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Celebrity Cruises: Summit

Summit Review

Insider Take

Overview

The third ship in the Millennium-class, she has the "Solsticized" enhancements adding Blu and Qsine.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A vibrant, high-energy environment with Broadway shows. Venue for singles and children; an all-inclusive luxury experience.

Onboard Experience

You will notice the relaxing and elegant atmosphere onboard Summit the moment you cross the gangway. As your cruise progresses, gentle reminders that you're aboard one of the most sophisticated ships in the "premium" range of cruise lines will appear.

The tone is set early in the cruise. Representatives from each of the ship's activity options set up poolside tables to answer questions of arriving guests on embarkation day. Whether it's spa appointments, questions about Internet rates or casino gaming, it's a nice touch to begin the cruise. There is enough variety in onboard activities, enrichment lectures, and quality entertainment to keep almost any type of cruiser happy - all led by a friendly and energetic Cruise Director and his staff.

Over the past decade we've noticed a change in the attitude of staff on Celebrity ships. They've moved from delivering a professional but reserved service, to a still professional but friendlier service. Positive change in our view, and clearly exhibited on our Summit cruise with friendly, yet excellent, service throughout.

The only drawback we encountered in service came when "Elite" members of Celebrity's repeat passenger program, Concierge Club, and suite passengers are offered priority embarkation and disembarkation, along with other perks. The number of those who qualify seems to have grown so large that it is hard to deliver the perks. Check-in lines were shorter for regular passengers.

On the final morning VIP and Suite passengers were invited to wait comfortably in Ocean Liners Restaurant to enjoy a continental breakfast, but still had to wait for their colored luggage tags to be called rather than the promised priority disembarkation.

Decor

Celebrity's designers deserve an ovation for their ingenious fusion of contemporary, Old World, Art Deco and chic resort influences. The highlight is the central atrium with glorious amounts of natural light on the edges and a stunning white onyx stairway down the center. The translucent staircase glows with internal yellow neon light and is lined with three-story-high mahogany pillars surrounded by long golden flowing curtains. Altogether, the combination is a visual delight.

Vast expanses of glass and beechwood bisect mahogany-paneled walls, most adorned with provocative works of art. Design accents include golden velveteen and suede brocades, burled woods, and ornate topiaries.

Elegant striped, floral, or patterned fabrics in pastel distinguish the stateroom decor, along with Deco lighting fixtures, and marble desktops.

Public Rooms

During the Solticization upgrade the ship received AquaClass staterooms and the popular restaurant, Blu, exclusively for AquaClass guests. She also has the Celebrity iLounge - essentially an "Apple Computer" store at sea where you can participate in the iLearn enrichment series or buy the latest high-tech gadget from Apple.

They also added the "uniquely unordinary restaurant, Qsine," with a menu and wine list presented on an iPad and the ultra-cool, ice-topped Martini Bar.

The busiest public rooms onboard Summit are the Champagne and Martini Bars on Deck 5 and the Rendezvous Lounge on Deck 4. These large lounges, located just forward of the two level dining room, span port to starboard.

Though the dance floor is located in the Rendezvous Lounge, a circular hole in the middle of the Champagne/Martini bar above opens to the Rendezvous Lounge below. This allows both lounges to share the live music emanating from the Rendezvous. One can opt for the Champagne/Martini Bar lounge, and it's more upscale art deco design, or the more casual Rendezvous Lounge below.

I particularly liked the handle straps on the seatbacks in both these lounges, making it easier for passengers and staff to move them around as needed.

Originally the ship's Cigar Bar, Michael's Club, forward of the casino on deck four, is now used as the singalong Piano Bar. It offers a very sophisticated, intimate, yet clubby atmosphere, with high backed leather chairs, and cocktail tables used to create small groupings.

The Cova Cafe, on deck five atop the three-deck tall Centrum (atrium), is an excellent people watching spot with free fancy pastries as well as specialty coffees available at an extra cost. A talented a capella singing group entertains patrons in the evenings.

Fortunes Casino, deck four mid-ship, is roomy and features the normal variety of table games; including craps and a recently added Texas Hold'em poker table. Numerous slot machines include one-cent slots. TV screens behind the small service bar show sports events - though the staff seems to favor showing mostly soccer games.

As with many Celebrity ship lounges, the forward observation lounge on deck 11, which becomes a disco at night, is comparably breathtaking. The three-deck Celebrity Theater seats 901 for Broadway-style floor shows, and around 890 enjoy unobstructed sight lines. What appears to be torches around its periphery are in fact blue and orange lights projected on a strip of thin cloth blown by a fan from below. They give the venue a warm, flickering glow.

