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BocaRoo

Interminably Long & Detailed Summit Review: April 11-22, 2005

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Here’s my review:

 

 

 

Overview:

 

This was one of our best cruises, the highlights being:

 

· Beautiful ship…

 

· Great staff and service…

 

· Excellent and plentiful food…

 

· Nice, courteous (for the most part) passengers…

 

· Good itinerary…

 

 

 

Embarkation/Celebrity Spotlight Event

 

We arrived at the port at 11:00 a.m. and checked in at the Celebrity Spotlight event desk (we were right behind John Secada, one of the judges, in the security line) and were allowed to check in for the cruise immediately thereafter. By 11:10 a.m. we had dropped our carry-on bags in the cabin which was ready for our arrival. We proceeded to the Bar at the Edge of the Earth, formerly Revelations, and enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil “Characters,” complimentary champagne, mimosas, etc. and delicious finger foods until 1:00 p.m. when we headed to the Celebrity Theatre for the Celebrity Spotlight finals: we heard 12 surprisingly good finalists sing their hearts out. The 6 celebrity judges (John Secada, Michael Bolton, Paul Williams and three others) selected the winner who will record the new Celebrity theme song for future ad campaigns. All in all, it was very nice event – sort of a “Celebrity Idol” and the catchy, new theme song went around in my head for at least the first two days of the cruise.

 

 

 

Cirque du Soleil (CdS)

 

We attended the “Moonlit Night” party on the third night at 10:17 p.m. - no kidding, that was the time listed on the “Celebrity Today” (the daily bible, delivered to your stateroom at turn-down the night before). White clothing was requested along with a mask of any type. Most people followed the white/mask, and those who didn’t bother weren’t turned away. Kevin and I really had fun watching the CdS characters as well as the passengers. We like the music, but found it a little repetitive; dancing was fun, too. This was our only CdS experience during the cruise.

 

 

 

Concierge Class Stateroom #7206

 

This was our first Concierge Class (CC) sailing and while each of the perks might seem minute, in total, they really add a special touch and enhance the overall experience. Here were our favorite perks, not necessarily in order of importance: Priority tendering tickets (totally eliminated the crush to disembark in ports requiring tendering); welcome bottle of bubbly (just the right start for our much-needed vacation); pillow-top mattress and comfy duvet (made the bed super comfortable); goose down pillows (six high-quality pillows on the bed was great for reading and made us feel pampered); daily fruit bowl and canapés (small plate of six); nice blue leather key holder (I used it to carry my SeaPass card everywhere); enhanced/expanded breakfast room service menu (we ate in-cabin almost every morning – excellent selection, always cooked exactly as we requested, always delivered by our Cabin Attendant on time with a bud vase on the tray); thick, comfy, white terry robes; invitations to special events; lovely rose in the bathroom (we went through three of them) and nice Alstromeria on the desk in a Lucite vase. Having now sailed in Concierge Class, it would be too hard NOT to have these perks and we have already booked our next cruise in CC… Please note: in CC, your Cabin Attendant really does work harder for you. We did not realize until we received our Tip Envelopes that the suggested tip amount per day for your Cabin Attendant in CC is $4.00 vs. the $3.50 stated in our cruise documents. We were happy to increase to the $4.00 – we just never saw that suggested amount until we received the envelopes, so this is just a heads up! Also, we did tip each morning for room service Our Cabin Attendant Julio and his Assistant Zacharias were wonderful – all the CC perks were supplied (no oversights) and if we did need something out of the ordinary, both of them were efficient and happy to accommodate us. We were lucky to be able to book 7206 which is an aft cabin with the larger balcony – we’d been spoiled twice before in aft cabins. The balcony was already set up with a round table that could accommodate a full meal for two, four loungers (two with thick blue pads, two without) and two upright chairs – and it wasn’t a tight squeeze! Lots of storage room – be sure not to overlook the storage cubbies next to and above the mini-fridge and on either side of the desk! The bathroom has great storage, CC enhancements include a choice of two hairdryers, the fresh roses mentioned above, two, 2.25 fl. oz. bottles each of very nice “conditioning shampoo” and body lotion (if we’d needed more I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem), great shower head and best of all, thick, fluffy towels – pink one day, mint green the next! Yes, we really felt pampered!

 

 

 

Food, Glorious Food!

