Summit Reviews

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73 User Reviews of Summit Cruise Ship

Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 13, 2004

My wife and I have been on six previous cruises, all but two on Celebrity. The Summit is a worthy representative of the line, beautiful as well as functional. The decor is rather classic with modern toutches.

Over the years, there have been some changes for the line, some of which are improvements and others not.

The quality of the food has decreased slightly, but it is still quite good. Service has remained excellent in all dining areas. The midnight buffets have been virtually eliminated, except for the lavish Grand Buffet. There are more dining choices, however, both for lunch and dinner.

For lunch, there is the main restaurant, the large casual buffet, a pasta ststion, a soup and sandwhich buffet, an outdoor hotdog and hamburger buffet, and a healthy salad selection. All are quite good.

For dinner, you can dine in the main dining room (very pretty), a casual buffet where there are no dress requirements, a beautiful specialty restaurant (the Normandy) which charges $25 per person , and a Sushi Bar near the casual buffet. We found the Normandy well worth the extra fee. The food and service were excellent, although the sauces

are very rich (typicaly French). The sushi bar was only fair and will be a disappointment to real sushi lovers, but is fine for those who want to try sushi at no extra cost.

The ship has a large selection of martinis, champagne, wine, beer, etc., and the prices are not out of line with restaurants in the states. Maybe they are not a bargain, but prices are not excessive either.

The theatre where the live entertainment is shown is truly magnificant. We also thought, and heard many other passengers commenting, that the production shows had been upgraded greatly on this ship. The sets and costumes wer spectacular, and the singing and dancing talent was the best we have seen in all our cruises. The rest of the entertainment was about the same as on our earlier trips, generally pretty good.

A change that was a big plus for us was that the thelassotherapy pool (sort of like a giant whirlpool with several different stations) is now free, whereas before it was $10 per person per day. We used that pool everyday before dinner and was it ever relaxing!

The ship is also now filled with silk flowers and bushes, which are beautiful and very real looking. We even bought some to take home with us.

Shore excursions are about the same as on earlier cruises and we feel that they are not really a strong point for Celebrity. Also you will find that you can save almost half of the cost of the excursion by joining other couples and booking your own cab and guide for the island. This is especially true if the excursion was just a tour of the island or a trip to a beach.

Celebrity has also eliminated many of the evening poolside theme parties (Tex-Mex Night, Island Night, etc), which we were tired of and probably wouldn't have attended anyhow. There also seemed to be many less pool games and contests, which was also aOK with us.

All in all, this was another wonderful cruise with Celebrity. The ship was beautiful, service was friendly and efficiant and we had agreat time. If we had one complaint, it would be that many passengers would go out early, reserve deck chairs near the pool, and then disappear for several hours while the chairs remained vacant. Passengers were informed not to do that, but the crew made no effort to enforce the rules (which is understandable). This was a bit aggravating, but probably typical and it certainly did not cause any major problems.

The ship atmosphere, at least on our cruise, was relaxed and elegant...just what we like. It probably would not be great for singles or people who are looking for a wild time. For those who wish to relax in semi-luxory and be treated like a celebrity, this may be the cruise line for you.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 12, 2003

We went down a day early and finally arrived at the terminal around 11:30am. Things were really backed up and there was mass confusion. The only people allowed to board were Captain's Club members. Finally once through security we breezed through check in and were on board in minutes.

The ship is beautiful, well layed out and practical.

I had previously sailed on Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean and I would say that Celebrity was perhaps a tad lower in my opinion than Princess.

We had the most wonderful service, so it comes down to personal opinion. Food was just as great as on the other ships. Service was great, Entertainment was fine.

Shore excursions we took we Beach Break in St.Maartin, Land & Sea in St. Lucia and the 5Star Catarmaran in Barbadoes and they were all great.

Age group on this ship was extremely senior. I mean 70-80 years old. We always walked extremely solo on board because people were in wheel chairs and walkers etc. That was the only downfall and a lot of the time these people were extremely rude to fellow passengers and staff.

The cruise director was a bit

bland, but like I say after cruising on RC and Carnival, what would one expect.

All in all, a pleasant cruise and a nice way to spend 10 days before Xmas.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 12, 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 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 Penhouse 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 Café Milano. Actually, we found the bakery on Summit was excellent. 3. Low Cal, Low Fat spa lunches in the Spa Café. 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 equipments 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 ($2.5pp) 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 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.

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Panama Canal
Publication Date: April 25, 2003

~~~~~~~~ Prolog - A Comparison Cruise ~~~~~~~~~

We jumped ship. We were supposed to be on the Coral Princess and ended up on the Summit. There were four of us on this cruise - my nephew Michael and his wife, Robin, from Vancouver WA. They were joining my wife, Pat, and yours truly, from Portland, OR, to experience the difference in cruise lines and to transit the Panama Canal.

I will state up front that, for me, Celebrity gets the nod. This line offered many things that I desire from a cruise: I want traditional dining. I want to tip the staff personally. I want a quiet stateroom without announcements and no advertising from a ceiling loudspeaker. I want a well trained and friendly staff. It would also be nice to have a veranda that is 'somewhat' private, (without being stared at from above.) Celebrity took care of all these needs. Let us skip pre cruise and embarkation. Suffice to say we were on board before noon because.... we took a taxi from the pre cruise hotel to the berth. There were over 100 people at the hotel who waited for the

courtesy buses. Many of them did not get on the ship until after three in the afternoon ! ! ! Remember - take a taxi to the dock...

~~~~~~~ Stateroom ~~~~~~~~~

8154 starboard, aft, Cat 1B. Perfect for two. Small bathroom with a big shower. Ample closet space, six drawers. 191 sq. ft. with a 41 sq. ft. veranda..... nice. Michael and Robin booked a cat 2A. A bit smaller but with a veranda. Robin was forced to hang her dinner gowns from the bathroom door.... maybe because Michael brought four suites!!! Hmmmmm........

~~~~~~ Around the Ship ~~~~~~~~

Atrium Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews Celebrity Cruises Summit by H. Michael Ball Panama Canal April 25, 2003

~~~~~~~~ Prolog - A Comparison Cruise ~~~~~~~~~

We jumped ship. We were supposed to be on the Coral Princess and ended up on the Summit. There were four of us on this cruise - my nephew Michael and his wife, Robin, from Vancouver WA. They were joining my wife, Pat, and yours truly, from Portland, OR, to experience the difference in cruise lines and to transit the Panama Canal.

