Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by Tony UK: Solstice a tale of 2 cruises
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Solstice a tale of 2 cruises
We embarked in Singapore for an Asia / Australia and Australia New Zealand cruise.I echo many of the comments made by others on these sailings, We are regular Celebrity cruisers and so we knew what to expect - we thought!
Overall we had a very good experience but there was a marked difference in the 2 sailings. Here goes with the excellent the good bad and the ugly! The worst first.....
The Singapore to Sydney sailing got off to a bad start - No health declaration when we boarded which was unusual - but the sickness was already on board, passengers stranded ashore in a storm in Singapore and chaotic handling of the situation.Other ships were still embarking. Then a long delay leaving Singapore because some people hadn't handed in passports although no-one explained why they had to and it took hours before the ship announced who needed to go to guest relations! The lifeboat drill was the worst I have experienced ever - I always had my doubts about just watching the tv. Only More around 25% could see the screen which didn't matter as there was a fault and we were just told to watch the video in our staterooms.Then there was the debacle over tendering in Bali - approx 1Â½ hours from the time given for priority tender guests, and then another hour whilst they loaded the catamaran. The return was ever worse, an hour outside the terminal in searing heat with no shade and then a very slow tender service. Our daughter was very ill because of the heat and thanks to Aussies in the line who assisted us. There was a lack of attention to detail on this sailing, small things but irritating when compared to excellence on other ships.
The ship itself was in good condition overall, although the ice bar wasn't working throughout our sailing. Staff willing and working hard to please, but leaders and officers not visible or engaging on this sailing.I put this down to using unfamiliar ports and that it was a reposition sold at a low price, but Celebrity it is important to keep up standards no matter what!
Food was excellent and select dining well organised. The formal night shows were very late 10-45 and this led to a rush in select dining and the experience was spoiled. We usually eat around 7-15 but on formal nights moved to 8-30 and it was so much better.Entertainment crew were fantastic and worked very hard. Main production shows were good, but the others I saw were not to our liking - maybe they were an aussie thing. The watercolour classes were the highlight for me. Renew Michael's contract - he was wonderful with classes well over subscribed.
Ports were very good, Singapore Bali were great places to visit. Darwin and Brisbane were interesting ports, although our docking point made for limited options from Brisbane. We toured independently except for Barrier reef. Although there were flyers mentioning port douglas and quicksilver we went on a much cheaper line and the quality showed however nothing could take away from how fabulous the GBR was.
The sail into Sydney was magnificent worth getting up early for.
Many passengers thought they were staying on board for a back to back to NZ. They were dismayed to find they had to get off and find hotel accom in Sydney high season for 1 night. Don't know how this happened Celebrity but it did your reputation no good!
After a great time in Sydney we set sail for NZ. Everything changed in terms of management. New captain aboard and some other key staff boarded. The lifeboat drill was back to standard. New cruise director lively and chirpy and very welcoming - seemed like a new ship! We were lucky to be invited to the sailing into Milford sound on the helipad - a wonderful experience. Officers were more visible throughout, the captain came to our cruise critic party!
The ports were fantastic - Dunedin, we used Back to nature tours and had a fantastic day. Akaroa - went on the trans alpine express with the ship - a tender port where there were no problems. In Tauranga and Aukland we used Jim Archer tours who I can recommend. In Bay of Islands we went to the tall ship R tucker - a fantastic last port in NZ, a relaxing day where we were encouraged to take part steering, ropes, sails, even making lunch - a wonderful day. Overall we fell in love with NZ. Concierge service and CC hostess Melissa seemed much more at ease on the 2nd cruise and did an excellent job. Only downside was no painting classes.which we enjoyed so much on the previous leg.
Again the staff worked hard and service and food were excellent in the main dining room. We had a rare experience of a poor meal in Murano, however it was put right with an invite to lunch which was back to its excellent best.
The differences in the 2 cruises was marked, maybe due to leadership, jaded crew, illness etc. The first left us feeling we should have a look at other cruiselines, the second reconfirmed the Celebrity we have known in the past. Less
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