But, oh the views from the exterior glass elevators. These lead to the 15-store shopping emporium featuring such notable designers as Donna Karan, H. Stern, Escada Sport and Tommy Hilfiger. You can choose from Swarovski crystal to Fendi purses. The elegant alternative dining room, Ocean Liners, will steal your breath away.

"Words" is the name of the library on Sky Deck. It is open around the clock and books are borrowed on the honor system rather than having a staff member with limited hours checking the books in and out.

The three-deck Celebrity Theater seats 901 for Broadway-style floorshows, and around 890 enjoy unobstructed sight lines. What appear to be live torches on the periphery of the audience are in fact blue and orange lights projecting on a strip of thin cloth blown by a fan from below. They give the venue a flickering glow.

The cyber cafe, off the Centrum on deck four, has 18 computers in comfortable surroundings offering Internet access with rates from 75 cents per minute to package rates of 250 minutes for $100. Wi-fi service is available in public areas at the same rates if you bring your laptop, though Internet service in the staterooms is not available, except in the top suites.

Restaurants

The Normandie alternative restaurant, an homage to the famous French liner regarded by many as the finest passenger ship ever built, aspires to be among the finest restaurants at sea. The three-hour dinner ($25 per person surcharge; an additional $27.95 for five paired wines) is pure theater, a flourish of waiters in white tie cooking flambe entrees table-side (watch you toupee!). The service that is outstanding here, but the food quality was only slightly better than the dining room due to the a la minute aspect of delivering searing hot food to the table. There are signature dishes not found elsewhere onboard, including Rack of Lamb en Croute and Chateaubriand for two. The impressive list of international wines ranges in price from $18 to $450 a bottle.

QSine: This restaurant replaces the Silk Harvest restaurants of Asian fusion cuisines found on Solstice and Equinox. The restaurant features unusual shared dishes served in quixotic presentations. Describes are a "tapas-like" experience, the cuisine is tasty and just plain fun. The cuisine was specially designed by Celebrity executive chef Jacques Van Staden. Surcharge.

The very elegant two-level Cosmopolitan Dining Room is located in the stern with two-deck-high glass windows welcoming warm, natural light and offering remarkable views of the sea. Its tables are widely spaced enough to permit conversation at sub-shouting levels. The Lido cafe, deck 10, offers casual dining from 6:30 a.m. to half past midnight, including lunch and breakfast buffets, pizza, afternoon tea and late night snacks. Four buffet lines make for little waiting, and floor to ceiling windows and glass floor areas provide excellent views of the sea.

The Seaside Cafe attempts to alleviate waiting and congestion by breaking the two buffet lines into separate areas with offerings changing daily. There is a separate sandwich counter aft, as well as pizza, Asian food and pasta stations.

Because it is a cafeteria style buffet line, even with the attempted separation, we found people in the buffet lines running into the pasta line from the other way. During breakfast hours the sandwich station serves made to order pancakes and waffles with a selection of toppings. Many people seem to never discover this area, so service is fast, and the pancakes are hot and fluffy, and the waffles excellent.

This rear section of the cafe, called the Grill, is also the place for casual dinner, served a la carte. Reservations are required and dinner is served between 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. There's also a sushi service here in the evenings. Outdoors at poolside, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts and fries are available during the day. On some nights Summit lays out themed midnight buffets. 24-hour room service is also available.

For healthy fare, the Aqua Spa Cafe by the thalassotherapy pool serves breakfast, lunch and extremely light dinners; all cold items, nothing cooked. Menu offerings include high-nutrition, low-fat cereals, yogurt, bagels and the like for breakfast. Later in the day, cold plates like apple/walnut salad, citrus marinated salmon, tortilla wraps and cold soups are on tap.

All passengers can also order room service meals from the lunch and dinner menus during the hours those meals are being served. Continental Breakfast room service only is offered except for those with Concierge-class or suite-level cabins. For an out-of-cabin continental breakfast experience, don't miss the absolutely decadent pastries at the Cova Cafe Milano.

Tipping

Celebrity suggests a per-person per-day gratuity of $3.50 for the waiter, butler (Suites only) and stateroom attendant; $4.00 for Concierge Class stateroom attendant; $2.00 for the Assistant Waiter; and $.75 for the Assistant Maitre d' and the Assistant Chief Housekeeper.

All guests are given a form to sign if they wish to have these gratuities charged to their shipboard account. Children under 12 who are the third or fourth person in the stateroom pay only half these amounts. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.

