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HeatherInFlorida

Review of Summit Panama Canal Eastbound 14-Night Cruise ~ 10-23-05 thru 11-6-05

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We have returned from our amazing journey from Los Angeles (San Pedro) down the Mexican coast to Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, the beautiful beaches of Aruba and back home to Ft. Lauderdale. I warn you, this is a long review so just skip over the topics that don’t interest you.

 

Master: Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis

Hotel Director: Daniel llias

Cruise Director John Howell

 

PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS

Cruising, like everything, is subjective. A wonderful cruise for one person is not necessarily for another. Sometimes it’s timing or simply our moods at the time. Some of us look for one experience, others look for something else. So with minor flaws, this is a rave review for Celebrity. This was was the cruise that sealed the deal for us … we are now Celebrity loyalists. This is our third Celebrity cruise … the first being on Horizon to Bermuda in 1997, the second on Millennium in the Western Caribbean in 2003 and now this 2-week adventure through the Canal on Summit. We booked another 10-day cruise in the Southern Caribbean in December 2006. We decided longer cruises are for us and cancelled our scheduled 7-day cruise on the Mercury in October 2006.

 

Our experience with HAL, thus far, simply does not compare in service. Even visually, Summit is more appealing as we traveled about the ship. However, when I find a longer itinerary on HAL we will likely give them another try because I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare the 2 experiences without a longer cruise in the mix.

 

For me it takes about 2 days to get “into the swing” of the cruise. And the last 2 days I anticipate its sad end. So a 7 day cruise only affords me about 3 days of total relaxation. A longer cruise gives us the opportunity to just revel in the absolutely joyous experience of cruising. I have never enjoyed being on the sea as much as I did these past 2 weeks.

 

PRE-CRUISE INFO:

 

We flew into LAX, rented a car and drove to Long Beach where we stayed at the Coast Hotel. We love the location; the hotel was clean and quite nice right on the water. The Queen Mary was within walking distance so that was a wonderful way to spend a part of Saturday. Finding the hotel was very difficult, but if we were to sail out of San Pedro again, I would stay here.

 

OVERALL OBSERVATIONS ~ CELEBRITY VS. HOLLAND AMERICA

 

Anyone who knows me on these boards knows how torn I have been for sometime between HAL and Celebrity. This cruise pretty much closed the deal and Celebrity is our cruise line of choice. However, I’ve never done a 2 week cruise on HAL so this may not be a completely fair observation. But I can honestly say that other than some issues with a couple of shore excursions, there is absolutely nothing we didn’t love about this cruise. We’ve cruised 15 times since the early 80’s … not a ton of experience. But we’ve cruised on Cunard, Regency, HAL, Celebrity, NCL, Royal Viking Line, Seawind Cruises and Windstar so we have a lot of compare.

 

First to compare the ships Oosterdam (sailed 11/04) and Summit … personally I feel the design, layout and general architectural details are far superior on Summit. The outside elevators alone and so much more open and encompass superior views as you glide up and down. There are 4 of them vs. Oosterdam’s 2 and glass practically all around.

 

I can’t even compare the onboard shops. Oosterdam’s were sparse and broken up in such a way that it reminded me of a maze. Summit has magnificent shops laid out similarly to walking down an avenue with two kiosks in the center where the merchandise is changed daily.

 

The cabin’s appointments are far superior. The dressing table/desk on the Oosterdam also held a TV and had little cabinet space. The Summit’s dressing table is much larger and more usable.

 

This was the most amazing cruise we’ve ever taken in every way.

 

EMBARKATION:

 

We arrived at the pier by taxi around 11:15 a.m. If there was a short line, I don’t even remember it. We were Concierge Class so had “priority” boarding, but it would have made no difference at all. We were on the ship by 11:30 and able drop our carry-ons in our stateroom. Our cabin attendant, Lorna, apologized that it wasn’t “quite ready”, but promised it would be within half an hour. We happily headed to the Waterfall Café for lunch.

 

STATEROOMS

 

We were in Concierge Class #6135 on Penthouse Deck (6th). As you may know, because 6135 is between 2 Royal Suites, the deck is considerably deeper than most CC class staterooms. There is plenty of room for 2 cushioned chaises and a small table plus 2 cushioned chairs and a round dining table.

 

This cabin is also about 20 sq. ft. larger, I think, than a standard verandah cabin. The “living” area seemed a lot roomier than our cabin on the Millennium which was midships on the same deck.

 

The closets are not great, but we were still able to somehow fit everything in. Unlike the HAL ships, there are 6 drawers and roomy shelf below the safe. But there is only one closet for hanging clothes for us. Luckily DH doesn’t pack too heavy and there was room for all my “stuff”.

 

I do prefer the verandah furnishings on the Oosterdam (wicker) … this furniture was not as nice, but the size made up for it and the cushions helped. Had we stepped up to a Sky Suite, I think we would have had wood which was really very nice.

 

One thing I loved on the Summit was when you’ve ordered Room Service for Breakfast (CC gets the full menu); Lorna would always call me to say the tray was on its way. So much better than the knock on the door.

 

I did love the little “extras” we got in CC class … the fresh fruit everyday, the 2 pillows each were heavenly. The comfort of the bed was heavenly and I loved the duvet. Have to admit it didn’t quite measure up to HAL’s beds, but was so far superior in every other way that I overlook that completely.

 

I’ll use this opportunity to mention the Royal Suites. We had Cruise Critic friends who were lucky enough to grab one for a really great rate and they invited us for a party one night. This is an AWESOME suite with a huge verandah with hot tub, separate bedroom, dressing area and large bath. The living/dining area was beautifully furnished with luscious woods. They had large plasma screen TVs in both the bedroom and living room. I was sooooo jealous!

 

PASSENGERS

 

Before I get to the best part, a word about the passengers as a whole. I would say the age range was definitely in the over 60 department. But there were many in their 40’s and 50’s and a few younger. We had (I think) 5 small children who were so well behaved I thought they might be robots.

 

Some of you might say “so old!!!” Sometimes someone might walk a bit slower than you might like, but everyone on this ship seemed to be having an equally wonderful time and I heard little or no complaining. Maybe I walked in a dream world, but I didn’t hear it.

 

We had a really nice Roll Call before we left and we knew 40+ had signed up for the Celebrity Connections party. Several of us also decided to hook up at Sail Away at the Mast Bar. Odleka (Kathy) who began the roll call made wonderful nametags for us and we all gathered there in wonderful moods ready for a great cruise. San Pedro was unseasonably cold that day, but our hearts were sure warm!

 

We gathered the next day at Michael’s Club for our party and what an amazing turnout! And what a fun, wonderful group with ages across the board from young to very old. But the very old guy just happened by! When I asked him what his CC name was, he said he just saw it was a party and decided to come on in!

 

John Howell, the most wonderful amazing CD on the face of the oceans, came to greet us. When we had to break up because another party was coming in, they promised us another party the 2nd week. They came through for us and that party was equally well attended and enjoyed.

 

Throughout the cruise, close bonds were made among several CC members and we really enjoyed getting together, sharing tours together and other activities. And because we had made contact on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas Roll Call before we left (knowing they’d be on a similar itinerary), we had fun shouting across the ships a couple of times … especially as we made our way through the Panama Canal.

 

Early on, Linda (Basket Lady) suggested that on Sea Days anyone interested in eating in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant should meet outside at 12:30. We did this a few times and were particularly pleased when we invited John Howell to join us one day after our second party. He graciously accepted and I was fortunate to have him sitting next to me. He shared a lot of fun stories and information we wouldn’t ordinarily have. I said it before and I’ll say it again: John Howell is, without question, the best CD I’ve ever known. It almost seemed he was everywhere at once, always accessible and always there with a smile. He’s raised the bar for me … that’s for sure.

 

DINING

 

Cosmopolitan Restaurant

 

Before dinner we would always go to the Rendezvous Lounge or Martini Bar for the Virgin drink of the day. If we wanted to watch the dancing, the Lounge was the place to be. But we really liked the Martini Bar and the Champagne Bar when we wanted to talk. We often didn’t get to do this because the show was so frequently at 7:00.

 

We had Table #436 right in the center of the dining room beside the Ms Rotterdam statue. We could not have had a better table.

 

I thought the food was really good although I had much more beef than I would generally enjoy. I’m much fussier about food than many people are, but everyone else felt the food was really top notch. Personally I didn’t like the potatoes except a couple of rare occasions, but the beef was amazing. Everyone who had fish said it was always wonderful as well ... even though we had never heard of any of the varieties they offered.

 

For us, it was our Waiter, Julio, and Asst. Waiter, Francisco, who really made our dining experience the best of a lifetime. Their service was beyond description. And this was where Celebrity shines so far above HAL which doesn’t begin to compare. I still fault HAL management decisions for this, but Julio had 3 tables during Late Seating so he had the time to give us so much. Both Julio and Francisco were so happy, so willing to meet our every whim.

 

For our sitting, everyone seemed to adhere to the dress code throughout the week although I must admit it seems that “Informal” is a word not everyone quite “gets”.

 

To top off this amazing experience, we also had the only Assistant Maitre’D who has ever bothered with us at all. From the very first night Celito (sp?) came to our table and spent time with us. He would fulfill any request or desire we might have. The extras that we got which included a magnificent array of cheeses and biscuits every single night were just fantastic.

 

The Rotterdam (Specialty Restaurant)

 

We only dined here once because we were invited by Steve, Debbie, Charlie and Linda to join them one night. I’m so glad we did because just the “show” is worth the $30/pp cover. We had an 8:00 pm reservation and we left the restaurant at 11:30. It was superb from start to finish.

 

Waterfall Café and Grill

 

Everything here was so good. The Pasta Bar (made to order) was exceptional and so fresh. The pizza was terrific. I especially loved the vegetable one. I like the HAL ice cream better, I have to say. But Celebrity has improved their burgers, etc., and these were absolutely amazing.

 

All the desserts here were so good. I also loved the Deli section with the “make you own but they’ll do it for you” sandwiches. Which reminds me! The Belgian Waffles in this section in the morning (only until 10 so get yourself up there!) with strawberries in syrup and whipped cream all over them were beyond description. All the fruit (especially the cantaloupe) was wonderful as well.

 

OTHER SERVICE

 

The service overall was absolutely amazing. Everyone everywhere on the ship greeted us with a smile, a “hello” and a “good morning” or “good night”. I never encountered anyone who did not deliver the epitome in service from the Concierge, to Guest Relations to Captain’s Club and to Future Sales (and you can bet I was in there booking another cruise!).

 

If I’m going to criticize, it’s the Shore Excursion desk. I realize it’s a tough job, but there were not pleasant when all I asked for was a comment form to let them know about my shore excursion problem.

 

Lorna, our Stateroom Attendant, was always just outside my door with a greeting and a smile.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

 

Amazing! From one night to the next, they never repeated one act. Each show was fantastic and fun. When I judge shipboard entertainment, I don’t compare it to Broadway … I compare it to other cruises we’ve been on.

 

We went to almost every show. And I loved that many nights they had the Late Seating Show at 7:00 so that we could enjoy other entertainment throughout the ship. It also gave us a chance to get to bed before 1:00 in the morning!

