the appropriate colored tags for early disembarkation. The started the process about 8:20AM for those who needed assistance, and then our color was called, and we were off the ship by 8:35AM. We zipped through the terminal, grabbed our luggage, hailed a van taxi ($6 per person) who whisked us to the airport, dropped us off at the curbside checkin, and were at the gate with about 25 minutes to spare........ and that's even with all the tight security. We made it, and probably broke a record doing it! Ship Impressions: Overall, this 91,000 grt ship is very attractive and pretty well planned out. One drawback, in our opinion, is the lack of a centrum area. Of the 15 other cruises we've been on, most of the ships had a central atrium or centrum. The Millennium Class ships have a 2 deck area, with a staircase in the middle and there is a closed-in feeling to it. Also, the "Guest Relations Desk," aka 'Purser's Desk,' area is not as open and inviting as on most ships. And, finally, there are bursts of "art," or "art deco," throughout the ship that make you say, "Why?" An example is outside the casino near the middle of the ship. The wall is filled with squiggles of color and two plastic chairs are placed against the wall. We weren't alone in wondering why this would be here. Everything else about the ship is beautiful, from the cabins, public areas, pools, spa, sauna, gymnasium, shops, the Conservatory, to the lounges, and the open-air deck space. The itinerary appeals the those that like to island hop AND enjoy days at sea (2 days at sea, followed by 5 islands, and then 2 more sea days). The food was excellent, she sailed nicely, even though the first two days had rough seas, the ship was spotless and still had that 'new smell' to it. And the entire cruise went without a single glitch - smooth sailing, so to speak, from embarkation to disembarkation. If anyone has questions about the Celebrity Summit, feel free to ask. The next best thing to sailing is talking about it......... and planning the next one. Wes & Barb Carterwesnbarb@maine.rr.comJanuary 2002 Read Less
This is my little review of my cruise on the Summit May 13-May 24, 2002. Plus a little tongue in cheek. Deb & I landed on a muggy Mother's Day, in time for a get-together at the Hawaiian Hilton. It was SO great to actually meet ... Read More
This is my little review of my cruise on the Summit May 13-May 24, 2002. Plus a little tongue in cheek. Deb & I landed on a muggy Mother's Day, in time for a get-together at the Hawaiian Hilton. It was SO great to actually meet some of the people I've been reading to/about/with!! In spite of the "monsoon!" Now, please bear in mind this is the opinion of a 2nd cruiser only. As for the Summit, I was disappointed (she said with tongue in cheek). First of all, I knew as soon as I saw those beautiful gold panels hanging from the Grand Foyer and extending down that I was in trouble: it matched one of my formal night outfits!! No standing by those for me!! I enjoyed the Martini Bar -- not for the martinis, but because it was less crowded than other areas. I didn't venture into Michael's Club; probably because I was afraid I'd buy too many cigars instead of all those great little souvenirs!!! I liked the size of our cabin (8045) -- large balcony, and I didn't mind the closet door being right in front of the bathroom door. Actually, I figured it would present some great pictures of Debbie; but that didn't work out because my camera wasn't working (unbeknownst to me at the time) and she would graciously yell "I'm coming out" before she did so. Although the mirror in front of my bed was a little disconcerting: I'm not used to watching myself dress up, and it took a few seconds before I realized it was ME in the mirror so I didn't have to turn around! Never mind the nite(s) I almost yelled at the woman who must have been drunk when she was sitting in my bed - oops, it's me! My gripe is/was the bed(s) -- actually, they separated the queen into what I like to call cots (they probably consider them twinbeds). I'm used to spreading out all over the bed; I couldn't do that without the floor meeting my face and since I was never formally introduced to my carpet floor, that was probably a blessing. The color scheme had me puzzled though -- especially the carpeting -- it was bluish with I'm not sure if it was tropical fish or flower petals. Guess it depended on how many Bahama Mamas I had, and I couldn't ask Debbie as she was asleep by the time I hit the bed. Now the bedspreads (Deb would want me to mention that it took 2 calls before we got bedspreads - in case she wanted to entertain and the beds weren't made) were a reddish-orange color, which to me is not very quieting at all. I figure it explains why I wanted to punch the pillows every night (isn't red a confrontational color?) My favorite place was the Rendezvous lounge -- I particularly enjoyed Errol the bartender and winning Trivia contests!! Ooh -- and Debbie and I were on winning $100,000 Pyramid teams, twice!!! We ended up with 2 Celebrity t-shirts and a keychain. Debbie and I ate mostly in the dining room, late seating for dinner. Buffet'd it for breakfast and lunch except for once. I liked choices in buffet, but I'm a salad, fruit lunch person so I had no quibble with that. And I'm very proud to say I only got lost ONCE in the Buffet, trying to head back to the deck at the end of the ship (I never remember if I'm going stern or aft; it's sometimes difficult for me to figure out if I'm coming or going, at least on a ship!) -- don't laugh!! YOU try remembering if you turned right or left!! Thankfully, the third time I passed the same couple who waved & smiled, I figured out I should try turning the other (other) way, and it worked!! It only took 20 minutes to get back, and Deb only wondered what took me so long -- her very last guess was that I got lost! Oh -- Deb did do Alternative Dining on the night I attended the Old Lahaina Luau. So far the $2.00 charge has not shown up, but she liked it and thought the food was good. Our room service was great!!! Cabin steward Marylou kept us neat and tidy. Food was OK; all staff extremely personable and friendly. I got to see 3 movies in the Theater: I AM SAM (wonderful!); PRINCESS DIARIES (cute); THE SCORE (so-so). I enjoyed the 5 days at sea. But there was a difference from the 7-day Vision to Alaska: on the Vision, I found myself agonizing over the activities, which to do because there were so many choices at the same time. I didn't find it so on the Summit, more disappointed that there weren't more! But then of course Deb & I wouldn't have gotten into an argument during our Scrabble game! I enjoyed the Summit, but since I only have one cruise to compare it to, I liked the Vision of the Seas better. It looked newer; I didn't want to fight my pillows; I thought the Vision's Grand Buffet more creative; their panels didn't match my formal outfit, and I didn't get lost in the Buffet. And on the Summit, it only took until into the week at sea to discover that if I turned left from my cabin and went down the stairs, I'd be in front of the Celebrity Theater (so I'm slow -- put me on another cruise!!) JRyan@ropesgray.comJune 2002 Read Less
Vancouver to Hawaii This was our fourth cruise but our first with Celebrity, having cruised on Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines in Alaska and the Caribbean respectively. This was by far the best cruise experience we've had. ... Read More
Vancouver to Hawaii This was our fourth cruise but our first with Celebrity, having cruised on Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise lines in Alaska and the Caribbean respectively. This was by far the best cruise experience we've had. EMBARKATION & DISEMBARKATION: We arrived at the Canada Place in Vancouver at 11:30 am for an official boarding time of 2:00 pm. The process was the most disorganized event we experienced throughout the eleven-night cruise. Incorrect information from the supervisors and staff was rampant and the entire embarkation process gave the impression that this was the first time they had gone through this seemingly routine procedure. This caused a great deal of frustration and frayed tempers among the waiting passengers. It was close to 2:00 pm when we finally boarded the ship and from that point on it became a vacation that exceeded our expectations. Getting on and off the ship throughout the rest of the cruise was a breeze. Even with the heightened security measures put in place the process was seamless. ABOUT THE SHIP: The first impression upon boarding is of understated beauty. There is no stunning seven plus level atrium however the 3 level Grand Foyer leaves the impression of a classy entrance for the first time cruiser of a Celebrity Millennium class ship. The Plaza deck has the first level of the Grand Foyer, fabulous Normandie Restaurant (more on that later), movie theatre and conference centers. The Promenade Deck has a small scale Bellagio-like casino, the Rendezvous Lounge for pre and après dinner dancing, (if you're into swing/ballroom dancing) and the first level of the memorable Cosmopolitan Restaurant. The other main activity decks Entertainment, Resort and Sunrise all exude quality. The many lounges are tasteful and comfortable. With 1800 fellow passengers this ship did not appear congested. The Revelations disco is an attractive venue, however one must wait a long time for modern music to be played which doesn't begin until the wee hours. DINING: Virtually ever meal in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was superb with excellent service from our Waiter (Croatian), Assistant-waiter (Indian) and Headwaiter (Croatian). Nothing was too much bother, right down to the extra Brie on our cheese plate every night. We didn't have to ask for this, our waiter noticed the Brie was always eaten up and offered. As so many others have mentioned the specialty restaurant, the Normandie, stands alone for any meal we've had at sea. In fact, the Chateaubriand was unequivocally the best we have ever had. Other standouts were breakfast at the Aqua Spa and lunch at the Waterfall Cafe where the food quality matched that of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. There was also a pasta station where the sauce was tossed in with the pasta while you wait. There was simply not enough time to enjoy everything offered as we missed out on most of the high teas and the freshly baked croissants from the Cova Cafe Milano. Recommendation - upon embarkation be at least 5 pounds under your normal weight if you prefer your current wardrobe! ENTERTAINMENT: The Broadway-type shows put on by the Celebrity Dancers were impressive in their colorful costumes and lively performances but as would be expected, lacked the refinement of Broadway. The comedian, Noodles, was one of the funniest we have seen. He had everyone in stitches. The overall job done by Cruise Director Simon Weir was outstanding and he particularly outdid himself on the final night of entertainment. His endless energy and genuine enthusiasm added to the overall success of this cruise. SPORTS: We had lots of fun playing basketball, table tennis and shuffleboard and were surprised that these were available almost every time we decided to play. The Gym was spacious with plenty of equipment available. Only complaint here would be the lack of laundry facilities. We do realize that laundry service is available for a fee. We were thinking that it would be great if workout shorts and tops would be provided at the gym, use them once and pick up fresh ones the next time you go for a workout. We would be happy to pay either a one-time charge or daily fee for this. We also thoroughly enjoyed the variety of pools and particularly the Thalassotherapy pool/Jacuzzi. OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Celebrity Summit is a classy vessel that is kept in spotless condition. The crew and staff were all extremely friendly and greeted us with warm smiles and conversation. At eleven days, this was the longest cruise we've been on and found it perfect in length. We are already scouring through brochures to see where we'll go on our next Celebrity cruise. Needless to say, we highly recommend! sheridanpar@msn.com February 2003 Read Less
There's something about the anticipation of a cruise that's always the same. It's fun, it's exciting and after 15 cruises, we still look forward to arriving at the pier and getting that first glimpse of the ship as much ... Read More
There's something about the anticipation of a cruise that's always the same. It's fun, it's exciting and after 15 cruises, we still look forward to arriving at the pier and getting that first glimpse of the ship as much as ever. I'll start by telling you that we all had a fantastic time on this cruise. We shared plenty of smiles and laughter and created wonderful memories. Isn't that what vacations are for? This has become our "annual" January jaunt to the Caribbean. For the past several years, we have been joined by business colleagues, family and friends for our escape from the ice and snow. This January, from the 4 - 14th, found us onboard the beautiful new Summit, a member of Celebrity Cruise Line's growing fleet. Before we set foot on board, we knew we're going to love it. After all, we've never had a "bad" cruise. I spent a considerable amount of time on cruise message boards (particularly Cruise Critic's) researching ships and ports. St. Lucia and St. Kitts were going to be new islands for us and one of the reasons we liked this itinerary. One of the things that was a lot of fun about planning this cruise was that we had already met so many people who were going to be sailing with us. In addition to the eight people in our group, we had met another 20 - 25 on cruise message boards. It made the anticipation that much more fun. Plans were made to get together on the first sea day so that we could all meet each other. Since we sail every January, we booked this cruise more than nine months prior to sailing and were able to get our choice of cabins. We selected a CAT 3, cabin 8181 for ourselves, while others in our group were in a CAT 1B and 1C respectively. The size of the cabin and the oversized veranda of the CAT 3 was so appealing that we went ahead and held the same cabin for a future cruise to Alaska. Like many veteran cruisers, we now always arrive in a departure city the day prior to sailing. The risk of bad weather and airport and airplane delays make it well worth arriving a day early in the departure city. Fortunately, our trip to Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 3 proceeded without incident. The snowstorm that paralyzed the Southeast missed us and it only took us 35 minutes to check our bags and get through security at the airport. Even the 2-hour wait at the gate for our flight flew by. We booked the AmeriSuites on 17th St. in Ft. Lauderdale for price and convenience. Many other cruisers were staying there as well. EMBARKATION While the AmeriSuites did provide a shuttle to the ship, we opted to take a cab since the hotel shuttle driver was insisting he couldn't drop passengers off at the pier prior to 11:30. We hopped in a cab at 10:30. It was $10 per cab load to the pier. We reached the pier by 10:45 as porters were just beginning to accept luggage for boarding passengers. As we walked into the terminal, a Celebrity employee greeted us to give us an embarkation number (which was #1). I mentioned that we were Captain Club members and she exchanged our #1 ticket with a #0. Be sure to tell the staff member if you are a Captain Club member since they don't ask. We were handed an additional departure form to complete and our #0 was called. It took another 10 minutes to go through the pier security (same procedure as airport security). After that, you enter the terminal where counters are set up. There is a Suite/Captain Club counter however, several other counters were empty and the Suite/Captain Club counter had about six people in line. Go to any empty counter to turn in your boarding forms and receive your keys. They did not activate our credit card for our ship board account on the pier. You had to visit Guest Services (the Purser's Desk) once on board to do this. While this created another line at Guest Services, the process did not take much time. The only challenge is that the Guest Services crew also has to answer the phone at the same time. It would be great if someone in the Guest Services office behind the "scenes" was answering phone at Embarkation instead of the staff out front who were trying to help people in line (more on this in the Comments section at the end). We were on board by 11:15 and had dropped our hand luggage in our room and were ready to explore the ship. THE SHIP Cabin 8181 - CAT 3 (Deck 8). I'd love to tell you that we hated this cabin and that no one should ever book it (so it would always be available!). However, I'm not good at telling a lie. We loved this cabin. It was one of our two all time favorite cabins. It was roomy, had a wonderful veranda and was extremely quiet. I'm not sure that the CAT 3 cabins above us were as quiet since the outdoor dining area of the Waterfall Cafe was directly above them. We learned a long time ago that it is best to be between passenger decks instead of above or below public spaces. The cabin included a king bed, plenty of closet and drawer space, a comfortable bathroom with shower, a wooden wall divider that separated the bed from a parlor area that contained a couch, love seat and coffee table. The veranda included a table, two stationary lounge chairs and two regular chairs. Can't wait to be back in this cabin on a future cruise! Dora was our cabin attendant and she took excellent care of us throughout the cruise. PUBLIC SPACES The ship is what we would term as elegant. It's not glitzy with lots of chrome and lights. It is subtle with pretty woods, lots of glass, soft or muted softgoods (bedspreads, carpet, chairs, etc.). THE ATRIUM The Atrium was more intimate than most of the new ships. There is no large open area. It consists of three levels of intimate lounges and sitting areas. On deck three you'll find Guest Services (the Purser's Desk on other ships), Shore Excursions, the Bank, and Future Cruises office. From deck three you can climb a large open staircase that is lined with Gold draping to the fourth deck with a piano and seating. Just above that you'll find Cafe Cova Milano with a coffee bar on one side and a pastry corner on the other. To the rear of this area on decks four and five, you'll find the Rendez-Vous Lounge and Martini/Champagne Bar respectively. You can sit in the Martini/Champagne Bar on deck 5 and hear the music from the Rendez-Vous Lounge below because there is a large opening in the middle of the Martini/Champagne Bar that overlooks the Rendez-Vous. Both of these lounges were very popular spots for the pre-dinner crowd. Both lounges were "walk-through" on both sides of the ship. Michael's Club, the cigar bar, is the only lounge on the ship that actually has "doors" that you have to actually walk "into". Michael's is a beautiful room, dark wood and big comfortable chairs and couches. When we visited pre-dinner one evening, the smoke was not too bad. On the Summit, in the lounges and pool deck, the port side of the ship is smoking. You'll find the Celebrity Theater at the front of the ship on Decks 4 and 5. It is a beautiful theater with fabulous sound and sight lines. There was always plenty of seats and unlike the pool deck, there didn't seem to be a lot of "seat saving." POOLS The pools on the Summit are terrific. However, the chair hogs discussed on the cruise message boards are prevalent. I did see a deck attendant picking up towels that were left on chairs if nothing else was left behind but the chair saving has gotten ridiculous (and this isn't just a Celebrity issue....it's a cruise industry issue). Here's what I don't get. If you go sit on a deck chair and leave when you're finished instead of trying to save it all day, there would be plenty to go around. Half of the time a fair amount of the chairs that were saved didn't have anyone in them for hours. Finding a chair actually wasn't as bad on this cruise as some previous cruises, except perhaps right around the pool. We like the upper pool deck with a view of the ocean better anyway. The Spa Pool area (Thalassatherapy Pool) on the Summit is also beautiful. It was always crowded, especially on the first two sea days (day one was kind of chilly). The cafe in the spa pool area is very nice and a great alternative place to have breakfast. But remember, when they say they serve a lighter menu, they mean it....no regular coffee, no cream, no butter, etc. There is no charge to use this pool on the Summit. The Pizza served on the Pool Deck is pretty darn good. The burgers and hot dogs are OK and the fries are top notch! Didn't have any ice cream from the ice cream bar this cruise, but I'm sure we will next summer. It, too, looked terrific. THE SPA The spa and health facilities on the Summit are terrific. Lots of planned classes and a wide variety of spa services. My husband and I each had a one-hour massage. Both of our therapists were great but the pricing in the spa continues to creep upwards and the cost for an hour massage is now $109 !!! That was one of the least expensive services available. This will likely be an area where we cut back in the future. DINING ROOM The Cosmopolitan Dining Room was lovely and we had a great table on the upper level in the middle of the room. Our waiters, Roy and Gabor were outstanding. We like traditional dining (eating at the same table with the same group of people every night). Let's face it, everyone seems to think that dining is a big part of cruising. Beyond the food, which for the most part was excellent, the friendships you form with the waiters (and other staff for that matter) can make your cruise truly memorable. Roy and Gabor definitely made dining on this cruise a fun adventure. The fact that Celebrity continues to offer traditional dining is one reason we'll keep coming back. We did dine in the Normandie alternate restaurant one evening (more on that later). ENTERTAINMENT It had been two years since we had cruised with Celebrity. I