Hello Fellow CCers!
I wanted to submit my impressions from our July 14, 2013, sailing to Bermuda on the Celebrity Summit. A quick word about us: Were a couple in our mid 50s travelling alone on this trip which is unusual for us. We usually travel with a group of family and friends. We were celebrating our 33rd anniversary and booked the trip on a whim at the last minute. Thats the last quick thing you get, so if you want an abbreviated review, this is not the one for you so grab a cup of coffee and jump in if youd like! I also like to use this venue as a travel log, so please forgive my long-windedness.
Embarkation: We drove from home (central NJ) to Cape Liberty. After turning into the port and traveling through what can only be described as the post-apocalyptic scene which is our lovely port at Bayonne, (extremely embarrassing to this Jersey Girl), we arrived at the terminal at around 11AM. We drove to the end of the drop-off area to avoid the mass chaos in the middle of the terminal. That worked quite well. We checked our luggage with the longshoreman and drove around the corner to the parking lot. We pre-paid our $140 parking fee, and Mr. OutofNJ! astutely snagged a spot right near the gate and crosswalk which came in handy at the end of the cruise. We made the short walk back to the terminal building and made our way through the security checkpoint. There was a bit of a line for embarkation. Just a note- if you are able, enter the terminal and go to the right line. The left line was where the suite guests, elite pax and handicapped folks come in to the head of the line, so it made the left line move considerably slower than the right side of the room. It took us about an hour to go through check-in. We boarded the busses immediately. Those of you with any mobility issues may be surprised by the VERY large step up onto the bus. It was quite a hurdle! All told, we always enjoy the convenience of leaving from Bayonne and the beautiful sail-away makes it all worthwhile. We enjoyed a cocktail, did our muster drill and met up with our CC buddies for a sail-away toast.
Room: For this last minute get-away, we went with an inside guarantee room and we were assigned room 7030. We were all the way forward. There was only one room more forward than ours on the floor. That made it a good long walk to or from anywhere which was helpful for a little extra calorie burning. No problem for us, but if you have walking issues this is not the area for you, which is interesting because we were across from a bank of handicap rooms??. We were in a square room. Contrary to some reviews, I didnt find that configuration to give us any more or less room that a traditional rectangular type of room. There was plenty of room for the stuff of this chronic over-packer. We did experience noise (music with heavy bass) from the theater above us. It really didnt bother us for the most part. We were out and about during most of the shows and the only time we noticed it was during a few of the rehearsals that went on while we were dressing for dinner. Our cabin steward Noel was very efficient and barely noticeable. The room was always clean and there were always fresh towels available. We were never overly warm in our room as some reviews have mentioned. There was an odor in the bathroom, but I have noticed that this occurs on many ships. No big deal. We just kept the door closed, and it seemed to dissipate during a shower, so it may have been coming from the floor drain.
Around the Ship: We found the Summit to be a very gracious old girl. She is showing some slight signs of her age (arent we all?), but for the most part she is lovingly looked after by her crew and puts a good foot forward. If youre looking for an S-Class ship experience (which we enjoy as well for different reasons), youre not going to find that here. The M-Class ships have a smaller ship charm all of their own. This makes for a very personal experience. You can run into your table mates at poolside, or your CC buddies at the Martini Bar (Hey Lisa and Steve!). This very able crew gets to know your names, likes and dislikes quickly. Overall, it was our pleasure to sail on her.
On sea days, that age-old tradition of chair hogging is of course in full swing, but the pool attendants make an effort to clear un-used chairs. We eventually found chairs in different areas on all sea days. The outdoor pools themselves are very crowded. Im sure that this happens on all summer sailings. At times it was difficult just to find a little spot of pool water. I did see several potential accidents. Kids swimming under water could easily get pinned down there, so parents should keep a sharp eye out. Parents with babies were clogging the stairways to take advantage of the very shallow water surrounding the pool, so the crew finally put an inflatable baby pool out onto the deck. Great idea! This gave the little ones space to romp and made access to the pool much easier for all. The T-pool, ahhhh. What can I say? Fantastico! Im so glad they didnt Solsticize that baby right off of the Summit. Thats something wonderful that makes her stand out in a crowd of giants.
