Celebrity Summit, which debuted in 2001, is the third of Celebrity Cruises' four 91,000-ton Millennium-class ships, and it's the third to undergo a multimillion-dollar refurbishment. During a three-week dry dock in January 2012, most of Summit's existing cabins and public spaces were reorganized and/or revitalized, and the ship received a number of Solstice-class upgrades.
Passengers can now indulge in some of the contemporary amenities the line has been busy rolling out since Celebrity Solstice debuted in 2008. Summit's dated and underused conservatory has been replaced with Qsine, a specialty restaurant with the tagline "uniquely unordinary," where vittles include sushi lollipops and popcorn fish and chips. The former Champagne bar has been revamped into the line's popular new Crush Martini Bar, where flashy mixologists pour upscale cocktails atop an ice bar. And the ship's once run-of-the-mill Internet cafe has been transformed into the "Celebrity iLounge" -- the first authorized Apple reseller at sea, which features state-of-the-art workstations, technology classes and a helpful staff.
Additionally, 107 AquaClass cabins have been added to the ship. Similar to the line's popular Concierge Class cabins, these cabins come with added amenities, including Hansgrohe spa showers, complimentary access to the ship's Persian Garden thermal suite and exclusive fee-free access to Blu, one of the ship's newly added specialty restaurants. They're ideal for passengers looking to upgrade their experience without splurging for a suite. Seventy of these were converted from Concierge Class cabins, while 37 were built during the ship's dry dock, replacing venues that have either been eliminated or relocated.
The result? The ship maintains an air of casual elegance but now has a decidedly modern ambience, complete with contemporary amenities and finishes. You would never guess you were sailing on a ship that is more than a decade old.
The three-deck Grand Foyer is inspired by a Venetian courtyard and is decorated in warm amber and golden tones, with silk lanterns, marble floors and stylish floral arrangements. It is reminiscent of the lobby of a fine hotel and sets a tone of refinement. Off the foyer, on the Entertainment Deck (Deck 5), is The Emporium, a shoppers' paradise featuring designer labels, Celebrity logowear and duty-free items, as well as the first-ever Bacardi store at sea.
The ship's two-level library has comfortable wing back chairs and sofas, and it works on the honor system. It's a cozy spot with an excellent midship location on Deck 8, right near the elevators.
Passengers on Celebrity Summit can check e-mail and research ports in the Celebrity iLounge, at a flat rate of 75 cents per minute. Package rates of 38 minutes are available for $24.95, 90 minutes for $49.95, 208 minutes for $99.95, 555 minutes for $199.95 and even 1,666 minutes from $399.95. This rate applies to both the desktops in the Internet center and to your own laptops when using Wi-Fi. Passengers can also take technology classes on such topics as editing and manipulating photos, moviemaking, and smartphone and tablet apps. Classes are $20 each or $35 for an unlimited iLearn package.
Celebrity is known for its excellent and innovative menus fleetwide, but the line did not quite live up to its reputation on our cruise -- admittedly the second sailing post-dry dock. While many of our meals were average at best, highlights were Qsine, the sea day brunch buffet, the house-made ice cream and gelato, and the burgers and hot dogs at the Mast Grill.
Celebrity Summit certainly offers plenty of dining choices. The two-level Cosmopolitan Restaurant features sophisticated decor accented by La Normandie, a beautiful, seven-foot-high bronze statue of a woman draped like the goddess Athena, created by Art Deco sculptor Leon-Georges Baudry. This statue originally graced the first-class smoking room in the legendary liner SS Normandie. The dining room also has a sweeping staircase for grand entrances on formal nights and a two-level glass wall with panoramic views aft.
There are two options for dinner in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional set-seating at either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m., or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to eat any time between 6 and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other passengers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat. The restaurant is open-seating for breakfast, but it is not open for lunch.
The restaurant offers a set nightly menu featuring typical steak, seafood, chicken and veggie options, in addition to a full menu of specials (with chef recommendations) each night. On our cruise, most dishes were good, but not great, and consistency was an issue.
On the first sea day of each cruise, there is typically an elaborate brunch buffet served in Cosmopolitan, which includes everything from eggs benedict and Belgian waffles to steak and shrimp cocktail, from late morning to early afternoon. This is a favorite among Summit devotees, and it's a not-to-be-missed affair.
