1,162 Celebrity Summit Cruise Reviews

Ok, I admit it. I was really, really ready for this cruise, and had every intention of enjoying it. It should surprise no one, then that I did enjoy myself. What is surprising is the degree. I have been booking my clients on Celebrity ... Read More
Ok, I admit it. I was really, really ready for this cruise, and had every intention of enjoying it. It should surprise no one, then that I did enjoy myself. What is surprising is the degree. I have been booking my clients on Celebrity ships in Alaska all summer, so I decided that I just had to try my own wares. Everything I have heard about Celebrity was good, and I had done a ship inspection of Millennium in Ft. Lauderdale in April, so I was pretty sure of what to expect. I did want a suite, and was pleased to be able to pay to upgrade immediately on boarding to Sky Suite 6120. I couldn't talk my teens into the Celebrity Suite a few doors down which was also available, as they really wanted a balcony. I told some very nice folks about the Celebrity suite though, and they enjoyed it greatly. First thing, the butler, Jonathan was wonderful. He was sweet and non-intrusive, but managed to show up every time I needed him or Julio, the cabin steward, even when it was something as mundane as helping my son knot his tie correctly. The suite was not huge, but perfectly adequate for three adults, including a lanky 6 foot tall teen-aged boy and had a lovely deep bath-tub, plenty of storage and room for three deck chairs and a small table on the lanai. There was a bowl of fresh fruit and a full ice-bucket with a nice bottle of champagne waiting for us on the table. The fruit was replenished daily by Jonathan, along with all sorts of little goodies throughout the day. We really enjoyed the breakfast service in our suite, and used it every day of our cruise. Jonathan would quietly slip my coffee tray inside the door at 6, without waking the my teens, then arrive brightly with a 2 course serving of breakfast complete with white linen and flowers. In the afternoon, he would bring me my cup of tea and little cakes for everyone to enjoy on the balcony. Before dinner he would show up with canapes. While we were at dinner, he would turn down the wonderful deep feather beds, leave good-night cards and Italian chocolates on the pillows and lay out the special body pillow I ordered from the pillow concierge. He looked great in his tails, but I could easily imagine him rocking out with my son in a band---it turned out that he also played electric guitar, and he and my son spent time talking shop. Right around the corner was "Notes" the music library, where my son set up shop with his electric guitar and headphones, and spent much of the week. I used it quite a bit too, and we found that our taste for rock, alternative and metal was satisfied by the selections. We were able to save our playlists all week. I often got my headphones and settled down to listen before dressing for dinner. Dinner was just plain fun. Our fun-loving waiter Nyoman was from Bali, and loved to do magic tricks and challenge his tables to puzzles. We often stayed long after everyone else had left to watch Nyoman's tricks and listen to his stories of home. Alex, his young assistant waiter was from Latin America, and my client's daughter (who spoke fluent Spanish) and my daughter flirted shamelessly with him to everyone's giggles (and his blushes). The food was very good, varied and fresh. The best food we had on board, however, was in the specialty restaurant, the Normandie. It was well worth the surcharge. The meal took over three hours, and we were treated royally by a well-trained team of waiters. The spa was another high point of the trip for me. I discovered the Turkish gardens the first day, and bought a trip-long pass for myself and my daughter. We both used it at least once, sometimes twice each day. I especially liked the floral scented turkish bath and peppermint scented showers. We all enjoyed the thalassotherapy pool, and I discovered that I could have a light meal nearby...cold soup and fruit and vegie plates. One of the most outstanding things that I noticed was the efforts of every single staff member, from the guy I startled while climbing out of the engine casing to the officer grabbing a quick bite at the sushi bar to greet me with a smile and an enquiry as to how I was enjoying the cruise. Everyone seemed delighted to share stories of home and showed and honest interest in my children and myself. It really made us feel at home and among friends during our entire trip. The single sour note on the entire trip had nothing to do with Summit itself. I had signed us up for a number of shore excursions, and really had an uneven experience. The rock-climbing in Skagway, Seaplane flight in Ketchikan and sportfishing in Juneau were excellent. Otherwise the shore excursions varied from hokey to downright awful. We could have enjoyed, for instance, the white-water rafting in Valdez if not for the fact that the protective gear they gave us to wear stank so horribly of body odor that it was apparent that it had not been washed in recent memory. All of our clothes, including our jackets reeked afterwards, and could not be worn for the rest of the trip. The driver and guide was informative but unfriendly and on occasion downright rude, which surprised me as he was a local high school teacher. We do not blame this on Celebrity of course, but I do think they should keep tabs on the companies they book tours with. The only unpleasant part of the cruise was, predictably, leaving the warm cocoon of the ship. The concierge and guest relations had little information about services in Seward, and I felt let down, as no help was offered to help us get the information we needed. We were leaving on the evening train, and needed information on where we could leave our luggage. We were given an address which we were told was a place to pay to store the bags---it turned out that the train officials were glad to store our luggage free of charge, as well as keep our hand-carried items locked up in the office so we could get to them throughout the day. When we assembled in the theater to await our group's call to leave, CNN was playing loudly on the screen with scenes of the war and the stock market quotes I had not looked at all week. What a rough way to leave our little fantasy world! I would have much preferred them to show the week's ship video, leaving us with happy memories of our trip. My daughter commented that perhaps someone should tell them to practice "gentle release", just as a hand-fed wild animal is allowed to leave it's comfortable cage a little at a time. Those welcoming glasses of champagne on boarding sure would have helped my mood on leaving as well! All in all, not only do we give Summit and Celebrity high marks, we are already planning our next cruise on the Summit when she is in our home waters in May of next year. I told my kids that when I get old, they needn't put me in home, just set me up in my suite on the Summit, and I'll sail happily into the sunset! Read Less
Sail Date June 2003
SUMMIT - 10 night Caribbean - October 10-20, 2003 Embarkation: We (Captain's Club Elite members) were ushered right on to the ship. Regular boarding started at 11:30. By 12:30 we had unpacked our carry-on baggage and headed off to ... Read More
SUMMIT - 10 night Caribbean - October 10-20, 2003 Embarkation: We (Captain's Club Elite members) were ushered right on to the ship. Regular boarding started at 11:30. By 12:30 we had unpacked our carry-on baggage and headed off to the welcome aboard lunch. Our luggage was delivered at 4 just as we headed off to the lifeboat drill. Elite Captains Club: Priority embarkation and disembarkation was great. Received vase with 2 red roses and a small box of Cova chocolates as a welcome aboard gift. We received an invitation to Elegant Tea in the Normandy, which was wonderful, special on-board coupons for Fortunes Casino and The Aqua Spa, an invitation to Wine Tasting, a special Captain's Club cocktail party and a behind-the-scenes theatre tour invitation. Cabin: Our inside category 10 cabin, 3057, was perfect. My husband thought it would be difficult going back to an inside cabin after 3 cruises with a balcony but it was not a problem at all. The location was perfect, making negotiating the ship a breeze. The night light and umbrella were nice touches. While the hairdryer is still a little on the hot side for prolonged use, there was an improvement over the other ships we have been on. Dining: Cosmopolitan Restaurant: We had breakfast there every day, lunch twice and dinner 9 out of 10 nights. The service throughout was excellent and the quality of the food was reminiscent of the Celebrity of old. I had beef every night and the only minor disappointment was the N.Y. steak. My husband tried a great variety (veal, lamb, seafood, pork) and was pleased with every meal. The French Potato Pie, our absolute favorite, was wonderful but we found many of the lunch offerings a little on the exotic side for our taste. A nice improvement over recent trips was how amenable the staff were to requests for a table for two. Our table, 413, was a table for four set up for two which was wonderful. It was tucked away in the back corner out of the hustle and bustle but still allowing us a great view of the staircase. An ideal location. Waterfall Cafe: We ate there a few times but, with the exception of the Oriental Buffet, baked potatoes and fresh pasta, we found the food to be just warm. This problem is not just a Celebrity issue which is the reason we normally avoid buffets. The selection on the Oriental Buffet was wonderful. We found the Afternoon Tea selections to be much nicer than previous experience; they had more "normal" fare. The Chocolate Lovers midnight buffet was disappointing; the location doesn't make it appealing for photo opportunities and the selection made it just another excuse to eat. Waterfall Grill: We had lunch here most days and found the hamburgers, hotdogs and french fries appealing. The pizza was never hot, sometimes barely warm. Normandie Restaurant: Very enjoyable experience, excellent food and service and the dEcor is beautiful. We did not get the same feeling as our very first visit to the S.S. United States on the Infinity but will definitely book again for our next trip. Staff: Cruise Director Simon Weir was fantastic; charming, full of energy and a very visible presence at all the functions. It's no wonder he keeps so trim; running from one function to another. His "Old Macdonald" song had us rolling in the seats with tears streaming from our eyes. He was far better than the "professional" comedian and this was a "do not miss" event. Anne Lepki, Manager, Captain's Club and Cruise Sales was a delightful young lady and treated everyone like special guests. Noel Grzetic, Social Hostess, was absolutely delightful and a credit to Canada. Our cabin stewards, Albano and Sison, were excellent; invisible. Bartolome Funez, a cabin steward in our section, started every day for us on a positive note with his enthusiasm and sweetness. He really set the tone for the entire trip. Czajka Wlodzimierz, Poland, our Ass't. Maitre'd, was charming and attentive. Sylvanus and Bandarsak were wonderful in the dining room. Every single officer, staff and crew member were first class. Entertainment: Production Shows: The Magic of Broadway - skipped this, not our type of music A Night of Stars - excellent, familiar tunes Classique - La Danza - very good, especially Phantom of the Opera selections Encore - pretty good Miscellaneous: Welcome Aboard Show - great Farewell Variety Showtime (pre dinner)- skipped it Gossamer Magic - thought they were terrible Reka & Farkas, Aerialists - excellent Joe Mulligan, Comedian - thought he was terrible David Meyer (pre dinner) - not our taste Mozart Duo - Rendez-vous Lounge - music great, accents too strong for singing Nina Brooks - Cova/Cosmopolitan - excellent Mark Livingood, guitarist - pretty good Dan Loranger, pianist , Michael's Club - never went Celebrity Orchestra - excellent Celebrity Singers/Dancers - excellent Party Bands - Five 4U and Voltz - pretty good Ports of Call: St. Maarten: Ship was cleared at 8:20. The pier area is lovely, taxi prices are posted and the waiting areas are shaded and well marked. There were 8 of us going to Orient Beach so the cost was $5. p.p. The cost for 2 chaise lounges with umbrella was $15. We were swimming by 9 and left the beach at 12. There is lots of seaweed on the beach and unless you have a particular desire to see Orient Beach I would suggest you just swim right in Philipsburg. When we returned to the ship we were greeted with "frosty towels" which are actually very cold facecloths and a very nice, welcome touch. After lunch on board we took a water taxi ($5. each all day) to Philipsburg for a little shopping. There was a bad fire here two weeks ago and you can still smell the smoke in the town. Also, there is lots of renovations going on both to businesses and the beach. This is really going to be beautiful when it's all done. The price for a beer or bottled water on the pier was $1. but sodas were $1.50! Weather was perfect. St. Lucia: Arrived at 8; ship cleared at 9:05. The pier area is beautiful with lots of gorgeous tropical flowers. Sitting on deck you could listen to the birds and roosters and watch the planes at the airport. We had a torrential downpour which lasted for about an hour; otherwise, the weather was beautiful. The lovely shopping area was right where the Summit was docked so there were no transportation costs involved. Barbados: Ordered a bouquet of tropical flowers, complete with bamboo vase, for $15. at the Exotic Blooms cart in the port terminal. Arranged to pick it up when we returned to the ship in the afternoon. We had planned to go to Sam Lord's Castle but apparently due to mismanagement they are now out of business and no taxi would go there. We ended up taking a 20 minute taxi ride ($20.) to the Bougainvillea Beach Resort where we paid $15 for two day passes. There was a large washroom to change in and there was ample shade around the pool and on the beach. We paid $3. for 2 small plastic cups of Diet Coke from the hotel restaurant which tasted terrible. A guest suggested buying our beverages/snacks just 2 minutes down the road in a little variety store where we got 2-16 oz. bottles of Diet Coke and 2 bags of chips for $3. They also sold sandwiches which the local construction workers were buying. Maxwell Beach, where the hotel is located, was lovely and the water perfect. We found the beaches in Barbados superior to Orient Beach which was covered in seaweed. We had arranged for the same taxi driver to pick us up at 2 and he arrived as arranged. Weather was perfect. St. Kitts: A 3 hour taxi tour around the island and to view Frigate Peninsula cost $70. This cost would have been the same for 4. We visited Romney Gardens and Caribelle Batik where fine island cotton is hand painted. The grounds were beautiful and the prices very reasonable. We visited Brimstone Hill and the view was well worth the $5. per person admission; breathtaking. Black Rocks was impressive as was Frigate Bay Peninsula. The windward beach at North Frigate Bay is battered by the Atlantic surf. On the leeward side, the beach is met by the calm Caribbean waters of Frigate Bay. Taxi tour prices are set but I would not recommend our driver, Kenneth Burnham, as he tried frequently to get us to change our route/price when we came out of Caribelle Batik. When we wouldn't budge he lost all interest in being a guide and drove so fast we had to be very firm in telling him to stop for pictures. He finally said he would take us to view Frigate Peninsula without additional charge, we could just give him something if we wanted. As this detour only took an additional fifteen minutes I added $10. to the $60. quoted price. To be fair we did not hear any other comments on this subject so assume we just got a bad apple. We had the driver drop us at Independence Square and from there we walked to The Circus and back to the ship. The sunset was beautiful and numerous passengers agreed with us that St. Kitts reminded them of Hawaii. It is a truly awesome, naturally beautiful island and I am so glad Celebrity has it on their itinerary. The weather was perfect. We had wanted to visit Turtle Beach to see the monkeys which would be an additional $40. We decided to do that excursion next trip and were glad we didn't go when other passengers told us there were no monkeys on the beach as a result of a dog attack on the monkeys last week which had scared them off. St. Thomas: We caught the 8:40 shuttle ($3. each) into Charlotte Amalie and easily made the 9:00 ferry ($7. each) to St. John. It is a 45 minute trip and very scenic. We paid $45. for a tour of the island from 9:50 - 11:15 and, included in the cost, our driver dropped us back at Hawksnest Bay at 11:30 and picked us up, as agreed, an hour later. We saw some lovely sights but think you see the nicest parts of St. John on the $4. jitney ride to Trunk Bay. For a change we went to Hawksnest Bay. Although there were no facilities, with the exception of picnic tables covered with a roof, the beach was amazing and the water was incredible. We caught the 1:15 ferry back to Charlotte Amalie. The "frosty towels" were a wonderful touch and much appreciated. Weather was perfect. Observations: - We loved the really whimsical artwork; especially the glass seagull wall outside the Waterfall Cafe and "homeless" person on the pool deck. This is a job I would gladly apply for! - The water temperature in the Caribbean and, as a result, the outdoor pools, was fantastic. I don't ever remember the Caribbean being this warm and I normally find the outdoor pools too cold so it was just perfect. - Le Grand Buffet was incredible; the ice sculptures ever more magnificent than normal. - For the first time ever, every "flame" in the Celebrity Theatre was working - There were only 30 kids onboard and whenever we did see them they seemed very happy with their activities and we found the children's activities staff to be very friendly and enthusiastic. Disembarkation: We (Captain's Club Elite members) had our own departure lounge (Gamma meeting room) complete with coffee, juice and pastries. We went to the lounge at 8:30 and Anne Lepki, Manager, Captain's Club and Cruise Sales personally came and escorted each colour group as they were called. We had blue, air arrangements, and we left the ship at 9:25. We had no problem locating our three pieces of luggage and finding a porter. Air Arrangements: Fantastic. Flew American Airlines, no line-ups, no problems with customs or immigration. There was confusion at Miami Airport where we were told our luggage was on carousel #27, then #24, then, finally #23 but this had no reflection on Celebrity. We went directly to the bus and ten minutes later we were on our way for a forty minute drive to the port. On the return we waited on the bus for approximately 20 minutes then headed for Miami International Airport. By 11:47 we were at the boarding gate. There were long line-ups at Pearson International for customs clearance but it was well organized and the lines moved quickly. One note: The ship's departure was delayed due to mechanical problems with one of the airlines. If they hadn't booked through Celebrity the passengers would have been S.O.L. They say nothing is perfect so I've listed some minor Negatives to pacify those who truly believe this: - We could faintly smell the smoke from next cabin in bathroom only. - Immigration in St. Thomas was a bit disorganized but the Celebrity staff tried to rectify the stampede by checking the times on your "invitation". Lots of people for 7:15 showed up early hoping to get through quickly. When they called the 6:45 group it was bedlam until an announcement was made saying only 6:45 guests were to be in line. Once people saw that Celebrity staff were actually checking the documentation they sat and things settled down. - Tiles around pool are in very bad shape, many missing, more falling off daily. - I much prefer the "old" pillow chocolates, much superior to the new brand. - Lots of bare walls in the Waterfall Cafe; lacks the interesting artwork in the Infinity cafe. but, overall, we preferred the artwork of the Summit - Crew painting/using power wash on windy days at sea when guests were on deck. We had such a wonderful time we've booked the same ship, same itinerary for March and October 2004! Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
It is so true when the commercial says, Celebrity is "SIMPLY THE BEST". The Summit is a beautiful lady of the seas and was a pleasure to be aboard her. She has more outside staterooms than many of the other ships that sail in ... Read More
It is so true when the commercial says, Celebrity is "SIMPLY THE BEST". The Summit is a beautiful lady of the seas and was a pleasure to be aboard her. She has more outside staterooms than many of the other ships that sail in the Caribbean. They are tastefully done and offer ample room. Although somewhat limited in drawer space is made up with more ample room to maneuver. We had an outside cat 2B with a veranda which was much larger than Princess. There was room for two chairs, small table, and a lounge chair. Her size is an well-engineered marvel, easy to get around and with public rooms that are not flashy but easy on the senses. In particular, her outside elevator makes for such pleasant rides between her floors. The pool and recreation areas are classy and fun areas. There were so many quiet areas to retreat, you never felt crowded nor confined sharing the ship with nearly 2000 guests and 300+ crew. The best feature I believe where simple touches of class. Crew in white gloves greeted you upon embarkation at the gangway to escort you to the stateroom. Cold towels awaited you at the gangway upon returning from a hot busy day ashore. Little things that set this cruise line apart form cheaper glitzy ships. My only dinning complaint was that the food in the main dinning room needs more variety. However, the quantity and the quality were more than adequate. There was everything from prime rib and filet mignon to lobster and escargot. Desserts knocked the buckle off your belt. The Normandie was a pay ($25/person) but was well worth it. You are attended to by at least 5 people and it is a 2-hour dining experience you would pay hundreds in a land based gourmet restaurant. The dEcor and other touches brought your sense back to the golden areas and you can almost close your eyes and go back in time. The other weakness was the cost of bar items, which ranged from $10 martinis to $4 beers. The spa prices were very high and we were not pleased with the treatments. The art work is somewhat weird but it made for some interesting dinner conversation. Free ice cream was included. Don't miss sherbet on parade severed by the waiters on the pool deck on the first or second sea day. It was a double wow! Pool was crowded at times but the pool attendants made sure it was clean and chairs that were un-used were cleaned. I tried to move a chair myself and was promptly told by an attendant that it was their job. They were so very helpful. The buffet lines were great and the pizza was terrific. Our itinerary brought us to Barbados, St Maarten, St Lucia, St Kitts, and St Thomas. All are jewels of the Caribbean. Our favorite excursions were the 5 Star Cat and Turtle Encounter in Barbados and the Pirates Extravaganza in St Lucia. Entertainment was so well done and professional. Simon Weir, the cruise director, was always about and was tops! It is an experience well worth the price. Please, Celebrity, keep doing what you do best! Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
Celebrity Cruises has once again surpassed our expectations and provided us with another valued memorable vacation experience. Firstly Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades is a pleasant port to embark from. Clean, organized and easy to ... Read More
Celebrity Cruises has once again surpassed our expectations and provided us with another valued memorable vacation experience. Firstly Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades is a pleasant port to embark from. Clean, organized and easy to navigate. We arrived early, were immediately received and guided across the gang plank with awaiting sincere smiles and cool Mimosa's. We were instantly impressed with the GTS Summit. A beautiful expansive ship that glistened from stern to bow offering the best, most friendly service at sea. The Aquaspa was a gorgeous, seriously relaxing, esoteric music laden haven ! A work of art itself. Never too crowded and with much to be enjoyed without paying additional fee's. The steam and dry sauna's were great, the Thallassotherapy Pool was quite large, beautiful and relaxing but didn't have quite the "oomph" compared to the "T" pool on Century. The Aquaspa cafe was a delightful find and comes highly recommended. The pool deck again was beautiful and somehow appeared even more beautiful as the sun drew to dusk across the aqua designer pool lighting. The Conservatory was very attractive and offered unusual floral gifts. The Celebrity Theatre was impressive, posh and offered open views from 3 levels. The Cosmopolitan Restaurant was everything and more of what you would expect from Celebrity's culinary excellence and the string ensemble offered yet another star to an already 5 star nightly dining experience. Our waiter and his asst., Cengiz Bengal & Hrvoje, never faltered even once. They were wonderful and even the Maitre'D staff were warm & friendly, insightful and helpful and even deserved their tip "which I have found quite rare are previous trips regarding asst. Maitre'D's....The gem on this ship is the speciality restaurant "Normandy" and is worth twice the 25.00pp surcharge. It was a beautifully orchestrated meal from start to finally finishing offering a historically correct 1st class setting, timeless classical offerings and superb service !! We had breakfast in the dining room and also at the Waterfall cafe sitting outside enjoying the warm morning air and found both to be wonderful experiences. Lunch was again great and we especially enjoyed the pasta station towards the rear of the cafe. The themed lunches were outstanding ! Our room was well appointed and the bed was much, much more comfortable than other cruise lines and even Century's. Maybe it was the mattress cover, regardless it was very nice. Our balcony was a bit smaller than we had hoped for but was adequate and enjoyed. I have the opinion all balcony's should accommodate 2 lounge chairs. The jogging track was great stretching out over a large portion of the upper deck. Lots of open equipment in the gym and their fitness instructor "Mirela" was another daily highlight ! The talent aboard this ship was truly amazing. All the musicians, especially the Mozart quartet and the Orchestra were just wonderful. The party band was good, quite good but not quite as good as a previous party band on Celebrity called Calypso aboard Century last year. Summits singers and dancers always amazed us and put on elaborate, very enjoyable shows. An acupella foursome called the Coverdales from Indy might someday soon become a national act. Reka & Farkass performed a most sensual, beautiful aerial ballet. A very talented illusionist that successfully combined comedy into his performance was great. But.... with all that in mind there was one true standout. The Cruise Director, Simon Weir, was absolutely sensational. By leaps and bounds the best C.D. on the ocean. He ooozed charisma and could in my opinion put Leno or Letterman out of a job. This guy was honestly worth the trip all by himself. The 10 night itinerary was again extremely enjoyed. Arriving almost always early and offering ample time to enjoy each place. St. Lucia was beautiful and looked more like a South Pacific paradise. Though poor, the locals were very warm and welcoming. We met up with a cab driver with quite a personality that took us over every mile of this small island. Stopping at some friend of his remote grill to get us casava pone cakes fresh from the griddle, they were wonderful. St. Kitts was again a beautiful place, with black sand lava beaches and friendly atmospheres. St. Maarteen is always enjoyed and Barbados is a place we want to return to as 1 day just isn't enough. St. Thomas is another place we love but the cab drivers there stink. They are rude, pesky, and have no regard nor respect for visitors. I would opt for an NYC cab driver wearing a turban anyday. The tourism dept. at St. Thomas might consider addressing this, again in my opinion. We opted walking to the shopping dist. about 3/4 mile, all sidewalk and catching a cab from there to Megans Bay instead of being herded into the cattle trucks that pull up to the port. The Celebrity staff didn't like them any better than myself and told me so. The Summit staff was a daily welcome, greeting us and offering assistance at every venue. We always enjoyed the islands but we more enjoyed returning to the ship. Sea days are filled with well planned activities. The Summit operated like rolex clockwork with all the gems ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
I have been cruise-wary for a long time due to extreme seasickness fears, but after 10 days on the Summit, armed with the patch and dramamine, I can safely say - overcome your fears and go on this ship! I had no how heavenly a vacation ... Read More
I have been cruise-wary for a long time due to extreme seasickness fears, but after 10 days on the Summit, armed with the patch and dramamine, I can safely say - overcome your fears and go on this ship! I had no how heavenly a vacation could be. When I got on the ship and felt the slight rocking, I popped on the patch immediately and despite rough seas the first two days, I never got sick. It was a bit challenging walking down those narrow hallways, but after two days I had found my sea legs and started really enjoying the life on board. If you are prone to seasickness, don't leave home without the patch. You will need it. Now for the cruise itself. The only negative experience I had with Celebrity was the pre-cruise communication. They never answered my e-mails and gave me faulty info time and time again. Once on the cruise, however, all the negatives melted away. First, the Summit is magnificent. from the moment you walk on board after a painlessly fast embarkation process that was so well organized, a white-gloved porter greets you and walks you through the glittery casino area to glass elevators that whisk you to your stateroom's deck. A few steps later I entered my small but very adequate room, done in lovely detail, clean as a whistle, and amazingly comfortable for being so tight. There was ample storage areas, the bathroom was large enough to turn around in and the shower was very decent. But the best was the balcony. My stateroom attendant Rodel was only too pleased to bring down a padded deck chair for our comfort, making the verandah a true heavenly spot to rest throughout the cruise. There were fresh flowers, champagne on ice, fruit (all amenities of Celebrity's concierge class rooms), and plenty of information about the ship, the ports, etc. On the television were several channels dedicated to the cruise and a few other channels including CNN. There wasn't much to watch, but who wanted to lay in bed watching TV? We unpacked, a bit of a challenge in the cramped closet area, and then took a tour of the boat. The public areas were immaculately clean, impeccably decorated, comfortable, with views of the ocean. There were so many places to relax - poolside, on various decks, in the many lounges - it seemed that every nook and cranny had a couch and an easy chair for our comfort. The pool area was large, and included two small pools and four jacuzzi's - not very hot, however. There were plenty of deck chairs, but throughout the cruise, if you weren't there first thing in the morning, finding a free deck chair was next to impossible. People were reserving them, and on sea days, there were 2000 people scrambling for a third as many chairs. But that is where my balcony came to good use. I always had my own private chair and my own private view. The pools and jacuzzi's were never that crowded. The Aqua spa, with its Thalosotherapy pool, jacuzzis and outstanding state-of-the-art fitness center is better than any land-based equivalent, plus you get those amazing views. Even though there were never any free deck chairs, it was easy to find solace in the warm waters of the mineral water pool or the two additional jacuzzis, and the steam room and sauna always were empty. The spa offered many treatments that were out of my range financially, but the pool and fitness area and many classes were free of charge. Dining offered many choices. The main dining room offered sit-down breakfast and lunch, open seating, and an assigned seating dinner. The deck 10 casual restaurant offered buffet breakfast, then continental breakfast, then a theme-based lunch that was always outstanding, afternoon tea (I discovered this late in the cruise, probably a good thing since it was so delicious), and then in the evening, a casual sit-down dinner by reservation if you didn't want to dine in the main dining room. There was also a sushi bar open from 6-10 every night (fabulous) and pizza. At the pool there was a burger and hot dog grill with great french fries, and the ice cream bar was open daily from 10-6. The main dining room was very beautiful, but a bit stuffy for us. We ate there 6 times, opting for casual dining three times, and once in the Normandie, a very upscale dining option that charged $25 extra but was well worth the price for the extravagant meal. The main dining room's dinner menu always included appetizers, soups, salad (boring choices every night and tiny servings), a main course and dessert. The food was very good, on the upscale side, small portions of gourmet cuisine, but always enough. The dinner took 2 hours each night and got to be boring. The service seemed better for the other diners than for the two of us, but it was very good nevertheless. We just didn't always want to spend two hours dining when there were so many other things to do. Concierge class allowed us to order the main dining room menu delivered to our stateroom, which we did once and it was great. We would have liked more options for casual dining at dinner. The casual restaurant upstairs was very nice, but had the exact same menu every night, which after three visits, got very boring. A dinner buffet would have been a welcome addition, but that is a minor complaint. They had two midnight buffets. One at the pool, lovely, a fruit and dessert buffet, then the next night, the grand buffet in the main dining room. That was a let-down because of the poor organization. Which is a shocker on a boat where everything seemed well organized. First, they opened at 11:45pm for pictures with the ice sculptures (they took every opportunity possible for pictures at every event. Made me think they must be making a fortune in photos since they seemed so important), then the buffet opened at 12:15 for dinner. The line went half way down the ship and took an hour to get to the food. It moved unbelievably slowly and they only had two lines open for 2000 people. The food itself was fine, but an hour after dinner, I wasn't really hungry. The entertainment was very good. There was an excellent company of singers and dancers that did four great shows, a very funny magic act one night, a not so funny comedian, a musician who played the bells, a puppet act, and a variety show. We went every night to the shows and found them entertaining. The best part of the entertainment was Simon Weir, the cruise director. He was absolutely oustanding in every way. We visited five ports. Although Celebrity offered many excursions, we went on our own. In each port we went downtown, found an internet cafe and did our internet business. The ship charged an outrageous $.75 per minute to use the onboard internet service - fine for an emergency, but pricey for regular usage. I am sure if it was cheaper, many more people would utilize the service, but the onboard internet cafe was always empty. The port cities, with the exception of St. Thomas, were dirty, awful places. I am sure Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Maarten have very beautiful places on the island, but the port cities were not among them. We usually spent an hour checking out the town and then returned to our oasis, the Summit. We never really wanted to leave anyway. St. Thomas was much cleaner, and we took a cab over to Magen's Bay. A lovely beach, one of the world's ten best, but very very crowded. On St. Maarten, we were advised to go to the French side which was supposedly nicer, but we found it to be as dirty and uninteresting as the Dutch port of Phillipsburg. Don't waste your time or money. We visited the casino quite a few times. I won $300! It was a very nice, large and enjoyable casino that was a great place to lose or win money and spend time at night. By the time the cruise was coming to a close, I didn't know how I would ever exist off the Summit. I had become intoxicated with its amenities, service and the depth of relaxation I experienced. I felt cleansed by the end, truly relaxed and ready to face life once again. I just didn't want to get off and felt so sad when it was over. The disembarkation was as smooth and easy as getting on, and as quickly as it began, it was over. I can't recommend the Summit highly enough. It is an absolutely perfect experience for anyone seeking relaxation and enjoyment. It is not for party-seekers, as it is not a party boat, but there were many mixed ages on the boat, just not many families with children. It is not a boat for families, or singles, or party goers. The value you get for what you pay is amazing. I don't know how they do it. Go for a cruise on the Summit, believe me, you will never forget it. Feel free to e-mail me for more info. Mikestage@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, our only previous experience being with Royal Caribbean and river cruises in Europe. Overall we have had the best time on this cruise and rate it excellent overall. Celebrity Connections: We joined ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, our only previous experience being with Royal Caribbean and river cruises in Europe. Overall we have had the best time on this cruise and rate it excellent overall. Celebrity Connections: We joined this group and it really enhanced our planning for the cruise and built up a sense of excitement. There were around 50 of us. Some of us met pre-cruise at the Hyatt Fort Lauderdale - expensive drinks but a great view. We also arranged to meet at the mast bar on the ship at 3-00 on embarkation day. Celebrity threw our party in Michael's Bar on day 3 - good pastries and Coffee. It was a nice occasion we had photos taken and got to know each other a little better. It was great to have a core group of people on the ship we already knew and we met up at other events, for drinks etc. during the cruise. Seventeen of our group booked a boat through Leisure yachts in St Lucia - Captain Fred. Well worth doing an excellent day - you'll find contact details on the boards. Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 11-00am. It was a little confusing to know what to do with the luggage but once we figured that out we walked straight on completing the necessary security procedures. We were on the ship around 11-30. We were greeted on board with Champagne, a very nice touch, and went straight to out stateroom 6136 which was ready for us. We were greeted by our fabulous stateroom team John and Tomas. They were very welcoming and made sure we has everything we needed both then and throughout the cruise. They couldn't be faulted. John gave us his pager number so we could always contact him. Tomas always seemed to be in the area if we needed something. Lunch was available at the Waterfall Cafe. We are not too keen on buffet food generally, however this was excellent quality and selection. Stateroom: It was spotless, lots of storage space, super verandah with 2 loungers and small table and chairs. Lots of space under the bed for our luggage. Much better than we expected. Dining: We usually prefer to eat in the restaurant for most meals. At Dinner (main seating) our team of Sasha, Vladimir and Jose were professional and catered for our every need. The menus provided something for everyone and we thought the standard of food and presentation was very high. We had dinner partners of different nationalities with a variety of tastes, and all were more than satisfied. Open seating breakfast and lunch provided a good choice and opportunity to meet others on the ship. Thanks to all those who provided sparkling conversation at table. We used room service for early morning tea / coffee and also for a snack on return to the ship. Always on time and well presented. We went to the Normandie and had an excellent time. The food service and wines were excellent and the staff love to assist you so let them! We both had Goats cheese souffle, chateaubriand, and then a selection of excellent cheeses followed by dessert (crepes suzette and Chef's surprise). We took the recommended wine for each course - pleased that this could be purchased by the glass. We had Pasta at the Waterfall Cafe - we enjoyed it very much. The sauces were made whilst you waited. Don't miss the aqua spa cafe for a light lunch - again quality excellent. The Grand Buffet on the last formal night should not be missed - It was a fantastic demonstration of culinary skills. Dress Code: It was made clear in the programme each day what was expected for the whole ship that night. The vast majority of passengers complied with the dress code with Tuxedos much in evidence. Everyone looked very smart and this added to the sensational atmosphere on the ship on those nights. It just made it so special. Drinks: All the drinks on the ship are well made and presented. Special mention though to the Martini Bar - those Olives with Blue cheese are sensational, and we heard very good reports of the Chocolate Martini. A great location for a pre-dinner cocktail. As everywhere service is excellent. Entertainment: Simon Weir is a sensation. He is so funny, and is always around the ship and available to passengers. He has established a great variety of entertainment from variety shows to classical concerts. Something for everyone and a really refreshing mix. Don't miss his wake up TV show talking through the programme for the day ahead and reviewing some of the highlights from the night before! Michael's Bar had been brought alive on this cruise by the arrival of Perry Grant. Wonderful piano and singing along with a sharp sense of humour. He soon had the audience eating out of his hand and attracted a regular following filling the Bar. Pity he has a contract with Raddisson coming up, but this seems to be the right tone of entertainment for this venue. All of the shows we went to were professional and enjoyable. Of course not everything is to everyone's taste but there are always lots of alternatives, dancing, quizzes, games, cinema. In the day there were lots of activities dancing classes were a particular favourite and lots of fun. Also the morning walkathon followed by sit and stretch with Tyler were a good start to the day. Hard to find the sports deck for this but worth it. Ship Decor: Beautiful all through the ship. We thought we would miss the huge Atrium but didn't. There are lots of intimate spaces around the ship and it never felt crowded. Really enjoyed the artwork around the ship. cova cafe a beautiful area with lovely music in the evenings, a contrast to the big production shows. The aqua spa area and pool areas were kept really clean - there seems to be a problem with some of the little mosaic tiles but I'm sure they will resolve it. I was glad to see the on-going cleaning and maintenance of the ship throughout the cruise maintaining high standards. Persian Garden is a gem - a little expensive but very relaxing especially on sea days when other areas become busier. Ports: Our favourite was Barbados, however we got off at all of the ports and enjoyed ourselves at each. An excellent balance of ports and sea days. It was really nice to get our frosty towel when we returned to the ship. Overall The no announcement policy is excellent and helps create a relaxing atmosphere. We particularly noticed a difference in not pushing drinks and photos which was a little too much on Royal Caribbean. The overall experience is stylish and passengers joined in to make occasions really memorable. The Celebrity team certainly surpassed our expectations. We have already booked same ship for next year! Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
This was our 2nd Summit sailing, and it was just as wonderful as the first. Embarkation was painless with no wait. We arrived about Noon and were welcomed with champagne, we were not shown our rooms which was a first for us, but that was ... Read More
This was our 2nd Summit sailing, and it was just as wonderful as the first. Embarkation was painless with no wait. We arrived about Noon and were welcomed with champagne, we were not shown our rooms which was a first for us, but that was fine since we had been on Summit before and knew the layout. After much thought we had booked a Celebrity Suite, which has no veranda but has floor to ceiling windows in the living room, a dining area, a private bedroom, with vanity/dressing area and a bathroom with jacuzzi tub, and double sinks. The suite was marvelous, even without a veranda we were very happy and will book these suites anytime we cruise this class of ships with Celebrity. Our butler Kenneth did a wonderful job of pampering us and we couldn't have been more pleased with him or Ramon our Cabin Steward. The food was better in the main dining room than on Millennium last year and it was good then, just better now that they appear to be cooking beef as ordered rather than all medium to medium well. This was the first time we had a waitress rather than waiter and she was fantastic. Mildred made us all feel very special. We went to the Normandie twice and were so pleased to see it is still excellent. The Chateaubriand and Chocolate Souffle were to die for and the Gourmet Bites were wonderful too. On the second night I had the lamb and it was prepared perfectly. We recognized the Maitre d' from the Olympic on Millie in 2002 and he remembered us too (at least he said he did...who knows??), anyway he gave us the same table both nights which was in the corner where we could observe everything going on in the Restaurant all evening. It was great! The entertainment was good. The big shows were typical, but enjoyable. The comedian was surprisingly good, magician was OK, aerialists good but not as good as our first Summit cruise. The piano player, Perry King at Michael's Club had the place packed every night, we spent many late evenings there sipping Spanish Coffee and enjoyed his performances. Since I broke my arm halfway through the cruise our shore excursions were rather limited so I won't go into Ports except to say that sailing around the Islands was wonderful especially early in the mornings. St. Lucia is beautiful and I loved Barbados, will definitely go back there someday. Unfortunately I did not get to the Cruise Critic Party because it was held at a time that I already had an appointment booked with the spa and it was too late to cancel when I got the notice about the party. I was disappointed that my notice came so late. Other than that the cruise was wonderful! Debarkation was a breeze. We went to Michael's Club at 8:30, were called to leave by 8:40 and were off the ship by 8:45. Looking for another ship right now for next year's cruise!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
This was my second cruise on major ocean liner overcall (Carnival Conquest in Dec. 2002). EMBARKATION: We arrived at the port at about 10:20am with two other couples staying in the same hotel. Apparently, we were too early, as people ... Read More
This was my second cruise on major ocean liner overcall (Carnival Conquest in Dec. 2002). EMBARKATION: We arrived at the port at about 10:20am with two other couples staying in the same hotel. Apparently, we were too early, as people from last ship still dominated the luggage pick up/drop off area. At 11:10am, the boarding process started for Captain's Club members and guests with suite. We were the first group after that, and the whole process was very smooth. Since we did the online documentation at home, it took us less than a minute. At 11:45am, I had my welcome champagne onboard. THE SHIP: Summit was launched in 2001, and it is in an excellent shape now. Throughout our cruise, we could see the strong effort to keep the ship in its top form. At St. Kitts, we noted that the anchor was a bit rusty when leaving the ship. And, when we returned, they have painted it! Overall, it is a beautiful ship. THE CABIN: We had a standard balcony cabin at Penthouse Deck. The cabin is nice with plenty of storage. The bathroom is impressively organized, functional with neat layout. We liked the shower unit, spacious with heavier curtain which won't stick on you. The veranda was large enough for us to sit with a small table to hold coffee or drinks between us. FOOD: Our top interest of a cruise was not the food. However, we did have a high expectation onboard Summit because we heard a lot of positive comments about the food on Celebrity. And, we were not disappointed. When talking to other people, seems everybody agreed that the food on Celebrity is at the top of major cruise lines. I just list a few examples which I appreciated very much: 1. The delivery of breakfast to our cabin. People complained that the food arrived with a sudden knock on the door on other lines. With Celebrity, a phone call was made to the cabin informing breakfast was on the way. It was a nice touch and avoided the awkwardness of a surprise. 2. Wonderful fresh pastries every morning in the Cova Cafe Milano. Actually, we found the bakery on Summit was excellent. 3. Low Cal, Low Fat spa lunches in the Spa Cafe. They were well prepared with great taste and view. Everybody needs some light food sooner or later during the cruise. 4. The sushi bar at Deck 10 every evening. Since we were at first seating, sometime I had a few sushi after show. 5. The specialty restaurant, Normandie. The food in the main restaurant-Cosmopolitan was generally very good. The Normandie was outstanding with many extras. I love the rack of lamb and Michel Roux's sample dessert so much, the best I have ever had. 6. La Grand Buffet (midnight). We enjoyed watching, and photographing more than eating because not much room left. Downside: those meat dishes (steak etc.) in Cosmopolitan were not very good, though we had never complained it to our waiter. We ordered seafood, duck etc. later and liked them. The lobster at the final formal night was not impressive. When we had many other choices, we are ok with that. Another criticism: the Chinese food buffet on Dec. 20 (at sea) was so-so. Maybe because we are Chinese, and Chinese food won't be at their best when serving in a buffet style. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to almost all the evening shows, and we liked them. We heard many people comparing the show on Celebrity with those on Carnival. And, some people like Carnival the better. Comparing to Carnival Conquest we took last year, I would say both of them were excellent, with somewhat different style. For production show, Conquest was more like a Vegas show, while Summit was close to Broadway. Summit's magic show was better than Conquest's. IMO, the cruise director on Conquest was much better than the cruise director, Simon, on Summit. We appreciated great sense of humor (verbally) more than those funny gesture and body language. FITNESS: We did our regular exercise in the ocean-view gym every morning of sea day. There are so many equipment including treadmills, bikes, step units, rowers, free weights, and sequenced pieces of equipment for lower-to-upper body development. You need sign-up for the use of treadmill. In the famous AquaSpa resort, our favorite was thalassotherapy pool under a dome. We use it everyday at about 10pm, when usually no more than five persons were there. We spent little time in the main pool area. Maybe because of this time of the year (before Christmas) and the length of the cruise (10 nights), we did not see many kids there. SERVICE: At mid-thirties, among the younger group of fellow cruisers, we didn't use a lot of services available. However, we were impressed by service team's attitude of work. They were diligent and always willing to please you. That why we were happy to leave more than recommended amount of tips at the end of cruise. We like those hardworking people who love their job and deserve good rewards, though the service may not be always given to us directly. Those small touches, such as the cool towel provided when returning ship from a hot island visit, were great. What we like the most? The cabin attendant cleaned the rail, glass, and everything in the balcony, at least once a day. We felt that that balcony was more enjoyable than Carnival Conquest a year ago, although at that time, our balcony was one of the biggest on the ship and several times larger than the standard balcony this time. An area should be improved: the security personnel were cold and sometime rude. They could, with a poker face, grab your boarding card from your hand suddenly, put in the machine, return it to you without a SINGLE word. How about "welcome back" with a smile? PORTS OF CALL: St. Maarten/Martin, Dec. 15: We were not shopping for jewelry etc., so we took a public minivan bus from Philipsburg to Marigot ($1.5pp) on French side first. After strolling the town with a clear view of Fort St. Louis, and a shopping mall, we found not much to do if not shopping. We decided to catch another bus to Grand Case. Although we told the driver where we would like to, we were still on the bus when Grand Case was passed for quite a while. The next interesting place was the famous Orient beach, where the bus finally dropped us on the beach ($3 pp). The driver did us a favor by doing that because the beach was about 1.5 mile away from the bus route. Although Orient beach is famous as a nude beach, most people had their swimming suit on. Topless ladies were not uncommon as well. The beach itself, known as St. Tropez in Caribbean, is indeed beautiful, with lots of water sport equipment available to rent and enjoy. We hiked uphill back to the bus route. The effort was well worth it. We passed several villages with great view of the colorful villa, beaches and bay. We then caught another bus back to Philipsburg ($2.5pp) for some souvenir shopping. St. Lucia, Dec. 16: We spent most of time on the Land and Sea shore excursion booked with Celebrity. We prefer the Sea portion to the Land portion. We started with the Land on a minivan visiting downtown of Castries, a banana plantation, a fishing village, and finally to the volcano. We didn't feel too well on the way. In addition to people tried to sell you something everywhere which was not unusual in Caribbean Islands, the local people at St. Lucia went further. They wanted you to see their fishing stuff, take pictures with them. And, they asked you to PAY them for doing that. The volcano is still alive, but nothing spectacular. We have visited those live volcanoes with red lava flows in Hawaii many times. The Sea portion was fun with great view of the coastline of St. Lucia. The twin pitons and Marigot Bay were beautiful. Barbados, Dec. 17: First, we walked a while in Bridgetown. We heard some negative things about Bridgetown, such as dusty and dirty, before this cruise. But we didn't see that way. Actually, we like it and think it is an interesting place to spend sometime in. We started our bus adventure again after meeting a couple also from Maryland (Roger and Sara). The bus system of Barbados combining the normal bus and the private minibus is very convenient and cheap, 75c (1.5 Barbados Dollar) per ride. Originally, we planned to go to Gun Hill Signal Station and they liked to visit Sam Lord's Castle. Because there would be a long wait for the bus to either places, we ended up with a bus to Martins Bay at the east (Atlantic) coast. Nice place with great scenery. The wave was rough and high, which was not good for swimming. After a break for taking some nice pictures, we headed to Bathsheba Bay, also on the east coast, which provided one of the best views of the Atlantic coast. We saw those amazing rock formations frequently shown in Barbados postcards. We also collected some colorful shells and corals. With plenty of time left, we then went to the west (Caribbean) coast, swimming at Church point beach, part of the Golden Coast. We were glad to have the "bus tour" in Barbados, seeing and feeling the local people, their way of living, and their culture. St, Kitts, Dec. 18: I would like to go to the beaches in the Southeast pan handle while my wife liked to see Brimstone Hill Fortress. So, to show respect to my boss, we took a taxi tour to visit Brimstone Hill Fortress and Romney Manor. The Fortress had an entry fee of $5 per person. At beginning, I hesitated to visit it because we had visited quite a few fortresses before. But, I was glad that we did this one. It is a unique one, and you can see yourself why it is a World Heritage Site. The view at the top of the fortress was gorgeous. You could see several neighboring Caribbean islands in distance. The visiting of Romney Manor, a restored manor house originally built by Thomas Jefferson's brother William was also interesting. We liked the introduction and display of how the batik fabrics were printed 2500 years ago in Caribelle Batik, and did buy a big batik. We returned to the ship at 1:00pm. After a quick lunch, we were back on taxi to South Friar beach. We had a good time (about 1.5 hr) for swimming and some snorkeling in the coral reefs about 20-30 m offshore. St. Thomas, Dec. 19: We heard a lot about the Trunk Bay beach, Virgin Island National Park in St. John. So, we didn't want to miss that. A 30-min cab ride brought us to Redhook on the east side of St. Thomas, followed by a 20-min ferry ride to Cruz Bay, St. John, then another 10-min cab to Trunk Bay. Not easy, but it was definitely worth the efforts and many fellow cruisers did the same thing. Trunk Bay beach is claimed as one of the 10 best beaches. This is the best Caribbean beach we have ever seen so far, and very comparable to the best Hawaiian beaches. We enjoyed powder white-sand beach, calm and clear water, and people watching. I like snorkeling, though not an expert, and appreciated the underwater trail very much. This was also my best snorkeling during the whole trip. There was an incident on our way back, when taking a ferry directly to downtown of Charlotte Amalie. One of the two engines failed, and fire and smoke were found on the back of the boat. All passengers including us were asked to move to the front of the boat. No big deal, except a delay of 10-15 min. DISEMBARKATION: We had a 3:20pm flight back, so we were asked to go to Celebrity Theater no later than 9:15am after breakfast. Our color was called at 9:45am. We found our luggage easily. The security and custom were tighter than New Orleans a year ago. A cab ride put us in airport at 10:20am. After check-in our bags, we even spent sometime at Fort Lauderdale beach. Not bad, people were swimming there, not me though. OVERALL: A great, great vacation. And, we will be back on another Celebrity cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
This was my second cruise on major ocean liner overcall (Carnival Conquest in Dec. 2002) and I would like to share my full review (long) with you. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the port at about 10:20am with two other couples also staying ... Read More
This was my second cruise on major ocean liner overcall (Carnival Conquest in Dec. 2002) and I would like to share my full review (long) with you. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the port at about 10:20am with two other couples also staying at La Quinta Inn. Apparently, we were too early, as people from last ship still dominated the luggage pick up/drop off area. At 11:10am, they began the boarding process for Captain's Club members and guests with suite. We were the first group after that, and the whole process was very smooth. Since we did the online documentation at home, it took us less than a minute to finish. At 11:45am, I had my welcome champagne onboard. THE SHIP: Summit was launched in 2001, and it is in an excellent shape now. Throughout our cruise, we can see the strong effort to keep the ship in its top form. At St. Kitts, we noted that the anchor was a bit rusty when leaving the ship. And, when we returned, they have painted! Overall, it is a beautiful ship. THE CABIN: We had a standard balcony cabin at Penthouse Deck. The cabin is nice with plenty of storage. The bathroom is impressively organized, functional with neat layout. We liked the shower unit, spacious with heavier curtain which won't stick on you. The veranda was large enough for us to sit with a small table to hold coffee or drinks between us. FOOD: Our top interest of a cruise was not the food. However, we did have a high expectation onboard Summit because we heard a lot of positive comments about the food on Celebrity. And, we were not disappointed. When talking to other people, seems everybody agreed that the food on Celebrity is at the top of major cruise lines. I just list a few examples which I appreciated very much: 1. The delivery of breakfast to our cabin. People complained that the food arrived with a sudden knock on the door on other lines. With Celebrity, a phone call was made to the cabin informing breakfast was on the way. It was a nice touch and avoided the awkwardness of a surprise. 2. Wonderful fresh pastries every morning in the Cova Cafe Milano. Actually, we found the bakery on Summit was excellent. 3. Low Cal, Low Fat spa lunches in the Spa Cafe. They were well prepared with great taste and view. Everybody needs some light food sooner or later during the cruise. 4. The sushi bar at Deck 10 every evening. Since we were at first seating, sometime I had a few sushi after show. 5. The specialty restaurant, Normandie. The food in the main restaurant-Cosmopolitan was generally very good. The Normandie was outstanding with many extras. I love the rack of lamb and Michel Roux's sample dessert so much, the best I have ever had. 6. La Grand Buffet (midnight). We enjoyed watching, and photographing more than eating because not much room left. Downside: those meat dishes (steak etc.) in Cosmopolitan were not very good, though we had never complained it to our waiter. We ordered seafood, duck etc. later and liked them. The lobster at the final formal night was not impressive. When we had many other choices, we are ok with that. Another criticism: the Chinese food buffet on Dec. 20 (at sea) was so-so. Maybe because we are Chinese, and Chinese food won't be at their best when serving in a buffet style. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to almost all the evening shows, and we liked them. We heard many people comparing the show on Celebrity with those on Carnival. And, some people like Carnival the better. Comparing to Carnival Conquest we took last year, I would say both of them are excellent, with somewhat different style. For production show, Conquest was more like a Vegas show, while Summit was close to Broadway. Summit's magic show was better than Conquest's. IMO, the cruise director on Conquest was much better than the cruise director, Simon, on Summit. We appreciated great sense of humor (verbally) more than those funny gesture and body language. FITNESS: We did our regular exercise in the ocean-view gym every morning of sea day. There are so many equipment including treadmills, bikes, step units, rowers, free weights, and sequenced pieces of equipment for lower-to-upper body development. You need sign-up for the use of treadmill. In the famous AquaSpa resort, our favorite was thalassotherapy pool under a dome. We use it everyday at about 10pm, when usually no more than five persons were there. We spent little time in the main pool area. Maybe because of this time of the year (before Christmas) and the length of the cruise (10 nights), we did not see many kids there. SERVICE: At mid-thirties, among the younger group of fellow cruisers, we didn't use a lot of services available. However, we were impressed by service team's attitude of work. They were diligent and always willing to please you. That why we were happy to give more than recommended amount of tips at the end of cruise. We like those hardworking people who love their job and deserve good rewards, though the service may not be always given to us directly. Those small touches, such as the cool towel provided when returning ship from a hot island visit, were great. What we like the most? The cabin attendant cleaned the rail, glass, and everything in the balcony, at least once everyday. This made we felt that balcony was much more enjoyable than Carnival Conquest a year ago, although at that time, our balcony was one of the biggest on the ship and several times larger than the standard balcony this time. An area should be improved: the security personnel were cold and sometime rude. They could, with a poker face, grab your boarding card from your hand suddenly, put in the machine, return it to you without a SINGLE word. How about "welcome back" with a smile? PORTS OF CALL: St. Maarten/Martin, Dec. 15: We were not shopping for jewelry etc., so we took a public minivan bus from Philipsburg to Marigot ($1.5pp) on French side first. After strolling the town with a clear view of Fort St. Louis, and a shopping mall, we found not much to do if not shopping. We decided to catch another bus to Grand Case. Although we told the driver where we would like to, we were still on the bus when Grand Case was passed for quite a while. The next interesting place was the famous Orient beach, where the bus finally dropped us on the beach ($3/pp). The driver did us a favor by doing that because the beach was about 1.5 mile away from the bus route. Although Orient beach is famous as a nude beach, most people had their swimming suit on. Topless ladies were not uncommon as well. The beach itself, known as Caribbean St. Tropez, is indeed beautiful, with lots of water sport equipment available to rent and enjoy. We hiked uphill back to the bus route. The effort was well worth it. We passed several villages with great view of the colorful villa, beach and bay. We then caught another bus back to Philipsburg ($2.5/pp) for some souvenir shopping. St. Lucia, Dec. 16: We spent most of time on the Land and Sea shore excursion booked with Celebrity. We prefer the Sea portion to the Land portion. We started with the Land portion on a minivan visiting downtown of Castries, a banana plantation, a fishing village, and finally to the volcano. We didn't feel too well on the way. In addition to people tried to sell you something everywhere which was not unusual in Caribbean Islands, the local people at St. Lucia went further. They wanted to show you their fishing stuff, taking pictures with them. And, they asked you to PAY them for doing that. The volcano is still alive, but nothing spectacular. We have visited those live volcanoes with red lava flows in Hawaii many times. The Sea portion was fun with great view of the coastline of St. Lucia. The twin pitons and Marigot Bay are beautiful. Barbados, Dec. 17: First, we walked a while in Bridgetown. We heard some negative things about Bridgetown, such as dusty and dirty, before this cruise. But we didn't see that way. Actually, we like it and think it is an interesting place to spend sometime in. We started our bus adventure again after meeting a couple also from Maryland (Roger and Sara). The bus system of Barbados combining the normal bus and the private minibus is very convenient and cheap, 75c (1.5 Barbados Dollar) per ride. Originally, we planned to go to Gun Hill Signal Station and they liked to visit Sam Lord's Castle. Because there would be a long wait for the bus to either places, we ended up with a bus to Martins Bay at the east (Atlantic) coast. Nice place with great scenery. The wave was rough and high, which was not good for swimming. After a break for taking some nice pictures, we headed to Bathsheba Bay, also on the east coast, which provided one of the best views of the Atlantic coast. We saw those amazing rock formations frequently shown in Barbados postcards. We also collected some colorful shells and corals. With plenty of time left, we then went to the west (Caribbean) coast, swimming at Church point beach, part of the Golden Coast. We were glad to have the "bus tour" in Barbados, seeing and feeling the local people, their way of living, and their culture. St. Kitts, Dec. 18: I would like to go to the beaches in the Southeast pan handle while my wife liked to see Brimstone Hill Fortress. So, to show respect to my boss, we took a taxi tour to visit Brimstone Hill Fortress and Romney Manor. The Fortress had an entry fee of $5 per person. At beginning, I hesitated to visit it because we had visited quite a few fortresses before. But, I was glad that we did this one. It is a unique one, and you can see yourself why it is a World Heritage Site. The view at the top of the fortress was gorgeous. You could see several neighboring Caribbean islands in distance. The visiting of Romney Manor, a restored manor house originally built by Thomas Jefferson's brother William was also interesting. We liked the introduction and display of how the batik fabrics were printed 2500 years ago in Caribelle Batik, and did buy a big batik. We returned to the ship at 1:00. After a quick lunch, we were back on taxi to South Friar beach. We had a good time (about 1.5 hr) for swimming and some snorkeling in the coral reefs about 20-30 m offshore. St. Thomas, Dec. 19: We heard a lot about the Trunk Bay beach, Virgin Island National Park in St. John. So, we didn't want to miss that. A 30-min cab ride brought us to Redhook on the east side of St. Thomas, followed by a 20-min ferry ride to Cruz Bay, St. John, then another 10-min cab to Trunk Bay. Not easy, but it was definitely worth the efforts and many fellow cruisers did the same thing. Trunk Bay beach is claimed as one of the 10 best beaches. This is the best Caribbean beach we have ever seen so far, and very comparable to the best Hawaiian beaches. We enjoyed powder white-sand beach, calm and clear water, and people watching. I like snorkeling, though not an expert, and appreciated the underwater trail very much. This was also my best snorkeling during the whole trip. There was an incident on our way back, when taking a ferry directly to downtown of Charlotte Amalie. One of the two engines failed, and fire and smoke were found on the back of the boat. All passengers were asked to move to the front of the boat. No big deal, except a delay of 10-15 min. DISEMBARKATION: We had a 3:20pm flight back, so we were asked to go to Celebrity Theater no later than 9:15am after breakfast. Our color was called at 9:45am. We found our luggage easily. The security and custom were tighter than New Orleans a year ago. A cab ride put us in airport at 10:20am. After check-in our bags, we even spent sometime at Fort Lauderdale beach. Not bad, people were swimming there, not me though. OVERALL: A great, great vacation. And, we will be back on another Celebrity cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
Departed Ft. LAUDERDALE on Friday March 5th, 2004 after a terrific night at the Renaissance Hotel on 17th St. Got to the pier around 11:30PM and on the ship by 12:00PM. The fastest embarkation process I've ever experienced. I kept ... Read More
Departed Ft. LAUDERDALE on Friday March 5th, 2004 after a terrific night at the Renaissance Hotel on 17th St. Got to the pier around 11:30PM and on the ship by 12:00PM. The fastest embarkation process I've ever experienced. I kept waiting for the long line up around the next corner but it just didn't happen. These guys have this process perfected. Once on board were escorted to a beautifully laid out cabin 3005. The window was very large at 4 feet in diameter affording an excellent view. A balcony would have been nice but with a view like this, trust me, a balcony is not necessary. The rooms aren't huge, but are well laid out and very clean. The shower was bigger on this ship than others I've been on. The common areas were very clean and elegant. The ship was being cleaned from stem to stern on a continuous basis. The entertainment was excellent. Excellent singers and the Celebrity orchestra is unparalleled in talent. The food in the main dining room was five star and the service truly amazing. A very attentive staff. I did not think it could be topped until eating at the Normandie restaurant. This is the specialty restaurant on board for which reservations are required. For $25.00/person, well worth the price. This was an absolutely fantastic experience. The food melted in your mouth and the service was astounding. If you leave your table for any reason, they remove your linen napkin and replace it with a fresh one while you are out...now that's service. I have a couple of minor complaints. Those people who reserve the deck chairs with a book, magazine, towel or a shoe should respect those of us who have better things to do than race to the sun deck every morning to reserve a chair!! That got a little annoying after a while. The pool police could do a better job in that area. We had a table for two the first night which was great except for the location. It was at the back of the restaurant next to the bussing station, the matre'd's station and practically half way out the exit door. The next night we were moved to the main area and found it to be excellent. Again, What Service!! I'm afraid that's it for complaints!! Very minor for sure and mention them only as a hope the chair thing can eventually be worked out. There were plenty of deck chairs in other spaces and no problem to find one. Just not in the main sun deck area with the nice soft covers on them. You could hardly feel the boat moving even though at times the seas got a little rough. We visited St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. The ports of call are nice and have been talked about so often, it's not worth going any further. If your looking for an absolutely wonderful ship with five star service, then this is your best value. This cruise line continues to deliver a quality product. Post Cruise....Debarkation was easy and smooth, had our bags within five minutes of leaving the ship. I'm sorry I can't say the same for FLL airport. They've got a serious problem with space and as a Canadian, trying to get out of there is a nightmare. It's like lining up at Disney World. Didn't ruin our trip though, we'll be back again next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
