Live From Celebrity Summit: First Impressions

February 5, 2012 | By | 16 Comments

After touring the newly refurbished Celebrity Summit, which has received a number of Solstice-class upgrades (that is, it’s been “Solsticized” ), one thing became utterly apparent: This is one elegant ship … save for some remaining traces of its renovation, which the above photo shows. The public spaces and cabins have been updated with new carpeting, upholstery and furnishings, so the ship gives off a modern vibe with its warm colors and clean lines. It’s sleek, but somehow still welcoming.

Though my first day onboard was a bit hectic (aren’t they all?), I’ve gotten a solid look at Summit over the past 24 hours. My observations:
Refurb Remnants. Paint buckets … check. Wooden planks … check. Caution tape … check. I’m on the second sailing post-refurbishment, so I pretty much figured that I might see some such evidence of the ship’s makeover – after all, dry dock was less than a month ago. From repainting the top-deck basketball court to building new dining tables, there are still little tweaks being made across the ship. But from what I’ve seen thus far, it’ll all be worth it when the work is complete. That said, it would have been better if all the work had been completed before passengers were let onboard.
Muster Fluster. I was called down for the muster drill at about 5 p.m., and since the ship wasn’t scheduled to disembark from San Juan until 8:30, a number of passengers were either still boarding or had yet to board. As it was, we sat at our stations for over a half-hour waiting for instructions and announcements. The captain came over the loud speaker to fill us in on the cruise line’s safety policy and to express condolences over the recent Costa Concordia tragedy. But most passengers seemed to express little concern over safety and were content to chat and sip on cocktails from the ship’s new martini bar. About 45 minutes later I was back in my cabin rushing to dress for my 6 p.m. dinner assignment.
Food Stuff. I’ve been drooling over the pages of Celebrity’s new cookbook, “Excite the Senses,” and looking forward to a real treat. So far, though, the cruise ship standards are just that — pretty standard.
Best so far: I had a tasty black angus burger from the poolside grill, a luxurious dessert of praline-ice-cream-filled profiteroles in the main dining room and creamy fee-free pistachio ice cream from the buffet (I’ll try a treat from the new gelateria soon). And let’s not forget the breakfast bran muffin from room service, but it’s kind of hard to screw up a bran muffin.
Chow that needed some work: The phyllo-wrapped lamb shank I ordered for dinner wasn’t as crispy as promised, and the side of tomato rice lacked flavor and was a bit gummy. While my lobster bisque appetizer had plenty of seafood flavor, there wasn’t one chunk of lobster.
Of course, it’s only Day 1 — there’s still plenty of time for the culinary staff to get into its groove.
Booze Cruise. Here’s a change: I could find free drinks all over (and off) this ship in the cruise’s first hours. In the terminal, there were free strawberry daiquiri samples, and immediately upon embarkation passengers were greeted with a glass of French sparkling wine. There were also buy-one-get-one-free Bacardi drinks during sailaway, and there was a free rum tasting to christen the ship’s new Bacardi store (the first of its kind at sea). On Sunday, passengers who check out the Persian diamond boutique will be presented with free Bailey’s, and ladies who skip the Super Bowl activities and dine in certain specialty venues will receive another complimentary glass of sparkling wine.
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    16 Responses to “Live From Celebrity Summit: First Impressions”

    1. Rick
      February 5th, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

      We sailed on the Summit 2 1/2 years ago and were VERY disappointed. The ship was tacky, the food left a lot to be desired and with the exception of our stateroom attendant who was one of the best we’ve ever had, the crew was terrible. We were lied to numerous times, a young lady at the custome service desk rudely told my wife “don’t raise your voice to me lady”, she was only raising her voice to be able to communicate because the music in the centrum was so loud. We swore that we’d never sail on her again and in reading this article, I don’t see any reason to change our minds. I guess it’s true, you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still just a pig.

    2. Amanda
      February 5th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

      Rick – Wow! A bit harsh and ridiculously unnecessary. I am not sure anybody cares that you think that the atrium was loud. It sounds like a completely pathetic complaint. I apologize that a generally upbeat report has to be brought down by such negativity. I, for one, can’t wait to cruise the E. Carib. on Summit. I’ve never experienced anything but the best service at sea on Celebrity ships.

