Four months after our Caribbean cruise over the Christmas period, I have just come across the notes I made whilst on board. I felt strongly about some things at the time, and took photos to document my impressions, intending to write a letter to Celebrity, but I never got around to it.
However, I have decided to share my experience in this review, especially for people who have travelled on Celebrity's newer solstice-class ships, and may be expecting the same standard on the Summit.
We took two 7-day cruises back-to-back on the Summit, with different itineraries. This was our 4th cruise, having previously experienced Silversea (top notch, but also top price), Oceania (also excellent, especially the food, and much more affordable) and Celebrity's solstice-class ship Equinox (also very good, and good value for money).
We had been very pleasantly surprised with the Equinox, despite misgivings about cruising on such a large ship. Based on that positive experience, we booked the Summit because of the route, and figured that the much-touted 40 million dollar renovation to "solsticise" the ship would mean a similar experience to the Equinox. We were wrong. Celebrity: you were robbed if you really did pay 40 million dollars!
In a nutshell: our first impressions on the day of boarding were not great: Summit just did not match up to our previous 3 ships. We were about to spend our longest cruise on the worst ship, and we just felt like disembarking, getting a refund, and forgetting the cruise. This is not possible of course, so we decided to make the best of it. Not a great start to our long-awaited holiday
OK, copying from my notes, here goes, in no particular order:
Our main complaint was the overall worn, shabby feel to the ship in some areas, and poor cleanliness standards, which we had never experienced on previous cruises.
Aqua Class cabin: similar, but nowhere near as luxurious, as the same cabin on the Equinox. The bathrooms were plastic, not granite, floor tiles were cheap-looking, a couple were broken, and the glass shower was not as modern as on the Equinox. There was limescale on the floor and at the bottom of the glass doors. The cabin attendant was friendly and helpful. The air conditioning was very cold, and could not be switched off. At night we resorted to covering the air vents with a towel, as the cold air blowing was very unpleasant.
The Ocean View Cafe (the self-service restaurant, most often used for breakfast) was generally grubby & greasy. The carpet needed a good shampoo clean, the windows were dirty, window ledges were grey with dirt and full of crumbs. Paint and wallpaper needed retouching in places. Parts of the ceiling were hanging down over some windows. The metal serving dishes, from which hot food was served at the buffet, were scratched and dented. The surface of the serving areas of the buffet looked a little greasy and I had the urge to clean them. Dress code was not enforced: women in bikinis wearing a thin sarong, or men in vests with their armpits on show, are not appropriate attire for a restaurant area. Yes, the guests are the ones who have low standards, but a member of staff should be around to point such guests towards the pool area, for which they are indeed dressed. They would soon get the message. Some waiters seemed exhausted. Mainly they were very friendly and efficient. The food was very simple, typical mass-buffet fare. One exception: we ate there once in the evening, and found the curries to be very good.
Elevators: some had worn, frayed carpets, adding to the "ageing" impression of the ship.
Safety drill: completely unprofessional, everyone talking over the announcements, the announcer could hardly be heard.
Cafe al Bacio and Bistro on Five are two of the new venues on the ship. Both had a nice ambience, furnishings, carpets all very clean and modern. Friendly staff. Not many guests, as there is a 5-dollar cover charge. This meant that they were generally not busy.
Thalasso Pool: we did not use this, as it looked so unhygienic. Had rusty areas that need repainting.
Blu restaurant: very hectic service, several mistakes with orders. Everyone seemed overworked or over-challenged, some spoke very little English. The food was ok, but not as good as we recalled it in the Blu on Equinox. It was somewhat bland, and a couple of dishes actually tasted so bad that we had to return them and order something else. The rest was ok, but there were no great meals. Food was often lukewarm.
Theatre: we enjoyed the entertainment on this cruise. The singers and dancers performed 3 production shows that were good fun and well-executed.
General observations: it is very chilly on board. There is absolutely nowhere to rest or read in peace, other than the library, which was freezing cold. There is music everywhere, and a lot of live music on the pool deck. At least half of the guests were Puerto Rican, many families with children, who made their presence felt in the Ocean View Cafe and in the theatre in the evenings.
All in all, it was a 3 to 4 star experience. I accept that we had previously had 6 and 5 star ships (Silversea and Oceania) but I would also put the Equinox in the 5 star category. We were very surprised to find such a difference in standards between the Equinox and the Summit. I feel the Celebrity is a "party ship", more suited to younger people, and I feel that it should not be marketed in the luxury segment, as this is misleading.
We would not book the Summit again under any circumstances.