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7 Days Inside Passage, Roundtrip from Vancouver aboard Summit

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7 Day Inside Passage, Roundtrip from Vancouver aboard Summit

Three is a charm, the saying goes, and the Summit, third of Celebrity's Millennium-Class series, is no exception. Following the lead of her innovative sisters Millennium and Infinity, the ship features exterior glass elevators, a nostalgic alternative restaurant saluting the era of the great liners, a super spa, an environmentally sensitive smokeless gas turbine engine, a conservatory, Connect@Sea (offering Internet access in all the cabins to guests bringing their laptops) and a music library.
Summit also embodies - no, surpasses - Celebrity's tradition of elegance with a collection of more than 500 museum-quality artworks, including an incredible $800,000 Fernando Botero sculpture, and classy contemporary decor that makes people feel that it may be the Caribbean, Hawaii or Alaska outside the ship's windows and glass walls, but its style is definitely more European-sophisticated inside.
One significant problem with Summit since its launch - and for other ships in the cruise line's Millennium-class - has been a technological one. An innovative "mermaid pod propulsion system" incorporated on Infinity has caused repeated breakdowns -- and resulted in cruise cancellations. Celebrity Cruises has taken the relatively unusual step of filing a $300 million lawsuit against the mermaid pod creators. In the meantime, the company has assured travelers that the breakdowns represent no safety hazard and will continue to offer generous compensation to passengers whose cruises are cancelled or interrupted as a result of the balky system.
The two-level Cosmopolitan Restaurant features a sophisticated decor accented by La Normandie, a beautiful, seven-foot-high bronze statue of a woman draped like the goddess Athena, created by Art Deco sculptor Leon-Georges Baudry. This statue originally graced the first-class smoking room in the legendary liner SS Normandie. The dining room also has a sweeping staircase for grand entrances on formal nights, and a two-level glass wall with panoramic views aft. The restaurant is open-seating for breakfast and lunch, and offers two set evening seatings.
Menus overseen by Master Chef Michel Roux feature such delicious dishes as chateaubriand carved tableside, smoked salmon Claudine and rack of lamb Provencale. Low calorie, vegetarian and children's selections are available. Service is warm and efficient.
The Normandie 134-seat specialty restaurant features memorabilia from the legendary transatlantic liner including original gold-lacquered paneling depicting hunt scenes that originally adorned the smoking room on the SS Normandie, plus a dine-in wine cellar, open kitchen, and "butterfly service" with waiters serving, presenting and removing dishes at the same table in unison. Dishes are prepared or finished tableside. Fee is $25 per person and well worth it-you'd expect to pay upwards of $100 on terra firma. The Waterfall Cafe/Grill serves buffet-style breakfasts (including made-to-order omelets), lunches and teas with a side of sea views and casual, no-fee buffet/waiter service dinners. Gourmet Bites, including little beef Wellingtons and empanadas, are served by waiters at midnight.
Public Rooms
The three-deck Grand Foyer, inspired in a Venetian courtyard with silk lanterns, marble floors, stylish floral arrangements and translucent onyx grand staircase sets the tone of refinement for the ship. Off the foyer, on Entertainment Deck, is a shoppers' paradise, The Emporium, a European-style 14,000-sq. ft. area that features designer labels including Versace, Swarovski, Donna Karan and others as well as Michelin-starred Chef Michel Roux's cookbooks. The Conservatory, a pretty oasis with fresh and silk flowers, orange and olive tree creations and trellises with "climbing" silk roses is ideal for watching a floral demonstration. Notes, a musical library with 19,000 selections in mp3 format, available at 12 individual listening stations, is very popular. The two-level Words library has comfortable wing back chairs and sofas, but it was only open for checkout at designated times each day. Celebrity's stylish Martini and Champagne Bars (featuring caviar and pate service, and overlooking the Rendezvous Bar where a duo entertains) are also represented on Summit along with the line's signature areas including Michael's Club cigar lounge and Cova Cafe Milano with its cozy card room next door. Fortunes is a French-inspired casino with 205 slots, two roulette tables, four blackjack tables, one dice table and three Caribbean Stud Poker tables. Online@CelebrityCruises is a sea-view Internet Cafe with 18 work stations (fee is .95 a minute). Summit also offers Connect@Sea, 24-hr. Internet access in the cabins for $25 per day, $100 for a seven-day cruise, $150 for a 10- or 11-day cruise. There is no self-service launderette, which would be a welcome feature, particularly on the longer Caribbean itineraries and Alaska cruise-tours. Laundry service is available for a fee.
