We chose Celebrity Solstice for our Ruby Wedding Anniversary cruise because she was sailing to the right places (Nice, Rome, Naples, Venice) at the right price and on the right date. We booked our own B.A. flights and stayed overnight at
Barcelona Airport Marriott Renaissance -a good hotel with shuttles to the Cruise Terminal.
Check-in for the Solstice went smoothly until we read the sheet handed to us with our cruise cards . There had been an outbreak of noro-virus and we could re-schedule if we had health concerns but at our own expense. It may be expedient for Celebrity to warn people this way but for someone with heart problems (my wife), it really throws you. We tried to reach our doctor for advice but could'nt. If we had a Smart phone, we could have found out that Solstice has re-ocurring noro-virus problems and a passenger died in 2010 (Celebrity have recently settled the claim). However, blissfully unaware of this, we decided to risk the cruise.
Access to staterooms was delayed until mid-afternoon for noro-virus cleaning but when we did get in, we were happy with the facilities. We had to go straight off to Lifeboat Drill but did'nt see a lifeboat or a lifebelt - just a video in the Theatre. We expected much more after the Costa Concordia sinking.
The noro-virus precautions were very evident with hand lotion everywhere. When the Greek Captain made his morning and evening progress reports, he reminded us to keep washing our hands. It did rather spoil the dinner ambiance.
We enjoyed our first few days. The ship and its facilities were very good including a Solarium which was a haven of peace. There were plenty of activities and the evening entertainment was varied and good. The decor and lay-out of dining facilities was welcoming but the quality of food was not as good as on previous Celebrity cruises. Staff were very efficient and friendly; our one criticism was that some were too friendly and hence intrusive.
On day 4, disaster struck; my wife broke her nose in the Theatre as the show ended. She stood up from her end of row seat, turned to the aisle and stepped forward - unaware there was a step down (her feet were obscuring the warning lights which were very close to the seat. She fell forward and broke her nose on an aisle step. The Medical Team were great but it took 4 hours to stabalise her because of high blood pressure. Lest you think alcohol played a part, she had one standard glass of wine all day.
Next day I highlighted to the Safety Officer that all the Theatre seats exited into an aisle at the same ground level except for my wife's and 3 others where there was a step down with inadequate warnings. I said these seats were dangerous and should be removed so that there was adequate space for the person
in the next seat to see the warning light. The Safety Officer promised to speak to Management and come back to me.
My wife's face was so badly bruised that she avoided social contact as much as possible; we did'nt even get off the ship at Naples and Venice. We came close to flying home but had such nice dinner companions that we stuck it out.
The penultimate day of the cruise was memorable. It was our Ruby Wedding Anniversary and my patience snapped. The Safety Office had not come back as promised and I made my feelings known at Guest Relations about a ship's officer who can't keep his word.
Disembarkation at Barcelona went smoothly and we were glad to be going home.
The Solstice was an excellant ship(apart from Theatre seating design) but Celebrity's food reputation is slipping - as is their attitude to safety based on our experience.
As a footnote to the above, Celebrity deemed our experience to be worth Â£75 off a future cruise !!!