didn't recall the entertainment being good or bad on our last cruise. But in reading the message boards, many people think that the entertainment is an area that was lacking. If it was, it isn't any longer, at least not on this cruise. The production shows with the Celebrity Singers and Dancers were all outstanding (we made it to almost all of them); the comedians were all pretty funny and several of the other acts were outstanding. METRO, the vocal group that specialized in barber shop and a cappella harmony were incredible. They continuously packed the Cafe Cova Milano where they sang regularly and they garnered a standing ovation when then performed in the Celebrity Theater. Their rendition of "Somewhere" from West Side Story brought chills! The group "Family Duo" offered terrific pre- and post- dinner dancing music in the Rendez-Vous lounge. The lounge and the dance floor was always packed when they were playing. Additionally, the harpist that played in the atrium and the combo that played in the Normandie were also delightful. CRUISE CRITIC GET TOGETHER Approximately 25 cruisers who posted on the Cruise Critic message board gathered in the Rendez-Vous lounge on the second afternoon to meet and have drinks. It was great to meet people we chatted with for months prior to the cruise and it was fun to see people as we went along throughout the cruise. After introductions and chatting for about 30 minutes, the cruise staff showed up for "Battle of the Sexes Trivia." So we split the into men versus women laughed a lot! Of course, the women won (at least this round!). SHORE EXCURSIONS Before moving into the ports of call, I want to briefly discuss shore excursions. For the past several years, I have been researching and booking our own shore excursions. I find them to be much more personal and often get you off the beaten path that so many of the ship excursions take the masses to. I'm not against ship-sponsored excursions. In fact, if you are new to cruising, I'd recommend taking the ship-sponsored tours. There is a comfort level in taking a ship tour. The ship will wait for you if you are on one of their tours. They won't if you are on your own. We often took them when we first began cruising some ten years ago. However, we now feel comfortable arranging for our own tours with local people and we love the more personal attention and information you receive from a private tour. We always allow enough time to return to the ship and we've yet to have a personal tour that wasn't outstanding. That proved true on this cruise as well. THE PORTS OF CALL St. Martin/St. Maarten We had been here several times before but never to Orient Beach. We decided this was the trip to do it. It was a $5 per person cab ride (approximately 20 minutes) from the pier. It is a VERY pretty beach, filled with small restaurants/bars that dot the landscape. It's a great beach for walking and despite the hype that this is a "nude" beach, I'd say 98% of the people had their swimsuits on. When we returned from the beach, we shopped for a camera lens for my 35mm camera (I recently broke a lens and needed a replacement) and then stopped for a cool daiquiri at Everything's Cool before heading back to the ship. This is a great little spot among the shops that has a great view of the ship and great drinks. This is always a popular island and there is much to see here. There is a water taxi from the pier to the heart of the shopping area in Phillipsburg. It was $3 each way or $5 for a day pass. ST. LUCIA Without a doubt, this was our favorite stop on this cruise. I began researching private tours somewhat late in the game, but I located a company called Jungle Tours and booked them about two weeks before departing. This was probably the best overall shore excursion we've done in 15 cruises. To start, everyone in our group of 8 decided to take this tour. The cost was $70 per person and it included 7 hours of island exploration, all entrance fees and lunch. Our tour guide's name was Shal, owner of the company. He picked us up shipside (he was waiting for us when we walked down the gangplank). The first thing I said to him was that we wanted to have fun. He took that to heart! He turned on the music and began singing as we boarded his open air Land Rover that accommodated 8 passengers. There was a padded bench on either side and roll bars that could be leaned against. We began by sitting but before long we were standing and singing along, marveling at the spectacular scenery. We quickly departed Castries (the port city) and headed to the country. We drove through banana and cocoa plantations on our way to our first activity....a hike to a waterfall. A word of caution to everyone taking shore excursions - Be sure to wear the proper shoes for your excursion. Exploring an island like St. Lucia (where there is a lot of rain forest to hike) includes a great deal of walking, sometimes through uneven terrain. We were amazed how many tourists wore sandals and open-toed shoes to hike. Wear rubber-soled shoes (sneakers) or hiking boots if you are going to take these excursions. Just prior to arriving at the rain forest for our trek to the waterfall, we stopped was at a roadside stand for bananas and fresh fruit and to get a glimpse of our ship in the port far below. The walk to our first waterfall was what I would consider moderate hiking. Some uneven terrain, walking over rocks in streams, etc. Shal was very cautious with the eight of us, waiting and helping each person as we went. Our group ranged in age from 30 - 59. We did come across several other tour groups in this section of the rain forest and Shal had to stop and help them because their guide was far beyond them and not paying attention. The waterfall was a great backdrop for a group photo! Our next stop was at a "bakery" where they made Cassava bread. It was delicious and you could watch them make this island specialty at this roadside bakery. Cassava is a root vegetable that is grated to make a sweet or salted bread. Next stop was The Volcano to view the steam vents and watch the earth "bubble." This was the only spot on the daylong tour that was crowded with other tourists. Our stop here was short...the sulfur smell is overwhelming. Back into the Land Rover we headed to what was to become our favorite stop. A hike (easier than the first hike) to a natural mineral spring and waterfall. Here, you could (and all the women did) smear yourself with volcanic mud, dry in the sun and then rinse in the warmth of the natural spring waterfall. There were only a handful of other people at this spot and it was special. The laughter began when the mud went on and the photos were taken. More singing ensued. We are still laughing. Our final stop was at a beautiful beachside restaurant (Still's) for lunch in the town of Soufiere at the foot of the Pitons, St. Lucia's landmark mountains. The food was delicious and the scenery spectacular. We could have sat here all afternoon! A couple of important notes: Shal was a very cautious and courteous driver. He had a cooler filled with water, soft drinks, beer and rum punch for consumption throughout the day. Shal's enthusiasm and love of his island was apparent throughout the day. It made all of us look forward to returning in the future and exploring this beautiful island even more. If you are looking for a great tour, we highly recommend contacting Shal at www.jungletoursstlucia.com. BARBADOS I have a favorite spot on Barbados where I love to purchase pottery. It's called Earthworks. For years, I've wanted a set of dishes from Earthworks and we agreed that this would be a Christmas gift this year. The reason I love the pottery so much is that they primarily use the colors of the Caribbean (blues, teal, greens) in creating their dishes, casseroles, platters, coffee mugs and more. When I get home, it reminds me of how pretty the Caribbean sea is. I spoke with a cab driver and explained we wanted go to Earthworks and then onto a beach. He agreed to take us to Earthworks, wait for us (we were in the store about 45 minutes), take us to Surfside beach in Holetown and then come back and pick us up later in the day and return us to the ship. The cost was $20 per person - a very reasonable charge considering the distance and time involved. The beach was nice and had several open-air restaurants but there were quite a bit of people trying to sell their wares. ST. KITTS A $3 per person cab ride found us on a very pretty spot called Friar's Beach. There was a beautiful view of Nevis in the distance and we were surrounded by mountains. It was much more quiet than the beach in Barbados and there was one small place to eat - but it was REALLY good. They were cooking chicken, ribs and whole lobsters on a grill beach side. When you arrive at the beach, if you go all the way to the right, it's very quiet and there are very few people. On our way back, we were dropped off in town to shop. We looked for batik from St. Kitts but it was all pretty expensive. It was a short walk from town back to the ship. ST. THOMAS/ST. JOHN We've been visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands for a few years now and always catch the Red Hook ferry to St. John for the day. Without question, the beaches of St. John are among the prettiest in the entire Caribbean. No one tries to sell you anything on these beaches and with the exception of Trunk Bay, they are uncrowded and quiet. We always grab a cab in Cruz Bay when we get off the ferry and go to either Cinnamon or Maho Bay. Cinnamon has more facilities (a general store, restaurant, restrooms). Maho is secluded and without facilities but spectacular! Lunch is high atop St. John at the patio of Chateau Bordeaux, overlooking Coral Bay and the British Virgin Islands. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and many flavors of daiquiris are the only things on the lunch menu. But the food is good and the view breathtaking. We had planned a small sailaway party on our veranda upon departing St. Thomas, our last port of call. Besides a gorgeous sunset and the twinkling lights of St. Thomas as darkness fell upon us, we were very fortunate to be joined on our deck by the wonderful vocal group METRO. They performed three AWESOME songs as we pulled out of the harbor. It was a highlight of the trip and a special evening we will all long remember. NOTE ON CABS: On all of the islands, the cab driver that took us to a beach returned later in the day to pick us up and return us to the ship. Confirm your price and time with the cab driver; get their name, be pleasant and you'll get terrific service. They love to tell you about their islands and are typically glad to have us there. And they always return for you! THE NORMANDIE One of the first things we did when we got on board was make a reservation in the Normandie for the seventh night. It was an informal night and even though we hated to leave our regular waiters, we had to try Normandie after all we read. The experience was unforgettable. The food, the staff, the laughter, the music - it all added up to another memorable evening with friends. That's the most important thing - a memorable evening with friends. Everything you've read on the boards about the food and service is true. It was all outstanding. With eight of us, many things on the menu were tried and all were wonderful. But what made the evening special was the laughter and conversation we shared with our waiters for the evening: William and Peter in particular. And a surprise visit from our dining room waiter, Roy, completed the night. CRUISE STAFF & ACTIVITIES Jim Cannon, the cruise director, and his staff did an outstanding job to make passengers feel welcome and they continuously encouraged passengers to participate. All of the typical cruise activities - pool games, bingo, horse racing, trivia, art auctions, etc. - were here. The friendliness of the cruise staff made them more enjoyable. FINAL COMMENTS & OBSERVATIONS When all was said and done, our 10-day cruise on the Summit was one of the best experiences we've had in our ten years of cruising. Part of it stems from the fact that we aren't going to let anything ruin a cruise vacation. I'm amazed at the people who complain and complain throughout the cruise. If you don't have a good experience on the Summit, chances are it's your fault. Not that the crew or the ship is perfect. Nothing is. But if you approach a problem with a smile and positive attitude, you'll find a staff that will go above and beyond to help. Yelling at crew members (I witnessed this first hand and it was uncalled for) doesn't accomplish anything and it's terribly unfair to a staff member who most likely had nothing to do with problem in the first place. Here's a rundown of what made this cruise so special: The Staff & Service - They were fabulous. Everyone smiled all the time. They greeted guests with a friendly "hello, how are you today?" They jumped whenever you asked for something. The cruise staff, led by Cruise Director Jim Cannon, helped passengers have a great time all cruise long. Everyone should stop at least once throughout the cruise and think about just how hard all of the staff on cruise ships work. "Thanks" and a smile goes a long way! Steph, Roy, Gabor, Vesna, Dora, Eric, Sean, Del, Mike and the rest of the terrific crew - YOU ARE THE BEST! The Ship - She is beautiful. The cabins were warm and comfortable. Getting around the Summit was very easy and three sets of elevators/stairs made navigating quick. We walk everywhere so we can eat those extra goodies that we'd pass on at home. I had read that many people didn't care for the art. What do they say? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Much of the passenger hallways was filled with terrific photography and the various sculptures and other art pieces were interesting and fun. I like looking at different things so I'm glad that the "art" differs from ship to ship. The Food - There was plenty of excellent food on the Summit. I really think that people obsess way too much over the food on ships. Celebrity's food is still far better than RCI and on most nights better than our last Princess cruise. If there is something you don't care for, tell your waiter and ask for something else. They understand and want you to be happy. Don't miss the pasta station and daily specialty station at the back of the Waterfall Cafe. These stations are just before you go out the aft doors to the outdoor seating area. In the morning, the pasta station is an egg/omelet station. Many people didn't find these until late in the cruise. Lighten up on the criticism of the food and start enjoying more! Entertainment - Outstanding all the way around. We already miss METRO and can't wait for their first CD to hit the streets in the next month! The Itinerary - All of the ports were terrific. We'd go back in a heartbeat! The Weather - Other than the first 24 hours when it was rather chilly leaving Ft. Lauderdale, the weather was perfect - 83 and sunny! The chilly weather did introduce us to a great bar server, Vesna! She brought us warm coffee drinks as we pulled out of Ft. Lauderdale and she continued to take care of us throughout the rest of the cruise. AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT Most of these items are minor and did not impact our overall enjoyment of the cruise. But we did see a couple of areas that could be improved: Guest Services Answering Phones - On embarkation day, the staff working out front shouldn't have to answer phones while trying to help passengers in line at the Guest Services Desk. With credit card activation being handled here, the staff needed some relief from ringing phones. Keep in mind, these crew members are constantly trying to solve challenges someone else created. Try to be a little nicer to them! Credit Card - Why aren't credit cards activated pier side prior to boarding? It would have made a big difference and saved everyone a lot of time. Computerized Spa Appointments - With today's technology, why are the spa's on ships still making appointments by hand on paper? They are constantly falling all over one another, grabbing appointment sheets. Seems like having them computerized would make life a lot easier for everyone. Repeaters Party - Did anyone from late seating go? Having a cocktail party at 5:15 on a formal night when late seating is at 8:30 made no sense. What happened to 5:15 for early seating and 7:45 for late seating? Jogging Track - It needs to be somewhere else other than around the upper pool deck. There just isn't enough room for joggers/walkers to make their way through the maze of deck chairs and people sunning. In closing, remember that different people like different things and therefore feel differently about their cruise. However, we are each ultimately responsible for our own experience and whether it is good or bad. Realize that "stuff" happens but keep smiling and the crew, more often than not, will do their best to help resolve any challenges you face. In these days of uncertainty, shouldn't we make the most of every day and enjoy them as much as possible? I know we are and we hope you will, too. Trust me, it makes for a much happier cruise all the way around. A BIG thanks to everyone who contributed to making this one terrific cruise for us! Happy Cruising! aygoyer@one.netFebruary 2002 Read Less
We left for Seattle on June 6 for our June 7th sailing of the Summit. We were using frequent flyer miles for some of our family, and picked Seattle because it was cheaper for the tickets we had to by. We spend the afternoon touring ... Read More
We left for Seattle on June 6 for our June 7th sailing of the Summit. We were using frequent flyer miles for some of our family, and picked Seattle because it was cheaper for the tickets we had to by. We spend the afternoon touring Seattle and made it an early night. In the morning, we took a taxi to the Amtrak station and took the 7:45am train to Vancouver. This trip is amazing and I would recommend it to those folks traveling from Seattle to Vancouver. This is a very scenic trip and takes about 4 hours. The train winds it's way up the coast and at times it feels like the train is traveling right on the water (it's that close). We saw tons of bald eagles on the rocks in the shallows looking for little fish to eat. We passed through picturesque seaside towns and got a great view of Vancouver. They even show a movie during the trip (Monsters, Inc. on our trip). This kept our 8-year old daughter happy. They have a dining car and dining cart that was busy with the breakfast crowd. We traveled in coach class and found the cars to be very clean and roomy. The total cost for the one way trip to Vancouver for 3 was $57.50. We arrived in Vancouver and did a very quick run through customs at the train station. We took a great taxi ride (had a great driver who gave us a little tour of town) to the docks and found the boarding process to be a breeze. We unloaded our luggage and they had a conveyer belt right there for our luggage, so we didn't have to pull it around. Because we're Captain's Club members, we went to a special line and quickly got checked in. We waited only a few minutes in the immigration line, then were on our way onto the boat. We were in our room by 1:00, and eating lunch by 1:15 in the Waterfall Grill. The Summit is a beautiful ship. This was our second Celebrity cruise (we did Century in 1998). Summit is very modern and the artwork is very interesting. We had a class 1B cabin and found it to be very roomy and lots of storage space. One tip is to store your suitcases under the bed, there's plenty of room. We stored all 3 under the bed and had the entire closet for our clothes and shoes. The balcony was wonderful and I recommend the splurge for an Alaskan trip. The views are great, and you can see them at any time. It was often very windy and cold up on deck, and the public areas get crowded during peak viewing times, so having that private deck was great. It was sheltered with an overhang which helped cut the wind (we were on deck 8). If you don't have a verandah, other great spots to view the sights are the Revelations Lounge at the front of the ship on Deck 11. If you are a fitness buff, you can walk on the treadmill in the Spa and get great views out of the front of the ship (deck 10). You can also spend lots of time in the Waterfall Cafe during breakfast and lunch and take advantage of the floor to ceiling windows, and floor portholes. Kids For those of you with kids, the Fun Factory was a hit with our 8-year old daughter. They have activities for kids from 9am-12noon, 2pm-5pm, 7pm-10pm, then have paid babysitting (slumber party) from 10pm-1am. On formal nights, the slumber party is free. Activities usually change every 30-45 minutes, so they are always on the go and are busy. The counselors are great and my daughter has a crush on Matt. She can't stop talking about him. There were 160 kids on this cruise. The majority were teenagers. There were about 20 kids in my daughter's group at any given time. There are typically 3 counselors per group, so the kids are in good hands. Food The food was great and we were rarely disappointed and were rarely hungry. We ate in the Cosmopolitan for most dinners and ate the buffets in the Waterfall grill for breakfast and lunch. My husband and I ate in the Normandie one night and loved it. The service and the food are great and it well worth the extra fee. The service in the dining room was great. We were seated with 2 other families with children and our waiter did a great job catering to the kid's needs. Our daughter had every form of steak on board, with a side of mashed potatoes each night. Jean, our waiter, even helped her cut her meat. Ports: Here are my reviews of the ports and our excursions. Keitchikan Jeep Safari and Canoe trip - overall a fun trip. We took turns driving a jeep up some pretty rocky roads. Make sure you go to the bathroom prior to to trip, it's a bumpy ride We saw bear scat, but no bear. The views were great. The canoe trip was nice, too. There's about 15 or so to a boat, so it's not tiring by any means. We had a nice snack of smoked salmon, and did a quick walk through the rainforest. I'd give the excursion an 8 out of a 10. We didn't have much time