New England/Canada Cruise on the Celebrity Summit
10/5/13 to 10/19/13
Due to the length of the review, it is in four parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of the page.
Page 1 - Pre-cruise in New York City, NY and Ship
Page 2 - Cabin, Dining; Entertainment; Activities; Ports of: Portland, ME; Bar Harbor, ME; Halifax, Nova Scotia
Page 3 - Ports of: Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Quebec City, Canada Day 1; Gaspé, Canada
Page 4 - Ports of: Quebec City, Canada Day 2; Gaspé, Canada
Ports of Call: Bayonne, NJ; Portland, ME; Bar Harbor, ME; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Quebec City, Canada; Gaspé, Canada; Bayonne, NJ
We have wanted to do a New England/Canada cruise since we first started cruising in 1998. Visiting Quebec was on our bucket list. Since we don’t get the beautiful fall colors in South Florida, Carol would finally get to experience them. Unfortunately October was the busiest month for my job and there was no way I could vacation in the best fall colors month of the year. All that changed when I decided to retire. The first cruise I booked was this one. Another plus with this cruise was that although I had been to New York City many times, Carol had never visited there. With the embarkation port being in Bayonne, NJ, we were able to accomplish several vacation goals on the same trip. It surely was nice not having to worry about taking too many days off from work. Being retired definitely has its benefits.
Pre-Cruise in New York City
With all the traveling we have done, Carol and I had never taken the time to visit New York City. I had been there several times on business and went in for day trips when I lived in Pennsylvania before I met Carol. She had been to the Statue of Liberty, but only from the New Jersey side. We decided to spend three nights before our cruise in Manhattan near Times Square. That way we wouldn’t have to schlepp into the city every day and hassle with the transportation. Plus we would be able to really experience the city by being there day and night.
Our flight from Fort Lauderdale arrived almost twenty minutes early, which was great, since we had early afternoon activities that we couldn’t miss. I had booked a limo with Dial 7 Limo Service, www.dial7.com. After we picked up our luggage at the airport, I called their number and the limo was there within a few minutes. We arrived at the hotel, Radio City Apartments, www.radiocityapts.com, just after 11:00 AM. A friend from work who travels to NYC regularly had recommended we stay there, since it was in a great location and priced more reasonably than most Times Square hotels. Reasonable in NYC is still very expensive; but it could have been a lot worse. Since the room wasn’t ready when we arrived, they held our luggage and we headed out for lunch.
One of our “must do’s” was to get a pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli. Since our hotel was in a great location, it was only a few blocks away. Some of our friends told us to just get one and split it. I couldn’t imagine that it would be too big to eat in one sitting. Well I should have taken their advice. With it costing $18.00, I assumed it would be big; but it must have had close to a pound of pastrami on it. I did eat the whole thing; but Carol, as usual was the smart one and saved part of it for later. It was quite delicious, but way too much for one person.
After lunch we returned to the hotel and were able to check in. The elevators were very slow but they were large enough for plenty of luggage. Thank goodness they worked, since we were on the 10th of 12 floors. The room wasn’t fancy; but everything was well maintained and clean. It was actually nicer than I had expected.
A friend of ours from our neighborhood used to be a producer for the TV show, 60 Minutes. He had arranged for us to get tickets to see the David Letterman show on our first day in NYC. We had to be there before 3:30 PM, so we didn’t have a lot of time do anything else that afternoon. We walked over to the Ed Sullivan Theater, where the show is performed. The theater itself is a NYC landmark, since it is where Elvis and the Beatles performed; and many well-known shows including Saturday Night Live are done. Our friend had gotten us VIP Guest Tickets, which allowed us to go in the theater earlier than the standard tickets and also get better seats for the show.
We had to wait in line in the theater while the pages taught everyone how to laugh at Dave’s jokes and to clap hysterically. When we finally got to sit down, we were in the first row of the balcony, which was really good, since the seats in the lower section have a more obstructed view because of the cameras and other activities going on. The cameras panned the audience and pointed right at us twice. We had taped the show, so after we got home, we got to see ourselves on TV.
