The outdoor pool deck on a Celebrity Summit cruise.

Cruising Paradise: A Celebrity Summit Review

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We love to cruise. While some people say that cruising isn’t really traveling, we think there is a time and a place for it. Every year, we take a multi-generational trip during the holidays and cruising is perfect for this purpose. Everyone gets to do exactly what they want. For the first time, we chose the Celebrity Cruise Summit ship. This was a new experience for us and there aren’t a lot a lot of detailed Celebrity Summit reviews, so this may help other cruisers.

We have had the opportunity to cruise twice aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Summit. Our first cruise was in 2014 to the Eastern Caribbean on a holiday cruise. Our second cruise was a Celebrity Summit Bermuda itinerary in the summer of 2019. Since we have cruised twice, we’ve been able to see changes to the vessel over time as well as really explore the ship.

The Celebrity Summit ship at port in Roseau, Dominica.  The ship name is frequently mis-spelled as Celebrity Summitt, but it is the same vessel.
The Celebrity Summit at port in Roseau, Dominica

Our Celebrity Summit Review

The Celebrity Summit Cruise Ship

The Celebrity Summit is a Millennium-class vessel that was built in 2001 at a cost of over $350 million. While it is an older ship, it has been well maintained.

The 2012 Celebrity Summit renovation added additional cabins as well as other improvements to make the ship more similar to the company’s Solstice-class ships – larger public spaces, more dining options and a few special perks for those in the Celebrity Aqua Class.

Celebrity Summit photos:  The life ring on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.  Often overlooked in Celebrity reviews is the attention to safety provided by the company and the crew.

The 2019 Celebrity Summit refurbishment saw the most substantial refit and renovations in the vessel’s history. All of the suites, cabins, and statements were completely renovated. The Celebrity Summit dining options were substantially expanded with new specialty restaurants added. The casino was completely modernized. The Oceanview Café was remodeled and now has a better passenger flow (shortening buffet lines considerably). The renovations are more substantial than photos would indicate, including enhancements to the plumbing (more on that later) and behind-the-scenes areas.

The new Sushi on Five specialty restaurant.  Celebrity specialty restaurants can be a real highlight of your cruise experience.
The new Sushi on Five specialty restaurant

Anyone who has cruised before on any cruise line will recognize the general layout of the ship and the Celebrity Summit deck plans. The lowest level is the gangway and infirmary. There are a total of 11 decks accessible to guests (labeled Decks 2-12).

Celebrity Summit images:  On the lowest level of the Celebrity Summit ship is the infirmary - a full hospital to treat all kinds of accidents and illnesses.
The infirmary (treating my broken toes in Bermuda)

The Celebrity Theater is in the bow of the ship from Decks 3-5. The shops, casino, front office, shore excursion office and lounges are available on Decks 4-5. Guest staterooms are located on Decks 2-3, as well as from Decks 6-9. Deck 10 is the pool and the Celebrity Summit buffet, called the Oceanview Café. Deck 11 is the walking track. Deck 12 is the sports deck. Regardless of company, most cruise ships are laid out in a nearly identical fashion. While they may differ in the location of a specific bar or casino, it’s pretty standard.

The Sports Deck can be found on deck 12 on the Celebrity Summit deck plan. It always seemed busy with groups playing soccer or playing basketball.  As other Celebrity Cruises reviews have noted, this is an older class of ship, so it doesn't have the latest rock climbing wall or wave pool, but it does have everything you need to keep in shape while at sea.

On our cruises, we spend the bulk of our time on Decks 10-11, by the pool or up on the deck above looking out at the ocean. When visiting some beautiful ports of call, this has the advantage of taking some excellent sail away photos.

Other Summit reviews have noted that the Fortunes Casino is always busy!  Guests can play table games or slot machines in the Celebrity Summit casino whenever the ship is at sea. This is one of the old Celebrity Summit pictures from before refurbishment.
The old Fortunes Casino from before the refurbishment
The reviews of Celebrity Summit all mention how busy the casino can be during sea days.  It can be packed!
The renovated casino

Celebrity Summit Staterooms

On both of our cruises, we were in an interior statement. We were in room 2088 – an interior stateroom on deck 2 – during our Eastern Caribbean cruise. And on our Celebrity cruise to Bermuda, we were in room 8105, immediately under the swimming pool (more on that below). On cruises, we spend so little time in our room the interior/exterior and room size make little difference for us. We’ve never paid for a big suite or balcony, and that’s fine by us.

