With so many gleaming new cruise ships lining up to be launched this year and next, it’s easy to forget about older vessels still sailing across the world’s oceans.
Such is the pace of change and innovation that many ships can quickly look out of date, even if they’re only a few years old, which is why several cruise companies are pumping millions of pounds into upgrading their older craft.
Celebrity Cruises is one of those breathing new life into its fleet with a massive $500 million investment designed to bring some of the coolest features of its most modern ground-breaking flagship Celebrity Edge – which launched in a fanfare of glory last December – to its sister ships.
As part of the so-called “Celebrity Revolution” nine ships are being transformed over the next few years, with the first two – Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Summit – already emerging with a completely new look.
I stepped aboard Celebrity Summit in Puerto Rico, following a month-long refit in a shipyard in the Bahamas where it had been stripped down to the steel hull.
To say this 18-year-old ship has had a facelift is an understatement. The difference is so all-encompassing, it’s about as close as you can get to a new ship.
It isn’t, of course; the layout and some structural elements give away Summit’s older years, but this is a ship that has been truly transformed with a stylish new look that has given it a fresh lease of life.
So radical are the changes, that Summit even carried the intoxicating smell and feel that comes with new-launches just out of the shipyard, with springy carpets, gleaming glass and swish contemporary designs.
Carefully-curated artworks and vivid splashes of colour also added to the new ultra-modern feel that carries the spirit of Celebrity Edge, with clean lines and cool curves complemented by a palate of neutral shades of grey, mink and cream.
British designer Kelly Hoppen, of Dragon’s Den fame, who played a key role in the design of Celebrity Edge, has brought her cutting-edge talents to this ship too.
This is most evident in The Retreat, the lavish sanctuary reserved for suite guests, which debuted on Celebrity Edge and has now been introduced to Celebrity Summit.
Its exclusive al fresco deck area is the sort of chic enclave that proves irresistible with plush cabanas and loungers, complete with a bubbling hot tub as its focal point.
Inside is the similarly stylish Retreat Lounge, which replaces the former dark, more sombre surroundings of Michael’s Club and is now a chic retreat open 24/7 where suite guests can enjoy complimentary drinks, gourmet snacks and live entertainment, plus the benefits of a concierge service.
A new restaurant called Luminae, solely reserved for suite guests, features dishes created by Michelin star chef Daniel Boulud, who has recently joined forces with the line.
As for the suites themselves, they have been given the Hoppen treatment and are a study in understated elegance that subtly muses Eastern and Western influences with muted tones and carefully placed signature artworks.
Celebrity Summit’s refurbishment has added 30 new staterooms to this 2,218-passenger ship, with all of them given a modern new look.
Under the guidance of California-based hospitality design gurus Hirsch Bedner Associates, they now exude a boutique hotel feel with subtle shades and luxury touches, along with classy redesigned ensuite facilities boasting marblesque finishes and new fixtures.
Celebrity Summit’s main Cosmopolitan Restaurant is unrecognisable; the dated darker surroundings replaced by an airy, modern space with a vast signature window overlooking the ship’s aft, while the buffet Oceanview Café is also lighter and brighter, with a more marketplace feel and an emphasis on local produce reflecting ports visited on each cruise.
Pampering fans can immerse themselves in the refurbished Canyon Ranch Spa that has been transformed with new-look facilities.
Not only has the fitness centre been kitted out with the latest technological equipment, but there’s a new studio for cycle and yoga classes.
When it comes to relaxing, guests can retreat to the enhanced Persian Garden thermal suite with its new sumptuous Turkish bath, infra-red sauna and salt therapy room.
Anyone wanting to splash out can indulge themselves in the revamped boutiques where they can browse watches and jewellery by the likes of John Hardy, Hublot and Shinola or go for a flutter in the sophisticated casino with its redesigned bar and rows of new state-of-the-art slot machines.
Entertainment has also been given a cultural makeover thanks to Celebrity’s tie-up with the New York-based American Ballet Theatre that brings classical dance performances to a cruising audience.
Celebrity Summit is clearly leading a revolution that promises to transform the Celebrity Cruises fleet out of all recognition.
*The next Celebrity ships to be revamped are Celebrity Equinox in June, followed by four more in 2020: Celebrity Silhouette in January; Celebrity Constellation in May; plus Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Eclipse in November.
Celebrity Solstice follows in October 2021 with Celebrity Reflection the last to be revamped in February 2023.
If you’re interested in setting sail aboard this stunningly ‘Revolution-ised’ ship, or one of her sister ships, call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 for expert advice and award-winning customer service with your booking.
Have you sailed with Celebrity Cruises before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.