Fabulous Greek Isles Cruise on the Celebrity Solstice
Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
We have just completed our first-ever cruise. We chose a Greek Isles vacation with Celebrity Cruises and sailed on the Solstice from Barcelona. Service was impeccable from embarkation to disembarkation. Guest Services was responsive and handled any issues quickly and efficiently. Our room steward was so responsive to our needs that we hardly saw him, but definitely knew when he had serviced the room - from ice always being available to turn-down each evening. The ocean-view cabin had more than enough room for two, especially with the luggage fitting under the bed and in the overhead storage. Our MDR waiters were very attentive and provided some of the most excellent service we have experienced anywhere. Once officers and crew got to know us, they would engage us by name and ask how things were, even when we saw them in port!
The food was wonderful and the MDR menus exciting. I have a severe allergy to all seafood, and once our maitre d' in the MDR was informed, he and More
the food service staff took very good care of me, letting me choose from the next evening's menu ahead of time and letting me know if any item had any hidden seafood ingredients (i.e. a soup I ordered the night before was actually made with fish stock - I was told at dinner the next evening and given the opportunity to choose another item BEFORE it came to the table). The selection in the Oceanview Cafe was varied and well-prepared, ranging from made-to-order omelets to specialties such as blood sausage, jerk chicken and a curried food station. We were so pleased with the quality of the food in the MDR and Cafe that we didn't feel the need to dine in any of the specialty restaurants.
The evening entertainment in the main theater wasn't really what we preferred, but we did like the cirque-type show called "Solstice." The theme parties were fun, and we thoroughly enjoyed the string trio and ship orchestra (we're classical musicians). There was PLENTY to do on the ship in the evening and on sea days, including the Corning glass-blowing show, various classes and the optional "behind the scenes" ship tours.
There was plenty of time to visit the ports of call and still enjoy some time on the ship before setting sail each evening.
I'm sure there may have been something I missed in this cruise review. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have about our itinerary, the ship or the Solstice Greek Isles cruise! Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Solstice
Located 3rd level, mid-ship, ocean view cabin. VERY QUIET. Did not even hear noise from theme parties in Grand Foyer. Close to gangway on port days (walk down one level to 2), Shore Excursion desk and Guest Services. On same floor as Grand Epernay MDR. Not many cabins on this level and had easy access to less busy elevators. Will definitely book again.
Port and Shore Excursions
Outstanding tour with Private Greece Tours with an experienced driver-guide. His English was excellent and he was extremely knowledgeable and flexible, tailoring our tour to our needs and sites we wanted to see on our half-day panoramic. Vehicle was clean and comfortable. Our tour included most of the popular attractions and some time to do things on our own. When the driver-guide wasn't able to park near an attraction to wait, we were temporarily provided a local cell phone to call once we were ready to be picked-up. Very good tour company with great driver-guides.
Our tour guide kept us engaged and was extremely knowledgeable. We even had spots where we had a little exploration time. We arrived at the cruise port timely and better educated about Barcelona!
Excellent tour with Ephesus Tours with a very experienced guide. It was even better that our guide had a driver so he could focus his attention on giving us the best experience in Ephesus. His English was excellent and he was extremely knowledgeable. Vehicle was clean and comfortable. Our tour included the House of the Virgin Mary, Temple of Artemis, Basilica of St. John, Carpet Weaving, the Celsius Library, the archaeological site and the Great Theater of Ephesus. We also had a traditional lunch. Be prepared for aggressive sales pitches if your tour includes a carpet weaving demonstration.
We decided to take the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to tour Valletta, Malta on our own. Because we had previously used CitySightseeing in Naples, we were entitled to a 10% discount on the Malta bus - great deal! One price (15 Euros) to ride all routes all day - great decision. We saw everything the shop-sponsored excursion did for a lot less money and no crowds. We got off where we wanted to see something, and the buses circulated past each stop every 30 minutes. Afterwards, we enjoyed the additional shopping available right at the newly updated cruise port and returned to the ship.
This rating is being given more for the beauty of the island and the hospitality of the locals. The ship drops off at a very touristy location (LOTS of shopping). The shopkeepers are aggressive about pulling you in and showing you items, especially the jewelers. Just be prepared to politely say no if you are not interested. We walked the remainder of the town on our own - very easy to do and very beautiful!
There is so much to do in Naples that we had to make decisions about what we would tackle in one day. The Hop-on Hop-off bus is a definite if you are interested in seeing most of Naples. One price (22 Euros) to ride all routes all day. Don't forget Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. There are boats to take you across the bay to the island of Capri for its beauty and great shopping (visit the perfume factory!). If your aim is Pompeii, go EARLY in the morning to beat the heat and crowds. If you are looking for a more preserved archaeological site with fewer crowds, visit Herculaneum. Take a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and water wherever you go. We enjoyed the hop-on hop-off because it gave us 30 minutes to visit and shop at our selected stops. A visit to Galleria Umberto near Piazza Municipio is a must for some nice shopping, good gelato and cannoli as well as a cool off. From there, we simply walked back to the cruise port. Thoroughly enjoyable port of call.
Greeted warmly and on time - clean and comfortable vehicle and extremely knowledgeable driver-guide. Personable and enjoyed his company and pride in his country. Even had time to do a few things on our own. Highly recommend this company.
This rating is being given more for the beauty of the island and the hospitality of the locals. The ship drops off at a yet another very touristy location (LOTS of shopping). There are three (3) ways to get up to Fira: walk (only if you are in relatively good shape and can dodge donkey poop); ride a donkey (not recommended because at times the donkeys are not well-treated and you will smell like donkey poop the rest of the day); or the cable car. The cable car is a short, beautiful ride for about 4 Euros each way. You'll be dropped off right in the middle of shopping, but the town is very easy to discover and walk on your own.