Background My family has been on many cruises, though this was our first on Celebrity.
We consisted of myself, my husband, our 13 year old daughter and my in-laws. We booked 2 cabins on deck 2, both ocean view.
Flights and Pre-Cruise Hotel My in-laws traveled from El Paso, Texas while we came from Colorado Springs, CO. We met up in Houston and flew together to Fort Lauderdale, FL the day before the cruise. I made independent air and hotel arrangements and was very pleased with our flights on Continental.
We arrived in FLL and called the hotel, Sleep Inn and Suites in Dania for our free shuttle. I'd read many mixed reviews on this hotel, but with the free shuttle and breakfast, decided to try them out. It took 2 phone calls to finally get them to send the shuttle.
My in-laws were surprised at check-in by their oldest friends who happened to be in Florida and spent the night at the hotel. All 3 of us had rooms on the second floor. We were surprised by how nice our rooms were, based on previous reviews, both from Cruise Critic and othersources. We did immediately check the bedding and found it to be fine.
Sleep Inn and Suites is in a residential area. However, there is a Walgreen's next door and a strip-mall across the street. There is a Publix grocery store (they don't sell hard liquor, only beer and wine), a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, an Italian restaurant (where we ate -- the food was mediocre), and a "Dollar Tree" store in the mall.
We set up our port shuttle at check-in, as did others who would become friends on this cruise. Make sure to reserve space for your trip to the port, or you will need to make your own arrangements!
The pool was a bit chilly -- this from my 13 year old daughter who will swim anywhere. The hot tub looked dirty.
Breakfast was fine with an assortment of juices, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, fresh fruit, cereals, make-your-own waffles, breads and pastries, and hot biscuits and gravy. Fine fare for the price. We used our AAA card and got our rooms for $89 each.
Embarkation The shuttle arrived as promised and took us on a 10 minute (or so) trip to the port. When we arrived, our luggage was dropped off with a porter who produced luggage tags for us (we were e-ticketed and didn't get our tags beforehand). We were leery about leaving our luggage, but did so anyway.
We were then directed to the first of MANY LONG lines. I had expected check-in to be quicker and less painful than it was. And, though I knew that there would not be many children on this trip, I was as surprised as my daughter at the age of our fellow passengers. Even my in-laws who are in their late 70's were surprised by the elderly crowd. I'd guess that the median age on our trip was 70 years old. In all, there were 34 passengers on our trip who were younger than 18. More about that later.
We spent over 1-1/2 hours in lines to board the ship. We arrived at noon, and were onboard a bit before 2PM. Our first welcome to the ship was with a hand-sanitizer wipe -- the first of hundreds we were handed. No welcome champagne or escort to our cabins was offered.
Cabins -- Part One We moved in the direction we were pointed and found our way to our cabins. My in-laws were in cabin 2023 and we had cabin 2014. Very convenient for us to be so close yet so far apart!
Our cabin was smallish, but serviceable. We immediately met Corazon who agreed to remove "anything that costs extra" from our cabin, including overpriced water, a bottle of wine, and the contents of our fridge. The cabin had been prepared for the three of us with 3 life jackets, beach towels, robes, etc. I was very pleased with our first room stewardess.
MAJOR point here -- while unpacking, I got out our power strip. This was not a brand new one, but one which we've used both in our house and on trips. Plugged it in (no, not in the bathroom "shaver only" outlet OR in the European plug -- duh) and heard a pop, fizz sound and watched it as it began to smoke and melt. Unplugged it and tossed it across the bed to my husband who threw it into the shower and doused it with water. After that, we tried the nightlight (the least expensive plug in item we had) before we plugged in camera chargers, laptop, etc. Have NEVER had that result when plugging a power strip in.
As I'd done a lot of research on the ship and prices, we had visited Publix the day before and used our spare "roll up" suitcase which we always pack to bring our own water, soda pop (I'm a Pepsi girl and the ship carries limited Coke products), and fruit juices (in case I'd somehow packed some rum in our suitcases for in-room drinks). This suitcase came to our room quickly, as did all of our other bags and fit well under our bed. Our daughter had a pull-out chair as her bed -- smaller than a twin and probably not great sleeping for anyone over 5'2" and 100 LBS.
After finding our rooms, we went to the Waterfall Café and Grill (aka: the buffet) for lunch. Seating was horrible for the number of guests trying to eat. More on that later, as well.
The Ship I'd expected the ship to be in much worse condition than I found it to be. Yes, there was some frayed carpet and peeling paint, but I spent the first day wondering why it was scheduled for dry-dock. I figured it out later, though!
We split up from the in-laws and started at the top of the ship. It's a ritual we always do when we first arrive on-board. Since I prefer going DOWN stairs to climbing up, we took the elevator to deck 11 and started at the top. This tour allowed us to see some of the worst artwork I've ever imagined. Luckily, we didn't use most of the stairwells from then on.
My daughter peered through the windows of The Tower and looked forward to going there. Unfortunately, they never did open the tower -- even though the "meet and greet" the first evening was scheduled to be there. After waiting for 10 minutes for it to open, we were directed to the Fun Factory.
I'd read that there would always be 6 counselors on any cruise, but there were actually only 3. Therefore, they didn't have the staff to open the Tower.
So, we tried to find the Fun Factory. Be advised that it's difficult to find and can only be accessed by either passing though the Waterfall Café or by using the aft bank of elevators to level 11. It took 4 of us about 10 minutes and a lot of misdirection to find the place.
Most of the ship's public areas were nice. There were a number of nooks and crannies so that you rarely had the feeling of being on an overcrowded ship.
Although I'd read that the Bar at the Edge of the World had horrid décor, we actually LIKED it. It was usually a pretty quiet place.
Lifeboat Drill A fact of life onboard a ship. However, I fear that if this ship ever needs to use the lifeboats, it'll be absolute chaos! We mustered in the Celebrity Theater (along with hundreds of other passengers). My husband commented that on all of the cruises we've ever taken, it was by far the worst. We mustered, heard instructions, and were herded to a lifeboat. No roll-calls, so I suppose that anyone who chose to could skip this ordeal, if they found a place to hide out.
Dining I'd come onboard expecting marvelous food. Boy, was I ever disappointed! There were only two or three exceptional items served throughout the whole cruise. One night, my "medium rare" filet came out as VERY well done. Our server offered to send it back, but since we sat each night for nearly 2 hours at dinner, I refused. One night, my husband's lamb dish came out with no meat!
My in-laws ate most of their breakfasts and lunches in the dining room. We chose to eat in the buffet. Standard fare with little variety.
We got late-seating dinner (though we'd been wait-listed for early). Hence, our daughter either had to skip evening kids' activities or eat elsewhere. She loved getting room service for dinner, but had little room to eat in our cabin.
