This month, we interviewed Captain’s Club members, Helen and Robin Cook, who recently returned home after being on board Celebrity Eclipse® for the Argentina and Chile sailing.
Q: Do you remember your first Celebrity Sailing? When was it? What ship was it on? Where did it go?
A. Our first Celebrity cruise was on board Celebrity Century in November of 2002, for our 25th wedding anniversary. We still remember our first waiter and even met up with him again on Celebrity Solstice® in 2011 where he was a dining manager. We’re still in contact with him today through social media. The entire cruise was so memorable and was just the beginning of our Celebrity journey.
Q. What has kept you coming back to Celebrity over the years?
A. We keep sailing with Celebrity because of the warm welcome we receive when coming aboard, the overall ambience throughout the ships, the comfort we experience, and the level of service (which is second to none). The quality and presentation of food is another reason. And the crew is always so friendly. They always remember us from previous sailings, which makes the experience extra special. For example, during our sailing aboard Galaxy in 2006, we first met our waiter, Melvis. It was wonderful to see him again this year aboard Celebrity Eclipse® where he is now a dining manager. On our last cruise, it was quite amazing to find over 30 officers and crew that recognized us from previous ships.
We went to Alaska for our first Reunion Cruise aboard Celebrity Infinity® in 2015, not realizing it was a Reunion cruise when we booked it. It turned out to be quite a magnificent treat, and the Captain's Club team efforts truly took our breath away. Since then we’ve tried to sail on Reunion and President's Cruises whenever it is possible.
Q. Are there any memories that stand out from your many years of cruising that you’d like to share?
A. There are too many to count! As we said, the crew and the people are what makes each journey so special. One of our favorite Guest Relations Directors is Julie. We got to spend some time with her once when her ship was visiting Scotland and she had some time off. She had us join her on a visit to a nearby charity shop so she could restock the library on board.
Another memorable moment is from the 2018 President’s Cruise on Celebrity Constellation® in Dubai and India when we met Lisa Lutoff-Perlo while walking through the shops on Deck 5.
Q. You recently returned from the Celebrity Eclipse® Argentina and Chile sailing. It was scheduled to return to Chile on March 15—but was rerouted to San Diego due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). What was it like to be on board during this particular sailing? How did the Captain and crew comfort you?
A. We had heard of COVID-19 before going on the cruise but chose to continue with our vacation plans. The first two weeks were completely normal—from the excellent swift check-in at Buenos Aires to a spectacular itinerary with great shore excursions. On the last morning of our sailing, Captain Leo made an announcement that we no longer had permission to dock at our returning port. Captain Leo worked tirelessly dealing with the situation while keeping passengers updated at the same time. We received updates at least every 2 hours—and I don't think he slept at all. By the end of the second day it became clear we had to anchor offshore.
The whole team on board did exceptionally well given the extra workload. We really appreciated all the efforts made by Celebrity Cruises to get everyone home safely. If anyone had told us before that we would enjoy 17 days at sea (without any stops) we would have never believed them. We were also very appreciative of CEO and President, LLP’s video message on March 17, from her home. It was a message from her heart. We also appreciated her letter on the last day. All senior officers—including Captain Leo; Hotel Directors, Danuta and John; and Housekeeping Manager, Georgios—were continuously out and about talking to passengers, answering questions, and always smiling. Jann and the guest relations team worked tirelessly. The chefs and restaurant staff worked so hard, especially in the few days before the ship was restocked, to make sure we had the same quality and variety of meals. The crew involved in restocking supplies worked throughout the night and seemed to never complained.
Our outstanding Cruise Director, Alejandro, should have disembarked in Buenos Aires but did not get off the ship. His dedication was tremendous.
Q. Is there any message that you want to send to back to the Crew on EC?
A. To our super Captain Leo, officers and crew: Thank you for taking such great care of us. We appreciate that you organized our flights and travel home, even providing us with packed lunches for the journey in case food was not available at the airports. It’s just another example of Celebrity going the extra mile. Our thoughts are with any crew that may still be on board. We wish you all a safe and healthy journey home.
Q. What are you doing to keep yourselves busy while social distancing?
A. We’ve been in self quarantine since returning home and are catching up on tasks around the house. Our daughter, Fiona does all of our shopping and drops groceries off at our doorstep. Fiona, along with our son Kenneth, have been delivering meals, cakes, and even some surprises for us. We talk to all the family on social media, but still miss being able to hug our grandchildren.
Q. What is the first cruise you will take when we return to service??
A. We’re currently looking at our Celebrity Cruises brochure to see when and where the future Reunion Cruises will sail!