    3. John
      February 6th, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

      Rick isn’t alone in his criticism of Summit. We sailed her from NY to Bermuda last Fall and were mostly disappointed. After sailing transatlantic on the exceptional Equinox, we mistakenly believed that the Celebrity experience would be consistent fleet wide. It is not. While the Equinox crew was one of the best ever, and the food was excellent in every venue, we found the Summit to be sorely lacking. Besides what seemed to be chaos nightly in the MDR, we even had pretty horrendous service in The Normandie. Overall, the ship management seemed to have a very laissez-faire attitude about most things, especially dress codes for dining. I won’t apologize for not wanting to be seated next to people in shorts and tshirts on Formal nights when the rest of us are in suits and tuxes. Too many people were disrespectful of the staff, of other passengers, and of the rules – and the staff did nothing. Furthermore, unlike the Equinox, nothing operated smoothly. It all felt very Carnival, and not at all Celebrity. We won’t sail Summit again, but we are booked on Silhouette and will book soon on Reflection. We’ll stick to the real Solstice class ships, dining, and crews.

    4. ACruiseGuy
      February 6th, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

      I enjoyed a fantastic cruise on Summit last June. The public areas were perfect, I didn’t see one sign of neglect, age etc. The staterooms could have used a bit updating and refreshing, though. There’s no way the furnishings and the condition of the ship could be called “tacky”. Everything was very tasteful.

      I’m looking forward to more reports from Shayne.

    5. donna
      February 6th, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

      We were loyal Celebrity cruisers until the Soltice and were so unhappy with this new class of ship we have moved on to a different line. Our waiter told us their old chef (who over saw the fleet) had refused to do the cutbacks the line wanted so he was no longer with them. The ship it self was beautiful and our room (a sunset balcony) great but the dinning room staff said they were told passengers only paid $70.00 a day so we should not complain. Not sure where they got this information. After doing 20 cruises it left such a bad memory it took us over a year to go back to sea. So I understand Ric’s feelings. There are other lines out there to try and enjoy.

    6. Myreve Chambers
      February 6th, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

      Having cruised for 2 weeks last November before the Summit went for refurbishment other than a smell one day on deck 5 which when we enquired was told that someone had blocked the toilets and they were working to clear it we found the ships standard to be excellent after 11 years at sea and we found our Concierge class cabin on deck eight was lovely. After always been on RCCI newer ships this was our first venture on Celebrity was a bit concerned and in fact we had nothing to be concerned about or were we disappointed . The food and service in the MDR was excellent our waiters Harry and Marcel went above and beyond the call of duty and the dress code what enforced on the 14 nights we spent on the Summit in fact a chap came in without a jacket and the Maitre de fetched him one so that him and his partner could dine. There is an old saying your can please some of the people some of the time but not all of them time all of the time and some you can never please I feel sometimes people sending their comments in were not on the same ship as me.By the way we are booked on it again this November and cant wait for it to come round Happy Cruising

    7. fluffies
      February 7th, 2012 @ 12:02 am

      Firstly, we’ve never had a truly bad time on a cruise and hope we never do. That said, we were very disappointed with the Summit in 2008. With the exception of Normandie (which we thought was perfect, including exceptional service), the ship left a lot to be desired. We haven’t sailed on Celebrity since, but would be willing to try a Solstice-class ship.

    8. Recce60
      February 10th, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

      I, too was amazed at some of the harsh words directed towards the Summitt. We did a Panama cruise in 07 and thought it was a very pleasant experience. Recently, we did a back-to-back in November 2011 on the ship. We did notice some areas that needed upgrading, but when we heard the ship was going for a complete refurb we ignored those areas. Generally, we found the crew at Celebrity standards. The food was OK but on the first leg the dining room food was below
      par. However, our complaints were noted, we think, and the food improved during the next leg.
      We looking forward to our next cruise on the Summitt sometime in the future to see what has changed

    9. aseligman
      February 11th, 2012 @ 12:05 am

      I was on the first Summit sailing post-refurbishment, and I thought the cruise was spectacular. The ship looked great. The public areas and cabins were very nice, and the food mostly ranged from very good to excellent. You could still see some work needed to be done — like the basketball court not being finished — if you looked hard enough, but it was no big deal. There was plenty to do onboard.

