Celebrity Summit Review
One of Celebrity's four Millennium Class ships, the Summit is now ten years old, but still looks impressive.
With only five eateries, the choices on the Celebrity Summit are relatively limited —at least compared to some of the newer Celebrity ships and newer, bigger vessels such as Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, which has a dozen full restaurants and over a dozen more snack places, cafes, and bars.
The main restaurant on the Celebrity Summit is called Cosmopolitan, offering international cuisine. Cosmopolitan features dishes that change daily as well as dishes that remain on the menu all week. There are always chef recommendations and vegetarian dishes.
If you prefer buffets, don't miss the Waterfall Café, offering international breakfasts, lunch, and dinner. If you come in early enough (it opens at 6am for breakfast), the food is noticeably fresher.
Just outside the Waterfall Café is the Poolside Grill. Here, you can get freshly prepared burgers and hot dogs, a perennial poolside favorite.
Located by the spa, the Aquaspa Café offers healthy breakfast and lunch options.
The only specialty restaurant on the Celebrity Summit is the Normandie, serving French food. You can choose either the tasting menu, which costs $90, or eat a la carte for $40. Among other sumptuous dishes, the menu includes a pan-seared filet mignon and a crispy Loup De Mer, both of which are finished at the table.
Editor's Note: In December 2011 Celebrity Summit received a major overhaul that substantially changed some of the ship's features. Notably, cabins received a facelift and restaurants were added. For a review of another Millennium Class ship that was "solsticized" see our take on Celebrity Infinity, post-remodel.
The Cosmopolitan is quite large, extending over two levels. At the bottom of the main staircase is a statue that, by some accounts, was on the original SS Normandie. The two-story-high windows let sun pour in. There are so many tables jammed together that it’s a squeeze to get around during dinner rush. All tables are set with white table cloths and enough silverware for a couple of appetizers and main courses. The red chairs and carpet complete the sleek look. The Cosmopolitan’s dress code is smart casual: no flip flops, shorts, or swim wear. On formal nights the dress code is elegant.
Breakfast is available daily. The Cosmopolitan offers lunch only on sea days. Once a week, the Summit serves up a full brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At night, the Cosmopolitan gets seriously rushed, no matter which time you choose to sit. On formal nights, the waiters serve a sherbet between dishes to clean the taste buds before serving the next dish.
The onion soup was amazing, with a thick crust of Gruyere atop tasty broth with herb croutons. The warm goat cheese tart with balsamic was also delicious.
As for entrees, we had good and bad experiences. The lobster was overcooked. The game hen looked tasty, but was still bloody. One night, we overheard another table order filet mignon three times before the cook got it medium rare. These were isolated incidents, however. The lamb was perfectly cooked, and we were big fans of the pork chop, too... though the marshmallow and sweet potato side felt out of place during summer in the Caribbean.
At dessert, samples are brought out for you to choose, including chocolate fudge cake, marzipan amaretto cake, different ice creams and sherbets, and – best of all – a chocolate souffle with vanilla sauce.
The Waterfall Café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets. As so many other buffet venues, it looks more like a cafeteria than a restaurant. If you’re in a hurry to eat something before you hit the pool, this is the perfect choice. Romantic it is not. Manned stations provide a huge choice of international dishes. Smaller stations with coffee, juices, and hot water are strategically positioned throughout the room.
Breakfast at the Waterfall Café includes some great international dishes, like English blood sausage, Russian blintz, and crepes. Of course, there are plenty of American breakfast choices too, like pancakes, bacon, eggs, and French toast. We also enjoyed an eggs benedict platter that featured international spins on the preparation, like the German version with sausage instead of ham.
A few healthier options, including cereals, yogurt, and fruits are also available.
Lunch and dinner are much the same at the Waterfall Cafe. There’s always pizza, pasta, a carving station, bread, and salads. For dinner the Summit also offers sushi, but only a couple of rolls. As the buffet seems to pride itself on international cuisine, we were able to find some delicious Indian food.
