Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by mikeandlindaR: The staff made this Celebrity Solstice cruise really delightful for us
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The staff made this Celebrity Solstice cruise really delightful for us
This was our third voyage to Alaska in the past 33 years. The first one was as a family on a 1000 passenger ship, the second one was as a couple on an 8 person boat, and this one was as one of four couples in a group on a nearly 3000 passenger ship. In my view the Solstice is a beautifully designed and manufactured ship where every element is done well. Our cabin, on a Concierge deck, was fully adequate and thoughtfully put together. We brought too much stuff with us but everything could be put away neatly. The stairs were comfortable and we used them multiple times a day and every day; we pointedly did not use the many and convenient elevators at all during the voyage.
Dining was a mixed experience. We had arranged for the four couples to sit together at dinner and that worked rather well. Our waiter, Rafael, and assistant waiter, Ruslan, were terrific as waiters and as people with whom we could relax and joke. Breakfast was either via room service, with Melvin, our More absolutely wonderful cabin attendant, serving the tray to my wife, or at the OceanView Cafe on the 14th floor, some three floors above us. I found the choices for breakfast so wide as to be unattainable! in the sense that one could only eat so much and since I found what I really liked, there was no need or reason to try the rest. But, we both found that the fresh fruit was simply amazing and better than any restaurant choices we have had on land. For lunch, it was a little more difficult. While the choices were often bewildering in their number, the crowdedness was also often so much that we had to scour the entire dining area to find two seats. Fortunately, this was not always the case. One time, we did try one of the upscale lunch places and we thoroughly enjoyed that experience, at the Bistro on Five. For dinner, once we went to the specialty restaurant called Murano and that was an experience worth paying for and writing about. The service from each of the many staffers who attended us was marvelous, the cooking at the table great to watch, and the food was markedly better than at the normal, large scale dining room.
There are many, many wonderful facilities on this ship: the Library, the Corning Museum of Glass Hot Glass Show, the evening musical shows, the walking track on Deck 14, etc. But, the star of the ship is the staff! We met people on staff from many countries and, without exception, each was a pleasure to talk with and to be served by. This personal connection made this ship of steel and many more materials into a human place.
There were a few minuses as well as the many pluses: the most irritating negative was that in the port of Juneau, this sailing of the Solstice had a Tender arrangement for getting to the dock instead of a walk off gangway. Apparently, with the paucity of dock space in Juneau, the large ships have to alternate their use of the dock on a weekly basis. If we were to do this again, we would search for a sailing that had NO Tender use planned to get to the shore. When we got to Juneau, and didn't have any ship provided Shore Excursions, there was an hour wait to get off the ship. So, we stayed on board, annoyed that we couldn't get off easily, but enjoyed the quiet of the ship for that afternoon. We were also annoyed that it was so busy at the OceanView Cafe that we couldn't find seats easily. The other negatives are associated with our preference in travel: we found that having nearly 3000 people on board was simply not our style and we also found that the business model of charging for every additional service, including sparkling water, was not our style.
Further, recalling our previous experience on the small boat with eight passengers, we did get to experience Alaska to a much greater degree than we could on this large ship. Less
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Cabin review: 1025
Our cabin was near the bow of the ship. Given that the seas were calm, we never experienced any rough motion in our cabin. As we had a veranda and full sized doors, we could enjoy the fresh air and sit outside. Of course, this also meant that we were next to other cabins and at times we did not enjoy the loud voices from neighboring cabins. Being on the tenth floor, meant walking down five to seven floors for meals, shows, and departures, as well as walking back up. We were thoroughly pleased by our cabin. The small bathroom was exquisitely designed to be fully functional as well as comfortable and did not appear to be tight in any way. Our cabin attendant, Melvin, was incredibly attentive and ready and able to meet any need that we expressed, such as getting non-allergenic pillows for me, or ice, or an umbrella where there was none, etc. We found the bed to be as comfortable as any we have slept on anywhere. Plenty of drawer space. Robes, waste baskets regularly emptied, towels regularly replaced if we chose to have them replaced. Just, generally, a comfortable cabin experience.
Port and Shore Excursions
We couldn't get off the ship!! The Solstice had to use Tenders to get ashore and the wait throughout the afternoon was for one hour in a line! Most annoying!
We spent a marvelous six hours with a professional photographer who took us to some of his favorite spots for landscapes, our preference, both in the Haines area and in nearby Canada as well. He was able to help with composition and technique and our interactions made for a most enjoyable day there.
While we arrived in Victoria only at 6PM, given the summer light, it was bright outside until rather late at night that day. Getting off the ship was easy, as we were docked there. As we went through Canadian Customs, we engaged the officer in conversation about our visit to Victoria and had such a pleasant conversation that we were on a high as we walked into town along the gorgeous Waterfront Walk that brought us all the way there. Attractive shore scenes and gardens made our walk fun, despite the increasingly cold weather we were facing. We met one of our friends in town, talked awhile and then took the convenient shuttle bus back to the ship.