On June 13, 2010, nine of my family ranging from 19 to my 80 year old mother were guests on the celebrity summit to bermuda. First, cruise critic members have made some negative comments on the summit, and I will debunk some of this 'cc blog lore'. The curtains in the state room are not 'cowboy motif' as reported previously. they were horses, but the riders were asian warriors, some carrying ancestral flags into battle. tastefully artistic by any standards, imho. Sheets, towels and linen were extremely clean, not stained, again as previously maligned by a fellow cc member. Shipboard fabrics were tasteful and mostly clean by cruise ship standards, not thread worn and out of date. Food in the dining room is not 'subpar' or 'mediocre'. it was excellent and if anything, some extra sauce and veggies would be a good addition to most of the meals. but the food quality ranged from very good to outstanding, albeit sometimes with extra sauce required. any additional requirements on our part (cook the fish less) were met in minutes by our waiter, Ketut. anyone lucky to get him will be handsomely rewarded with superior service. we tipped him extra, and we don't tip much when it is already added to the bill. Some rust stains were present, again a fellow cc critique. But you really had to look hard. Handrails were freshly varnished, stainless polished, some small rust stains here and there in nooks and crannies if you searched hard enough. Ever been on a cruise with no rust anywhere at all? I haven't in nine cruises. we need to be accurate in our critical assessments, fellow members! One cc truth: the chairs at the pool were 'hogged' early in the am but there were lots on the upper decks and more if you asked the pool patrol, so no problems sunning or shading. CC tip: if the food is not to your liking they will instantly make it right. suntan chairs, no problem. But ya gotta tell them.
OK, so now my gripes: what do you get for the concierge class two (c2) upgrade? we booked two of our four rooms in the c2 class. All the perks are clearly indicated on the website, so I won't repeat. Preferred boarding starts at 11am and is nice due to the short lines, where half the attendants are provided to the c2 class, and the other half are relegated to the line for the masses. since there are way fewer c2 class rooms, well the math says you will board more quickly and Celebrity is right on this point. Better yet: captain's club elite level had NO line. Preferred departure? Man the lifeboats, folks, it's a preferred disaster drill. "preferred departure" turned into "preferred torture". Told that we could leave at 7:30 by the Celebrity departure police, we gave up our lovely balcony room (two of them) and trotted to the theatre. Many of us "C2ers" were there, in fact it was SRO with continental breakfast. At 7:45 we were somewhat rudely informed (female, english accent) that "you can't get off yet, the luggage is not ready". Okey dokey. our luggage was 'ready' at 9:30, two hours later. game losing fumble on the preferred departure, and SHAME ON YOU CELEBRITY. All these cruises (20th anniv of celebrity pin given to us on ship) and you can't handle a preferred departure? Please have your people call Norwegian, who has it down to a science. upon return to the rooms, we saw that once we vacated, the attendants were instantly prepping for the next group, arriving "preferred" at 11am. if we waited in our rooms, well...you get the picture. They had to trick us into the theater to get a jump on the next crowd. Not a trick you say, Celebrity? Then why did you have the nice continental breakfast (or should I say bait) set up, when everyone had already eaten and was clearly ready to depart, if you did not think we would be there a while? Huge Celebrity gaffe, imho, for cruisers who had paid extra to leave early. at 9:30 we exited smartly and "unpreferred" with the rest of the non c2 level passengers. CC tip: don't give up your room until your time indicated on baggage tags. Or pack light and walk off at 7:30 with your luggage in tow. with nine of us we could not do this.
Another Concierge Class website faux pas: advertised 32 inch flat screens in the rooms? Squadoosh. None in either room, just a 24 inch tube sets. I finally met one person who had one in his C2 room. He liked it since it was out of the way, mounted on a wall and left the top of the wet bar open for scarce counter space. CC tip: book one category lower, save about $400 per couple, same room, same tv. But no preferred arrival.
