I was tickled beyond belief to co-host the Let's Get Lei'd cruise with the legendary Kuki. The lead-up months were filled with plans, challenges, the occasional problem, and a lot of US/Canada giggles and snorts. Eh? The comparison between Millie - a group cruise just a little over a year before - and Summit was inevitable. Another comparison, from another cruise line, came into the picture, too.
It seems that the first ship out in a particular class (Millennium, Rotterdam VI) tend to be a bit stodgy in their decor while the younger sisters (Summit, Amsterdam) have considerably more joie de vivre.
We had our priorities in order. No less than two nights in the specialty restaurant, the Normandie. One night in the Olympic on Millie left us wanting more.
Our cabin, a 1-A, was a little bit light on closet and drawer space though there was plenty of room in the head for under-counter stowage of sponge bags. The balcony was small, just room for two chairs and a table. Enough for two, but not enough for a party.
It was nice to see four electrical outlets by the desk/vanity area. I couldlisten to Jimmy Buffet on the laptop and dry my hair at the same time.
Our cabin stewardess, Joanna, and her sidekick, Johnny, were happy that we were late risers when we had the opportunity. "Psheew," she said one day, "those early people want us to have everything done in the time they take to eat breakfast. And they eat fast."
We didn't attend any shows, rather we chose to attend the money-grubbing casino after dinner. I ended up a couple of hundred ahead, Queeg broke even and had fun doing it.
If Celebrity fails in any one reliable way, it's what we call "The Polish Duo." (On Meridian, they were really called that.)
Doesn't matter which ship it is, the PD is there, making something vaguely resembling music and singing by transliteration. Definitely something to be missed at every opportunity.
Balancing, the string folks who play to an almost empty area every night are a complete delight. Too bad more people don't find them and a quiet place for a drink and a chat.
Dining room breakfasts are rather OK and Celebrity is the only cruise line we've ever found (except for the truly high-end ones) which offers basted eggs. The Eggs Benedict were worth a pass. The Waterfall Cafe (buffet) reliably offered a terrific hash and soft-boiled eggs to go along. The morning potato offerings were excellent and there was plenty of fruit. We ate more than our share of Kadota figs. The custom omelets were about an OK+
So, who needs lunch? The buffet entrees are an exercise in high weirdness and the "Lido Burgers" would be better used as sandal soles. The custom pasta station made us wonder just how long the pasta had been out of the box. VERY al dente. My dentes didn't quite go there.
The room service cheese and fruit tray was just the thing around 4:30 PM. Brie, blue, cheddar, and a boursin. And all the pears I could eat.
Of the 11 nights, we missed four at table. One for the luau, two for the Normandie, and one night with the Captain. We tipped more than the recommended amount anyway. They were waiting for us; we just weren't there. Excellent table service except for a rather surly wine stewardess. The waiter inquired as to how I would like to be addressed. "Pam." From then on, I was "Mrs. Pam." Sweet. The waiter's assistant was a totally beautiful blonde from Budapest. She shyly shared Hungarian "stuff" with us along with a dazzling smile.
Queeg and I were at a table next to the Phlamingos with Jose and Jennifer, Kay and Chuck Sorrentino, and the Boudreaux. Jose and Jennifer were inducted into the Royal and Ancient Order of Plamingos at a party in Michael's Club. We expect to see applications from the Sorrentinos and the Boudreaux.
The high point of the cruise, at least for us, took place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village the night before sailing. We knew that two couples from our long-time cruising and partying group, The Phlamingos, would be along. Only TWO? The rest all had such good excuses. Nine of 'em, plus Kuki, kept a secret for six long months and marched into the party wearing snappy yellow uniforms (see Ray's photos). I'm not sure that my screeches of delight were not heard on the mainland.
Other shining moments included dolphin/whale watching with the Merms on a charter boat captained and crewed by two marine biologists. (Daryl and Kathy were keeping the mystery guests busy on the other side of the island so we wouldn't run into them). Geology freak Queeg decreed an inspection of the Haliakela volcano way above the clouds. We helicoptered on Hilo to get a good look at an active volcano.
Then there were the oddvents that Kuki and I had been cooking up for months. The PJ sail-away party was a total hoot … lots of comments about "usual" PJ's … the kind you wash but don't have to fold. But they do wrinkle over the years! The Wild Kingdom cocktail party was one of the most energetic we've ever seen for a group event. And there were some animals there.
The World's Ugliest Aloha Shirt Contest? Just see the photos.
Best of all had to be the kite-flying. According to research the previous record for kites flown from a ship was nine. Mgram put us over with #10 and we went for extra credit with a total of 15.
I was delighted that my Web Wahini efforts were of good service. It was great fun to see someone walk up to another person and say, "You're Fred, aren't you?"
A thousand thanks to Kuki for putting up with little phone calls that began, "Um, I was just thinking …" Thanks, too to Ingrid Green (Merm) for her excellent trivia challenge and that "What ship am I" game. Linda Griggs made wonderful magnets for our cabin doors and produced a dandy phone book. We might have had a quorum of staffers on board with Robo, Steve, Rix, Tweety, Kuki and me.
All around, it was one of the finest cruise experiences we've ever had in the mainstream fleet. Being with other CruiseMates just made it all that much better. Now, what are we going to do with all those aloha shirts and shell leis?
Celebrity Summit Cruise Report
We've just returned from the May 13/02 sailing of the Summit, Honolulu to Vancouver. My reports for CruiseMates pretty much focused on the social aspects of cruising with the group. Now I'll focus a bit more heavily on the ship, the food, the service and the crew.
The embarkation process was a breeze. We were there early, and the Celeb staffer checking us in was efficient and pleasant. This went so quickly we even had time to joke a bit with the check in agent. She was unwilling to let me use her credit card to deposit on my sail and spend card. We were one of the earliest to board the ship, being in our cabin by 11:45, and managed to find the cabin ourselves.
I did notice that guests boarding a bit later were being escorted to their cabins by white gloved crew members.
Within minutes of arriving in our cabin our cabin steward Miguel was there to introduce himself and ask if there was anything he could do. I told him I'm a big Diet Coke drinker, and would appreciate an ample supply to be placedin my mini bar. He left the cabin, and appeared about a minute later with Diet Coke. Our cabin was one of the CAT 3 cabins at the farthest point stern, and on the edge of the port side. A fabulous cabin, with a sliding door which can be used to separate the sleeping area from the living area. The living area has a full sized sofa and a love seat. Both are hide-a-beds. Though folded out you could only use one or the other, not both.
The truly fabulous part of this cabin is the enormous (250 sq. ft) balcony. While its furnishings are cheap plastic lawn furniture , it was a wonderful place to relax on sunny afternoons, or romantic evenings.
There is a slight drawback to this cabin location. That's the vibration felt when the ship is maneuvering to pull in or out of the pier at ports of call. A number of times we were shaken awake from a great sleep earlier than we would have liked when docking.
Other than that I found the cabin location very convenient for the important stuff; getting to food. The aft stairways and elevators are a short walk. Going up 3 decks you entered into the center area of the Waterfall Cafe, and down 3 decks you were at the entrance to the Cosmopolitan Dining Room.
We had PLENTY of storage space, lots of hangars in the closets, two television sets (one in both the sleeping area, and the living area).
Because of how the cabin is situated on the deck, you had to enter two doors before getting into the cabin. The "foyer" or vestibule was long and narrow, and was an excellent place to leave extra luggage that wouldn't fit under the bed, and my golf clubs. I told Mrs. Kuki if she behaved badly we'd get a rollaway put in the vestibule for her.
At 91,000 gross tons, the Summit is huge. However, her layout makes getting to know her, and getting around her a breeze. Also, very noticeably, we rarely felt crowded. When entering the ship, in her lobby area, one is immediately struck by the impressive backlit marble and glass staircase between Decks 3 and 4. To your right is a bank of 4 elevators, with the two outside elevators offering a view of the ocean as it rises through all the decks.
In this central area of Deck 3 you'll also find the guest relations desk, the shore excursion desk, and the bank, as well as the office of the Future Cruise consultant (who doubles as the ship's group coordinator). The Normandie restaurant, as well as conference rooms and a comfortable cinema are also located on this deck.
The Rendezvous Lounge, on Deck 4, and the Champagne/Martini Bars, a deck up on 5 are really the center of the "people action" on this ship. With their locations just outside the dining room on both levels, they're convenient places to meet for pre or post dinner drinks or conversation. There is a large circular hole in the ceiling of the Rendezvous/floor of the Champagne, which allows one band to entertain both lounges.
The Champagne bar became a favorite spot for us, as it was bit distanced from the band playing below in the Rendezvous Lounge, and we were able to carry on (our conversations silly) more easily. As it happened, the group playing also seemed to play the "you're getting sleepy, go to bed" type of music, so the further we distanced ourselves from them the better.
Most people traveled through these lounges on their way to or from dinner, so they made for excellent people watching spots.
One shortcoming, aside from these two large lounges, Revelations Disco, and the cigar bar, Michael's club, there were no small, more intimate, bars indoors. Perhaps Celebrity knows their audience, because on this sailing, none of the bars were very busy. Most were practically abandoned after 10 P.M.
My personal favorite was the Champagne and Martini Bar. I loved the furnishings and interior design work in these bars, particularly the high backed sofas and finely upholstered chairs.
>From Deck 5 thru to Deck 10 were passenger cabins, except for the library and "notes" located amidships on Decks 6 & 7.
Deck 10, known as Resort Deck is well laid out, with the Aqua Spa located forward, then flowing to the stern were the Waterfall swimming pools, the Waterfall Grill (pool-side), the Waterfall Cafe (the buffet), and my favorite spot on the ship, the stern deck, outside the Cafe. My only negative comment about the resort deck would be the tables and chairs set out for Alfresco dining, or simply relaxing upright, playing cards or board games, watching the sea go by. These particular tables and chairs reminded me of 1970s kitchen furniture, and it seemed they were just placed to fill empty spaces, with no thought given to creating any type of ambience. I thought smaller versions of the wooden furniture used on the stern could greatly enhance this area, and would likely see them used much more frequently than they were.
