Embarkation: Very easy! We arrived at 1:00 PM and were on board within 15 minutes. The ship's staff told us that our rooms were not ready, but we decided to take a peek anyway, and discovered that our room was in fact ready.
Room: We had a Celebrity Suite category room. LOVED IT! I was traveling with my mom, and we really LOVED having separate sleeping quarters. Our stateroom attendant, Clarence (one of the nicest guys you will EVER meet!), made up the sofa bed for me and put TWO egg crate toppers it for me... It was very comfortable. Also, I requested 4 feather pillows and he brought them, no questions asked. Also, we asked him for lots of extra hangers, and they were brought to us with a big smile.
I was concerned that we might miss having a balcony, but the large space was so wonderful and the floor to ceiling bay windows always let in the captivating views. I would reserve this suite again, without concern. The only itinerary I would NOT do a CS in, would be Alaska. The air is so clean and crisp, that I would NOT want to miss it!
The space is very well laid out and since we were two women traveling together, we really loved the huge vanity area in the master bedroom as well as two sinks, jetted tub, two TV's with DVD players (both with in ceiling surround sound), tons of countertop space, bar set up, desk area and loads of cabinet space for storage.
I must give a shout out to our butler, Savio. If you are fortunate enough to ever meet him, you will adore him! He served us dinner, ensuite, 6 out of 7 nights, and always made us feel like we were not a bother. I know this sounds silly, but I have had butler service in the past, where the butler seemed aggravated or annoyed that YES, we would like our meals served ensuite. Our cappucinos were always hot and he even brought them in 'to go' cups, since he knew we like to sip and savor them throughout the morning, and the styrofoam cups keep the beverages warm, much longer than the ceramic mugs do (also, they are twice the size...another benefit!).
Food: I know I'm in the minority on this one, but we were not totally 'WOW'D" with the food in The Normandie (cover charge restaurant) or the MDR. Also, not sure what's up with suite guests being served 'course by course' for dinner, en suite... When we requested this, we were informed by our butler, that he had to allow all the MDR waiters to get the dining room guests served first and then, he could place our order. We ordered dinner at 6:15 PM, and at 8:00 PM, our food (NOT course by course!) was brought in to our suite. I know that this was NOT Savio's (butler) fault, at all, but it is a shame that Celebrity does not do what they state in their marketing materials, by serving us course by course. I suppose, we could have actually eaten course by course, but I shudder to think how late into the night that would have stretched on, since we would have ended up 'in line' behind both early and late seating guests! It could have easily turned into our midnight buffet! :-)
From the "Everyday Dining" menu; the chicken and the salmon were truly awful. The mashed potatoes were so salty that they were not edible. The broccoli could have doubled as a weapon, it was so tough. Crème brulee was fantastic, however.
The Normandie was a lovely experience. The food, not so much. IMHO, the chef should also include some more normal menu items (see Chops menu from RCCL). If this were the case, I would be delighted to pay to dine in this dining room much more often. The service is outstanding and the ambiance is so special. However, the food is so 'hoytie toytie' that it leaves a lot of us out in the cold.
Menu Changes Should Be Made to the MDR: We sailed with Celebrity in July (Alaska...awesome!) and it was a bit of a bummer that the menus were precisely the SAME on a different ship, in December. I'm sure that X has a great business reason for not changing the menus in the MDR and the Normandy, but this will have a huge impact on my future bookings with X. Also, they should have better 'everyday' menus in the MDR with more choices.
MDR is a lovely setting and the waiters work very hard and are always smiling and appear to be happy to be taking care of us.
Room Service: Thank goodness, for Cruise Critic members! We would have NO clue that suite guests are entitled to cappuccinos or fruit smoothies, since X conveniently, does not have it on the expanded Suites breakfast menu. Fortunately, thanks to all the CC guests that have sailed before me and took the time to post this information, we knew to write in our requests. Also, the room service pizza is fantastic, and sadly, was some of our most tasty food.
