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Turtles06

Two weeks in Canada & New England on the revolutionized Summit: my review with photos

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My wife and I have recently returned from the 14-day New England/Canada cruise aboard the “revolutionized” Summit that departed Cape Liberty on September 8, 2019.  This was our fifth cruise on Celebrity, and our second on an M-class ship.  We sailed on the Infinity back in 2013, and she was fairly worn and in need of updating back then, so we were very much looking forward to seeing what the “revolution” had brought to the Summit.  In the posts that follow, I will give my thoughts about the ship (including food, dining, entertainment, etc.), as well as the itinerary, and of course I’ll be happy to answer any questions that I can.

 

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(the Summit anchored in Bar Harbor, by turtles06)

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Overall, I thought the Summit looked fresh, lovely, and elegant.  I liked the new color tones (perhaps that makes me a grey person 😊), and the public spaces.  I liked that Celebrity left the theatre physically as it was, with those comfortable two-person cushions and small glass drink tables in the lower rows.  (Beats the S-class theatres hands down.)  In particular, I loved that Celebrity has gotten rid of the high school cafeteria line in the buffet in favor of separate islands and stations, much like the S-class ships.  To me, the original buffet layout was a major negative of the M-class ships.   The Summit’s new buffet layout makes the ship a worthy rival for the S-class.

 

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There are now handwashing stations in the buffet, another great addition to the ship; unfortunately, almost no one was using them.  I’m pretty much Lady Macbeth when it comes to handwashing, especially when I’m confined on a boat with thousands of other people and their germs.   Having a crew member squirting Purell on passengers prior to their entering the buffet rather than directing them to the sinks (which were sort of hidden behind signs anyway) defeated the purpose of having the sinks there in the first place.  Having installed the handwashing stations, I think Celebrity needs to do a better job of encouraging people to use them.

 

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(the most underutilized sinks in the world)

 

Let me get the following out of the way before moving on to the happier parts of our cruise.  There’s one major change brought about by the “revolution” that I really don’t like –  the fact that Celebrity has taken the only forward-facing exterior deck and turned it into the Retreat Sundeck, restricted to suite passengers.  I have no problem with suite guests having their own restaurant, lounge, and similar facilities, but there’s no space on the Summit (or other Celebrity ships) equivalent to that exterior deck.  For folks like me who love the ocean and cruise to be connected to the water, it’s an important public space; I like to have that forward view during sailaways and sail-ins (especially for photography), and just generally when we are at sea.  To cordon off an open deck this way feels like the creation of second-class citizenship, a return to the era of the Titanic.  This was a big turnoff for me.    

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(photos by turtles06)

 

 

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Following along, doing a similar cruise next year, wondering about the changing leaves.  Thank you

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27 minutes ago, Turtles06 said:

My wife and I have recently returned from the 14-day New England/Canada cruise aboard the “revolutionized” Summit that departed Cape Liberty on September 8, 2019.  This was our fifth cruise on Celebrity, and our second on an M-class ship.  We sailed on the Infinity back in 2013, and she was fairly worn and in need of updating back then, so we were very much looking forward to seeing what the “revolution” had brought to the Summit.  In the posts that follow, I will give my thoughts about the ship (including food, dining, entertainment, etc.), as well as the itinerary, and of course I’ll be happy to answer any questions that I can.

 

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(the Summit anchored in Bar Harbor, by turtles06)

Welcome back. It was a great cruise. We had a blast. We thought Celebrity should have updated Cellar Masters during the revolution. Other than that we were very pleased how the Summit looked post revolution, especially the MDR.

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Following too, looking forward to reading this, in preparation for our similar cruise in August 2020. 

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20 minutes ago, silkismom said:

Following along, doing a similar cruise next year, wondering about the changing leaves.  Thank you

 

As we knew going in, we were too early for the Fall colors.  We did have great weather, though!

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As for the cruise itself  . . . 

