Patrick (& Harriet) Regan
Occupation:Motion Picture Production
Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: May 7th, 2006
Celebrity Cruise Line
Summit Cruise Review
Los Angeles to Vancouver, BC
Patrick (& Harriet) Regan
SHOULD THE SUMMIT HAVE SAILED?
Despite a bearing problem that would have a major affect on the Summit’s speed and maneuverability by limiting it to one propeller, Celebrity decided to send the Summit on its 13 day cruise from LA to Vancouver by way of Alaska and not notify the passengers who boarded in Los Angeles.
We did not stop at Seattle or Sitka, and we were not treated to the kind of view of the glaciers that cruises to Alaska are about.
Unfortunately, cruise passengers were informed of the changes in itinerary only after the ship was at sea on its way from San Francisco to Seattle (not!).
We can intellectually understand Celebrity’s not announcing its equipment problems while the ship was still in LA or even San Francisco -- there would undoubtedly have been passenger issues, that the cruise line would not have wanted to deal with. Some people would have declined the trip at this time (had they known that they flew from Germany to hook up with someone in Seattle, getting so close and then finding out they were not going there).
It’s also understandable that insurers and cruise lines would like to cut their losses, and canceling this cruise with a full refund and free rebooking (the consolation prize granted those who had booked on Summit’s next scheduled cruise) would have been frightfully expensive, no doubt. It would have also had a negative impact on the per share earnings of Celebrity’s parent Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
But, an Alaska cruise without slowly exploring the glaciers is like Disneyland without Mickey Mouse. If you go to the gates of Disneyland and Space Mountain is out of operation, there is a sign at the gate informing the hopeful, so they can make a choice as to how to spend their day.
Sailing "by" the entrance to the glaciers is not the same as entering the bay and maneuvering around, as we saw a Holland American ship do that day, and as we have done before. An extremely slow cruise around the edges of the bay, seeing the vistas from all angles, is what makes an Alaska cruise so beautiful. We could not do it because of the pod problem limiting the Summit to one propeller, causing a loss of maneuverability.
Somewhere between rumors and passenger meetings, it came out that there had been concern about the ship’s propellers on the Summit’s previous cruise, on its passage from Hawaii, back to LA.
The experts flown in from England that met the ship in San Francisco must have included representatives of the Summit’s insurers, not just engineers. The decision was made to continue the cruise with the OK of the ship’s insurers and to not inform the passengers until noon the next day on the open sea. To use a term from the 1960’s, it was a bummer.
REVIEW OF THE CRUISE ITSELF
Our last 5 cruises have been with Princess. We needed a change because our most recent cruise, on the mega-ship Sapphire Princess, was unsatisfactory -- especially the food quality. So, we went back to Celebrity; this is our 5th cruise with them. Our most recent Celebrity cruise was on Infinity in May ‘03, from Honolulu to Vancouver.
We want to always compare price, cruise value, food and service between Celebrity and Princess. They are the lines we now prefer at our budget level. Princess has slipped since the Carnival merger and we are glad to get back to a Celebrity M class ship.
We flew into LA a couple of days before this cruise to unwind a bit and visit friends. We "Pricelined.com" a good rate at a Radisson and had a great internet rate on a car from Fox Rent-a-Car near LAX.
We had a truly outstanding Sunday brunch for $19.95 at the hotel and rode to the cruise terminal with full stomachs. We don’t like to be hungry while we wait in the various lines. Celebrity provided water and punch for those waiting in line to board. Princess doesn’t.
We upgraded this time to Concierge class cabin #9049. It’s not any bigger than most balcony cabins, but there are some nice amenities added like fresh flowers, enhanced room service menu, big puffy robes, special phone line for concierge class service, priority disembarkation, special pillow choices, etc.
