DH and I are in early 40's and this was our 8th cruise and second time on the Celebrity Summit. Sailed Royal Caribbean 4 times, Norwegian and Carnival - once each. We love being able to drive to the port so have sailed to Bermuda several times. Sorry in advance for the length, I'll break it up in parts. I write about what I want to know when I am reading reviews:)
Embarkation - We drove and parked at the port - $133 for the week. We arrived around 12:30 unloaded at the terminal then only had to wait 10 minutes to park. We have parked a total of 4 times at the Cape Liberty Port and have never had problems. This time, the regular lots are under construction (guessing for the arrival of the Quantum) so parking was diverted to other locations but not a big deal. We walked to the terminal from our car but they have vans to shuttle you as well.
Check-in was immediate and a total breeze. Admittedly, we had priority check-in so we only had a 10 minute wait through the custom lines and none for actual check-in. We were on the ship by 1pm!
Room 1122-We upgraded at the last minute from a Verandah to a Aqua Class. We had read the additional amenities but were not sure if it was going to be worth the additional $100 pp we paid. IMHO, yes! It was totally worth it. Our room was great. Seemed roomy, plenty of storage - our luggage fit under bed. The little "touches" or amenities through out the room were very nice. There was champagne and apples (apples replenished). A white Celebrity tote bag with slippers and lip balm for us to keep. Robes, binoculars, golf umbrella, lots of pillows, scent diffuser, more bath products- are some of what we noticed as extra and additional from a traditional room. The shower head and jets were great! We received afternoon canapés or cheese and crackers (upon request if you did not like the selection of canapés). Only downside of our room is that we noticed everyday our balcony would be wet and covered with soot. It was also much smaller than average (20 ft at most and I think I'm being generous). We think the soot problem is because the room was on the second to the highest deck so it may be from the smoke stacks and wet was from them cleaning the sport deck everyday??? Not a huge deal to us, just something to note. We would just wipe down the table and chairs with a towel. Also the location was somewhat "cut-off" which was good for quiet but a little challenging at first to get there. We also spent a lot of time on the stairs which was probably good to burn off all of our food lol:) We discovered on the second sea day that we could use the stairs in back of ship that went to the Sunset Bar, so we spent a lot of time there! They list "express luggage delivery" and we thought "yeah right" but we got all of our luggage before the muster drill! Our room attendants, Gregorio and Bran were awesome, if we asked for something they delivered flawlessly!
Persian Gardens - I looked in and one of the Spa employees gave me a tour. It seemed kind of cool - basically sauna rooms. DH said he did not really want to sweat on purpose on his vacation so we skipped:)
Blu Restaurant - another perk with Aqua class. I know food is pretty subjective so again IMO, Blu was worth the extra $ we paid. My DH was somewhat mixed on the actual food (not adventurous eater nor into seafood) but loved the service. He enjoyed the breakfast (fresh eggs, fresh squeezed OJ, smoothies) but only enjoyed the dinner selections about half the time. I enjoyed it all!
To note, we were on the Summit almost two years ago to the day on the same itinerary and thoroughly enjoyed our main dining room experience as well. The difference with Blu is more like restaurant service as opposed to the Main dining room which is more like Banquet dining. We did not do this but if you do not want to eat in Blu every night you can also go to select dining in the main dining room. The first night we were a little worried as Blu was very crowded and was not a fan of my appetizer but after that wow! We went on off times (late after 8:00pm) and the Maitre D and the staff were very in tune on picking up what you like. For example we mentioned to the Maitre D how much we enjoyed our waiter's service, so the following night and forward we were seated in his section. One night we did not have time to eat dessert (wanted to go to comedy show) and they offered to have the dessert sent to our room (we declined-like I needed more calories). Definitely noticed the little touches. We would definitely do Aqua class again. In fact, spite of the food for my DH, he said we are only booking Aqua class from now on..ha ha of course he doesn't keep tabs on the pricing like I do.
QSine- After much debating (we figured we already were eating in Blu-why pay more) and many people who told us we had to experience QSine, we booked for our final night with another couple we met who were kind of on the fence as well. Again, glad we did! Very interesting, different experience. Presentation was everything. All small plates to share and very good! I think its better with at least 4 people or more so you can try more things. They offer discounts at different times and to Aqua/Concierge/Suite as well, so you do not have to pay full price ($45pp), just ask any restaurant person and they will let you know the specials.
Service - I believe if you are nice then people will be nice to you (with exceptions of course). Everyone we encountered was extremely nice and attentive. I have seen the reviews about the pool bar service and yes, I agree it took quite some time. But they have a lot of people to serve on sea days, so we would get drinks at other bars (they set up two different annex locations during prime time-one by pool grill and other in Oceanview cafe). Also, we noticed at least 5 or 6 cocktail servers on sea days by the pool and used them often with no problems. We had the premium drink package and did not notice any difference in service. We received this complimentary as part of 123 promotion and upgraded to Premium but did pay for it on our last time on the Summit. IMO, worth it as we don't necessarily "save" any money as you would have to drink quite a bit but it gives you the peace of mind of not having to worry about your bar bill throughout the week as well as constantly signing with a million little slips of paper. We casually kept track and thought we broke out about even. And love the fact it includes waters, red bulls, specialty teas and coffee. Also, if you try a new drink and do not care for it, it's not so bad.
