Terrible Buffet, but Good Cruise: Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by JEDIKNIGHT
Overall Member Rating
Terrible Buffet, but Good Cruise
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
“I don’t like what you say. I may even hate what you have to say … but I’ll fight for your right to say it”
This precious notion has guided us as a nation and as a people and there was a time I took it for granted. Yet today - merely saying something can beckon ad hominem attacks online, or demands for resignations and firing in public. My point is that you may not like what I say about my cruise, I may not like what you say about yours, but why should we launch keyboard wars over it?
Furthermore, if you want 100% undying loyalty with no criticism, please note this review won’t appeal to you as it’s not written by a puppy. Likewise, if constant 100% complaining appeals then respectfully, this review may not help you. Mostly this was a GREAT cruise, but for a More few glaring troubles that need to improve.
I feel my comparisons are fair. For example, not kosher to compare MDR steak to Ruth’s Chris. Or Celebrity Pizza to my favorite place in NY City - I think that’s nutty. But to use mainstream, mass-market chains that everyone is familiar with I think is perfectly valid. Also, I am verbose where it comes to the buffet BUT, a majority of passengers will dine there, perhaps 2 meals per day so to me, 60% of people’s meals makes it a relevant topic.
The Cast of Characters:
*Myself and DW, we are 38 and 35, but sort of ‘old’ souls at heart. DW is actually very pretty and shouldn’t be with a fat guy like myself, but the “off” feature in a light-switch has done wonders for me in that regard.
* DD who is 6, and DS who is 2. Our nanny also came and we had her in a Concierge Room a few doors down from our Penthouse.
We are rather low-key travelers. While some activities are nice, we’re more about just kicking back, relaxing, watching the world go by. Quality of food, crowd flow, and service are more important priorities than drinks, ports, or excursions.
We were in Penthouse Suite #6147 and here’s a description of the trip:
CAESAR the Concierge emailed me before the trip and I made a few requests that I wanted handled before be boarded. He promptly responded and gave me a great 1st impression of this cruise and yes, all requests were handled by the time of our arrival. Thank you Great Caesar.
We arrived to Bayonne at 12pm which was later than I wanted. FYI a decent sized crowd had begun to form. It’s a big harried to park the car, have bags unloaded and then go park but all modes of transit have this factor so no biggie. After unloading bags, it did take 30 minutes to park, and return to the terminal so please keep that in mind.
Once X’s staff identified us at Suite Pax, it was seamless. We were taken to a separate check-in desk with NO line and the agents were friendly and efficient and soon, the Captain’s Social lady greeted us and took us to the shuttle and escorted us to the ship - this is a MARVELOUS touch and I hope X doesn’t do away with it.
Upon hitting the gangway JOSE our Butler is waving to us and waiting just for us and he takes us an alternate route, bypassing the lines, STRAIGHT to the Penthouse which was all ready to go.
Jose instantly went thru all the services and perks which is fine, but after a drive and check-in and with crying baby in hand I’d have rather listened to that stuff later. But it’s his job to inform us which he did in a very friendly manner.
A GREAT embarkation by any standard. If seamlessness and ease blow wind up your skirt as it does mine, then I heartily say that you’ll find value in this perk that comes with the Penthouse .
How can it be anything other than amazing? A few scratches here and there? Sure but so what. Entry foyer with lovely mosaic and decor, very nice “flow” of the whole suite. The furniture and bed were all very good quality and comfortable. Flat Screen TV’s in both sitting and bedroom along with a great shower and jacuzzi in master bedroom. Full size dining table with comfy chairs, a piano…you know, everything you need for roughing it at sea. The suite is well lit, and has a roomy feel to it.
Butler’s pantry is a GREAT feature with full-size fridge, wet bar, microwave and full supply of condiments and utensils.
In addition there is a ‘half bath’ that also has a shower and we loved that feature.
I forget the measurement but balcony is HUGE. One area with 2 chairs and ottoman. One area with full table/umbrella and also a jacuzzi tub PLUS…plenty of room to walk around. You are at the back of the ship so the view of the wake, and open sea is amazingly peaceful and grand.
One Problem with Penthouse (again)
PLEASE CELEBRITY….HELP! at night, the air conditioning did NOT cool the bedroom enough. All day it’s fine, but at night it’s hot. I’ve had this same problem in a PH before and an honest butler told me that at night, they turn something down ‘downstairs’ but he handled it, and then it was cold at night. This time, I asked Jose on day 1…because it’s happened before, a CC member reported it also recently and he said “we changed that system”. Sure enough…hot at night. Jose was responsive but we only had “one” cool night.
Full disclosure, a fatty like me might get hot easily BUT, my tiny Wife was also throwing the covers off at night, and not sleeping well at all.
CELEBRITY: C’mon, fix this. In my opinion, spending $10,000+ should at least give you a cool room. If the Best Western and Motel 6 can do it, so can you. Frankly, ANY room should be comfortable regardless of what category.