My wife and I sailed on the Summit on 3/5/04 for 10 days to the Southern Caribbean. This was our second cruise on Celebrity (after a relatively poor experience a few years ago) and our sixth cruise overall. This was a great cruise on a ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Summit on 3/5/04 for 10 days to the Southern Caribbean. This was our second cruise on Celebrity (after a relatively poor experience a few years ago) and our sixth cruise overall. This was a great cruise on a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew. I apologize for the length of this review, but I've tried to use headings to let each reader find the subjects he or she is most interested in. PRE-CRUISE ARRANGEMENTS. We flew from S.F. to Miami the day prior to sailing and were met at the airport by my brother. We had dinner together and then he drove us to our motel in Ft. Lauderdale. Buying him dinner was far less expensive than paying for the car service I had arranged, and I highly recommend having a relative live in Florida to help with this transfer. We stayed at the Comfort Suites Airport and Cruise Port. This is about two blocks from the Embassy Suites which seems to be a popular spot. It was adequate - very large room (we were upgraded), a clean bathroom and a passable breakfast. I wouldn't want to vacation there, but for overnight it is fine and I would stay there again if the pricing made it a good deal relative to other nearby places. We used the Comfort Suites shuttle to the ship in the morning. They ask guests to reserve spaces, but only some did. We were on the 10:30 a.m. shuttle and there was room for everyone who showed up - but later shuttles were fully booked up and I don't know how that worked for those who didn't reserve in advance. The shuttle left at 10:35 and after stopping first to drop off Princess passengers it deposited us at the Summit around 10:55. EMBARKATION. Embarkation was something of a zoo. It was not very clear where to bring the bags, where to go to check in or whether anyone was in charge. It turned out that bags were handed over to porters by simply mobbing the porters near the luggage bins - not an organized process. We figured out where to line up and waited outside for about thirty minutes until they started letting people file in (around 11:30). Then we were asked to have a seat and wait some more - certain passengers were given priority for boarding, but why was a mystery and there were no signs to help out in this regard. Eventually our row of seats was called up, and then we went through security screening before lining up again to actually check in. This part went pretty quickly and we were on the ship by noon. While the waiting area was fairly comfortable, it seems this process is more bogged down than necessary - I don't know how Princess moves people through so much faster, but they do and Celebrity could take a few notes on this. Upon boarding we were offered "champagne" or a Mimosa, a nice touch. A flyer was handed to us letting us know the rooms wouldn't be ready until 1:00 and directing us to head for the buffet on deck 10. The buffet was decent and after lunch we checked out our room - it was before 1:00 and it was all ready for us. We dropped off our carry-ons and began to explore the ship. Maybe because I had spent so much time poring over the diagram of the ship, maybe because of a pretty logical layout, we had an easy time finding our way around. We returned to the cabin around 2:30 and all of our bags had already been delivered - we quickly unpacked them and found that the cabin had plenty of space for our stuff, even though we had over-packed for a 10-day cruise. CABIN. Our cabin was 6144, then a 1C but soon to become a 1A. It was a good size and very intelligently laid out. The wood and fabrics were light colors that made the room seem bright and cheery. This is one of those few cabins with an extra large balcony - perhaps three times the size of a typical category 1 balcony. The balcony had two cushioned lounge chairs, two regular little balcony chairs and a small table. After the normal overhang from the hull, there is an awning which goes all the way to the rail - this was a good feature which allowed us to sit in sun or shade depending upon where we put our chairs. Contrary to some rumors, this cabin is no wider than any other category 1 cabin. The bathroom is nicely laid out with plenty of shelving and cabinets (this is one place where Princess should take a few notes from Celebrity). BON VOYAGE GIFT. I had ordered some flowers for my wife for our anniversary, and I was rather nervous that they had not been delivered before we sailed. They eventually showed up by 6:30 or so, and the arrangement was lovely - and it lasted the entire 10 days. I think this was a very good value (better than from other cruise lines or private bon voyage gift companies) and would purchase flowers from Celebrity again. SHIP. The Summit is a truly beautiful ship, at least for those on board (the boxy design of Celebrity ships may not appeal to some from the pier, but we didn't take the cruise to stare at the ship from the shore). The public areas are tastefully decorated and have a varied look from room to room - not jarring but each space is decorated in its own style. Overall the ship exudes elegance. It is only two and a half years old and is well-maintained. As with every other ship I've been on, there is constant cleaning and maintenance work being performed (although I noticed that the rail on our cabin's balcony was in bad need of some varnish). The public restrooms were especially clean. There is no "ooh and aah" atrium like on many other newer ships - not a negative, just one less photo to share with the folks back home. The pool area is very pretty to look at but not necessarily well designed. It is as if someone went out of their way to minimize the number of lounge chairs which can be placed around the pool, especially in the sun. This did not bother us at all, as we are just as happy to find a quieter place to catch some rays, and there were tons of empty chairs to be had (although there is only one towel distribution area, right near the pool, which makes this less than convenient - and there is no obvious place to dispose of used pool towels). In any event, I have no idea of whether there was chair hogging going on, but all of the chairs near the pool were taken at all times the ship wasn't in port - not sure why the mystique about being right next to the pool, but I'm obviously in the minority. FELLOW PASSENGERS. Given that this was a 10-day cruise, there were very few children and the passengers skewed a bit older than we see on 7-day cruises. The typical passenger was probably mid-40's to early 70's, with most being between 50 and 65 (no, I did not take a survey). Most of the passengers were Americans, but there were a number of Canadians, Brits and other Europeans. People seemed to be enjoying themselves in all corners of the ship, but this was not a boisterous group to be sure. The mix seemed to be very similar to that we see on Princess ships. In short, not a wild party crowd, which was fine with us. We are non-smokers, and we never felt that smokers were lighting up where they shouldn't have. Yes, the smoking side of the ship had a fair number of smokers, but we rarely felt overwhelmed by smoke - and we had drinks most nights with friends who smoked and thus we sat in a smoking lounge. I would have to conclude that this was a respectful group. FOOD.  It would be impossible to simply say "the food was good" or "the food was bad" - it really depends upon which venue and which time you're discussing. Most mornings we had breakfast in the Waterfall Cafe buffet area. The food was fine - nothing exceptional but good variety (I think the only thing that changed was some mornings they had smoked salmon and other mornings they had herring). The coffee was pretty darn strong; also, many mornings one or more coffee stations were shut down, so lines built up quickly where coffee was available. There was a waffle station and omelet station - we never tried them but they seemed to have loyal followings. At lunch the buffet food was not terribly interesting - menu changed daily, but it never looked terribly appealing. Most days we got something light at the Aquaspa Cafe, and that was always tasty - I think this is one of the best things going on this ship, with never more than a few people on line. We had hot dogs for snacks from the grill by the pool, and they were quite good (the fries were pretty good, too); we never tried the burgers. My wife had pizza once and said is was fine, but nothing like that offered by Princess from the pizzerias on the Sun class ships. We had sushi a couple of times for a late afternoon snack (available from 6 to 10 p.m.). The selection was decent, the fish seemed fresh and overall it was nice to have it available - I wouldn't swap it for a good local sushi bar, but it was far better than the pre-packaged stuff they sell at the local supermarket. Dinner in the Cosmopolitan restaurant ranged from okay to very good - all was made better by the fabulous service we got from our waiter (Oz) and his assistant (Boban). Oz was the best waiter we've ever had. Celebrity seems to do red meats nicely, but they don't do as well with fish or seafood - the lobster tail on the last formal night was tasteless rubber, so you had better take the butter on it if you order it. Lamb was consistently excellent. Starters went from blah to excellent, soups were very good, salads were okay, breads were very good and desserts were good to excellent (unfortunately, this made them hard to pass up). We had dinner one night in the Normandie and it was wonderful. The room is beautiful, the service was excellent and the food was wonderful - far better than the Cosmopolitan and well worth the extra charge. Only downside is a somewhat limited menu, so eating there multiple times can be tough (the food is so rich you might not want to go more than once anyway). ENTERTAINMENT. We missed all of the production shows. We saw the comedian, Mike Ivy, and he was fairly dismal. But he looked like a giant of the entertainment industry compared to Gossamer Magic, perhaps the worst show I've seen anywhere (and I am including amateur talent shows in this); the only thing slightly entertaining was watching some of the audience actually laugh at lame jokes that perhaps would amuse a second-grader. Voltz was entertaining with a great lead singer. Barbara, the harpist, was good, and the Frank Duo were good if you didn't watch the drummer/singer perform as if he were going to die of boredom. Don Fluke, the cruise director, was a bit of a parody of a lounge singer, but one-on-one he is almost shy and a genuine and nice guy. CREW. This ship has the best crew I've ever seen - extremely well-trained for their jobs. Even the guys vacuuming the landing by the elevators stop and say "good afternoon, sir" when you walk by, always with a smile on their faces. The bar wait-staff was friendly and efficient. Our cabin stewardess and her assistant did a very good job (but I think they are stretched too thin and sometimes work too quickly, so they might leave a used plate or glass on the balcony table) and they were very friendly. CRUISE CRITIC PARTY. We had a very active group online - around 1,300 messages posted before we sailed. Many of the folks got together for a pre-cruise drink in Fort Lauderdale (we missed it due to late arrival) and again for sail away just after the muster drill. By the time of the party - second sea day, around 10:15 in the morning, the thrill was a bit gone. Still, we had maybe 15 people show up for coffee and Danish with the cruise director and the social hostess (Camilla Sullivan). It was fun - but my wife wisely didn't reschedule a massage for it. DINNER WITH THE CAPTAIN. Because it was our anniversary, we ended up being invited to dinner with the captain on the last formal night. This was fun and we got to meet interesting new people at the dinner, but I will say we missed the last "fancy" dinner with our tablemates (whom we met online through Cruise Critic and enjoyed immensely). If you get invited, you should do this at least once. Maybe the best perk was being invited to a bridge tour, something not done routinely any more for security reasons (they "wanded" all of us and checked the women's handbags before the tour started). SHORE EXCURSIONS. We had arranged two shore excursions online months before the cruise. One was cancelled due to lack of interest. This was the Captain Nautica Power Raft and Snorkel trip from St. Thomas to St. John - something I'd done two years ago with my son and found to be the best shore excursion I'd ever been on. They cancelled so late that the concierge said she couldn't help me book it privately on my own (something about needing at least 48 hours to do this). I find it hard to believe that with the Summit, the Constellation and Brilliance of the Seas all in port together they couldn't find 10 people out of 6,000 who were interested. Worse, because they offer it as a ship's excursion, Captain Nautica won't let you book on your own in advance if you're on the ship. So, Celebrity's manner of handling this actually prohibited me from spending my day in port as I desired. This was the worst thing they did (not malicious, just indifferent, although the concierge had a pretty poor attitude). PORTS. We got at least some rain every day, but it did little to dampen our enjoyment of the great ports on this itinerary. On St. Maarten we rented a car, shopped and had lunch in Marigot, went to Orient Beach for a while, and then got in some quick shopping in Phillipsburg. On St. Lucia we got a taxi and went to the Caribelle Batik workshop (sort of disappointing) and Eudovic's wood-carving studio and gallery (pretty interesting place). This was our lazy day - but I'll note that there is some pretty good shopping right at the pier. At Barbados we did the sail, snorkel with turtles and shipwreck and swim at the beach shore excursion. The turtles were interesting, the snorkeling at the shipwreck was fairly good, and the crew of the catamaran was a lot of fun. On St. Kitts we grabbed a taxi to Turtle Beach - a lot of fun, very good snorkeling once you wade through the sea grass, a nice (if expensive) restaurant and bar and a huge red pig on the beach to mingle with the tourists (hope that guy's Rolex wasn't ruined when the pig dumped it from the beach-bag trying to grab a banana). On St. Thomas we took a snorkel trip to Buck Island - okay, not spectacular - and did the obligatory final round of shopping. MISSING THE SHIP. No, not us, but at St. Lucia two couples can running up to the pier as the ship was floating away. They signaled to the harbor pilot's boat and it seemed they had to negotiate two things - having the captain of the Summit permit them to board by jumping from the pilot boat onto the Summit while it was leaving the harbor, and determining the amount of the "payment" to the pilot boat's captain to take them to the Summit - I'll bet that was by far the most expensive 150-yard trip they ever took. DISEMBARKATION. This went far more smoothly than embarkation - unlike Princess, which just leaves it to each person's devices to find a place to sit, Celebrity assigns you to a lounge area so that seating is available. It is a bit tough walking through any public spaces during this time, but otherwise it worked well. Our bags were easily located and out we went. SHUTTLE TO MIA. We used the Celebrity bus to Miami airport and that went well - except that the driver seemed determined to deafen us all with the occasional 3-second, 150-decibel blast of Spanish language radio. He was also quite liberal using the horn - but we arrived in one piece no worse for the wear. OVERALL. This was our first cruise of more than 7 days, and the extra few days made it a lot more relaxing - we particularly liked the 4 sea days. We already had another cruise booked on Infinity to Alaska this summer, and we are now very encouraged by this great experience on Celebrity. Is Celebrity better than Princess? Not to us - they are each great lines with strengths in different areas. At that, my wife still wants to try Royal Caribbean again - last time was 10 years ago on our honeymoon and we had a good time there, too. I guess any cruise would have to be pretty awful for us to not have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Just returned from a very successful voyage. 11 days was very enjoyable on the Summit. This was our second time on Summit. Previous cruise was April 2003. This was a new experience for us. Prior cruises did not permit travel a day before ... Read More
Just returned from a very successful voyage. 11 days was very enjoyable on the Summit. This was our second time on Summit. Previous cruise was April 2003. This was a new experience for us. Prior cruises did not permit travel a day before cruise to the port. This time was a first for us. We booked the Holiday Inn in Ft. Lauderdale for the night before our cruise. Unfortunately this we during spring break and the hotel was over run with "spring breakers". Was a little noisy to say the least. Arrived at the pier on sailing day around 11:00AM. After checking in, we boarded almost immediately. Our cabin was not ready as yet so we went to the buffet for lunch. Around 1:00PM our cabin was ready. We checked it out and walked around the ship. Had lifeboat drill at 4:00PM. Sailaway at 4:30PM. We had arranged a get together with other cruise critics that we met on the internet at the Mast Bar during sailaway. Quite a few attended. We had another get together that the ship provided for us at Michaels Club later in the cruise. Cruise Director Don Fluke along with several of his staff including a ships photographer also were present. Coffee, danish, and other things were provided around 10:30AM at this get-to-gether. This was also well attended. Was able to put names to faces we met on internet. To say that the cruise was flawless would be untrue. No cruise is perfect by ours was very close. The only fly in the ointment was a problem at Costa Rico. We approached the pier at Costa Rica, and at that time noticed that we were about two hours late. The ship started tying up at the pier only to reverse everything and untie the ship and sail away. The Captain came on the intercom and announced that due to a broken pier tie and the rough swell, we would not be able to dock at Costa Rica. Also found out at that time that the reason for the late arrival was due to a delay during the night when the ship was stopped on the high seas for two hours to "offload" five or so passengers by the US Coast Guard. This was not mentioned by the Captain but found out later on the internet aboard ship and referred to an article in the Miami Herald Newspaper about a "drug lord" being removed by the United States Navy with the aid of a Guided Missile Cruiser. Everything we were told "officially" by the cruiseline was that it was a "test". Why the coverup and not the whole truth will never be known. Anyone with internet access will know the truth. As for the cruise itself, the food, service, and all activities aboard were top notch. The crew always had a friendly "hello" and smile for everyone we met. Entertainment was very good to excellent. Don the cruise director, did a fine job filling in for the vacationing Simon Weir. Cabin Stewardess, Dining Room Waitress, Dining Room Assistant waiter all did an excellent job and should be commended. This was our 24th cruise and one of the best yet. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
My wife and I just got back from the 10 day Summit Southern Caribbean cruise and it was great! I read just about every review I could find about the ship before we left so I figured when we got back I would put my two cents worth in. I ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from the 10 day Summit Southern Caribbean cruise and it was great! I read just about every review I could find about the ship before we left so I figured when we got back I would put my two cents worth in. I will try to be as informative as possible. And so it begins.... We live in Charleston,SC so we decided to drive down to Fort Lauderdale the day before. I read from a forum post that the Wyndham Airport hotel was running a park and go special. For about $100 you can stay the night and leave your car in their parking garage for the length of your cruise. Since the port parking garage is $12 a day we figured this was a good way to save money. We booked a room online and I printed out the receipt. The fun began right when we got there. As I was checking in another patron was screaming to speak to the manager (not a good sign). When we got to our room the king size room we booked was replaced with a smokers room with two double beds, complete with stained spreads, and a barely functioning air conditioner. Too bad for the hotel they didn't know who they were dealing with. After a stiff drink my wife and went to the front desk. They tried to say that King sized rooms were not "guaranteed". I showed them my print out and my wife say she has asthma and would die in a smokers room ( she doesn't really but people don't want a medical lawsuit). They agreed to move us into a handicapped King room which was clean and had AC. Score one for the home team! All aboard...... Day 1 embarkation. We took a taxi to the port around 10:30am because we want to be on the boat early to start our fun. We huddle around in a room filled with people before they finally usher us to a seating area to wait to board. We have to wait for suite people and Captains Club people to board first. I offer to trade our children for concierge class accommodations but no one seems interested (little joke there). The boarding staff try to make the experience better by making a few jokes about the food being all gone etc. We finally board at noon. We arrive in our stateroom 2055. It's very nice with plenty of room and a huge mirror behind the bed. There are two white robes, water and ice on a silver tray, and a decent size shower. Our room on Holland America was bigger but this room is better than our Royal Caribbean sardine can. We quickly head to the buffet and have lunch then decide to enjoy the Fort Lauderdale sun poolside. I however made a grave error. I left my shorts in the suitcases. Since 9/11 it takes a while for your luggage to get checked in. Quickly I asked my room steward for a pair of scissors and the jeans I am wearing become cut-offs. I look a little red-neck but at least I can relax poolside. We order what would become the first of many Pina Coladas onboard and toast our trip. Their Pina Coladas are great! Sun & Fun... Day 2 At Sea We got up early and decided to stake out a pool chair before they become extinct. We know all about chair hogging and decide to play it safe by nabbing one early (editors note: we never leave a chair marked for more than 30 minutes so I don't believe this constitutes hogging, if you believe it does then too bad, I'll wave to you from poolside while you walk around aimlessly with your towel). After our 10am Pina Colada breakfast we spend the day listening to the band "Voltz" and laying in the sun. The band is very good playing a wide variety of tunes, everything from Island music to Rock to Blues. Their female lead singer has a phenomenal voice. During our day poolside we are brought cold towels (nice). Later about 2:30pm they do their first sorbet parade. The restaurant staff wearing white gloves parade around with silver trays filled with small cups of sorbet. It's a lot of fun and a nice cool off on a hot day. It's the first formal night so we go put on our Sunday best. There is one minor flaw to completing our elegant picture, my red glow in the dark face. I guess a month in a tanning bed cannot compete with the power of mother nature. My wife decides we better not keep our pictures since I look scary. Dinner was excellent. The prime rib we ordered melts in your mouth. We cap our evening off with a couple of crown royals and call it an early night. Feeling hot hot hot.... Day 3 At Sea I am lobster man. My face looks like a red relief map of the desert. Small children run in terror. Despite my efforts I get horrible sunburn on my face. The rest of me is not too bad, but my face looks like a stop light. We still go to the pool but I end up wrapping up in towels like the mummy to keep from burning further (plus I want to heal up for our St Martin trip to the beach). My wife and I enter a few poolside trivia contests since they are in the shade. I won the TV tunes trivia and scored us a couple of cool key chains. The day has cold towels and sorbet as well. That night we decide to try the Normandie restaurant. If you go let me give you a couple of tips. Don't eat much that day and expect your dining experience to be about 2+ hours long. The ambiance was spectacular. The whole room has gold overtones and is very subdued. The paneling from the original Normandie was very impressive. There was a classical trio playing next to us. It was a very elegant surrounding. We start with soup. My wife has lobster bisque and I have French onion, both very good. We have Caesar salad which they prepare tableside. Finally we enjoy the Chateau Briand which was as smooth as butter. Later they brought around a cheese tray (which we passed on). Finally we had dessert which was good but they poured coffee on my wife's chocolate soufflE (we thought it was chocolate sauce). I would recommend trying this experience at least once on your cruise. Off to bed to get ready for port #1. Naked as a jaybird..... Day 4 St. Martin We decided to spend the day at Orient Beach in St Martin. We went to Orient on one of our previous cruises but only stayed a short time. This time we want to spend the day on this pristine beach. We get off the boat and make our way to the car rental area. We had reserved a car with dollar rental and figured we could use that as a bartering tool to get a good rental rate. The hawkers were everywhere trying to get us to rent one of their cars. We finally settled on a car for $40 after some haggling. The island is very easy to drive since you drive on the right side and the main road circles the whole island. We arrive at Orient make our way to the front of the Coco beach club, set up our towels, and get our morning Pina Colada. Orient beach is one of St Martins best. It's very clean and scenic. Since it's clothing optional you avoid big crowds and screaming children. There are various naked people floating around which provides my wife with great amusement. It seems that people who like to get naked have no business being naked. There are lots of old fat men with their tackle dangling down and naked old women flopping around. I saw an older naked woman jogging down the beach and I'm hoping over time that memory will fade from my brain cells. After lunch we do some souvenir shopping for the boys and head back to the boat. Ride'm Cowboy Day 5 St. Lucia We decided on horseback riding at International stables for the day. It will always be one of the most memorable experiences of my wife and mine. First they provided transportation to and from the cruise terminal. Ms Floria was very charming and accommodating. You could really tell she has a love of her animals. The horses were well cared for and the staff went out of their way to make sure our horses were the right fit for our riding experience. They have horses that cater from novice rider to pro. We then set out on a ride across a beautiful St Lucia beach. We stopped at a ledge and our guides snapped pictures of us on our horses with the ocean in the background. Then we dismounted at small bar on the beach which had local venders offering drinks and souvenirs. A vender, seeing my bad sun burn, proceeded to fetch an aloe plant and coated my face with cool aloe. He then gave me a stalk of the plant to use later. Then it was the swim time. My wife and I mounted my Black Arabian and headed into the ocean. It was an incredible sensation to be on the back of this powerful animal as it strode along in chest deep water. More pictures were taken by our guides using our cameras. We dried off and returned to the stables. During our return riders were permitted to trot or gallop along the shore if they desired. We cannot recommend these people more. They were gracious hosts and a class act all the way. If you book though make sure you go for the two hour swim. For $50 a person it is definitely a value. We later tried the market area and found that to be a mistake. The market area was dirty and filled with cheap trinkets. I also have reservations about walking the streets where they sell voodoo candles and live chickens. We give up on shopping and call it a day. Turtle, turtle, turtle.... Day 6 Barbados We decided to book the turtle swim and wreck shore excursion for this day. Ocean Adventures did a great job. First the excursion waiting area is shaded (whew). After a short bus ride we boarded a uncrowded catamaran around 9am. The crew was very accommodating. We motored along the coastline and our host provided interesting items about the islands as well as a few jokes. Sodas and water were provided on the way to the turtles (no alcohol till after snorkeling unless you don't want to snorkel). We arrived at our turtle sight about 30 minutes later where masks and snorkels were provided (no fins since it upsets the turtles). The turtles were beautiful and amazing to behold. There were at least 10 of them swimming all around and under us. After about 10 minutes we boarded and headed to the shipwreck sight. Fins are allowed here and you are given more freedom to explore. The area is teaming with fish and beautiful coral lines the white sandy bottom. After this it is rum punch and beer time. The crew then provides all the rum punch and beer you want (a very good local Barbados beer I might add). The beach is right next to the wreck site so we stopped off for a short beach stay about 25 minutes. Finally we headed back to the ship with island music playing on board. One of the crew offered us some delicious banana bread to eat on the ride back. We arrived and made it back on the boat by about 1pm well in time for lunch. The whole excursion on Celebrity cost us $45 a piece which was a steal for all they give you. I can't recommend this tour more! Once again in the afternoon we decide to shop. The town is a very long walk from the dock. The town seems very crowded to me and lacks the charm of the smaller places we have visited. Some of the store clerks are rather surly as well. Cab fees are outrageous. I get my wife to promise that this is the last shopping trek we will undertake. Her sore feet agree with me. We are definitely praising our friend Crown Royal when we get back to the boat. Monkey Business... Day 7 St Kitts For our day in St. Kitts we decided to take a taxi to the turtle beach restaurant on the southern tip of the island. We read it was a great place to spend the day and that on occasion you might get to spot monkeys wandering around. The taxi ride was $20 to get there and the driver agreed to meet us at 3pm to pick us up ($40 round trip). We arrived just as a small sprinkle was letting up. The restaurant was very quaint and everything you would expect from a beach bar & grill. We grabbed a couple of beach chairs (which are free to use) and a small table and started about the hard business of relaxing. One of the workers there was busy raking up the sea grass from the beach. We had a great view of the bay and Nevis off in the distance. Soon my wife had her first visitor. One of the cats from the bar meandered over and decided he found an easy mark. This was the case as my wife fed him cheese from the cooler we had brought with us. Afterwards the cat stretched out and relaxed on our cooler earning him the name "Cooler Kitty". As the day progressed my wife got her wish when one of the waitresses announced that the monkeys have arrived (We had heard rumors that they had all been chased off by local dogs). A group of about 10 small monkeys came foraging around for goodies. A local man gave my wife a cup of mango juice which one of the monkeys walked up and accepted from my wife. They were not, however too thrilled with the watermelon I brought from the boat. When I handed it to the monkey he sniffed at it and threw it to the ground like an angry small child. It was really fun watching their antics. Our final animal visit came from a huge hog who seems to think the beach is his private grounds. It was funny watching him mess with various patrons belongings until he took a fancy to our cooler. I had to shoo him off when he tried to stick his whole head into our cooler grunting and sniffing the whole time. "Cooler Kitty" was not too thrilled as his intrusion as well. All in all it was a great day at the beach. The only drawback was the endless amount of hawkers cruising the beach trying to sell you necklaces, bird feeders and island music CDs, most of them were not too pushy though. At 3pm our driver picked us up and we returned to the boat. The town of St. Kitts is quaint and had the best shopping deals other than St Martin. A warning however, my wife and I went to a local drug store to buy sun block and sun burn relief stuff and the cashier tried to rip us off. We used our charge card and she tried to put the total down as US$23 instead of $23 EC, a big difference. I caught her mistake and she corrected it but I felt it was intentional. Life is a beach.... Day 8 St Thomas (St John) My wife has always wanted to see St John. We read about how most of the beaches there are undeveloped because they have been declared a park area. We spent a lot of time debating which beach to try there. At first we were leaning towards Hawksnest but in the end we decided to go to Trunk Bay since they have facilities. The day begins with lots of shuttling. Taxi to Red Hook $8 per person, ferry to St John $3 per person, taxi to Trunk Bay $4 per person, Trunk Bay admission $4 per person. Was it all worth it? Answer a resounding yes! The taxi reached the crest of a hill and stopped to show us Trunk Bay beach from above and the view was spectacular. The whitest sand we have ever seen and waters that have about every shade of crisp blue you could imagine. Most pictures you see on the internet of Trunk bay are taken from this high point. We are glad we didn't go with Hawksnest because they had construction going on with all kinds of workers and equipment milling about. We arrive at the park and it is very clean and modern. The have large bathrooms, freshwater showers, a small store, and a little grill. All the facilities are back away from the beach so as not to interfere with the majestic scenery. I have to say without a doubt that of all the beaches I have been too, domestic and abroad, this is by far the most beautiful beach I have every laid eyes on. It's like walking into a picture post card. The sand is clean and white and silky soft. The waters are so clean and clear you feel like you are looking into a swimming pool. We were concerned about the beach being crowded but overall I would say everyone had ample breathing room. We spent most of the day here soaking up the sun, enjoying lunch from our cooler (stocked with sandwiches from the ship), and taking in the wonderful scenery. When it came time to go it was almost painful to part from these surroundings, but we vowed that on our next St. Thomas visits we will definitely return to Trunk Bay. This is a place you have to experience at least once in your life. Back to the sea... Day 9 at Sea Once again it is time to bask poolside on our floating resort. I go out at 6:30am and scout out a good chair. I have now found myself in the company of other hunter-gatherer husbands whose wives have sent them chair foraging as well. Its almost like a morning social club, sipping coffee, comparing our chair catches of the day. The day consists of the usual poolside day activities, cold towels, sorbet, trivia and pool games, music by Voltz, etc. We retire a little early to get ready for the final formal night onboard. It's lobster night so my wife is very excited. At dinner we order two tails each and judging from what I overhear other people do the same. After dinner we get the baked Alaska parade which is pretty much a standard on all boats. The waiters seem to have a lot of fun with it. Our waiter put his gloved hand into the fire and raised it like the Statue of Liberty. At midnight that night was the Grand Buffet. This is my third cruise so the novelty of the buffet has kind of worn off. You have the usual ice sculptures and food carvings. The hard thing is trying to eat a bunch of extremely rich food then go back to bed. After a night of listening to our moaning stomachs we decide we may pass on next cruises buffet. The last dance.... Day 10 at Sea The last day has arrived. We do the usual pool routine but mother nature only cooperates till about noon. We play the pool games & enjoy Voltz for the last time. We spend the day packing and getting ready for tomorrows sad day. We enjoy some poolside hamburgers for