Entertainment The Party Band seemed to know 15 songs (and not too well). Jefferson Ang was a guitarist and we spent many evenings listening to his music. He, too, had a limited repertoire. Karaoke was a joke, with 2 guys who were pretty good and some truly awful singers, besides. Our daughter really enjoyed the juggler, but he off-loaded after only doing one show. There was a singer who was good, but she made sure that everyone knew that she was selling her CD's outside of the theater. The Acapella group was pretty good, but they reminded me of a small Mormon-boys-choir. I enjoyed them once, then skipped future shows. Also, there was a ventriloquist who was funny the first night and really stale by the second show. Mostly, the entertainment was geared towards the median age -- slow during the day and nearly non-existent come night-fall.
Enrichment There were a couple of lecture-series. One was an expert on the canal who got many of her facts wrong (though her slide show was correct). We sat through only one of her 3 part series. She also sold a book and map outside of the theatre.
There was also a mystery writer. We skipped her talks.
Activities Huh? The only great activity that we did was a kids-club "Family Scavenger Hunt." We were the only family to show up, so they pitted 4 teens against us. My daughter won a backpack filled with "X Club" merchandise. Otherwise, the activities were slow to dead.
Kids' Club Again, with so few kids, the kids' club activities were "modified." Apparently, they continued to offer the activities, but if the kids weren't interested, they let them pick what to do. I didn't bring our daughter on this trip to sit and watch movies and play endless rounds of "Guitar Hero." She, however, had a blast!
DD notes that I haven't said enough "good" about the Fun Factory. So, to be fair to her, I'll add that they had a long wall filled with Playstations and they offered 30 minutes of free play in the arcade. They also had a ball pit and a small outdoor wading pool. When fully staffed, I'd say that the Fun Factory is probably a blast for the 7-12 y/o set.
Photographers They were out in force. More photo opportunities than I've ever had. However, they didn't do a "hard sell" once the pics were done. Also, my daughter decided to get a "Mom and me" shot done, and specifically asked to pose us herself. Once the photographer understood what she was after, he did the best job I've ever seen, actually having us lay on the floor with him taking pictures on his stomach! That sure got a lot of watchers, and sold many more pics, as folks started requesting "special poses." Prices were high for photos ($19.95 for an 8x10), but we bought 8 (and I usually HATE getting my pictures taken).
Service/Staff Second in my cruises only to Regent. Our room stewardess/stewards were good to excellent (more on that later). Our waiter was great -- although the assistant was only fair. We were all surprised to see the Maitre'D each night -- that's a first in all of our 20+ cruises. We had a very drunk and loud lady at the table next to us each night and by mid-cruise I asked him to intervene. From then on, she and the table-mate she argued with took turns in the dining room and it became much more peaceful.
Our daughter LOVED the Ice Cream Lady. She put up with a lot of rude passengers, yet remained lovely.
Guest Relations staff were terrific, within their abilities.
The shipboard medical crew were a very mixed bag -- from lovely to horrid -- read on for details about that!
Daughter and I availed ourselves of the spa one day. We did the "hands and feet" service. I've never done a spa treatment on a ship, and likely won't again. Our attendants were Jamaican and spoke to each other during the whole treatment in a language we didn't understand.
Internet Café In a word -- SLOW. Once, it took 7 minutes to load up their Yahoo front page. (I had their expert watching and he offered me a credit, but then I had to push a couple of times to get said credit. When it finally showed up, it was at $.65/minute as opposed to the plan I'd bought at $.42/minute. Wasn't going to hassle it for a couple of bucks. Also, we weren't able to access any computer until well over halfway through the trip. That sure felt weird on top of the other "events" which were happening to us, by then.
Casino I've never seen such a stingy casino. Celebrity should up the payoffs on the machines. Very few people were in there, unless it was cold outside and they wanted to smoke. The casino is divided into smoking and non-smoking. Half the slots and all of the table games are non-smoking, while portside slots were for smokers. Surprisingly, the non-smoking part wasn't terribly smoky. Good ventilation, I guess.
Smoking Many of the public rooms were divided into smoking/non-smoking. I'm pretty sensitive to smoke, but didn't seem to be bothered much by it (unless I was on the port side). I saw some horribly rude folks sit down on the smoking side in lounges and proceed to fan/hold their noses/etc. Hey, if it bothers you, go starboard! Also, in our final cabin (deck 7 balcony) we had a cigar smoker next door. Now, that's strictly prohibited, but as we were told numerous times by staff -- "unless a passenger complains and can pinpoint an offender, we won't do anything about it." Funny, but EVERYONE who walked past the cigar smoker at the pool bar chose not to complain. Nor did folks complain about people in jeans and t-shirts at dinner.
Shore Excursions We booked 2 prior to our trip. The first was the "Semi-submersible" in Grand Cayman. What a great trip for the family! Our daughter got to swim, husband and I got to snorkel, and the in-laws got to see loads of fish from the comfort of 6' below water benches. I'd highly recommend this to families.
Our second Celebrity excursion was the interactive sea-turtle release program in Acapulco. My in-laws didn't sign up for this one, so it was just the three of us and 29 others. It was a long (boring) bus ride to the farm, but once there, we had a great time. My husband's turtle won the race and his prize was a silly plastic turtle which he treasures.
We did the other stops on our own, and generally hired a cab for city tours. I'd read to speak rapid-fire English in Columbia to get a good driver. It was great advice. However, the guide had his own ideas of where to go and had 11 of us in his van (fully air-conditioned, my behind!) Although none of us wanted to shop, many stops at shops still happened.
Advice for the whole trip: If you have the advantage of speaking/understanding some Spanish, don't give away your secret too quickly. I found the drivers and "guides" discussing things which never would have been talked about had they known I understood them so well.
Debarkation I'd heard that this goes well. We were supposed to be called around 9:15, so had an early breakfast and went back to our staterooms. We were asked to go to public areas by 9AM and there we sat for over an hour. LONG lines, again. They never did call for our group to leave the ship, so eventually lots of us just left. Could have been much better.
San Pedro to LAX I had researched this and decided to not take Supershuttle or Celebrity's shuttle. Instead, we got a cab after debarkation and spent $52 for all of us and our luggage to get to LAX.
Was VERY disappointed with US Airways, as our flight to Phoenix was delayed over an hour, my husband, daughter, and I were removed from the plane because they gave our seats away to stand-by passengers, and our connecting flights were delayed as well. We didn't get home until 2:30AM when we were supposed to be home at 9:30. I'm not sure I'll ever fly with them again.
The Buzzards and the Vultures A strange title, but certainly the feeling I had when dealing with crew and fellow passengers. The Vultures were the folks who sold the gold-by-the-inch, "special priced t-shirts," art auctions, amber, spa treatments, etc. I was shocked by the "nickel and diming" throughout the cruise. I'd expected more refinement. The Buzzards were the ones who pulled the only XL tee-shirt left out of my hands, butted in the buffet line, etc. It was the feeling of being a "mark" to one group or the other for much of the trip. There were some nice folks on this trip. And then, there were the rest of them. There were a LOT of motorized scooters and their drivers were reckless, to say the least! I've never seen so many obese people in one place as I did on this trip. I also can't remember EVER meeting so many entitled and rude people in one place. The median age also affected us -- I'm in my late 40's and felt like a kid.
