My wife, 14 yr old daughter and I returned this morning from the 8/19 Summit cruise to Bermuda. This was our first cruise on Celebrity, after previously cruising on Royal Caribbean and Carnival. I wanted so much to love this ship, but... Still, all in all we had a good cruise.
Boarding: Boarding was quick and easy, We had a concierge club veranda stateroom, so were on board in no time at all. We bought the premium drink package, although my wife and I disagree about its value. Having enjoyed so many of my favorite beers along with Bombay and tonics all week, I'm certainly on the "pro" side. Grabbed sandwhiches and ate outdoors on the aft section of deck 10. Drink machines were out of service, and the sandwich counter ran out of fries and chips (hints of things to come).
Room: Our Concierge Club veranda stateroom (8072) was a good room, but the bathroom was not re-done during the Solticizing. The shower curtain was no problem, but the bathroom had a strong musty smell that was a bit much. A painter trolley was tied to our balcony, partially blocking our view. I don't remember seeing 8072 as partially obstructed, but a trolley that's moored to your balcony and that reaches up to the next deck sure counts as an obstruction in my book. My wife spoke to guest services, who told her that the cabin was indeed listed as an obstructed view cabin on the Celebrity website, and that we should have seen that when we booked. Wrong answer! I just now went through a booking process on Celebrity's website for a Summit southern Caribbean cruise, Concierge Club C2 cabin, and here's what it says: "Note: Staterooms 8047, 8048, 8049, 8050, 8051, 8052, 8053, 8054, 9040, 9042, 9044, 9045, 9046, 9047 and 9049 have partially obstructed views. Staterooms 8102, 8108, 9094 and 9100 have smaller verandas that are semi-private." So there'll be some 'splainin to be done about that. The veranda had 2 chairs and a table, and ample space for two. The room was a nice size, and was large enough for 3 people, but the vestibule is a choke point with the bathroom door opening opposite closet doors, which open against the entry door. The in-room PA speaker only worked part of the time. The in-room safe lost our combination twice, but the cabin attendant was quickly able to gain entry. The veranda slider was hard to open and close. It stuck somewhere on bottom runner. Our room attendant Sydney was superb. He worked for 2 days to get us the pillows that we requested. He was always around, and was always friendly and helpful.
Concierge perks: The canape and cheese plates, and fruit bowls, were a nice touch. The ice bucket was constantly refilled The Celebrity tote bag came in handy. BTW - they no longer exchange the complimentary bottle of champagne for wine, (regardless of the presidents shown).
Dining: Our table number was not printed on our cards - curious. We requested a table of four so that we three could dine alone (I'm a lung transplantee and am immuno-suppressed), but we ended up as half of a six top. I requested a change, which came through the next day. Entry to the main dining room is a mess, with lines snaking back from the two entrances (port and starboard) through the Rendezvous lounge (where shows were happening despite lines of waiting diners blocking the views of the show). The first night was a mess, as nobody knew either their table, or its location. Head waiters were barking table numbers to junior waiters who acted as guides. The first two nights started late, so we came later after that. Contrary to reviews mentioning slow sommelier service, we had excellent service each night, courtesy of Jomkwan. She was always around when needed, and offered good advice. One wine problem was that they would recommend a wine on one night, then run out the next. To me this reflects poorly on management. Their forecasting should be better than that. Our wait staff was outstanding. Head waiter Sebastaio (aka Pedro Fernandez) and assistant waiter Zaira couldn't have been better. They were always there, and when problems arose they were dealt with quickly and effectively. Sebastaio even somehow managed to get us three servings of Coq au vin without mushrooms - a minor miracle.
Food reviews: Day 1: Prime Rib was good, but not great. Cold granny smith apple and peach soup was great -- tasty and refreshing. Day 2: Tournadoes of beef -- the first attempt was raw, but the second try was perfect. They were excellent. I also found that frogs legs do indeed taste just like chicken. Day 3: Steak and French onion soup -- again good, but not great. Day 4: The Anjou pear and gorgonzola cheese tart was incredible. The Coq au vin was out of this world stupendous, the best dish of the cruise in all of our opinions. The T-bone steak was good, but not great. We missed day 5, as we were all too tired after beach day. Day 6: The proscuitto arugula salad excellent, as was the chilled wildberry soup. The smoked tomato bisque was a cup of heaven. I could have just eaten many of bowls of that, and been perfectly happy. The Beef Wellington was very good, and the lobsters were good, but a little tough, per my wife and daughter. Still, they managed to put away two tails apiece. Day 7: The Vichyssiose was cold perfection, and the chicken Kiev excellent. Desserts were uniformly excellent throughout the cruise..
