We went on the Celebrity Solstice to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. The cruise departed from Sydney and return to Sydney which meant we could just catch the train to Circular Quay and board the boat.
We booked Concierge class and were on Level 10, slightly Arf of mid ship. It took a bit longer than we expected to board the ship. We were given an approximate time for boarding and assumed that passengers would have been staggered throughout the day but it appeared that most people like to get on as early as possible.
We wondered around the ship for about half an hour in TOTAL AWE, then there was an announcement to say all staterooms were ready. We found our bags already in our room.
There was a bottle of French champagne and fresh fruit in our stateroom which we promptly refrigerated for a later date. We unpacked and found there was plenty of storage room and a safe for valuables. The bathroom was spacious and the shower was plenty big enough. Having a balcony was like having an extra room and we spent a considerable amount of time out there having breakfast, playing card, reading, drinking champagne and sightseeing.
We loved the variety of Bars that were available on the ship. Whatever your mood you could find somewhere to sit and chat to other passengers, listen to the musicians or just soak up the atmosphere. We dined in the Grand Epernay Restaurant 7 nights including the 3 formal nights. It was wonderful to see men wearing suits and women looking stunning in cocktail dresses and long gowns. I cannot fault the service we experienced during our time in the dinning room. We opted for select dinning so we dined at a different time each night and only sat at the same table twice.
The Oceanview Cafe had a good selection of food and we eat there most days for lunch and it was always open for snacks that you could take back to your cabin or anywhere else on the ship for that matter. Unfortunately the coffee on board was terrible! Even the coffee from the Cafe was only slightly better. We ended up drinking black tea with lemon or hot chocolate. Many passengers brought this to the attention of the food and beverage manager of the ship so lets hope the American owners will change to a more Down Under Coffee!
It was very noticeable that the staff all got on well and had respect for each other which is incredible when you consider there are 63 different nationality's on board! We like the fact that staff are rotated so they clear tables one day, sever food another which reflects a high level of training and it shows in everything they do.
I used the gym and the indoor pool most days. The gym can get a little crowded at times but there is a walking track on level 14 that you can take advantage of until the equipment become available.The early
morning stretching classes are very popular and many people also attend the health and well-being seminars that take place in the gym.
We had been told by more experience cruisers that there is a mad rush to get off the ship at ports and it's better to wait for an hour or so then you'll get off without having to queue. We took their advice and it definitely made for a more enjoyable experience.
We did not book any excursions on the ship. It was a Sunday when we were in Noumea so most of the shops were closed ( Coffee Club was open!!). Buses took us from the port into town and we did a couple of bus tours on our own. We had been to Fiji before and just planned on shopping, drinking good coffee and having a couple of Fiji beers at the Bad Dog Cafe (Suva).
We enjoyed the quest speakers, Hot glass show, Solstice dancers and special sale items that were on offer during our trip. We both came away form the Solstice experience feeling all the boxes had been ticked and more.We will be cruising again. I just hope the Solstice has not set the bar too high for other ships:)