"Dirty" Details Now, to the dirty details of our trip and why I'm unhappy with X:
12/7: FLL Embarked
12/8: At sea I woke up with some bites on my legs. Had our Cruise Critic Connections party and met a couple of the staff. We hadn't been "in" on the CC list for long, and I didn't feel really welcomed (besides the fact that the Connections boards told me in no uncertain terms that folks didn't want kids on this cruise).
12/9: Grand Cayman MISERABLE night. Spent most of the night in tears with the feeling of being eaten alive. Took Benedryl at 4AM and slept until 8. Went to Guest Relations and was told to go to Medical between 9AM-noon. Since we had booked an excursion, I wasn't willing to skip the paid-for excursion, but had my complaint in prior to our first debarkation. They also said that they'd be changing out our mattresses while we were onshore.
12/10: At sea -- Went to medical, signed a sheet of paper which said I'd pay for all charges, and was told that I was allergic to bedbugs. Was told that I wouldn't have to pay for the consultation afterall. Apparently, I was the second passenger to have this problem, although it's an ongoing problem with the crew. This was by a lovely female doctor from Peru. (By this time, I had over 100 welts all over my body). Many folks in and out of the infirmary while I was there. Big problem with a virus which quarantined the sick person for 3 days and anyone else in the cabin for one. Nothing on the ship about sickness, but suddenly many more hand wipes showing up. I was put on Benedryl, Prednisone, and cortisone cream. We were told to stay out of our cabin for 2 hours while they removed our luggage to get it fumigated. Also was told to stay out of the sun and not drink alcohol until I was done with the Prednisone (3 days). Well, we got done with lunch and went back to cabin 2014. One whiff at the door, and our asthmatic daughter went into an attack. We kept her out of the room. Once we opened the door, we were assaulted by so much insecticide throughout the room that we could only stay in the cabin for minutes at a time. DH interjects here with "There were puddles of white liquid everywhere." My Mother-in-law got some wonderful pictures of wet EVERYTHING (and slipped in the bathroom while doing so), while I went directly to Guest Relations and brought back Janine, the manager. She was aghast at the amount of insecticide used (and all over -- our daughters' lap-top screen is ruined, our toothbrushes were completely sprayed, and an assistant head-housekeeper was busily trying to wipe everything down while telling us that we were going to lose him his job). He proceeded to go to the aft elevator area and cough so badly that I worry even now for the effects of his time spent in our cabin.
Janine told us that the room was now uninhabitable, so we were asked to leave our luggage (which had not been removed) and move our belongings to room 3008. Of course, most of our clothing was wet, so X offered to launder 8 pieces of laundry for free. Our daughter's stuffed Snoopy was slathered, as well, and they put a rush on washing him so that she could sleep that night with her stuffed animal. We submitted about 15 of the worst of the wet, and didn't get a bill (though I haven't checked my Visa statement since I got home). So, we packed up everything in about 10 Celebrity bags and a bunch of Walmart bags which we used to carry our shoes in. Talk about feeling like hillbillies! The stewards carted everything to our new cabin, but we had to spend a LOT of time in a poison-saturated room to get it all together. Had to make another trip to Medical, as the prednisone tablets had been put into an envelope which was doused with insecticide. I couldn't take those pills.
People might say that all cabins are the same size, but 3008 was much smaller than 2014. Our daughter's bed went from small to what she fondly called her "big kid bed" -- referring to it as a toddler bed. The table had to be removed, as it didn't fit with the bed pulled out. Also, I continued to itch in that cabin, so I asked Janine for help. She told me that if, in Columbia, a couple failed to catch up with the ship, we'd be moved again.
12/11: Cartegena -- The itching was nearly intolerable last night, so back to Medical. This time, I sat and waited a LONG time before seeing the chief doctor. Although his tag read that he was from the United States, he barely spoke English. He stated that it was NOT bedbugs, but was a contact dermatitis because while we waited, he went to 2014 and found no signs of bedbugs -- well DUH! -- between the insecticide and replacement of the mattresses TWICE, do you think they'd have been dancing around in the sheets mid-day? Now, I'm told to avoid sun, alcohol, tight clothing (underwear!), and turkey and pork (the turkey is apparently basted in pork juices for flavor). I broke down and cried about the restrictions. The doctor informed me that since he doesn't drink alcohol, it shouldn't be an issue for me. Hey, it is my VACATION! Well, actually, it became my liver's vacation. What a way to detox one's body. He put me on a triple dose of prednisone, use a "special soap" twice a day (which doesn't lather and smells a LOT like cabin 2014 did after the fumigation), and told me to use ice packs to numb the itching. He said that if it were bedbugs, everyone in our cabin would have the same reaction. By the end of the cruise, everyone in our group had welts.
Also, I spoke with one of the waiters stationed to pass out anti-bacterial hand wipes about their ineffectiveness against viruses. Within an hour, announcements began that nothing replaces hand washing. However, the staff now begins to wear gloves, some wear masks, and the ship is being wiped down with bleach. (Many folks later complained to Guest Relations about ruined clothes. New announcements commence about not leaning on wet surfaces.)
In the meantime, the couple doesn't make the ship and we're moved again to 7047. We've got a balcony and I'm not getting any new bites in our cabin. Also, the second move was so much easier as our stuff wasn't wet with insecticide. The card room seems to have bugs, though, as each time we go there, we all get new bites. In our newest room, the steward does not remove contents of fridge, add another robe, or bring us an extra beach towel. He does get us the third life-jacket, though. He was a fair steward, but I'm fed up. Oh, by this time, I've had 6 room keys -- 2014, a replacement as my new one won't access the internet (nor does this one -- couldn't get online until after Acapulco); 3008, a replacement because I can't charge anything (dh says he had to pay extra for that card!); 7047, a replacement because my key won't let me off the ship in Columbia.
Days pass with my liver on vacation and myself being in the shade and they're finally admitting a "Norwalk-like virus is on the ship and hand washing is the best way to deal with it."
12/14: Back to Medical asking for a copy of my records. Request refused.
12/15: Late last night, we hear that one of the bar servers has bedbugs. I gave her some benedryl and dh told her to see the female doctor. She reports today that she's cleaning her cabin, but her cabin-mate won't let her go to Medical, as it would mean the ruin of a lot of their things. Apparently, they all know what the fumigation team is capable of!
Note from dh in our daily log: "12/15 -- There is noro-virus on the ship. All of their cleaning programs will be ineffective as long as people are keeping their symptoms to themselves. They have seen others go into quarantine, so they don't mention their diarrhea. Instead, they use the pool and public restrooms along with the healthy cruisers. I saw evidence today in the men's room by the T-Pool. Oh, by the way, I now have visible and itchy bites."
12/16: Waitress-friend goes to Medical and gets diagnosis of bed-bugs. (More details which I've deleted to protect her privacy. Do have her name and that of another passenger on this trip and am awaiting response from corporate.)
Also, have now heard that we're "Code Red." However, reading these boards tells me that "code red" means different things on different X ships. Still self-serve at buffet, still have salt/pepper shakers. However, no staff may leave the ship in LA and even back-to-back must debark in LA and won't be allowed right back on the ship. Has me wondering what time they began loading folks for the next trip.