I will state up front that, for me, Celebrity gets the nod. This line offered many things that I desire from a cruise: I want traditional dining. I want to tip the staff personally. I want a quiet stateroom without announcements and no advertising from a ceiling loudspeaker. I want a well trained and friendly staff. It would also be nice to have a veranda that is 'somewhat' private, (without being stared at from above.) Celebrity took care of all these needs. Let us skip pre cruise and embarkation. Suffice to say we were on board before noon because.... we took a taxi from the pre cruise hotel to the berth. There were over 100 people at the hotel who waited for the courtesy buses. Many of them did not get on the ship until after three in the afternoon ! ! ! Remember - take a taxi to the dock...

~~~~~~~ Stateroom ~~~~~~~~~

8154 starboard, aft, Cat 1B. Perfect for two. Small bathroom with a big shower. Ample closet space, six drawers. 191 sq. ft. with a 41 sq. ft. veranda..... nice. Michael and Robin booked a cat 2A. A bit smaller but with a veranda. Robin was forced to hang her dinner gowns from the bathroom door.... maybe because Michael brought four suites!!! Hmmmmm........

~~~~~~ Around the Ship ~~~~~~~~

Atrium: Small by modern standards but remember - this gives more room to the passengers. The next time you are on a ship with a mega monstrous atrium, try to view it as a void. It may be nice to view and it might add to the grt of the vessel, but it serves no purpose. If you need expanse, go above deck.

Sun Deck: Plenty of deck chairs.... very little evidence of chair hogs. Empty chairs here, there, all over.... ones, in twos... lots of chairs. Good atmosphere on these M Class ships.... well designed pool area.

Celebrity Theater: Large, elegant. More arm rests would be nice. Very comfortable seating.

Emporium: More variety than I expected. Everything from drug store items to diamonds and amber necklaces.

Michael's Club: No longer for cigar smokers. No more one deck blackjack..... now a piano bar.

Wonderfully adorned but empty most of the day.

Notes: $10 daily fee for rental of an MP3 player.... that's it. I guess you download the songs at notes..... again, empty most of the day.

Words: I enquired here about the navigational software used by the ship which was broadcast on one of the closed circuit channels. The attendant went out of her way to investigate the matter. Turns out that the software is part of the ships navigation system. Not for sale and definitely much more than I might need.

Martini Bar: Starboard. I did not know of so many types of martinis! No smoking.

Champagne Lounge: Port. Smoking permitted and martinis can be ordered.

Casino: The slots were not that tight. Pat won $300 on a dollar machine and Michael won $100.

Cova Cafe: Fee based specialty coffees, free pastries. I guess you could call it a piano coffee house. Smoking port.

Cosmopolitan Restaurant: Good to excellent dishes, presented well. The lobster, I am afraid, will always be overcooked when preparing for so many passengers.

Normandie Restaurant: 5 star dining, classical French menu. Good selection of wines. The service is, perhaps, just a bit much, but entertaining.

Waterfall Cafe: The food is most adequate as an alternative. It never seemed crowded and the staff was very efficient. Fun to watch people on the first few days of the cruise as they finished eating, picked up their trays and wandered around, looking for a waste can - as if in a fast food joint.

~~~~~~~ Last Days at Sea ~~~~~~~~~~

This is when many passengers seem to stop pretending and start believing that they are, indeed, wealthy, but perhaps not in the monetary sense. The wealth can in gaining the view of a traveler, rather than that of a tourist and perhaps the knowledge of how fortunate we are in having the resources to venture far and wide on the seven seas in air conditioned luxury.

The end of a cruise always scorches my reality..... from pompous elegance to the shocking reminder of the mundane day to day life. Claustrophobic coach fair with stewardesses who offer so much less than the angelic cruise staff. Warp factor two on a 737 replaces the 25 knot drive of our formal vessel. Back to our land and our homes with pets and yards and dirty dishes. I look to the cupboards and find canned, bland vegetables, peanut butter, top roman noodles and the mildest of cheeses. I do, however, have the photos and memories of a moving event which will be embedded in my memory for these remaining years. Memories of Pat and I sailing foreign waters....images of the Cuban and Aruban coast and being a mere 600 miles from the mouth of the Orinoco River. The great experience of a wondrous canal that spans the oceans. We spotted sharks, pods of dolphins and sea turtles from our veranda and saw a Costa Rican sunset in brilliant shades of red and blue. We revisited that gem called Acapulco and again inquired about Sammy Hager at CaboWabo in Cabo San Lucas. We had eight days at sea to do nothing but enjoy this wondrous vessel called Summit.

~~~~~~ Assessment ~~~~~~~~~~

The Summit crew was genuinely happy, well trained and devoted to the company. There were literally dozens of times when I turned to Pat and remarked, "You will not find this on Princess!" From the complimentary champagne or orange juice at embarkation to the cloth towels in the public restrooms, Celebrity tried and accomplished their public claims - to be the best premium line in the world. The rebrand is in place. Sorbet and chilled towels are available on the sundeck at noon. Chilled towels are presented when returning to ship from shore excursions. Many little things which I kept noticing over and over and over..... this is a very good line!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: December 9, 2002

Ultimate Caribbean - 11 night - RT - Ft. Lauderdale Ship Ambience: Ship was huge compared to previously sailed Maasdam and Noordam. We enjoyed theRevelationsLounge during the day. This was on the 11th. deck-forward with 180 degree view of the ocean ahead of us. Exercise room is very well equipped and located directly under the Revelations Lounge. Pool area was lovely. However, each day in the ship newspaper, passengers were asked not to reserve deck chairs at the pool. But by 8am, avery chair in the shady areas had personal belongings and towels on them. When others came to the pool after breakfast, there were quite o few squabbles and ships officers had to be called. There were announcements asking people to please observe a basic dress code and not wear the robes at the pool or in other public area. These are intended for cabin use only. But quite a few people wore them anyway. Rules are posted but not enforced so, we went with the flow and had to get out early enough to reserve a chair before breakfast.

Cabin: We had a lovely cabin on the starboard side,

with a balcony. Our cabin steward and her assistant were excellent.

