Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by LisaSp: First time Celebrity cruisers...loved Alaska and Solstice!
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First time Celebrity cruisers...loved Alaska and Solstice!
My parents treated my family of 4 to a cruise (My husband and I are 45, our daughter is 15 and son is 13) on Celebrity Solstice to Alaska from Seattle on August 1-8, 2014. My parents are seasoned cruisers, most often on Celebrity and Princess. My husband, kids, and I have sailed twice on Disney Magic (and I sailed once on RC); this would be our first experience with Celebrity. I posted a detailed trip report on the Alaska board, so this review will just touch on the general categories.
Hotel/Travel to Port: We hired Seattle Town Car Service to get us from the airport to hotel (and from port back to airport at end of cruise) and had excellent service. Our driver's name was Imran and he was personable and friendly. Their phone number is 206-877-2823, email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org, web site is: www.towncarserviceseattle.com. We arrived in Seattle mid-day on Thursday but were not sailing until Friday, so we planned to do some sightseeing. We had reservations More at Spring Hill Suites downtown which was conveniently located, clean, rooms were great, staff courteous, and they had a free shuttle to/from local attractions and also a shuttle to the port ($8pp).
Embarkation: When we got to the port Friday, we were able to check in with my parents who were in a concierge cabin, and it was so quick and easy. I think we were on the beautiful Solstice by around 12:30 pm! My dad gave us a tour since he and my mom have sailed on this ship several times. The ship is so gorgeous. We were in cabin 9237 which I reviewed separately, but it was great.
Ship activities and entertainment: Don’t miss Brent Nixon! He is super passionate about Alaska and its wildlife, and he is so engaging and informative. We really enjoyed him. Other than his talks, we also loved illusionist Jason Bishop. The Sin City comedy show had a terrific headliner (Todd Paul), but we could’ve done without the opening dude and the burlesque dancer. We saw most of the production shows (Ghostlight, Pulse, and Solstice) and enjoyed them too. The singers and dancers were very talented and personable (met several of them at a behind-the-scenes tour on a sea day). The house band, Top Notch, was also very entertaining. We chatted with the cruise director and hotel manager (my parents had met him on a prior cruise) several times throughout the course of the cruise and they were both really personable and great. I am not sure where the following comment belongs, but I was obsessed with the Solarium. It was my happy place and I escaped there several times throughout the week. Very relaxing. Mostly quiet except when they opened it for indoor pool swimming, but even then I didn’t let the noise bug me. Went to the gym a couple of times and my only complaint is that they should have a water fountain or a water jug to refill water bottles, or something. I have never been to a gym that doesn’t have water available.
Service: Generally speaking, the service was very good. Everyone we encountered was pleasant and friendly. Our MDR waiter and assistant waiter were nice guys; we had a couple of minor issues the first two nights at dinner but after that, everything went very smoothly and they tried very hard. Our sommelier was not so great, but we didn't let that bother us too much lol. We seemed to have two stateroom attendants and they were great; very responsive and always around when needed. The only thing that was odd was that some nights we received the teen activity postcards for the next day and sometimes we didn’t. Was easy to get them from Guest Services but I wasn’t quite clear on why they weren’t consistently delivered each night. Also we got towel animals 2x and chocolate covered oreos 1x; that seemed random. No big deal, but we were used to nightly towel animals and chocolates on Disney.
Port and Shore Excursions: We were super happy with all of our excursions. In Ketchikan, we did KE61 Ketchikan Highlights and Lumberjack Show. We got a driving tour, a visit to a totem pole park, and then the lumberjacks. The tour guide was terrific. We all really liked this excursion, even my skeptical teens. In Tracy Arm, we did not do an excursion but I would highly recommend ordering room service and watching the scenery in the early morning from your balcony if you have one! It was a fun and convenient way to see the fjord and even the glacier (though we did end up going out on deck for a while). In Juneau we did JU57 Alaska Sled Dogs and Musher’s Camp. Since we didn’t want to spend the money to do the helicopter to the dog camp on the glacier, this excursion was a nice compromise. We loved meeting the dogs, learning about the sled races, and holding puppies. In Skagway, we did SK01 the White Pass Scenic Railway. This 3-hour train ride is fabulous, especially if you have great weather like we did! The scenery is so magnificent. Again, my skeptical teens were pleasantly surprised. Finally, in Victoria, we did VI01 Butchart and Butterfly Gardens. I would highly recommend Butchart Gardens, just try to be there before dark. We enjoyed the butterfly gardens a lot, but would’ve preferred having more time at Butchart before it got dark.
Dining: Breakfast and lunch buffet in Oceanview Café were fine. Loved the omelettes made to order in the morning. The variety was good and the food quality was slightly above average. Nothing spectacular, but no complaints. Loved the fries at the Mast Grill on the pool deck. Also liked some of the healthy selections in the Solarium. The free pastries at Café al Bacio were yummy. My expectation is that MDR food on cruises is typically a step above banquet food. It is hard to cook for so many people! We had late seating in MDR each night, and I would say that a few things we had were excellent. Overall, the MDR food was very good. We didn’t eat in any of the specialty restaurants.
Children’s Clubs: Our 13 year old was considered a “junior” teen (ages 12-14) and our 15 year old was a “senior” teen (ages 15-17). They both went to the X Club daily to either hang out, participate in a few activities, or to meet up with friends before dispersing on their own. My only complaint is that many of the cool-sounding activities occurred at 8 pm, which totally doesn’t work if you have late MDR seating. We had told our kids they had to dine each nite with their parents and grandparents so they may have missed a few activities, but they didn’t really mind. They both found friends to hang with, and really were happy with the independence and activities all week.
Disembarkation: There was a problem with one of the luggage cranes so there was a delay in getting some groups off the ship, and this resulted in a bit of a bottleneck at customs. We got our luggage right away (we were group 33, off the ship around 9:10 am) and had a porter wait with it while we went through customs. The customs line was super long, but it all worked out fine. If we had an earlier flight (our flight was 1 pm) we may have been worried, but it was no big deal for us. Our driver met us shortly after we exited the port building and we got to the airport with no issues.
Summary: As I mentioned, my parents have sailed Celebrity many times, and the four of us were Celebrity newbies. We all had a fabulous time. The itinerary, ship, activities, excursions, etc were all wonderful. We absolutely loved Alaska and loved Solstice. Would do this trip again in a heartbeat, but there are so many other parts of the world we want to see first! Less
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Cabin review: 9237
This cabin was in a great midship location. It felt like it was close to everything. Taking the steps up to deck 14 for breakfast or lunch was easy and quick. When music was playing in the center lobby, we could hear it in the cabin, but it was not bothersome. The balcony was extra big and that was a really great feature. We had 2 adults and 2 teens in this cabin and while space was tight, we made it work. Storage was adequate. We removed the life jackets from the underbed bins and used those for laundry and for our warmer layers. Our empty luggage also fit under the bed. Would absolutely stay in this cabin again.