This was my first cruise on Celebrity, and it blew me away. I've cruised on Royal Caribbean and Carnival before, and this was the best.
Embarkation was on October 10, 2005 in Los Angeles Birth 91 (i think) at the World Cruise Terminal. Not the smoothest thing to do in the world, but it wasn't horrible. We got there at about 11am. We went in some doors and were told to go outside, but not really what the procedure was. This was by a port employee. Once outside, we assumed we were to line up in a line that was forming. Eventually, we found someone who gave us luggage tags we filled out. Then a porter came and took our bags. The only bad thing I can say here is it would have been nice to have a Celebrity employee there we could ask and confirm what the proper procedure was. The line started moving at 11:30am, and we were on the ship by 12:30pm. Was greeted with champagne and orange juice. We were told our room would be ready at 1pm and it was. We just hung out at the buffet before then, and toured the ship a bit. Later in the day, our bags were delivered to our room, one before the lifeboat drill at 4:30pm, and the rest after.
There was lots of activity and give away's going on the first afternoon before departure. We didn't stick around for that as we mostly relaxed, toured the ship a bit, and ate.
Food was good to excellent. Of course some things are better than others. If you don't like anything, ask for something else. Our waiter was very accommodating. If we wanted two things on the menu, it was no problem. Often we would get the beef or chicken dish with a side of lobster tail, or whatever else we wanted that night. Our table was 502 which is right at the back of the dinning room on the upper level by the window. Amazing view. Igor was a great waiter and Beata (I know im misspelling it) was a amazing wine steward. She was very friendly and can't say enough good things about her. Our table was for 8, and we sat with some great people. If you can, don't miss dinner in the dinning room. I think it is a big feature of any cruise, and it is fun to get to know the people you sit with, if they aren't total jerks, which I think is rare. You can request a change if it's ever a problem, and as a last resort, there are other dinning options.
The sushi bar was open 5:45pm to 10pm. Mostly standard rolls, and sushi. Not a huge selection, but good for a cruise ship. Waterfall Cafe (think Windjammer on Royal) was great. Food was very good quality for a buffet, better than Royal Caribbean. Service is high for such a casual dinning venue. Waiters to take your tray to your table, bartenders, etc. Views are great. You can almost always find a seat at the back out on the patio. Again, great view. The Normandie is great. The food is amazing. Service can't be beat. Price is $30 per person plus $27.95 if you do a wine pairing with each course which is well worth it. It's easy to get reservations there. I don't think they were full any nights. If you want, do it on a casual night since the dinners on formal nights tend to be a bit nicer in the main dinning room, so don't miss those!
Our stateroom was 7060, inside cabin. It was very nice. Every morning/night our room steward did our room, like any other cruise line. We also always had our ice bucket refilled and a crate of fresh water. It was great. Before our first stop at Puerto Vallarta, beach towels were delivered to our stateroom we could use for free or if we wanted to buy them, keep them and be charged to our account (or they would deliver new ones). We didn't want to bother ironing all our shirts before we went on the trip, so left these to our stateroom attendant. $2 a shirt or $3 for express (pressing only, no cleaning). It was easy.
The shows onboard were average for any cruise. Actually, it would have been nice to see some more variety. 5 of the nights was the Celebrity singers/dancers. One night there was a comedian, Rich Papurra (bad spelling again). Another night a piano player. We were in the main seating for dinner, so our show was always around 9pm. If you're in the late seating, your show is either at 6:30pm or some nights it's not until 10:30pm or so.
Pools are great on this ship. I thought they were big for a cruise ship. The outdoor pool was good, warm water, but not sure if it was heated. It was great weather and Mexico is very hot, so it might have been that warm on its own. Lots of deck chairs, never had a problem with finding one in the sun or shade, even on sea days. The thalasotherapy pool was very nice. Adults only which is great (not that I ever saw kids in the outdoor one either, few kids on this ship it seemed). The lounge chairs by the windows are very comfortable, and the area has air conditioning so it is very comfortable. Spa music is played, and you can fall asleep to it no problem. I liked reading in this area by the lounge chairs at the window. There's not many, so between about 11-3, it's more difficult to find one of those chairs. By the pool itself, you'll find a teak chair no problem.
The casino was fun on this ship, my partner enjoyed playing the blackjack tables. The dealers were all very friendly. We ended up getting to know the regular blackjack players, and enjoyed striking up conversation with them and running into them on the ship and asking how they were doing. The slots don't pay out that great. It's not like vegas.
Tendering was a bit challenging. We all had to go in the theatre, and you were given a number. When they called your number, you could go. We had to wait in the theatre for 45 min one morning, but that was probably the longest wait. By 11am, you won't have to wait at all. Just be patient. Some people we know missed their shore excursion because they said they waited over an hour for tendering. They got their money back no problem, but of course were a little pissed. They arrived at the theatre when they were told to, but it took too long. Not sure all the circumstances around this, but be warned.
Our ship went to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. Apparently Cabo San Lucas was the best, small, everything is close to the tender pier, and great beaches. We had so much fun on the ship, we only got off in Puerto Vallarta to go to Blue Chairs. Quickly got annoyed with the number of vendors asking us to buy crap. It wasn't a busy time I guess, so the vendor to beach bum ratio was higher. Literally every 30-60 seconds we were being asked to buy something.
Hope I'm not missing anything. Basically, this ship is beautiful. The art is weird, but fun to look at. There's lots of it. The ship is in great shape. Cold towels and juice when you return from a port is great. Cushions on deck chairs are an great thing. Service is amazing. I think I'd go crazy working on a ship, but these people seem to love it, and are very friendly. It really feels like they want to help you and give you great service, not like they have to. At 91,000 tons, the Summit only has 1950 passengers max capacity. A Radiance or Vision class ship, similar in size or small or Royal Caribbean would have 2400+ passengers. It makes a difference. The atmosphere on the ship is more formal and classic. In general, you'll have a great cruise experience with Celebrity.