 

Getting down to some basics:   the check-in and embarkation processes were a breeze.  Prior to the cruise, I’d uploaded our security photos and passport information on line.  Our Express Passes appeared not only in our Celebrity accounts (for printing if desired), but also in the Celebrity app.   On embarkation day, once we got to the pier, I opened the Expresses Passes in the app and an agent with an iPad scanned the bar codes.  That was it – two seconds to check in and we were off to our seats to await boarding.   It could not have been easier.

 

Once on board, we went directly to our cabin, where our Sea Pass cards were in a sealed envelope on the door.    (As you may have read, the cards on the "revolutionized" ships are RFID cards.  Just touch them to the door lock to unlock the door.)  We put our valuables in the safe, left our carry ons in the cabin, and headed for lunch.  Again, simple and easy.

 

Our cabin was a corner Family Veranda.  We’d originally booked a C2, but when the corner FV opened up, we “downgraded” ourselves and grabbed it.  We’d sailed in the same cabin before on the Infinity, so we knew how spacious it was for two people.  The “revolutionized” FV on the Summit is beautiful. 

 

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Yes, there are some design flaws, but we would happily book this stateroom again.  I’ve posted a separate review of our Summit FV, with plenty of photos, here: 

 

 

(photos by turtles06)

Edited by Turtles06

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Food and Dining

 

Food of course is an extremely subjective subject, and others obviously may have very different opinions about the quality of the food and the dining venues on the updated Summit.   The following are ours.

 

The Cosmopolitan Main Dining Room

 

My wife and I both felt that the dinners in the MDR were uneven in quality.  There were a few meals that were good, but many that were not.  Unlike our cruise in November on the Silhouette when we came away from every dinner saying how great the food was, we just did not come away from the MDR on the Summit being impressed by the food.  Some of the meat was of very poor quality (e.g., I had a rack of lamb one night that was just fat and gristle), and vegetables seemed to have become a garnish rather than an actual portion.

 

We also found dining at two-tops in the MDR awkward and uncomfortable.  Celebrity has crammed these tables so close together (barely inches apart) that you are essentially eating at a four-top with people you’ve never met before.  We don’t like that, and it’s a reason why we don’t do traditional dining any longer.  Yes, sometimes you get lucky with your dinner companions inches away, but sometimes you don’t.  During one dinner on this cruise, the guy at the next table made an extremely rude and insulting political comment, clearly ignoring the rules of civility about not discussing religion or politics.   And even if you have somehow managed to avoid talking to the couple inches away, the only conversation you can have with your spouse is a purely innocuous one about how bad the rack of lamb was.  The food in the MDR did not warrant putting up with the discomfort, and we found ourselves frequently eating dinner in the buffet, where we enjoyed the food and our ability to dine just with each other.  

 

Specialty Dining

 

During the cruise, we ate one dinner each at Sushi on 5, Tuscan Grille and Qsine. 

 

Our dinner at Sushi on 5 was fabulous; both the food and the service were excellent.  That’s been the case on other ships as well.   Nonetheless, the place is always empty.  I don’t understand why.

 

Tuscan Grille was a mixed bag.  The service was good, but the food was inconsistent.  I had a nice branzino, but the gnocchi were so overcooked they could have been used as ammo in BB guns.  We used to love Tuscan Grille, but have been so disappointed in our last two visits that we are likely done with it.

 

As has been reported here on CC, the original Qsine is on its way out across the fleet, being replaced by Le Petit Chef.  We’ve always loved the food in Qsine, so this was our last chance to have it.  (We were told Qsine will be gone in two months on the Summit.)   The food did not disappoint.   It was absolutely terrific.  But the service was terrible.  I never thought when we made a reservation for 6:30 PM that we’d have trouble getting to the 9 PM show, but our server was so inattentive that we barely made it, and only then because we had spoken up once it was after 8 PM and we still had some plates and dessert to be served.   We actually had to speak to the host to deal with the problem.  I hate having to do that.  

 

 

 

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The Oceanview Cafe 

 

As you can tell from what I've already written, we enjoyed the revolutionized buffet, both the new layout and the food.  It was our go-to place for breakfast and lunch, and frequently for dinner.  One of the things I love most about the buffet on Celebrity ships is the variety of food, including the permanent station for Indian food, which on the Summit, as on other Celebrity ships, was quite good.

