A little late in getting this review out, but not a reflection on the outstanding trip we had on the Summit in June, 2016. A little about us…we love our vacations, and have been on smaller and mega-ships, balconies and suites, and ... Read More
A little late in getting this review out, but not a reflection on the outstanding trip we had on the Summit in June, 2016. A little about us…we love our vacations, and have been on smaller and mega-ships, balconies and suites, and throughout the Caribbean and Mexico areas. Out time on the Summit was, from the moment we drove into NJ to the moment we sadly got in our car to depart, by far, the best experience we have had in 4 years of cruising on four different cruise lines.
NJ is a breeze; tons of parking, easy luggage drop off, and friendly porters. Parking is a bargain at around 150$ for the week. Now, I admit, we were spoiled because as Suite guests, we had no line, a lovely waiting area, and literally a 30 minute wait to get onto the ship. That being said, we noticed very few lines in general, tons of seating, and very helpful staff for all passengers. Why spend the extra money on a Suite? Well…in addition to the bigger room, the amenities cannot be beaten, especially literally getting out of your car and having a hop, skip and jump right into your vacation!
When we got onto the ship, the touch of mimosas and champagne was lovely and refreshing. We had fun wandering around the decks for a while and enjoying the beautiful skyline. We then headed to Michael’s Club for a snack, and were greeted with a hug BY NAME by our Suite Concierge Maja… Oh “Falla, Falla” (Macedonian for “Thank you”) to this tirelessly cheerful and wonderful woman. She is an absolute treasure – there is nothing that she could not do for us, and was extraordinary in arranging unforgettable adventures for our son – a private galley Tour with Chef Wayne (more about that later), and meet and greets with the Captain and Senior Staff. Maja should be congratulated on making us feel like we were the most treasured guests on the ship – what a woman! She also arranged for us to be on the helicopter landing area as we pulled away from NYC – the most beautiful views of the harbor and with patriotic music playing as Captain Kate “buzzed” the Statue of Liberty.
Michaels Club was wonderful – the events there were nightly and varied, from High Tea with a classical string duo, to Senior Staff meet and greets, nightly snacks, photo ops…also a quiet place to mingle with other guests. The whole of Michael’s staff was great.
So…after meeting Maja, it was off to one of many fantastic meals at Lumiere. Again…I know it’s the Suite Restaurant and the service is expected to be a level above, but the entire staff took it to the roof! Charles, the Head Maitre D, knew my son’s name from 5 minutes in, knew his meal preferences, and always himself or Olga (absolutely wonderful smile and patience), escorted my picky and occasionally fussy 7 year old to “his” seat, and had his preferred lunch or dinner meal ready within 5 minutes of being seated. No fuss, no questions. All of the waiters, Vlad, Jose, and Louis the Sommelier were fantastic, but a special shout out for Dominic who was our main waiter, and made it his mission to make each meal better than the one before. I have heard criticism that the menus are limited…of course they are…why would you need more than 5 or 6 amazing entrees on a 7 day sailing? Guess what…all you have to do is ask, and they will make anything you could possibly want to tailor your mood. For me especially, a vegan, Dominic went out of his way to recommend / modify anything I was interested in on the menu. My husband said the lamb burger he had at lunch on day 3 was by far, the best thing he had ever eaten. We never had a bad meal, and I personally had some of the best vegan cuisine of my life. Louis was great in choosing wines / drinks to go with our meals, and again, knew our preferences by dinner on the 1st night. He was even great in helping us choose a wine for a lovely couple we met celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. A great hello also to a great couple we sat next to for three nights before figuring out that they lived in the town next to us in New York! They also agreed that the Summit was fantastic, and they are veteran cruisers (very, very jealous of their international trips).
While waiting for our room to be ready, we enrolled our son at the Fun Factory. The Fun Factory staff, especially Nellie, were amazing – My son has some communication challenges and this was, along with our Disney trips, the best experience we have ever had on a cruise ship. All of the counselors were absolutely fantastic adapting to our son’s special needs, and when he had a few challenging days, they were 100% willing to work with us to make sure we had alternative activities for him. I highly recommend the “VIP Package” – for I believe 75$, this includes a special trip to the Bridge, a backstage theater tour, special meet and greets, and sleep-overs / dinner times. What a great treat for us as parents to have a safe place let our son play while we went on our own “play dates”.