to do any shopping at all because the ship left at 2:00. The line to get back on the ship was very long and it took us 40 minutes just to board. Skagway Helicopter/Dog Sledding - This by far was our FAVORITE! Our 8-year old had a blast (so did her parents ) It was VERY windy and cold that day, so we were a little worried about the helicopter ride. It was a little bumpy, but the views were incredible. We flew around and saw some glaciers, then landed at the dog sled camp. We had a 1:30 time, and the clouds had come in a little, so it was very cold! We wore 4 layers of clothing. But, we were told that just hours before our excursion, it was 70 degrees at the camp. I'd say it dropped to the 40's by the time we got up there. Definitely take some gloves and layers just in case! Our guide Tracy Ann was GREAT! The one thing that really amazed me about all of the excursions is that the folks running them and the guides really seem to love what they do, they're not just working that extra tip. Tracy Ann won our daughter's heart instantly and really connected with her. She let her harness a dog, drive the lead sled, and yell the commands to the dogs. She even got down in the snow with her and tried to make a snowman (we're from NC, we don't see much snow!). There were 3 little 6-week old pups that we got to hold and cuddle (Olive Oil, Wimpy and Brutus). We then took the helicopter for another scenic view then headed back. We booked directly through Temsco Air and saved a lot of money! Skagway is a very neat little town. We also took a horse drawn carriage ride through town and got a good tour and some history. The shopping is great, too. Juneau Mendanhall Float Trip - We lucked out and got another great guide - Katie. She's the only female in the guide corps for this trip. She was a lot of fun and since it was her birthday, was in an extra specially great mood. Once again, it was really evident that these folks really enjoy their jobs. This trip was nice, you don't get too close to the glacier, but can see icebergs in the lake up close and personal. The river is about 5 miles long, with about 1 mile of class III rapids. We got wet, and it was cold!! But was fun. After this trip, we decided that we want to do more rafting (this was our first trip). Luckily at the end of the trip we had lots of hot chocolate and got a great picture of us shooting the rapids. Overall score 8 out of 10. We also took the Tramway up the mountain and got some great views. Valdez Sea Kayaking - Not a lot of boats stop here, and I can see why. This was one morning I really wish we had stayed on the boat and slept in. We were exhausted with the late nights and since this was the last port, we were pretty tired. Kayaking wasn't the best choice. We got a 3-person kayak and I was in front, our daughter in the middle and hubby in the back. We quickly lost one of our pistons as our daughter fell asleep in the kayak and had a nice 1 hour nap while hubby and I panted and puffed our way through kayaking and keeping up with the lighter 2 person kayaks. We got a workout, but that's about it. We saw 1 harbor seal in the distance, but that's about it. I think river kayaking would be much more exciting. We just tooled around in the bay for about an hour. Overall score - 5 out of 10 (after all, we did get a good workout and burn off some of the midnight buffet). We really had a great time on this cruise. Alaska is BEAUTIFUL and we wished we could have stayed longer. ka_patch@yahoo.comJuly 2002 Read Less
We are back from our 11 day Ultimate Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Summit. All in all, it was great! About the only negative thing I can say is that the disembarkation was a nightmare. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, October ... Read More
We are back from our 11 day Ultimate Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Summit. All in all, it was great! About the only negative thing I can say is that the disembarkation was a nightmare. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, October 28th. It was the usual uneventful plane ride down (thank God) and about the only thing different was I got pulled aside and was given the royal inspection. They emptied out all my little bags of stuff in my carryon tote. My jewelry bag was opened and all the little satin pouches opened and checked. Ditto with my makeup bag, medicine bag, and even my wallet. I had to assume to position, take off my shoes, and show the bottoms of my feet. I told them I felt safer knowing they were doing a good job and to keep up the good work. The ship was very pretty. At first, I thought the outside was a little garish, but we both grew to like it. It stands out! The inside of the ship was elegant, but as many have commented, the artwork was pretty ugly (in my opinion, anyway). At the top of the main staircase in the main lobby were two paintings which resembled something you might see at K-Mart in the party department. Also here and there were plastic freeform chairs right next to beautifully upholstered ones. There is a strange statue of what looks like a nurse levitating. Really weird! Other than that, we liked the dining room decor, the pools, the Cova Cafe, and the staterooms were cheery and comfortable. Oh, the food!!! It was so good. No complaints here! I just lost 31 pounds from Weight-Watchers so was determined to at least try to keep the weight off. I succeeded! I only gained 2 pounds which is a normal fluctuation. The secret, I think, is walking, walking, walking, and climbing those stairs as much as possible. I never felt deprived. I went easy on the red meat, only having steak (filet mignon) once. I also turned away those nice breakfast pastries. It wasn't easy! We both thought the service in the dining rooms was flawless. If I tried I couldn't think of a single time when we were not being well taken care of by the terrific staff. Our waiter was Hercules, from India, and our assistant waiter was Tino, from Honduras. They were the absolute best we have ever had in 15 cruises. The entertainment was pretty good, but not as good as Royal Caribbean. We enjoyed the shows, but RCI has the edge there. The cruise director, however, was one of the best. His name was Jason Beetham and he was always friendly and seemed more natural than most of the "turn it on, turn it off" phony ones we've run up against. We liked the quietness of this ship. There was always something going on but none of the constant announcements. It was refreshing. You just had to remember to read and keep the Summit Daily on hand to know what was going on. Funny thing -- the Captain was pretty much invisible. We saw him once for about two minutes on the grand staircase making a short speech on Captains Night. No photo ops. The announcements "from the bridge" were given by Jason, the cruise director. This is the first time this has happened. The ports were not our favorites. Key West is a favorite place for us and we took the trolley tour. It was fun and interesting. We didn't really have much time there. Colombia had been cancelled. Costa Rica was dismal as it was raining when we docked and the market place was pretty wet. We got a few little things there and were kind of glad we hadn't booked a tour. Cozumel was fun as usual. This time we found a taxi to take us to a beach called Nachi Cocum. It was about $14 for the four of us. When we got there we found plenty of shady thatched umbrellas and comfortable lounge chairs. They only requested that we buy a drink or pay $3 each. Not a bad deal. The beach was one of the prettiest I've ever seen: clean, quiet, and a perfect place. Panama was quite an experience. We hired a taxi to take us out to the locks at Gaton Lake and then around Colon. We found the canal fascinating and the grounds around it very clean and pretty. He took us to a couple of nice hotels and then back to the ship through the city. I never saw such poverty in my life. One or two blocks from the mansions were such run-down buildings and poor people all around. Pretty shocking! Last of all was Grand Cayman. We took the beach break and it was a rip-off. We ended up spending about $57 for two hours on the beach under a shabby umbrella on broken down lounges with a "free" watered down rum drink with no rum in it. The changing rooms were dirty. Somewhere in this itinerary was Aruba, I almost forgot about it. Aruba once had a hotel called the Sonesta, a short walk from the pier. It was always open to the public and the crew and folks from the ships. We found a shady place and made ourselves comfortable and were kicked out. It has new owners and they don't allow outsiders. So much for that place. We marched our unwanted selves back to the ship and had the whole thing to ourselves for the rest of the day. The worst part of this trip was the dreaded disembarkation. We had been given "first off" tags and put in the cinema with 95 others from our group. Our flight was at 11 am. At 9:15 we were turned loose, only to find ourselves in a line a mile long. By the time we got off the ship and into the busses it was almost 10:30. We got to the airport and were told our flight was "closed." To make a long story short, we were sent (with all our baggage) downstairs, then upstairs, then back downstairs, then back upstairs. A lot of the passengers were elderly and panicking. The escort was on his cell phone and dealing as best he could with the problem. They held the plane up for 45 minutes and we all took off. The pilot put the pedal to the metal and we all sat back and enjoyed our delicious bag of pretzels and half cans of soda. My husband and I had smuggled cookies off the ship. We are so smart! The arrangements made by Celebrity had us going to Cincinnati first then off to Boston. It was quite a rush from one plane to the other, but we made it. So, now the cruise is over and we will soon be looking at the photographs and video. It was a great cruise and we would do it again, but their air arrangements stink. treeseas@ncia.net February, 2003 Read Less
We are in our late 40, early 50's, campers, traveled for 5 weeks every summer when our kids were young. Hit most states in the lower 48. Camping is fun, but work. So we decided to take the land tour, mostly because this was our ... Read More
We are in our late 40, early 50's, campers, traveled for 5 weeks every summer when our kids were young. Hit most states in the lower 48. Camping is fun, but work. So we decided to take the land tour, mostly because this was our present to us and we wanted to be taken care of. We went on the Celebrity Summit Cruise Tour, 14 days total. We booked our own air, as it was much cheaper than the cruise air. Our trip was in Sept of 2002. We flew into Fairbanks on a Saturday. Got there 2 hours late due to delays in Seattle, but Celebrity was there and took over. After listening to everything said about cruise tags and airports, we did not put our cruise tags on our luggage. The Celebrity staff that met our plane took our luggage receipts from the airline and found them anyway. They had us check to make sure that they had them all, and then showed us to the bus. We never touched a suitcase. The bus was brand new, beautiful, a lot of legroom and huge windows. We were given our room keys in the bus, and our luggage was in the room before we were! We stayed at Sophies' Station, which is a "suite hotel". The rooms were old, but furniture was new and the rooms were spotless. We were met in the lobby by our cruise director, who quickly filled us in on the next day's itinerary. We were given new luggage tags to differentiate the luggage we needed everyday, and the luggage that we did not need until the cruise. It worked great for us, as we had packed cruise cloths in one suitcase. It was around 10 pm by this time (2 am our time as we are from Fl) so it was a quick drink and bed. The next morning we had breakfast on our own, and met up with the rest of our group at around 9 am. We were taken by "our" bus to the Riverboat Discovery Cruise. This was a large stern wheel riverboat that took us on a 4-hour trip down the Chena and Tanana Rivers. Seating available on all levels and we saw several wheelchairs and folks with canes. We stopped for a guided tour of an authentic Athabascan Indian village, saw Susan Butcher's Iditarod dog camp, saw a bush pilot take off and land, and many animals along the riverbanks. Those who had difficulty walking were still able to view most things from the riverboat. It was a class act the whole way. We were given free coffee, juice and donuts the entire length of the cruise, along with a yummy snack of Salmon. All along the way we were treated to an amusing monolog of the history of the area. Well worth the trip. After that we reboarded the bus and went to "downtown" Fairbanks were we all split up for lunch. Then back on the bus and off to pan for gold at the El Dorado Gold Mine, a working mine on the outskirts of town. Again, a very educational afternoon, mixed with a little train ride and the chance to pan for gold and get rich quick. Wheelchairs were accommodated, and it had little walking unless you choose to walk around the area. On the way back we stopped at a section of the Alaskan Pipeline, and learned all its history and present day functions. That evening was free, and after an eat-in dinner we were in bed. Friends we had met did go on an Artic Circle Plane ride, left at 5:30 and returned at 12 midnight. They said it was very enjoyable, but dark on the way back. It would have been nicer earlier in the summer, when it stayed light longer. We did put in a wake up call for the Northern Lights and were not disappointed. It came at 3 am and we saw a spectacular show, in our pj's, in the hotel's parking lot! Next day we had luggage out at 7 am, on our bus to the train station by 8 am. The train had only one schedule, so anyone who wanted to travel via rail had to go when the train went, regardless if you were traveling on your own or with a tour. We boarded the domed Celebrity train car, The Wilderness Express. Each cruise line seemed to have their own train cars, which were attached to the Alaskan rail, ours being the newest and largest. The luggage remained in our bus, and was taken by our driver to our next hotel...the Grand Denali Lodge. The train ride was incredible; we enjoyed Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers while waiting for our turn for breakfast. The leather bucket seats on the top floor (accessible by an elevator or spiral staircase!) were very comfortable and the car had 2 restrooms, one w/c accessible. We again became sponges absorbing so much information. For us, that was one of the highlights of the tour, we learned so much more that we would have driving on our own. The staff was so very knowledgeable about every area we traveled through. We had breakfast on the bottom floor of our train car, and the food was excellent. Denali We arrived at Denali about 4 hours later, boarded our bus at the train station and were again given our room keys. The hotel was nice, great views; rooms clean and new. Upon arrival at the hotel, we went straight to our room, luggage already there. The 8-hour tour in Denali N'l Park, the Tundra Wildlife Search, was included in our tour, so with a quick grab at lunch, we boarded the park bus, right at our hotel (wheelchairs were accommodated here as well, and the restroom stops were very frequent. The bus itself is a school bus, so not super comfy). The tour into the park was incredible. We saw 5 different grisly bear, moose, elk, sheep, etc. The only thing we did not see was Mt. McKinley, as it was in the clouds. Great trip, with a nice snack during the ride, frequent stops at very clean, well-maintained rest rooms. The few children on board seemed to have a wonderful time, taken in by the scenery and animals. We got back around 9:30 pm (1:30 am our time!), had dinner at the hotel, and straight to bed. We should have just ordered pizza, as we were too tired to enjoy what was a very expensive meal. We again left a wake up call for the northern lights, but no luck. The next morning was "free" with several excursions offered...rafting, flight seeing, etc. My husband and I were up at the crack of dawn to do the river-rafting trip, as we did not need to catch the train till around 1 pm. It was great, but cold! They gave us dry suits, gloves, boats, hats, etc. There was ice in the bottom of our raft when we got in! The rapids were 3-4 and the scenery was incredible. Back at the hotel, we had left our luggage with the tour director, who made sure it got on our bus. We were back on our train car for the 3-4 hour trip to Talkeetna. This time we had a great lunch on the train. Food was all freshly prepared to order. Our train car allowed us to turn the two seats in front of us around, and put a table between the four seats, making a kind of "booth". We again enjoyed the constant influx of information and history about the areas we were traveling through, all the while sipping on many different "specialties of the bar", writing post cards, and taking several rolls of pictures. The car had outside viewing areas that were also great for picture taking. This leg of our journey was probably our best weather. The sky was clear and blue, and yes, we saw Denali (or Mt. McKinley to those of us from the lower 48). The closer we got to Talkeetna, the larger and more beautiful the mountain became. We were met by our bus, given our room keys, and taken to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, where again our luggage was waiting for us in our rooms. Talkeetna This hotel was great. Brand new, rooms were large and comfortable with wonderful views of Mt. McKinley. The afternoon had multiple things to choose from, horse back riding, river rafting, hiking with rangers, flight seeing, or sitting out on the huge porch of the hotel, staring at the incredible view of Mt. McKinley. The mountain was viewable for over 5 hours! Most of us took an incredible flight to the top of the mountain, walking on the glaciers etc. This is not to be missed. We had not made reservations to do this trip, nor had several in our tour. But to our delight, the flight companies just kept flying. They added on as many trips as were necessary to allow all of us a chance to view the mountain from the air (I'm sure $$ were also a large part of their willingness to keep flying!). Dinner that night was at the Rib Pub in Talkeetna were we all tried different game meat sitting outside under beach umbrellas. Much better than eating in the hotel, in our opinion. Another wake up was left at the front desk, and we were lucky enough to be awakened to the beautiful Northern Lights for a second time. The next day was spent on our own...breakfast at the Roadhouse Inn in Talkeetna (great food, huge pancakes!), we did some sightseeing utilizing a free shuttle bus from the hotel, did a hike with the rangers, washed clothes in "downtown" Talkeetna, and spent the late afternoon and early evening at the Fairview Tavern sitting at a table that was directly under a huge bear rug that was on the ceiling! That's the place to see some native Alaskans! Dinner at a place called Lattitudes, in Talkeetna. Very good game meat. Anchorage/Girdwood Next morning it was back in the bus for our trip to Anchorage. We stopped at Millers General Store on Park Highway for ice cream. Probably the best homemade ice cream I've ever had! This part of the trip was not as scenic as the others, either side of the bus was ok. We had the late morning and early afternoon free in Anchorage. We chose to have lunch in a little local bar called Paris that a police officer suggested and visited the museum, which we enjoyed, but would probably bore small children. Late afternoon we piled back on our bus and headed to Girdwood. We drove along the Turnagain Arm, beautiful scenery, MUCH better from the right side of the bus. Our next stop was Girdwood, staying at the Alyeska Prince Resort. This hotel, a ski resort in the winter, was just beautiful, a real classy place. At no extra charge was a trip up the tram to a restaurant at the top. Had to be 5 star, food was excellent and the view was incredible. Next morning was free, we took the hotel shuttle into Girdwood, had breakfast at the Bake Shop, mouth-watering breads, not to be missed if you are in the area, did some shopping, and then on to Seward later that afternoon. Again, several other excursions were offered, but we enjoyed the down time. The drive from Girdwood to Seward was incredible, beautiful drive, great views either side. Seward/Celebrity Summit We arrived in Seward around 3:30, were given our boarding passes, room key/charge card on the bus, and walked right onto the ship without waiting in a single line. We checked out our room, seating location in the main dinning room, and then headed out to the Exit Glacier. We were told there was a shuttle from town, but we chose a taxi, that dropped us off and picked us up again 1-1/2 hours later. It was a easy, relatively short walk to the glacier, and well worth our rush to get there before the ship left around 8 pm. But it was a rush, and we were on edge that we would be late. There is also a laundry in Seward, easily accessible, if laundry needs to be done before the cruise. I did use the ship to clean a few things during our cruise, and found it to be very quick (overnight) and reasonable. However, I would not have wanted to clean all our dirty clothes from the week that way. Our luggage was in our cabin when we returned. Dinner was open seating, with few people changing. This was the only night blue jeans were accepted in the dinning room. We enjoyed the land tour very much. We do realize that we could have done it much cheaper on our own. However, we have no regrets that we chose to do it this way for our first trip. We were able to see a "little" of a lot of places and now have a better idea of where we would like to return. We never felt rushed (but we are early risers anyway), saw an awful lot of places with NO stress, never waited in a line to check into a hotel. And learned more than we will be ever able to remember. I did keep a journal with me at all times and wrote down pages and pages of info that I wanted to remember. The weather in Sept was perfect for us...mid 40s