In a word, SMOOTH!
A word of thanks to all of those who got Summit to Bermuda reviews up so fast, we found them most helpful. Our review will probably be of most use to folks like us, 40 something's flying to NY with preteen kids in tow. We also consider ourselves good Carnival Customers and I'll frequently reference what we liked and disliked in comparison. There will also be a definitive case made for purchase of the Classic Beverage Package.
DW and I have been big fans of Celebrity since our cruise on the Century over 9 years ago. It is still our favorite "couples" vacation. We've wanted to take the kids to Bermuda for some time and were able to get the cabin combo we were looking for (a veranda with an inside across the hall) for less than the NCL sailing at the same time. Going just as Texas schools let, but before the schools in the Tri-state area let out, we got a great deal, but correctly surmised that there would not be a lot of shipmates for DS and DD.
In a word, SMOOTH!A word of thanks to all of those who got Summit to Bermuda reviews up so fast, we found them most helpful. Our review will probably be of most use to folks like us, 40 something's flying to NY with preteen kids in tow. We also consider ourselves good Carnival Customers and I'll frequently reference what we liked and disliked in comparison. There will also be a definitive case made for purchase of the Classic Beverage Package.DW and I have been big fans of Celebrity since our cruise on the Century over 9 years ago. It is still our favorite "couples" vacation. We've wanted to take the kids to Bermuda for some time and were able to get the cabin combo we were looking for (a veranda with an inside across the hall) for less than the NCL sailing at the same time. Going just as Texas schools let, but before the schools in the Tri-state area let out, we got a great deal, but correctly surmised that there would not be a lot of shipmates for DS and DD.We flew up from south Texas a couple days before, into LGA, to visit with MIL and SIL's family. With four of the largest allowable carry-ons (zipped to un-expanded) we were able to keep out checked bags down to two. We packed all of our cloths for the 2nd half of the cruise in two 49lb checked bags and we were betting that they would miss our 45 minute connection in MEM. Quite surprisingly, everything went very close to on time and out bags did not get lost, in fact they were first off the carousel - and MIL drove up just as we stepped out . SMOOTHIn NY, we picked up X's carry-on allowance for wine and some other odds and ends we chose not to pack. We also pre-ordered snorkel sets and a camera mask from Amazon that were delivered to MILs. All the extra stuff fit into our existing bags when we unzipped the expanded section - and we checked all but one bag (the one with wine, jewelry, medicine and bathing suits) at the pier.We had a great visit with SIL and her family. Predicted rain never came and we had a wonderful BBQ in their back-yard, free of the "Jersey State Birds" (mosquitoes). They drove us to Port Liberty which was just 20 minutes away, according to google maps. With a couple of wrong turns and missed signs, we were curbside at about 11. We thought the whole check-in process was very SMOOTH (and we've cruised out of a lot of different ports). No wait for security, no hassle for 4 bottles, 15 minutes or so on line to check-in. 10 minutes to check in. 5 minutes for photos. No line or wait for the shuttlebus, two or three minutes to cross the gangway, to the room to drop the bag and then to the welcome buffet -SMOOTH.1st lunch at the buffet was not a knock-out. The lines were longer than expected and the food was good but not great. We booked a Rasul for the 1st formal night (Monday) as this was our one "couples indulgence". We got a little bit of bad info from the woman at the spa who told us that all of the late seating shows were after dinner. This was wrong and we ended up missing the welcome aboard show because the programs were not printed until late (probably because it was only the 3rd time they'd done this run). With an on time sail away on a picture perfect day, I'm not sure we could have broken away from the pool deck and the T-pool which was where we were till just before showtime. Oh yeah - all the bags arrived and were unpacked before the boat drill. SMOOTH. The pools opened about 2pm and we suited up after just before the boat drill. It is so nice not to have to schlep the life jackets. Its not just that you don't have to wear them and that they make the whole experience somewhat claustrophobic - its that you don't have to go back to your room before or after! As our muster station was A (the main show lounge) we went in on deck 5 as we finished our "family tour" and stayed right in the back by the cocktail tables. As a result, we were first ones out and went right up to the pool deck. We scored great deck chairs for the sail-away and 4 spots in the hot-tub. The deck band was great and we turned the kids loose after the party and the trip under the V/N brige. DW and I introduced ourselves to the T-pool area which was simply wonderful. Our cabin steward was attentive and prompt - but a terrible mail-man (we never received invites to connections or captains club). Our late seating dinner request was met, our wait staff was fairly unremarkable, and we were not wild about our table location. The dining room is so elegant and well appointed, but we were tucked into one of the narrow areas by the entrances on deck 5. We dubbed this sKID row, as that was where most of the few "family curisers" were tucked away. We certainly understand why they put us where they put us - but DS and DD are veteran cruisers and we all really wanted to show off their good behavior and "dapper-ness" as part of the main scene. The food was good (but we actually enjoyed Carnival more). The wait staff flirted with the line between elegantly paced service and slow