My two friends and I booked this cruise (April 25-May 2nd Bermuda from Bayonne) in February thru Continental.com. Who knew you could get mileage credits with a cruise! We are all from Northern NJ. My third cruise, 2nd cruise for one friend and 10+ cruise for another friend. We were the first Celebrity ship out of that port this season. It was a long check-in. The people behind the computers are sub-contracted. I think by Celebrity, but maybe the Port itself. One hour 45 minutes to get through the lines when we got there at 11:50AM for a 4:00pm departure just painful. I hope the next cruise departures got smoother and faster.
Cruise Critic - We met informally at a sail-a-way part Sunday. It was a good chance to put faces to the a lot of posters I'd been reading. All very nice folks. The Celebrity Cruise Critic Connections Party was at 9:15AM the first day at sea. We had the Hotel Director, the Food and Beverage Manager and also our Cruise Director Steven J. Daniels. They spoke about what is coming up on this cruise and the changes to the Summit, at dry dock, next April. They apologized for the tie up on embarking and explained the dining room delay the first night. I was surprised how many staff members were at the party. They were very informative and all charming, I was very glad we went and got our "inside" information.
The Ship and crew - The Summit is a great ship. It's not so large that you get worn out going from one end to the other. Try the Thalasso pool and the showers/sauna behind it. Really beautiful spaces. Often I would swim then shower up there - lots more room. We loved the layout for the Cova Cafe and Rendezvous Bar. Both had music most of the evenings and was very conveniently placed in the center of the ship. One on deck four and and one on deck five. The only bump in the cruise was the above departure problem and a long line the first dinner because of a computer glitch lost the seating arrangements. The crew did a great job working out the table seating's at short notice. The two couples we sat with were great company at dinner. Fabulous cabin!! Family view with a full screen that separated the two beds from the couch area (that slept two on one couch and one on the other). The balcony was wonderfully large and sheltered from the wind on both sides (unusually high winds this week). The cabin guys - Regidor and Joseph - were great, the cabin was always clean and Reggie especially was always present for anything extra we might need. These people work such longggg hours and yet are still pleasant and smiling. The decor of the ship is tasteful and comfortable. The art hanging up was pretty engaging. I think most of it is part of the art auction. It seemed as tho they had changed them the morning of our departure. Two quibbles: Hard to reposition/turn the heavy chairs on carpeting in some of the lounge areas. I did wish the seats had wheels on them. There are a couple of spots in the floor of the dining room that dip very slightly, a little disconcerting till you get use to it. I was surprised they had a free galley tour. Part of the "Solisticizing" - Relax, Renew, hmm .. something else. It was so popular they did it again later in the cruise. Very interesting and once again more charming crew were met. After there was a demonstration of cooking. Took a while to set up, but again, interesting. Wish we had time for more of the cooking events that took place during the week.
Entertainment- The Acapella group "Neptunes" was really unexpected and greatly entertaining. We could have listened to them more than twice a night and we did try. The violinist "Ivor" was just so special and also unexpected. Really cool to hear a expertly played violin from so close up. By the end of the cruise word was out and these two performances were very popular, SRO. Simon Bell(?) the guitarist/pop tune player was also entertaining. So was the jazz group (four guys) who's name escapes me. It was so windy most of the days we did not get outside to hear the band on the Lido deck except for a minute or two. Which is a shame, they sounded great the short time we heard them. The aerial artists were the first I've ever seen live and amazing. The singers and dancers in the production numbers very good. So were the sets and costumes. Two of the shows were heavy into Broadway production numbers, which were great, but I think some other musical areas would have been nice also. (Jazz, Rock 'n Roll, R&B). The "fly in" entertainment was OK, not over the top great, but OK. A comedian that was funny (I'm told the second show was better) and magician/illusionist that was OK (We left it early). I liked the on-board full time entertainers much more.
