Post-‘Revolution’ Celebrity Summit Is A Great Ship Made Better
by Vanessa Lee
Vanessa with Dondra Ritzenthaler(Senior Vice President for Celebrity on Summit
The Retreat sundeck on Summit
Summit -the Q'sine restaurant.
One of the many beautiful small spaces on the newly refurbished ship
Part of the Oceanview Café
After the masterful roll-out of the stunning and game-changing Celebrity Edge last Fall and the remarkably positive trade response to this new-in-class ship, Celebrity Cruises has now embarked on a massive, US$500 million plus reimagining and revitalization program to its fleet, dubbed ‘The Celebrity Revolution.’
The project will see Celebrity Millennium, Infinity, Summit and Constellation and all of the line’s Solstice class ships being enhanced with Edge features over the next few years. To date in 2019, the Millennium, Summit and Equinox have all been refreshed. This process will continue, ship by ship until 2023. I experienced the ‘Revolution’ firsthand on a short cruise from San Juan on Celebrity Summit and the changes are impressive.
Originally launched as the last of the Millennium class in 2001, the Summit has always been one of the company’s most attractive and popular ships (and my personal favourite from that Class) and has now undergone a remarkable transformation.
According to brand president, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the expectation is that every Celebrity ship should have about a 30-year life span so this vessel could potentially sail another 12 years with the fleet.
Every accommodation, including the bathrooms, was taken down to the steel and built back up again, and now each stateroom boasts a soft, elegant and neutral palette similar to that which premiered on the Edge.
The rooms, designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) offer a calm and inviting fresh look with excellent and efficient use of storage and new eXhale bedding featuring super comfortable and luxurious Cashmere mattresses.
Renowned British designer Kelly Hoppen, who designed many of the staterooms and suites on the Edge, had the task of refreshing every suite on the ship starting with the Sky Suites and they are gorgeous – it’s that famous neutral palette but it really does work very well.
The Hoppen look also appears in several other areas of the ship including the Retreat Lounge and the Retreat Sundeck – which I loved -- both exclusively created for suite-class guests. These various aspects of Suite class are a new offering on Summit, again having debuted so successfully on the Edge.
What was formerly Michael’s Club, with its leather furnishings and feel of an English gentleman’s club, is now a gorgeous lounge exclusively for suite guests and offering 24-hour concierge service, gourmet bites and occasional entertainment.
Add to that the sanctuary of the expansive and private Retreat Sundeck and the small, jewel-box like restaurant, Luminae, also reserved for suite-class guests. Luminae is the overall highest-rated restaurant in the fleet and I concur as I have dined there twice recently and the food and service is stellar. These additions continue the modern luxury and innovative approach for which Celebrity has long been renowned.
Two new partnerships were unveiled on the Celebrity Summit. One with famed Michelin-starred restaurateur, Daniel Boulud, and the other with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT).
Boulud’s creative dishes made an appearance at Luminae as added signature inclusions to the regular menu and will be rolled out as a Chef’s Table offering two nights per cruise for just 12 guests at an additional fee. This Chef Boulud experience will include canapes and Champagne, a galley tour, a 5-course menu, a photograph memento and a cook book.
Celebrity executive Chef Cornelius Gallagher, also Michelin-starred, indicated that the partnership with Boulud will go much deeper than just a dinner offering and will eventually encompass food videos, a culinary scholarship for up and coming young chefs and more. Boulud will also sail on the fleet from time to time.
We saw an impressive and most enjoyable performance by the acclaimed dance company of the ABT – which incorporated both music and dance and was a big hit with the audience. The iconic American Ballet Theatre debuted on the Summit and will also perform on Millennium and Equinox and join the rest of the fleet in due course. Guests can also mingle with the dancers at seminars and partake of ballet barre classes.
Other notable changes and additions on the Summit are in the dining realm. Popular spot Q’Sine with its splashes of bold colour will now be on every ship and also showcase the brand’s virtual Le Petit Chef experience which debuted successfully on the Edge. Created by the world-famous artists of Skullmapping and presented by TableMation, it’s ingenious and adds creativity to an already excellent dining experience.
The Oceanview Café has transformed to a much lighter, airier marketplace-inspired feel with a selection of food islands offering delicious global cuisine. Both the food choices and the atmosphere make this a more appealing, yet still casual locale and the refreshed Sunset Bar at the aft of the ships is also a popular spot all day and ideal for a pre-dinner cocktail and casual al fresco dining.
The ‘Celebrity Revolution’ is an impressive undertaking and may indeed transform the way the line’s guests see the world – at the very least in the heights of comfort, superior service and impeccable design.