Just got back from our cruise on the Summit to Bermuda this past Sunday. Overall, we had a really great time.
First of all, Bermuda was fantastic! This was our first visit to Bermuda and I must say, it was exactly what everyone had said it would be. It was just beautiful. The people were friendly and helpful, we loved how easy it was to get around (by ferry and bus), the beaches were drop dead gorgeous (especially Horseshoe Bay and the adjacent beaches). It was nice that there was essentially no poverty, so we didn't experience any hassles/begging, and there were no run-down/depressing areas. The only downside to Bermuda is the cost of everything. Holy cow! We went to lunch each day and we could not believe how expensive everything is....$18-$20 for a sandwich platter with fries, $23 for a 10-12" pizza, $3.75 for a soda, etc. One could easily break the bank in this port!
On day 1 in Bermuda, we took the ferry to St. Georges and walked around. What a quaint and beautiful little area...and so quiet!! We stopped in the perfumery and bought some perfume and had lunch at the White Horse Tavern on the water front. Food was good but (as previously mentioned) way expensive!! After lunch, we headed to Tobacco Bay (we walked) and spent the rest of the day there. It was a slightly overcast day and the water was cold, but we forced ourselves to go in and do some snorkeling. This was not the prettiest beach in Bermuda, but the snorkeling was okay, especially once we snorkeled out past the rocks.
On day 2 in Bermuda we took the bus to Horseshoe Bay beach and spent the entire day there. What a drop dead beautiful beach this is!!! The tuquoise color of the water was blinding. I was shocked at how bright it was (I didn't expect it to be as bright as the Caribbean, but it was!) The downside to this beach is that it gets very crowded AND there really isn't any shade, although we lucked out and found a rock formation cave that we could sit in to shield ourselves from the sun. There is an umbrella and chair rental place there, but they weren't renting umbrellas that day due to "wind" (although it wasn't really windy at all so I don't know what the problem was). Chair and umbrella rentals were very expensive (I think $11 each). We ate lunch at their little snack bar and I must say, the fish sandwich was deeeee-lish and not ultra expensive.
On day 3, we stayed around the dockyard so we'd be close to our ship when it departed. We did the Segway Tour and I must say, this was a highlight of our trip. All of us had a fantastic time...it was so much fun zipping around on the Segway and the tour was very enjoyable. Our guide took us all around the Dockyard as well as into some residential and natural areas we we really got to see the real Bermuda. Totally worth the money.
As for Celebrity and the Summit, my review will be mixed.
This was our third Celebrity cruise. The first 2 were on the Century - one was in 2002 (Western Caribbean) and the second (Eastern Caribbean) in 2003 or 2004. We have also sailed on Holland and Carnival.
The ship was in beautiful condition. I expected the Summit to look old or worn down, but honestly, she looked gorgeous and we were very pleased! Our cabin was in great shape and very cozy and comfortable, with great use of space and lots of storage. Our room attendant was very attentive and efficient and we almost never saw him. Service throughout the ship was friendly. Almost every staff member we passed by said, "Hello" and smiled or made friendly conversation.
We especially loved the Thallasotherapy Pool which was an indoor heated spa pool - adults only. It was especially nice on this cruise because it was a bit too cool to use the regular pool. The Thallaso pool was nicely heated to about 90 degrees (my estimate) and had some massage-oriented features which was divine.
Our primary disappointment with this cruise when compared with our previous Celebrity cruises was the quality of food in the main dining room. On our previous cruises, we were astounded at how sophisticated and verging-on-gourmet the food was. We distinctly recall being blown away repeatedly by how delicious the food was. On this cruise, I do not think we were blown away by anything we ate, save a couple of desserts (one of which we had in the Normandie). We rated all of the dinners as average to good, whereas on past cruises we rated most of the dinners as outstanding. For example, lobster bisque soup, which is one of my favorites and a real treat when done correctly, tasted like something out of a Campbell's soup can. Some of the entrees bordered on flavorless while others were distinctly oversalted. Several items were served barely lukewarm. A tuna filet I was served was hard and rubbery.
The Normandie was the dining highlight of the week and this is the only time we really had an outstanding dinner and service from start to finish. Interestingly, we both felt that dinner in the Normandie (which incurs a $75 surcharge) was reminiscent of the regular dinners we had on Celebrity in the main dining room on our previous two cruises.
I should also mention that the level of service we received in the main dining room was nowhere near up to par with what we expected or experienced in the past. On our first 2 cruises, we were delighted by how sophisticated and refined our servers were and how we were made to feel like royalty. On this cruise, not so much. The servers had a more casual way about them and made multiple mistakes, for example forgetting which entree goes to which guest ("auctioning" entrees), long delays between courses (some meals took 2 hours from start to finish), etc. We did the Select Dining option which allowed us to vary our dining times each night (we made reservations ahead of time for the times we want) and this involved pre-paying gratuities, so we wondered if the service issues were related to the fact that their gratuities were already paid, or if service has declined overall on Celebrity for all passengers.
Other disappointments concerned the lack of variety of entertainment on the ship - we would have prefered more options for dancing and nightclubs at night. It seemed like the same band was playing all over the ship...at the pool, in the nightclub, etc. The ship was a bit too sedate and quiet. There wasn't even any live music in the main dining room at dinner, although a lonely un-played piano sat there each night. We didn't expect a party ship - and we like that Celebrity is more sophisticated - but a couple more options for "happening" nightlife would have been nice. (For the record, I am 45 and hubby is 51 so we're not exactly young party animals or anything).
Having given this critical review, I will say that our overall experience was very good - a solid "B" rating. Will we sail Celebrity again? It's looking doubtful and this is why: Celebrity cruises cost more money and in the past, the exceptional food and sophisticated service made it worth the extra money. But now? I can honestly say that I enjoyed the food on Carnival just as much, if not more, than I did on this cruise. And the service was about the same. Celebrity used to amaze passengers with little extra touches like carrying ladies' trays in the buffet area (not necessary but a delight nonetheless) and that is gone. It was sad for us to discover that Celebrity is no longer a solid notch above the other lines. It's mediocre now.
One more note...we purchased the premium non-alcoholic drink package and for us, it was worth the cost. Fresh squeezed OJ at breakfast, premium coffee (espresso, cappucino, hot chocolate), any non-alcoholic cocktail you want (frozen or not), sodas, bottled water. We more than got our money's worth out of the package.