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Ship Gallery & Report (Page 3 - Summit)

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Royal Caribbean International continued the expansion of its "mass-market premium brand" with the introduction of 4 new ships: Millennium (June 2000), Infinity (Mar 2001), Summit (Nov 2001) & finally Constellation (2002). They were the first to be powered by gas-turbines and were among the first ships to use the new "pod" propulsion system instead of conventional propellers. As such, there were a number of initial problems that upset many people's plans - not least our own in 2005, when our planned trip to Hawaii was scuppered at the last minute! See Infinity 2005 >>.

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Summit (entered service 2001)
90,228 grt; length 965ft; 1,950 passengers

(left) Summit, third ship in the Millennium-class, delivered in November 2001 (seen here in Vancouver 2006).
<< page1 (Constellation) page2 (Millennium) >> page4 (Infinity) >>

(right) At anchor at Gaspe, Canada in October 2012, with new "Aqua-class" cabins added on Deck-11 earlier in the year.
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Their initial flashy livery of royal blue and white with racy gold lines and red trim was the work of the mega-yacht designer, Jon Bannenburg. However, this was revised in 2004 in favour of a more simplified scheme. In a company rebranding exercise in 2007-2008, all ships were re-registered with the suffix "Celebrity" in front of their name - in case you were in any doubt!

"Solsticizing" the Millennium-class
From Nov 2011 to May 2013, the company carried out a refit-programme, "Solsticizing" all 4 "Millennium-class" ships, incorporating some of the successful features of the new "Solstice-class", including 43 new "Aqua-class" cabins on Deck-11, thereby increasing passenger capacity to 2,036 (twin basis) and increasing her tonnage to 91,000grt. Summit had already been "Solsticized" when we travelled on her in September 2012 and some of the changes I did not feel were improvements.

New England & Canada
21st September - 7th October 2012

View the complete Log of this cruise >>

After travelling on Constellation & Millennium, the first impression is of an identical ship but after "Solsticizing", a few things have changed, such as the introuduction of Blu, carved-out of the upper level of the main Restaurant as an exclusive dining venue for the new "Aqua-class" passengers.

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Grand Foyer
from Deck 5
The Martini Bar
The Bistro on 5
ex-Champagne Bar
Aqua-class Restaurant

The Casino (deck 4) remains unchanged, although its decor is more low-key in comparison with that on Millennium & Constellation. But while the Grand Foyer is also essentially as it was, the previous Cova Cafe di Milano on deck 5 has been re-styled as the Cafe al Bacio & Gelataria.

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Cafe al Bacio
Special coffees & pastries
The Martini Bar
The new Ice Bar & "Crush"
Cellar Masters
ex-Platinum Club/Martini Bar
The Bistro on 5
Lobby Seating

Meanwhile, replacing the online lounge and foyer seating on deck 4 is the relocated Martini Bar, now complete with Ice Bar & "Crush". The old Martini Lounge formed part of the Platinum Club, the other half of which (previously the under-used Champagne Bar), is now the new Bistro on 5, a popular venue for sweet & savoury crepes (with a $5 per person extra cover charge!). In place of the old Martini Lounge is Cellar Masters, for premium wines by-the-glass; but unlike on the "Solstice-ships", this lounge doesn't work here and we found it inhospitable as a regular bar lounge.

Show Picture Full Size The Rendezvous Lounge & the loss of the Plantinum Club Balcony
The old Platinum Club had colourful mood lighting and a rather nice balcony (see left) overlooking the dance floor of the Rendezvous Lounge below. Sadly, in creating the new Bistro on 5 & Cellar Masters, this has all gone and this is a great shame.
Dowstairs, the Rendezvous Lounge is now darker and less interesting. I even remarked that its gloomy evening ambience and moribund audience made it seem more like an "old people's home"! Show Picture Full Size

On-Board Accommodation
Our Concierge-class Balcony Cabin (8156) was similar to a standard cabin but with improved storage and a larger sitting area, although overall, this was at the expense of a slightly smaller balcony.

Show Picture Full Size With a welcome bottle of "champagne", fresh fruit, umbrella, binoculars, a well-stocked fridge and heavy-quality bathrobes, while the bathroom had only a shower, there were improved toiletries.

With access to the wardrobes opposite the bathroom, the layout was more practical than the equivalent cabin we had on Equinox last year.
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Sadly, while our steward Princy was very sweet and obliging, I noticed that cleanliness of some glass surfaces and in the bathroom were not up to the standards we had previously enjoyed and I began to wonder whether this was due to the ship's age (11 years) or a fall-off in staff performance.

Meanwhile, the Suites aboard the Millennium-class are not as large as their counterparts on the new Solstice-class; neither are there as many but at least on the Millennium-class, they are not directly underneath the Cafe (which was the source of "noises in the night" on Eclipse 2 years ago!

