Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by artist5320: A cruise to remember
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A cruise to remember
This Celebrity cruise was our fifth but the first in the Mediterranean and it was great. We flew direct from Philadelphia and landed in Barcelona at 8:00 am and took the Celebrity shuttle at about 10:00 to the ship. We were registered in 10 minutes and boarded at 11:00 am going straight to the Ocean Grill buffet for lunch. The rooms were ready about 2:00 pm and the luggage delivered about 5:00 pm. We selected the 6:15 dinning time and had great service with Gusti at table 229. When I asked him what one special dessert was but ordered another, he brought both.........he knew I wanted to try each one. The show that evening was run by Alejandro who was bilingual as the majority of cruisers were Spanish speaking. So we were at sea for two days, which was good as we adjusted to the 6 hour time difference.
There were several talks about the Port by Lisi and Lenora Mill, from Geo Washington University about the artist Titian that were very helpful.
We had a balcony on More deck 8, which was good as we had cabins above and below us, so never much noise. It was 6 decks up to the 14th deck where the Ocean grill buffet was located. We generally ate breakfast and lunch here and found a lot of variety. Plenty to eat and good quality as they changed the dessert selections each day although they had pears only on the first day and the apples were just OK, not crisp. The dinner service was excellent and our waiter was always interested in taking care of us. He often made suggestions regarding the Ports and asked us what we liked. It is interesting on the next to last night they honor all the staff that work on the food and beverage and by recognizing them and when they asked the question who has the best waiter every table hooted and clapped and so that is an indication of great service. We had plenty of choices and every night had a chicken, dish, salmon or steak as the set menu and then usually 6 or 7 options for your entree. Many were unique and we enjoyed trying different foods we did not normally eat. One night we tried the Murano due to a free credit there and it was excellent and the service and food quality was above the main dining room, which was great anyway.
The pool area outside was crowded on sea days but there was an indoor, air controlled pool area that generally had lounge chairs. It had a small pool and was relaxing.
The shows were felt for the most part to be the best we had seen on a ship. Several that come to mind are Doug Cameron and his violin, Antonio Salchi with the grand piano and the Broadway show tunes.
Dubrovnik They had a shuttle to take you into town for $12 round trip that made it easy to reach the city that was about 2 ÃÂ½ miles away. It was welcome on the hot day we were there. We took the 8:30 am shuttle, as we wanted to walk the walls before it got crowded and hot and it worked out well. There is a ticket office just inside the gate where you buy your tickets for about 70KN ---they take credit cards but not Euros. Waling the walls opened up different views and we found ourselves taking pictures every few steps. There are some refreshment stands on the wall and even a free bathroom about half way around. We walked and got off near the cable car and took that to the top of the nearby mountain. Great view from on top. There is a rest there but we came down and walked on the main street to the Portun Rest. At Sigurate street for pizza and drinks and appreciated the AC. We also had some gelati on the street but it is not real ice cream but made with vegetable fat and so was only 1E. Go off the main street like on Old Puca street and look at the different shops and the art gallery that was bombed during the 1991 wart and see the damage that was done. It was in the 90s so we retreated back to the ship by early afternoon.
