CELEBRITY SOLSTICE NOT AS WONDERFUL AS THE FIRST TIME AROUND
We just returned from a 10 night, Rome-Greece-Turkey-Greece-Rome cruise on the Solstice.
We booked this trip way back in August of 2008, and when the opportunity arose to be able to take a 7 day Caribbean trip on the Solstice in March of 2009, we jumped at it. THAT trip was spectacular...the ship, the staff, the entertainment, even the food (on most days) were way above expectations. We compared this cruise to a "Lexus experience".
As we were completing this Caribbean cruise and complementing various crew members and managers, we learned to our chagrin that most all of the top people were leaving the Solstice in May to go the newer Celebrity Equinox. We were assured that the cruise line would be replacing these excellent employees with similarly trained employees. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Upon boarding the Solstice for the Mediterranean cruise, we almost immediately felt that something was "Different". Among our disappointments were:
Main dining room food was, at best, fair. Shrimp cocktails were listed on the menu as containing Jumbo shrimp, but turned out to use much smaller shrimp than the last time. The cheesecake dessert was without a doubt the worst attempt at cheesecake we had EVER experienced. It had no cheesecake taste at all, and appeared to have been baked about the same time we were on the ship before - in March !! The waiters, who had been exemplary in March, seemed overwhelmed. They had little, if any time, to "chat" and to be able to permit ambiance to flow.
The entertainment was, for the most part, pathetic. The dancers were out on sync, almost like a bad high school musical. The "Solstice Orchestra" reminded me of a burlesque band in a seedy downtown joint from the '50s. The drummer had no finesse at all, and the brass section never did hit the same notes at the same time. Embarrassing and painful to observe!! The "Soul'd Out" a capella quartet was pretty lame - the one baby faced "singer" (?) could have cracked crystal (sorry, Ella Fitzgerald).
The internet facility was simply the worst we ever experienced on any ship—anywhere. I am aware that satellite internet is not the fastest delivery method, but how about 9 minutes to print a one page boarding pass??? (at 65 cents a minute!!)) That's only if you could even got logged on in the first place!! Ridiculous.
On the petty side, when leaving the ship, you could buy water and soft drinks for all the departing land tours, but only if you agreed to a 15% service charge. For what??? And the elevators were programmed very poorly. We experienced long waits at almost every time of day.
On the plus side, Cruise Director Dru Pavlov, whom we sailed with twice before, gave his usual "10" effort to everything he does. Too bad that he too has now (this week) left the Solstice.
The land tours were Great...fairly priced, and led by experienced guides.
The Solstice experience had slid from "Lexus" level to "Jeep" level....reliable for the most part, but nothing exceptional.
We have cruised 7 times in the past three years - our advice - if you're "Meat and Potatoes" people, the Solstice is fine. If you like some sophistication and the pampered feeling that you are cared about, go with the 700 passenger ships of Oceania or Azamara Celebrity's upscale cousin.