Summit - Central America/Panama Canal: Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Chloe Smith

Celebrity Summit 5
Chloe Smith

Overall Member Rating

Summit - Central America/Panama Canal

Sail Date: October 2005
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Los Angeles
This is a review, not an online journal. After 33 cruises, 9 with Celebrity, this is probably best read by someone with a similar background. Had this been a first cruise, I'd probably say that EVERYTHING was wonderful. The downside of cruising often is that it's difficult not to become picky. Celebrity is a great cruise line and they do a great job. Some of the negatives mentioned below may have a lot to do with the fact that Summit's itinerary varies(a plus) but certain issues become a problem because they aren't in the same place every week. This particular 14 day cruise originated in LA with stops in Cabo, Acapulco and Huatulco in Mexico as well as a stop in Costa Rica and Aruba along with Panama Canal transit and a stop at Cristobal Pier there. If you consider this itinerary, bear in mind that there are 8 days at sea and many activities repeat themselves. There's a lot of time to relax!!

Embarkation in LA, for example would have been perfect had it not been for the fact More that each bus coming from the airport was "held" at the pier with passengers still on the bus for almost 30 min. This may have been a "port of San Pedro issue" rather than Celebrity's. After being on a plane for most of the day, this was not a pleasant experience to begin the trip.

The public rooms are lovely on the ship, but due to the nature of the "older crowd" aboard, many lounges, the cinema, and the theater were extremely crowded at the earlier times rather than the later. Again, this is not something that the cruise line could really control but rather, something to note when booking a long cruise at a time of year when older people tend to travel.

The cabin was exactly as promised. In this case, the balcony is well worth paying extra for, although one should be aware that it is hardly "private" is not always cleaned well by the cabin steward.

Celebrity's fitness center, part of the Aqua Spa, is top notch with excellent equipment and fitness instructors and not too crowded even at peak exercise times. However, that could vary from cruise to cruise depending on the demographics of the passengers aboard. Certainly on this cruise, it was a great place to go. A look at the daily schedule indicated many recreational activities for one to select.

Dining was outstanding in both the Normandie Restaurant as well as the main dining room. The buffet was better than on other cruise lines with a large variety to select from. Special note should be made of the "healthy" buffet near the Aqua Spa. This was a nice variation from the main buffet.

Entertainment was very, very good when presented in the lounges or the theater. Two things that might improve this category would be less use of "prerecorded music" in some lounges and a greater use of the cinema for first run films...doing "pay for view" in a small cabin on a 19" television is hardly worth it. I thought it strange that the cruise director's information broadcast on tv was not specific to the particular day. After being on two other Millennium class ships where the cruise director always broadcasted "live" from an area of the ship and repeated their program throughout the day, I expected the same here. This was not only entertaining on the other ships, but also very informative. One might argue that the cruise director's responsibilities are huge and this would be time consuming. However, since the television is an important source of information and communication, live broadcasting was missed. The same applies to shore excursion listings over the television where some tours were never advertised while others that were not offered were shown to the viewer. Both these issues could be related to the fact that the Summit does some many different itineraries the it's easier to offer the "generic" rather than the "specific." For example, it would have been nice on the day before our canal transit for passengers to know that the video about the canal which was shown 3 times in the cinema would also be broadcast round the clock on television. A "hint" of the evening entertainment broadcasted during the day would have been nice as well. Again, on other Millennium class ships this was a very nice way to stay informed.

Service on the ship was generally excellent, although our assistant waiter often made it difficult for our incredibly professional and competent waiter to maintain his high standards..the assistant seemed more interested in "setting up" for the second seating rather than dealing with his first seating diners. Getting his attention was sometimes difficult. The gentleman in charge of our section of the dining room often took up the slack in these situations. In the cabin area, our room was always cleaned well but our steward never seemed to get in the routine of knowing when we were gone. It was annoying to leave the cabin as early as 7:30 and come back six hours later to shower before lunch to shower and discover that the room was not yet clean. He also felt compelled each evening to knock on the door with paper work rather than just slide it under the door. Perhaps it's no longer company policy to do that. Special note has to be made regarding the Normandie dining room which was outstanding on our first visit and TREMENDOUS on our second. Dining here is not to be missed and well worth the additional expense. Overall, the pleasant nature of the entire staff was a very nice part of the Celebrity cruise experience.

Shore excursions were excellent, although there were some changes to the "Coastal Highlights" tour in Cabo San Lucas that were very disappointing (a visit to "Cactus World" was not a high point of the trip.) One was not informed of changes in the tour itinerary until we were "lined up" for the bus and no one was offered the opportunity to choose not to go. The visit to Tabacon Hot Springs and Spa at the Arenel Volcano in Costa Rica, though, more than made up for any disappointment in Cabo San Lucas. Our guide was a well spoken and charismatic young man who made the 3-1/2 hour bus ride in either direction very interesting and informative. I'd recommend this tour to anyone. Along with shore excursions, the issue of tendering rather than docking often comes up, and while NO ONE prefers a tender to a docking situation, I noticed that the crew of the Summit goes out of their way to make tendering as pleasant as they can. Just watching other passengers on other ships and then comparing their treatment to ours drove that fact home extremely well. The Summit crew seems to time the tenders well. If you've never been treated to those lovely "cold towels" at the pier, you have missed something very nice.

Overall this was an excellent cruise and an excellent value for the money. Celebrity makes is difficult for this passenger to want to cruise with any other company. Being treated "famously" is a great way to go! Less

Published 12/08/05

Cabin review: 2B7162 Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2B

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Chloe Smith
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