Before boarding Celebrity Summit last week in Puerto Rico, I felt like I had a pretty good idea about what to expect. After all, I’d sailed on two of the line’s newer, bigger ships: Equinox and Reflection. I expected the touches that make a ship “Celebrity,” and I got them: Comfy seating at the pools; cold towels and beverages upon return from port; funky, sometimes interactive art; and the high-energy Martini Bar, a personal favorite.
The experience on Summit felt familiar, yet a couple of features were able to surprise me. Here are some of the things I didn’t expect:
1. The aft windows in the dining room. I’d seen the funny-looking rear ends of the Millennium Class ships from the outside and thought they were kind of quirky. Once onboard, I understood their real appeal — two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room that provide incredible views. I had late seating, so it was dark by the time I got into the Cosmopolitan Dining Room, but I was able to enjoy the scenery outside the windows during lunch.
2. Summit’s easy-to-navigate layout. I’m generally quick at learning my way around a ship, but as newer and bigger ships hit the market, it often takes me a couple of days before I feel like I really know a ship. Not so with Summit. With only 11 passenger decks and a narrow profile, the ship has a smart flow that makes it easy to learn. I had it nailed in a day, with only a couple of accidental walks starting toward the wrong end of the ship. (Hey, who doesn’t make that mistake once or twice?) For me, Deck 5, with its numerous shops and therefore hefty crowds, was the toughest.
3. The thalassotherapy pool. True confession: Until last week, I’d never even dipped a toe into a thalassotherapy pool. While the two Celebrity ships I’d previously sailed had the adults-only Solarium spaces, they didn’t have the thalassotherapy pools. On Summit, I ended up spending a good amount of time lounging on the surprisingly comfy in-pool metal benches as the salty water worked its magic. With four hydromassage showers, one on each corner, I never had to wait to get relief on my aching shoulders.
4. The two-level library. I absolutely adored the two-level library on Reflection, but I figured the Summit library would be more of an afterthought. Yes, it’s smaller, but it’s still impressive: Two stories with plenty of bookshelves and comfy seating. The selection of books was solid, with options in English and Spanish, a reflection of ship’s homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. While art on Celebrity ships always makes me pause and think (or sometimes just stare, confused), I liked the fun prints here — the walls were lined with many variations on portraits of the same man and woman.
5. The Latin flair. If you’re cruising out of San Juan, you’ll be sharing your fun time onboard with a high percentage of passengers from Puerto Rico. As such, Celebrity has added small touches to appeal to the tastes of those cruisers, things like salsa dancing, which takes place at several times each day. I particularly enjoyed the mixmaster and drummer who performed before the nightly entertainment at the main theater.
One thing that didn’t surprise me:
Cafe al Bacio. All ships in the Millennium and Solstice classes have the line’s signature coffee and pastry shop. So it was no surprise to see it on Summit, too. Without fail, I’ve found the most pleasant service comes from the crew who staff this spot. I don’t even drink coffee, but I go out of my way for the smiles and fascinating conversations. By Day 3, the staff knew my order — Diet Coke (or, “Coke Light,” as they called it) — and asked with interest about my day’s adventures. The pastries are darn good, too. I loved the pumpkin muffin with adorable marzipan pumpkin topper and the rum cake.
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