THE SUMMIT We boarded at 11:30 Friday morning, June 11th,. Embarkation was quick, friendly and efficient. Posed for the Welcome Aboard picture and up the gangway we went. Service staff was available with a tray of champagne and OJ. We were handed an information sheet on what was open and told that our Sky Suite would be available after 1 pm. As we had had a late breakfast, we decided a tour of the ship was in order, and off we went to explore.
The Stateroom We were in SS 6125, Penthouse Deck. The room was very well maintained, had a large bathroom, and extra room on the veranda due to location. Gene, our butler, appeared very shortly after our arriving in our room; our Cabin Attendant, Milford, showed up about an hour later. Both individuals were very friendly and quietly maintained the cabin throughout the cruise.
Note to Celebrity: 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel and 1 wash cloth per person is a bit chintzy, don't you think? Women use 2 bath towels (1 for wrapping up their wet head and 1 for the ol' body). I know we can ask for more; but really, couldn't ample towels be provided from day one and then replaced as necessary? Also, it's time to replace some of the "suite" robes. Both of our robes showed wear; and one had a ripped pocket. It would also be nice if the cabin attendant would replace a robe that is obviously soiled (mine ended up with quite a bit of makeup on the front the 3rd day out). I put it in the tub with the wet towels thinking it would be replaced, but returned to find it had just been hung back up on the door.
The Public Rooms: Overall, attractive and very well maintained. There was plenty of comfortable seating in the various bars; our 2 favorite hang-outs were the Martini Bar and Michael's Lounge. What we found "cheap", however, were the same plain peanuts and borderline stale breadsticks that were passed out each night with your drinks. Come on Celebrity! At least spring for the premium mixed nuts and maybe throw in some pretzels or "chex" mix. The Casino was a different issue, smoke-filled with only a very small designated non smoking space at one end with a few slot machines; if one wanted to play the tables you would have to sit in the middle of all the smoke.
The Aqua Spa: Sheer indulgence, outstanding service -- what more need be said?
Restrooms: What happened to cloth hand towels? Other than finding them in a restroom the first day, the only restroom I found for women that had hand towels - and not paper towels - was in the Aqua Spa. My husband, on the other hand, said that there were cloth towels in each of the men's restrooms he used. And as for hot, running water in the ladies rooms, it was virtually non existent in most of the public bathrooms I used.
Restaurants & Food: Good selections in both main dining room, cafes and buffets. Variety of choices was good, with always a fish, poultry and beef selection at dinner. Top of the list - the chef's Coq o'Vin and roasted quail; fish selections were usually quite good, but tended to be fairly boring in presentation. The lobster is not particularly great (spongy and tasteless). Soups were also lacking in imagination and taste. The same consommE broth was recycled each night into a different "flavor", and the cream soups tasted more like the flour thickener instead of the asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower that was listed. Soup chef needs to pop up the flavor!
Celebrity Staff Other than the Aqua Spa staff who provided 5 star service and attitude, both my husband and I felt that while service was efficient, there was no effort to go "above and beyond" what was expected. Bar staff, with the exception of one waiter, could not remember your name or what you were drinking (even though we showed up in the same place every night). On HAL, the bar staff "nailed" our names and drinks after one night.
Our dining service was actually very good, with the exception of the Assistant Maitre'd assigned to our area. Our first encounter was on the 3rd night when he appeared at our table and introduced himself. He began asking how we were enjoying our cruise experience. We told him that we were finding Alaska a wonderful place. He then inquired as to the type of "experience" we were having on Summit. We replied that we found service to be adequate, but not stellar. We asked him if there was a lot of new staff onboard, thinking that this could be the "problem" as staff in several areas seemed unsure of what they should do and when. Mr. M'd stated "no" and said that Summit staff was exceptionally experienced. Obviously, our response was a bit troubling to him and from that night on he persisted in showing up at our table and going through lengthy discussions of how we were perceiving staff and service. No matter how we changed our answers to his inquiries (we got to the point that when he said hello, we immediately said "EVERYTHING IS GREAT!), he continued to ramble on and on. I actually hid behind a menu one night in hopes that he would pass us by -- he didn't.
And lastly, but actually our first Staff encounter was with Jessica, the Social Hostess. She introduced herself while we checked in; and upon retiring the first night, we found an invitation to dine with the Chief Engineer the following evening, the first formal night. Only problem was, the invitation was for the early seating and we were "late shift." As such, I had already made appointments at the Aqua Spa that I really didn't want to cancel (my vacation, my stress relief time, my dining choice). First thing the next morning, we went to Guest Relations and offered our regrets to the invitation. We returned later to our stateroom and had a phone message from Ms. SH. I called her and again expressed our apologies and tried to explain, but she was not interested in a reason. She was extremely curt and dismissive in tone and hung up the phone after saying, "I got your message from Guest Relations."
Ms. SH was also the person in charge of scheduling the Cruise Critic gathering. Once again, her timing was way off - she scheduled our party at 1:30 pm, exactly the time we were entering Hubbard Glacier (and all wanted to be out on deck). So, from a reserved group of 28, we had about 12 people show up, stay for 10 minutes and leave to go see the glacier.
Lastly - The "Rules" Celebrity needs to decide whether or not to enforce their own rules: no jeans in the main dining room at dinner and no children in the Aqua Spa/T-Pool. Blue jeans appeared in the DR every night except the 2 formal nights; and children were in the T-pool every day. The spa staff would run the kids off when someone complained (I did one day), but unless someone said something, kids continued to be in the pool. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that children are allowed to "eat" in the Spa Cafe, but not swim in the hot tub or pool. Maybe this whole, one area should be designated Adults Only? Perhaps since Alaska is a very casual environment, jeans should be allowed in the DR except on formal nights?
Will we sail Celebrity again? It's likely, but not on Summit. There are many comments on this board supporting a great cruise experience on the other X ships. Chances are, we will give one of those ships a try next year.
Overall Alaska experience? Phenomenal! Our comments on the Ports of Call are posted on the "Boards."