Since this is our first cruise I can't say whether Celebrity Summit is the best ship/cruise line or not. However, I can state that my husband, five year old son and I had a great time and enjoyed the sunshine immensely! First, some positives. We chose a lower deck stateroom as I read you can't detect as much motion as higher up, and we chose not to have a balcony because I am the paranoid parent of one very creative, active five year old and I wanted to relax and sleep with both eyes closed. We had a very normal ocean view stateroom - no champagne breakfasts or roses or that type thing. The room was great. You walk in the door and the bathroom was to the right, closets to the left. Straight ahead was equivalent to a queen size bed and there was a couch that folded out into a single bed, desk with chair and small coffee table. Best of all, there was a decent sized non-opening window that my son loved to sit and look out and pretend to see pirates and sharks and squid. Our stateroom attendant, Marcos, was great. We would walk out the room and I swear in five minutes he was in the room cleaning up. And although we didn't have one of the more luxurious rooms, Marcos would greet us and open the door for us if he were in the hallway when we reappeared. We even got chocolates on our pillows when the beds were folded down for the evening, which my son absolutely loved. The drapes, linens and carpets on the ship are similar to what you would find at a medium quality hotel - floral type stuff. As for the food - there were lots of places to eat so you never had to do the smart casual/formal thing if you didn't want to. With a five year old and restricted luggage weight we opted out of the formal nights and ate at the buffets instead. We did dine in the Cosmopolitan (smart casual nights) twice, and although it was nice enough, it just wasn't worth the hassle with a child. We did, however, get the menu from the Cosmopolitan and order dinner from there through room service during the last formal night. Another great thing on this ship is the Fun Factory, which is the kids club. All our son wanted to do was go to the Fun Factory - forget thousand year old churches or that type stuff! There are categories based on ages, but I think they mostly mixed the kids up depending on how many there were. Usually there were three or four staff members in the Fun Factory, if not more. Activities varied and each day there was a sort of theme. The kids made crafts, played games on the Sports Deck, had a Rocket shaped slide and some sort of Space Ship to pay in, plus there were movies, competitions, stories, etc. When in port you have the option to leave your child on board in the Fun Factory and just pay $6 per hour for the lunch and dinner periods (12-2 and 5-7). Every child was signed in and out by the parent, and they had to wash hands before they could go into the play area. We were very comfortable with the staff at the Fun Factory and felt this was a very nice service. The hand washing thing was a big deal on the ship, which we really appreciated considering all the viruses out there. When you go to the dining rooms an attendant stood there to put some antibacterial cleanser on your hands, and there were dispensers everywhere. We also took advantage of the one price Soda plan. For about $138 my husband and I could drink as much soda as we could stand the whole trip. If you aren't a big soda fan skip this as there are tea, coffee, juice, and water available for free. Okay, now for some of the drawbacks and some suggestions. There is a real lack of information on the basics. For instance, one of our trips got canceled, and the cost was refunded. However, no one bothered to explain that a child's refund has to be completed by hand so would not show up as a credit until halfway through the trip. It took a trip to Guest Relations to find that out, which I found annoying as it could have been avoided by including one more line in the letter they shoved under our door. Also, you won't get told this until very late in the cruise, but you can opt out of the automatic tipping and just do your own tips in envelopes at the end of the cruise. You just have to sign a paper at the Guest Relations desk to do this. Trips are really expensive and usually if you do a little research you can go off and do the trips on your own for less money. We did Santorini, Venice, Barcelona and Villefranche on our own. There is a HUGE push to sell things to you on the ship. You get handed brochures for art auctions, jewelry sales, etc. etc. There are stores in the Emporium but the prices are expensive on some of the items so when you are in port check out the stores there to see if you can get a better deal! Also, there are lots of drawings to pull you into the Emporium and get you in the buying mood - they were fun, and you don't have to buy anything to enter - just be there at a certain time for the drawing. Also, if you have kids, there is no dedicated channel on the TV for kid friendly shows so you might want to bring a small DVD player or laptop and some DVDs for the kids when they are in the room.