Food: We found the food to be not as good as on HAL ships. There wasn't much variety and some dishes were inconsistent. One night I ordered what was described as roast sirloin of beef and I was served a meat that looked like pot roast and was very tough. The soups were all very thin and not too tasty. There was a French Onion Soup one night that was nothing at all like it should have been. I thought it was Lipton's Onion Soup with a crouton in it. There were a few meals that were good. Our waiter and his assistant were excellent. The food at the breakfast and lunch buffets were a little better than the dinners in the dining room. Embarkation: We arrived in Florida a day early , so we were at the ship by 11am. We sat in a huge waiting area until they started to board. At the announcement, at 11:30, hundreds of people ran to get on line. There was no semblance of order at all. There were three long lines leading to only two security check points. We were in our room by about 12:30 and went to the Waterfall Cafe for lunch. We were scheduled for early dinner at 6 pm. Many times during that afternoon I checked on the luggage delivery and was told they would all get to us eventually. At 5:30 we walked around and found our luggage in the hallway on another floor. Needless to say, I followed them to our room, and there was a mad dash to change for dinner. Others we spoke to did not receive their luggage until 8pm. We were told that the delay was caused by more intense luggage screening. But, in watching these "delivery men" at work, I fail to believe that there can not be a better system in place. The tags should have been color coded for the different floors instead of being all the same color, thrown into a heap and delivered haphazardly, one piece at a time.

Entertainment: We went to all the shows, but they were mediocre. Of the 11 nights of shows, I only enjoyed about 3 of them. One excellent comedian was on twice, and one production of show tunes was very good. We also went to the lounges some evenings. The music for listening and dancing was excellent for the age group on this cruise. We are both in our sixties and that was about the median age. Ports of Call: Cozumel-we took a taxi with other people and spent an enjoyable day in the shopping area. Costa Rica-Went on one of the bus tours offered by Celebrity.Panama-Did not go on a regular tour. We took a taxi to the Gatun Locks and the driver took us on an additional tour and then back to the ship. Aruba-We got off the ship intending to walk over to the shopping area. However, there were vans with drivers offering to take people on island tours. So, we went on one of these and were dropped off at the shopping area after the tour. By then it was around noon and extremely hot so we didn't stay too long. Unfortunately, the day we were to anchor and tender to Grand Cayman had to be cancelled. All the ships in the area were told to leave because of very high winds and rough seas. We cruised back to Ft.Lauderdale and had an extra day at sea. Most of the tours offerd by Celebrity included swimming and snorkeling which is why we avoided most of them. Disembarkation: As on the other ships, we filled out a form regarding flight information and received the appropriate color coded tags. The process went very smoothly and we were off the ship by 10am. The luggage was lined up ina nice orderly fashion and easy to find under the correct color sign. If they could only deliver the luggage to the cabins in this same orderly procedure. Final Note: I would rate this cruise as 4 out of 5 stars. The ship was beautiful, we met some lovely people, and we had a nice relaxing time. The food, the entertainment,and the embarkation could have been better. I might try Celebrity again after I try Royal Caribbean and Princess.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 15, 2004

This was our 2nd time on Summit and even better than the 1st.(last April, 10 day) We met many people who also have been on before and feel the same way. That many people can't be wrong. The ship is beautiful and kept clean, like new. Everything works! Cabins are comfortable size, we had a cat. 1B veranda on deck#8, The only drawback was it had an ajoining door to the room next door and the sound came thru clearly at times, especially the TV. Service was excellent, everyone was so friendly and helpful. We are Trivia buffs, and had so much fun with the Activities Staff. I have to mention them because they were great. Jennifer Rogers, Quentin Lemmer, Simona Pintea, and a newbee Lauren Orenga. The food was good to excellent. Although the portions were smaller than before, if you wanted more your waiter and asst. brought out trays full to satisfy everyone. Our waiter was Oz, and his Asst. Milton, They were the best we ever had also. The health spa food was very good, we were surprised to sample it an enjoyed more. Don't miss the Belgium

Waffles in the rear of the cafe on deck#10. for breakfast, they are wonderful! I had them almost every morning. The shows were very good, and the singers and dancers were some of the best we have seen and heard. This was their last cruise, going on vacation, but hopefully returning.

The cruise director, Don Fluke, was very good, we all kept him on his toes and he did a great job. He also sings very well. Ports of call were decent,Key West, Cozemel, Costa Rica, Aruba, Panama, and Grand Cayman, but we think the tours are over priced. The bands,piano player, etc, were good and entertaining. We highly reccomend this ship for anyone who has 10 or 11 days to cruise. Leaving out of Fort Lauderdale,Fl. it is convenient to get to by air,(airport is 5 min.) bus or car.

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Publication Date: June 20, 2003

BACKGROUND: A friend and I recently discovered that we had both always wanted to go to Alaska and had also always wanted to take a cruise. An Alaska cruisetour seemed just the ticket. We are middle-aged, active, and love the outdoors. We wanted a more traditional experience for our first cruise. And to the extent possible, we wanted a no-hassle vacation. After doing our homework, we decided that Celebrity sounded like a good match for us…and it was!

ITINERARY: We chose Celebrity's cruisetour #6, Frontier Spirit—northbound cruise out of Vancouver followed by a 4-night land package that included Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Talkeetna, and ended in Anchorage.

CRUISE – EVENING DRESS: • Casual – 4 nights (our first night onboard and three of our four port days) • Informal – 1 night (one of our port days) • Formal – 2 nights (the days we were at sea – Inside Passage day and Hubbard Glacier day)

BOOKING: We booked just about everything through Celebrity—cruisetour, air, and shore excursions. We chose to fly the same day we sailed. We used regular air, not custom. Celebrity booked us on an early morning Alaska Airlines flight direct from LAX

to Vancouver. For the trip home, they booked us on a direct flight from Anchorage to LAX.

TRANSPORTATION/TRANSFERS Day #1 We arrived at LAX 2-1/2 hours before flight time. Check-in and security went very smoothly and only took about 45 minutes. We enjoyed coffee and people watching while waiting for our flight. Our flight departed on time and arrived a few minutes early.

Celebrity representatives took care of claiming our luggage and transferring it to the pier for us. All we had to do was take care of our carry-ons. Celebrity reps were readily available to assist with questions and direct us. We went through Customs and security, and then met the Celebrity transfer just outside. We waited less than 10 minutes for the Celebrity transfer coach. Enroute from the airport to the pier (about 40-minutes), the driver treated us to a delightful mini-tour/history lesson of Vancouver.

Land Portion of Trip All we had to do was set our luggage outside our hotel rooms by a specified time each day, and Celebrity took care of the rest. They loaded our luggage on the coach, transported it to our next destination, and delivered it to our rooms within 10-15 minutes of our arrival.

We were able to take carry-ons with us and had the option of storing larger carry-ons (such as rolling pilot cases) on the coach during the day. We also had the option of either keeping all of our check-thru luggage with us or of putting one or more pieces in storage (on the coach) for the duration of the land tour. Pieces that we designated for storage were not accessible during the land tour. We chose to keep everything with us, but a lot of people put some of their luggage in storage.