We splurged on an upgrade to a Concierge Suite (7138) from a Sky Suite, and were not disappointed. The room layout was fantastic, and having the extra living room and dining space was perfect for our family of three. The entire wall of windows and large balcony were amazing, especially for sunrises and sunsets. The only downside – it was very open to seeing other balconies. General word of advice – do not assume if you are on your balcony naked or in your underwear that no one can see you (just sayin’). The room was gorgeous, clean and the bathroom was spacious. There was more storage than we had luggage for, and we especially loved the changing room in the closet – perfect for a “work space” for my busy 7 year old. Literally the only complaint was like others, we found the deep bathtub challenging to get in and out of. Special shout-outs to our butler Kim who was amazing in finding daily treats for us, arranging room service, and making sure every detail was perfect. She was absolutely tireless, and her sweet smile and endless hugs for our son were truly welcomed. From housekeeping, Jose and Kumar were outstanding. Our room was spotless, the towel animals were fantastic, and it only took us asking once for extra supplies for them to be present every day. The best past of these three, was Kim, Jose and Kumar arranging a special anniversary and birthday celebration for us – what a wonderful surprise!
Of the senior staff, five stood out among all. Cannot say enough about Captain Kate – so personable, funny and available in every corner of the ship. She was heading to see her husband for her 3 months off-ship, and you could tell was excited! We had the great fortune of having a few private meet-and-greets with her, and my son absolutely fell in love. She remembered his name, and he was able to have 2 private deck tours – one with the Kids Club, and one with the suite guests. The Summit is a wonderful ship, and we are booking specifically next year for a cruise in which she is at the helm and Chef Wayne is in the kitchen.
Chef Wayne gave our family the most incredible experience of a private galley tour – gave my son his own chef’s coat, and we spent 30 minutes touring the galley, and were amazed at the cleanliness and efficiency of the entire staff. He introduced my son as “the new head chef”, and everyone saluted and said “Hi Chef” or “Yes Chef” when we walked by. Seeing how this one small area produces amazing meals for the entire ship was so cool – I definitely rank this among the coolest things I have ever done.
World Wide Wayne, Srjeon, Eddy and Oz are senior staff members who are ever-present making sure all guests have a great time, organizing events, games, entertainment – and still, remembered our names and faces every time we saw them. All four should be commended on their professionalisms and politeness.
Great Broadway-style shows, wonderful “pop-ups”, and a fantastic cello-violin duo were highlights. The pianist’s repertoire was endless, and he was incredibly talented. We loved sitting down before and after dinner and listening to the jazz groups, pop singers, and even the country duo – really lovely.
Though we had the luxury of eating almost 75% of our meals at Lumiere, we absolutely loved Café Al Bachio for coffee and nightly snacks. The Tapas restaurant Qsine was such the experience. Our waiter made suggestions for my vegan palate and my husband’s love of meat and seafood – the tapas were gorgeous, and we actually had to cancel a few “flights” as we were stuffed to the gills. We ate at Tuscan Grill twice – outstanding service and meals. The fresh pasta was perfect, and they even made a special pizza for our son. I had amazing soups and salads, and the sommelier was right on point with his suggestions. Some of the best Italian food we have eaten in a beautiful, warm setting.
We did not eat in the main dining room, but loved the juice bar by the pool (yes…I do love a good morning cucumber and apple smoothie), and thought that the buffet was fantastic – so clean, and the staff were vigilant in making sure that everything was sanitized and keep either warm or hot. There were not a thousand options, but who needs a thousand mediocre dishes when you can have 100 really great choices.
Beautiful island, and had the great fortune of taking a private tour with another couple we met online at CruiseCritic – Kim…you made this trip so special! Winsome Tours with Julie (the owner) was a private van tour for 5 hours of the entire island tailored to our taste – wonderful stops, feeding the ducks and fish, and sitting in the first chapel on the island were highlights. This tour was a surprise, and there is a reason that they are rated so highly on Trip Advisor. What we really loved about Bermuda were the clean beaches, lack of tourist traps, and easy ferry and bus access. There are taxis everywhere, and the restaurants are plentiful. A few thoughts – were were underwhelmed by the Crustal Caves – nice tour guide, very cheerful, but it was, um, a cave. A hot, muggy, sticky cave.
Cannot wait to come back – we loved Bermuda, loved the Summit, and loved the luxury of our Concierge Suite. Could not more highly recommend this ship and this crew. Read Less