The upgrade cost was reasonable, so we left our balcony on deck six (Category 2C), where we would have overlooked a lifeboat and some ship cleaning equipment that while not obstructing our view in the usual sense still blocked us from looking down at the water. We upgraded to deck 9 where we could see the ocean much better from the couch in the cabin. We didn’t think there could be a bad balcony cabin but the one on deck 6 was.
The cabin feels very small. The TV is angled in such a way that it’s not really watch-able from the bed without having to turn your head at a severe angle. Same problem occurs when sitting on the couch trying to see the TV.
We like having the TV, we don’t know why there is no DVD player. They sell at $50.00 retail for an all regions player. We enjoy bringing DVD’s, catching up on older pictures in our library.
The concierge class pillow top mattress is a winner, and we are given a choice of many different pillows by the ever helpful Rufina, our cabin attendant. We slept very well.
The closets are ample and there are some convenient hooks that Princess doesn’t have. Cabins are small, and the hooks are great for the stuff you take with you whenever you leave the cabin.
The bathroom has glass shelves with guard rails keeping your stuff from sliding off. Excellent. Celebrity wins the cabin comparison.
We sailed out of LA harbor in the warm twilight looking forward to our 13 day cruise with stops in San Francisco, Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and Victoria, docking at Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver.
We started getting familiar with the ship. We sailed on the Summit’s sister ship Infinity from Hawaii to Vancouver in 2003, and the ships are much the same. We like the M class ships. We love the high speed glass elevator mid-ships where you can see the water roiling below.
Tonight was the first formal night, and dinner in the Cosmopolitan dining room was excellent. The beef and chicken were excellent in quality and preparation.
The service was low key and very prompt and efficient. We are very happy with Edinah, our waiter, from Hungary and her assistant Anwar, from Indonesia. They were the best. Asst. Maitre’d Edwin, from Rumania, was in charge of our section, and the crepes that have gone missing from Princess are still happening on Celebrity thanks to his skills. Edwin’s crepe suzettes were a highlight of the cruise.
We noticed that the ship seemed to be traveling slowly, but we guessed that it is to avoid getting to San Francisco too soon. We want to get up early Tuesday morning and photograph the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in the morning light. Our son lives in the Bay Area, and we were going to be spending the day with him.
Then the Captain made an announcement that our schedule is changing. He advised we will arrive in San Francisco at about thirty minutes after midnight on Tuesday, not 8AM Tuesday as scheduled. We won’t be able to leave the ship and wander the city until tomorrow morning, however. And, say goodbye to the cruising experience of sliding under the Golden Gate Bridge at dawn, camera nearby.
We never tire of this city. Pier 35 on the Embarcadero is in the heart of the city. It’s a glorious, sunny day. We meet our son in front of the ferry building and the foot of California St. and head to the Hunan Restaurant on Sansome Street just above Broadway, called ‘old Hunan’ by the locals to differentiate it from a newer version a few blocks away. Wonderful, reasonably-priced Chinese food. We wander around, enjoying the shopping and people watching.
We recommend buying a one day transit pass good all day on buses, cable cars, trolleys etc. It’s a great value. We wish the ship could overnight here and stay for 2 days. There are two other ships docked here today, and we are the last to sail away under the Golden Gate Bridge and north to Seattle. Our departure is about 1 1/2 hours later than originally announced.
We wake the next day to a phone call informing us our enhanced menu, concierge class room service breakfast of scrambled eggs w/asparagus tips along with croissants and bacon is on the way at the time we requested.
We throw open the drapes, and we notice the ship is still not going very fast. We have a big schedule, and it’s quite a ways to Seattle. We’re not going to make it on time Thursday at this speed.
Breakfast arrives and diverts us from thoughts of ship speed. The croissants are warm and butter-crunchy, the juice is fresh-squeezed, and the eggs are nicely done and still fluffy. Yummy. Score one for Concierge class enhanced room service. Princess has a fancy breakfast with Champagne for $25.00 per person per day which is just room service with champagne. Celebrity wins this comparison for food and value.