Last Day – Returning Home Again, this went very smoothly. We arrived at our last hotel (Anchorage Marriott) on a Monday. Our tour director provided each of us with a card that had specific instructions based on our flight schedules, etc. Our tour director and bus driver then left us. Other Celebrity Reps were available to assist us as needed the day we flew home.

Airport transfers ran all day and were coordinated with flight schedules. Luggage had to be outside our room door by 11:00 a.m. for pick up by the bellhops. For those of us with later flights, the bellhops stored our luggage (and carry ons if desired) so that we could go out and explore the town. We had to be on the Celebrity coach 2-1/2 hours prior to our flight time for the drive to the airport.

Once we arrived at the airport and got our luggage off the coach, we were completely on our own (no longer had Celebrity Reps to assist us). We immediately found a very helpful bellhop who took care of our luggage and walked us through the check-in process.

EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: Embarkation Embarkation was not at all the nightmare we'd been told to expect. We had completed most of our "paperwork" online, and that really helped. After going through security yet again (keep those passports handy!), we were directed to a large waiting area where we filled out additional paperwork and then waited to board. We arrived at the pier about 11:00 a.m. and boarded about 12:30—didn't seem bad to us at all.

The boarding process was very exciting and not at all confusing. They took our "welcome aboard" picture just before we reached the gangway. At the end of the gangway, security took our photo again; this photo was used later as part of the security process when reboarding at ports. After our security photo, we were escorted to our cabin. Our carry-ons were carried for us. We were also offered champagne; what a delightful way to begin a cruise!

Debarkation Debarkation instructions were delivered to us with The Daily the night before. Instructions told us when and where to meet the next morning and included color-number coded tags for our luggage. We had to put out luggage outside our cabins by 11:00 pm on the last night. We put ours out before dinner (2nd seating) so that we could enjoy the evening without feeling pressured by the clock.

Breakfast began early (5am) the next morning to accommodate those with early departure times. We had breakfast about 5:15, took some final photos, and then met in our designated area. Each waiting area had two Celebrity Reps--one to answer questions and announce when it was time to leave the ship, the other to lead groups off the ship. We only had to wait about 10 minutes for our color-number group to be called. Five minutes later we were (sadly) off the beautiful ship. We proceeded to a large warehouse-type building where luggage was grouped by color-number tags.

The next step depended upon travelers' specific plans. In our case, we were taking a Celebrity landtour that included a flight to Fairbanks that day. We claimed our luggage, then got in a line for Alaska Airlines. (There were plenty of helpful Celebrity Reps to direct us to the correct line and answer questions.) The line took awhile to get through, but we passed the time by chatting with other happy passengers about our wonderful cruise.

We checked our luggage with an Alaska Airlines rep, then were directed to a waiting coach to begin our cruisetour. Our baggage was flown directly to Fairbanks. We took the coach to Anchorage where we boarded our flight.

Debarkation was much easier than I'd expected. With so many passengers and so much luggage to deal with, I was very impressed with Celebrity's organization and planning.

PORTS/SHORE EXCURSIONS We booked all of our shore excursions through Celebrity's Website well in advance and got everything we wanted.

Ketchikan – Totem Bight State Park We are both very interested in native cultures and thoroughly enjoyed this excursion. We arrived in port at 7a.m. and were scheduled for the 9a.m. tour, so had to time to explore the town on foot beforehand. Even with that, everyone arrived at the tour coach 30 minutes early, so our driver/tour guide started early. That in turn put us back in town early, and our driver/guide treated us to an additional 30-minute tour of Ketchikan. It was great. Our guide was both knowledgeable and personable and had a delightful sense of humor. After the tour, we did some shopping, then reboarded.

Skagway – Dog sledding and Historical Tour We went our separate ways this day. My friend took an historical tour of Skagway (the yellow bus) and loved it—fascinating tour, terrific tour guide. If you enjoy history, seriously consider taking this delightful, informative two-hour tour.

I went on the glacier/dog-sledding adventure. Incredible! I had never been in a helicopter, on a glacier, or gone dog sledding before, so every bit of this excursion was new and exciting. We were only on the glacier for a little over an hour, but it was an absolutely incredible experience and well worth the money.

Skagway is also a shopper's paradise – lots of darling shops, friendly shopkeepers, and decent prices.

Juneau – Gold panning, Salmon Bake, Whale Watching, Mt. Roberts Tramway This was one of only two rainy days on our trip, but that didn't slow us down one bit. We tendered here, and it didn't take nearly as long as we'd expected. Once again, we were very impressed by Celebrity's organization.

We explored the town for about 45 minutes before our 10 a.m. Gold panning/Salmon Bake combination excursion. Gold panning was a bit touristy, but still a great deal of fun and educational. It was in a beautiful location, and our guide was terrific—shared local history with us and taught us how to pan. (It was more challenging and more fun than I'd expected.)

From there, we were driven to the all-you-can-eat salmon bake. Yum! The food was delicious and there was plenty of it. Coffee and lemonade were included; beer was extra. After eating, we followed a short trail to a beautiful waterfall where we took pictures. Then we returned to the outdoor eating area and roasted marshmallows with other guests.

You can stay at the salmon bake as long as you like; shuttles go back and forth to the pier about every 30 minutes. (Shuttles are included in the price of the salmon bake.)

IMO, both the gold panning and salmon bake are nice excursions for any age and would be particularly appropriate for families—fun for children and their parents to share. After the Salmon Bake, we went whale watching. The provider was Dolphin, and they were just great. Viewing that day happened to be quite good; everyone who went out had multiple sightings. We saw so many that we lost count.

The boat was small—only about 18 passengers—and our skipper and naturalist were both delightful. The seating area was enclosed, with one pair of binoculars for each 2-person seat. There was also a small deck on the back of the boat that accommodated about 8 people at a time—great for taking pictures.

The guide who drove us to/from the boat was great, too. She was an Athabascan Indian, who had lived in Alaska all her life. During the rides to/from the boat, she share fascinating tidbits with us about her culture and even taught us a few Athabascan words.

When we returned from the whale watching, we decided to take the Mt. Roberts Tramway. This was the only shore excursion that we did not book through Celebrity, and that was because it was a last-minute decision.

The ride to the top (1800 feet) took only 2-3 minutes, and the view was spectacular even on a rainy day. Because of the weather, many people had opted not to take the tram, so it wasn't the least bit crowded. At the top, there was a nice restaurant, a gift shop, a theater with an 18-minute film about native culture (very interesting), a bald eagle named "Cessna" who is being rehabbed, and hiking trails. We didn't go hiking because of the weather, but thoroughly enjoyed everything else at the top.