our last dinner. The poolside grill has really good hamburgers as well as great pizza and a different past dish each day. That night we ordered pizza which came to our room in little pizza boxes (nice touch). We go to sleep hoping our boys haven't burnt down the house or starved the dogs in our absence (they didn't). I don't wanna go.... Disembarkation We are given color coded tags on our luggage to identify when we get off the boat. We let them know in advance of our very long drive home. They have announcement free disembarkation. Basically they assign you a waiting area and instead of announcing whose next over the ships speaker they have a ship representative in your lounge announce what color is getting off next. We wait and wait and wait. Finally around 9:15 we get to exit the ship. We give up on the idea of grabbing the rail and kicking and screaming and reluctantly leave our floating paradise. Back to reality, sigh. When we got back to the Wyndham our car was right where we left it so we hit the road and bade adieu to Fort Lauderdale. The Mighty Summit Cabin 2055 Our cabin was nicely furnished, very clean, and spacious enough to meet our needs. There was plenty of closet space and drawer space. We had a small night stand with a water pitcher, ice bucket, and two ice tea glasses. The room comes with a mini-bar which to me is a waste. I would have much preferred a decent refrigerator. We tried to use the mini-bar fridge but our stateroom attendant would not empty it for us so we had to empty it ourselves every time we wanted to use it. It wasn't very cold as well. The shower was ok. They give you a shampoo dispenser and a lotion dispenser by the toilet. The bed was about as comfortable as most ship beds we have had (foam mattress rather firm). After spending most of the day baking in the sun, eating large amounts of food and drinking we found no trouble sleeping. Food Glorious Food Cosmopolitan Dining Room The main dining room is the cosmopolitan restaurant and we found the dEcor to be quite attractive. They have screens which cover the windows including the huge window in the back. During our dining they would raise the screens to reveal the waters outside. We insisted on a table for two since we hate forced dinner conversation. They put us right next to the waiter's station which was kind of noisy. Our waiter was Ok but a little over the top trying to be friendly. I like polite quiet service but this guy insisted upon trying to make conversation, all with a rather pretentious overtone. A good waiter can pick up on how much interaction his patrons want. I guess he was worried about getting his tip. The food was good. The best items my wife and I agreed were the salads (always fresh and different) and their beef dishes (very tender and juicy). A lot of the dishes were a little to rich for us, a lot of veal, duck, quail, and cod just to name a few items. It seems the menu caters more to a European taste. Casual Dining Boulevard We really enjoyed this option. You can make a reservation to eat in the back of the Waterfall restaurant. They make up the tables real nice with table clothes and offer the same level of waiter service as the main dining room. The menu has two variations both with steak, chicken, salmon, pasta and made to order gourmet pizza. We found the service here the best on the boat. The waiters are honestly friendly and professional and the Maitre d' went out of his way to ensure you were enjoying yourself. The view was superior to our dining room view. They sat us in front of a huge window where my wife and I could watch the sunset. I highly recommend people try this option if you want a relaxing meal in a casual setting. The steak was excellent. Waterfall Dining Room This is your classic buffet dining room. We ate our breakfasts and lunches here. The breakfasts were good but not as abundant as Holland America. Some items were only available on some days. Overall there was plenty to choose from. They had a good omelet station which offered various ingredients and would also fix fried eggs. I liked this because I would rather have a fried egg cooked to order. Lunches were good but not great. At sea they had themed buffets (Italian, Mexican, etc) but overall we only could find one or two things we liked. For example the lasagna only had ground beef, noodles, and mozzarella cheese. No Ricotta cheese or anything else. This left it rather bland. A lot of the dishes were lacking in this fashion. There is a pasta bar during lunch as well as a sandwich bar in the very back. The sandwich bar was good and offered a wide variety of breads and meats as well as a special sandwich of the day. My wife almost jumped for joy when they did Steak sandwiches since this is her favorite and I was thrilled to see Reuben sandwiches one day. Everyday there is a station offering 100% real ice cream, it was delicious, with lots of toppings to choose from. Poolside Grill The poolside grill was a favorite stop for us. They have delicious hamburgers with every topping you could want. The fries were quite good. They also have four different kinds of pizza. My wife and I both liked the pizza which had a great crust. There was also a pasta dish of the day. All in all the food was good and it's a great place to grab a quick snack while sunning. Normandie The Normandie was a worthwhile alternative to the usual routine. I have already described our dining experience above. I would heartily recommend trying it as least one day. You would probably want to go on a non-formal night since formal nights in the cosmopolitan shouldn't be missed. Entertainment One of the weak points on this ship is the entertainment. The comedian Mike Ivy was horrible and both my wife and I fell asleep. They had a magician who did a sort of vaudeville routine which was kind of annoying. They had a xylophone player which was not very entertaining (he seemed more excited than the audience). We didn't even bother to check out the violin player. The Celebrity singers and dancers are pretty much par for the course. This was our third cruise and over all the song & dance shows just don't wow us anymore. How many salutes to Broadway & the movies can you watch before they become passE. Someone should have told the singers that "Titanic" might not be a good movie choice to salute on a cruise ship. On cruises we like to see unique acts. They had a couple who were acrobats but they were not given their own show (they meshed them in with the singers & dancers). This is too bad because they were quite talented. I wish they would use some of their bars onboard for late night comedy, maybe of a more risquE mature. As mentioned earlier we really enjoyed the band Voltz. They played a wide variety of music, anything from country to rock to island music. Their female lead singer has a phenomenal voice. We also enjoyed Ron Thompson who was a solo guitarist who played about the ship (usually on the back deck at sunset). It was very relaxing to listen to Jimmy Buffet tunes while watching the sun sink into the Caribbean Sea. The T-Pool This was an area we would come to visit a lot. During the day the T-Pool was always crowded. But at night it was all but abandoned. A few nights my wife and I opted to skip the show to check out the T-Pool and we are glad we did. We went around 8:30pm-9pm and most of the time we either had the whole thing to ourselves or shared it with one or two others. The T-Pool is a small warm salt water swimming pool that is flanked on each side with seating areas filled with Jacuzzi type bubbles. There are also four tall faucets shooting streams of warm water into the pool (these feel great if you let them hit your neck). There are two hot tubs outside the pool but they close at 9pm (which is silly since the t-pool stay open till 11pm). My wife and I loved to get in the middle of the pool and float on our backs and gaze at our reflections in the glass ceiling. It was a wonderfully relaxing experience. If you want a great way to wind down before hitting the sack ease up there at night and relax. The Main Pool. There are two small pools topside. One is a deeper pool (about 6' deep) which is used primarily for swimming. This is a salt water pool and as the ship is moving it creates waves that travel back and forth. When the waves really get rolling you can hear the pool goers laughing like kids in an amusement park. The other pool is shallower and is used more by children and people who want to just soak in the water. There are two hot tubs outside but it boggles my mind that someone would want to soak in hot water in the hot Caribbean Sun. It would be nice if they would leave the poolside hot tubs open at night but I guess that would make them liable to anything bad happening and they would have to worry about more amorous couples using them. It would be great though to hot tub under the stars. Announcements Announcements are all but nonexistent on this cruise. This is something we were really pleased with since we were subjected to the constant bingo call of "Mr. Bingo" on our Royal Caribbean cruise. On this ship they would do a noon update of where our position was and a couple of the days events and that was about it. Overall This was an overall great cruise experience for my wife and I. We have to give celebrity the thumbs up in the area of service. With this ship it's all about the little extras, from the champagne given at boarding to the cold towels given poolside and upon returning to the ship. There were just so many "nice touches". We heartily recommend this ship to anyone cruising. It's a quiet oasis from the storm of everyday life. The Blake's Cruise Tips: Pack a lunch Why risk traveler's diarrhea when you have such great food on the ship? Take a collapsible cooler, a box of freezer bags, and some hefty disposable containers. I also recommend bringing at least twelve water bottles, 20 oz Evian type. Keep the water bottles filled with water from the ship. Order sandwiches dry from the restaurant onboard or get them delivered by room service. Pack the sandwiches in the bags, chips in another bag, and if you want most ships have a fruit and cheese plate which can be put into your hefty containers. Get packets of condiments for your sandwiches. Ice the whole thing down by getting your cabin attendant to bring you extra ice. Now you have a wonderful, safe picnic lunch to take to the beach or ashore. Luggage Get large suitcases because less is better. We found a nice large travel suitcase at Wal-mart for $50. Get some colored ribbon or take apart an old Christmas bow and tie it around the handle. You can also put large stickers on your suitcase. This will make finding your bag a lot easier when you get off the ship since they tend to pile the luggage all together. BYOB To save money, pack your own liquor in your suitcase. We brought two 1.75 liter bottles onboard. Use room glasses and ice to fix your own drinks. When getting duty free liquor in a port pack it away in a backpack or travel bag. Most of the time the guys running the x-ray machines won't try to confiscate it. If they do take it so what, you'll get it back at the end of the cruise. We have never had them confiscate our bottles. Chair Hogging Endless posts have been written on this subject and everyone has a different opinion on what is and is not acceptable. Here is my two cents worth. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. People on all cruise ships are going to get up early and stake out a chair. It's a fact of life. Now you have two choices. One is to show up at the pool late in the morning and have no decent place to sit. The other is to set your alarm, get up early and stake your claim. We did the latter. I must note though that we never left our chair unattended for more that 30 minutes, usually to go eat a quick bite. I feel it's wrong to hold a chair all day and not use it till late afternoon but I also will do what it takes to provide my wife with a great spot to lounge in the sun. Now the chairs by the pool are the only ones with pads on them so they disappear fast. I would suggest to anybody who likes to sunbathe all day poolside to get up at 6:30am and put a towel, book, sunglasses, etc on a chair and enjoy your day. Nobody has ever thrown peoples stuff overboard and if they did they would probably get into a whole lot of trouble if not a fight. Stateroom Envy Some people like to boast about their staterooms or suites. How they get butler service or free fruit etc. My wife and I always go for the least expensive best deal. We usually book interior cabins near the bottom of the boat. For us the cabin is just a place to change clothes, sleep, or be alone together. We spend most of our time on deck or engaging in other activities. Now granted for our Honeymoon we booked a room with a deck and it was very romantic. But for vacation we like to save as much money as possible (so maybe we can cruise even more often). We recommend bottom of the ship as close to the middle as you can get. This area has the least motion and will save you from having to walk from one end of the ship to the other. Well I hope this has been informative or at least a little fun to read. Remember it's your vacation so enjoy it to the fullest and happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Review of the Celebrity Summit - Eastern Caribbean March 5, 2004 Susan and I booked our winter vacation almost a year ago. We had been on the Constellation a couple of times and all the Century class ships in both Europe and the ... Read More
Review of the Celebrity Summit - Eastern Caribbean March 5, 2004 Susan and I booked our winter vacation almost a year ago. We had been on the Constellation a couple of times and all the Century class ships in both Europe and the Caribbean, but had heard marvelous things about the Summit - and the itinerary looked just right - 10 days, including 2 sea days in the beginning and end. Another plus was that the cruise left from Fort Lauderdale - just a 2-½ hour flight for us. We originally booked 6131, one of Sky Suites with an oversize verandah. Then we were able to switch to 6146, one of two Sky Suites that adjoin the Penthouse Suites. This is a beautiful room, decorated just like the Penthouse Suites, slightly larger than the normal Sky Suites, also with a larger balcony - and a really great bathroom. Even though we had read some complaints on the boards about noise from the Penthouse, we decided it was too beautiful and special to pass up. We ended up thrilled with our decision. We had an absolutely great time with the added bonus of the best weather we have had on a cruise in the Caribbean in the past 4 years. The review will be in four parts - 1) Pre-Cruise, 2) The Ship, 3) The Ports and 4) Post Cruise and Wrap-up. I hope you find the review helpful if you are considering a cruise on the Summit or one of the other great Celebrity Ships to the Caribbean. Pre-Cruise We are pretty active on the boards, so we quickly registered for the Cruise Critic Party and found the specific cruise thread. The cruise thread was very active, but mostly with the same 15-20 folks. This is pretty typical. We were able to make some friends on the boards ahead of time, and arranged to be at the same dinner table - as well as make some other plans. This worked out great - and now that Celebrity lets you request dinner companions ahead of time, is something I am sure more and more cruisers will do in the future. We did some research on hotels and restaurants, since we were flying in a day early (always a good idea!), and decided to try Price line for the hotel. We weren't able to get one of the better hotels on the beach, unfortunately, and ended up at the Wyndham by the Airport. Because the hotel wasn't really near anything, we rented a car from Hertz for the day. We got a full size car for $40 and it did make it easier to run errands, meet up with the pre-cruise folks for cocktails - and would have allowed us to drive down to Hollywood Beach for dinner, had not the bridge gotten stuck!! When we do this again, we'll be a little more savvy on how to get one of the better hotels - but renting the car was a great idea - especially since Hertz had transport right to the ship the day of the cruise. The Wyndham was fine for the price ($90 in high season). Check in was easy and our room was clean and the bed was pretty good. There were a couple large groups also using the hotel - I believe all booked through tour agents for one of the ships leaving the next day - but the hotel was not overly crowded. One guest complained that his room was dirty and he couldn't get ice - but we had no problems. We looked around the pool area, and it was nothing special, and since we didn't have much time the afternoon of the 4th, didn't hang out down there. We brought 3 special bottles of wine with us, but wanted to purchase a few more bottles for the ship, along with some rum for our flask. Rosie from the boards (JNL Rose) had recommended a liquor store across from the Embassy Suites on 17th street, and her recommendation was right on. We found some very nice wines, well priced, and some good Tortuga Rum to help spice up our drinks. We had brought an extra piece of carry on luggage to bring it on board, and had no trouble. We then went to the Hyatt Pier 66 to meet some of our fellow cruisers for cocktails (this was arranged by Tommycruiser). It was a very pretty bar at the top of the hotel, and it rotates in a circle in about an hour. There is also a nice observation deck from where we saw a beautiful sunset. There were about 20 of us who met for cocktails and conversation and it very nice. Around 6 p.m. we stepped outside to the observation deck as others were leaving for dinner. We met some great folks from Ireland there on vacation, and chatted about our upcoming end of summer trip to their great Island and watched the sunset. It was then time to drive down to Hollywood where we had dinner reservations at an Argentinean restaurant we found through Fodor's, right on the beach. Unfortunately, we never made it. As we left the hotel to turn east on 17th to back over the bridge traffic was stopped. After 20 minutes cars started turning around and coming back towards us the wrong way!! Finally, someone came down and said the bridge was stuck, and it could be an hour before it was fixed. We joined the convoy in illegal U turns and went back to the hotel and had a great dinner at their outdoor restaurant right on the water. Great conversation with our waiter from Philadelphia, a super martini or two and great veal made us quickly forget our original plans!! We'll get there next time!!! Of course, 10 minutes after we sat down for dinner the bridge was fixed - and we later found out we could have turned the other way, gone down the coast road and crossed over another bridge a mile down the road - but not being from there, we wouldn't have known. The next morning we slept in, re-packed our carry on bags and returned the rental car around 11:30. We were at the ship by 12 noon. Since we had E Tickets, we had to prepare our own luggage tags at the pier - but the porter was very helpful and we wound our way into the holding area. In the holding area there must have been about 300 folks already there waiting to board. But because we were both Select CC Members and in a suite, we got moved to the head of the line, and we were on the ship by 12:30. Very smooth embarkation. The Ship The Summit is the third of the 4 M class ships, and it was almost an exact copy of the Constellation, which we have been on a couple of times. We liked the color scheme and art more on the Summit - a little more subdued and classy, we thought. Our suite - 6146 - was just as beautiful as we had seen before on the Constellation - especially the bathroom. The bath was all marble, with large double sinks, an extra large 2 person shower and a separate full size bath. The balcony already had two deck chairs with covers, 2 chairs and a small table. When we met our butler, Kenneth, we asked for a larger table so we could eat our breakfasts outside and one appeared later that afternoon. Drawer storage in the room is more than adequate but the closet is a tad small - especially for a 10 day cruise with 3 formal nights - but we did fine. We needed some items pressed right away for the first formal night which was the next day and the service was prompt and the prices reasonable. I mentioned our butler was Kenneth from a Portuguese part of the Indian subcontinent. He was superb. He took the time to get to know us - always brought us 3 cappucinos in the morning - always asked if we wanted 1 or 2 in the late afternoon - and if we weren't in, always knew to leave us some cookies in our room. He arranged for wines to be delivered to our table for dinner, shined my shoes, got our cleaning back promptly, and set up a beautiful table each morning for breakfast. We ate outside 8 mornings and it was the perfect way to start our day. We had read on the boards where some butlers were late, or didn't set up the table with proper linens, but Kenneth did a great job with everything. If you are lucky enough to get Kenneth for your butler you will be treated royally. And say hi from us! To be perfectly honest, we rarely saw our cabin steward(ess) and her assistant, but the room was kept sparkling clean. If we needed anything, though, including extra towels, it was Kenneth who was there to help us. The cabin stewards must love working the suites with active butlers - I'm sure they have a lot less to do. Everything in the room worked like clockwork (unlike our Royal Suite on the Constellation last year which always seemed to need some repairs). The 19 inch TV comes with a DVD player, that can also play CD's for music. While not as grand as the plasma TV's in the Royal and Penthouse Suites, it was fine for us, since we didn't spend an inordinate amount of time in our suite. We usually watched a bit of CNN to catch up on the news and used the DVD player to listen to music. But if you book a suite and like to watch movies, feel free to bring some on board. They also have some you can borrow while on board - ask your butler for the current list. You may need to ask for directions on how the lights and window shades/curtains operate as it is a rather unique button system. It took us until half the cruise to figure it all out. There is a door adjoining the room to the Penthouse - and the Penthouse bedroom is just on the other side - so, yes, you can hear some noise. Our neighbors were relatively quiet, the only constant being that their wake up calls always seemed to come a half hour before ours, and since we could hear it, we were always awake a little earlier than we would have otherwise liked. It has been our experience that most of the cabins on M Class ships are very quiet, and it was only because of the adjoining door we heard anything at all. We had second seating in the main restaurant. Because we changed our table from one of 12 near the center of deck 4 to a table for 6, we were in the back alcove on the starboard side. It turned out to be a great table - the two couples we had met earlier on the boards were super company and our waiter was the Great and Powerful Oz. Oz is from Istanbul, has been with Celebrity for 10 years, and his professionalism, polish and sense of humor were outstanding. He wasn't shy in recommending dishes (or not, as the case may be) and he was usually right on the money. He constantly teased Susan for never finishing everything, and another couple at our table who, no matter how great the regular desserts were, always ordered Sherbet. One day they asked, as usual, what the sherbet of the day was and he answered cooley and objectively, "Garlic", and proceeded to write down the order. He was kidding of course, and after that, each night we would try and come up with some outrageous sherbet they could be offering (Brussel Sprout sherbet, anyone?). The food was excellent - much better than our last cruise on the Connie. The beef was tender and always cooked to order, the fish was not fishy and the duck and veal were sublime. The lamb chops were exquisite. Overall, these were probably the best entrees we have had on a Celebrity Cruise. The only disappointment was the cold soups - which are usually out of this world. For some reason they were very watery - and not very cold. Also, the lobster was so-so. Still, the salads were fresh - crisp lettuce every night, and the hot appetizers were scrumptious. The few desserts I did have were worth the calories! We ate at the Normandie specialty restaurant twice - on the first Sunday with our regular tablemates, and then later in the week on Thursday just the two of us. The food was great - some dishes clearly unique and different than the regular restaurant, and the service, if a bit slow, was still way over the top. On a longer cruise, eating there twice was a nice break and clearly worth the money. On a shorter cruise, I would do it only once. We rarely ate at the cafeteria on 10 - just not our style, but the few sea days we did the food was fresh and service fine. A great place to eat lunch is on the back of the ship. The grill made adequate burgers - although the wait for 10 minute turkey burger did shine brightly. Later in the day, the sushi bar was also quite good, and very popular. Our friends spoke highly of the healthy food served in the Thelossatherapy pool area, but the strong smell of chlorine in that part of the ship kept us away. There is always somewhere on the ship to get food now, unlike the old days when you would come back from an excursion at 3 or 4 and have nothing. This is a real improvement!! Overall, I'd give the food an A-. Susan used the spa a couple of times and said they were very nice and helpful. For the last formal night, she went in to have her nails done - and after the evening was over, a couple needed to be re-done. The spa did them again for her the next day, gratis. The workout room - like the Connie, is at the front of the ship, with plenty of equipment and great views. I used it twice and had no waiting, although it was pretty busy. Because the weather was so pleasant most of the time, the pool area was pretty crowded on the sea days from about 8 a.m. on. Still, we never had a problem finding a place to hang out - usually on deck 11 (although it did get a bit windy up there). Of course, we always had our balcony - which got plenty of sun - even with the overhang. We actually liked the overhang since we could also get some nice shade during the day. We were regulars at the Champagne/Martini bar every evening before dinner. Our cocktail waitress was the lovely Emma from New Zealand. She made wicked martinis and cosmos - and, per my special request, made plenty of blue cheese olives for the whole cruise. I helped get one of our new ship-made friends hooked on em!! The duo in the Rendez-Vous Lounge were pretty lame, and seemed to repeat the same set night after night. Still, there were always plenty of dancers, so clearly some folks enjoyed them. We went to the disco a couple of times - and the DJ seemed pretty accommodating and the place was really hopping - especially for a Celebrity Cruise. A couple of our tablemates were excellent latin dancers, and the DJ would always plays one or two pieces from their own CD's for them to dance to after dinner. As for the rest of the ship's entertainment - we didn't take in any of the shows. Our tablemates felt the comedy was pretty lame but the musical shows were pretty good. The harp player and pianists we heard on board were very good, but the string quartet made everything sound like a dirge. The guitar quartet in the Normandie was excellent and the guitarist who played happy hour on the back of the ship was also very good. The only time we went to Michael's was for the Cruise Critic party on the second sea day, but I heard it was pretty empty most nights. There were a number of cigar smokers on this cruise - and they pretty much hung out at the back of the ship, but I'm sure they would have appreciated Michael's being converted back to a cigar bar. Our overall impression of the Summit was that it was absolutely tops in service, and the most elegant Celebrity ship afloat. While on board we booked next years trip - this time we will do the Western Caribbean in 11 days in February - with the added bonus that we get the same suite, and $400 in credits ($200 for booking on board and $200 for being stockholders and booking prior to March 31). By the way, if you are planning a future cruise, always try to book it on board, and do it early before it gets crowded. The Ports We went to St. Maarten/St. Martin; St. Lucia; Barbados; St. Kitts and St. Thomas, in that order. In St. Martin, one of our cruise critic friends, tablemates and, as it turned out, next door neighbors (6144, not the Penthouse) rented a car and we went with them on a drive around this relatively small and desert-like island. We spent most of the morning in Marigot - the capital of the French side. They had some very nice shops, but the prices were not all that great. We had a marvelous lunch and then drove further around the island to Orient Beach. For a few bucks, we got some nice chairs and a rum drink and soaked in the sun and the sights. Yes it is a clothing optional beach, and yes, most people should think twice before choosing to go without clothes. The water was warm, and swimming was good, but didn't try to snorkel. We then drove back to Phillipsburg and parked in town and did some more serious shopping. Better shopping here, especially for clothes, jewellery, tobacco and liquor. Our friends were more active than us, but it was fun to look. We then had to return the car and they hit us up for an outrageous extra charge for gas (I think we only used an 1/8 of a tank - it's a very small island). If you want to rent a car there, my recommendation is to wait until you land, negotiate the best price you can among the 3 or 4 rental agencies near the ship, and make sure you put gas in before you return it. Overall, a fun if somewhat expensive day. St. Lucia was second. We booked our only ship's excursion here, as we wanted to see the Pitons and get in some snorkeling, and the best way to do it without an arduous bus trip was on a half day catamaran sail. It was beautiful and tons of fun. I only wish we had more than 25 minutes for snorkeling, as it was really clear and there were lots of fish. St. Lucia is one of the most scenic islands - very lush, partly because they get lots of rain - and we did get some for about an hour right after we snorkeled. Who cared - we were already wet, and enjoying the rum punch immensely!! The excursion was $58 per person and well worth it. After lunch on the ship, we walked around the shopping area near the ship and spent a relaxing afternoon aboard. We'd love to spend more time here. Our next stop was Barbados. After a walk through town we caught a cab and went to Malibu Beach, which is pretty close to town and where the ships dock. It was very crowded, but we found a nice shady spot under a banyan tree, got pleasantly buzzed with Pina Coladas spiked from our stash, and got wet when it got too warm. Also a mid day shower here, but not as strong as on St. Lucia. We weren't interested in a tour of the rum distillery and the food didn't look all that great so we headed back to the ship around 1 for a light lunch and nap. A pleasant beach day, and not very expensive. The next day we docked at St. Kitts and with our shipboard friends, shared a cab to Turtle Beach, which is a good drive away ($8 per person each way). Free chairs and a beautiful beach including some wonderful snorkeling and views of Nevis. But watch the drink and lunch charges which are very high. We did have some interesting entertainment from someone pet hog, who woke up after lunch and proceeded to try to undress one of our shipmates, then rummaged through another one's bag to gorge on a banana or two and almost ate this gentleman's Rolex, until the unafraid Paula (one of our tablemates and neighbors) saved the day by distracting the pig and snaring the expensive would be lunch before the hog could swallow it. We lunched during the mid day shower here, and the water and snorkeling were particularly good after lunch. At 2:30 our intrepid taxi driver, the 6'5" Socrates, picked us up, played us his homemade CD's cut on Trinidad the previous year and dropped us off in town for a bit of shopping. Found some nice clothing here for both of us - some of it made locally, and pretty good quality. The town was very clean, the people very friendly, and St. Kitts remains one of our favorite islands. Not an inexpensive day, but mostly because of the lunch and shopping. Our last stop was the intrepid St. Thomas. Here, we had booked a private excursion with Sharon of the Winifred. We taxied over to Red Hook (also $8 per person) and met Sharon and her first mate and the 2 other couples for our sailing and snorkeling adventure. On the plus side, it was a gorgeous day, and the sailing was superb. The negative was the guided snorkeling trip off of Caneel Bay in St. Johns was an unmitigated disaster for me when our guide, the aforementioned first mate, left me behind. Here I am one minute trying to get used to their annoying fins, and following some fish and trying to enjoy myself - and the next thing I know, I raise my head and there isn't a soul around. I had somehow started heading towards the beach while the rest of the group headed in a 90 degree angle towards some distant rocks. Also, I am pretty blind in the water (can't wear my glasses - and though I can see pretty good through my mask in the water, am blind as a bat above water) and when I looked around to at least try and spot the boat, there were a number of them parked off shore and I wasn't sure which one was ours. After some loud yelling on my part, one of our group heard me, and waived her orange floatie in the air and I started heading in that way. Fifteen minutes later I caught up with her, but we were now 5 to 10 minutes behind the rest of the group so we swam hard to catch up to them. At that point our leader came up to me and asked me if I was alright. It took a lot of patience for me to not belt him one. Anyway, 10 minutes later we were pretty much where I had been 40 minutes earlier, and I got fed up with the fins, and swam to shore (beautiful beach areas there - drop dead gorgeous) where I ditched the fins and did some great snorkeling near some rocks. Finally, everyone seemed to be heading back towards one of the ships, and Susan, thank God, stayed behind and the two of us made it safely back to the ship (Susan was using a flotie so could carry my fins back with her - since they were the ship's and not ours -we had our own masks etc.). Then we had our "gourmet" lunch, which was a small piece of chicken and a salad, and some rum punch, and we sailed back to Red Hook. Nice sailing. Still, I cannot recommend this trip. It is overpriced at $110 per person plus recommended tip for the ubiquitous first mate, so do yourself a favor, and if you want to go snorkeling on St. John, do it yourself. When we got back to port, did our typical last minute booze shopping (since the prices are good and you can take back more from here than other islands), and got ready to enjoy our last two sea days. In summary - we loved St. Lucia and St. Kitts, and can see ourselves spending more time on both of those islands. The other stops were also fun, but those two were the most special. Post Cruise We had a relatively early flight back at 11:25 a.m. and were beige 2 for disembarkation. The various colors were given different times to meet in different areas of the ship - ours was in Michael's Club at 8:30. At 8:45 the cruise director came in and informed us we could leave the ship - and our color and the whites (wherever they were) were first off the ship. We had our luggage at 9, were in a taxi by 9:15 and having a Starbucks coffee at the airport by 9:30. We had read some horror stories on the boards about disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, but ours was very easy. We had arranged our own air, and there were very few taxis - so, we do recommend if you are doing it on your own, to try to get off early so as to avoid a long wait for a taxi. Still, can't beat the airport being 10 minutes away - overall, a piece of cake. We made some great friends on the cruise - from England, Dallas, Northern California and Minnesota - and had incredible service from our butler, Kenneth, waiter, Oz and cocktail waitress Emma. We can't wait to be on the Summit again next winter!! Jeff Taxier Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We have sailed on Summit before, doing the 10 day last year. We are Celebrity fans, and this ship is 'IOPO' the best!! Our boarding was very smooth, champagne was handed out when boarding, a really nice touch, and then we were ... Read More