at night, 50-70 during the day. We had some hazy days, with sporadic misty like rain showers, but it never interfered with anything we had planned to do. The food was more expensive than I expected, even though we rarely ate in the hotels. We wanted to "taste" Alaska, so tried as many local restaurants as possible. Never had a bad meal, just some that were "different" than we were expecting. We were disappointed that we were not given the option to book our excursions for the land tour ahead of time, but it worked out fine. The info was readily available as soon as we arrived, and decisions did not have to be made (and money paid out) until the last minute. Everyone was accommodated during the week, and we changed our minds many times, according to weather. We wore (or took) a rain parka with a light lining and hood everyday. We layered under it according to the temperature. We wore jeans or wind pants, with hiking boots/or leather sneakers. We brought hats, gloves but did not use them during the first week. Binoculars, camera (and extra batteries, film etc), water bottles, journal, lip screen, and a small towel went with us everyday via a backpack. We brought coffee mugs, but used them rarely, as just about everywhere we went they offered free coffee/ tea. We had a digital camera. Olympus C-720 with 8 optical zoom, with a cord for viewing via a TV. We bought it 4 days before the trip, but are so very glad we did. It took such great pictures that my husband stopped lugging his 35 mm with 7 lenses after a few days. Every hotel we stayed in had a port in the TV, so every evening with our drinks we were able to have picture "slide" shows of our day. We keep the ones that were the best, deleted the rest, and were ready to start over the next day. We stopped at various camera/computer shops along our trip and had the pictures saved onto a CD, allowing us to continuously reuse our two 128 memory cards. We also carried a bottle of Jack Daniels and Absolute in our luggage, which we enjoyed every evening in our room. The only thing I would have done differently would be to arrive a day before our week land tour began. Because we came from Fl, even with straight through flights to Seattle, we had to give up all day Saturday to travel. If we had arrived a day before, we could have spent an extra day in Fairbanks. Okay, now the cruise I already mentioned that we had no check in, received boarding passes and our room key/charge card on the bus. These cards were used as room keys, charge cards on the ship (they did not accept money anywhere except the casino) and as ID when leaving and returning to the ship when in port. They took a picture when we boarded the ship that went into their computer, not on our card. When you leave or return to the ship, you swipe your card and they can see your picture. We were escorted to our cabin by Summit staff, and were met there by our steward. He introduced himself, and begged us to let him know of any needs. We told him if we had ice by 4 pm every day, we would be happy campers. We never had to ask again. There were many discussions on these boards about bringing your own "drinks". We had bought new bottles of our favorite alcoholic beverages, and put them in our luggage in zip lock bags. When our luggage arrived, we took them out, sat them on the desk/dresser and used them the entire week. Our steward never said a word, just made sure we had our ice. We ordered wine in the dinning room. Prices started at around $12 and went up from there. We were happy with the choices. Our room was 8111, a nice size with a comfortable king size bed and veranda. There was plenty of drawer and closet space, large mirrors, and we did not need our extension cord, as there were additional plugs in the cabin. We had a small refrigerator, filled with goodies that we used from time to time, costing pretty much as you would expect. We had heard horror stories of needing extra blankets etc, but our thermostat worked very well and we were always comfortable. The veranda was great. I can't image traveling though that beautiful area without one. We were on it constantly. There were many elevators, so those who have difficulty taking the stairs were pleased. Room service was quick and efficient. They called the room a few minutes before bring it in. We ordered many things that were not on the room service menu and were never disappointed. Meals: We ordered room service most mornings. As I mentioned, we are early risers, so had coffee delivered at around 7 am, and our breakfast at around 9 am. The printed breakfast menu was limited, so we just wrote in anything else we wanted and we were always pleasantly surprised by receiving everything we asked for. In-between our coffee and our breakfast, we went to the pool and Spa areas. As you can imagine, very empty at this hour We ate in the dinning room for breakfast only once...it was fine, as you would expect. Our friends went to the breakfast buffet at the Waterfall grill several times and found the food and service ok....but usually a line. The breads were great. Lunch, we ate off the ship a few times, had the ship's hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza a couple times...all great. French Fries were to die for. Our friends ate in the dinning room for lunch once and found it ok....nothing real special. They also ordered dinner in their cabin and said it was a joke. They received all 6 courses, and ended up putting the food on the bed. It covered the entire king size bed. They wouldn't recommend that unless you have a room with a real size table. You could order room service 24/7, and we did get in the habit of ordering fresh fruit, crackers/cheese etc to be delivered around 5...to have on the veranda with our pre dinner drinks. We ate dinner every night in the Cosmopolitan dinning room. The dress was not a problem, although we stressed over it before we left. My husband rented a tux, so he did not have to pack his suit and carry it on the first week of our trip. It was in our cabin upon our arrival, and was quite acceptable, with two shirts, for $85. I brought a long black skirt with two very dressy tops and a pair of strappy sandals. I felt great both formal nights. Ladies wore anything and everything...from gowns to dressy pants. Men in tuxes or suits, a few sport coats. Casual and informal nights seemed pretty much the same. Most women wore pants with nice tops or long skirts, dresses. Men in pants and shirt, adding a sport coat on informal nights, with a few wearing ties. Really easy and we were soooooooo concerned about dressing appropriately. I actually wore dressy black jeans on one of the informal nights with a nice blouse and was just fine. We spoke to a couple that were not allowed in wearing blue jeans, one of the casual nights. They said they were "handled" by the staff very well, and were given several options...go change, order room service, or eat in the alternative dinning area, which was the Waterfall grill. There you could wear anything you liked, but you did have to make reservations. We never used it, but heard the food was similar to what we were having in the dinning room. You picked what you wanted and it was then carried by a waiter to a table for you. The food in the Cosmopolitan Dining Room was excellent, comparable to a very good restaurant. Presentation was perfect by our waiters, we wanted for nothing. That said, I was a little disappointed. I guess I expected more. I'm not sure what, but after listening to everyone on the cruise boards, I guess I had a different expectation. We had late dinner, at 8:30. It was perfect for us, as we wanted to see and do "everything" and did not get back to the ship most evenings till pretty close to final boarding time. That way we had time to shower, enjoy our fruit/cheese platter, and pre dinner drinks. We met up with our friends the Rendezvous Lounge bar for drinks at 8 pm, then a long (about 2 hours) relaxing dinner, and then back to the Rendezvous Lounge and bed. Activities/Ship Our favorite nightspot was the Rendezvous Lounge. Good music, but so loud you could not talk and a nice dance floor. Drinks cost the same as any bar we were familiar with her in south Fl. All were put on your cruise charge care, with the tip included. Took us awhile to get used to that, the bar tenders were constantly giving "tip" money back to my husband. We did leave a little something for our favorite bartender the last night. The indoor spa area was beautiful, we used it every morning. The Thalassotherapy Pool was nice, but I found it a little too cool. Liked the hot tubs better...especially the ones outside! More atmosphere! Towels and robes were available at the pools. Our friends used the exercise rooms and found them "perfect". They used treadmills, spinning classes, free weights and machines. None of us used the other Spa Areas and Treatments, we did not want to spare the time or the money. Spa treatment or another air flight...it was no contest! We can go to spas at home. We did hear they were very professionally done, and many folks we talked to felt they were well worth the money. The shops were plentiful; everything "Alaskan" was 50% off, an advantage of going in September. We saw 2 of the shows....they were dancing and singing "spectaculars"....ok...nothing real special. Reminded me of shows my kids put on when they were in dance class. A first run movie was available everyday, we saw only one. The theater was very nice. We enjoyed the casino a couple nights. We seemed to win more the first few days. There were many opportunities for professional pictures to be taken, almost every night, getting off and on the ship etc. However, I found them very expensive. Can't say too much more about the other activities offered by the Summit. We were on the go most of the time. My husband said he was using the ship as his "motor home", a way to get from one port to another. But it sure was a wonderful way to go! The ship itself was spotless, easy to get around on, and very pleasant on the eye. If your every whim was not satisfied, it was because you didn't ask. Even if you were not into their type of artwork, it was still neat to look at. The conservatory was beautiful, lovely place to read (if you found the time). Ports: Hubbard Glacier -- We cruised from north to south. First full day was the Hubbard Glacier. And it was, yes, you guessed it, incredible! We had a slightly cloudy day, no wind, the water was like glass. All of that allowed our terrific captain to go within 1480 yards of the glacier (the closest he had been able to get all year, so we were told). It was beautiful and blue, and calved and we could have looked at it forever. The captain did several 360 degrees spins of the ship, so all got a great view. We spent a few hours there, some of the time in our cabin, some at the front of the ship. This was the coldest time of our entire trip. My husband was in shirtsleeves, but I had on a heavy sweater, my rain jacket, gloves and hat and only then was I comfortable. Photo opportunities all day, with the ship's photographers taking candid shots. Again, we ordered coffee, tea, and breads in our room, and invited new friends in to get warmed up. I was really getting to like this room service thing!! And the veranda! Many people were wandering around with their mugs of hot drinks. Juneau -- Juneau was our next port. We chose whale watching with Capt Larry (www.orcaenterprises.com ), instead of an excursion from the ship. It was great, but so much has already been said about him on these boards. He came highly recommended and he did not disappoint. His boat is small, has a restroom, and he serves hot drinks and snacks. None of us are prone to seasickness, but we all took a Bonine, just to be on the safe side. However, no one on the boat had any problems. We did not take the flight in Juneau. We had already walked on a glacier, and decided to fly in Ketchikan instead. It was a good decision for us, as there was so much else to do in Juneau. We spent most of the afternoon on the top of Mt. Roberts. The tram tickets can be purchased from the dock and are good for as many trips as you like for the entire day. Do not buy ahead of time or via the ship; as if it is a bad weather day, the tram is useless. We were lucky as the day was intermittently cloudy, with some misty rain. We had beautiful views, although I 'm sure they would have been better without the cloud cover. We walked several of the trails that climbed up the mountain and had a great time. We did not walk down, as it had rained recently and we were told the trail would be very muddy and slippery. We were also advised that the view from the trails going up the mountain were much better. There is also a very educational movie (free) at the top of the tram that was very interesting, as well as a restaurant. So I would recommend this even for folks that can't do much walking. Upon arrival back in town, we did a little shopping, stopped at the Red Dog Saloon, and got our shirts at the Harley Davidson Dealer in town. All within walking distance of the Tramway and the ship. Most of us then went back to the ship, at it was already 5 pm, but my girlfriend and I, determined to see it all, caught the city bus, right at the dock, to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was $10 round trip and boy oh boy was everyone else jealous upon our return. The glacier was different than some of the others we had seen, and we had the opportunity to watch a very educational movie about the development of glaciers at the visitor's center. The busses let you off close to the visitor center, and most areas and walkways are paved and/or ramped. When it closed, we took the trails down to the closest spot to the glacier, got some great pictures, and on the way back, all alone, we ran into a bear!!! We were a little panicked, as he was pretty darn close to us, but we must have been down wind of him as he paid us no mind. He was after something in the little stream we were all standing near and after he got it he just wandered off. Once we settled ourselves down, we got great pictures. Skagway -- After listening to everything on the boards, we chose to book the train via the cruise ship, but we took the tour that allowed us to ride the train on the way up, and boarded a bus in Canada for the ride back. You must sit on the left on the train on the way up....doesn't matter on the bus coming back, both sides are great. Ride and scenery were beautiful. There was water available on the train, no food. We took some snacks, fruit etc from the ship and were glad we did. The train was very roomy, accommodated w/c, but was very bumpy and the ride is a bit rough. Our friend has a bad back and was popping Tylenol all day. We stopped at "Liersville" on the way back for an amusing, interactive show about the gold rush, with snacks and hot cider. We found the shopping the best in Skagway. We were looking for more "Alaska made" items, and found the shop owners there more willing to deal. Lots of sales everywhere, but a lot of the stuff was junk, made in China!! As the ship was leaving that evening, we saw several Beluga whales from our veranda. Sitka -- We had to tender, no problem for us as we were off early and on late. But we heard at dinner that there were long lines during the day. We bought a Sitka bus ticket at the dock. It was $7 pp, had seven stops, and allowed you to get on and off all day at any of the stops. We started at the Sitka N'l Historical Park, walked thru the rain forest park (not all of it was paved), it was beautiful, saw Salmon swimming up stream, totem poles, many many eagles, and natives carving totem poles that we were able to talk with. Also did the Raptor Center, the Russian church (St Michaels), and wandered through the small town. Had our pictures copied from our memory cards to a disc at a little camera shop near the church. Very enjoyable, relaxing day. If you have difficulty walking, this bus would be great, as it drops you off and picks you up at all the "tourist spots". Ketchikan -- Started the day shopping, all within an easy walk from the dock. Found a Swarovski paperweight at "Julies", that said Alaska, made exclusively by Swarovski for him. We had never seen it before, but it came with all the right paperwork. The afternoon was one of the highlights of our trip. We booked on our own with Michelle, Island Wings Air Service, to Misty Fjords by floatplane . We learned from the cruise boards that Michelle is one of the few pilots that not only lands on water, but allows you to get out and walk around. Therefore we did not book through the cruise. Again, a not to be missed trip. After an incredible flight through the fjords, we landed on the water next to a small island. We got out of the plane and wandered around, soaked in the atmosphere and took many pictures. We were never rushed. JUST INCREDIBLE! Inside Passage -- Saw many whales during this beautiful trip on our last day at sea. We spent most of it in the Revelations Lounge at the front of the ship on Deck 11. Great viewing spot. Wonderful relaxing day. Vancouver -- Disembarkation was very easy, as everyone was given a color according to your departure needs. These colors were called throughout the ship. Once off the ship, you collected your luggage and went through customs. The line at customs moved quickly but getting through Canada Place was a little more difficult. The placed was packed, and there were only two ships in. Taxi line was very long. Fortunately, we had reserved a van with Avis. Avis had a shuttle, but we were told that we were on the 3rd or 4th trip, so my husband walked the couple of blocks, got the van and drove back for the rest of us and our luggage. He was back and we were on our way before the 2nd Avis shuttle even left the terminal. We spent some time sightseeing in Vancouver, Gardens were beautiful, had lunch at Cardero's that rivaled the ship's food, and headed to Seattle. Drove right through customs, no lines leaving, but we did notice a very impressive line going into Canada. This was a Friday at around 4 pm. Seattle -- We had reservations at The Camdon Hotel in downtown Seattle. Would not recommend it, clean and reasonable $$, but very old and worn. However, location was perfect. We walked to Pike Place Market for dinner, went to the top of the Space Needle. We had intended to have a drink up there, but found you had to have dinner, not just drinks. VERY pricey, so we went to the observation deck instead. Very nice view, as we had a clear evening. Would not recommend it unless it was clear, as that too was not cheap at $12 pp. Next day we drove to Mt. Rainier. Went to both Paradise and Sunrise visitor centers. Both beautiful with very different views of the mountain. We had no trouble doing both in the same day, stopping often. Had a wonderful day, very scenic, and a great way to end our trip. Dinner back in Seattle that evening and we flew home from Seattle the next day (Sunday). Sorry this was so long. Incredible was our "word" for the entire 2 weeks. We had a great trip thanks to all the great information I was able to get from these boards. itsanita@msn.com May 2003 Read Less
We just returned from the 11 day Ultimate Caribbean - RT Fort Lauderdale - Dec.9-Dec. 20. I would rate this cruise as 4 out of 5 stars. Ship Ambience: We had previously sailed on HAL's Maasdam and Noordam, so this ship was huge in ... Read More
We just returned from the 11 day Ultimate Caribbean - RT Fort Lauderdale - Dec.9-Dec. 20. I would rate this cruise as 4 out of 5 stars. Ship Ambience: We had previously sailed on HAL's Maasdam and Noordam, so this ship was huge in comparison to those two. I enjoyed sitting in the Revelations Lounge during the day. This is on the 11th deck forward and there is a 180 degree view of the ocean. The exercise room is very well equipped and is directly under the Revelations Lounge. While on the treadmill you can look out at the ocean ahead of you. The pool area was lovely but there were a few minor problems. Each day there was an announcement in the daily paper to please not reserve chairs at the pool. However, we went out there at 8 am and every chair in the shady area already had towels and personal items on them. There were a few squabbles among some people about why they saved chairs and whose chair it was - ship officers were called upon to settle some differences. There was also an announcement in the paper to please observe the basic dress code and not wear the Celebrity bathrobes in the pool area or around the ship. But quite a few people wore them anyway. Obviously, rules are posted but not enforced. So, we went with the flow and had to get out there early enough to reserve a chair before breakfast. Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on the starboard side and it was lovely. Our cabin steward and her assistant were excellent. Food: We found that the food on Celebrity was not quite as good as on Holland America. HAL had more of a variety of dishes for dinner and they were prepared in a different style. I would rate the food as "good" on the Summit, compared to "excellent" on HAL. The waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. Embarkation: We arrived in Fort Lauderdale a day early so we were at the pier at 11 am. Everyone sat in a huge room waiting for boarding to begin. By 11:30 there were several hundred people waiting and they all just ran to get on line when the boarding procedure began. There was no semblance of order at all and the process was a little slow because there were three long lines of people feeding into only two security check points. We were in our room by noon and then went to the Waterfall Cafe for lunch. We were scheduled for the early dinner at 6 pm and still had not received our luggage at 5:30, so we walked around and found our luggage in the hallway on another floor. Needless to say, I followed them to our room with the luggage and there was a mad dash to change and go to dinner. Others that we spoke to complained of this, as well. Some did not receive theirs until 7 or 8 pm. We were told the extra precautions of more intense luggage screening caused the delay. But, in watching these "delivery men" at work, I fail to believe that there cannot be a better system in place. The tags should have been color coded for the different floors instead of being all the same color and delivered haphazardly one piece at a time. Entertainment: We went to all the shows, but they were mostly mediocre. Of the 11 nights of shows, I only enjoyed about 3 of them. One excellent comedian was on twice, and one production of show tunes was very good. We also went to the lounges some evenings. The music for listening and dancing was excellent for the age group on this cruise. We are both in our sixties and probably that was the median age. Ports of Call: In Cozumel, we took a taxi with other people to the main shopping area, walked around there and took a taxi back to the ship. It was an enjoyable day. Costa Rica - went on one of the bus tours offered by Celebrity. In Panama, we did not go on a regular tour but, took a taxi to the Gatun Locks. The driver was excellent and we had a nice tour after the Locks. In Aruba, we got off the ship intending to walk over to the main shopping area. However, there were vans offering to take people on island tours, so we went on one of those and were dropped off at the shopping area after the tour. By then it was around noon and extremely hot, so we didn't stay there too long. Unfortunately, the day the ship was ready to anchor and tender to Grand Cayman, had to be cancelled. There were many ships in the area and all were advised to leave because the skies were very overcast and there were very high winds. So, we cruised back to Fort Lauderdale at a slower pace and had an extra day at sea. Disembarkation: As on other ships, we had to fill out a form regarding flight information, so that the appropriate color coded luggage tag could be issued. This process went very smoothly and we were off the ship by 10 am. The luggage was all lined up in a nice orderly fashion and easy to find under the correct color sign. Now, if they could only deliver the luggage to the cabins in this same orderly procedure. Final Note: I might try Celebrity again, but first I will try Royal Caribbean or Princess. p181k@aol.com March 2003 Read Less