Buffets: Breakfast pretty much the same as RCCL or Carnival - bad. Except for fresh- made waffels, it was all sub-standard ( which perhaps is indeed the standard). Lunch has a good sandwich station, but the setup is confusing and peope aren't sure where to line up, or who gets served next. I saw a few disputes over this. This is basic stuff and should be cleaned up. The sushi and stir fry stations in the evening were outstanding. Other notes on buffet: there was virtually no self serve, and while this is presented under the guise of enhanced service, it seemed much more like portion control to me. I saw much food lost when colliding with one of two sneeze plates as plates were being passed back and forth between servers and guests. Certain beverage machines remained inoperative all week. Huh? How does that happen? The buffet staff were attentive, and were often around to clean up plates and to get drinks. We found them to be very helpful
Pools: Undersized and overused. They all say "no children", but where are the kids supposed to go? Deck chairs were non-existent, and chair hogs did indeed abound. Some chairs were non-reclining, and were formed in a way guaranteed to cause pain if you stayed in them too long. Some days the only chairs available were this painful variety, and only up on the sun deck. The thalassotherapy pool was indeed "old people soup", although it was nice to sit in the enclosed area during the heat of the days. Dishes and cups piled up on the ground, due to lack of pickup by staff.
Activities: Ho-hum. The comedienne was adequate. (Everything was "crazy"). The lounge acts were forgettable, especially the piano player who opened up his set with an unfortunate piano version of Hendrix's "Hey Joe" (really?). Typical cruise guitar players -- so technically proficient, but so limited to one particular playing style that everything ends up sounding the same. I'd like to throw all cruise guitarists into a room together for a month, and perhaps each would come out a more rounded musician. The a cappella quartet was talented, but their homesy "college geek" style is fatally outdated in this day and age. The Dapper Dans called. They want their act back. I had been looking forward to the National Geographic talks, but none captured my attention. The "Summit Idol" show and the Employee Talent Show were lots of fun.
Bars/lounges: Michael's is beer heaven. Say no more. The Martini bar was always hopping, and the bartenders put on a show. Rendezvous handles the crowds pretty well.
Teen club: Club X was nothing at all, according to our 14 year old daughter. She spent the week with us instead.
Bermuda: Hamilton is officially my favorite port city, and will soon be a destination of ours, minus the cruise. It was lovely. Horseshoe Bay was just as beautiful as Warwick Long Beach was a few years ago. Crowded, but a great beach nevertheless. Unfortunately though, St. George is either dying or dead. My family was so disappointed at our day up there. So many stores closed, so little to see or do. Perhaps it was just us, but I didn't see anything there that justified the trip, and I'm a history buff too. It appears that, with no ships docking in town, it is withering away. That's too bad.
Guests: This was your typical tri-state area crowd, loud, proud, and sometimes extremely pushy. It just goes with the territory.
Language observation: It seemed that many of the buffet staff had extremely poor English skills.. I understand that the buffet is often an entry-level position, but in some cases they seemed not to understand words that were crucial to their station. I can understand when they don't get "frankfurter", "a few" or "a couple". But if you're working the grill you need to understand "hot dog" or "onions". A review from a few weeks ago mentioned new staff, so perhaps that was the case. I want to stress, however, that language barrier or not, the buffet workers all busted their humps to provide great service.
Management observations: The ship seemed to be constantly running out of food materials such as ice cream in the buffet, bread, chips and french fries in the sandwich section, and wines in the main dining room. There were the previously mentioned broken drink machines in the buffet. Planned sales in the Emporium on the last sea day were train wrecks. Masses of people ripping open boxes, and there not enough employees to handle the crowds. It was ugly. Elevators were out of service and being repaired at an alarming rate throughout the cruise. Michael's pub was closed daily for the repeat cruisers' happy hour get together. I'm not against the function, but could you consider maybe moving it around to other venues on a daily basis? Maybe the Wine Cellar? And speaking of the Wine Cellar...oh that's right. Nobody speaks about the Wine Cellar. Nor do they go there. This is wasted (ie; non-profitable) space. Speaking of wasted space, my daughter showed me a large open area up on the 12th deck that looked completely under-utilized, although perhaps they put more deck chairs out there in the day. When I saw it, it was vacant space. Perhaps a mini golf course? All of the above are issues that reflect poorly on both line and upper management's ability to plan for the short and the long term.
Overall. The ships' workers were fantastic, trying their hardest to please. Sure there were some communication issues, but they aim to please regardless. We enjoyed our cruise, but not as much as we'd hoped. We all agree that we'll probably stick to Royal Caribbean in the future.