Celebrity Solstice - March 27th to Apr 3rd - long review.
Very first cruise and needless to say totally hooked and can hardly wait to go again. Have to thank everyone on this board for your help and assistance in getting a newbie up to speed and somewhat knowledgeable about what to/not to pack and not to take and tours that were and not worthwhile. Still took too much and then not enough.
Flight to FLL was smooth and fast pickup at airport to Comfort Suites where we spent the night. Hotel comfortable with very attentive Front Desk Manager Jose who allowed us a bit of extra time in our rooms when he found out a few of us had a delay in boarding. We found Harbour Shops, a nice mall, close by with some wonderful stores and restaurants.
Our shuttle to Port ($5/pp) was arranged for 2:30pm. By the time we got there and got in line, it had already started to move and within 1 hour we were sitting in the Oceanview Cafe and having late lunch. My friend Peter who had previously done a few Princess cruises said the embarkation was much different to those he was on before and even with the long line, it was much quicker. We had access to rooms by 6 p.m. which was no inconvenience as we got talking to others and time flew.
Yes.... We were all concerned, cautious and somewhat worried about the "issue" on board but with all of the precautions being taken you could see the crew had the same concerns. I certainly didn't mind having the food served to us at the buffet and actually missed it when everything went back to normal again on Wed. Within a few days I don't think IT was thought about again or even discussed.
About the ship ... where to start?? Peter, my gentleman friend, said he was going to enjoy looking at my eyes getting bigger and bigger as I walked through the areas in the ship, but I don't think he realized his eyes were doing the same. Very different than the ships he has been on. TOTALLY AMAZING, pictures do not do it justice.
Cruise Critic Meet and Greet on Tuesday a.m. went well. Many showed up and glad I got to meet many I have chatted with here online Linda and Alan, Gail and Dave, Jerry and sorry forgot names of others. Gail ... again thanks for putting the list together and revising it. I did get my invite at my door but I know a few others didn't. Just a note ... you have to signup to get the invite but if you don't you can still ask at Guest Relations as to where the meet is being held. I asked when I boarded and was told but this would have been nice to have also been included in the Daily Schedule. Celebrity ..... take note.
Food: We stuck to the buffet in the morning other than one morning in MDR and late seating at MDR at night. BUFFET was huge and had anything you could possibly want. The first day you acquaint yourself to where everything is and have to get into a rhythm as to where you go first to ensure what is hot stays hot until you get to table. (Order your specialty eggs/omelet, order toast, get your cold items, go back for toast and your eggs). MDR was beyond anything I would have expected. The food offered was extremely broad and catered to all tastes. One menu was constant and the other was changed everyday and you could choose from both and could have more than one item if you wanted to. From beef, pork, fish or veggie dishes ... it was all there. Desserts ... to die for. Bread .... OMG ... I could have made a main meal out of it alone. Our wait staff Mardika and Mihai were awesome. Peter is a very fussy, finicky and picky eater and they pretty much had his likes and dislikes down fast. "Mr Peter, we think you will like this but we will substitute this for that". As soon as we sat down our beverages were in front of us. The boys knew I loved my sweets and soon was giving me two desserts which I never turned down. We loved Cafe al Bacio with their specialty coffees, teas and desserts. I had way too many Igloos and Pomegranate Teas which was provided with my PMNA bev pkg which was very well worth it. The only other restaurant we tried was Bistro on Five and had the Cowboy Crepe which came with Mushroom soup which again was amazing.
Entertainment or activities were non stop pretty much 24/7 and always something to do even if it was arranged by yourself as in card/board games. We saw good shows in the theatre every night plus two on one night when there was the late night naughty show. Don't miss the Newlywed Game and Hypnotist Christopher Caress both side-splitting fun. We danced to 50's music one night in the Grand Foyer but there were music for all tastes going on everywhere inside and out. Trivia games which took on a whole life of their own. The Corning Hot Glass show is a must. If anyone says they were boarded on this cruise they lie!! Cruise Director Lisa Richards was everywhere on board and even showed up at the Cruise Critic Roll Call Meet and Greet.