The shops were standard. Same stuff as on every ship. Nothing special. The Spa and the gym were very nice. The Zumba instructor Pamela is fantastic. If youre sharing a room and you need some nice stretchy shower time, I recommend going to the spa changing room to shower. Its right in front of the T- pool by the gym. They have those wonderful rain shower heads and you can actually bend over to shave your legs. Nice little respite from the stick-to-your body shower curtain in the teeny-tiny shower stall in most cabins. They also have nice bathing products in there.
Shipboard Activities/Entertainment: The cruise director Steve Gayada (Hello Steve!) is fantastic. Hes sooooo funny and always up-beat. On any given night, you could find him in some hilarious costume (reference the melon colored Bermuda shorts, knee socks and pith helmet or a crazy plaid kilt) while announcing a show or running a game show. Hes warm, approachable, inclusive and very visible. His staff is also very much on the ball. The childrens clubs seemed to be a lot of fun for the little guys. One day I saw the kids going on a pirate hunt around the ship singing a song about boogers. What could be better to an 8 year old, I ask you?? Our Below Studio 54 (or whatever its called) entertainer was Anthony Rapp. I thought he was excellent. On the other hand, Mr. OutofNJ! did not enjoy it so much. He said he thought the songs were depressing and he wanted to jump overboard and/or get some therapy after the show. Doesnt he know any songs that you can tap your foot to? Im quite sure Mr. Rapp has no Beach Boys tunes in his repertoire which would really make Mr. OutofNJ! happy , but I enjoyed the show just the same. Loved, loved, loved him as Mark in Rent. The party band Flava was quite entertaining and very hard working. The Crewners were awesome. Catch a full show if you can. The Smooth Sounds dance quartet was a snooze, again Mr. OutofNJ! didnt enjoy this. He spent most of this set trying not to dance. Again, what, no Beach Boys? Jordan Peterson was very good for a quiet sit-down to enjoy some wonderfully presented music. So talented! (Shout out to his Mom whos and active CC member). Brandi Paige.well.sad Carole King songs or Pink Floyd solos played while Im having a beer is not my thing. The one time we intentionally sat through one of her sets, she didnt know just about every request made by her audience and seemed to be playing mostly to entertain herself. Jeffrey Ang was just OK. Again, a bit of a snoozer. The steel drum guy was very entertaining. Illusionist Jason Bishop was fabulous! Youd be very lucky to have this talented magician entertain on your cruise. He was actually much funnier than the comedian James Stevens. His stuff was tired. Best of his show was heckling late comers. If hes on your ship, be on time! These two guys were judges along with Steve (Hello Steve!) at the Dancing with the Stripes Show. HILARIOUS! I laughed until I cried! Dont miss this show!! It was too rough for the crew volleyball game and they had to drain the pool down because it was splish-splashing all over the deck, but I hear this is really good too. Family Feud was just OK. We didnt do any production shows or play bingo because its not our bag, so I cant comment on that. We were on an Xcite the Senses cruise, so we got to see a really great chef battle between a couple of high ranking executive chefs from corporate HQ (whose names escape me). It was very cool and presented in Top Chef style. The casino was very beautiful and hopping until all hours. The table limits were accessible at around $5. Slots were set at $0.01 could go up to about $2.00 per pull. We came out about even on our CC slot pull and had a great lot of fun for an hour or so. It would have been more fun if we won some money, but you cant have everything. The casino hostess provided us with some tee shirts and a trophy. Overall, we never lacked for something interesting to do for the entire week. We really enjoyed the activities aboard the Summit. Thanks to Steve and his team for providing us with outstanding entertainment.
Bars: The bars around the ship are well run and efficient. Just an FYI, if youre planning on having a specialty coffee in the AM, grabbing a bottle of water for an excursion, drinking a fuzzy frozen drink by the pool in the afternoon, having a martini before dinner and a glass of wine with dinner or a nightcap like me, I recommend purchasing the drink package. It has been my experience that Celebrity has the some of the highest priced drinks at sea. Mr. OutofNJ! on the other hand usually only drinks beer. His craft beer at Michaels Pub was $9 (he cried into it while listening to Brandi Paige), but he usually buys a bucket of beer during the day and sticks the remainder in the refrigerator in the cabin to enjoy by the pool the following day. Whatever the price of the bucket is (I forget), it turns out that one of the six beers is free. Considering that this is our usual pattern, just purchasing the package for me turned out to be a good buy. Point- If youre a buy that bucket of beer kind of person, stick a bottle opener in your bag. Although the Corona comes with a cup of limes, if you want to drink a second one, you have to flag down a waiter to open it. Just a thought.
