December 2016 - Celebrity Summit to Caribbean - Southern
This was our 6th Celebrity Cruise but our first on a millenium class boat, the Summit. Recently refurbished per our sales agent, Danielle Smith, we chose this for the offer that included Bigger Better Best - at a great price in Aqua Class AND because there were ports of call that we had not visited previously. Over the last several months, I've nervously been checking the cruise reviews and noticed a lot of complaints about wear and tear and shabbiness. Not the case, people. This boat is NOT the Solstice but it is not the RCCL Brilliance either. Still elegant and classy and well maintained. There are some quirks to getting around the boat due to the Solstice features they've instituted but it's very doable and very beautiful.
BUT the standout thing about the Summit is her crew. Captain Kate is really truly an engaging person and her apparent love of her job trickles down to every crew member on board. Our traveling companions agree that this was the most friendly service oriented crew top to bottom that we've ever experienced (they are Elite Plus and travel mostly on Solstice boats). Our BLU dining staff was excellent. Thank you Wilmer and Param for such good service and the little touches that made our days. Our cabin steward, Seahu, was always prepared to make our day a little better with ice on the ready when we returned from excursions and extra towels.
Things to know about the Summit if you're Solstice"ized". The Persian Garden is different. There are no lounge type chairs to rest your tired bones on. It's a semi-circle bench that is heated but it is different. The Canyon Ranch services are nice (pricey). We both got deep tissue massages and they were great. I used the hydrotherapy tub ($49 for 30 minutes of soaking in a jetted tub with a hydrating lotion after ---heaven) and the Sultans Bath Steam room. With only 1 sea day, it was a little difficult to fit as much time in at the Persian Garden as I would have liked but we made it work. There is no Lawn Club Grille which is our favorite and we don't enjoy Qsine without a large group so no specialty dining for us this time. The outdoor movie area is really kind of nice. Try it if you can fit it in as the viewing times were a little odd.
Dining in Blu was still good, although there were a couple of nights where we looked at the menu and could not find anything on the main entrees tempting enough (Tuesday and Friday). Lamb and Pheasant were not popular choices in our group. But the food was still delicious and interesting. The portions are small but plentiful if you would like to try more than one. I did not find the pasta dishes or salad entrees worth ordering this time. I have not been in Blu for two cruises now and this menu was definitely a little harder to find something that you said YES YES YES with the exception of filet and lobster night (Sunday and Thursday). But BLU for breakfast is still a #1 option. Good choices, cooked to order, with things not offered at the Ocean View.
Speaking of the Ocean View, in this particular itinerary, Celebrity did keep the pasta bar opened past 3 (where they opened the high tea items) but with MANY of the excursions returning between 2:30 and 3:00 it would have been nice to have other options than pizza, pasta and hamburgers. I know it seems petty as those are great options in most cases. The food in Ocean View was consistently good. I love the change to the pizza where they are making the crust now. It improved the pizza 10 fold. Not to be missed is the lunch where the Chef's display the dessert bizarre. it was fabulous to look at if not eat.
Entertainment on this boat was a mixed bag. The comedian was funny and enjoyable. Divas 3 was a little too stiff although they were hugely talented. The "thru the films" cast show was good but not enough to make us return for the follow up show. However, the live entertainment, include Michael Redden in particular was great. He was on Silhouette in January and we were happy to see him back on board this trip.
Ports were interesting, although I do not like the new docking port in St. Thomas that requires you to take a taxi to get to the downtown area. More on ports below.
One more note on the itinerary. We had 1 sea day. On Friday, we heard many people saying they could use another sea day or were surprised we were headed home without a travel sea day. The distance between these islands doesn't merit one - in fact, many evenings after debarking port, it felt like we were standing still in the ocean just off shore as they are so close together.
This was not my absolute favorite ship, but the staff and the itinerary made it definitely one of my top 5 cruises.