Although we weren’t big fans of Letterman before the show; the experience did help us to appreciate him much more. He was very nice to the audience before the show started. Carol had always wondered why he wears that double breasted coat that looks two sizes too big for him when he is on television. It's part of his trademark appearance, but looks ridiculous. So, she was glad to see that as soon as the cameras cut to commercial, he immediately took off the coat. It's actually amazing how much activity goes on during those commercial breaks. All in all, it was a fun and enjoyable experience.
When we left the theater it was close to dinner time. After the massive pastrami sandwich for lunch, we had no desire to eat anything for dinner, so we didn’t. Carol wanted to go back to the room after the busy travel day that had started at 4:30 AM. She was exhausted. I had to go out and see the lights in Times Square. After all, that was why we wanted a hotel close to it.
Times Square started just around the corner and the billboards lit up the night. I couldn’t believe how many people were there to see the amazing display. Photos can’t adequately show the beauty or allow you to feel the electricity and excitement that is in the air. It is a unique experience. Even though some of the photos below are taken from a similar spot, the billboards are constantly changing.
It is one of those places that you just stand around and gawk at everything going on around you. I loved it!
There are also an assortment of strange people trying to make money on the street. There were lots of people in costumes who would pose with you; and then there were those that had almost no costumes. The one girl just had her body painted. She was very popular.
After about 30 minutes of taking it all in, I headed back to the hotel to call it a night. It had been a long day.
After a good night’s sleep, I was ready to start checking out the area in the daylight. With Carol still sleeping, I quietly left the room. Since we didn’t have dinner the prior night, I was ready for breakfast. I didn’t have to look very far from the hotel, since two doors down was a place called Toasties, www.toastiesnyc.com. It was just a wonderful little fast food restaurant. It was frequented by people heading to work and picking up their breakfast and lunches for the day. I picked out a bagel with sun dried tomato cream cheese and coffee. It was so good, I repeated it for the next two days of our stay.
One place I wanted to go was to see the Today Show. I had seen people watching through the windows for years and never been able to be in the outdoor audience. The studio was just a couple of blocks away. I got to see the whole cast doing their thing.
They were also doing something outside next to the studio, but it was restricted access and was packed with people who had gotten there earlier. Since we had a busy day planned, I went back to the hotel to see if Carol was ready to eat and start sightseeing. She was indeed, so I walked her over to Toasties. She was also quite pleased with the place.
Carol is not able to walk for long periods, so we had planned on seeing most of NYC with the Gray Line Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. These are the red open top busses that you see all over the city. There are other competitors; but they don’t get as good reviews as the Gray Line ones. I chose the 48 Hour All Loops ticket so we could see everything if we wanted to, www.newyorksightseeing.com/tourpage.php?item=AL. I had thought about getting the tickets on line before arriving in NYC, because it was a bit cheaper; but I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to be or if we wanted to do something else. After we had arrived the night before, I went on-line with my iPad and ordered the tickets, plus used the discount code “save5” to get an even better price. We would have to go to the main Gray Line ticket office to pick up our tickets before boarding a bus. I didn’t think that it would be a big deal; but there was a line waiting at the office to convert the on-line vouchers people had previously purchased into tickets. The line moved quickly enough and the wait was only about 20 minutes. Since I hadn’t been able to print my voucher at the hotel, I just needed to show the email confirmation from my iPhone.
For our first full day in the city, we were going to do the downtown loop. The bus was right across the street from the ticket office. We were able to get good seats on top, close to our guide. She was quite a character; but did a very good job of telling us about what we were seeing.
At the beginning of the tour we got to pass by the famous crystal ball that we watch as it drops each New Year's in Times Square.
We have been fortunate to be able to travel all over the world and see some amazing places; but I have to say, I understand now why so many tourists come to NYC. I was quite impressed with the beautiful skyscrapers and unique architecture. There was so much to see.
The Empire State Building certainly stands out, but the newer skyscrapers are so much prettier.
The decorations on the buildings were real artwork.
The various monuments, statues, artwork and churches kept our necks turning constantly. There was just so much to look at.
I don’t know the names of most of the buildings we saw; but certainly recognized the Flat Iron Building and top of the Chrysler Building.
There were a lot of interesting tops on many buildings.