12/16 -- 12/19: Liver's still on vacation, but the "special soap" is helping. Still itching, though.
12/19 -- 12/20: Quit the prednisone and drink heavily of the fruit-juice I brought!!! Quit the soap and immediately start getting numerous new bites in multiple public areas.
12/21: OFF THE SHIP and headed home.
Conclusion We're all of the firm belief that nobody has the power to ruin your day but yourself. Hence, it was a good trip. We hadn't seen the in-laws in 4 years and to get the experience of the Panama Canal with them was priceless. The staff on this trip put up with some of the rudest people I've ever encountered, and (for the most part) handled them graciously. I saw a woman berate one of the guys at guest services and he stood and took it. (I made a point of going to Guest Relations daily just to say "HI." After all they dealt with regarding my issues, I felt it important to show them my gracious side).
HOWEVER, I expected X to immediately contact me. They haven't. Nor have they responded to my e-mail. I've asked my TA to find a remedy for this trip, but he's on vacation.
Right now, though, I'm still trying to find out what the insecticide was, as our asthmatic daughter has had non-stop coughing since the fumigation and her doctor needs the information. No word yet.
Celebrity Summit - Panama Canal Cruise Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles January 20 - February 3, 2007
Embarkation Made Easy We arrived at the pier in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 12:30 pm.
After depositing our luggage with the porters, we proceeded inside the terminal and quickly moved through security and arrived at the check in desk within five minutes. After another quick three minutes, we were off to have our Sea Pass photo taken and then we were welcomed aboard! Total time approximately 22 minutes from the time we got to the pier to champagne in hand.
They do an excellent job!
Summit the Ship The physical condition of the Summit was good. We noticed very few rips and tears in fabrics. We did not notice major signs of deterioration, although at the time we boarded, it was not as "clean" as we would have liked.
All over the ship, dust had accumulated; on seldom-used counters, on ledges of framed displays and art figurines, and there were beverage rings on tables in the cocktail lounges and corners all around the ship were needing attention.
The awareness to detail is not happening upon this vessel.The staff was always giving the appearance of cleaning, but in reality; it appears to be somewhat an illusion.
One afternoon I sat in the Coffee Cova, and watched several staff members clean only when they saw or heard footsteps approaching. The laziness of employees cannot be helped I guess. This by all means is not meant to indicate that ALL employees were not performing their duties in a professional and conscientious manner, but from what we noticed there were quite a few that were guilty of not providing a full day's work for a full day's wage.
Our Stateroom We sailed in Stateroom 9160, which you may know has that great oversized balcony.
Our Cabin Steward from Honduras, Jose, came by to say hello and to see if we required any additional services. He has been with Celebrity for twelve years. He was being assisted on this sailing by Larry. Once again, we noticed dust and dirt/grime on shelves in both the main compartment of the stateroom and in the bath area there were debris that remained on the verandah for several days after the cruise started.
The situation improved only after I had a discussion with Ms. Janine Woodruff, the Summit Front Office Manager.
The first night our stateroom was prepared properly and according to guidelines set forth by Celebrity it was the evening that the Assistant Housekeeping Manager, Ms. Snelana "Yanna" Knitl, took the time to oversee the evening set up, which came at the end of Day 8. The level of Jose and Larry's performance up to this point was barely adequate. After Ms. Knitl began monitoring, it greatly improved.
Sea Days and More The first two days of this cruise were sea days. It was nice to sit and enjoy with no hustle and bustle. The sea was rather rough the first two days; in fact Guest Relations told us this was the first time in many weeks they dispensed so many anti-nausea medicine. They also provided us with a trick. If you feel the motion "reduce the liquids you intake!"
THE FOOD Buffet: The Food Buffet on the Summit was in our opinion scarcely acceptable; somehow, they turned simple scrambled eggs into a disaster; the watery egg dishes lacked flavor and were very unappetizing. The omelet stations throughout the ship consistently served over cooked and burnt products. We had heard from other passengers that the waffles were not as "crisp" as most would have preferred, although we do not know this for a fact as we did not try them.
Breakfast overall disappointed us.
Lunch was slightly better, as it did offer variety.
At the beverage stations, the beverage dispensers were often empty or not mixed to the proper specifications. The coffee on occasion was acid-like and clearly old; it appeared that it may be held longer than the brewing recommendations; we later learned the brand we had come to expect had recently been changed. In addition, we also learned it is possible the coffee machines themselves are not being calibrated on an ongoing regular basis.
Dining Room: We opted for late seating in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. The food was delicious and ample, and the wide varities of the entrée items were more than adequate. Our wait staff consisted of a wonderful team of Faruk who is from Turkey, who has been with Celebrity for six years, and his very able assistant Deni from Indonesia. Both were very eager to please.
We give two big thumbs up to this team!
The live stringed music in the dining room that we enjoyed so much on previous cruises on Celebrity is no longer available except for formal nights; and then for only a few moments. This was disappointing as it really was the virtual icing on the dining experience with Celebrity.
Murath the Assistant Maîtrie'd was a disappointment only in the fact that he was not more personable. It was rare for him to stop by our table for anything more than a quick "Bon Appetit."
Normandie Room/Specialty Dining: We originally scheduled specialty dining for the evening of the 26th. Once onboard, the Normandie Staff notified us that the room had a large reservation of 85 persons for that particular evening and asked if we would like to change to another evening as the dining room "may be very noisy."
We opted to change to the 28th.
The Normandie Restaurant lived up to its hype; the food and atmosphere were outstanding! The service was impeccable! The entire staff was able to keep us entertained with a balance of humor, charm, and professional decorum.
The chef, who is from Brazil, is Ms. Conceicao Ferreira. She is outstanding and her version of Chateaubriand was superb! One person from our party ordered his well done and it was just as juicy and fork tender as the ones that were served medium and medium rare. This experience is a MUST if you sail on the Summit.
Panama Canal Transit The marvel that is the Panama Canal was outstanding! To witness as the Summit made its way through the locks was everything we had hoped it would be. The transit started before sunrise and we were able to enjoy an audio presentation that was piped throughout the ship as we proceeded thru the canal.
We thought this was a very nice touch.
If you are on a voyage through the Canal and your ship has a bar or a room at the top of the ship facing the bow, try to get there EARLY, as it fills up very quickly.
There is a lot of humidity so it is best if you can be in an inside area with air conditioning for the transit. For this event, the Summit opens the helicopter pad area, which is located behind the Celebrity Theater on deck 5.
Summation This cruise on the Summit as a whole fell well short of our expectations. Toward the end of the cruise, we did notice that there was an increase in cleaning activity and it seems the management team on board took advantage of my observations. The dust that was present throughout the first 10 days of our cruise was beginning to vanish. The stateroom was finally at the level that it should have been at day one. The biggest disappointment for us was that we had to experience this inconvenience, and the fact that we did not get the full advantage of a 14 day sailing in the standard we have come to expect from Celebrity.
In all probability, we will sail on the Summit again; however, it will be with trepidation.
