EMBARKATION - This was the worst part of the cruise and the worst embarkation experience we have ever had. We arrived at the Cape Liberty terminal at about 12:15, about 45 minutes after embarkation was to begin. Since we arrived early we expected a crowd, but we didn't expect that Celebrity would not be able to handle the crowd efficiently. There were four different lines: (1)suites, (2)concierge class, (3)select/elite captain's club members and (4)everyone else. Except for the suites line the others were very long. The problem was that Celebrity didn't have enough agents to handle the crowd well. There didn't appear to be more than two agents handling any of the lines and we saw four or five empty positions where additional agents could have been stationed. This was our first indication that Celebrity might be trying to save money through reduced staffing. Finally, there weren't any chairs in that area. I have a bad back and had nowhere to relieve my pain and discomfort. All the seating was in the large area we were only permitted to enter after checking in.
DISEMBARKATION - This was a breeze. Passengers were assigned a number and told to go to one of the public rooms at a specific time. We and other concierge class passengers were assigned to the theater where coffee and pastries were available. When our number (22) was called at precisely the correct time we went to the gangway and into the terminal. Our luggage was easy to find and there were many porters to help us through customs and to the area where we could meet our transportation.
CONDITION OF THE SHIP - The Summit is about nine years old, but is still in great shape. We found her to be clean, comfortable and carefully maintained. During the cruise they were even putting down new carpeting in our corridor. The workman told us the carpeting was replaced about every six months.
FOOD - The Summit has only one specialty restaurant, the Normandie, but we didn't eat there on this cruise so I can't comment. Others, however, said it was well worth the $35 per person. The dining room menu came in two parts. The left hand side remained unchanged throughout the cruise and, therefore, was available every evening. It had basic things such as steak, chicken, pasta, salads, soups, etc. The steak was only average, but the chicken and onion soup were pretty good. The right side of the menu changed every evening and was a bit more daring. It, too, usually had beef, fowl, pasta and a vegetarian dish. I am a fussy eater and don't usually like seafood, but the Chilean sea bass and the grouper were terrific. We were at a table for eight with six other delightful people - two from Florida and four from the UK. The only disappointment we had (and it was unanimous) was when lobster was on the menu. Many people love the one night lobster tails are served. However, here, the chef decided to offer what he called "lobster melange." It consisted of scallops, shrimp and one half of a lobster tail. I suppose this was another example of Celebrity trying to save money since scallops and shrimp are cheaper than lobster. Several of us asked the waiter to bring us two halves of the lobster tail and skip the shrimp and scallops. Happily he did so. It was delicious. The Waterfall is the buffet restaurant and has the usual selections. We found them to be fine and had lunch there often. I especially liked the sandwich/panini bar at the rear of the room. Finally, the grill near the pool offered burgers, hot dogs, etc. The burgers were among the best I have had on any cruise.
STAFF/SERVICE - Celebrity is our favorite cruise line and one of the reasons is that the staff is always smiling, friendly and ready to be of assistance. This cruise was no different. Every encounter we had with the staff was a pleasure. Our cabin steward, Marta, and her assistant Victor, were professional and incredibly competent. Our waiter, Rafael, and his assistant Mani, never missed a beat and anticipated our every need. The wine steward, Gabriel, was quite helpful and the maitre d', Peter, visited our table every night to make sure we were happy and regaled us with stories of his home in Croatia. I celebrated my birthday on this cruise and they sang Happy Birthday and gave our table a small cake with my name on it.
ENTERTAINMENT - The singers and dancers on the Summit were great. They did the obligatory shows with Broadway tunes and some rock and roll that all ships offer, but I always enjoy watching and listening to talented performers. Guest entertainers included a female impressionist, a comedian, and a magician. All were entertaining. The Cova Cafe venue offered a guitarist who was pretty good and an acapella group who were great.
PORTS/EXCURSIONS - We picked this cruise because of the itinerary. We live on Long Island, NY but had not been to many places in New England, and none in Canada. The ports were Newport, Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. We took several tours of the various cities and found them informative, if not exciting. We preferred to do some exploring on our own and had a great time. One tip: if you take the horse drawn trolley tour in Halifax, don't sit in the first few rows right behind the horses. For us it was like a scene out of the Seinfeld TV show. But that was our own fault, not the tour's. We especially like Bar Harbor (a nice little tourist town), Prince Edward Island (the mussels and lobster are great) and Quebec ( a beautiful city with a European feel).
SUMARY - As I previously said, Celebrity is our favorite cruise line. This cruise did nothing to change that opinion. Although the embarkation experience was negative, the rest of the two-weeks was wonderful. As a matter of fact, while on board, we booked a Mediterranean cruise next September on the Solstice.