I don't take breakfast or lunch in the dining room, so I can't comment on those experiences at all. Rumors had it that open seating lunch in the dining room was a much longer experience than it should be. These are not particularly important meals to me, so I tend to just grab "whatever" from the grille or buffet. I found the lunch buffet offerings under whelming, and often settled on pastas from the Pasta Station, or pizza, or less than inspiring hamburgers, from the Grille.
Dining room food, on the other hand, was mostly just this side of excellent. Presentation generated an appetite, and the food was served hot and in correct versions of preparedness (as ordered) when it came to meats.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of the very best food I tasted were the appetizers served both at our CruiseMates Group Cocktail Party, and a cocktail party I hosted in my cabin. The kitchen selected the offerings, with everything from seafood, to mini pizzas, to chicken bites, and they were all a nibblers delight.
This is the area where the crew of the Summit hit a home run. Service was professional and attentive, yet more friendly than I remember from previous Celebrity cruises. In my past experience with Celebrity, service was very "European". that's to say, professional but with much more social distance between the servers and passengers.
On the Summit the service staff seem to have found a much more palatable (to me) level of social interaction with their guests. They are still most professional, but seem to be able to use their own judgment to determine which guests prefer more social interaction, and which appreciate the staff limiting themselves to servicing them well.
Our dining room team of Ronald and Christian picked up fairly early on that we were a fairly friendly bunch, and proceeded to allow their personalities to come through, and participate in our "antics" at dinner. The same was true of the Head Waiters, and assistant Maitre d.
In the Waterfall Cafe, everyone I walked past offered a smile and a friendly hello, and would chat freely, if invited. And, of course, service in the alternate Normandie restaurant was perfect, and made our evening there a highlight of any meal anywhere, land our sea.
In fact, the only complaint I had in the area of service was that it was difficult to get a soft drink (soda) in the dining room. But once I mentioned it to our ass't waiter Christian, he'd fetch a bar waiter immediately. The bar staff however seemed to continue to forget me each night, until Christian went to get them.
Others at our table were wine drinkers and the Sommelier took very good care to come by each night, take their wine orders, and refill their glasses.
The only reason I'm even mentioning the Entertainment is people will ask why I didn't. Simply put, I didn't make any of the evening shows in the Celebrity Theater. Because this was a sizeable CrusieMates Group Cruise, we had a lot of activities we had scheduled, and I passed on most of the entertainment scheduled by the cruise staff.
I did find it somewhat interesting that because of this I never did meet any of the cruise staff until the last night of an 11 night cruise. That night I met one of the cruise staff in Revelations disco. Sure they were busy with their normal duties hosting the activities they have planned, but I never saw any just out and about on the ship, mixing with the passengers. I ended the cruise not even knowing what the Cruise Director looked like.
Most of our CruiseMates activities were scheduled on the 5 sea days, and many people within our group mentioned that they were surprised that we weren't running into conflicts with many of the ships planned activities. In other words, they didn't have too much going on.
This really is the only are of crew responsibility that I found could use some more attention.
Most of my entertainment was supplied by watching and interacting with those in our CruiseMates group, and my few hours of escape in the casino each evening. The casino staff were friendly, and fun to spend my time (and money) with.
Perhaps because of the wonderful people we were cruising with, I didn't notice very much wrong with this cruise. While things weren't perfect, there was nothing that irritated me enough to even really give it a second thought.
When we were flying kites off the stern, there was one female passenger sitting on the deck one below the one we were "flying" off of. At one point she commented that if this sort of thing was going to go on, she may as well have booked a Carnival cruise. This displays pretty well how attitude can have a lot to do with the enjoyment of one's cruise. I'd hazard a guess that it's probable this same woman found many other things on this cruise to complain about. Not that she didn't' have the right to be there undisturbed by a bunch of kite flying cruisemates, but she certainly could have found other spots to sit and enjoy the quiet and the sea for the short time we were there. But, instead she chose to stay and complain about it. On the positive side almost all other passengers who stumbled across us during various cruisemates activities expressed their enjoyment of our antics.
The general attitude of the crew onboard the Summit was exemplary. Their friendly and helpful spirits more than made up for any shortcomings we may have experienced. If there was a problem, they did their utmost to remedy it. I don't think you can ask for more than that.
One thing that supplied some laughs to many of us were a couple of oddities in our Summit Daily (the newsletter delivered to your cabin). On the day we left Hilo, it said we were sailing from Cabo san Lucas, and the last day it said we were debarking in San Diego. Pretty funny stuff actually. Sure it confused some of our more inebriated cruisemates.
Debarkation was smooth and painless, even for those I talked to who got off well after us.
What Could Be Improved-
- variety of choices in the buffet, especially for lunch - leave juice and coffee dispensers open, even when the buffet lines are closed. I have no idea who came up with this money saving idea, but it's certainly makes Celebrity look cheap, and likely for pennies saved. - get rid of the tiny plastic drink glasses at these dispensers. Though they do make good holes for mini golf, they are ridiculously small. - have the cruise staff out and about more, mingling with the guests - throw the automatic shuffling machines in the casino overboard. I much prefer the shuffle, as it allows at least some time at the tables for socializing, both with the fellow players and the dealers.
If after 11 nights onboard my list of "complaints" is this short it should be obvious this was a cruise I would repeat in a New York minute!!
We took the 11 night Hawaii to Vancouver cruise on the Celebrity Summit, which departed Honolulu on May 13th, 2002. Our departure was excellent, we easily found the pier, and were treated very courteously while going through the boarding process. We found this to be refreshing, since on past sailings boarding was always tedious at best. We booked cabin 8141 on the Panorama Deck, and found it to be pleasant and comfortable (great bed) but the decor was 70's - ish, not up to the true beauty of the rest of the ship. Our balcony was small but sufficient, nuff' said. The bathroom was the best we have ever encountered for a booking of this price. Selections on the TV were limited, lots of ship channels, little else, limited news.We found the ship to be beautifully maintained and ornate. The attention to detail found on the Summit, would probably not be found on other ships in it's class, at least from our cruise experiences. The staff were very courteous and attentive. Our dining room waiters were excellent, great humor, made us very comfortable. Special kudos for the staff of the Normandie Restaurant. "Don't miss this experience!!!" It is well worth the $25.00 per head for this unbelievable five star dining sensation, it was THE Highlight of the cruise.
We are "karaoke" types (O.K..sue us!) We called before the cruise to determine if the Summit offered karaoke, the reply was yes. Folks, it was dismal. Only two nights out of an 11 night cruise had karaoke, untrained ship Staffers ran the equipment, very poorly I might add, literally emptied a full room of people because of their lack of understanding of karaoke or the equipment...sad.
Another black eye for the Summit, we called Guest Services for some U.S. zip code information, and were told to "look it up on the internet". When I asked for any available U.S. telephone book, I was again told to "look it up on the internet". So much for "Guest" Services. We ended up writing our postcards ashore.. Very sad.
Our shore excursions were "OK". We did better on the ones we booked ourselves.
The overnight in Lahaina was a nice stopover. It's a quaint, fun place to have an evening ashore. Hilo is a wasted stop in Hawaii unless you are a shopoholic. It would have been better to overnight in Kona, which is a fun little town in the evening, but we had to leave by 6 pm. We believe the ship stops in Hilo for it's own interest, cargo and such.
The five days at sea on the way to Vancouver were cloudy, rainy and cold. We don't Know if this is normal west coast weather for May or not. We filled our time with indoor ship activities which we found to be typical cruise ship fare. We met some new friends while on this cruise, and all agree the food and ambiance was above average. We also agreed that if the entertainment staff were a bit more professional, we would not hesitate to sail on the Summit again.
We too have just returned from the May 13 Hawaii cruise aboard the Summit, but our experience differs a bit from that of Cruisemates. We are seasoned cruisers including a prior Celebrity cruise (we last cruised 16 months ago), so we do have experiences as comparisons.
While I am not sure this will ever get published, our disappointments include being treated as "second-class" guests, as it was obvious that much of the cruise activity staff favored the groups on board (most notably Cruisemates) during ship activities. After a while, we found ourselves skipping the ship activities (which were rather sparse to begin with) as the outcome became rather predictable. It also is more difficult to meet many people (beyond simple pleasantries), something we truly enjoy on cruises. We experienced a similar phenomenon on a Christmas cruise, where it felt as if the ship belonged to the groups, and everyone else didn't really count so much. (We were unaware of just how many people return year after year for holiday cruises.)
While the Summit was nice enough, many little "corner-cuttings" were evident; although they certainly don't make the cruise something to avoid, some of theelegance is gone. The ship's decor is not as elegant as the Century or the Vision of the Seas; the cabin space is slightly smaller (we had a 1B cabin, foregoing the 1As, as they were mostly directly below the noisier pool deck). The layout is not as well designed - while the closets were sufficient, one could not exit the bathroom while a cabin mate had a closet door open, and the full-length mirror is at the foot of the bed, with so little room that at best your nose is only inches away from the mirror.) The walls are not wood paneling but rather a textured vinyl simulated wood; there were no throw pillows on the bed. The little bottles of toiletries are gone, replaced with wall dispensers for shampoo and lotion (personally, I like the dispensers better, but I question the sanitation aspect), and hair conditioner is no longer supplied. There is a pen in the cabin, but no paper should you need to jot something down. The ice was only filled once a day unless you called your cabin steward to request a refill. The library selection is smaller, and the checkout hours greatly reduced (no more honor system here). There are less included activities on board, especially for so many consecutive "at sea" days. (There are certainly plenty of "add'l cost" options, though - golf, spa treatments, bingo, art auctions, etc.) There are paper napkins in use for some food lines, and the amount and variety of food is greatly reduced for some offerings (afternoon teas, midnight "bites"). There is a $2 charge for "alternative [evening] dining" in the Waterfall Cafe. The variety of entrees offered has been reduced - the steak, roast beef, and prime beef were merely different slices of the same item, the side entrees were repeated (brussel sprouts 3X!), as were the desserts. Room service was efficient and the quality very good.
