I was seated at the wall of windows that wrap the Waterfall Grill, enjoying cinnamon waffles and omelets, when a pod of playful dolphins sprung from the twirling sea, one after another, to kiss the warm morning sky. In the next five days of our sojourn aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Summit from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera, I anticipated more magical experiences in a departure from the ordinary.
The Summit boasts 11 passenger decks and 1,059 suites that accommodate 1,950 guests, whose epicurean tastes are satiated with 45,000 pounds of beef, lamb, lobster, and fish. The crew, made up of more than 60 nationalities, provides Vegas- and Broadway-style entertainment; prepares and serves 9,000 meals daily in three dining rooms; and facilitates socials, seminars, and shore excursions. ConciergeClass is one of three unique brands of services — offering guests preferential pampering. At this level of service, staterooms are appointed with 24-hour butler service, guests receive dining seating preference, VIP invites to onboard events, and a variety of in-suite comforts.
Each day at sea allowed for indulging in a tireless roster of fun opportunities. To view the poolside cooking competition and live band, I joined Kathy and Gregg McCree from Brooklyn, New York, who had dropped anchor in a sun-kissed whirlpool spa. “We usually cruise for birthdays and anniversaries,” offered Kathy as we ordered smoothies, “we were told Summit had a mature crowd; so far we’re in the whirlpools most of the day.” That evening we dined in the plush, art deco Normandie, which is distinguished for its decoupage, flambÃ© tableside service and dine-in wine cellar featuring 175 fine vintages.
The abundance of tequila factories in Puerto Vallarta, our first port of call, supports the popularity of this excursion. Mario, our guide, steered us to a crowded demonstration and sampling of two-dozen flavors of the legendary libation.
Later that evening, after dinner — and more tequila — we donned white attire and attended the masquerade ball in the whimsical Cirque du Soleil-designed lounge.
Roughly a dozen excursion options are crafted for each port. A colorful folkloric showcase followed by sightseeing along the waterfront then silver shopping in the Golden Zone easily filled our itinerary in Mazatlan. Founded in 1531, it’s Mexico’s oldest town.
Cabo San Lucas is the hot spot for aquatic adventures. We chose the two-bay snorkeling experience for the chance to swim amid flamboyant fish and got a great adrenaline rush wave-running back to the ship. Michelle and Stephen White of Quartz Hill, California, on their fifth and first cruise, respectively, were among the guests snapping farewell photos as the anchor lifted. “I’m a casino girl myself,” quipped Michelle as we recapped the trip. “I wasn’t looking for a 24-hour party boat [which Summit isn’t]; the costume ball, bingo, and Broadway show are a good blend of entertainment.”
The last dinner at sea is a regal affair with tailored tuxedos and elegant gowns. A string quartet serenaded patrons as captain Michail Karatzas greeted his guests. At our table, Sandra and Dexter Bryant of Orange County, California — usually fervid conversationalists —