 

Some of the talent was beyond amazing. The Aerialists, Alex and Sally, were magnificent to watch. The featured singers, Travis and Denise Turpin were wonderful and just seemed to enjoy themselves every minute. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were fantastic.

 

Noodles Levenstein was just plain funny, Antonio Salci (Pianist) was so good I bought his CD, Jack Walker’s voice got better with every song and by the end of his show I was on the edge of my seat. I ran to be the first to buy his CD. There were many nights that these entertainers received and deserved a standing ovation.

 

Both DH and I agreed that it was the best entertainment we’d seen on any cruise.

 

“ACUPUNCTURE AT SEA”

 

If you’ve ever considered acupuncture and just haven’t done it, this is a wonderful time to try it. They had several lectures explaining the process and I decided to bite the bullet and try it. I found it very helpful and plan to continue now that I’m back home.

 

AQUA SPA

 

The only service I used here was a manicure. Josh was the most amusing and amazing manicurist I’ve ever had and the hand ritual treatment was beyond anything I’ve experienced. I didn’t every have a manicure before that includes massaging my neck and shoulders, but I’ll take it!!!

 

SEA DAY ACTIVITIES (We had 7 of these!)

These were heaven! We're not big "activities" people so unfortunately I can't report on that very much. I do know there were a heck of a lot of people up on the pool deck having "Fun In The Sun". And I loved the "Sorbet Parade". Yummy!

 

SHIP’S PHOTOGRAPHERS AND PICTURES:

Loved that the photographers were not "in your face". They would ask if we wanted a picture taken. This made it a lot easier to find our pictures when we did want them because so many people declined. The cost has gone off the charts and the only one I purchased was our table picture. I'm glad I did because the one taken with my camera came out blurry.

 

But I don't know why they won't print up a simply 5x7 rather than attaching 2 wallet size and a 4x6 in order to jack the price to $19.95. We didn't bother with the "studio" shots either because those cost even more. In this world of digital photography, it's just not worth it.

 

The only thing I regret was not asking the photographers to come to the "Connections" parties so we could get a group Cruise Critic shot. I would have loved that and it would have been worth the $20. But I just never thought of it and no one else did either.

 

PORTS AND TOURS

 

Upon returning to the ship in every port, we were greeting with cold water, punches or lemonade and ice cold hand towels. These were soooo welcome in hotter ports and particularly while waiting for the tenders.

 

We had 2 days a sea (aaaaah sweet bliss as we relaxed into the journey of a lifetime) before arriving at Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday, 10/25. Sailing along the Baja in the early morning light is an awesome experience. Rounding Lands End, we dropped anchor the farthest from shore that you can without being the Pacific Ocean. Summit gets last dibs at every port from what we saw. I have no idea why. So it was a loooong tender ride into port. I hate tendering anyway.

 

Luckily for us, we had tours in both tendered ports so it was a piece of cake. I will say that the tenders on Summit are far better than HAL. They’re more open, with more air flowing through and much lighter. So it was as good as it could be. We took a ship’s tour in this port called:

 

Land’s End Boat Cruise & Beach Tour: If you want to giggle a bit, go to the Celebrity site and read their description of this tour focusing on the part about the “beach club”. The boat portion of this tour was just as we expected and I have no complaint whatsoever. It was wonderfully enjoyable and I just wish they could have dropped us off at Lover’s Beach and leave it at that.

 

Instead we were taken back to the port where we were herded like cattle toward a bus to take us to the “beach club”. The problem here was there was a guy in the front with a sign who walked very fast and appeared to lose half of us (somehow we all ended up where we were supposed to be). We got on a very clean and pretty bus and were driven the short distance to the beach. This was mere moments from the pier and we could see our Summit anchored off shore (if we were smart enough to bring our binoculars with us). The RCI and Crystal ships were clearly visible.

 

But this is where the joke began for us. We walked down a very steep hill and were led onto a crowded beach there in the harbor. They had roped off a section where about 50 or so plastic lounge chairs had been place with a bunch of market umbrella. The chaises were so close together that the only way to sit on them was to stand at the foot of the chair and sort of fall backward hoping the other end would not pop up and kick you in the head.

 

The chairs were on such an angle that I basically went behind it and dug it deep into the sand just so I could sit on it without sliding off. We were told that the roped off section would keep the vendors from bothering us … that they could only come over to us if “invited”. Well, they were very good at making you feel guilty if you didn’t “invite” them. On top of that, they pretty much blocked any view of the water. They were so sweet, actually, that is was hard to be angry but it certainly wasn’t quite what we expected. We couldn’t wait to get back on the bus and return to the ship.

 

After another day at sea we arrived Thursday in Acapulco which I was prepared to hate, but was pleasantly surprised. Here we had booked a tour called:

 

MayanPalaceBeach Getaway: This was an excellent and wonderful tour. The MayanPalace is a timeshare resort in the “future” section of Acapulco. As you may know, Acapulco is divided into the “old” section, the “new” section, and the “future” section. This is a magnificent resort like none I have ever seen. We spent the day sitting by the pool by the sea and had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant there. We spent 4 hours there and then returned to the ship. It was a wonderful day shared with some of our new Cruise Critic friends. All the guys bonded standing in the pool. When I’ve posted my pictures, you will see all of this and the pictures speak a thousand words.

 

On Friday we docked in Huatulco which is a charming and delightful town. I will say, however, that I had gone on this cruise prepared to by sterling silver in our Mexican ports. Forget that! I’m sure if I’d gotten out of the main part of town I could have done better, but I can find much nicer silver here in the states for at least half the price and I told the merchants that. When I saw a piece I liked for $250, the salesman said “let’s talk”. We talked, but when he realized I wanted something under $100, he led me to their souvenir table. I left empty handed.

 

We did not do a tour here because I’d been told you can easily walk about town and there’s a wonderful beach right next to the pier. I found this difficult to believe, but they were right. It’s a beautiful, clean, white sand beach and I enjoyed my time there. Huatulco is named for its nine beautiful bays and I would think seriously about returning to enjoy one of their resorts. They are trying to entice tourism there and I’d like to enjoy the beauty of the area before it becomes the next Acapulco.

 

After another wonderful sea day (did I mention that once we got away from the cold dampness of California our weather was magnificent throughout? … well, a little misty on the Panama Canal, but that kept it cool) … we arrived on Sunday, 10/30, at Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Here we had booked a tour called:

 

Aerial Tram Pacific

 

We docked at the far end of the pier (of course) even though there was no other ship at the pier. They had a trolley with a “toot toot” engine that shuttled everyone to the flea market area. Sadly, I never got to enjoy shopping there since we were so late returning to the ship from our tour. Many people told me they did their very best shopping by the pier in Puntarenas.

 

The bus picked us up right by the ship and drove the 1 ½ hours + to the park in the mid-Pacific. I want to say first that the aerial tram portion of this tour was magnificent and so worthwhile. But the walking portion which we were told was “optional” seem to take up the better portion of the time allowed and quite truthfully I didn’t come all the way to Costa Rica to see plants that were not even native to the area. They plopped them in the ground and put little signs on them. They also walked us ever so slowly to see various types of snakes being kept in glass cages along the path. I found this very upsetting. Here we are in the wild and these snakes are housed in little boxes just so we could stare at them in groups of 10 and 20.

 

Because there was a huge back-up at the tram, our guide would walk us about 5 steps and stop us to prattle on about something. I was terribly disappointed in this aspect of the tour, but all was forgiven after our wait for the tram because we really enjoyed our ride up above the canopy of the forest. Even the rain made it all seem that much more beautiful. I was particularly excited when I saw a Fiery Billed Aracari (variety of Toucan) which I pointed out to our guide! I even got a picture of “my” bird giving me a little wave.

 

So late returning to the ship all I had time for was a few quick shots of the sunset before we left this magnificent country.

 

At sea on Halloween with all sorts of shenanigans going on about the ship, we reached the entrance to the Panama Canal and the Bridge of the Americas early in the morning Tuesday, November 1st. We did not tour here because we wanted the experience of cruising “from sea to shining sea” … the Pacific to the Atlantic. It was more amazing, magnificent and awesome than I ever could have imagined. Seven or eight years ago we did the “half way” portion of the canal through the Gatun Locks, into the Lake and out again. But that paled in comparison to the entire canal. Any of you who have done this cruise know what I mean. I had read and studied a great deal about it so it made the experience that much better. Along the way there was a lot of sharing with Radiance of the Seas as she passed through the canal with us.

 

Again, my pictures will tell a better story than I can.

 

Another day at sea and then we arrived at sunny, warm Aruba on Thursday, 11/3. Docked right in town, I shopped a little in the morning and then joined Rich and Sandy (Our Dream) for a beach day. One of the things that Celebrity does is give you huge beach towels in your cabin for your use throughout the cruise. When you bring them back, they give you a nice fresh new one. I like this so much better than grabbing 2 or 3 smaller towels on HAL.

 

At our second Cruise Critic party, John Howell had told us about a wonderful beach where it wouldn’t be so crowded. It isn’t even on the map. Since that conversation, John asked me not to publish the name so I won’t. But if you’re lucky enough to cruise with John, he just might tell you about it. It is a heavenly beach … a hotel where we presumably were not supposed to be able to rent the thatched umbrellas and lounge chairs, but when we told them we were happy to pay, they were happy to accommodate us. We found a huge umbrella under which all 4 chaises fit. We were right by the water so could all easily swim without worrying about our things. The water felt like liquid silk and the color of the water was incredible to behold. Having come from the Pacific where we did not see waters like this, it was all that much more appreciated. We had a wonderful day there.

 

After 2 more days at sea, we arrived back home in Ft. Lauderdale … a very sad day for me because as I have said before, this journey could not have been more fun, more enjoyable, more fulfilling or any better in any way.

 

CLOTHING AND ATTIRE

 

Couldn’t come up with a name for this section, but did want to mention that DH after much thought did take advantage of Cruiseline Formals. He has his own tux so was reluctant to pay $85 for this service. He did not regret it! First, it fit better than his own since they used his current measurements as opposed to those of several years ago when he was just a wee bit smaller.

 

But beyond that, the ease of having it delivered to the stateroom and leaving it there was worth every penny. The tux was quite stunning and he looked wonderful. When I post our pictures later on this thread, you’ll see how nice it was. I highly recommend it.

 

I packed perfectly for dinner, but took way too many casual clothes. When you pack for a 2-week, remember to remove 1/3 of what you plan on taking … maybe even more. If all else fails you can throw on a cover-up and pretend you’re on the way to the pool.

 

On our 14 night cruise we enjoyed 8 Casual nights, 3 Informal and 3 Formal. This threw me a little because I thought it was 7 Casual nights, but luckily I had an Informal outfit that could pass for Casual.

 

DISEMBARKATION:

 

We were told we would have “priority” disembarkation, but all this meant in the end was that we had a special lounge to wait where Danish and coffee were served. There were so many Europeans on this cruise who needed to fly from Miami that we could not disembark until 10:00. This was not a problem since we live in West Palm Beach and friends were meeting us.

