We have cruised many times but this was our first with Celebrity. We have had only good cruises but some are better than others.....
We flew to Barcelona two days early and enjoyed our stay at Hotel 1898 right on La Rambla. Would highly recommend.
Embarkation-We arrived around 11:30 and found long line. Easily dropped off our luggage with stevedore and joined the line. Fortunately, we were under cover, so we didn't have to stand outside in the sun. Line was a little slow until we got past security and then check in was prompt and relatively easy.
Stateroom-We had aft cabin which provided wonderful views, especially leaving Venice, Kotor and Dubrovnik, but it had very little cover from the elements. The bathroom had a nice layout and we thought the shower, with glass doors, was very functional and we certainly did not miss a clinging shower curtain! Overall cabin was generally quiet and though it did not seem to have a lot of storage, it worked for our 12 night cruise.
Entertainment- Other than The Neptune's, an extremely talented a capella group, none of the entertainment stood out. Given the long days in port, many of the shows had very few people in attendance.
Excursions- We did Celebrity excursions in most of the ports. We found them very disorganized and crowded as to actually getting off the ship. At Villefranche we actually waited in a stair case on the ship for over 30 minutes due to some problem. Most of the tour guides were very good and the lunches provided on the tours were full course meals, including wine, and the food was exceptional. However, it was a nice break to not be on a large tour when we were in Venice and Dubrovnik.
It has been reported on the Celebrity board the issue that the Solstice had in Venice. We had taken the water shuttle into Venice and were coming back around 9 and were told there was a delay with no reason given. Finally after a 30 minute wait we left for the ship but noted that we were getting off in a different place in an area of total darkness. A few boats were unloaded at the same time and there was confusion as to what was going on. Finally the crowd began to move through the darkness, but we quickly noted that we were not going toward the ship, but rather to a large building where there were several hundred people waiting. A strong gust of wind had forced the Solstice off its mooring, breaking several ropes and at lease one mooring, and causing the gangway to collapse. So the ship had to be repositioned and the gangway set back up. In the meantime the 500-700 people were inside where there were toilets and a couple of vending machines. We found out that some people had been there for over 2.5 hours when we arrived. Communication was pretty poor as to what was going on. Finally it was announced that the process to re-board the ship could commence, but that we would have to go through both port and ship security. They also announced that the ship was extending the dining times that evening. It was requested that only 100 at a time go to security and that people that had waited the longest be allowed to leave first. This quickly broke down and people started running through the darkness toward the ship with little direction given. At the port security screening we saw little evidence of Celebrity personnel and at one point we had to clear the way so that a disabled lady in a wheel chair could get through the crowd, where some bad pushy behavior was taking place. Finally we boarded the ship and were greeted with offers of hot chocolate...............We were disappointed that no explanation was provided to passengers as to what happened the previous evening. However, we did meet a couple who happened to be at the scene when the ropes broke, and they explained what had happened to the ship. The most important thing was that no one was hurt. Certainly it was an unsettling evening to say the least.
Dining-We understand that food is the most subjective issue on a ship so with that caveat.......we normally ate in the MDR for dinner at fixed late seating. Our first few meals were not so good and our service was below the standard we were use to. We attempted to changed to select dining but they were full, so the last two nights we were able to switch to early fixed dinning and had wonderful service and great meals. We also ate at each of the speciality restaurants. We throughly enjoyed the Tuscan Grill and Murano but were disappointed with the food and service at Silk Harvest. We also ate twice at Bistro on Five and enjoyed the food and service and thought the small ($5) surcharge was worth it. We like the lighter fare at the AquaSpa Cafe, but it was a very busy venue and often there was not room to sit in the area. The Oceanview Cafe was very good and other than the juice and coffee area, was laid out in an organized manner.
Disembarkation- We had one of the early numbers to get off the ship and went to our assigned area to wait (Solstice Theater). When our number was called we went toward the gangway and quickly noted very long lines to get off the ship. It was apparent that many people with higher numbers (not yet called) were getting off also. After some long delays we got off and got to the luggage area. We like the fact that the bags were coming off on moving belts, like an airport, and TV screens showed which belt that your baggage would be at. Certainly a better system than going into a big building with luggage all in a line. We quickly got our baggage and went outside to get our Celebrity transfer to the airport. Well needless to say chaos reigned as there were many buses and little direction on where to go. We located a truck where we took our big bags as was told that they would take those bags to airport. After asking many people we finally boarded our bus (after leaving our carry on bags curbside as we were told they could not go on bus). A lot of people were stressed by this process and one lady started yelling at the celebrity rep as to what a poor process this was......After a long wait on the bus it was determined that we were blocked in by other buses and had to back up in order to leave. We finally made it to the airport but certainly it was an poor process and we would never buy a Celebrity transfer to airport again..........
The Ship-While this is a very large ship, we only felt crowded when exiting or returning to the ship. With its many bars and other areas one could always find a place to get away.
We enjoyed the itinerary very much, but overall had some mixed feelings about our Celebrity experience.