Travel To Port of Embarkation - By car from Pennsylvania (via I-78)
Hotel Info (if any) - very familar with Newark Airport from consulting experience. We drove to Newark Airport and spent the night at the Newark Airport Marriott hotel. Port of Bayonne, NJ Terminal is so new it your best bet is to stay at hotels near Newark Airport. Marriott is pricey but worth the 5 star property is has been for years.
Ship Info - Celebrity Summit sailing 7/29 - 8/5
Embarkation - VIP Check-In was outstanding. The Conceirge Kevin T. escorted us to the VIP area (Normandie Restaurant) since the staterooms were not yet ready. Both Kevin and the Captain's Club host, Lionel who introduced himself to us were very the best of the best on the ship. We really enjoyed Lionel and as I work professionally with many people from India and abroad, we really hit it off with him. He ended up providing us 2 complimentary ship-board passes with access to the Captain's club daily exclusive club meeting locations. We did not take advantage of these as we spent more relaxation time than we did socializing. (Shame on us!)
Activities - my wife and I selected this cruise to relax and stare at each other, the sea and explore the quaint solitude of Bermuda. We are not active cruise-regulars. So we are not activity-driven on a cruise, yet the ship's activities were numerous if that is what you are looking for on a cruise. We had planned on using the Aqua spa pool Thalassotherapy pool, yet it was quite crowded on the pool deck most days. We did take advantage during the dining hours however. The comedian on-board was a big hit, and they added a special adults-only late night show on Friday night. Sorry we missed you Tom, we will look for you on cable...
Service - My first career path was working in the hospitality industry, and running a single restaurant each day is difficult enough. Unless you have broken down or set-up a Sunday brunch, or managed an institutional cafeteria,
then you really don't get to complain. My only complaint was two-fold - there was a double-line small grill in back of the Oceanview Cafe near the outside bar, if it is set up as a double-service line, then please provide the staff to work both sides...Steam tables, keep those eggs, bacon and sausages at the correct temperatures-most were cold most days. Work-around - wait for the omeleete station and get em prepared hot...Fish and Chips station- keep that open longer please. Everything was shut-down at midnight...except the very limited room service.
Port & Shore Excursions
We had read and asked others on the way there what they recommended as far as shore excursions in Bermuda. We did pick one of the Celebrity excursions (Night Glass Bottom boat excursion) prior to sail date. This was outstanding. Bermuda was closed-down on Thursday and Friday due to their Emancipation Day holiday. The ship Shore Excursion staff was very informative about the holiday, and how most buses and taxis would be limited - we felt like they were trying to scare you into only selecting their excursions. When we arrived at King's Wharf on Wed AM, we decided to buy the 2-day Bus and Ferry pass for Wed and Thursday. An old family friend told me once to begin excursions at the farthest point and work your way back to your hotel/ship...We took the ferry to St. George on Wed. To our surprise, there was a Bermuda Volunteer Tour Guide of British descent, on the ferry. He provided us with a fantastic overview of Bermuda, St. George, as well as their Holiday and the cross-island Cricket Cup-match...(as they say in the UK, John's overview was "the Bee's Knees"... On Thursday and Friday, there were plenty of Taxi-mini vans, Buses and Ferries running despite the Holiday.
St. George and side streets - great little town and go see all the gardens and sites from Fodor's, etc. Ate at White Horse Tavern - i realize Bermuda is pricey but no value for the $$ is another issue altogether. Great free shuttle that was running to Fort St. Catherines.
Stateroom - 6140 simply the best - we had a butler but feel like we got off on the wrong foot with him. When they told us our staterooms were ready we did not see nor hear from him until later on that evening. The hotel director Ugo? Provided us with complimentary champagne and a nice bottle of white wine that we did not discover in the mini-bar fridge until second or third night...he left notes, yet that would be better left with a personal note on the coffee table in the future...The butler (John M.) - a very professional butler, yet our suggestion on the ship to the conceirge was to ask butler to provide more of an overview of what he is there to provide you. Some guests know what the butler is there to assist you with...we never were even asked if we required unpacking or packing assistance (who really does need that?) The cruise line would be better to inform the guest about the stateroom dining options, yet they want you to go to all their restaurants now, don't they.
Normandie - 5 star - but let the customer enjoy their meal...a little too attentive and interpersonalable at times - F&B directors should train staff better. Outstanding Dover Sole, Filet, Souffle appetizer scrumptious.
Save room for the chese cart and dessert...perhaps try refusing the bread..ha ha
Children's Clubs - our children are 3 aussie shepherds - not allowed on the cruise but we will be looking for a doggy theme cruise in the future with a poop-deck :-)
Entertainment - already mentioned Tom. Really need to look at more professional bands. Guitarist sorry, forgot your name, was good, Rendezvous lounge band - sorry but you need help and were too lowd... Celebrity needs to improve there entertainment. I agree with a separate reviewer, who is a professional musician, mentioned the same thing. BBH - on the Steel Drum keeps the Deck 10 Aft Bar hoppin...need music playing back there at all times. Entertainment officier should take note back there.
Disembarkation - well - for what we paid - VIP all the way getting on board, but they couldn't care less about you getting off...no VIP early off in Jersey...good fight between a man, his mother and a crazed woman who refused to step over his luggage, surprised the switchblades didn't come out, next time we will bring the mace just in case- I LUV NY!
Casino - run away, run away! Stop at the Martini bar or the Gelato bar and and spend your money in a much better way (and you get numb without the sadness)...
Cruise lines are a business and to my wife and I, it is all about what you want to make of it. We picked this cruise knowing that Celebrity just re-invested 20 or 40 million dollars in the ship...if you don't think you are paying for it then you need to get more creative about your vacation planning...
Nicest Complement - Goes to Conceirge and Captains Club Host. 5 star guys and thank you.
2nd Nicest Complement - Goes to Deck 10 Aft Bar staff and the Casino waitress (Anca? - congratulations and best of luck to your wedding in Nov. in Romania)
Activties Director and assistant - seemed to be all about them...didn't meet them.
Harshest complaint - Afternoon tea service - really? someone leaves me 6 quarter sized round toast points on an ungarnished covered plate, 2 with baby shrimp and 4 with salmon/pate...really?
2nd harsh complaint - yes we smoke and know we are fools, but proper designation of the smoking areas with better signage would benefit smokers and non smokers alike...at the suite level, exceptions should be made permitting smoking on the balconies while at sea...it is windy enough at 20 knots...
Beverage Package - Premium - worth ever drink/penny, like that you only pay the upgrade difference.
Recommendations - a more enigmatic Cruise Director - with only 8 Royal Suites - you could add a coordinated meet and great time for the Bulter, where he provides you the overview of the ship...or have the butler come to the Normandie restaurant and escort you to your room...