The following are some observations on our recent 12/1 sailing on the Celebrity Summit. This was our first experience with Celebrity.
Pre-cruise hotel; based on the many positive reviews of this property on travel websites, we chose the San Juan DoubleTree Hotel. We were disappointed with this property -- the room was very small and poorly configured. There is virtually no counter space for personal items and almost no room anywhere for luggage. At $200 per night, we thought this hotel was over-priced considering what you get; I'm certain that there are better choices.
Embarkation: We arrived about 12:15 PM and were on board in 20 minutes.
Room: We booked a Celebrity Suite on deck 8 and we could not have been more pleased. The room was very clean, spacious and a lot of the very ample storage space went unused. There is a walk-in closet and vanity, which my wife loved. The bathroom was very clean and also spacious with double sinks and a marble floor. But as others have pointed out, getting in and out of the tub/shower could be a challenge if you have any mobility issues. I also think that it could be problematic in heavy seas for almost anyone. The room furnishings were nice and the balcony was a very good size with a table and chairs suitable for dinning. Two flat screen TVs were very convenient.
Ship: the ship is beautiful and very well maintained. Our room was very convenient to the elevators but unlike some of the larger ships we have been on, it is well laid out and easy to maneuver. No wandering the halls trying to figure out where you are.
Spa: We enjoy a couple of spa visits to really feel "indulged" on a cruise. The spa staff is nice and with every treatment the obligatory "product sell" - but at no time are they pushy. I did think that the spa itself is really lacking in any ambience or mood.
Service: The service onboard was extraordinary. Our stateroom attendant (Roger) was great and although we rarely saw him, our room was always cleaned promptly and to our complete satisfaction. The suite comes with "butler service". Although we didn't really think we would get much use out of this, it is actually a very nice luxury. Elmerio was great and very attentive to our modest needs. Service on board, in every single area, was always terrific. Bartenders, Customer Relations, waiters -- virtually everyone we encountered on this entire cruise could not have been more friendly, professional or well trained.
Casino: the staff in the casino was also very nice and quite knowledgeable about table game rules. It was amazing to enjoy a "smoke-free" casino experience and one of the main reasons we wanted to try Celebrity. As a side note, smoking rules appear to be closely followed. However, our one huge disappointment with the casino on the Summit was with the slot machines. I had previously read that the slot machines were all penny slots; I dismissed that since I didn't think it was possible -- but it is. If you enjoy the "old school" slots like "wheel of fortune", "double diamond deluxe" and so many of the great variations you have enjoyed in the past, you will likely be disappointed. The machines are all $.01 to $.05 denominations and from what we observed, rarely played. You can lose money very fast and we never ever figured out the play variations of these machines and just gave up. This was someone's idea of progress but we hated it and the casino staff mentioned that there were many complaints about these machines. Hopefully Celebrity will reconsider this choice.
Dinning: Like every cruise line, there are many choice and venues. We dined at Normandie the first night and really enjoyed our meal (lobster prepared table side). The service, wine choices and ambience are great. At $80 per couple, we probably would not have selected this restaurant but dinning for one evening came with the CS suite. My wife and I both thought the MDR food quality was very inferior. Of course, this is subjective and maybe we made the wrong choices, but all 3 meals we had there were disappointing. We were invited to the Captain's Table on formal night and even the lobster entree served that evening was stringy and dry. We are not the type to send things back; it is just as easy to go get a slice of pizza or snack if you are still hungry. And speaking of pizza; we thought it was great and an irresistible late night treat. One evening we happened to be walking past the back of the Oceanview Cafe as they were just opening up the evening grill and we decided to give it a try. It was actually quite good but I am pretty sure the steak that was served was the same one available in the MDR. Cooked fresh and served hot, it was OK. Finally, Blu was a great dinner choice. We loved the food in Blu and the service was outstanding. The tables are a little close but that also makes for nice dinner conversation if you connect with the people that you are seated next too. There is a $5 per person recommended tip which we were pleased to accommodate. Finally, Bistro on Five was an interesting venue for lunch. The crepes are fresh and very delicious.
Drinks and bars: I purchased the premium alcohol drink package for myself and the premium non-alcoholic drink package for my wife. We thought that both were great choices. Even if you are a light to moderate drinker, it is pretty easy to approach the cost of the package and it was great just presenting the card and not signing and bothering with receipts. As others have mentioned, the Martini Bar is great and they make a terrific martini. We also enjoyed the Cafe La Bacio very much for a glass of wine, champagne or one of the many great teas or coffees that they offer. Service at very drink venue was great. I have occasionally read that if you have a drink card, it is hard to get service; that was never even close to our experience at any time. We always received our order promptly and with a smile.
Entertainment: We did not go to any of the main shows. However we very much enjoyed the guitarist (Nestor) and the piano player/singer who both played the smaller venues.
Disembarkation: We were at the airport within 50 minutes from the time we arrived at the designated departure area.
We really loved Celebrity and will definitely sail with them again.