After a super whistle stop 2 days in Dubai we joined the ship via a chaotic and wearying hour and a half check in, due to a terminal malfunction. However, once on board we found our balcony cabin to be very nice, with a really decent sized bathroom, shower with curved sliding doors and plenty of room to put toiletries. If any complaint, the lack of hanging space - we much prefer the open rail style as per Princess, so you don't have to keep sliding wardrobe doors open and shut, and having clothes squashed up. Bed very big and always kept made and clean by Ronaldo. Didn't find the over-bed cupboards a problem as reported by previous reviews, even though I'm only 5ft 2", and were a useful place to store bags etc.
Ship itself is very beautiful and always kept clean and tidy. Lifts were efficient and plentiful. Many areas to sit and be quiet if you wanted, or busy and fun filled if you preferred a more active time.
We thought the choices of food were excellent all over the ship, but didn't use any speciality restaurants as we were happy in the MDR each night, and occasional breakfast time. We did think the wine charges were excessive, especially with the extra 15%, but were on holiday so didn't let it prevent us having several bottles of good Australian Red.
Would have to say that the Indian authorities will have to up their game if they wish to attract ships like Solstice to Cochin. The overpowering processes to enable passengers to step ashore were way over the top, with long queues to complete the face to face check (after already having had to part with our passports before the cruise, in order to obtain a visa). It was also very off putting to be met again at the end of the gangway by yet another check and several armed personnel - what did they think a shipload of this calibre of people were going to attempt!! They will need to provide some facilities at the port to make it more appealing on arrival too - a wasted opportunity for some income if they don't.
However, once onshore the Backwaters tour was very interesting and enabled us to see some 'real life' views of how the people live. The lunch at Lake Palace hotel was good and well presented.
Oman was a good stop, particularly as we joined up with another couple,(thank you Anne and Cliff) for a trip to the Grand Mosque, which is a 'must see' if you have time. LADIES DON'T FORGET TO KEEP COVERED FROM HEAD TO FOOT. Also you need to have completed the visit before 11am, as no non-muslims allowed in after then.
Kuala Lumpur stop was a little spoiled by Celebrity under estimating the tours take up. Consequently, at least an hour was lost just queueing to disembark the ship, followed by a traffic hold up due to an accident on the motorway ( not Celebrity's fault I realise). This resulted in us being rushed through each of the tourist visits we made, with only 20 minutes in most places. The tower visit was good and gave us a great view over KL, and Central Markets could have been a good chance for some souvenier buying had we had more time.
However, we got a taster of 4/5 different places and also a good lunch, so quite a good tour overall if the full 7.5 hours available.
We thought the entertainment was disappointing overall, though the ship's shows were good and full of energy. The visiting entertainers were not as good as we have seen on other cruises. Couldn't fault the entertainments crew. We thought they worked tirelessly and put in a lot of effort to keep things moving - loved the night of the masked party , especially when the amateur 'lift entertainers' added to the hilarity (you know who you are, YOU CHEEKY BOYS).
To sum up, this was a lovely relaxing cruise, visiting new and exciting ports.
The value for money of the cruise itself was good, but all the extras ie: 15% on everything, no self laundry facility, and expensive ships tours make this into an expensive holiday. We cannot fault the majority of the crew's customer service, with the exception of 1/2 of the casino dealers, who had changeable moods from night to night - most were very personable. Also must mention great drinks service from our waitress in the casino - who always got every drink perfect. We also found the customer relations desk staff to be more helpful than we have experienced on some ships, so praise deserved there too.
After a troublefree disembarkation the time came to return home after a further night in Singapore, where we stayed in Kings Copthorne hotel, which was quite well placed for China town, Clarke Quay (great place to eat by the river at night) and the MRT underground.
Singapore Zoo is super for seeing animals in a much more natural setting. Provided you don't get caught in a monsoon without a waterproof like we did, it would be a fantastic day out - with or without children. ENJOY IT ALL !!