Overall - This was our third cruise, but first on Celebrity. Our other two cruises were on Royal Caribbean. We enjoyed our first cruise on X and would recommend it to anyone who wants a relaxed experience and doesn't need to have an exciting nightlife. Even though the passengers on our cruise tended to be older, bringing children on this cruise was not an issue at all - they had plenty of fun.
Embarkation - We drove to the pier from our home in Orange County. We arrived about 1:00 pm and found unloading our luggage and parking our vehicle to be very easy. We waited inside for about 15 minutes before boarding the Summit. The entire process was very smooth and easy. So with the exception of not being offered champagne upon boarding, we were quite happy.
Public Areas - We found all the public areas to be clean and maintained very well. After taking previous cruises on Royal Caribbean Grandeur and Rhapsody, we found the central area of the ship to be rather disappointing and not very elegant. Wear and tear of the carpets, furniture, etc. were what we would expect given the amount of traffic in these areas and were rather surprised at the number of negative comments in the member reviews regarding this.
The pool area was laid out very nice and having the Waterfall Grill at one end of the pool area was very convenient. One complaint that we have concerned the hot tubs on the pool deck - the water temperature was very tepid, even cold sometimes. This problem seemed to go away once we arrived in the warmer climate around the islands, but during the days at sea they were too cold to enjoy. They close at 6 pm, which is too early. The indoor pool and hot tubs were always warm and very comfortable.
The gym was excellent. They had very good equipment and lots of it. I had no problem finding a bike and my wife could always find an elliptical to work out on. The weight machines seemed new and were very nice. Everything was extremely clean and didn't notice any locker room smell. Most people were very good at cleaning up the machines after they used them, and I noticed that crew would come by and clean the machines periodically.
Room - We were very disappointed in the size of the room. It was smaller than either room we had aboard RC. Granted, the rooms we had on RC both had balconies, so they seemed bigger. On previous cruises we had been on decks 8 and 9, so we were concerned about having a room on such a low deck (deck 2). But it turned out that except for the lack of a balcony there wasn't much of a difference in terms of noise and movement. We booked our Summit cruise late and didn't have much of a choice in rooms that would accommodate five people and frankly, we were very surprised that Celebrity would put five people in a room that small. The furnishings were clean and not very worn; however the decor was done in very unattractive shades of orange and yellow. Yuck. That being said, we did not spend much time in our room and really only found the small size to be a detriment when we were getting ready in the mornings and before dinner. We had no complaints about the comfort of the beds/bunks. The bathroom was small and could accommodate two people only if one of them were in the shower at the time.
Service - Overall the service was very good. Our wait staff in the dining room was excellent and very entertaining for our children. They were very good at accommodating our children's food choices - they knew what our children liked to drink with dinner and would have their drinks waiting for them when we arrived at our table. We encouraged our children to try new foods and our waiters were very good about substituting other dishes if they found ones they didn't care for. Our cabin attendant was very attentive and responded to our requests very quickly. It seemed like we always had fresh towels in our bathroom. Even if we took showers during the day, we would have fresh towels in the evening. We usually went to the martini bar in the evenings before dinner, and our waitress would bring us mixed nuts and bread sticks, and even cherries over ice for the children. We were slightly disappointed in the pool deck service and would have liked the attendants to come around more frequently, although the service did seem to improve somewhat later in the cruise.
The entire staff was very good at remembering our names and trying to personalize our experience as much as possible, such as remembering our drink preferences and how we liked our food prepared, etc.
Food - Reviewing the food is very difficult. We had dinner in the main dining room almost every night. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, but we don't recall raving over any particular dish. The fish was good, the soups were good, the salads were good, etc. The beef, however, was usually excellent. Desserts were almost always disappointing. Overall, we did not notice a big difference in the quality of the food on the Summit and the food we enjoyed on our previous RC cruises. The Summit fare did tend to be more gourmet, with pate, escargot, frog legs, etc. Perhaps that is why we are not raving about it, as our tastes tend to run more simple. As an aside, the late seating was not a good option for our children, although they handled the late meal very well. Our personal preference is to go to the shows after we eat dinner rather than before, but the show times seemed geared for the early diners.