While we eat, we enjoy reading the Summit’s daily
newspaper. Celebrity’s daily paper works better for us than does Princess’
similar publication. The Celebrity Today-Summit is well laid out and has a
single-page daily pullout in the center that can be easily pocketed, listing the
hours of all the dining venues and activities -- it is easy to read and not
scattered. Celebrity also prints the names and titles of the various ship’s
department heads for easy reference. We always want to know the name of the
hotel director. Celebrity prints a short bio, and Princess nothing much on
anyone but the Captain. Celebrity wins this comparison.
Lunchtime comes, and we head to the Waterfall Buffet. Princess has no trays at the buffet. Celebrity has trays, with a white cloth placemat. The food and choices are better, too. We’ll be visiting this buffet a lot. We tend to eat most meals in the dining room on Princess, but this is a great buffet. Breakfast has an omelette station, ably manned by Ripton, and a made-fresh waffle and pancake bar. There is a deli sandwich station, a salad station, and a pasta-to-order station (the talented Kumar at the controls) plus the usual carved meats -- and an ice cream station at no charge. Princess is charging for ice cream on the buffet now except for one hour in mid afternoon where you can get a free cone. On the Summit, there is lemonade and juice at all times. The pasta and pizza is available until 1 AM. The buffet is well staffed with waiters carrying trays for those who need assistance, and refilling beverages. Celebrity is far superior to Princess in the buffet comparison.
The Captain comes on the PA as we eat and makes an announcement that totally changes this cruise. We have a broken pod, meaning we only have the use of one of the ship’s propellers. That is why we are sailing so slowly. We are not going to Seattle tomorrow. We are dropping Seattle and proceeding to Ketchikan with one propeller. We are also not going to stop in Sitka, Alaska. This is our 6th Alaska cruise in the last 4 years, and we have never been to Sitka. We really wanted the Seattle stop too. They will give us $200.00 credit.
Let me get this straight...we’re going to sail into the glacier, all the way up like the other ships do, without both pods? I don’t think so. We’ll probably just visit a bit but no way we can get as close as the other ships do with this malfunctioning pod. The ship didn’t get to provision again in Seattle, so we’ll see if we run out of anything.
We are annoyed. When did they first know of this problem? Is that why we sailed slowly from LA to SF?
The Cruise Director, John Howell, comes on the PA and announces a meeting for all passengers in the Celebrity theater beginning now. He tells us the captain will be answering our questions.
The meeting is grim. Everybody is pretty unhappy. The captain fields a lot of questions. He tells us that they flew experts in from England to examine the pod’s system while we were in San Francisco on Tuesday. That means Celebrity knew about the problem when we were in Los Angeles. There is an 8 hour time difference and a 12 hour flight between San Francisco and the UK. Celebrity confirmed the problem with the flown-in experts and didn’t tell us paying passengers until the middle of the next day on the high seas when it was impossible to opt out of this cruise. Shame on Celebrity. The Hotel Director is nowhere in sight.
Shame, shame on Celebrity. They knew some passengers would decide not to continue and they gave us no option. Capt. Dimitrios Kafetzis answers many difficult questions and admits to the fact that the flown-in experts were called for when the ship was in LA. Rumors fly everywhere. The experts purportedly included the ship’s insurers, who approved continuing the cruise, and other experts. The Summit will finish in Vancouver on the 20th of May as planned and then go into dry dock in Victoria, BC. The Hotel Director, Joachim Scherz, doesn’t choose to appear, leaving the Captain to catch all the flack. The segments of the ship’s crew who work for tips are very worried. They receive very little pay for days in dry dock, and they will be involved in a difficult, thorough cleaning of the ship. There will be much work for minimal pay, and very little money to send home to their families.
We should be docking in Seattle today, but we are moving slowly up the coast toward the Canadian border. I call my local Vancouver paper, the Province, and tell them what is up. Raine DeLisle of the Province calls me back and says that the Celebrity head office is spinning our situation as routine maintenance.