When we got down to Wall Street, we passed by the famous Charging Bull or Wall Street Bull Statue. There were kids playing all over it, and some people getting a little too personal with the bull. It is hard to believe that the statue has only been there since 1998. I thought it had been there much longer.
When we got to Battery Park, we had to change busses for some reason. We also got a new tour guide, who was not nearly as good as our previous one. On the return north, we passed less interesting areas as we were driving along the East River. We eventually passed by the United Nations Building and then headed past other lovely buildings until we got to the end of the route.
It was close to 1:00 PM and we were ready for lunch. Since we had a big dinner planned, we decided to just get a sandwich at Toasties. It was very good, just as our breakfast had been. Then we discovered NYC Yogurt, http://nycyogurt.com, right next door. Oh my! It was just too good. We would have to return there also. It surely was nice to have Toasties and NYC Yogurt right next door to our hotel.
After we were fueled up, we walked over to Rockefeller Plaza. It was too early for the ice skating rink to be set up, since the weather was still too warm; but it did appear that they were getting ready for it.
The plaza is a lovely area to just walk around.
Close to Rockefeller Plaza was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I was quite disappointed that it was being totally renovated, so the outside was mostly covered up.
There was a lot of renovation going on inside also; but there was still plenty to see. I was shocked to find out that the renovations won’t be completed until 2016. Apparently it needed a lot of work, since the renovation cost will be $177,000,000.
After walking around St. Patrick’s, Carol was ready to go back to our hotel to rest. I, on the other hand, was ready to do some more sightseeing. I was going to take the subway to the 911 Memorial. It was one place that I just had to visit. Having never taken a NYC subway, I had a little trouble at first. I asked the woman in the window that charged up my ticket card, where to find the southbound train. She told me to go up the stairs and cross the street to go to the other entrance. So I did that, came down the stairs, put my card in the turnstile and saw that the other side was also northbound. Now what was I going to do? I looked back through the gate and saw that I had actually returned to the same place I had originally bought my ticket at, so I exited and went back to the window. She was very nice and explained that I crossed the wrong street. She was most helpful and told me to get on the northbound, take the first stop where I could easily get over to the southbound. She buzzed the gate and let me go back in without paying. Great service from the NY Transit Authority. I was quite grateful. After that I had smooth riding to the exit for the 911 Memorial. I lucked out and took the correct turn after coming up from the subway. After buying my ticket, it was quite a long walk with lots of turns to get to the actual memorial. Since the project isn’t completed, the pathways I used were temporary. Hopefully it will be easier when completed, since it could be an issue for mobility challenged people. Everyone had to go through a very thorough security process before getting to the monument, but I guess that's to be expected.
The monument itself is a wonderful tribute to those who lost their lives. I was intrigued that one couldn’t see the bottom of the opening in the center from any angle; which made it look infinite.
It was also quite stunning to be able to see the beautiful new World Trade Center from the monument. Most impressive!
After taking lots of photos, I headed back to the subway to return to our hotel. We were going to dinner with friends and I didn’t want to be late. Our friends, Marc and Debby, who live in New Jersey, had recommended a restaurant near Lincoln Center named Café Fiorello, http://www.cafefiorello.com. We took a cab and got there early, just like they had.
One of the items on the menu was their special lasagna. I had read about it on various review sites. It was not supposed to look like any lasagna we had ever had; but everyone had raved about it. When the waiter brought it, I thought there was a mistake and it was one of their specialty pizzas; but it was the lasagna. He called it an open-faced lasagna. Carol was very unsure about the dish, but after tasting it was pleasantly surprised. It did taste like regular lasagna and was very good.
We had a lovely dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our friends company. We looked forward to their next visit down to South Florida.
After we got back to the hotel, I took Carol over to see Times Square, since she hadn’t seen it the previous night. She was duly impressed.
The morning started like the previous day at Toasties. I went back to see what was happening at the Today show and once again a mass of people were outside while they were doing something out there. I did get to get some photos, but the main thing the pictures show is how many people were doing the same thing as me.