JOSE was an excellent Butler. Always quick, responsive, and you only have to ask once for something and then it happened on its own for the whole week.
REGGIE was out room steward. Always friendly, seemed proud of his work, and cleaned the room per our schedule. Cleanliness or supplies were never an issue.
Bistro on 5
Wife/Nanny/DD went on embarkation day to avoid buffet and it was not crowded. DW said it took 35 minutes for Panini to arrive and it was “ok”. Maybe it was just an off day, but based on that impression we didn’t go back but would’ve LOVED to have a nice non-buffet venue otherwise.
The food and service was EXCELLENT!
ROBERT waiter, and PAULINE assistant were exemplary and worthy of Celebrity. Very honest about menu choices, very concerned if everything was fine. Small requests were made once, and consistent for the week - Pauline was especially accommodating. Comments on the foods I remember:
French Onion soup isn’t yummy like before. French Bread was GREAT each night as was shrimp cocktails. Most appetizers were good, but i’d avoid crab cake.
*NY Steak - Simplicity Menu
Order it with the “paris herb butter” and it’s a solid pick. You know, it’s the one you will go on dates with and you’ll have a nice, responsible fun time.
Same dish but with Diane sauce. My steady date wore too much make-up. won’t repeat.
*Lamb Chops/Rack of Lamb
Delicious! Perfectly cooked! Order with extra demi-glace.
I like you a lot. I’d let you get to 1st base with me on the first date
TENDER. FLAVORFUL. So good.
Borderline lust here and I gotta keep it PG-13.
*Beef Tournadoes (filet - formal night)
PERFECT medium-rare, delicious sauce. Should’ve had 2 orders.
Yep. I’d have to be on the ‘pill’ to date you. You are dangerous in a good way
*Braised Short Ribs
AWESOME. Tender. Great flavor. I wanted to eat more entrees.
Sorry! No dating needed! Just take me home and have your way with me!
MDR service was prompt, food was warm.
LOVED IT. I thought the food would be “foo foo” and it would be all about the unique presentation and I was wrong. Waiter was very knowledgeable and spaced out the meal perfectly. Modern, BUT comfy atmosphere. Dishes I remember being yummy: Spring Rolls, Persian Kebab, FILET. There was more but I can’t remember. I’d suggest getting multiple Filet orders.
OK….The following is Rated R and sadly, not for nudity or sexuality. But for the horror, and neolithic incompetence and bafoonery. THE BUFFET. I’ve got theories:
1.)A competing cruise-line sent spies to take-over the buffet and screw it up so X will look bad.
2.)Our enemies abroad figured to ease off the bombings and hijackings, and rather decided to screw with us via trashing the buffet experience. (C’mon guys. Why not su-doku or paintball instead? Put plastic snakes under pax pillows for fun, but please give us back the buffet? )
3.) Part of Summit is in mutiny, and the Rogue Crew is competing with one another to see who can ruin the buffet the best and annoy the most people.
I hope it’s one of those because I can accept that easier, than trying to understand why such a QUALITY cruise line can let a major food venue be so bad. A few thoughts:
*Selection is SMALLER than before. Stir-Fry for instance is only after 5:30. Indian Food is less complete. Overall, LESS choice for sure.
*Food is pre-made, and pre-served in these little steel bowls. Trouble is, they put the food out….and it SITS and SITS till it’s lukewarm and even looks bad.
*Organization: TERRIBLE. Next to the waffles is fruit. But NO meat. Hmmmm, I thought more people ate waffles and meat, vs waffles and watermelon but ok. So you get waffles and then go stand in line for sausage elsewhere. *but wait* - 3 times they are out of butter by the waffles so now, you get waffles, go wait for sausage, and THEN trek to another place to find butter.
Once I asked for butter and they showed me margarine and said “it’s special butter from Bermuda”. Look, butter isn’t the universe but don’t lie. The Maitre’d saw this, knew who I was, and brought me butter. (Thanks, but again - is it a Suite Perk now that you won’t be talked to like a kid and you can get butter?)
Oh and for fun, at least 3 water-machines were busted so that added one more level to overcome. (Ever played Super Mario Brothers as a kid on Nintendo? Cripes it was easier rescuing the princess than it was eating at the buffet)
At night, the pizza bar is open but the TWO closest water stations are closed. Makes no sense - unless they just want you to run around like cattle.
*Pool Grill: Pre-Made and pre-served too. Ok, put it out for a few minutes and i’m fine. But this stuff was just laying around. COLD. Hot Dog buns were hard at times. MDR Maitre’d asked me how buffet was, I told him. He told me to use his name, and tell crew to make me a fresh one. (Thanks, but is X a place where a Penthouse Cruiser can brag about the “I don’t’ have to eat crappy hot-dogs perk? Really? You gotta be a big shot for a good burger? )
So I did and crew said “I just put these out” to which I picked one up, and tapped it against the counter and it made a clunking noise cause it was hard. The next day I again asked, and got a minor scaling from the crew-dude. After that I gave up. I’m not on vacation to make getting a Hot Dog a source of conflict.