Yeah, routine maintenance at the beginning of the busy and most profitable Alaska cruising season. I don’t think so. The reporter will query them again Friday AM about this situation. I also request that the Canadian Coast Guard be informed about our passenger-laden one propeller ship moving ever so slowly through Canadian waters.
We are issued a revised schedule that includes 3 sea days between San Francisco and Ketchikan. Now, extra sea days can be nice -- on a warm weather cruise!
The leaders of a loud but peaceful passenger protest requested the captain give them the use of the large 2 level Celebrity theater on board to have an open passenger meeting that many can attend. This is the theater where the captain met with us. They reported that captain said he did not have the authority to grant the passenger’s request. He would contact the corporate office in Miami for permission.
Permission was denied, but Royal Caribbean/Celebrity management countered by saying that they were sending 2 high level reps to meet with passengers in Ketchikan, Alaska when we arrive. They said they would not meet with a theater full of passengers as the Captain did, but they would meet with groups of not more than 50 passengers at a time. They might be thinking “divide and conquer,” but these unhappy passengers seem to be a resolute bunch.
The passengers hold open meetings in front of the hotel desk and hotel staff in the 2 story lobby every day. People were on the floor, the stairs etc. It was packed. Everybody agreed by applause or show of hands that the $200.00 offered by Celebrity was not enough, and many questioned that at the speed we are now traveling will more ports be cancelled? A rumor spreads that some people who complained to the hotel director were threatened with confinement to their cabin by security officers who had been trained by the Mossad.
At the end of this passenger meeting the Captain came on the public address system to specifically refute the Mossad security & confinement rumor and he announces that from 11:30AM to 1:30PM this day there will be free drinks for all.
The bars fill up quickly, and people order the best and wear the bartenders out having them make exotic drinks and bringing them aged scotch and brandy. We’re appalled to see that very few passengers seem to be tipping these hard working bartenders and wait staff as they make and deliver loads of free drinks.
The bright lights of this difficult cruise are these hard working serving people, and some of these passengers don’t seem to wish to recognize it even when they don’t have to pay for expensive drinks. Too bad. People are so mad. The vibe on the ship is not very cruise-ish. Well attended passenger meetings are held daily right to the very end of the cruise.
We bring a lot of US one dollar bills. A dollar isn’t much, but when you give one to a waiter helping you with your tray or getting you drinks it helps expand your cruisie feeling -- and he/she is thankful.
When we use our soda card we give them a dollar, and room service (always on time and of good quality) gets a couple of dollars. We sign for the suggested tips at the hotel desk and add dollars to dining room and cabin staff. The service is excellent considering that they literally never have a day off during their contract. We would be glad to have the dining room closed once every 7 days to give some of the wait and cooking staff time off on a staggered basis. Even one day off a month would be a great help, according to a source close to the situation. It becomes apparent on a longer than 7 day cruise how tired the service people are.
Is a beautiful place with sea planes landing and taking off in the water in front of where we are berthed. We step off the ship to the middle of all kinds of shops, stores, internet cafes etc. No need for a shuttle van or taxi.
We always love to stop in Ketchikan. We start our fun with a visit to the Salmon Landing building, which is to our extreme right in the row of shops we are berthed along. This is a sturdy two-story building of shops, including an excellent quilt-fabric shop which is well-stocked by any standards. There is also an internet cafe, with rates much lower than those available on the ship.
We take the elevator up to the second floor, where The Silver Thimble is located (5 Salmon Landing, Suite 204). They have expanded since our last visit. A shop located right at the top of the building’s centrally-located stairway now houses their collection of fabrics depicting Alaska’s wildlife. The rest of their offerings of all-cotton quilting fabrics is still in the larger store. A staff member says they expanded in order to widen the aisles in the first location, so that customers in wheelchairs would have easy access to the fabrics! Considerate of them. We walked off with the cutest print of colorful Russian dolls on vivid black. They will look wonderful quilted around the outlines!