Check-in upon arrival at the pier was a bit confused but once inside it went smoothly. I would have appreciated being told during check-in that if we wanted to leave the ship after check-in, we would need photo ID.
Throughout the cruise the staff as a whole seemed very friendly and quick to greet you, although not quite as quick to offer actual assistance as on other cruises. Requests were pleasantly complied with, but you had to ask first. The day-to-day running of the ship (meals/activities/etc) was just not quite as seamless as in the past, perhaps because the best employees are always leaving to open the next ship coming on line, resulting in somewhat less experienced staff on board.
The entertainment was just fair to decent, although we too skipped a number of the shows choosing to watch the sunsets (between the frequent clouds and rain!) or listen to live music, etc.
The quality of the food at buffet breakfast and evening meals in the dining room ranged from fair to very good, although we were not impressed with the variety of selections offered, especially evenings. The lunch buffet entrees were fine if you prefer heavy, fat laden selections! Unfortunately, I did not discover the light and lean selections at the spa until well into the cruise. They were very tasty, although all selections were cold entrees. It was not very convenient as my husband preferred the main buffet and I chose the spa line, but service in the dining room was simply too long an ordeal. My husband has been a diabetic for years, so it was nice to finally see sugar-free selections offered without requiring special arrangements.
As with the Vision of the Seas, the pool in the spa area was a nice alternative, especially for those 50-60 degree and/or overcast days we experienced, and the chair cushions were quite comfortable.
The shore excursions were quite pricey, and were each a few dollars more than the prices quoted both in my cruise documents and on Celebrity's website. The excursion debarkations were chaotic, especially at Kauai - guests for many tours were all gathered together on the pier in a terminal building while a young woman attempted to shout out numbers over the echoing noise - no one was sure which number had been called, and even the staff was confused as to which buses were for which tour, etc. After that (plus a helicopter tour) we went back to arranging our own excursions.
With a passenger rating of 1,950 (the approx amt on the May 13 sailing), I would not want to be on this ship with another 200+ passengers or so (the count for the majority of the upcoming Alaska cruises) or with a lot of kids, unless the amount of activities were increased.
Overall, the ship was merely "nice" - not a "wow!" yet not a "geez, we'll never do this again!" either. As long as the price was right, we'd most likely return.
A nice ship... rooms the same as most other new ones. The real definition of a good cruise is the food and the entertainment, and the Summit fails on both. My two best meals were a strip loin steak hot off the grill in the cafeteria at night, and a piece of pepperoni pizza at lunch. And that's a sad comment on fourteen days of cuising. Their song and dance crew were great, but were only on four nights out of fourteen.
About one third of their routines were energetic and fun to watch, but the rest of the tunes were dirges... no toe-tapping there. The rest of the nights were one-man comedy routines. Their description, not mine. Dollar for dollar, I'm back to the Princess line.
Embarkation: With all of our flight re-scheduling and changes we were very happy just to arrive at the pier. This was around noon . We have had most people recommend that you plan to arrive the day before in the city of your port. We agree with this as it will lessen your stress levels knowing you can bump to a later flight and pick up some extra free flights on the airlines. These days with the extra security and the lack of direct flights this seems to be the rule. Once on the ground in the home port your home free. Relax it's just a short drive to the ship. I will say I had never had my id checked so many times in one day as our travel day through the airport and on the pier.
After a great flight down to Miami - First class the airline over booked our original flight - we found the Super Shuttle service from Miami to the pier in Ft. Lauderdale. About an hours ride - driver got lost - and not as expensive as I had thought. This was only$23 per person to the pier. A good value from a limo standpoint service. We relaxed once we got our luggage and were seated in the van. As I said before we arrived about noon at the terminal and dropped off our checked luggage with the porters on the pier. Making sure we had our bag tags for the ship now on our luggage.
No problems here. Boarding was already taking place. The original line to get inside was about 100 deep at this point but moved rather quickly. They were checking id and tickets here and also giving out some cruise card to fill out and also your boarding group number. We are in the Captains Club so we just showed our cards and bypassed the wait for the group area to the line for carry bags screening. After the baggage screening we checked in for our room keys. While we were waiting we asked about getting our Credit card hooked into our ship charge account. They did this right on the pier. We also met Amanda the Cruise hostess. We had met her on one of our previous trips on the Galaxy. Like others have stated being part of the Captains club get you past some of the wait lines.
Onto the Ship. We met one of the Cruise staff up on the deck - Donnell. If he knew what he was in for from me he would have us put off the boat at this point. I have a great time with the cruise staff while on board.
Cabin: #3058, cat. 10, Plaza Deck. This is one of the regular sized cabins on the ship. 170 sq. ft. We have always found the Celebrity cabins to be slightly larger than the industry standard at this level. Very roomy for two. We had the two beds made into a queen, there is a small one person sofa-sleeper/couch, 2 large closets and a pull down bar for doubling your shirt storage or short hanging garments. The third closet has 6 drawers to store other things in. There is also a cabin safe with a keypad to enter your own code, an interactive TV which we barley used, so you can access your shipboard account, book excursions, order room service, pay-per-view movies (also, newly released movie videos - no charge), dresser/desk with chair, small glass coffee table, plenty of mirrors in front of the desk and the wall the bed is on. We found the side storage space on the side of the dresser on the 4th day out. The light wood panel tones were perfect for the lighting provided for the room. Also a night light next to the plugs on the dresser. The bathroom is perfectly sized for the room. If you bring any beer or wine onto the ship just ask your cabin steward to open the refrigerator under the TV. Then stow your wine or beer in the fridge. If you remove and keep / use any of the items they will be charged to your shipboard account at the end of the cruise. Just tell the cabin steward you are doing this so he will know not to replace missing items.
We are most always inside cabin bookers and users. This being our 18th cruise we have booked about half the time between inside and outside cabins. Now we prefer the inside cabins. This was in a great location for both of us. Just down the hall from the main lobby. 2 decks down to walk to the gangplank to get off the ship. We both like to walk a bit more on the ship when we can. This location got us to walk the length of the ship through the lounge areas or past the cinema to go to the dining room for sit down meals. Also walk up the central stair case to go to the Shops, Casino, Theater. Our most used location was to the card room on deck 5 when we needed. Taking the central area elevators enclosed by glass was great. Being able to look out to sea or to the inside if you wanted. We were told that the ship had hit some rough seas just before we got back into Ft. Lauderdale. This was at night and we did not feel any rocking at all. The weather for all 10 days was great. It looked like we would get rain the second sea day out but it went right over us.
Dining Room: The Cosmopolitan Restaurant like all the Celebrity and Millennium service ships is spectacular. Soft lines and the flowing stairway to the upper level was picture perfect. The space between tables was more on this ship than I had remembered on past cruises. We were lucky in that there was always two people missing from the table next to ours as they preferred informal dining upstairs each night. The waiters central work area(s) are now in just a few places in the dining room. Not the 20 or so small ones you are used to seeing. The only negative thing is if there are any handicapped people on board in wheel chairs. Their access paths into and out of the dining area are a bit cramped. Meaning you would have to move your chairs to allow them in or out. But no worries there. It's their cruise also. You don't own the ship. The dinner music was fine. If we had a table you could see the musicians playing so much the better. I did go into the first seating for dinner one night to look for someone. There were a lot of tables not full near the entrance and upstairs. This owing to the fact that more people prefer late seating for dinner. Service provided by Jose and Fernando was excellent as we have come to expect on the Celebrity ships. I did take someone's advice and on the first night pre $20 tip the bus boy - Fernando - requesting he bring my wife and I Ice tea each night. And he always kept the glasses full. As always another wonderful dining experience by both of us. You can also get Shrimp Cocktail each night even if it is not on the menu. They carry certain items like this each night.
Central Foyer areas: This includes the shops on deck 5. We found the Cova Cafe Milano on deck 5 to be a nice area to sit and watch the people go by. If you did not notice the Coffee bar is on the Starboard side of the ship. This had Espresso and other Coffee delights on their menu. Just across from this area was the small bakery and sweet shoppe. They would have some great treats displayed here every day. This area was bypassed by most. The Offices on the ship seemed to enjoy this area when taking their breaks from ship work. The shops and the specialty boutiques had a nice selection of merchandise. The daily sales the shop staff offered covered a lot of items. From gold and silver chains to watches, and plaster statues. Their area on deck 5 Just on the opposite side of the cafe forward hosted the Art auction area for the ship. We walked through the shop area. They had a fine selection of Liquors priced just a little bit more than on land. They did not carry all the local brands for the Caribbean, but enough to cover a wide range. So check the prices before you go ashore to save yourself the time and effort of bringing back a bottle you save .25 cents on onshore. The shops also had a $10 watch sale, on quartz watches, that the wife and some of her cruise friends bought.
Pools and Hot Tubs: The main pool was about 45 feet in length from front to back and about 20 feet wide. The shallow end was 5 feet and the deep end 6. If the ship was going in and out of port, as it did on our trip 5 times you got a few waves in this pool. Real nice to be in as you pulled away and music was playing on deck. Just drift with the waves. There are a lot of pool chairs in the well open area on deck 10 around the pool. But beware of the chair takers. They are out in force on the sea days starting about 7:00 am or so. These are the people who put a towel and book or shoes on a bunch of deck chairs and use them for less than an hour each day. The ship does it's best to try and stop this practice but.... Everyone's on vacation and why argue with someone as trivial as a deck chair. Good hint if you need a quiet place in the sun. On the starboard side forward of deck 11 their is a stairway that looks like it goes nowhere. Wrong. This is up to deck 12 forward. Bring a towel there are lots of chairs here. And the wind screen cuts down the breezes coming over the ship as it moves. On port days their are plenty of chairs available to use all day. So don't bother marking a spot. They also have cushions for those in the well and around the pool. There are also 4 hot tubs in this pool area. so you would not have to wait to get a spot. If their not full just amble up and into the warm water. Join the conversation or just relax in the bubbles. The second pool just behind the larger pool looked to be about 20 feet long by 15 feet wide. The depth of this pool was about 3 and half fee to 4 feet. Great for the kids and adults to lounge in while the deck games were played and leaving port to the band playing. Remember the pool is chlorinated salt water, and was comfortably refreshing. Some days when they exchanged water it was a bit cool till later in the day.