 

OK, I gained 7 lbs. in 11 days (I won’t divulge Kevin’s magic number)…

 

 

 

Cosmopolitan Dining room: A lovely, elegant room! Our table for 10 was No. 554 on the upper level. I must interject here, we truly enjoyed every one of our tablemates – equal love and kisses to Marilyn & Bill, Ian & Gus, Marie, Ron & Brent and last, but not least, Jane – you all were wonderful to meet up with, not only at dinner, but everywhere else on the ship, too! Overall, we enjoyed the food and were able to request shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad every night; other special requests were courteously accommodated (i.e., a baked potato every night and red bliss potatoes nightly – I won’t name names). Highlights for me were the breads and breadsticks, soups, the beef selections and, of course, the desserts… Usually, I alternate between beef, fish and poultry, but on this cruise the most appealing selections for me were the beef dishes – and not one disappointed (the other choices were not, in my opinion, as good as usual). Our Waiter Jovel and his Assistant, Pariman provided wonderful and efficient service. Pariman was our Assistant Waiter last year – it was a pleasure seeing him again!

 

 

 

Breakfast & Lunch Buffets: Good, fresh, tasty food, but not overly innovative. We really enjoyed the omelet station at breakfast and the pasta and salad bar stations at lunch: at these special stations the chef will customize your omelets, pasta and salads; the special ingredients at each station change daily. Coffee, iced or hot tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, punch or guava juice was always available at no extra charge. Waiters will assist you by carrying your tray to the table of your choice. While the buffet hours have been expanded, be advised that not all of the four buffet lines are open at all times; we found if we returned from an excursion a little before 3:00 we were out of luck for the buffet and went to the AquaSpa, Pool Grill or Pizza station. The ice cream stations were indeed well-attended by all of us from table 554 (sorry guys!); soft-serve as well as scooped selections were available at no charge!

 

 

 

Pool Grill: Choices included hot dogs (fabulous), hamburgers, French fries (the BEST – trust me) and chili – there may have been more to choose from but I only had eyes for the items mentioned above.

 

 

 

Pizza Station: Very good pizza and excellent garlic bread served here.

 

 

 

AquaSpa: Excellent, healthful and delicious foods served here – if you haven’t tried the cuisine here, you really are missing out!

 

 

 

Cova Café: This is one of our favorite spots to enjoy special coffees and pastries. There is a charge for all beverages here, but it’s well worth it. (Thanks, again, Jane for all those Cova chocolates – I should be on the treadmill now…)

 

 

 

Casual Dining/Normandie: We liked Table 554 so much that we didn’t dine at Casual Dining and we cancelled our Normandie reservations. We had been to the Olympic twice on the Millennium and the Normandie on our last Summit cruise, so we really didn’t feel the need to dine at the Normandie again – I do want to say that all of our meals at the specialty restaurants were five star.

 

 

 

The Pool Deck

 

We enjoyed every minute we spent at the pool deck. I never really knew how heavily booked our sailing was, but there were always chairs available at the pool, at least up on Deck 11. I am happy to report that I did not see one chair-hogging incident during the entire cruise!! The live band at the pool was Prodigy. I personally felt the recorded music was better: Prodigy should (please) eliminate any Bob Seger tunes from their repertoire. The usual “King of the Summit” and Win a Bottle of Champagne Ring Toss games abounded.

 

 

 

Entertainment

 

Due to late seating and never leaving Table 554 till at least 11:00 p.m., we really didn’t go to the shows or partake of any entertainment. We did make it to the Casino many times and eventually won back what we lost - and more - on the last night.

 

 

 

Ports & Excursions

 

Eleven days was perfect for us! Here’s what we did in port (see Celebrity Shore Excursions for descriptions which I thought were quite accurate, except we didn’t see as much wildlife at we’d hoped):

 

 

 

Key West: Just tooled around. Took the Conch Train tour last year and would recommend it highly. There is no need to book this through the ship – the train leaves from the center of Key West and is a very short walk from the pier/tender dock. I know it looks hokey, but it’s a great way to see most of Key West for a nominal fee. We love Key West and always look forward to this port.

 

 

 

Cozumel: Ship Tour: Catamaran Sail, Snorkel & Beach (#CZ8A): A+. We love Cozumel and would come here again.

 

 

 

Puerto Limon: Ship Tour: Tortuguero Canals (#PL5B): B+ to A-. We’d probably not need to return to this port – time is too short to really see much more than the immediate area.

