What an awesome time aboard the Celebrity Summit! We really enjoyed it. This was our first time on Celebrity and DEFINITELY will not be our last. This is our favorite cruise line now. Princess has been knocked from its throne. haha!
EMBARKATION: Arrived on Thanksgiving (2 days early) and booked rooms at the La Concha Renaissance resort. Great hip stylish hotel on the ocean in Condado. Service at the front desk was very attentive. Two things, however, that annoyed me by this hotel is a lack of attention to Marriott Platinum members (lounge was closed over the holidays) and only offered a cruddy continental breakfast in lieu. Also no umbrellas for rain showers. :-( The drinks were great at the bar (expensive but great) and we found the food to be very very good!
Once at the pier (a very short taxi ride from Condado) we boarded relatively quickly. We were on board in about 25-30 minutes.
FOOD: This ship had the best food of any of the major ones we've been on to date. Princess is now a distant 2nd, but still better than NCL, Carnival, or RC. The beef short ribs and the duck al'orange were my favorite 2 dishes of the week. And the coffee was SO MUCH better than the rest of the cruise lines! Bravo! Dessert was also a half notch better than most cruise lines (e.g best Baked Alaska was on this cruise and a top notch souffle). We thought the plating was easily the best on Celebrity as well.
We didn't try the specialty restaurants as we were so happy with the MDR food. We also liked our waiters, Arta and Jobi, although Jobi spilled an entire glass of iced tea on my mom's lap the 2nd night. It was his first week and I think he was a tad nervous. Accidents happen! Arta, for me, was an OK waiter but he seemed to lack the ability to get details right. Maybe a bit overworked.
I will say that if I had to choose a restaurant, I'd definitely choose Normandie over Qsine. The food on the menu looks more refined and we smelled it one night when we walked by and the food smelled HEAVENLY. Plus, the crew is constantly coming through with iPads and trying to sell you on eating at Qsine. That tells me that it's struggling a bit. We didn't try the creperie or Cafe Bacio.
BARS: I had the premium alcohol package but will say i probably won't do it again. It was way too much alcohol in 7 days! But I did like not having to sign anything and service was great whether you had a premium card or not, at all the bars. The wait for a drink was never long and often with no wait. Drinks were little more sugary than I like (particularly at Crush, the martini bar) but I just asked for drinks that were less sweet.
ROOMS: This was the part my mom was disappointed with. Oceanview room. My mom thought the decor was "mannish" although I'm a dude and I found it fine, with modern burnt orange and tan colors. The cherry paneling she found to be too mannish too, but I found it to be OK. One night stand had a large chip out of it on the front panel and the drawer below it was broken and hanging off. We got Gatot, our room attendant, to get maintenance to fix it on Day 1 and no problems there forth. The bed skirt, however, is the really bad part. It doesn't fit on the beds correctly and makes the room look really really cheap (think: Bed in a Bag quality). I, however, am not a room snob. As long as it has comfortable beds and enough storage room (it did on both counts) I'm cool. I don't spend much time there and could care less what the art or furniture looks like. Maybe that's a dude thing. I found the air conditioning adequate but my aunt and uncle thought it a tad warm. I dunno.
COMMON ROOMS: OK, this was probably the least stunning ship I've ever cruised on. At the center of the ship was a grand walkway down to Guest Services and long bolted curtains flowed for about 50 feet, but other than that a big bore. The art work was not bad but just a tad boring, in our collective opinion. Rooms were of adequate size to hold people. Much much better than the Holland America bars and meeting rooms we experienced on our last cruise.
SERVICE/STAFF: We found the crew members to be very friendly and always greeting with a smile. This is not a large ship so they grew to know you rather quickly. The pool area staff were courteous and never ever hawked drinks like they sometimes do on RCL.