We had to be back on the Summit by 1:45, which doesn’t give much time in the town and its environs. We should have been able to stay longer -- but there’s that missing propeller again.
The reps from Celebrity have flown in from Miami and are holding scheduled office hours to deal with passenger questions about refund amounts, etc. They don’t resolve anything, they just listen in order to keep passengers from bothering hotel staff.
FEELING LIKE AN OWNER
We like to use the hot tubs, pools etc. during the ‘off times’, when most of the passengers are readying themselves for dinner or off the ship or at a special 7PM show. These facilities are deserted during these times, and few people are around. It makes us feel like the owners of a huge quiet yacht.
During one such early evening stroll, we witnessed a couple engaging in private activity that should never, ever be done in a hot tub which will be used by others! After seeing that, our cruise was a bit less enjoyable -- that same couple was often at the hot tubs, which we didn’t really feel like using anymore... People, people, get back to your cabin!
The state capitol. Everything open and bustling. You can grab a bus for $6.00 each way to get close to the nearby Glacier only 20 minutes from town. There are internet cafes, but if you are carrying your laptop, you can drink designer coffee and connect for free at some coffee/food places.
There’s an aerial tramway near dockside. Beautiful view but not worth the price of the very short ride. Juneau is picturesque, a very nice place to wander through.
Rainy Day Books on Seward Street has great used books.
Pick up some fudge at the Great Alaskan Fudge company a block from where the Summit is berthed. We also took a van to Costco, where there is an excellent wine selection.
There are 4 ships in Juneau today: Summit, Mercury, Vision of the Seas, and the Zaandam. We realize we have cruised on all of these ships in the past few years!
As the ship slowly resumes progress, the Assistant Maitre’d’s and the wait staff of the Summit bend over backwards to be friendly and helpful despite their own difficulties with the revised schedule, and despite sort of angry behavior on the part of some disappointed cruisers. Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be given the officious front desk staff of Hotel Director Joachim Scherz.
Our cabin attendant Rufina and her assistant Stanley were steadfast in providing excellent service to her Concierge class passengers. We salute them.
Cruise Director John Howell and his staff found many things for the passengers to do or attend during this extended period of gray sea days. We also appreciated the fact the Mr. Howell and his staff didn’t ever yell into their microphones.
This cruise offered more bingo games than Princess, but the prices were very high compared to the reward. We were in a game with 250-300 others in the lounge. We paid $20 for a 3 card or $30 for a 4 card. There was a jackpot but it’s hard to win because a card has to be filled within a certain amount of numbers called. That big jackpot carries over to the end of the cruise and will be finally given out, but it’s not that big, around $2500, which is peanuts considering what bingo brings in to Celebrity.
The daily prizes when we played started at $115, the next was $125, and the final two for the session were $150. Considering the number of people playing, Celebrity was taking in 5 or 6 thousand dollars in bingo card purchases per session and only giving away a total of around $500 per day. We stopped playing bingo after that.
Skagway is a beautiful little place full of excursions and shops. We tend not to load up on souvenirs, cute as they may be, knowing from experience how many things can end up in (valuable) storage and forgotten. However, there is one store we want to mention. The Alaska Shirt Company carries a line of very well detailed, realistic resin statuettes of Alaskan wild animals, which we did not see at any of the other stores we ventured into, and each animal was only $2.
The White Pass Railroad offers a scenic trip aboard an antique train; the aerial tours give a breathtaking experience. Both are memorable.
The next part of the cruise was not as enjoyable as it could have been. Due to the broken pod, we practically scurried away from the glaciers -- and then sat still for 6 hours at the North end of Vancouver Island! Toward the end of those 6 hours, an ‘elegant tea’ was held for Captain’s Club members -- and nobody from management was in attendance, unusual for such an event, we thought. It was as though they were avoiding confrontation about the abortive sight-seeing, and why not?