We have just completed back-to-back 10 + 11 night "Ultimate Caribbean" cruises on the Summit (Feb.21/03 and Mar 3/03). I will try and restrict my comments to areas not already covered in the many excellent reviews posted. In ... Read More
We have just completed back-to-back 10 + 11 night "Ultimate Caribbean" cruises on the Summit (Feb.21/03 and Mar 3/03). I will try and restrict my comments to areas not already covered in the many excellent reviews posted. In general terms however, I must concur that the ship is beautiful, the service is excellent, the food is great and the entertainment, for the most part, quite good. We had a standard sized balcony cabin (#7084), which we were very pleased with. The floor to ceiling windows/balcony door certainly help to avoid that closed-in feeling. I must also agree/repeat that we'll never want another cabin WITHOUT a balcony! It's a great place to retreat to after a hectic day, or simply to contemplate the sunrise/sunset/waves flowing by. We noticed "passenger noise" only once (probably just good luck in "neighbour selection"), however good earplugs are always an essential safeguard. We experienced no ship vibration while in the cabin (did feel some at one time while in the stern restaurant, but not an issue). The sound of the waves slicing off the ship is quite noticeable even with the balcony door closed (Celebrity requests that it be kept closed for air conditioning purposes), particularly on rougher days, but I found that to be a pleasant "lullaby". The seas were quite calm for most of our trip (a little more motion from Panama to Aruba - about 10 foot swells). My wife has in the past been a little sensitive to the motion, but she had no problems at all on this trip. I'll get my whining out of the way early: the usual complaint about inconsiderate chair hogs - I'm afraid they're always going to be with us. Some were even reserving chairs in the sun and shade at the same time. Celebrity does not appear to be doing anything about it (contrary to some of their literature), and after our chat with the chief housekeeper, it appears that they feel that there isn't much they can do. If it weren't for environmental considerations, I would love to chuck all those strategically placed books, visors, shoes etc. etc. overboard!! St. Maarten Took a cab to Orient beach - an interesting and pretty spot. Water was pleasant, quite wavy/windy. Cab was about $15 as I recall (we didn't share with anyone). St. Lucia Catamaran cruise to Fond Doux estate. This was the only day we experienced rain (off & on showers), so that detracted from the tour a bit. It was still pleasant (my wife would take issue with that - she wasn't impressed with the wave motion and being confined under the very limited shelter) - sailing down to Soufriere and the Pitons. The mini-bus ride to the estate was reasonably short, and the estate itself was pleasant - small area to tour but the tropical vegetation was enjoyable. On the ride back to the boat we stopped at the "drive-in volcano"/sulpher springs, along with 20 zillion other tourists. That part we could very nicely have omitted - just a VERY smelly area of sulpher pits. Once back on the catamaran we were provided with a good buffet lunch en route to "the deserted cove of Anse Cochon" - deserted except for about eight other catamarans! That's OK - was still pleasant - with time for a leisurely dip in the ocean (while ensuring that you're not run into by the other boats!). Continuing back, we sailed into Marigot Bay, which is a very pretty spot. Lots of photo ops. Barbados On Barbados we hired our own cab ($25 per hour), which as many have observed, is highly recommended. We had a very pleasant, knowledgeable and patient driver, who took us up the "Platinum (west) Coast", over to Bathsheba and the Andromeda Gardens, to St. John's Church, Gun Hill and back into Bridgetown. The windward side of the island is very picturesque, and we highly recommend taking the time to wander around Andromeda Gardens - the trees, plants, flowers are beautiful. This trip took three hours, leaving lots of time to wander in town. We also walked back to the ship from town, which was no problem. On previous trips we went to Harrison's Cave and the Flower Forest, which we also enjoyed - even though it rained like mad one time (Flower Forest is prepared - with large umbrellas!). St. Kitts We hadn't been to St. Kitts before, so also took a taxi tour all around this island, which took 4 ½ hours (also $25 per hour). We thoroughly enjoyed the many vistas, including the gardens at Romney Manor, but had had about enough after 4 ½ hours so didn't get all the way to Banana Bay on the southern tip. We did come across a small group of wild monkeys by the side of the road, which we understand are fairly common in some areas of the island. I believe that the tour of the island by rail had just started up when we were there. Apparently it runs on the tracks used to haul sugar cane, which are a narrow gauge. I asked the taxi driver about the stability of the cars, and he was of the opinion that they were quite "rocky". St. Thomas Everyone has been to St. Thomas umpteen times (and enjoy it each time I'm sure), so I won't say much (I did hear some big-mouth sneer at the suggestion of going to Magen's Bay AGAIN - that's sort of like saying "why go on a CRUISE - I've done THAT before"!!). This was the first time I went up the tram - it does provide a great photo op! Celebrity's Constellation was moored right in front of us, so that also was an interesting photo op - two identical ships together. Ft. Lauderdale On the turn-around between cruises, it's GREAT to lounge about the pool with virtually no-one there - knowing that almost everyone else is scurrying like mad to get off!! Key West On this segment Summit was anchored, so we had to tender in (according to the Key West cruise schedule, Summit sometimes docks there). We hadn't been to Key West before, so were interested to see it. Having done that, we're not really interested in going ashore there again (probably would for a short time if were docked and didn't have to tender). It was too noisy and abrasive for us (I think all the "hog" riders in the eastern states were in town that day!!). Cozumel There were eight ships docked /moored, but it didn't seem too busy. We again hired a taxi to take us around the island - we had never been to the eastern windward side. Again, I highly recommend this drive - the vistas of the ocean crashing in are great, and there are very few people around. As I recall, the fare was $50 for a couple of hours - well worth it. We of course wandered around town, which we find very pleasant, in spite of all those darn tourists. Past visits have included Chankanaab Park, which is a nice place to lounge in the sun, wander through gardens (with various artifacts) and get in some decent snorkeling. A word to those contemplating a tour from Cozumel to the mainland (i.e. Tulum) - be aware that the ferry ride across is usually quite rough (take Gravol etc. if you are susceptible to motion issues). Puerto Limon, Costa Rica We took the Tortuguero Canal tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. A good air-conditioned bus took us for the one-hour (narrated) drive to the canal pier. The drive went through a large banana plantation. We were cautioned to use the washroom facilities at the pier, as the boats have no facilities, and the boat part of the tour takes two hours. There was plenty of time for that process, and while the facilities are basic, they are adequate. The boats seat four across and are covered. When something interesting is spotted, the operator is good about turning the boat so everyone can see. That works OK when dealing with sloths, but crocodile sightings are a little more tricky. Even so, I think everyone got to see crocs OK. As I recall, we saw about a half dozen over about three encounters. We also saw a group of Howler monkeys lounging in the trees, and some white-faced or Capucino monkey romping about, as well as a fair number of birds. There wasn't a large number of animals seen, but we're not talking about a pre-planned "lion country safari" here. The fact that these are wild, unconfined critters makes it much more interesting. Also, simply cruising down the waterways with heavy vegetation on both sides was very pleasant. The canal parallels the ocean, and at one point the boat comes within sight of the surf. The bus ride back to the ship took 20 minutes. (Some tours were in reverse - 20 minutes out and 1 hour back). The town of Limon itself, while interesting in a way for a short wander, isn't really a great place to go. The smells in some parts are best left undescribed, and we had the distinct impression that several people were following us with eyes on my camera equipment. There is a little park close to the dock with lots of tropical vegetation, as well as a band of children after you to point out the sloths in the trees. Colon, Panama My wife had acquired a cold by this time (the ship, like all others, is well air conditioned - bring adequate clothing) so we mainly stayed on board except for a short trip to the dockside shopping area. Celebrity is very clear - except for any organized tours (which likely includes taxi tours)- DO NOT stray outside this area. Even going into these shops was very unpleasant. At the end of the escalator was a phalanx of VERY pushy taxi drivers harassing us to take tours. Simple, polite "no's" were not enough. Also, in one of the main stores, the clerks followed so close we stopped to ask if we were getting in their way!! On a more positive note, our tablemates took the Two Ocean Railroad Journey and thought it was GREAT. They were not in the dome car, but found that the view was still fine ("not a bad seat on the train"). Also, someone on the train suggested that the dome car could get quite hot at times, in spite of the air conditioning. Aruba Our favourite island. Pleasant people, consistently sunny (very dry), constant breeze, great beaches, scenic - Natural Bridge, California lighthouse, Alto Vista chapel, wild windward side etc., etc. Oranjestad (ship docks right in town) is very picturesque and clean. It's a very pleasant walk along the waterfront to the Seaport Marketplace, up past the Seaport Casino to the waters edge and around the Renaissance beach resort to Wilhelmina Park. Good photo op there back to the Summit mooring. A short stop at the Crystal Casino in town was much more rewarding than the slots on board! (Although I must confess, one of our tablemates got a $2,100 payoff). It's been mentioned by another reviewer, but it's worth repeating that the bus terminal is just across the street from the cruise terminal, and a return ticket up to the hotel strip (Palm Beach - which is beyond Eagle Beach toward the California lighthouse) is just $2.00. It's a simple process (the buses run fairly frequently) and beats a $10 taxi ride each way. It's also easy to go through one of the hotels to the beach - e.g. the Hyatt won't let you go through their pool area (security guards posted), but they simply steer you to a separate walkway down to the beach (still within the hotel). Grand Cayman We enjoy this island also (almost moved there many years ago), but were somewhat overwhelmed by the masses of cruise passengers. There were only five ships in port, but two of them were the Navigator of the Seas and the Grand Princess. I calculated about 12,000 passengers on all ships. A clerk on shore indicated that there would be about 65,000 cruise passengers in town that week!! Given that everyone has to be tendered ashore, and that the dock area is quite small, the place was nuts! We had considered going out to the beach after wandering in town, but the hordes of people jamming into mini-buses soon convinced us otherwise. That's one of the down-sides of cruising compared to "land-based" holidays - limited time to take in some shore opportunities, and very large groups of people all trying to do the same thing at the same time. Oh well, lounging back at the pool on Summit with a cool one in hand and few people left on board wasn't so hard to take! (Did I mention that the temperature throughout our 21 days was usually close to 30 C.?). Normandie Restaurant As pretty well everyone else has said, the dining here is superb. We went twice over the 21 days. Also as previously mentioned, the Rack of Lamb wrapped in puff pastry is wonderful. (The rack of lamb in the main dining room is really good also - I think I had rack of lamb about 5 times!). We also had the Chateaubriand - which was also excellent (I preferred the lamb). The Chateau didn't have as nice a selection of vegetables as we have had in some places (highly recommend Le Beaujolais in Banff Alberta!!!), but the beef was perfect. (The filet of beef in the main restaurant was also great - and cooked precisely to specification - our table had varied preferences, from rare to medium well). Also concur that the goat cheese soufflE is amazing. The Caesar was OK, but a bit heavier on the anchovy paste than some might like. The onion soup was very good (quite heavy with cream etc) but I preferred the goat cheese soufflE. For dessert, the "Bombe Surprise Du S.S. Normandie" is wonderful - "fine mixture of white & dark chocolate mousse with raspberries and spiked with chocolate curls". If anyone wants the full menu, feel free to e-mail me (jkiddoo@shaw.ca). Security/Cameras Every time returning to the ship, all items must be passed through the x-ray machine. On the first leg of the cruise they allowed my wife's 35 mm to be "checked" by taking a photo instead of passing it through the x-ray. On the second leg, they absolutely refused to do that and demanded that the camera go through the x-ray. I have seen various authoritative publications to the effect that anything over 5 times through those machines and the film may be damaged (it's a cumulative effect). Unless rolls of film are completed and removed before returning to the ship, this is a significant problem. In the future, I think we will stick to bringing only the digital camera, which we use most of the time anyway. Miscellaneous Don't miss High Tea in the main dining room - great little sandwiches and excellent desserts, with classy music. We don't drink alcohol, so the soda stickers were a good idea - $4.50 per person per day (must be for duration of cruise) plus 15%. As on any ship, it does get congested and sometimes noisy around the main pool, but it's easy to get away up forward on the top deck (Plexiglas shields some chairs from the wind) or on deck 4 (below lifeboats). The night before embarkation we went a little too cheap and stayed at the Best Western Marina Inn. The first room they gave us was terrible - the second so-so. This place is convenient (across the street from the Hyatt Pier 66) but next time we'll go back to the Hyatt or maybe the Marriott back across the bridge. Disembarkation I don't think it's wise to book a flight out before noon. We got off the ship at 9:30, found our luggage reasonably quickly, waited a bit for the bus to fill, stood in the Air Canada line for over an hour, and were through security by noon. As has been mentioned, luggage cannot be locked, and red plastic ties are available at the airport to secure zippers. In summary, I highly recommend the Summit, her people and the itineraries for these cruises. We had no problem enjoying the 21-day duration. jkiddoo@shaw.ca June 2003 Read Less
This is the first time that myself and my wife have cruised on the new GTS series from Celebrity (Summit, Infinity, Constellation, & Millenium) and they are engineering marvels!. First you notice no smoke from the smoke stacks. These ... Read More
This is the first time that myself and my wife have cruised on the new GTS series from Celebrity (Summit, Infinity, Constellation, & Millenium) and they are engineering marvels!. First you notice no smoke from the smoke stacks. These new GE turbine engines recyles the smoke to be almost pollution free. Second these engines are very, very smooth. Lastly, this is the best riding ship which includes even larger 109,000 and 140,000 dwt vessels. Best of all at 91,000 Dwt you can get easily around this ship. Please note I am 55 and my wife is 50 and we cruise 3-4 times per year. We enjoy a very active lifestyle. Here are our individual comments: Ports of call Very disappointing! The ports were Key West (Been there done that), Cozumel (Ditto unless your a skin diver), Port Limon (Ugly port, but great inland tours especially up the Tortuguera), Colon (A step above Porto Limon), Aruba (Nice Beach). Cartagena, Columbia was eliminated due to safety) and also Georgetown, Grand Caymans due to roughness of the seas. For a 11 day cruise only 5 ports was not enough. Also land was rarely sighted. I was especially disappointed that we did not go through the Gatun Locks in Panama as other cruise liners do. Frankly if the ship was not so good we would have been very disappointed! Exercise and activities The Gym was the biggest and best we have ever experienced onboard. Great Exercise classes, but not all were free. We think they should not charge for any exercise class. Immediately outside the gym is an indoor pool that we enjoy greatly. This included 2 whirlpools and a Thallysorium (?) pool which bubbled warm salt water over your entire body. At each end of the pool you could sit under a strong stream of water that was delightful. Comfortable chairs and a special nutritienal eating area made this a special place for us. The healthy food (Low cal) allowed us to eat sumptous meals each evening. One note that we were very disappointed with. They have eliminated the 'Ship-Shape' point system that allows you to earn points for being active to get a t-shirt or other item. This was a cost saving measure, but very short sighted on behalf of Celebrity. Food Celebrity is noted for making food an event on their ships. This was not quite up to our standards compared to other Celebrity ships, but none the less very good. This put the food on par with Princess lines or Royal Caribbean. One night we spent 2 hr 15 minutes at dinner which we complained. The next evening the provided our table free Champagne and chocolates. General any problems with Celebrity are fixed immediately after pointing the issue out to them. One special note is room service. Every evening around 10 pm we would order hot tea and a chocolate chip cookie. Items were provided within 10 minutes which is very fast! Room Accomodations The Balcony Stateroom (1B category) was well appointed, but smaller then other ships. We have a cruise coming up in August with our daughter and are planning to upgrade to a bigger size as 3 people would be cramped in these accomodations. Entertainment The best! The acts were very good and the Celebrity entertainers were Broadway class. Absolutely, first class. The Theatre was well appointed and comfortable. Special note to Comedian Noodles Levenstein. He is the funniest comedian we have ever seen. He had us rolling in the Isles. General The crew was the most professional and best we have seen on any ship. They were always smiling and friendly and the cabins stewards were very high class and not obtrusive. This alone makes this ship special. Simon Weir, cruise director was very good. Combine this with a beautiful ship you cannot miss having a good time on this cruise, even though the Ports of call were a disappointment. One special note on 'Cruise Connections" which provides bus service to the ports for Florida residents. Their service has gone down badly and we plan either to take a limo or drive to the port. Way to much problems and slow turn around for this service which was only slightly cheaper then other options. We are next cruising on the Millenium on Feb 9, 2003 and Constellation on Aug 2, 2003 (Northern Europe) so we will have a better comparison for these ships.bsorge1@bellsouth.netMarch 2003 Read Less
We'll be back. That sums up our experience on the Summit 3/3/03-3/14/03. What a wonderful experience. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the Marriott Marina. After check-in, we were able to catch some sun, ... Read More
