My wife and I booked this cruise direct with Celebrity on a one day sale at a great price. The line even upgraded us to an outside cabin. I have had this happen before but only when I booked direct with the cruise line (Princess and Celebrity).
We boarded in Auckland which is a very nice town. Arrive a few days early to adjust to the time and see the sights. Top of my list is a day at Waihiki Island and the Memorial History Museum. We got to the convenient terminal at about 2:00PM on departure day. Everything was as expected with the normal excellent food in the dining room and superior cabin service. The entertainment was average except for the production shows which were spectacular and awesome. Overall I give Celebrity an 8 on the entertainment as it is probably hard to get great shipboard entertainers so far from the UK and US markets. The Captain was great and even had a Q&A session on one of the sea days where it was no holds barred.
My wife and I are not demanding cruisers, so we do not pick the ship and staff apart for any error or problem, but there are always few on Celebrity. My only complaint was that the tours were way too expensive, but as there are many other options, we used those. They may price to the clientele and if they fill them up, all the better, but as they were always promoting the tours, I do not think that they were getting them filled. The only town where they were reasonably priced was Adelaide, and as we only wanted to see two things there we did not go on a tour there.
My wife loves the cafe for her latte in the AM or mid-PM and the staff there is excellent. I also know that the sommeliers are under a lot of pressure to fill their wine sales quotas, so I try to get a bottle of wine every other night (like other lines, they will keep the bottle for you over night). One nice Captains Club perk was a 15% discount on an expensive bottle of wine. I always give the waiters, assistant waiters and cabin stewards a few ($20-$40) bucks extra. This is always appreciated.
The ship tied up in Sydney for two days at show center right opposite the Opera House, next to the "Rocks" and a short walk to the circular quay ferry terminal. You do not need a tour in Sydney. Just buy a $22/per day per person bus/boat/ferry/train ticket and go to Museums, Bondi, Zoo, Manley, Fish Market, anywhere! Buy the ticket at the circular quay tourist kiosk (opens 9:00AM).
All of the ports were great and the Kiwis and Aussies are very friendly and helpful everywhere.
About 800 people on the Solstice were staying on the ship to circumnavigate Australia, but after 18 great days, we were ready to get off. This we did in Fremantle/Perth.
Important information about arriving in Fremantle...... The ship arrives there early. Fremantle is the Port for Perth that sits about 12 miles up the Swan River estuary. There are few options when you arrive in Fremantle of what to do with your luggage as most hotels do not want you to check in before 2:00 and most likely you will stay in Perth which has many nice hotels (try Hotwire for good deals). My wife and I had this issue arriving at 7:00 AM on the Celebrity Solstice. We are BIG history buffs and wanted to see the 2 great Maritime museums in Freemantle. The Ship Museum is only about 1/3 mile from where the cruise ships tie up. The terminal greeter staff is friendly, but do not know anything about cab fares, eateries, or how to do stuff. Just head OUT of the cruise ship terminal and get a cab or walk to the big W.A. Maritime Museum shaped like a sail at the end of the quay. The staff there is super friendly. We were going to prevail on them to watch our luggage, but guess what. They have a large bank of HUGE LUGGAGE STORAGE LOCKERS behind the reception area. They can handle just about any bag. You put in a $2 Aussie coin (which they will supply you at the desk if needed) and your luggage is locked and safe for the day. And, get this! You get your $2 back when you key the lock open. FREE STORAGE at an awesome museum. Spend the morning here and then head over to the Shipwreck Galleries. Do not miss Cicerellos for Fish & Chips lunch. Spend a nice day exploring Freo and then pick up your luggage and take the train (opposite the cruise ship terminal) up to Perth for about $4 per person. Do not miss Kings Park in Perth or a cruise tour of the Swan River.