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Kristen Elsden

Age: 25

Occupation:Travel Industry

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Summit

Sailing Date: May 3rd, 2002

Itinerary: Ensenada to Honolulu - Hawaiian Islands

My husband I honeymooned on the Summit May 3, 2002 - Ensenada to Hawaii.

I read many reviews that helped me when planning our cruise, so I want to give something back. Overall, we had a good time on the Summit, but I wanted to take the time to comment on things that I would like to know before booking a ship. Some are positive, some negative, and all are just my opinion. I concentrated mostly on the ship rather than the islands, as that was what was important to me when reading reviews prior to booking our cruise.

A little background info on us: I am 25, and my husband is 35. As I mentioned above, this was our Honeymoon. Both of us work in the travel industry, so we vacation usually twice a year. This is my 5th cruise and my husband's 3rd. We cruised together on Celebrity's Galaxy in October 2000 (where we got engaged!) and on Carnival's Paradise in May of 1999. We enjoyed the Galaxy immensely, so we were eager to sail with Celebrity again for our Honeymoon.

PRE CRUISE: We flew in from Boston the day before, which proved to be a smart move. We were exhausted from the traveling when we arrived in San Diego, and would not have looked forward to a 2+ hour ride to Ensenada at that point. We stayed at the Westin Horton Plaza in San Diego, which I would recommend. Hotel was clean and well kept, and right next to a huge mall (Horton Plaza), where we stocked up on some last minute items for our cruise. Had dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery (a chain, we have one in Boston), which was also good.

TRANSFER/EMBARKATION: We decided to hire a car to drive us down to Ensenada. I'm not big on cruise line transfers. They treat you like cattle and it's a lot of hurry up and wait if you know what I mean. We used First Class Limousine in San Diego and it cost us $225 including Mexican Insurance and tip. I would highly recommend them. They were professional and the Lincoln Town car was so comfy! I think the ship transfers were around $60 per person, so for the extra $100, we were glad not to sit on that bus and wait.

When we arrived in Ensenada, the ship was in, and we couldn't wait to get on. Our driver drove up to the pier, where we were informed that we could drop our bags off, but we would need to go to a close by hotel for check-in, as the cruise terminal was not big enough to process all the passengers. They would then bus us back to the pier. DAMN!! We almost avoided the whole bus thing! :)

Check in at the hotel was actually very organized, and only took a matter of minutes. We only had to sit on the bus at the pier for about 15 minutes before they let us board. Overall, I think Celebrity did a good job with check-in considering what they had to work with in terms of space.

STATEROOM: We were lucky enough to get upgraded from a Category 1A to a Sky Suite - number 6116. The room was plenty big enough and tastefully decorated. Lots of mahogany type wood and mirrors to make the cabin appear bigger. We had a ton of storage space for all of our clothes - especially loved the walk in closet. The balcony had 2 chairs and a table and was the perfect size for the two of us. The bathroom had a tub and shower and was roomy compared to other bathrooms on past ships. Our cabin steward Myla, and Butler Zenobio were the finest we have ever had on any cruise. Myla always seem to know when we left our room - we'd return 1/2 hour later and the room would be spotless. And while having a Butler isn't exactly a necessity, it was sure nice! We especially enjoyed being able to order from the dining room menu for all meals, and the canapés before dinner.

We had breakfast in the cabin a bunch of times, and dinner once, on the first night, because they lost my husbands luggage. We were quite nervous, because while we were embarking the ship, we saw that due to the windy conditions, some luggage had fallen overboard at the pier and some of the crew were dressed in scuba gear and were diving down to retrieve it - YIKES! Luckily, his luggage tag had fallen off, and the sunken luggage wasn't his. We found this out because I finally decided to call Guest Relations at 1 am and they told me they had a piece of unclaimed luggage there. Phew!

