by Gayle Carson
January 4, 2002
We just returned from the 10 day Eastern/Southern Caribbean cruise on the Summit which departed from Fort Lauderdale. We chose it because we had bad experiences at the Miami cruise dock and also because we did not have to fly to Puerto Rico to enjoy St. Lucia, St.Kitts, and Barbados. First, the generalization: from checkin to disembarkation we absolutely loved the ship, staff and the cruise. We can cruised on Royal Caribbean and Princess previously and by far the Summit was the best cruise experience (all 5 in our family agree). The staff all went the extra mile in friendliness and making overtures to you about your day, experiences etc. We found the food to be very good with enough selections to accomodate everyone. Some small points that really scored big with us - full time availablity of beverages - O.K. not pop/soda, but juices, tea lemonade and the like - without charge; and a big hit was the availability of ice cream and sherbert. Not just once a day for an hour with one flavor or with an significant extra charge; but from lunch time on, without charge and with a whole range of flavors. Alcholic drinks were readily available but without aggressive promotion. The cabins were very pretty and the bathrooms I felt had the most room and were the most sensibly laid out. Cabin service twice a day kept us in plenty of towels. Shore excursion towels were luxurious. The range of shore excursions reflected not only older more sedate interests but mountain biking, hiking and lots of sailing as well.
Each time we have cruised in the past we felt that we had a good experience but nothing special that would encourage us to come back. But we can say that our next cruise will be with Celebrity without a doubt. We had not one glitch or hassle. It was clear that all areas were being subject to excellent supervision. The only complaint I heard was from someone whose breakfast tray had been cleaned off by an over zealous waiter while they were up getting coffee.
I saw no evidence of cost cutting because of decreased bookings - O.K. so we got key chains instead of mugs when we won the trivia contest. Otherwise the food was at least as good if not better than on our other cruises. We heard some negative feedback on the "Normandie" - special dining experience restaurant, but as we did not try it I refuse to pass on hearsay. I recommend this cruise especially for having two sea days to start and end with - it really helps to unwind or prepare for re-entry into the real world.