I will say that we ran into 2 long time Celebrity cruisers and they said the service was the poorest they've ever experienced on Celebrity. Well, this bodes well for us, as this was our first cruise with Celebrity and we thought it was a half notch better than most of the other cruise lines. One lady remarked that the lines at the buffet and outdoor grill were too long but I never waited more than 5 mnutes for either so didn't bothe me at all.
ENTERTAINMENT: I found this cruise to have the best entertainment yet. The 2 eastern European acrobatists brought some Cirque du Soleil to the theater and the singers/dancers were very good. Some could have easily worked on Broadway. The African American singer was awesome. He seemed to have true Broadway experience. The sets and costumes were fun (if not a bit cheesy some nights) and varied.
The comedian (a writer for SNL) was very funny and performed twice. He didn't rely on the F bomb or potty humor for laughs -- always a big plus. The off Broadway singer they brought aboard was tiny but so very talented. She impersonated various singers from Bette Midler (this was her weakest) to Judy Garland to Celine Dion to Bernadette Peters (Amazing Bernadette -- she sounded JUST like her and a tough one to impersonate.) Her segues were a tad "talky" and could have been sharpened, but overall we really enjoyed!
Nestor was a great Spanish guitarist, with a quick wit and wonderful skills. He performed several times a day in different spots and always fun to watch.
The AquaFellas (the Glee style 4 part "boy" band) were adequate but we felt they were the weakest singers of the lot.
GENERAL COMMENTS ABOUT FELLOW PASSENGERS: Overall, we were really thrilled with the class of passenger that Celebrity attracts. Most people seemed middle to upper middle class, professional, and well traveled. They were very courteous to the staff (unlike some of the ilk I've seen on Carnival and RC) and largely respectful of other guests. Very little seat saving by the pool and normally polite when bumping into you.
I will say that Celebrity did pick up a few native Puerto Rican groups who joined the cruise the day before, as Celebrity advertised locally in PR last minute prices for locals to fill unsold rooms (we overheard them talking about it.) They paid like $350 for a 7 night cruise. Great great deal! But, these groups were, in some parts, an exception to the general passenger. They were often very loud (I know, they're Puerto Rican and the culture is a "louder" culture) and that's fine but sometimes we noticed a space where cruise passengers were hanging out and just chatting and they'd invade and see each other and literally scream, "Aye!! Puerto Rico!!" and then sing native songs together out of nowhere (loudly). It's like, "Umm...we were sitting here having conversation and now you've disrespected our space by invading it with noise." We just thought it was completely tacky and classless. We get it: we know you're from Puerto Rico. No need to explode into song and dance every 10 minutes. And these same passengers were noticeably very aggressive at the store sales, often jumping ahead in line and pushing to get to items. Again, tacky and classless. On 3 occasions I witnessed them being rude to buffet staff without real provocation. Again, the only word I can think of to accurately describe it was .... classless.
There was also a group in the MDR (we called them the Klumps, cuz the family looked like the Klumps, just much boozier) and they would drink and get bizarrely loud. To a point that we sometimes couldn't hear one another. I'm 40 years old -- not an old curmudgeon -- but it really bothered me at times. They seemed OK when they weren't drinking but man...watch out when they were. Oh, and one night they walked into the MDR 45 minutes after dinner service started (6:45 pm). I couldn't believe they had the audacity to do that. It just killed their waiter. If I was Celebrity I would have sent them to Any Time dining. But I was amazed at the nerve they had to even attempt it.
But, these few groups were largely the exception to the rule.
A general musing: I only saw 3 passengers aboard this cruise with motorized scooters. In Holland America last March we probably saw 25-30 people on them. This group just seemed more fit, more active, and more fun than the crowds on the last few cruises I have taken.
Lastly, I met a nice couple from Decatur named Len and Matt. They had booked Aqua Class and had raved about it. I think I'm gonna take their advice and book it next time. BTW, Len & Matt, if you're reading this, I never got your mobile digits. Please message me here on cruisecritic and we'll exchange numbers. Kevin