I wanted to also see if I could look into the Fox & Friends studio, since I enjoy watching them in the morning. There did not appear to be any windows like they have at NBC for the Today Show. I was chatting with one of the guards and he told me that I could see into the studio if I went to the end of the building and took a left. So I did. Sure enough, I could look into the studio, but the windows were very thick and tinted, so it was not as good as I expected. I still took a photo with my iPhone, since it was something I wanted to remember.
For this day’s bus touring we were going to do the uptown tour on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus during the day and then take the night tour after dark. Once again the tour started near the ticket office; but for this tour there was a long line waiting to board. We only had to wait for one more bus and were able to get seats at the top. For this tour we had a real character for our tour guide. She went by the name Red Debra. It was appropriate.
She had lots of interesting stories and kept us well entertained. We started off the tour passing by some of the same places we had seen the previous day. Then we got to Columbus Circle and shortly thereafter passed by Lincoln Center and Café Fiorello, where we had dinner the previous night.
The tour continued along Central Park; but the attraction was the palatial condos that lined the street. The best known was the Dakota, where John Lennon was killed and his wife Yoko Ono still lives.
It was a really pretty drive. I can understand why the prices are so exorbitant, since it is right on the park and the buildings just look expensive. I was also intrigued with the fancy roofs on the buildings.
I was glad that we passed by the American Museum of Natural History. It is one of the great museums of the world. I had visited it when I was a child with my parents; and then again when I was a chaperone for a school field trip with one of my sons.
We continued north and came to one of the largest churches in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It was a large church; but the size can’t be appreciated with just a drive by. Many years ago, I had visited the interior and was duly impressed.
I really liked the large Peace Statue in the garden. The controversial statue was built in 1985. It is supposed to depict the struggle of good and evil. It is quite strange looking.
We passed by Grant’s Tomb; but couldn’t see much of it for the trees.
Our furthest north point would be in Harlem. There was more to see there than I had expected. We passed right in front of the Apollo Theater.
The Duke Ellington statue was quite a sight.
After leaving Harlem, we continued south passing by Central Park on the east side. There was more to see from this side; but one really needs to walk through the park to appreciate it. We wouldn’t get to do that.
We passed by the Guggenheim Museum. I remembered well all the publicity when the unusual looking Frank Lloyd Wright designed building opened in 1959. One of many museums I would like to visit; but probably won’t get to.
Not far away we passed by the incredible Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love art museums and my one visit there many years ago was not enough. The great museums need to be visited several times to fully appreciate them. Even the sculptures on the top of the building are beautiful artwork.
After the tour, we went back to the hotel, then got something to eat before our next outing. We were going to go to the Top of the Rock, www.topoftherocknyc.com; which is the upper floors in the 70 story GE Building at Rockefeller Center. Many people go to the Empire State Building to get a bird’s eye view of Manhattan; but the Top of the Rock is a better place to do that.
First off, you can see the Empire Building from the Top of the Rock, which is most impressive.
More importantly, the viewing area is significantly larger for walking around and looking down at the city. From my understanding, the Empire State Building viewing area is very narrow and crowded, which takes away from the experience.
We had bought the tickets the previous day to make sure we could get them, since it was the only way to get the time we wanted. It is a very popular place. When we arrived, there was a pretty good line for our assigned time and it was moving very slowly. When we finally got close to the elevator, we were told that two elevators were not working that day and only one was being used for the trip to the top. We had to wait in line a total of 50 minutes to finally get to the top, but the view was marvelous.
There are several levels to go to that provide different views. As would be expected, the air was hazy, which didn’t help the photos. It was also a partly cloudy day, so it was frustrating waiting for the sun to shine on Central Park. But it eventually did.
I took way too many photos; but the view was remarkable. And for the price they charge, I wanted to get my money’s worth.
When we had seen enough, we got into the line to go down. I had assumed it should take the same time as the wait for the trip up; but it only took 20 minutes. Later we got some New York Pizza for dinner and headed to Times Square where the night tour would start. The purpose for the tour is to see the lights of the city at night. The drive through Times Square was nice, since we were above the crowd.
I was pretty under impressed with the rest of the tour. The tour guide was terrible. As we drove down a street, he would repeatedly say “Look left, look right – Sixth Ave. ladies and gentlemen”. He would say this every block and never tell us what we were seeing. He would throw in some additional general info along with terrible jokes. It got old quickly.