Deluxe Ocean-View Staterooms with Verandas (Categories 2A, 2B and 2C) are an excellent value at 170 sq. ft. with 38 sq. ft. verandas. They feature two convertible beds, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors to the balcony (the perfect private perch to view Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii and Panama Canal scenery) and sitting area (some with sofa bed). Lowest priced categories are Interior Staterooms (Categories 9-12) comfortable at 170 sq. ft. with sitting area (some with sofa bed). All cabins include interactive television, safe, phone with voice mail, hair dryer, use of bathrobes, and mini bar. Nice splurges are four suite categories ranging from 251 sq. ft. plus 57 sq. ft. veranda Sky Suites to incredible Penthouses (1,432 sq. ft. plus 1,098 sq. ft. veranda). Suite amenities include butler service, welcome champagne, personalized stationery, tote bag, priority check-in and disembarkation, and computer/printer (upon request in Sky Suites).
On the Summit you can always say the night is young: there are production shows and variety in the five-deck Celebrity Theater show lounge with excellent sightlines, a duo in the Rendezvous Lounge, a harpist or strings trio in the Cova Cafe, dance parties in the earth-toned Revelations observation lounge/nightclub till the wee hours.
Fitness and Recreation
The 25,000 sq. ft. AquaSpa is one of the largest at sea and second to none with a free thalassotherapy pool in a stunning space under a dome with pergolas, topiaries and a bronze by Fernando Botero. An AquaSpa Cafe serves light dishes for breakfast and lunch. Some 40 different Elemis therapies and rituals are featured including the Egyptian Ceremony of Milk and Ginger, Asian Ceremony of Stone and Tahitian Ceremony of Flowers. There is an ocean-view beauty salon and a sea-view gym with more than 40 pieces of equipment including 14 treadmills, 12 exercise bikes, six step units, two rowers and four aerobics exercisers, plus free weights and benches in addition to 14 sequenced pieces of equipment for lower-to-upper body development. A full-size basketball court and paddle tennis court are among the recreational facilities, in addition to a main resort area complete with a pool for lap swimming and reverse current, Jacuzzis, stage and teak dance floor. A jogging track (five times around equals a little over a mile) on Sunrise Deck passes by the Mast Bar and offers views of the pools below. A full roster of activities includes aerobics and yoga classes (some classes are $10, others are free), talks on the ports of call and a wine tasting seminar.
You'll never see the kids! The Fun Factory offers a puzzle wall, play area, computer games section, movie room and crafts area plus a broadcast room and video game arcade. The Tower is the teen club and disco (the only one in the Millennium-class series). It is a great place to hang out, and includes a big flat-screen television. There are free, supervised activities for four age groups: 3-6, 7-9, 10-12 and 13-17. All participants 3-10 must be signed-in/out to the Fun Factory club by a parent/guardian presenting a Celebrity signature card to verify parentage. Each child wears a wristband for identification. A Slumber Party ($6 per hour per child) is offered in the playroom every evening from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. An Afternoon Party is available port days ($6 per hour per child). Limited private babysitting is $8 per hour per family (maximum two children). Make arrangements onboard through Guest Relations or Stateroom Services.
Fellow Passengers
Mostly well-traveled, middle- and upper middle-class Americans. A good number of families can be found, particularly in the summer and holiday periods. There are some, usually well-traveled, international guests.
Dress Code
Three formal nights during 10- and 11-night Caribbean voyages; two formal nights on seven-night Alaska Cruises. Tuxedo rental is available, but not necessary, as many men wear dark suits on formal nights. Most men wear sports jackets on the two designated "informal" nights on seven-, 10- and 11-night voyages. Casual evenings call for slacks and polo shirts for the men, and blouses and skirts or pants for the ladies.
Celebrity recommends the following gratuities per person per day: $3.50 for waiter; $2 for assistant waiter, $.75 for restaurant manager, $3.50 for stateroom attendant and $.50 for chief housekeeper. The recommended tip for butlers (suites only) is $3.50 per person per day.

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