Its my understanding that you cant purchase a drink package for only one person in your party online prior to your sail date (I could be wrong here, someone told me this), but I did purchase a single drink package onboard later in the cruise and it was pro-rated for the number of days remaining. It turned out to be a good deal for me. Another highlight- catch Gedeye at the martini bar doing his fantastic death-defying mixology handstand performance while mixing and pouring drinks. He makes one fabulous martini and is quite a talented acrobat! Hey-hey Gedeye! Mary at the mast bar is a delight as well. Always smiling.
Restaurants: We had the 8:30PM traditional seating. We were seated in the furthest back corner of the dining room. I suppose we could have made a fuss and asked for a different table, but we were OK with it for this trip since it was just the two of us. One night, we joined CC buddies Steve and Lisa for dinner in the main part of the DR. The decor was absolutely beautiful there. Back at our old table, our table mates were delightful. The main dining room is well run and well-staffed. Our dinners were delicious for the most part. Some hit or miss items, but that was a matter of what we ordered, I think. If we followed our waiter Lorenencios recommendations, our dinners were usually quite good. Our meals were hot and delivered in a timely fashion by our team. For those who are interested in those slimy little boogers (that would include Mr. OutofNJ!), yes there was escargot available on this sailing. We didnt do qSine on this sailing, but we enjoyed that on the Silhouette. We did have Anniversary reservations for Normandy for the last night, but we were experiencing 20 foot swells and I was eating the heck out of crystalized ginger (yuck!) on that evening and decided that the very expensive up charge restaurant would have been wasted on us. The AquaSpa cafe was wonderful for lunch. The offerings were unusual and delicious. Try the chicken salad, yummy! In my opinion, it was the best place for lunch on the ship. Our CC buddies said that the breakfast was very good there as well and they very much enjoyed Blu. Mr. OutofNJ! said that the burgers from the Pool Grill were just OK, and there was always a VERY long line. The one at a time method of cooking makes for another huge bottleneck. Surprise.. its lunchtime! Have some burgers ready guys! Cafe Al Bacio was wonderful. The coffee and goodies there are delicious and the staff is warm and welcoming. It made a very nice venue for Jordan Peterson and it was quite a relaxing way to enjoy a specialty cup of Joe or a glass of vino.
Room Service: Room service was very efficient. As usual, dont order scrambled eggs and expect them to be delivered piping hot to your room, but the club sandwich delivered late one night was delicious. Moral of the story, be mindful of what you order. Room service was about the only way to get a piece of cheese and a little bit of fruit while having a glass of wine while we were dressing for our late dinner seating, or for that matter-anything to eat at some off hour. More on the dreadful buffet later. Coffee service in the AM was our wake-up call. It was always delivered exactly on time preceded by a telephone call to make sure that you were awake and respectable when they arrived at your door at your requested time. It was always delivered by a chipper waiter who greeted you with a good morning smile. We missed Bistro on 5, but we should have eaten breakfast there instead of the horrendous buffet. Also not to be missed was the fantastic and spectacular brunch buffet in the MDR offered on the last sea day. It was awesome! Wish I could have tasted more, but the deep blue sea was not cooperating that day.
Buffet: This brings me to the Oceanview Cafe. You know Im not prone to do negative reviews, and I try to be a half-full kind of person, but I also strive to tell it like it is. After all, why bother to write a less than truthful review. Im aware that everything is a matter of personal perspective, so understandably all should form their own opinions, but here is mine. In general, I have enjoyed the buffets on all of our cruises, but I have to say this now. The Oceanview Cafe aboard the Summit is the most mis-managed dining venue I have ever, ever experienced on a cruise ship. I wrote some of my concerns about this area on the comment card, but Im hoping that someone from the dining services on the ship reads this and takes it somewhere in the Dining Services Department. I have to say that this was one of the only mis-steps of this whole cruise experience, but it was a big one because it affected us each day of our cruise. Buffets are most fascinating to me because I am a Foodservice Director for a school system, so I know a little bit about kiosk-style dining. Its kind of my area of interest. Im also a knosher. I like to taste different things you know, a little of this a little of that, so usually Im a pretty big fan of buffet- type of dining experiences as long as I feel that its clean, safe temperatures are maintained and HACCP practices are in place. Im assuming that this was the case on our cruise as the salt/pepper shakers remained on the tables for the entire week and there was no talk of Norovirus. Bravo the Dining Services team on this point. Another notable thing here was that the dining area was constantly cleared and kept very clean by the wait staff. Good job!!