Most of the lights were on the top of the buildings, so it wasn’t real easy to see nor to get photos, especially while on a moving bus in low light. At least I could get a photo of the Empire State Building when we stopped at a traffic light.
The highlight of the tour was supposed to be when we went over the bridge to Brooklyn to get a view of the NY skyline. There was construction going on where they like to take the bus, so we had an obstructed view, plus our bus had to wait about ten minutes before the bus in front of us moved. After we got in place, the view wasn't worth the effort because of the construction. It was rather disheartening. Not at all what we were hoping for.
We called it a day and Carol began her packing for our departure the next day.
We had originally planned on being picked up at 10:00 AM to be taken to Port Liberty in Bayonne, NJ where the ship was docked. Before leaving home, we had received information that due to a norovirus outbreak on the cruise that was docking, we wouldn’t be able to get on the ship until 1:00 PM. They needed to do a deep cleaning. Before arriving in NYC, I had changed the pick-up time to noon. We had read that there were over 300 passengers that had come down with norovirus during the previous cruise, and that the Center for Disease Control was on the ship monitoring the cleaning and prevention procedures. After we arrived in NYC, we received another message from the cruise line telling us that since they needed to do an even more stringent deep cleaning, including the terminal itself, that we wouldn’t be able to board until 5:00 PM. We changed the pickup to 3:00 PM. With our needing to check out of the hotel by 11:00 AM, we didn’t have any place to stay other than the hotel lobby.
After breakfast at Toasties, we finished packing and took the luggage downstairs for the concierge to hold till we were to be picked up. We walked around the area doing some minor sightseeing, then went back to the hotel to read on our Kindles. We went to a soup and sandwich place across the street called Hale and Hearty, www.haleandhearty.com, for lunch. It is a local chain and was very good. We then went over to the NYC Yogurt for the last time. We were going to miss that store. We had visited it several times.
The limo picked us up a little early. The traffic to get out of NYC was terrible. I would never make it as a taxi driver there. Once in NJ, the traffic greatly improved. We soon arrived at Cape Liberty where the Celebrity Summit was waiting for the new batch of passengers.
With the ship in the deep cleaning process, we didn’t know if we would actually be able to board by the 5:00 PM time we had been told. We figured we would have to wait for a while; but at least we would be in the terminal. We also wanted to catch up with the two couples we were cruising with. Our neighbors, Hans and Barbara and Jerry and Diane were already at the terminal. I had thought that the terminal would be a mess with so many people waiting; but there was almost no line to sign in and get our cabin key cards. Cape Liberty is arranged where you have to take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the ship. It isn’t a long drive; but cruisers aren’t allowed to walk through the commercial section of the port. We were given cards with a color and number for our shuttle bus assignment. We sat down with our friends to wait for our numbers to be called. I was pleased that numbers were being called and people were already getting to board the ship. The color/numbers they were calling didn’t seem to be in the same range as ours, so I asked how long they thought it would be before we would be able to get on a bus. They said with our color/number we could board any time we wanted because we were Elite and in a Concierge Class cabin. Sounded good to me. We were on the Summit at 4:40 PM. Better than we expected.
From the upper deck of the Summit we finally got to see the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline we had missed the night before .
We still needed to get to our cabins, so we could get ready for our early seating dinner at 6:00 PM and drop off our carry-on bag. We all waited on the pool deck, since the weather was so nice. As time passed by, we started to get concerned because we didn’t know when the muster drill would be or what table we were supposed to eat at for dinner. We assumed that it would be open seating for the first night, since there was so much confusion among the passengers; but it wasn’t. The announcements kept saying that the cabins weren’t ready yet. Finally around 5:45 PM, some decks were opened up for passengers; but not ours. We went to the dining room and it was a slow process entering, since most people hadn’t been to their cabins and didn’t know their table numbers. It was also a bit of a hassle, since many people still had carry-on bags with them. Just after we got to our table our deck number was announced. By then it didn’t matter. The muster drill was set for 7:50 PM and the ship left port at 8:15 PM. All in all, with the necessity for a very deep cleaning, the Summit crew did a fine job in a difficult situation. We were on our way for what would be a most enjoyable cruise experience.
