This was my second cruise aboard the Solstice, a ship full of art and beautifully managed in terms of cleanliness, service, food and safety. I booked through Celebrity and enjoyed the benefits of airport transfer to the ship, early boarding, in addition to a great bargain on the flight to Barcelona.
It's disappointing that Celebrity does not offer to singles an incentive to travel with them. I have no interest in 'hooking up' or sharing my personal space with someone else. Accordingly, I am required to pay twice the fare, and I find this not only punitive for my consumption on the ship (other than a room based on double occupancy) but also discriminatory based on my personal status in life.
That said, I was fortunate to find a dear friend who was willing to accompany me on this cruise, at my expense. To be clear, I paid her fare for the cruise, and she paid for her other expenses to and from the departure port and on-board and shore costs. For me, the cost was very More
close to what I would have paid had I travelled alone; the benefit to me was to travel with a very good friend to share the experience, something I had notably missed on my first cruise.
***SIDEBAR*** A learning experience from my first cruise: On my cruise through the Western Caribbean, our first stop was Grand Cayman. I purchased the Shore Excursion package for the glass-bottom boat tour for $62US to see the tropical fish, nautical wrecks and coral reefs. Sounded gorgeous.
The boat tour departure point was located about three city-blocks equivalent from the pier, and so there was no transportation provided. I and the others who had purchased this package found our way to the tour's office, and sat in the lounge waiting for the boat to return, discharge its previous passengers, and wait for us to board.
My idle mind scanned the room and centred on the price list for the tours offered by this business. The tour we were scheduled to take was listed at $12.50 US. We walked back to the pier after this tour.
Without further detail, my msg to you is evident. You be the judge. Less
Celebrity Solstice Cruises to the Western Mediterranean
We landed in Barcelona from a red-eye from Canada, and were very happy to be met by Celebrity staff who coordinated our luggage transfer and took us to the pier for immediate boarding. Thank you!!
So, no experience of Barcelona except for a well-run airport, with standards matching any major international city.
We took local transit to Florence an then walked, not interested in Pisa. Shoulder-toshoulder tourists even in this time, line-ups everywhere. Our best time was when we escaped the crowds by going to the Pitti Palace, a massive Medici combination of gardens, buildings and interiors. I bought a beautiful leather man-bag on the street and we shared gelato in a crowded stand-up spot before we headed back to the ship. We missed all the spots you're supposed to see in Firenze, except for the outside. My personal feeling is that Florence is an inside place and I'll have to have a special opportunity for that in order to really appreciate the city.
In keeping with our commitment to avoid costly on-board shore excursion offers, we alighted in Ville Franche and climbed the slope to a local bus stop, where we purchased transit to Nice for next to nothing. We studied the map on the bus for the route home we would take at the end of the day.
We arrived at Place Messina (look this up, it's central to Nice and gorgeous, and Messina is a big name in this area) and walked down through the market to the beach, where Rosy changed into her swimsuit and had an obligatory dip in the Mediterranean. They call it a pebble beach. The pebbles are about the size of a fist, and hard to walk on. It's a topless beach, too. Still, I held up a towel behind which Rosy changed...
We made sure to look through the stalls in the Nice market, seeking especially sea salt and flavoured salts which are unique to Nice. We stopped for lunch at a tiny 8-seat resto for a pain baignat, a baguette stuffed with the ingredients of a salade nicoise and doused with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The staff were at the end of their shift and playing crazy giggly while we ate and drank, much to our pleasure.
Night after night, we were so happy to come home to our ship, our cabin, and our canapes at 5 pm and a time to relax befor dinner at 7:30 or so. We chose the option allowing unassigned dinner, which led to us meeting different people every night. Wonderful!!
PS: Rosy decided she could live in Ville Franche, if pressed.