Admittedly, this is the first time Ive eaten dinner at the buffet on any of our cruises (just once was enough in this case), but usually breakfast, lunch, mid-day snacks, late night pizza, ice cream, etc., etc. are part of my cruise enjoyment. I love to see what the culinary staff can offer in this format. I dont always indulge, but I love to look at artful presentations. In this case, the venue was absolutely dismal on all accounts. In order to complete your meal, you have to criss-cross all over the buffet, which was mired in bottlenecked stations and empty vessels. For instance, if like me, you wanted something exotic like a bagel with a smear and some lox for your breakfast yummy, you went to stand in line and waited for the attendant to toast your bread choice, one guest at a time. Then, you had to go stand behind the long, long line created by people waiting for omelets at the top of the line to complete your meal. If you just wanted scrambled eggs and bacon, you were still standing in this very long line as well. This line was blocking the entire rest of the buffet. I merely wanted a bagel and cream cheese with some fish and little fruit every morning. Maybe a glass of juice. Not much to ask, right? WRONG!! Every morning, I had to stand in line after line only to arrive at the cream cheese bowl with my now cold toasted bagel. Every morning, the cream cheese bowl was empty (along with many, many empty bowls and serving vessels). In a blisteringly quick 10 to 15 minutes, the requested cream cheese would finally arrive. This occurred every morning except for one day when I was told they didnt have any more cream cheese. Gee wiz!!! What, you want capers and chopped onions with your bagel and lox. really?????? The nerve of expecting the bowls to be full!! Every morning of the cruise, this was the case. Unfortunately we were never upstairs early enough to eat in the MDR. That probably would have been a good solution to this constant morning frustration. In retrospect, we probably should have paid the $5 pp charge to eat at Bistro on 5. We will do this next time we are on the Summit for sure. In an effort to reduce our frustration, one day we tried skipping breakfast and just getting lunch. Same story. Much of the buffet was empty and you had to do the whole criss-cross-waiting-in-bottleneck-lines thing again.
On to our one and only dinner at the buffet experience. We made plans with our CC buddies Joe, Char and company to have an early dinner while docked in Bermuda to attend a festival on the island. We mustered for dinner at 4:30 PM because we wanted to get a jump onto the ferry and avoid the crowds. You have to know that at that time of the day, the only buffet stations open are the pizza and pasta stations. OK. I get it. You cant provide 4000 tons of food 24 hours a day. I get it. But, once again, we were fraught by the Oceanview bottleneck tango. If you wanted pasta, there was one guy cooking it, one dish at a time. The line on this day was all the way back to the sunset bar doors. Hmm perhaps the manager should have opened another side??? Perhaps he/she should have made sure that all of the ingredients were available and not mostly empty (again). Perhaps if folks are eating dinner at that hour, and the only things available for early dinner are pizza or pasta, just maybe you should throw a salad on the line and a little fruit so that you could have a somewhat complete meal. OMG. What a mess. The pizza was just OK. It would have been nice if it was more readily available, but again the one at a time mentality caused long waiting lines here as well. The composed salads on the pizza station were the bright spot of early dining. Delicious roasted veggie salads and such. Also noted, we were fortunate enough on one day to snag some delicious sushi. Another bright spot. OK. Enough wining about dining! This one area was really the only low-performing place on the ship. Really.
Bermuda: On Wednesday we woke up in beautiful Bermuda. The weather was steamy during our stay here, but thats to be expected in July. We were docked next to the GIGANTIC Norwegian Breakaway. She carries a massive 4000 pax. It looked like it must be a very fun ship for families with little ones and most especially teens (enormous brightly colored water slide on the top deck). Folks we met while travelling around all seemed pleased with the ship, but the overwhelming response from her revelers was always its huge!
