This was our first cruise on Celebrity, and we went in with high expectations based on what others who are regulars had to say. Let’s just say that it didn’t quite meet the hype. It's not that it was a horrible cruise, it's that certain things people had raved about before-hand just weren't great.
Cape Liberty: Least favorite port we've sailed from. It wasn't the easiest port entrance to find, and the dock looks like it's made up of buildings that were abandoned 20 years ago. Can't say that I've ever had to be bussed from the terminal to the ship before, either.
Check-in: It went fast, but the lady who checked us in wasn't all that helpful or friendly. She checked our documents and credit card, got our room keys, gave us our boarding number, and sent us on our way without telling us a thing. I had to assume the number was our boarding number, as she didn't feel the need to say more than 10 words to us. It's not like there was a line of people waiting behind us, either. We sat down in the waiting area around 10am, and they started boarding around 10:30. Seemed like it went pretty quickly, and I think they called our group ~10:45ish. We ended up delayed for reasons of our own making, but still, we were on the ship by around 11:30am. Seemed like it took longer than past cruises for the rooms to be ready (it was after 1pm, I think), so after 15min of walking the ship to find everything, we sat around up on deck 10 waiting for the announcement. Our luggage was already sitting in the hall by the time we got to the room, so we grabbed it and unpacked.
The ship: Overall, the ship was nice. It's a little small for our liking, but we have no complaints about the condition of the ship. It was easy to get around, we never felt like it was crowded, and frankly, the theater design is better than other lines. Far less in the way of obstructed views in there than we've had in the past, and overall we liked the way the seating was laid out.
Our room: We were in one of the corner FOVs, 9156. Loved this room, especially the balcony. The room is spacious, and had plenty of room for the two teenagers we had with us as well. We've only done balcony rooms twice now, and the first time around, we really didn't get the "once you go balcony, you can't go back" thing. Now we get it. Pretty sure we're going to be targeting aft wrap type cabins from now on, as the field of view from this balcony was amazing. If you want to see for yourself, go to photosynth.net and search for "celebrity summit 9156" (without the quotes, upload date is 6/17/2014). Some have complained about the chair noise from the bar above, and while we heard it a couple of times, it was never an issue, and I consider myself pretty sensitive to stuff like that. It was also nice to have that bar above you to be able to sit on the balcony in PJs in the evening and listen to the music from the band above you.
The staff: For the most part, great. I've never seen officers this visible and engaging on a ship before. The captain himself was outstanding, and my daughter and I even managed to get in a GoPro moment with him :). He was funny, outgoing, and involved with the guests in a way we never expected. The entertainment staff was really good for the most part. They seem like they're short-handed, as they were constantly hustling from activity to activity. Luigi is one of the best activities staff members we've seen on a ship, and Celebrity would do well to ensure they don't lose him. Awesome personality, and the energy just oozes from him. The CD, Ken, was always out with the guests, and was funny as well, one of the better CDs we've had. The only staff issues we really had were the bartenders. Not very friendly, and it wasn't an issue with one specific bar, it was all of them. All 4 of us commented on this throughout the cruise. Also, while this isn't a huge deal, we were surprised at how little any of our daily staff called us by name. The MDR staff never did, and our room steward only did the first time we met. It's a small thing, but the service felt less personal than it did on our last cruise on Carnival. Oh, one more positive, we loved that we were never hounded to get pictures taken while on board like you are on other lines. We generally don't do the whole picture station thing, and not being pressured every time we walked past one was nice.
Activities: This started out pretty rough. On the first sea day, there were very few activities that interested us, and frankly, the ship just felt dead (same thing on the day we left Cape Liberty). We only found 3 things we wanted to do that day (galley tour, the only trivia that day, and flash mob practice), and the rest of the time walked around or read on the balcony. At the end of that first sea day, my wife and daughter and I all felt like we'd chosen the wrong cruise line, to be honest. Sea day #2 got better, though, with more on the list of activities that interested us, and that continued on for the rest of the cruise. Loved the officers vs guests pool volleyball, good stuff. We LOVED the captain's talk on ship navigation on the final day as well. Definitely worth the time away from the balcony :).
Entertainment: Yea, I've read some scathing reviews of the shows on Celebrity lately, and now I see why. The dancers and singers are definitely talented (far more so than on our last cruise), but the shows themselves just weren't that great. The singer they brought on for the ‘54 Below’ performance was very talented, and had interesting stories, but again, this was obviously geared towards an older crowd. They definitely appeared to be catering to an older crowd. On the comedy side, what a let-down. The comedian they had on board was funny, and we enjoyed his one show, but we definitely prefer the setup of something like Carnival, where they rotate a couple of comedians and have a couple of late-night adult shows going on during the week. Now, the Summit did have late night comedy, but the scheduling left something to be desired, and we never made it. The Sin City comedy shows were all around midnight, and either on port nights, or the last night. Move those to nights where we don't have to get up early the next day, and I'm there.
Food: The MDR food was good, for sure (definitely better than Carnival), but the buffet was just okay. We do like the portioned setup of the buffet, so that was a plus, but it felt like it needed to be open more often, and the overall quality and selection of food wasn't that great. The pizza and pasta stations were good though (never had a wait), and the hand-scooped ice cream was great (again, that could be open more often). Also, we saw the chocolate fountain being set up for lunch the second day in port, right as we were leaving to see St George. Really? One of the food highlights is done on a port day? Shame we had to miss that. We never did eat in the specialty restaurants, other than eating the crepe my wife made during the crepe making demo in Bistro. Pretty tasty :)
The port: LOVED Bermuda. I see why people do this cruise multiple times. Even with 2.5 days in port, we didn't get to do everything we wanted, so we will definitely be going back. The locals were very friendly, and it was very easy to get around the island using their public transportation system. We did everything on our own, and even added a jet ski tour from the dock the last day, which we all really enjoyed. Can't say enough good things about Bermuda and the people who live there.
Overall, we had a great trip. Yes, I know I complained a bit above, but none of it ruined the vacation. Bermuda was fantastic, the weather was awesome the whole week, and we all had fun. Those first couple of days were a bit concerning though, as the lack of energy the first day or so took the joy of sea days down a notch. I'm hoping that's more about the local schools not being out yet versus Celebrity cutting back on activities. In the end, things turned around on that front, and we had a great week. We’re not really loyal to a single cruise line, as we tend to cruise more for the itinerary than anything else, and I think we’d give Celebrity a shot again depending on where we were looking to go.
We loved Bermuda, and see why so many people do this cruise more than once. Even with 2.5 days in port, we didn't get to see everything we wanted and will be looking to go back. What we did see, we really liked, and we were able to do whatever we wanted thanks to a solid public transportation system in Bermuda:
Walked around Hamilton, including a trek to Fort Hamilton. There were some really great views from up there. The town itself is great, too
Took a bus to Somerset Bridge, the world's smallest drawbridge
We also went to Harbor Nights in Hamilton the first evening in port, it was pretty cool. Plenty of vendors, food, etc.
Walked around St George, and up to the unfinished church
Toured the Crystal Caves, ate at Swizzle Inn, and finished up with Bailey's Ice Cream (both were delicious)
Did a jetski tour from the tour operator at the dock (K2). Loved it, one of the highlights of the trip
Took a bus to Horseshoe Bay beach. Not too busy, but if it is, you can always walk down the beach to the coves past the far end and likely have very few people around. We stayed over there a good chunk of the day and it was pretty quiet, and had some beautiful views.