A Celebrity Summit stateroom. This is an interior cabin.
The Celebrity Summit staterooms (pre-2019 refurbishment)

Our Celebrity Summit stateroom was pretty standard and had two twin beds pushed together to make a king-sized bed (just like every other cruise we’ve been on). The stateroom had a small sofa (more like an over-sized chair), a coffee table and a little vanity station. There was a flat panel TV (but no DVD player like other cruise lines) and a mini bar. The closets had one large compartment for hanging clothes and a smaller section with shelving (one shelf held a safe for valuables) to serve as a dresser. The bathroom was pretty compact and had a shower, sink and toilet.

After the 2019 refurbishment, the rooms have a more open concept and there is glass doors on the shelving and cubby areas, which make it appear more open and inviting.

One of our money-saving tips and tricks for cruises is to book an inside stateroom, which costs less money. The new staterooms rate very highly in the Celebrity Summit cabin reviews.
The Summit staterooms (post-refurbishment)

The Celebrity Summit Food Review

One of the things that many cruisers look forward to is the food onboard. There are 9 different Celebrity Summit restaurants and cafes for your dining pleasure. Every morning, we had breakfast in the Oceanview Café (Deck 10) in the middle of the ship. This is the long buffet with hot food, omelet stations in the morning and some cooked-to-order items for dinner. One evening, we had dinner here for the Asian stir fry (which was delicious!). Most days, we had a late lunch at the Pool Grill (Deck 10), grabbing a quick hamburger and fries before soaking up some sun.

We would agree with other Celebrity Summit reviews that the dining experiences on board are very good.  From the specialty restaurants to the Celebrity Summit buffet, you will not go hungry.

Check the Celebrity Summit menus each day on the app and then head to the Cosmopolitan Dining Room for dinner.
Cosmopolitan Dining Room/Main Restaurant

For dinner, we dinned almost every night in the Cosmopolitan Restaurant (Deck 5), which has been renamed with the super-boring name of Main Restaurant after the refurbishment (we liked the old name better).

We opted for Celebrity Select Dining – a more flexible option giving us the ability to make reservations for the times that interested us. We made reservations most nights, and on the one time we didn’t, we only had to wait about 20 minutes.

The food in the Main Restaurant/Cosmopolitan Restaurant was quite good. To feed several thousand people, everything needs to be mass produced, but it is done in a way where quality standards were very good. We enjoyed it.

Cakes in the Cafe al Bacio cafe on the Celebrity Summit cruise.
Cakes in the Cafe al Bacio cafe

One night, we want to the playfully modern Qsine. The Qsine menu (presented on iPads) is full of deconstructed menu items or whimsical recreations of favorites – spring rolls served in large springs, sushi lollipops, or a taco mortar pestle guacamole. The food was exceptional and the service matched!

A highlight in our Celebrity Summit review:  the Qsine restaurant offers a playful, almost whimsical, dining experience.
Qsine offers a playful, almost whimsical, dining experience

We were not in the Celebrity Summit Aqua Class, but we heard good things about the private dining room Blu. On our next Celebrity cruise, we might try Celebrity AquaClass.

The martini bar on the Celebrity Summit makes exceptional drinks and can sometimes come with a show!
The Martini Bar

Celebrity Cruises Cooking Classes

One of the special experiences available on Celebrity Cruises are some of the cooking classes. On select sea days, cooking classes are offered. In the morning, you’ll make a multi-course meal and then eat it for lunch in the Celebrity Summit Tuscan Grille restaurant. It’s a wonderful experience!

Celebrity Cruises cooking classes are a fun way to pass the time on a sea day.  This is a highlight in many of the Celebrity Summit cruise ship reviews.
Cooking classes on the Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Cruises Entertainment

Every night, the Celebrity Summit had entertainment programs. There were two Broadway-esque singing shows: the classics with Stars in Their Eyes and iHollywood, which had tunes from the silver screen. Additionally there was an iMagic show with the greatest illusions in history and Joel Mason’s Elton John tribute show.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go to a single one of the evening programs. For us, it seemed liked there was usually only one show, which seemed to conflict with dinner. For the nights when they had two shows, the first was extremely early and the other was in the middle of dinner.

