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Michael Wainstein

Age: 45

Occupation:Theatre Artistic Director

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Summit

Sailing Date: October 31st, 2003

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

The Celebrity Summit is as close to my idea of heaven as is possible to reach while still on earth. It was truly a wonderful, pampered and enjoyable experience. I hope the review below helps convince you to go on a cruise and to select Summit.

This was my first cruise, because I am prone to seasickness and feared a week of nauseau. I have been cruise-wary for a long time due to extreme seasickness fears, but after 10 days on the Summit, armed with the patch and dramamine, I can safely say - overcome your fears and go on this ship! I had no how heavenly a vacation could be. When I got on the ship and felt the slight rocking, I popped on the patch immediately and despite rough seas the first two days, I never got sick. It was a bit challenging walking down those narrow hallways, but after two days I had found my sea legs and started really enjoying the life on board. If you are prone to seasickness, don't leave home without the patch. You will need it. Now for the cruise itself.

The only negative experience I had with Celebrity was the pre-cruise communication. They never answered my e-mails and gave me faulty info time and time again. Once on the cruise, however, all the negatives melted away. First, the Summit is magnificent. From the moment you walk on board after a painlessly fast embarkation process that was so well organized, a white-gloved porter greets you and walks you through the glittery casino area to glass elevators that whisk you to your stateroom's deck. A few steps later I entered my small but very adequate room, done in lovely detail, clean as a whistle, and amazingly comfortable for being so tight. There was ample storage areas, the bathroom was large enough to turn around in and the shower was very decent. But the best was the balcony. My stateroom attendant Rodel was only too pleased to bring down a padded deck chair for our comfort, making the verandah a truly heavenly spot to rest throughout the cruise. There were fresh flowers, champagne on ice, fruit (all amenities of Celebrity's concierge class rooms), and plenty of information about the ship, the ports, etc. On the television were several channels dedicated to the cruise and a few other channels including CNN. There wasn't much to watch, but who wanted to lay in bed watching TV? We unpacked, a bit of a challenge in the cramped closet area, and then took a tour of the boat. The public areas were immaculately clean, impeccably decorated, comfortable, with views of the ocean. There were windows everywhere affording magnificent views. There were so many places to relax - poolside, on various decks, in the many lounges - it seemed that every nook and cranny had a couch and an easy chair for our comfort.

The pool area was large, and included two small pools and four jacuzzi's - not very hot, however. There were plenty of deck chairs, but throughout the cruise, if you weren't there first thing in the morning, finding a free deck chair was next to impossible. People were reserving them, and on sea days, there were 2000 people scrambling for a third as many chairs. But that is where my balcony came to good use. I always had my own private chair and my own private view. Despite the many people lounging, the pools and Jacuzzi's were never that full of people, and since they were small, that was a good thing. You could always find a spot in a Jacuzzi and swim in the pool without feeling crowded. Especially in the early evening hours, when the sun was setting and the air was just perfect, the pool areas were empty. I found that to be a great time to relax poolside.

The Aqua spa, with its Thalosotherapy pool, Jacuzzis and outstanding state-of-the-art fitness center is better than any land-based equivalent, plus you get those amazing views. My only gripe was the full length windows in front of the treadmills did not go high enough and then there were shades on the top third of the windows, so the view, while it could have been spectacular, was not so great, and even was a bit disconcerting at times because you couldn't see the entire horizon, only a slit of ocean. When the boat was bobbing up and down, it made walking very challenging. Even though there were never any free deck chairs in the spa area, it was easy to find solace in the warm waters of the mineral water pool or the two additional Jacuzzis (much hotter than the ones by the pools), and the steam room and sauna always were empty. The spa offered many treatments that were out of my range financially, but the pool and fitness area and many classes were free of charge. They also offered classes like Pilates at a small fee. I took one of these classes, and honestly, it was not worth it. I knew more than the instructor.

