Will try to write this review on what I was interested in when researching the reviews for the Summit! First off I have to agree with one review I read, I believe it is how one interacts on both sides as far as service goes, so sometimes when I read some of the reviews, I think it may be a little skewed. I tried not to hold too much in any negative as 2,000 passengers are going through and really you average 5 reviews a cruise. I was more researching for tips because unless something major happens we feel privileged just to have the luxury of going on a cruise to be pampered with food, drinks, sun and fun.
It was just my husband (age 42) and myself (age 38). We have been on 3 Royal Caribbean's, 1 Norwegian and I have been on Carnival, so first time for Celebrity. Overall, Celebrity is definitely a different feel than the other lines. It is positioned more subdued, and nice "extra touches" throughout (i.e. unlimited towels-nice). If you are familiar with Westin Hotels, it has the same focus on personal wellness and relaxation.
Embarkation - Yes Port Bayonne is not that pretty but it is functional. We pulled up right at 1pm, parked in long term parking and were on the boat at 2pm. We have used the parking three times and have not had any problems as I read with potential paint or debris from the port. Cost is $19.00, offers a shuttle (we walked not very far at all from the terminal) but if you are still leery I heard there are some local hotels offering deals for a stay, park and shuttle to the Port.
Room - we booked pretty close to departure so had an inside room (8004) in very front of the ship. We had balconies the last few cruises but were pleasantly surprised with the layout and space of the inside cabin. Plenty closet space. We discovered this after but you can store your luggage underneath the bed to maximize space. Bathroom decent, did notice a little older (some rust stains and spots in the light) but clean. There is a shower curtain rather than door but enough room that you should not get the skeevy touching of the curtain, unless of course the boat is rocking (which we had the last day). Our room attendant, Efron was fabulous, could not have been more attentive and sweet. He noticed little things without even asking. He saw a red bull in the old ice water and freshened it , as well as knocked on our door before we were heading out for Bermuda and gave us beach towels.
Food - again this is opinion (and a very hot topic on the reviews I might add:) but we thought it was great! We have to admit we do not expect much from food on a cruise ship so expectations are low. Ratings based on past cruises would be: 7 out of 10 for Royal, 5 out of 10 for Carnival, 8 out of 10 Norwegian (but only for extra-fee- specialty restaurants on NCL as we thought the MDR is purposely subpar to encourage attendance in those restaurants). Celebrity was definitely above the rest. Happy with all the food venues! We usually go to a specialty restaurant at least once (or all the time in the case of NCL:0 during a cruise but did not even go because we were excited about the menu every night in the MDR on the Summit. Heard from other on the ship that the specialty restaurants (Normandie and Qsine) are awesome too. Our servers were great but yes some nights it was slower service. Expect 1.5 - 2 hours for dining. But again on vacation so what's the rush, we had a great table of people so it was nice to socialize. Burgers were great . Oh, the whole layout of the Waterfalls cafe with the burgers separately-yadda yadda- the ship is not that big and the burgers are right by the pool, so IMO, not a huge deal.
Drink - this was something I looked for information on. We were not sure about the drink packages but after a little research ended up getting the Premium Alcohol package for both of us. We are glad we did with only change that my husband would get the classic next time as he did not drink too many items over 8.00 classic limit (which are fruity drinks, martini's and wines). I think we may have just broke even but it was nice not having to worry about signing as well as monitoring and we could try more drinks (it includes all bottled water and specialty coffees, sodas, energy drinks). I was worried about a different level of service with the package but there was absolutely no difference. I asked about the 15% added to the package and was told it is split to who serves you, so they swipe your card or grab your number, so believe that is what allocates. We would give extra tips here and there to our favorite bartender or barrister, sommelier as they would anticipate our needs and have our favorites readily available. If you need more info on this, the celebrity message board has a great thread listing drink prices for analysis, (thank you JG51!) that is what ultimately helped my decision. Btw, you can charge just the difference (if you pick something over the 12.00), I read a review that said that did not happen with them, but it may have been mistake because it is the practice.
Entertainment - we are not big on the traditional dance/song numbers so did not go. We went to comedian but he was not our speed. Geared to older crowd. We went to Star Chef cooking competition, Newlywed game, Dancing with the Stripes which were all very cute. They also have the usual trivia and karaoke which we always like to attend. The hidden gem was the Talent show from members of the crew, which I recommend. There are a lot of enrichment classes, some free, some with a fee. I read some passionate comments on Sue Denning, the cruise director. Thought she was perfect for what Celebrity encompasses. She was very much out and about the ship and talked to everyone. She definitely was toned down from some cruise directors I have seen but again I think that is what Celebrity is trying for. She was very entertaining and though did not go, I heard her one woman show was very good. Her sidekick (Ben) was not our speed (a little goofy) but was pulled for another assignment mid week and replaced with a woman who was very nice.
Demographics, we thought it was typical, more older crowd but this cruise had more younger people. Would definitely not suggest for kids but from what I understand it becomes more family orientated once school lets out.
Ports - it was our 3rd time to Bermuda, so did not do the typical stuff on should see in Bermuda. First timers, Horseshoe bay, St George, Crystal Caves, Lighthouse are among the things I would recommend. The public transportation is fine and economical ($28 a person for 3 day pass) though I would recommend giving plenty of time as they are at least 3 ships in port so there are a lot of people they have to move around the island.
Disembarkation - if you can, we always do the express walk off. We were waiting in conference room at 7:15am and were in our car on the road at 8:00am.
This was by far a wonderful, relaxing, cruise. We definitely like to get our "party on" and though more subdued than other cruises we still had a great time, sunning, dancing, eating, drinking and having fun because it's all about what you make of it. We would rate as our top one so far but still would go on any of the other lines if good deal or itinerary, because heck unless something major happens; it's a cruise ship:). However, we will be looking more closely at Celebrity as our first choice in the future. Nice job Celebrity you made some fans!!!