 

The entire process was a “piece of cake”. We went for breakfast at 8:15 and returned to our cabin. Lorna told us we could wait there, but at 9:30 we went to the Cinema so we would hear when “Red4” was called. Suddenly we felt we were in a James Bond film waiting for the code word “Red4”! Promptly at about 9:45 we were called and left the ship with no jamming, elbowing or anything. All the bags were organized in their color categories and while the line through customs appeared very long, we whisked through literally in minutes and were in our car and on our way by 10:15.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

 

Some of the people who made this journey so absolutely amazing are Kathy & Bill (Odleka), Dick and Ruth Ann (rafrizzell), Steve and Debbie (makethegrade), Ron and Gina (gunner22a), Sandy and Rich (Our Dream), Ginny and Karl (cruisintogether), Linda and Charlie (BasketLady), Joe and Michael, Ryan and Amanda (aostrows) and our tablemates, Sue and John and Larry and Theresa. While I met many other CCers, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten their names (sorry!!!).

 

I know as you read this you are thinking, this rave review is just not possible. But this was 2 weeks of pure bliss. And you should know that the entire first week I was trying to reach someone back home in West Palm Beach, FL, to see if our house was still standing after Wilma. But despite that anxiety and the $200 spent on the internet trying to get news, I still managed to have on of the most wonderful times in my entire life.

 

I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon and I hope the friendships we made onboard will last a lifetime.

 

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Enjoyed your review very much. Brought back many memories of our cruise on the Summit last Oct. 25th for 12 days. We had a different CD, who was also amazing. What a great ship! We loved the Normandie too. I think you mistakenly called it the Osterdam or something to that effect. Mixed it up with HAL I am sure. Again, great review thanks.

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Heather,

Thanks so much for the wonderful review. We will be trying X (Summit)for the first time next year. HAL has been our favorite cruise line up to this point and you have made us feel very comfortable about making a change. Can't wait to see your pics.

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Thanks for such a wonderful review! I will be sailing with Celebrity for the first time in February-now you have me so excited!! How will I be able to concentrate on work today? LOL

Marjb36:D

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Patnjohn, yes!!! So sorry! Made a mistake and too late to change it. Of course I meant The Normandie!!! Mixed it up with HAL where the main dining room was The Rotterdam I think. Trouble was I hit "submit" way before I had edited the review! I meant to hit "preview" and there it was! I edited as quickly as I could, but probably missed stuff.

 

Also made the mistake about Ms Normandie statue in the Cosmopolitan. Forgive me, Celebrity!!!! Yikes!:o

 

Any questions anyone might have about this cruise, I'll be happy to try to answer. Just ask! :)

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Heather:

 

Wonderful review. We are in Aruba right now at an internet cafe. We agree with X' being superior to HAL. We like the older HAL ships though and the beds are better there. If you like Summit you will like Constellation even better. In September the upkeep was just a tad better.

 

Now back to shopping..

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C2C, are you on the Summit??? I'm so jealous! Knowing the itinerary I've been following along. I want to be there, too!!!:(

 

When emailing a friend, I just remembered another "touch" by Celebrity that HAL does not do. When you arrive at the Waterfall Cafe (HAL's Lido) at Breakfast and Lunch, you are greeted with a warm friendly "good morning" by one of the staff.

 

HAL does not do this and you would never miss it if you hadn't experienced it on a Celebrity ship. It's just a nice added touch that makes you feel special.

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great review.

mine is probably equally long... 22 pages in Word!! So I have pare it down a bit... or maybe not...

 

makes me miss the trip even more.

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Summit Cruise Journal

TransPanama Canal Cruise

Los Angeles >> Fort Lauderdale

 

General

We had booked this cruise nearly 16 months ago directly through Celebrity. That’s by far the farthest out we ever booked a trip… so it was a long time coming. It gave us plenty of time to research the ship, the ports, the tours, etc. We had sailed on the Summit before, in July of 2003 on a Southbound Alaska 12 day land tour (5 days on land, 7 days at sea). Some of you may recall, that the Summit had been damaged coming out of the Hubbard Glacier at that point in time, and was forced into dock at Seward to be repaired. Well, we were on the trip scheduled to leave during this repair. We got stuck in Seward for 3 days and missed 2 of our ports, Juneau and Skagway. I posted a lengthy review of this trip in late July 2003 if it’s still there… We actually had a nice time in Seward, but most of the ship was in something of a revolt about the delay. In the end, Celebrity gave us some ship credit and 50% off a future cruise which we used (after many hassles with black outs and cabin types, etc) to book this cruise.

On a short personal note, this was by far not only the longest cruise we’d ever booked, but the longest vacation that we’ve ever been on. Never to stress about trying to relax however, we were packed and primed and ready to go and see the world. We had done a 7 day cruise, but nothing this long. We weren’t worried about it, but we weren’t sure how we react to so much time on the ship, and so much time at sea. This is not a bad thing at all, but something that we had thought about. Offically this cruise was to celebrate our 10th wedding even though our actual anniversary date is in April (shhh don’t tell John the cruise director) so it was a milestone for us.

So much had been written about the Summit itself, that my review would likely be repetitive. I will suffice it to say that it is a beautiful ship. It seems that around every corner there is something new and something interesting. The service is first rate. We were never far from anything that we wanted. Our cabin – Sky Suite 6102 - was spacious and very comfortable, with a midship starboard view. We butler Darrell and our attendant Amelita were helpful and efficient at all times. Our wait staff (table 409) lead by Ines and Tom were friendly, helpful and fun. This was our second time on the Summit and we are still impressed. We haven’t been on any other cruise ships, so I don’t have anything to compare it too, but good is good, and we were very happy on the Summit.

 

Some random notes about Celebrity and the Summit

The service is excellent top to bottom. We had 2 attendants for our suite, Amelita the attendant and Darrell the Butler. Both was responsive and efficient. The room was always neat and tidy when it needed to be. Darrell was always quite with whatever we needed. In fact we bypassed the basic room service and got everything we needed directly through him.

Physically, the Summit is impressive. There are nocks and crannies that we continued to discover (e.g. a shuffleboard court was right below our balcony). The service staff was constantly cleaning and straightening things. The art is, well, perhaps not fully my taste, but interesting and abundant. There is a very good economy of design, meaning that it seems that every space is used for something purposeful, but at the same time, there is no sense of crowding or overpopulation.

The is truly something for everyone… movies, restaurants, bars, crafts, activities, quiet time (library), and more.

The communication within the ship is fast and easy. Most every day we got an envelope under our door inviting us to something (cocktail party, tasting, etc.). The phone system in the room is easy to use and makes it simple to reach the staff, the offices and other guests.

Tendering in ports is a pain. In Cabo we were way out of the harbor. The combination of having to wait for a tender, being on a hot, crowded tender and wasting all the time in this process is probably the most frustrating part of the entire trip. But what can you do. Our tenders in Alcapulco were much more efficient it seemed, and we were much closer to the pier. Tendering back to the ship was always easier since the crowds tend to spread out more. Even so, we waited 20 minutes on the pier in Acapulco (in the sun) waiting for the tender boat. (Never fear though, the Celebrity staff was up and down the line giving out cold towels (aptly called ‘cold towels’ written right on the towels… not to be confused with beach towels that have ‘beach towel’ written on them).

Drinks are easily available. In fact, a bit too much so. In just about any of the public places, you couldn’t go 5 feet without a well meaning waiter asking you if you wanted something. I suppose this would be fine if they were free, but of course, they aren’t, so when you don’t want a drink, I found that the constant asking got annoying.

Having a balcony is definitely a plus. Of course it is an expense and sometimes you simply can’t afford it, but I find that the advantages far outweigh the cost. First of all you get a great view and you have that much more space. We spent 4 nights watching the sunset over the ocean. Beautiful and priceless.

 

 

10/23/05

First Day

Flight, / Embarkation

 

We left our house in Philadelphia PA USA at 5 am to make our flight. Upon arrival in LA, two Celebrity greeters were at the baggage claim to meet us. We checked in, and after a short wait, we boarded a bus for the 30 minute ride to the San Pedro cruise dock. For some reason, the only one we could think of was that we were there too early?, we were unable to get into the lot to have access to the embarkation for another 30 minutes. But everyone on the bus we good natured and patient. We had a great ground level view of the Summit, as well as the Island Princess (RCCL) and some other ships. Once you see the ships, the reality sets in… WE ARE GOING ON THE CRUISE…. 15 months of planning and we are here!!

Once we finally got through, the embarkation process went well. The lines were long, but they moved steadily. We are Captain’s Club (and concierge class) so we were able to go through a preferred check-in line, and our check in was about 5 minutes. The regular line was significantly longer though. With our seapasses and orientation materials, we went upstairs to board.

As we walked through the gangplank onto the summit, we were greeted by a slew of Summit staff, and offered champagne. A hostess escorted us to our cabin, who ironically turned out to be our two week cabin hostess, walked us to the room and showed us all the amenities. We had a sky suite (6102)… more on that later. After meeting our attendant (Amelita) and our butler (Darrell) -- and since the luggage wasn’t there yet -- after a few minutes to freshen up, we headed out to walk the ship. Having been on the Summit on our last cruise, we had some familiarity with the ship, but were still excited to see everything.

The sky suite is terrific. I can’t quote the square footage (295?) but it has plenty of room, including a large walk in closet and a full bathroom with bath tub. In our last cabin (a concierge class 8098) we had only a stand up shower. It wasn’t that we intended to take a bath… it just gives an indication of the space. We also had a balcony with a starboard view (sunset at night over the Pacific).

 

Our First Day

 

At 3 we headed up the pool deck for the ‘free presentations’ given by the Celebrity specialists. It was booked as a free raffle, and it was to some degree, but basically it was a marketing concept to show off all of the activities (read for pay…) that the ship has to offer… they covered art auctions, wine auctions, bingo, spa treatments, golf lesson, the specialty restaurant, acupuncture, and probably a few others that I forgot… There were also copious waiters and waitresses selling Bahama Mama drinks in souvenir Celebrity glasses.

At 430, they had the muster drill. This is always viewed as a necessary annoyance to me, but it was handled efficiently All instructions were given in English and German (I found that curious… not to slight German at all, but on most ships we’ve been on, it was English and Spanish or French). I’m not sure if Celeb was trying to tell us something or not, but our meeting place for the muster was the casino, and our lifeboat was #13… you figure that out…

We had arranged to meet everyone from our Cruise Critic group after the Muster at the Mast Bar. This is a great place to meet. It’s on the 11th deck, overlooking the pool area. We all wore leis… mostly blue so we could identify each other. What a great group. It was neat to put the faces with the names and aliases that we had been chatting with for months. Special kudos to Kathy for making some excellent name tags for everyone. So while, about 20 of us chatted, and the wait staff circulated every two minutes to see if we wanted another cast away Mohita (sp?) – a rum based drink… we all got to meet and get to know each other. It was a nice time.

The party lasted about an hour until many of the group headed down to early seating (we ate late seating). We met one couple (Amanda and Ryan on their honeymoon! We were on our 10th anniversary) who opted to join us at the Martini Bar for the Martini tasting… All I can say is… come thirsty. This has to be the best deal on the seven seas. They give you 6 martinis, about 2/3 the usual size for $6,50 (a regular one is $8). There was an assortment ranging from apple, to limon to chocolate to ‘the classic’ to some citrus ‘fruitinis’.. Frankly, I didn’t care for the chocolate one, but the rest were just fine. We found out that this tasting is offered only once during the 14 day cruise… too bad… we may have come to it each night!!.. We enjoyed Ryan and Amanda’s company so much, that we decided to rearrange our table seating and sit with them late seating.

