Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by TigerMom7: Terrible shore excursions with mediocre food
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Terrible shore excursions with mediocre food
Destination: Australia & New Zealand
Embarkation: Sydney (Australia)
Boarding the ship as one of the later groups worked out great. It took only 10 minutes. Unfortunately, we still did not have our luggage by dinner time, so we were a sweaty mess in the Grand Epernay.
Dinners in the main dining room, the Grand Epernay, had wonderful and kind waiters/waitresses and an attentive Head Dining Attendant. I have not yet been to France, but the French baguettes seemed amazingly delicious (crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside). The gelatos and home-made pistachio ice cream were divine. Otherwise, the food was a disappointment overall. Unfortunately,out f the 12 evening dinners in the Grand Epernay, only the rib-eye steak was good. The duck, even the skin, lacked taste and was chewy. The fish was "fishy". The pastas were bland. Sadly, I cook better meals at home.
The Specialty Restaurant, Silk Harvest, would not have any customers if this restaurant was on land. Definitely avoid Silk Harvest! The Tuscan Grill was decent More and worth the extra $35 per person. We did not try Murano, but I heard that it was good.
The Oceanside Cafe had a variety of mediocre food. The best part of the buffet were the breads and the egg salad. Almost daily, people had to "fight" for tables because the Oceanside cafe was way too crowded.
The gym equipment screens were frustratingly dysfunctional 25% of the time without any television entertainment and there were not enough bikes for people with knee problems.
AVOID THE SHORE EXCURSIONS on this ship!!!! I understand that the ship needs to make money on the shore excursions, but they really were terrible. One of our friends on the ship paid $150 per person to be driven up to one location, provided fish and chips, and then driven back to the dock. We were shown a "glow worm cave" kayaking excursion in Taurunga which literally had 10 tiny specks of glow worm in a tiny nook for 1 minute (although I will admit that the hot springs soak was nice with cool tour guides) and we lost one hour of kayaking due the need to organize the large number of people getting into kayaks...price $169 per person (2 hours of actually kayaking of the 6 hour event, including the 1 hour drive each direction). In Wellington, we also paid $100 per person for a 1.5 hour tour of Zealandia Sanctuary(which an active person can walk to from the dock in 35minutes) of which we saw only 0.5km of the Sanctuary because you were supposed to follow a very slow moving, talkative tour guide, then waited 45 minutes for a 1 minute cable car ride up, and a 10minute view at the top of the Botanical Gardens. People that did not leave the shore excursions tour, completely missed out on seeing the rest of the beautiful Botanical Gardens and were driven back down to the Parliament building. As other reviewers have mentioned, on the Australian/New Zealand cruise of the Celebrity Solstice, you can directly book your own excursions for less when you arrive in port.
In Wellington, New Zealand, I would definitely recommend visiting the Zealandia Sanctuary, The Botanical Gardens, and the Tepapa Museum on your own. These 3 locations should not be missed.
I would recommend booking a private or a group kayaking excursion with Brent of Akaroa Guided Kayak Safari and visiting The Giant's House if you happen to be in Akaroa, New Zealand.
Our room attendant was very polite and friendly and kept our rooms clean/neat.
No self-laundry services on the ship. Be aware that the ship charges $2 per pair of socks and $5 per shirt. I personally felt that these were absolutely ridiculous pricing that I was naive about.
Do NOT use the ship internet service which was extremely complicated to use and slow. Sometimes, you are still not logged off even when you push the "log off" button. Turn off your device to ensure that you are actually logged off. Use land based coffee shop/restaurant internet service instead.
The Acapella singing group called Full Tilt was AMAZING! The Solstice Show is a Cirque du Soleil type show that was spectacular! Get there early for good seats. The rest of the shows were just ok.
Departing the ship in multiple small groups made things super easy and our group was able to leave the ship AND find our luggage in just 10minutes.
If you fly out of Auckland, New Zealand on Air New Zealand, you might be able to get VIP treatment through Guy King of Select Tours who was our knowledgeable, personal tour guide on our last day in Auckland. Less
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