This Bayonne to Bermuda R/T cruise was our second on Celebrity. I wrote a review of our 14 day transatlantic last year on Equinox that was full of nothing but superlatives; we were hooked on Celebrity. So, we were looking forward to a classy, luxurious, fun, ship with excellent dining, experienced service, and a great value - though not cheap. We expected this because we expected that Celebrity's standards would be consistent across the board, after all this is how great brands are made - and maintained.
In reading several other reviews of this cruise, it seems that people who have never cruised Celebrity (and especially those who have mainly cruised Carnival) loved this ship and the total experience. We've never considered Carnival because the ships' decor, atmosphere, and levels of service as described in their own literature and by reviews does not appeal to us. We imagine if some of those who love Summit spent a week on Equinox, they would be ecstatic.
All of this is to say that the Summit cruise to Bermuda was fine, but not spectacular. The food and service was good, not great. The exception was specialty dining in the Normandie where the food was almost as good as in Equinox's Murano, but the service wasn't even close. For instance; we brought a very good bottle of wine and had no problem with the $25 corkage fee as it was reasonable. The sommelier had the bottle decanted at our table when we arrived. We chose to start the evening off with two glasses of Pommery champagne which set us back another $44, again no problem. However, after pouring our first glasses of wine, the sommelier NEVER came to our table again. He walked by 20 times, but never serviced our table again. I typically like a glass of port or cognac after a nice meal, but he never asked. It was bizarre.
The other bizarre and unfortunate thing about the Summit is that the management has clearly decided to ignore the ship's dress code policies. So, while dining in the "upscale" Normandie in coat and tie as "required" we were surrounded by men in short sleeves polo shirts, a couple wearing gym shoes, kids wearing shorts, and teens wearing sports team hoodies. In the main dining room, the dress code was even more relaxed. People wore whatever they pleased. Grown men in shorts and sandals, every night. On the two formal nights, while most men were in tuxes or suits, dozens were in jeans, khakis, polo shirts, and many kids were in shorts. In the buffet area, people in bathing suits, shirtless men, barefooted kids, it was kinda gross. Seriously. I blame these arrogant cruisers as much as management, but we didn't pay the other cruisers to manage the experience, we paid Celebrity. I'm no snob, but what's the point of having these dress codes, which are designed to foster a certain atmosphere (and behavior) for the guests. People behave differently (better) when they are dressed up. They did not, and did not on this cruise.
If Celebrity wants this to be a casual ship, then they should make it so, and stop pretending. In fact, CruiseCritic needs to retract this statement from their own review of the ship. "Formal nights find most of the ladies in beaded or flowing gowns and men in tuxes; on informal evenings, women wear cocktail attire, and men wear suits with ties." Nothing could be further from the truth on Summit. I wonder if anyone from CruiseCritic has actually taken this cruise?
The food in the buffet was good, but not great. It felt and tasted like a completely different cruise line than the Celebrity. The same can be said for the bar service in the half dozen bars we attended. Slow service, inconsistent pours, bored bartenders. We bought about 80% less alcohol than we did on Equinox because the service was so lacking.
If you were a family with kids or several generations onboard, you probably loved this cruise. It seemed as though 75% of the guests were families. Not a bad thing, unless you were a couple. The ship, especially the pool was overrun. Too many parents seemed to be on vacation from parenting, so finding a place to relax was a challenge. Likewise, finding a bar or nighttime venue without toddlers running "literally" around the dance floor or in front of the band was also a challenge - even after midnight.
We will likely never take a Summer cruise from a US port again. It felt like Summer camp some of the time.
Otherwise, the ship was nice, the entertainment was entertaining, the staff -except for that sommelier, was professional, courteous, and kind. Our deluxe balcony stateroom was fine, if a bit dated. Our room attendants were great. Room service was exceptionally fast, though the food was not exceptional. The one and only thing that was better onboard Summit than Celebrity was the orchestra/band. They were truly outstanding, whether playing during a major theatre production or jamming late night in the bar. We'd pay to see them perform on land.
Overall, we are still fans of Celebrity, but their halo is now dimmed. This ship was a major letdown after Equinox. If we'd never spent two weeks on Equinox, we'd probably have loved it. As it is, we liked it; had a good time. The best part of the week was being in Bermuda. The islands are beautiful, unspoiled by the tacky commercialism that has spoiled the likes of Cancun and Cozumel. The people were incredibly nice and welcoming; the beaches and water outstanding. We'll go back some day, but we'll fly - or cruise on a Solstice class ship when the kids are in school.