The Cova Cafe is a small area which serves espresso (at a price) and pastries (complimentary). There is often a harpist or pianist in the area to provide nice background music and on the Millennium, there is a very nice Tea Room close by that is a very enjoyable place to sit and watch the ocean go by. Sodas are not free at anyplace or time. You can get free lemonade or iced tea during meals.
Cova Cafe serves fine coffee and teas at a cost, pastries, and complimentary high-quality chocolates. They also sell Cova chocolates, often in gift boxes.
On the Horizon and Zenith these areas are in former clubs, there's a pianist, or combo group to entertain pax in the lounge. On the Galaxy it is unique in that it is separate from Tastings and is in a small, intimate bar area between shops called the Interlude Bar. On the Century and Mercury the Cova Cafe is at Tastings and circles around the foyer. It does something of a similar thing on the Millennium class ships, Cova and Tastings are combined.
Please clarify - so, for instance, if I wish to relax with a cup of tea in the evening (i.e., after a show), there is a charge for the tea? We're planning our first Celebrity cruise (Summit/Caribbean) after 3 HAL cruises - extremely happy with HAL, just thought we'd give Celebrity a try as so many people recommend it. On HAL, we ended every evening in the Explorer's Lounge with complimentary teas, coffee, chocolates, etc.
I'm not sure that Celebrity is very comfortable with the concept of "free". After all this is the line that charges you to belong to their repeaters group and charges almost double for its kids' soft drink cards.
Yes, in the Java Cafe on HAL the coffee is complimentary but not on Celebrity. There's a charge in Cova/Tastings, but the chocolates are really good and they'll gladly bring you more (usually). But you pay for every cup of tea or coffee that you order.
I don't think there is an Explorer's Lounge equivalent on the Summit. Cova is foyer located, there is a nice tea room area, but its not really a lounge. Celebrity lounges are the full width of the ship, except for the cigar lounge.
Celebrity's ships are different than HAL. On HAL you get more dance floors, and the rooms are divided differently in that there are many different nooks and conversation areas. Celebrity has large public rooms divided in larger main areas, there's a difference in the feeling of socializing. I think Celebrity has less intimate areas in the Millennium ships than the Century class ships and frankly would recommend a Century class ship over a Millennium class ship to HAL fans for that very reason.
Also, unlike the Odyssey on HAL's ships, the specialty restaurant on the Summit has a $25 per person charge. On HAL it is a no cost choice on Rotterdam and later ships, HAL is distinguished in not charging extra for its more upscale dining experience. However, most that have dined in the Millennium or Infinity's specialty restaurant found the level of service and cuisine to be well above the charge.
There's also no popcorn served before the showing of movies, no afterdinner mints, no chimes before dinner is served. These are all unique HAL nicities. Celebrity has their own, you'll find out what they are.
I want to throw out a caveat, though. Celebrity is a different line than HAL. The service is not as "tight" in that the server crew are International and not, like HAL, from two countries. Don't expect too much from the food, it is fairly similar to HAL though I think the presentation is nicer and I think it is *subtly* better in taste. However, that's not a unanimous opinion in that we all have different taste buds. Buffet food is fairly similar in quality I think. The service may also seem more formal, Celebrity's servers may not remember your preferences (sometimes they do) like they usually do on HAL and also may not address you by your first name (though they sometimes do).
I find these lines to be of a very similar quality and I give a slight edge to Celebrity but could make a good argument for giving HAL the edge, especially since they do not charge for some things you have to pay for on Celebrity. But Celebrity does a few things in the dining room they HAL does not do (like serving clearing the palette sorbet between courses).
I also have to say that Celebrity's deck space on the Summit is just OK and I dislike the promenade deck. The promenade is not teak and does not wrap around the front or back. (Promenade on earlier series ships were teak and wrapped around the back). Overall, on all HAL ships vs. Celebrity ships there's more deck space on the HAL ships.
In the Ocean Cafe, (where the buffets are) there is coffee and tea available 24hrs, but it is not the quality espresso that you get in the Cova Cafe and there are definitely not chocolates there. Basically, it is just a pot of regular and decaf coffee and a pot of hot water. If you really are looking for something sweet, the midnight buffets always have goodies and even on the nights with the gourmet bites, there are sweets.
we sailed on the Millie-- I think they had hot water and cups out at the ocean grill-- but good luck finding ice tea or anything else during non meal times.
Don't order an ice tea from a bar, they will give you a can of Flavored sweet tea-- for $2.50. I would guess that anything you order from a bar will cost you $$, anything you can get yourself will be free.