This was my first cruise, so I will preface this review with that I have nothing to compare this to. But overall I enjoyed myself on the Summit. I was worried given some of the negative reviews of her upkeep that I have read lately. But I found she was just fine. Sure there were a few areas where some metal looked a little rusty- but she is at sea so I expect that. A few pieces of furniture I found in the lounges looked a little warn, but not to the point that I was afraid to sit in them. She was clean and orderly. Now, I will say some of the decor was not my taste, but that doesn't mean it was of poor quality. My inside stateroom was just fine for me. It was cleaned daily by the attendant. I never had any issues with my bathroom towels. I had my clothing laundered in less than a day, and everything I asked for she did, so overall I was pleased with the facilities.
The food was another area that some reviewers have said has declined. Again, I have no other experience to compare it to, but overall I thought it was good. I liked that the portions were not too big- this way you didn't feel too stuffed or guilty if you ordered an appetizer, soup and salad. My dinners in the MDR were just fine. We did select seating so the waiters changed with our tables. Overall the head waiters seemed a bit aloof, not very talkative and rarely around. We relied on the asst. waiter and the cocktail waiters primarily. The wine stewards seemed incredibly overwhelmed- one we had (a woman) was great, the others were not so great. Breakfast in the MDR was not good. It was cold. So after one day of that we kept to the buffet upstairs for breakfast. Normandie was actually underwhelming. Based on all the reviews I read, I was expecting a superior dining experience. It wasn't that much better than the MDR. I didn't find the food that much better for the extra money (I had the filet mignon special and lobster bisque with some bizarre green foam and like one piece of lobster in it). I have been to multi-star restaurants before and the food at the Normandie doesn't compare. The service at the restaurant is actually rather annoying. They hover. I thought the idea was to remain present but not annoyingly seen. The head waiter must have asked us "is this good?" twelve times during the dinner. Back off.
The entertainment was fare. I was not expecting Broadway-quality here, but I liked the shows each night- some more than others. The shows were decent- and free. I didn't really like Elvy (was that her name?). I want to see her sing not harass people in the audience. I liked the Orchestra and Charlie Butler. Tammy, the piano player in Michael's, was kind of full of herself. She didn't take requests kindly and she didn't play any standards, which one would expect based on the decor and perceived mood of that location. Her music didn't fit the mood of the bar- she even put on Ricky Martin when she took a break- what bar styled after a men's cigar bar would play Ricky Martin???? Not that there is anything wrong with him, but he doesn't belong in that setting. I was expecting more Sinatra-esque tunes.
My biggest concern going into the cruise was the fact that 2000+ people are stuck on a boat together. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but my biggest issues were definitely with fellow cruisers. It seemed that half the boat didn't speak English, which is fine but surprised me. Many of the people would travel in packs of 10-15 and they would just walk right in front of you in line at the dining facilities, getting off the boat, or the elevator- they just pushed you right out of the way. It was rude. And in the MDR we sat near a family of 10 who let their kids stand on the chairs and dance. It seemed really inappropriate to me. Also people need to learn appropriate volume levels for conversations in public places- stop shouting!
The other part that bothered me was the lack of enforcing any dress code. Why have one if you aren't going to enforce it? I hate getting dressed up, but if I am stuck following the rules I don't want to be seated next to someone in a t-shirt and backwards baseball cap in the MDR. If they want to dress like that fine, but go upstairs to the buffet.
Disembarkation was frustrating. Why did they let us all off the boat to stand in a customs line for 45 minutes? Why not space us out better? Embarkation was very smooth and went very quickly.
So overall the ship seemed in good shape to me. The food in the MDR I liked, but I didn't enjoy the Normandie- for the price. I found the staff to be helpful, except for the head waiters. And I learned that the fellow passengers can really make or break a cruise. However I would want to give it another try....maybe with Celebrity, maybe with another line....