My wife and I did back to back cruises on the Summit, leaving from San Juan on its repositioning cruise and ending up in New Jersey after its first Bermuda cruise in April, 2010. We have been on the Summit twice before and enjoy the ship very much. While the ship is getting older (aren't we all) it is still very beautiful and the service remains superb. The public areas are very clean and well kept. It is only the staterooms that are in need of some upkeep as it appeared to us that the same draperies and rugs that were in our cabin five years ago remain in use today.
Embarkation in San Juan could not have gone more smoothly. We left our hotel near the airport around 11:00AM and were enjoying a beer at the bar at the back of the boat by 12:30. Our luggage was delivered to our cabin before 3:00. During my working life I worked in San Juan quite often and my wife and I always loved it there. Our feelings remain the same after this visit.
Our cabin was on the eighth deck in concierge class. Summit now breaks their concierge class down into three categories and we were in C2. We could not tell the difference from our last trip when there was only one category and my guess is that the categories are different only in the cabin position on the ship. We traveled with friends who had a C1 sunset veranda cabin on the 7th deck and while their room was identical to ours, their veranda was enormous. Our room was always very well kept and our room steward, Paz, continually asked if there was anything extra we needed.
We found the food on the first part of the cruise to be very good to outstanding. On the second leg, while the menu remained the same, the food was noticeably different in that it was not quite as good. This is surprising since the same chef and staff were preparing the same food. It does give insight into how people traveling on the same ship, but on different cruises have differing opinions of the food. We ate at the specialty restaurant once on each leg and the food and service were outstanding both times.
The entertainment was very good. Our children (in their 20's) joined us for the second leg of the voyage and they really liked the Celebrity Singers and Dancers and their Broadway type shows. My wife and I enjoyed those shows, but have seen them several times before so they are getting a little stale for us. The first leg had a piano player and a singer who were very good. On the second leg there was a magician, Adam Trent, and a comedian, Dave Heenen, that put on great shows. However, since we are "middle aged" we enjoyed the comedian somewhat more than our kids since they have no experience with many of the things he was talking about. The A Cappella group, the Neptunes, were outstanding. Their talents should be showcased more than 2-3, fifteen minute performances per night.
As for ports of call, the first part of our cruise went from San Juan to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Tortola, Bermuda and on to NJ. In St. Thomas we took an excursion to St. Johns for some snorkeling. We highly recommend visiting St. Johns if given a chance as almost the entire island is a national park and shows the Caribbean pretty much the way it must have been years ago. The snorkeling was good, but not great, but the pristine beach was magnificent.
We misjudged Tortola when we got there as it looked like other islands where people continually hawk items for you to purchase while you sit on the beach or walk the streets. This was not the case and the longer we stayed there the more we liked it. As for St. Maarten, we have been there on several cruises and most people rave about the place, but we just don't get it. We keep telling ourselves we must be missing something.
In Bermuda we didn't have the best of weather during either leg of the trip, but it didn't matter. Bermuda is beautiful and the people are great. If you are a first time visitor we recommend you take an island tour either as an excursion from the ship or by a local taxi. If you take a taxi it is $40.00 per hour and the taxis hold up to six people. A good tour will take about five hours so the tour should cost about $200.00 shared by six. You see more by taxi and have less people with whom to deal. The ships excursions run about $57.00 per person. Everything is imported in Bermuda so things are pricey.
Debarkation at Cape Liberty was a nightmare. As Captains Club members we could have taken advantage of Celebrity's special debarkation procedures for club members, but we wanted to stay with our kids so we went with the general public. Hundreds of people were forced into a small stairway which was hot and very slow moving. It took us nearly an hour in that line with people pushing, shoving and trying to weave their way around others before we could get off. Finding our luggage, getting through customs and getting to our car was a breeze, but Celebrity needs to do something to avoid the unsafe, crowded stairways that caused some hot tempers.
As for perks from Celebrity for doing back to back cruises? Not too much. After the first leg we were escorted through customs by one of the ships officers and then returned to the ship to do as we pleased. We had about an hour to walk around the ship with no other guests on board which was fun. During the second leg we each received $10.00 on board credits and told to have a drink on Celebrity for doing the back to back... so we did!
Overall, Celebrity remains a head above the rest.