Entertainment

Celebrity production shows include terrific special effects, and the quality of performances by the Celebrity Singers and Dancers displays excellent talent. Various headline performances throughout the cruise include typical cruise ship fare: comedians, ventriloquists, pianists, etc. depending on when you cruise.

During-the-day activities include dance lessons, trivia contests, Pictionary, brain-teasers, charades, napkin-folding and arts and crafts classes, as well as enrichment lectures on various topics, which change on different sailings.

Summit offers a movie theater for near current-run feature films. With any luck you will catch something you really wanted to see when it was first released, but our selection did not seem to be as adult oriented as the passenger mix.

Nightclubs include Michael's Club, an elegant setting for crooning and tickling the ivory. The Rendezvous lounge features live music. The Martini and Champagne Bar serves what the name implies. The Bar at the Edge of the Earth on Deck 11 has various theme parties throughout the cruise, like Mardi Gras night, where participants are given bead necklaces and Mardi Gras style masks. The room decor is bizarre, but the cruise staff does an excellent job of energizing the crowds and making the parties fun.

Cabins

Summit has some of the best designed and most comfortable staterooms afloat, with such amenities as television with closed-circuit movies, CNN and pay-per-view first run movies; direct dial phones, bathrobes, a stocked mini-refrigerator; and bathrooms with a shower and built-in shampoo and soap dispensers, vanity and hair dryer. Celebrity offers CNN and ESPN international feeds rather than U.S programming.

From the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, the staterooms are beautifully decorated in soft hues with comfortable beds and seating options. They serve as an oasis of calm away from other parts of the ship. Standard inside and outside staterooms are 172-sq. ft., with good storage space. The lovely balcony cabins measure 184 sq. ft. There are 26 wheelchair-accessible staterooms, including several suites.

Concierge-level and suite guests get handheld hair dryers, but there's nowhere to plug them in; you must use them at the desk/vanity area rather than the bathroom.

"Concierge Class" staterooms are 191 square feet with a 41-square-foot veranda. They include welcome-aboard champagne, fresh flowers and fruit, afternoon canapes, a leather key holder, personalized stationery, oversized tote bag, and upgraded mattresses and bedding.

Priority services promised include priority luggage delivery, dining time and seating preferences, shoe shine service, VIP invitations to exclusive shipboard events, priority shore excursion bookings, early embarkation and disembarkation, and a one-touch button on the phone to reach a Concierge Class desk representative directly.

A change we noticed since our last Celebrity cruise was that invitations to VIP events were discontinued, and replaced by a calendar of VIP events waiting in your cabin when you board. Then, as the cruise progressed, the events were listed in the ship's daily newsletter, as they were to occur, with a note telling those guests eligible to check their calendar for where and when the event is held.

This new system took away from the more personal feeling of receiving an invitation, and in my view also told non-eligible guests that there was a special event occurring, but they weren't important enough to attend.

Butlers attend the residents of suites, of which there are several types. The Sky Suite (254 to 362 sq. ft) has walk-in closets, whirlpool tubs and the large balcony.

Not quite big enough? Then consider Celebrity Suites (498 sq. ft.), Royal Suites (562 sq. ft.), or even the two enormous (1,690 sq. ft.) Penthouse Suites, with 180-degree views from the balconies.

For great value in pricing and excellent accommodation try the Category FV cabins located on the stern corners of each passenger deck. They are 245 sq. ft, with a sliding door which separates the sleeping area from the sitting area (with two sofas that are hide-a-beds), and a 275 sq. ft balcony. These are not considered suites and do not come with the accompanying amenities, which translates into great value because they are priced lower than suites, sky suites, or concierge class cabins.

Do note that many Concierge Class and the Deluxe Oceanview cabins on the Sky Deck are rather overshadowed by the overhanging deck above.

Fitness/Spa

Fitness buffs will be pleased with the glass-enclosed fitness center offering 14 treadmills, 12 exercise bikes, six stair-steppers, two rowers and free weights. Aerobics classes are scheduled throughout the day. Personal training, a body composition test, an Alpha massage capsule, and destress and detox packages are offered at various fees.

At 25,000 square feet, the adults-only AquaSpa is one of the most spacious afloat. The jewel of the fitness area is the highly atmospheric, relaxing Thalassotherapy pool, a sort of saltwater Jacuzzi, in which you'll feel as though you've retreated into a different world altogether (a small fee for use all day). The Persian Garden aromatherapy oasis is a nice place to meditate for an additional charge.