 

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For those who love ice cream, there's an excellent Scoops station in the buffet; it was quite popular and there was often a line.  As usual on cruise ships, the desserts (cakes and pastries) typically looked much better than they tasted, and were easily avoided.  

 

One odd thing, though, was that while the buffet had a "fromagerie" station, it closed down after lunch.  No cheese and crackers were available for a late afternoon snack, as they have been on other Celebrity ships.   I asked someone about this, and just got a shrug and an offer to bring me some wrapped Saltines.   (I did not make that up.)  

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Silverware

 

What, silverware?  I have never commented about silverware before, or even paid attention to it.  But most of the silverware on the Summit was so large it was noteworthy.   It was as though Celebrity had gotten a great deal at an estate sale at Goliath’s house.  The spoons in particular were huge.  I generally eat cereal for breakfast, and the spoons put out for that were almost the size of ladles.  They could barely fit in the yogurt cups.  One evening, at the ice cream station, they had little teeny tiny spoons available.  I almost kept one to use for the rest of the cruise (washed each time of course).   

 

The knives in Tuscan Grille also deserve a special mention.  The cutting edge was perpendicular to the handle, which itself had an odd, angular shape.  As a result, whenever I set the knife down on my plate (instinctively putting it down with the cutting edge laying on the plate), it fell off.   Our server noticed this at one point and commented about the strange knives. 

 

Who picks this stuff out? 

 

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Along for the ride.  Enjoying your well written review.  

 

 

Jim

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Enjoying your review! We are on this ship, and this itinerary, in less than two weeks. I've sailed Celebrity before, but only on S-class ships. 

 

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1 hour ago, Jim_Iain said:

Along for the ride.  Enjoying your well written review.  

 

 

Jim

 

Thanks Jim!

 

52 minutes ago, mikkirm said:

Enjoying your review! We are on this ship, and this itinerary, in less than two weeks. I've sailed Celebrity before, but only on S-class ships. 

 

 

Thank you.  I promise to finish before you sail 🤣  (I do intend to cover our ports, and what we did in each.)  We've always loved the S-class ships, but the M-class ships have some big advantages (three elevator banks, a more comfortable theatre), and now a decent buffet.   We just might like them better now.  . .

Edited by Turtles06

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Entertainment

 

My wife and I both thought that the entertainment on this cruise was above average, especially the guest performers.   And the production cast had some very talented singers and dancers -- the standout was singer Olivia, only 20-years-old and just out of college.  She has an excellent voice and terrific stage presence; I would not be surprised if she went on to great things.

 

I’m a sucker for show tunes, and of course made sure to attend the Intimate Broadway Cabaret put on by the production cast singers.   We’d seen this on the Silhouette in November, but there was a new number on the Summit:  “The Room Where it Happens” – the first time we’ve ever heard anything from Hamilton sung on a cruise ship!   (We are Hamilton junkies, so this was very exciting and pretty much made my night.)   I want to give a huge shout out to Rafael, who did a wonderful job with this song, which was very well staged for a cruise ship.     

 

We were also fortunate to have dancers from the American Ballet Theatre perform on our cruise, part of Celebrity’s new partnership with the ABT.   It was terrific to have some totally new entertainment on a ship.  Strangely though, as I reported live from the Summit, the two dancers only danced two pas de deux, separated by a short performance by a singer.   Everyone was talented, but this just didn’t quite “work” as a show.  I think Celebrity and the ABT need to commit to this so that they can do a full 45-minutes of ballet.  

 

We don’t typically stay up for the late-night shows, but we made an exception for the Liar’s Club, which turned out to be one of the most hysterical things we’ve ever seen, thanks to the panel: our Cruise Director, Rich Clesen, who has quite a comedic talent; Captain Matt (a great Captain with a terrific sense of humor); and guest performer Rick Novell (a juggler, unicyclist, and all around funny guy).   If you are going to be on the Summit soon, I hope you are as lucky as we were to see a show like this.