Valdez – Duck Flats Kayaking This was another great excursion. There were about 18 in our group plus two excellent guides. Two-man and three-man kayaks were available. Duck Flats is in a quiet area of the sound very near the port. It was extremely calm the day we were there, but I've heard from others that it can get quite windy at times.

With Prince William Sound's breathtaking scenery all around us, we paddled our way among tiny islets. We saw lots of interesting birds and even several sea otter and harbor seals. The seals and otter kept their distance, but we could still see them quite clearly. We also paddled up to a small fishing boat and then over for a sea level view of the Summit. Amazing!

We took water cameras with us that day and were able to hand them to our guides who kindly took pictures of us on the water.

The provider was Pangaea, and we felt they did an excellent job. They provided all the gear we needed and easy-to-understand instruction before we got into the kayaks. They were also readily available throughout the excursion to assist us and answer any questions we had about the local area and wildlife.

Hubbard Glacier Hubbard Glacier is not a port, but it was an amazing highlight of our cruise. This is something you must experience; neither words nor photos can come close to doing it justice. Hubbard is breathtaking, wondrous, spectacular. If you've never seen or heard a glacier calve, you're in for quite an experience. Our captain got us much closer than expected to the face of Hubbard; it was an amazing, memorable morning.

You can view Hubbard from the public rooms inside the ship (Revelations is a great viewing location; get there early) and from deck. Trust me on this one, you'll definitely want to spend at least some of your time (probably most of it) out on deck.

It really gets cold near the glacier, so dress in layers if you're going to be outdoors. I had four layers on top but only 2 layers on my legs, and my legs got terribly cold. The glacier is also very bright; sunglasses and sunscreen were very helpful.

The ship provided just enough excellent narration to help us understand what we were seeing, then left us to marvel at this wondrous sight on our own.

Be sure to have plenty of film, memory cards, and batteries with you for Hubbard as you will not want to leave for even a moment to return to your cabin.

College Fjord We went to College Fjord the same day we visited the port of Valdez. (Valdez in the morning, then College Fjord in the afternoon.) It was spectacular. My photos do not do it justice, but they'll have to suffice. Same advice regarding clothing, sunscreen, etc. as for Hubbard. We saw lots of sea otter in College Fjord and even an eagle perched on an iceberg. Amazing!

OUR CABIN We chose a category 11 cabin—inside, down on deck #2—and were delighted with it. It was larger than we expected, had ample storage space, TV, small refrigerator, and even a small but functional sitting area. Though the bathroom was small, it was also larger than we expected and had plenty of storage for two people. We were glad we had not taken an over-the-door shoe bag with us as we definitely did not need it. The hair dryer in the bathroom was fine, but we were glad we had our own with us as the bathroom got quite steamy.

Our cabin/bath were just fine for one or two people, but I don't think it would have worked for more than two.

AQUASPA I've received a number of questions about the Aquaspa so wanted address it separately. It is absolutely wonderful!!!

It is in a separate, enclosed area adjacent to the outdoor pool. The aquaspa area is heated—comfortably warm, not hot.

Thellasotherapy Pool (T-Pool) – This is a salt-water/mineral type pool with lots of wonderful jets. The water is warm, not hot. There are also two hot tubs adjacent to the T-Pool. On the M-Class ships, use of the T-Pool and hot tubs is free.

At one end of the T-Pool area is the Aquaspa Café, serving a lovely lite menu. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. We ate lunch in this area twice, and it was a real treat.

Just off the T-Pool area are very nice gender-specific dressing rooms with showers and dry-heat sauna. Just outside the dressing rooms are the aquaspa reservations desk and other aquaspa services – Persian Gardens (delightful aroma-therapy steam rooms), massage rooms, beauty shop, etc.

On the M-Class ships, the T-Pool, hot tubs, and dry sauna are free. (I believe there is a charge for the T-pool and hot tubs on other ships, but check with Celebrity to be sure.) There are separate charges for the Persian Gardens, massages, beauty shop, etc.

On the first day, they offer tours of the Aquaspa, which I highly recommend. The tour shows you the spa, explains what is available, and gives you the chance to make reservations right away for special services you may want. Some of these tend to fill up quickly, so if there is something you simply must have, I recommend signing up early. On the other hand, if you're a bit more flexible, I'd suggest waiting as you may be able to take advantage of a special later in the cruise. Watch The Daily for announcements.

Age Restrictions: During the day, children are allowed in the T-Pool and hot tubs only with adult supervision. After a certain time in the evening, children are not permitted at all. On our cruise, we only saw a handful of children in these pools. All were supervised and very well behaved. Because we had late dinner seating, we did not use the aquaspa in the evening, so I do not know if the evening age restriction was enforced or not.

SUMMIT – FAVORITE THINGS • Revelations Lounge – excellent viewing room, nice place to meet old and new friends and socialize any time. • Evening Dining – incredible service, wonderful cuisine, and the best tablemates anyone could ask for. • Elegant Tea – The ship served afternoon tea several days, but the Elegant Tea was the only one that fit my schedule. Served in dining room, the very formal tea was lovely. Excellent choices of tea and beautiful, tasty finger sandwiches and savories. While we ate and talked, we enjoyed beautiful live stringed music. • Harpist – wonderful musician. If she ever makes a CD, I'll be first in line to buy it. • Aquaspa – ahhhhh, what a life! • Ports and Shore Excursions – truly enjoyed them all. • Very few shipboard announcements. A watch and The Daily were all we needed. • We were pleasantly surprised by the prices in the Emporium. For the most part, they were about the same as we pay at home (southern California) or even a bit less for some things.

SUMMIT – OUR ONLY DISAPPOINTMENT Summit's photography department – We tried their shipboard film developing and were so disappointed in it that we requested, and received, a full refund. We requested 4 x 6 with matte finish; they gave us 5 x 7 glossies. We had also taken a number of panoramic views, but they printed everything 5 x 7. The colors were poor, even on outdoor shots.

We also had them transfer digital images from memory card to a CD and were disappointed in that process, too. At our request, the Summit gave us a partial refund on the transfer charge.

Although we were disappointed in their technical work, the photo dept staff was very nice about things and accommodated us financially.

LAND PORTION OF CRUISETOUR Land-Day #1 Our land portion began with a 3-hour drive from Seward to Anchorage, then a flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and it was probably the most challenging, tiring day of the land tour. After checking our luggage, a Celebrity Rep met us and assigned us to a waiting Celebrity coach for the drive to Anchorage.