Victoria is a beautiful, gracious city with beautiful architecture, landscaping and shopping. We decided to treat ourselves to tea at the famous Fairmont Empress hotel. Once we knew the price ($48 each + tax and tip), we figured it was so high we’d order wine as well (thus adding $25 + tax and tip). It was a splurge one would rarely take, but really delicious. We wanna go back!
What follows are further notes on a our findings in comparing Celebrity and Princess cruising, with regard to price, cruise value, food and service.
THINGS CELEBRITY DOES BETTER:
Water, juices provided for embarkation. Hot chocolate is provided at chilly ports. (But beware the hot chocolate sold in the lounges -- it comes in a $9.95 commemorative cup, a fact which you might or might not be told ahead of receiving your drink; we weren’t, and we sent it back)
The newspaper is easy to read and efficient to use -- there is a daily pullout with the day’s activities and an up-to-the-minute dining schedule.
There is an ever-replenished pitcher of drinking water at the ready in your stateroom
Concierge class is good, especially room service
On Celebrity, the buffet is better, especially waiter service replenishing drinks, etc. Also, trays for easy transport, and variety: pasta bar open until 1 AM, ice cream bar (free, open till 9 PM), pizza and salad bar until 1 AM, and a daytime sandwich bar that in the evening becomes a sushi bar. Also, a ‘casual dining restaurant’ serving simply-grilled chicken, beef or fish in a corner of the buffet. The wait staff at this venue is in training for dining room service.
On special nights, there is also dinner served in the buffet.
The Aqua Spa offers a perfect food venue -- fresh, light food, moderate portions -- for heart-healthy eating.
The croissants are better now than those served by Princess, by far. Finally, that buttery crunch that distinguishes the croissant from run-of-the-mill rolls!
And the Eggs Benedict -- they are possibly the best we’ve ever had on a cruise ship. Soft yolks, nice sauce...on Princess they seemed to be cooked dry, just like an Egg Mc Muffin.
Public address announcements are kept at a minimum. Thanks again to the cruise director.
TV ACCOUNT ACCESS
In-cabin hotel account review
We found the entertainment aboard the Summit to be a mixed bag, so we’ve positioned these remarks between our praise and helpful criticism -- there were things we enjoyed, and things we felt were lacking.
There was usually a 7PM show available to those who have the 8:30PM dining, and for whom a show following dinner would be too late. We commend Cruise Director John Howell for this. We are second seating diners and we can’t do a 10:45 or 11 PM show anymore.
We want more comedy, and we want a jazz trio with a singer in the bar, too.
There was a great group from Poland named Diamonds, harkening back to “The Diamonds,” a group around in the late ‘50’s. These guys can sing and play anything, and the dancers and listeners love every minute of it.
The comedian was lame, the classical string quartet was always too loud in the dining room. Whatever happened to the cocktail or dinner piano player just quietly tickling the ivories? The principals and dancers in the flashy little production shows changed costumes a lot and used all the equipment on the small stage. Trapeze work, coming up through the stage floor on the elevator. etc. Musical theatre for those who don’t attend much musical theater.
The micro-mini Cirque du Soleil show was ‘vin ordinaire’.
The ventriloquist is talented, well-rehearsed, funny -- but such long sets! And he was scheduled 3 different times. It seems to be the kind of entertainment that serves better as spice than as entree...
The Karaoke is a fun addition. We knew from passing by a session that one of the singers involved was of near professional level, so staff members should also have known that -- so why on Earth would they choose him to kick off the final Karaoke contest a few days later? It was a bit disheartening to some of the other singers, it seemed.
THINGS CELEBRITY DOES POORLY:
* regular coffee is not available at the COVA, where the fanciest almond croissants and other breakfast pastries beckon.
