My husband and I, along with our teenaged son, have cruised on Holland America, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean in the past and were looking forward to the "luxury" Celebrity promises on the Summit on our July trip to Bermuda to celebrate a birthday.
While we were pleased that the Summit is a "smaller" ship than most other cruise ships out of New York/New Jersey, the cruise line sells Celebrity as a "luxury" brand, even branding "Celebrity Life" with the promise of first class service and excellent accomodations. By doing this, they do themselves a great disservice as our expectations were very high.
The Celebrity Summit is like other ships in many ways. Good food. Very nice staff. Interesting dEcor. The differences are also positives. More mature clientele, which is very good. A sense of decorum around the ship, friendly middle-aged crowd with some families.
Downside is that the ship is older and cannot live up to the hype. Our toilet seat was filled with cracks, which housekeeping quickly replaced, but it had obviously been like that for a while and somebody should have changed it ...just gives the wrong impression. Shower was clean but tiles had some rust marks.
In the main dining room "Cosmopolitan," our main waiters were indifferent and didn't make any effort to know our names, but made sure we knew theirs. This is quite different from past cruises where our waiters always greeted us by name every evening. For Celebrity to thrive, they need to make sure the dining room staff makes an effort to make that warm and personal connection with guests.
Bingo on this ship is a joke, and that is a wasted opportunity for Celebrity as this is a crowd who likes their bingo. Many people walked away when they saw the $39 board for three games. Celebrity needs to get the more modern electronic boards so much older guests can enjoy the game more readily.
On the plus side, the adult Themal pool is heated. Towels are plentiful and you don't need to "sign them out," which is great.
Cruise director Steve is excellent. A classy gentleman who makes his way around the ship and has an upbeat, easy-going style.
Captain is new and young and also very concerned, friendly and puts great pride into his work.
Guest talent was great. Christine Andreas was outstanding, as was Dan Wilson, the comedian and Jason Bishop, a great illusionist. Also, the lectures from guest author Sandy Cares about Bermuda's colorful history were incredible. The Crewners are very good barber shop style quartet, but they teased us with a Four Seasons medley on opening night and never returned to it later in the cruise. And please lose the Bruno Mars lazy day song and that odd Norwegian guy's song. But good and talented voices from all of these guys.
Downsides: There is no steam room for guest use, only for Aqua Class, which seems cheap. Celebrity dancers and singers are terrific, but the shows they had to perform in were not at all good. Most numbers feel like warmed over versions of shows on other cruise ships. Sirens is the worst, with an awkward placement of "Sweet Caroline" stuck in the middle and no plot line...and why, please, does every cruise have to include a song from "Dream Girls" and "It's Raining Men?" Getting old. Singers were outstanding but why do all the songs start to sound alike and why are familiar songs sung in the wrong key? Very bad. And a waste of great talent.
Overall, Celebrity needs a new ad agency. Brand the Summit as a "class act" for those who "know quality when they see it." Stay away from the word luxury, too misleading and a cracked toilet seat is not luxurious. Plus, our free cocktail canapes in Concierge class were a joke...a few olives and 2 chips (I'm not kidding) with a dollop of humus for three people. Plus the promised "fresh flowers in the room every day" were the same five stems of something cheap and purple that look like the were the $3.99 bouquet they sell at Walmart. Very disappointing and makes you feel foolish for expecting something of more substance. Because of this, there is really no difference between "Veranda" and "Concierge" class. Next time we book, we're going for the Veranda rooms minus the canapes and flowers... and will save $300 per person.
Lastly, my husband indicated when he booked the cruise that he preferred to tip individually, and not have the tip included in the final bill. We would prefer to overtip good service and undertip indifferent service. Unfortunately, the tip was still automatically included in the final bill, and when we first disputed this, we were told that we lost our opportunity to correct this as we didn't get to the Concierge Desk by the "deadline" the night before to remind them that we opted out of the automatic tip when we first booked the cruise. This is not acceptable and things were eventually corrected, but things should not have gotten to that point, and the whole experience at the Concierge Desk put a damper on the final night of our cruise.
A note: Docked in Bermuda next to us was NCL's new "Breakaway." We ran into some of the passengers on the island, at the beach and chatted. A lot of complaints. Seems the ship has 4,000 passengers, not enough staff, not enough lounge chairs at the pool. After hearing so many complaints, we were very happy to board our smaller but cozier "home" and enjoy the peace and quiet that Celebrity Summit offers ... something we look for in a vacation.