The one negative, that is consistent with food on the Summit, is super high sodium. My mom and I called it the 'fat tongue' syndrome, since every time we would eat, we would each notice that we felt like we needed to drink gallons of water, due to the effects of the high levels of sodium in the food. I am hoping that when I sail in Aqua Class on Solstice in the near future and get to dine in Blu, that the sodium will be more in the 'normal' levels.
Entertainment: iBroadway was the 1st production show. The performers did a good job. The one thing they should do is use more commonly known songs. Many of us were trying to figure out, with so many famous Broadway songs that we all know and can practically sing along with, how they chose some of the obscure songs for the show. The theater was never full, so that was nice.
2nd Broadway style show: Encore. Once again, Summit singers and dancers did a great job. The volume is a bit loud, and it was almost comical to watch all the audience members' fingers go into their ears when the vocalists would hit the high notes, in their 'loud and proud' fashion. If you are noise sensitive, you might want to bring ear plugs. The shows are very good, so don't miss them.
Cruise Director: Keith Cox. Keith is a very nice, down to Earth guy. He is NOT the typical cruise director, and I mean that as a HUGE compliment. He is originally from Tennessee and has true Southern hospitality and is just plain nice and very 'normal'.
Condition of the Summit: This ship is simply lovely! We were on the Millie 5 months ago and I would definitely put the Summit up against the Millie, in regard to the 'fit and finish' in the public spaces, as well as the cabins. We were in the Penthouse suite on the Millie and it was in comparable shape to our Celebrity Suite on the Summit. The staff on the Summit is always smiling and working hard, to ensure that we are all having a good time. The artwork around the Summit is fun and will make you smile, no matter how many times you see it. The fit and finish in the cabins could be better, but certainly, is not a 'game changer' in the overall feeling of our cruise and our satisfaction with Celebrity.
Persian Gardens: Do NOT NOT NOT go here, if you have to pay for it! Out of the 4 things that the Gardens offers, THREE were broken! The Turkish baths were 'turned off for cleaning' (per the staff), out of the two shower experiences, only one sort of worked and the dry sauna was not hot. The locker room was decent, but the showers are not good. Out of the 3 showers, only one worked like it was designed to. The 1st shower I tried, would not allow the scalding hot temperature to be lowered (ouch!), the 2nd shower I tried, the water pressure was like a sparrow, spitting on me and the 3rd shower, seemed to operate properly. The dry sauna in the locker room has a lovely HUGE window that is fabulous to watch the sail a way in! If you like a dry sauna experience, give this a shot!
Brunch: This was a very nice experience! The presentation was elegant and there were plenty of 'hot' stations serving pasta with a variety of sauces, omelets, waffles (wait for a HOT waffle right out of the waffle iron...they are cold and not so good, if you take it out of the stainless serving tray), carving stations, and tons and tons of choices like Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, cheese trays, and of course, endless sweet treats! The only area for improvement, is that we all had to clear our own plates and none of us were fast eaters. In fact, I sat there with my plate that I was clearly finished with, for over 15 minutes and none of the wait staff offered to clear it for me. No big deal, I'm not unable to clear my own plate, but for such an elegant setting, I should not have had to take my plate to the bus station and drop it off.
I am sailing with X on the Solstice in a few months. It will be interesting to compare the food (and I am so hoping that the menus have changed by then!) from the Summit to the Solstice. Our next cruise after that, is on Regent (Alaska). Yes, it costs A LOT more than X, but we are hoping that the food is a step (or two!) up (stay tuned for my review in September!).
Debarkation: Smooth and effortless. Since we were staying in a suite, we were allowed to wait in The Normandie, where light pastries and coffee/tea/juice were served. Our group # was called and we were off the ship in under 5 minutes flat. The line to clear customs with our luggage took about 20 minutes and then another 20 minutes to the airport. I mention this, since there have been questions regarding early AM flights. We were on an 11:30 AM flight and had PLENTY of time.
The staff on the Summit is A+++... You will have to work hard to find a non-friendly soul, even in the casino or at guest relations (two places where it is normally easy to find customer service lacking). I truly cannot say enough about how wonderful this Summit team is. Also, it seems that Celebrity attracts very friendly guests. There is always a positive 'vibe' on Celebrity ships, where your shipmates are very engaging to speak with, and just overall, approachable.