 

By the way, the evening shows in the main theatre were packed just about every night.   People started lining up at both entrances to the theatre about 45 minutes in advance.  I’ve really never seen anything like that on any cruise before.   There was even some line jumping at the ABT performance that we attended – several very rude and ill-mannered people who obviously decided they were more important than everyone else.   It's a cruise, people, just relax.

 

 

 

Edited by Turtles06

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Thanks for this review and photos of the updated buffet...looks great!

Glad you had  shows you liked and a chance to see the ABT performance,...hope they can refine it,

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Enjoying your review.  I sailed Summit in June and September and will be on her again in October so your review is making me even more happy to be back on her again next month!  

 

I have to agree with you about Tuscan Grille.  I was always a HUGE fan of Tuscan Grille but when we went in June both the service and the food quality was not good at all.  Actually the service was probably worse than the food!

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Now, on to the best stuff, our sailaway and our ports.

 

The afternoon of our departure from Cape Liberty was partly sunny and very pleasant.  It was fun to hang out topside with that beautiful view of Manhattan and watch the traffic in the harbor, including the return of the NCL Escape, which had just shared port time with the Summit in Bermuda.  (We would be tag-teaming the Escape’s next cruises as we made our way to New England and Canada.)

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The muster drill, thankfully, did not include that awful James Bond-like video that we’ve seen on a couple of prior Celebrity and RCI cruises.  I think Celebrity took the drill very seriously, and the passengers in our muster station were quiet and paying attention.

 

Muster over, it was time to get going!   Captain Matt (who is absolutely terrific, by the way), announced that we’d be taking a detour up the Hudson so that we could sail past the Statue of Liberty.   Although sailing out of New York Harbor was not new to me, it never gets old, and I was thrilled for the folks on board who had never seen the Statue of Liberty before.   It’s great that Celebrity seems to be doing this out of Bayonne as often as it can.

 

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Even without the full sail past most of Manhattan that you get from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, it’s still beautiful to sail out of any part of New York Harbor.

 

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And, of course, we remained on deck until after we’d sailed under the graceful Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island.

 

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The view from our balcony as we left New York behind:

 

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(photos by turtles06)

 

 

 

 

Edited by Turtles06

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Love the picture of the Statue of Liberty and I would agree that sailing out of New York never gets old.

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Awesome commentary, pics,  and insights!  We too, REALLY like the M class ships!

Still shaking my head over your cabin flaws though (other thread, folks)....  no mirror at the desk would make me crazy!

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18 minutes ago, julia said:

Awesome commentary, pics,  and insights!  We too, REALLY like the M class ships!

Still shaking my head over your cabin flaws though (other thread, folks)....  no mirror at the desk would make me crazy!

 

Thanks for the very kind words!  

 

Yup, the mirror thing is a head-scratcher. 

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We had a similar dining experience on Eclipse last April, which was a big step down from 6 months prior on Infinity.  Glad to hear the buffet has improved.

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You boarded when we got off. Planning to do this itinerary next year for our Anniversary.

Capt. Matt is great 

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27 minutes ago, reallyhooked said:

You boarded when we got off. Planning to do this itinerary next year for our Anniversary.

Capt. Matt is great 

 

Happy Anniversary!  

 

Given Dorian, we were of course watching your return schedule from Bermuda. From our perspective, Captain Matt did a great job of getting the Summit back almost on time, even with the longer course back to Bayonne that you all took to avoid the worst of the storm.  And the crew turned the ship around that day in what seemed like record time. I was totally impressed. 

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Our first full day of the cruise was a beautiful sea day.  This allowed me to do what I love to do at sea:  go for a long, early morning walk on deck.   Midway through my walk (on the Deck 11 track) I spotted a pod of dolphins off the starboard bow.  What a good start to the cruise!   And, fortunately, I always carry my phone with me on board, so that I always have some form of camera.  You just never know what might happen on a ship!

 

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It was also a good day for exploring.   One of my favorite places was Deck 4, the quasi-promenade deck.   (It doesn't go all the way around at the stern or bow.)  Much better than the equivalent deck on the S-class ships and other newer builds, where the view of the water is blocked by life boats.  Oddly, I almost never saw anyone down there.

 

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(photos by turtles06)

Edited by Turtles06

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