Treatments administered by Steiner's of London are by no means inexpensive but usually booked solid anyway. Get 20 percent off if you book on sailing day, and watch for specials on treatments while the ship is in port.

At $29, the "Frangipani" treatment, a scalp, neck and shoulder massage, is by far the best value on offer. There are also exotic "Sensory Heaven" treatments, such as the float massage, haiku ritual facial and an "aroma stone massage."

Best For People Who Want

Spacious cabins with good amenities; suites with butlers; private balconies; sophisticated touches like a piano lounge, martini/caviar bar, full-service florist; extensive spa facilities.

Cuisine

Celebrity Cruises was long associated with the culinary guidance of 3-star Michelin chef Michel Roux of London. That association began when Celebrity was under the auspices of John Chandris and lasted almost two decades before the line sought the guidance of dining expert Elizabeth Blau.

Now, Celebrity Cruises' reveals that within Blau's portfolio of culinary experts was one that the line grew so fond of they have tapped him as the "go-to guy." New Vice President of Food & Beverage, Jacques Van Staden is now in charge of creating the menus for each of the ten different dining destinations onboard Solstice and all other Celebrity ships as well.

Service

The service on our sailing was exceptional. A decade ago one would find Celebrity Cruises' staff very professional yet stoic in service. These days, they are encouraged to make the service friendly as well as professional. Beyond exceptional is the tuxedo-clad service in the Ocean Liners specialty restaurant.

Attire

There are two formal nights on a seven-night cruise, three on longer ones. On two informal nights gentlemen need only jackets and no ties. On formal nights most men turn up in dark suits rather than tuxedos, while ladies choose dressy pantsuits or dresses. By day, don't even consider wearing anything other than shorts, sneakers, polo shirt and a baseball cap.




Ship Overview

The second Millennium-class ship, Celebrity Summit was introduced in 2001. In a move the line termed "Solsticizing," Summit has received some of the most popular features of Celebrity’s Solstice-class vessels, including the addition of spa accommodations, an iLounge Internet and learning center, and more specialty restaurants. Summertime finds Celebrity Summit departing weekly from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, for cruises to Bermuda before heading on northbound routes to Canada and New England. Her winter home port is San Juan, Puerto Rico, from where she sails weekly Southern Caribbean cruises.

Millennium-class ships are among the largest and most feature-filled in the Celebrity fleet. The ships include show lounges reminiscent of splendid opera houses, and an alternative restaurant with a classic ocean liner theme. The spas are immense and house a complimentary hydrotherapy pool and café. These ships have a lot to offer families, with some of the most expansive children's facilities in the Celebrity fleet. Upgrades have introduced more accommodation categories and dining venues similar to those found on Solstice-class ships.

Rich fabrics in jewel tones mix elegantly with the abundant use of marble and wood accents throughout public areas. The atmosphere is not unlike a luxurious European hotel filled with grand spaces that flow nicely from one to the other.

Since it was founded in 1989, Celebrity Cruises has grown from a single refurbished ocean liner into a fleet of premium, sophisticated cruise ships that have a reputation for professional service, fine food, and some of the best design in the industry. Signature amenities have grown with the fleet, including gourmet specialty restaurants that carry an additional fee, large staterooms with generous storage, fully equipped spas, and butler service for guests in the top accommodations categories. Valuable art collections grace the stylish modern luxury ship interiors.

Although spacious accommodations in every category are a Celebrity standard, Concierge-class, an upscale element on all ships, makes certain premium ocean-view and balcony staterooms almost the equivalent of suites in terms of service. A Concierge-class stateroom includes numerous extras, such as chilled champagne, fresh fruit, and flowers upon arrival; exclusive room-service menus; evening canapés; luxury bedding, pillows, and linens; upgraded balcony furnishings; priority boarding and luggage service; and other VIP perks. At the touch of a single telephone button, a Concierge-class desk representative is at hand to offer assistance. Suites are still the ultimate, though, and include the services of a butler to assist with unpacking, booking spa services and dining reservations, shining shoes, and even replacing a popped button.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Stylishly appointed Grand Foyers have sweeping staircases
  • There's no charge for use of the thalassotherapy pool in the Solarium
  • The spa Café serves complimentary light and healthy selections

Cons

  • These ships just have too many passengers to offer truly personal service
  • Wines in the specialty restaurants are pricey
  • There are no self-service laundries
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 999
  • Entered Service 2001
  • Gross Tons 91,000
  • Length 965 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1079
  • Passenger Capacity 2,158
  • Width 105 feet

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