The Normandie, a 134-seat specialty restaurant, serves upscale dishes prepared using traditional French methods; think goat cheese souffle, pan-seared foie gras and Dover Sole Veronique. It features memorabilia from the legendary transatlantic liner, including gold-lacquered paneling depicting hunt scenes that originally adorned the smoking room on the SS Normandie. The restaurant also touts a dine-in wine cellar, open kitchen and "butterfly service" with waiters serving, presenting and removing dishes at the same table in unison. Many dishes are prepared or finished tableside. The fee is $40 per person and well worth it -- you'd expect to pay upwards of $100 on terra firma.
Qsine, a specialty restaurant that debuted on Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, is a super-sleek and inventive dining venue that offers a whimsical, interactive dining experience. The menu is presented on an iPad and features items inspired by different cuisines from around the world, including disco shrimp, filet mignon with five different sauces, tacos with guacamole you prepare yourself and Kobe beef sliders. All are served in creative vessels -- you'll rarely see a serving plate. Passengers are encouraged to order several dishes for the entire table to share, tapas style. Portions are generous, so you'll need to pace yourself if you're not used to supersized meals. Our meal at Qsine was the best food we ate during our weeklong cruise aboard Summit, and we found it to be well worth the $40-per-person fee. Both the meal and the experience as a whole exceeded our expectations.
Blu, which is exclusive to passengers sailing in AquaClass cabins, features luxuriously modern decor, soft lighting and a menu inspired by spa cuisine. Though the food does not seem overly healthful, the restaurant does feature smaller portions and dishes that are lighter than what you will typically find in the main dining room or buffet. Options include seafood ceviche, tortilla soup, pumpkin gnocchi and Hawaiian salmon. Blu also offers an excellent breakfast menu -- featuring yogurt parfaits, fruit smoothies and pancakes -- to AquaClass passengers. Suite passengers do have the option of dining at Blu if there is availability.
On the casual dining front, the Oceanview Cafe serves buffet-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There you'll find various carving stations, made-to-order omelets and pasta dishes, pizza and antipasti, and a slew of internationally inspired dishes, including everything from British bangers and mash to Indian curries and fee-free sushi. An ice cream bar sits at each entrance to the buffet. Complimentary treats include a selection of hand-scooped hard ice cream, freshly baked cookies and toppings like Reese's Pieces and Sour Patch Kids.
One surprising highlight of dining in Celebrity Summit's buffet is the view. The venue is spacious and features floor-to-ceiling windows all around. There are even "portholes" built into the floor so passengers can peer down into the ocean as they dine.
During the ship's refurbishment, Celebrity's Solstice-class creperie, Bistro on Five, was added to Celebrity Summit. The eatery, which has a $5-per-person fee, is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, making it a convenient option for passengers looking for something to nosh between meals and late at night. The menu features both sweet and savory crepes, along with wine by the glass, beer and cocktails. We were underwhelmed by the bacon, egg and cheese crepe, but the banana-nutella crepe (a popular choice) was tasty.
The Mast Grill is a poolside barbeque venue that serves up burgers, fries and hot dogs with traditional and gourmet toppings, including caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and assorted veggies. This option is open from lunchtime through the early evening hours.
Previously Cova Cafe, Cafe Al Bacio offers specialty Lavazza coffee beverages and house-made gelato (be sure to have yours in a freshly made waffle cone) for a fee, as well as complimentary pastries.
Free room service is available 24 hours a day and features standard breakfast pastries, sandwiches, burgers, salads and pizzas, though an expanded menu is available to Concierge-class and suite passengers. We tried breakfast in our cabin twice, but for the most part options were lacking, and the quality of what was available was inconsistent. We decided it was worth the extra effort to head down to the buffet for better-tasting, fresher food. We also tried a late-night pizza order, which again was disappointing -- it was reminiscent of frozen pizza that's been reheated a few too many times.
Of the 1,119 cabins aboard Celebrity Summit, more than 80 percent are outsides, and the majority of those have balconies. The ship features a number of suites, ranging from 1,432-square-foot penthouses to the considerably more petite 251-square-foot Sky Suites. Accessible cabins are available in all categories, including suites.