Very comfortable, bed was equal to roughly a queen size. Close to elevator/stairs without all the noise. You only have another room on one side. The only drawback to this room was you could hear the walkways/tender docks when they were being set up when in port.
We arrived in Barcelona the day before embarkation and stayed at the Colon hotel. We flew Easy Jet (from the UK) and made our hotel reservations online. When we arrived at the airport we took a taxi to the hotel. The hotel was very nice and conveniently located, and the cost was reasonable. The cathedral was practically across the street and there was a square with market stalls and a band. We really enjoyed our time in Barcelona - the Cathedral is a must see. The food is great, the people are nice, the city is clean. The shops on the Ramblas area are more touristy, and if you ask for a better price you usually get it - they kept lowering the price on an item I was looking at but thought too expensive - from 25 euro to 10 euro by the time I left - just because I said it was too much and put it back and went to walk out the store.
We had a great tour through the ship for Florence and Pisa. We went to Pisa first - some touristy stalls on the way in, then a big square with church and tower, etc. We walked around a bit and took photos then returned to the bus. Then went to Florence. Our tour guide was hilarious and she taught us proper ways to pronounce words and make gestures. In Florence there was plenty to see. Lots of great shops - saw some nice deals on purses. Looked at lots of churches and architecture. Ate some FANTASTIC gelato!! We took our Sat/Nav and programmed it for the meeting spot so no matter where we wandered to we could find our way back for departure.
Having been to Rome before, we did not want to drag a five year old around the city on a long tour. Rome isn't the cleanest place, there are very brazen pick pockets - watch out for the beggars because one will try to occupy your attention while another person swipes your wallet. However, it is worth seeing. The Spanish Steps, the fountains, the ruins are all worth it. Whatever you do, DO NOT SIGN UP FOR THE BRACCIANO LAKE AND WINE TASTING! What a waste of time! You get 20 minutes at the lake, which isn't all that impressive and there is nothing to do but have a drink at the little cafe there. And then you are back on the bus to go almost back to port to have a few samples of wine at a winery. They did serve okay snacks with the wine, but no one there spoke English but the guide, and you don't get to see the process or anything. Just sit at picnic tables out back and drink wine. I don't have a clue what we were thinking when we signed up for this tour - but definitely go do something else!
We did a tour for the Acropolis and Athens. Recommend doing this one on your own. Get a taxi or public transport and go see the Acropolis and the Plaka without all the hassle of a group. It is VERY hot at the Acropolis so go in the morning if you can. There are hordes of people on the Acropolis and I thought we would never get down. I had to really keep my son close as people were really bunched up on the way down. The place is chaos - everyone going up or down uses the same route and no one wants to give way so the others can get by. The Plaka is nice for shopping and having a relaxing meal. You can find decent priced Greek Key jewelry here and some reasonable priced t-shirts and souvenirs, too. We ended up getting some nice tapestries at The Loom and they also have rugs and will ship for you. The outdoor restaurant we ate at had these little mist sprayers to help keep people cool, and the food was outstanding! Best Greek Salads I have seen yet!
We did a tour here, but this would be way easy to do on your own. The city is nice and the food is good. Lots of seafood and fish type dishes. We ordered olives, cheese and bread for our five year old and he was fine. Definitely wander up and down the alleys to see more of the city. Would liked to have seen more of Croatia - maybe scuba diving or swimming as the water was beautiful!
We did our own thing here. We do recommend you purchase your boat trip through the cruise ship, though, if you plan to go back and forth to Venice. The cost was $20 per person and you can use the pass all day. We took a quick walk through the city with our son, bought him a souvenir, took a gondola ride (80 euro no matter how many go so get friends and split the cost) and went back to the ship for a late lunch. Then we took our son to the Fun Factory and returned to Venice for shopping and sightseeing. There are lots of alleys and it is fun to wander down them to find churches, shops and restaurants. Purses, shoes, clothing, masks, glass - the shopping is FANTASTIC! This was our last port so once done we returned to the ship, picked up our child and packed our bags to leave outside our door per instructions. The next day we got up early, had breakfast then disembarked. We hopped straight into a taxi and it cost about 50 euro to go to the airport. There are some sandwich shops and stuff there so we had a light lunch before boarding our plane home.