We'll be back. That sums up our experience on the Summit 3/3/03-3/14/03. What a wonderful experience. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before and stayed at the Marriott Marina. After check-in, we were able to catch some sun, have a cocktail, and rest before the big day. On Monday morning, we caught a cab to the pier about 10:30 AM. It's about a 5-10 minute ride from the hotel. We unloaded our bags and found the sitting room for Captain's club members. We were traveling with another couple who were not members, but the agent allowed us all to enter; the first of many small things Celebrity personnel did to make this a memorable vacation. We didn't expect to board until noon but figured sitting by the ship was better than hanging around a hotel lobby. About 11:15 an announcement was made that embarkation was being held up by the Coast Guard (paperwork problems) and that we would be delayed in boarding. We figured that meant we would not get on the ship until 12:30-1:00 PM. Imagine our surprise when we were asked to start moving to the ship at about 11:45. We dropped our carry on bags at our rooms and started exploring. As luck would have it, we were passing by the hamburger/pizza place just when it opened. At 12:37 I had a cheeseburger in hand sitting on a beautiful ship. Our room was a category 2B, Vista Deck, number 7100. For whatever reason (design, mirrors, and bed size) it seemed larger than the same type of room we had on the Ocean Princess 2 years before. I am also sure that the bathroom was larger on the Summit. The veranda was large enough for us to sit with a small table to hold coffee or drinks between us. We wished the partition between the verandas of ourselves and travel partners would have opened, as they did on the Ocean, but that is a minor item. Storage was more than adequate for an 11-night cruise (3 formal nights). Our room was consistently clean throughout the cruise. Whenever I went to get coffee or just walking around, the people responsible to clean rooms and halls, and the ship, were always working. The few times we asked for something special it was delivered quickly and efficiently. Bags fit underneath the beds and closet space was generous. The desk in the room allowed my wife to spread out her make-up, etc. The refrigerator was large enough for a bottle of wine and some beer. Which leads me to the following. I have read many of the boards about whether or not you can bring your own on board. I think I understand the profit margins cruise lines work under, but I hope they never get to the point where confiscation becomes the norm. I like to have a drink while dressing and so does my wife. What I don't like, or want to do, is call room service or walk down to a lounge and fetch something. As long as things don't get out of hand and everybody quits drinking at the shipboard bars, the cruise lines will maintain good will by allowing passengers to bring some of their own. But I digress, back to the ship. At 2:00 PM, a tour of the spa and gym started. The spa had just about any treatment available you can imagine, including Swedish massage, hot rock massage, facials, cellulite therapy, hairstyling, Turkish baths, steam rooms, and some other stuff. My wife and her friend gave rave reviews on everything they tried. Throughout the cruise, we noted that the spa and gym personnel were well-trained career professionals. They were not trained for a couple of weeks and let loose on the ship. The gym has Lifestyle weight machines, treadmills, bikes, etc. There are also free weights. It is a great facility and we spent at least an hour a day there burning off calories. A person we ran into during the cruise talked about the cruise lines wanting to make the ship the destination. I cannot speak for others but, in our case, this is probably close to the truth. I cannot think of another service that could be offered that would make the experience much better than we had. Days at sea were filled up with little trouble. You could do as much or as little as you pleased. There were plenty of lectures and activities or lounge chairs available. I remember a couple of times when we looked at each other and asked, "where did the time go?" Menus were varied and the food, in my opinion, was the best we have had on a cruise ship. The menus allowed for dieters from Atkins to low fat/low sugar/low salt a number of choices. I am not a buffet person and neither is my wife, so we didn't go there much. The times we did go through (early morning tours), there were enough choices to provide a good meal with good to excellent quality. Eggs cooked to order, smoked Salmon, croissant, bagels, fruit, cereal, grits, cream of wheat, oatmeal, etc. For lunch, we either grabbed a burger or pizza or went to the dining room. I never had a problem finding too much to eat. Dinner was fabulous most nights. Out of the 11 nights, I can think of only one when the menu didn't really appeal to me. A standout every lunch and dinner was the soups. They varied from cold to hot, cream to broth, and fruit to vegetable. All were top quality. Breads had a good crumb and they could not bring enough breadsticks. If you ordered meat rare it came that way. Don't order the New York strip. It's too thin to cook correctly. We did not have a fish that was not cooked correctly. They all tasted great. If they offer tenderloin, order it. This plate always came as ordered and melted in your mouth. Pastas were also very good, but did not often appear. The only near complaint I can make about the food is that it was under spiced. I understand the reason for this, some people just don't like too much. This was easily solved by asking the waiter for the appropriate "stuff" and the "problem" went away. The dessert course had many choices from ice cream to the more involved dishes. There was always a non-sugar-added item on the menu. One thing we were happy about is that the desserts were not full of sugar. They let the fruit come through without the sugar. There is artwork all over the ship. Much of it is modern in style. Other pieces are whimsical and some is traditional. I found it refreshing. Everywhere we went, we bumped into another style. I'm sure some people would say, "That ain't art" but relax, it's vacation. The dEcor of the ship, like the art, was wild where it was appropriate. The carpets changed by location. Some of it was wild where it needed to be and in other areas it was more subdued. Light colored wood, brass colored metal, chrome, and opaque glass/plastic is used throughout the ship. I'm not an interior designer but it all seemed to fit. Whatever, it seemed elegant. I attended the Cruise Critic party in Michael's Club and talked with many nice people. They served soft drinks, coffee, and pastry while we just wandered around the room getting acquainted. The couple we traveled with used the Internet connection a couple of times. Even though it is satellite based, they said it was slow and cost a bunch. The pool area was adequate in size. There were plenty of deck chairs available on the two decks surrounding the main pool area or you could find one away from the bustle, in or out of the sun. There is no Promenade deck that goes completely around the ship but deck 11 does have a walking/jogging track that goes around the ship. Golf simulation and lessons are available. The emporium shops have everything you forgot in port. The emporium is bigger than you would expect and well stocked with everything from T-shirts to tuxedo shirts to booze to expensive jewelry. The casino is a casino; what else can you say. It seemed big enough but, at least on this cruise, the $10 minimum tables were empty while the $5 minimums were packed. My understanding is that this cruise was the last for Michael's Club to be advertised solely as a stogie bar. They moved in a piano while the cruise was going on, so something is afoot. I asked the bartender about it and he said that people would still be allowed to have a cigar in there, but the marketing would be different. I hope they keep it as a stogie friendly place. It seems ridiculous to have cigar or pipe smokers on an outside deck. The idea that somebody that wants a cigar can have one in peace and quiet, while not bothering anybody else, is a good one. Celebrity should keep this, even though it may be a monetary loser. All four of us thought the entertainment was good to excellent. Their acts included jugglers, acrobats, a tenor, a comedian, and the "Broadway" type stuff. If you want to see a Broadway show, go to New York and buy a ticket. The Celebrity performers are competent professionals, well rehearsed, and put on good shows. The contract performers were entertaining, even if their act is not something you would normally watch. The production values (costumes, sound, and choreography) were very professional.,br> We took only a couple of tours. The first was the canal trip in Costa Rica. It was an interesting trip through some of the countryside and river/canals through a national park. We saw 3 species of monkeys, crocodiles, birds, and other wildlife. Bring a lunch, as what is served is fruit and water. You can't get too close but it's not a zoo. The other trip was the ferry through a portion of the Panama Canal. While expensive, we all felt the trip was worth the money. My wife remarked after that she now has no desire to take a Panama Canal cruise as she feels the ferry trip gave us a unique perspective. That doesn't mean we won't do one in the future, but it's now a low priority. It lasts most of the day and there is a sack lunch, but, if you can, bring your own. The highlight of the cruise, for us, was Aruba. We thought Grand Cayman was beautiful, but Aruba knocked the socks off Cayman. Aruba was clean, the people friendly and helpful, the beaches public, water a color that defies a word, good jewelry prices, and polite haggling (go to Kay's and talk with Sunny). I'd like to spend some more time there to see if it really is paradise. All four of us would go back in a heartbeat. The cruise director (Nick) was a riot. He was very funny, told a good joke, and was very energetic. He also ran some of the activities on board, all of which were well attended, due to his personality. Teresa, the shopping assistant, was a pistol. Her lectures on shopping ports were fun and informative. She may be a shill for the companies that advertise, but the information she gave was worthwhile. Plus, if you went shopping, you were bound to run into her checking things out and asking people if they were doing OK. It was almost like she was making sure you weren't getting screwed. The photography staff, lead by Paul, was by far the best we have ever seen on a ship. The sets, print quality, and service were outstanding. We bought more photos on this trip than the other 5 cruises we've been on combined. Everybody we show the pictures to remarks how good they are. The wait staff and wine guy was what you would expect: Friendly, accommodating, efficient, and overall professional. We had great fun with them and will remember them always. A couple of anecdotes follow. We talked with another couple we met in Grand Cayman that had traveled on a Celebrity cruise in the past. For whatever reason, they had decided to take a Carnival cruise this time. They told us the Carnival cruise "was horrible" compared to their Celebrity experience. Over lunch another day, we talked with a woman that had traveled recently on a Crystal cruise. Her assessment was that Crystal was not worth the premium when compared to Celebrity. The little things on Crystal, like doilies on the coffee saucer, food quality and free booze did not offset the cost difference. Before I close I would like to pose a couple of questions for Celebrity. They probably don't have an easy answer and are probably more rhetorical than serious. Why does a 7-night cruise count the same as an 11-night cruise when the Captain's Club levels are determined? Why doesn't Celebrity stop in Jamaica? On this particular cruise, is it possible to skip Key West and later in the cruise port in Aruba one morning, overnight in Aruba, and leave the evening of the next day? It might save fuel and allow people a longer visit to this truly beautiful place. Is there a travel iron that does not pull more than 150 watts? It would be nice to freshen a shirt rather than sending it to the laundry. Every hotel room I've stayed in the last few years has an iron and board available, why not cruise ships (except for the announcement that specifically told people not to plug an iron into the socket because it would burn out the ship circuits). This probably reads like a Celebrity advertisement, but I can honestly say that this was a magnificent trip. Normally, on any vacation, there is something that goes wrong or is an irritant. Not so, for us. Celebrity should be commended for providing such a wonderful experience. Like I said in the beginning, we'll be back...and as soon as we can. bslund@quixnet.net July 2003 Read Less
This is an awesome ship! My husband and I went on this cruise with 3 other couples. We flew from Houston, Texas directly to Honolulu three days before the cruise to get used to the 5 hour time difference. (That still was not enough!) We ... Read More
This is an awesome ship! My husband and I went on this cruise with 3 other couples. We flew from Houston, Texas directly to Honolulu three days before the cruise to get used to the 5 hour time difference. (That still was not enough!) We woke up the next morning at 2:30am raring to go! Only place to go was Denny's!) We stayed at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach for 3 nights, city view, for 375.00 so that in our opinion was a great price because it was right on Waikiki Beach. It is a nice hotel and right in the heart of things. There is a lot to see in Oahu so you need to plan on spending a couple of days there to see Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center, etc. On Monday we arrived at the Summit, our home for the next 11 nights. This was an 11-night cruise that went to Kauai, Maui, Kona & Hilo and was at sea for 5 days and ended in Vancouver. The weather could have been better. It did rain basically the entire weekend we were in Honolulu and the entire day in Kauai so we did not see much of Kauai. Maui is awesome and I recommend taking the Molokini Snorkeling Tour. We saw everything, white tip reef shark, sea turtles (one was missing a flipper and the guide informed us a Tiger Shark probably got it, yes, just what I needed to hear in this deep water at this time!) octopus, rays, fish and even a humpback whale on our way back to the dock. Maui has a lot of shopping also. This was our favorite stop and we were here 2 days. Kona was also nice. It is on the Big Island. We did the Body Glove Snorkeling here. They are great at entertaining you on this excursion. Next stop is Hilo. Yes it rains here! We went to Volcanoes National Park. Nice to say I have been. Can't say I would do it again. I have been to almost every state park in the US so this is the main reason why I went to this one. My opinion, seen one rock you seen them all.ha! Smells here so if you have breathing problems do not go due to the vapors. Now my opinion of the ship. My husband and I are in our 30's. The others in our group are in their 40's and 50's. Our cabin was on 3rd deck, outside. Our friends all had Balcony staterooms on 7. I referred to my husband and I as "slumming" compared to them but in all actuality our cabin was just like theirs except for the fact that they had the balcony. I did not get the balcony for the simple reason that we usually cruise with our 3 small children so we can not have a balcony with them and I do not want to "spoil" myself with having one, so I can't miss something I have never had. ha ! Our stateroom was so nice! There was plenty of room for everything. I drink nothing but diet coke so I had also brought on with me 2 cases of diet coke to keep in my room. They do have a mini bar which I did not use except to keep my own cokes cold. The bed was very comfortable. I always pack enough clothes to dress half the ship and I had plenty of storage space for mine and my husband's clothes. The bathrooms were very roomy as was the shower. They also supplied you with a nice "waffle weave" robe to wear during the length of the cruise. I lived in this in my cabin. Very Nice! If you choose you can buy new ones so I came home with 4 for me and my friends! Same with beach towels! The food was great and I am not a big eater but I enjoyed the food on this ship more than any other! I actually gained 10 pounds! The personal pan pizza's are great and we had them delivered to our room almost every night. The entertainment was great. The cruise staff was one of the best we have met so far. My husband and I always try and participate in everything we can. Again we were on a 2 week vacation for the first time with no children, in Hawaii at that, so we were making the most of this trip! We were on the Newlywed Not so Newlywed Game, we lost bad even though we've been married 17 years! Played Battle of the Sexes every day. They dressed my husband up as Elvis on 50's night and we won on The Quest (awesome game but more fun on The Rhapsody of the Seas). Rani, on the cruise staff even sent us a Thank You card for participating in so much that week. Again, overall this was a great trip. This ship is a beauty. Hawaii is fine. It rains a lot there. My friend lived there for 2 years and told me its just another island. I now tend to agree. I prefer the Caribbean because one it is closer to Texas and being from Texas we are used to heat! I could not get used to the cold Pacific water compared to the warm Caribbean. The Caribbean water in my opinion is also clearer because it is warmer. Now, would I go again to Hawaii on this same cruise if given the opportunity, in a heart beat! I went on the Rhapsody of the Seas last October 2001 and "rode out" Hurricane Michelle all week in 30-40 foot seas so I know I could handle a little rain in Hawaii. We are going on the new Carnival Conquest in 9/03 so we will see if we have any more storms to deal with. Happy Cruising! diox@txucom.netSeptember 2002 Read Less
CELEBRITY'S NEWEST... THE SUMMIT We were delighted to have the opportunity to sail on the all too brief two night Media and Travel Agent Inaugural on board Celebrity's appropriately named Summit. We sailed from Port ... Read More
CELEBRITY'S NEWEST... THE SUMMIT We were delighted to have the opportunity to sail on the all too brief two night Media and Travel Agent Inaugural on board Celebrity's appropriately named Summit. We sailed from Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale in the early evening, Friday, September 28th and returned early Sunday morning. I can report, first, that security measures at the Port entrance and during embarkation at the pier are stringent... a pronounced increase from the norm, and quite welcomed by most! We were required to prove we had business in the Port before we were permitted to drive in and our luggage was thoroughly checked at the pier. We were asked for our photo identification not less than 3 times from our first entry into the pier until we embarked the Summit. Celebrity has many additional security measures in place and the atmosphere in the pier and on the ship was totally relaxed. It is not unusual for one ship of a class to stand out from the others... and, in the case of Millennium class vessels, the Summit's the one. She's the culmination of all that was learned in the development of the Millennium and the Infinity. Celebrity has blended tradition and superb ship design advancements to great effect on the Summit. What a special vessel she is! At first glance, Summit is little different from her two sisters... her basic statistics being virtually identical. She's 91,000 gross registered tons, 965 feet long, 105 feet beam and holds 1,950 passengers... a remarkable space ratio of 46.6; nothing different here. Also, I have always felt that the Millennium class vessels have an ungainly look on the outside... from a distance there is a distinct absence of smooth flowing lines one associates with new passenger vessels. It is curious but from the outside she's almost an ugly duckling. But that's where it ends. Inside, we have an elegant, beautiful Princess! Staterooms on the Millennium class ships are spacious and well designed, with all the amenities one comes to expect in ships of this caliber. Every cabin has a safe, mini bar (refrigerator), large lavatories with Celebrity's typical large shower area, loads of closet and drawer space. Standard Ocean View and Interior staterooms measure a comfortable 170 square feet. Upwards of 80% of the cabins on Summit are Ocean View and 85% of those have balconies. These cabins range from 170 to 191 square feet with balconies of varying sizes. And, Summit offers no less than 4 categories of suites ranging in size up to 1098 square feet. We had a Category 2C, forward, on the Penthouse Deck and it was delightful. (Secret: Cabins numbered 6016-6046 and 6021-6051 have great oversized balconies that are just delightful! We had 6030.) The public rooms and facilities on board Summit are chic, elegant, warm and inviting. This is unbridled elegance entwined with superb taste and an eye toward utility. The ship works! Where to begin... well... how about dining venues? The Main Dining Room, the Cosmopolitan is a remarkable two-story restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean views. The Grand Staircase sweeps majestically down to the main level where one is greeted by the famous statue "La Normandie"... from the famous French liner of the thirty's and forty's the Normandie. As you may know, the statue was recently resurrected from an ignominious location in the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach. The restaurant is stunning... tables well spaced and a very low noise level. Service in the Cosmopolitan was warm, friendly and efficient... a trait we found everywhere on the Summit. Speaking of the Normandie, the Summit's Specialty Restaurant is so named... The Normandie Restaurant. The entrance is a repository of memorabilia from the original vessel and is a pure delight. The restaurant itself contains some original wall panels from the Normandie. This is just not to be missed by anyone who loves the sea or the ships that sail on it. Except for a special "invitation only" dinner, the Normandie Restaurant was only open for inspection during this short cruise. Word from folks who have sampled the service and fare in the Specialty Restaurants on board the Millennium and Infinity has been generally excellent. The venue is so stunning that I would be happy to spend a few hours at a table if they were serving bread and water! The Waterfall Cafe and Grill... Summit's buffet restaurant is beautifully laid out with plenty of bay window tables offering great views of the sea. We found the food here, and in the main restaurant, to be excellent... no surprise on Celebrity! Other features of the Summit are exactly in line with what you would expect on this class of vessel. A magnificent Aquaspa, huge and beautifully equipped, with loads of indulgences available, none of which I can even come close to pronouncing, is standard issue on Celebrity. Michael's Club is large, warm and inviting. I loved the great Martini Bar (and great Martini's)! Nearby is the Champagne Bar and both venues are extremely popular before dinner. Cova Cafe Milano offers a great cup of coffee and some exotic desert pastries. And, there is Notes... the great Music Library where you can select and sample music from an extensive collection of CD's; its soaring two deck high ceiling and too comfortable arm chairs make Notes a great place to pass a bit of time with yourself. I loved the Conservatory. So nice to sit up there... I felt transported back to another era on some of the great liners of the past. It's hard to say what is so attractive up there... just try it... you'll see. Revelations, Celebrity Theater, Rendez-Vous Lounge, the Card Room, The Tower, The Internet Cafe, Words, Fortunes Casino, Fun Factory, The Emporium... it goes on and on. And, here and there throughout the Summit are great "nooks and crannies"... small spaces in which to nestle, away from the world... adding to the remarkable small ship "feel" of the Summit. Two nights and three days were hardly enough time on this engaging vessel. She'll be sailing great ten and eleven night itineraries to the Southern Caribbean, followed by a trans-Canal, a fling to Hawaii and Alaska. I would be hard pressed to think of a ship I'd rather be on. Celebrity has gotten it exactly right with the Summit. elgmcc@bellsouth.netOctober 2001 Read Less
