We spent four days in London prior to the cruise with another couple, taking Viator tours while there, including the private car from Heathrow. We did an all day tour, the river boat tour, and the Kensington and Hampton Court Palace tour.
We always use the transportation provided by the cruise line, so went back to Heathrow on 8 June, and took the Celebrity bus to Southampton. Very orderly, no problems.
Check-in was also quick, and we all relaxed for the upcoming cruise. I really liked how the ship was laid out, with the Solarium, and specialties all together. The library has a very good selection of books, altho we always load up our nook and Ipad up with e-books too.
We did have some illnesses on board, but think it was controlled by having the crew do the serving. (It's not the crew that is sick, and not practicing proper hygiene, its the passengers, something out of the cruise ships control. That's how these things start.) I think it was handled quite well. I have never gotten sick on a cruise, and that's with three crossings, a panama canal, a river cruse, a few Alaska cruises and countless Caribbean cruises.
Weather was ok, with St Petersburg weather quite good. Stockholm was not, but I did get my roof walk in. Weather is also out of the captains control, I would prefer he keep me safe, by not tempting the winds docking, and tender. So, it took another hour. My wife and our friends decided not to tender, and they all received refunds. Good PR. Coming home, the foghorn was going every 3-4 minutes for almost two days it was so foggy. Rather that then barrel down the Solent ! I love it when every captain says: "This is your Captain speaking to you from the Bridge." They better be there, when its bad weather! FYI, the seas were like glass, did not even feel like you were on a boat.
The food in the main dining room was quite good, better than NCL fare. We were at table 271, and David and Ronald knew what our preferences were after the first night. David liked to provide a summary of what was happening around the ship, and where we were going next. By the time I noticed my entree was gone, Ronald was setting my service for my tea, and the other fellow his coffee.
We all had the five speciality restaurant package, with Quisine, Tuscan Grill, and Murano. I think their specialties are of better quality than NCL's. I think I like Tuscan Grill the best, partially because of its stern location. Murano's food is also excellent...
My wife and I struck up a friendship with a member of the customer relations staff, Federicka, who sent us a tray of strawberries, as a thank you. A nice gesture.
We have bought a significant amount of artwork in the past few years from Parkwest, and I was a bit perturbed at the lack of courtesy in accommodating our simple requests for prices. That was the only negative of the trip.
The gym on this ship had the best layout I have ever seen.
I would rate the entertainment as ok, with NCL entertainment being much much better.
I ended up with almost $1000 in shipboard credits, so we had no bill when we departed, a great, great deal!
On the whole, I really liked the way the ship was laid out, the cruise was enjoyable, including the Celebrity excursions. We are going on another Solstice class ship!