We just returned from a wonderful Southern Caribbean itinerary on Celebrity's Summit. Overall we believe it is a half step up from RC and Carnival. This is not faint praise as we have greatly enjoyed all of our cruises. We booked one of the "sweet sixteen" cabins on the sixth deck, one of 16 cabins that have a balcony twice as large as other regular balcony cabins. (Thanks CC for the tip.)
This review is broken into +, = and -'s compared to our previous cruise experiences.
+'s First the pluses. You are treated like a valued guest. You do not have to sign out towels, listen to endless PA announcements or seem to be constantly waiting in long lines for food and especially during embarkation which we sailed through .Debarkation was also a pleasure. The limited smoking, especially on the balconies was a big plus for us. In the future it will be hard to book a balcony on cruise lines that allow this.
We thought the MDR and the buffet were slightly above the standards we had previously experienced. The homemade ice cream at the Oceanview buffet was superb. Can't understand why some would pay extra for gelato. Speaking of extras, Cafe Bacio offered fantastic cookies and desserts without having to purchase their drinks. My DW always checked out the offerings at the no-charge Aqua Spa cafe. Not my taste but she liked their lunch options.
The itinerary was another big plus for us. With a San Juan departure, you are surrounded by great islands which make for a port heavy cruise.
='s The cabin was slightly smaller and the bathroom slightly larger than the cabins on previous cruises. Except for the nightly chocolates, not really an upgrade. In spite of the Solsticesizing of the Summit, many public areas were just OK. No wow factor.
The flexible dinner option, Select dining ,is fine but if you do not reserve specific times before you board you will wait for a table between 6 and 8. There is clearly not enough capacity.
-'s The weakest element of the cruise was the entertainment. The shows were uniformly mediocre with the only highlight being a 4 man Acapella group named The Crewners. When the entertainment highlight is an Acapella group, well .... We found the room service for breakfast to be mediocre. It didn't help that we used it twice and one day it came early and the other day it came late. Having to hand write in cheese, cream cheese and whole fruit was not very impressive. No fruit and only a tiny blob of cream cheese appearing added to the lousy breakfast (one of only 5 meals that day).
Another minus was the horrible Art Auctions by Park West which made the "Gold by the Foot" sales events look classy by comparison. The final negative was on our final day where we booked a Celebrity tour with airport transfer. The El Yunque Rain Forest tour placed us on an old bus that stunk of diesel fumes and couldn't shift into top gear. We were informed after our first stop that the bus was broken and we would have to wait for its replacement. Bad choice of tour operator Celebrity! A quick call to Celebrity when we returned home made things right. Good customer service!
I do not want to end on a negative note. We had a great time. Our fellow passengers, the ship and the itinerary were great. We would certainly cruise with them again and San Juan is a great home port.
Is Celebrity modern luxury? Frankly I'm not sure what that means. I do believe that if you are a couple who want a slightly more refined experience over the mass market lines, you should be happy. We were.