* ship’s daily show very hard to find on cabin TV; it needs to be rebroadcast more often throughout the day
* placement of TV in cabin makes it difficult to watch
* internet access is very expensive - 75 cents per minute, and so slow that getting to your email can take 5 precious minutes
* noisy, filthy gym -- patina of grease on machines and no wipes. Some of the machines are in various states of disrepair.
We do mean the complements we have given in regard to the food, but just want to make one note:
On this cruise, we had 2 really great dinners, with excellent beef and seafood: the first formal night, and the last formal night, which is almost 2 weeks later. Other nights, lower quality beef and seafood were served. Soft, mushy shrimp are definitely a no-no!
We think there are two refrigerators, one for formal and ‘don’t let them forget us’ farewell dinners, and one for regular nights.
We probably won’t book a long cruise again, but possibly 2 back-to-back: Vancouver-to-Alaska-to-Vancouver. On a two-week cruise, the best food comes twice, whereas on 2 back-to-back 1-week cruises, there are 4 really good dinners. To us, enjoying only one lobster dinner on a 13 night cruise was not very cruisie. (There is, however, lobster every night in the $30 per person alternative dining room.)
We think the key is to eat in the dining room on their higher-quality food and better-menu nights, and go to the casual dining grill, the pasta bar, the Aqua Spa or order room service other nights.
We always tipped our dining room staff for the whole cruise, and we would also inform they when we weren’t going to dine with them that evening.
All in all, we’d have to say the food quality is better than that we recently experienced with Princess.
WHAT ALL SHIPS COULD DO BETTER:
* have a DVD player in the cabin
* Teflon - the dangers are being revealed on the news lately. It is really disconcerting to see such worn-out coating on the pans at the omelet station. Not that the pans should be replaced or re-coated (heaven forbid), but -- where did all that poisonous coating go? Into the tummies of cruisers like you. Why not just use stainless steel, iron, etc.
* have more satellite TV
* all of the cruise lines seem to work the crew harder than they have to and harder than it is healthy for anyone to work. People need time off. If they would close the dining room one day per cruise, perhaps the servants could have one day a month off. It seems something worth shooting for.
The cost of cruising has been going up and up. We purchased this 13 day cruise from an internet cruise outlet in January for approximately $1900 per person for 13 days in a Category 2C balcony cabin. We were crestfallen to receive an email three weeks before our departure date from the same cruise outlet we bought this cruise from about a “happy hour” cruise sale. They were offering Category 2A balcony cabins on our cruise for $1289 per person! That’s a hundred dollars a day per person, for a balcony in a higher category than ours. We contacted Celebrity customer service and they directed us to fax our complaint to the resolutions department, which we did. We have never seen a Celebrity cruise balcony drop in price this much 3 weeks before sailing. They usually go UP a bit close to the sailing date on Celebrity. They have officially downgraded their cruise brand. We were incensed when we were told that as passengers already booked we were not entitled to re book at the lower rate without penalties that would negate the saving.
Cruise ships are starting to go to the mega and more mega ships. We are not interested in the cruise ship as a theme park. Our theme is cruising, not rock climbing, ice skating or strolling through a large, high-retail mall. Some cruise lines are even using rooms with a view of the mall as a selling point. Cruising is changing rapidly, and at these prices the lure of the most luxurious Las Vegas hotels is beckoning a bit. We are committed cruisers who have to rethink our choice of ships and cruises. We’re probably going to try Oceana or Windstar for our next cruise adventure.
Celebrity handed us a letter as we got off the Summit saying “we know that some of you were unhappy with the itinerary” and “We understand that the experience at Hubbard Glacier didn’t meet all of your expectations, and we also know that some of you were disappointed due to our delayed arrival in the Inside Passage.” Yeah, we sailed right by the Hubbard Glacier and traversed the inside passage mostly in darkness.
Celebrity continues the letter saying “It is our pleasure to inform you that we will be providing you with a certificate for 30 per cent off a future Celebrity cruise, redeemable anytime in the next 18 months.”
Talk about dangling a carrot.
by Patrick and Harriette Regan