Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by WillNeil: Our second Jaunt around New Zealand with Celebrity
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Our second Jaunt around New Zealand with Celebrity
Destination: Australia & New Zealand
This was our 35th cruise and our second with Celebrity
What we loved
Embarkation in Auckland - a breeze and for the first time entering the Auckland cruise terminal to check-in for a cruise that we have not encountered queues
The Ship itself - a delight and impeccably maintained
The on-board Décor - casually elegant
The indoor adults only pool a great spot to relax
Our S2 Sky Suite at the back of the ship on deck 12.
Extremely comfortable and roomy for the three of us - all adults
The sofa bed is the easiest we have ever seen to open or close
Well thought out wardrobe space and bathroom with Bvlgari soaps and shampoos
The house keeping staff were always smiling and always discreet
Murano Restaurant - in a word Fabulous and one of the best dining experiences at sea or on land
Blu Restaurant - Being suite guests we were able to have breakfast and dinner in this restaurant More which the cruise line and their sales staff undersell - its stunning - with very polished professional staff and beautiful and imaginatively created and presented food with exceptional service Breakfast e.g. Muesli is created for you table side by a waiter
The Ocean View Cafe - the best range of buffet food we have seen on a ship for ages and well presented
The wait staff are ever present to clear your plate once you had finished a course - my pet hate on premium cruise lines is coming back to my table with e.g my desert to find my finished main meal plate is still sitting where I left it
We enjoyed dining in Silk Harvest which served fabulous Asian food
The wine list - many reasonably priced wines around the $35 mark upwards
Very little and discrete hard selling of e.g. wine packages or spa treatments
No queues - a couple of times we had an issue trying to find a table in the Ocean View Café for lunch - the usual law of the jungle rules here
Infact we felt, as did many others that the ship was far from full on this cruise although the Reception desk assured us the ship was full. The theatre was full each show evening as was the MDR but we were able to eat in Blu with no issue ( Suite Guests can dine there subject to availability) but the bars were near empty - only twice during the 12 night cruise did the ship come to life with people in the evening Likewise day time the deck areas were sparsely populated
What we liked
The Suite Butler service - Our butler who was very sweet and well trained but he did miss a few things
In suite canapés were not served the first three nights on-board
He never offered us a pillow menu
If you asked him a question öff script" his English was not good enough to understand what we were asking
The two production shows we saw - very good- and also being suite guests having a reserved section in the main theatre on production show nights to ensure we had great seats
What we did not like
The Main Dining Room (MDR) evening meal service - we had booked Select Dining and dined at 7pm
The dining room is on two levels with Select ( i.e make a booking for the time you wish ) being on the top level with your first and second set dining on the main floor below The best tables are those by the balcony looking down into the main dining room floor below
Unfortunately most tables for two or four ( and in our case a table for three ) were very close to each other - Our last night on-board they may as well have put us at a table of ten as you were touching elbows with the couples on either side of you and you either had to sit there and ignore them i.e. we would come across as rude or needed to make small talk. Celebrity really does need to address this. The same issue happened onboard Celebrity Century with the tables for two being too close together - it can make for an uncomfortable experience
The service in the MDR was also extremely disappointing and if we have been reviewers for Berlitz the ship would have lost a star on the spot
On two occasions when we were seated, the table had not been fully set, and each time when we advised it was just three of us the 4th place setting was never removed
On the first formal night the service was - to be blunt - sloppy and it was obvious that the waiters in that section were not working as a team
On our last night once seated we waited half an hour just to be acknowledged and served water let alone offered a menu
It was very apparent that the waiters were waiting for all the tables in their section of Select or anytime dining to be full so they could serve everyone at the same time - not quite what our idea of what anytime dining is like!
Celebrity Cruises prides itself on its food and food presentation and the fabulous book Ëxcite the Senses which we bought details the lines different restaurants with photos of dishes and respective menus
The photo on page 46 of said book of a 5 star Bananas Foster presentation for the MDR is worlds apart from the 3 star offering of one banana split in two drowning in sauce in a round desert bowl with one scoop of ice-cream plonked on top!
The Shore Excursions information - needs tightening and attention to detail in research and spelling
Christchurch which we visited was not even mentioned in the shore information for the Port of Akaroa. For those of you who are unaware the Port for Christchurch -Lyttleton -is still closed after the devastating earthquake nearly 3 years ago and ships now anchor off the beautiful village of Akaroa a 90 minute drive from the city
Our visit to Christchurch where Neil and I lived 2002-2004 was very emotional and very upsetting - the devastation of the Central Business District is terrible
Tasmania was spelt TAZMANIA in bold print the day before arriving in Hobart
When I was briefly on-board this ship a year ago Sydney was spelt SIDNEY on the TV screens at the shore excursions desk
The printed city map for Hobart we all received in our cabins showed the Ansett Australia airlines office - this airline collapsed in 2001 and has not existed since 2001
The inability to book one Aqua Class cabin to accommodate 3 adults on future cruises as no Aqua Class cabin is configured with a sofa bed - this I do not understand
You can see above we can be fussy but as we had paid over $700 a day for this cruise Neil Andrew and I feel we deserve to be and are also great believers in constructive criticism and giving praise where its due
Anyway this 12 night cruise rates as the best cruise experience for us thus far - Yes there are issues with the MDR and some other afore mentioned minor niggles which do need to be addressed by the cruise line but the ship overall is exceptional and all the staff are great. Apart from the MDR the dining experiences were amazing
We cruise a lot and will be sailing next on Queen Mary 2 in March and have re-booked to sail on Celebrity Solstice in October and - apart from the MDR - is there a theme here - We would agree with the Berlitz Cruise guide ratings of this ship as one of the best large cruise ship experiences you can have Less
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Cabin review: 2155
Our S2 Sky Suite at the back of the ship on deck 12.Extremely comfortable and roomy for the three of us - all adults The sofa bed is the easiest we have ever seen to open or closeWell thought out wardrobe space and bathroom with Bvlgari soaps and shampoosThe house keeping staff were always smiling and always discreet Very little noise from the open deck above the occasional scrape of a chair daytime and no vibration at all - we loved the aft position
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