Dinner was the usual fine quality Celebrity fare. It’s always very good, with a fine selection. We met our waitress Ines from Croatia (pronounced E-nis) and her assistant Tom. From the Phillipines. Despite being tired… we got up at 2 am LA time … and finishing dinner at 11pm LA time (2 am east coast time), we enjoyed our meal. We headed back to the suite and simply passed out from exhaustion….

 

10/24/05

Our second day – At Sea

 

We started the day off with a workout in the gym. The gym area on the Summit is ample and well stocked. There are a variety of aerobic equipment as well as weights and machinery. Neither of us wanted a ‘hard core’ workout.. just something to get the blood moving and shake off the residuals of the travel day yesterday. The workout and a stint in the sauna set us right.

This is a full sea day on the way to Cabo. Even so, there is a plethora (how about that word folks) to do today… auctions, cooking lessons, computer lessons, wine tasting.. movies in the cinema, happy hours… on and on… what to do first?

Even with all the choices, we had some commitments already.. the cruise critic group party, and a Captains Club “Elegant Tea” in the Specialty Restaurant Normandie at 330pm. For now… off to the breakfast buffet and the CC party!

 

CC Party

What a great event. We had nearly 50 people there and a lively and friendly crowd. There was some mixing and mingling and socializing. It was so nice to put the faces to the screen names after all of this time. Kathy’s efforts of organization should be given specific note here… what an effort. Ginny also made a great effort by making up some “X” awards. These gold and platinum X’s (ok, they we rubber… but priceless just the same) were given out to Kathy for organizing the group, and to the group’s leading poster… read load mouth … for the most posts. My X award now sits proudly in my stateroom and will eventually have a place of honor in my trophy case at home. Cruise Director John made an appearance and talked about what was going on with the cruise and his hopes for the 14 days we had together. He also said that since our group was so ‘friendly and spirited’ that we should have another party during the second week. We had a gift exchange and about 10 people brought gifts. I was slightly disappointed that more didn’t participate, but it’s an effort to get it together and not everyone in the group was able to sit in front of a PC at work all day and check in all the time. Either way, the CC board and parties are an invaluable way to connect. My kudos to the whole concept. Not only is the board a great way to connect directly on cruises like ours, but a great source of information about cruising in general. Kathy and Bill won our gift and we won a ½ gallon of Maple Syrup!! (yeah we love the stuff)… some thing representative Canadian. It was fun. We shut the place down as they were hosting a party for some German tourists and basically kicked us out.

Mixology Course

This was a winner… 5 free drinks, 4 people… hmm, good odds… the bartender made drinks and we got to sample them and keep them!! MMMM… I got a very nice gratis bloody mary for my troubles. Charles, from the CC group, got a free Bahama Mama with the fancy Celebrity glass (that he didn’t want and gave to me… thank you Charles!!).

 

Culinary Demonstration

My wife attended this and said it was “cool but hard to see’. Basically the Celeb chefs demonstrated their culinary talents. Hey food.. what can be bad?

 

AquaSpa

Ok, let me just get this out of the way.. the AquaSpa rules! This is the best deal in the Sea. $99 for all you can Persion Spa. Now this is relaxing. 5 different saunas and stema baths… and showers .. unlimited for 14 days… I had to rush to do it today because I had to meet my wife for the swing dance lesson (the things we do…)… but I was SO relaxed the whole day after…

 

Swing Dancing

Trust me, no one is going to confuse me with Fred Astaire… but the seing class was fun, and I did learn a few steps and some basic moves.. alright, I did step on my wifes feet a few times… but at least I was there!!

 

HighTea

This was quite nice if I don’t say so myself. There were actually 2 teas going at the same time, one for the general ship and the one that we went to in the Normandie that was for Captains Club members. We sat at a table with some very experienced cruisers who have been on 10+ cruises. The service, as always in the Normnadie, was excellent and the cakes and finger sandwiches were all good.

 

Pool

To relax, we spend a short time in the Thalassopy (sp?) pool. It’s sort of a hot tub that you can lie down in … relaxing. On the way back, we stopped at the Sushi Bar to get trays of Sushi for …

 

Happy Hour

We had some of our new cruise to our cabin for a happy hour. Having a Starboard cabin, we had a beautiful sunset to look forward to. We had the Sushi, and cheese trays and fruit trays and quesadillas that we ordered from room service along with our daily canapés and some fruit. Frankly, it was way too much food, but all good. We finished off the bottle of Champagne that we had been given at sail away and had some nice conversation. Ryan also brought a nice bottle of red wine. The sunset was gorgeous over the wide open Pacific. Hard to believe that we’d been a sea only one full day… the relaxation was finally starting to set in.

 

Dinner

This was the first formal night. The late seating was regale with tuxes and evening gowns. It always looks so nice. We moved from our 4 top with Ryan and Amanda to join Linda and Charles (of the aforementioned free drink and glass), another cruise critic board couple we’d met. We also sat with a woman who was on board to rep her line of jewelry in the Emporium. Somehow, Linda and Charles were the only 2 sitting at an 8 top before we moved… hmmmm… (perhaps they had scared the rest away the night before?  ) So we had a very nice group for dinner.

Dinner had a fine selection across the menu, but frankly, I wasn’t the least bit hungry after the tea and happy hour and the champagne and wine. I got a selection of foods just to taste them…. But really didn’t eat much. After dinner I went up to level 5 to visit Janet and her mother at their table. Quite the scene there with Janet, and her mom and 6 others, all in their 80s! (this is not a bad thing, but perhaps not too much fun for Janet). I told them that I was the assistant cruise director, and my responsibilities included their table….

 

The Show

Prior to the show was the captains toast. The captain and the main crew came up on the stage of the Celebrity Theatre for a toast (and they gave out free wine… a rare give away after selling nearly everything else). The toast was short and truthfully, he spoke so quickly and with a heavy accent (He is Greek) that I couldn’t understand one word that he said. The show itself was a dance festival called Classique: La Dansa, or something like that. As usual, it was quite professionally done. The singing and dancing by the ‘Celebrity Dancers and Celebrity Singers’ was high quality. The costumes and stage set were really very elaborate and impressive and very professional. After the show, it was about midnight and our day was done… we were exhausted….

 

10/25/05

Third Day – Cabo San Lucas

 

Morning

We spent the early part of the morning in our gym/breakfast routine. We choose to eat in the Waterfall Café which is a large buffet with many selections as well as made to order omelets, waffle bar, etc. (In fact the pancake and waffle bar at breakfast is the sushi bar at night). We ate out on the rear of the boat, the Waterfall Bar, and watched as the Summit approached and anchored outside Cabo. We could also see the tender boats coming out to meet us in the harbor. It seems that we are a 20 minute tender ride to the shore. We have to meet at the Rendezvous lounge at 11am to meet our group for our shore excursion… CS11 Santa Maria Sail and Snorkel Tour. This seemed like a nice combination of sight seeing and activity. We are not shoppers, although we’ll buy some mementoes or gifts at some point, so we almost always book something active, or at the very least, something with local flavor. The weather today is excellent, over 90 and full sun. After a few days of overcast and cool, the sun feels great. I imagine that they’ll be some burned people tonight at dinner.

 

Tender boat

We anchored quite a distance from the shore and had to tender in. As usual Celebrity had the process well under control. We have a concierge class, so we got a ‘priority tender’ (although I’m not quite sure what that means). The only down side was that the tender was very crowded and hot

 

Excursion

We had signed up for the Santa Maria Cruise and Snorkel trip. The scene at the pier was frenetic. There were people everywhere and going in all directions. We tendered at the end of the pier and walked down to the marina area. We had to go through security. The line moved quite slowly to get out, and it wasn’t until we got to the front that we realized it was because they were stopping everyone and taking pictures of them… (how unnecessary… ). We had about an hour before our excursion so we walked around the flea market for a bit. They had some nice things for sale, at least in a touristy type of way, but if there were 100 booths in the market, 90 sold just about the same thing.. and there was the requisite hassling over prices. We didn’t get anything… plenty of time to buy things if we want them.

We went back to meet our tour and the guides led us out of the pier area and over to the boat. It was a very nice 40 foot catamaran sail boat. The boat held 50 people, but there were only 16 on the tour so we had a lot of room which was very nice. We motored out of the harbor and down the coast for about an hour to the bay. It was small, and there were already 3 other snorkel boats there when we got there. We sailed out past the sights of the area, the lovers beach, and the arch and the lands end. I got some great pictures I think. Once at the bay, the crew was very helpful giving some basic snorkel instruction and giving out equipment and assisting us getting into the water, etc. The snorkeling itself was fine. There were a lot of fish, but, not to sound jaded, only a few different kinds of fish, and only a small reef that we swam over. After about 15 minutes, it all started to look the same. We headed back to the boat and got rinsed off and relaxed in the sun. The crew served freshly made salsa and guacamole and some sandwiches along with a few types of Mexican beer, sodas and mixed drinks to order. Despite all the concerns about ice, I had a few margaritas --- mmmm – and one each of the Mexican beers (hey you have to try them all right!). The wind had picked up a lot, and they raised the sails and we flew back… almost literally… bobbing up and down over the choppy surf. The front of the catamaran had a webbed area to sit, or lay in, and the water splashed through there several times. With the heat of the sun, it felt great. We moved back and forth around the harbor, visited the arch again, and returned to the dock. We parked right next to the tender boat so we could transfer over without waiting in any line.

We wanted to call our children and home, so we went up the pier to find the pay phones (telephonos), but they would work, at least with the calling card that we had. Too bad, we really wanted to say hello to them. We later found out that this is very common, and often when you do connect, you find out later that you get outrageous ‘connection fees’ and other ridiculous charges. We went back down the pier, past street musicians, and a VERY long line for the Radiance of the Seas tenders, picked up a much needed cold towel from the Celebrity welcome table (great ‘small thing’) and went right onto the tender. Celebrity had hired 4 extra tenders to shuttle people back and forth. This was a much needed service, as we were the 4th ship in port, and the furthest from the pier. The other cruise lines were very backed up in their lines…

 

Relaxing

After all this, it was time to just relax. My wife went to the Thalassapy pool, and I spent an hour in the AquaSpa. Dinner was informal and that seemed just about right. After all the sun, I didn’t feel like putting on a suit. Dinner was nicely done as usual; we shared our stories of the day and enjoyed another good meal. They had peas, which sounds goofy, but my favorite, and I ordered an entire plate!! I made my visit up to Janet’s table to say hello. The stories they told!! Bingo, movies and Dean (the only man at the table) impressed with “Did you know that there is a card room here!”

After dinner we convened to the Martini Bar, where we were joined by another person we’d met earlier in the cruise, Janet (who is traveling with her mother), for a round of martinis and conversation. About 1130, we headed up to the Bar on the Edge for some swing dancing, if for no other reason, to utilize the steps that we had learned Monday, but just as we got there the band – the Celebrity Orchestra - was taking a break and we missed them. We decided to just call it a day and get ready for our at sea day tomorrow.

