This was our second cruise, both with Celebrity and both on Solstice Class ships. My wife and I had previously cruised on the Celebrity Equinox. We are in our late 20s. We chose this cruise because of the port selection, and we were not disappointed -- nor will you be if you chose this cruise to see Italy, Turkey and Greece.
Understand as you read this, that this cruise was excellent. We would do it again, and we would highly recommend it... but there were also several things that detracted from the experience, and we'd like to share those too.
THE SHIP - First, the ship is immaculate -- which you would expect from a new ship. The public areas were always clean, and I don't think I visited a public restroom when there was not someone cleaning it. There was always an open seat at any bar when I wanted one, and the pool area always had two seats for my wife and I (although sometimes they were in the shade).
The lawn was very disappointing. This was a major change from Equinox. The main lawn area, which was the site of a lot of fun on Equinox, was blocked off for the Cabanas, an extra cost sitting area that was hardly used. Because they line the outside of the lawn, the inside, where all the grass is, is completely blocked off from view. The Lawn Club Grill, which took the place of the Hot Glass Show, was likely a nice restaurant, but always appeared half empty (where as the Hot Glass Show was always full). We spent a lot of time in the lawn area on our last cruise, but were unable to spend any time there this time.
The Hideaway -- I'm sure this is a nice relaxing area, but it plays an even more important role to the exhausted traveler. It's a place mid-ship to get free coffee. This was an incredible improvement over Equinox! Thank you for this Celebrity.
THE CABIN -- We were in cabin 6156, which is categorized as "Partially Obstructed." If it were up to me, I would never book a different cabin. The only obstruction was the lack of the ability to look directly down into the water. That was really not a problem. Because this room is a "bump-out" room, on the transition to the hump, the balcony was much larger than usual (even though when I emailed Celebrity, they expressly told me it was not). We used it for breakfast and napping. Julio our stateroom attendant was regularly prompt with anything we needed.
DINING -- As people have said about this ship, the dining room is beautiful. Regrettably, we were seated down a hall in the back of floor three. This means we were not able to appreciate the amazing stairway and wine rack. Additionally, on the final formal night, we were unable to view the staff parade, which was a bit disappointing. The food was incredible every night. There was always something good to eat, although I was disappointed that all of the truly high-end plates were served on the same night. I would have liked to have beef wellington on the first formal night and lobster on the second, but that's just being picky!
Having eaten at Murano and Tuscan Grille on our previous cruise, we chose to dine at Qsine this time -- and we are glad we did. If you go, I'd recommend passing on the "M's Specialty Box" -- which the server described as their signature item. It was good, and it looks incredible, but the food in it didn't compare to the Mediterranean food in Greece and Turkey, and it's large and filling, limiting your ability to save room for the amazing desserts.
While the food was good, the selection at the Oceanview Cafe (the buffet) was relatively disappointing. We ate there for lunch daily, and sometimes for breakfast, and the food (even the specialties) often repeated. I know that 11 nights is a long cruise, but some additional variety would be nice.
There was one Brunch during the cruise... it's not worth going to. It was crowded, the food wasn't very special, and the service was awful. We go water with stuff floating in it, and had to meet the server at the station to get coffee because they weren't coming to our table. It's not worth it, even though your dinner server will recommend it.
ALCOHOL -- We were pleasantly surprised by the price of drinks on board. It reinforced that we didn't need a drink package, and we were still able to drink all we wanted! Many mixed drinks in the $6-7 range, which was great!
EMBARKATION & DEBARKATION -- Both went smoothly, so not much to say here. Keep an eye out for the Celebrity buses as you are entering the port... we weren't the only people that missed them.
THE PROBLEMS -- The problems that we experienced were all avoidable with better attention to detail from the staff.
During the muster drill, one of the leaders (who we later found out was one of the main male actors) was particularly rude, even to the point of yelling at one guest during the "multi-language" section of the muster video. You could tell the whole room was uncomfortable afterwards.
When we visited the Molecular bar on the first night (excellent drinks, by the way) the bartender told us she had had a sore throat for a week, while she was making our drinks. I can't help thinking I got my sore throat later that week from her!
Tendering in Santorini -- Celebrity acted like they had never done tenders before...First, we were waiting in line for our tender ticket, and were told everyone would get a #10 or #11 ticket. We ended up with #16, while our friends, right next to us in line got #13. Then when 14-15-16 were called to go to the departure area, at the stairs they were only letting #11 down. When we saw people taking the elevator down, we decided to do that, where we promptly allowed on the tender boat. Lesson -- TAKE THE ELEVATOR when your number is called!
Eating at the Bistro on 5 (great crepes, and totally worth the $5 upcharge) our initial waiter first told me they had no Strongbow Cider, then I later saw two people being served Strongbow. Later, his cell phone rang while serving us, and he took what appeared to be a personal call.
One morning, as my wife was standing on her balcony, water poured on her from above... they were cleaning windows... it was disgusting. We told our cabin steward, but received no apology.
Our shower drained slowly for several days. When it was cleaned, the cap was left off and there was a large clump of hair left on the bathroom floor. Again -- this was disgusting.
Turndown service regularly occurred before dinner, so when we'd come back to clean up for dinner, our room was ready for bed.
While these problems were all small issues, they (along with a few others) added up and we were talking about the imperfections throughout the cruise.
CONCLUSION -- Despite the problems, this was a great cruise. Again, we'd highly recommend it, and we'd do it again. Our first trip with Celebrity vastly exceeded our expectations with so few flaws, that the flaws here stood out. Regardless of this, I can't imagine a much better cruise for the price, and we're looking forward to our next opportunity to book a cruise with Celebrity!