Have sailed Summit several times before (as well as other ships in Celebrity fleet, and also in RC and Disney ones). Celebrity continues to draw us to her because of the emphasis on quality people, places and experiences. It is ... Read More
Have sailed Summit several times before (as well as other ships in Celebrity fleet, and also in RC and Disney ones). Celebrity continues to draw us to her because of the emphasis on quality people, places and experiences. It is interesting to watch the progression of cruising, and this particular line, over time... what remains the same is the emphasis on strong service, cleanliness, and overall classic elegance.
Ship: post-Revolution it has a particular design aesthetic now... perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly not bold enough to be objectionable or in any way distasteful. We miss the wood paneling of Michael's Pub (now the more glossy-white Retreat Lounge), and miss the piano in our room (now there is a modern Aarnio-style "ball" chair), but, overall, the design changes are more subtle, promoting light and a general refresh in places like the Casino.
Our cabin, Penthouse 6148, was divine. For those who don't know, it is this class of ship on Celebrity - the M-class - that has the penthouse of all penthouses, with a glorious wrap-around deck (we had seating for ~28 persons on the deck), amazing square footage and storage throughout the cabin, and a very useful butler's pantry with full-size fridge. Closets were everywhere and the suite is tastefully and comfortably appointed.
The Retreat Sundeck is a bit of a miss to us, frankly. First, with the Penthouse Suite veranda being what it is, not sure there's much luring us to climb the stairs to the Retreat. Second, I heard that the drinks there are not complimentary to suite passengers... you need to have the premium package to partake. Now that seems silly to us... drinks down in the Retreat Lounge are complimentary to all who have access there, but outside you need the package?? That seems to be a disconnect. The food offerings are limited in range and hours offered. The whole space seemed just "off"to a small degree.
As PH suite guests, we had unlimited specialty dining and went to our preferred venue, Tuscan Grill, every other night. Service and food were simply superb... best ever. Our preferences were remembered and anticipated each subsequent visit. The steaks and other dishes were exceptionally well done (and we know from the best steakhouses). We appreciated having access to the wine list of every specialty dining restaurant and would recommend Celebrity compile a master list for customers who may want an easy reference to all the bottles available on board, as going from one menu to another is a bit cumbersome. Overall, Tuscan was exceptional and remarkable in the level of consistency it held throughout the sailing.
We find the offerings in Luminae to be ambitious... perhaps too ambitious, as they do not consistently hit the mark. Therefore, we appreciate being able to order off the Main Dining Room menu if the Luminae menu isn't "speaking" to us on the given night. The fact one cannot do that on the Edge-class ships is something we think about as we consider future sailings. We found Luminae to be limited for our tastes.
Where we were actually disappointed was in Qsine, which is now offering Le Petit Chef. This is memorable, perhaps, but certainly not a repeatable, experience. Projections onto your plate may be entertaining, but if not backed up by emplary food, not sure how entertaining those films on the table wind up being... and the food was simply mediocre to poor. The steak frites beef was shoe leather, even when ordered medium rare. The frites were dark brown, very over done. Just not good. There were just 18 people in a dining room that could hold far more than twice that... so we wonder how sustainable the event will wind up being. Sushi on 5, when we went, had a wait and we wonder if moving spaces or otherwise re-imagining the concept in the Qsine space may be in order. Ultimately, the food needs to be better, as it did not come close in quality to other venues.
Sushi on 5 excelled with tastes, flavors and offerings... but here was the only place on board where service was lacking. Orders were filled disjointedly, it was hard to "hail" a server for assistance, and drinks and food came slow.
We ordered room service twice, once a Christmas Morning brunch on that back deck delivered by our butler, Anu, which was lovely, and a second time a late lunch after returning from a shore excursion. Food was good both times.
Had gelato from Bistro on 5... found it rather bland and not rich and flavorful as one would expect gelato to be.
We enjoyed roulette at the Casino several evenings. Completely a game of chance, of course, and no different from a slot machine that way, but afforded us the opportunity to laugh and socialize with passengers and casino staff. All were friendly and professional. Drink service was not particularly forthcoming, however, but that was not a problem.
Martini Bar was also a regular stop. Bartenders were very focused on making drinks (they were exceptionally good there), less so putting on a show... so that's a slight difference from other sailings. By last couple of days of cruise it was surprising to hear they were running short on glasses... I was getting my cosmopolitan served to me in a wine glass... peculiar and not particularly great in that vessel.
Oceanview offered many options for breakfast and lunch. Things were neat and well maintained there, providing a conducive space for a casual bite to eat.