The Celebrity Theater aboard the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours

Celebrity Cruises offers two different behind-the-scenes tours onboard. There is a behind-the-scenes Celebrity Summit Ship tour, usually on the first sea day. There’s a nearly $100 per person charge for the tour. You’ll see the bridge, the I-95 main corridor, and see how the magic is made. If you’ve never taken a cruise ship tour, it’s worth doing at least once.

Visiting inside the Celebrity Summit kitchen on a Celebrity Cruises galley tour.

There’s a second option for cruisers. The behind-the-scenes galley tour is free and not to be missed. You’ll descend into the bowels of the ship and see how your food is prepared. You can see the massive ice cream makers, employees cutting all the fruits and vegetables, and all of the prep work being doing. It is absolutely fascinating!

An employee cutting food on a Celebrity Summit galley tour.  This Celebrity Cruises activity is free!

The Celebrity Summit By the Numbers

  • Occupancy: 2,218 (after the 2019 refurbishment)
  • Tonnage: 91,000
  • Length: 965 feet
  • Width: 105 feet
  • Draught: 26 feet
  • Year Built: 2001 (plus substantial renovations in 2012 and 2019)
  • Number of Pools: 3
  • Number of Hot Tubs: 5
  • Number of Restaurants/Cafes: 9
  • Number of Bars/Lounges: 9

Photo after the Celebrity Summit refurbished 2019.  There is a lot of outdoor spaces to relax.

The Celebrity Cruises App

In 2017, the Celebrity app was launched to much fanfare. The app has detailed schedules, the Summit deck plans, and even a handy messaging feature to keep in touch with friends and family members on board. One of our top Celebrity cruise tips is to download the app at home to save slow downloads on the first day on the boat.

The Revelations Lounge and nightclub where you can dance almost every night.  This is the Celebrity Summit nightclub and one of the most popular late-night hangouts on the ship.  Usually, each night will have a dance theme, so you'll always be able to find something you want to dance to.

Celebrity Summit Eastern Caribbean Cruise

The Celebrity Check-In Process/Disembarkation in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Celebrity Summit check-in process in San Juan, Puerto Rico was relatively painless. The transfer of baggage from taxi to longshoreman took only about 3 minutes. Once inside the terminal, the lines moved very quickly. We were fully checked in and headed towards to the ship in about 20 minutes.

In some Celebrity Summit reviews we read, others noted a long, disorganized check-in process so we were expecting the worst. However, we found it to be efficient and consistent with other cruise lines.

There can be long lines for embarkation (getting on the cruise) in port. One of our cruise tips is to make sure you have all paperwork printed out in advance.

Disembarkation in San Juan was also relatively painless. Like all cruise ships, you leave the tagged luggage outside your door by midnight. The luggage meets you on shore. We were some of the last to leave the ship, heading up to the Oceanview Café for breakfast before taking our time getting off the boat. Once in the terminal, we did experience long lines to clear immigration (sadly, no Global Entry kiosks in San Juan).

The main staircase of the Celebrity Summit.
Main Staircase

Celebrity Summit Itinerary and Ports of Call in the Eastern Caribbean

This cruise was a seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise leaving out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Depending on which ports are included, they either sell this cruise an Eastern Caribbean cruise or a Southern Caribbean cruise.

The Eastern Caribbean ports of call were:

In each port, we opted to plan our own activities rather than book into one of the official Celebrity Cruises excursions. We’ve found this is a good way to get away from the crowds and have the kind of travel experience we really want. If you are new to cruising, we recommend reading our article: Cruise Tips for a Better Voyage, where we share all of our tips and tricks.

The Celebrity Summit at port in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Celebrity Summit at port in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Celebrity Summit Bermuda Cruise

The Celebrity Check-In Process/Disembarkation in Cape Liberty, NJ

The Celebrity Summit check-in process in Cape Liberty, New Jersey was extremely fast and painless. Cruisers can now use the Celebrity Cruises app to upload their photos and scan their documents. When you arrive at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, all you need to do is park your car in the garage, drop your bags, head inside, use the facial-recognition software, go through security screening and get on the boat. Total embarkation time for us was less than 5 minutes.

Getting off the boat was equally easy. Roll off the boat, walk through the facial-recognition software, pick up your bags, and get in your car. It could not be faster, or easier.

