Let me start with Cape Liberty. We live in Baltimore, so we decided to drive up the night before and stay in Jersey City at The Hyatt. So, on the day of our cruise, we planned to meet friends at a shopping center adjacent to the port. The drive from our Jersey City hotel took 15 minutes or less. I had no idea what to expect from the port, so perhaps my expectations were low. In any case, this was probably the smoothest embarkation day I ever had.
Arrival at Cape Liberty involves a few steps. First is luggage drop off. At the drop-off center, if you arrive before 11:30AM, you drive all the way to the end, as passengers from the previous cruise will still (unbelievably) be collecting their belongings. There's plenty of room to park and drop your luggage, and plenty of very helpful porters to get your bags handled. The second step is to park your car. The lot is mere steps from the check in facility. It's around $150 for the week, which we noted was about the same as our home port of Baltimore.
The third step is to head back to the place where we dropped our luggage after having parked the car. There, plenty of helpful staff directed us to check in lanes. The check-in process was easy, and we were divided into priority groups for boarding. That was something new to us, having not sailed since January, out of Miami. We did find that, while we were given a very convenient "group 4" for boarding, our Captain's Club Elite status would have put us in group 1. We could have swapped, but it wasn't a big deal. I just note that for others who may not have been to this port.
They started calling for boarding at 11:05AM, which I thought was impressive. Here, we took the final step - a shuttle bus ride from the check in facility to the ship. You board on level 1 on this ship, where many ports are decks 4 or higher. It was easy getting an elevator and getting on our way.
Cape Liberty made the embarkation process more pleasant because they had an abundance of very helpful and efficient staff. I'd sail out of that port any time!
Our cabins were made available at 1PM. That's where our fun began.
We were in Aqua Class, cabin 9082, with friends just up the hall. Our location was fantastic - just down from the mid-ship elevators and stairs. Though we were directly below the pool deck and Oceanview Cafe, and could hear some movement above, it was NOT a noisy experience. The deck was comfortable and was quiet at night.
On arrival at our cabin, we found the previous occupants' pillows, without covers, still on our bed. It was at that point when we began to notice some missing amenities.
Of the list of Aqua Class amenities provided, nearly none was in the cabin. In fact, we spent the next two days trying to get Summit to provide us with the things that we bought with an Aqua Class room.
If you're familiar with the "Solsticizing" of the Millennium Class ships, you know about Aqua Class, the addition of other specialty restaurants, etc. Celebrity takes a lot of pride in marketing Concierge and Aqua Class. On this ship, however, it's as though Aqua Class doesn't exist. There are no placards on the cabin doors, or anywhere in the hallways, noting "Aqua Class". Many of the doors still have a "Concierge Class" sign on them, while many doors have no placard at all, other than a cabin number. I found this to be odd. On deck 11, where they installed new Aqua Class cabins, it was a bit of a different look. But in the largest section of Aqua Class rooms, it's as though the specific class didn't exist.
By Monday, we found out that they hadn't ordered the Aqua Class slippers, and that there were no Aqua Class robes on board. They did a mix of Celebrity and Concierge Class robes, which are different. The "pillow menu" never made an appearance either, though we were able to get whatever we wanted in pillows by asking our cabin attendant.
The young lady caring for our cabin was highly experienced, but was clearly "in the weeds" when we arrived. It took until late Sunday evening for our cabin to be completed (with things like towels). Our sliding door was so difficult to open, we thought it was locked. It took two of us to open and close it. We reported this, along with a "not totally clean" look to the cabin.
Our Captain's Club materials weren't delivered until Monday. It took a trip to Customer Relations to find the location of the lounges, etc. When we did get them, they were the offers for Select members, which are a bit different from Elite. It took another day to get the correct ones.
We mentioned our disappointment with Aqua Class to customer relations. While the desk staff was helpful, things weren't being fixed. Finally on Tuesday, we were contacted by Cristian, the Customer Relations Manager, who took it upon himself to listen and address our concerns. When he got involved, things were fixed within two hours.
The cruise itself: The weather was pure heaven. PERFECT, with the exception of the last day at sea. Service, with the exception of The Martini Bar, was outstanding. The bartenders in the Martini Bar were friendly with each other, but were a bit standoffish with guests, and were slow. Aqua Class comes with the restaurant "Blu". We hated it on Solstice, but loved it here on Summit. The Maitre D's, waiters, assistants, bar personnel - everything - was OUTSTANDING. The atmosphere was fantastic.
Entertainment was pretty good. Shows were along the line of what you'd expect with Celebrity. Good comedians; a great aerialist team. Singers and Dancers were cheesy, but very good. For shipboard entertainment, I thought they did a really nice job. The guest entertainer was Broadway's Telly Leung who was very good.
Bermuda: I wish I'd gotten to cruise to Bermuda when you docked in Hamilton. Going anywhere on the island from Royal Naval Dockyard is a giant pain - especially to the beach. It's not difficult at all - and the ferries and buses are affordable and frequent. It just takes so LONG to get everywhere. It's certainly not Celebrity's problem - just something worth noting.
Captain's Club: The hostess was nice but mostly invisible. If you've ever been on a cruse with the Captains Club hostess Ti Ann, she sets the bar very, very high for activities, visibility, and communication. The young lady on this cruise was pleasant, but I'm coming to believe that Ti Ann might be the exception rather than the rule. The elite lounges were both above expectations. A lot of that might have been the staff working them...friendly and hard-working.
Summit looks good. Cabins are generally in good shape. Public areas were spotless. Most guests seemed happy, but again - the weather was picture-postcard-perfect 6 out of 7 days, and that helps. Food was good and consistent in all the public places, and exceptional in Blu, Qsine, and Normandie.
I would recommend NOT booking Aqua Class on this ship. For those who really want BLU, it's available with Suites, and a Concierge Class stateroom will get you an easy table with a minimum surcharge. Everything else offered by Aqua Class on this ship is plainly not worth it. They shouldn't be marketing it and selling it here anyway, as the ship hasn't yet been outfitted for it.
Disembarkation at Cape Liberty: Let me put it this way. At 8:40AM, I was sitting in Normandie waiting to be called. At 8:45, we were called. By 9AM, I'd taken a shuttle bus, claimed our luggage, gone through customs, made it to our car, and were driving to the Turnpike. SO EASY!!
Ignoring our Aqua Class snafus, we had a great time and would easily book this itinerary again.