Mr. OutofNJ! and I have done Caribbean cruises exclusively. Someday well go to Europe or see the Panama Canal or Asia, but for now a warm winter get-away is what we do. As we have a house at the Jersey Shore, were usually busy with family during the warmer months so this was our first summer cruising experience. Up to now, weve seen some pretty spectacular scenery and balmy, beautiful places. We found Bermuda to be the cleanest, friendliest, safest, most flowerful island we have ever visited. OMG. Everywhere you look there are more and more colorful, wonderful flowering trees and bushes of every imaginable shade. The most beautiful pastel homes owned by proud and friendly inhabitants. We felt very safe at all hours of the day and night. The folks there are the least aggressive sales people Ive ever encountered on any island. You know no barrage of pushy people trying to sell you a tour or massage your feet or braid your hair or sell you some trinket made in China. Everyone was so polite! The rocky coastline and the beautiful color of the clear blue water are awe-inspiring. The sugary pink sand was so soft (and sticky!).
In addition to the physical beauty of the place, there is something very relaxing about docking on the island and (for a few days at least) not having to worry about making it back by 4:15PM for all aboard each day. When we cruise, we always enjoy our beach days or excursions, but were always thinking in the back of our mind, What time is it? How long will it take to get back to the ship from here? You know, who wants to be those folks that you see on Youtube running toward their already departed ship. EEK! Anyway, this was not the case with this itinerary. It was quite refreshing not to worry about that and we really didnt appreciate it until our last day when we spent the day looking at our watches. It was a very relaxing mindset.
On our first day, our CC buddy Joe (jfer8580) had arranged an island tour with Dennis Hollis and graciously invited us to attend. The tour was about 5 hours. We went to Hamilton, Fort Scaur, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. Unofficial tour guide Joe climbed to the top-something like 80 steps- for a picture- GO GO GI JOE! We visited a small local chapel, crossed that darned worlds smallest drawbridge for the first of 10 times, made it to St. George in time for the wench dunking and climbed the steps to St. Peters Church and checked out a fascinating graveyard (UNESCO World Heritage Site), ate some delicious locally made ice cream, drove through some truly spectacular resort areas, and by the time we were done we had seen just about everything we wanted to see on this trip to the island. There is so much more to see, but thats for the next visit. Dennis was very thorough and very talkative and had an endless supply of historical facts. Despite the extremely narrow, rock walled roads, we always felt quite safe in his cab. Just another cautionary note here during our tour and bus rides, we passed no less than three badly banged up scooters on the side of the road. Think twice- no three or four times before renting one of these little things and attempting to drive these treacherous and backwards (for US citizens) roads.
At the end of the five hour tour, it cost each of three couples $110 (including a generous tip). It was worth it to feel that you got to know the lay of the land. Back at the Dockyard, we purchased the $30 ticket coupon book instead of getting the 2 or 3 day pass each, and for us it was more than sufficient and about half the price of a passes. You get 15 tickets in the book. Each one way ride on any bus or ferry is 1 ticket pp. We had some tickets remaining at the end of the trip. They also do not expire, so you can put them away for a possible return trip. The daily transportation pass does expire though.
After our tour, we grabbed some early dinner at the Oceanview Cafe (it was hot filling at least) with the CC gang, used 4 of our tickets for the ferry (round trip for both of us) and went over to Hamilton for the Harbor Lights Festival. We got there at 6PM, and in true island spirit, the 6PM starting time for the festival was really closer to 7PM. We attempted to have a drink at the famous Hogpenny Bar but it was packed, so we went to a place called Finnegans or Flanigans or something like that because we had gotten coupons handed to us upon exiting the ferry. It was an OK place and two Coors Lights were $18 at the coupon price. Whew! If youre purchasing food or drink around the island, be sure to check your bill as it seems customary to include an 18% gratuity regardless of party size. We finished our expensive beer and moved on the street fair. There were a lot of craft vendors there. I bought a reasonably priced pair of sea glass earrings for $15. They had some interesting wares there. The rum store was passing out free samples of some yummy local rum. We wandered the streets and ended up at a little place called the Lemon Tree. We paid $6 per beer there and we were treated to a fantastic free buffet of roasted meats, fish cakes, salads and other delicious goodies. This layout of food begins at 8PM. It was an outdoor venue overlooking a beautiful inner-city park, and it had great music and island ambience. A lot of the International Island Games athletes were there enjoying some adult beverages as the games for this year had just finished and they were celebrating victories and agonizing defeats. It was great to meet some of these wonderful young athletes and chat about their exotic island homes. I highly recommend visiting the Lemon Tree if youre in Hamilton. After we had seen enough of the festivities, we hopped the ferry back to the Dockyard (fastest mode of transportation from Hamilton), sat on the top deck and we were treated to a spectacular view of the sunset as we crossed the bay. We boarded the ship and enjoyed some of the ships entertainment for the evening.