 

10/26/05

Fourth Day – At Sea

 

Morning

For the first time on the cruise, we slept in and just relaxed in the morning. Sometimes, even with everything going on, you just have to let all that go and just relax and be on vacation and rest. Not that anyone is complaining of course. We just hung out most of the morning and visited the future cruise coordinator Stephanie. We ended up booking a 7 day Bermuda cruise next June as part of a larger family trip. Stephanie was very helpful. Aside from having a full choice of cabins available, and getting $100 of ship credit for each room (3) that we booked, I don’t see much advantage to booking on ship. There certainly is no discount that seems to be fairly easily available in numerous places on shore, or at home.

 

Anniversary Party / Afternoon

As we are celebrating our 10th anniversary, we were invited to the 2pm honeymooners and anniversary party at the Bar at the Edge hosted by cruise director John. Everyone was given champagne or mimosas for a toast. There were only 3 honeymooners at the party (not surprising given the demographic on the ship) but 60+ anniversary couples. The oldest was married for 56 years. They were cute and there was a special toast just for them and then they danced. There was cake that was given out, but we didn’t stay for that, and instead opted to go out to the pool deck for some sun and relaxation. I hit the Persian Room again for 30 minutes of steam baths and saunas… (not to be repetitive, but this is the BEST deal on the ship). For the afternoon, the pool deck was fine. We made some drinks in the room and set out and enjoyed the sun and the ship ‘party band’, called Headliners. They were fine, but not great, at least during this set. I went swimming in the salt water pool to cool off, and the ship was listing so much from to back that the water was moving with a ‘tide’ of 2 – 3 feet in the pool which made for some very interesting bathing. The water is also very salty. Not only do you taste it, but I found that it really dried out my skin. Interesting.

 

Happy Hour

We had another nice happy hour up in Amanda and Ryans room. They have 9201 which is a ‘regular’ concierge class room, but they are at the very end of the ship, so they had a super sized balcony. It’s almost as big as the room with a large table and lounge chairs as well as small chairs. Their view is directly out the back of the ship so you can see 180 degrees around the back of the boat. This made for some great sunset pictures off of the back. It was also handy because you could hear Paul, the ‘casual guitarist’ who plays at the Waterfall Bar at the end of the ship on Deck 10 each night at Happy Hour.

Once again, we had cheese plates and fruit and quesadillas and sushi, and of course, some good conversation. We watched the sun set over the ocean. It is starting to get very hot and humid as we get further south, even at night.

 

Dinner

We switched our table again, this time to the 8 seat where Linda and Charles are sitting. This table was right next to us anyway. So now we’ve gone from 412 to 409 to 408. But I think this is our last switch. Ines had to relay the imformation to the Captain of the Restaurant so they may now switch some other people into our table. The dinner was fine as usual. Never spectacular, always good. I was able to get a full plate of peas!! This time simply steamed our something. Very good. Now everyone is curious about what kinds of vegetables we can get. Amanda and Ryan both got ‘custom’ salads with gorgonzola cheese. So we are starting to get more creative with our food choices. The menus are fine, but just not always what you are in the mood for. I had turkey tonight, which was served the ‘traditional’ way.

 

Karaoke

After dinner we headed up to the Bar On the Edge of the Earth for Karaoke. It was crowded! There must have been over 100 people there. Activities Coordinator Jennifer was hosting the event. The bar itself is very cool, at least I thought so. It had been the sight of the Cirque De Soleil show or whatever it was exactly, which stopped about a month ago. The decorations are artsy, but tasteful. There are all sorts of neat areas in the bar to sit, little grottos behind curtails, 30 foot couches, a round seating areas with curtains around it with a lighted globe in the middle, projections of all sorts of images on the way… it was something like a frat party meets Andy Warhol.. As for the karaoke, the performers ranged from fair to excellent. The crowd was rather sedate most of the time, but occasionally clapped during the songs. Everyone was given a nice applause after their songs. I did Soul Man which was fun. Ryan did Brown Eyed Girl, but sang Blue Eyed Girl for Amanda. Later I sang I Got You Babe with Janet. There was an older guy named Phil who stole the show with his crooning. He was really very good.

 

10/27/05

Fifth Day – Acapulco

 

We woke up at 8 docked in the harbor of Acapulco. The harbor is crescent shaped (just like the map!) and you can see that just about every square inch is built up with hotels and resorts. There is a lot of construction going on as well. We woke up at 800 just as the ship was docking in the harbor.

 

La Roquetta Hike and Beach Snorkel

We had to tender to shore to meet our tour at the Pier. This was not a big deal at all, in fact it was much easier than Cabo San Lucas, as Acapulco was a much shorter ride. However, once we got to the pier, things got a little confused. There were so many tenders coming in and out, that the boat that was supposed to take us on the tour couldn’t get to the pier. The tour leader Pedro (but you can call me Chief) seemed to be getting a bit upset about this. After about 10 minutes, it all got sorted out and we got on the boat to the La Roquetta Island for our trip. As they often say, the trip is the destination, and we headed out of the harbor, and went past many elaborate giant houses along the Bay. Chief pointed out where some movie stars and other famous people lived and some of the history. We got to the island in about 30 minutes and docked at the Palau Village a sort of Polynesia meets glitch Mexicali. We stowed our gear and headed out on our hike. The hike was not hard (even though it was hot) and went about 2 miles around a paved trail through the island. We saw a lot of foliage and some great views of the mainland. We also got to see ants and termites up close, as well as butterflies and moths. At one point we walked down to a very nice beach. The hike brought us back to the starting point where we got suited up for the snorkeling. This was fine. We got into the water at the beach and swam out along the rocks. There were a lot of fish and other sealife to watch. Nothing extraordinary. Having snorkeled in Cabo, I would say that this was about the same level quality. Chief accompanied us on the snorkel in a kayak. Once back, we had a very nice Mexican buffet at the restaurant and we are entertained by some Aztec type dancing. All very cultural. We headed back to the pier returning the same way we came out. Again at the pier we had some hassles and we had to find another way to get back. We were supposed to get dropped off right at the tender point, but we ended up about 1.5 miles away at a public dock that led to a city park. This was fine, even with the walk. We went into the cruise port and walked around the shops a bit. I was able to get to an internet café and check email (I had 391) a bit… all for $2… somewhat less than it would have been on the ship. Then finally, after standing another 20 minutes in the heat (abated to some degree with the cold towels that the Celebrity staff provided), we got onto the tender back to the ship.

Once back on the ship, we went to the Mexican Cultural Festival, which, frankly was boring (even if it was authentic). Debbie opted to go see a movie (Spanglish) and I headed up to the Persian Room to relax.

 

Mexican Feast Party

After dinner (which was quite good tonight), we went to see the Mexican feast and party by the pool. It was quite a festive scene I have to say, with the party band playing and Social Director John leading the crowd in a variety of dances. They were serving drinks in souvenir coconuts! They also had a HUGE buffet set up (I have no idea who might have actually have been hungry at this point) which was going to open at 1130. We didn’t make it that far though. It was a long hot day and we got back to the room just at 1130.

 

10/28/05

Sixth Day – Huatulco

We had our morning routine of exercise and breakfast at the buffet at the waterfall café. Our excursion was at 1100am so we didn’t have a lot of time to get ready. For the first time, we were docked at the pier rather than in the sea and having to tender. It is definitely better to be able to walk right off of the dock. The scene at the dock was very hectic. People were everywhere looking for their tours, or just milling around. The Radiance of the Sea was docked directly across the slip from us which added to the crowd. Our excursion was a mix of people from both the Summit and the Radiance.

 

Two Days Snorkeling Trip

Once again the tour started off a bit shaky. The guide didn’t seem to really have control of the situation and the initial 10 – 15 minutes – our briefing and handing out the equipment – didn’t add to anyone’s confidence. Further, the boat wasn’t anything to write home about. Even with all this, once we got going, it turned out to be a very good trip. The crew was knowledgeable and able. They explained some of the local history. This is nothing like Acapulco at all. This is a much smaller town and not nearly as built up. Once out of the harbor, that wasn’t much of anything except beautiful and pristine scenery, composed mostly of cliffs and rocks. As advertised, we saw all nine of the bays of the area, each with its own beaches and private grottos and all. We stopped twice to snorkel, once at a rock face in the ocean over coral, and the second time in a bay over rocks. There was a definitely difference in the sea life that we saw. What made this tour stand out was that we had ‘naturalists’ swimming with us in the water. At various times, they would dive down and pull up blowfish, and sea cucumbers and starfish and sea spiders and even an octopus. He held them while everyone was able to hold them and pet them. We saw all sorts of fish, big and small and even a dead sea turtle being eaten by the fish. We ended up on a beach in one of the bays. We had some time to sit on the beach (although we went right back onto the boat) and relax. The sun was very hot by now. The ship had bottled water, but little else to give out. We’ve become quite accustomed to these trips having lunch, or at the very least, snacks, and drinks and beer. Not that I needed to eat… we surely get plenty of that on the Summit, but it is nice. I would suggest that the tour add this in the future.

 

Relaxing!

We spent about 2 hours walking around the pier area with its shops and bars. This is nothing like Acapulco as I mentioned… quiet, quaint, somehow more native Mexican and less tourista Mexican. I was able to get 40 minutes of internet time for $2US and checked and sent email. We browsed several ships, mostly for jewelry, but didn’t see anything special that jumped out. My wife has a very specific idea of what she is looking for.

Once back on the ship, I headed up for my daily dose of the Persian Garden. As always the 45 minutes seemed to just set everything right. Debbie sat out by the T pool and read. We were expecting to sail away at 5, and had timed it to be on the upper pool deck to see it, but we were delayed and didn’t get out until 530. Instead we watched the sail away from our balcony sipping cranberry grapefruit and vodkas. We headed down to the emporium to check out the 50% off diamond jewelry sale….

 

Normandie Restaurant

Simply put, the Normandie is a three plus hour dining experience. The service, the food, the physical restaurant… it all adds up to a tremendous meal. If you are on the Summit, you must go at least once. The Goat cheese soufflé is extraordinary. All of the entrees are excellent (the Dover Sole and Veal in particular), and the desserts are ‘to die for’. Do you think we liked the Normandie? We are planning to return at least one more time before the end of the cruise.

After dinner we went up to the main dining room to visit our usual table guests. They seem to have had a fine time without us. I also paid my nightly visit to Janet’s table to say hello. All in all a fine time. We strolled around the ship to walk off the dinner and decided to turn in. There was a gala masquerade party in the Bar on the Edge, but we didn’t make it.

 

 

10/29/05

Seventh Day – At Sea

Once again we started the day with some exercise and breakfast. Since we were doing a spa treatment we went light and got fruit and croissants and brought them back to the room. At 1045 we headed up to the Spa for our treatment.

 

Rogal Spa Treatment

This was very nice. It’s basically a playtime for two in a hot steamy room. They provide you with cleansing exfoliating salts and detoxifying mud and moisturizing milk lotion and for 50 minutes you smear the stuff all over each other and sit in the steam bath and shower off. It was definitely romantic! At first the 50 minutes doesn’t seem like it’s going to be long enough, but by the end, it was plenty. You can only sweat and relax so much after all right? This treatment came with our Deluxe Anniversary at sea package, and I do not know exactly what it would have cost a la carte, but I would say that it is definitely worth it. Six hours later, we still felt great.

