Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

Summit
by Debra
Alaska
May 7, 2006

Prologue
The following is my review of the Celebrity Summit 13 night West Coast and Alaska cruise that began on May 7, 2006. The food, service and entertainment on the Summit were, in my opinion very good. The entertainment was good and the highlights were several piano concerts by Brooks Ahrens. Brooks only made a few appearances on select Celebrity cruises last year. With the cuts by Celebrity I would doubt if he be returning this year. Our cabin was a CC balcony and was in fair condition considering the ship's age. We found the public areas to be in fairly good condition. With the notable exception of the Captain, Hotel Manager and the Cruise Director, the staff on the Summit were always very friendly and the service was very good.

Day 1 -- Sunday, May 7, 2006: The Celebrity Summit arrives late at Los Angeles. Although we are seated for dinner several decks above the "pods" (the propulsion system), we feel severe rumbling noises and vibrations. As veterans of many cruises, we know the rumbling is not normal and indicates problems.

Day 2 -- Monday, May 8, 2006: Instead of spending a scheduled night at sea, the Celebrity Summit arrives at San Francisco at 11:30 pm. The only reason given is that unspecified "repairs" must be made, but that the repairs won't affect the cruise. Although the repairs remain unspecified, the rumbling and vibrations, coupled with the poor history of pods on this class of ship, which we found out about after the fact, leave little doubt that the pods have once again failed (as they have on a yearly basis since 2002). Spent a great day in San Francisco.

Day 3 -- Tuesday, May 9, 2006: The Captain announces that experts have been flown in from Lloyds to double-check that everything is okay. He adds that two U.S. inspectors have also approved the repairs. He assures us that the ship passed all inspections and is ready to sail. We depart San Francisco more than two hours late. Sadly, the engine vibrations are still noticeable at dinner.

Day 4 -- Wednesday, May 10, 2006: Shortly before noon, the Captain announces that a problem with the starboard pod means the ship's speed must be reduced by more than twenty percent. This slower speed means that two ports -- Seattle and Sitka -- will be skipped and time in most other ports will be reduced. The Captain goes on to announce that, to compensate the passengers for this complete rewrite of what had been promised, each cabin will receive a $200 shipboard credit. The perceived discrepancy between what the passengers had purchased, what is now being foisted on them, and the $200 shipboard credit being offered as compensation angers most of the passengers and -- acting individually -- hundreds of passengers go to the Celebrity customer service desk in the main atrium. The personnel there offer no assistance as the crowd of passengers grows. The Captain agrees to a meeting in the main theater. About 800 very upset and angry passengers attend the meeting as the Captain takes questions from the passengers but offers no solutions Celebrity does, however, agree to fly in "two senior executives" to the next port (Ketchikan four days later) to talk with any unhappy passengers.

To add insult to injury at this point the Cruise Director speaks to the passengers in a condescending manner and relates what a great time he is having on this cruise and how happy everyone should be. This supercilious attitude only helps increase the passengers' unrest. Lest you think this arrogance is exaggerated, the meeting was videotaped by the ship's cameras as well as several passengers' cameras.

Day 5 -- Thursday, May 11, 2006: The Celebrity Summit skips Seattle and remains at sea. As the level of passenger frustration grows, as a group the passengers decide that the $200 offer is an insult and further decide not to accept it. The Purser's office refuses to remove the credit from all accounts.

Day 6 -- Friday, May 12, 2006: Scheduled sea day.

Day 7 -- Saturday, May 13, 2006: The Celebrity Summit arrives in Ketchikan where two hours are cut from the port time and the two "senior executives" that were flown in turn out to be two young employees who haven't seen the video tape of the meeting and know very little about the situation. The passengers (who have to wait for hours) are told that the two men have no authority and are just there to "take notes". We spent the day exploring Ketchikan Especially enjoyed Creek Street. Also rode the city bus which does a loop around the city.

Day 8 -- Sunday, May 14, 2006: The Celebrity Summit arrives in Juneau where more port time is cut. My wife and I visit the customer representatives, who are giving out numbers. Mine is 110 while they call out number 8. Sensing the futility, I leave. Another beautiful day is spent exploring Juneau.

Day 9 -- Monday, May 15, 2006: The Celebrity Summit arrives in Skagway where more port time is cut. We rented a car and drove to Emerald Lake which is a truly fantastic drive. I return to the customer representatives and find they only got to number 38 yesterday. They have abandoned the number system since most of the numbers, for some unexplained reason, are missing.

Day 10 -- Tuesday, May 16, 2006: After all that has gone on and doing our best to make the best out of a bad situation we were anxiously were looking forward to the highlight of the cruise which would be cruising up to Hubbard Glacier. Four hours at Hubbard Glacier is planned. The Celebrity Summit stops some seven to eight miles away from the glacier. We see another Celebrity ship leaving the glacier and a Holland America ship sitting just off the face of the glacier. The Celebrity Summit turns and leaves. The Captain's explanation is that "another ship was there first, so we cannot go on". What little patience I had left now disappears. The two passenger reps seem to have found a pattern in all of the complaints and they decide not to talk to any more passengers, even though the Captain had promised that they would talk to everyone.

Day 11 -- Wednesday, May 17, 2006: The Celebrity Summit skips Sitka and remains at sea. With their complaints being met with indifference, unrest among the passengers continues to grow.

Day 12 -- Thursday, May 18, 2006: A day-long cruise of the Inside Passage is planned. By 7:00 am the passengers realize the Celebrity Summit is in the open ocean and is at anchor. About two hours later the Captain announces that "due to the fog" the ship will drop anchor until 5:00 pm so that the passengers can get a better view of the Inside Passage. When the fog promptly lifts some thirty minutes later, the ship remains at anchor until 5:00. With the cruise so pressed for time, no one can understand the reasoning that justifies a nine-hour delay to just sit at anchor in the open ocean. Doggedly, the passengers assemble for yet another meeting -- this one the largest of the cruise. At the meeting, two passengers who are short wave radio enthusiasts report hearing communication around 7:00 that morning between the bridge and the pilot who is required for the Inside Passage. The Captain had failed to arrange for a pilot and the earliest one could be onboard was 5:00 pm. This is later confirmed by one of the passenger reps. Petitions are circulated at the meeting and more than 1,200 are collected.

During the night, a note from the Captain is slipped under our door. The note offers a 30% credit on the price of our next Celebrity cruise priced at the full rack rate. We have been on fifteen cruises and have always received more than 30% off the maximum rate.

Day 13 -- Friday, May 19, 2006: The Celebrity Summit arrives in Victoria with again time cut from this port. We rented a car and drove to Buchard Gardens and drove around this beautiful city.

Day 14 -- Saturday, May 20, 2006: The Celebrity Summit arrives in Vancouver in the middle of the night rather than the morning as scheduled. The ship is then sent to dry dock to, once again fix the pods.

Epilogue
All calls and letters to Celebrity to try and address our treatment on this cruise have been met with total indifference. Most of the passengers who were on board this cruise are not going to just accept what happened. There should be a final decision later on this year as to just what rights, if any, passengers do have in cases like this.