The following day, we went with a group to Horseshoe Bay Beach. We decided to split a cab instead of taking the bus since we heard from Mr. Hollis that the walk from the bus stop to the bottom of the hill is treacherous. There were five of us going to the beach and the fare from the Dockyard was $7 each including tip. We were dropped off right at the beach, and it was true about the hill. It was a bit steep. We rented chairs and umbrellas at the rental center there. It was $11 fee per item and there was a $5 deposit per item. For our set of two chairs and one umbrella, we paid $48 and we were returned $15 when we brought them back. This must be in cash, so if youre planning on renting, make sure youre not counting on doing it with a credit card. There are reasonably clean restrooms there and a small snack bar which we didnt use. We spent a very pleasant and windy day at the beach. It was beautiful, but very crowded. If you want to avoid the crush of humanity, walk on to the beach and head to the far left. The water was gorgeous and the scenery was spectacular. We returned our rentals and caught a cab back to the Dockyard. There is a shuttle that will take you to the top of the hill for $2 pp. It wasnt there when we wanted to return so rather than pay for the shuttle and then wait for the bus; our group paid the same $7 pp to return to the ship. After a much needed shower (I was pulling pink sand out of the most unusual places!), we again enjoyed the vibrant nightlife of the ship.
The next day, we toured the shops at the Dockyard and the Clock Tower Mall. There are fascinating galleries and shops and glass blowing demonstrations there. We stopped at the Frog and the Onion and Mr. OutofNJ! enjoyed a craft beer. Again, pretty pricey. For an iced tea and that craft beer, $16 (including a pre-included tip). Whew! We boarded the bus to meet the CC group for a farewell lunch at the famous Swizzle Inn. It took about 45 minutes on the bus from the Dockyard to reach the Swizzle. We met the folks, had a pitcher of Rum Swizzles and toasted our fun days in beautiful Bermuda. CC Buddies Joe and Char and gang had an order of Nachos there and said that they were quite good. Back on the bus to catch the 4:15PM all aboard and the bitter-sweet sail away from beautiful Bermuda. Before we boarded, we spent a pleasant hour in the shade of the ship, enjoying a cold bottle of water and gazing into the aquarium-like sea life show at the pier. Have a look down when youre passing by. Youre sure to be rewarded with some fantastic fish sightings!
Last Day and Disembarkation: Even though the seas were extremely rough due to high winds, we still enjoyed our last full day at sea aboard our home away from home. We took in all that the Summit had to offer. We packed our bags throughout the day as we passed through our stateroom. Despite the fact that it was the last day of the cruise, folks were up and going into the night. Good to see that everyone was enjoying their vacations to the fullest. We had no flight to catch, so our disembarkation time was 9:30AM. Perfect! No 6AM wake up this trip! Sadly, as on every cruise, there was no room service available on disembarkation day. After we packed our final things, we had a failed attempt to find some caffeine to assist us through the morning. No coffee or tea to be found today! We went to our assigned spot and were called to disembark fairly close to the stated time. We boarded those VERY high off the ground busses and were able to easily secure a porter at the terminal. The security line moved quickly and the porter toted our luggage all the way back to our waiting car. He pointed the way out and we were on our way home with no traffic whatsoever to contend with (note that on this itinerary this ship comes and goes on Sunday which is a very good thing traffic-wise).
It was a wonderful week aboard the Summit. In closing, I must say that her crew is outstanding. Captain Leonardos and Hotel Director Tiller are very visible and always out and about the ship. The Captain is very approachable and quite charming and witty (and very young!). He leads a very able crew and his vessel is yar and we hope to sail upon her again someday and return to beautiful Bermuda.