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Kenneth Eden

Age: 64

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 82

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Summit

Sailing Date: 2013-05-5

Itinerary: Bermuda

Bermuda the closest thing to home and all smiles

Excellent food and dining

Okay

Extensive activities inside and out, despite clouds, cool and drizzle by the pools

did not take any excursions

We took Amtrak to EWR airport and stayed over night at the Hilton there, the hotel was fine, food and drinks and room all fine. Celebrity does not offer a transfer from EWR hotels, nor any hotel either - they offer NYC hotels, and at a high price. SO rather than wait in the airport for a transfer which would have been purchased the day of sailing, we took a taxi, provided by the Hilton s concierge, to the ship at Port Liberty, in Elizabeth NJ, or is that Bayonne? Both city names were used in conjunction with this cruise. Taxi cost $70.00 for myself and partner and luggage, plus gratuity. Interesting, since transfer through Celebrity would have cost the same.

We booked Concierge Class on the Summit. We have taken Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Reflection within the past year, and were anxious to try this "smaller" Celebrity ship. Smaller yes, but still a large ship at just under 100,000 grt.

The Concierge check in line went very fast, and we were boarded in less than 5 minutes. . Champagne and crew member to welcome us, and off we were to out stateroom. We had a deck 7 cabin, way aft, port side, our preference. Nothing to be really astounded by in our cabin which had been totally redone to bring this class of ship up to a more even comfort level with the new Solstice Class. New bedding, mattress, TV and carpet - it all smelled brand new, too. The cabin glitch noted next on had nothing to do with our main cabin steward, it was a night steward that we never saw again that did the half baked job.

There were a few glitches here- there was black smudge on the inside of the toilet lid, our safe did not work - it locked and we had to have it serviced three time before the battery was changed, our luggage - one piece was lost, took 8 hours to get it, (seems the tag fell off), came back from first nights dinner and luggage was not placed under the bed, and the bathroom was not cleaned, towels left on the floor and such. All was taken care of, after one call to the Concierge desk.

There was a problem with our dining table reservation, which was taken care of by me after lunch before the ship sailed, and we had a wonderful table for 2, late seating, with the view to die for. Our table was next to La Normandie, adjacent to the grand stairway, and looked aft to the floor to ceiling windows and the sea.

Speaking of lunch, we boarded early, Concierge, as noted, and had plenty of seat selections from which to choose. I normally disdain buffets, be it lunch or breakfast, yet, Celebrity offers the nicest, more civilized buffets we have encountered at sea. Pizza seems to be a big deal and it is OK here,typical cruise ship (poor) crust, good toppings. Other selections were mind boggling, expertly prepared, seasoned to appeal to most tastes, and set about a large space that deterred crowding a pushing. Very pleased here.

Back to our stateroom. We had the welcome sparkling Celebrity Brut, fresh flowers and gift card from our travel agent. Concierge Class receives complimentary canapes each afternoon. Frette robes, divine they are, over-sized Egyptian towels, umbrella and free shoe shines are part of the Concierge Class. Discount booklet offered many discounts to some really usable things on board, our favorites wine discounts for wine specialty and main dining rooms.

Before we boarded, on the pier, we booked our dining preferences for the specialty dining rooms, two nights at Normandie and one a Qsine. When the confirmations arrived in our stateroom, the nights requested were incorrect, but that was ok, we let it go, probably should not have, but, that's the way it was.

The Summit underwent a massive renovation, as has all of the older ships that Celebrity sails, with the exception of the Celebrity Expedition. Additions the the Summit, and her fleet mates, the "sisters" included fitting Qsine and Al Bacio, Cellar Masters , Blu with its Aqua Spa class staterooms, and a marvelous new and fresh look that prevailed though tout the entire ship. Truly breathtaking results.