 

 

 

Colon: Ship Tour: Gatun Lake Kayak & Eco Adventure (#CO5B): A+. A great tour, but other than shopping for more “molas,” I wouldn’t need to return.

 

 

 

Aruba: On our own – visited friends and took a private taxi tour. I would recommend taking one of the bus tours offered as you leave the cruise terminal – the busses looked nice and I think the tour was $10.00 for a one-hour tour. Our private taxi cost us $70.00 (negotiated down from $80.00) for two hours. Not enough time on this island – lovely people, great shopping and lots to see!! Take me back!

 

 

 

Grand Cayman: Captain Marvin’s Snorkel and Stingray City. Nice tour operator. Snorkeling was pretty good, considering the seas were a little rocky. Stingray City was amazing, however, others mentioned that since Hurricane Ivan, the Stingray population had decreased dramatically. While we had a fabulous time, I felt it was a little crowded and loud on the sandbar…I would love to come back when the island has recuperated more from the hurricane. Seeing the damage here was heartbreaking.

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

 

The Ship in General: Great layout, spacious, never felt crowded. Very clean and well-appointed with an elegant décor throughout. Chair upholstery in some of the lounges looked at little worn in daylight but after a few martinis or glasses of champagne nothing that minute is noticeable and who cares, at that point, anyway! Nifty little “hand-washing” machines were added to the ship since last year: Put your hands under the round container and an alcohol-type liquid (similar to Purell) drops out. Rub your hands together and it dries in seconds – your hands are (for the moment) germ-free! This is a smart and proactive step on the part of the cruise line towards eliminating the possibility of a Novo virus outbreak.

 

 

 

Captain’s Club Hostess vs. Social Hostess: I miss the Social Hostess – bring her back, please! The Social Hostess on all of our previous X cruises really added a lovely touch. She materialized everywhere, always remembered our names and always seemed to seat us at the Captain’s table. I saw the Captain’s Club Hostess once, introduced myself as the Cruise Critic roll call starter, gave her a copy of the roster I’d laboriously compiled and she really wasn’t interested, even though many of us were Captain’s Club members. I must have passed her twice a day but she didn’t recognize me (not that I’m the Queen or anything…

 

 

 

The Staff: We never passed a single staff member (except the CC Hostess) who didn’t say “hello,” “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening.” OK, I know they’re told to do this, but we really feel the staff likes the passengers and want to help make our vacation cruise happy and memorable. Stephanie, the Future Cruise Manager was just lovely and very helpful. I’ve already mentioned our stateroom and dining room staff – again, Julio, Zacharias, Jovel and Pariman – great job! The staff exceeded our expectations – Bravo, Celebrity!

 

 

 

Dress Code: Kevin and I always follow the dress code: we like dressing up formally and semi-formally (notice, I didn’t use the term ‘informal’ which I think should be changed to ‘semi-formal’). For the most part, passengers on this sailing dressed according to the “suggested” attire. We did not see anyone turned away for improper dress at second seating on the upper level… I’ll leave it at that!

 

 

 

… Well, I hope I covered everything! Please feel free to ask me any questions. We love Celebrity and have already booked the Infinity for 4/28/06!!

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Wow, great review. Thanks for spending the time writing this after your trip. Glad you had such a wonderful time. We'll be sailing her in just about a week. Hope our vacation is as nice as yours.

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MiamiRoo, Thanks from here also. What a great review. I really did read with interest your take on CC. That's the first time it's actually made sense. Thank you again.

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What I read about dress code during the day.. it seems like they don't want you to wear shorts around the ship..is that true? Hope not!

 

We always dress for dinner but day time we like to relax.

 

Thanks.

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Hi Jill:) What a marvelous review! Sounds like you had a fantastic 11 days!

 

Belle, hi:) I have always worn shorts and/or bathing suit with a cover up during the days of all my Caribbean Cruises. I have never heard them saying anything on the contrary.

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What I read about dress code during the day.. it seems like they don't want you to wear shorts around the ship..is that true? Hope not!

 

We always dress for dinner but day time we like to relax.

 

Thanks.

 

Shorts are explicitly permitted in the formal dining room for the open seating breakfast and lunch. But no t-shirts......

 

Nice review, MiamiRoo.......

