REVIEW: Celebrity Summit – a renovation to turn heads

Celebrity Summit is one of Celebrity’s older ships but thanks to her recent Celebrity Revolution makeover she certainly doesn’t feel it. We had the pleasure of sailing on her in October 2019 – come with us as we explore the Summit.

The cruise

Route map – click to enlarge

Our cruise started in on October 26th 2019 in San Juan (Puerto Rico) before sailing down to Basseterre (St. Kitts & Nevis), a day at sea, Oranjestad (Aruba), Willemstad (Curacao), Bonaire, a day at sea, and finishing back up in San Juan on November 2nd.

Though we’ve sailed the Royal Caribbean fleet extensively this would be our first sailing on Celebrity – Royal Caribbean’s higher-tier brand.

Embarkation in San Juan

Setting sail on a Celebrity cruise is nothing quite like anything we’ve experienced before.

Days before we left the UK we checked in online using the Celebrity Cruises mobile app. It asks you all the usual questions then asks you to take a couple of selfies. After this it gives you a QR code on your mobile device and you’re set.

When we arrived at the pier we showed this QR code to a waiting member of staff (of which there were many), who handed us an ‘Expedited Arrival’ card and pointed us towards the ship. We walked past some facial recognition cameras and straight onto the ship.

I set a stopwatch going on my phone when we pulled up in the taxi, we went from kerbside to being onboard and given our welcome drink in 8 minutes and 12 seconds. That is impressive. A far departure from our experience with MSC earlier in the year.

Once onboard we unlocked our stateroom with our mobile phone and our keycards were waiting for us on our bed.

First impressions of Celebrity Summit

The Summit entered service in 2001, so will be celebrating her 19th birthday in 2020 but thanks to her recent Celebrity Revolution renovation she really doesn’t look it.

Summit is a Millennium-class cruise ship weighing in at 90,940GT, measuring in at 294 metres long and having 11 passenger accessible decks. She is termed a ‘mid-size’ cruise ship at this point.

One of the first things to hit you about the Celebrity Summit is how much time and thought was put into the decor. Calming tones are highlighted with the odd flash of deep Atlantic blue, Caribbean azure and warm coral.

The carpets feel plush and new, everything smells new. A lot of money was spent on this makeover.

Our stateroom

For this sailing we opted for a ‘Grade 2C’ Balcony stateroom. We ended up with Stateroom 7047 which we were very happy with.

Unlike renovations on other cruise lines and ships Celebrity’s Revolution included each and every stateroom – stripping them back to the metal and starting again.

We found our stateroom spacious, airy, well appointed and thoughtfully designed. Again muted neutral tones were accented with flashes of sea blue and coral.

There was ample storage for two people on a week cruise, with space under the bed for our suitcases. Oh and the bed. That bed.

The new eXhale cashmere bed and bedding is without a shadow of a doubt the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in in my entire life – hands down. Everything breathed so comfortably that I was never too hot or too cold, the duvet was heavy enough to comfort but light enough to not bother you, even in the Caribbean heat. These beds have to be tried to be believed.

Our bathroom impressed also with a fresh new aesthetic. The walls were veneered with marble, the existing small shower (and dreaded curtain) were replaced with a larger glass shower cubicle with power shower head, and the storage provided was again – ample. The provided toiletries were also excellent.

Little things like a decent bathroom design can make all the difference to your enjoyment of a cruise stateroom. No-one wants to fight a shower curtain or be tripping over one-another.

Finally the balcony. Whilst it’s not the biggest I’ve ever had on a cruise it was a good size, enough for two loungers and a small table. The balcony furniture was all brand new (it still had tags on) and this perfect space gave us the best way possible to say good morning and good night to the Caribbean islands we were visiting.

That was the view we woke up to in Basseterre. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Bars and Lounges

As mentioned earlier the Summit is a smaller, mid-size, ship. But she still has plenty to offer when it comes to drinking and entertainment venues.

The Martini Bar on Deck 4 is the place to go for hand-crafted cocktails and a chilled atmosphere. Chilled being the operative word, cocktails are served in iced glasses and on a bar covered in ice. At night this space transforms into a more lively space with house and EDM being played by a resident DJ.

Deck 4 is also home to the Rendezvous Lounge where you’ll find a wide array of champagne and gin based cocktails served along live music and entertainment – such as the daily trivia quizzes and classes.

On Deck 5 you’ll find Cellar Masters, Celebrity’s wine & whiskey bar, as well as Café Al Bacio the ship’s speciality coffee bar.

Café Al Bacio

Moving up through the ship we find The Pool Bar midship on Deck 10. Here you can grab any number of refreshing beverages and frozen cocktails to help you survive the Caribbean sun.

