Great ports, great service, great value!: Celebrity Summit Cruise Review by philamike

Celebrity Summit 5
Member Since 2006
770 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Great ports, great service, great value!

Sail Date: February 2011
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
A friend and I decided on this cruise for two main reasons: it had very unique ports-of-call -- St. Croix, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada and Tobago -- and it was on Celebrity. We had both previously sailed Celebrity Solstice, which we thoroughly enjoyed. But we knew Summit was a (relatively) older ship that didn't have all of the Solstice-style features -- so we may have gone in with lower expectations. However, we found the ship to be very well-maintained and laid out, and the smaller size only exemplified Celebrity's tradition of excellent customer service.

With so many cruises calling upon the now-mega ports of St. Thomas and St. Maarten, it was a refreshing change to have an itinerary which focused on the smaller and far-flung islands in the Caribbean. This was not your shopper's cruise -- there were no massive malls with countless jewelry shops (except maybe in St. Kitts) and tacky souvenir stands were kept to a minimum. Instead, you could find unique outdoor markets in More the towns, gorgeous beaches and stunning scenery elsewhere, and genuinely nice people. For example, I found my taxi drivers to be more than happy to talk about their island homes and the cultures and traditions.

Back on board, the service was top-notch. From the stateroom attendants, to the dining staff, to the events coordinator Rose (who arranged several Cruise Critic events for us), to the officers and the Master himself, we were always greeted with smiles and kind words. Oh, and often drinks -- at boarding, each special event, reception and even reboarding the ship after our last port-of-call, the staff were greeting us with glasses of wine and champagne. With the bigger cruise lines finding new ways to nickel-and-dime their passengers, it was nice to see Celebrity extend their appreciation of their customers in this way.

The Super Bowl happened to be the second night of the cruise, which normally would have been one of the two formal nights. But the staff moved the formal night to the following night and hosted a game-watching party in the theater, complete with stadium-type food (hot sandwiches, wings, nachos, etc.) and team-themed decorations. This was a lot of fun, and everyone got into the experience.

After the service, perhaps the next-best aspect was the food. Every dinner in the main dining room was excellent, with a lot of choices for different tastes. But the best experience was dinner one night in The Normandie, Summit's only specialty restaurant. This was a culinary delight, and definitely one of the best meals I've ever had. With a $35 per person surcharge, it's a little higher than specialty restaurants on other ships, but definitely worth the price. (Try the escargot tortellini and the rock lobster bisque.) Also delicious was the sushi in the Waterfall Cafe in the evening -- a nice late-afternoon snack when you have late dinner seating.

Because my friend and I were focused on the ports-of-call, we didn't take advantage of the entertainment on board -- rather, we turned in relatively early so we could be ready the next morning to explore. Unfortunately, I can't comment on the ship's entertainment offerings.

By the time the end of the cruise approached, we filled out our feedback form and were really struggling to find anything to critique. We did think the layout of the Waterfall Grill (the buffet area) could be improved with food stations (more like Solstice), and we didn't like how some items were served to you rather than serve-yourself. (I know it might be considered better service, but I like to serve myself at a buffet... just one of those things...)

There were a few problems with our reservation on the shore-side, however:

- Managing our reservation on Celebrity's website was often slow and sometimes buggy; not a good first-impression for the trip.

- A few days before the cruise, I noticed my last name was suddenly changed on our reservation; I had to contact my travel to get it fixed by Celebrity.

- We were supposed to receive an on-board credit but it did not show up on our account; again, our travel agent had to contact Celebrity to secure the refund.

But those problems were from the line's office, not the ship. I later joked to my travel agent that the ship's staff should go to the home office and train them...

Celebrity offered an excellent incentive to book a future cruise while on board -- only $200 deposit, an on-board credit, and an up-to-three category upgrade for balcony or concierge class bookings. Also fully refundable until three months prior. I booked a 12-night on the Celebrity Silhouette for next January.

The one port not included in the review's drop-down list is Tobago, which I'll mention here: another very pretty Caribbean island, with very nice people. My friend went scuba diving here, too -- I went to Pigeon Point on my own, a government-owned public beach ($3 admission). I got there later in the morning and there were no more chairs available to rent; so I set down on a picnic table inside one of the covered pavilions. There are a few shops and food services here, and restrooms. It was a nice place to relax, but not very interesting. I enjoyed the taxi ride to/from Pigeon Point more, and my excellent driver/tour guide. Less

Published 02/24/11

Cabin review: 072130 Ocean View 7

Nice cabin, not too small. Could have used some more cabinets/storage, which newer ships have done a better job with.

Read All Ocean View 7 (07) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

One of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. We booked a river tubing excursion through the ship. (However, I was not feeling well that morning so I skipped; but my friend went.) They spent about 50 minutes on the river, and then visited Emerald Pool waterfall. He really enjoyed it.

That afternoon we explored some of Roseau on our own, including a large church.

Read 669 Dominica Reviews

My friend went scuba diving here, arranged independently with a dive shop located at the Flamboyant Hotel. They invited both of us to use the hotel's facilities for the day, which we did. Very comfortable facility and lovely beach at the southern end of Grand Anse Bay; also a good lunch in their outdoor cafe.

Read 531 Grenada Reviews

Since this was the first day, we wanted to relax. We got up late and explored the fort at the foot of the pier ($3 admission, I believe). Then we walked to Sandcastle on the Beach about a mile away, where we had reserved a "cruise beach package": $25 for two chairs, an umbrella and two rum punches. We first had lunch in their restaurant: food was good, but the service was slow ("island time"). But all in all, a relaxing time.

St. Kitts was gorgeous. We booked the Scenic Railway through the ship. First, we were driven in nice tour buses along the western side of the island for a guided tour, then we boarded the trains for the trip back along the eastern side. Scenery was stunning. Train cars are double-decker -- open-air up top (and shaded), and air-conditioned downstairs along with a restroom. Complimentary drinks, too. St. Kitts was also the only port that had typical "cruise port" shops (if you're into that kind of thing...).

Read 1323 St. Kitts Reviews

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