Show Picture Full Size The Oceanview Cafe (Deck 10)
Previously the Seaside Cafe, this is attractive and spacious, with a good selection but the arrangement of its many serveries does lead to some confusion and "wandering". And while the lack of lunchtime omelettes was an issue in 2009, this time there were no chips at the "fish & chips" counter!

No chips, no peas - and the "Sorry" Strawberries!
The "Chef's Special" one day was "Traditional" Fish & Chips, so I decided to try it. The fish, while battered, was in pieces and was not "traditional". Meanhwile, there were no chunky chips and after waiting over 10 minutes, the fish (which had been sitting under its plastic dome all this time) was becoming less and less appetizing, so when the chips arrived, my meal wasn't worth the wait.

Two days later, "Fish & Chips" was the Special again but this time, there were no mushy peas! I gave the plate back to the chef and complained to Murat the Maitre d' who was suitably apologetic. I had Pizza instead and thought that was the end of it.

Three days later, Murat spotted me in the Cafe and it transpired that he had arranged for a plate of "Apology" Strawberries to be sent to our cabin; he was mortified that they clearly hadn't arrived. The following evening, he spoke to us again on the stairs on the way back to our cabin, having been out all day and it was 10 minutes later that the "Sorry" Strawberries finally arrived!

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant (Decks 4/5)
Almost identical to the equivalent restaurants aboard Constellation & Millennium, part of the upper level is now the new Blu Restaurant, while the remainder of the upper level is for "Celebrity Select Dining" ie those not wishing to have either of the two fixed sittings downstairs (see right).
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Blu Restaurant & Menu
Exclusively for "Aqua-class" passengers
"Normandie" statue
in the wrong restaurant!
Cosmopolitan Restaurant
First Night Menu
Our Table

The new Blu Restaurant is exclusively for those travelling in the new "Aqua-class" cabins; here the menu professes to put the accent on the "clean & unfussy". Meanwhile, in the main restaurant stands the statue "Normandie", which once graced the Grand Staircase of the liner SS Normandie of 1935. It's just a shame that she's too tall to go in the more appropriate place on board!

Our stewards were Ricky and his assistant Hakan (who would exclaim "Oh my God!" at everything with a nervous laugh!) and while service itself wasn't an issue, it seemed to me that many of the dishes with which we were now quite familiar since the revised menus were introduced last year, appeared or tasted disappointing when they arrived. One night, I even had "lumpy" mashed potato!

I was tempted to wonder if the apparent lowering of standards in the main restaurant was intentional, so as to make the speciality alternatives more attractive!

Show Picture Full Size The Normandie Restaurant (Deck 3)
The additional cover charge of $40 is now substantial but here you can experience haute cuisine at its best. Normandie Menu >> Dessert Menu >>
Evoking an era of opulence, the decor includes gold laquered Art Deco panels See detailed photo >> once part of the 1st-class Smoking Room of the famous French liner, SS Normandie of 1935. Show Picture Full Size
(Left) The restaurant incorporates gold laquered panels from the liner SS Normandie and (Right) Normandie-inspired Server Plates.

With table-settings also inspired by the liner SS Normandie, the "Lobster a la Normandie" which 3 of us had was heavenly! But if the main menu isn't enough, for $89 there's the gastronomic extravagence of the Five Senses Menu >>. You can even book a private table in the Dine-in Wine Cellar >>.

Ocean Liners Restaurants aboard the Millennium-class ships
Seating just 115 and with their own galley and gastronomic menus originally designed by Michel Roux, these restaurants offered service & cuisine unmatched by any other ships in the same price range, a concept continued in the Solstice-class with "Murano". However, unlike "Murano", on the Millennium-class, each restaurant maintains an "Ocean Liner" theme and has a different decor.

Show Picture Full Size On Constellation, the "Ocean Liners" restaurant (left) features laquered Art Deco panels from the French liner, Île de France of 1927; on Infinity, the "United States" restaurant (right) has a number of etched glass panels from the 1st-class Ballroom of the SS United States of 1952. Show Picture Full Size

Show Picture Full Size On board Millennium, the "Olympic" Restaurant (left) is inspired by that ship's Cafe Parisien and has a section incorporating elaborate panelling from the 1st Class Dining Room aboard the White Star liner RMS Olympic of 1911 (see right) Show Picture Full Size

Show Full Picture The Bistro on 5 (Deck 5)
Ideal for casual dining and for those who can't face the melee in the Cafe or don't want the formality of the restaurant, this is another addition as part of "Solsticizing", installed where the old Platinum Club/Champagne Bar used to be.

Having had a less than exciting experience on Eclipse earlier this year, with luke-warm, pre-prepared crepes, I was keen to try this again and I was pleased that I had no such issues this time. Done correctly, it's well worth the $5 cover charge.

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Another feature of "Solsticizing", this innovative restaurant is now where the "Extreme" Sports Bar was aboard Millennium, Deck-11 midships (see right).