The afternoon was very hot. The tropical sun is in full force now. There was a very good crowd around the pool with all sorts of activities going on hosted by, of course, the activities staff and sports staff. The wait staff came around and gave everyone peach sorbets. I saw Dick and Mary who me met on the snorkel trips merrily dancing in the aft pool to the music. The atmosphere had definitely turned more festive and partying! The decks were all full and everyone seemed to be having quite a good time.

I went down to the casino to check out the Black Jack tournament and ran into Janet playing roulette. While I was there, she went from nearly washed out to up $33… so maybe it’s our lucky day. Debbie was so relaxed from the Rusal that she slept most of the afternoon quite happily. I spent the day around the pool and in the casino. I entered the blackjack tournament ($25) along with about 30 other people. I only took one entry and doubled my chips up to 1000 chips giving me a total of 1000 chips. I would have made the finals – tied for 7th place – but on the last round, someone beat me out with 1150. So I ended up in 8th. But it was a good time. The winner eventually won $581. I went back to the pool and the T pool area for a bit, and 15 minutes in Persian Gardens before going back to the room. This was the first time in 6 days that I was actually a bit hungry!! Using the TV – how cool is that – I ordered a veggie burger and avocado quesadilla for a snack. It was just right.

Ryan and Amanda called and we decided to get together for a happy hour in the room and a few drinks. We still have almost 2 hours until the Captains Club cocktail hour. It’s another beautiful night and there should be a very nice sunset off of the balcony.

 

Captain’s Club Cocktail Reception / Dinner

There was quite a glitzy collection at the party. There were 2 lines to get in, one to get your picture taken with the captain, and the other not to get your picture taken. The one with the captain was quite long and the other short, so we opted for the short one. I’m not sure that we really cared about getting our picture taken. Once into the theatre, we were greeted by most of the senior staff of the ship, including John the cruise director. We chatted for a bit while the wait staff brought out all sorts of drinks gratis. I tried a Bahama Mama, but it was much too sweet for me, and decided to stick with the red wine, a much safer choice it seemed. They also had hors d’ourves of all varieties. The Celebrity Orchestra was playing and it was generally a very nice party. The captain spoke, although I have no idea what he said, and cruise director John spoke as well. They introduced a couple who was on their 30th cruise with Celebrity!! Wow. They got a bouquet of flowers.

Dinner was a little fancier tonight, I guess since it was the second formal night. Linda and Charles were at the Normandie, so our table was only 6. Even so, it was a fine time. Again, I made my nightly cruise director visit to Janet’s table just as they were getting their dessert. They were all very excited about everything!

After dinner we were going to go to the gala masquerade party, but we ended up just walking around the ship, and the emporium shops and going back to the room.

 

10/30/05

Eight Day – Puntareas Costa Rica

What a day! Everything started with our wake up call at 640am. Easily the earliest we’ve gotten up (or had to get up) on the trip. We hustled up for breakfast and we were on the pier by 715 for our excursion.

 

Aerial Tram Trip

The trip started with a 2 hour bus ride, out of Punta Arenas headed south towards the tram ride. We rode out of town through some barrio areas, and then along the coastal highway. The road was generally awful! Enormous pot hole basically the width of the road. The bus had to come to a complete stop to make it through them. We passed all sorts of neat things including a very beautiful black sand beach, and some waterfalls. The tram area itself was very nice. Very clean and well run. It was very humid, but since the sun wasn’t out it wasn’t very hot.

We had a gondola for 8 (including Janet and Lois) with our own naturalist guide. The tram basically is an open air ski gondola type of thing that goes up to the top of the mountain and back. You transit through 3 areas of the forest. We saw all sorts of trees, of course, but also a lot of flowers and monkeys and various birds and butterflies and other wildlife. It was really very interesting. I took about 50 pictures from the tram so they are surely a better reference.

After the tram we went on a nature walk through an area with the most beautiful rain forest plants. Then an area with all medicinal rain forest plants compete with vibrant colored seed cones and then into a ‘serpentarium’ with a collection of snakes that live in the rain forest. The guide was again very good at pointing out various uses of the plants as well as emphasizing all the preservation of the rain forest that Costa Rica is committed to. The ride back was less interesting since it rained and we saw basically the same thing as we did heading out. Right in the middle it rained very hard (an authentic rain forest rain storm). Coincidentally, just as it stopped raining, we stopped at a bridge to walk across and see crocodiles!! There were a lot of them just sitting in the water. None of them were even moving. We kept walking and eventually came to a small souvenir stand and coffee bar. The stuff was very touristy (in fact would be the same stuff that we’d later see at the venders booths). We got back in the bus and got back into the town.

Once back in town, we headed back to the ship and had lunch – this time the pasta bar in the waterfall café buffet – and then headed back out to the flea market to get some gifts. We ended up seeing some very nice things, and got gifts for just about everyone (except ourselves). The sun came back out, and it got very hot and even more humid. We tried to find an internet café to check and send email, but they were either broken, or filled up, so we decided to go back to the ship. The town was really very seedy… the flea Market area seemed safe enough, but the rest of the town definitely didn’t seem like a great place to be at night. As we got back to the gangplank, we saw Linda (waiting for Charles) to go out and scout gifts. Once we got back to our room, we realized that one of the gifts that we got (a wooden monkey) was broken, so we headed all the way back out to replace it. The vendor was very nice about swapping it. We decided to walk around and see if we could connect with Linda and Charles, and about 2 minutes later we found them. We helped them negotiate a deal on 4 little purses like the ones that we bought. As we were about to head back to the ship, we were standing on the corner… being accosted to buy Costa Rica hats (by the 10th person) we saw Amanda and Ryan coming across the street (having just finished their excursion). We decided to go across the street to a bar and have an Imperial (the Costa Rican beer). 6 drinks… $15… certainly not on board prices to be sure. We had a nice happy hour and then headed back on board. I hustled up to the Persian Garden and Debbie went to see Oceans 12 in the cinema. I was so relaxed in the Sahara room that I fell asleep in there for about 50 minutes. I was probably very dehydrated. It begs the question that the staff should probably check in on the room occasionally to see that everyone is safe inside. When I woke up, I drank about 10 glasses of water to rehydrate.

Dinner was very nice as usual. Our waitress Ines is delightful. Only Amanda and Ryan were at the table, as Linda and Charles went to Normandie and Dan and Heather were somewhere else. There are some funny ways that they sometimes do things on the ship though. We wanted a small amount of feta cheese to top our salads and I ask Ines for it. Apparently, there are some things that she is authorized to just get, and other things that she has to clear with the Asst. Maitre D’… at any rate, she had to speak to him about it, and lo and behold, 10 minutes later, we get a plate with about 2 pounds of feta on it. There was no way we could eat all of it, not even close. So rather then waste it, we wrapped it and brought it back to the room.

Janet’s table was a bit sedate tonight during my visit. I think it may have been the oppressive humidity in Costa Rica, or whatever. To liven them up, I told them a joke… Two men die and go to heaven. St. Peter says to the first “where you faithful to your wife all of your years?” The man says “Yes, every day”. St. Peter says, “Great. For you in heaven, you will get a Rolls Royce and an ocean front house. This is our very best.” He asks the second man the same question and he says “well, you know, every now and then, I did stray, it’s tough.” St. Peter says “well, this is not good, but we will give you a Chevette and an apartment in the city”. About 2 months later the man in the Chevette is driving about and he sees the man in the Cadillac sitting on the hood of his car, and he is very upset. Crying and moaning. The Chevette man comes over to him and asks whats wrong… How could he be so unhappy when he has all the best things that heaven has to offer? The first man says “I just saw my wife on a skate board…..”

After dinner, we went to the casino to play a little blackjack. I had 4 vouchers for $5 match play bets, 2 from the captains club and 2 from my blackjack tournament. The deal is that you bet at least $5 (or the table minimum) and you put your voucher down, if you win, you win an extra $5. I started with $100 and at one point was up to $160… the dealer (of course) had a run of 20, 19, 20 and 21 and knocked me down to $110 where I took my meager winnings and got out.

 

 

10/31/05

Ninth Day – At Sea

Halloween

 

Morning

We changed our routine today and ate before we worked out… variety always being so important. By the time we got to the gym, there was no one there. It was also much hotter. No matter, we did our workout, and went out to the (very crowded) pool deck for a quick lunch and some R & R. We had a lot to do the rest of the day!

 

Ready Set Cook

One of my favorites, you are given a set of ingredients and asked to make a dish. It was fine, except that I got paired with a pushy, rude woman who wanted to do everything her way. She was not cooperative at all and, in my opinion, ruined out dish. The other dish tasted better. Ours was much more creative looking though. I did get a very cool chefs hat to keep though! Back up to the pool to await the massage. I was able to accomplish 2 things… first, I finished Charles birthday present that I made for him and secondly, I got the coveted Celebrity water cooler / carrying bag.

 

Massage

Ah the tough things that one must do. It turns out that all massages were 30% off today, so we opted to do the full 75 minute stone massage. It was well worth whatever it cost… very very relaxing. Massage and the stones and the heat… very nice. In fact, I was so relaxed that I only went to the Persian Garden for 10 minutes afterwards just to rest more and shower up for the evening. Debbie also enjoyed hers a great deal. We have a lot of relaxation to come, with an alpha capsule on wed and more massages on Friday (along with the Cleopatra bath)!.

 

Happy Hour / Dinner

Today is Charles’ birthday, so we headed over to their Royal suite for a happy hour. We had a nice assortment of food – shrimp cocktails, feta and grape leaves, cheeses, crackers, peanuts, and of course, copious amounts of drinks. The usual crowd was there, Amanda and Ryan, and Linda and Charles, of course, but also Heather and Ray and Dan and Heather (from our table). There was a person from the customer service desk that joined us as well. It is a really a good crowd of people! We feted for about an hour, before heading down to dinner.

 

Halloween Party

At 10 37 there was the ship Halloween party in the Bar on the Edge. It was very well attended, and loud. The Party band was playing and there was a lot of dancing. Our flasher outfits were well received and were fun. There was the idiot Nascar guy (and his obnoxious wife) who was also dressed as a stripper too. His costume was inferior and he was acting like an ass the whole time. The had a best costume contest, and we didn’t win. The way that they did it was dumb, but whatever.. no big deal. We got back to the room about 12 15 (late night) and went right to sleep, with a wake up call for 545am tomorrow, to get ready for the canal.

 

 

11/1/05

Tenth Day – Panama Canal

We woke up at 6 to have the complete canal experience. Our first view was 6 other ships lining up for their turn to enter the canal. We had breakfast delivered to the room and ate on the balcony as we waiting in the ocean at the entrance to the canal. There were many ships waiting to go into the canal. A Panamian captain came on board and did a narration of all the highlights during the day. Our first piece of information was that the cruise ships get priority over cargo ships to pass through the canal. We slowly made our made to, and then under the Bridge of the Americas and officially entered the canal. Our first significant stop will be the first set of locks at Miraflores. It was definitely a hurry up and wait. The locks are definitely interesting and a neat process but very slow. I went up to the Bar on the Edge to get some pictures and there were Charles and Linda in a prime spot!