The Thalassotherapy Pool: This area is just forward of the open pool area. It's the bubbles pool with the water spouts. This is a new feature on all the Millennium Class ships. They also have the lit breakfast and lunch served in this area. And it is lite. Not a big selection but in the right spot if you need it. I found this is another great hid away. If you are not a Sun worshiper. The glass ceiling and front part of the ship block a lot of the direct light. This is like entering a giant tub, but not as hot as the regular hot tubs. . There are jets of water shooting out from the sides and pool bottom, hugh faucet-looking jets overhanging the four corners (great back massage). One each side of this pool there are chrome, in-water, loungers. The bubbles come from under this area and refresh you slowly. One of our dinner table mates, when the bubbles were not working, stopped two officers as they were walking through the area. Asking are one of you in charge of getting the bubbles turned on in this pool. You guessed it. The Captain. He stopped at a house phone and twenty seconds later there were bubbles. The pool area itself was not too crowded but the bubble beds were. They also have two hot tubs in this area one on each side. Around this pool area are very comfortable, pillowed (lower back and head), teak lounge chairs. This area does get crowded as the afternoon progresses. But later in the day - about 5pm or so empties out.
Celebrity Theater: I'm not big into the shows. Being we have been on a lot of cruises. But the theater is great. The best looking one I have seen on any ship to date. The chairs are way to comfortable - fell asleep during the first show. The fake flames in boxes on the side are a nice touch. We just went in to see the welcome aboard show and the comedians. We liked Noodles, but his act is just re-cycled ship jokes. The best show was Kirby St. Romain. Great topical humor and got the entire audience singing. All the dancers were great along with the Metro the 4 singers.
Aqua Spa, Sauna & Gymnasium: Used this facility each morning. To say the least it's large. Great place to get a massage and other spa treatments. Gym has a large floor for aerobics and other workout related exercises. They have a small free weight area to one side. There are about 20 nautilus machines of all types you can use. Me I stuck to about 6 or 7 machines that I worked on my knees and legs with. There are also about 12 walking / running machines you can sign up for when the morning use crush is on. They look forward where the ship is going. A great place to work out in the Early AM - see the sun come up and watch the ship dock all while getting in shape. There are also a lot of different types of bikes you can use and another 4 machines the looked like a cross between skiing and running. There were also a few stair steppers. A lot of workout equipment for a ship. Great area.
Deck 11 Running / Jogging / Walking track: A good idea to use on calm days for everyone. First the deck is not measured correctly. They sat 3 laps equals about 5/8 ths. of a mile. Well not even close as far as I see. I would like to think that six laps around is closer to one mile than anything. If your going to run or jog be sure to do this before 7:30 am - you finish time for your workout - or you will hit a mass of walkers. I also like to reverse run some days. This because of things walkers do not understand. Like when you are turning on the curves and stress on your legs and knees. But if your walking then you should stay single file as you move between the chairs so as to allow others room to move past you. I had the pleasure to meet a group of three ladies on board that would walk in the early AM for about 40 minutes. They all met each morning and were religious about this. Their outfits always matched. There were just a few runners on the boat so we were in the minority. My wife and I would also walk the deck for her exercise about 5:30 PM each night to catch the sun going down and the beautiful sunsets at sea. I always try to keep in mind that this is others vacation also and I do not own the deck so I try to adjust my running. Did so on land two times. In St. Kitts and Barbados. But it's hot out there. Another great treat for the wide range of passengers to use.
Sports Deck 12 Mid ship: This is where most of the outdoor games are played. Each day the Cruise staff has a Darts, Basketball, and other competitions up hare. They also have Volleyball , paddle tennis and other games you can play out here. It's a bit windy when the ship is at sea but on port days just fine. We did not have a lot of dedicated Volleyball players here as we could only get one game going the second sea day.
Rendezvous Lounge - on Promenade Deck - nice lounge where they cruise staff hosted the daily Trivia challenge and some nights had team trivia and other things going on. There was also the Battle of the Sexes team trivia that was played 5 times on the cruise. Sorry ladies - the men won all 5 on our trip. Just great fun if Rani is the host.
Champagne / Martini bars Deck 5: This is just above the Rendezvous Lounge. This is another quiet place to hide just before dinner. Have a quiet drink to discuss the nights activities or reflect on the day gone by. This has a large hole in the floor to look down into the Rendez - Vous Lounge if you had wanted to.
*Revelations - on Sunrise) Deck Forward - deserted most of the day. This is another great place to escape to with an early morning coffee and view the sunrise from inside. They held the Anniversary party here. I could not tell you what was up here in the late night. But there's a great dance floor and room for a band here. They have bar service in this lounge from 5:00 PM till the last person leaves for the night.
*Waterfall Cafe Bar (area) - stern. This is where the morning and lunch buffet area are served. As you get to the stern - rear - of the boat in the early AM to the sides is a station that will prepare an omelet of the day for you. And at lunch these stations turn into a pasta of the day station. At the back just before you go outside - at lunch time is another specialty area. Don't miss this if you can. Some great treats await you as you go for lunch. The best cake we had was when we had our welcome aboard lunch up here. Just at the end of the buffet line. Remember - your on a cruise - They make it - you eat it. Or at least sample a bit. The area inside around the waterfall during the morning and noon meal hours is always busy and crowded. We found walking outside to the stern - back of the boat outside afforded us a table available all the time.
*Celebrity On-Line Room - Deck 4. Great furnished room for Internet use. Not used much by this group of passengers. Hey I'm on vacation. But if you have to be an on-line junkie this is the place.
*Notes- music library - One place on Decks 6 & 7 that I missed completely. Looked nice - Library setting.
*Conservatory (Floral & Gift Boutique) - Sunrise Deck - This is just above the midship entrance to the Waterfall Cafe. They have their own stairway up to it. I had a hard time trying to figure out what plants were fakes and what were real. You can get on-board flowers from the shop every day.
*Fortunes Casino - Had a nice selection of different slot machines. From Nickels to the big buck ones. The layout of the room puzzled me a bit - where they placed the tables. And I think there was only one Caribbean Stud poker table. The crowd from the theatre had to pass through this room to get back to the lounge areas. Also they have gone to the automated deck shufflers so the house picks up a big advantage here. The wife like the video poker machines but played and lost her money there. Food: Cosmopolitan Restaurant (main dining room)
- Dinner: Excellent as far as I could see. Beef selections were outstanding as my wife had told me. I had the fish/seafood dinner offered each night. This and the sauces offered were the highlight of my trip. The food was as usual up to the Celebrity standards. - Breakfast: I had breakfast in the main dining room 4 or 5 days; Ordered something different each day. One time I just ordered scrambled eggs with some bacon and sausage. The plate came and it was more food than 2 could have eaten. I tried but had to push it away after getting just over half through it. Wifey did not get up early except for the last day and missed out. Something to do with beauty sleep I guess. As with the dinner menu here all was done to perfection.
- Lunch: Made it here only 3 or 4 times. Good variations off the luncheon upstairs at the waterfall. Being on vacation and getting waited on is great. Take the shore. I'll take the cruise and the service.
Waterfall Cafe - Dinner: alternative dining - This is in the back of the ship. Our friends did this most every night. They would order their main entree. But the appetizers, salads, desserts, are all buffet. Limited menu. They said everything was very good here. You were requested to make reservations. This is a good alternative if your out on a tour and coming back late and do not want to rush to dinner. Also good for kids who meet others and don't want to sit down in the main dining room and wait. Waterfall Grill - Outside at the pool. Lunch: Get in line for your hamburgers, good hotdogs, and pizza. Drinks are right nearby.
Normandie Restaurant - alternative dining with reservations and an additional charge. Jacket and tie are required all the time. This is a more upscale dining experience. They tell you to plan on dining for at least 2 1/2 hours. Believe it! They had a three string musicians that played throughout the evening. We dined there on Sunday night. The inside is spectacular. The 5 star rating is well earned and deserved. We did this off a recommendation of a past cruiser. Well worth the cover charge for each person. Where can you dine in a 5 star restaurant for just a cover charge. They also have an expanded wine list to cover most everyone's selection. Some of these wines and champagnes are not offered anywhere else on the ship. Me I thought it was well worth it. Dario the assistant MaterD waited on us. Each dish was more spectacular than the last. I can only say there is a difference dining in a 3 and a half star restaurant upstairs and a 5 star in the Normandie. Try it. You will be pleased. They can only serve about 120 people a night. So when you get on board. Find the elevators on Plaza Deck 3. Just behind them is the entrance. Book it for one night. If your with friends take them. They have tables that we saw could accommodate up to 8.
Shore Excursions: We don't do them. Just got off the ship and looked around and shopped in the port area. Golfers beware. Your trip to Mahogany Run will tie you up for the full day on land.
Staff: *Our cabin steward was excellent. It was like he was a ghost. I saw the others working in the area but not him. We would only give him about an hour in the AM to clean up and whenever we returned, the room was perfect. He also opened the small ship fridge in the room and let me store - cool my beer. What service. *Dining room wait staff -waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter - Great. Although we never saw our area MaterD. They worked tirelessly for our group. Getting everything and not missing a beat. Those 6 and a half Lobster tails the brought me were the capper of the trip. We did not order wine upstairs with dinner but our wine stewardess was always asking if we would like anything. Smiles all around. We requested the first night and got Ice Tea on the table every night of the cruise. Something we really appreciate.
