Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by cafeDB: BORING!!!!
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My 8th cruise (Royal Caribbean- LOS, VOS, Cunard, Princess) and first on Celebrity. I chose this ship over the sister line Voyager of the Seas as it had a marginally better itinerary. A mistake!
We were in Concierge class with a balcony and an inside stateroom just down the corridor.
First the good things:
1.Biggest staterooms of any cruise ship we have been on, even the inside state room was very roomy and had lots of storage. Good sized balcony. Liked the little extras like the binoculars, umbrellas, tote bag and daily canapes.
2.Thoughtfully arranged shower stall, lots of space for the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bathgel plus our own stuff. Nice touch to have the little bar for feet and glass sliding doors not nasty curtains.
3. Lower level staff (room attendants, toilet attendants, waiters) all very good, eager to please, proactive, had initiative, go out of their way to serve and helpful.
4. Good lecturer Milos More - humourous and engaging, although not always correct on the facts, that saved the day on some sea days.
5. Culinary events - good that they had them but the content could have been improved.
Now the bad:
I cruised with my 2 teenage sons who love cruising for the fine dining, shows, and family bonding over games. They normally don't bother with the teen club and we are usually happy to find our own fun playing table tennis, shuffle board and board games and for us, dancing every evening; even on the very small ships like Pacific Princess. There were none of these onboard!! The table tennis tables only get set up occasionally outside the theatre for tournaments and about 2 "freeplay" sessions during the 12 night cruise. The only board games available were checkers and scrabble and a few more in the teen club which were missing instructions and pieces but a very poor selection in the first place anyway. C'mon, which ship can't find a little deck space for shuffleboard? There were supposed to be lawn games on the lawn but it was often roped off ("The lawn is resting" and therefore a major waste of space on the top deck), so the promised (in the promotional pictures) of picnics on the lawn never happened. A few sad putters, insufficient golf balls and 3 little holes clustered together in front of the smokers corner made up all the minigolf there was. We watched every Hot Glass show even when the weather was freezing and the wind was blowing hard - there was nothing else to do!
There were organised activities but many were lame like the much touted "Celebrity Life" activities. For lack of anything to do, we attended "Question of the Day": it consisted of one crew member walking around a bar quietly asking people the answer to the question: "How many Indian crew members are there on board?" and taking down their names, after half an hour of this, he announces the answer "385" and the closest answer won a t-shirt - YAWN!
It is kind of sad when the most exciting highlighted event on a sea day is the lecture on Marsupials!
The tour of the galley with the Q&A was well attended and a good idea. This was followed by several other culinary events that were more talk shows and lame jokes than cooking lessons. I would have preferred more focus on the chefs and their cooking than the cruise director making racist jokes at the chefs expense, when it is supposed to the a cooking event!
This is a ship for organised activities only - there was simply no facility for people to amuse themselves.
Very simple beginner dance classes were conducted in the afternoons, nothing for more slightly advanced dancers. There were few opportunities to dance in the evening, only 1 hour of scheduled ballroom dance music and at other times, the dance floor in the Sky lounge was not in use and only elevator muzak playing with no DJ around. We had to resort to dancing to music from an iPhone in my husband's pocket!
Requests to the cruise director (about dance music) and Celebrity Life staff (about board games) early on in the cruise met with excuses and no results.
Shows were hit and miss, mostly miss. The ship's singers and dancers were good and really impressive - they could dance, sing and do Cirque de Soleil type acrobatics but only put on 3 shows out of the 12 nights. The rest of the nights consisted of a single solo performer each night - 2 comedians (Brit and American), one doing some magic on the side, they started out fairly good but ran out of material after having to do a number of shows each; they were followed by a really really bad singer (Tracie something doing Celine Dion impressions that sounded nothing like Celine Dion) and a rather good violinist (Jane Cho Elecktra). Not impressed.
Food in the Grand Epernay - another letdown. My neighbourhood cafe plates the dishes nicer than that! The quality of the steaks and produce was excellent but part of the joy of fine dining is the visual appeal and meat and veg thrown together on a plate anyhow just doesn't cut it. They were also very stingy with the seafood. 2 miserable prawns per main course! The appetiser sous chef was a little better and at least that gave some nice looking photos. Desserts mostly good although the planning was a little off - on the last night, 2 of the 3 featured desserts were either chocolate with banana or banana with chocolate. However, there was always a good choice of icecreams and sorbets and the standard 3 desserts of chocolate cake and creme brulee etc. Some of the Asian selections on the dinner menu were surprising good although at other times, they were the poor westernised versions (like the dry, tasteless and tough 'balinese satays" served with thai chilli sauce at lunch).
We gave up on breakfast in the buffet - always very long queues everywhere and we had to walk at least 2 circuits before we found a table for 4. Waiters were overworked (busy serving food as they had a "no self service" policy) and did not clear the tables so we were not sure if the tables were vacated and could be taken over. We started having room service breakfast on port days and this was prompt and hot, plus for our concierge cabin, we could order complimentary smoothies and fresh squeeezed orange juice, that had to paid for if ordered at the buffet bar .
Food was unchanging in the buffet breakfast but because of the large amount of choice, it did not get boring. There was soft serve ice cream and several tubs of different flavours including sugar free and low fat options with toppings, all afternoon till 10pm.
We took only 1 ship excursion - a walking tour of Akaroa, mainly to get onto the earlier morning tender and to kill the time till the main highlight of our day there which we had organised for ourselves (kayaking with the Penguins with Pohatu Plunge - highly recommend this). The walking tour was so-so but very reasonable in price.
For the rest of the ports, we either hired a car or organised private small group tours on Cruise Critic.
Overall, this was not the right ship for us. We chose it for the itinerary and to try a different line as my older relatives had a good experience on it last year. We are unlikely to chose it again unless the itinerary is so unique and attractive that it can outweigh everything else (eg Galapagos Islands). We would recommend it for people who don't want to think for themselves and want to have everything organised. Less
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Concierge class. Aft. Starboard. Very roomy and lots of storage. Well organised bathroom. Table a little small for breakfast. Large enough balcony for lying back in deckchair. Noisy neighbours very clearly heard. Everytime they opened or closed their stateroom door, it sounded like our door was being opened (rather alarming initially).
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