We have sailed on Summit before, doing the 10 day last year. We are Celebrity fans, and this ship is 'IOPO' the best!! Our boarding was very smooth, champagne was handed out when boarding, a really nice touch, and then we were able to unload our travel bags in our cabin before going for lunch. Our luggage arrived by 3pm, and we unpacked and got ready for the wonderful time we knew we would have. After 17 cruises and 9 (10 at the end of April) with Celebrity, the service is the best we have had on any ship and the food is probably the best we have had also. Although their pizza was not as good as we remember. They have cut back on portion size, but just ask and the waiter will bring you trays full of anything you want. We went to the specialty dining, Normandy Room, and had a lovely time dining there, but prefer eating at our regular table with our cruise mates. We had a great waiter, Oz, and asst. waiter, Milton. Oz, is a delight and just what you would want in a waiter. He made every meal special. We are Trivia buffs, and had a great and fun time with the Activities staff, have to mention what great assets they are to Celebrity, and hope they are still there on our return April 26th. Mentioning them, Quentin Lemmer, who is from S. Africa, what a great cruise director he will make, someday. Jennifer Rogers, from Canada, a real pro at her job, Simona Pitena, a very sweet and fun gal, and the newbee; Lauren Orenga, a Cleveland, Ohio native. She is so fun and bubbly. they added to our pleasure and fun while on board. Cruise director, Don Fuke, was very good and has a great singing voice, they should let him sing more! This is the cruise that was boarded by the coast guard, taking off a drug kingpin, so we were late getting into Costa Rica. Then the seas were so rough the ship actually pulled out a concrete piling, so the Capt. thought it was better to leave than possibly having damage done to the ship. They gave us free drinks at happy hour for both main and late dining seatings, which was very nice of them to do. We have missed other ports on other cruise lines and never received even a "sorry about that" from them. Celebrity knows how to treat their guests and we appreciate that. I know we'll hear from others that have "bad things and experiences happen" but we have learned through cruising other lines, Celebrity is Our Kind Of Cruiseline! Disembarking was hurry up and wait, but we are used to that also. Find a nice quiet place in the upper decks to sit out the wait unless you like to feel like cattle, but this is on any cruise line, unless you have top status and get to sit in the elite section. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
SUMMIT - 10 night Caribbean - March 26-April 5, 2004 Embarkation: We (Captain's Club Elite members) were ushered right on to the ship. We received the welcoming champagne/orange juice by white-gloved waiters, which was a nice touch. ... Read More
SUMMIT - 10 night Caribbean - March 26-April 5, 2004 Embarkation: We (Captain's Club Elite members) were ushered right on to the ship. We received the welcoming champagne/orange juice by white-gloved waiters, which was a nice touch. Everyone received notification that their cabins would not be ready before 1 and, instead of escorting passengers directly to their cabins, they were shown to the Welcome Aboard buffet lunch in the Waterfall Cafe, which was wonderful. Since we knew where our cabin was located we made our own way there and dropped off our carry-on luggage before heading for lunch. Our luggage was delivered well before the 4:00 lifeboat drill. Elite Captains Club: Priority embarkation/disembarkation. We received a vase with a long stem rose and five sweetheart roses and a small box of the wonderful Cova chocolates as a welcome aboard gift, which was delivered the first full day at sea. We received an invitation to Elegant Tea in the Normandie Restaurant, special on-board coupons for Celebrity On-line, the AquaSpa and Fortunes Casino. There was also a behind-the-scenes theatre tour, a demonstration by the Pastry Chef, and scheduled times with the shopping representative Kristy and Cruise Sales Manager Stephanie plus an invitation to the Captain's Table. Priority embarkation and disembarkation were of no value. The regular lines for embarkation were quicker so there was, in this instance, absolutely no advantage. Our disembarkation lounge was The Normandie Specialty Restaurant but we got there at 8:45 and were escorted off the ship (beige luggage tags) at 8:50. Tea in the Normandie was lovely and I won $140. using the casino coupons. The 10 free minutes internet use in the Internet Cafe was nice. The theatre tour was not very good, as there was a technical rehearsal underway so, according to what guests had viewed in the past, our tour was condensed. I found the sugar demonstration interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening at the Captain's Table hosted by the Hotel Director Filippos Georgiou, a delightful and entertaining man. The Elite Captain's Club cocktail party was intimate but when we got off the elevator to attend the full Captain's Club cocktail party and saw the horrendous line-up we decided we didn't need a free drink that badly. Cabin: Our inside category 10 cabin 3057 was in an ideal location, which made navigating the ship easy. Night-light, umbrella and complimentary tote bag were nice touches. Dining: Cosmopolitan Restaurant: We had breakfast twice, lunch twice and dinner 9 out of 10 nights. The service throughout, food quality and temperature was excellent. Our table, 480, was without a doubt the worst table we have ever had. It was a table for two tucked under the stairs in a high traffic area where you couldn't see what was going on and we didn't feel a part of the festivities. Also, we were far enough away from our waiter's other tables that we felt excluded. They offered to move us but we didn't want Francis and Akhmed to think we didn't like them and it would have affected their tips. The up side was that everyone smiled or stopped for a few words as they passed by on their way to the kitchen/serving areas and my husband found the noise level much reduced which was great for his hearing. Someone has to have the bad tables! Waterfall Cafe: We ate there a few times but found the food on the buffet not hot enough. I tried the pasta station once but found it to be undercooked for my taste. The sandwich bar at the very back of the cafe was wonderful with different selections each day such as chicken wraps (excellent), pulled pork sandwiches, roast beef poor boys and baked ham. Breakfast was wonderful with the omelet/fried egg station and the waffles right at the back were incredible! Waterfall Grill: Hamburgers and hot-dogs were very good. Fries were appealing on the rare occasion when they were hot and the pizza was warm at best. AquaSpa Cafe: Breakfast was an enjoyable experience; uncrowded and relaxed. Most mornings I had the excellent oatmeal along with fresh fruit. This healthy breakfast eased my guilt when I dropped by Cova Cafe for my morning chocolate croissant! My husband had the muselli with fresh fruit. They serve the papaya with fresh lime, which apparently enhances the flavour. The serving staff were excellent, especially our favourite, Okan Bilir from Turkey. On our last cruise he worked in Cova Cafe and admitted he had once eaten TEN CHOCOLATE CROISSANTS - my hero!!!! We ate lunch here one day and enjoyed the chicken pita. Normandie Specialty Restaurant: Enjoyable experience but after four evenings in the specialty restaurants on three cruises the novelty has worn off and we've decided to give it a miss on future cruises unless Christian Bell is on board. The flair and expertise of our first two dining experiences has given way to being served by "regular" waiters who do not have the expertise or love of food we witnessed with Christian. Staff: Cruise Director Simon Weir was wonderful. Anne Lepki, former Manager Captain's Club and Cruise Sales, is now the Events Coordinator and treated us like special friends. Camilla Sullivan, Social Hostess, was delightful. Our cabin stewards, Albano and Jhonny, were excellent and only left us the milk chocolate pillow treats instead of the coffee ones. Romina De Angelis. Concierge, was very friendly, had a positive attitude and offered helpful suggestions. Although we don't drink wine, Dijana Simkewiciute from Lithuania, stopped by our table every single night for a few words and we found her delightful. Ivelyn Kolarov from Bulgaria was the bartender in Cova on our last Summit cruise in October. He is now the head bartender and stopped by our table every night for a chat. A delightful guy. Okan Bilir from Turkey is a server in the AquaSpa Cafe and the Normandie Restaurant. A real sweetheart. Entertainment: Entertainment is not a priority for us so we are not the best judges of talent. The production shows have a 3-5 year lifespan on the ship so we saw all the production shows on our October Summit cruise. We did go to A Night of Stars as this was the first cruise for the Celebrity singers and dancers and we wanted to check them out. We found these singers excellent, far superior to the last group which, to be fair, we also saw on their first cruise. As you can see, we did not go to many of the entertainment venues. Production Shows: The Magic of Broadway A Night of Stars - Excellent Classique - La Danza Encore Miscellaneous: Shows: A Touch of Things to Come (welcome aboard show) - Great Farewell Show (pre-dinner) featuring Mike Ivy, David Meyer and Becky Blaney - We had dinner reservations at the Normandie so we only saw the first 25 minutes of the show. David Meyer was good at what he does but it wasn't of great interest to us. Individuals: Mike Ivy, comedian (pre-dinner) - Okay David Meyer Samantha Jay, musician (pre-dinner) Becky Blaney, comedy/magic (pre-dinner) Frank Duo, Rendez-vous Lounge - The music was relaxing, mellow but I found their accents to be very noticeable. This was the same with the Mozart Duo in October. Surely Celebrity can find entertainers with excellent English skills. Barbara Kirchhoff, harpist - Excellent Ron Thompson, guitarist, Waterfall Cafe Bar - Excellent Dan Loranger, pianist, Michael's Club - We went one evening for a drink and left before ordering as we thought he had a terrible voice Celebrity Orchestra, Singers and Dancers - Excellent. Voltz, party band - Pretty good, better than their first cruise in October when we last heard them. Didn't find them to be very friendly and they blew off a sail-away party which isn't very professional. Off The Top, a cappella group - Excellent but we felt they were under utilized and would have enjoyed seeing them perform more than they did. Enrichment Series: Alan Schreiber, Investments Douglas Zimmerman, Radio Biographer - He covered Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Sammy David Jr., Elvis Presley and Dean Martin. I only attended the Elvis seminar and found Mr. Zimmerman's presentation disorganized much in part to the "assistance" of his wife. Bernard Slade, Screenwriter - This obnoxious individual was a legend in his own mind. A thoroughly dislikable guy who had nothing good to say about Celebrity, the Summit or her staff. If I hadn't been having such a great time I would have been interested in trying out my heckling skills by attending one of his lectures! Celebrity made a BIG mistake on this one. Ports of Call: St. Maarten: The pier area is lovely, taxi prices are posted and the waiting areas are shaded and well marked. We purchased the unlimited all day water taxi at the dock for $5 and used it to get to the beach in Phillipsburg and again for an hour's shopping in the afternoon. We had rain showers but they didn't interfere with our activities. The ship provided umbrella came in handy for shopping. The only other ship in port was RCI's Serenade of the Seas. St. Lucia: We were docked right at Seraphine Point, which has nice shops and lots of beautiful tropical flowers. On our first trip to St. Lucia we did the Land and Sea to Soufriere excursion ($76. 7.5 hrs.) and highly recommend this as a great way to appreciate the beauty of the island. We do not recommend venturing into Castries, it is NOT a pleasant experience and could leave you with a very unfavourable impression of an otherwise lush and beautiful island. The Carnival Jubilee was also in port. Barbados: Ordered a bouquet of tropical flowers, complete with bamboo vase, for $15. at the Exotic Blooms cart in the port terminal which we picked up on our return to the ship. We only wanted to visit the Barbados Wildlife Reserve but were paired up with another couple from the ship who were visiting Barbados for the first time and wanted a little tour. We were quoted $60. for return transportation to the Reserve for 2 so $80 total for the 4 of us for 3 ½ hours (9:50-1:20) was reasonable. Our 78-year-old driver Vernon was a friendly old guy and a very safe driver. We were advised by the ship's Concierge that we might not see any green monkeys, which was our main objective, but she assured us the scenery was lovely so we decided to take our chances. Admission to the Reserve was $11.50 U.S. each and the only green monkey we saw was an orphan named Pedro. We would not even have seen him if I hadn't struck up a conversation with one of the friendly workers. We saw deer, agoutis and lots of turtles. I would not recommend a trip to the Reserve. The highlight of the tour was a view of the Atlantic from Cherry Tree Hill. There were 2 other ships in port; one we didn't catch the name of and the Carnival Destiny. The Freewind Festival has been tendered in Barbados for three months now since it's bankruptcy and the case was going to court the day we were there. St. Kitts: We stayed on board and purchased a one-day Persian Gardens pass. I used it 4 times, my husband twice and only once was there someone else in there. It is one of the most relaxing things I have ever done and a bargain at $20. I loved the herbal and Sahara steam rooms, skipped the Turkish which even my husband found too hot. The heated tile benches cured my backache and even the showers were great; tropical, side spray and even a mint mist! I would consider purchasing a cruise pass at $99. for the next trip but wonder if it would be crowded on sea days. The masted Sea Cloud II shared the dock with us today. St. Thomas: Immigration call was very well organized and painless. We were docked right at Havensight Mall alongside the Celebrity Constellation and RCI's Brilliance of the Seas. RCI must have spent big bucks to have all 3 of their ships docked since the Sun Princess and Radisson Diamond ships were tendered. We did a little shopping and spent a relaxing day on board Summit. Observations: - The Gala Buffet was beautiful. - Apparently there were a number of kids on board but, until the last night, you would never have known. We were told that they acted like animals on the sports deck but, since we were never there, it had no affect on us at all. There was a baby in the cabin next to ours and we heard it crying in the early evening every night. I can't imagine what parents are thinking taking a baby (and there were a few) on a cruise. It can't be much fun for the little ones as there is no place for them to get out and crawl around. Disembarkation: Captain's Club Elite had their own departure lounge, the Normandie Restaurant, where they served coffee/juice/pastries. We finished breakfast at 8:30, arrived in the Normandie at 8:45 and were escorted by Camilla Sullivan, Social Hostess, off the ship at 8:50. We had no problem locating our luggage and finding a porter. Pre-cruise accommodation: We booked this ourselves and stayed at the Sleep Inn, Dania which offered complimentary breakfast and transportation to/from the airport and pier. The location was convenient, the breakfast adequate and the pool area small but nice. The staff were not overly friendly and they stuck to their 2 p.m. check-in but, for the price we paid ($100.95) and the fact it was only a one night stay, we were happy with what we got. I would not recommend this hotel for a longer stay. Transfers: We rented a car in Miami on the Thursday and returned it in Ft. Lauderdale Friday morning ($36.87 total). My husband was delighted; it was a brand new bright blue PT cruiser with only 6 miles on it. It boasted only 100 miles ($9. gas) when it was returned. It was a very comfortable car to drive/ride in with high seats which are great for bad backs! We pre-paid the pier-Miami Airport transfer and found it to be very convenient and well worth the $15 p.p. cost. We boarded the bus at 9:05, left at 9:18 and arrived at Miami airport at 10:03. They made three stops with ours being the last at 10:35. There were no line-ups at the Air Canada check-in (apparently Monday travel is light) and we were checked in by 10:44. Weather/Seas: We had early morning showers in Ft. Lauderdale. The first day at sea we had very light rain and a mix of sun/cloud. The second day at sea saw the same sun/cloud mixture but the strong winds made it cool and rain late in the afternoon. We changed course to avoid the rough seas but the first 2 days still brought 9-ft. waves and high winds. We even got ocean spray on Deck 11. We had showers in St. Maarten and heavy rain late in the afternoon in St. Lucia but the weather for the remainder of the trip was perfect; blue skies, light cloud and, if you stayed up on deck 11, always a pleasant breeze. Our second last day at sea started out totally cloudy but cleared nicely by 10:15. Fellow passengers: There was a good mix; honeymooners, middle-aged couples and couples with children, gay/lesbian couples, seniors and elderly people. With the exception of two, the older generation was great. One old guy was so rude he started banging his fork at the grill demanding a hot dog when he didn't get the immediate service he felt he needed. The majority of the passengers were English speaking. Negatives: - The drinking water on board was undrinkable. When I commented on this I was advised that due to the number of virus' around and SAR's, the chlorine in the drinking water has been increased. Better safe than sorry but we were glad to have the bottled water alternative for dinner and in our cabin. - Don't rush to the tanzanite talk; the "grand prize pendant" should come with a magnifying glass. New/Updates: - Celebrity will be changing the menus in September. Sure hope they leave our favourite French Potato Pie and crème brulee alone! - Due to the high number of Captain's Club members, changes are in the offing. - They offered a Fisherman's midnight buffet, which was a change. We didn't go so can't comment on the content. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Summit 10 day S Caribbean March 26, 2004 This was the fifth cruise my wife and I have taken, our first on Celebrity, and was definitely the best cruise we've taken. Favorite memories: ... Taking a bottle of champagne up on deck ... Read More
Summit 10 day S Caribbean March 26, 2004 This was the fifth cruise my wife and I have taken, our first on Celebrity, and was definitely the best cruise we've taken. Favorite memories: ... Taking a bottle of champagne up on deck during the sail away party as we left Ft. Lauderdale while listening to the great music of Voltz ... Dancing every night to the music of Voltz in the Revelations lounge! Voltz was a GREAT band playing everything from reggae to 70's, 80's, 90's and current hits - even earlier music on the 50's/60's night. . . . Laying in the sun around the pool in the afternoon listing to Voltz playing on deck, with occasional dips in the hot tub or pool. Mid afternoon an army of waiters would sometimes appear passing out cups of sorbet! . . . Sitting on the open aft deck ft of the Waterfall Cafe each evening before sunset sipping a drink while listening to the music of guitarist Ron Thompson . . . Coffee on our veranda in the morning. Coffee on board was very good. Only morning this didn't work out was the first morning or two when the wind kicked up a salt spray that kept the veranda relatively unusable - not a problem the last 8 days of the cruise. . . . Fancy Martinis in the Martini bar before dinner - my favorite was the "Citrus" martini made with flavored vodka. . . . Relaxing to a couples massage at the spa - what a way to relax and lose the tension! . . . Sailing around St. Kitts and Nevis on the Fan-Ta-Sea catamaran sailing, snorkeling and beach excursion. The view was fantastic, the sailing smooth, and the crew was great as were the snorkeling and serene beach on Nevis where we stopped to swim and eat a barbecue lunch . . . The view of Trunk Bay from a scenic viewpoint at the top of a hill in St. John. The taxis usually stop at this scenic point en-route from the ferry to the beach. . . . Dinner with our table mates met on board. We were fortunate to be seated with two very nice couples and had nice conversations each night, usually ending when we realized we were the last group in the dining room! Stateroom: We had a Concierge Class stateroom which was on deck 9 and had a Veranda. The Concierge class added some amenities including a special mattress pad and pillow selection. These made the bed the most comfortable we've found on a cruise ship. The bathroom also had a nice sized shower. A very nice room overall. Our steward did a fine job, although he had to be reminded about some special requests once or twice. We had him empty the mini-bar stuff out of the fridge so we could keep our own wine in it. Meals - we never made it to breakfast or lunch in the dining room. We found a nice selection of foods for these meals in the cafe or at various spots around the ship including the grill by the pool (pizza and burgers) and the aqua spa cafe which had great "lighter" meals. We had late dinner seating with a great waiter and assistant. We thought the food was the best of any cruise ship we've been on - especially the fish. Normally I dislike frozen fish (which is all you generally find on mass cruise ships) but the seafood dishes on Summit were great. Every dish I tried I loved. I heard a complaint from another passenger about the steaks, but I didn't eat much in that category preferring the seafood and an occasional veal or chicken dish. The wine list was very extensive. We'd brought our own wine which we enjoyed about half of the nights in the dining room ($12 corkage fee) as we hadn't seen wine lists like this on other lines, at least for white wine. We ate one night in the Normandy dining room - a $25/PP up-charge. Well worth it for this extravagant meal. We had room service every morning, at least for coffee, in the room or on the veranda. Orders left the night before were always timely and preceded by a phone call alerting you to the arrival, and orders phoned-in took about 20 minutes. Entertainment - Neither my wife or I enjoy the stage shows much, and passed on all the singing and dancing shows - preferring to get our evening entertainment in the lounges. However, we did see a comedian and a magician at shows which preceded the late dinner seating. We loved the party band Voltz. This is a great band with members from various Caribbean islands. They played everything from reggae to contemporary rock/pop music and we had a great time both listening to their tunes in the afternoon by the pool and at night in the Revelations dance lounge. We also enjoyed guitarist Ron Thompson who played contemporary and classical rock/pop music solo on the open aft deck of the Waterfall cafe. He played the guitar and keyboard accompanied by music he'd pre-programmed into his synthesizer. There was also a dance band and piano player playing more mature music in other lounges. Neither of these played a style of music we liked that much, although the quality of their playing seemed quite good. Additionally there were piano players, a harpist and a classical quartet that played at various venues around the ship and during dinner. Based largely on the party band Voltz we thought the entertainment on the ship was top notch. We danced past midnight every night, dancing to the DJ once Voltz finished for the night. Even the DJ did a great job and the disco was more suited to our style than the teenager/very young style we've seen on other cruises. Excursions: At St. Martin we took a cab to Orient Beach and camped out at Kakao - which is a bar/club with a nice restaurant, bar, gift shop and chairs/umbrellas for rent. Two chairs and an umbrella cost $20 for the day. Orient beach is just beautiful - a classic Caribbean beach. We enjoyed walking the long beach and swimming. We had a great seafood lunch at the open air restaurant. There are several establishments similar to Kakao at Orient beach. At St. Lucia we took the ship's full day snorkel & beach excursion with lunch. This takes a long (about an hour) boat trip to the south west corner of the island where you can get a nice view of the Piton mountains while off shore. We spent the day at a beach formed from black sand. This was different from your typical Caribbean beach and was a bit rough and rocky. But the snorkeling and view was very nice. The beach was at Anse Mamin which is on the grounds of the Anse Chastinet resort. At Barbados we walked around Bridgetown a bit and then took a cab to Mullins Bay beach. Mullins was on the west coast and about a 25 minute cab ride. The beach was very nice but was probably the only beach on Barbados where it was cloudy and rainy part of that day. Everyone else back on the boat had full sun all day! Our favorite excursion was at St. Kitts where we took the Fan-Ta Sea catamaran ride I described above. We had a great time. St. Kitts/Nevis was, overall, the most scenic spot I've seen in the Caribbean. At St. Thomas we went to Trunk Bay on St. John on our own. You catch a cab from the dock to Red Hook, a ferry from Red Hook to St. John, and a cab to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is in a US National Park and there is an underwater snorkeling trail there! Snorkeling was pretty good the day we were there and the beach is one of the prettiest you'll ever see. We got there early and left after a couple of hours so we'd have time to go back to the boat to clean up and have a late lunch then do some shopping in the downtown shopping area. We like our cruise so much we even signed up for a Celebrity cruise next year! Larry Simon lsimon@mail.com Link to pictures of our cruise: http://home.comcast.net/~lfsimon/Summit/index.html Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
My husband and I have cruised twice before this, and expectations were pretty high, and I must say that this cruise line met them in most categories, and exceeded them in some. Embarkation at Ft. Lauderdale was quick and uneventful. ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised twice before this, and expectations were pretty high, and I must say that this cruise line met them in most categories, and exceeded them in some. Embarkation at Ft. Lauderdale was quick and uneventful. There a a few things this cruise line does, which I'm sure you've all read about, that stand out---little details. First of all, as you embark this vessel, you are handed a glass of champagne or a mimosa. You are greeted by a steward who takes your carry-on and takes you to your stateroom. You're not left to wander about lost on your own. We were in the new Concierge Class on the Sky Deck. It is a balcony stateroom with several amenities and extra service. There were luxurious bath towels, mat, enormous shower head, etc. There was fresh cut flowers every day in both the stateroom itself and tea roses in the bathroom. Champagne and fresh fruit awaited us on initial arrival, and fresh fruit was replaced every am. Canapes were delivered between 4:00 and 4:30pm each day. Cold towels were distributed to you returning to the ship at each port--very refreshing on a warm day. We traveled with a couple of friends, and met before dinner each evening in either the champagne or martini bar---they are adjacent to one another--champagne bar on port side--martini on the other. Do try their signature martinis---excellent. I also have to urge everyone to try the Normandie restaurant once. It was a 3hr experience--so plan so you don't miss any after dinner entertainment you'd like to see. It is well worth the surcharge, but the wine is quite pricey, as you might expect. My suggestion to those on a budget is to buy one bottle of wine, and not a different glass of wine with each course (even though they recommend just that). The four of us had a check of well over $325. This included a bottle of champagne, and a different glass of wine with each course. Dinner in the Cosmopolitan was pleasant, and the food ranged from average to very good. I wouldn't advise any sirloin, as all of us who ordered it shared the opinion that it was tough and overcooked. Seafood dishes were very good, as was the quail and other poultry. We were given a terrible table the first night, and I called the restaurant manager to request a move, and given an excellent table near the Captain's table. If possible, request a table on the upper level, as it is much quieter. The string quartet and harpist were excellent during dinner each evening. Michael's Club was a great place to meet for after dinner drinks. It used to be a cigar room, but has been converted into a piano bar, with the rich mahogany paneling, wingback chairs, etc. Another good place during the days at sea is on the stern at the Waterfall bar--lots of teak furniture, quiet--never saw any children there--good bar service. Sea days are also a good time to to to the very top of the bow above Revelations Lounge and the heliport to sit out in the sun, as it is quiet, and there is a shield to protect you from the wind. Revelations is a great observation deck during the day, and turns into a disco in the evening. The big drawback to all the public rooms for non-smokers is the amount of smoke. Smoking is supposed to be restricted to the Port side in the public rooms, but is enough to take the breath away from non-smokers at times. The Aqua Spa is terrific--great service (a little upscale price-wise), and good ambiance. They run specials that they don't advertise, so be sure to go down there to check them out if you're interested. The Thassalotherapy Pool was a good experience. It is glass covered to protect you from inclement weather, and UV rays--my husbands prescription glasses wouldn't even darken inside this area--so it's good protection if you need or desire it. There is a nice healthy food grill here which serves an excellent lunch. The pool grill outside also serves lunch if you're in the mood for a good grilled burger, fries, hot dogs, etc. I have to say that eating in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was something I wished I had done more of early on in the cruise. You order from the menu, with all the normal courses, and it is so much more relaxed and quiet than the Waterfall Grill (the buffet near the pool). The Cova Cafe was a good spot for morning (or anytime) latte, cappuccino, etc. They charge for the specialty coffees, but the pastries are free. I would also suggest you purchase a soda sticker for your cruise. It is a $5 a day charge and gives you unlimited sodas for the duration of your cruise. If you drink more than one a day, it pays for itself. I'm a diet Coke freak, and this was a bargain. They put a sticker on your cruise card, and you just show it when you order one. This does not include softdrinks from the mini-bar or room service--just when you order one at any of the bars. There are forms in your blue notebook on your vanity from which you may order breakfast, am coffee, etc for each morning. Fill it out and hang it outside your door before retiring, and you will get it without the burden of calling down and getting on the list in the morning. It will ask you a time frame preference, and they will call you when it's on the way. We had breakfast on our balcony delivered a couple of mornings, and it was great eating out there. They put on a linen tablecloth, flowers, etc. The entertainment was what you might expect from a cruise ship, but good on most nights. The exception was Samantha Jay who spent a great deal of time on the oboe (not meant to be a solo instrument). The finale show on the last formal night is not to be missed--pretty spectacular production. Ports of call: Key West--Good--too little time there. Clean, interesting--an adventure. Cozumel---forget about it---like a trashy Mexican border town. We were in town less than an hour when all four of us decided to get a taxi back to the ship--nasty place. I understand the diving is good there, though. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica--this was the rural, agricultural side of the country. We took the excursion to the Rain Forest and rode the gondola above the canopy. It was plush, and the guides excellent---just a little disappointed there were not more birds, and things of color to see for $124 each---but worth the trip. Colon, Panama---you're right at the Panama Canal, so going to the locks to say you've been there is a must, as long as you're not expecting anything more than seeing a bit ditch with locks. Aruba---my favorite place. I have to recommend the semi-submersible where you are just below the surface (not the submarine). You are able to see the German freighter Atilla, sunken during World War II, and many, many colorful species of tropical fish. This was the biggest bargain of all at about $40pp. We ate lunch at Iguana Joe's. It is an upstairs restaurant on the main drag with good Caribbean, as well as American fare--very good and reasonable. Try the Pink Iguana to drink if you're in the mood for a tropical libation. We were not able to tender into Grand Cayman due to the weather. It was not raining, but the wind exceeded 30knots, which made it impossible to get in on the tenders. There were 5 cruise ships unable to get in. The Port Authority there closed the harbor. We were disappointed, but the day on the ship was relaxing, and drinks at all the bars were free for a couple of hours that evening in an effort to make up for what you missed. There was a lot of complaining, but I would venture to say these same people would be the first to complain if they had been on a tender with 10-12ft. seas and 30 knot winds. All in all, it was a good experience. I probably would not go back to the Western Caribbean, but I will definitely sail with Celebrity in the future. Good cruising, all!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Here's my review of our trip on the Summit, April 16th through 26th, 2004. You will see some cross references to Holland America in this review, as I had only been on one other cruise line RCCL (7 days), which happened to be my first ... Read More