The Lawn and Art studio and on some, glass blowing studio are not on the Summit, nor are the Tuscan and Asian venues found on Solstice ships The ship itself did not have its blueprint compromised, and thus, the ship on the exterior appears the way she always did. Magnificent art work, carpeting, furniture and handsome fabrics adorn this ship. I have no reason to doubt that the same expert renovations are the case on the other ships that have had this work done to them as well, Celebrity refers to this extensive renovation as "SOLSTICIZING", which means that they have brought the ships up to speed with the Solstice Class.

A word on the art aboard the ship, it is to be seem and touched. It is like living art, presented to be enjoyed, marveled and appreciated. The antique relics in the Normandie vestibule are irreplaceable, thus, not touchable.

Gone are the smoking areas, except for the few that are designated as such. Nice to walk through the casino and not smell cigarette smoke, also nice to avoid cabin areas that are on smoking allowed decks, since it is prohibited in cabin and on balconies. Since this ship is of the early 1990's vintage, walking though the casino to get from point A to point B was common, regardless of the shipyard that built the ships. The Summit and her sisters are of French build.

We enjoy fine dining, we also support the alternative restaurants on ships that have them be they complimentary or at an additional fee. Our two meals at Normadie were well worth the $45.00 per person. Hey, that's what the taxi cost, not bad! The menu contained some favorites from Murano, and some new ones. Not to be missed are the Diver Scallops, lobster, Dover sole, Lamb chops, with table side preparation, souffles, and sorbets, coffees and such, all with absolute-European white glove service. Offered is a set tasting menu, set prix fixe, or strictly ala carte. Actually, you can order from either or both.

A little enlightenment about the Normandie, true ship enthusiasts, this is for you. The Normadie, I will skip her tragic demise, has been immortalized in a museum fashion on the Summit. In the entry vestibule to the Normadie Restaurant various models of the SS Normadie, pride of the French fleet in the 1930's, with original menus, photos and actual tableware from the former liner. In the restaurant actual Lalique Glass panels from the liner are inset in the walls and are illuminated. As for La Normandie, THE statue, more on that later.....

The Normandie is similar with its menu to the Murano on the Solstice Class ships, except, the food is more French in theme, and more fitting to a restaurant with a French name, rather than Murano, French themed dining, Italian name. Also, dining here is on a par, in ambiance and atmosphere to the Queens Grills on the three Cunard ships.

We had not tried Qsine before, and we did so this time, and well, maybe once is enough. It is campy and kicky, ordering from iPad menu, with kitchy dishes and so forth and funky presentations. It was fun at start, wore thin later on and well, as I said, for us, once might be enough. Like the Japanese steakhouse, once you have seen the "act" once may be enough. Food items are small, and 6-7 courses are encouraged. Nothing save for the spring rolls and steak, and dessert stood out. Service was energetic and the decor ambulant.

Dining in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant was exciting, from a grand perspective, the room is truly grand, as is the food, also grand. We are hard to please, and yet, we were very pleased here. Lunch and dinner were perfect, all items presented of correct temperature, fresh, beautifully plated and service was exact, as was the bar and wine service. It did not seem that entrees were carried over or menus the same as from our recent past Celebrity cruises. Celebrity makes no bones about the fact that EVERYTHING that can be made on board from scratch is just that, and it shows. Aside from the evenings menu, there is a "always available" menu which in and of itself is pretty darn generous. When in port, breakfast and lunch were only available at Oceanview, for the buffet, and that was ok. Best omelets, by the way.

Now, La Normandie. The focal point the the "salle de manger" on the SS Normandie, the towering, well, not THAT tall, statue of what has become known as La Normandie, a lady of bronze, tunic dressed with baskets of flowers at her feet. This iconic statue once graced the entrance of the Fontainbleu in Miami Beach, and was purchased by Celebrity at auction . She now stands in the Cosmopolitan, on the lower level at the foot of the grand sweeping staircase.