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Thanks for taking the time to do your review, Jill. You certainly seem to have a similar attitude to me and your descriptions of the fun you had at your table ring very true here. We didn't see too many shows on our past cruises either! Thanks also for the info on the cabin. I'll be next door in 7208 next March and can't wait!:)

 

Phil

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Hello MiamiRoo,

 

I took this same cruise itinerary in February 2003. Loved every minute of it... except for Cozumel - too busy! ;)

 

How busy (with kids) was Summit during your cruise? Super busy? Moderately busy? Or barely saw any? I'm trying to get the feel of the kids onboard during your cruise week (Apr 11-22) for future cruise planning.

 

Please advise at your convenience.

 

Thank you,

 

Julie :)

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We were on the same cruise and I agree with everything you said. We also had Concierge Class (8148) and I agree, each item individually, no big deal, but all togoether, it was worth it for us. We also had the late seating (table 437), and thought the food was very good.

 

Jiulsuz, you asked about kids, someone said there were 90 on board, we couldn't tell. The ones that were there seemed very well behaved to us. There was one 10 year old a few doors away from us and he wanted to wear his tux to dinner every night, very cute!

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Jiulsuz, you asked about kids, someone said there were 90 on board, we couldn't tell. The ones that were there seemed very well behaved to us. There was one 10 year old a few doors away from us and he wanted to wear his tux to dinner every night, very cute!
Nadine,

 

Thanks for letting me know. That number is approximately 870 less than my Dawn cruise last week... I'm not kidding. About 960 under 18's on our cruise. Made for a very very busy ship...

 

 

Julie :)

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There weren't really many kids that we noticed and the ones we saw were very well behaved.

 

Before I booked 4/28/06 I checked out the holidays: Easter is 4/16/06 and Passover starts 4/13/06.

 

We met some Carnival cruisers on the Captain Marvin tour who were from New England - their spring break is always around Patriot's Day (big in New England, not a big deal down here in Florida). According to these people, the whole ship was full of New Englanders! Patriot's Day is on April 19th every year. I'm a former Bostonian and had forgotten about this holiday!

 

Hope this helps! :)

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Jill,

 

Thanks for letting me know. NCL Dawn last week was almost 80% NE's (I'm one of the 20% who was not...).

 

And of course because of that week off, we had a little under 1000 under 18's on the ship. It was a very very busy ship.

 

 

Julie :)

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Hi Jill,

 

Well what can I say, it was really great having you guys as our tablemates. Our table is what made this cruise, as well as all our great CCer friends, a group that will be very hard to find again on a future cruise.

 

I agree with everything you wrote in your review. The only entertainment we saw on the whole cruise was the Celebrity Spotlite show like you. Too bad it was at 1:00Pm on sailaway day. A lot of people did not get a chance to see it and, I think, it was probably the best ever entertainment that Celebrity has ever had on any of the Celebrity cruises I have been on. The four finalists were just great, with the winner being heads above the others. I think a lot of people are going to really like this guy when Celebrity starts their new add campaign with him singing the new theme song.

 

Now if only, as Shelley, Mary Beth, and others have said, Celebrity would put a Caribbean steel drum band poolside on their Caribbean cruises it would make it that much more enjoyable poolside. We took a RCCL cruise a few years ago on the Enchantment of the Seas and they had a great band playing poolside all afternoon everyday. We even bought their CD and still play it on warm days around our pool, drinking whatever foo foo drink that Marilynn decides on making.

 

Again, Jill, it was great having you and Kevin, along with our other table mates, Ron & Marie, Ian & Gus, Brent, and Jane, as our dinner mates. We truly hope that we get a chance to cruise with all you guys again in the future.

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Hi Jill

Review really covered it all ... and as I said I'd say "ditto"!

It truly was my best cruise ever because of all of our great table mates - you and Kevin, Marilynn and Bill, Marie, Ron and Brent, Ian and Gus - such fun!

Photos are on the way today.

Also, enjoyed meeting with other Cruise Critic travelers throughout the cruise at the various venues and private parties.

For those interested - the trivia prizes are quite nice (all with Celebrity logos): visor, refrigerator bags (6 packs), white canvas bags, lanyard with ID holder, and small pillows. And, every cabin included a large size tote bag.

Congrats on a job well done, Jill!

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Great review...thank you for being so detailed. We're sailed on the Summit next Jan./Hawaii and look forward to seeing this beautiful ship. We've cruised on the Infinity/Alaska and felt also, that the ship never seemed crowded. Wonderful layout...