My rating system is a simple one, based on a scale of 1-5 stars 1 Star = Unacceptable. 5 Stars = PerfectionCondition and Cleanliness of Ship = 2.25 Stars Food Quality Overall = 4.00 Stars Food Serving Staff = 4.50 Stars Stateroom Cleanliness = 2.25 Stars Stateroom Staff = 3.00 Stars Other On-Board Staff = 3.0 Stars Final Rating = 3.33 Stars
As with any review, mine is subjective to the experiences of the author. These were our observations.
Celebrity Cruises Summit by Steve Hatcher Hawaii October 28, 2006
As an Elite Member with Celebrity we sailed on a 14 day Hawaii cruise from LA. We booked the Sky Suite with a Butler etc. In over 28 cruises I have never had such a bad experience as this cruise.
The maintenance wokers were cutting metal and welding outside and beneath our balcony for 4-6 days. The red and orange sparks yielded such a high pitch tone at 7:00 AM we had no choice but to get up.
When I was measured for my tuxedo I received 2 different sized shirts with the sleeves 5 inches to long, pants 6 inches to short, wrong sized shoes and my wife had to continue to deleiver them to the alterations dept since I'm a disabled cruiser.
The advertisements stated pillow top mattresses and we had none. They gave us the general menu in our suite instead of the conceirge menu thinking we would not know the difference.
We stood in line for 55 minutes trying to get on the ship due to some problem in the hot sun on concrete with no cover. Our Sky SuiteBalcony was missing furniture. Our Sky Suite TV was defective for the first 5 days of the cruise.
The waffle machine on the ship caught on fire and its the only one they had everyone was told.
Still a week later we have yet to receive our 2 LOST LUGGAGE with souvenirs and my wife's formal dresses in them.
On the fishing excursion in Kona (Marlin fishing) the boat Captain was drunk and the deck mate was lecturing everyone on "ICE" the drug that he said most of Hawaii's folks use to bear living there. He was fired I have been told.
The class of service was the worst we have seen in cruising with RCCL and Celebrity over 20 times and it appears to be getting worse. I asked for my money back but nobody at Celebrity will return my call which says alot about there customer service to their repeat customers.
Our itinerary, Venice to Barcelona, was called "Mediterranean Classics". Much has been written elsewhere about each port, so I will comment on my shipboard experience for those considering traveling aboard the Summit.
EMBARKATION I reached the pier by water taxi in Venice. My luggage, three quite heavy cases, was taken quickly at the dock and I passed through the embarkation process quickly, in less than 15 minutes. There were many people embarking, but the system in place was efficient and Celebrity wisely stationed the right amount of agents to welcome and register guests. Also, the port terminal was climate controlled & my first contact was an articulate, sharply dressed, efficient young woman in a blue suit. The immediate impression was one of confidence and sophistication.
CABIN I stayed in an outside cabin at the front of the ship that was well engineered, comfortable and ergonomic. The cabinets have a pear-wood affect and there is ample storage, including drawer and hanging space in a three portion wardrobe. (N.B.: The door and cabinet hardware seem to be precision engineered; that means that latches and handles operate as intended and do not click, rattle or jam, evenon rough sea days). The safe was easy and intuitive to operate. A corner unit adjacent to the wardrobe housed a standard (tube, not flat screen) television, mini-bar and high cabinet with extra pillows, one of which was composed of a special hypo-allergenic polymer that offered excellent lift and support for poor sleepers like me.
Bedding The queen-sized bed was made up of two twin units placed together, but fixed into position so that the division between them was mostly imperceptible. The bed was triple sheeted in high thread count contrasting (tan/white) linens that were not pure cotton, but of a combination of fibers that felt smooth to the touch and "breathed" with the skin, important on a passage to ports with very hot summer weather (Athens and Rome), even though the climate control cooled and dehumidified the cabin well.
Cabin Details Three large full height mirrors lined a wall of the cabin, divided with handsome wood affect frames. A sitting area adjacent to the window included a small settee (a twin pullout in a dense, quality twill fabric), sturdy frosted glass coffee table and a polished limestone writing desk with an upholstered chair that could be turned to face the coffee table to create a conversation area. The desk had storage areas beneath it for books and travel guides that helped keep the surfaces in the cabin clear. Also, the desk area had independently controlled lighting and dual power outlets -- thoughtful inclusions. There was a very deep windowsill that held champagne and ice buckets and drink platter easily; again, allowing more surface space in the cabin to give an overall feeling of spaciousness.
Bath The bath was compact but well engineered, with a very powerful, easily operated white tile shower and ample storage under the white and cream sink and vanity. Recent repairs to caulking and tile were done to a professional standard, nearly imperceptible to all but the closest observers like me. Towels were of high quality, absorbent cotton terry with bands of knitted cotton, alternating tan and white colors each day. A fresh yellow rose was placed alongside the sink in a vase that stayed stable and upright even on a rough day at sea.
In summary, the cabin resembled a small, well appointed European business class hotel. The furnishings were tasteful and well designed, in excellent condition and very clean. Cabin service was intuitive (my attendant quickly noticed that I prefer extra pillows) and polite (knocking softly when delivering canapes and calling by telephone when I inadvertently left the do not disturb sign on my door one evening).
SERVICES The Maitre d'hotel, Youssef, was gracious, smiled easily and helped many passengers find the right dinner seating. Our server was amiable and talkative, but also very efficient and obviously experienced. The sommelier was slightly inflexible and mildly abrasive, drawing comments from my table mates. The assistant waiters were extremely attentive and ambitious, filling water glasses, bread baskets and smiling graciously. The hospitality management model shows an obvious emphasis on promotion from within. Most members of Cosmopolitan dining staff want to build fidelity in passengers and it shows.
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Quite reasonably priced for shipboard facilities and also reliable. The pressing seemed to be hand finished and the dry cleaning turn-around time was quick, a day or less for standard service.
Technology Internet access was reliable overall, limited to the midship area. I dealt personally with two members of the computer room staff -- Rose and Rafael -- each of whom impressed me greatly with their acumen and resourcefulness.
Excursion Staff Hard working and well organized. They used colored stickers and escorts with numbered paddle signs to help passengers find the gangways, shuttles and tenders. Groups met in the ship's theater or lounge and were given ample time to assemble before departing. Chilled water was offered for sale on a bar cart, and frequently offered again for free when the tour re-assembled. Cold towels at the returning gangway were a thoughtful inclusion in the summer heat. The tour staff dealt well with difficult passengers and wisely put the experience of the group above that of late or missing participants upon departure, a difficult but necessary aspect of managing tours.
Activity Staff Adroit, personable, kind and patient with passengers of different ages and dispositions, including small children and particularly several elderly passengers and those traveling alone. The team was sincere and easily approachable. They obviously wanted to set passengers at ease and keep them involved in their programs, which varied from the hugely popular bingo games to smaller puzzle and trivia groups, and enrichment lectures. This is a team that smiled easily and showed enthusiasm for their work. The team also seemed larger than it actually is, because the members adopted different roles throughout the day.
