Fine Ship, Wonderful Crew, Surprise Ending: Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by Iowa cruiser

Celebrity Summit 5
Iowa cruiser
Member Since 2006
204 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Fine Ship, Wonderful Crew, Surprise Ending

Sail Date: December 2013
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
I have sailed the Summit for five cruises this year. I thoroughly enjoy its two Southern Caribbean itineraries, and I appreciate the high quality and good value of these week-long cruises.

I posted a detailed review of this ship in January of this year (see elsewhere in this website), and I will not repeat myself except to say that the crew is as kind and helpful as ever, the officers still make an effort to meet the passengers, and the food in the main dining room is even better than before.

Perhaps because of the Caribbean itineraries, this cruise seems higher energy (with a higher decibel level) than most of Celebrity's other cruises. Perhaps because of recent beverage package promotions, there also seems to be more drinking than before.

Since I am not a nightlife person and do not regularly socialize in bars, and since the music onboard the ship is highly amplified, I find that an early dinner and quiet evening in my cabin suits me fine.

That More leaves me with more energy to exit the ship as soon as it clears each morning so that I can get the most out of each island visit. (My suggestions for inexpensive ways to enjoy each island are posted in my previous review.)

This particular cruise had a surprise ending, which I would not have believed had it not happened to me personally.

When disembarking at the end of this cruise, I met a mother and her daughter who are both lieutenants in the military. We were among the very first ("self-assist") passengers to clear customs and exit the cruise terminal that morning.

As usual, the taxi situation was a mess -- no organized taxi line, no taxi dispatcher, and no posted taxi fares.

Taxis in San Juan are white vans that can carry up to eight people plus baggage. Because the taxis are unmetered, the government has set legal taxi fares for the most popular routes. The legal taxi fare between the Pan American cruise terminal and the airport is $21 for any number of passengers plus $1 for each suitcase.

Unfortunately, every time I have disembarked at this terminal, the taxi driver has charged more than the legal fare. On my previous cruise in January, the taxi driver even raised the fare after he loaded our suitcases.

Even though I have requested (on each end-of-cruise evaluation) that Celebrity provide taxi protection to disembarking passengers, there still was no one to protect passengers or crew at the end of this cruise.

Even worse, on this cruise the usual disembarkation taxi hassle escalated to outright harassment.

When the mother and daughter exited the terminal, I suggested that the three of us share a taxi to the airport. The first taxi driver refused to let us share his taxi unless we paid double the legal fare because we were not "together."

Perhaps because she is an active duty officer, the mother was not going to accept any such nonsense, so she tried the next taxi, and then the next. In each case a taxi goon (there is no better word for him) followed her and told each driver to charge double or not take us.

The mother, bless her heart, turned out to be a tiger. She went down the entire taxi line in the terminal area, and when none would let us ride together at the legal fare, she continued right out onto the frontage road, which has a line of taxis that can extend almost half a mile to the port entrance.

Unfortunately, the port has no sidewalk or pedestrian walkway to protect passengers or crew wishing to exit on foot. As we walked down the frontage road dragging our suitcases behind us, followed by the taxi goon, we raised the curiosity of the port authority.

When we were about halfway down the line of waiting taxis, a port officer pulled up in an official car with lights flashing. He asked us what was happening, and the taxi goon explained the situation to him.

The port officer then asked us to prove that we were traveling together beyond the airport -- he asked to see our boarding passes to prove that we were on the same flight together!

When he was told that we would get boarding passes at the airport, he asked us for photo id with addresses to prove that we lived together!

The mother then turned away in disgust and just kept walking down the taxi line, her daughter and myself following. I suggested we cave in and pay the double fare, but she was resolute (I admire her fortitude).

After almost 20 minutes and a half mile walk down the frontage road, the taxi goon finally gave up and turned back. As soon as he was gone, the next driver in line asked where we wanted to go and offered us the legal fare to the airport.

As a result of this episode I have not lost faith in Celebrity, but I am disappointed in both Celebrity and the port authority for allowing taxi drivers to hassle and even harass disembarking passengers.

With luck you will not have a similar problem, and your cruise will end on a better note than ours did. Less

Published 12/31/13

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Iowa cruiser
Member Since 2006
204 Forum Posts
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