Passengers: This was the shorter 10 day cruise. And some of the northern schools were out on vacation. Hence a few more kids on board. It would have been nice if those darn kids didn't keep beating me at the adult games. Darn you Katie. But any sailing over 7 days attracts a bit older crowd. I would have to say the average age was about 50 years old. There were a lot of young kids on the cruise and we saw them with their camp counselors playing about the ship each day. They have a real good program for the younger kids on board. As the kids get into their teens they tend to stay away from the ship programs.
This was a normal friendly group as you will meet on most any ship. Just relax sit down listen - strike up a conversation and the sit back and listen. One thing I am catching onto is that just about everyone we talked to has cruised at least 10 times. The long timer on this trip was 32 cruises with Celebrity. Darn this was only our 9th. The 10th will be in February 2003 out of Tampa. It's never too early to plan. Met a lot of nice groups of people by doing different games and thing on the ship. As everyone who cruises each to his own. Me I'm active and see a big cross section of people.
Cruise Staff: Donnell, Rani White, Mike, Lisa & Peter. There was also Bingo Bob but we did not run into him much. This had to be one of the best cruise staff on the Celebrity ships. by the third day they all knew who I was. by the 6th they were wondering if we pay the line can they send this guy off the ship.... Laughing here. I have a great time doing games and Trivia with the cruise staff and anyone I meet along the trip. They make the trip special if you like to be active and do these types of activities.
Disembarkation: The Summit arrived back in Ft. Lauderdale some time in the early AM and was cleared by customs at about 8. We had air reservations out of Miami for a 1:20 PM flight. So there was no rush to go anywhere. Just one bag misplaced this time around. Off our record 3 a few trips ago. But some luggage looks similar to others. We got a porter then went outside to find our Super Shuttle limo. They did not show up. Got Van service over to the left of the terminal to Miami airport. Took about 45 minutes to get there to our terminal - American. The van service was even less than we paid for the trip to the pier - just $31 for both of us. The American attendant helped us find a cart for luggage and put us into the correct line area to check in. They also checked all our baggage before it was sent onto the plane. Is this one of the few airports that does this? Well no problems here. In the air and back in Jersey by 4:35 PM. Darn it's cold up here.
Ship Impressions: This ship is the most attractive one we have been on. The Celebrity ships just get better and better. I liked the central atrium area. Not the top to bottom of the ship. Too large and you get too much noise in the area. The artwork is placed at intervals about the ship. You may or may not like some of it. But it is all tastefully done. Ship is also laid out real well. I would have to say that everything about the ship is beautiful, and tastefully put together. From the cabins, public areas, pools, spa, sauna, gymnasium, shops, the Conservatory, to the lounges, and the open-air deck space. The ports we traveled to were fine. Most people like to island hop. We liked the 2 days at sea, followed by the 5 islands, and then 2 more sea days.
If anyone has questions about the 10 day cruise on the Summit, just email back and I'll try to answer them. We have already booked our next Celebrity trip - August and working on our trip for next winter out of Tampa. Keep planning - Keep Cruising.... With Celebrity.
This is my little review of my "getting lei'd" cruise on the Summit. Plus a little tongue in cheek.
Deb & I landed on a muggy Mother's Day, in time for the get-together at the Hawaiian Hilton. It was SO great to actually meet the people I've been reading to/about/with!! The CruiseMates were a great bunch!!! In spite of the "monsoon!"
Now, please bear in mind this is the opinion of a 2nd cruiser only. As for the Summit, I was disappointed (she said with tongue in cheek). First of all, I knew as soon as I saw those beautiful gold panels handing from the Grand Foyer and extending down that I was in trouble: it matched one of my formal nite outfits!! No standing by those for me!!
I enjoyed the Martini Bar -- not for the martinis, but because it was less crowded than other areas.
I didn't venture into Michael's Club; probably cuz I was afraid I'd buy too many cigars instead of all those great little souvenirs!!!
I liked the size of our cabin (8045) -- large balcony, and I didn't mind the closet door being right in frontof the bathroom door. Actually, I figured it would present some great pictures of Debbie; but that didn't work out because my camera wasn't working (unbeknownst to me at the time) and she would graciously yell "I'm coming out" before she did so.
My gripe is/was the bed(s) -- actually, they separated the queen into what I like to call cots. I'm used to spreading out all over the bed; I couldn't do that without the floor meeting my face and since I was never formally introduced to my carpet floor, that was probably a blessing. The color scheme had me puzzled though -- especially the carpeting -- it was bluish with I'm not sure if it was tropical fish or flower petals. Guess it depended on how many Bahama Mamas I had, and I couldn't ask Debbie as she was asleep by the time I hit the bed. Now the bedspreads (Deb would want me to mention that it took 2 calls before we got bedspreads -- incase she wanted to entertain and the beds weren't made.) were a reddish-orange color, which to me is not very quieting at all. I figure it explains why I wanted to punch the pillows every night (isn't red a confrontational color?)
Due to miscommunication, we missed some of the Oddvents (actually, I was told certain events were cancelled -- some jealous non-Cruisemate type, I figure). Thoroughly enjoyed the PJ Sailaway -- Tweety loved it (yes, I wore my Tweety slippers)!! And the Animal Kingdom party was fun (I'm not quite sure what I was dressed as: tiger-print duster over a black tank dress, with a black boa wound around my neck)!!! I did see most of the Activities staff wherever I went, though.
My favorite place was the Rendezvous lounge -- I particularly enjoyed Errol the bartender and winning Trivia contests!! Ooh -- and Debbie and I were on winning $100,000 Pyramid teams, twice!!!
Debbie and I ate in the dining room, late seating for dinner. Buffet'd it for breakfast and lunch except for once. I liked choices in buffet, but I'm a salad, fruit lunch person so I had no quibble with that. And I'm very proud to say I only got lost ONCE in the Buffet, trying to head back to the Group at the end of the ship (i never remember if i'm going stern or aft; it's sometimes difficult for me to figure out if i'm coming or going, at least on a ship!) -- don't laugh!! YOU try remembering if you turned right or left!! Thankfully, the third time I passed the same couple who waved & smiled, I figured out I should try turning the other (other) way, and it worked!! It only took 20 minutes to get back, and Deb only wondered what took me so long -- her very last guess was that I got lost!
Oh -- Deb did do Alternative Dining on the night of the Luau. So far the $2.00 charge has not shown up, but she liked it and thought the food was good.
Our room service was great!!! Cabin steward Marylou kept us neat and tidy.
Food was OK; all staff extremely personable and friendly. I got to see 3 movies (I AM SAM (wonderful!); PRINCESS DIARIES (cute); THE SCORE (so-so).
I enjoyed the Summit, but since I only have one cruise to compare it to, I liked the Vision of the Seas better. It looked newer; I didn't want to fight my pillows; I thought their Grand Buffet more creative; their panels didn't match my formal outfit, and I didn't get lost in the Buffet. And on the Summit, it only took til into the week at sea to discover that if I turned left from my cabin and went down the stairs, I'd be in front of the Celebrity Theater (so I'm slow -- put me on another cruise!!)
SUMMIT-HAWAII TO VANCOUVER
This trip was a dream come true for my husband and myself. We had always wanted to go to Hawaii and were looking at what Celebrity had to offer. The biggest selling point was that the airfare through the cruise line was only $200/pp round-trip Chicago to Honolulu and Vancouver to Chicago coming home. Booking early ensured us a great deal on our Category 1-A balcony cabin # 9125 on the Penthouse deck. This cruise was booked one week prior to 9/11 so that tragedy didn't have any bearing on our fares. Our TA had quoted us one fare but when I went online to Travelocity and saw a much cheaper one, she matched it for us. That taught us to really shop around before just accepting the first quoted price.
The itinerary for this cruise was for the ship to leave Honolulu on Monday, May 13 @ midnight for Kauai, 2 days in Maui, a day each in Kona and Hilo on the Big Island, then 5 days at sea to Vancouver. The sea days were a big seller for us as we figured we would bereally on the go on the island days and would need the down time to relax. Since we knew that arriving on Monday would not give us any time to see Honolulu, we elected to leave Chicago on Saturday, May 11 and have Sunday and most of Monday to sightsee. We took the pre-cruise arrangement through the cruise line since it would void our cheap airfare to bypass it. The two days @ the Hilton Hawaiian Village cost us $250/night.
Our United flight was to stop in San Francisco to change planes and then on to Honolulu. This was necessitated by the fact that neither United nor American had non-stop flights from Chicago to Honolulu or Vancouver to Chicago. If we flew American, we would have been routed through Dallas on the way home even if it were non-stop to Hawaii. So we elected to take the stop going there rather than on the home trip.
We had a new 777 and the seating on those is 2-5-2. This is where we were really ignorant and didn't take advantage of our Captain's Club benefits. As a Classic member you have flight benefits that allow your TA to reserve your seats in advance rather than wait for the cruise line to send you your documents. As a result, we were stuck in the middle of the 5-seater. At least to San Francisco Karl had an aisle seat and I sat next to him. But on the longest leg (5 hours) of the trip, we were right in the middle. When we do this again, we will know better. After booking 9 months in advance, we could have had much more comfortable seating.
Our flight to San Francisco was approximately 4 hours and since our plane was going on to Osaka, it was parked at the International Terminal. We had an hour layover between flights and we needed every minute of this, as we had to move at a very fast walk to get from one end of the terminal to another as well as go through security again. Lucky for us, the desk agent @ O'Hare had issued our boarding passes before we left. When we finally made it to the correct gate we were actually sweating but we walked right on the plane without a wait. This plane too was a 777 but not as nice as the one with the flat screens on the back of each seat. There was a movie but I was unable to see it since I was too short to see the screen. I have to admit it was the longest 5 hours I have ever spent on a plane. We landed in sunny Honolulu and were met by a Celebrity rep who gathered us up and took us down to identify our luggage, then to board a bus to our hotel.
