We booked the Summit to Bermuda only 4 weeks from departure; the following are some comments about this cruise.
Booking; we made our reservations directly with Celebrity. Cabin choices were very limited and one of the few (or last) SKY Suites remaining was number 6126. We were promised a $100 OBC and an extra evening at a specialty restaurant, neither of which were confirmed in our reservation documents - but we were promised they would show up the week of sailing. On a subsequent call to Celebrity, I was told the same thing. However when we checked in, there was no record of either in our reservation. After 30 minutes in line at Guest Relations and another 45 minutes talking to Celebrity reservations the day of sailing, I finally got someone who took the step necessary to get the promised perks connected to our reservation. It was frustrating to waste time on this and the lesson I learned is to get it in writing and not rely on promises the booking agent makes.
Pre-cruise; We flew to Newark the day before sailing and stayed at the Airport Marriott. There were limited options for a decent quality hotel but this property was actually very nice; a quiet, clean room, friendly staff and a convenient 5 minute free shuttle ride from the terminal. I found a highly rated restaurant on a travel website and booked a reservation at the "Spanish Tavern" in Newark - about a 10 minute drive from the hotel. This restaurant was a really fabulous dinning experience with great steaks, seafood and wine selections.
When we were ready to leave for the terminal about 11:30 AM, there was not one taxi at the hotel so we took a private driver. The bridge/highway going east towards the terminal is under construction and was an absolute nightmare with traffic at a dead stop. The driver wisely exited, drove north to another bridge and then south to Cape Liberty. I think we would still be in that traffic if he didn't make that move. In a taxi with a meter, I imagine it would have cost much more than the $50 normal fare to the port, not to mention an enormous waste of precious vacation time.
The port seemed like a work-in-progress - nothing more than a big tent and involves a shuttle to the ship when check-in is completed. But we were through the entire process and on board reasonably quickly. The port staff were fun and very efficient.
Room 6126; This is a Sky suite on floor 6; a nice location near the elevators and very quiet. Our "butler" Jose attended to our very modest requests and made us feel really special. The room was great - lots of storage space, nice bedding, towels and toiletries. Only two unfavorable observations - the tub is deep and anyone with even modest mobility issues could have a problem maneuvering in and out of it. Also, there is a trough around the odd shaped balcony that always contained some level of putrid, yellow water. Some of the liquid came from rain and some from cleaning the decks on the upper floor but it never drained completely or evaporated over the entire week.
Crew & Service; it is hard to find the right superlatives to describe and honor the crew of this ship; from the officers on down, everyone was always courteous, friendly, professional and positive. A few favorite people remembered us from our December sailing and it was great to see them again One dealer even remembered a hand she dealt me at 3 card poker from 7 months ago - how is that even possible? Wherever we went on this ship, we always felt a very positive connection with almost every crew member we passed or engaged.
Food; always a subjective topic. We were disappointed with the Summit MDR on our fall voyage so we skipped it entirely. Instead we dined at Normandie (lobster prepared tableside) and the wonderful Blu venue. The service was fantastic and the appetizers and dishes were extraordinary - braised meats (short ribs and lamb shank)- tender, juicy lobster and many tasty sugar free desserts. Wow - totally spoiled! Mostly we enjoyed a light breakfast and lunch during the day but another definite thumbs up for "Bistro on 5" where we enjoyed tasty, crepe lunches. The buffet brunch in the MDR on the last sea day is incredible - so many great choices!
Entertainment; the smoke-free casino is fun but the penny slots are just plain confusing and a waste of time; dealers on the ship are very well trained. One evening there was an illusionist who had a terrific, energetic and creative show. Al Bacio was one of our favorite places to have a drink, enjoy some music or people watch. Michael's Pub serves some wonderful beers and is a great place to watch a sporting event.
Dis-embarkation; We were off the ship and at the airport in about 30 minutes. But I was very surprised that when we exited the terminal at 8:30 AM, there was not one taxi in sight; in every other port they are usually lined up to take passengers to the airport but not here. Maybe they arrived later but we were extremely pleased that we arranged to have the same limo driver who dropped us off when we boarded pick us up for the drive to the airport.
Thank you Celebrity and Summit crew for an enjoyable and memorable vacation.