Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by 4DogCampers: Elegant ship, nice crew, food was hit-or-miss
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Elegant ship, nice crew, food was hit-or-miss
We just got married in April and knew this trip was going to be our honeymoon. I did lots of homework on cruise lines, ships, destinations, ports, etc. I chose carefully and because I'd read so many reviews I wasn't actually too surprised by what I experienced.
We booked the Westin Hotel in Seattle for the night before the cruise - we booked through the cruise line in order to get the transfer to the pier. The hotel was okay - clean but with an odd setup and no refrigerator to use. I would not have wanted to spend more than one night there.
The transfer from hotel to pier from the Westin hotel was disorganized and chaotic. The staff from Celebrity seemed to be lost in space and the hotel did not provide a meeting area so people were milling about in the lobby and meeting rooms on the floor below. We found the bus on our own and boarded - and finally the Celebrity staff came on board and found all of us that they were missing - it just took them forever.
We More traveled on Celebrity Solstice - 19/July 2013 sailing. The crew were quick to say they were fully booked with 3,060 passengers. The ship is laid out fairly well and only rarely were there crowds to navigate. The ship is very beautiful. The Soltice Theater is poorly laid out with very long rows of seats that leave passengers climbing over one another a good portion of the time. The Sky Lounge has a beautiful view but the seating is uncomfortable so when you want to watch for whales on a cruise like this you can't sit there very long.
Our stateroom was small, clean and fairly well thought out. Our attendant, like another reviewer was Wilfred. He was fantastic. I asked for ice on the first day and he made sure the ice bucket never went empty.
The only complaints we had were about the bed - the bed is an odd shape and they seemed to have trouble finding sheets/blankets that fit it. The flat sheet was not tucked in and only ran 3/4 of the way down the bed so it would slide up at night and wind up wrapped around my neck and shoulders. My husband is tall and his feet hung way off the bottom of the bed as well.
While tiny, the bathroom was set up well - and love that shower! I've been on other cruises where the bathroom was hard to use for a large person - this one was really laid out well and seemed almost spacious!
The naturalist on board, Brent Nixon was alot of fun to watch. He is very animated and knowledgeable. He was a great stage performer but tended to lose his less enthusiastic audience members who thought he put too much info in his talks. My husband would glaze over after about 30min - but I enjoyed the talks.
The Hot Glass show by the Corning Museum of Glass was great. We saw at least a portion of almost every show they gave. The glass blowers on our cruise were fantastic artisans, knowledgeable about their craft and very nice as well. The venue there on the lawn is beautifully set up and it was nice of the cruise line to provide blankets to viewers of the show because it sometimes got very cold up there.
The Sin City Comedy show was fun. It is an adult comedy show and the cruise line states that you must be over 18 to attend - but the 11:15pm show we went to had many teens under 18 in attendance.
The dining on board was hit-or-miss. Make reservations for the specialty restaurants well in advance - we didn't and could not get into any of them. The main dining room was lovely and the staff were very nice. Although a waiter did accidentally drop a plate of escargot on my husband's back - the service otherwise was excellent. We enjoyed the food for the most part, too.
The Oceanview Cafe was rough. It is not laid out very well and passengers are forever running into one another. The bus staff are good but the staff working behind the stations aren't very helpful for the most part. Many of the dishes taste like no one from the staff ever tasted them while cooking - they are overly salty or sweet in most cases. There were some good dishes - but it really seemed to be the exception and not the rule. The Mast Grill was terrible - the guy working the grill seemed like he did not want to be there - and he treated every person that walked up as if we were taking him away from something important. Food was overdone or looked like it had been prepared days before!
The Gelataria was very nice - the ship-made gelato was very good. The coffee/tea specialty place was also very good!
The ship has a youth center on board - which is great for younger children. There were many family groups on board though with pre-teens and teens who were left running unsupervised much of the time. It seems many parents can't be bothered spending time with their own children. These unsupervised teens were found running in groups - mostly in the forward stairs/elevators and on the upper decks around the pool and the basketball courts. They were loud and oblivious to some of the seniors and physically challenged passengers so would sometimes create problems as they ran by other people. Many people we met said they would not travel on Celebrity again because of this.
The crew was almost always of sunny disposition - with polite and friendly conversation. The staff working at the grills in the Oceanview Cafe were the only regular exception - they were usually oblivious to the passengers and a bit surly if you asked them for anything.
We booked many excursions and stayed very busy in most ports. Thanks to other reviews here on CruiseCritic we made sure to book the Tracy Arm Glacier excursion. When we reached Tracy Arm the captain chose not to go into Tracy Arm because of the large amounts of ice in the mouth of the fjord which presented a hazard to the ship. He instead took us into Endicott Arm to see the Dawes glacier. This was the inaugural trip for the Solstice into Endicott Arm so there were lots of ship staff on deck photographing and shooting video. Since we had booked the shore excursion we were in the group that exited the ship in front of the glacier getting on a catamaran that stayed near the glacier for an extended time (they can stay there for up to 30min) and then took us sightseeing along different stretches of beach to see if we could find bears, eagles, etc. The Solstice dropped us off and then quickly turned around and left to travel up to Juneau. The catamaran we were sightseeing on met up at just about 1pm where we boarded the ship - and right away got in line to exit again to the pier on the other side of the ship. While we did not get to see bear - we did see harbor seals, arctic tern, bald eagle, ice bergs, waterfalls, etc. It was lovely - and well worth the money and time - EXCELLENT!
The other shore excursions were also lovely. We did the Mystic Fjords in Ketchikan, Mendenhall Glacier (the naturalist had told us that a bear with cubs was feeding in the stream near the glacier) where we saw spawning salmon and just missed the bear, the dog sled summer camp, the train/bus tour in Skagway and Craigdarroch castle in Victoria. All of the excursions were well thought out and we had lovely weather so there was lots to see.
The disembarkation process was simple and moved quickly. The loading of buses for transport to the airport outside the terminal was a bit taxing - very long lines and very slow moving.
I would recommend Celebrity Solstice to friends and family - I would just warn people about what they are getting into.
Don't buy the drink package - once the waiters know they will not get any tips from you they never come back to offer you another drink - EVER! It would be very difficult to utilize the drink package enough to make it worth the money.
Choose to eat in the main dining room - the food is much better there than the Oceanview! Less
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