Here the pan-world menu is chosen from an i-Pad, with the help of your "culinary tour guide" (your waiter!). It's funky, fun - and filling!
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Taco "Royale" M's Favourites Sushi Lollipops Lava Crab
My favourite!
Decorate your own

Many dishes are to share and the temptation is to order many choices, so the more people in your group the more fun it is but the inevitable result is leaving 3 hours later, happy but extremely over-fed. It's a fascinating and delicious experience but is it worth the now $40 per person cover charge?

Qsine has also now been installed aboard Millennium & Infinity but in the same location aboard Constellation, where once was the lovely Conservatory can be found Tuscan Grille, another of the alternatives aboard the Solstice-class which may prove more consistently popular in the long run.

The Conservatory aboard Celebrity's Millennium-class ships
First introduced aboard Infinity and described as "a breathtaking garden factory", it featured the exclusive designs of world-renowned floral designer Emilio Robba. With wicker seating amidst stunning real and silk arrangements, it offered a wonderful retreat. The florists were also responsible for the displays around the ship. However, some of the windy ways in and out of the space could spoil its potentially quiet ambience.

The concept was repeated in the same location on Summit and on Constellation but on Millennium, the Conservatory was located in one of the forward "pepper-pot" towers where it was little more than a florist shop, but the concept now seems to have gone entirely, in favour of more substantial revenue-earning ideas.
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The Celebrity Theater remains unchanged from its original design common to all 4 ships of the Millennium-class, offering good seating & sight-lines and a well-equipped stage. Also unchanged was Celebrity's signature Michael's Club, a sophisticated venue with excellent bar service.

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The Celebrity Theater The Show "Sirens"
Michael's Club
Comfortable & Sophisticated

On-board Entertainment
Of the 3 production shows we saw, "Bande Artistique" was not at all what we had been led to expect but was nevertheless imaginative and witty; but while "i-Hollywood" proved better than the usual "mish-mash", "Sirens" was truly dire! Many of the cabaret-style shows were at inconvenient times unfortunately but Peter & I thoroughly enjoyed the magician, Adam Trent.

Also very good was the acapella quartet, "The Aqua-Fellas", who entertained in various venues throughout the ship, proving highly popular with passengers. Theirs is an intimate style of entertainment very much in vogue at present.

One major difference aboard Summit is the Conference Center on Deck-3 off the Grand Lobby. This was disappointing when compared to the smartly-fitted mini-cinema found on Constellation.

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The disappointing Conference Center
(left) Aboard Summit & (right) Aboard Constellation
Man about to Fall
by Juan Munoz (2001)
The Emporium
The shopping mall

Also different is the range of art and sculpture around the ship, which seemed less extensive and rather less impressive than on some of Celebrity's other ships. However, one unchanged feature was the Emporium, offering all the usual on-board shopping opportunities!

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Promenade Deck
Spacious and enticing but blocked-off!
The Sunset Bar
(Deck-10 aft)
Cut-off in mid track!
by 43 new Aqua-class cabins

Promenade Deck still offers a pleasant, sheltered spot to sit. There's no aft wrap-around however, since the restaurant is the full-width of the ship but for no clear reason, the forward wrap-around is also blocked-off. Meanwhile on Deck 10, the Sunset Bar still has lovely views astern but above it, the wrap-around Jogging Track aft on Deck 11 has now also been cut-off in mid-track by 43 new "Aqua-class" cabins, using the deck space and requiring the relocation of the Kids' "Fun Factory".

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This impressive lounge, forward on Deck-11, has a magnificent 180 degree vista over the ship's bow, a good-sized dance-floor and ample seating but while it is still used as a Night Club and for major functions, since the 2012 refit, a large section of it has been lost to the relocated Kids' Fun Factory.
These alterations have completely changed the room's orientation, making it less suitable for live performances, as much of the seating now has no view of the stage. Unlike on Millennium and Constellation, there was no impressive artwork and the name "Revelations" has been lost from the ship's passenger mini-maps. Consequently, few found it and sadly, it lacked its original ambience.

Summary 2012
Compared with her sister Constellation and having in the meantime travelled aboard 2 of the "Solstice-class" (Eclipse & Equinox), Summit was not my favourite Celebrity ship. Admittedly, some of the recent changes are improvements but increasing the Millenniun-class' passenger capacity (clearly for economic reasons) has also resulted in compromises which I guess they hope passengers (if they notice) will forgive them for!
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In the 1990's, Celebrity Cruises established an outstanding reputation for its cuisine, with its formal presentation and service. It advertised itself as a "Premium Line" but after the Chandris family sold its interests in 1997 to Royal Caribbean, there were rationalisations and economies which were not well received. On that occasion, Celebrity recovered their position well but in the economic climate post-2011, margins are again being squeezed and while experienced staff still provide exceptional service, standards in a few areas (aboard Celebrity Summit at least) have suffered and it is to be hoped that these isolated instances will be positively addressed. Continued on Page 4 - Celebrity Infinity >>

Total Mileage aboard
Celebrity Summit: 3,154 n miles

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