Mid-week I stopped eating at the buffet. I’d take DD there and dread it…but her ‘simple’ fare was there. The LONG lines, terribly served food, disorganization, crowds milling around sort of got me. Finally my strategy was that we’d get a hot dog, and sit at a table there. THEN we’d get her other food - and start a new table there. THEN I’d get her ice cream, and start a new table there. THEN DW would come down to eat and she’d start a new table. So instead of milling around, we just did 4 tables per lunch - yeah Celebrity, you saved labor costs right? (TODAY I did Burger King during their busy lunch hour and asked for a fresh whopper, not the pre-made one. They said “it’ll be a 5 minute wait” and in 5 minutes, I had my Whopper. Celebrity, just match BURGER KING service at your Pool Grille, and match the fancy OLD COUNTRY BUFFET chain with your buffet…..that’s all I ask.
POSITIVES on the buffet: Ice cream was delicious. And the Pizza WAS GREAT! The guys there kept pizzas rotating in and out FLAWLESSLY. Even at midnight, it was perfect and I had it every day.
(I keep hearing people say they are worried about the ‘gap’ between suite and non-suite people widening. Folks, you can shrug this off as no big deal, but do you really want 2 out of 3 meals to be a cattle-experience? It’s up to YOU to voice this to Celebrity.)
The Celeb singers and dancers are VERY good and talented. The comedian was AWESOME and he got a deserved standing ovation. I do wish that there was one instrumental or magic or something else. The dancers are good, but I didn’t want to see them 3-4times. Cruise Director was very involved and seemed to truly care if people enjoyed things.
GREAT STAFF, especially RALPH the host. Big improvement from 4 years ago.
I was in a poker game…pax vs Senior Officers and I was the winner!!! So I got $50 bucks but more importantly, it was nice to have quality time with the officers, each of whom was good humored, good natured, and instilled confidence in me about Celebrity. Great guys!
DW LOVED her deep-tissue massage. BEST she ever had at sea. Weird: 18% gratuity is added to the check. After massage the therapist told DW “the 18% is for everyone and doesn’t go just to me. Most people add $10”. Ok, maybe so but I think it’s cheesy to bring that up that way. Funny part is, DW already had a $30 cash ready to go, because we always tip extra when things are good so of course she tipped the lady extra.
A great cruise! But, for me the bad buffet and air conditioning are relevant issues. Would I be a typical keyboard warrior and spout “i’m never using X again!!!” Nope. Because I think X is a darn good value, and the Penthouse along with NJ port suits me greatly. BUT……………………
Kids are now travel-age, so we had planned to cruise twice a year with X. NOT anymore. I was going to book the 14 night New England cruise in September and while we LOVE the idea of going, the thought of 14 hot nights without good sleep, and the thought of chasing mediocre food in a disorganized buffet has convinced us otherwise.
So we’ll cruise once a year unless something improved, and the 2nd trip will be doing something else.
I’m just ONE lowly cruiser so it won’t hurt Celebrity. BUT, for the simple issues of air conditioning and buffet….X has to decide, are they ok with losing 1 cruise a year from me for THOSE reasons? Also…..once my kids are a tad older and I’m comfy with air-travel, does X want me dabbling in other lines? I’m not Donald Trump or the biggest spender onboard but we did spend $250 on booze, $335 spa, $300 internet, $50 gift ship, $800 excursions, $300 Casino, and we extra-tipped good staff like the Butler, Steward, Spa, and Pizza Dudes. I believe X to be a high quality place and I’d hope they’d ponder - are air conditioning, and a decent buffet an outlandish requests? Shouldn’t we fix these?
I’d respectfully ask CC’ers: Sure, don’t’ complain about everything. But remember how airlines were ‘so much nicer’ ‘way back when’ and now it’s cattle-time? It’s because we laid down and accepted the changes. Cruising is a GREAT venue for people of most budgets. Don’t you want to preserve it’s quality? Think about it. Because in my opinion, 10 years from today you’ll not be here debating drink packages, but you’ll be talking about up-charges for the separate buffet, up-charges for luggage, and all sorts of other fun stuff because WE let it get to that point.
IF anyone has questions, you can find me on the Celebrity board here in Cruise Critic Forums.
People we’d like to thank for this review……
The mostly wonderful crew of Summit. My travel agent. Myself for doing the herculean task of writing this. YOU my beloved reader for politely suffering thru this review.
……and Jerry Matthers, as The Beaver Less
Cabin review: 6147
Overall the Suite is wonderful and please see my review for details. BUT the air conditioning is very weak at night, and this is a chronic problem. I’ve had it before, as have other Penthouse passengers and you can see their comments in Forums.
Average age 70 and nothing to ...
Enjoyed our time on the Summit...
Excellent cruise to Bermuda