We had previously been on Summit’s sister ships Infinity three times and Constellation once. So everything seemed quite familiar, even with the modifications made when Solstice class venues were added. Even though the ship was twelve years old, it was generally in very good condition, other than the outside railings being in bad need of lacquer and some maintenance issues in our cabin.
Normally when we cruise with Celebrity, the passengers cover all age groups; but this cruise was the most elderly we have been on. In the words of the comedian one night on stage, “You can tell that we have a very mature group on this cruise, when even the old people are saying there are a lot of old people.” I certainly don’t mind an older crowd, since I am in that category; but we have never seen so many canes, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters on a cruise. It was especially an issue in the hallways, where some people had to leave their larger scooters when they were in their cabins.
It was also noticeable that there were always long lines getting into the main dining room and all of the shows. The younger cruisers have other activities that they are involved in, particularly at night, which reduces those crowds. On this cruise everyone went to the shows! We also noticed that the ship seemed more crowded than most cruises. I am sure this was caused by there not being a lot of people spending time on the pool decks taking in the sun. Cool weather cruises require that most activities are done inside which puts a strain on the few venues that can handle a large crowd.
Even with the above stated minor issues, the Summit was a very enjoyable experience due to a wonderful service oriented happy crew. They were all subject to significant extra work due to the continuing norovirus prevention activities during the cruise; but that didn’t prevent them from having a smile on their face and being friendly and helpful to the passengers. They did a great job and it was recognized by everyone I talked to. The crew is one of the reasons Celebrity is our favorite cruise line.
I normally like to include all of the dining room menus in the review; but since they hadn’t changed much from the ones I included in our recent Baltic cruise review, they aren’t included in this review. You can see menus and lots of food photos in our Baltic cruise review.
Cosmopolitan Restaurant – This is the main dining room in the ship where we ate all our dinners, a couple of lunches and one breakfast. I have always thought that the dining rooms were very elegant on this class ship, with the large open two story room and the large windows across the back. It is just a lovely room. Our table for six was along the windows not far from the entrance to the dining room, so it was very convenient.
Oceanview Café - This buffet is of the old style rather than the island style that we prefer on Celebrity’s S Class ships. With it being a very long room, it required a lot of walking from one end to the other to see what was available. After a few days, we knew where different types of foods were; but it was still a hassle going from one end to the other to see what specific items they were serving. With the cold weather, people didn’t use the tables outside at the back of the restaurant, which made it even more difficult to find a table during prime time.
Bistro on Five – We always like to go to this venue for lunch at least once per cruise. Their Panini’s and crepes are very good. Plus it is a real pleasure to be able to eat lunch in a quiet more relaxing environment. The $5.00 per person charge is well worth it. Especially for the below Italian, Nutella, Banana andPistachio Crepe.
Blu – This dining room is used for people who have booked Aqua Class cabins. All of the Blu restaurants we have seen have a similar motif and have a wall covered with a white rose. The room does have a very classy feel to it. Blu is supposed to have a healthier menu. We look forward to booking Aqua in the future to see if it is something we enjoy.
Qsine – We went to Qsine on our Baltic cruise four months before this cruise, so we weren’t interested in going again so soon. It is a specialty restaurant with a charge. Qsine is a very fun experience with interesting foods. I have lots of photos of the food along with the menus in our Baltic review. It is more fun to have several people go with you, so you can try more of the different entrees.
The Normandie Restaurant – Normadie is the Summit’s upscale restaurant with a $45 per person up charge. Based on how quickly Celebrity has been raising the prices of their specialty restaurants, the price could be higher when you go on your cruise. We normally like to go to Normandie or its counterpart Murano on the S Class ships; but we didn’t pursue it too much on this cruise. We were satisfied with the main dining room food. Frequently there are very good discounts available during the cruise and we had a two for one offer on the last night; but it came too late. The Normandie was also where the passengers who had reached the Elite level with Celebrity were able to have a light breakfast each morning. Since there were 600 Elite passengers on this cruise, there was a pretty good crowd in the Normandie each morning. My main interest was the free specialty coffees; but many also enjoyed the free Bloody Marys too.
