My wife, our two sons (age 24 and 20) and my wife's parents went on the 9-day Christmas cruise aboard the Summit departing Ft. Lauderdale on December 17th. This was our 9th cruise ... our second on Celebrity with the first on the Century in 1998. Past cruises being on RCI, Carnival, NCL Norway and Dolphin.
This is also our second Christmas cruise with the previous one on RCI Brilliance of the Seas in December of 2002. There were some Christmas decorations but not nearly as many as on the Brilliance. We brought along a 3-foot tree for our cabin.
What a wonderful cruise. There really is a difference on Celebrity. While food and entertainment are usually good on most major cruises, Celebrity does the little things that set them apart. Things like cold towels when returning to the ship from shore excursions, cloth hand towels in public bathrooms, welcome aboard champagne and mimosas, no annoying announcements and photographers who are not always in your face.
CABIN -- Our cabin was on the 8th deck, midship and included a verandah. Very roomy with about 190 square feet and an additional 40+ feet verandah. Celebrity has some of the best laid out cabins and includes hair dryers, safes, mini bar refrigerators plus plenty of closet and storage space.
PUBLIC SPACES -- No neon or glitz here. Just very classy colors and wood accents. The atrium is only 3 decks high and not as large as on other new ships but, like many things with Celebrity, understated and elegant. The Celebrity Theatre is beautiful with great sightlines and state of the art sound and stage. The Rendez-Vous Lounge, Champagne and Martini Bar, Revelations Lounge and all public lounges are classy and very seldom crowded. The pool decks are crowded on sea days as expected. However, the indoor therapy pool is for adults only and not usually crowded.
DINING -- We did not eat in the Normandie speciality restaurant because the food in the Cosmopolitan was always excellent. I had read that the food quality was not as good as in the past on Celebrity but that was not our experience. The entrees were especially good and cooked to order. Soups were usually very good as were desserts. The only negative is that the portions are sometimes small. However, in terms of quality, the food was better than the 5-star Four Seasons Hotel vacation we just returned from.
The casual Waterfall Cafe food was varied and good although sometimes seemed to fancy for a casual buffet. You sometimes have to go to two or three different lines to get everything you want. For lunch they usually had two pasta stations, a deli station, a featured food of the day station (Mexican, Italian, etc.) and the buffet line with various meats and vegetables. They always had two ice cream stations open in the waterfall so don't miss these.
They also served burgers, hot dogs and pizza at a pool station. 24-hour room service is also available and service was fast. They even call just before they are to deliver to give you a heads up.
SERVICE -- In a word ... excellent. Our cabin steward was efficient and friendly but very unobtrusive. No towel animals here. Service in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was probably the best we have ever had. Vlaho, our waiter from Croatia, was formal in his service and friendly. These guys really work hard to make your cruise even more enjoyable. Several nights he brought salmon or another entree that was not on the menu if someone wanted something different. Everyone was friendly and always spoke.
ENTERTAINMENT -- Again, some people think Celebrity is far behind in stage shows. Our entertainment was very good with a couple of excellent singers. It was much better and more professional than that on the Carnival Pride last year. However, it was probably not quite as good as on the Brilliance. It would be nice on longer holiday cruises if they had some name entertainment like RCI but we had none. Music in other lounges was very laid back with a 4-piece string quartet, singing quartet, a guitarist and a duo in the Rendez-Vous. Pool entertainment was typical Caribbean.
Shopping is very good on this ship with some excellent bargains on jewelry, watches and liquor. They do have a movie cinema that is nice but the screen is small and the movies were not very recent. Casino is like most others on ships.
PORTS OF CALL -- St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.
EMBARKATION - DEBARKATION -- Stayed at Springhill Suites prior to cruise and were able to park at the hotel free. They have transportation to and from the port. There was no cost to drop us off but we had them pick us up after the cruise and it costs $6 per person since we were not checking back into the hotel ... still cheaper than port parking. We arrived at the port at about 12:15 and within 15 minutes were in line to get checked in and on the ship by 12:45. Debarkation was easy and we were off the ship by about 9:45.
CHRISTMAS HAPPENINGS -- On Christmas eve, cruise entertainment staff and guests gathered around the atrium and sang Christmas carols for about 45 minutes. On Christmas morning, every cabin received a gift from Celebrity ... a small piece of luggage that was actually pretty nice. One thing that really bugged me though. On Christmas morning, Santa gave out gifts to all children in the Atrium. Santa was a FEMALE. Come on guys. Surely there was a man on board who could have played the part.
OVERALL -- An excellent cruise and would do it again in a minute. If you have questions feel free to send me email at email@example.com