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Barbara Schaefer

Age: 62

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Summit

Sailing Date: February 12th, 2006

Itinerary: n/a


Celebrity Cruise Line
Summit Cruise Review
Panama Canal

Barbara Schaefer

We departed Los Angeles via San Pedro Cruise Terminal, after arriving a day early. It's risky to plan to arrive the day of departure if your plans include extensive travel to the port city. We never buy package deals so are always left to muddle through transfers. In LA, if you go the day before, you need only get your party back to the LAX Baggage Claim for any major airline and find the Celebrity rep who will put you on their bus to the cruise terminal, a nominal 22.50 per person charged to your cruise account. The trip takes about 40 minutes. Celebrity is always gracious about allowing early boarding and you can check-in and head right to lunch. This was our second trip on Summit and we were as impressed this trip as we were two years ago when we sailed to Alaska. Out itinerary included three stops in Mexico - Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco, and Acapulco. The Coastal Highlights Tour was our choice for Cabo and was a delightful overview of this jetset resort favorite. Our friends did a snorkeling trip and were thrilled with the variety of sea life encountered. Since we had spent many years visiting Acapulco we declined an excursion in favor of a walk around tour of the city. It was disappointing to see the dirt, poverty, overpowering sidewalk peddlers, and self-appointed "guides" who continually joined our group. The inner city is a traffic nightmare and, if you have never been to Acapulco, a short excursion offering an overview of the city and sea might be the best option. Huatulco was was a lovely city by the sea, reminiscent of Acapulco thirty years ago, and we took The Scenic Drive & La Crucecita, an overview of the town and country. We ended in the city market where we found small, clean, safe sidewalk cafes for lunch and a local beer. Again, the water sports were the choice of our friends and, with it's nine bays and multiple hidden coves, it was a definite winner. Our next stop was Costa Rica, a large and mostly mountainous country with many dark sandy beaches teeming with people on weekends. All of the excursions offered in Puntarenas, CR, entailed long bus rides over bumpy, narrow, mountain roads built for very small cars. When two buses had to pass it was a breahtaking experience! The Traditions of Costa Rica excursion that we took was the shortest but still meant a three hour bus drive to a coffee plantation (while we passed at least a dozen on the way) at the very top of the mountain. We spent a short 30 minutes there, piled back on the bus for a one hour trip back to a small luncheon buffet put on by the locals, and then 2 1/2 hours back down the mountain to the ship. We didn't see many happy folks on any of the Costa Rica tours. Our days at sea were filled with all of the good food and great service that Celebrity is famous for. We met people who ate in the specialty restaurant, The Normanyd, and they raved about the quality of the food and the generous selections.

The Aqua Spa is incredible with a Thalossatherapy Pool, Jacuzzis, and many facial and body treatments available. For those women that wonder about risking the Beauty Shop, one of us had a shampoo, blow-dry, and styling, and came away looking terrific. There are not incessant announcements made over the PA system on Celebrity nor nonstop urgings to participate in group activities. They are readily available but no pressure to participate. The Celebrity singers and dancers on the Summit were definite Broadway caliber but I have heard others say that the entertainment on Celebrity is generally not up to the grandeur of it's facilities, i.e., stage, lighting, music. Our deluxe oceanview cabin with veranda was number 6024, on the Penthouse Deck. There are eight cabins in the forward part of the ship with double length verandas and we were lucky enough to have one of them. The cabin size was 171 sq. ft. with very generous storage capacity, a mini bar, and interactive TV. The make-up table, mirror, and chair were most welcome. Our trip through the Panama Canal took a total of two days with entering, transiting, and departing. Itwas a fantastic experience and one not to be missed. Even at 6:30 a.m. it was worth the early wakeup call, and this from someone who thinks 9:00 a.m. is too early. There were excursions available into Panama but we were warned that we would be tendered off the boat before the canal and would miss the interesting trip through, if we took the excursion. Very few actually took the excursion but I don't think those folks thought it was worth it.

The last stop before our home base of Ft. Lauderdale was Aruba and what a gorgeous island it was. The miles of snow white sandy beaches, three five-star hotels, clean streets, sparkling homes, and rugged wild North shore with desert setting, were all gorgeous. We took the Aruba Town & Countryside Drive and got a thorough enough overview to want to return to Aruba as soon as possible. It's not over crowded, easy to maneuver around, and spotlessly clean and beautiful. We have seen most all of the Caribbean Islands and many of the Atlantic and Pacific Islands and none could compare to Aruba. All in all, this was a truly amazing trip with just the right itinerary mixing days on land and days at sea. There were three formal nights with lovely dinners and shows, nice music available everywhere, great service, always polite,courteous, and accommodating staff, and we were hard pressed to find many negatives. Some in our group felt that Celebrity nickel and dimed us too much and pushed the art, wine, and cigar auctions excessively, but I felt that it was available but we were certainly free to take it or leave it. My only wish was that they would be more stringent in enforcing dress codes in public areas of the boat. On formal nights we saw some dressed in shorts in the Celebrity Theater, there were a few bathing suits in the Dining Room at lunch, and denim, cutoffs, and tank tops in the public rooms, at times. The rule is that proper dress is required AT ALL TIMES in the public rooms and the warning was that it was strictly enforced. Should be - but was not! !

Personally, I feel that when you pay top dollar for a high-end cruise you should be able to expect more of the niceties and not feel like you are staying in a Holiday Inn. But, as I said before, it was a wonderful cruise and Celebrity is always my first choice for cruising!
 

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