We have just completed a 12-night cruise of the Mediterranean on the Celebrity Solstice. We enjoyed it enough to sign up for another Celebrity cruise on-board.
The Celebrity Solstice is not the absolute top of the line in cruise ships, but it does provide value for money.
We had a Concierge veranda stateroom. The stateroom was functional, the bathroom was a reasonable size, and the balcony provided room for the two of us to stretch out watch the waves go by. Our attendants were pleasant and helpful, although we didn't require much beyond the standard things. The only criticism I would have is that Celebrity has chosen an Apple network to drive the stateroom TV communications and I am not sure it is up to the task. The signal would tend to freeze up. Not a big deal for us -- we didn't watch it much anyway.
We chose the fixed time dinner option. For us the early sitting suited us well -- we had a number of early start shore excursions and were not interested in partying all More
night. We were fortunate in our dinner companions, and having dinner with them became a fun part of the cruise. The food in the main dining room was good. The dinner menu had two sides to it. The left side never changed and provided some basic standbys such as NY Strip Steak. The right side was different every evening. I like to try things I have not eaten before, so I almost always ended up choosing from the right side. Things were not always perfect, some folks at our table had trouble getting a steak the way they wanted it and the fish on one occasion was dry. However, the wait staff fell over themselves in getting the problems corrected. We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants because we were happy dining in the main dining room.
Breakfast and lunch we took in the cafeteria style Ocean View Cafe. Plenty of good choices to pick from. We never had a problem finding a table either, which can sometimes be a problem in those environments.
We had signed up for Celebrity shore excursions for five of the seven ports we visited. We were happy with all of them. Generally the shore excursions were well organized; you checked in at the main theatre, they gave you a numbered batch and called each excursion by number. The tour guide and the bus displayed the number prominently so even in the mad crush of the Acropolis it was easy to follow.
There was a different show every night. A resident production cast put on three different production shows. There were five guest artists and the remaining four shows were variety shows featuring the production cast and guest artists. The quality was good -- not great -- but certainly enjoyable. The humor would sometimes get a bit edgy. This didn't worry me, but there were some folks at our dinner table that didn't care for it. In addition to the shows there were various musical acts that would perform in different parts of the ship at different times. Most passengers seemed to have at least one they would make a point of listening to -- depending more on style than ability.
There were enough other activities that we never got bored. We only paid extra for one -- a wine tasting. Well, if you discount drinking and gambling. One of the families at our dinner table had a 10 -- year old son. They purposefully chose a cruise with a more limited kids program because they thought that would suit him better. He certainly seemed to enjoy himself.
Formal nights were not super-formal. I had rented a tux because I didn't want to be lugging a tux or suit to Europe with me. Probably about half of the men wore tuxes, close to half wore a suit, and there was a smattering of guys that couldn't be bothered to do either. For our next cruise I will probably take a suit.
I don't know how full the cruise was -- they always seemed to be space, we never felt crowded.
All in all, a good experience and we are ready to do it again. Less
Celebrity Solstice Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
With the crowds and the scaffolding (they are working on the Parthenon) it is difficult to really get into the spirit of what you are seeing.
There is also a problem with most guided tours. If you are on a cruise then essentially you are getting "a taste of" each of the places you visit. You probably are not interesting in every little detail. Tour guides don't get that and want to fill you up with data you can't absorb - especially if you are standing out in 95 degree sun.
Barcelona was our embarkation and disembarkation port. It is great port to sail from and to.
We got out of the taxi and wheeled our baggage a few yards to a collection point.
A place to sit down while we completed the mandatory health forms
Security had to be reasonably eay because I can't remember it.
A short line to check in, and quick photo stop and we are heading for the ship.
Coming back our baggage was easily retrieved from a numbered carousal, we walked outside and got into a taxi almost immediately. There are no shortage of taxis - it just takes time for people to get in and make room for the next taxi. But they had a couple of police directing the flow and it went well.
Kusadasi is how you get to Ephesus. Ephesus is great, although it was unbearably hot when we were there in June. And of course it is crowded.
Kusadasi itself doesn't have much going for it. You can seek out bargains in the market - however this is really and exercise in getting the price reduced from a clearly inflated level to something close to reasonable. If you enjoy buying used cars you can enjoy Kusadasi.
We took a tour that included Anacapri and Capri. We would have liked more time in Anacapri and less time in Capri. Anacapri is still charming. Capri is high priced shops. However, to be honest if we had tried to do it on our own we would never have made it to Anacapri at all and we did happen on a pretty nice spot for lunch in Capri (try to get on of the tables round the corner at the bar/ restaurant next to the Funicular)
Oia and Fira Santorini was my favorite stop of all. It is both interesting and charming. The tour we took included:
Bus to Oia
Walk around Oia
Bus around the island to Fira
Walk around Fira
Cable car down to the ship
We were lucky that we were the only cruise ship in the day we went. There have been as many as 11 ships in at the same time.