Our room was in the Diamond Head Tower, which was partly ocean, partly garden view with a balcony and 2 double beds. Later on as we were talking with another couple from Chicago, we found out we could have upgraded to a king bed for $20 more. The room was a standard Hilton, which had a hairdryer in the bathroom that was good for me since I didn't pack one! This hotel has grounds that are so beautiful you can't believe it. The lobby is open air and as we stood inline to check in we were offered complimentary glasses of juice. The hotel is right on Wakikiki Beach and has at least 2 pools that we saw, the tapas pool and the Super pool.
Once we were checked in we decided to wander around the grounds to orient ourselves. It was now about 4:00 PM Hawaii time and 9:00 PM Chicago time. After getting up at 4 AM, we were starting to feel the effects of jet lag. Right on the beach is the Tropics bar/restaurant combination where we sat outside and looked at the ocean and the surfers and tried to fathom that we were really in Hawaii! I had a Mai Tai to celebrate and that was a big mistake. I don't usually drink and coupled with the jet lag, it really knocked me out.
After a light dinner, we tried to stay awake and wait for the evening show by the pool where the runners light all the torches and the dancers perform but we were just too wiped out. And this was only at 6 PM! Back to the room for a shower and we were asleep by 7 o'clock. Unfortunately, we were still on Chicago time and woke up fully refreshed at 3:30 AM. We ended up eating chocolate covered macadamia nuts we had purchased in the gift shop and looking at a map of Oahu to kill time. The hotel must realize that guests are early risers as the first restaurant opens at 5:30 AM. We finally went down to the open-air café for a lovely breakfast with fresh mango and pineapple. Here we experienced some sticker shock over the prices, as a basic breakfast of eggs, meat, toast & potatoes was almost $15 for one. But we also realized that the hotel prices would be somewhat inflated.
When we had checked in we had been handed an envelope from the Celebrity with a list of pre-boarding shore excursions. We found the Celebrity rep in the hotel and booked a city bus tour including Pearl Harbor. Inquiring as to how we could get to the Polynesian Cultural Center, we were informed that it was closed on Sunday. Our other option was the Aloha Bowl Flea Market. Since Karl would rather have his teeth drilled without Novocain than go shopping, I was quite surprised that he wanted to do this. But a friend who had been to Hawaii several times had told him that this was the best and cheapest place to get souvenirs. We asked a cab driver how much to get there and he quoted us $30 one way and we decided that was not a good option. The concierge is right there in the lobby so we asked her and she arranged for a bus to pick us up for $8/pp round trip. As it turned out, the same bus also stopped at Pearl Harbor and made the same stops every hour. If we had known, we could have skipped the shore excursion.
It was a partly cloudy day on Mother's Day in the 80's and off we went to shop for souvenirs. The bus driver was the first of many who really showed the Aloha Spirit. The tourist is king here and everyone is glad to see you. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we had traveled this far and were still in the USA. We made a stop at Pearl Harbor and noted that it was almost empty and on to the Aloha Bowl Stadium where the vendors were set up in 3 rings in the parking lot. This flea market is enormous and it would take all day to see everything. We bought macadamia nuts for the cheapest prices we would see and embroidered t-shirts 4/$10. Karl was on the lookout for hats for the guys he works with and found them for about $4 each. After a good 3 hours, we were starting to wilt (and get sunburned on the back of our necks) and headed back to the bus area. We had just missed our bus by 10 minutes and thought we would have to wait an hour for the next one when the guy with the walkie-talkie called it back for us! We were so grateful, especially as we were still feeling jet lagged.
Back at the hotel we cleaned up and looked for a place to have dinner. We weren't too adventurous to go outside the grounds merely because we were so tired. There was a special Mother's Day buffet in Bali by the Sea restaurant for $39/pp. I didn't want to spend the money only because I didn't think we would actually eat that much, but Karl insisted because it was Mother's Day and we were away from the children. So we had crab legs, shrimp, prime rib and did eat a lot!
The next day was Monday, boarding day for the ship. We brought all of our luggage to the bus area and boarded the bus for our trip to Pearl Harbor. This attraction is free and you just have to wait your group's turn to first view the movie (approximately 20 minutes) and then board the shuttle boat to the docking site of the Arizona. There is a ramp for handicapped access on the Memorial but it would be a little difficult getting on the shuttle. This is done like clockwork. You move through the Memorial up one side and down the other and are ready to leave as the next group is coming. It is very moving and solemn and post-9/11, quite timely as well. Considering this was our parent's generation and not ours it still struck close to home.
Back on the bus with our very entertaining driver, we made a stop for a fast-food lunch and then made the abbreviated circuit of Honolulu. We drove through Punchbowl Cemetery and were not allowed to get off the bus as they said it was too many tourists at one time trampling the graves. I was surprised to see that the rows of white crosses that you see in many photos have been replaced with flat markers. It seemed the termites were eating the crosses and they were too difficult to maintain.
The visit to Punchbowl set the tone for the whole trip. We never got off the bus to see anything. If your idea of sightseeing is drive-by, then you'd love this excursion. We were really disappointed. If I have any gripe with Celebrity it is that their shore excursions are usually humdrum and include a lot of shopping. We have found we do better on our own unless it is something very unusual that we wouldn't normally do. The Honolulu City Highlights Tour dropped us at the pier for boarding. Security was very tight and we not only had to identify our bags, but our luggage tags had to match our photo id's.
When we were finally allowed inside the terminal building we strolled up to the Captain's Club desk told them our names and we were on our way. It was so easy and convenient that we could almost forgive them for the boring shore excursion. Up the escalator, we skipped the photo op and walked up the ramp to the ship. There we were greeted with orchid leis! I was really impressed and excited over this lovely touch. It made me feel like I was really welcomed to Hawaii. Since we were boarding later, there were no white-gloved cabin attendants to escort us to our cabin but we found it without a problem. This was our first experience with a veranda. The room was supposed to be larger that a standard room but it didn't really look like it. Lots of storage as is normal with Celebrity and our boxy suitcases fit under the bed. The desk had great lighting for applying makeup and outlets for your curling iron and other beauty aids.
Our cabin steward came by almost immediately and introduced himself. We hardly saw him as he learned our schedule quickly and took care of the room when we were out. The staff is always friendly and does an excellent job keeping the cabins spic and span. After our previous cruise on RCCL, we were so happy to see Celebrity's spacious shower stalls. (Say that 5x fast!) The hair dryer proved a big improvement over other Celebrity ships, more powerful and didn't burn your hand if you held it too long. There were dispensers in the shower for shampoo and body bath gel. I learned a lesson the next day that the showers have temperature governors on them and ended up taking a cold shower, as I could not figure out where the hot water was. It turned out that here is a button under the controls and you have to push it to get hot water.
We headed upstairs to the welcome aboard buffet and then took a tour of the ship starting on the sports deck and working our way down. This had to be the most beautiful ship we had ever seen. The Art was quite modern and did elicit a lot of comment from the passengers, but there were beautiful flower arrangements all over and lots of nooks and crannies to sit and relax. The International Market was right across the street from the pier and a lot of people were doing some last minute shopping. Since the ship wasn't scheduled to leave until midnight, there was ample time for some people to do this.
The first night dinner was open seating and we ended up with a group from Indiana who had just arrived a few hours before and were they tired! We were so happy we had elected to come 2 days early. The show after dinner was a performance of the hula by the #1 hula school in the islands by children. They were very good and warmly received by the audience. It was now about 10 PM and we were still feeling the effects of the time change so it was off to bed we went and never felt the ship leave the dock.
We woke up on Tuesday as we were pulling up to the dock at Nawawiliwili, Kauai. It was cloudy and rainy. This was the day for the first of our shore excursions and as it turned out, almost the last. There were 3 different times for the excursion down the Wailea River and the Fern Grotto. We took the one @ 11:30 AM. There were 4 buses of people from the ship to a dock where we boarded boats for the cruise down the river. There were musicians on board and a girl doing the hula. It was here that we noticed that the age of the passengers was way upwards of 65. It didn't seem that anyone was without a crutch, splint, walker, wheelchair or some other kind assistive device. By the time we got to the Grotto by means of a rather slippery concrete walkway, it was pouring rain and I felt sorry for all those people trying to maneuver their way. This was supposed to be so romantic with about 200 total strangers and the hosts playing the Hawaiian Wedding Song. Maybe on a nicer day, we could appreciate it. Back on the ship, we were so happy to be warm and dry and watch Kauai recede in the mists from our seats in the buffet area.
That night was our reservation for the Normandie dining room. We had a table for two by the window and it was quite the experience. You have 3 waiters and there is a surcharge of $25/pp for a 4-course meal. Very rich, very French and very long. It was probably about 3 hours from sit down to dessert. You have a choice of appetizer, salad or soup as a first course. I had the goat cheese appetizer which someone recommended and Karl had the Caesar salad which were both very good. You next have your entrée. I had the Chateaubriand which should have been noted it was for two people as there was no way I could eat all of it and Karl had the Dover Sole. Again, everything was scrumptious but the portions were larger than in the regular dining room and we were stuffed. Then there is a cheese course with assorted wines. Karl had a port they recommended and he did say it was excellent. Lastly was dessert which I had pre-ordered the chocolate mousse and I think Karl had ice cream. You could have rolled us out of there. It was quite interesting to note that when someone got up to use the bathroom, a waiter escorted him or her and your napkin was replaced with a fresh one. This was a nice experience for one time and I don't think we would do it again. We found the food in the dining room just as good and the portions were so much smaller for the amount of food that you consumed.
Wednesday, we dropped anchor at Lahainia, Maui to sunny skies. As usual, we were late risers and didn't get off the ship until almost noon. We found a post office on the main drag and mailed all of our postcards. I had purchased postcard stamps before we left so I wouldn't have to run around looking for the correct postage. I was still on the hunt for the 2 items I didn't want to leave Hawaii without a Christmas ornament and a photo album with a space for captions. I think we hit Hilo Hattie's on every island. This is the ultimate Hawaiian shopping experience. Karl found a great knit shirt with pineapples on it and I found great flip-flops with a palm tree design. There was a shuttle to the store but we just followed the map supplied by the ship and got to see lots of little shops where I found my Hawaiian Christmas ornament.