We went back to the room and then to Ryan and Amanda’s room and then back to our room and then the various areas on the ship to get the best views. The whole process is really very interesting, if slow. You can really see the ships going in and out of the locks, and the water rising and the boat coming up with it. I took about 100 pictures of the whole process and then the transit through the other parts of the canal and into Gutan lake. We stopped for a brief time for the shore excursion people to get off for their trips. In all we are about 2 hours behind schedule, but what’s the difference… we’re on the ship and relaxing… the day is cloudy, but very humid and bordering on uncomfortable to even be out on the deck. After running around for 5 hours getting all the views and such, we settled for a lunch on the 10 deck by the pool and lunch from the Waterfall Café. We had a celebratory Corona, and then a celebratory Margarita… we also had the Mixology class on the pool deck and I got a free Margarita!! Then we had another round by the wave pool. Quite relaxing. Not even from the alcohol, but just from being relaxed, I feel asleep for 15 minutes, before hitting the Persian Garden for 30 minutes.

We entered into the 2nd set of locks, the Gatun locks, and again, we went around from room to room to get the best views. We were sitting on our balcony in the first part of the lock. We were directly across from the Radiance of the Seas! We were so close that we could literally see into their rooms, and yell across to talk to them. There was a guy on the top deck with Mardi Gras beads screaming to everyone on our ship … who wants beads … code so to speak so that some one would flash him their chests!!! He was acting like something of a buffoon!! Everyone else on both ships was basically just quietly taking it all in, and there is he, holding an umbrella in one hand, and his beads in the other acting like an ass! Some one yells back at him to our right (we could see them)… and amazingly – somehow it turns out that the guy was on Cruise Critic – He is yelling across to “Our Dream” – Sandy and Rich on our cruise – and it turns out that it is Howard from Baltimore! ... the very same guy that I delivered the note to Cruise Director John for and we are going to meet in Aruba for a drink.. .Outrageous!! We confirmed by yelling across the canal that we were going to meet in Aruba (and Cruise Director John was going to be able to make it!!)

For whatever reason, we ended up taking a long time and didn’t get into the port until 730 (we were supposed to be there at 6). It wasn’t a big deal, since the only thing there is a huge flea market basically. We decided to get off and walk around the market. It took a long time to get off the boat, since everyone had rushed to the disembarkment points at the same time. It was very hot and humid even though it was already night time. It seemed like every booth was selling exactly the same things, none of which really appealed to me anyway. We ended up walking around for an hour or so before heading back to the ship just in time for late seating diner.

After dinner, was the ‘not so newlywed game’. I wanted to play, but Debbie refused to. Amanda and Ryan ended up volunteering and were one of the 4 couples to play. The game was fun. Of course there were stupid and embarrassing questions (what is the first thing that your husband grabs for when he wakes up? Where is the most interesting place that you were romantic? Etc.) I think Amanda got mad, since she really didn’t want to place in the first place, but she was a really good sport about it. And, to top it off, they won some ‘tremendous’ Celebrity prize package. By the time the show was over, it was already nearly midnight, and we were losing an hour (for some artificial reason that no one could seem to explain… now we actually one hour ahead of the true time) so we decided to call it a night. It was a long day… up at 530am… to midnight!

 

11/2/05

Eleventh Day – At Sea

Back to the wake up / gym / breakfast agenda today. We got out of that routine yesterday, but at the same time, I think I walked about 5 miles around the ship chasing the best views of the canal. After breakfast, we are having an encore cruise critic party (since the first was such a success). It is 10:30 at the Michaels Club. I am sure that everyone will have some great tales to tell. We were able to get cell phone service and we called the house and were able to talk quickly to them. The signal was cutting in and out. We missed our older son who was at orchestra rehearsal at the school (who even knew?) but we were able to talk to our 6 year old. His questions were did we see sharks or dolphins! I got some of the fresh croissants from the Cova Café and we had a quick light breakfast before heading up to the gym and then to the CC party.

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2nd CC Party

It was nice to see all the CC people again. Not everyone came around this time, but there was still a good turn out. The party didn’t really have any theme, except just to get together. Cruise Director John gave a very short speech and invited everyone to meet at Iguana Joes in Aruba tomorrow. Towards the end, it turned into a complaining time as everyone was expressing there negativity about the tours in Panama. Once this happened, we decided to leave and go to the gym.

We worked our for a half hour and then had lunch at the pool café. This was fine. It was raining pretty hard at this point so the area was sparse and it was quiet. The band, usually scheduled to play, didn’t even set up. I went to the casino for a little blackjack (up $10) and then we went to battle of the sexes trivia. It was lame. Then we went to bingo. Twice I was one call away from wining, including with the free cruise at stake… if we had gotten G 53 we would have won a cruise to Alaska! It was that close.

 

Alpha Capsule

This was a special that we had gotten as part of the captains club promotion. Since we booked a massage and other treatments, we also got a free session in the alpha capsule. It was very relaxing. I did the mediation program. It is a combination of heat and music and vibrations… nice. Afterwards, I went to the Persian Garden for a sauna before heading back to the room to get ready for the Normandie. We had dinner with Linda and Charles, and Heather and Ray. Amanda and Ryan were also there, but a there own table for 2. It was another tremendous meal, and the company and conversation was excellent.

 

11/3/05

Twelfth Day – Aruba

Got up early to eat before the excursion and we ended up eating in the room, croissants and jelly and fruit. We got out to the tour, which, as usual was late. But not to worry, all would be fine.

 

Sail Away Beach and Snorkel Cruise

We left the dock and sailed along the shore of the island to a snorkeling spot. At one point, we were supposed to have 2 stops, but the wind was very strong, so they told us that we would only be able to have one stop, but we would stay longer there, and at the DePalm beach that we went to later. The snorkeling was good, not great about on par with what we did in Mexico. There were a lot of fish, but the variety was limited and we tended to see the saw ones over and over. We did see a flounder, which was a first and some larger fish. The water was warm and very salty! After the snorkel, the open bar commenced, and we headed to a pier for a lunch and the beach. The lunch was good enough, nothing too special. The beach was nice and very hot. We had about 75 minutes for the beach, so we walked up and down and swam a little in the ocean. Back on the boat, we sailed all the back to the pier. The boat left us off right where the shopping area was. Some of it was air conditioned, which was needed at that point… and we went in and bought some more trinkets and gifts. As usual, all the shops sold just about the same things.. either island trinkets, or expensive jewelry.

 

Iguana Joes

We had our prearranged time to meet at Iguana Joes and when we got there Sandy and Rich and Gina and Ron (complaining as usual) along with Cruise Director John and the Radiance crew, including Howard. It was a nice scene. We got some powerful drinks.. Debbie had a Banana Something and I had the Hurricane Joe… whoa… strong stuff. We stayed about an hour and conversed. Howard was much more sedate then the beadmeister that we had scene at the canal. Most of the conversation was comparing Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and the plusses and minuses of both… not the most enthralling for me. I also saw many of the crew members that we have seen around the ship, including the art auction lady and the whole AquaSpa staff.

We walked back to the ship with John, who stopped for a sundae and doughnuts at Dunkin’ Doughnuts… and talked to him a bit more. It is amazing how hard he works and how many hours he puts in. It was so hot walking back… the cold towel really felt great as we went up the plank. We headed quickly for the pool for a dip and a hot tub. We ended up seeing Charles and Linda, in one hot tub, and Michael in the pool and the other hot tub. The word is also out that there are a lot of pictures of us in our Halloween costumes in the photo gallery.

 

Dinner in the Room

We opted to have dinner in the room tonight. Darrell was very excited about it our whole cruise. We ordered from the dinner menu and Darrell took care of the rest. I have to give him a lot of credit, he set the table beautifully and now we are just waiting for the feast. Darrell arrived with a gurney with 12 plates on it, all covered with those silver lids. Since we had all of the food at once, it only took about 1 hour to eat and we were done just about 830. In fact, we could have made it in time down to the main late seating! We ended up walking around the ship, stopping at various places, the emporium to look at more jewelry (no purchases), the photo gallery to see our picture that were posted from Halloween, then made our way back to the dining hall to check in on our table, and also to visit Janet’s table.

The table was in good spirits. It was nice to see everyone, even though we had seen them on and off during the day. It really was a very nice group at table 405. Janet’s table was also very happy, having had various excursions and adventures on Aruba.

After dinner was Karaoke night. We heading up to the Bar on the Edge and get all situated. They were a lot of people there, but not as many performing for whatever reason, so I ended up doing 3 songs. I did ‘Sweet Caroline’ solo, then ‘Leather and Lace’ with Janet and then ‘Takin’ care of Business’ with Ryan, Janet and Joe, billed as ‘The Cruisers’. All in all, a very good night was had by all. We even had energy to stay for about 6 songs of dancing as the DJ took over about 12 15. We probably would have stayed longer, but the song selection was just too disco for us.

 

11/4/05

Thirteenth Day – At Sea

At sea, in the Caribbean, another strenuous morning of going to the gym and breakfast. We were a little slow though today and by the time we got to the buffet it was almost closed. I was still able to get some lox and a white egg omelet though… such hardship. We were just done in time for Debbie to go to bingo with the free cards that we got throughout the trip.

 

Bingo

Ok, we lost again, but it was fun. We didn’t even get to stand up (meaning that we had one number to go). But it was fun.

 

Melon Parade and Island Celebration by the pool

The mood was festive. The band was festive. Everyone was festive for the island party and celebration. The band played and everyone (except me since I was too busy taking pictures) did island dances like the ‘Hot Hot Hot’ or the Macarame or the Electric Slide. They had a big parade of the carved melons which was very impressive and they also did a live ice carving demonstration which was very cool (no pun intended). This was all around the pool on the main deck in the heat of the day. It was a big party, and easily the most energy on the ship at any given time. I had to leave just as it was ending for the massage….

 

Massages

I had a great massage… a deep tissue massage with masseur Steve. It was really relaxing and very well done. After the massage I went out to the pool deck to find Debbie talking to Marge and Don I ended walking for 30 minutes around the top deck with Don in some very strong winds. I got done and went into the Persian Garden for an hour to completely mellow out… and lo and behold, as I wake up, there is Charles sitting there on the hot bench as well… quite mellow from his hot stone massage… ah the life. We ended up going out to the pool to hot tub while I ran down to the room to make drinks for us. We set up on the 10 deck drinking, sitting in the hot tub, and watching the sun set and the stars come out.

 

Last Formal Dinner

The last dinner was quite an event. First of al everyone was dressed up of course, but everyone was also walking around the dining hall taking pictures of everyone. The whole mood was very festive, everyone relishing in the grandeur of the big dining hall, and now with their new friends from the cruise. The meal was fancier than most as meal, lobster tail and steak. We got 2 lobster tails! But actually, I didn’t think it was all that good, and instead, I really liked the potatoes and the peas. Every few minutes we would get up and take some more pictures. As we were right next to the captains table, we were also able to get some pictures of the captain.

After dinner we headed to the Celebrity theatre for the show. It was the premier of the show, which was basically a montage of hit songs from a variety of Broadway productions. It was really very well done and very professional, although not entirely something that would interest me. In any case, we watched the dancing and the singing. After the show, we headed back to the dining hall for the Grand Buffer. This was quite an event, with fancy desserts, and ice carvings, and all sorts of fancy things. We didn’t even attempt to eat anything… but took a lot of pictures. By 12 30 we were exhausted and headed back to the room to sleep.