Summit's standard cabins, from the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, are well configured and neatly decorated with warm hues. Most inside and outside cabins come in at about 170 square feet, and balcony cabins range from the standard 170 square feet to around 191 square feet, with the balconies themselves measuring between 38 and 54 square feet. Each standard cabin -- including inside cabins -- has a sofa and sitting area, vanity and small coffee table. Storage options are fairly standard and include built-in wardrobes and some small shelves that are built into the cabin walls. There are additional under-sink storage bins in the bathroom of every cabin. Most balconies are simply furnished with basic lounge chairs and small tables.
All cabins include safes, phones with voice mail, hair dryers, use of bathrobes and mini-bars. All televisions are interactive, which allows passengers to view and select shore excursions, order room service and watch movies directly from their TV's. Provided toiletries include body wash, shampoo, conditioner and lotion by Elemis, the brand used in Celebrity's spas. Cabins feature two 110-volt outlets and two 220-volt outlets at the desks. Here's a tip: If you bring converter kits, you'll get more usable outlets for sundry electronics like laptops, digital cameras and cell phone chargers.
Summit's ConciergeClass cabins measure 191 square feet. Passengers who book these cabins receive a number of added perks, including a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, a pillow menu, daily fresh fruit, nightly hors d'oeuvres, use of binoculars, Hansgrohe shower heads and an expanded room service breakfast menu. Also included are priority check-in, priority embarkation and disembarkation at each port, shoe-shine service, a Celebrity Cruises tote bag and use of a golf umbrella and binoculars. In 2012, Celebrity expanded the ConciergeClass services to include an exclusive pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices.
At 195 square feet, AquaClass cabins are just slightly larger than the ConciergeClass cabins and offer many of the same perks, but also include daily complimentary bottles of Evian, freshly brewed iced tea and a personal spa concierge who is on hand to arrange spa treatments. Passengers booked in these cabins also have complimentary access to the spa-inspired Blu restaurant and the Persian Garden thermal suite, where they can use the aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms.
The most spacious balcony cabins -- those configured for families -- are about 271 square feet and boast impressive 242-square-foot balconies. The family balcony cabins each feature a "master" bedroom with a privacy partition, a queen-sized bed and two convertible sofas. Balconies are each furnished with two full-sized lounge chairs, a side table, two smaller lounge chairs and a small breakfast table.
For a nice splurge, there are four suite categories, ranging from the Sky Suites to the house-sized Penthouses. Sky Suites -- the smallest suites on Celebrity Summit at 251 square feet -- feature lounge chairs in the sitting areas and a VCR, in addition to all of the amenities found in standard cabins. Nearly twice as large as Sky Suites, each 467-square-foot Celebrity Suite has panoramic windows, a dining room, a glass-enclosed sitting area, two entertainment centers with VCR's or DVD players, a music center, a walk-in closet with vanity and a whirlpool bath tub. The 538-square-foot Royal Suites are similar to the Celebrity Suites, but they have balconies with whirlpool tubs and floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors instead of panoramic windows. The most luxurious accommodations on Celebrity Summit are the 1,432-square-foot Penthouse Suites, which each feature a foyer, a baby grand piano, a butler's pantry, motorized draperies with lights and a security system, two interactive entertainment systems and a wet bar, in addition to all of the amenities present in the other suite categories. Penthouses each have a master bedroom, complete with an extra dressing room and vanity, a powder room and a marble master bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower.
Suite passengers have access to all of the perks offered to Concierge-class passengers, in addition to butler service, priority tender service, full in-suite meal and afternoon tea services, complimentary in-suite espresso and cappuccino, preferred seating in the main dining room and specialty restaurants, complimentary shoe-shine service, delivery of requested boards games and an in-suite computer/printer (upon request in Sky Suites).
Celebrity Cruises is increasing its suggested gratuity by 50 cents per passenger/per day beginning on all bookings made on or after April 29 for all cruises that begin on or after the same day. The new suggested gratuity will be $12.00 per person/per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $12.50 per person/per day, if you're in a Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $15.50 per person/per day, for passengers in suites.
