We booked our trip directly with Celebrity using their online reservation process. I found it easy and straight forward. After placing the reservations, I received a call from Celebrity a few days later to confirm our information. They were friendly and helpful! We had received a direct email with a fantastic rate offer, which is why we booked with them instead of using one of our "usual" online TA's.
We embarked from Bayonne, NJ. Never having been there, we were a little concerned about directions, parking, etc. The wonderful Cruise Critic members on the Bayonne board provided us with fantastic directions and good insights about how to board with a walker and handicapped parking. It was quite easy, and within 40 minutes of arriving in Bayonne we were on board and in our cabin, even though it was well before the 1 PM "rooms ready" timeline. We were warmly greeted by our Room Steward and shown the features of the room.
We headed upstairs to the Buffet for a delicious lunch. The Buffet line is broken up into sections, with Pizza being one place, sandwiches and Paninis all the way in the back, and the hot buffet offered on usually one side only. It took a few days to get the hang of where to find things. Breakfast is the same way, with the popular waffles, pancakes and french toast being all the way Aft. Don't miss the fantastic orange butter for your waffles, etc.! Also in the back is a small covered open seating area. It's a little windy while at sea, but nice when in port.
Back down to our Stateroom to unpack. This was our first experience with an Inside cabin. We had been warned to 1) always leave the lights on, and 2) pack an alarm clock! It gets really DARK when the lights are off. The second morning, my DH turned off the alarm clock, intending to snooze a little longer. We didn't wake up til 10 o'clock! Very easy to sleep in when there's no light. The room was a littler narrow than what we're used to, but had lots of storage cubbies and nooks. There were plenty of hangars available in the spacious closet. The bathroom was nicely appointed, toilet was roomy and not stuck in the corner like some ships. Shower was a little narrow, but lots of hot water available! Shelves on the mirror as well as below the sink provided lots of storage room for toiletries. There was a clothesline in the shower for drying swimsuits, etc. The beds were a little hard, but not overly so. We requested them apart, which gave us more leg room. Small sofa came in handy for storage, didn't really use it for sitting. Our suitcases fit neatly under the beds.
Our mid-ship location was very convenient for me, and kept to a minimum the amount of time I spent walking from one end of the ship to the other. Food was aft, entertainment forward. Casino and shops were midships, as well as some really nice lounges. The ship is aging gracefully; the marble atrium steps are still impressive, and the classic theme is well done and kept remarkably clean.
Our dining experience started off badly, but ended well. We were not provided with a dining assignment, so had to wait 20-25 minutes standing off to the side until we were told where our table was. Finally wound up on the upper level of the dining room (5th deck) at a wonderfully friendly table for 10. We all enjoyed it so much, not one of us missed a seating! The menu was a little fancy for my tastes, but I was able to find something to try on every night but one -- and then ordered the fall back chicken Caesar salad. Coq au Vin, Chateaubriand and Encrusted Turkey Parmesan were several of my favorite offerings. Wonderful soups and salads accompanied the meals. Desserts were heavy on the chocolate -- not a favorite of mine. So, I just ordered the Creme Brulee, which was available every night. It never failed to impress. The wait staff was friendly, approachable, and funny. They provided us with impeccable service. Thank you Ashpura and Nelson!
The shows were typical cruise fare: a comic, a Broadway show, and a magician. The comic was hysterical, though, much more enjoyable than normal. The singers and dancers on board the Summit were fabulous and very talented. I wasn't enamoured of the magician (sorry, Adam.) The biggest surprise was the aerial ribbon act with Dominic and Marsha. Absolutely stunning! They were pieced into several of the shows, but I felt they should have had their own show, they were that good!
We did not take advantage of the children's club offerings, although we overheard several families offering them high praises.
We also did not participate in any shore excursions, using our own knowledge as well as a good tour book to guide us around the Island.
The various activities on board were standard cruise fare. We enjoyed with Wii for adults (tennis only -- bowling takes too long!), the trivia contests, and the various lectures. The pools were always busy, with all poolside chairs "taken," of course. We were able to find a few free lounges in the Thalassotherapy pool area, which was wonderful. Just like a big hot tub! We used it while in port, as it was always crowded while at sea. The casino was fairly large and easily navigable, even with my walker. ATMS were down more than they were up. Internet access was available, but slow, and pricey.
We had a little trouble with disembarkation. I normally disembark using a wheel chair so I don't have to stand for long periods. We were provided a wheel chair the night before disembarkation to our stateroom. Our room steward then pushed me to the disembarkation lounge in the morning, telling us "someone" would be along when our luggage tags were called. Well, they weren't. My husband finally had to go looking for someone, and it was almost 30 minutes after they'd called our tags before a porter finally arrived. When we got down to deck 1, it was chaos. The area between the mid-ship elevators is very narrow, and there were a hundred people or better trying to get out through the one gate. It was crazy! Then, when we finally got outside to the luggage area, our luggage was nowhere in sight. Long story short, it had been left on the ship. After another 30 minutes of waiting, we were finally reunited with our luggage. There was a long,long line of cars pulling up to the covered tent to pick up their luggage, but we were able to bypass it by the grace of our porters. They pushed me and our luggage cart all the way out to the handicapped parking area, where we loaded up the car, tipped them (generously) and finally took off! We started out at 8:30 AM in the lounge, and finally pulled away from Bayonne at almost 11 AM. NOT a smooth process, for sure!