Friday, June 20th Our flight left out of Newark International Airport, New Jersey on Friday June 20th at 7:55 am. We arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 am. We arrived 1/2 hour ahead of time. After clearing customs we did not have to pick up ... Read More
Friday, June 20th Our flight left out of Newark International Airport, New Jersey on Friday June 20th at 7:55 am. We arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 am. We arrived 1/2 hour ahead of time. After clearing customs we did not have to pick up our luggage. Much to our surprise Celebrity took care of that for us. We boarded the transfer buses and were in our cabin by 12:30 pm. We met our Cabin Attendant Fabion & our Butler Avre. We left our cabin for lunch and got to know our new home for the next seven days. Saturday, June 21st This day was a sail day. We cruised the Inside Passage and saw the beauty of Alaska. We spent time in the Spa & Salon. This was our 1st formal night. We had the honor of having the ship's Doctor with us for dinner. Sunday, June 22nd -- Ketchikan, Alaska We docked at 7:00 am in Ketchikan, Alaska. We booked a shore excursion to see a Lumber Jack Show. The show lasted for 1 & 1/2 hours. We saw pole climbing, Ax Throwing, and Log Rolling. After the show we walked around Ketchikan, and made our way up to Creek Street and did some shopping. We went back to Summit for a 2:00 pm sailaway. Monday, June 23rd -- Skagway, Alaska We docked in Skagway at 10:00 am. We took the Skagway Street Car Tour. We saw some more of the beauty of Alaska and learned of the history of Skagway. The ship left Skagway at 8:00 pm. Tuesday, June 24th - Juneau, Alaska Here in Juneau we had to tender. This is were we took our Whale Watching tour. We saw so many whales. One came so close to our ship that we were almost able to reach out and touch it. We also saw the American Bald Eagle & Sea Otters. I never realized how big whales can be until this excursion. Wednesday, June 25th - Hubbard Glacier Hubbard is the most biggest glacier I have ever seen. You don't have glaciers in New Jersey for sure. One thing I will say when you do go to the Glacier - one word "COLD". You will drink a lot of hot tea to stay warm. Thursday, June 26th - Valdez Compared to the other ports on this cruise - Valdez is very small. In my opinion - I would of rather stopped at another port or just have another sail day. There wasn't much to do or see at this port of cold. Friday, June 27th This was as sad day. Our cruise had come to an end. To date we have enjoyed all cruises we have taken - but this one has been the best of all. swierk@comcast.net July 2003 Read Less
Cruise Review - Celebrity Summit 10-18-02 10-Day Southern Caribbean We are a 30-something couple on my seventh and my husband, Mark's, third cruise. I have previously cruised on Royal Caribbean, Princess and the old Admiral Lines, ... Read More
Cruise Review - Celebrity Summit 10-18-02 10-Day Southern Caribbean We are a 30-something couple on my seventh and my husband, Mark's, third cruise. I have previously cruised on Royal Caribbean, Princess and the old Admiral Lines, on mostly three- and four-night Baja jaunts. Our last cruise was a seven-day Eastern Caribbean on Celebrity's Millennium in January 2001, and loved the ship so much, we chose to go on Summit. I liked the two sea days out/two sea days back itinerary of this 10-day Southern Caribbean cruise. After five ports in five days, we really needed those last two sea days to catch up on our sleep! They're not kidding when they say a Southern Caribbean itinerary is tiring. I really could have used a sea day somewhere in between to rest. Our ports were St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. In general, I liked Summit just a pinch more than Millennium. I absolutely love the M-Class Celebrity ships. Summit is just as, if not more, beautiful than Millennium. Again, a very elegant atmosphere and well laid out. Places for activity and places for quiet are always available. The colors seem brighter on Summit - lots of variations on gold and orange. I want to add that this is the cruise that I've grown to call the "Where's Simon? Tour '02" due to Cruise Director, Simon Weir, having back problems and being laid up for all but the first two days of the cruise. It was a lot of fun watching him call the Horseracing, and we really enjoyed talking with him - very congenial and focused on you when conversing. The man has lots of energy, but unfortunately, he took ill after the first formal night and we never saw him again. I remember several fellow Cruise Critics singing Simon's praises when they were on their Galaxy cruise around 9/11. Darin, the Assistant Cruise Director, stepped into Simon's shoes and did a fantastic job, calling the horseraces, hosting many of the shows and cocktail parties, and anchoring the "Channel 18" show every morning. Darin seems so young to be doing a CD's job, but he did great. 1. Pre-Cruise Hotel Stay We stayed at the Doubletree Suites Galleria in Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise, which is situated on the Intercoastal Waterway. It didn't appear to have a good view of the ocean, but it was a good hotel for the price. We paid $66 total for the night, which we got through Priceline. They gave us a top-floor suite with a corner balcony and a view of downtown and the subsequent sunset. Parking is $10 per night - more if you valet it. There wasn't much activity that evening, but we did enjoy the pool. The staff was gracious and helpful. We did not eat in the hotel restaurant, but did order room service. Unfortunately, it took 45 minutes to get a bowl of soup. The Galleria mall and an Eckerd drug store were within a block of the hotel, which was very convenient for making last-minute purchases. There is also a water taxi stop at the rear of the hotel on the Intercoastal. All in all, I wouldn't mind staying there again. It was about five miles from Port Everglades. 2. Embarkation We were dropped off at about 11:45, and our bags were immediately tended to by a porter, who asked for a gratuity for the porters. I already had the money in my hand, expecting this to happen. I'm glad I was prepared. When we initially arrived in the terminal, it was pretty chaotic. We sat in the Captain's Club area, but we ended up getting hassled by a terminal employee who wanted to make us prove that we were in the Captain's Club, but my purse had been stolen about a month prior and I didn't have any numbers written or printed in my documentation. It aggravated me, but not long later, when they announced that the Captain's Club people can start getting in line, nobody bothered us - we just moved along with the herd. Check-in and security went very quick and smooth. We were caught in one snag, however. There was a bottleneck with the A-Pass system, where the card is read and your picture taken. There were two kiosks for this on deck, and we waited about 20 minutes in the gangway, which started to get warm and uncomfortable. The one kiosk we used seemed to be working ok, but the other one kept having to re-do and re-take. It turns out we were the lucky few, because on the cruise we found out that many passengers were waiting two hours to get onboard because the A-Pass system failed. The ship left half an hour late. The entire process took 50-60 minutes. Honestly, I thought it was much more organized on our previous cruise, where you walked into the terminal and were immediately given a 0,1,2, etc. number card, and then when your number was called, you were able to get processed. The new terminal needs to take a lesson from the old terminal. 3. The Cabin/Cabin Steward We liked Cabin 6048 so much on our Millennium cruise that we booked it for this one. It has a larger balcony than the others in category 2C. The cabin had plenty of room for all our stuff and we had more than enough hangers. There were extra pillows and an extra blanket already stowed in the closet in plastic bags. Between the shelves and the cupboards in the bathroom, there was more than enough room for all our toiletries. The television had good reception, and even picked up ESPN so we could see the World Series. The balcony had two chairs and a small table, which works well for just having coffee. If you put the inside table on the balcony, it works ok for a light breakfast. Anything more than that, there isn't much room. The cabin is in an excellent location, about 20 feet around the corner from the forward elevators. Our cabin steward, Paz, from the Philippines, was very good about keeping everything kept tidy; water and ice filled, enough towels, etc. She mostly "stayed behind the scenes," but was very pleasant the few times we talked with her. 4. Cruise Critic Connections (CCC) Party The CCC Party was on the first full day out in the Revelations Lounge on Deck 11. Zarah Bongelli, the Social Hostess, as well as Simon Weir, hosted, and there was a nice continental breakfast laid out. At least 75 people signed up online to attend, and I believe about 40 showed, which I think was a great turnout. I was pleasantly surprised getting the "party pack," which included very nice "Connections" pins, nametags and calling cards. It helped to identify other "Critics" during the cruise and make it easy to exchange info with others at the party. We were all a little surprised at how early and short it was - 10:30-11:00 am. Most of us would have preferred it to be early afternoon and at least an hour so that we could mingle more. They had the Honeymoon/Anniversary gathering right after the party, and a few of us hung around for it, taking the opportunity to chat a while longer. The only thing I regret is not taking more pictures and at least one group shot. 5. Waiter/Assistant Waiter/Tablemates We had second seating, which worked out beautifully. We enjoyed having the extra couple hours to spend at the pool or spa, watch a movie or see the sunset. I would definitely not go back to first seating. The wait staff was outstanding. Eva, from the Ukraine, and Peter, from Australia. They made sure that we were always happy and satisfied. If we didn't like a dish, they wanted to give you something you would like. They made sure that you got your favorite beverage every night and remembered people's tastes for particular things. Both of them will be "retiring" from ship life after their current contracts lapse, but we hope we can stay in touch with them. And to top it off, we couldn't have asked for better tablemates! It made the cruise experience so much better having Debbie, Ohad, Candace and Marc at the table, and I hope the bunch of us manage to also stay in touch. 6. Food We generally had a continental breakfast en suite, but the few times we got out for breakfast were good. The breakfast buffet was very good - much better compared to our Millennium cruise. The variety was excellent and the bacon has vastly improved, but the scrambled eggs were still inedible. We had breakfast in the dining room twice. I had the eggs benedict, which was great. Mark had a Denver omelet and French toast, neither of which he was impressed with. We usually had the buffet for lunch. Between the Waterfall Cafe and the Waterfall Grill, there was always something we enjoyed. We ate lunch once in the dining room - I had ribs, which were ok (hard to have anyone's ribs after having them at 15th Street Fisheries!), and Mark had a chicken dish that he didn't like, mainly because it was different than what he thought he was getting. As I previously mentioned, dinners were made wonderful by our wait staff and tablemates. There were a couple nights where I didn't like what I ordered, and they were more than willing to get me a new entrEe. Mark ordered shrimp cocktail on several nights - actually, he ordered two shrimp cocktails on those nights. As usual, I tried almost every chilled soup on the menu - I even tried a pear soup and a black cherry soup and they were fabulous! Most of us at the table did not like the watermelon gazpacho. The dishes we remember enjoying most were the filet mignon, prime rib, halibut, and the quite large and perfectly-cooked lobster tail (much better than the lobster we had on our Millennium cruise). I joined one of my fellow "Critics," SusanT, at the Formal Tea, where we were surrounded by waiters with trays of every variety of dainty sandwich and delicious, sinful baked good imaginable. Good thing I had late seating! On many afternoons, particularly after a day ashore, we would hit both the Afternoon Tea in the Waterfall Cafe and the pizza on deck at the Waterfall Poolside Grill. We really enjoyed the fresh, hot pizza (yeah! no cracker crust!) and they could hardly keep up with the demand. I found the selections for the Afternoon Tea to be only ok on this cruise - mostly sandwiches that didn't sound appetizing. And of course, we hit the soft ice cream station almost daily - couldn't keep Mark away! 7. The Normandie Our experience in the Normandie was even better than the Olympic on Millennium. The service was equally impeccable, but I think the menu in the Normandie is better than in the Olympic. Mark couldn't get enough of the lobster bisque; I really enjoyed the goat cheese soufflE; the chateaubriand was perfectly cooked; and the chocolate soufflE was exquisite. We ate so much that if they had brought us one more thing -- even one more petit-four -- I would have begged them to take it away. I know some complain that you can only choose only soup or salad or appetizer, but the size of each of the selections were enough to be a meal in itself. Mark could have just eaten the lobster bisque and bread and would have left full and happy. 8. Entertainment We again attended few evening shows - most of them either didn't seem interesting enough to attend or they were before dinner and we didn't want to get dressed early. Since we had second seating, we spent our extra time in the Thalassotherapy Pool, watching a movie in the cabin, or watching the sunset. From what we did see, we didn't like the comedian at all. The magician was actually funnier than the comedian, but her magic was only ok. We enjoyed the pianist. 9. AquaSpa The best part of the ship! I could live in the T-Pool and the Persian Garden - Lord knows I tried. We did pretty good getting the most value from our spa dollars. I got the Persian Garden "run-of-the-cruise" Pass, which was $100 +10% gratuity as a first-day special. I also did the first-night "Tension Tamer" special for $50, which is a facial plus neck-and-shoulder massage. Mark had a deep-tissue massage for $109+grat. Because we are Captain's Club members, we were given coupons for a free 50-minute Rasul Etruscan Chamber treatment with an $80 purchase, so we did this on one of the at-sea afternoons toward the end of the cruise. It was a pretty interesting couple's experience, and our only complaint was that it wasn't long enough. 10. Ports/Excursions We went to, in order: St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Thomas. Our main goal was to snorkel as much as possible. St. Maarten we did all wrong. It was pretty there, and if you can avoid all the hawkers, you might actually have a nice time. We should've just hopped a taxi to Orient Beach, but we just rented a couple chairs on the beach near the water taxi downtown. I tried snorkeling, but there were no fish. During our time on the beach, we were approached by about 10 women selling hats, pareos and handbags. On our walk downtown to the beach, we were solicited by taxi drivers, jewelry store clerks and timeshare salespeople. All the soliciting really gave both of us a bad first impression of this island and we went back to the ship early. In St. Lucia, about 20 of us did a leisure yacht excursion set up by SusanT. Captain Fred and his first mate were nice guys who took us to the Pitons for photos, then anchored in a cove for some snorkeling. They provided sandwiches, non-alcoholic beverages, rum punch and bananas to snack on. Even with the rains, it made for a very nice day. The only downside - a dozen hawkers on kayaks trying to sell conch shells at the snorkeling anchorage. Barbados looked better on the ship than off. The main town reminded me of Mexico. The restaurant, for just sandwiches, was expensive. I guess if I went again, I'd take an excursion or just a taxi tour. Again, way too many people begging for your patronage. St. Kitts is a pretty island with rolling hills. You can see a lot from where the ship is docked. There was a definite lack of hawking goods, etc. there - it was refreshing. They actually had a group of people doing native dances at the base of the pier. We did the St. Kitts Sail and Snorkel (appx. $30pp), which was a catamaran ride out to an anchorage for 60-90 minutes of snorkeling and back. The crew was friendly and helpful. Several people while climbing aboard made comments that it was one of the nicest catamarans they have ever seen. Beer, rum punch and non-alcoholic beverages were available. It was quite pleasant and we wouldn't mind doing it again. In St. Thomas, we went to Trunk Bay (St. John) on our own. It was beautiful and not crowded. On the way to and from Trunk Bay, the taxi drivers stopped at lookout points for photo ops, which was appreciated by all. We only got to see it from the lookout point, but Hawksnest Bay was gorgeous, too, and it would have been nice to stop there if there was enough time. My suggestions to anyone who plans on doing Trunk Bay on their own: 1) go early, come back early, and 2) make sure you bring enough cash to get from the ship and back. Estimate $75 for two people just for transportation, to be safe. That's still a good deal compared to a ship excursion. I wouldn't mind spending 3-4 days on St. John someday, but the next time we're in St. Thomas for a port call, I think I will splurge and take a ship excursion that sails you directly to Trunk Bay. 11. Immigration I think doing the Immigration check in St. Thomas makes a big difference. I felt much more secure knowing that on debarkation day we wouldn't get the dreaded messages over the PA about those who had not gone through Immigration. I'm surprised nobody thought of this sooner! The process: Prior to the call in St. Thomas, a notification is sent to everyone's cabin, stating what time you should arrive at the Celebrity Theater. When you get there, you're given a number and you sit down in comfort until your number is called. Once your number is called, the line funnels up onto the stage, where there were two INS people to check your papers. Most who had passports just had them open and ready to show. Much of the time, one didn't have to break stride. At the end of the stage, a crew member passed out blue slips of paper, saying we had been through Immigration. You were to show it to security when you got off the ship in St. Thomas. I think the entire process took 45-60 minutes. 12. Debarkation Simply put, it went very well. We and our tablemates had breakfast together, sat out on deck together until our colors were called. When our color was called, everything was orderly and we quickly left the ship, handed over our Customs Declaration and went looking for our luggage. We made a beeline for the taxis, politely declining the shuttles, and were at the airport by 9:45 for our 11:45 flight. Now, if we can only do something about turbulence. 13. Final Thoughts 10 days was just long enough to feel like you got away from everyday life. I would love to be able to take any of the Millennium-Class ships in the future - they are fabulous. From pictures I have seen of Royal Caribbean's Radiance-class ships, they seem similar in dEcor to the M-Class ships, and am tempted to try either Radiance or Brilliance. I would also love to do a 14-day Panama Canal itinerary one day, but I think for the next several years we will stick to no more than 10-day cruises. marcmarc2@yahoo.com April, 2003 Read Less
