This cruise on the Summit was my third and the first for my traveling companion. We selected the ship and line primarily based upon the itinerary. We also wanted a slightly more refined experience than what I had encountered previously on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We were highly satisfied with all the aforementioned objectives being achieved. We will seek to book this line and ship on a similar itinerary next year.
ITINERARY- This was a primary motivation in our decision. We have traveled heavily in the Caribbean and wanted to visit some of the less popular islands. Limited days at sea were also of importance. This Southern Caribbean fit the bill perfectly with stops in Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Marten and St. Thomas. And with only one day at sea, on the second day, we pleased with this offering.
SHIP- We were not overly particular about the ship. Our main criteria was that it be recently updated, not overly crowded with offerings for places to get away from crowds. The Summit was fine in all of this. The public spaces were great. We especially enjoyed Michael's Club with its "smoking room" type of decor. It was seldom crowded. The Rendezvous Lounge was also a great place to relax and people-watch especially just before dinner on the formal nights as people passed through on the way to the Cosmopolitan Dining Room. It was also fun to listen to the piano at the Cafe al Bacio. Outdoors, we enjoyed secluded places on decks 11 and 12 where we were able to find deck chairs facing the ocean. The main pool area was quite crowded especially during the day at sea. Early evening hours were spent in the Oceanview Bar at the back of the ship where we enjoyed watching the day's port move further from view as we steamed ahead.
FOOD- The food was quite good in our opinion. Being a very thrifty traveller, I did not want to spend extra money on the specialty restaurants. So, our dining was limited to that which was normally included. This was quite adequate. Even though we were on a cruise, we tried to maintain some modicum of healthy eating which was doable. We were diverse in our dining.
-Oceanview Cafe: This was our default option for quick snacks, late night dining and also on formal nights in MDR. We do not care for the formal attire nights at all and chose not to participate. The food was just fine. The pizza was exceptional. Very good. They always had a nice salad bar at all times. We ate breakfast here three times during which it was crowded. However, there were two omelette stations and plenty of room. We also took advantage of the ice cream stand. For a buffet on a ship, we thought Oceanview was just fine.
- Main Dining Room: We found the food to be very good. Of note was the steak which was always offered. We also enjoyed the fish. For breakfast the Eggs Benedict were great. All of it was very good. The service, while acceptable, did not exceed expectation. They seemed to move slow and took a long time to refill drinks, breadsticks and also to take orders. The brunch on the day at sea was not great. It was far too crowded, the service was slow.
-Pool Grill- We ate burgers here once. They were delicious and it was very convenient. The fries were good too.
ALCOHOL & DRINKING- This was a portion of the cruise that was great after agonizing over it while planning the cruise. We are bon- vivants and enjoy drinking and relaxing on vacation. On my previous cruise the alcoholic drinks were so expensive it was sort of a vacation "buzz kill". My thriftiness over-rules in these cases. We researched the drink packages offered by Celebrity which also seemed pricey. We also thought about smuggling our own booze and did a great deal of research. Thankfully Celebrity offered a 1-2-3 package which included an ocean view room and the Classic Drink package. This was a good value and sealed the deal. I am so very glad we had the Classic Package. It eliminated completely the possible stress associated with expensive alcohol or smuggling. It was so very nice to just walk up, order a drink and swipe the Sea Pass Card. It was most liberating. Being above average drinkers, we got maximum value. I was fairly impressed that the offerings were name brand and not simply well drinks. We also tried some of the specialty coffees and fresh squeezed juice which we would not otherwise have done. Bars were aplenty on the Summit and had no problem quenching our thirst. Take advantage of the 1-2-3 package if you like to drink.
ENTERTAINMENT- This has been lampooned in other reviews. We really enjoyed it. The nightly shows were well done and varied. We enjoyed the comedians more than the Vegas style reviews. I thought the musical acts were really good. The piano player and singers were very good. We really liked this.
STAFF& SERVICE- This was superb. The cruise director, cabin stewards, bartenders and everyone were great. The only small issue was sluggish service in the MDR. Other than that it was top notch. Just great.
FITNESS CENTER- We were committed to maintaining a fitness routine even though on vacation. We really appreciated the fitness center on deck 10. They had everything needed: plenty of treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals and the full set of weights. A trainer was present also. The nearby locker room had nice showers and a sauna. The only bad thing was trying to run on the treadmill while the boat rocked!
In summary, ours was an outstanding experience. We are not overly particular travelers but did have higher than usual standards for this cruise. It provided the perfect winter getaway. We felt pampered the whole time. The food and drink was great and the itinerary could not have been better. I would highly, highly recommend it.