The sommelier in the main dining room was not very good. He offered few suggestions and no descriptions of the wines we were interested in. He clearly had too many other diners to attend to as it usually took him at least ten minutes after we were seated to bring us the wine from the bottle we had not finished the night before.
The midnight buffet was amazing to look at, but with our late dinner seating we were not able to sample any of the food since our dinner ended only about an hour and a half before the buffet started.
The breakfast food at the Waterfall Cafe was very good. We had freshly made waffles almost every morning, as well as Omelets made to order. We rarely ate there for lunch and never for dinner. There generally seemed to be a lot of different choices such as sushi, stir fry, and always lots of different sandwiches. Many days we would stop by in the afternoon for some ice cream.
The hamburgers at the Waterfall Grill were good and the fries were excellent. The light fare in the indoor pool area was delicious.
Entertainment – We didn’t see any shows other than the talent show and a movie in the cinema, so we really can’t comment on their quality overall. The lounge band in the Rendezvous was below average, but then again, like most entertainment on the ship seemed geared toward the older crowd. My wife and I are in our late 30’s, so we were a little disappointed in the night life. The “Party Band” was fun, although their selection of tunes was very limited. I hope to never hear YMCA again, but my wife and kids loved it. The crowd in the disco was usually very small and reluctant to get up and dance unless the ship activities staff was there to encourage them.
Kids Activities – The kids club was clean and well maintained, with plenty of toys and activities including a ball pit and slide. There were plenty of children ages 3 to 12. Our 6 year old had a fantastic time playing and meeting new friends, as did our 9 year old although she did get bored at times with the “leap frog” games. Overall, they enjoyed the staff and the program and even wanted to stay for the late night session (10:00 pm to 1:00 am). Our 14 year old was concerned about the lack of teenagers upon arrival on the Summit, but soon met some great friends and ended up having an excellent time. He enjoyed playing card games and dancing in the Teen Tower. He also had a great time playing basketball on the sports deck and liked the video arcade. He still maintains contact with a small group of teens he met onboard. Overall, 2 weeks was a little long for our teenager, as he missed his friends, etc. at home. Our younger ones seemed fine with the whole experience and were well entertained.
Excursions – Hilo was our least favorite destination. We took the “Best of Hilo” excursion to the Mauna Loa Nut Factory, the gardens and to Akaka Falls. The gardens were beautiful and the falls were a highlight. Other passengers went on volcano excursions and seemed to enjoy them. There did not appear to be much else on that side of the island of interest. The area near the ship was fairly industrial and not conducive to exploring. Most passengers went to either Wal-Mart or Hilo Hatties to shop.
Maui was very enjoyable. We loved snorkeling and trying snuba at Molokini Crater. The town of Lahaina is great for shopping and dining. We really enjoyed eating at the Lahaina Fish Company…..great Mai Tai’s! Everyone needs to visit the big Banyan tree.
Kona was our favorite excursion! We went on the Zodiac and Snorkel excursion. If you enjoy snorkeling, this is a must. The amount of unique and beautiful sea life in Kealakekua Bay was incredible. And Chad from Captain Zodiac was a riot! After several hours of incredible snorkeling and sightseeing, we had a very good lunch at the Fish Hopper restaurant near the tender dock.
In Honolulu we went on the Arizona/Mighty Mo excursion. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing both memorials, although the tour was rather disorganized. We heard of people renting cars or taking taxis and doing the tours themselves, and that seems to be the way to go. We recommend going early as the wait at the Arizona Memorial can be very long. We also did the Paradise Cove Luau later that evening. The activities and dancing were very enjoyable, but very long lines for drinks. The food was okay. Our only other luau experience at the Royal Lahaina Luau was better overall, but Paradise Cove was fun.
In closing, even though we experienced some minor disappointments, this cruise is well worth going on and our family had a wonderful time!