Celebrity Summit 7-day cruise to New England/ Canada Departed: Aug. 15, 2010, from Bayonne, NJ
We are a family of four: Parents in their early 60s; son and daughter (me) in our mid 30s. This was my parents' 13th cruise, my 5th cruise and my brother's 2nd. My parents celebrated their 41st anniversary on the cruise.
Overall: The Summit is an aging ship with a few problems. But we enjoyed the Maine/Canada itinerary and had a great trip.
Here are a few things I wish I'd known before we left:
Check in: Arriving in Bayonne at 11:30 a.m. meant we had to wait more than an hour to check in. Parking was easy, but expensive-- $133 on a credit card as you pulled into the lot for a 7-day stay. We did the online pre-registration, but forgot to print out the confirmation. That meant we had to take an additional 10 minutes to fill out the forms at the check-in desk.
Luggage: You check your bags at the Bayonne terminal as you unload them from your car. But make sure you take a well-packed carry-on with you to bring on the ship yourself. Out luggage didn't make it to our room until after dinner the first night-- more than 6 hours after we checked in. So, we had to wear shorts and t-shirts to the dining room. The dining room staff understood-- a sign said shorts and t-shirts were acceptable the first night only-- but we were still reprimanded as we walked into dinner by a crew member who said we couldn't dress like that again the second night. "He doesn't need to yell at me for something I didn't do yet," my brother said later. "I was only wearing shorts because I didn't have my luggage." Not a good first impression for the crew.
Dining problems: I wish someone had told me to double check my dining table size and seating time well before the cruise. This needs to be done with your travel agent by phone at least a week before and can't be done on the Celebrity web site during pre-check in. We were given a table for 8 instead of 4. So, as soon as I got on the ship I was told to go to the assistant Maitre D to change it. "Mr. Larry"-- the slightly overwhelmed assistant Maitre D-- sits in one of the lounges as everyone boards and takes requests for dining changes (moving tables, changing seating times, sitting with friends, etc.) On our cruise, more than 200 (mostly annoyed) people asked for changes in the first 24 hours. Mr. Larry makes the changes based on how high you are on the list, so see him as soon as you get on the ship for the best shot. Chances are he won't make your change the first night-- he waits until he has the full list of requests-- so you're stuck with your table the first day. I tracked him down three times before he finally found a table for four at the late seating. Tip: Go back and see Mr. Larry a few times and be nice. Persistence got us the table we wanted.
Dining times: Neither the 6 p.m. nor the 8:30 p.m. seating times seemed to be ideal. The 6 p.m. people had trouble making it to dinner on the days we were out on excursions. We chose the 8:30 p.m. seating, but service was pretty slow. Most days we were lucky to have our entree by 10 p.m. Tip: The dining room is two floors-- the 5th floor balcony (table numbers in the 500s) and the 4th floor main level (tables in the 400s). The 4th floor tables got their food faster.
Stateroom: We had inside cabins on Deck 3. They were small, but well laid out. Excellent safe in the closet, easy to use. The bathroom was relatively large wit a big shower for a ship. There was a small couch that turns into a third bed. The television has CNN, ESPN, BBC, etc-- but no printed program listings so it's hard to plan when to watch a movie. Tip: You can use your TV and remote control to order room service to your stateroom. Pretty cool.
Pool: The indoor pool was the best. It's a large, heated, saltwater pool with two hot tubs inside a glass atrium (for adults only). It's next to the Aqua cafe, which is a self-serve health food buffet for breakfast and lunch. The chaise lounges are cushioned. Our favorite spot. Tip: If the crowds are getting to you, try the lounge chairs at the front of the ship, top deck, accessible only by stairs from the deck below. The chairs were pretty old and weathered, but the area was always deserted and quiet.
Exercise: Good gym with a good selection of treadmills, elipticals, weight lifting machines and free weights. But about half of the elipticals and several treadmills were broken. The sauna-- with a window overlooking the sea-- was pretty cool. Tip: If you are a walker of runner, don't bother trying to do laps around the ship on the Promenade deck. Unlike other ships, the Promenade doesn't go all the way around. Stick to the top deck over the pool for multi-mile laps.
Other amenities: Celebrity Theaters, where the shows are held, was big and comfortable. But bring in your own drinks. Waiters are scarce here and all over the ship. The movie theater was fun. But it was small and only showed films twice a day. It was empty and unused the rest of the time, oddly. We liked the martini sampling in the Martini bar. You get to try a tray of various flavored martinis in small servings for one price. We also enjoyed the free lectures. On our cruise, they were lectures about tides and whales from a visiting college professor. Tip: There is a nice card room on the ship. But the game selection is showing its age. One of the Scrabble games only had 41 of the original 100 letter tiles! Scrabble players beware.
Ship charges: Check your stateroom bill early and often. We had an unusual number of bogus charges, including $40 in wine we never ordered. They were eventually taken off when we questioned them, but it took a few days. The $11.50 per day, per person gratuity is automatically put on your account. If you want to adjust the amount, it is not easy. They can either take it off completely-- so you can tip your waiter, porter, etc. on your own with cash-- or they have to leave it all on. You can't choose your amount, say $10.50. It's all or nothing, unlike other ships. Tip: You can't get your bill on the stateroom TV. In-person print-outs at Guest Relations only.
Going home: If you live in the New Jersey-New York area or have a late flight, request a 9:30 a.m. departure when they put the request form in your cabin. That will give you the last departure off the ship in Bayonne. But it's pretty slow. We went to the theater at 9:30 to wait to be called and sat there for ages. When we finally got on the short bus ride from the ship to the terminal, found our luggage, went through immigration and got our car, it was 11:30 a.m. But we were home at our house within the hour. Then we collapsed and started planning our next cruise . . .