I picked this cruise to be able to explore a new cruise line; after getting disappointed by a lack of service on another trip, I wanted a short vacation in case things didn't live up to expectations. But by the end of the weekend, I ... Read More
I picked this cruise to be able to explore a new cruise line; after getting disappointed by a lack of service on another trip, I wanted a short vacation in case things didn't live up to expectations. But by the end of the weekend, I was wishing that the trip was much longer; it was a wonderful vacation.
The Summit is a beautiful ship, and just the size that I like. The main stairwell was beautiful and dramatic, especially when they added drapes for photos on Evening Chic night. The pool areas (family and Solarium) were beautiful; the adults-only Thalassotherapy pool and hot tubs were especially relaxing. I purchased a pass for the Persian Garden in the spa; it was a nice way to end time in the Thalassotherapy pool. I enjoyed the aromatherapy room and Turkish bath, although I missed having heated lounges by a huge window like on other ships. The rooftop terrace at the back of the ship was wonderful; when movies weren't playing, they had calming views of beaches or underwater scenes.
While it was lovely, the Summit is definitely not new. Even with a refit in 2012 and Solstice-izing in 2016, its age shows in places: cracked granite on a vanity, rusted screw heads popping through walls in the bathroom, stains on the bed skirts, carpet falling off the stairs. Little things that will happen on any old ship. Keeping up the public areas seemed to be a higher priority than the cabins. The majority of the ship was very nicely decorated, with the exception of the creepy, glitter-covered busts in the mid-ship stairwell. The only real complaint I have about the ship's features was the lack of a promenade. There was a walking/jogging track above the pool, but it's a very small loop. A trip up the stairs to the rooftop terrace would make a lap a little longer, but still. A promenade seems like such a key feature for a cruise ship.
Embarkation at Port Everglades was so simple. We arrived at ~11:15a (had to check out of the hotel at 11). Bags were immediately taken by porters and we went in to the relatively short lines for the metal detectors. After that, we headed to check in. Concierge Class has its own line and we met our concierge, Ann, while waiting. We also got invitations to a Concierge Class lunch in the dining room that day. After checking in, it was a quick line to the ship (some passengers from the previous voyage were still getting off!) and we were onboard by ~11:45. Champagne and mimosas were offered as you entered the main lobby on Deck 3 (there was a lot of free alcohol offered all over the ship during the cruise). The only negative - my bag's luggage tag got ripped off somewhere along the line (the tags sent by Celebrity weren't very sturdy) so I didn't get my bag until late that night. I had to go down to guest services, and there was a big stack of unclaimed/untagged bags, so I wasn't alone.
The crew was exceptional and easily the best part of the trip. My expectations had been lowered by other cruise lines, so I was very happy to find that service isn't a lost art. The crew genuinely seemed to want to make sure everyone had a good vacation. I've never been on another ship where the officers did so much to interact with the guests. Crew v. Guests game shows and pool volleyball, a meet and greet sail away party... And it wasn't just the activities manager or the cruise director - HR, marketing, financial, etc. It was great to have faces to recognize and acknowledge all the work being done to keep the ship running smoothly. Everyone on the crew was always quick with a smile and 'good morning' or 'hello' and it seemingly became contagious, as guests would often greet each other, too. Captain Alex's PA-system announcements were very funny. Sarah, the CelebrityLife activities manager, was fantastic and hilarious at every event (even as she lost her voice). Dragica, a hostess at the Cosmopolitan restaurant (main dining room), was one of the first crewmembers we met onboard while making a reservation and she always remembered us every night at dinner. Sherwin, our waiter for the last 2 nights, always gave great recommendations from the menu, as well as advice about the ship (like the best place for breakfast on disembarkation day). He remembered both people and preferences from one night to the next, something that some other lines don't bother to do.
The food was almost all fantastic. Breakfast at the main dining room was the only thing that wasn't very good. (Edible, but not worth repeating). Dinner at Qsine was outstanding; will definitely go back on future cruises. Dinners in the main dining room were also very good, with a lot of variety. Normally, the Lido deck on a cruise ship is a mad house, but Summit's Oceanview Cafe had ample seating, even at noon on a at-sea day! It also had great views and good food. The poolside grill had great burgers and it was nice to be able to do your own toppings (grilled onions, bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.) Afternoon tea was lovely, although it would have been nice to get real tea cups instead of coffee mugs (tiny nit). I didn't try the other specialty restaurants or room service.
In my opinion, it was worth it to pay a little extra for Concierge Class (the difference was small for such a short cruise). Having someone to answer questions and run down problems (like a missing suitcase) was very helpful. The invitation-only sail away party on the helicopter pad at the bow was fun and unique. The complimentary bag was very useful for the pool and will continue to be useful at home. It was also nice to have the lounge/library nearby and the room location was great.
As for the itinerary, I was very interested in Key West, but had been to Nassau before (I liked having a day to explore the ship with less people around and take advantage of in-port deals). Key West was as nice as expected and I'd like to go back again sometime. The Conch Train tour was a great way to see the Old Town (though I imagine the open-air trolley would be very hot in the summer).
For the at sea day, I decided to purchase a 24-hour internet package (I had some OBC to burn). The speed was pretty good, maybe a little slower than 3G. One purchase could be shared by multiple devices, but only one device at a time. This was great if you had a phone and a tablet or multiple people. I also went on the galley tour during the at sea day; it was really interesting to see how they prepare so many dishes for the various restaurants. It was also amazing how much they use technology/analytics to reduce food waste and ensure they have the right kinds of food onboard based on the passenger demographics.
One weird thing about the trip was that scheduled music performances kept not happening. One night, a piano performance was cancelled because they couldn't find a key to unlock the piano. Another night, a jazz performance just didn't happen (no musicians after 15-20 minutes). I'm not sure what was going on (or if the daily schedule listed the wrong location).
We chose walk-off disembarkation, since we each just had 1 small suitcase. We cleared customs at 7am - 30 minutes early and while still finishing breakfast. So there was a bit of a scramble to go get our bags and get going. But the process was extremely smooth: take the elevator to Deck 3 and walk right off. Customs took a couple minutes, taxis were waiting outside, and we were at Ft. Lauderdale Airport by 7:30am.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip, and I would definitely sail on Celebrity again. Read Less