There is a museum of one of the first missionaries to see which was quite interesting. We did not take any shore excursions here and actually enjoyed the down time of not being held to a schedule. There was a place to rent a car or scooter for a reasonable price if you so desired and we even found places advertising luau's for $20 at the Marriott. The excursion through the ship was $84/pp and we heard that the food was not very good. But you are also paying for the bus ride to and from and for the show accompanying the feast.
There was a Bubba Gump's Seafood restaurant there and for the first time ever; we had lunch off the ship sitting at a dockside table. The downside is that we were eaten alive by bugs of some kind. On the way back to the ship, we were window shopping at the jewelry stores and Karl insisted on buying me a beautiful gold pineapple pendant as a souvenir. I guess he thought the flip-flops and the ornaments weren't enough. I have worn that pendant every day since then.
Before we were allowed back on the tender to the ship, we were in a small pavilion area where we were scanned with metal detectors and all our bags, purses and cameras were thoroughly searched. Before we entered the ship all carry-ons had to go through the Xray machine. I was unhappy about this after I saw my pictures when I got home. Maybe one time won't hurt the film but a few times definitely changes the quality of the images.
Since we had no shore excursions planned, we actually never got off the boat on Thursday. I was thinking that this was some kind of aberration since we were in HAWAII, but Karl wanted to relax and enjoy the empty pool area. We took advantage of the sunny weather to get some tan.
The next stop on Friday was Kona. Again we tendered into the town and continued our quest for my photo album at yet another Hilo Hattie's. We finally found it at an ABC store in a little mall in the downtown area. The day was cloudy and we did not take any shore excursions but again enjoyed the ship and all that was offered.
Saturday was our last stop in Hawaii and we were at Hilo. Here we had elected to take the Volcano National Park tour. We had booked this online and the tour without lunch was full so we ended up taking a stop at Volcano House hotel for a lackluster buffet lunch. Certainly not in the same category as the ship but considering that this was an all day tour, we were hungry by the time we got there. This was probably the best tour we ever took on Celebrity, but be aware that the temperature is much lower up in the mountains than by the dock. By the time we got to Volcano House by way of the macadamia nut farm and the orchid farm, we were freezing! The torrential rain did not help this. Volcano House gift shop did a brisk business in jackets and sweatshirts.
The guide was once again informative and funny. We drove down to the caldera and saw lots of steam vents and lava-ruined roads. There was a new black sand beach created from the 1991 lava flow through a park area. This ground is so fertile that people just stick a cocoanut in the ground and it sprouts into a palm tree. I wish that I'd had a container to take some of the black sand to show to our kids, as it was amazing. This tour was a good 8 hours and we got back to the ship about 45 minutes before we set sail for Vancouver. If you are taking this cruise, we highly recommend this excursion. The shopping was minimal and the education factor was high.
The next two days at sea were sunny but very windy and we were able to get in our jog around the track where once around was 5/8 of a mile. The third day was cloudy and rainy, but then the sun came out once again. At no time was the sea anything but smooth going. Every day at noon, the cruise director made an announcement from the Navigational Bridge with time, temperature, ship speed, sea depth, and miles from Hawaii and miles to Vancouver. It was interesting to note that every day the ship was slowing down due to the fact we were getting there too fast! This was in sharp contrast to the experiences of two women I worked with who had taken the same trip at about the same time on two different occasions (with Princess) and had had very rough seas.
The entertainment staff worked overtime to keep the passengers occupied and entertained. There was an afternoon show featuring some of the ships' performers who were very talented, a passenger talent show, and various take-offs of game shows that were all very well attended. Of course there was Bingo where I won about $350 in different games. The Big Game at the end of the cruise was worth $6600 and was split by 2 people. Karl was really hoping that my luck at Bingo was going to last, but alas, it was not to be. We spent a lot of time after the evening shows at the blackjack table where I pretty much broke even. But finally it was Thursday and we saw land for the first time in 4 days as we entered the Straits of Juan de Fuco and came back to North America.
Friday was our disembarkation day and we had elected to take a city tour of Vancouver, as our plane didn't leave until after 2 PM. This was also entertaining and again we had lovely weather. There are lots of gardens and there is also a lot of rain. Their climate is similar to Seattle. It gave us just a taste of Vancouver and we would like to go back and really see it. Finally to the airport, which is one of the nicer ones, I have seen and after going through Customs again we started our trip home. The plane was not full but it was late, so people making connections through O'Hare were really scrambling to make their flights. Since we were already home, we waited until the plane was empty to get off. Our son picked us up and his first words were "Wow, you guys are really tan". Our lovely trip was over and we wanted to do it again. This was the longest cruise we had ever taken and it was the best. The only down side is the long flight to Honolulu and I am glad that we had taken it at the beginning instead of at the end. We have recommended this trip to everyone and you would like it too.
Well, here it is: a review of a short land trip and 11 day cruise on the Summit. I usually book my own air, but because this was an open-jaw itinerary, I ended up using Celebrity's air/sea program, it came in over $1000 cheaper than what I could find on my own. On May 11, I left for Honolulu from Milwaukee for Honolulu via St. Louis on American Airlines - I ended up on a TWA plane which did not have the extra legroom in coach like American has. I arrived in Honolulu about 4:00pm (9:00pm at home) to find it was raining...this was to be a theme for most of my time in the islands. Took a taxi to my hotel in Waikiki where I met up with some friends. We walked down the street to a small local restraunt where we had a light supper - and our little group ran into some more friends....we did a little shopping then headed back to the hotel to crash for the night.
Sunday was spent driving around Oahu - we went up past Diamond Head up the coast to theNorth shore where we stopped at Sunset Beach and the Bonzai pipeline - the waves were not to spectacular that day, and it was starting to drizzle a little. We then drove down through the center of the island back to Honolulu and Waikiki. That night we went to the Hale Koa (a couple of friends were staying there) for their Sunday night buffet (which just happened to be on Mother's Day). After dinner we walked over to the Hilton Hawaiian Village where we surprised a couple of people - they had been planning this cruise for over 9 months and we had all said there was no way we could make it, but we decided about 6 months out to book the cruise and try to surprise them...and we sure did! As we were walking back to our respective hotels that night we got caught in a downpour....not a quick tropical shower, but this rain lasted all that night and til about noon on Monday.
Monday was the day we boarded the Summit - we got to the pier around 11:00AM - we had to wait in line til about 11:30 to be let into the building to begin checking in.....i can truly say my friends, April and her mom CeeCee, Doug, John, Pat and Don were within the first 30 people in line - we went through the check in process and were on board by 11:45am. April, CeeCee and I went to check out our cabin - we had a cat 1A (9154) on Sky Deck - it was the last cabin on the starboard side before the aft cabins. We were pleasantly surprised with the cabin - 191 sq feet - it had a king size bed and a double bed that pulled out from the sofa bed. There was ample closet space; two of the closets you were able to hang your clothes and store some stuff on the bottom of the closet. The third closet had shelfs and drawers in it - 6 pull out drawers, and three shelves - one of the shelves held the safe - you could operate the safe either by putting in a code or using a card with a magnetic stripe. Three bathrobes and three beach towels were in the cabin when we arrived along with two flower arrangements sent to us by some friends.
I guess now would be a good time to talk about food and dining options on the Summit. There were 15 in our little group within the larger group - two had chosen early seating, the rest of us chose late seating. Those of us on late seating (except for one couple) were at a table for 12 on the first floor of the Cosmpolitan dining room. Our waiter, Ronald and his assistant Christian, had to be the best servers I have had on seven cruises. Nothing was a problem for them - all special requests were met with a smile, and we never had to ask for anything a second time. One of my tablemates had requested mashed potatos on the first night we all sat at the table - they brought out two plates of them that night - we just kept getting more and more mashed potatos every night. First night of this cruise, we did not sail til midnight, so it was open seating for both early and late seatings...as some people were still arriving at the ship during supper.
I found the food in the dining room for supper on the Summit to be better than the food we had on the Millennium in February 2001 - everything was done to perfection. Beef, fish, veal and chicken were all very good and the desserts (especially the chocolate ones and the ice creams) were to die for! AS for breakfast inthe dining room - all I can say is stick with the eggs and danish - the pancakes and french toast left something to be desired. I only ate one lunch in the dining room and it was ok - nothing really special. For breakfast I found the food in the Waterfall Cafe to be much better - a great selection of fruits, meats, potatoes, salads, desserts, breads. Also in the Waterfall, in the morning there was an omelet station, which at lunch turned into a pasta station.
There was also an area that at lunch had a themed buffet each day - Italian, German, American, etc. There was also ice cream and frozen yogurt available during lunch and the afternoon. The Waterfall grill was open for burgers and hot dogs and fries. This turned over to pizza after 3:00pm and was open til 7:00pm. You could also get pizza from the room service menu from 3:00 to 7:00pm and again from 10:00pm to 1:00am. There was also room service available 24 hours a day and also a special breakfast menu from room service besides the continental breakfast menu that you could put on your door at night. Oh, and how could I forget about the Normandie restraunt? A group of 4 of us dined there one night - I had alway been one to question why people would pay for eating at an alternative restraunt - I know the answer now - it was fabulous! The chateaubriand I had literally melted in my mouth and the chocolate souffle was exquisite. The service was perfect. I would dine there again in a heartbeat.
I must also say that the crew on the Summit was much friendlier than the crew on the Millennium in 2001 - everyone I ran into smiled and said "Hello", or "Good morning - How are you today?" Nothing was a problem except at the purser's desk...and they were usually very pleasant too, but some passengers did run into some problems with them.
