This was our family's second time on the Summit. Our first cruise was to Alaska five years ago. The decision to go with the Summit again was based more on embarkation/debarkation point (Bayonne, NJ), destination (Bermuda) and length of cruise (scheduled 7 nights, ended up 8--see below) than on the ship itself, though we liked it very much the first time. We liked the NJ port since we could drive there from western PA and not have to drive into NYC. The parking lot is next to the terminal. My husband dropped us off at the baggage drop, then went to park and walked back to join us.
Embarkation and debarkation were remarkably smooth for the number of people on the ship. We had two 2B class connecting cabins. Our cabin steward, John, gave us his phone number as soon as we met and he was always available when needed during the week. The ship shows some signs of wear, but it really isn't bad. We ate breakfast and lunch every day at the Waterfall Cafe or Grill, or the Aqua Pool Cafe. Our children liked the pool grill. Dinner in the main dining room was generally excellent and our waiter, Marius, warned us off when he thought something was not up to standard. Our party of four was seated with another family of four with two children close to our children's ages (late teens and twenties). I assume whoever at Celebrity makes up the seating plans matched us up based on our ages, and it was great. We ate one night in the Normandie restaurant, which we didn't try our last trip. We thought it was worth the extra cost. Everything was excellent, and as far as I was concerned the Grand Marnier souffle was worth the price all by itself. Fabulous. We did two of the wine tasting seminars and found them very interesting and informative.
The entertainment was uniformly excellent. The singers and dancers, while burdened with super-cheesy costumes and sets, were Broadway quality. The acrobats were amazing. There were comedians, a string trio, a mens' acapella singing group and a singer-guitarist, all of whom were top-notch. Someone was performing somewhere on the ship from mid-afternoon late into the night. We were very impressed with the quality of all the entertainment. We'd never been to Bermuda before. We did the 5 hour bus tour as soon as we got off the ship the first day, which was worthwhile because you get to see the whole island and decide where you'd like to go back to. We also enjoyed the catamaran snorkeling tour.
This cruise was affected by Hurricane Irene. We all watched anxiously as it made its way toward North Carolina, and at first it was announced that we would leave Bermuda a day early (Thursday)and arrive in NJ on Saturday instead of Sunday to beat the storm into NJ. Literally half an hour before we were to leave, the Captain announced that we were staying in Bermuda until our scheduled departure time the next day. Two other NY-based ships that were in Bermuda the same time took off early. Then the governors of NJ and NY closed the ports in both states until Monday morning, so they ended up sailing around another day instead of enjoying the time in Bermuda. The communication between the cruise line and passengers was handled as well as could be expected, given how uncertain the track and speed of the storm was. The bottom line is, we were never in danger, and we got an extra cruise day! I hope the folks on the cruise after ours were compensated in some way for their lost day--we paid an additional day's gratuities but otherwise nothing was charged. You would have thought the extra day was scheduled--the kitchens and entertainers didn't miss a beat under what must have been a stressful situation for them.
We had a wonderful time and won't hesitate to sail with Celebrity again.