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Stephen Jacobs

Age: 43

Occupation:Physician

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Summit

Sailing Date: July 5th, 2002

Itinerary: Alaska Northbound

Celebrity Summit: Northbound Cruise Vancouver - Seward July 5-12, 2002

In searching for a particular ship for an Alaskan Cruise, a number of factors went into the decision. My wife and I are active, healthy, and in our early 40’s. We wanted luxury but not opulence, good - excellent food, a one-way itinerary (as opposed to just a round-trip inside passage cruise), and a passenger mix that was not top-heavy in the over-65 crowd. We ruled out Carnival as too potentially young and rowdy, Holland-America and Crystal weighted towards the elderly, Seabourn and Radisson as too expensive. This left Celebrity, Princess, RCCL and NCL. The Celebrity Summit fit our travel schedule and its reputation was very good.

Some of our expectations were met, others were not.

The Ship: Beautiful and New. I loved the high quality teak wood throughout and the elegant finishes and coloring. I could do without some of the art choices on board, and have seen this opinion written on other reviews. The health club/gym and spa were “over the top”, and the Thalassotherapy pools and hot tubs were wonderful. Both the Cosmopolitan Dining Room and the “Specialty” Normandie dining room were also beautifully done.

Cabins: We chose a category 1b cabin, an outside cabin on deck #8 (Panorama deck) at 191 sq feet with a 41 sq foot balcony. It was spacious, well-designed, with ample closet and drawer space, couch, table, vanity, large mirrors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. We were midship and hardly felt any movement the entire week. Bathroom was average. Excellent water pressure in the shower. Bathrobes for all.

Embarkation: Looked worse than it actually was. A line formed both for security and for “check-in”, and although it looked like it would be forever, it took 60 minutes for the whole thing..

Service: Overall the service on board was excellent. The cabin stewards, waiters, and all other personnel were always smiling, polite, courteous, and helpful. (There were two noticeable exceptions. Both the female gym attendant and one of the women at Guest Relations could use lessons in customer relations). Sarah, the “Social Hostess” was charming and delightful.

Food: Did not meet expectations. One of our reasons for choosing Celebrity was its reputation of excellent food. Overall, it was slightly better-than-average at best. There needs to be more emphasis on a varied ethnic menu, rather than the standard American fare of steaks, roast beef, salmon, chicken, lamp, etc. The Normandie dining room, at a $25 surcharge per person, provides a nice change of pace, and excellent food. However, the waiters literally fall over each other trying to impress with their service. Ultimately, it’s worth it once. The AquaSpa lunch buffet option was welcome and tasty, always offering a health alternative without the crowds.

Entertainment: Again, below expectations. We found the choices highly geared towards the over-65 population, and the live music sub-par for a ship this size. A jazz band or pianist would be nice. Even a simple acoustical guitarist or a piano-bar with popular-type music would be simple ways to entertain many. The production shows that we saw were fair. The Celebrity Theater is top-notch; modern, great sound and lights. The shows were basically Broadway tunes with some dancing….nothing spectacular. One problem that was quite apparent was having the showtime for the late-seating dinner crowd before dinner, at 7pm, rather than afterwards, on the majority of nights. As there is so much else to do on board, we felt forced into a choice, and ultimately did not go to a few of the “early” shows. On the positive side, the shows that we did attend were very good..

Ports: Ketchikan. First stop after a day at sea. A beautiful day and we chose the Floatplane trip to the Misty Fjord Monument, landing on a mountain lake, and taking in the gorgeous scenery. It was well worth the $210 per person tab.

Skagway: Another beautiful day. We hiked alone to the Lower Dewey Lake, then did the excursion combining a high-speed catamaran speedboat, a short hike, and 10-person canoes to a glacier. I highly recommend this trip.

Juneau: Rained in the morning. Went kayaking near the Mendenhall glacier. The kayaks were fun, but it doesn’t really get very close to the glacier at all (unlike the Skagway trip above). Would suggest the Whale-watching Trip as we heard they saw many whales and had a great time.

Valdez: Very cloudy and cool. Chose the Keystone River Rafting Adventure, and what an adventure it was. Actually, there’s not much else to choose from, but this was a great trip, although too short. The ship is only in Valdez for five hours, so it really doesn’t allow for much time on the river.

Miscellaneous: Although it is now commonplace for these large ships and cruise lines to charge for everything they can as an extra, I found some things to be ridiculous. On the day cruising the Hubbard Glacier, where most of the ships’ passengers are huddled outside as it gets quite cold approaching the glacier, the waiters aggressively hawked hot chocolate in “Celebrity” mugs for $7.50! They answered many annoyed passengers by saying that the mugs were ours to keep. Noticeably, the hot chocolate was not available in disposable cups!

Also, charging for soda at the buffet lunches was petty. Many passengers were seen to buy 6-packs of soda at the ports, put them in their cabin mini-bars, and bring them to lunch! A simple bottle of beer (Becks) with a pizza snack cost me $4.89 with the 15% gratuity included!

Disembarkation: Since Seward is three hours from Anchorage by bus, the ship tries to get everyone off very early the last day. In the “disembarkation lecture” the Cruise Director advised that passengers should be ready to leave the ship between 6:30am and 8:00am, depending on their post-cruise travel plans. Between a late last night, the fact that it’s still light at midnight, and a very early wake-up, that made most people quite tired leaving the ship. For those of us who had red-eye flights late that night out of Anchorage (essentially all flights to the eastern two-thirds of the US), that made for a difficult day. We ended up renting a “day-room” at the “Anchorage Hotel” from 3-8pm…I highly recommend this “add-on”.

Overall: In summary, although I tend to point out the negatives, we had a great time, met some nice people, and would recommend this ship to others.

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