Here's my review of our trip on the Summit, April 16th through 26th, 2004. You will see some cross references to Holland America in this review, as I had only been on one other cruise line RCCL (7 days), which happened to be my first cruise. Holland America was my 2nd cruise and was my favorite. So, this was my 3rd cruise. The reason for the comparison between Holland and Celebrity was because they were both 10 day cruises. Embarkation was a breeze. I could not believe how quickly we got on the ship. We arrived at 11:15 am and were on the ship by 11:30 am. A lot quicker than when we sailed on Holland America last year. The champagne welcome when you entered the ship was a very nice touch. Holland America also had the champagne welcome. They were still getting our stateroom ready when we boarded, so we walked around the ship, made spa appointments and had lunch, then it was off to see if the room was ready for our arrival. They were done and we dropped off our carry on. The room was adequate, but not as large as Holland America. For the money, Holland America does have a much larger room and verandah as well as additional special services with their Deluxe Verandah Suite which included, free laundry, dry cleaning and pressing, in room VCR, hors d'oeuvres every evening. The room that would have been equivalent in money and space to Holland America's Deluxe Verandah Suite was Celebrity's Celebrity Suite, which did not have a balcony or verandah. Therefore, we chose the 1A which turned into the Concierge Class because of the balcony. We would have had to go up to the Royal Suite which would have been a little larger, but would have had a large verandah, in order to get equivalent to what we had at Holland in the Deluxe Verandah Suite. The money difference would have been approximately $2,500.00 more per person going into the Royal Suite. We had breakfast a few times on our balcony, but found it to be quite small compared to Holland America which had a table with 4 chairs and 2 lounge chairs on its verandah and still room to walk around without bumping into one another. We also had dinner a couple times and had to be very creative with the placement of the dishes and lids. One thing that Celebrity doesn't do that was a very nice touch on Holland America was that Holland Americas room attendant or butler brought your luggage in from the hall and placed it on your beds. With Celebrity, you were on your own to retrieve your luggage from the hall. We unpacked our clothes and put them in the drawers and closet and discovered that the shower had quite a bit of mildew in it and looked as though it had not been cleaned in a month. As soon as we brought it to the Chief Housekeeper, Yani's, attention, it was taken care of and cleaned . We had a new Cabin Attendant, Edwin. It was his first trip, but once he realized what we wanted, which basically consisted of ice, everything was handled and he was very accommodating. When Edwin wasn't around, his Assistant, Bijoy was right there to answer our needs. Around 2:00 we headed for the pool bar to have a drink, relax and to meet some of the people from the Cruise Critics board who would be meeting at 3:00. It was a lot of fun putting the faces with everyone who we talked with on the boards for so many months prior to sailing. At 4:00 we had The Muster Drill which went very smooth and done in record time. Off we went to Revelations Lounge for our sail away. We met one of the bar tenders, Omar, and became fast friends. He always had a smile on his face and was eager to please. He never forgot exactly what you wanted and how you wanted it. The DJ in the Revelations Lounge name was Ginge. He was most accommodating in playing what you wanted to listen too. The door decorations we put up seemed to multiply; thanks to some wonderful and wacky people we met...Rick and Kathy. They decided one night, as we were up in the Revelations Lounge dancing, that they were going to sneak down and put all these balloons on our door. We now refer to them as the balloon people as well as other loving and adoring titles. They also enjoyed moving around our fish every day in different positions on the door. Many people commented that it was easy to find their own rooms by our door decorations. We also decorated the balcony with these tropical flags. Next year we will choose some brighter and bolder colored ones so they can be seen easier when we look up from land. I can't comment much about the first 2 days at sea as I was a little sea sick. I'm not sure if it was really rough out, or the size of the ship that made it roll more than the smaller ones I have been use to, but it was a rough couple of days for me. Quite a few other people were talking about the motion and pitching of the M Class ships as well. I was told by another passenger about this wonderful pink pill which you only take once a day. What a difference it made. I went down to Guest Relations and they gave me an envelope with 4 pills in it. I used them for the last sea days going to the different ports and the 2 sea days coming home. It didn't bother me the port days, but the seas weren't as rough. Could have been because we were between land masses, or just in my head. Who knows? All I can say is thank God for the little pink pill and for Brian upstairs at the Waterfall Bar who suggested I try this certain kind of Italian bitters. I know I'm going to spell it wrong, but here goes...Fernet Bianca. It was the worst tasting stuff I had ever put in my mouth, but within minutes my stomach was settling down. I've never eaten a tree bark, but I can only assume that would be a similar taste. I had a massage the 2nd day at sea which was glorious. Between the little pink pill, the bitters and the massage, I was feeling much better. I think I actually floated out of the spa. Besides having the breakfast bar each morning, they had an omelet station. They also had a waffle, pancake and French toast station. Very nice touches. During lunch, not only did they have the lunch buffet, but they had a pasta area where you could get pasta and whatever kind of sauce with all the trimmings that you would want made right there to your liking. In the back of the Waterfall Cafe they had a place that made a special and different kind of sandwich every day (i.e.: philly steak sandwich, tuna melt, reuben, etc.). That too was a nice touch. These are some of the things that Holland didn't offer and should think about offering. One of my favorite places before heading to dinner was the Martini Bar. Their Chocolate Martinis were to die for and my sister enjoyed the Dirty Martinis. We always had Rose Ruiz who waited on us. She always remembered what we liked. One night we did the Martini tasting, but I didn't find anything I liked better than the Chocolate Martini. That was probably the one thing missing from our cruise with Holland America, no Chocolate Martinis. Another of our favorite places was the Casual Dining Blvd. It was in the back of the Waterfall Cafe and opened around 5:30 pm. They ask that you make a reservation sometime during the day if you are planning on going there to eat. There is no additional charge. It had wonderful food. Equivalent, in my opinion, to the Cosmopolitan Dining Room. The head waiter was wonderful and very attentive to every little detail. The staff under him was friendly, and seemed to enjoy their jobs immensely. The tables were set with linens and very well done. On the other side of the Casual Dining Blvd. was the Sushi Bar. If you liked Sushi, it was excellent. Just beyond the Casual Dining Blvd. and the Sushi Bar was the aft deck. We would wander out to the aft deck after dinner to have a drink and listen to the performance of Ron, who if you closed your eyes you would think that it was Santana performing. A couple we met on the ship had their stateroom in the aft about 3 floors under Ron and his music. They said they loved sitting out on their own balcony having a drink and dancing to his music. Very Romantic. We did not get a chance to eat in their specialty restaurant, The Normandy, but heard from others it was well worth the extra money. $30.00 if I'm not mistaken. Expect to spend approximately 2 to 2½ hours dining at The Normandy. They have two pools, both of which are saltwater. On Holland America the pools are fresh water, which I really like better than saltwater pools. One is their regular pool where all the activities,entertainment and music is. They also have the Spa Pool which is heated and has an area on each side of the pool where it is really bubbly. Almost like a hot tub. The Spa Pool is for adults only...no children. Well, everyone has heard of the pool chair "Hogs". They are alive and well on the Summit. But, the Pool Attendants did a wonderful job of overseeing and making sure everyone had a seat and if chairs were left unattended too long, there belongs were moved. There was a group of people on the ship that took over the Spa pool area. They had 2 tables that they played cards at and were VERY loud and also had about 5 of the teak lounge chairs with all their stuff on them that they weren't using. No matter where you go you'll find people with little to no manners. What a shame they were brought up by wolves. A lot of fun things happening daily poolside. A definite area not to miss. You will be entertained. The music was great too. The age group on our cruise was about the same age group that was on Holland last year. We didn't notice any difference in age from one ship to the other. They had some very interesting pieces of art throughout the ship. Very Contemporary. I will always remember Simon Weir (Cruise Director) and his rendition of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" Not only did we see it in person at the show one night, but we watched it the next day on the Celebrity TV while getting dressed for port, when they showed it, over and over again. And we laughed, over and over again. Definitely not to be missed. The Assistant Director, Stewart Turnbull, was one of the best we had seen. His expressions and energy was unsurpassed. Hopefully Stewart will get his own ship soon and become a Cruise Director. He definitely deserves it. Lauren, on the Activities staff, was a major asset to the team. She had only been on the ship for 1 month, which surprised me, as she seemed so comfortable with her position that I thought she had been on for years. She had this infectious energy and fabulous smile. She's definitely a keeper. On Celebrity they had Karaoke and also a Talent Show put on by the passengers. This is something that Holland America didn't have and would be a great addition to their roster. I have to give credit to all those who got up there and sang and danced. What a great time. Some of them were even good. I remember on Holland America how visible the captain was, which was nice. He was usually on the dock to greet everyone who got off the ship on most port days when he could. You could also see him around the ship and ask him questions and he was very friendly and accessible to all the passengers. On Celebrity, the only time we saw the Captain was the first formal night. Never saw him again. I chose to use their internet for $2.00 per email instead of using mine for $.75 per minute. By using theirs, I could write a very lengthy email or spend as many minutes on writing as I wanted. But remember, it is $2.00 per email whether you send one or you receive one. I had timed my self and on an average per email, either reading from my husband or writing to him, I spent an average of about 10 to 15 minutes each time. So I figured I made the right choice. Now on to shopping, my favorite. Found some great jewelry and linen deals in St. Maarten. Also found a lot of the jewelry to be less money in St. Maarten than in St. Thomas. I really liked Mac at Ballerina Jewelers in St. Maarten at the terminal port as soon as you get off the ship. He would really work to get you his best price possible. They also have another store in town as well. The French side was very quaint and we enjoyed a great lunch at the marina. In St. Thomas I wouldn't go anywhere else but Celebrity Jewelers in Haversight Mall which is the shopping area as soon as you get off the ship. The person to see there is Mark for great deals. They also have a store in downtown St. Thomas as well. The Liquor in St. Thomas is about the same in St. Maarten, but if you get it in St. Thomas, you can bring more back. St. Lucia was a fun place to get off and take the ferry and go shopping. They have this wonderful shopping area with all kinds of stuff and local crafts. The people were very friendly. In Barbados I found this wonderful sterling silver jewelry and acquired a couple pieces. As far as St. Kitts goes, unless you have booked an excursion, there isn't much shopping there. This island is flatter than the other islands we went to. It does look like they are trying to get together a nice area of shops, but doesn't look like it will be finished for some time. Maybe at the beginning of next season. Disembarkation was smooth. What takes the longest time is to find your suit cases. We even saved the flags from the balcony decorations and tied them to our suit cases hoping to spot them quicker, but they seemed to blend in. Maybe next year I'll paint my suit cases a neon yellow to find them quicker. Happy sailing to all. Remember, it's the journey that counts. Cindi Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Summit 10-Day Ultimate Caribbean Cruise: A Long, Informative Review! We just returned on Monday, April 26th from our April 16th, 10-day Ultimate Caribbean cruise on the Summit. This was the second time we sailed this itinerary - we loved ... Read More
Summit 10-Day Ultimate Caribbean Cruise: A Long, Informative Review! We just returned on Monday, April 26th from our April 16th, 10-day Ultimate Caribbean cruise on the Summit. This was the second time we sailed this itinerary - we loved it so much in 2002 that we just had to do it again - and it didn't disappoint the second time around. This cruise was excellent in all areas. Below is what I hope will be an informative review that will assist others in planning a wonderful cruise vacation. If there is anything I missed, please feel free to e-mail me your questions. Here goes - I'll try to organize my thoughts, but if something pops into my head, I'll just add it where I can! Embarkation: Celebrity has definitely improved this process. We easily dropped our four pieces of luggage with the porters at 10:45 a.m. and stood outside the terminal in an orderly line until approx. 11:00 a.m. at which point the Celebrity staff opened the doors to Terminal 25. We were then led to a large, comfortable room and seated in rows of chairs. We were arranged by Suite holders and Captain's Club Level (we are Classic Founders). A Celebrity staff member checked our documents to ensure both the SeaPass charge form and passenger information forms were properly filled out. Suite holders, then high-level to lower level Captain's Club members were led to the large check-in area. We were on the Summit, glass of champagne in hand by 11:45 a.m. As we boarded fairly early, we were not escorted to our cabin; we've sailed M-Class ships before and as the ship's layout is easy to negotiate, we found our way to our cabin in about three minutes. Our cabin wasn't quite ready, however, we dropped our carry-on luggage, locked our valuables in the safe and proceeded to the buffet! All of our luggage was delivered to the cabin by 4:00 p.m. State Room: We were booked in an aft cabin, #8172 (Category 1B) on the Panorama Deck (8th floor). This was our second aft cabin cruise and, yes, we're still spoiled! The balcony is very long and about 2/3 covered, allowing sun for a good portion of the day depending on the direction of travel. We had two padded lounge chairs, two unpadded lounge chairs, one very small table (we could have asked for a larger one) plus two, regular upright chairs. The 172 s.f. cabin was comfortable for the two of us and afforded lots of storage space (on day 8 we actually discovered a stack of cubby holes we hadn't seen or used upon our arrival! Two of our suitcases are very large - 29" - we were able to nest the smaller ones inside, and by leaving the tops open and flopped to the other side, all of them fit under the bed! We always bring an over-door shoe holder with clear plastic pockets to maximize bathroom storage space but we almost didn't need it - lots of room on the counter, the 2-tier open shelf and cubbies below the sink. Amenities included a well-stocked Lucite Q-tip and cotton ball holder (coincidentally the same one I have here at home), two shower caps, two Celebrity French-milled soaps, wall-mounted hair dryer - very efficient, but the part you hold does get hot quickly, wall-mounted lotion dispenser and a shampoo dispenser mounted in the shower. I don't like the lotion or shampoo, however, my husband, Kevin, does and used plenty of both. We brought our own bottled water and kept 2-3 chilled in the mini-fridge. We removed only a few of the pre-stocked items just in case we wanted to splurge at some point (which we never did - too much food and drink available elsewhere!). All fabric items (bedspread, cushioned headboard, draperies, sofa-bed, carpeting, etc.) in the state room were clean and in excellent condition. Ship Overall: As was the case with both Millennium and Century, this ship is beautiful: elegant, tasteful, clean and no neon anywhere. The staff is always polishing railings, cleaning mirrors and woodwork and even painting the outside of the ship. All of the public areas are comfortable and clean. My only negative observation was that some of the chairs and couches in the lounges really need to be recovered as they are worn at the edges. I really didn't notice this myself until one of our tablemates mentioned it - and it's not noticeable at night in ambient light, only during bright, daylight hours. The ship is very well laid out and there are diagrams of the ship floor by floor at almost all staircases. A nifty little deck plan can be found on the blue "pleather" information folder on the desk in your cabin; if there isn't one there, they are available at Guest Relations. Staff: This ship had the friendliest staff ever - and we've cruised on Millennium twice, Century once and RCCL twice. I am not exaggerating when I say that I never passed ANY staff member (even a mechanic or outdoor painter) who didn't look me in the eye and say "good morning/afternoon" or "how are you" or "hello! have a nice day." Okay, let's be honest: we all know that the staff is told to do this, however, I really felt the friendliness was genuine. It really made walking around the ship so pleasant and congenial. I must give praise and our sincerest thanks to "our" staff: our Waiter, Gusti from Bali and his assistant, Pariman, from Indonesia; our Cabin Steward Rosidi and his assistant, Irwan, both from Indonesia; the fabulous Social Hostess, "Miss Camilla" from Canada and last, but not least, Zanna, our Sommelier from Croatia. Our Cruise Director Simon Weir and his Assistant, Stuart Tumbull were both excellent - highly visible all around the ship and very friendly. All of these wonderful people did SO much and worked so hard to make our cruise perfect. There are many others, too, just too many to name them all! Dining/Food: We found the food to be excellent in all venues, and food is available all the time somewhere on the ship! In the Cosmopolitan Restaurant we sat at a table for ten (#551) on the second level. Again, we lucked out: we were seated with four other wonderful couples who made dining a pleasure every night! Breakfast and lunch is available in the dining room every day and seating is open. We found this to be a nice way to meet more new people while avoiding the busy-ness at the buffet. We did have breakfast and lunch frequently at the buffet when we needed to eat and run to get to excursions on time. We also enjoyed a late afternoon snack or "mini-meal" in the Spa Cafe - the only item we didn't enjoy there was the sushi - the rice was hard and a little dry. We did not, however, go to the Sushi Bar (6-10 p.m. daily) which might have had a better, fresher selection. We enjoyed the Grill by the pool - hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza were (too) good and the French fries were the best! The Cova cafe served wonderful coffees along with chocolates or pastries according to the time of day we went - lovely atmosphere and Barbara, the harpist was wonderful. Gourmet Bites were passed by waiters late at night in the public rooms and lounges - excellent, but we were usually too full from (late sitting) dinner! We probably ate four meals per day, quite consistently! I gained seven lbs. but lost three of them already! The Normandie: Yes, we went to the Normandie on the second casual night and had a wonderful meal. Be sure to eat minimally the day you go, as you will be very full after all four courses which takes approx. two+ hours to be served. We enjoyed all courses - appetizer, entrEe, dessert and cheese tray, however, friends of ours told us they were able to forego a dessert or cheese course to have two appetizers. There seems to be more flexibility in this area than before. Gym: While we didn't partake of any Spa Treatments, we DID use the gym. There are many weight-bearing machines, free-weights and treadmills and stair-steppers. All machines appeared to be in excellent condition and were clean. Each treadmill had a clipboard with a sign-up sheet, however, on all occasions I went, there were plenty available on a walk-in basis. About halfway through the cruise we decided it was nicer to speed-walk on the track on deck 10; this was easiest after 4:00 p.m. when people had had enough sun! Kevin and I were filmed speed-walking one day and actually made it into the Cruise in Review video. We did not take any of the Pilates, Step or Spinning classes that were available for a nominal fee. Kevin, did, however, enjoy the T-Pool "Ggoing to take a bubble, honey!" on a daily basis! Pool: The pool deck, though full, was not the chair-hogging scene we were dreading! This may have been due to the "Pool Butlers" who stripped unused towels off of the unoccupied lounges. There were always lounge chairs available on the 11th deck: this made me very happy as I don't like to witness fist fights while on vacation. Lots of fun pool games every day and the pool band, Voltz was great! Entertainment: We don't usually go to the shows, so I don't feel I can adequately discuss them. We DID go to bingo with our tablemates three times and had a blast (we'd never played before) and two of our group won two out of five games. Karaoke was a great show - no we didn't participate, but we DID enjoy Marie and Ian's performances - you go guys!!! Trivia contests were fun - congrats to Doreen who won several! Captain's Club: We had our get-together one evening before dinner. Very nice to have it at night when we were all awake, instead of at 10:15 a.m. when still sleepy! Captain Manaras came out and said a few words and we all enjoyed a cocktail or two while the orchestra played dance music. On the second or third night we received a small box of Cova chocolates as part of the turn-down service. How they made it home and are still in our fridge, I don't know - I guess we're hoping to relive a few "Cova Moments" later! Coupons: Upon embarkation, I went to Guest Relations to be sure my Specialty Restaurant, Shipboard Credit and Cabin Credit had been received: all coupons were accounted for and actually located on a typed list. A word of caution: although our Specialty Restaurant coupon had been received, it was not posted on our account until I noticed it was missing when I checked our account via TV in our cabin. Kalina in Guest Relations handled it very professionally and graciously. Itinerary/Shore Excursions/Ports: As stated above, we loved this itinerary: two sea days followed by St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and two more sea days prior to the return to Ft. Lauderdale. As all of the shore excursion descriptions are available on the Celebrity website, I'll simply list the port and the shore excursion (all Celebrity-sponsored) we took and my rating. As we had done tours of all the islands on our last trip, we chose all sailing/catamaran excursions this time. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me directly. I've based my ratings on price, overall experience and friendliness of staff: St. Maarten - Golden Eagle Island Sailaway: A+... St. Lucia - Pigeon Island Sea Kayaking: C+... Barbados: Swim with Turtles, Shipwreck & Beach: A+... St. Kitts - Catamaran Fan-Ta-Sea: A-... St. Thomas: Turtle Cove Sailing & Snorkeling: A++... All in all, we loved these excursions - and for those who want to know, yes, we swam with turtles during the excursions in Barbados and St. Thomas and it was AWESOME! Kevin took some great shots which I hope to post when all of our pictures have been developed. Improvements: These are all little details, however, it's the combination of many small things that often adds up to a major improvement across the board. Daily program (left on bed at turn-down): we found this be easier to read, better organized and more comprehensive than past versions. Pillow chocolates: these were of better quality than those of previous cruises on Celebrity. Sorbet Parade: similar to the Baked Alaska Parade in the Dining Room on the last formal night - excellent, refreshing and a decent portion - not to mention somewhat hilarious to watch! Truly excellent when you're baking in the sun! "Pool Butlers:" As mentioned above, these people were pleasantly official and very efficient! "Simon Says" daily TV chat: We loved this daily update: Simon Weir appears on Channel 15 daily (continuous loop) and narrates the highlights from the previous day/evening and gives a rundown of the current day's activities, dress codes, etc. Simon is very entertaining and witty and we didn't miss a single day! The passenger credit acount used to sign for all on-board purchases is now called "SeaPass." You can now charge gratuities to this account. As our cruise ended first thing Monday a.m., the gratuity form needed to be submitted to Guest Relations by 6:00 p.m. the Friday before. We opted not to use this new system; I bring greeting cards from home so we can present cash to everyone who serviced us so well with a personal note from both of us - we feel it's a nicer way to thank the staff and it makes us feel good, too. Others, however, may feel the new way is more convenient! Cruise Critic: Thanks to Deb and Rick's shirt, a large group of us met by the pool bar on the first day at 3:00. It was great to meet so many people with whom we've been communicating over the last several months. We had our official get-together a day or two later in the morning. A nice spread of coffee and breakfast breads were available and Camilla, the Social Hostess gave each of us a Cruise Critic lapel pin. Even though Kevin and I are very independent, we loved seeing familiar faces around the ship and on our excursions - it really enhanced our cruise experience! Debarkation: While this is its own subject, perhaps I should have listed it above under "Improvements!" We received our letter telling us where we had to be and when for debarkation and our (5) baggage tags: we are Miami Beach residents with no flights to catch as well as Classic Founder Captain's Club members, so our luggage tags were "Brown 1" and we were to meet our escort off the ship (Ariel, one of the Celebrity Dancers!) in the Rendez Vous Lounge at 9:15 a.m. We were led off the ship at 9:30 and were collecting our luggage a few minutes later. All luggage is arranged in groups by colored bag. Porters are available to assist you with your luggage and get you to the taxi/private car pick-up/shuttle bus areas. We made it home by 10:45 a.m. All in all, this was our best cruise (our 6th, 4th on Celebrity) yet! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
CELEBRITY SUMMIT, 10 day cruise, 4/16/04, Southern Caribbean itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale. This is a very long review but organized so that you can find only the items you may be interested in if you don't care to read the ... Read More
CELEBRITY SUMMIT, 10 day cruise, 4/16/04, Southern Caribbean itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale. This is a very long review but organized so that you can find only the items you may be interested in if you don't care to read the entire "volume". This was our 5th cruise and the best yet by far. Celebrity is a wonderful cruise line that strives for excellence and it shows. They have some of the best crew to passenger and space to passenger ratios in the business. Celebrity definitely made a positive impression on us with their M class ship and we look forward to cruising with them again. They know how to do things right and have wonderful ideas for the future. They try to be innovative and have implemented some wonderful ideas since our last voyage with them. Any criticisms in this review are meant to be constructive in hopes that somebody from Celebrity will be reading it. We are a couple in our early forties traveling during Massachusetts school vacation break with our two sons ages 11 and 13. Joining us were friends and their 13-year-old son. THE SHIP The Summit is a beautiful ship and very well designed. We had cruised on Galaxy before and although Summit was at full capacity it did not feel crowded at all. The flow from one public area to another was very easy. The dEcor was classy and sophisticated. The ship itself was kept very clean although the crew was very unobtrusive about it. The artwork was very interesting and I realize this has been commented on quite a bit previously. I would say that it would appeal to a range of tastes. It is an accent to the dEcor but is not the dEcor itself. The demographic on board tended toward an older mix of passengers although there were a wide variety of ages present. This is not a party ship but these guests definitely know how to have a good time. We had a very classy group on board and everywhere you went guests were courteous and polite. Everyone was so friendly and we enjoyed meeting others at the open seating times at breakfast and lunch in the dining room as well as around the ship. The entire atmosphere was relaxed and elegant without being stuffy. The pool area is well designed. We never had a problem getting loungers even though we usually looked for them during peak times. Yes, it was crowded near the pool on sea days but we usually wandered a little bit to find four chairs in a location that may not have been our first choice. We then kept an eye out and as people left we relocated closer to the pool in the sun. The pool butlers were fairly efficient about removing towels from the chairs. If guests could drop their own used towels in the hamper as they leave this would free things up a bit more quickly. Toward the end of the week this seemed to be more of the case as people noticed where the towel hampers were located. On sea days they had the sorbet parade around 2 PM usually followed by one or two fun and silly games. If you order four beers from the pool bar you get the fifth free and all come in a big bucket of ice. Great touch since it can get pretty hot our there. Passing out chilled towels poolside was another nice touch as well as when you came back on board from the ports. I only tried the thallasotherapy pool once and really enjoyed it. It was like a giant hot tub but with added minerals. I could feel my skin tingle. The bubble loungers were something else! These were very comfortable and relaxing. We enjoyed the martini and champagne bars quite a bit. The first or second evening they offer a martini sampler with 5 small martinis for $5. Ours came with a traditional gin martini, citrus, peach, French (chambord), and melon martinis. This is a great way to try out a few. We enjoyed this area frequently throughout the cruise even treating ourselves to the champagne and caviar one night, which was outstanding. The only problem here is the smoking. Since the champagne bar allows smoking the entire area does become smoky sometimes, which is too bad. We also found the casino to be extremely smoky and couldn't stay in there for too long which is probably a good thing since it appears the odds were always against us. Words and Notes were a nice touch. We didn't use them much although the kids would visit Notes occasionally. Bring along your own headphones though otherwise you must travel down to guest relations on deck 3 to obtain some. The Conservatory was different. I wish they would consider turning it back into a sports bar, which I believe the space was originally designed for. In fact the only thing I felt was missing from this beautiful ship was a comfortable place to view sporting events on a large TV. I am not a big sports fan although my husband is and some of the other guests also seemed concerned about missing certain events. We didn't get a chance to have any Aqua Spa treatments but did walk through to see it. The staff here were very friendly and informative and provided us with some brochures. This is an attractive area that is kept very clean. We also browsed by the gym but unfortunately never had a chance to visit (the best intentions...). This area had a nice selection of equipment and was also kept very clean. Michael's club is a terrific place for relaxing cocktail in a quiet atmosphere. We loved the warm intimate environment here. We took many photos here in front of the fireplace and at the piano on the formal nights. Revelations is a very nice dance club. We enjoyed dancing here at the beginning of the cruise but didn't frequent this as much as we would have liked. It could either be empty or active depending on what time you went by there. Things picked up a bit later here. We saw many elegant couples of all ages that were terrific dancers. Very enjoyable to watch! The photography area was convenient and we took advantage of many sittings. They actually offered photo taking every evening not just on the formal nights. We had rented tuxes for the boys so of course we made certain to have a lot of pictures taken of which we purchased many. If you purchase three 8x10 shots you receive a free Celebrity 5x7 photo album with removable ship photos in it. They do a decent job here and the photos are reasonable. We also purchased the cruise in review video here for $24.95 and it will be mailed to us in a few weeks. We are hoping that it is longer than the 10- 15 minute one we saw on board but nobody here seemed to know for certain so we took our chances. OUR CABIN We were in cabin 9197. This was a corner FV aft on the sky deck. The design of this cabin was wonderful and there was plenty of storage and space for our family of four. The main entry led you into a hallway, which then led to another door to the room. This hallway was great for storing our 7 pieces of luggage. We also could easily fit some luggage under the bed for packing dirty clothes back into during the week. The main area of our cabin had a very comfortable bed that I believe was a queen but it felt a little larger. Two sofas in the seating area converted into a twin bed and full size bed every evening. There are two double closets with a tie/belt rack and lower hanging bars that fold down if desired. A single closet adjacent to these has 6 drawers, a few shelves, and the safe. The door to this particular closet was off and hanging by the hinges when we arrived. We notified our stateroom attendant and it was fixed that evening. There was additional storage under the desk (cabinets) and in the nightstands (drawers). There were two TV's, a VCR, and mini-bar. Power outlets were by the desk. The bathroom was normal ship sized and provided a shampoo dispenser in the shower, bars of soap, cotton balls, q-tips, and shower caps. No lotion or conditioner was provided although we always bring our own. We were on the concierge class level and our cabin was not designated as such although we did receive the fresh flowers once or twice. The balcony was enormous. Our views went from the entire aft section of the ship up along the entire port side. There were four cushioned loungers, a small side table, a larger dining table and two regular strap chairs on the balcony. An overhead light is in the overhang. The overhang covered our balcony halfway with the awning adding another few feet. Along the edge of the deck was a perimeter drain with a deep edge so the deck was never very wet. The support post housed a drain from the deck above. This design makes it difficult for any water or loose items to make their way down to the lower balconies. Our only wish was that we had more time to spend on this great balcony. We were so busy with everything else there was to do that we didn't take full advantage of it. Upon arrival to the cabin there were some areas that had been missed due to hurried cleaning. Some spots on the toilet seat and some spilled coffee. I took care of these myself and didn't complain. The carpet has some stains and also could have used a better vacuuming. They just don't get into the corners. We found old crayons and things under the edge of the bed. The bedspread had something spilled on it. The glass partitions needed to be cleaned better too. The countertops that are marble need to be sealed as everything leaves a mark on them due to the porosity. I ended up with some sawdust on my clothing from the closet door that had been fixed (also must have been worked on previously and the closet shelves were never wiped off). Overall the rest of the room was very clean but just a step below the cleanliness of the public areas, which were kept immaculate and polished. This didn't bother me tremendously but I mention it in hopes of Celebrity reading this and giving a little bit more attention to this detail. Our cabin steward Rodriques was very good with the day-to-day cleaning of the bathroom, main vacuuming, etc. but the room needed a deep spring cleaning overhaul if you know what I mean. Also, I never bothered to point everything out to Rodriques who was very nice and friendly. I am sure he would have taken care of this but I felt that I would have been picky to ask and at the time it wasn't important enough to me. Prior to the cruise I was concerned about the reports of noise above the sky deck. Our cabin was situated directly below the outdoor section of the waterfall grill aft. Yes, you do hear the occasional chair scraping. No, it didn't bother me much at all and I am a very noise sensitive person. The crew does NOT go out there at 7 in the morning moving furniture and hosing down the deck as some have reported previously. In fact not once did we have water wash down from the upper level onto our deck. We had one napkin and one straw blow down and that was all and Rodriques removed these. Only once did the chair scraping wake me up and that was 9:30 AM and I needed to be up anyway. I would not hesitate to be in this cabin on this level again. On the balcony you can hear the chairs much more loudly than in the cabin because of the metal above. Still not very bothersome. You are outdoors and everything is louder including the wind, which is the loudest. You don't hear very much of the conversation going on above. In the evening we could hear the guitar player, Ron Thompson, who we thought was enjoyable to listen to. You could also hear him from the other levels aft on the ship. There was plenty of privacy on the balcony, sun and shade depending on where you were. All aft balconies look down onto each other since they are tiered. I didn't feel that the lower ones were any more private than the upper. The aft grill overlooks them all although people just don't stand there to look down at you. They are enjoying the view. DINING Cosmopolitan Restaurant (main seating, table #551) - We were seated at a table for 10 with our friends and another couple with their 12 year old daughter. This couple actually live in the town next to us at home! This is a beautiful restaurant. The Pomeranian quartet is a very nice touch. There are nice views from most areas although they should not cover the windows on formal nights since you miss the view. Food ranged from excellent to fair with the majority being very good. Not as good as when we were on Galaxy several years ago but still better than Royal Caribbean. Excellent veal oscar, lobster tails, salmon steak, rack of lamb. The lamb steak was tough though and the shrimp scampi was seasoned differently with the pasta being overcooked. The appetizers and soups were consistently excellent but the salads were just okay. Not bad, not great, but consider that they don't have a garden out back to select the vegetables from. The desserts were fabulous and we enjoyed the baked Alaska parade on the last