Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Summit Senior Officer Interviews

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Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Summit Senior Officer Interviews

Cruising the Southern Caribbean on Celebrity Summit

By Jeannette and Dan Dudek

Jeannette and Dan on Celebrity Summit

Jeannette and Dan on Celebrity Summit (Left: Hotel Director Sheldon Thompson. Second from Right: Cruise Director Caissie Dillon

Interviews with Celebrity Summit’s Senior Officers
For an understanding of how the Summit operates, we were very fortunate to have been granted interviews by some of the ship’s senior officers.

Hotel Director
Hotel Director Sheldon Thompson from Zululand, South Africa started with Celebrity Cruises in 1995. While working himself through the ranks, Sheldon made time to attend and graduate with honors from Salzburg’s Hotel Maritime Academy. Sheldon’s responsibilities include maintaining Celebrity Cruises’ high standards for providing guests a wonderful experience in a clean and safe environment.

The Hotel Director’s great attention to detail was quite obvious during our two week stay and things ran like a “well-oiled machine.” Sheldon’s responsibilities include the casino, entertainment, staterooms, restaurants, security and almost anything directly involving the guests. If a guest has any problem the buck stops with Sheldon. He must manage a large number of crew and deal with special guest situations. The challenges of running a “floating hotel” may seem daunting to the average person but for Sheldon it is just another day at the office.

Sheldon must deal with all sorts of issues, for example, if the manifest indicates a greater number of children will be on a particular cruise he will arrange for extra youth staff to be onboard. If there is any outbreak of a contagious illness in any port-of-call he instructs the staff what to do to reduce transmission among the guests and crew – i.e. extra sanitizing of rails, increased cleaning, etc.

One of Sheldon’s most challenging tasks was preventing the Norovirus from infecting passengers a few years ago during an on-shore outbreak. Another job he must face is to keep the ship supplied with all the items it requires. In some cases this involves placing orders four months or more in advance to insure that possible strikes or other potential transportation delays will not interfere with Celebrity Summit getting the supplies she requires.

Note: It has just come to our attention that another Norovirus is starting to circulate in some areas of the U.S. To help prevent the spread of this virus, it is important to frequently wash your hands in hot soapy water, and lather well. Hand-sanitizer gels are not effective in killing the Norovirus germs.

Cruise Director
Caissie Dillon was our energetic Cruise Director; and she reports to the Hotel Director. Everyone on Celebrity Summit knows Caissie by the end of the first day (except for some newlyweds), as she hosts the Summit Today channel on the TV and is the Master of Ceremonies for all the performances in the Celebrity Theater.

A “Sheila” from Down Under, Caissie grew up on a farm just outside of Melbourne, Australia – she is also a very talented singer. Caissie manages a staff of 80 who are responsible for scheduling all the performances by the ship’s entertainers, conducting the numerous Activity Life events, contests, demonstrations held each day of the cruise.

Cruise Activities Included:

  • Get-togethers for single guests
  • Trivia Contests
  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Dance Contests
  • A Newly-Wed game
  • Contests of officers vs. the guests in such sports as water volleyball and basketball

Caissie stated her most difficult task is to have to replace a performer that is not working out as expected, or not delivering the performance expected for the guests – fortunately this is a rare situation. Her philosophy is that each guest should be able to participate in as many ship activities as they desire. She also wants to satisfy all guests, so if only a few guests attend an event Caissie’s staff will do everything possible to make the event a truly special one for those in attendance. It may be the only event those guests attend so the staff goes all out regardless if 5, 50 or 500 guests participate.

Caissie always demonstrated confidence and enthusiasm so it was apparent why she was chosen to be Celebrity Summit’s Cruise Director. She really shined in those entertaining venues where she was the Master of Ceremonies.

Aqua-Fellas Acapella Quartet

Aqua-Fellas Acapella Quartet

Executive Chef
Interviewing Executive Chef Pascal Mullier was a real pleasure. This 17 year veteran of cruise ship cooking knows just about everything there is to know as to how to pamper guests’ culinary appetites. He learned his craft in various regions of France and blends his own style into the pre-defined menus designed by Celebrity’s main office. He explained that as an Executive Chef, he contributes his suggestions and recommendations to the main office; they consider all input; and then determine a consistent menu for all Celebrity ships. The intent is to provide the same level of excellence and menu choices throughout the fleet.

Celebrity Summit Waiter, Vincent, and Executive Chef Pascal Mullier

Celebrity Summit Waiter, Vincent, and Executive Chef Pascal Mullier

Very forthcoming in his responses, he did not hesitate when we asked him why Foie Gras was replaced with roasted Pork Belly in the Normandie specialty restaurant. Foie Gras has become “politically not correct” was his honest reply as he shrugs his shoulders. He also explained that one of Dan’s favorite appetizers, Escargot, was not on the menu as the available supply did not meet with Celebrity Cruises quality standards; so they substituted stuffed mushroom caps (also one of Dan’s favorites). The chef proudly mentioned that Celebrity was very good at keeping the food quality high; even if it meant substituting a higher cost item for one that did not meet its quality standards.

Chef Pascal explained that to feed and satisfy the crew from the various parts of the world, his staff included five chefs, each responsible for a different food group. The groups were: Asian; Latino; European; Greek; and Philippine. Since the crew may have contracts lasting as long as 8 months, providing them with food like home keeps them happy.

When asked about special dietary requirements of the guests, Chef Pascal took pride in explaining that of the 5 chefs dedicated to cooking in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant (the main dining room), he has one chef dedicated just to overseeing and preparing different dishes for special dietary conditions. The printed menu for the Cosmopolitan Restaurant does indicate dishes that are suitable for some conditions, but Chef Pascal explained that if any guest mentions to his/her waiter any special requirements, the galley staff will specially prepare dishes to meet the requirements of each guest.

When asked if he does anything different when the manifest indicates more children or teenagers than normal he answered very quickly, “I order more hot dogs”.

One other interesting item Chef Pascal told us was that every day at 5 p.m. he, all his chefs and all the waiters gather to do a taste testing of all the dinner items. This ensures all the items have been prepared correctly, and it gives the waiters a chance to try the food and ask the chefs various questions. This provides the waiters with a good understanding of the items being served that evening and allows them to answer any questions the guests may have about the food.

By the way, when the meals arrive at the table they are never “auctioned”. For every meal we had, in every dining venue, our waiter served the correct meal to each person without asking who ordered what meal.

Read More of Jeannette and Dan Dudek’s Celebrity Summit Review:

Overview | Pre-Cruise Documentation | San Juan Airports & Embarkation | Sunset Balcony Staterooms | Dining Options | Normandie Specialty Restaurant | Qsine Specialty Restaurant | Excursions | Production Shows | Bridge & Engine Room Operation | Senior Officer Interviews | General Info | Disembarkation in San Juan |

If You Go:

Jeannette and Dan Dudek  travel extensively domestically and internationally; visited over 30 countries; and have been to most U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Jeannette’s career has included teaching elementary school classes; as well as English classes for middle school students; she also as has been a business manager and accountant for several firms. Jeannette’s passion is gourmet cooking and hosting special gatherings for friends and family.

Dan spent his career as an international consultant; assisting large firms implement computerized project and portfolio management systems. Besides international travel, Jeannette and Dan enjoy traveling North America in their RV, as well as handgun competitions, sailing, hunting, hiking, biking and other outdoor sports.


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