We did our first back to back cruise March 2011 on the Summit and were not disappointed at all. We had been on the Constellation twice before so we knew what to expect on the Summit. Yes, the furniture needs to be replaced and carpeting is wearing but they are easy to overlook due to the amazing service offered by such a pleasant crew. Everyone, without fail, smiled, greeted us and went out of their way to please. We never felt pressured to buy although there is ample opportunity for that - we just avoid the photos, bingo, shopping and art. Since it was a Caribbean cruise, we know we are going to be up on deck so we always get an inside stateroom and spend that money on drinking. The drink package was about $400 but worth every penny. I started each day with a perfect cappuccino from Cafe Cova, was able to take bottled water off ship for excursions, had fresh squeezed OJ for breakfast and Dr. Feel Good kept me well medicated at the Mast Bar. The Summit has a gem in Dr. Feel Good - absolutely the best bartender at sea. Not only does he make the best drinks but his personality gives you that feeling that he cares about his job and the folks he talks with. I was able to complete each evening with a fine port in Michael's Club and a martini by Leo at the Martini Bar. I do believe that the food quality in the main dining room had taken a hit when Michael Roux and Celebrity parted. We had noticed on a few cruises in the past 5 years it just wasn't up to par. But this one was different - excellent quality, everything came to the table still steaming and the taste was what we had remembered in the Celebrity food of many years ago. I recognized that Celebrity had actually listened to its many loyal supporters and responded. Of course, there were a few misses - the lamb shank was so huge it made us feel like cannibals, the creme brulee a little too runny and the Caesar salads obviously made several hours before. But the vast majority of the food in the MDR was excellent. Our waitress - Mayra from Peru was amazing - could not have done more to keep everyone happy and actually suggested dishes based on what she had noticed each person had previously enjoyed. We were a family of 8 so we also stayed longer than we normally would have at early sitting - never felt rushed. Our maitre d' had to deal with gluten free, diabetic, and lactose issues which he handled smoothly giving each of our family members individual attention. Vedran was amazing! He works the lower floor. Our first week was quiet and a lovely experience whereas our second week was spring break and somewhat loud. I was embarrassed by the behaviour of some fellow Canadians who seemed to make up about half the ship that week - the feeling of entitlement always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. On the first formal night, about 10 children of one family were left unattended by their parents who were allowed to eat at separate tables in the MDR and, as would be expected, their behaviour was absolutely unacceptable. It ruined the evening for anyone who sat close by. Of course, many complained when dinner was over and for the rest of the cruise, there was no longer a problem. I applaud Celebrity for doing something about the situation.
We ate in the Normandie twice - once each week and each time it was a wonderful experience. The warm goat cheese souffle - ah!!! the grand marnier souffle AH!!!! and crepes suzettes - the coulis reduction with a hint of pepper on the strawberries was perfect. The chef's special was a beautiful quality filet mignon - cooked rare to perfection - could almost cut it with a fork. The $35 upcharge is well worth it. We normally ate at the spa for breakfast and lunch and the staff there is often the same as at the Normandie. One way to control caloric intake somewhat is eating at the spa with a wonderful assortment of portion control beautifully presented.
Entertainment was better than expected - the singers and dancers were quite good. It is very difficult to get a good tenor and that was still the case - should have left out the Frankie Valli song and he butchered the tenor solo in Les Mis. The Neptunes weren't in tune so we just left, but the dance band Fusion was excellent although the sound system was too loud. The aerialists were wonderful and if you haven't caught Clett the comedian - I have never laughed so hard. The pianist tried hard but again the sound system was so loud it ruined his talented performance. Too bad!
Unfortunately we have yet to enjoy a good cruise director on Celebrity and again both weeks they were terrible - the first week he was pompous and the second week she just grated - choosing to sing some opera after a show was a bad choice. I don't speak Italian but I could swear I kept hearing "tsunami" throughout the song which, given the circumstances, showed a lack of judgment. Our best cruise director (HAL) was everywhere. She greeted us on the gangway every day coming and going, she walked the pool deck, was in the dining room, she seemed to know where to be and at the right time to make sure folks were happy. These two were duds. Oh well, not a huge complaint.
All in all - it was a fabulous cruise and we would definitely return to the Summit tomorrow (just to have a drink from Dr. Feel Good).