The wine list here is not very long. The Waterfall only offers wines by the glass, including Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Cabernet, Chianti, and Pinot Noir. Prices start at $5.50 for a glass of wine.
The Poolside Grill is not a very large area, but that shouldn’t be a problem because you can take your food anywhere you want. Grab a hot dog or a hamburger and head on over to your favorite sun deck.
At the Poolside Grill, the Celebrity Summit offers a few salads as well as hot dogs and hamburgers.
Renew Aquaspa Café
Renew is a not much more than a little area behind the Aquaspa, just a miniature buffet with one drink station. If you want to sit down you can do so at one of the tables around the pool.
For breakfast, Renew offers fruits, muesli, cereal, and yogurts, but also eggs and bacon. Guess they can’t all be healthy.
As with the breakfast, the lunch choices at the Aquaspa Café are very limited to not much more than some paninis and drinks.
Even the dessert at the Renew is healthy and sugar free.
The Normandie doesn’t just take its name from the SS Normandie, once the biggest cruise liner in the world; the eatery also is decorated with original paneling and ornamentation from the famed French ship. It really is beautiful décor. All tables are set with white table linen, silver underplates, fine china, and real candles.
Some items are finished tableside. It’s almost like dinner theater. The Summit offers a tasting menu for $90, with wine pairing, or an a la carte dinner for $40. Both are worth every penny. Early reservations are highly recommended.
As an amuse bouche, the waiters bring cold soup in a shot glass, in our case, shrimp mojito with orange and mango. We definitely didn't see that coming. Delicious surprises are always the greatest reward for dining out, aren’t they?
For appetizers, the menu offers pan-seared foie gras with a delicious duck rillette and an interesting ginger sauce. Among other dishes, we found the wild mushroom cappuccino with porcini ice cream to be among the most flavorful.
The main courses include lobster, risotto, duck breast, and the Normandie’s take on the “surf and turf.” If you want your food finished tableside, order either filet Mignon or loup de mer (European seabass). If you’re satisfied with food finished in the kitchen (we call that the boring way), we thought highly of the venison loin with celery fondant, spinach, red cabbage marmalade and lingonberry sauce.
Another nice touch in the Normandie: “Champagne high tea”, organized on the last day of the trip. For $25, you get several sandwiches and pastries, warm raisin scones, a glass of champagne, and loose teas. Now that’s the way to close a vacation.
The dessert menu offers a chocolate souffle and a dessert sampler with rose water creme brûlée, white chocolate mousse with raspberry, dark chocolate mousse, strawberries in a Pinot Noir sauce, apple crumble pie, and a mint sherbet. Every one of them was delicious. Another dessert is the mango souffle, a fluffy little cake made of egg whites with small mango bits at the bottom, topped with a mango sauce.
The extensive wine list in the Normandie includes many French vintners (no surprise), but also many from other great wine regions of the world. Wine pairing is only available for the tasting menu, but the sommelier will gladly help you find the right one.
The menu for room service is quite long when compared to other ships on which we have sailed. It takes 30 to 45 minutes for the food to be delivered, but sometimes a lot faster.
Breakfast is available from 6 am to 10 am. Use the door tag to order make sure you have it hanging outside by 4 am. Or forget the door hanger and just call when you wake up. Apparently that works, too. The menu includes egg dishes, bread, cereal, pastries, juices, and yogurts.
For lunch and dinner, the Summit offers different soups, like a New England clam chowder served in a freshly-baked bread bowl, salads, hamburgers, lasagna, steak, quesadillas, sandwiches, and a surprisingly delicious pizza.
Desserts include a double chocolate cake, cookies, raspberry cheesecake, fruit and cheese plates.
If you to drink something other than water, the room service menu offers beer, iced tea, San Pellegrino or Evian, and wine by the glass. The price for beer is $5 or $6. Wines start at $6.50.
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