Embarkation on May 2nd from Cape Liberty was not bad. Granted, I got there about 11 AM, and though I waited about half an hour to get onto a shuttle bus, once I did, it was quick and painless.
Once on board, I headed for the Waterfall Cafe on Deck 10 for a buffet lunch. I haven't been on that many cruises, but on my past cruises, the first day buffet is usually dreadful. Not so on the Summit. The food was fresh, good, and varied. A good sign. Also, the layout of the Waterfall Cafe was good - much better than the horrid Horizon Court on Princess.
THE SHIP Let me put to rest the rumors that the Summit is somehow 'showing its age'. It's a beautiful ship, well appointed, and clean. The theater was very comfortable, and had no bad sightlines. There were a LOT of lounges - maybe too much space devoted to bars, but I guess that's inevitable. Even the Cova Cafe, where you can get specialty coffee drinks seemed more interested in selling alcohol than making espresso. That's the one thing I would change - make the cafe a real cafe space truly devoted to coffee, not just another bar with a few tables squeezed in around the atrium .
I didn't use the main pool, but I definitely appreciated that the Thalassotherapy pool was open to all, and I used it on a few occasions, as well as the adjacent Jacuzzis, which were, for once, actually hot! (yay!) I understand that the Summit is due to be 'Solsticized' soon. Frankly, I'd go back on the Summit in a heartbeat in its present condition.
CABIN Got into the cabin -- #6028 - one of the so-called 'sweet 16' balcony cabins (so-called because they have double-size balconies), at about 1:30. I've always chosen the same basic cabin class - BB on Princess, D2 on RCL, VC on HAL, and now 2C on X. Out of the four lines I've cruised, I found the general layout to be the best on the Summit. There was plenty of space to move around the bed, the little love seat next to the balcony was nice (better than RCL's placement in the interior, and much better than Princess' uncomfortable 'armchair'). The bathroom was small but very well and conveniently laid out. And although it didn't have a tub like HAL, it had a decent-sized shower that I found more than adequate - and I'm a 'plus-sized' person. There were only 3 very minor things I didn't like about the cabin: 1) the closet was small (that's one area where Princess crushes the competition!), 2) The TV was small and curiously, across the cabin from the loveseat, so that I had to angle my head uncomfortably to see it, and 3) the balcony furniture consisted of 2 regular-sized chairs and a tiny table. On Princess and HAL, the same class cabin provided a larger table and a lounge chair!
FOOD I found the food to be of consistently good quality. A lot of variety in the morning and lunch at the buffet, always the option of pizza or burgers, too, and probably the best desserts I've had on a cruise. The MDR food was also generally of high quality, except for the last night. Curiously, that night everyone at my table complained about their main dishes. I had to send mine back and order something else, which ended up being way too salty. Which is odd, because if there's one negative about cruise food in general, it's that they don't season it enough.
I did the Select dining, and never had a problem getting seated promptly. Service in the MDR was always decent, sometimes better than that. Service at the Normandie was excellent, and the food, though criminally under salted, was delicious.
ENTERTAINMENT The Celebrity cast singers and dancers and band were nothing short of awesome. Best cast at sea - really impressive. I usually don't go to see all the production numbers, but this time I didn't miss a single one. Also, the string quartet and the Neptunes a cappella group were great.
Among the specialty guest entertainers, there was one real standout - the acrobatic duo that wove their amazing performances in with the production numbers. I was flabbergasted when I found out that they had only rehearsed together for 3 weeks before performing their routines! Unfortunately, the other guest performers - the magician and the comedian - weren't so great.
SERVICE Wow. That's all I can say. Well, OK, I'll say more :) Service was top-notch, from my cabin steward Rafael, to the bar staff, the staff at the Waterfall cafe, everyone. Unlike on HAL, where almost every request was met by a 'No' followed by a grudging 'Well, I guess we could do that', On the Summit, it was 'Of course, no problem'. Example: On the Noordam, I was in a bar listening to the classical strings and I wanted a drink that wasn't on the menu in that particular bar. It was like pulling teeth trying to a) get the attention of the waiter, and b) getting him to agree to get me a drink from a bar no more than 15 steps away from the bar I was in! On the Summit, I made a similar request, and the waitress said 'Of course, no problem', and I had my drink quick as you could say 'Whiskey in a Jar'.
ACTIVITIES I heard a lot of people on board complain that there weren't enough activities. I totally disagree. The sea days, and even the port days, were filled with activities from morning to night. OK, maybe there weren't many parties by the pool, but there were 4 trivia sessions every day, so I was happy! Note to Celebrity, though - you could stand to be more generous with the gifts to trivia winners. All we got was pens for the first 4 or 5 days of the cruise!
OVERALL Great cruise. Nice ship. Great service. Good food. Celebrity has done the right thing by making most areas non-smoking. You cannot imagine how pleasant it was to sit at the casino and play without secondhand smoke choking me. And to be able to enjoy my balcony and the fresh sea air without some foul cigarette smoke messing it up. I will definitely cruise on Celebrity again.