formal evening. Our waiter Gusti from Indonesia was outstanding. The assistant waiter Parimon (also from Indonesia) was fabulous. If you like a range of food just ask your waiter for his recommendation each evening. He will let you know what is not so good and what is the best. The restaurant manager also seemed genuinely interested in our opinion and making certain we were satisfied. They knew the lamb steak was tough and apologized while making certain that extra food was brought without our asking. The restaurant manager was very concerned and didn't want us to experience a bad meal. He was the best we have experienced in all our cruises. Gusti was also concerned and always wanted to be certain we were happy. Unfortunately for us but fortunately for him, Gusti is going back to Indonesia for 3 months to be with his family. He has two young boys at home. Gusti always had some origami tricks to share with our boys and our tablemate's daughter. The children were treated fabulously. Gusti even cut their meat for them one evening. You may get to experience his wonderful friendly service in the future if you are lucky! Our wine sommelier Zanna from Lithuania was wonderfully friendly and very helpful. She shared some of her black and white sketch drawings with us one evening and we were very impressed. It turns out she is also a very talented artist. She also had some nice little games to share with the boys and our tablemate's daughter. Casual Dining - We decided to try this the evening we were in St. Kitts since the port departure time was changed to 6PM. You need to make a reservation here but you can do it the same afternoon. They had one section of the waterfall grill arranged with nicely set tables. This is not a buffet. There is waiter service and several courses are served here. The menu had 5 or 6 entrEe selections and the sirloin steak was excellent. You also may walk around the corner to the sushi bar and select some for your appetizer here. We were very pleased with this wonderful option. The food was quite good here and the service was terrific even though the sugar train tour ran late and they were inundated with unexpected customers. They would not turn anyone away who had missed their dining room seating time. Eventually they had to call in some waiters from the main dining room as soon as they were not busy. We ran into Gusti who wanted to take our dessert order. All the staff were running around trying to serve everyone and we thought they did a wonderful job. They do use this venue to train the waiters and it is a great way for them to gain experience. Celebrity has created a very nice option for dining here. We enjoyed the main dining room but this is a welcome change the day or two you may need to dine at a different time. The Normandie - Where do I begin! This was unbelievably outstanding and a wonderful treat. I had the goat cheese soufflE, delicious, the chateaubriand for 2 with fois gras and truffle (shared with my husband of course!), several delicious selections from the cheese cart, and the chocolate soufflE with hot coffee sauce for dessert. They also brought a cucumber soup at the beginning and a selection of petit fours for dessert. The food and presentation were amazing. My husband had the French onion soup, which was the best he has ever had. Our friend had the lobster bisque which was another success. The staff were very attentive and entertaining. They even escorted me to the ladies room! We started our evening there in a giddy mood with an attack of the giggles since our friend accidentally brought the wrong shirt that was too small for him. The laughter was contagious and trying to behave in such a nice place only made it worse. I was afraid we were going to cause a scene. The wait staff picked up on the fun and we had a great time with them. Also, a nice coincidence was that one of our waiters, Harish, had been one of our group's waiters on the Galaxy several years ago. My husband and I both thought he looked familiar but it wasn't until we asked him if he had been on that ship and the location of his tables there that it was confirmed. This was a nice surprise. We chose our wine for this evening from the suggested pairings on the menu and were very pleased since the wine complimented the food perfectly. These were very good wines and you could actually order many by the glass here so that you could try a different wine with each course similar to a wine tasting. At the end of the evening they gave us booklets detailing the history of the Normandie. This dining option is another great innovation by Celebrity. Had we dined here earlier in the week I may have had to go again. The $30 per person surcharge was well worth it and we even tipped extra since we felt it was so deserved. The only issue we had was that when I made our reservation (in advance since we are captain's club members) I was firmly told that children could not dine there unless they are 12 and older. Our youngest is 11 so this was not an option for the boys and they would not make an exception. The reservationist then told me that the boys could not dine in the dining room without us. Later I asked at the casual dining restaurant if they could dine there without us and was told that they would ask permission from the manager and although not allowed it probably would be okay (they could see that the boys were well behaved at that point). When we saw Gusti at the casual dining restaurant and told him we were going to the Normandie the next evening he assured us he would take good care of the three boys. I told him I had been informed that they were not allowed without us and he then insisted that we send them and he would make sure everything was okay. This was extremely kind of him. Later we were complimented by the tables around us how well behaved the boys were and how cute they looked dining the evening without us. Again I cannot say how much we appreciated Gusti. The kicker to all this is that when we walked into the Normandie on the evening we dined there the first thing we saw was a table seated with four children much younger than our own! Waterfall Grill - Very good for breakfast although we prefer the dining room with the fabulous eggs benedict. The grill choices were the same everyday. I felt adding one or two specialty items each day like an egg strata, quiche, huevos rancheros, etc. would have made it stand out. There was plenty to choose from though of your standard breakfast fare along with a Belgian waffle station and an omelet station at the back There were limited fillers for the omelets though. The fruit here was good but it would be nice to add some grapes, mangos, kiwis, and papayas occasionally. It was always melon, pineapple and oranges only. The coffee was very good here and readily available with waiters providing refills at your table. The orange juice dispensers frequently had problems dispensing concentrate at times but you could easily add water yourself. Lunch at the waterfall grill did have a lot of selection with a different theme each day. Food was very good here for buffet food. Unfortunately I did not make it to the sandwich bar around back since I forgot until the end of the week and was hooked on the Aqua Spa cafe by then. Trays were usually carried for you from the waterfall grill to an inside table or outside anywhere you desired. Aqua Spa Cafe - Again, another wonderful concept by Celebrity. The food here was fabulous. I enjoyed this quite a bit. The selections were light and tasty although I usually tried more than a few items throughout the day so I don't think I saved any calories here! Sushi Bar - Open from 6 to 10. Great concept and delicious sushi with a nice selection. I was very pleased to have this option. Pool Grill - Delicious hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries with a few other accompaniments. This was very convenient with great beer selection on ice here. Ice cream bar - My boys frequented this more than I want to know about. Wonderful availability. I think some of the teens were trying to set a record of the most ice creams in one day. Has anyone ever seen a teen boy eat? I believe one boy had 13? But hey they are on vacation too! Evening pizza and pasta - Waterfall Grill - Another place given a good workout by my boys. The teen counselors frequented here with the gang in the late evening. This was great since we had the main seating and of course the boys would be hungry again later. Cova Cafe - My husband enjoyed this frequently for espresso, which I don't drink unless I want to stay up all week. He was very pleased that this was available. We missed the afternoon snacks here so I guess we will have to go back again and try them! This is also where you purchase the soda cards. They are $5 per day plus 15% gratuity. We purchased these for the kids and it was worth it. They affix a small sticker to your room card for unlimited fountain soda. As a bonus the kids all received an insulated coke logo drink holder with lid. Midnight Bites - We thought this fabulous concept of serving appetizers in the public lounges late in the evening was a terrific idea. The first night they were excellent but after that they were very good. In the rendezvous lounge the waiters were prompt about offering them around on trays. In the martini bar though they were slow to come around and frequently just stood there with their trays. We couldn't understand this and would either signal them or get up and walk over to them. Midnight Buffet - This was presented once during the cruise on the last formal evening. One time per cruise is sufficient in my opinion. It takes them hours and hours to prepare and display everything. There were stunning ice sculptures and beautifully arranged delicacies. The only problem here with the traffic flow was having four food lines flow into two dessert lines. Of course most seemed to want only the dessert so the food line would come to a complete stop from time to time. Poolside Caribbean party - or "melons on parade" as Simon called it. Since we attended after the Normandie we ate nothing. Our kids told us that the food was delicious and they enjoyed the ribs and other selections. This was a fun atmosphere with Voltz playing and a lot of dancing, macarena, conga line, limbo, etc. All in all the variety of dining choices was very pleasing and the availability was very good with a variety of food offered frequently throughout the day. The options were much improved since the last time we have cruised and we were very happy with the choices. THE CREW I have mentioned a few crewmembers already in the dining section and I have to say that they are all wonderful. Everyone was genuinely friendly and seemed very happy. The service is very prompt and attentive without being obtrusive. We had enjoyable conversations with many of the staff. Michael Sunga at the martini bar was so pleasant. He always had a joke or a little trick to show us. He is from the Philippines and also has two young boys. The bar waiter Antonio was very funny and we enjoyed Ian Reid the pool bartender. The crew were always greeting you and saying hello as you passed by. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director - Simon Weir - A hilarious goofball. He definitely enjoys his job and has a lot of fun while providing a lot of entertainment. His accent makes things even funnier from the American perspective. He is very enthusiastic and energetic and seems to be everywhere. His assistant Stuart Tumbull was a little more subdued than Simon but very friendly. Off the Top - A cappella group - Nice group with a good range of music. Voltz - Caribbean band - Very enjoyable, beautiful voices, nice selection of your typical Caribbean tunes poolside while branching into others up at Revelations night club. By the end of the week the poolside music did become a little repetitive although I didn't mind since I love all those Caribbean tunes. Frank Duo - They were not for us but they definitely fill a niche here. Many passengers were enjoying them and we also saw many very excellent dancers on board. Ron Thompson - Guitar player - Very enjoyable out on the aft grill deck outdoors. Unfortunately many nights it was too windy (just our particular week) for us to comfortably sit out here and relax. Also this is where the cigar and other smokers go although it wasn't bothersome with the fresh air. Steve Solomon - Comedian - Absolutely hilarious if you enjoy bathroom humor. Seriously though he was very talented and had the audience in stitches. We enjoyed listening to him and I even want to buy his new book, "My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish, and I'm in therapy". He grew up in Brooklyn, NY where my Dad is from and I definitely drew some parallels here. Samantha Jay - Musical sensation - Unbelievably talented and lovely. This young beautiful woman plays the violin, saxophone, and oboe and plays these instruments extremely well. She is quite entertaining and charming. We saw her on the last evening along with Elliott Finkel and were sorry we had missed her previous performance. We had hoped at least that our boys had caught it with the teen director but they had told the boys they wouldn't like it and it would be boring for them. I couldn't believe this since both my boys play the saxophone and my oldest also plays violin. I know that one would not know this and even we weren't sure what the first performance was all about and didn't make the effort to get there. It was a disappointment to have missed this. She is a natural entertainer and amazingly musically gifted. Elliott Finkel - Pianist - Another extremely talented performer. Also, he is funny and witty. His personality really comes out on stage. He played a nice varied selection and also a piece with Samantha Jay. He has played around the world for many famous people. We enjoyed his talent, humor and wonderful personality. Tibor - Action comedy - Not my favorite type of entertainment with the spinning plates, juggling, etc. although I do have to say that he was quite talented and entertaining. Also nice to look at by the T-pool if you happen to run into him during the day! Csaba - Specialty aerialist - Amazing graceful gymnast. Amazing strength! Kept looking by the T-pool! We didn't get to see any of the production shows with the Celebrity singers and dancers so I cannot comment here. We are looking forward to the new collaboration with Cirque du Soleil and hope to have a chance to experience this in the future. KID'S/TEENS CLUB There were approximately 37 kids on board between 3 and 17 years old. Also, I believe 6 more under the age of 3. We were told that there had been several hundred on board the previous cruise. I have to say that all of the children and teens were wonderful kids and very well behaved. My boys and our friend's son met a lot of new friends and by the end of the week were spending most of their time with the teen group. The counselors were excellent and the kids enjoyed them tremendously. It was nice that there was both the shipmate's fun factory as well as the teen tower. There also was a video arcade but cost $1 per play. My boys enjoyed the tower and this is where their group frequently met for activities and games. It doesn't turn into a teen disco until midnight. They also have a nice plasma TV there for occasional movies, sporting events, etc. For an hour each day in the early evening the teens could visit the fun factory and use the playstations, play in the ball pit, etc. and believe it or not they loved doing this! Also, the younger kids sometimes went to the tower for some of their activities. The wonderful design of the ship provided a lot of flexibility here. I have to say that at the beginning of the cruise there was some concern whether or not our youngest, age 11 would be able to join his Brother and friend, both 13 since the age groups were split differently. This worked out okay in the end since there were so few kids that some of the ensigns (10-12) joined the admiral t's (13-17). Unfortunately though at the beginning this did cause some stress for my son as well as a few others in the 11 to 12 age category. On top of this they made the kids up to age 12 wear a bracelet causing them stand out from the rest of the group. Well of course every single one of them "lost" their bracelet. Although everything turned out fine I wish Celebrity would be more sensitive to this. I believe that the age groups are not grouped correctly and they should be more flexible with blurring the lines right from the beginning especially when parents request it. At home our middle school has kids from grade 6 to 8, which translates into ages 10 and 11 to 13 and 14. They all attend school dances together. This would be a more appropriate age grouping in my opinion. The teen disco allows age 13 and up and although this turned out not to be a problem for our 11 year old, it should possibly be lowered to accommodate middle school age kids. Also, 17 year olds don't really fit well with 13 year olds but are grouped this way. There is no perfect solution here except to be flexible from the beginning with the age groups and maturity levels on board at that time. PORTS OF CALL / SHORE EXCURSIONS St. Martin - In the morning we went on the Golden Eagle Sailaway a ship's excursion. This was early with an 8:15 AM departure. We sailed for about an hour out to Tintemarre Island. There was plenty of room on board this very nice catamaran. It was a bit rough on the way out with waves washing over the front of the boat, which was actually a lot of fun. They raised the sails and got the men to volunteer pulling the rope for the main sail. At the island we had about an hour to relax on the beach, swim, snorkel, or explore. You could jump off the boat or take the center stairs that drop down into the water about 6' deep. We love to snorkel but since you have such little time here I wouldn't bother with it. We tried snorkeling but it is a rocky entry with some wave action making it difficult to get in there. Once in there was not a lot to see. The time there is better spent relaxing on the beautiful beach or exploring a bit. There are many lizards in the area behind the beach and some interesting landscape. The crew brought out buckets of volcanic mud for us to smear all over ourselves for a "spa treatment". It was fun and funny to see everyone like this. It did make the skin soft and was very exfoliating. They also brought a cooler up onto the beach that had a nice selection of beverages. The crew was excellent, friendly, courteous, and attentive. We sailed back with some nice music and great beverage service from the crew. They also handed out sub sandwiches but the challenge here up by the nets was keeping them dry! There is a large covered area on the boat where you can relax in shade and stow your gear. On the way back it was now the ladies turn to raise the sail! Not as easy as it looked. All in all I would highly recommend this excursion. We came off the Golden right at the same dock as the water taxi. Since it was a walk back to the Summit we didn't bother going back for lunch but just hopped on the water taxi, $5 round trip all day. It was very crowded but a short ride with the second stop bringing us close Everything's Cool beach bar and restaurant. We exited off the dock turned left and strolled down the beach a few blocks to their beachfront area where we had a nice view of our ship. An employee Gavin immediately collected $10 for two beach chairs and an umbrella as well as the $5 water trampoline fee for each boy. The tramp was fairly crowded most of the time so the boys weren't enjoying it that much. Gavin also took care of renting jet ski's if you desired. We relaxed in the loungers and let Gavin bring us cocktails, menus and lunch. He was terrific waiting on us all afternoon and of course we gave him a nice tip for this fabulous service. We were so content where we were that we never made it into the restaurant until we passed through on our way out. When we did walk through there were a lot of people enjoying the outdoor deck, listening to music and watching a volleyball game that was in action. This was a good place to stop for a bit if you are in town. I probably wouldn't want to spend the entire day here though. I also want to mention that we were bothered by beach vendors literally every 30 seconds. They would plunk their wares down on your chair and interrupt your conversation. We did eventually buy a few things that we did want to purchase but I found them to be the most aggressive I have ever seen. Also, if you wait a bit the selection does get better but unfortunately if you even look at something they assume you are buying it. On the way back we strolled through Phillipsburg and went into a few shops. I found the prices to be no better than the jeweler's exchange in downtown Boston. Actually they were higher in my opinion. My friend and I both bought gold flip-flop pendants with a few diamond chips on the straps and blue green inlay on the sole. These were around $100 each and were a fun souvenir purchase for their novelty. We weren't comfortable making any serious jewelry purchases here though. St. Lucia - We decided to go on the Caribbean Pirate's Extravaganza a ship's excursion and I have to say that after reading many excellent reviews we were quite disappointed. The Brig Unicorn was very overcrowded and we felt like a herd of cattle. The entry onto the ship while being easy enough for us was very difficult for many of the older passengers. There was a big drop from the dock to the ship and they tried using a steep little gangway that was more dangerous than just jumping onboard. The ride over was scenic but the crew did nothing to entertain or service the passengers. There was an announcement that the bar was open and what the available beverages were but it was too crowded to get over to it and get much. One of the crewmembers busied himself making bracelets to sell at a later time I guess. We sailed to Pigeon Island national park but then had to sit on the ship while they tendered passengers. Eventually we got on the 3rd tender which was crowded and another difficult entry and exit onto the dock. Some of the older passengers didn't think they would make it. The tender was so overcrowded that they had to wait until it was almost empty and rose up in the water a bit so they could get off a little easier. One good wave and it would have gone over. Once at the island it was an interesting place. You only have a short time here before they start tendering you back which again takes a while. Some of our group hiked up to Fort Rodney and took some nice photos of the beautiful view. The pirate ship in the bay did make a good photo op I have to say. You could also see one of the Sandals resorts from here, which is actually within walking distance. There is a small beach here and trails with picnic areas. The restrooms were not in good order. We did not bother to try the snorkeling. Some of our group went out on the treasure hunt but didn't listen to the clues and came back empty handed. This was just as well because we decided to cut our losses, salvage the day, and taxi to another destination. We informed one of the crewmembers, gave him our names and the number not returning. He didn't seem surprised. We later heard from others on the tour that they served some food on the ride back that wasn't very good and had been sitting out in the sun. We did hear that it was a little bit more fun on the return trip. The treasure hunters who found keys claimed their prizes and I guess there was a little more music, etc. Still not a worthwhile undertaking and I would not recommend this excursion. Also, St. Lucia is a very beautiful island and you will not get to see much of it this way. We then walked out to the park entrance and easily found a taxi van for the seven of us. We had previously spent a week in St. Lucia at the Windjammer Landing and we decided to visit there. It was still as wonderful as we remembered. We relaxed and had lunch and cocktails poolside and after lunch moved down to the beach a few steps away. I strolled along the shore to the next resort for some snorkeling but it was not as good as I remembered. I heard from a guest staying there that a storm the previous week had stirred everything up. The Windjammer now has a large water trampoline and the kids were thrilled with it. It was very relaxed and uncrowded here and we had an enjoyable time. This is a lovely villa resort that is very family friendly while also appealing to couples and singles. We met our taxi driver at the entrance at 4PM as we had previously arranged. He mentioned that one of the staff of the resort told him that cruise ship passengers were not allowed there anymore since there is a new owner. Well, I had emailed previously and was not told this. Also, the restaurant we dined at is open to the public and all the beaches in St. Lucia are public by law so I am not sure that they could not allow you. I think possibly he was trying to discourage the taxi driver from bringing too many tourists in there. Barbados - We went on the ship's excursion, Swim with the turtles, shipwreck, and beach. This was an excellent excursion and I highly recommend it. We were on the Cool Runnings catamaran, which I believe had been chartered for the day by another outfit. There were also a few crewmembers from Ocean Adventures along to help crew the boat. I got the impression that all these different outfits support each other in their business ventures even though they are competitors. The crew was absolutely fabulous and we had the best time. They were funny with their antics and not shy about posing for our photos. We got out to the turtles fairly early since this tour left at 9:15. There were a few boats ahead of us but it wasn't too bad. One of the crew fed the turtles and soon enough quite a few were attracted to our area. They were all different sizes and would swim closely by you. You could touch them by holding out your hand and letting them lightly brush by. Holding onto to them or grabbing them is turtle abuse and the crew instructed us in this. Sure enough I still saw one woman grab a small turtle with both hands. Fortunately the crew did too and scolded her. Unbelievable! There is always one in every crowd! We could not wear flippers here but actually they weren't needed since you didn't have to go very far. Some people complained of crowding around but each time I encountered this I would just swim around to the other side of things and have plenty of space. Just use common sense here. Most of the time I would just float and plenty of turtles would swim by. There is no need to swim after each and every one that goes by. This was a unique experience and we all enjoyed it tremendously. Our next stop was Folkestone Marine Park. On the way here we passed through a driving rainstorm. It was so heavy that it was difficult to open your eyes since the rain was driving sideways toward us. Eventually one of the kids got the idea to put on their snorkel mask and soon enough everyone followed suit. We looked hilarious. A bunch of people wearing snorkel masks riding along on a catamaran in the pouring rain in our bathing suits. I wish I took a picture! As soon as we got to the marine park the ocean water felt 10 times warmer than the air. It continued to rain a little but that didn't matter. Here we explored an interesting wreck with many fish swimming about. I believe it is the Stavronkita. There is also a fabulous reef a little closer in to shore with a lot of marine life. This was an interesting place and we were fortunate to visit here. After snorkeling we enjoyed some Banks beer and other libations while we sailed over to a deserted beach at the defunct Paradise Island Resort. This property has been bought by Sandals but not developed yet. Just as we arrived the sun came out. Perfect! The water here was breathtakingly beautiful and the sand was like powder. We relaxed and swam around here enjoying ourselves. As we sailed back to the ship we asked the crew for directions to the Boatyard since we had noticed their advertisement on the crews t-shirts. After dropping the passengers off they told us they were sailing over in that direction and offered to let us stay on and sail over with them. This was a blast and they blared the music for us and kept the bar open as we sailed around the Summit and into downtown Bridgetown. Again I cannot say enough about how awesome the crew was. We all posed for pictures together and then we swapped a Patriot's t-shirt for a Cool Runnings one. We had a blast with these guys and now tipped them a second time for the extra ride, which they definitely were not expecting but we felt it was so deserved. From our drop off point we walked about six blocks to the Boatyard at Carlisle Bay. We strolled in paying $12 per adult and $5 for the kids and were led to some beach chairs with the now needed umbrellas. They had given us $10 back in food and drink tokens for the two adult entry fees. It was crowded here. We found an employee to take care of us again and he brought us everything we needed right to our loungers. We never would have been able to eat at the restaurant since things were so busy at that point about 2 PM. This had a crowded fun beach party atmosphere. The food was decent and I tried a flying fish sandwich that is a specialty in Barbados. It was very good. The water trampoline was crowded and the iceberg looked impossible to climb. My boys informed me that most of the handles were broken off so I guess it was although I saw a few individuals up there. We relaxed, had lunch, took a swim and then it was time to head back. It was good to stop here but I wouldn't spend an entire day here either since I am sure there are more picturesque beaches on Barbados. No problem finding a cab since they lined up outside. We shared one back with some ladies cruising on Princess for a 14 day Panama Canal cruise. They said their ship was empty. The taxis in Barbados drop you at the cruise terminal and after you walk through the gift shops (disneyesque?) you board the correct shuttle for your particular cruise ship. This is a huge port with some distance to the individual ships. There were six ships in port that day. St. Kitts - We arrived in port and were cleared by 8:30 AM, which was much earlier than our scheduled time of 10 AM. We were also scheduled to depart at 6 PM rather than the original 5 PM giving us a much longer day here. Our plan was to head to Turtle beach for monkey viewing but our friends were getting a late start so our family headed off to the shops with two way radios so our friends could notify us when they were ready. By the way I would highly recommend bringing these radios with you especially if you have teens along. They also work great if you want to split up at different times. Anyway, we explored the few shops that are within walking distance of the ship. We were on a mission for a silver chain for our youngest son and found a nice one for $32. I'm sure I could have bargained it down but didn't bother. There were many taxi drivers along the way politely offering rides. The shop keepers and taxi drivers wanted to find out where you were going and make good recommendations to assure that you would enjoy their beautiful island. They seemed concerned that you wouldn't get to see everything of which they were very proud. After speaking with various people we decided we could take in more than just Turtle beach with our time there. Our friends radioed they were on their way around 11 AM and we found a taxi driver with a van. His name was Bobsie and he has seven children! The taxi drivers here have different license plates and they wear ID cards on their shirt. They are trained to give excellent information about the history of the island. Bobsie drove us around the downtown area pointing our various sites of interest and explaining the history, which was very interesting especially noting the area where slaves were traded not so long ago. We drove out to Brimstone Hill Fortress ($5 admission for adults, $2.50 for children) and spent a half hour exploring here taking in the spectacular views. It was quite amazing and took 104 years to build! We then drove on to Caribelle Batik for a quick tour and a brief look at Romney Gardens. Along the way we passed through the village that Bobsie grew up in. Very humbling. Everywhere we went Bobsie provided interesting detail. He was very enjoyable to listen to. We then drove out to Turtle beach enjoying the spectacular views along the way. We stopped for photos at the lookout point where you can see the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans together. The drive out to Turtle beach is worth it alone. We arrived at Turtle beach and it was now around 2 PM. We sat down and ordered lunch, which was quite good along with a few cold Carib's. According to Bobsie they are the best on St. Kitts where special water is used in the brewing process. We had passed the Carib plant earlier. We saw one monkey at Turtle beach helping himself to a leftover sweet drink and took a few photos. Unfortunately he was the only one we saw the entire time we were there. After lunch we strolled over the footbridge down to the beach and found many empty loungers to chose from. We selected the better ones and relaxed a bit. The beach itself is nice with fabulous views of Nevis but yes, there is a lot of sea grass in the water and it is not level on the bottom but rather rocky in areas. There is not a sandy entry after the first 10-12'. This didn't bother me and I swam right over the grass and ledge out to the snorkel area that is to the left of the swim raft. There is decent snorkeling here but it is a bit of a snorkel adventure to get there. It is nice that the raft is out there for snorkel breaks. Back on the beach my husband fell asleep on one of the loungers in the shade (unfortunately he was suffering with a head cold) when this huge red pig woke up and started his adventures. Did I mention the pig yet? Anyway, the pig doesn't seem to have the best vision and appears to be around 500 or so pounds. He was biting a picnic table that had some abandoned French fries on it and was lifting the table up moving it. A woman took pity and fed these to the pig snatching her hand back at the last moment after each frie. After the show was over we wandered back to our loungers only to turn around and see the pig nuzzling up next to my husband. After waking him with the pig wiggle the pig just plopped down on the ground next to him and went back to sleep next to his new friend. It was absolutely hilarious to see the groggy surprised expression on my husband's face. Bobsie our driver met us at the pre-arranged time of 4:30 and we enjoyed another scenic ride back to the ship. Along the way we could see monkeys in the distance running up the steep hillsides. We also saw one perched on a boulder on the side of the road. Bobsie told us there many more monkeys than people on St. Kitts. Arriving back at the dock there was still some time for shopping. We had agreed on a price with Bobsie of $22 per person for this full day tour with the seven of us. Of course we paid him much more than this and it was still the best bargain we had. St. Thomas - We had prearranged a daysail to St. John with Coconuts and Daydreamer catamarans from 9 to 4, $110 for adults, half price for kids. We found an excellent friendly taxi driver Roy and taxied over to the Grand Bay Palace resort where the catamarans are moored. We boarded Coconuts and after some short instructions from our fabulous crew, Captain Frank and Carly, we were on our way. There were around 20 of us total on board. This was a wonderful way to spend the day. We snorkeled at a small island on the way to St. John where a turtle is frequently seen and an occasional dolphin. A few people saw the turtle but we missed it. Many nice interesting fish though although the reef was not as healthy as it should have been. I did witness one person from another catamaran standing on some coral and also a woman from ours picking things up off the reef although we had been instructed not too. This is ignorant and selfish behavior. It is unfortunate that a few people will not follow the rules and ruin things for others. I could see why the reef was becoming unhealthy with what I witnessed in the short time I was there. We then sailed over to Honeymoon beach on St. John, which is just beautiful. All of the scenery was spectacular. Captain Frank would point out some items of interest as we sailed. For example a small island that is for sale on Ebay for $18,000,000. Such a deal! Another was a rock formation that was used for target practice of cannons when emptying the stores. We anchored in some soft sand (Captain Frank was very careful about where he dropped anchor) and lunch was served. They put out an excellent spread with a nice deli platter, fresh rolls and variety of delicious salads; jerk chicken, hearts of palm with mango, pasta salad, etc. The bar was open all day with good selection and delicious rum punch sprinkled with cinnamon on top. We snorkeled over a nice reef to the right of the beach (as you are looking from the boat). There were also a lot of fish taking shade under the boat, which provided nice viewing for us. There were some floats available to use and we could spend time swimming or lounging on the soft sand beach. The time here passed much too quickly. We started our sail back at quarter to 3. On the way they