We’d like to give a special thank you to Didi at the Pool Bar. She was our favourite bartender onboard and as soon as she saw us coming she mixed up some new creation she wanted us to try out.

Heading all the way back through the ship on Deck 10 you’ll find the Sunset Bar. This bar, previously called the Oceanview Bar, is an incredible open space at the aft of the ship for morning coffees and sunset champagnes alike. Spanning the whole width of the ship you’re guaranteed an excellent view wherever you sit.

Sunset bar whilst docked in St. Kitts. Click to play.

Our only suggestion to Celebrity would be that the space could use an extendable/retractable awning for the middle of the day when the Caribbean heat & sun is so intense the space becomes difficult to use.

Going up one more floor to Deck 11 and at midship you’ll find the second pool bar, The Mast Bar, which overlooks the pool area and is surrounded by chairs and cosy private cabanas. We really enjoyed grabbing a drink from here and finding a cabana or heading to the Rooftop Terrace space to relax or watch a movie on the big screen.

Finally, heading all the way forward on Deck 11 will take you to the Revelations Lounge which is the Summit’s observation lounge and late night disco/nightclub.

We spent many an evening up here having a martini before dinner, or enjoying some late night dancing with our new found cruisemates. This is also where you’ll find top-tier and loyalty events hosted.

Complimentary Dining

Onboard the Summit you’ve a handful of complimentary dining options – these are included in your base cruise fare.

  • Cosmopolitan Dining Room is the main dining room (MDR) and is split across the aft of Decks 4 & 5. This large open space has views across the wake of the ship and saw a massive overhaul in the renovation work. This venue is open for breakfast, lunch (on sea days), and evening meals. Our food was excellent, everything was piping hot and served exactly as requested.
  • Oceanview Cafe is the ship’s buffet up at Deck 10 aft. With indoor and outdoor seating this venue is perfect whether you’ve planned a day by the pool or a morning watching Alaskan glaciers. The buffet is open around the clock serving international fare. Our favourites included the Eggs Benedict station at breakfast, and the free ice cream bar.
  • The Pool Grill out on Deck 10 serves up freshly cooked burgers, hotdogs and fries around the clock. We stopped here a few times and were never disappointed. Burgers are cooked up fresh for you, and then there’s a massive selection of toppings you can add yourself.
  • The Spa Café is neatly tucked away in the ships warm and cosy Solarium area, this small counter offers healthier fare than most with a variety of small tapas like plates such as smoked salmon plates, Caprese salads, and fresh fruit bowls. If you’re feeling a little weighed down by the large portions onboard maybe take a little light lunch at the Solarium.
  • Café Al Bacio is the ship’s speciality coffee shop but they also serve up a selection of delicious cakes, pastries, cookies and sweet treats which change every day. We went back most days to find out what the cake of the day was.
  • Blu is a dining venue exclusive to AquaClass passengers and serves up healthy alternatives to the main dining room. You can find blue up on Deck 5 adjacent to the main dining room.

Speciality Dining

There are three speciality dining venues onboard Celebrity Summit. These venues charge an extra fee for dining at them. In the case of Tuscan Grille and QSine it’s a one off cover fee, for Sushi on 5 it’s a la carte. Find out more about speciality dining here.

  • Tuscan Grille is Celebrity’s signature Italian steak house. Tucked away on Deck 3 the this venue serves up both mouthwatering steaks and delicious fresh pasta dishes. We dined here once on our cruise and were pretty pleased with our choices.

    We started with beef carpaccio, fried calamari and sticky belly pork. Whilst the carpaccio and calamari were excellent the belly pork was a let down – it was too chewy and the flavouring had just been daubed on at the end.

    For mains I had the 14oz ribeye, whilst Jimmy had the 9oz filet mignon – both perfectly cooked. On the side we had polenta fries, lobster pasta, tenderstem broccoli and garlic spinach.
  • QSine. Where to start with Qsine? It was originally introduced by Celebrity as an epicurean adventure. Food from around the world was ordered from your iPad and delivered to your table in tiny exciting ways – like a set of drawers filled with deserts, or a smoking martini glass with lobster balls.

    Unfortunately that seems to have changed over the years, and with Celebrity phasing out QSine for their new concept ‘Le Petit Chef’ a lot of the magic had been dispensed with by the time we made it onboard.

    The food was well cooked and delicious, we loved the sushi pops and the spring roll selections, but the tiny portions and presentation had been replaced with big plates and big portions. When we asked we were told “it’s what the American customers want”.

    So whilst we enjoyed the food it wasn’t quite the epicurean adventure we were after. We look forward to seeing what Le Petit Chef has to offer when it replaces QSine on Celebrity ships across the fleet in the coming months.
  • Sushi on 5 is Celebrity’s onboard Sushi and Japanese style restaurant. Located on Deck 5 it has great ocean views from the atrium windows. Whilst we didn’t dine here we heard great things about the fresh sushi and hand-rolls from our fellow cruise mates. Something we need to check out next time we’re onboard.