service. We're fine with a well paced hour and 45 minute dinner (and so were our kids) but if there is going to be a 5 or 10 minute breather between courses there needs to be the requisite interaction with the waitstaff to make it completely enjoyable. Bread was not served - it was always in a basket at sit down with pre-made wrapped butter. We never saw pepper or cheese grinding by the waiters, nor combing or resetting of the table between courses. Water and coffee glasses often empty. None of this was a big deal, but when combined with our location on sKID row, some of the "event-ness" of the meals was definitely missing. We debated on weather to get or not get the drink packaged before the cruise as we had read that there were other good deals on board: (beer buckets, 2 for 1 drink specials, etc). When we read that you could start the card at anytime, we decided to pay as we went the first day. As we ordered our 8pm pre-dinner cocktail, at the Rendezvous, DW proclaimed a "fail" as I had already spent 45 bucks, and the night was very, very young. So I purchased the classic package for myself the next day (just one) and it turned out to be a tremendous money saver. We had no problem with bar service anywhere - and we enjoyed a beverage just about everywhere. In particular, it was easier to get an included beer than a cup of tea at dinner. And the wine steward did a better job keeping the included wine glass full than the busboy did with the water.The first two sea days were picture perfect. Our cabin, 9005 was the forward most balcony. There was a very large overhang and an even larger wall on the forward side of the balcony. These afforded lots of privacy, but only 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight on the 1st two sea days. This was fine for an early riser like me - but I could see how some would be disappointed not to see the sun from their private balcony. The Monday brunch is a must do! Great cocktail shrimp, stir-fry, and all the ambiance of the midnight buffet it replaced. We also did the Galley Tour. We were very, very, surprised at how tough it was to find a deck chair after brunch and just about any other time the sun was out. Its not that there were chair hogs or not enough chairs for the space, the place was just packed. The deck bands were wonderful and at just the right volume. We enjoyed the T-pool so much the day before (when folks were at the show) but it too was very crowded with an older set of folks - one of whom looked for all the world like Wilford Brimly in the movie Cocoon. DW, in her best Brian Denahy impersonation, proclaimed that "the life force had been drained from the pool" and we spent most of our time after that on the pool deck which was very well managed by two incredibly hard working pool attendants. We did the Persian Gardens as part of our Rasul treatment in the spa. We had fun because we had the entire Garden to ourselves - but the Rasul room was not working exactly right and some of the showers in the Persian Gardens were also on the blink We ordered the cheese platter to go with our wine on the balcony while dressing. We enjoyed the string and a cappella quartets before our dinners. The first production show was on Monday (first formal) night, after dinner, as was the Magic show with Adam on Tuesday night. The Broadway tribute was great, and we really enjoyed Adam's genuine personality (and his assistant, Amy (one of the dancers) was absolutely smoking!) I think the professional reviews say Celebrity's entertainment is not up to par - that was simply not the case on this ship. With three full review shows, 5 lead singers who could dance and a dozen dancers who could sing plus two very good aerial acrobats - we thought the entertainment on the whole was the best of the 20 cruises we've taken - except maybe for the ice show on Mariner - and there were some routines on Carnival that are still our favorites. Quite surprisingly, Celebrity threw much better parties than Carnival - with full bands and ships dancers and singers integrated into the crowd. We arrived in Bermuda early - if we had know this was a possibility, we would have gone after the 9:15 ferry to St. George. We ended up on the 10, and it was over ï¿½ hr late. We did the some touisty stuff in town - Kids loved the dunking. I enjoyed getting a picture of my kids in the same stockade that I snapped a picture of my grandparents in some 30 years ago. The place is truly timeless. We walked over the hill to Tobacco Bay for some great snorkeling - our own gear was very comfortable - the Mask/Camera took great underwater pictures and videos. SMOOTH Another great pre-cruise purchase was our "cooler back-pack" Looks like a knapsack, with netting to hold sunscreen and the MP3 player , a zipper compartment on top for passports and keycards, and a waterproof, insulated compartment with enough space to hold ice, a sixpack, 4 cokes and four sandwiches. We also brought ziplock bags from home to make this work. So we had a nice picnic lunch on Tobacco Bay and also at some picnic tables above the beach on Church Bay the next day. We caught the 4 o'clock ferry back to Kings Warf from St. Georges. On both nights we enjoyed a snack on the fantail and a shower before the pre-dinner shows on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The 2nd review show (Wednesday) was definitely worth coming back early for. The xylophone guy on Thursdayï¿½.not so much. In fact, Thursday afternoon and evening are the only thing (other than missing the welcome aboard show) that I wish we had done differently. We did Hamilton by ferry on Thursday, and we should have spent a little more time in town or at the gardens - we just did some window shopping on front street, took pictures with the Bobby and in front of the Veendam and made our way up to the bus terminal. We snorkeled at church bay and then took the bus all the way back to Kings Warf for the snorkel park and were back on