There were roughly 150 people on our cruisetour, and we were sub-divided into 3 groups of approximately 50. Each group functioned as a separate tour group but followed the same itinerary and stayed in the same hotels. Each group also had a Tour Director (guide) and bus driver who remained with the group for the duration of the land tour.

Our tour guide was the one disappointment on the land portion, but we decided not to let this individual put a damper on the trip for us. We talked to people on the other two coaches, and they were very happy with their tour directors, so I suspect our experience was an unfortunate exception. I'd prefer not to share specifics here, so please don't ask.

The drive to Anchorage was beautiful, but long—3 hours without any stops, not even to stretch our legs or take photos.

We stopped in Anchorage for lunch at 10:30 a.m., and the two restaurants that our tour director recommended were both closed. As we had only an hour for lunch (tour director said that we'd be left behind if we were late), we had to quickly find another place to eat. We wound up in a coffee shop that was serving breakfast only. That was better than nothing, especially since we didn't know when we'd be eating again, so we quickly downed some pancakes. As it turned out, our next food stop was not until we got to our hotel around 6pm, so we were very glad we had forced down that 2nd breakfast.

Anchorage Airport security was very tight. All passengers were required to remove their shoes. If you're wearing anything metal, be prepared to be pulled out and go through a separate security check. I knew about my metal belt buckle but completely forgot that my eyeglass frames are also metal. At LAX, I was able to just remove my glasses and walk through the metal detector again, but at Anchorage, I was pulled aside and thoroughly wanded.

The flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks only took about an hour. At Fairbanks, we boarded the coach again and were taken to a museum at U of A, Fairbanks, then out to see the Pipeline, then finally to our hotel.

This was the one day that I felt could have been done differently. It was a very long day. The lack of even brief stops to stretch our legs and over 6 hours between meals made it even more challenging. Though it was an interesting day, I don't think I've ever been so tired and hungry in my life.

Land-Day #2 Morning: Riverboat Discovery sternwheeler cruise in Fairbanks. Very interesting, lots of fun, would highly recommend this to anyone going to Fairbanks. All seats on the sternwheeler have excellent viewing. Free coffee and donuts are served throughout the 4-hour tour and a salmon snack is served at the end. A refreshment bar also offers hot dogs, fudge, pastries, soft drinks, chips, and chili at very reasonable prices. There is also a lovely gift shop on board with nice things at very good prices. The people who operate this tour are both friendly and helpful.

After Discovery, we had a little over an hour in downtown Fairbanks for lunch. But if you eat an early lunch on the Discovery, you can use this time to instead explore the town a bit and do some shopping.

After lunch, we were taken by coach to Denali National Park. Arrived about 5:30 p.m. and had the evening for optional activities—local hiking on our own, horseback riding, rafting, dinner theater (completely booked up so couldn't get it), etc. We ate dinner at the lodge (pricey but excellent), then went for a delightful walk along the river. We heard that the Cabin Night Dinner Theater was excellent and that people who went hiking saw lots of wildlife.

Land-Day #3 Natural History Tour. We had heard lots of negative things about this tour and do not understand why…unless the complainers are interested in wildlife only. The tour was exactly what its title claimed; it was about Denali National Park's natural history—its vegetation, weather, geology, and how people have survived in it over the years. Along the way, we also saw a couple of caribou, a moose, an Arctic Squirrel, several Ptarmigan (Alaska's state bird), and several other species of birds. We also had beautiful views of Denali (Mt. McKinley).

We had an excellent tour guide from the Park Service who made several0 stops along the way for picture taking, restrooms, and brief presentations by locals about life in the wilderness. On our way back, our guide gave us lovely books that summarized what we had learned on the tour and included beautiful photographs of the areas we had visited. If you do not have time for one of the longer tours, I definitely feel the Natural History Tour is worthwhile.

After the Natural History Tour, we boarded Celebrity's dome train car on the Alaska Railroad. The four-hour ride to Talkeetna was one of the highlights of our trip. Celebrity's dome car is great—lots of legroom and excellent viewing of magnificent scenery and even some wildlife (waterfowl, beaver, and such.) It also has a restaurant downstairs—excellent food, reasonably priced. (Approx $10 - $15 for lunch; $18 - $25 for dinner). Bar service is also available both upstairs and down. We loved the "Moose Kiss," a coffee/Kailua drink. Alcoholic beverages ran about $5 - $7. Non-alcoholic beverages were about $3. (All of the cruiselines have their own dome cars, which looked very similar. The cruiseline train cars were definitely bigger and had larger dome areas than the "regular" Alaska railroad cars.

We arrived in Talkeetna in the early evening. The drive to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge only took about 5 minutes. The lodge is magnificent and has a spectacular view of Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Range out back. There is lots of outdoor seating for feasting your eyes. There are also well-marked, well-maintained hiking trails. Trail maps are available from the lobby desk.

Rooms were huge, nicely appointed, and baths had tub-showers. The only drawback is that the Lodge has no air conditioning, not even wall units. It was hot and muggy when we arrived; the lack of a/c surprised us.

The Lodge is a non-smoking facility and only allows smoking outdoors. If you're caught smoking indoors, you can be hit with a hefty fine. I'm not a smoker, but I believe they said the smoking fine is over $200.

We had dinner at the Lodge – wonderful. If you like fish, I'd highly recommend the halibut quesadilla. We went hiking that evening and were accompanied by jillions of mosquitoes. Fortunately, our insect repellant worked very well.

Land–Day #4 – last full day of the trip Took a flightseeing tour in the morning. Scheduled it through the lodge after they had received the day's weather report. I took the Summit flight and found it well worth the money. Went with Talkeetna Aero (I think that's the name). They use a non-pressurized plane, so we used oxygen above 12,000 feet. Very easy to do; masks easily accommodate glasses and do no interfere with picture taking. Pilot did an incredible job, and the scenery was absolutely magnificent. This was a fairly expensive excursion, but I felt it was well worth it.

Afterward, we went into town for lunch and some shopping. Talkeetna is a cute little eclectic town, which you can easily see it in an hour or so. Lots of friendly people, good food, and a surprising amount of shopping.

In the late afternoon, we again boarded the train, this time taking it to Anchorage for our final night. We had a delicious dinner on the train and arrived in Anchorage around 8 pm. Our tour guide gave us individual instructions for our luggage handling and airport transfers. We stayed at the Marriott – beautiful, modern hotel in downtown.

Our tour guide and bus driver left us after dropping us off and taking care of our luggage. We had a great dinner at the hotel, then explored the town for about an hour or so.

