My husband and I sailed on the Celebrity Solstice from Auckland, NZ on January 28, 2013 for 18 nights. We disembarked in Perth on February 15th.
This was our first trip on a Solstice class ship....we sailed the Caribbean on the Century a few years ago, and the Panama Canal on the Infinity in Dec. 2010.
We were really happy with our stateroom, 9199, a 1B veranda cabin, especially the bathroom! No more shower curtain! A corner shower with curved glass doors! And storage galore! And beautiful fixtures! And dim lighting to be left on at night for us over 65's who need to find the bathroom in the middle of the night!
The storage for clothes in the cabin was o.k., and it was especially nice to find the overhead/over the bed cabinet!
Food....we ate breakfast in the buffet every morning, as we don't like to spend too much time waiting for food to arrive. I am not a classic breakfast eater (I prefer a slice of turkey on a piece of toast), but I found blintzes most mornings, and had bacon every morning (since I almost never buy it at home!)! After about a week, we agreed that breakfast had become tedious....I think we were just tired of eating! Most lunches, when we were not on tour, were a hot dog or hamburger and fries at the pool. We never ate lunch in the main dining room, either. We did hit the ice cream/sorbet bar a few times....the coconut sorbet was our favorite.
Dinner in the Epernay main dining room was pretty good most of the time. But...we had requested, with our friends, to be seated together at a large table, and we ended up at a table for 4, but next to two tables for 2. We did not try any of the other restaurants, except the crepe bistro, which was really good. The wait staff was very responsive to our tastes and were very nice about taking food (steaks) back for additional cooking, or to change something we didn't like. The assistant maitre'd visited our table every night and personally took back my steak for more grilling.
Tours......we booked 3 tours thru Celebrity and 3 tours off the internet. Our favorite tour was the Blue Mountain tour that we booked thru Blue Diamond Tours on the internet. It left earlier than the ship tours and we were a group of 8 in a Mercedes van, and not 50 on a tour bus! Since Celebrity contracts with tour companies at each stop, I guess they really have to get feedback from the passengers.....and one of our tours was absolutely a horror. I went to the Guest Relations desk and complained, and we were given back part of the cost of the tour.
The one big complaint that everyone on the ship had was the long lines to disembark and then get back on the ship at some of the ports. It seemed as though Celebrity didn't know how long it takes to get 3000 people back onto a ship! Some of the lines were an hour long!! And one gangway open!!
The ports were, for the most part, okay....except for Esperance, Australia. We laughingly called it "the town that time forgot!" Like a town from the 1950's! But the beaches were absolutely gorgeous!! Forget going to Christchurch for now....even two years after their last big earthquake, there are still huge piles of rubble and many ruined buildings all over the city. Our guide blamed the "insurance companies and the government" for not getting things cleaned up and rebuilt.
We flew from LA to Auckland and back from Sydney to LA on Air Pacific....they are getting new planes sometime this year and becoming Fiji Airlines.....wait until that happens before you think of booking them.....they are flying old 747's and we were packed in like sardines! My video screen didn't work in either direction, and the layover in Nadi is not a happy time. We were made to go thru security there even tho we had just come off the plane from LA and Sydney. Ladies, pack your make-up in the quart zip lock bags even if it is not liquid!!!
I could go on and on.....did we enjoy our cruise?? YES! Would we book another Celebrity cruise....well....we may try a smaller ship next time to avoid those long lines. Our first cruise in 2000 was on Renaissance in Tahiti.....650 passengers....those ships are now Azamara and Oceania. We'll have to look into their itineraries.....