the ship at 6 for the 7pm show. The xylophone guy was a xylophone guy - nothing extraordinary as billed by CD Matt (who was also a very genuine and likeable personality). Similarly, we were incredulous that Spaghetti and meatballs would be something to order on a cruise dinner. It was what was recommended and billed as extra-ordinary by our waiter. It was not. If we could do this cruise over (and we might try to) we would have reserved the supper club for the latest possible seating on Thursday (that was by far the weakest menu) and made the most of the one full day in Bermuda. On Friday, we did a deep snorkel with Jesse James. Our cruise critic group reserved the whole boat, so he was able to pick us up right at the pier. Again, everything went SMOOTH. We saw tons of fish, the water was clear, and did not feel nearly as cold as we were expecting it to feel (again we're from South Texas - our pool was 75 degrees 3 months ago). Doing the multiply by 4 thing with Jesse James, brought the cost up there, if we do go again, we'd rent a boat for half a day and do some shallow snorkeling on our own. There appear to be lots, and lots of things that can be done right of the pier at Kings Warf (jet-ski rental, fishing trips, snorkel and glass bottom boats) - this was the only area that seemed different than our visit 10 years ago (or even my visits as a kid 30 years ago). The tired and true bus and Ferry pass that everyone has been doing forever still works, but its nice to have so many new options.Our last sea day was the only day that the weather was less than perfect - but still the pool deck was packed and the band was just as good. I wanted to by the pool band CD but never remembered to bring cash to the pool deck. Speaking of a need for cash on board, the Casino also takes and gives cash - Carnival and some of the other lines let you draw on you onboard account at no charge and if you cash out, you can take the receipt to get cash. We actually enjoy using cash at the casino more, but casino cash was not in our budget so we had to do the ATM thing. During the day we also did the Chef Cook -off thing which was a ton of fun since I got drawn to be a judge. They took us back and under the stage to come up on one of the elevators sitting at a well set table complete with wine and water (best service we had all week). They served us two seafood and two meat dishes made by two of the Normandie chefs and two of two passenger assistant cooks who were donned in chefs hats and aprons. Our judging team got a lot of laughs, but Anna (the Foodie) was not pleased that we did not give everyone 10s or higher (wait till she gets a load of this!). The crew talent show was also a hoot - not to be missed is the florist with a split personality who sang "Endless Love" - it was one of the funniest (and well thought out) solo performances we've seen. The final show was also very good and an upgrade from what we're used to with Carnival and others who depend on the passengers for talent on the last night. Instead, of a full blown midnight buffet in the dining room, they did a desert buffet after diner upstairs in the disco. What a great change! I'm sure it's a lot of work for them to get all the stuff up there, but what a charged atmosphere - with a 9 piece band playing great music. We really like the way Celebrity integrates their dancers into their parties - Carnival and the other guys do this too, but not nearly as well. We went to most of the parties and danced at least for a little while every night before turning in. As I mentioned at the start of this review, we had our 11year old daughter and a 13 year old son with us. They had a great time, but did not set foot in The Tower for reasons that surpass our understanding. They were never board and had a good time with us - and without us. They really enjoyed the shows and the food and really got a kick out of the movie theater. They were a little surprised that all they could get with their fountain soda card was "fountain soda" - they've had a lot of luck on other lines getting Shirley Temples and Smoothies. We found Bermuda with the bus/ferry passes and free beaches to be the most economical port of call we've experienced. What we didn't spend on shore excursions more than offsetting the cost for extra port charges for Bermuda vs. a Traditional itinerary.Check out was very SMOOTH - I received an unexpected $50 OBC for paying to join the Captains club just before they made it free (like 9 years ago) and was very, very pleased with my account balance after the classic card purchase. No shipboard announcements for disembark, just go to a certain place at a certain time (for us the show lounge) and make your way out shortly there after. My folks picked us up from Port Liberty and we went to visit the American Museum of Natural History. As it happens, we drove up the West side highway, right past the Carnival Glory, NCL Dawn, and Veendam. DW and I have sailed out of the Manhattan Piers a couple times. Seeing the these ships lined up side by side all decked out with extra flags we had to acknowledge that the Bayonne experience is missing something in comparison.All in all we were very, very pleased with our Summit Cruise. The only thing that was slightly disappointing was our dining experience - but the unexpected caliber and quantity of the live entertainment more than made up for it. The recent decline in onboard entertainment (particularly at the pool and in the lounges and at the parties) has been our primary beef with Carnival since Uncle Bob retired. While we've seen evidence of cost cutting with all of the lines with whom we've sailed but Celebrity certainly spared no expense in the entertainment department and it really made the cruise for us. If Celebrity would reposition a ship to Galveston or Houston, (or any place else we could drive in a day from South Texas) - they'd get every penny of our cruising dollars for the foreseeable future.