Celebrity Summit has a number of bars and lounges, including the revamped Revelations nightclub, which is located on Deck 11 forward and has three walls of floor-to-ceiling windows, making it a great spot for sunset views. It's also perfect for relaxing with a book during the quiet afternoon hours. The Rendezvous Lounge, just off the main dining room, is spacious, and you'll often find musical performers there pre-dinner and even mid-afternoon. Michael's Club, which was more of a traditional cigar bar in its previous incarnation, now has more of a pub atmosphere. There are a number of flat-screen televisions scattered about, and at the bar, you'll find more than 60 international and craft beers, along with high-end Scotch and whiskey.
Added during the ship's recent refurbishment, Crush Martini Bar is the place to be pre-dinner and between shows on any given night. Not only are the cocktails inventive, but the mixologists put on a show, mixing and serving up to a dozen drinks at once from stacked cocktail shakers. The vibe is swanky and passengers often arrive in crowds, dressed to impress and ready to socialize. Cellar Masters Wine Bar was also added during Summit's dry dock. Dimly lit and furnished with cozy couches and chairs, Cellar Masters offers a selection of for-fee tapas and wines from around the world. It even features Enomatic wine servers (like wine vending machines), where passengers can create their own tastings.
Fortunes is a smoke-free French-inspired casino, complete with 193 coinless slot machines, one craps table, several poker tables, two roulette tables and a number of blackjack tables.
Because of the ship's port-intensive itineraries, most activities do not get started until quite late. Poolside and outdoor events and performances generally start after 3 p.m. Shows in the ship's theater typically begin at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., but depending on the night (and that day's port of call), show times can be as late at 10:30 p.m. That means many of the other more upbeat nightlife options, including game shows and dance parties in Revelations nightclub, don't get started until 10:30 or later. Though late nights are not a problem when you can sleep in, we found this schedule to be a challenge for passengers who had to be up and off the ship early for in-port touring and shore excursions.
In addition to the late-night offerings, the ship features a number of musical acts -- including a Latin quartet, an a cappella group, a couple of soloists and a duet -- who perform in venues throughout the ship. However, these acts are definitely more subdued, and we found attendance to be lacking during many of their performances. We particularly enjoyed the talented guitarist/vocalist who performed in Cafe Al Bacio (also a popular space for mid-afternoon socializing and card games).
Celebrity's enrichment and activities program, called Celebrity Life, features culinary demonstrations and cooking competitions, wellness seminars, dance classes, navigation classes, technology classes and much more. Some of the most popular of these offerings are the events that involve the ship's crew, such as officers vs. guests pool volleyball, a crew talent show, lessons on navigation with the captain and "Dancing with the Stripes," a dance competition that pairs officers with passengers.
The ship's theater is glitzy and rich-feeling with rows of long velvet-covered sofas and small tables built into the floor between every pair of seats, making it much easier to finagle snacks and cocktails while taking in the nightly entertainment. Shows ranged from knee-slapping funny to almost unbearably cheesy. We particularly enjoyed the comedian but could have passed on the "burlesque show." Several of the Celebrity Life activities are also held there, including an "Iron Chef"-style cooking competition that teams passengers up with members of the ship's cooking staff.
Shore excursions are the standard island tours, guided shopping, snorkeling trips, beach visits and rainforest treks. Prices are in keeping with those of other mainstream cruise lines; however, Celebrity does offer sightseeing packages that combine excursions in each of the ports on the cruise itinerary and offer up to $40 in savings off individual bookings.
You'll never see the kids! The Fun Factory offers a puzzle wall, play area, computer games section, movie room and crafts area, plus a broadcast room and video game arcade. Tower is Celebrity Summit's teen club and disco. Participation in the kids' program is complimentary (with some exceptions) and is broken nicely into compatible age groups. "Toddler Time" (ages 3 and younger) requires parental accompaniment for children who are not yet potty-trained, and potty-trained children from ages 3 to 5 can join the "Shipmates" program. "Cadets" (6 to 8), "Ensigns" (9 to 11) and "Teens" (12 to 17) make up the balance of the groups. Age-appropriate activities are available for each, and trained counselors are in attendance. Facilities are open from 9 a.m. each morning, or half an hour prior to arriving in port for parents who are booked on cruise-line-sponsored shore excursions.