Pool Grill – With very tasty hamburgers and hot dogs, we visited there regularly rather than bothering with the buffet. Unlike the S Class ships, they didn’t make other kinds of sandwiches there. With it being cold outside, we didn’t have to wait too long for service, since the line wasn’t very long.
AquaSpa Café – This restaurant has healthier food. I used it several times on our previous Baltic cruise; but didn’t visit there at all for this cruise for some reason. The serving area was broken out into two separate sections. I enjoyed their food previously; but it just didn’t hit my radar this time.
I normally like to include all of the drink menus in a review; but the menus were not left out because of the noro prevention proceedures. Since they hadn’t changed from the last few cruises and the menus weren’t out until the last couple of days of the cruise, I didn’t bother with them. Once again, they can be found in our other recent reviews.
Rendez Vous Lounge – This was our favorite lounge. We went there every evening before dinner, particularly because it was on deck four in the back of the ship, right in front of the main dining room entrance. It is arranged nicely, where our group could always sit together and we could see the entertainment near the dance floor. The servers were also really on the ball. They made sure that we had drinks quickly and that we didn’t have any empty glasses. This was particularly good for Carol and me, since each day we had three drink coupons each through our Elite status. We could also use them at some other venues between the hours of 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM.
Revelations Lounge – This is a large venue in front of the ship on deck 11. It is a wonderful place to go during the day to read while getting the best view from the ship. In addition to being a bar, many activities took place there, since it does hold a lot of people. Unfortunately when the ship was updated in 2012, they made the room smaller, taking away a section from the port side for other venues.
Cellar Masters – This is a nice sized bar dedicated to wine. It kind of merges with the Bistro on Five right across from it. Since we aren’t big wine drinkers, we have never been in a Cellar Masters other than to take photos.
Fortunes Casino Bar – This is the bar in the casino. It is used primarily to keep the gamblers' drinks filled. Carol would stop there each night after the show, just because it was a convenient place to get a soda before going back to our room.
Martini Bar & Crush – We normally like to go to the Martini Bar; but never did on this cruise. We enjoy martinis; but since we had to get in line early for the shows and were going to the Rendez Vous before dinner, we didn’t have an opportunity.
Café al Bacio – We spent a lot of time in Café al Bacio on our Baltic cruise, because we had a beverage package. We really enjoyed it; but we don’t crave specialty coffees enough that we are willing to pay a lot for them.
Gelateria – The ice cream at the Gelateria looked quite tempting, but since there was free ice cream available most of the time in the buffet and during meals, we never used it.
Michael’s Club – Michael’s has many kinds of specialty beers and spirits. It is also used for some entertainment in the evening and a place where sports events are shown on their large screen TV. I have always like the comfortable environment of Michael's; but the ones in the Solstice Class are much nicer.
Pool Bar – With the colder weather, the pool bar and Mast Bar didn’t get much business. At least the pool bar was in a more protected area on deck 10. On a Caribbean or other warm weather cruise, there are many bartenders available for the crowds that are sunning themselves. For this cruise there was only one bartender most of the time and he was thrilled when someone ordered something from him. He appeared kind of bored since he was just standing around most of the time. I was able to get a photo on the one day when it was warmer and there were some customers.
Mast Bar – The Mast Bar is the bar for people sunning themselves on deck 11. With the colder weather and no one sitting out on that deck, it wasn’t open very often.
Sunset Bar - Located at the back of the buffet on deck 10, it is a great place to come to eat your meal from the buffet. The view is very nice and a great place to spend time, especially when the temperature is favorable. Being at the back of the ship, it is protected some from the winds. With the cooler weather the main activity was cigar smokers taking advantage of one of the few places they could light up.
Celebrity Theater – This is a very nice entertainment venue. There are no obstructed view seats and they have first class lighting and audio equipment. There was plenty of room between the seats. We liked the way the little glass drink tables rotated and turned sideways to allow audience to have more room in their seats.