Leadership/Communication The cruise director on our passage was omnipresent, introducing entertainers, hosting and promoting shipboard events, chatting amiably with crew and staff throughout the day and continually smiling at passengers in each stateroom through televised shipboard news segments that ran on a loop on a special TV channel. During our sailing, he was frequently joined on camera by the port/shopping guide, a Canadian with an encyclopedic knowledge of port customs, geographically specific goods and merchandise and potentially hidden costs and complications for inexperienced tourists. She was very clear, specific and polished in her televised presentations and quite earnest and warm with individual passengers at her desk, and at the gangway and in port. She seemed available to every passenger at all times, hungrily and indefatigably seeking out their questions and concerns, and with seemingly limitless patience. Impressive.
FOOD/BEVERAGE Highlights included Poached Salmon with saffron Mayonnaise in Aqua Spa, a very good chocolate souffle in the Normandy Restaurant. Also, good, strong afternoon teas (informal self-service) included sandwiches that were very fresh. Savory breakfast pastries (quiches, ham/cheese croissants) served warm in an area called "Cova Cafe" by a lovely woman, Delores, and quite good specialty coffee. The Maitre 'd hotel in the Normandy and Aqua Spa recognized individual passengers warmly. He was one of a handful of staff who made the Celebrity Summit feel like a smaller, more intimate cruise experience.
We booked this cruise as my daughter's high school graduation present. The flight from home to JFK in New York was delayed four hours and we would miss our non-stop connection to Venice, so I called the airline to rebook us and they found a flight on Air France with a plane change in Paris. The connection was tight but we made it dashing through the airport, and arrived in Venice, without our luggage. In fact, there were 50 cabins on the ship whose luggage did not arrive before sailing. It was not located and forwarded until 4 days later. I contacted the 24 hour assist line at Travel Guard and they tracked it down and arranged to have it forwarded to Santorini. The ship provided free overnight laundry and provided me a tux and my wife and daughter dress shoes for the formal night.
While my wife and I had packed 2 days clothes in our carryon, my daughter hadn't bothered and had almost nothing extra with her, so we spent the second day in Venice buying some clothes for my daughter, underwear and socks, and a dress shirt andtie for me. It did get us out of St Mark's Square and into the side streets and shops of Venice. The first informal night was that night. There were 3 informal nights and 3 formal nights on this itinerary.
We had booked a category 2C balcony cabin, 6047. The cabin had a single sofa bed and the queen. If the sofa bed was open there was no space for the coffee table, and the room steward put it on the balcony. Closet space was adequate for the three of us and there were robes. There is an interactive TV and besides free movies, CNN International was available.
We had been assigned to a table for six for dining, but after seeing the maître 'd the first afternoon, we were assigned to our own table, at a table for 4. As this was the longest cruise we had been on I was curious if there would be much repetition on the dinner menu. My wife prefers to eat fish, and there was a different fish offering every night, including lobster. Prime rib was offered 3 times, but there was a variety of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and even duck, as well as a pasta choice every night. They did offer on various nights crepe suzettes, cherries jubilee, and baked Alaska. Service was superb from our wait staff, wine steward, and bar waitress. The had a brunch one day in the dining room from 10 to 1pm with a wide variety of offerings from omelets to carving stations. They also had one night they called a "white night" where everyone was encouraged to wear white and they served an international buffet in the pool area with the lounges removed and tables and chairs provided, instead of dining room meals. There was musical entertainment and several international food stations, including Greek, Italian, and French.
There is a grill in the very back of the lido-like buffet area which some people overlook. In the mornings it has French toast and waffles, and made to order sandwiches at lunch. The pizza station offers 3 or 4 varieties of pizza by the slice and will even make a pizza to order. My wife was pleased that they often also offered grilled veggies.
There were 3 omelet stations in the morning that can make any eggs to order, and they offered smoked salmon or gravlox every day, something I have missed on some other cruise lines.
In the solarium pool area, near the spa, they also offer health conscious light lunch food for several hours at mid day. The warm thalassotherapy pool in the adults only solarium was my favorite spot on sea days.
Entertainment consisted of 2 review-style shows which also included two aerialists. The other nights were a variety of comedians, musicians, and singers. There were a variety of music and dancing venues, ranging from oldies, to rock and pop in the disco, to classical. The Martini Bar is a popular spot, and offers martini flights of 6 samplers, and a champagne flight. The Cova Café offers Italian wine flights. They had three wine tastings during the cruise in the dining room in the afternoons. The first was a festival style, the first we've encountered aboard ship. They had wine stations from Italy, France, Spain, Australia, and the New World and light appetizers and you could go from table to table for almost 2 hours. The second features Reidel glassware and premium wines, and the third was a food and wine pairing session with various food items to compare with three wines.
Although we were berthed in Venice, the ship provided shuttle tenders to/from the town for $20 per person per day. In Dubrovnik they provided shuttle buses for $10 per person. We tendered in Santorini, and Villefrance, but they used commercial tenders and service was quick. All other ports we were berthed at piers.
When the ship leaves Venice it sails right through Venice, past St Mark's and the other islands. The view from the ship is excellent.
I hadn't been to Dubrovnik in over 30 years and it is still a marvel. We toured the Franciscan Monastery, walked the town, had lunch, and found bathing suits for my wife and daughter who were still without luggage. They don't use Euro, but rather Kuna, and it is not usable elsewhere. Credit cards are widely accepted, however.
This was my first visit to Santorini and the scenery of this volcanic island is spectacular. The white painted masonery town on the top overlooks the steep cliffs with the ship anchored below. There is a funicular for 4 Euros or a donkey ride for 5 Euros up the side of the cliff. We shopped on cobblestone pedestrian only streets and visited several churches before having an outstanding lunch of tzatziki, grilled cheese, village salad, and local wine. The weather was very hot. We rode the donkeys down the hill at my daughter's urging. It might have been less intimidating riding them up!
In Athens we had hired in advance a half day tour with George the Taxi Driver, whom I had used before. We drove from Piraeus to the Acropolis where we purchased a ticket for 12 Euros, and only 4 for my 18 year old daughter, which also admitted us to the Agora and Museum later. From the Acropolis we went to the Temple of Zeus and the Olympic stadium where the modern Olympics were resumed in the early 1900's, and then to the funicular ride up Mt Lykovetos (6 Euros). We also stopped at Syntagma Square to watch the changing of the guard in costumes at the tomb of their unknown soldiers. We then spent the afternoon walking through the Plaka and the Monistraki flea market area and a late afternoon Greek lunch before taking the Metro back to Piraeus for .80 Euro each. The ship was docked too far to walk, so we took a taxi from the Metro station to the pier for 6 Euro.
In Naples we docked in an industrial port area, while the MSC and Costa ships were able to berth at the terminal. We walked to the train station and purchased train tickets for a round trip ride to Pompeii. The tickets were 4.8 Euros each and the train took 45 minutes. The entrance to Pompeii is a block from the train station and admission is 11 Euros per person. Another very hot day but we enjoyed the walk all around this amazing city destroyed by lava from Mt Vesuvius and not rediscovered until the 1800's.
