My family cruised on the Summit for the 8/22/10 voyage to Bermuda. In a nutshell this was a wonderful, relaxing cruise. This is NOT a party cruise, there is no Newlywed Game. There are no chicken fights or belly flop contests. This is a CIVIL, kick back and chill cruise. My wife and I (both late 40s), 2 kids (Mid teen and a tween) and my folks had a wonderful wonderful time. Was everything perfect? No. Was it over expectations? Yes. In a nutshell this was a fabulous cruise for families and the over 30 non-party crowd. Don't get me wrong, you could party into the small hours if you want to but between 7am and 11pm it was quite civil.
The terminal quite honestly is not up to standard. It's old, it's uncomfortable. Line jumping is tolerated by the terminal boarding staff. My Mom is wheelchair bound and quite honestly, there needs to be more control over boarding the ship. The 1 security officer was constantly backing people off preventing a mad rush while the terminal attendants did nothing except for calling numbers. Getting a vehicle in and out is a pain in the neck. Maybe we're spoiled by NCL's new facility in NYC or Port Canaveral in Orlando.
The ship is one of the more conservative ships I've been on. Conservative does not mean stodgy. It is not over done, over glitzed or gaudy by any means. It is trimmed by a different set of folks than would trim a casino. The ship was SPOTLESS clean everywhere and maintained. The Summit did not have any "hallways to nowhere" and was very easy to get around on. 99% of the ship is handicapped accessible and made this very easy for my folks. The much appreciated things were you did not have "attack photographers" photo-ing every move; you did not have drink-slingers hawking the potion of the hour. Basically there were no little annoyances you come to tolerate and expect.
Before I get to the good stuff, I want to go thru the minor gripes. Rob our cruise director (and a wonderful one at that) said at the Cruise Critic meet and greet that they read these reviews VERY seriously. So I'll make it easy I'll get these out of the way My folks were very excited to have some sort of a toast on the helipad for the club members only. This was an invite only event. They could not go because it was not handicap accessible. The service at both pools bars, honestly, it stunk. The "regulars" got all the attention and the newbie's waved their cards. A gal at the bar literally shouted, "Do you hate me? Why can't I get served?" More than once I got my card back but no receipt was signed. When I asked for a receipt to sign, I was looked at like I had 6 heads. I was told, "Its no big deal". Sorry, this is an open tab and I'm not treating 3000 of my closest friends. My last complaint - The pool grill. The girl spoke limited English and had no clue what people were asking for. Her assistant had to explain what a grilled chicken sandwich was along with anything that was not a hamburger. This was all minor stuff.
The Cabins and stewards - We had a balcony room on the 7th deck forward portside. The beds were EXTREMELY comfortable. The room was just enough in size. The bathroom is of good size and the shower had terrific pressure and the water was so hot you could make tea. Closet and drawer space was ample - we had 4 big suitcases and a suiter! TV was standard CNN and ESPN but you shouldn't be in your cabin anyway! The steward was the best we have had ever and we cruise every year. Derrick saw recognized your schedule and your room was made up at the perfect time. We were never interrupted, we never had a knock on the door, and we never needed anything! Fantastic job!
The Crew - We met all the important folks at the Cruise Critic meet and greet and everyone remembered you for the entire cruise. Rob our cruise director was terrific. James the social "director" - WOW! All this guy did was make you smile and laugh. He's the chap at the pool events, trivia, etc etc. He was just a happy go lucky, funny dude who made you happy being around him. The nice thing was we ran into Capt Peppas many times during the cruise. He always was observing what was going on and he and the other white jackets were very visible and approachable.
The Meals - You MUST go to the Normandie Restaurant. 5 stars - hands down and this is from a NYC foodie! The main restaurant was very good. The service was SUPERB! Wawan our waiter was a star! We took the basic wine package for 99.00 and it was a bargain. The menu was terrific. The left side was standard fare available every night - Shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, Steaks etc. The right side was the daily specialties and it did not disappoint. All the meals were very good to excellent with the exception of the last night. Over cooked, under cooked and over salted. Bad preparation but all else was like I said terrific. The buffet had a terrific variety and was very good. Many ethnic dishes are rotated and I ate stuff I never had before. The salad and fruit was always fresh, the food was always hot. The pasta station was fast and enjoyable. There is no midnight buffet in the traditional sense. It's a big fondue table. The breakfast buffet more than made up for that. By far - the best buffet EVER and I'm not a buffet guy! The food prep and presentation was superb BUT the table service (Coffee and juice guy - table clearing) was very sub-par. The staff acted like they did you a favor after being asked nicely 3x. All in all - above, way above expectations!
The Pool Areas - The adult pool area is world class! It's a GIANT WARM WATER POOL with 2 whirlpools, 4 massage spouts, 20 feet of bubbling roller lounges and NO KIDS! The No kids rule is heavily enforced. A grandma and family took a 2 year old in the pool - Security asked them to take the kid out. I LOVE IT! The main pool area has 2 pools - a 5-6ft deep and a 4 foot deep along with the hot tubs jammed with kids. Plenty of lounges and chairs - we never got shut out. The pool is quite having the reggae band later in the day and the music didn't blast from the DJ until late afternoon.
Entertainment - I found the entertainment a little uneven. The Neptunes (The acapella group) were FANTASTIC. The string quartet, the singer/guitar player were exceptional. A very nice touch! The "rock band" - c'mon now..... It looked like they made up half the stuff as they went along. The singer had it going on but the rest of the band looked lost. There were times they looked like they never did this before. BTW - I am a pro musician and magazine columnist. Can my band get booked? We'll do it for room and board! The guest entertainment was top notch. The comedians did a GREAT JOB of PG13 performances which we all know is difficult. The ships band was quite good. I could be wrong but there were times I thought they were playing over a track which bugged me. I do have to give kudos - they gigged cold with the guest pianist and were fantastic. The 2 main shows - well the 1st one was very High School Musical. Folks walked out. The second one was ok... Maybe I was spoiled by the NCL Dawn entertainment last year. Like I said, this was just ok... The late parties were quite good too.
Other niceties - The galley tour was FREE! The cruise talent show was UNREAL! The Food Network Challenge was a lot of fun as was the trivia competition.
Excursions - This was the 2nd year in a row we snorkeled on the Restless Native excursion. It was fantastic and well worth the money. This is an excursion even the younger kids enjoyed. Bermuda - 3rd year in a row! We love it!
All in all this was a fantastic cruise that I would HIGHLY recommend IF you want to relax and enjoy AND you're not one of the folks who's bar tab is higher than the cabin fare.