CABIN: Compared to most similar Carnival ship I've sailed on the Summit cabin was cozier cabin but better finished, fitted, and fully functional. The bathroom was much better. Verandahs were a bit bigger but the deck material stuck to feet and shoes to be tracked about the cabin, and it wasn't vacuumed on a regular basis. I often find automatic-gratuity cruises lack incentive for good service and that seemed to be the case for us.
SUITE: I had suggested a Deck 6 suite for a couple in our group because that's where the most expensive cabins are, and, you would think, the best service. At one point they had to call for toilet paper when the only roll in the suite ran out. Enough said.
FOOD: Relative the Carnival experience the food at the buffet (Ocean View) was slightly lackluster. Those in our group that sampled the speciality restaurant LeNormandie were pleased. Main dining room food was good, though by the time sauces and dressings (served separately) arrived you were half finished or dinner was lukewarm. The cocktail waiter and sommelier both seemed a bit overworked--get your pre-dinner drink before.
BEVERAGE: We figured the appropriate beverage package was worth it, but that didn't stop us from getting minibar charges even though our bar was locked, we had no key and we weren't using it. It seemed the cabin attendant was charging us for any empty in the room, regardless or where it came from. Two different beers that I can buy for the same price at a big-box retailer or local liquor store on either US coast were $7 and $11 (a markup of 6.6 times retail), and the only way to find cost was to have it "rung up" and then cancelled on the touchscreen.
POLICY: The dress code often went unheeded, with no apparent penalty or request to try again for "offenders." Likewise the smoking policy...I was two decks and opposite side of the ship from smoking zones but regularly sneezed on my balcony and corridors. Some of the smoking zones are immediately adjacent Main and Ocean View dining areas, which didn't help appetite or digestion.
BOARDING: Get there early or late, not middle of the time window. An hour in that enclosure gets tiring. Departure was much better and went smoothly and quickly. Note my cabin first got a departure notice for another cabin, and the crew advised incorrectly about what document(s) a minor needs to reboard in port.
FITNESS: Gym users' only complaint was being unable to determine when it would be busy or not. The running "track" weaves amongst deck chairs and is frequently crowded when it's sunny outside. Many "classes" are held on deck near the pool...for exercisers note you may be watched the entire time, for nearby nonparticipants expect some noise and, in my unfortunate case, watching people moving in place even after they stopped exercising. 'Twas not pretty.
DESTINATION: To keep the bar, shops and casino filled the trip to Bermuda is stretched out at 11-13 knots. They could arrive a day earlier which would relieve the crush as two cruise ships docking w/in 30 minutes of each other increases Bermuda's population by nearly 10%. You can avoid the crowds and enjoy Bermuda but I'm not volunteering how, and the local ferry from Hamilton to all the small stops in the evening is a great way to see some of the 150-odd islands and relax.
INCONSISTENCIES and ROUGH POINTS:
The in-room directory notes the Thalassotherapy pool as the only one not open to those younger than 16. However, all but one of the other pools and hot tubs was signed over-16 only.
I got a third lifejacket (since there were three of us) in a matter of minute but it took a couple of days to get more than two glasses for our cabin "bar area" and we never got more than one for the bath despite racks for more.
Looking for an early breakfast option in the daily "paper" I found Bistro opened at 6 AM. On the next page of the same paper it opened at 8 AM. I ate ashore.
Bermuda told the crew on July 3 they would have fireworks at the dockyard, but did not. Even after Guest Relations learned Bermuda cancelled they made no announcement. The Norwegian Breakaway berthed next to us shot off their own fireworks when Bermuda cancelled.
The Guest Relations phone line was always a wait for an available person. When the toilet failed to flush and I got the usual all-busy message I attempted the "cabin attendant" button but the system was not "authorized" to make that connection.
Perhaps it's a TSA or Homeland Security thing but while sailing past Ellis Island the TV maps showed us far out to sea. If you have an inside cabin and would like to see arrivals on deck pay attention.
It appeared that some of our difficulties were the result of our cabin steward, as our friends in the adjacent cabin had a different steward and few of the problems.
I mailed Celebrity to get their feedback on my comments and questions, specifically noting I sought only explanation and no reimbursement or future-use vouchers, and they replied by phone (a Royal Caribbean number) promptly. However, while there were lots of 'should not have' happened or occurred--management restating the obvious?--there were no explanations for any of it and many questions remain unanswered. They offered a credit for a future cruise which I declined as I'd stated on board I wouldn't be cruising with them again.
While onboard I was reading Conde Nast Traveler's gold lists. Celebrity's two large ships ranked in the top 5 for large cruise ships, while the mid-size ships like Summit didn't even make the list of 20. Go big or go home?