After the train back to town we took a taxi from the station to the Castle of the Egg on the waterfront and walked along the waterfront, finding a sidewalk café for pizza and wine in the birthplace of pizza! After lunch we walked to the San Carlo Opera House, and by the castle area and took a taxi back to the ship. I had been to Naples many times while in the Navy, but this was my first trip to Pompeii.
The next day was an early arrival in Civitavecchia for the visit to Rome. We had hired a car and driver from Bob's Limos and Tours, owned by an American, for 9 hours and a guided tour of the Vatican by a professional guide. We spent 4 hours touring churches, the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, the Circus Maximus, and more. At 2pm we met our guide and had a detailed explanation of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. We took time for a late afternoon lunch in a nearby trattoria and then the ride back to the ship.
Livorno was also an early arrival for our visit to Florence and Pisa. We had another car and driver from Bob's Limos and Tours for 9 hours. We drove to Michaelango Plaza overlooking Florence and by the old walls and past Pitti Palace, then into the city. We had time to walk the pedestrian area by the churches, the Accademia, the Uffizi Gallery, and across the Ponti Vecchio. We then drove into the Tuscan countryside to a villa and estate winery where we had an Italian luncheon of antipasto, pasta, chicken and salad and three wines. After lunch we drove to Pisa for a brief photo opportunity with the leaning tower, the baptistery and the church, and then back to the ship. We actually had about a 10-1/2 hour tour, with the only delay due to heavy traffic heading into Florence in the morning.
In Villefrance we anchored and took a short tender ride from the waterfront. The beach is within easy walking distance. Instead we chose to walk to the train station and buy roundtrip train tickets to Cannes for 12.8 Euros per person. The trains are modern and air-conditioned. In Cannes we walked from the station to the waterfront and marina. The building where they hold the Cannes Film Festival has a red carpet on the stairs and everyone poses on it. After a walk along the waterfront by the classic hotels, we headed back to the train station and took the short ride back to Nice. Again we walked to the waterfront and stopped in a few stores and had lunch in a café on a plaza. We caught the train back for the very short trip to Villefrance and back to the ship.
For debarkation they provide everyone with a meeting place and time to be called to disembark. Since we had a post-cruise hotel booked by the cruise line, we were the last to leave. The transfer took us to the Grand Hotel Havana, about 4 blocks northeast of the Plaza de Cataluna. While the rooms weren't available till 3pm, they stored the luggage. We walked back to the Plaza and purchased tickets for the hop on/hop off double-decker tourist buses. There are three routes, and we rode them all, transferring from line to line. The tickets were 17 Euros each and it took about 4-1/2 hours to ride them all, taking photos along the way, but not getting off to sightsee. It was a great way to see the whole city, and in several previous visits to Barcelona I had not really gotten beyond the Ramblas and the Gothic quarter. After finishing the bus tour we strolled the Ramblas and had lunch at a sidewalk café there. Then we went back to the hotel for a swim in the rooftop pool and then to dinner at a restaurant that has been in business a very long time and has hundreds of photos of VIP's hung on the walls, Las Caracoles. We taxied back to the hotel as we were to be in the lobby for the airport transfer at 7:10am. As the hotel breakfast opened at 7 we asked for a bagged lunch. They had it ready in the morning but the transfer bus didn't show up on time and we had time eat in the dining room where a hot buffet breakfast was included. The ride to the airport is short. The flight back to Newark from Barcelona was uneventful, but once back in the US we were again at the mercy of the not on time domestic airlines and arrived home about 3 hours late.
In summary, we had a great time on the Celebrity Summit. The ship is in great condition and the service is excellent. Every crew member we met was very accommodating. The were trying some innovative things like a toga night in the disco, the White Night dining, a brunch, and the "wine festival" wine tasting. The florist was able to provide corsages for my wife and daughter. The Assistant Maitre 'd was at our table every night and ordered some special dishes for my daughter. Currency was exchanged on request at the Guest Relations desk, at the rate of about $1.61 USD to the Euro. The food was very good, but the presentation could have been with more flair. The itinerary was excellent with two ports I had not visited despite having lived in Greece for 3 years and visiting a number of ports while on Navy ships. Venice and Santorini were my first visits there. Well done, Celebrity, for a fine graduation trip for my daughter.
Beware of Celebrity!
Summit ship was a unsafe experience.
If you like to smoke and use illegal drugs, Celebrity is the cruise ship for you. We are non-smokers and quiet vacationers. The people next to us were abusive, drug users and violent to each other all day and night.
Security on the ship is way too slow to help. The management on the ship doesn't care. The people on the other side of the party room were upset. They were older people and they really got ignored. It was very upsetting to my vacation. Once they have your money, they ignore you.
Please be careful. This was not a happy vacation for us.
We will cruise again, but not with Celebrity. Last year we did a cruise on Princess. That was a better experience.
Also, the food quality on the Celebrity ship was very, very poor.
Embarkation The ship leaves at 11pm on a Saturday from San Juan, PR. For most people it might not be a problem to leave very early the day of the cruise, but from the West Coast or Canada this could be a problem. If you come the night before, be aware the cost of hotel rooms in San Juan is prohibitive!! Taxi TO port from Juan Marin: For two persons $21.50 including luggage. Very well organized taxi stand at Juan Marin. Make sure the dispatcher/taxi driver knows the pier to go to. Summit leaves from Pan American Pier. Port: There is no place around there to leave the stuff after checking in to spend some time in San Juan. You need to take a taxi for that. We elected to stay on the ship. Check in is anytime from 2pm onwards. Check in was very fast indeed and this set the tone for the cruise: Very relaxing, very well organized and an excellent vacation.
Ship There was a good welcome as you entered. The Room as you enter is very well set up with maple walls, polished nickel hardware, stylish lampsetc. However, the bathroom was an oddity. Specifically it was not well done at all. Chipped sink, basic apartment type hardware, caulking, tile work etc. Bear in mind they do not have very good storage of cosmetics, etc. You have to use the below sink cabinet.
Food The food was also an oddity. For what I would consider a premium cruise, the food at dinner was more like hospital food in terms of taste, not quality of ingredients. The latter was excellent and top notch, however very few of the dishes had any taste at all. I like my food heavily seasoned but it appeared they tend to cater to bland tasters. This was a disappointment. The food on deck 10 Waterfall Cafe was excellent. They had pasta (al dente always), sushi etc. Breakfast was very good.
Passengers My observation was this line caters to the 45 onwards crowd. At the dinner formal black tie night, I thought I was on a ship with CEO's. At one of the Frequent Cruiser Cocktail mixers, I entered when they were playing Moon River. Enough said. The rest of the events were better.
Entertainment Excellent theater shows, the magician and comedian was so so. Oddly, this ship for a Caribbean itinerary had NO Caribbean music or bands. Not sure why. In fact, the line appeared to deemphasize the Caribbean. Even the wait staff tended to be from Europe. Odd. The cuisine also had nothing to do with the Caribbean.
Itinerary Excellent and varied. We docked at Saint Maarten, Granada, Dominica (not Dominican Republic -- I wouldn't go there), Bonaire, Aruba. The best was Granada and Dominica. Both islands have the only rain forest in the islands except Puerto Rico. Bonaire and Aruba were great if all you wanted was the beach. I liked the varied landscapes rather than just beach.
