We've done quite a few cruises on Celebrity so knew what to expect but we had one really fabulous surprise and that was getting one of those elusive upgrades. We originally booked Concierge cabins but after the final deposit date the price for a guaranteed suite dropped a little below what we paid so we switched. We had 3 cabins and they were assigned to Sky Suites. Shortly before departure I printed our Express Passes and saw we all had been upgraded to Royal Suites! That was a fantastic surprise and it was wonderful since we were celebrating my mother's 80th birthday on this trip.
The ship has been Solsticized complete with the Martini bar. We ran into one of our bartenders from last year's Panama Canal cruise which was fun. This time out, we decided to do the open dining. With all the stops we didn't want to be locked into a particular dining time. It turned out really well but if you want to meet other people, be sure to tell them you want to be seated with others or they will seat you with just your party. They also lead you to believe you should make a reservation but it wasn't necessary. We never waited more than a few minutes. We tried both specialty restaurants since they were included with our Royal Suite. The food was great and so was the service. We went early both times and the dining rooms were not well attended. They might pick up later in the evening. If you have a special occasion it might be a nice upgrade for the evening, otherwise I'm not sure I would be willing to pay the extra $40 per person when the food and service in the main dining room is quite good.
This itinerary has many stops with only 2 sea days out of 12. We went ashore at all but one. We did not get off in Rhodes. It rained all day so we decided to skip it and relax on the ship. We only did a couple of excursions with the cruise line. Those were in Istanbul, Ephesus, and Marmaris. At Kusadasi, almost all the tours go to Ephesus and that is worth the trip. It's an amazing place. In Marmaris, we did the Turkish Bath tour and that is another one you have to do if you go to Turkey. It was an option at most stops in Turkey. Although they listed it as a co-ed excursion it is not co-ed inside the bath. They take all the women then they switched and took the men. The pool area, where everyone wore swimwear is co-ed.
The rest of our stops we either hired taxis to take us on tours, took no tours, or hired private tours. Since we had 6 people in our party it was affordable to hire private tours but not through the cruise line. Those are outrageously priced. We found good escorted private tours on TripAdvisor and all went well. In Athens and our last day in Istanbul we hired private guides. Taxis are available at most stops right outside the terminal, are cheap and they'll take you wherever you want. Fortunately, English is spoken by most everyone at all of these stops so it was easy enough to find drivers that we could communicate with and could share information about their hometown although some were a little sketchy on the English but it was a good value for the money.