Just back from 7 wonderful days on Celebrity Summit. Not so much a comprehensive review, but more a collection of thoughts and impressions.
First time on a Millennium Class Ship, and I certainly liked a lot of aspects of it. It is true that as you move through the ship, you do feel more “connected to the sea” than on the larger ships. So many views of the water. Most striking in the Ensemble lounge with large windows on both sides.
We were in a Penthouse Suite, which was FABULOUS. Was originally booked in a Royal but saw a price drop and figured why not. The room is beautiful and absurdly spacious. The main living space is almost stupid. A giant table that seats 8 people, a sectional than can comfortably seat six or more. Yeah, we were a couple traveling on our own, no other travel companions in our room or on the ship! As nice as that living room was, it was simply underutilized.
The outdoor space is what really makes the penthouse. The wraparound after terrace with more seating options than you can imagine made it workable that there was almost always both sun and shade available.
Another real treat of the penthouse? The well-stocked kitchen. Per our request when the concierge reached out in advance, we had both vodka and bourbon. The fridge was stocked with juices and soda water. After a request to our butler, we also received and were kept stocked with sparkling water, beer, white wine, and rum. Of course, there was never a charge for any of this. Afternoon canapes were surprisingly good and varied. And being able to put a cheese or shrimp plate in our fridge never left us wondering how long it had been at room temperature when we returned to our room.
Lastly, to be able to put the room service breakfast order on our door with a note “please just leave in kitchen”, meant when we woke up in the morning, we open the kitchen door and JACKPOT, coffee and whatever else we wished for was just sitting there waiting.
I don’t know if would spend the money for the penthouse again, but it was certainly worthwhile once. If I had to make any critiques of the penthouse, and it’s a reach, it would be the hot tub on deck. It’s the original tub (not replaced in the dry dock), and it’s small. For the amount of space, it would be so nice to see a real, full size always filled jacuzzi. Truth be told, the only time we filled it, we didn’t even make it “hot”, but rather cooler like a pool for cooling off when sunning on the terrace. But it’s barely big enough for one person. It would be so nice to have a full sized, always full and filtered tub ready to go instead. But again, this is really splitting hairs.
Overall the ship is beautiful. I have been on a number of ships after a drydock. I’ve never been on one that felt this completely new. It’s in great shape and very little reveals its actual age.
Having sailed more on larger vessels, solstice class, QM2, Oasis and Freedom Class on Royal, and Breakaway on NCL, the ship did feel just slightly more limited. There weren’t as many “spaces”, and those that were there were hit or miss. The Sky Lounge is as oddly snake bitten on this ship as all the others. Three visits found it either virtually closed or so unpopulated that there was no energy. Perhaps it’s the somewhat removed nature of the location, I’m really not sure. But I haven’t really seen them thriving on any ship.
The Ensemble Lounge and Cellar Masters are two very nice spaces with a puzzling and oft found Celebrity oddity: They are soooooo DARK! Walk into either venue after dusk and you almost need a flashlight. I recall this same oddity on Solstice Class outside of Murano. It’s almost comical. But on more than one occasion, looking for a place for a cocktail before dinner, my wife and I walked in and she said, “if I sit here and have a glass of wine, I’m going to want to go to sleep!”. In contrast, the Martini Bar is of course bright and lively. But also tends to be quite crowded. Although to their credit, the servers there are the best on the ship and the wait is never long to be served.
Luminae was fabulous, both food and service. We ate there every night except for Tuesday when we dined in Tuscan Grille with the Captain (more later). It was also nice to be able to view and order from the main dining menu. It is my understanding this is not possible on Edge Class, as Luminae is geographically removed from The Main Dining Room. I don’t think it would be a deal breaker not to have that option (I would say 75% of what we ordered was Luminae), but it was nice to have the option.
One of the treats of Luminae is that it is a calm Oasis. All too often cruise dining is a little loud. As good as the food and service may be in the MDR, it’s just hard to keep the noise from overpowering. As such, my one negative experience on Luminae was the night they allowed a group of ELEVEN. The set them up at a long table in the middle of the room- four on one side, five on the other, and one at each end. It appeared to be an extended family ranging from seventies to one young girl maybe five. This was made worse by the child’s mother, and clearly the self-appointed “mama bear” of the entire group. She of course sat right in the middle, and instead of putting her young daughter next to her, she placed her across from her. As a result, the entire meal was a “wall of words” from mama bear either instructing or correcting her daughter or doing the same with everyone else at the table. It was insane- 45 minutes from the time they walked in until we left, and I swear to God, I don’t think I could once count to five without hearing her talk. I was still hearing her in my sleep that night! LOL! Look I get it. When you’re traveling as a group, it’s great to have dinner together, but this just isn’t the place. Frankly, my best experience in large groups IS the Main Dining Room. A table of two or four can feel lost in the crown there, but a table of twelve kind of commands the room, and I find it a great experience. Perhaps on newer ships they would have a more ideal special space (think if of the private room in Murano on Solstice Class). But at some point, the cruise line really should say “no”. Putting that party in the middle of that room, totally changed the experience for everyone.
We were invited to dinner with the captain on Tuesday evening in Tuscan Grille. It was three couples and captain Matthaios Karandreas. He was a very friendly and sincerely engaging gentleman and we had a wonderful time. The other guests were the couple in the other penthouse and a couple of “top cruisers”. All very friendly and a lovely evening.
Perhaps the real treat of meeting the captain was the invite he extended to us the next day. My wife and I were invited to the navigational bridge for sail away from Barbados. I have been on bridges a number of times, but it’s usually on a sea day. To have virtual “free reign” to walk anywhere on the bridge and observe everything as we made our way out of a very TIGHT position in Barbados was an extraordinary experience. Watching him work with the local pilot and his crew on this complicated maneuver was fascinating. And experience I won’t forget!
Overall, the crew, service and experience were exactly what my wife and I were looking for. As one would expect, the ship was almost entirely adults (I at 45 and my wife at 39 were amongst the younger couples on board). But it certainly didn’t feel like an “old” crowd. Lively, fun and energetic. But I say probably less than ten kids, and not a single teenager on board.
Ports were fine: St. Thomas, St. Maartin, Dominica, Barbados and Grenada. It was a treat to have five ports, so the ship never was that busy on deck. And sailing out of San Juan might be my new favorite, as it means you’re already in the Southern Caribbean. No risking two days of rough cold seas to get there!
Overall awesome and I’ll answer any questions I can.
Still hearing mama bear cackle her way through dinner!....