Celebrity Summit is a Millennium class cruise ship that entered service in 2001. At 91,000 gross tons, she is at the lower end of the medium-size range of cruise ships.
Summit was an innovative cruise ship when she entered service. She has a gas turbine power plant and pod propulsion. While the former innovation failed to become the industry standard because of the rising price of the type of gas that is used with turbines, the latter is now used on the majority of cruise ships.
In general, Summit has been well-maintained and has been upgraded during various refits through the years. However, numerous rust spots were visible on the balconies and exterior areas, which if left unattended, could cause problems in the future.
Summit had to cruise at 22 knots on some legs of the voyage, which is near her top speed of 24 knots. The ship handled these runs without significant motion or vibration.
When Summit entered service, she was as innovative on the inside as she was mechanically. A highlight was her Normandie specialty restaurant, which had panels and artifacts from the legendary ocean liner Normandie. Other artifacts from Normandie can be found in New York's Metropolitan Museum. Sadly, the panels were removed during a refit in 2015 in which the Normandie restaurant became the Tuscan Grill.
Unaffected by this change was the crown jewel of Summit's art collection - - a statue that had graced the dining room on Normandie. It stood in Summit's main dining room. In a move that is akin to wall papering over Da Vinci's “Last Supper” or installing a drop ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, this artwork has now been removed from Summit. In its place is a décor reminiscent of an uninspired three-star restaurant.
The remainder of Summit's public areas have been similarly debased. Where once there was inspiration, now there is mind-numbing corporate design. The driving force behind this is to make Summit look like the newer ships in Celebrity's fleet. However, such fleet-wide uniformity underestimates the public, especially the more culture-oriented cruisers that are Celebrity's target market.
A more positive move was the refurbishment of the cabins. The new earth color décor gives the cabins a fresh look. Of particular success was the upgrade of the bathrooms, which although small, do look luxurious.
Summit has three dining rooms. Luminae is the top of the line restaurant for guests staying in certain suite categories. Blu is for Aqua Class guests. The Cosmopolitan is the main dining room and is for all other guests.
The Cosmopolitan has two levels. The upper level is not used at breakfast or lunch while the lower level is used for breakfast, lunch (sea days only) and dinner. For dinner, the lower level is for guests who have selected Celebrity's flexible dining system while the upper level is for guests on the traditional two-seating dining system. Probably as a result of the general preference among cruisers for come-when-you-want dining, the lower level seems more crowded than the upper level. (The crowding in the Cosmopolitan is also probably attributable to the fact that more cabins have been added to the ship over the years and both Luminae and Blu were carved out of the original main dining room, which left less space in the main dining room).
The food in the Cosmopolitan was a step above the average cruise ship food. However, the portions seemed to be smaller than average cruise ship portions. I particularly liked the salmon fillet, which appeared on the menu each night.
Summit has three specialty venues: the Tuscan Grill, Sushi on Five and Qsine, which is now a sea going version of Le Petit Chef. There is also a Chef's Table option. The entrance to the Tuscan Grill has been moved aft to where the conference center was originally. (Additional cabins have been put in where the old entrance was). Qsine is located at the top of the ship where the florist shop used to be.
I was very impressed by the meal I had in the Tuscan Grill. The menu combines both steakhouse and Italian favorites. These were cooked as ordered and were quite tasty. The portions were also large.
Summit's buffet restaurant was also above average. At lunch, it had a good variety of Indian, Italian and Latin offerings as well as salads and desserts. Also quite good was the pizza, which always seemed freshly made. However, the highpoint of the venue is the ice cream shop, which provides complimentary ice cream (cones or bowls plus toppings) in a variety of flavors. This venue was quite popular.
Cafe Al Bacio offers extra-tariff gelato as well as complimentary pastries and muffins. This is in addition to the specialty coffee offerings. It too was very popular.
The service throughout Summit was quite good. The officers and crew were friendly and willing to go the extra-mile for special requests. This attitude very much enhances the cruise experience.
The attitude of the crew may be surprising in as much as gratuities are now included in the cruise fare on Summit. Thus, one may well wonder what is the incentive for the staff to be friendly and willing to serve?
While the crew attitude may be attributable to the staff being nice people, there is also an economic incentive. Nothing prevents guests from giving an additional tip for good service and I along with many other guests did so.
Celebrity also includes a drinks package in the cruise fare. For this cruise, the vast majority of guests also seem to have gotten a premium drinks package as a free perk for booking the cruise.
With regard to wine, the premium package gave you access to some tolerable wines. They were not great but they were not bad either.
As a practical matter, the number of drinks one can have with the packages is limited by the number of bartenders and waiters. At peak hours, it takes awhile to get a drink because there are not enough waiters and bar tenders to fulfill the drink requests in a timely fashion.
The premium drinks package also includes specialty coffees and they were enjoyable.
Another included item is the basic internet package. While we do not expect it to be the same as on land, this internet connection was subject to frequent disconnections and was often insufficient to do such things as download the photographs attached to texts. In our experience, the basic package connection was below average for a cruise ship. The premium package was quite expensive and did not receive glowing reviews from the passengers I spoke with about it.
Celebrity Cruises was once known for the quality of its programming. At one point, “Celebrity Life” had enrichment lectures by speakers selected by the Smithsonian Institute, classes on computers by Apple, and talks on healthy living. The thinking was that modern luxury also demanded food for the mind.
On this cruise, the programming was very much the same as on mass market cruise ships. There were no speakers from the Smithsonian etc. What talks there were were by staff whose agenda was to sell you something. A featured activity was the “Deal or No Deal” game, which is often part of the programming on Norwegian Cruise Line. Apparently, the thinking about what constitutes luxury has changed.
Celebrity was also once known for innovative entertainment. There were echoes of this in the main production show of the voyage, which featured some impressive work by aerialists. However, most nights the entertainment in the theater revolved around people singing either solo, in pairs or in groups. The one comedian did several different shows.
While one might conclude from the above that this was not a good cruise, I actually found it quite pleasant to be aboard. The ports were more than interesting, the weather was good, and it was pleasant to sit on the balcony or in the comfortable stateroom reading or napping. It was nice to be able to have a drink or something to eat without having to think about the cost. The service-oriented attitude of the crew also made for a pleasant environment. Compared to the Celebrity of the past, this voyage was disappointing but overall it was a good cruise.
Cruise ship review - - Celebrity Cruises - - Celebrity Summit - - Bermuda, Charleston and Newport (Part Two)