Land - Day #5 – farewell Alaska We had breakfast at the hotel – excellent. For only the 2nd time on our entire trip, we had a rainy day. We took a one-hour trolley tour, did some shopping and had lunch back at the hotel, then read in the lobby while waiting for our airport transfer. Plenty of comfortable seating in the lobby.

We had an evening flight home on Alaska Airlines (direct flight). Celebrity and the Marriott took care of our luggage. Check out time was 11:00 a.m. For those of us with later flights, our luggage (including carry-ons if desired) was stored by the bellhops until it was time for us to leave. Another Celebrity coach picked us up 2-1/2 hours prior to flight time and took us to the airport. There were Celebrity Reps in the lobby all day to coordinate airport transfers and answer questions—very helpful.

We got to the airport in plenty of time. Once we were dropped off, we were on our own. We got a bellhop for our luggage. Check in and security went very quickly. We had a very smooth flight home, a perfect ending to a perfect vacation.

TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS • Read the Summit Daily, the ship's daily newsletter. It was delivered to our room around dinnertime the day before. (E.g., the Monday Daily was delivered Sunday evening). The Daily tells you what is happening when the following day—activities, enrichment lectures, port times, shopping suggestions, hours of various areas onboard ship, the evening's dress (casual, informal, formal), etc.

• We had the option of buying a video of our cruise. The video included a tour of the ship as well as highlights (many of them quite humorous) of our specific cruise. We were able to order the video onboard ship; it should arrive by mail in approximately two weeks. You can order the video at any time, but if you wait until the last day or so, you might get in on a special. On our sailing, they gave a free professional picture of the Summit to anyone who ordered the video on the last full day of the cruise.

• Sea days and formal nights go together, giving you plenty of time to get gussied up for formal nights.

• Clothing: • I wish I had taken more casual clothes. I took 2 pairs of jeans and wish I had taken 4. People dress very casually onboard ship during the day; jeans and t-shirts were common. • I took 2 pairs of shorts; only needed 1 pair. • I took no sweatshirt and only a couple of t-shirts so that I could buy more when I got there. This worked out very well. I bought a sweatshirt at our first port, Ketchikan, and bought t-shirts along the way. • I absolutely could not find a good cap for the trip so sailed without one. I found a great one within 5 minutes of stepping on shore in Ketchikan for only $6.00. • Mosquitoes - not a problem for us on the cruise, but out in full force in Alaska's interior (Fairbanks, Denali, and Talkeetna). If you're going to the interior, take insect repellant and use it often. We found the lotion types gave us better protection than sprays. We took two types with us; one with deet, one without. Both worked fine for us.

LAND TOUR – OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS On the first day of the land portion, our tour director gave us an order form for optional land excursions. Excursions had to be requested/paid for at least 24 hours in advance. If you subsequently changed your mind and cancelled with less than 24-hour notice, you lost your money—no refunds with less than 24-hour notice. Given that the land portion was only 4 days long, you had to move fast if you wanted to book an optional excursion through the cruiseline.

We submitted our form to our tour director who later faxed it to Celebrity. The tour director later advised whether or not you got what you had requested. Though some people got what they requested, many did not.

We felt the process was cumbersome and too time-consuming. The list of optional land tours available through the cruiseline was also fairly limited. The hotels offered many more options and very easy booking. I had no trouble booking a flightseeing tour just a few hours before it left. For the land portion of a cruisetour, I would recommend booking yourself when you get there, either through the hotel/lodge or directly with the provider.

LAND TOUR – HOTELS Alaska's interior can be hot and muggy, and we were surprised to find that a number of the hotels have little or no air conditioning. The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, which is gorgeous and quite new, has no air conditioning at all, not even wall units.

We felt the hotels in Fairbanks and Denali National Park were ok, but nothing to rave about. Celebrity uses several hotels in these locations, so perhaps we just happened to draw the low end. The hotels in both Talkeetna and Anchorage were terrific.

LANDTOUR REFLECTIONS I liked the convenience of the escorted landtour very much--not having to drive in an unfamiliar location/weather conditions, having our baggage handled for us every step of the way, and the ease of hotel check-in/check-out. The logistics of the landtour were beautifully coordinated, freeing us to just enjoy our vacation.

At the same time, I felt that the first day of the landtour was poorly planned. The day was way too long, meals were very poorly timed, and we needed more breaks to stretch our legs and take photos. I had also been told prior to booking that Royal Celebrity Tours (RCT) uses only superior hotels. Though all of our hotels were satisfactory, I felt that only two of them (Talkeetna and Anchorage) were top-notch.

There is also a potential financial advantage to booking the landtour separately. (This was something I did not understand until it was too late.) If the price of the cruise drops, that price drop is available to cruise-only passengers, not to those who have booked cruisetours.

SUMMARY If I were to grade the cruisetour: • Overall: A+ • Cruise portion: A++ • Landtour: B

Would I do a cruisetour again? Absolutely, but I would book the landtour with an independent provider, not with the cruiseline. For the cruise, I would go with Celebrity again in a heartbeat. I simply cannot say enough about them. Celebrity's ship, crew, service, food, etc. were all exceptional.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 24, 2003

This was one of the best vacations ever. They seem to get better every year!

First, we flew Jet Blue, which was absolutely fantastic....I just hope they keep growing and branching out, as I would surely fly that airline anywhere, anytime.....they are the best.....personnel so friendly, plane so comfortable, tons of snacks to select from....and on time.

The cruise was all we thought it would be, my mom (her 80th birthday celebration cruise- this tradition started on her 75th), my sister and myself. We were in cabin 8074, which was more than ample for the 3 of us, as we are used to making it work.

The cabin staff was so gracious and anxious to please. We couldn't have asked for anything more. As a matter of fact, the entire staff was more than accommodating in every way all over the ship.


We were especially fortunate to have a fantastic wait staff in the dining room, where we ate dinner each evening, and also had wonderful tablemates, who I know we will keep in touch with. (Our first dinner we were at a table with 5 other elderly women, making a table of 8 mother, who is extremely young spirited asked to move to a table that was mixed ages and couples and it was perfect!)

The food was good to very good, not excellent, but we enjoyed all our meals. A couple of small problems but nothing to spoil the dinner. (one night they ran out of filet mignon and kept us waiting 45 minutes with no word why we were waiting...they had to go down to the lower storage area and retrieve more beef) We sat there wondering why the rest of the restaurant was finished and we hadn't been served yet!!!! Little communication problem there...but worth the wait... No lobster until the 2nd to last night....almost no papaya at of my favorites are the cold fruit and melon soups.....