We traveled with our 17 year old son. What an interesting thing it is to have seen him progress through the children's programming on Celebrity from his first cruise over 10 years ago! He thoroughly enjoyed his time with the older teens and, indeed, they have been socializing since the cruise ended via social media and their ever-present phones. He is reticent to sail again on Celebrity, as he cannot fathom how we will meet up with fellow college-aged passengers going forward without the teen club at least structuring that first meet and greet for them. Get on that, Celebrity... a College Student introduction on the first night or so sounds like it may be in order, lol!
My son wanted to maintain his fitness while on the sailing (he's a varsity athlete in his high school and his conditioning matters to him). He asked for 3 50-minute personal training sessions in the Fitness Center. He enjoyed working with Adrian and keeping the push going, even while at sea.
While Captains Club Elite Plus members, we did not avail ourselves of anything by way of their perks or events, save the heliport sailaway from Curacao. That was windy, but great fun. The captain even waved from the bridge to all of us gathered there.
My husband had to briefly use the medical facility because of a difficulty with his ear. He remarked at how professional and thorough things were there.
The teen son and his group of newly found friends actually took in 3 of the shows. My husband and I think they were being ironic, but, lo and behold, they actually enjoyed themselves and gave the shows strong reviews. We were sorry there was no comedian on this sailing.
In general, we found the cruise director and social director a bit too frenzied and silly for our tastes. We are young 50 year olds, but even though Latin themselves, regularly making fun of their ethnicity with stereotypical, self-depreciating ethnic jokes (such as "Mexican Word of the Day") is not what we consider appropriate humor for a major employee on a mass market cruise line.. and it was repeatedly done by the Cruise Director and Social Activities Director. But we well may be counter cultural in that regard.
As this was a "Christmas" sailing, there were interesting activities during the week: Senior Officers caroling in the main foyer, a Christmas-themed show, gingerbread decorations going up the main staircase and the random tree around the ship, Mass and, too, a non-denominational Christmas service, a decorated and lit 6-ft tree in our suite, and, as Hanukkah also began during the week, there was the lighting of a giant menorah in the main atrium each night, led by a rabbi.
Alexandra, the bartender in the Retreat Lounge, was exceptional at connecting in a personable, fun way with all different kinds of people. She helped make the week memorable. Bahrin, our waiter in Tuscan, was remarkable in his respectful, professional service. We felt luck to have him take care of us there each visit. And our stateroom attendant Haji quietly but exceedingly effectively kept the stateroom spotless and comfortable according to our wishes - he was the best we ever had. We appreciated the requested snacks butler Anu placed in the fridge in the butler's pantry, and he joined us in admiring the monogrammed Frette Retreat robes that were ours to take home. These people made our one week with them very special, and we were thankful to them for that.
This itinerary featured Bonaire, an island new to us. We arranged for a private golf cart rental on that island to see it all and we were glad we did... it was fantastic fun! And what an amazing island... so intriguing and so much nature to see and appreciate. We walked around Aruba and Curacao, preferring to be on our own on those two islands, as we had been there before. In St. Kitts, we took a catamaran ride... fun, but nothing special.
Embarkation - relatively easy. We arrived right before 1pm by cab from the airport and were on the ship by 1:10. Penthouse suite guests are personally escorted right on board directly to the Retreat Lounge. Rooms were open at 1:30pm.
Disembarkation - a bit confusing. We were limited in terms of what we could eat or drink - even in the Retreat. This had not been the case on other sailings, as we were able to access food and drink a bit later. Made for a rather tedious wait for disembarking, as, with a 1:40 flight, we were not in a hurry to leave the ship and wait at the airport. So we were in the final group to leave the ship from Retreat, right around 10:15. Once beyond the Celebrity world, cabs are the typical mishmash there at the port, with everyone so much as looking at you putting their hand out for a tip (makes you long to get back on the ship!).
San Juan airport continues to have its struggles... the Priority Pass lounge is overcrowded, dirty, skimpy offerings... but that's true of the whole airport, really. We were surveyed about it 5-6 years ago... not a thing has changed. Bathrooms were very dirty... waiting areas crammed... it is a brutal way to end one's vacation. But end it we must.
We had never done a holiday sailing before, and our family agreed it was a lovely experience and one we would consider again. Celebrity does it well. There were two holiday chic nights - one on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day - in addition to the other Chic night on the first sea day. Lots of fun and festive attire all around the ship making things merry and bright. Great to see the passengers embrace the holly and the jolly.
The M-class Penthouse Suite is a spoiler. Yes, it is worth it. We appreciate the size and layout of this class of ship, and that wrap-around stateroom, and the exceptional services and "perks" that come with it, are outstanding. Unlimited laundry, premium bev packages for all, unlimited internet, unlimited specialty dining, and much more. It makes the vacation a true vacation.
More outstanding, still, is that after all these years - from our first Celebrity Century sailing back in 1998 - to now, the hallmarks of high, personable, professional service, impressive cleanliness, and tasteful classiness are still there. They keep us returning... Read Less