WEATHER: I bring this up because one of my main questions that I couldn't seem to get answered before we left was what the weather would be like crossing the Pacific in May. I finally talked myself into believing that it MUST be warm, considering we are departing out of Mexico and cruising to Hawaii. Therefore, I only packed 2 pairs of pants. Guess what - I was wrong! The temps were in the high 50's the first two days. People were freezing during the lifeboat drill! In speaking with other passengers, I don't think they were prepared for the chilly weather either. Luckily, on the 3rd day it warmed up a bit and the sun finally came out. We were very unfortunate in the weather department for most of the cruise. I would say it was cloudy more often than sunny. That sort of put a bit of a damper on things for us, as our most enjoyable activity while on vacation is going to the beach/sitting by the pool and catching some rays.

ACTIVITIES: I was aware that when a cruise is longer than 7 days, the crowd is usually a bit older, but we really were not prepared for what we got though. I would say that 75% of the passengers were over 65. Don't get me wrong, we have no problem mingling with all types of people, but it was clear to us (and some of the other younger passengers we spoke to onboard) that the activities planned were geared toward older folks. During the cool, cloudy days at sea, we were bored stiff, often in our room watching the same episodes of The West Wing and Friends that Celebrity runs over and over again. My idea of fun isn't playing "Name That Movie Tune", if you know what I mean. We spent a lot of our time in the casino as well. Won a lot in the beginning - and lost some by the end. Had fun doing it so that's what counts though! :) Another area of disappointment was in the shows. We chose Late Dining, since we are late eaters when at home, and because we like to come back from the pool/beach around 5 or 6 and then sit on our balcony with a drink to watch the sunset and/or take a short nap. The shows for Late seating guests were pre-dinner, with the exception of one night. If I wanted to get ready for the evening this early, I would have chosen Main Seating. We were very disappointed in this area, and did not attend any pre-dinner shows.

EXCURSIONS: We purchased one excursion through Celebrity - The Lanai Wild Dolphin and Snorkel Adventure - $81.00 per person. We enjoyed this and felt it was a good value, as you get breakfast, lunch and unlimited soft drinks/beer/wine/Mai Tai's. Didn't see any dolphins but did see some whales which was awesome! If you get seasick , don't do this one. I got a bit sick, but felt better after getting in the water to snorkel. Others were throwing up over the side of the boat - it was a bit rocky.

FOOD: The food was good. Would I say it was great? Probably not. My husband and I both felt that the quality declined in comparison to our last cruise on the Galaxy. We left Galaxy raving about the food, and we were rather surprised about the food on the Summit. The buffets were mediocre at best - seemed like last nights leftovers concocted into some new creation. Dining room was good -I has mostly beef and fish entrees. The Filet Mignon was wonderful. I also had either Filet of sole or halibut (I forget which), which was also very good. Our dining room waiter Angelo, and his assistant Ivana were the best we have ever had on any cruise. We also sat with a wonderful group of people, who's company we truly enjoyed.

We ate at the Normandie one night and I would highly recommend it. My husband literally cut his Chateaubriand with a fork, and my Rack of Lamb was also wonderful. The Goat Cheese soufflé, Chocolate soufflé, and the Crepes Suzette are also not to be missed!!

DISEMBARKATION: What a breeze! Being Captains Club members, we got priority disembarkation. All passengers were asked to be out of their staterooms by 8:00 am, and they called our tag color before we were even out of our room! Well worth the $35 Captains Club membership fee.

POST CRUISE: We stayed 2 nights post cruise at the Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu. We arrived at the hotel before 10:00 am and much to our surprise, they let us check in at that time! What a gorgeous hotel!! Our room had a balcony with a view of Diamondhead that we will never forget. The sun was out for pretty much our entire stay, so we are able get a nice tan to bring home with us! They even extended our check out time to 3:00 pm due to our late flight! This hotel was quite pricey, but first class all the way, and known by many as the finest hotel on the island.

OVERALL: We enjoyed this cruise, even though we felt a bit out of place and were somewhat disappointed in the decline in the quality of food. The service was truly wonderful - the best we have had any cruise thus far. I'm sure we will cruise Celebrity again, but not on a cruise more than 7 days and not to Hawaii. Next time we visit Hawaii we'd like to stay a couple days on each island so we can really see everything the islands have to offer.

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