    10. Ken Rossignol
      February 11th, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

      After doing four cruises on Celebrity ships, two on the Mercury and two trans-Atlantics on the Equinox and Eclipse, I look forward to sailing on the Summit since it has been been through the makeover to the Solstice standards. Celebrity gets it when it comes to cruising. I am sure most others work hard to please their customers but we have yet to run into a Celebrity staffer that didn’t want to try to give you a positive experience. Sure, some of the service for the select in the main dining room doesn’t equal having the same waiter each night, but that is just human nature. It is also a good reason to choose either early or late, but the flexibility of select will likely keep us choosing to select our own dining time. The decision to carry over the Solstice class ship designs and themes is smart. Aside from a couple of cranky old bats we found complaining in an elevator one time on the Mercury, I would have to say that the consensus of passengers on each our our trips was that they would book again on Celebrity.

    11. Nick Vitani
      February 13th, 2012 @ 7:45 am

      I have been on 16 RCL cruises before sailing on the Summit. It was one of the best cruises Ive been on. Althought the outside of the ship looked like an old tug boat, we were very impressed with the inside! It was elegant and clean everywhere. We especially loved Michael’s lounge where we were able to access the nightly events for Elite Members (transferred from Diamond members on RCL). Our MDR wait staff was superb. Savio was our waiter and we will never forget him. The food was also suberb. It couldnt have been any better. Im looking forward to seeing the renovated version and sailing her again one day.

    12. Liz Dwyer
      February 13th, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

      We are going on the Summit in May. With all these negative posts I hope we enjoy our cruise. We’ve sailed on other lines, and it is true that you can’t please everyone.
      We have always enjoyed ourselves, I am getting a bit nervous about this one.

    13. Bob E
      February 18th, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

      Have cruised each of the past 4 years on Celebrity Summit and have had a decent and enjoyable experience. Every now and then there is a minor blip, but overall we have enjoyed the food and amenities. Good job Celebrity and thank goodness for your \No Smoking\ rules.

      I think every now and then you’ll have a sour grape but read all of the posts. If the majority are favorable then odds are you’ll have a great time. Celebrity gets it right.

    14. Pedro P
      March 31st, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

      It is clear by the diversity of comments that there is rarely a ship that will suit everyone’s tastes and expectations…one bad staff member or meal can certainly alter one’s cruise experience…things happen. I can say that we sailed with friends on the Summit from San Juan in 2009 and could not have been happier. We loved the thalassotherapy pool and the overall service. The following year we sailed on the Oasis (we travel only Celebrity of RCCL ships) and while we found it truly a wonder at sea, we missed some of the more personal touches that “smaller” ships can provide (of course compared to the Oasis…all other ships are small, but you know what I mean). We are booked with friends and our kids this July on the Summit again and are looking forward to it. We have some great family portraits taken aboard previous cruises with our boys in formal attire, but we know that not everyone likes to get decked out on formal nights…as long as our neighboring tables are courteous and respectful, I don’t mind it so much.

      April 26th, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

      My wife and I just sailed on the Summit April 2012.It was truely a wonderful cruise Everything was perfect We really enjoyed the food,from dinner at the Chef’s table in the kitchen to the great meal at the wonderful Normandie and of course the MdR food was great,so was the waterfall cafe and then the terrific food at the new Qsine all I can say is WOW!!!!The staff was the best,the shows even better!!Even the hoydog and french fries were great at the outside grill We can’t wait to go on Celebrity againand again

    16. Dick Bitzer
      June 27th, 2012 @ 2:03 am

      My wife and I, along with two other couples, will be sailing on the summit Feb.2 from San Juan PR. (this will be their first cruise, so I wanted to choose a top-notch line. After reading what the experts said concerning the summit, this was an easy choice

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