Venice We arrived about 11:30 and sat up in the Sky Bar for a great view on the right side of the ship. We ate quickly and went off the ship at 1:00 pm and took the people mover (1E) each way to the Piazza where we bought the tickets for 36 hours for 25 E per person so we could use the Vaporriti or waterbus to unlimited locations including Murano where we went after connecting at St. Marc Square. (#2 to St Marc and 7 to Murano) very busy and packed with people at times but you do see the city. We walked around Murano after getting of at the lighthouse or I think Faro stop. NOTE many shops sell glass made in China so look for signs that say no glass from China. We walked the main street called Fond dei Vetrai. The glass blowers were not open as it was August so not actual glass blowing going on. We did find out the glass blowing was started by 5 families and we went to one shop owned by one of those families -- RAVANELLO. They had beautiful crosses and other Murano glass. We left here at 4:30 and headed over to St. Marc Square where we went up Rassa ST. looking for sandwich shops mentioned in Rick Steve's Guide I had on Italy. (highly recommend this book as well as his free download Aps on many locations). We ate at one he recommended but not happy with this recommendation "Verde" but did eat lukewarm pizza and hot ham and cheese sandwiches that was good. We walked into St. Marc square for a gelati break and did the Bell tower as the wait was only 5 minutes. After that we took the Vaporriti back to our ship. The next morning we were back at St. Marc's square taking the Vaporriti down the Grand Canal we went through the Dogge Palace that was incredible. We used the audio tour and it was worth it. Paintings were unbelievable. After this we waited for about 20 minutes to tour St. Marc's Basilica that contains the bones of Mark the Apostle. We walked over to the Rialto bridge and had lunch ( 2E cover charge for eating at the Grand Canal) We then want back to the ship taking #2 toward the Ferrovia ( train station). Highlights were the Dogge Palace, riding the Grand Canal, our Gondola ride and ST Marc's Square but will not miss the crowded streets and hot weather
Split, Croatia We tendered in (no wait) and walked around this city rather than doing a guided tour. Cellar was interesting as was the Basilica built on the Mausoleum for the Emperor Diocletian (he and his wife were moved out of it to build the church) I purchased a watercolor from an artist and we walked out the eastern gate to a fruit and fish market and even into a supermarket where we bought some snacks with our credit card. We also bought some handmade bags for 22.5E bargained down from 30E just because that is all the E we had at the time.
Naples we did the Amalfi Coast boat tour with Pompeii. Both were unique. The coast was beautiful and the boat ride a great way to see the unusual buildings hugging the cliffs. In Amalfi we toured the Basilica of St. Andrew with his bones recovered from Egypt and buried inside the church. The church was built on a hillside and it is so much larger inside than it looks. Take the tour if you go here. After lunch, we toured Pompeii and it is just hard to comprehend that way it was destroyed by the volcano ash and hot gas.
Rome We did the 9-ÃÂ½ hour tour and it was packed and included lunch. Since it was over 1 hour away, we wanted to make sure we got back on ship. We did the Trevi fountain (another gelati stop) the Roman Forum, Coliseum, then lunch and then the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. Plenty of pictures and memories and a very busy day. Plenty to see and not enough time but we did enjoy all the history and sights.
Florence Our Celebrity sponsored tour guide was Anna Lisa and she was excellent. We took the waling tour for 2 hours and then on our own for 3 hours. The walking tour showed us what we might want to go back to and we did go back for the Domo Basilica to tour it after having lunch on the San Lorenzo Square at Rist. Finisterrae -- again what else pizza and soda. The domo was built with no scaffolding which was incredible as it took over 400 steps to reach the top. We purchased leather purses form the outdoor shops that line the street near the square. We checked out the Leather School behind the Basilica but found prices high and not worth the trip back there. Oh for gelati near the Domo try Guma -- all natural ingredients and great.
We took many pictures and enjoyed walking the streets.
Aix en Provence We took the tour that included a walking guided portion and then were on our own Isabel took us for 1 our and we saw the market on the main street, the fruit market, the old street, old theater and the Basilica where we saw a refurbished painting with the King and Queen kneeling before the Baby Jesus and the town of Aix in the background. I don't know how they can afford to keep up these massive churches but they must. Very small streets and shops and just a picturesque town......of course another CrÃÂ¨me glace.
Barcelona we took a tour after getting of the ship that lasted for 8 hours as we were leaving the next morning. We selected Barcelona Day tours based on the reviews in Trip Advisor. http://www.barcelonadaytours.com/ Our guide was Nardin and he was excellent. His background in architecture really added to our tour especially knowing a lot about the sites we visited. We did the Barcelona and Montserrat tour. Visited many interesting buildings, the Olympic village, the National gallery of Art, the SagradaFamilia Cathedral, the Basilica with the Black Madonna, Montjuic Castle overlooking the harbor and the Rambles. Less
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