I was told by the celebrity 800 cust service folks the 19 year old could have beer and wine if we signed a parental waiver. Upon arriving at Port Liberty, NJ, we asked about filling out the waiver since we forgot the one we printed out on the website. No problem, we were handed and promptly signed and returned the document to the boarding agent. At sea, on approach to the bar, service was refused. A trip to guest services and we were told that only if the departure or arrival point allows under 21 drinking, would the waiver be valid. Otherwise, no deal. No biggie for our 19 year old, but why were we physically given the waiver in New Jersey (a 21 state) on a ship going to Bermuda (a 21 country)? Very confusing. Celebrity would do much better to stop such idiotic foolishness and stick to a 21 policy. Or not, in international water. By the way, the waiver is on the website. Felt like we got the runaround on this one.
The upscale Normandie food, advertised on board as duplicating the Normadie French liner's top class dining was superb, even world class Cordon Bleu level. I've taken cordon bleu classes, so trust me. However, the upsell by our waiter started quickly. First, the fee was $35, not $25 per person. OK, but immediately they attempt to sell French champaign by the glass and upsell the menu to an $89 dollar version with free wine during dinner. $89 x 4 = $356. One hell of a party on any shipboard bar or in the casino. No thanks. Just the wine list please. The waiter looked unhappy and trotted away the champaign. but the real service blunder was at the end of the truly exquisite meal and, to this point service, where the waiter pointed out the 'write-in tip line' as an option if we enjoyed our dinner. They don't even do this at Applebees!!!!! Ouch. adding $20 to the tip for our party of four, the bill was now $160. Save your money. eat in the mdr where the waiters don't ask for tips. Think if we opted for the $356 dinner. Ouch again. It was top class dining, but was also top class dinging. CC tip: save your money and eat in the MDR where tips are never mentioned. BTW: the Normadie was empty the night we ate there, with only three occupied tables. When we made our reservations, the maitre'd said that they were "very busy, but might squeeze us in."
Michael's cigar bar, to which I was looking forward, (I've crusied celebrity twice before) is now a politically correct cadaver. No smoking allowed. Apparently the 2011 refurb on Summit will remove this and add another upscale restaurant. Maybe they will not ask for tips.
Weird sidenote and no kidding: the spa had a big permanent sign indicating that the National Institute of Health (NIH) and World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed acupuncture as a cure for many ailments including depression. Don't know about WHO but I believe NIH makes no such claims and is neither a governing body nor testing agency for acupuncture or the laundry list of ailments that were listed. I believe that they do not actually endorse acupuncture for anything. The president of WHO did get Fidel to drop his cigar habit a few years back. Maybe that's when Michael's threw in the towel? CC tip: go ahead and get acupuncture but please seek professional help for depression and other medical maladies.
One last shot: don't buy a drink package. you would have to guzzle 10-15 drinks a day to make it worthwhile. in the basic package where drinks up to $8 are comped, if you buy a jumbo $10 martini (well worth it I might add) the whole ten dollars will be billed to you, not just the $2 extra. Even the 800 cust service said " I don't think we offer those anymore, they were not very popular." Gee, at 650 per couple, Ya think? But they do still sell them. CC tip: Drink buckets of bud ($22) poolside or better yet, go ashore and drink dark and stormy's or the crafted beer in the local microbrewery right at the dockyard. BTW--as hard as I tried during the week, I did not see anyone who had purchased this option.
The good news, despite these offbeat service issues, the ship is beautiful, general service is superb, the food very good to excellent (MDR) and the pace very leisurely. Did not go to entertainment, so can't comment. No parties where you can dance with a lampshade on your head, very little poolside music, so no limbo contests or fruit carving hula night. If that is what you seek, go Norwegian. But you won't get food and service like the Summit. would I return? you bet. But not leave my room on the last day until 'luggage time'. And I'll drop the c2 by one level and save $400, drop the extra cost meal for another $160, thank you very much.