Ship condition: It's true. The Summit is an older ship and after ten years, showed some wear. But like an older home, this beautiful ship was waxed and buffed to a lovely luster, and we saw no evidence of the 'falling apart' comments seen on this site by other cruisers. That being said, the ship was consistently being maintained during our trip, both with cleaning and repairs/maintenance. The public areas, including restrooms and hallways were always clean in appearance and scent, and we never saw dirty elevators or trash/dirt on the floors. The only item we found of any note was stained tile grout in our shower, which was perfectly clean, but no longer pure white, due to age. Our room was clean, and our room stewart attentive and unobtrusive. Other attendants in the halls were quick to greet us and ask if we needed anything, even if they weren't our stewart. We were in one of the lowest-priced window view rooms, and felt we were spoiled and pampered. The bed was a pillowtop in excellent shape, comfortable, with clean and crisp linens, and while it was two twins put together, we couldn't feel the connector underneath. We loved the large window (vs a porthole on Carnival.) The crew shared the plans for Summit renovations slated for January 2012, and we can't wait to see her after the changes.
Service: We saw several comments about poor service, and that is simply not the case. We DID see several cruise guests treat staff extremely rudely, and saw that staff member suck it up and treat them with the utmost respect and courtesy (the worst examples: buffet line. I was saddened to see the arrogance and disrespect shown to people serving them.) It's my guess that the complainers about customer service are themselves rude and selfish people who expect to have every request obtain a 'yes' and disregard that they are treating their fellow human beings like slaves. I can't say enough about how impressed I was by the service and kindness of the staff -- even the people cleaning the bathrooms or standing at the entrance to restaurants squirting hand sanitizer (how many people would want THAT job?) were acting like the Captain of the ship, welcoming and smiling. We did not spend time in the casino, but we experienced excellence in service, a true desire to go beyond to make our time on the ship special, and at no time did we see any crew member act in a rude or arrogant way. We saw plenty of guests behave that way, though.
Food: We saw several comments on this board about the terrible food or poor dining room service. Again, our experience was stellar. We chose the select dining option, so we had three different waiters/ass't waiters and sommeliers, depending on where we were seated. All of them were professional, attentive and friendly. They remembered us by name, made excellent recommendations for the evening meal and wine to match, and our meals were timed beautifully. Even when crazy busy, they stopped for a quick smile and greeting, happy to see us again. The dining room manager also made the rounds and talked with us about the upcoming plans for the new dining on board the Summit when the refurbishing was completed. She was clearly excited about it, and loves the ship and her staff. Our actual meals were beautifully prepared, and we cannot begin to understand why anyone would say the food was awful. There were so many choices, and everything we tried was prepared well -- on occassion we tried some things we wouldn't typically order, and probably won't again, but it was a question of personal taste and not preparation. All our main courses were cooked correctly to order, arrived hot and well-garnished, and the appetizers/second courses were also nice portions and beautifully presented. The pizza and sandwich stations in the casual dining areas were absolutely yummy, and came with goodies like gourmet olives and marinated veggies -- lots of extras that wouldn't have been missed if they weren't there, but added to the enjoyment, because they were.
POOL AREAS: The staff was good about keeping fresh towels available, the deck clean and drink service consistent. The music at the pool was great, fun and upbeat without being over the top, whether live or over the speakers. The pools were sparkling clean.
ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed the nightly live entertainment in the theater, especially the dance/singing troupe, who featured an acrobatic/ballet/dance couple that were truly a delight to watch. The comedy and magic nights were entertaining, though we felt the comedian used some fat jokes that were inappropriate and insulted some of the overweight people in the room, and wasn't a kind thing to do. I felt this was not necessary, especially when the comedian brought up an eleven year old boy and traded "your momma" jokes/insults that included several fat jokes. This was the only low point for us, though some of the singers and dancers were better than others, the shows were fun, well-written and choreographed, and enjoyable.
PORTS/EXCURSIONS: We enjoyed every stop, and took a variety of excursions, some on our own, some through the ship. Every excursion we took had an informative and pleasant guide, and was as advertised. We took the arial tram on Dominica and got rained on heavily in the (yep) rain forest. We bought little rain slickers and had brought umbrellas, and our whole tram laughed like hyenas in the pouring rain, which made for a wonderful memory, but recommend being prepared to get wet!
WHAT WE TOOK AWAY: A cruise, like any other vacation, is what you make it. We experienced excellent service, but we were happy to be there, in a great mood, treated people well, and had a fantastic holiday cruise. We knew that everyone working was not home on the holiday so we could take a Christmas cruise. Their presence made our trip one we will never forget. We loved Celebrity, and would recommend this trip.
Additional notes: We flew in the day before to San Juan and stayed in historic old town at CasaBlanca Hotel. It was in a great location, with 1920s decor reflecting the movie, and wonderful oversized pop art on the walls. No elevators so carrying luggage up the stairs substituted for a work out, located on a busy street so can be noisy, but we loved it. The staff provided us with a suite with bedroom, sitting room and balcony overlooking the street. The bath was small (about the size of the ship bathroom) but decor and ambiance was delightful. We walked to a different restaurant for our meals and wandered the streets with no problems. The hotel has free internet, which was a plus for us getting final items completed before getting on the ship.