raised a beautiful spinnaker sail that was red, white, and blue. This was interesting and Carly did a lot of the work herself. It made the catamaran go much faster, so fast that it then had to be taken down as we were coming in much too quickly. We could see a rainstorm passing through some areas but never over us. This was a wonderful day with a fabulous crew and I highly recommend a daysail with this outfit. Upon arriving back to the resort, Roy was waiting for us at the prearranged time of 4 PM. We drove back to the ship and had some time to shop at Havensight mall. Again I found the jewelry prices to be higher that what I have seen here at home. We were docked right next to the Constellation and they blew the horns back and forth to each other at departure. It was loud and funny. EMBARKATION / DEBARKATION / CUSTOMS Embarkation - We flew into FLL early arriving at 10:10 AM. We quickly found our luggage and had a 5-minute taxi wait for a van instead of sedan since we had four people and seven pieces of luggage. We were at the cruise terminal by 10:35 and were quickly assisted by a porter who helped us get the room tags onto the luggage quickly and took the luggage away. We walked around to the front of the terminal, through throngs of people who I assume were debarking passengers, to the terminal entrance where we were meeting my Dad to go out to lunch. The line appeared long and wasn't moving at this point so we were glad to head off for a bit. We had a nice lunch nearby at Kelly's landing and were back at the terminal by 12:30. There was still a long line but it was now moving. At the first checkpoint they look at your docs and then escort you to different seating areas. They allowed Captain's club select and elite members, concierge class, and suite holders priority embarkation only. I stopped to use the ladies room and my husband and boys couldn't go into the seating area until I came out. This now put us back a bit. We finally got to the seating area, sat for a while and it seemed to be taking a long time. Nobody wanted to explain much and this raised the anxiety levels of more than a few people. It was crowded and it seemed like everyone was arriving at the same time. They slowly strolled around checking documents. Finally our section was dismissed and we lined up to go through security. We proceeded down a hallway, had a picture taken, a visit to the kid's club table, and then chose a short line to get our room cards and sea pass accounts activated. They automatically activate the kid's cards so you have to visit guest relations on board to deactivate them. We had to try this twice before they could finally do this for us, which was a bit of an annoyance to take care of. We then proceeded up an escalator and joined another line entering the ship after passing through a spot that takes your photo with your room card. This line moved slowly and when we finally got on board the next tray of champagne had just been emptied. They were greeting you and having crew escort you to your room. I believe the champagne and escort was possibly the final thing slowing everything down and I would have passed on these for a quicker embarkation. We didn't bother waiting for the next tray of champagne anyway. We were onboard close to 2 PM. All in all not bad but the longest we have experienced so far although the others were pre 9/11. Our luggage was waiting by our cabin when we arrived back from the lifeboat drill after 4 PM. Debarkation - This went smoothly. We were to report to the rendezvous lounge by 8:45. After a leisurely breakfast in the dining room, we went back to our cabin to collect our few remaining items, and visited our balcony one last time. Celebrity is great about making you still feel you are a still a guest on this final day. There was a Navy show in town and we viewed a submarine go by with crew at attention along with various other vessels from our balcony. It was very interesting. We proceeded to the lounge waited 15 minutes until those with gray tags were escorted off the ship. While my husband searched for our luggage I stood in line for a porter who then collected our luggage and brought us curbside to wait for a taxi. It wasn't immediately clear that you had to find your luggage and then wait in line for a porter. You definitely needed two people coordinate this. Both inside and outside passengers were running around all stressed out, which was unnecessary. It all worked out fine but the behavior definitely added to the anxiety level. Unfortunately our porter did not put us in any distinct line for a taxi dispatcher and we had to move our luggage a few times before we figured out we would never get a taxi without one. There was a lot of chaos here with too many people and not enough taxis and like us many people didn't understand that you needed to get in a taxi dispatcher line. We eventually got into one and lucked out when we were next in line and a van came along. All in all it didn't take that long but was stressful at the time. We were on our way to the airport by 9:30 and the rest was uneventful. I do want to mention that my film packed in my luggage did receive some x-ray damage so from now on I will pack it in my carry on and hope that I can request it to be hand inspected. Our digital camera was perfect for this situation. Also, our luggage never got weighed but we did stick to under 50 lb on the way down and hopefully on the way back. Curbside check in at FLL is a lot slower than Boston but we made it onto our 11:10 AM flight with plenty of time. Customs - This went very smoothly. We had some prior anxiety about this and received a notice that assigned us a 9 AM inspection. Since we needed to be on our way to the Grand Bay Palace by 8 AM we checked in with guest relations and were told to just show up earlier. We got in line at quarter to 7 that wasn't moving causing many people stress. Actually this was because the doors weren't open yet which nobody realized! The doors opened at 7 and we were through around 10 minutes later. They gave you a little yellow slip to show upon leaving the ship here in St. Thomas, which we had no problem doing a little before 8 AM. GRATUITY SYSTEM We decided to try charging our gratuity to our shipboard account this time to make things easier. The form was very easy to fill out and they did the math for you. You fill in the number of days to multiply the suggested amounts by and there are areas to add extra if you desire. You bring these down to guest relations where they give you a receipt and charge your sea pass account. I had to go back since they accidentally only put through two adults rather than four the first time. We had expected to receive something to hand out to the staff indicating the amounts given but all we received the next day were a bunch of vouchers in one envelope with no amounts listed or any other info indicating that they were from us. We weren't certain if they were receipts for us or were meant for the crew. Since we already had a receipt we decided to write the amounts on these vouchers along with our name and cabin number and a thank you. I had to refer back to my original receipts to obtain the correct amounts. We then obtained some envelopes for these and passed them out. At dinner Gusti thanked us for the gratuity but told us that it had been accidentally credited to another waiter. We were concerned about this and he assured us that it would be straightened out. He told us that the restaurant manager knew about it and had originally informed him. We made sure he took note of our voucher and the amount since we had given him extra and wanted to be sure he received this. It is a nice convenience to be able to take care of the gratuity this way but I think they need to provide you with something better to present to the staff that indicates the correct amount given along with your name and cabin number so there is a record for the staff in case of errors like this. CRUISE CRITIC What a great group! We met some wonderful people. I won't mention names here for fear of leaving somebody out but you know who you are and we very much enjoyed meeting all of you. Unfortunately we didn't get the opportunity to meet everyone in our large group that was close to 100 members. Rick, Chessbriar, had a great idea to get the group to meet at the pool bar 3 PM on the first day using his bright orange shirt as a signal. We stopped by quickly and met a few before we had to go to the lifeboat drill. Celebrity scheduled our party for Sunday morning at 10:15 AM in Michael's club and since I am not a morning person I got the time mixed up and arrived at the tail end of things missing the group photo. I had a little time to chat with a few but still didn't meet everyone. It was nice that Celebrity had another 2 PM pool bar meeting for us on one of the last sea days but I'm not certain if everyone picked up on it in the program. In retrospect it would have been a good idea to have a daily meeting place and time if you wanted to stop by and chat a bit with a few new friends. A suggestion would be the pool bar at 3 PM on sea days and the martini bar between the dinner seatings 7:30 to 8:30 PM on port days. CAPTAIN'S CLUB We missed the cocktail party since it was at 5:15 on a port day with a formal night and we didn't have enough time to get back and be ready for our 6:00 dinner seating. I heard that it was nice. We received credit for our sailing coupon of $150 on our credit card before the cruise. The Normandie didn't have a record of our coupon when we arrived but it showed up on our stateroom account the next day. I believe this is not handled through the Normandie where you pay the $30 fee at the door prior to being seated. It was nice to be able to make our reservation for this restaurant ahead of time. We received cova cafe chocolates and casino chip ($2 each) and match play coupons ($5 each). We didn't use the custom air since we weren't aware of it at the time of our booking and handled our own. Also, our kids would not have qualified. Even though they have sailed Celebrity twice now they are ineligible to become Captain's Club members and we also receive no added benefit for paying their fare. We didn't receive any notice of a wine tasting. We forgot about the golf simulator discount and paid full price. We didn't take advantage of the aqua spa bonus gifts with purchase. All in all I would say that I was satisfied with the benefits having only cruised once prior with Celebrity although they should either provide us with double sailing credit for paying for the larger cabin along with the 3rd and 4th passengers or allow the children to qualify for some benefits. OTHER The Daily program was informative and was delivered to your stateroom during the bed turndown each evening. A few nights we did not receive the kid's itinerary but could pick it up the next morning. We saved the pillow chocolates in a ziploc bag since we usually couldn't eat them at bedtime and are still enjoying them here at home. We didn't bring along any lanyards for the kids passes expecting to purchase one on board or receive a complimentary one through the kid's club. There was not a single one to be found anywhere on board! The gift shop does not carry them and neither guest relations nor the kids club could provide one although guest relations will punch a hole in the card for you in the appropriate place as not to deactivate anything. Next time we will bring some from home. We loved this itinerary with the two days at sea at the beginning and end to ease into your cruise and also relax before heading home. The ports we visited were all very desirable and I would love to visit each one again and again. This was the first time I have ever enjoyed sea days this much. This was due to the extremely intelligent design of the ship and the fact that things never felt crowded or hectic. There was no such thing as a line or waiting. Everything was convenient, easy and accessible even with the ship at full capacity. IN SUMMARY Our family enjoyed this vacation tremendously and cannot wait to cruise with Celebrity again. Feel free to ask me any questions. We were treated fabulously! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
This was a rare four day Celebrity cruise. The food and service were excellent. We canceled our reservations in the Normandie Restaurant because we were so happy with our meals and tablemates in the main dining room. Both the fish and beef ... Read More
This was a rare four day Celebrity cruise. The food and service were excellent. We canceled our reservations in the Normandie Restaurant because we were so happy with our meals and tablemates in the main dining room. Both the fish and beef dishes were the best I have had at sea. Our cabin was well appointed and clean. Our cabin steward was very friendly and helpful. Boarding the ship was a breeze. We were off the ship earlier than scheduled. Luggage was easily located and moving through customs went smoothly. Shuttles to and from the Midport Parking facility were free and readily available. We did not schedule any excursions on this cruise, but we did get off the ship in both Key West and Cozumel. We were one of several ships in both ports. I counted eight cruise ships in Cozumel. I doubt I will get off a ship in these locations on future cruises. The ports are simply too crowded, and the shopping is entirely over rated. This was my third Celebrity cruise and I will probably book my next cruise with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
First of all let me state we had a GREAT time. [B]Pre-cruise:[/B] We arrived one day early and stayed at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Hollywood. Got the room from the internet for $60. This is a good location. If you want to go to an ... Read More
First of all let me state we had a GREAT time. [B]Pre-cruise:[/B] We arrived one day early and stayed at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Hollywood. Got the room from the internet for $60. This is a good location. If you want to go to an excellent dinner try Argentango. This is an Argentinean steak house that certainly rivals Morton's or Ruth's Chris for a fraction of the cost. The trip to Port Everglades is a short taxi ride away. Embarkation: Excellent. We showed up at the published time (12 noon). They had already started boarding. Since we had all our docs filled out we were through the process in less than 10 minutes. As soon as we stepped on board there was a glass of chilled champagne handed to us. Great start! Stateroom: Booked a category 2B stateroom - 7103 on the Vista deck. Wonderful location and really enjoyed the balcony. However... the tile in the shower was full of black, yucky mildew. I even took a picture that I will be sending to Celebrity so they are aware of the quality of cleanliness in our bathroom. Unbelievable! Service: Mixed. I loved the fact that ALL staff greet you with a smile and a look in the eye - from service crew to officers to seamen. Our stateroom attendant was reluctant to put out any extra effort and let it be known. One time we ordered room service and he told us he wouldn't be able to put our order in for over an hour because if he did it right away he would have to "stand in this big long line". Hummphh. Then there's the matter of the dirty shower that was never rectified. The dining room staff was excellent. All of them. Truly enjoyable people. As is true with human nature, we got friendly and not so friendly service at the bars. I wondered more than once if they had given up being nice since they get tipped no matter what service they provide. All in all I was pleased with the bar staff Entertainment: Excellent. Top of the line production shows. Good, first run movies in the cinema, with a variety throughout the week. Wonderful band by the pool. The comedian was hilarious. Plus there is lots going on on a small scale throughout the ship, from a four piece ensemble playing classical music to a harp player. Food: Wonderful. The dining room food was first rate. The food in the Normandy restaurant was worth every dollar. It was really nice to be able to get room service 24 hours a day, and they also had a service where you could hang a tag on your door to order breakfast delivered to your room at a certain time. The buffet was just so-so, but I find that to be true of most buffets. Pizza on board was truly good. Ship: Really nice. Public areas are very clean and well maintained. The layout is such that you never feel crowded (except at the pool on sea days). The Emporium (shopping area) has a great selection, and prices certainly rivaled those to be found on shore. Dining room is lovely although noisy. Lots of comfortable seating throughout the ship - inside and out. We loved the glass elevators. Visiting ports of call: Mixed. When we had to tender it was REALLY slow. In fact, we lost 2 hours on Grand Cayman waiting our turn to get on a tender. BUT, there's nothing like being greeted with an ice cold wash cloth after spending a hot humid day - which is what they do when returning to the tenders for the trip back to the ship. When we actually docked it was usually early and easy access on and off. Shore excursions: Only booked one through the ship. That was for a barrier reef snorkel in Belize. Had a really good time. The catamaran picked us up right at the ship. Great company and I would recommend them to anyone considering a snorkel trip in Belize. Booked two things outside of the ship. First was the Royal Swim with the Dolphins in Cozumel. Truly the experience of a lifetime. Do it if you're ever there. You will love it. The other was a day at the Sante Wellness Center in Roatan Honduras. They picked us up at the ship (my husband and I plus another couple), drove us to the center about 45 minutes way, where we had massages and hand and foot reflexology sessions. Got to lay about for awhile then they served a wonderful lunch of chilled shrimp and salad. I'd recommend it to anyone, but book early because they only take a maximum of 10 people per day in order to keep the quality of their service up. Disembarkation: Best I've ever experienced. The main dining room and the buffet are open on disembarkation day. You get to take your time getting out of the room, then you go to one of the lounges (assigned I believe by the time your transportation home is scheduled for) and wait to be called for disembarkation. You get to leave with a good impression. Other: The published schedule of evening dress was different from what was actually scheduled on the ship. All the brochures and the website said 3 casual, 2 formal and 2 informal. There was only 1 informal and 4 casual. Which means I bought an outfit I didn't need. Luckily I left the tags on and was able to return the dress. My husband ordered a tux from the ship. It was delivered to our stateroom the first day, fit perfectly and was picked up on the last night. Couldn't have been better. We brought our own wine. 6 bottles. Paid the 12 dollar corkage fee in the dining room. This was more a matter of wanting to be sure we had wine we liked than trying to save money. Worked out well, and the Sommelier was more than pleasant to us with her service. Once again the published information was incorrect. This time it was the cost of the Normandy. One of the pages in the in-room binder said $25 and another page said $30. It was $30 - and worth every cent. I found the people on board to follow the dress code for the evening pretty faithfully. Lots of evening gowns, tuxedos, and dark suits on formal nights. Cocktail dresses and suits or sportscoats on informal nights and what I would call "resortwear" on casual nights. In the daily flier they state that they enforce the dress code, but I saw a few people out of sync with what was requested and they were still allowed into the dining room. Final thoughts: We are long time Princess cruisers and thought to try Celebrity for the first time. Celebrity was about equal. We will probably return to Princess for future cruises because we get special incentives for being past cruisers. Every time we've been on Princess we've received a free upgrade of at least 1 category and once all the way to a balcony stateroom. From the sounds of the info on Celebrity you have to pay $30 to be a member of their captains club, whereas it is free on Princess. I hope this information is helpful. Happy cruising everyone! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Just returned from a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Summit. Great cruise. First time on Celebrity. This is their once a year itinerary as they get ready to set sail to Alaska on Friday. Before we booked, we had narrowed it down to ... Read More
Just returned from a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Summit. Great cruise. First time on Celebrity. This is their once a year itinerary as they get ready to set sail to Alaska on Friday. Before we booked, we had narrowed it down to a 8 night Eastern Caribbean with RCCL and this cruise. Nothing against RCCL, but this trip was great. I had heard a lot about Celebrity and it is all true. One of the things that impress me the most was the friendliness of the people. Every where we went, we were greeted with a smile and a "good afternoon sir". We did not meet one employee that was not cordial and looked like they meant it. What a contrast as you get off the ships and meet the port workers. I don't think one of them ever smiled and none of them said hello. OK, on to the trip. A little background so you can put this in context. We are a couple in our late 40's. When we go on vacation we don't normally hang out with a bunch of people. In our business we deal with people 7 days a week at all hours. So, when we get away, we try to have a little quiet time. Love people, but need a little R&R also. That is the great part of a cruise, you can be as alone as you want or with as many people as you want. This was our first 7-day cruise. We had taken many weekend cruises, but never a 7-day cruise. EMBARKING: We arrived at the port around 11:45. We dropped off the luggage and parked the car in the adjacent garage. Went through the check in line with only 2 people in front of us then on to the ship. Total time less than 30 minutes from the time I pulled into the pier. Waiters met us with champagne and orange juice and led us to the buffet since the cabins would not be ready until 1:00. We did stop by the room and dropped off our carry on then went back to the buffet. Our bags were in our room by 2:00. Gave us plenty of time to unpack and prepare for dinner. SERVICE: The service was outstanding. We couldn't ask for better service. We were in a balcony cabin in the Concierge Class but I bet that didn't make much difference. Everyone on the ship was all about service. It's the little things. Cold towels when you return to the ship from port (after a hot day these are wonderful). Extra ice and water everyday in the cabin after we asked the first day. Lunch trays at the buffet with real napkins, placemats and a waiter to carry the tray for you, or go get you something to drink. Having breakfast on the balcony with a tablecloth and more silverware than I know what to do with. These are little things, but they add up after awhile. Rating 9 (Scale of 1 - 10) CABIN: Our cabin was great. We were in 9065, which turned out to be a great location. We were very close to the forward stairway. Great for me because all I had to do was go up 1 flight of stairs and I was in the Thalassotherapy pool. I visited it everyday. I was wondering if the other side of the ship would be better because of the way we were going (counterclockwise) but it didn't matter at all. We had a nice size cabin, 190 sq. ft and a 41 sq. ft balcony. Great for breakfast every morning. The room was plenty big enough for us to get around in. There was a nice makeup area for my wife, which made it much nicer because she didn't need to tie up the bathroom. I can't say enough about the bed. It was very comfortable. I talked to some other people in a regular cabin and they said the same thing. We had a choice of pillows but the ones on the bed were fine. Nice duvet with very nice sheets. Rating 9 Would I book the Concierge Class again? Probably. Talking with the booking person on the ship and she said all the category 1's will be Concierge Class in 2005. So, if I want a larger stateroom then I'll need to book the CC cabin. Didn't drink the champagne, the flowers are nice and the canapEs were just OK. Having priority debarkation was pretty nice though. Overall I wouldn't book the CC for those. But, I would book it for the size of the room and the bed if it weren't much more. FOOD: The food was pretty good. There were nights when the selection was great and others when it was so so. The quality was always good, but I wouldn't say excellent. The lobsters last night were actually pretty good. They were cooked just right. But the Prime Rib was a bit dry and didn't have much of a taste. It was kind of hit or miss. We did eat in the dining room every night except when went to Normandie's. For breakfast we had room service every morning. What a great way to start the day, I could get used to this. Always ordered a Strawberry Smoothie and coffee but switched the other choices daily. Again, the food was OK. The muffins, croissants and fruit were always good. For lunch we did the pool bar if we were back on the ship. The French fries were awesome. I always made it a point to get some of them at least once in the trip. Rating 7 Normandie Restaurant: We had to try it once. The price is $30 pp extra. It was worth it. The food and service are magnificent. It was a great show just watching them serve dinner. They choreograph it so the plates at the table are set down at the same time. When they remove them, they remove all the plates at the same time. On some of the bigger tables they need 3 waiters to accomplish this. Over the top service. I started out with the Cheese SoufflE and my wife had the Lobster Bisque (they called it something else). Both were excellent. Next was a sorbet followed by our main course. We both had the Chateaubriand. They bring it out as a whole piece of meat and carve it at a little table in front of you. Nice little show. Next was a cheese course. So many to choose from it was very difficult. Last but not least was the dessert. Of course I had to have the chocolate soufflE and my wife had the chocolate and white chocolate mousse. It was a fabulous meal. I look forward to trying it again next time. If you don't try it, you don't know what you are missing. But, once a trip is enough. Rating 10 POOLS/SPA: Used the gym almost everyday. Even though they have signup sheets for the treadmills, and the sheets were full, there were always machines open to use. People would just sign up and not show up. I used the Thalassotherapy pool every day. I need one of these at home! Not as warm as a whirlpool but every bit as relaxing. We did not use the main pool. The only time I saw the pool was when we were walking though Deck 10. It was just too crowded for us (for this trip). Since we live in Florida with a pool I don't need to fight the crowds on the ship. Rating 9 for the Gym, 10 for the Thalassotherapy pool. PORTS: Key West was our first stop. We didn't get off the ship until around 12:00 and had to be back on at 2:00 so we didn't have much time. Just wandered around and shopped a bit. We have been there before, so there wasn't anything special we wanted to do. Rating 5 (but only because we have been there many times) Cozumel was next. We didn't book a excursion since we had 3 booked in the next 3 days, but wish we had. The water was so blue. I wish we had snorkeling. Oh well, next time. We did go downtown to do some shopping. It was Sunday and we were the only ship in port, so it was kind of slow. We docked at the International pier so we did need to take a cab down to the shopping area. $6 each way plus tip. Lots pf shops and about anything you could want. Of course we settled on some jewelry. Not sure if the deals were good, but my wife did find some interesting pieces. We did save about 30% over the initial asking price on everything we bought. Remember to just keep asking if they can go lower. My wife did pick out a nice diamond, one of those that were engraved for the millennium. Very pretty and only - for us only remember - $67,000 USD without the setting. Needless to say we passed on this great deal. Port rates a 7 and will probably be higher next time as we get to the water. Big mistake on our part this time not going to the beach. Belize on Monday. We booked a tour of the Altun Ha ruins. We booked on the internet (not ship related). Cost was $32.50 pp. The ship was about 1 hour late but it wasn't a problem. We tendered in and met the rep. We were on the trip with Michael, Yamilka, and Michael Jr. from our Cruise Critic gang. Took off in a van with A/C (very important). Ok the van wasn't in the best condition, but it was cool and fairly comfortable. Our drive who was also our guide as very knowledgeable about not only the ruins, but Belize in general. Drove about 1 hour to get to the ruins. It was nice being in a small group with just the 5 of us. Very personal attention. We watched the other excursion come in on their big busses with about 30 - 40 people per group. That is one of the drawbacks about booking through the ship. The ruins were pretty cool to see. We did get to climb one of the taller buildings. The only drawback is that they are repairing them and you saw the concrete patches and stuff. Took away a little of the authenticity of the place. On the way back we took a tour of Belize City. I always enjoy seeing new places and it was fun. The van dropped us off back at the port and we shopped a little then caught the tender back to the ship. Rating 7. Next up was Roatan on Tuesday. We booked a day at Salt & Pepper. Salt & Pepper is a beach area/restaurant on the West End of the Island. The package was for roundtrip transportation, a day at the beach, lunch, and a snorkel trip. Cost was $50 pp. We were supposed to tender in, but they allowed the ship to dock from 7:00 - 9:00. They then had to move the ship out so another line could dock. So, we made sure we were off the ship before 9:00. Didn't want to tender in if we didn't have to. We were picked up at the dock right on time. We were actually the second group going over even though we were there around 8:30. It started raining while we were waiting for our ride. Weren't sure if we should go or get back on the ship. Figured what the heck and we went anyway. Took the 30 min ride to the West End and met the owner Paul David. He says he is the brother of Robert Plant. He did have a nice stereo/TV set up with a Led Zeppelin DVD playing :~). Met him and his staff crossed the street to the beach. It had stopped raining but was still pretty cloudy. Went out in the boat about ½ mile from the shore and started snorkeling. It was OK. Since it was cloudy and a storm had just come in the water was rather murky. The guide insisted on leading us out to a drop off so we could see it. Unfortunately it was so murky and cloudy that we didn't see much of anything. On the way back, we did snorkel over some reefs/coral and it was pretty good. Never did get the "fish feeding frenzy" they advertised. It was now raining pretty hard and everything we had got soaked. Towels, clothes, etc. Back to the restaurant for lunch. Lunch was awesome. Had 2 lobster tails, some fish, a salad and rice and beans. This was included in the price or the trip. We sat around for a while and then caught the shuttle back to the ship. Rating 6. My reasons. We were only in port until 3:00 and had to catch the last tender back at 2:30. Made for a short day. If it was sunny and a longer day I would probably rate it a 8 or 9. It is a nice place to relax on a private beach, have a good lunch and snorkel a bit. There was also some shopping near by but we didn't have the time. If it is a nice day and you have until 6:00 or so, by all means go for it. Wednesday brought Grand Cayman. We booked a Stingray City snorkel trip with Soto's. Cost $24.00 pp. We were supposed to meet at 9:00. They never let us off the ship until around 9:30. We figured that we would just look around and grab a boat to go out. But, lo and behold they were waiting for us and a few other couples. Right from the start they showed what a great outfit they are. Once they rounded us all up, we took off in a very full van for a 10-minute ride. We paid, got our flippers and were off within 10 minutes from getting to the boat. After a 30 minute ride out tot he 1st site, we received a little instruction then were let loose for about 25 minutes. Great snorkeling. Very clear water and some great coral and fish. Next stop was a reef where our guide lured a 6-ft long moray eel out of a cave with some squid. It was awesome. The eel would just follow his hand with the squid. He led it for about 3 minutes. It was so cool. Unfortunately another boat was there at the same time. They let out about 50 people from their boat. Way too crowded at that spot. Left there and went to Stingray City. You have to be there to believe it. Had many "kisses" from the rays. Just great. Can't say enough about Soto's. The guides were wonderful. They treated us great and made it a real positive experience. Stingray City was kind of crowded, but we found our own little spot. There were only 16 of us on the boat. There were other boats with 40 - 50 people on them. Probably the cruise ship excursions. We didn't know it ahead of time, but all of our excursions were with just a handful of people versus the 40 - 50 that were on the cruise ship excursions. Rating - 10. All this and only $24 pp. Can't beat it. Thursday was a sea day. Awesome relaxing day. DEBARKING: We were back in port by 7:00 and told to go to the cinema no later than 8:40. After breakfast on the balcony we went to the cinema by 8:30. Right around 9:00 they let us off to find our bags. Took about 10 minutes (I need to mark my bags better) then through customs and into the van. We had our car at Pier 2 and we docked at Pier 25. We were on the road by 9:15. Random thoughts: ? Book with an independent excursion company. They are a lot less crowded and they usually cost much less. Check out Cruise Critic for recommendations. ? Late seating for Dinner - we chose early seating and it always seemed like we had to stop whatever we were doing and get ready for dinner. ? From here on out I will always get a balcony on a cruise longer than 3 nights. It made the cruise. ? Celebrity was great, but the food was not as good as I hoped for. It wasn't bad, but wasn't that great at times either. ? Need to book another cruise soon Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
This was an unusual 4 night cruise offered by Celebrity, and as it coincided with a school break, and we were going to Alaska this summer with Summit, we figured we'd try out the ship, and we're glad we did. Embarkation: Quite ... Read More
This was an unusual 4 night cruise offered by Celebrity, and as it coincided with a school break, and we were going to Alaska this summer with Summit, we figured we'd try out the ship, and we're glad we did. Embarkation: Quite smooth, although there was no clear marking for a separate line for suites and CC category. It was only after I asked someone that they directed us to a completely separate entrance. Public Rooms: Overall in great shape. A very understated, beautiful ship. At no point did we feel that this was a sold out cruise. All public areas were very comfortable and well appointed, with a great flow. Cabin: We had a CC cabin on Deck 9. No problems with noise. Cabin size was adequate for 2 people, and we're glad we had our kids in a connecting cabin. We had more than enough space to keep all of our things. Cabin was well appointed and well lit. Dining: Our dining experiences were always very pleasant. I can't exactly rave about the food as many do about Celebrity food. It was fine, but really nothing special. I guess the best comparison would be to a nice "banquet" or wedding. Well presented, fresh, but nothing extraordinary. The service was excellent in both the main dining room and Waterfall Cafe, and there were always enough food choices so you could find something you liked. We used room service for a "light" breakfast and that was always very fast and good. Cova Cafe had excellent cappuccino ($2.50, I think) to make up for the not so good regular coffee on board and great pastries. Entertainment: The activities on board were fine and well run, and you could participate as much or as little as you'd like. The evening shows were one area that we thought could use a lot of improvement. Don't know if these were the usual acts, or just added for this "odd" cruise. I guess it all depends on what you enjoy, but we found these marginal, at best. Kids: We had a 9 & 11 year old with us, both of whom really enjoyed themselves. The Fun Factory Staff was, overall, very nice. Whether the kids wanted to be in the organized program or on their own (with us), there was plenty to do. Around the ship there are many games, outdoor and indoor - i.e. ping pong, basketball, chess, board games, etc. What we really enjoyed about the "kid-friendliness" of this ship was that there was plenty for families, however it was not overwhelming. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
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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