 

Karyn

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Hi Jill,

 

I can only echo the sentiments you expressed so well in the review. This was a great cruise - Celebrity provided a beautiful ship and excellent food & service and Cruisecritic provided great travelling companions.

 

Gus and I ate breakfast every day at the Aqua Spa; the choices were good (& healthy!), it was always relaxing and quiet, and the staff were very friendly (the staff here are also the Normandie speciality staff)

 

As for the ports of call -

 

Key West: we took the conch train - good fun - and then wandered around, buying some key lime pie (delicious) and the first of many t-shirts.

 

Cozumel: we spent the morning at the Paradise Beach club. Its a great place, and you don't have to pay for sun loungers, as long as you buy a drink. They make great guacamole too. Lunch was at Panchos Backyard - recommended by the ship shopping guide. The food was excellent here - wonderful fish tacos, and as for the fishbowl margaritas - OMG.

 

Costa Rica - this was the Oscar Brown megatour...in all senses. There were 27 of us on this private tour; one bus and 2 taxis. It was a memorable tour and certainly value for money, including a visit to a banana plantation, a small animal sanctuary, a boat ride on the Tortuguera canal, and a somewhat late lunch at a restaurant (extra cost). And Oscar himself is a real character.

 

Panama - we took the ship excursion to Portobello and then the Gatun locks. The Portobello bit was not what we were expecting, tho the trip thru the countryside was interesting.

 

Aruba - next time i visit here i will get a day pass from the Renaissance hotel to use their private island.

 

Grand Cayman - we did the Stingray City tour. We took a tender from the ship ashore, then a bus to the marina, then another bigger tender to the offshore sandbar where the stingrays congregate. The water is shallow enough to stand up in, and the stingrays swim around you, brushing past you. You can feed them and even hold them. Gus loved this excursion...on the other hand i did not. The water was quite choppy, and several of the parents on our excursion had problems managing their kids as a result.

 

Fort Lauderdale - we stayed on a few days before our long trip home and were so glad we did. What a great place - the beach is superb, the shopping was the highlight of our trip, and the restaurants & bars along Las Olas boulevard are excellent.

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I concur with Paradise Beach and Oscar Brown's tour. We did both in November and loved them both! Two very different days. One very relaxing day and one all action. Yes I can honestly say that day at Paradise Beach was very tiring;) Did Oscar get in there for a few photo calls? He did with us and enjoyed showing his big grin to camera:D

 

Phil

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MiamiRoo...Great review....as I was reading I was thinking...hmmm..cabin 7206,that sounds familiar.I checked my info for our 9/30 Mexican Riviera cruise on the Summit and we have 7206.I was a little concerned about being aft...put a message on the board shortly after we booked and many people put my fears to rest.After reading your review I am even more excited!!!

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GREAT REVIEW JILL!!!!

 

We still miss you all and would cruise with ANYONE from 554 again anywhere and anytime. Nothing scheduled at tihis time, but the likelyhood is that we'll return to San Juan and cruise on the Constellation again since we love Puerto Rico and the southern Caribbean. Wish they still had 10/11 days cruises from there in later April, when the kids are back in school.

 

We did see about half the shows in the main theater and did enjoy them all. We loved the concert pianist the most. Not only was he very good, but he had great stage presence. We would agree with the pool band and the duo, but they weren't bad enough to ruin anything for us. The quartet was great and we also enjoyed the big band sound.

 

Small update on Marie, she saw a docter and her back is still quite swollen after two weeks. It may take a while before she returns to normal. The ugly purple bruises are still there, and "Yes Jane", I'm being very sympathetic, but she still doesn't want a housekeeper. Jane, I can catch the little ball about half the time.

 

Miss you all.

 

Ron and Marie

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Hi Ron,

 

Well life is kind of slow now that we are back. We miss you guys and everyone from 554 also. We should think of a reunion cruise sometime in the future (all the gang from 554 and our fellow Martini Bar gang), after Celebrity comes out with their full 2006 schedule.

 

We will be in Tempe for the ASU - SC game on the weekend of Sept 30th, just after we get back from our Transatlantic Cruise. I think we are in Section 7 or 9 this game. I can't get our usual tickets in Section 108 (can't figure out why ;) ) for this game. Staying at the Tempe Mission Palms, such a convenient hotel to stay at for a game. We will miss the first 3 UCLA games this year, between cruising and the ASU game. One of them being the Oklahoma game (oh darn).

 

You guys take care and say hello to Marie and Brent for us.

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