Entertainment and Leisure

Being a slightly older mid-sized ship the Summit may not have all the bells and whistles of newer megaships. She doesn’t for example have ice-skating rinks or go-karting tracks but there’s still plenty to do onboard.

  • Pools & Hot Tubs. Summit has two ample pools. One on the main pool deck and one in the all weather Solarium. There are also six decent sized hot-tubs for soaking your bones after a long day exploring onshore. There were also the usual selection of poolside activities such as dance lessons and bellyflop competitions.
  • Sunbathing. We never had an issue finding somewhere to sunbathe on Summit even on sea days. Sure some of the more popular locations, like poolside, were already taken but there were plenty of loungers for everyone and fresh towels delivered to each one of them.
  • Celebrity Theatre is the Summit’s main entertainment venue. There were several shows on throughout the week, we managed to catch their musical revue titled ‘Life’. This show was fairly light on the plot but we enjoyed the modern music, set design and dancing.
  • Fortune’s Casino. Myself and Jimmy aren’t really gamblers, but I do love the buzz of a casino. We popped by here a few times to see everyone enjoying themselves, and grab a drink at the Casino Bar.
  • Activities. Cruise director Rich had a wonderful team of entertainment staff who kept everyone busy the whole cruise. A special shout out to Kyle and Nacho who hosted the daily trivia competitions which got pretty fierce – I even won a medal. I was also pleased to see plenty of LGBT specific activities planned – including an LGBT brunch on our sea day.
  • Fitness Centre. If the constant eating and drinking is worrying you maybe grab a pair of sneakers and head to the onboard fitness centre. You can jog off that jamón or run off that roulade whilst enjoying the sea views.
  • Canyon Ranch Spa & Persian Gardens. Is relaxation more your thing? The Summit has a full service spa with hundreds of different treatments available – including a hair & nail salon. The onboard Persian Gardens offer a whole host of ways to relax & rejuvenate including aromatherapy steam rooms, rain showers, infrared saunas and salt therapy.
  • Shopping. There’s plenty of retail therapy to be found onboard the Summit with retail boutiques offering everything from earrings to t-shirts to iPads. The stores are only open when the ship is at sea.

Final thoughts

This was our first cruise with Celebrity so we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. We were concerned we’d be out of place being in our early thirties but we fit right in. We thought we’d run out of things to do on a smaller older ship but we we always busy. You can see the Royal Caribbean DNA in Celebrity Cruises – it’s just been taken up to another level.

The service we received onboard was nothing short of excellent. Everyone went above and beyond to ensure we had an unforgettable cruise vacation. Nothing was ever too much for the Summit’s excellent staff.

The Celebrity Revolution renovation really has given the Summit a new lease of life from the staterooms to the solarium everything looks incredible. Well, nearly everything. We noticed CellarMasters hadn’t been updated in the recent works and stood out with its dated design I assume, like QSine, there are plans for this space which aren’t ready for prime time yet and they’ll get rebuilt in the near future.

Who would be recommend a Celebrity Cruise to? Pretty much anyone who is looking for relaxation, great drinks and great food. Regardless of your age there’s something for you onboard.

I know that Jimmy and I will certainly be booking another Celebrity Cruise in the future. I hope to see you onboard.

If this was interesting to you consider sharing it using the buttons below. Have you sailed on on Celebrity Summit? What do you think of her new look? Got a question I haven’t answered here? Feel free to leave a comment, or contact me on twitter at @CruisingWithTom or Instagram at @TomLovesCruising

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ron & Jon says:

    We were quite relieved to see your review and comments , being a male couple who will be boarding the Summit in a couple of weeks for a b2b2b to get away from our Canadian winter. We haven’t sailed Celebrity for ions and wondered how accepting the ship was to your presence as a male couple. Any comment?

    1. Hey Ron & Jon!

      We felt very comfortable on Celebrity Summit as a gay couple. We held hands, dressed up for dinner, the odd kiss etc. Everyone was lovely. The cruise director, Rich, is gay himself and his staff are wonderful also. You’ll love it. 🙂

  2. Mike Trinder says:

    Great review and nicely put together.
    Lots of great photos with excellent commentary to go along side.
    Sadly, we are moving away from Celebrity at moment, we have adored all our S class cruises but since they have revolutionised them and changed their pricing structure they are no longer a good fit for us. We do have one cruise booked on Solstice next April around Japan but may cancel because of rescheduling other cancelled trips. I will never discount Celebrity but they are not hooking us at the moment.

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