Disembarkaton Very well organized. We should all remember that it's not the cruise ship that delays us off the boat. It is the long lines for Department of Border Security. Hope this helps.
Overall A very relaxing and above average cruise experience. We are doing this again on a different itinerary in a few months time with the same cruise line.
We sailed the Summit 14 nt full Panama transit eastbound from San Diego to Ft Lauderdale on Nov 23, 2007. Embarkation was good although there was a long line-up getting onto the ship. Room was available as soon as we boarded at about 1 pm. This was our 5th Celebrity cruise. We are 50 plus, fit and adventurous. The itinerary itself was not very port intensive. This would be our only complaint as there were a lot of sea days. There's not a lot to do on board on those sea days if you're not into bingo or trivia games, etc.
Ports included Cabo San Lucas where we kayaked over to the rocks and Lovers Beach; Acapulco, we had a blast rafting down the Papagayo River (booked with ship); Huatulco, we hired a boat to take us to a gorgeous deserted beach (Organo) where the snorkeling was amazing; Puntarenas CR, we hired a taxi for a 4-5 hour tour which we enjoyed; cruising the canal in Panama with a brief stop at the Cristobel Pier; and the final port of call in Cartagena Columbia which is an amazing place to visitif you like history.
After sampling some less than great food two years ago, Celebrity shone on this trip. The food in the Cosmopolitan Dining was outstanding. The service, as always on Celebrity, was impeccable. The Waterfall buffet kept a varied and tasty menu we used for most lunches and breakfasts. Also sampled the grill fare and the pasta, sushi, and spa food bars. We have no complaints about the food whatsoever. The Grand Buffet had the best Beef Wellington on the planet, and the midnight chocolate buffet was the best we have sampled. We skipped the Tex-Mex night on the pool deck but enjoyed the fruit, chicken, ribs, and cookies on the Tropical Night. We enjoyed our first tour of the ships galley, arranged with the very personable Ass't Maitre'd. Very reassuring to see the degree of cleanliness, recycling etc., as well as the amazing food preparation.
Entertainment was very good. There may have been a new trainee on the sound board because frequently the singer would begin singing and for two bars there was no power in the microphone. The large Production crew (5 singers and 11 dancers) were very professional and not over-used as on some ships. We also enjoyed the magician, comedian, ventriloquist, hammer-dulcimer player, and baritone.
The gym is very well equipped and seldom full. Never a problem getting a machine. We enjoyed both the outdoor and the spa pool. Hot tubs were not hot until the last few days. Outdoor pool was usually a bit cool but we were happy with it in the hot sun.
Other than the lack of things to do on board (which was really not a problem since we were there to RELAX) there is nothing that went wrong with the Summit journey. Unfortunately, people get cranky going through the canal as they fight over who was here first and trying to take photos. This was surpassed only on disembarkation day! We had opted for the early disembarkation carrying our own luggage since we had early flights. We were supposed to present our card for this purpose at the gangway. They were never asked for and there definitely were several hundred people who just decided to leave early regardless of their assigned luggage tag color. We noted them looking for their luggage in the large warehouse as we hauled ours out. The Ft Lauderdale facility seems very inadequate and poorly organized. One elderly personnel was instructing American citizens to the left, others to the right. Then we hit a screaming woman who said just the opposite. There were only two lines for customs and it was a bit of a zoo. Unfortunately, while still on the ship and the 8:30 exit time passed, people were verbally abusive to the staff who had very little recourse as the port authorities were not ready. Not the best disembarkation we have ever experienced, but it really wasn't that bad, in spite of the angry hordes who would say otherwise.
Overall, a fantastic two weeks aboard a gorgeous ship.
I cannot give this cruise or cruiseline my personal approval. We took the 2 week cruise to the Hawaiian islands. Staff were friendly, but a bit burned-out. The formal dining room food and service was great, (a big thanks to Vladimere our waiter)but the buffet was dismal at best, and seating arrangements were chaotic, at both lunch and breakfast.
Forget room service for anything but coffee. Ship was clean, but poorly designed.Except for the outside dining at the rear of the ship, the overall deckplans were tiresome.The concourse and atrium areas were small and outdated, the hallways suffered from poor ventilation, the pools were cramped, and many wet areas showed wear and algae. The hot tubs were warm at best, and most needed repair. Marketing seems to be the name of the game, sell, sell, sell.(drinks, jewelery, future cruises, photos, art etc.)
Forget entertainment, unless you still remember the Ed Sullivan show. Of the two weeks on board, we couldn't bring ourselves to sit through an entire night's entertainment. The casino slots paid well, and the men's sauna was a plus. Unfortunately, no steamroom is available without paying $99 for a basic spapackage. We had a concierge class stateroom, which means we got an extra two feet of room and a free bottle of bubbley on arrival, and flowers, and rather tasteless hors d'oeuvres each day and a full size couch, but little else. Each time I tried to call the concierge desk, the line was busy or closed, and there is no operator available on the ships phones. I later found out , only one person is available as the part time concierge.(she did work very hard to help) Overall we enjoyed the cruise, but it took extra effort to find what was what , and how to get around on shore, unless you were part of a ships tour. If you are under 50 years old, find a different cruiseline!! :
This was about the 12th cruise for my wife and I and the third on Celebrity. The first was a bust (about 8 years ago) and the second was last summer in the Baltic that was fine. The check-in process was smooth, owing in part to our Concierge class reservation. The line should clearly post the time for boarding (which it doesn't now do). We boarded the ship at 1 PM, but were told that the cabins weren't ready and we would have to drag our carry-on luggage around until 2 PM. We had a bite to eat and went to our cabin anyway and found it ready for habitation.
Overall, the food was excellent. The wait staff quickly learned our likes/dislikes and provided what we needed without asking. Being charged for cappuchino in the dining room still annoys me. Charge a few bucks more for the room and provide it without the hassle of signing a chit. Virtually everything about the ship was first rate. The spa was clean and efficient (Steiner of course). The thalassotherapy pool and two hot tubs near the spa were largely unused and delightful.
The entertainmentwas very good, including the dancers, the commedians, etc.
Exiting the ship was ok, but could have been better. They put the Concierge passengers in the movie theatre until their number/color is called. Unfortunately, there is no way that all of the Concierge passengers could fit in the theatre. We gave up and stood by the gangway until our group was called. There was no Concierge benefit for departing. A few negatives - though not enough to prevent us from going on Celebrity again.
The excursion descriptions were woefully inadequate. In several places, the fact that an excursion is just a bus risk was not disclosed. The cruise director and his staff were not very friendly. They tended to hide most of the time and smiled only when necessary. One trivia session was run by a nice chap who's command of English was so poor that it was difficult to understand the questions.
The bars are very nice, but suffer from a common affliction. The accompanying music is played so loudly, that it is very difficult to engage in a conversation. That was a common theme at all of the indoor bars, especially the martini bar.
Overall, I would rate this ship/cruise as about a 90 our of 100; very good but in need of tweaking around the edges.