Activities include sports, crafts, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties, movie showings and more. LeapFrog interactive toys are available for use in the kids' facilities, or they can be checked out for private use. Video games and late-night dances are available for teen passengers.
All participants ages 3 to 8 must be signed in/out to the Fun Factory club by an adult older than 18, presenting a previously signed password for verification. Children ages 9 to 11 can sign themselves in and out of programs until 10 p.m., but an adult is required to sign them out of activities after 10 p.m. A slumber party is offered in the playroom every evening from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. A lunch party is available on port days from noon to 2 p.m., and a dinner party is available every evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Each of the three parties costs $6 per hour, per child. Pre-registration is required for lunch and dinner parties.
Limited, private in-room baby-sitting is available for children 12 months and older. The cost is $19 per hour for up to three children from the same family. Arrangements must be made 24 hours in advance through guest relations.
V.I.P. passes that allow unlimited access to all program activities are available. They offer 40 percent savings on all individual lunch, dinner and slumber parties, and children with V.I.P. passes will be given an exclusive goodie bag and will have access to exclusive activities, such as behind-the-scenes tours. Infants who sail must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for transatlantic, transpacific, select South America and other cruises, infants must be at least 12 months old.
Celebrity Summit's family accommodations are the largest of the balcony cabins, and they easily sleep a family of four. It's also worth noting that there is no dedicated kids' pool, and the ship's main pool is a lap pool that is generally from five to more than six feet deep, so it may not be suitable for younger children.
Celebrity Summit's passenger base is composed mostly of well-traveled, middle- and upper-middle-class Americans in the 45 - 65 age bracket. A good number of families can be found, particularly during the summer and holiday periods. On sailings out of San Juan, there are typically a large number of Spanish-speaking passengers onboard; however, you'll also find a sprinkling of Canadians and Europeans on any given sailing.
Depending on the destination, the dress is usually casual during the day and resort casual in the evening.
Expect one to three formal nights, depending on the length of the cruise; weeklong cruises have two. Formal nights find most of the ladies in cocktail dresses and pantsuits, while men typically wear suits and ties. On "Smart Casual" evenings, women wear nicer sundresses, and men wear slacks and button-down shirts.
There are casual dining options for those who choose not to dress up on formal nights; they include Oceanview Cafe -- the ship's buffet venue -- and Bistro on Five, a creperie.
|Fitness and Recreation|
The 25,000-square-foot AquaSpa by Elemis is one of the largest at sea, with a free thalassotherapy pool in a stunning space under a dome with pergolas, topiaries and a bronze by Fernando Botero. An AquaSpa Cafe serves light dishes for breakfast and lunch. Some 40 different Elemis therapies, massages, facials, wraps and scrubs are featured, including an Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt body treatment and a Thai Herbal Poultice Massage.
Celebrity also has a trained acupuncturist onboard Summit. In fact, it was one of the first lines to introduce the now-standard cruise spa option. Medi-spa cosmetic services, including Botox, Restylane and Perlane treatments, are also performed by licensed physicians aboard Celebrity Summit, and teeth-whitening treatments are available, as well.
A number of fitness and wellness seminars are offered daily; topics include youth-enhancing lifestyle tips, nutrition, weight loss, acupuncture and stress management.
The ship's oceanview beauty salon offers standard services for men and women, including haircuts, styling and color, as well as shaves, waxing services, manicures and pedicures.
The fitness center is spacious and features an abundance of cardio machines lined up in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, a selection of state-of-the-art strength training machines and free weights. Pilates, yoga and boot camp classes are offered for a fee of $12 per person, and Morning Stretch and Fab Abs classes are free of charge. Dance classes are also offered throughout each day, in different areas of the ship.
The ship's main resort area is complete with a pool for lap-swimming, Jacuzzis, a stage and a teak dance floor. A jogging track (five times around equals a little more than a mile) on Sunrise Deck passes by the Mast Bar and offers views of the pools below. A full-size basketball court and paddle tennis court are among the top-deck recreational facilities.
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