Dining offered many choices. The main dining room offered sit-down breakfast and lunch, open seating, and an assigned seating dinner. The room was spectacular and surrounded by huge windows affording wonderful daytime views. There was a main level and balcony level. The deck 10 casual restaurant offered buffet breakfast, then continental breakfast, then a theme-based lunch that was always outstanding, afternoon tea (I discovered this late in the cruise, probably a good thing since it was so delicious), and then in the evening, a casual sit-down dinner by reservation if you didn't want to dine in the main dining room. The casual restaurant took up half the length of the ship and was rimmed in windows. It was always easy to get a window table to watch the world go by. There was also a sushi bar open from 6-10 every night (fabulous) and pizza. Every afternoon they had a selection of pastries and fruit for afternoon tea. At the pool there was a burger and hot dog grill with great french fries, and the ice cream bar was open daily from 10-6. The main dining room was very beautiful, but a bit stuffy for us. We ate there 6 times, opting for casual dining three times, and once in the Normandie, a very upscale dining option that charged $25 extra but was well worth the price for the extravagant meal. The main dining room's dinner menu always included appetizers, soups, salad (boring choices every night and tiny servings), a main course and dessert. The food was very good, on the upscale side, small portions of gourmet cuisine, but always enough. The dinner took 2 hours each night and got to be boring. The service seemed better for the other diners than for the two of us, but it was very good nevertheless. We just didn't always want to spend two hours dining when there were so many other things to do. Concierge class allowed us to order the main dining room menu delivered to our stateroom, which we did once and it was great. We would have liked more options for casual dining at dinner. The casual restaurant upstairs was very nice, but had the exact same menu every night, which after three visits, got very boring. A dinner buffet would have been a welcome addition, but that is a minor complaint.

They had two midnight buffets. One at the pool, lovely, a fruit and dessert buffet, then the next night, the grand buffet in the main dining room. That was a let-down because of the poor organization. Which is a shocker on a boat where everything seemed well organized. First, they opened at 11:45pm for pictures with the ice sculptures (they took every opportunity possible for pictures at every event. Made me think they must be making a fortune in photos since they seemed so important), then the buffet opened at 12:15 for dinner. The line went half way down the ship and took an hour to get to the food. It moved unbelievably slowly and they only had two lines open for 2000 people. The food itself was fine, but an hour after dinner, I wasn't really hungry.

The entertainment was very good. There was an excellent company of singers and dancers that did four great shows, a very funny magic act one night, a not so funny comedian, a musician who played the bells, a puppet act, and a variety show. We went every night to the shows and found them entertaining. The best part of the entertainment was Simon Weir, the cruise director. He was absolutely outstanding in every way. We visited five ports. Although Celebrity offered many excursions, we went on our own.

In each port we went downtown, found an internet cafe and did our internet business. The ship charged an outrageous $.75 per minute to use the onboard internet service - fine for an emergency, but pricey for regular usage. I am sure if it was cheaper, many more people would utilize the service, but the onboard internet cafe was always empty. The port cities, with the exception of St. Thomas, were dirty, awful places. I am sure Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Maarten have very beautiful places on the island, but the port cities were not among them. We usually spent an hour checking out the town and then returned to our oasis, the Summit. We never really wanted to leave anyway.

St. Thomas was much cleaner, and we took a cab over to Magen's Bay. A lovely beach, one of the world's ten best, but very very crowded. On St. Maarten, we were advised to go to the French side which was supposedly nicer, but we found it to be as dirty and uninteresting as the Dutch port of Phillipsburg. Don't waste your time or money. We visited the casino quite a few times. I won $300! It was a very nice, large and enjoyable casino that was a great place to lose or win money and spend time at night. The dealers were all wonderful, mostly from South Africa, friendly and really wanted me to win.

By the time the cruise was coming to a close, I didn't know how I would ever exist off the Summit. I had become intoxicated with its amenities, service and the depth of relaxation I experienced. I felt cleansed by the end, truly relaxed and ready to face life once again. I just didn't want to get off and felt so sad when it was over.

The disembarkation was as smooth and easy as getting on, and as quickly as it began, it was over. I can't recommend the Summit highly enough. It is an absolutely perfect experience for anyone seeking relaxation and enjoyment. It is not for party-seekers, as it is not a party boat, but there were many mixed ages on the boat, just not many families with children. It is not a boat for families, or singles, or party goers. The value you get for what you pay is amazing. I don't know how they do it. Go for a cruise on the Summit, believe me, you will never forget it. Feel free to e-mail me for more info. Mikestage@aol.com

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