Celebrity Summit, Aqua Class, first-time experience

As our tans begin to fade and two Samsonites are placed back into storage, my thoughts return to our not too distant 7-day cruise aboard Celebrity Summit (March 27–April 2). I had promised myself that I’d write a review, not on the ports (we’ll do that separately) but on the ship itself and more specifically our first-time experience on Celebrity as Aqua Class guests.

And since Celebrity is insistent about receiving our concise, unrestrained and to-the-point-feedback (via; several automated emails), this couple is most happy to oblige.

First let me qualify our cruising experience. We are not what you’d consider uber cruisers–like some couples we’ve met with 20-30 plus cruises under their belts–but we do have some experience, mostly on Celebrity’s sister ships, Royal Caribbean. We’ve totaled 9 cruises, mostly touring the Caribbean and one in the Mediterranean.

This was our first time cruising with Celebrity and we were looking forward to a little change of scenery, not to mention the upgrades and perks as Aqua Class guests. We have always viewed Celebrity as a notch above RC. Cruiseline.com compares the two this way: “Celebrity is refined (think painting classes and croquet on grass lawns), while Royal Caribbean is down to earth, with sporty activities like ice skating and simulated skydiving.” I know there are many Celebrity diehards that will support this statement, but does Aqua Class live up to the hype and the price?

Normally we’ll book a junior suite, upper level, mid-ship. But, even though we booked well in advance, there were no rooms available. So we opted for the Aqua Class and were looking forward to a week of lapping up the luxury of a spa infused stateroom along with all the other amenities that Aqua Class included.

Our Stateroom

Our stateroom, 1139 was on deck 11 which we enjoy but at the aft of the boat. Actually the last cabin on the port side. This would not have been our first or second choice, but we took what was available.

Everything’s a bit tight

We found the stateroom a little on the small side having experienced junior suites that provide a bit more room, especially on the balcony. We were both disappointed as to how cramped it was. A small round table and two chairs leave little space to maneuver. The railing shows rust and we know that the deck flooring had never been cleaned as there was a piece of railing debris left there during our entire stay.

I’ll mention at this point too that the Summit had most recently gone through some refurbishing, but in isolated areas only. Too bad it didn’t include our stateroom. The love seat had definitely seen better days (tired and stained) making it off-limits for this couple. None the less, it provided additional storage space for a camera bag, beach and snorkeling gear.

We have always found the beds (two twins joined together) to be comfortable. Aqua Class suites however include Celebrity eXhale™bedding featuring: custom premium mattresses, plush duvets and pillows, and 100% pure cotton linens. Honestly, if we hadn’t been aware of these features, we probably wouldn’t have known the difference. And the ‘plush duvet’ along with the ‘pillow menu’ went awol.

The washroom was a decent size which was nice for a change, as we’ve experienced much smaller. No tub but the shower stall was roomy enough and we both enjoyed the comfort of the Hansgrohe shower panel. The custom blended bath products however were no more than what you’d expect at any Motel 6.

Services and perks

Exclusive to Aqua Class guests? No, not really. A personal spa concierge to arrange Spa treatments is available to any guest, just go to the spa and ask. Your perk does grant you access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room (yawn) where you can relax in a dry or wet sauna.

Aqua Class guests do receive daily delivery of flavored tea? But I beg to ask ‘why?’ We did enjoy the complimentary tote bag and the champagne delivered on our first and second day was well-received.

Boarding is definitely an Aqua Class plus. You get express luggage delivery and priority boarding that eliminate the lineups so you’re sipping the free welcome drinks sooner than most guests. Definitely a nice perk.

Dining

Aqua guests have exclusive access to Blu, a specialty restaurant featuring ‘clean cuisine’ that also serves complimentary breakfast every day.

The above image shows how smart this room is. The decor is lovely and well presented, but the compliments end there. On our first morning they lost our breakfast order. I couldn’t find our waiter and had to hunt it down on my own. This was not a good start to the week. The meals we experienced (5 breakfasts and 1 dinner) were good, but not ‘exceptional.’  Certainly the meals we ordered were nicely presented and enjoyable but were not much different from what you’d receive in the main dining room. If I were a food critique (instead of a food lover) I’d be more specific (and likely more critical) with this part of my review.

The staff here were friendly enough, but they seemed stressed and always rushed. This actually applies to most of the ship, especially in the main dining room. We found that the wait staff were simply going through the motions ‘when they had to.’ I’m not sure if there was a lack of staff or they simply couldn’t wait to go home.

Conclusion

With all the negatives noted, we still enjoyed our time on board Celebrity Summit. Although this post was more specific to reviewing Aqua Class I’m happy to report that there were many features about this ship that made this trip enjoyable. There are a few other restaurants to try, like Tuscan Grille and Qsine (a must) and of course the Martini Bar was a pre-dinner staple. Not to mention the ports – 5 islands in 7-days. But to conclude, I don’t think Aqua Class is worth the hype nor the money.

 

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