We decided to sail on Celebrity Summit after our cruise on RCI Grandeur was canceled due to the fire. We only had about three weeks to find another cruise during the same time frame that all five of us could go, and Summit fit the bill. I booked a Sky Suite for my husband and myself, and our 20 year old daughter to share. I booked an inside cabin for my 24 yr old son and his girlfriend. We were planning to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was a breeze. It is a two hour drive to Cape Liberty from our home in suburban Philadelphia. We got to the dock around 10 a.m. and checked our bags with friendly baggage handlers. There was a separate line for guests staying in suites. I was a little worried about checking in separately from my son and his girlfriend but as it turned out, they boarded almost right after we did because it was early and there was no line. Because of this separate checking in though we were unable to get a photo of all five of us boarding. Wish we could have done that somehow. I asked but was not allowed to go through regular checkout because we had a suite. At the time of embarkation we also booked our reservation at the Normandy restaurant for our anniversary night; this was complimentary with our Suite reservation.
We were handed champagne upon boarding which is such a nice touch! The staff on the Summit could not be nicer. Everyone, from the window washers all the way up to the Captain always says hello and asks how your vacation is going.
PUBLIC AREAS: We went up to the buffet and had lunch. No crowd yet so this was very pleasant. The food was typical buffet food and I had salad and some chicken. Afterward because the cabins were not ready until 1:30, we toured the ship. We thought the ship looked great; I did not see any shabby areas as I had read in earlier reviews. The bars and lounges had comfortable chairs and attentive staff. The showroom was gorgeous!! There is not a bad seat in that house, and it has a huge high ceiling unlike other ships we have sailed. This allowed it to have a huge video screen when the magician was performing card tricks, so you could see every detail. There were some very nice shops onboard and my daughter and I enjoyed shopping there. The casino was large and nicely decorated though we did not gamble there.
CABINS: The cabins opened up shortly after 1 p.m. and we went to see our Sky Suite. We have had a Junior Suite on RCI and hoped this would be comparable. It was very similar. However the room was more square than rectangular and this made it easier for us to walk around without tripping over each other to get to the balcony, etc. The balcony seemed a little smaller than our JS on RCI, but still very nice. The "refrigerator" is really just a cooler and was not much use at all. The closet was large and there was a lot of storage space; adequate for all three of us. We met our "butler" and he explained what he was responsible (bringing us room service if we ordered it), etc. We also met his assistant, a very nice woman. The butler always seemed a bit scattered and we soon learned if we wanted something, like more towels for the bathroom, to ask his assistant who would be happy to provide whatever we wanted. The biggest drawback was our bathroom. The tub was elevated, so it was difficult to step into and it was a dangerous drop to the floor when you got out. There should be grab bars installed; even my daughter had trouble getting into and out of the tub; there was no separate shower as in some suites so we were forced to endure this every time we showered. The bathroom had little storage and was tiny compared to our bathroom in a JS on RCI. Later in the cruise we visited our son's inside cabin on deck 2 and found it to be very spacious and well laid out; much better than their last inside cabin on RCI last year.
Luckily we had packed a change of clothing and a swimsuit into our carry on bags, because we did not receive our luggage until AFTER dinner the first night, even though our son and his girlfriend on deck 2 (we were on deck 9) got theirs in early afternoon. My daughter and I went out to the pool deck and enjoyed a cool drink in the sun. The deck chairs were very comfortable and the deck was well laid out. There were two pools and two hot tubs. We also toured the Solarium which was air conditioned (nice touch!) and very comfortable.
DINING: We had Main Seating in the dining room and we met our son and his GF there for dinner. We had a very attentive waiter and his assistants were also very attentive. The wine steward was very efficient and I had wine every night and it was never late. For the first time in 15 cruises we had a table near a window! We loved that.
I wish I could say that the food was good, but I thought it was pretty poor. But my son and his girlfriend thought everything was great, and they had dessert every night and my son even got two steaks a couple of times; this was no problem and he enjoyed them very much. My husband thought the fish and lobster were mediocre and I only liked the soup. In fact I just felt nauseated by most of the food and it wasn't because I was seasick; I felt that way even while we were in port. We ate three lunches in the Bistro on 5 and felt the food there was better than both the buffets (which were so overcrowded on sea days) and the MDR. We had our anniversary dinner in the Normandy restaurant, where the food was mediocre at best. The service was good but not better than the main dining room.
ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the first show and it was wonderful. Celebrity has top notch talent onboard and we were surprised how much better it was than the shows on RCI, which we had always enjoyed anyway. Summit has two ballet dancers who also do some Cirque de Soleil type acts; wow they were amazing. We also went to see the magician later in the week. He called our son up to help him do one of his bigger illusions, and our son had a fantastic time doing that! Later he told us even though he was up close and helping, he could not figure out how the magician did what he did! It was a very good show; better than any other magician I have seen on any ship.
We noticed the second night at sea that we were sailing rather fast. It turned out that a passenger had become seriously ill and we had to get close to Bermuda the evening before we were due to arrive, so that a medic rescue boat could come and take him to shore to the hospital. The captain apologizes for the inconvenience. We watched the rescue boat come and get the patient off the ship from our balcony. When the patient was safely on the medic boat, everyone watching applauded the professional way the situation was handled. There was no place for us to dock until the next morning at Kings Wharf so we just dropped anchor a few miles away from there -- we could see the land and the beautiful water though, and it was lovely.
EXCURSIONS: The three days we spent in Bermuda were wonderful. It was quite HOT there however and we felt that the ship turned the AC down while we were in port; we were glad we brought a fan for the cabin. The first night we took a tour to Harbour Night in Hamilton on a private boat (with about 35 other people). The staff on that boat were awesome; very friendly and complimentary rum swizzles as well. We enjoyed Harbour Night with its live music and native Bermudians selling handmade items. We ate dinner at the Hogpenny restaurant in Hamilton that night and it was the best meal of the week. Sailing back to the ship on the boat which brought us was more beautiful than ever in the dark, seeing the lights of the island reflected off the water.
The second day in Bermuda we took the tour to Horseshoe Bay. We enjoy taking the tour bus there because you know when they are coming back to get you and it's all preplanned. It was a gorgeous day at Horseshoe Beach. I believe that is the most beautiful beach on the planet. This was our 5th time there and it never disappoints. It is a living postcard. It was a little crowded though since Norwegian Breakaway was also in port.
OVERALL: we had a very nice cruise. It would have been better if the food was better and there were more food options. We ate in Bistro on 5 three times and felt the food was better in there than in the main dining room. Also we could not regulate the AC in our cabin and it was always too warm. The butler kept closing the curtains so obviously he was aware the room was too warm all the time; maybe it was just our cabin; we did not feel hot elsewhere on the ship most of the time. We felt there were plenty of activities to keep everyone busy all day and most of the night if you were so inclined. Our son and his GF used the spa, the gym, the jogging track and went to every single show. We all played bingo twice (and lost, but it was fun). One thing my husband and I missed was having a quiet place to have a drink, where you could engage in normal conversation. We retreated to our room every night because there was no place to do so;the music in all the lounges was too loud to hear anyone speak.
RATES/VALUE FOR THE MONEY: Celebrity is more expensive than RCI so we had hoped the food would be better. However the entertainment was excellent and there are nice touches RCI no longer has such as pool towels you don't have to sign out, beach towels they put in your cabin for you in port, chocolates on the pillows at night. Little things DO matter. We got the drink packages (alcohol ones for me, my husand and our son, and a premium non-alcohol one for our daughter) and felt they made things a lot easier.