After my first and second Celebrity cruises I never thought I'd see myself giving a Celebrity ship anything less than 4 to 5 stars. Unfortunately, that day has come.
My wife and I have been on many of the major cruises, but our first was on the Celebrity Galaxy in 1997. That cruise seemed to set the standard for us in cruising. We tried other cruise lines, but the two key factors that differentiate cruises for us are the service/staff and the food. Our view is that pretty much everything else besides the service and food is the same between cruise lines. Same activities, same ports, same tours, etc.
The service and attitude of the staff on Summit seemed to be right on par with what I expect from Celebrity. Very friendly! Everyone you make eye contact with while passing gives you a greeting. Another BIG PLUS I find on Celebrity compared to other cruise lines is the quick clean-up of public eating areas. As you finish with use of trays, plates, cups, etc. someone is almost immediately there to take them away. Not only does this keep areas clean, it also allows the next people to find a seat quicker. I have been on many other cruises where this is a HUGE problem.
This said about the service, I must get to the food issue. If you did not have a chance to sail on Celebrity in the 90's or early 2000's then you will probably have no idea of the difference in food I am talking about. Quite simply, I found the quality of the food and presentation severely lacking compared past cruises on Celebrity.
Main Dining Room The food selections in the main dining room were uninspiring and very bland. I had never had such a hard time deciding what to eat from a cruise menu. Unfortunately, this was not because of all the appetizing selections, but rather the multitude of selections that just didn't appeal to me. In fact, one night I couldn't even find something that sounded appealing so I decided to go to the informal dining. The portions being provided are ridiculously small now too. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise though due to the food taste and quality.
Buffets/Alternate Dining A disturbing trend that I found was the type of food being served in these areas. In my opinion it appeared that most of the buffets served some form of international/foreign dish rather than good old American meat and potato type meals. I travel and eat all over the world so I eat most anything, but it seemed to me that while Italian, Indian and Asian seemed to be the day-to-day buffet, the only American food was hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza.
In summary, I don't know if these food issues have more to due with the economy, attempts to stay competitive or both. One additional factor that has to be considered is the departure of Michel Roux. I personally think the loss of the chef, Michel Roux, is a big part of this problem.