As another virus prevention technique, the crew had to wipe down all of the chairs in the theater before each show. Therefore, they didn’t open the doors for seating until normally around 8:35 PM for the 9:00 PM show. The lines to get in to the shows frequently stretched all the way to the casino. It was very frustrating that there were no ropes to separate the lines from the elevator area because people would come down the elevator or wait near them and break into the lines before those people that had been waiting so long. The system caused a lot of frustration. I was surprised that someone didn’t get hit with a cane for breaking into the line. It could have been solved so easily with the ropes.
Fortunes Casino – I have never seen a ship casino used by as many people as this one was during our cruise. When it was opened, there were lots of people on the slot machines and playing the different table games. I guess this is where people went rather than on the pool deck to get a tan during the day or to other actives at night.
Library – Due to the norovirus prevention procedures, the library was not opened for use until the 13th day of our 14 day cruise. It was located on two decks with a stairwell connecting them. I could see that people handling books could be a very good way to spread a virus. Those that didn’t bring books with them were quite frustrated, since they didn’t have anything to read. Both Carol and I have Kindles full of books; so it didn’t matter to us, other than not being able to use their comfortable chairs to read in. They were much better for reading than the couch in our cabin.
Emporium Shops – There were lots of shops on the ship, primarily on the 5th deck. Since they are pretty much the same stores as are found on every Celebrity ship, I didn’t bother taking many photos of the stores. As another norovirus prevention procedure, everyone had to sanitize their hands before entering any store.
Art Gallery – This area is the place where Park West would have some educational type art activities to get people interested in participating in their art auctions. There was also an area where some art was displayed; but normally the Rendezvous Lounge was where most of the art was set up.
Photo Gallery – The Summit’s photo gallery was a beehive of activity when new photos were displayed. They have a machine that you can stick your room key into and it will show you all of your pictures. If there's one there that you couldn't find on display, the attendent can look at the code on the screen and take you to the correct picture area. We enjoy looking at our photos to decide if we want to buy any; but it was pretty easy this time. Many of the photos weren’t that good, since the color appeared to be off and/or over saturated.
Grand Foyer – Like most ships, the Grand Foyer is an impressive area. There are dramatic views down to it as well as from it. The grand staircase is always a center piece.
AquaSpa – A large area is devoted to providing massages and other body treatments. It also contains the beauty parlor and nail salon.
Fitness Center – The fitness center is a reasonably equiped gym. I had planned on using it and had my workout garb; but didn’t use it early in the cruise since we had five long port days in a row. I strained my back a little another day, so later in the cruise I didn’t want to aggravate it by working out. Viable excuses, don't you think?
Solarium – This was a much more popular area with the outside pool weather being too nippy. It is a great area to use; but I just never did. The statue at one end was rather humorous.
Celebrity iLounge – The area is used for computer classes primarily related to Apple products. It is also where one purchases Wi-Fi Internet time. The people that work there are saints in that they have to be very patient with the people that aren’t very computer literate. No matter how confused someone was with how to use the Internet or their device, the staff always seemed to be very understanding and patient.
Pool Deck – Other than the hot tubs, which were used occasionally, the pool deck was just there for looks on this cruise. Some people would lay out when the sun was shining; but they normally had towels or robes covering them. As with the Solarium, there was another unusual sculpter. But it was quite the opposite of the other one.
Guest Relations – The guest relations team were very good on this cruise. I used them a few times. They were really on the ball and their attitude was always friendly and helpful. They must have been very efficient also, since there was never a line of longer than just a few people; which is quite unusual in my experience.
Shore Excursions – Since I am very anal about having any excursion booked way in advance for private tours; or ordered on the first day of the cruise for a ship tour, I am always amazed at how many people wait until they are on the ship to look at what excursions are available. Many wait till the day before the port to order an excursion. There is no way I would want to take a chance that an excursion I was planning to take was sold out before I could book it. There was normally a short line at the excursion desk when they were open with people changing or booking their tours.
Basketball Court – It is way on the top of the ship and I never saw it used on this cruise.
Acupuncture – I was surprised at how much space was devoted to the acupuncture area. I could only get photos of the open areas not the rooms themselves. Since I never saw anyone going in or out of it, I don’t know how many people took advantage of the service.
Artwork – There was a lot of unusual artwork in the stair cases as well as in the public rooms, so I am putting some photos below.
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