Celebrity Solstice Cruise Review by bkh: Cruising the Mediterranean on Solstice
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Cruising the Mediterranean on Solstice
The Barcelona-Barcelona itinerary on the Solstice is a beautiful sailing experience with many interesting ports of call. The ship is elegant and, although, large, surprisingly uncrowded. The central rotunda with a glass elevator system allows a wonderful view of all decks and helps to orient passengers. The only crowded location is the pool area on sea days. However, there is a quiet, relaxing area on the 15th deck aft called the Lawn Club that offers great views and comfortable seating.
The service on the Solstice is exceptional. Our room steward, Edwin, seemed to always know when we were out of our cabin, when we would return, and any special items we liked in our cabin. He often had the door ajar and was waiting to greet us when we returned to our cabin.
The entertainment was also quite good, and the Captain and Cruise Director were both competent and talented. Both were singers who performed with the ship's cast.
We were very impressed with the Select More Dining option for dinner. This service is limited to a few hundred guests (first come/first served) and allows you to make reservations in the dining room at the time of your choice each evening. We never had any difficulty getting a reservation at the time we preferred. The food was quite good with lots of variety, and, for the most part, the service was excellent. The one complaint that I would mention is the Sommelier staff. They were quite consistently pretentious and consistently recommended more expensive wine, regardless of what they were asked. In addition, the corkage fee policy was both exorbitant and inflexible. We generally dined with another couple and purchased a $40+ bottle of wine each evening. In addition, we attended a fee-based wine tasting on board. On the final evening of the cruise, we brought a bottle of wine that we had purchased at a winery on a shore excursion to share with our table mates. In spite of all the wine we had purchased, the Sommelier insisted that the corkage fee was $25--no exceptions. We spoke to both the Head Sommelier and the Maitre di, and the answer was the same. A couple at the table next to us had been given a bottle of wine by the ship's hotel division, and, again, they were told that the fee would be $25 since it came "from the hotel's budget, not the dining budget." I can certainly understand the purpose of the policy; however, other cruiselines (Princess in particular) we have sailed with charged a $10 fee and often waived it for guests who routinely purchased wine. Needless to say, we bought no wine that evening, took the wine back to our cabin with four wine glasses and enjoyed it during the show. Less
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Cabin review: Celebrity Solstice Deluxe Oceanveiw Stateroom Continental Deck (6) 7303
Cabin 7303: Excellent use of space. More than adequate storage. Larger than average bathroom. Rounded bed corners for better use of space. Bed adjacent to the balcony instead of the door was a great improvement. Very quiet; a bit of a walk to the elevators. Good view from the balcony (roof of the Blu restaurant is one deck below the balcony, but does not interfere with the view). Would definitely NOT recommend any balcony cabin on deck six because of obstructed views.
Port and Shore Excursions
The hop-on/hop-off Turistic Bus is an excellent means of touring the entire city and gaining access to all of the major points of interest. The northern edge of the city (lEixample) is especially lovely and the views from Montjuic are marvelous. All Americans, of course, will want to take a look at the statue of Christopher Columbus pointing West (at the end of La Rambla). This is supposedly the spot where Ferdinand and Isabella greeted Columbus on his return from the New World.
As for La Rambla, unless you enjoy hordes of people and never-ending souvenir shops (not to mention pickpockets), take a quick look and then avoid it like the plague! Spend you time in the Gothic Quarter, Barcelonetta, and the quieter lEixample. We stayed at the Hotel Universal pre-cruise and the Best Western Hotel Dante post-cruise. The Universal is on a busy street and convenient to La Rambla, the port, the Gothic Quarter and Barcelonetta. The Dante is on a quiet street in a more residential area of LEixample with good access to the La Sagrada Familia and the other architectural sites. Both were very nice accommodations at reasonable prices.
After our cruise, we boarded the Funicular up to Capri Town. Wonderful views and interesting people-watching. Very upscale shops, no cars, lots of sidewalk cafes. If time allows, you can also visit Anacapri and the Marina Piccola.
The drive through Tuscany was stunning--vineyards, olive groves, fields of sunflowers, and lovely rolling hills dotted with ruins and restored villas. The highlight of the tour was a stop at the Monterinaldi Winery for a private tour, wine tasting and lunch. The "light lunch" (three courses plus antipasti!) was served in the dining room of a gorgeous villa. Homemade pasta, lovely wines, relaxed atmosphere--what more could you ask for?! Marco stopped all along the way for photo opps and included a second village that was not even on our itinerary. If you want to see Tuscany, book with toursintuscany.com!
We had booked an afternoon tour to Eze, La Turbie, Monte Carlo, and Nice with several other Cruise Critic members. We had been to Eze and Nice before, but were looking forward to the other two stops. However, I would definitely NOT recommend the company we used. The company is ShoreTrips out of Glendale, Wisconsin (ShoreTrips.com). First of all, our guide was basically non-communicative. He occasionally pointed out something of interest, but, more often, you had to ask about what you were passing. His answers were then things like, "I don't know" or "It's probably..." Then, to make matters worse, the tour was not at all as advertised. We had a printed copy of the on-line description and our vouchers which promised time to tour Eze village, a stop in La Turbie at the Roman monument, a stop in Monte Carlo at the Golden Square with the option of visiting the casino, exploration of the old town including the Princess Grace memorial, the palace, and the cathedral, followed by a drive around the Grand Prix circuit. Then on to the Roman area of Nice. However, we were given 45 minutes to climb to the top of Eze village, then hustled off to the perfume factory for a sales pitch. We whizzed through La Turbie without so much as slowing down (the guide did point out the monument in the distance). We were then told that we would not be stopping in the Golden Square, only driving through, and there would be no opportunity to visit the casino. At this point, we began to object, and the driver did stop for 15 minutes! We then drove on to Old Town, quickly passing the palace and stopping at the Cathedral for about 30 minutes. The Princess Grace memorial was never mentioned. On the way, the driver did say that "the Grand Prix comes along here." So much for "driving the Grand Prix!" Then the biggest shock of all--we were returned to Villefranche. No stop in Nice at all! When shown the description from the website, the driver said he had no idea why it promised these things and it was not his fault. Upon returning home, I checked the ShoreTrips website to find that the online description has been changed to exclude Nice and the Roman Monument stop. It does, however, still include an option to visit the casino, the Princess Grace Memorial, and the Grand Prix circuit and still includes a visit to La Turbie. Based on our experience, this will not happen!