As I rarely leave the ship....I go simply to mom and sis check out every port. Many people were not too thrilled with the ports in Panama and Costa Rica. Alot of poverty and crime.....but they still saw the sights....even though alot were depressing.

I did find the silver shops that were recommended in this newsgroup and picked up a couple of great pieces, so thanks to all who suggested Cinco Soles.

One funny thing....the first newsletter for the first day out listed topless sunbathing.. I walked around to where it was supposed to be...deck 12 foreward....lots of lounge people. The next day it was not listed in the letter..I called the office and they explained that it had not been instituted as yet....not until the ship goes into drydock and has privacy walls built. So much for that feature on this cruise.

I only made it to one show, and the cast was really quite good. Mom and sis went to every show.....while i was in the gym working off all the food i was eating.... Everyone said the shows were wonderful and very professional.

The ship was lovely, as all the Celebrity ships seem to we can start planning the next cruise....eleven nights seems to be just enough time to relax and make the most of a vacation. We may never go back to a 7 day cruise....who knows.....I don't mind sailing around the Caribbean every year....the weather was divine....even too hot at times....

Well, I can only say that Celebrity is still our favorite cruise line......

It's always good to come home too.... Just wanted to post a little review.... If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to email me......

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 24, 2003

My husband and I are not new to cruising (this was our 14th cruise), but we encountered a new problem on the Summit. We had an adjoining door in our cabin, which we didn't know about when we booked the cruise. Unfortunately, our neighbor had late sitting and loved to smoke and watch loud TV when he returned at night. The adjoining door leaked smoke and noise. It was terrible. With great effort, we moved to another cabin the following evening (missing the show and the Captain's cocktail hour). In our "new" cabin we were surrounded by smokers.

We couldn't use our veranda since the cigar and cigarette smoke was overwhelming--and the smoke came in through the duct system and through our closed and locked sliding door. No point in paying for a nice veranda you can't use. We refused to move again, knowing we could have the same problems. The entertainment was excellent on this ship, the food so-so, but the smoke problem was a disaster. Be aware....I have written to Celebrity, but I don't expect much except information about smokers' rights. Our right to have a smoke-free room is very

important, too.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: November 18, 2002

Our 'Ultimate Caribbean' sailing November 18 on Celebrity's Summit was our fourth cruise, the second on Celebrity. Our cabin was 8136, class 2A -- nice, but crowded, with two adults and two teenage daughters. (Thank goodness for the balcony!) Our overall summary: The ambience, food and service were excellent, the entertainment was good, and the shore excursions were fair. There was no Norwalk virus, but there was very interesting and satisfactory security. We plan to cruise on Celebrity again.


We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before and stayed at the Largo Mar, a nice resort that had dramatically slashed its prices. The next day, we arrived at the dock about 12:30 p.m. and boarded the ship shortly thereafter. However, our luggage did not arrive at our cabin until 5:45 p.m., just before dinner, and then we had to send our cabin attendant to look for it.


My guess is the average age of the passengers was 62 or higher. Fortunately our teenage daughters were prepared for this, and had books or sun-soaking already planned; there were almost no teens on board. (My wife and I are 50-ish and 58.) Most were

Americans, but there were a number of British and Canadians and a few Germans and Hispanics. It was a pleasant group, with only a few of the usual old crabs who complained about everything (and whom we avoided thereafter).


We always ate in the Cosmopolitan for dinner and often for breakfast and lunch. The dinners were all good, although my daughter and I had to send back our beef several times because it was overcooked. (We learned to order rare instead of medium rare.) Our wait staff was excellent, we had the best sommelier we have ever had, and the bar service was attentive and prompt. Our girls liked how their favorite drinks were always waiting for them or brought as soon as they arrived.

Breakfasts in the Cosmopolitan featured the same menu every day. We got tired of them, and started going to the buffets more often. The theme buffets at noon were satisfactory in all respects, as were the buffet lunches. We did not go to the Normandie restaurant because we didn't want to take two and a half hours for dinner.


My wife and daughters went to the Celebrity shows most nights and liked them all except for the juggler. I thought the music and the dance bands were a little better than those on the Millennium last summer, though I wish they began a little earlier. All the drinks were more expensive than before.

The two Captain's Club parties were nice but crowded in the Celebrity Theater, giving us very little opportunity to mingle. No problem though, because this was primarily a family outing.

For once, we came home a few hundred dollars ahead in the casino.


Since we had been to Key West, we did our own. At Cozumel, we took the Mayan Ruins and Xel-ha excursion. The ferry ride was very rough and a third of the passengers became violently seasick (including my oldest daughter). The ruins were a disappointment, because the only information we could get was from a guide who focused on minutiae and was very rushed for time. Xel-ha was great; my daughters went swimming and snorkeling in an underground river.

The Green Train at Limon was quaint and a lot of fun--it really took you into the country and away from the tourist traps. The Two-Ocean Panama Canal Tour Dome Car was terrible. Be warned there are 14 seats on the train's bottom level just like on the regular cars--guess where we sat? The guide concentrated on the passengers in the dome and left us to ourselves. Instead of a guided tour, we were dumped at the locks with no explanation and only a brief movie. (Watching a lock fill is like watching paint dry.) All 14 of us lower-division passengers asked for our money back and got a partial refund from the ship. The Aruba sightseeing was good, the Grand Cayman sights OK, but our daughters revolted in both ports; they went to the beaches instead and had a great time.

One of the reasons we chose this cruise was that it had four days at sea: wonderful times to eat, to read and to sun, to play and in general to forget about the outside world. We did not bring our laptop, despite the very nice Summit in-room Internet access, because my wife and I would have been tempted to work. (I did suffer a little from Internet withdrawal and the lack of a decent daily newspaper.)


I suffer terribly from motion sickness. Even sitting in the back seat of a car makes me green, and my daughters are only a little better. So we used the transderm scope patches or the wristbands or dramamine when needed. As long as we kept up, we were fine. The real test came on the night from Cozumel to Limon when we encountered 15-20 foot seas and winds of better than 35 knots. All of us "sat" on the balcony and watched the ship crash into the waves and roll from side to side. We didn't have a single moment of seasickness then or on the rest of the trip, but we understand there were a number of sick passengers.


Leaving a ship is never a very happy time for us, but it was bearable and reasonably done. There was a little excitement when we noted a flurry of customs activity. (We later learned six passengers tried to smuggle cocaine worth $6.4 million ashore.)

So, we had a great time! When we can afford another cruise, we are looking at the Celebrity 14-night Northern Europe cruise in the summer.

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