My husband and I returned home from the Summit Inaugural three days ago and I want to record some of my impressions while the cruise is still fresh in my mind. Since I can already see that much has been posted on the boards about the ... Read More
My husband and I returned home from the Summit Inaugural three days ago and I want to record some of my impressions while the cruise is still fresh in my mind. Since I can already see that much has been posted on the boards about the decor of the ship, this review will be limited to our personal experience. Travel arrangements and embarkation We flew into Miami several days early to get acclimatized before the cruise began. Every seat was filled on our British Airways trans-Atlantic flight, to the dismay of terrorists wherever they may be, I hope. We rented a car at Miami airport, which for two people is probably a more economical alternative to get to Fort Lauderdale than to take the ship's transfer or a taxi, and also meant that we could drive to the ship on our own time. By the way, all the major rental companies run a shuttle bus between their drop-off locations at Fort Lauderdale airport and the cruise dock, so this arrangement is relatively painless. Our only problem at embarkation was that Celebrity had not been able to provide us with luggage tags owing to the interruption in mail between the U.S. and Europe following September 11, and had advised us to request tags at the port. A simple request one might think, but alas the embarkation area (Pier 25) was a zoo when we arrived in the early afternoon and we were passed on to four different people who had no clue where to find tags. Eventually an officer informed us that he could obtain tags but that it would take some time and why did we not simply carry on our own baggage? By this time we were getting quite stressed as our rental car was parked as close to the building as we could get but not in what could be described as a proper parking spot, so we promptly took the offericer's advice. Our cases have wheels so it was not really a problem and nobody commented or found it unusual. In fact, as soon as we crossed the gangway onto the ship, crew members relieved us of our luggage and bade us to follow them to our cabin. Thus, we had all our things from the word go, whereas other passengers waited many hours for their bags to appear. We then disembarked and drove our rental car to the airport drop-off and were shuttled directly back to the port. In future, we shall seriously consider dispensing with luggage tags all together. Embarkation seemed to have started before 11.30 a.m. and a buffet lunch was available in the Waterfall Cafe from noon until 3.30 p.m. Cabin We were satisfied with our guarantee standard outside cabin (2098). The colour of the furnishings was soothing and blended well with the generous use of (cherry?) wood. Of course, everything was shiny and new, and our steward, Ardona, kept it that way. Situated low in the centre of the ship, we experienced almost no movement, although there was often a white-capped sea, and no noise, not even the shuddering that you normally feel and hear when the ship docks, so the gas turbines must be doing something right. Our friends from Cruise Critic's boards, Shadow, Doubld and Zukid, were less lucky in their suites on Deck 6, but that was due more to the racket made by a family's unruly children than to any technical shortcomings of the vessel. By the way, if you wish to use your own hairdryer in the bathroom on the Summit, you will need to bring an extension cord and plug it into the power point at the desk. Cosmopolitan Dining Room Our table for six was situated on Deck 4 by a window in one of the wings that lead to the entrance doors. Although slightly apart from the main seating area, this proved quite advantageous as we were not overwhelmed by the general gnashing and clashing produced by hundreds of knives and forks being worked at the same time. The atmosphere at our table was more like a restaurant than a dining room. Our waiter (Jusuf from Turkey) and assistant waiter (Matija from Croatia) were always friendly and efficient. They quite simply exceeded our expectations. Some years have passed since we last cruised Celebrity and in that time we have seen the quality of the food decline on other cruise lines. We were therefore anxious to discover whether Celebrity had also suffered. Reassuringly, we found both the meals and service to be of the same high standard that we remembered. Normandie Restaurant Shortly after embarkation our wanderings around the ship took us past the specialty restaurant. A waiter stood in the reception area and invited us in to look around, explaining the significance of the decor and the original panelling from the Normandie. There are really not many tables since they are quite widely spaced apart. The waiter made reservations for us on one of the semi-formal nights and allocated us a table for two, where I ended up dining on a red velvet couch. It really is a very elegant atmosphere and it is hard to keep track of all the waiters who serve you. We chose a chateaubriand for two, which was cooked just the way we ordered and carved at the table. By the way, there is a wine suggestion for each course, either by the bottle or glass. If you so desire, you may order a glass with the rack of lamb that will cost you over $70 (plus service charge, of course). We did not so desire. We ordered one bottle, which we considered good and normally priced, that saw us through for the whole meal. We savoured the whole experience of the Normandie, but really I do not think that the food in the Cosmopolitan Dining Room was in any way inferior. It was not so much "dining" as a celebration of dining, where the service staff endowed every course (and their guests) with a special importance. On our way out the maitre d' escorted us to the wine cellar, unlocked his cabinets and exhibited some of his best wines. (You could spend money here faster than in the casino!) As it happened, we were to dine again in the Normandie. This was not because we were not happy with the Cosmopolitan but rather because we had the opportunity to eat together with Zukid, Shadow and Doubld and their families, whose company we very much enjoyed. Reservations did not seem to be a problem throughout the cruise. James J. Feller's cocktail party J.J. very generously invited his fellow Cruise Critics for cocktails on the second day of the cruise to a lounge with no name on Deck 11, which turned out to be called "Revelations". There must have been about a dozen of us and, indeed, the only person missing at this point was Doubld. Since he and J.J. had recently had a slight misunderstanding on the boards, we assumed that Doubld had decided to duck out. Later we were to hear that he had missed the boat in Key West. Anyway, J.J. did us proud. He kept the cocktails coming and we got rowdier and rowdier. Otherwise, when there is not a Cruise Critic cocktail party being held, Revelations is a very quiet place to sit during the day as it is as far forward as you can get on Deck 11 with panoramic windows over the sea. After dinner it becomes a place to dance, and after that it turns into a disco. We bumped into one or another of our friends from these boards throughout the trip, but in one of the bottle shops in the port of Colon, we encountered several at once. Now, who would have thought it. Words and Notes On our first day on board we visited Words to borrow some books. There was already a good selection and new books were still being unpacked. The librarian informed us that we could take out as many as three books at a time but, with so much to do on a cruise, one each was quite sufficient. The library is spread over two decks joined together by a loose spiral staircase. Notes is located directly below with a similar staircase. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this room. The carpet is orange with electric blue stars and the armchairs are a lighter shade of orange. Normally this colour scheme would make me want to scream, but somehow it produced a warm and relaxed space - perhaps calmed by the unfussy wood panelling. The selection and quality of the audio system is quite incredible. I listened to some of the same recordings that we have at home, yet the clarity of the sound created a fresh experience. Entertainment Jim Cannon is an excellent cruise director. Not only was he ever-present, he was also cheerful whenever and wherever you found him. We did not attend all the shows but particularly enjoyed Michael James (the ladder man), Scott Record (impersonations), Mark Preston (ex-Letterman) and Andrei and Natalie (drop-dead stylish Russian dancers). The Celebrity Theatre would put many big city theatres to shame - take a look at the flame effects in the alcoves along the side walls. The pool-band, Onyx, is made up of obviously talented and able musicians. Yet we would have preferred to hear more reggae and island music on our Caribbean cruise, rather than the sometimes epic film music that they chose to play. Among other things they played "Never on a Sunday" and "Macarena" on country music night. Nice, but not country.... Art works The Summit is home to many impressive art works. Some were instantly likeable, such as the beaded heads of exotic Polynesian ladies gracing each level of the Grand Foyer staircase, or the still life paper cut-outs in the Waterfall Cafe (also don't miss the panel of shirts in Revelations by the same artist). Others, like the photographic works, took time to grow on you. And you might pass by still others for days without especially noticing them, such as the designer chairs strategically positioned in public areas. One of these seating arrangements on Deck 5 in the Atrium takes the form of a lady bending backwards at her knees and facing up; her torso provides a bench to sit on but her head hangs unsupported in the air. Anyway, after the second day at sea, one too many people must have taken a seat because the poor woman spent the rest of the cruise at an uncomfortable angle with her head on the carpet. Perhaps this particular work of art was not meant to sit on after all. Throughout the ship you will also find several stunning artificial floral arrangements in heavy glass vases signed by the artist. In the Waterfall Cafe there are more glass vases and jars but filled with conserved fruit and vegetables rather than flowers. Zukid's cocktail party Halfway through the cruise, on one of the days at sea, Zukid (alias Sandy, Dave and their daughter Cassie) invited their friends from the Cruise Critic boards and from diving tours to a cocktail party in their royal suite. Their butler, Carlton, made the necessary preparations. He brought in an extra table, set up a buffet and put the champagne on ice. Everyone came except Doubld, who had missed the boat a second time but had nevertheless managed to order two bottles of champagne to be sent to the Zukid suite. Sandy gave us a tour of the suite and we were suitably impressed. They had two hot tubs in there - indoors and outdoors. What a way to travel! We had a great time and our noise level was even higher than that of those kids. Thanks again, Zukid. Ports of call Key West (approx. 8am -2pm): As we have been to Key West before we did not take a tour. We simply walked the length of Duval St. towards the Atlantic Ocean. Although it is about a mile long, there are shops, galleries and cafes on either side, so no need to worry about not being able to find a T-shirt. A photo opportunity awaits at the end of Duval St. to the right - the cone marking the southernmost point of mainland U.S.A. We turned left towards a string of beaches with changing facilities. They are not very inviting compared to those we were to encounter later in Aruba and Grand Cayman, but it was a hot day and they did the job. Cozumel (all day): We took the tour to the Xcaret ecological park and were extremely pleased with our choice. From Cozumel we boarded a ferry to Puerto del Carmen and continued by bus to the park. Once in the park we headed straight for the underground river. Before entering the river, we were able to pack all our personal belongings into a large duffel bag with a padlock, which was transported to the river exit. The river is not entirely underground. Some sections are open on one side and there are several sink-holes in the roof of the caves. Here the river is dappled turquoise by the sunlight shining down. We swam and drifted through for at least half-an-hour and were greeted by a flock of flamingos at the river mouth. I will quote the comment of a man who swam out behind me. He said: "That was magnificent. I have had my money's worth right there. Anything else will just be a bonus". I could only concur. The cost of the tour is $68 per person and we noticed that the entrance fee to the park alone cost $45. The "bonus" included a turtle farm, an aquarium, a Mayan village, and a museum, as well as many other things that we did not get to view. When we arrived back at the pier, we saw a sight to behold - the Century was docked parallel to the Summit on the other side of the pier. Walking between them was like being on a street with high-density apartment buildings rising up on either side. As spectacular as they may be on the inside, from the outside ships just ain't what they used to be. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica (all day): Unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs when we arrived in port. We had wanted to visit Cahuita National Park about 30-odd miles to the south, which encompasses a coral reef, but felt that it just was not worth going in the rain. (I asked a taxi driver what it would cost anyway and he quoted a price of $25 each way.) We had been told that there is nothing to see in Puerto Limon but decided to look around anyway as the port is right in town. In spite of the fact that this is not a tourist town, or maybe because of it, we found lots to see. Whilst it was still raining, we shopped for local coffee and beer in a supermarket. My husband then dropped into a convenient barbershop for a $3 haircut. Pity he couldn't have had two at that price! I found an Internet shop in the pedestrian zone that, at $1 for thirty minutes, beat the ship's prices by a mile (I was very anxious to keep in contact with home in these troubled times). Also in the pedestrian zone, there is a market where a row of hungry vultures ignore the discarded bits and pieces of tropical fruits, preferring to keep a sharp lookout for scraps of meat and bones. As the rain had stopped at this point we walked to a park at the sea end of the pedestrian zone. Here some young local boys asked us whether we wanted to see a sloth, which indeed we did. To our disbelief, there they were high up in the trees. We would never have spotted them on our own. The kids were collecting tips of course - the beginnings of the tourist trade in Puerto Limon. Continuing north along the sea wall we thought we might discover a beach but the port area is grey and slimy. As we were about to turn back we saw a bus-stop and asked a man waiting there whether we could get to a beach. He said that the bus was due any minute and that it was less than a 10-minute ride to Playa Bonita. We were game as we had some local money given to us in change at the supermarket - the fare was about 50 cents for both of us. A sandy bay surrounded by dense vegetation greeted us at Playa Bonita, with three open-air restaurants where we could get a drink or a meal. They allow their patrons to use their facilities. Unfortunately we could not take a swim because the surf was very rough after the storm, but we enjoyed a stroll on the beach with not another tourist in sight. Thus, we could not share the generally critical opinion of Puerto Limon. We did not feel in the least unsafe. In fact, just the opposite. Whether it was the salesgirl at the supermarket who assisted us in choosing coffee, the lottery ticket vendor who dropped into the barbershop to say hello to us foreigners, the informative man at the bus-stop, the gentleman who gave up his seat to me in the bus, or helpful people on the street who were always willing to stop and give us directions, we were consistently treated with friendliness and good humour by the people of Costa Rica. Colon, Panama (all day): The ship sold out of tours to the Canal but this turned out not to be a problem as there were plenty of taxi-drivers in the port area only too ready to meet the demand. When we enquired about the price, a taxi-driver produced a tariff list - the return fare to Gatun Locks was $40. That seemed fair enough to us and we felt no need to bargain. Our table companions, Bill and Pat from Northern Ireland, who had also not managed to book the ship's tour, were standing close by and we invited them to join us. Therefore, the price per person was a very reasonable $10. We were driven to the canal and escorted by our driver to the raised viewing platform, where there was a running commentary by canal staff describing what was going on. Whilst we were there a ship entered the lock with only two feet of space. It appeared to us as if there was no space at all, which is why ships have to be guided by trains, or "mules", on either side. Although it looks as if the ships are being pulled by the trains, in fact this is not the case. The ships are under their own steam but are held taught by the trains. The huge locks can be filled or emptied in eight minutes - faster than running a bath at home. On the way back to the port, our driver made a stop at the Washington Hotel. We walked though the lobby onto a patio that overlooked the sea area where ships line up waiting to go through the canal. Judging by the historical photos in the lobby, this hotel must have been very grand at the turn of the century but is now surrounded by ramshackle slums. After our taxi tour, my husband and I were ready to explore Colon on foot, since the port is directly in town. After walking a few blocks, we realized that we were being following by a young man on a bicycle. When he noticed that we had noticed, he asked us where we were going. Our first reaction would have been that it was really none of his business, but he was wearing a port staff uniform with an ID tag. He informed us that he would be our escort. We found this somewhat strange - it was Saturday lunchtime, families were out shopping, little boys were getting ready to play a baseball game, the market area was thronging with people, and we did not feel in the least bit threatened. Nonetheless, he shadowed us for two hours. He maintained a slight distance and let us go where we wanted, sharing with us some fruit that we bought in the market and some cold drinks from a supermarket. We sat for a while along a shady promenade in the middle of a broad avenue. Some passersby stopped to ask whether we were from the big ship in the harbour and seemed genuinely pleased when we replied that, yes, we were. Only once did our bodyguard warn us not to walk in a certain direction, but by this time we had developed a quiet understanding with him and docilely followed his advice. Before reboarding the ship, we browsed around the shops in the brand-new port terminal. The atmosphere was very festive, and we watched different groups playing music and performing native dances. The supermarket is very well stocked, with probably the best prices for liquor in the Caribbean. We bought some local beer, rum, wine and coffee as souvenirs. Colon appears to be making a major effort to attract tourists. Overall, our impression was positive, but there are obviously some areas that are off limits, day or night. Cartagena, Colombia (approx. 8am - 2pm): Again, we and our table companions did not take a tour here. And, once again, there were plenty of taxis waiting for us. They had a variety of tours on offer (not expensive at $40) but, as our time was limited, we just wanted to be taken inside the walls of the old city to walk around on our own. As the taxi-drivers closest to the ship were only interested in selling tours, we had to walk past them to find one who would accommodate us. No problem. The price was $5 for the approx. 3-mile trip. We visited all the tourist sights but you have to run the gauntlet of souvenir vendors to get to them. Otherwise we simply strolled around the side streets, where we were left alone to admire the brightly painted houses with their abundance of hibiscus and bougainvillea draping over the balconies. We did our usual beer-and-coffee thing in a local supermarket before popping into the Sofihotel, which is close to the Bovedas shopping area, for a short break in their shady courtyard. If we had not to get back to the ship, we could easily have spent many more hours in Cartagena. We felt perfectly safe. Aruba (all day): We have been here before and this time we had no plans other than to do a little shopping and go to the beach and snorkel. The bus terminal is opposite the port entrance. As we walked past on our way to the shops, a bus-driver flashed his lights at us to signal that he was ready to go. We quickly changed our plans and went straight to Palm Beach by bus ($2 for a return ticket), alighting at the Holiday Inn. We bought some drinks there and they had no objection to us using their facilities. The shops and the Internet cafe could wait until we were on our way back from the beach. Grand Cayman (all day): Pretty much the same story as Aruba, but more expensive! The taxi dropped us off at Cemetery Beach, where the beach was empty and the snorkelling was great but there were no facilities. People who had taken the ship's tour to the Colony Beach Hotel said that it was terribly crowded, but at least they had changing facilities. We had to pack our things after a short time and walk further down to a hotel. Sadly, our cruise was over all too soon. But we are already planning to take another one. Odds are that will be on Celebrity!j.kasten@ipp.mpg.deOctober 2001 Read Less
Celebrity Summit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.7
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.1

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