Cabin 6195 had obstructed view with tender boat outside only up to appr knee level. This was not a big deal, we could see across it. First night we had the Alure beside us all lit up and I got a few nice pics with a 10x zoom. The video updates are provided daily on the tv by Lisa and her assistant Kevin. The movies they provide in cabin are mostly recent and if you just need a break from the lively activities this is another form of entertainment.
Photos ... they get taken all over the ship, when you get on, go on excursions, formal nights, with the Celebrity Dolphin. If you wait til Friday they have buy 2 get one free. We goofed and waited til Saturday and had to pay for each and we did buy 3.
Shopping on board. I personally didn't do any other than the photos but if you are into jewelery, liquor or other items they do have great deals at end of week. I saw one couple with a cart carrying off close to a dozen bottles.
Ports Of Call ... wasn't impressed with San Juan or St. Maarten but could be we didn't have enough time to be impressed. I was distressed at seeing all the devastation in San Juan still not attended to since the hurricane in 1998 ... 13 years ago and this is US territory. Our tour of Old/New San Juan was somewhat cut short a bit with an accident that occurred at the Fort with a woman falling and cutting her head quite badly. She was from Solstice. Our driver was the owner of the tour buses and he had to hang around until matters were under control as he may have been partially libel if any claims were made. Woman was taken away in a cab but unsure if to hospital or back to ship. Not complaining here .... he had to stay and understand totally. St. Thomas I would and will go back to in a heartbeat. It made a major impression.
After reading about someone's horror story about disembarkation I was really pleased with how smooth it went and we were out in a matter of 30 minutes ... didn't SUCK at all for ours. Bus right outside and we were at airport within an hour.
There was only a few negative things to mention and really only one major one as far as I am concerned.
ILOUNGE .... I paid for an hour and got a bit extra for first day special. I could not access my Yahoo.ca or Rogers.com mail. Tried web2mail and got in once to READ ONLY but then couldn't after that. I tried to send but it kept coming up ERROR IN SENDING. I wasted too much $ and time for nothing. I was able to access Facebook and relayed a few messages to a cousin who in turn emailed them off to a few friends via her email. Also when time is up you don't know and it starts charging you per minute over your allotted time so I also got dinged a bit more. Not impressed and wrote this on comment card. Peter's concerns were that the Apple laptops were not easy and were without a numeric keyboard. Static chairs should be replaced with steno/typist chairs would make working at the typing pods easier. I have to agree with chairs .... It was difficult to move them if someone needed to get past behind you and needed a few more inches.
We got locked in our stateroom .... Yes ... locked in and couldn't get out. Deadbolt wouldn't open. Thank God for a phone .... Someone was up in a matter of minutes and they had to install a whole new lock. We just left him to do his job and went for brekkie. We thought it would make a good comedy movie if one couldn't get out and knowing what was being missed on other side of door. Wonder if I should copy write this idea.
Parents with small children should watch their kids and not assume they are going to be well behaved. At the Cafe al Bacio, while parents were up ordering their beverages their two little boys were climbing all over the leather couch in the middle area. Those nice black ones with the small black buttons on them!! They were pretending they were climbing a rock wall to get to top and of course using the buttons as hand holds. Peter called out twice to them but they only stopped when they had ripped one of the buttons out of the back but that still didn't stop them as one tried to get his hand into the hole he had just made. We were totally unsure how to handle this and not knowing how the parents would react I waited until they left and talked to staff at that point. They were not happy as they examined the damage but knowing how guests are treated we doubted anything would have been done. How would others handle this ... comments?
I am so glad I was pushed into doing this cruise, but sooooo very glad I was. I am totally hooked on cruising and especially with Celebrity. Peter was also very impressed and think he has been swayed away now from Princess.
Sorry this has been way too long but that is me .... I love to write and talk as a few of you I met in person now know. Any questions .... Ask away.