 

11/5/05

Fourteenth Day – At Sea

Another day of arising, exercising and then hitting the breakfast buffet. Today, we opted to simply walk a few miles around the deck 11 rather then the gym proper. It was very nice out, although, even at 830 am, the sun was already very hot. It was also very windy, so going one direction, the wind was very strong behind you and the other way it was a strong headwind. The buffet was good as usual, with all the foods that we have come to eat everyday. We saw Heather and Dan at breakfast and sat with them for a while too. There was also a woman soliciting people to sign up for the talent show (sign up at 130 and the show at 230).

There is a meeting for the disembarkment today, but we aren’t going to go, and we are sending Dan as our representative (hmmm… the rumor is that he is not going to listen very well). We did get our instructions about leaving tomorrow… we have to be in the Celebrity Theatre by 915am. We are yellow tags #2.. .that is Yellow 2. This seems like it’s going to be one of those around the pool and in and out of the sun type of days. We have a plan to meet up at the hot tub at 600 for a pre-dinner happy hour on the veranda.

 

11/6/05

Port at Fort Lauderdale

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I haven't had a chance to read Makethegrade's review, but just to explain ... Steve was one of our great group of CC'ers onboard and I guess he thought this was a good place for his review. I had hoped to see everyone's reviews separately, but I guess this works:o .

 

Once I get to read it, I'll be interested to read the experience through his eyes as compared to mine.

 

P.S. ... it's Thalassotherapy Pool, Steve :) I'm laughing because Ray always called it the "Thilosophy" pool. We loved it! Still haven't finished reading your review, but I've sure enjoyed it so far!

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Excellent reviews. Thank you sooooo much. We will be making the same trip in February. I have a couple of questions...

 

First the martini tasting...you get 6 martinis for 6.50 or EACH one is 6.50. I'm interested in trying them...I've never had a martini before.

 

Second, to whomever made the name tags or could describe them. What were they made out of and where would I get such materials? I'd love to do the same for the CCers on our trip.

 

Thanks again for the wealth of information.

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Thanks for the reports, it seems you all had a great cruise.

We sailed the panamacanal on ms "Amsterdam" - HAL and loved it.

We hope to sail Summit in March 06 to Hawaii, 2 weeks from and to LA.

Like Heather we are kind of switching between Celebrity and HAL, depending on the itinary and price.

 

We are now very much looking forward to Summit after these reports.

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We have done the Martini tasting on Celebrity. It is $6.50 for all 6 of them. A bargain. I did not like the chocolate martini that they offered at the tasting. I LOVE the creamy chocolate one though. Like a yoo hoo with a kick. Yummy. I like the fruity ones too. It is a must do!

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Nikki, love your signature!

 

Odleka (Kathy) made the tags. They have the Cruise Critic logo on them and are just plain cards in plastic cases with pins attached. I think she did them with her computer and showed our Cruise Critic ID and then it says "Now meet the REAL me!" and has my first name. At the bottom she inserted "Celebrity Cruises X A true departureTM". They are very professional looking.

 

Ine, I hope you report back and compare when you return! I'll be very interested how you feel Celebrity compares with HAL right now. These things can change at any time.

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Heather & Steve -- Your reports are awesome! I miss you so much. I haven't had a moment of piece since we've returned. Look for my trip report in a month of so . . . I wish I were at sea!

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Hi Heather - Feel I know you from your posts on HAL's board. Much like you we also have cruised 3 times on Celebrity. First time on Horizon to Bermuda and we liked this cruise very much. Second time on the Mercury and we liked it but not quite as much as the Horizon. Last Thanksgiving we sailed on the Summit for 10 days in the CC cabins aft with the large verandas. I hated this cruise for many reasons. Maybe they have fixed this ship up some, but we found it lacking in many, many areas.

 

I have never slept in a more uncomfortable bed ever. Head was in a gully and feet were up in the air. What's up with these beds? While the aft veranda is a very nice size and we had plenty of shade, they never cleaned it. Dirt was there the day we boarded and still there 10 days later. No excuse for dirt, not at these prices.

 

The thalassotheraphy pool was also an area that was just not very clean. Ashtrays filled and remained that way for 2 days until I finally asked pool attendant to empty. Sand and dirt in this pool. Empty glasses left in this area and still in the same spot the next morning. Overall I just felt the Summit was dirty and not kept up to HAL's standards.

 

On the plus side the service, especially in the dining room, was excellent and probably the best we have ever had. The food is another story. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not crazy about HAL's food, but I was always able to find something on their menus that was pretty good. The selection on the Summit was disastrous for both lunch and dinner. Poor, poor variety with very few exceptions. Interestingly, the food seemed to get a lot better as we neared the end of the cruise. Don't know why but definitely improved.

 

Sad to say based on our 10nt cruise on the Summit we probably won't try Celebrity again. The beds did it for me, just not good quality. But, I guess that's why they have chocolate and vanilla. Hope you continue to enjoy your cruises and have many good times.

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Great Reviews all of you! Now I can't wait until Jan. for our turn on Summit!

 

Heather, we are also staying at the Coast Hotel in Long Beach. It was good to see it got your approval!

 

Karyn

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Hi Heather - Feel I know you from your posts on HAL's board. Much like you we also have cruised 3 times on Celebrity. First time on Horizon to Bermuda and we liked this cruise very much. Second time on the Mercury and we liked it but not quite as much as the Horizon. Last Thanksgiving we sailed on the Summit for 10 days in the CC cabins aft with the large verandas. I hated this cruise for many reasons. Maybe they have fixed this ship up some, but we found it lacking in many, many areas.

 

I have never slept in a more uncomfortable bed ever. Head was in a gully and feet were up in the air. What's up with these beds? While the aft veranda is a very nice size and we had plenty of shade, they never cleaned it. Dirt was there the day we boarded and still there 10 days later. No excuse for dirt, not at these prices.

 

The thalassotheraphy pool was also an area that was just not very clean. Ashtrays filled and remained that way for 2 days until I finally asked pool attendant to empty. Sand and dirt in this pool. Empty glasses left in this area and still in the same spot the next morning. Overall I just felt the Summit was dirty and not kept up to HAL's standards.

 

On the plus side the service, especially in the dining room, was excellent and probably the best we have ever had. The food is another story. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not crazy about HAL's food, but I was always able to find something on their menus that was pretty good. The selection on the Summit was disastrous for both lunch and dinner. Poor, poor variety with very few exceptions. Interestingly, the food seemed to get a lot better as we neared the end of the cruise. Don't know why but definitely improved.

 

Sad to say based on our 10nt cruise on the Summit we probably won't try Celebrity again. The beds did it for me, just not good quality. But, I guess that's why they have chocolate and vanilla. Hope you continue to enjoy your cruises and have many good times.

 

What cabin did you have? Thanks...

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Hi, Helen! I'm not going to defend Celebrity, but we had to be on 2 different ships. By that I mean they have obviously fixed the problems you had or it could just be that we don't like the same things.

 

With the exception of HAL's brand new bed last year on the Oosterdam (meaning we were the first to rest our heads on the pillow practically;) ), the bed on the Summit was the best we ever had. For CC class, they had plumped it up considerably and the pillows were glorious! My husband said it's the first time he hasn't had back pain in months.

 

I have severe pain problems and I found the bed heavenly including the fluffy white duvet. We had friends who were in a CC class aft cabin on 9 and they loved it.

 

The ship could not have been more immaculate. The only place we had any dirt on our balcony was in the gutter running under the rail. I forgave them for that, but my DH thought they should clean it. They cleaned the gutter on the Royal balconies:o .

 

But tiny things like that don't bother me when everything else is perfect. The clearest picture I can give you is the public restrooms which were very clean all the time. That's hard to do when you're dealing with women (hate to say that, but it's true). The only thing I would criticize is they need to replace many of the worn seats, but I could see they were in the process of doing this. I love the terry hand towels in the public restroom and the hand cream which I can't live without after washing my hands.

 

The T-pool, too, was crystal clean. I had read a lot of bad stuff last year so maybe Celebrity is listening! I didn't find the Oosterdam the slightest bit cleaner than the Summit.

 

As to the food, we may just not like the same type of food. I know a lot of people think HAL food is the cat's meow:p , but not me. I was trying to be kind, but I have to say I rarely ate my dinner on the Oosterdam. I disliked it that much (in the dining room). The food in the Lido, however, was fantastic ... just as it was in the Waterfall.

 

I don't want to sound obnoxious, but I consider myself a good judge of fine food. I lived in NYC for 20 years frequenting all the best restaurants. And I'm a pretty darned good cook preferring my own food most of the time. But when you consider they're cooking for 2000 people, I think the Chefs are amazing.

 

Just as I will probably give HAL another try, I wouldn't give up on Celebrity from one just one experience.

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Hi Heather:) What a wonderful review and I am so glad you had

an awesome time.

I remember when I came over to HAL for my one cruise. You were (are)

always so friendly and always helpful. After I returned from that

sailing I knew I would come back to X.

Seems like a long time ago....over a year now:eek: where did the

time go?

 

Anyway, I am happy you enjoyed the SUMMIT so much. You know

I sailed her 2 weeks before you. We agree on many, many topics.:D

My food was fantastic too...the crew and staff outstanding....

overall excellent!

I also met Daniel and John.....both wonderful people. John is so

genuine and Daniel is the perfect person for that position.

 

Maybe one day you and I will sail together. It would be a pleasure

for me:) to meet you!

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Hi Heather, Maybe it was just our floor. we had two CC cabins both in the aft section of the ship on deck 9. But, neither us nor the other couple liked the beds at all. They were lumpy and very uneven. Also, maybe I'm crazy but I also think they were smaller than HAL's.

 

I also lived in the NYC area for 14 yrs and currently live in Phila. I am not crazy about most cruise ship food, however on the Summit there just wasn't much variety offered on their menu. Some days we were actually laughing at their menus. At least put either Chicken or Beef somewhere on the menu. I kid you not we had both lunch and dinner menus that did not have either of these 2 items on them, and not just one day, but on many days. I didn't get it - chicken and beef are American staples and usually if nothing else appeals to you they are a good go to selection.

 

But, the food is really a minor for me I certainly didn't starve. It came down to the beds and I would be afraid to take a chance again especially for 10 nts.

 

Anyway I am about to try the QM2 and will post a review when I return. Take care.

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Hi, Lois! Good to see you:) ! I think you'll be seeing a lot more of me on the Celebrity boards!! We've booked the Constellation for 12/8/06. We may not necessarily stick with that particular one, but wanted to book and get the shipboard credit:D .

 

Helen, I think they've changed or done something with the beds since you cruised. I remember someone else complaining about them and the stateroom attendant got "toppers" to fix the problem. Our friends were in 9201, I think (because we booked that cabin for our cruise next year). They loved it!

 

Between the Oosterdam and the Summit, our cabin on the Summit was larger and better laid out. Lots of space between the bed and slider to the verandah (I also prefer the slider to the hinged door for ease of exit.

 

However the verandah cabins on the S-class ships (like Maasdam) are much larger overall than the Vista Class.

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Forgot to mention one other thing. When we couldn't find anything at all on the Restaurant luncheon menu we decided to just go have a burger. I couldn't get over what I saw. I am usually not a hamburger lover but once in a while they hit the spot. Went to order the burger and found they were all pre-cooked and laying in a pot filled with grease - just not very appetizing.

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