Things are a little bit British in Bermuda.  The phones at King's Wharf Bermuda / Royal Navy Dockyards.
Things are a little bit British in Bermuda

Celebrity Summit Bermuda Itinerary

The focus of this cruise is on Bermuda. There are usually two sea days in one direction, and one sea day coming the other way. On some select itineraries, Newport, Rhode Island or Charleston, South Carolina are sometimes added. On some 10-day Bermuda cruises, both Newport and Charleston are added to the Celebrity Cruises Bermuda itinerary.

A Celebrity Cruise Accident

We were guests on the Celebrity Summit when there was an accident at sea. Celebrity Cruises has taken to calling it “The Incident.”

One evening we were coming back from dinner in the dining room and noticed the carpet in our hallway near our door was wet. It was about like someone had spilled a glass of water. No big deal. And then we heard the sound of water rushing in the ceiling above our heads. We opened the door on our stateroom.

Flooded stateroom aboard the Celebrity Summit after a pipe burst.
Flooded stateroom

The carpet was wet and water was pouring into our stateroom through the wall. Laura called down to the front desk and there was no answer – it rang for over a minute. By this time, some of our neighbors were encountering large amounts of water in their room. Down the hall, a family with small children started screaming and crying. Down the hall, some idiot yells, “The boat is sinking!”

Laura ran down to the front desk to try and get someone (ANYONE) from the ship’s crew to come. They told her they were aware of the issue and it was being handled. Meanwhile, back outside our stateroom, no employees anywhere. I called the front desk and was told maintenance was fixing it. Meanwhile, no employees visible.

For over 30 minutes, water poured into dozens of staterooms and not a single employee showed up to calm nervous, screaming passengers or take control of the situation. Had this been an even more significant emergency at sea (such as a fire or running aground), how many passengers could have been injured or died?

Celebrity Summit employees re-arranged the stateroom to clean up the water.
Employees re-arranged the stateroom to clean up the water

Despite having just spent weeks in dry dock going through a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, it would seem the pipes had not been addressed. A high-pressure pipe connecting the swimming pool to dumping outside the vessel had burst. The entire contents of the ships swimming pool drained in guest staterooms – an estimated 15,000 gallons of saltwater – in our luggage, clothes, and personal possessions.

While waiting until 2:00am to figure out if we could go back into our stateroom or waiting on employees to tell us anything, a server in one of the bars casually mentioned this has happened before. There have been at least two other burst pipes that have flooded the crew’s quarters on the lower decks of the cruise ship in recent months.

Take the Celebrity Summit ship tour and you just might have the chance to visit the bridge and meet the captain.
The bridge

The next day, the captain and the director of hospitality met with all of us on the bridge of the ship. Explanations and apologies were made. We believe Celebrity’s efforts truly helped make the situation right and we were satisfied with the outcome. And, yes, we will probably cruise on Celebrity Cruises again sometime. But we were left with the nagging feeling that guest safety wasn’t a top priority.

When it comes to this situation, we have repeatedly contacted Celebrity Cruises and given them a chance to comment on this incident and whether their staff are truly prepared to handle an emergency at sea. They have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Celebrity Summit pool photos:  In our Celebrity Summit review, we would give the ship's pools top marks, particularly the Solarium Pool.  The Celebrity Summit pools are a definite selling point for the ship.

The Overall Celebrity Summit Cruise Experience

We would cruise on Celebrity again, but would look to a different itinerary.

Also, we were unable to make use of the Celebrity Cruises Canyon Ranch SpaClub on board. That will also be for our next cruise with Celebrity.

Our overall Celebrity Summit review is very good. While the Celebrity Summit was an older ship, it was well maintained, particularly after the 2019 refurbishment.

The Summit itineraries are very good. The selling point of the 7-day cruise of the Eastern Caribbean is the chance to have six days in port and visiting some amazing destinations! On the Celebrity Cruises to Bermuda, the main selling point was the ability to drive to the Cape Liberty terminal and have several consecutive days in port.

The adults-only Solarium pool is an
The adults-only Solarium pool

No Celebrity Summit review would be complete without mentioning the ship's attention to hygiene. Any reviews of Celebrity Cruises in general and, more specifically, any Celebrity Summit cruise reviews will all mention the attention to health and hygiene on board.  The last thing anyone wants to see is a norovirus outbreak on Celebrity ships.

The Celebrity Cruises Summit ship bars were some of our favorite places on board.  For example, at the Cellar Masters bar on the Celebrity Summit, you can sample fine wines from around the world.