Entertainment - We are not theater show people so cannot review any of the shows. The comedian was good. Here is where we thought Celebrity was a little lacking in variety. They had a Sin City Comedy show but we actually were turned away as they filled up on the first night. They did the show 2 more nights but we never made it back. Would have liked some different shows. Heard they had a hypnotist in the past and the last time we were on we watched a "Staff talent show" which we thought was great and a funny juggler duo (though I may be getting my ships confused on the duo?). I noticed they did not do the Dancing with the Stripes either which was cute the last time.
There was a pianist, a guitarist, a duo, a quartet,and a house band, so there was a good variety represented of live music. We enjoyed all the live music entertainment!
The Summit was trying out a "test program" by bringing on a "famous" NY city DJ. Okay the demographics of the ship (and in general of the cruise line) are an older set. We are in our early 40's and probably on the younger side of the set. So what I am getting at, is we have no clue who the DJ was nor anything he was playing. DH called it Alien Space Music. In fact, when the techno music started, people started leaving the lounge. The DJ saw this and even announced he would put back "Beyonce, etc" but it was kind of too late. Not sure if they are trying to get a younger demo but I think they are targeting too young as that would be the early twenty set and I remember being in my early twenty's and barely having enough money for my bills much less vacation!
We love to participate in activities like trivia, game shows, karaoke, dancing, etc. We did some, but have definitely noticed the activities were fewer than our last trip on the Summit. They had karaoke almost every night. They did some nice activities by the pool on sea days (ie dancing, boat making).
Port - 3 days in Bermuda is great. It allows you to see lots of great sights. This was our fifth time so we decided on Zoo/Aquarium and Tobacco Bay. We were a little hesitant about doing the zoo (thinking it would be lame) but Mark the activities host highly recommended it. Glad we did, really cool animals and fish! The neat thing is some of the animals are not caged (netting around a big area) so you are right near some animals. One bird literally posed for us on top of the animal description board!
Tips we have learned, if you are sailing on off-seasons (Apr/May or Sep/Oct) like we always do, water activities are better in Sep/Oct after water has warmed through the season. Also, May/Jun is when Portuguese Man of Wars wash up on the beach (saw many at Elbow beach when we went in May 2012-they have signs posted about this though). If you want to go in the water suggest going to a cove such as at Horseshoe or Tobacco where the water is a bit warmer also.
Another lesson learned, check to see if other ships are in port. We were docked with the Norwegian Break a Way this time, so it made public transportation a little rough. We always buy a 2 day pass ($25pp) that will allow unlimited use of ferry or bus. We could come and go as we wanted, bus schedule was easy and we could sight see on the way to Hamilton, St. Georges, The caves, etc. But in retrospect for this trip, we would have paid extra and used taxi's and/or excursions, as the Break a Way brings in a lot more people than the other times we were docked with another ship. We went on Grandeur of the Seas in Sept and were the only ship in port and it was very nice!
Here is my only slightly "negative" outlook. And I say this just as a warning. This by no way affected our trip in the slightest but we did laugh, joke and avoided this area as much as we could. The OCEAN VIEW CAFE during peak times! We avoided this area at all costs during breakfast (went to Blu or Aqua Spa Cafe) and did our best to coordinate on times with less traffic. This is a free-for-all and quite the stereo-typical buffet experience. Not anything Celebrity could do as the food was pretty decent. In fact, I liked there were more small plate selections (themed) you could just grab-and-go, (guessing Celebrity notices this crazy mad house as well and is trying to make it easier to get the heck out of dodge). They have a carving station with meats and cheeses, a extensive salad bar, pizza, deli and pasta station. My DH liked to get a pretzel roll from deli and put a hot dog in it - he promoted this so much to others that by the fourth day no pretzel rolls-I told him he should have kept it quiet:) There is a dessert station and ice cream too. We really enjoyed the burgers and hot dogs by the Pool Grill so would usually just go there as well as the Aqua Spa Cafe. Celebrity also changed the Pool Grill and the Aqua Cafe to grab-and-go, so it was really easy to get a burger and fries and head back to your beach chair. Again, nothing wrong with the food, we just coordinated our "feedings" so we would not have to duck, dodge and weave during high traffic such as 12:15p on Sea days yikes!
In fact, I was anticipating lunch at embarkation so we ended up trying out Bistro on Five for lunch the first day. It is $7pp. Again, food is subjective and everyone else I talked to (or reviews read) said Bistro was great. The service was very good but DH and I did not care for our entrees. Just really rich. Had a vegetable crepe and Beef panini. We may have not ordered right. We said we might try it again on a different cruise.
Disembarkation - Did self-walk off - in Rendezvous lounge by 7:25am to wait for our call 7:30a - 8:00am and was in our car driving at 8:08am! Enough said.
Overall, we loved our 2nd time back on the Celebrity Summit. We did our first Roll Call with Cruise Critic members and met some wonderful people who gave us useful tips, sound advice as well as great laughs! We love cruising and it takes a lot to get us to have a bad experience as we believe we are truly lucky and fortunate to be able to splurge on vacations. We had such a fantastic time on Celebrity. This trip really put us on the road to Celebrity loyal fans as we finally committed to a trip to Alaska and booked with Celebrity again for 2015. WooHoo!