As for the ports, our first stop was Kauai; and let me tell you Kauai is beautiful - it is probably more beautiful if it would stop raining once in a while! A couple of friends and I rented a minivan and drove up the the east coast of the island all the way up to Ke'e beach, where between raindrops, we saw the Bali Hi Mountain of South Pacific fame and the start of the NaPali cliffs. We also stopped in Hanalei and had lunch at Bubba Burgers...man they were good! We also stopped in Princeville to do some shopping; the sun actually did come out for about half an hour - the clerk at the store said it was the first time in 2 weeks that the sun had come out - we had been hearing on the news about the unusually heavy rains in the islands, but there was a lot of flood warnings that were issued while we were in the islands. One thing though, the waterfalls on the island were spectacular! We also stopped at Kilauea lighthouse and Opaekaa Falls.
Next we headed to Lahaina, Maui...we were there for two full days. This was the one stop where we actually had sunshine! The first day some of our group rented a convertible and did the road to Hana; one friend and I rented a minivan and drove up to Kapalua and down back through Lahaina down to Maalea and up to Wailuku - stopping up at the Iao needle and the Tropical plantation. We then drove back up through Lahaina up to Kaanapali and to Whaler's Village where we had lunch and did some shopping. That night, some of my friends stayed on board the ship and dined at the Normandie restraunt, while the rest of us went to the Old Lahaina Luau - the food was fair, the drinks were ok, the show was pretty good, but the best attraction that night was the sunset! The next day in Maui - we were all off the ship well before 6:00am - we had booked independent snorkeling and diving tours - the snorkelers went out to Molokini and snorkeled there - on the way out we saw sea turtles and on the way back we were entertained by a dolphin that decided to play with the catamaran.
Next stop was Kailua-Kona on the west coast of the big Island of Hawaii. Some of us did a ship's tour that day - went to a painted church, to a Kona coffee mill, and to Puuhonua o Honaunau National Park - it was a place of refuge where those who had angered the Gods or had broken some taboo came to to find absolution. By the way - it rained again that day.
Our last day in Hawaii was spent in Hilo...where we had expected it to rain as it is the second wettest city in the USA, behind Ketchikan, Alaska. It rained off and on all day, but those who had booked helicopter tours were able to do them. I had chosen to do Volcanoes National Park - we did the Crater rim drive. This place is not to be missed. You can actually tell where the different flows of lava are and you can see how nature begins reclaiming the land. We also went to the Thurston Lava Tube and we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia nut factory. As we sailed away from Hilo that night, we started our 5 straight sea days.....that was the roughest night of the cruise, the ship was moving at 23.5 knots and it was very rough that night.
The first two days at sea were wonderful - sunny and warm enough to sit out in the sun and relax. The next two were cloudy and very cool. Our last sea day started out that way, but by 2:00pm we had spotted the coast of the US and the sun came back out - down near the pool out of the wind it was more than warm enough to get some more sun. That afternoon and evening we sailed in to and up the Straights of San Juan de Fuca - that evening we had a great view of Mt. Baker before we turned north to heads toward Vancouver. This are of the Pacific northwest is absolutely beautiful.
After 11 days on the ship we arrived in Vancouver friday am, May 24th. I was off the ship by 9:40am - to the airport by 10:45, and checked in for my return flight on Northwest (I really don't like flying Northwest) by 11:00am. I arrived home after 9:00pm that night and found out I was still on Hawaii time.....and still very laid back from my cruise and my trip to the islands.
There were a couple of negatives on this cruise and it related to some misinformation that Celebrity printed in the Summit Daily. The most important one happened on our second day in Maui. Some of our group had to be down in Kihei by 6:15am and the rest of us had to be in Maalea by 7:15am. Celebrity was running a tender all night long - according to what was printed in the daily the night before, the tenders were to leave the ship for the shore on the half hour (ie: 4:30 and 5:30am) and leave the shore for the ship on the hour (5:00am and 6:00am) - well when we got down to the tender embarkation area, they told us that that was wrong...well, let's just say after showing them what was printed in the daily and trip up to the pursers' desk (which really was wasted as the girl got the "deer in the headlights" look when we approached her) they called the tender back to pick us and the others who had gathered to catch the 5:30 tender - we got on shorejust before 6:00 am - and we found out that those of our group who had shown up for the 4:30am tender had to go through the same thing. Not everyone single one of us who showed up on the half hours could be wrong - a case of one hand not knowing what the other was telling the passengers. There was also an incident in one of the tender ports where some crew members who were returning from personal time on shore literally pushed passengers out of the way to get off the tender first - it was totally uncalled for and someone could have been injured. I know that the passengers had requested a meeting with the staff Captain to address these issues - I don't know what the result of that meeting was. Also, and this is just a personal thing, I think the itinerary needs a sea day in the middle of all those island days, just to let everyone rest and recharge - we were exhausted by the time we got to our first sea day.
This was absolutely one of the best vacations I have ever had....and a special thanks to Servio, Jose, Ronald, Christian and Milla for making it special. Also a special hello to Jovan who was one of the good crew members I had met on the Millennium and who is now on the Summit - he was my waiter on the Millennium and remembered me and my tablemates.
We just returned from a 10-day cruise from Ensenada to Honolulu, Hawaii and while it was a nice cruise, we would only rate it as a three star cruise. We have cruised three times before on Royal and we feel that the service that we received on Royal was much higher than on Celebrity.
Embarkation - We arrived in San Diego and we didn't find a Celebrity rep until we were out at the curb with our luggage. Luckily our friends were there ahead of us and showed us where to go. The drive down was very uneventful for us. We arrived at the hotel in Ensenada and we were taken to check-in. Our check-in went smoothly and we were then loaded back onto the buses. We found out later than they had lost my husband's passport number and other information that were given them upon check-in. They could not tell us what had happened with it and I informed them that this was not good.
We were then taken down to the shipyard and had to sit in the buses. We sat in the buses for about 45 minutes whilewaiting for other buses to unload. It was fine for most of us on the bus because our bus driver had a movie to play, but a lot of buses did not have anything like this and people were upset. The reason for taking so long was that they had to program your card to your picture while boarding.
Our ship was about two hours late leaving due to luggage showing up late (this was actually the first luggage truck to leave before we did so no one knows why it showed up so late) and to a bus loaded with luggage and three people who unloaded at 9:30pm. Our luggage showed up in a timely manner.
Room - Room 8078 was a very nice room with a veranda. The shower was nice and big and allowed for taking a nice shower. We did notice water noise running through our cabin at times and that the walls could at times be very thin. You can hear the drawers opening and shutting. Besides that, there seemed to be plenty of room to store stuff and all. Our stateroom attendant and his assistance kept the room neat and clean for us. We were not prepared to have to tip a chief housekeeper. We don't like tipping anyone we haven't seen and felt that this was in poor taste. This person was not our stateroom attendant or their assistance.
Pools - we didn't use, but they looked nice.
Gym - Very nice, we used it a lot and it was stocked very well with treadmills, elliptical machines, nautilus equipment, free weights, stationary bikes, etc., one of the best that we have seen.
Food - The food was very good, just like we have come to expect from Royal. We had no complaints about the food. We were disappointed that we now have to pay for sodas, we are not drinkers at all and it does add up with sodas come to more than $2.00 per drink and the are very small. The soda card is fine, but it still seems excessive for something that shouldn't matter.
Normandie - This restaurant is unbelievable, very much worth doing for the $25.00 per person. The service in here was exceptional and the food was out of this world.
Entertainment - We saw four Broadway shows which were very nice, we have seen better, but we still enjoyed them. We saw one comedian that was very good also (noodles was his name).
Photography - The quality of the prints is not as good as we have seen, they didn't have as many places to take pictures during formal nights. They didn't bug us too much about taking pictures once we were off the ship which was nice. We still detest those pre boarding pictures that they herd you into and don't let you get out of.
Shops - Very nice shops, lots of places to shop. The art auction even has its own special place for it auctions, kinda wild. The pastry shop by the Cova Cafe was very nice.
Service - now here comes one of my displeasure's with this trip. The service in the dining room was very slow. It was taking two hours and sometimes longer for breakfast and lunch. I have never taken this long to eat and it was ridiculous. We decided to eat up in the buffet called waterfall cafe, which is where most everyone ended up because they were fed up with taking so long to eat. Dinner wasn't much better. We had lots of problems with water glasses not being filled or coffee not being filled. Since I only drink water with my meals, I drink a lot of water and our glasses were dry a lot. We tried to discuss this with the assistant matre'd, but it only made them go faster, but not more efficient. We just had to keep always asking for water when we could find either our waiter or assistant. We also ended up being one of the last tables to leave and they were constantly turning up the lights on us in the dining room and we hadn't had our dessert. We were never loafing in our eating, but we would go for long times between courses with our waiter. We would actually give Celebrity 2 stars for its service and we were disappointed since we had been told how wonderful the service was aboard.
Tenders - here is the other displeasure of our trip. The tenders seemed to run okay, but they were like an e-ticket ride at Disneyland. We know of two tenders that were damaged (one had two broken windows and a missing mooring and one had a broken window that we could see). There were numerous people who were injured while getting off the boat onto the tenders and getting onto the boat from the tenders. The injuries included, bruises, broken arm, broken leg, head wounds, wrenched knees, etc . . . It was not pleasant on these and you got bounced around a lot. One tender we were on had people thrown from their seats. We barely hung on. It seemed like they weren't being watched properly.
Shore excursions - We did one shore excursion from the ship and it was a disaster. The person running the show didn't know what was going on. Our biggest disappointment was that they did the staging from the rendevous lounge where people could smoke. I am allergic to smoke and it was not pleasant to breathe this in and have problems while waiting for our tender to be called. I would like to see this go back to the theater where smokers can't smoke.
Smokers - Sorry, but the smokers were all over the ship, smoking in the rooms, hallways, etc. It was more prevalent than we have seen before. We were even informed that there are smoking rooms on the port side of the ship(which we were on) and that they could smoke most anywhere on this side of the ship. It seemed like they were just smoking anywhere they wanted to.
All in all we did have a good time on this cruise regardless of all the problems that happened. Our motto is to enjoy our vacations no matter and to just deal with what we can that is within our abilities.