Food and Beverage- There are three drink specials that changed every day. I think they were $5.50 and really, really good. Generous and tasty! I thought the food very good - many excellent even. Maybe one or two misses out of all the dinners. Our waiters were eager to change entrees if we were not satisfied with them. I highly recommend the lamb chops! We had Ketuk and Paulo(?) for our servers. Very attentive and always pleasant and were friendly and did a great job. The lido deck had all the foods you would expect. They were all done well, that I could tell. Lines were long (four to five) only once and a rare while, and all you had to do was move to a different serving station. TIP: Try the "Spa" cuisine back by the Thalasso pool. No lines and very creative and appealing dishes for breakfast and lunch. We had a sit down breakfast in the dining room. Very quick service and nice meeting more passengers. One lady had Celiac disease and said that the chef or maitre'd (Can't remember which) would bring the next day's menu to the table at night for them to go over what she would like to have the next day. We were told on a tour of the galley that there are at least two chefs just for special diet needs. Pretty attentive!
Port & Shore Excursions- I'm afraid we did not take advantage of these. We bought a three day pass for the bus/ferry. If I did it again I would take the excursion or two. Bus transportation was interesting the first day, but then the slowness and crowds get frustrating. It was fun seeing the beautiful shoreline from a lot of the bus routes. We just missed a bus coming up from the beach and had to wait a half hour for the next one. Tough on your last day when time is short. The ferry's were faster but the one to St. George was cancelled our second day due to choppy waters so we took a ferry to Hamilton, then bus to St. George. Interesting talking to local folk on the bus, but they pack riders in the aisles as well as the seats. Hard on locals when the tourist hit town. The water temp was 68 or so. With a 20 mile an hour wind two of the days, that made water adventures kinda chilly and not attractive. I can't describe how beautiful Bermuda waters and beaches are. I do have to go back in warmer weather for a beach vacation. The third day a few people made it into the ocean waters. It was great touring by foot in 70 degree weather. TIP: Jobson's Cove was a beautiful beach spot. Had a patch of shade created by the large cliffs. Shade is not easy to find. Too windy for umbrellas while we were in port. Horseshoe Bay is VERY popular with a restaurant and bathrooms. It's a somewhat steep walk down from the road. There is a cab that will take you back up hill for $2. There is a sheltered beach just to the right of Horseshoe Bay. Also a path to the left that takes you across the ridge to many of the beaches - up as far as Warwick Long Bay. Maybe further. Walk up hill from any of them and you can catch the bus or a cab. HAMILTON - Was very cool seeing a cruise ship docked parallel to one of the main roads. We found a beautiful park near the post office. More scenic than the Botanical Gardens we stopped at earlier. TIP: At the Botanical Gardens ask in the cafe/shop for the shortcut into the rose garden. Wednesday nights is festival night in Hamilton. Did not go sadly. Public transportation would take too long getting back for 8:30 dinner. ST GEORGE'S - This was a town with a lot of older homes (from 17th-19th century) and narrow, hilly streets. Power and telephone lines run underground and street lights are not modern looking. We went to a museum that had been the Queen's warehouse. I can't find the name of it anywhere. There was a connection to UNESCO World Heritage tho. There was a short intro film - interesting. A lot of hands on information spots with quick info on past citizens, history, shipping. At $5 to get in, a bargain. We ate in a sandwich shop that was very reasonable. It was called Temptations at 31 York Street. $4.50 for hot dog, the same for soup (very good soup). Sandwiches were $6-$8. We saw St. Peter's church and found the graveyard very touching, interesting headstones - some very, very old ones. Cabs can be hired in Bermuda for $40 for an hour tour. We did that in St. George and was very happy with the gentleman that took us around to the Fort, St. Catherines beach, Tobacco Bay, other spots. Shops closed up at 4:30 on a weekday. Not much to do after that unless your eating.
DOCKYARDS- It's a bit of a walk to the bus stop and ferry dock (Like a long NYC block). Level tho. Visit Center is right there with maps and brochures and they sell the bus/ferry pass. Check out the pottery shop in the shopping area. Beautiful work. The Snorkel Park was very convenient to the ship. Walked quickly thru the shops on our last hour in port. Would have like to have had more $$ to spend in them :). I would rather have docked in Hamilton or St. George for convenience sake, but this is a beautiful area also.
SUMMARY - I want to go back. Bermuda is amazingly beautiful. I loved the cruising experience on Celebrity. It was more expensive than NCL and the one Carnival cruise that went to Bermuda in April. I didn't check the price for other cruise lines. I know I got my money's worth. If I can afford the extra price (which was $100 or so at balcony category). I will choose Celebrity again, if only for the entertainment that was so special. If not, Carnival is a great deal usually. Both cruise lines have good to great food and great service. Celebrity's drinks were much more affordable.