The ships entertainment was similar to other Celebrity ships. Lots of Broadway songs presented in upbeat production numbers, all with live ships orchestra, no canned music, no lip-synching, okay, some musical numbers were not "live" but enhanced with the orchestra as a back up. Costumes, some a tad "worn" were bright and the cast was superb, the aerialists just stupendous. Other shows featured a magician and comedian.

Celebrity has made a contract with 54 Below, a cabaret in the once fab studio 54, in the buildings basement, thus 54 below. During the sailings from NJ a featured Broadway star, from 54 Below, will be the special performer on the Summit. We were luck to have Liz Callaway. You may recall the name from her starring role in Cats. She did a one woman show, excellent, and a talk back, with Q and A session from the audience. This was a cruise highlight, and would be for any B'way junkie.

Bermuda never changes, we have been sailing there for years. Our once favorite cruise line of all time was also our favorite to Bermuda, Home Lines. I can not even count the number of cruises we have taken to Bermuda. This first on the Summit was our first in a long while, our last was on the Horizon, Chandris' first newbuild, and the second ship in their then new Celebrity Fleet. Gone is Trimminghams, the beautiful department store. There are still plenty of places to shop.

Still there are the Irish Linen Shop, A S Cooper, the Olde English Bookstore, as well as others, and some new ones. Just be advised, those Jummy Choos will be the same price as they are at home, shops so state USA pricing, in the window, if they are not duty free shops.

The Summit docks at the old navy yard, Kings Wharf, all spiffed and nice. The Glass Art shop is worth a take in, we did buy a nice piece there, the pharmacy well stocked, priced similar to the states, pottery shop way over priced, and the Clock Tower Mall, well, ok for trivial things. In the mall, away from the nicer shops, it's junky. A free shuttle or a long walk will get you from the ship to the sights in and around the Navy Yard. Ferry or bus, ferry faster, available to Hamilton and St. Georges, purchased in one or two day ticket rides.

If shore excursions were not purchased before the cruise, they may be purchased while sailing, as single tips, or "bundled". Wine beer and dining packages are also available, "bundled" offer a great savings. Also, Celebrity is not alone in this aspect, check the travel desk on board for booking specials as well, and your travel agent will get credit and take the booking over for you so you do not have to worry about it.

We had a nice lunch in Hamilton, the capitol, at the Pickled Onion, a second floor restaurant, we enjoyed a pleasant lunch, overlooking Front Street and the harbor. Prices like they are at home, menu was nice. Iced tea from real fresh brewed tea, how rare is that?

Next day we had lunch at Frog and Onion Pub, more restaurant than pub, quite large in an old navy building, steeped in history, with stone walls and lots of atmosphere. Menu really nice, some interesting sandwiches and local fish and superb red Bermuda onion rings, and real fresh brewed ice tea.

One real highlight of this and the last Celebrity cruise, was the Captains Brunch, held in the Cosomoplitan Restaurant. This is one huge event, similar to - bet I'll spell it wrong - "smorgasbords" that were popular on Sunday afternoons when we were kids at popular restaurants of the day, only, this one on the ship way out did those by a mile. Table upon table filled with glorious food, of all kinds and for all tastes filled the center of the lower deck of the Cosmopolitan. Tables were clean and well bussed. The upper level was open and staff willingly assisted taking guest and food upstairs when necessary. This was a spellbinder to behold.

We hold a high level as repeaters with Celebrity, and there are two events for repeaters in our level. One we did attend, a cocktail party in the afternoon, with nice canapes and so forth, excellent drinks - but, was really, really crowded, and the second, held during our second visit to Normandie, which we held on to, and nixed the party.

Well, I could go on and on, rant and rave, and still not say enough about this wonderful "new" ship, new as can be with her fabulous new face lift, rave about the food and rave still about her excellent and friendly crew, and the youngest captain at sea. But what will make me happy, and Richard too, is to take this very same cruise AGAIN, and we will be back once more in a matter of weeks.

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