We had a wonderful time sailing from NZ to Sydney and then on to the Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. A few were doing 5 segments disembarking in Seattle. The staff and ship were impeccable. Here are our observations:
- The ship is in excellent material condition. If one were looking for rust or minor imperfections, you could find them. I am sure there will be rust appearing after numerous sea days between Sydney and Ensenada.
- Cruise Director Ian Cresswell is excellent and as an Aussie a perfect fit for Solstice's down-under cruises. His Aussie Slang 101 presentation was great, but the Aussies present didn't know why it had to be taught.
- Chandru is the perfect Captain's Club host who knew everyone by the second meeting and is extremely helpful.
- To us, the highlight of traveling in Aqua Class is having Blu as your dining room. The food is excellent with many choices, but the best part is the intimacy of the dining room and being served by some of the best waitstaff including the incredible Ketuk (who went on vacation after our second leg on April 12, 2013), his able assistant, Rajeev who always had a smile (and departed after the first leg), sommelier, Sanjay, assistant maitre d' - Linda and maitre d' Aurelian. They know who you are and your preferences and you may dine when you wish.
- Thoroughly enjoyed the behind the scenes ships tour with 25 minutes on the bridge with the master, in the forward mooring area with a second officer from Croatia, a theatre tour with the dance team leader, tour of the crew spaces with the HR Director and Training and Development Officer, a briefing in the engineering control room by the staff engineer, a look at the provisions areas, a galley tour with Chef Robert, and finally a luncheon including wine. Tour cost was $150.
- Entertainment was excellent with the production crew doing three major performances and three interactive theme parties which are not to be missed and a variety of individual performers including the Aussie Boys.
- Wifi was good and worked well in our cabin (1630). While it was far faster than early dial-up, it is not what you have at home and it is expensive.
- Music volume was fine both in the theatre and passageways. Groups playing in the foyer were louder, but well within normal entertainment range. Once in the cabin passageways, you could not hear them.
And very few negatives:
- There was a noticeable absence of senior officers visible throughout the ship. On previous Celebrity cruises you routinely had sightings of the captain, Hotel Director, Guest Relations Officers and others in the public areas. Captain Berdos appeared publicly only when necessary. The others were invisible.
- Milos Radacovich, the naturalist, spent more time talking about himself and trying to make jokes than about the topic. Some loved him while the rest of us wondered why.
A few hints gleaned from previous Cruise Critic posters:
- Get the small fiber boxes from Target or Dollar Tree to organize storage in the over the bed storage areas. They keep things organized and easily accessible.
- If you want a bit of light in the cabin and to know what time it is, purchase a $7 digital alarm clock from Target. There are two 110V jacks and one European 220V jack by the desk.