May 2016 - 7 Night Bermuda (Cape Liberty Roundtrip) Cruise on Celebrity Summit
We choose this cruise for its destination, Bermuda and the three full days in Bermuda. The ship was much smaller than we were accustomed too, but overall the quality of the staff and excellent service made up for the size of the ship. I do hope Captain Kate remains on the Summit, as her dedication to excellence certainly sets the standard for the rest of the staff. From speaking with others that have sailed the same ship and itinerary, there was a marked improvement in everything on board during the May 2016 sailing. I suspect Captain Kate will preside over a much larger vessel soon, but I would hope she might stay for a bit.
We really enjoyed the cruise despite some minor aggravations. It was so easy to get to Bayonne. You drive into a circle and off-load your luggage and then go to park your car, just about 500 steps away. Lines moved quickly to check in and we were onboard with parking and all in about 40 minutes. For first time cruisers, you can board as early as 10:30 - 11AM. Cabins were ready by 1 pm and luggage arrived well before mandated safety drill at 3:15 pm. Debarkation was just as well organized and we were on the road by 8:30 am. All passengers are off the ship on debarkation day by 9:30 AM.
The food in the Main Dining Room was good overall. A few meals were a bit salty, but presentation was great. A bit confusing with all the staff as bar runner came to take premium water order, a another person comes to take wine order, then there is an assistant waiter who was nonexistent for most meals and then the head waiter. On Lobster night in the main dining room, Friday evening, there was a long wait even with a reservation, yet many open tables....seemed to be an off night.
Though some previous reviewers did not like the shows, we thought they were excellent. One needs to be reminded how much work the singers and dancers put into their routines and just sit back to enjoy with a drink. The two comedians were both outstanding and I think the offensive comedian mentioned in earlier 2016 reviews was replaced. Each show was about an hour which was perfect to allow you to enjoy a bit more of the offerings in the evening. Shows were at 7 pm and 9 pm. Do arrive a bit early for good seating. Lots of folks saving seats which was annoying.
The Martini bar is a popular hangout area and the staff is attentive and so friendly. As others have mentioned, Cafe Al Bacio is not to be missed. Great comfortable chairs and area to enjoy a second coffee in the morning and a late night dessert. We skipped desert after dinner and went to the cafe in the late evening. Many folks were confused about pastries and cookies at the cafe, there is NO charge for them. There is a charge for some premium beverages, if you don't have the upgraded drink package and there is a charge for the gelato of approx $4.75 per serving. Cafe is open until Midnight most every evening.
The adult solarium is quite lovely, but wish pool butlers did a better job of enforcing adults only. Even when mentioned to pool staff, they just walked away and did nothing. Seating is a premium in the solarium on ship days in the morning. Even after getting up at 6:30 AM there were only a few chaises left.......need to add more seating on starboard side. Seats were open for late afternoon relaxing in the solarium. Chairs on deck 10/11 were scarce as the ship was at full capacity.
Our biggest aggravation was the smoking area located on deck 10, right next to pool bar and smoke came into port side solarium when ever door opened for someone to enter. Also a nice bar with great staff on deck 11, but again port side was open for smoking so that bar off limits depending on how the wind was blowing. I think these areas need to be relocated, especially on deck 10 as it was sickening when at pool bar or on port side of deck 10. The smoking area on deck 10 in under a canopy and smoke lingers there.
Gym facilities and spa locker rooms were nice, not sure why gym was kept at a high temperature when folks are working out. Several folks did not go back to gym due to high temps and it was not in the heat of the summer, so do insist they regulate the temp. We found the staff in the gym to be the least desirable with no attempt to smile or assist.
We paid a premium price to use the persian garden and will NOT do that again. On first day we signed up at a cost of $83 a pp with gratuity. There was no offer to us for a three day pass at only $50 but we found it in our room, after we got into our cabin. Three day pass would have been perfect for the three sea days. Also, lots of folks were using heated bench and steam rooms and didn't pay, so we were a lot disappointed with the hard sell on arrival when touring on Sunday! Do not pay for this service for all seven days, unless you plan to stay on board while in Bermuda.
It is easy to book tours directly when in bermuda and many folks waited until they got off the ship to book a tour OR waited to see what weather would be like OR just navigated around on their own. Read everything you can about Bermuda and make your own arrangements. We paid a high price for a sunset sail which was offered directly through Rising Son or through the cruise ship. This sunset sail was not at all worth it, no narrated tour of the island and in fact we never left the area where the ship was. The ship was in full view at all times so we just floated a bit and had some rum swizzles. You could see the same sunset from the ship. It was billed as a 2 hour sail, but there was no sailing. We left late at 7:45 and returned early at 9:15 and found the captain Steve to be less than professional as he told folks what things to avoid for excursions which I found quite unprofessional. He would not want others saying that about his tour, yet he listed 3-4 tours to avoid. It was a total turnoff for a native boy from Bermuda.(or so he claims, but I question his status)
This was our first time cruising Celebrity and we enjoyed our cruise immensely. I do think Captain Kate set the tone for the service on this ship, so not sold yet that overall Celebrity is any better than other lines, but the summit with Captain Kate in charge was terrific. We booked again for next May to go back to Bermuda.