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193 Celebrity Auckland Cruise Reviews

Intro: My wife and I have been on maybe 10 cruises but never Celebrity. We are active and in our mid-40’s. We live in northern California and are serious wine and wildlife lovers. I always book DIY tours and the only pre-booked tour I ... Read More
Intro: My wife and I have been on maybe 10 cruises but never Celebrity. We are active and in our mid-40’s. We live in northern California and are serious wine and wildlife lovers. I always book DIY tours and the only pre-booked tour I reserved was ‘The Squeeze’ in Rotorau. Auckland: We spent first two days in the Hilton Princes Wharf. The location was ideal. The boat docks so close to the hotel that they warm you to shut your curtains at night when the ship is coming into Aukland for privacy. On day 1, we took the hop on/off bus for $45 each. We hopped off at Kelly Tarlton Sea Life Aquarium. We were blown away by the penguin exhibit. There was a lot to see in a compact area. Next we hopped off at the Zoo. It was also compact and a good value. We saw everything in 2-3 hours. We then stopped off at Parnell to shop. On day 2, we took the 9 AM ferry to Waiheke Island for $45 with an all day bus pass. We had a great breakfast at OBC in the village and then took a cab to Jurrasic Ridge winery. If you are into wine, this isn’t to be missed in my opinion. The wines were incredible and the tasting experience was second to none. This is wine made by one man, his way. It got busy as we were wrapping up so I’d recommend getting there at 11AM when he opens the cellar door. We then walked to Cable Bay and enjoyed a tasting and lunch. The chardonnay was great and we purchased two bottle for the cruise; food was also excellent. We then walked (all down hill) back to the bus stop and went to Te Matu. It was ok but not nearly the experience we had at Jurrasic. Even if you are not a wine lover, I’d recommend a ferry to Waiheke for a lunch. Embarkation: We checked out at noon. Embarkation was very orderly and efficient but we were not ready for the heat and humidity. To my surprise, we were able to bring on as much bottled water and soda as we wanted. We had put the two bottles of wine in our checked luggage. That luggage was delayed but showed up after dinner with a message that it had to go through secondary inspection. I had a magnum bottle in my carry-on that they didn’t mention. We were in our room by 2 PM. We were in a concierge class room (Rm 1036) and found a 50% Embarkation sale for the Tuscan Grill in our welcome letter. We booked a 6:30PM and were treated to a table up against the window on the far back. We were able to eat and watch the boat sail away from Aukland at 8 PM...that was a special treat and the food and service were fantastic. It was the perfect start to our cruise. Bay of Islands: The weather was perfect in the morning. We had our balcony door open all night and enjoyed the ocean sounds and breeze. We had ordered room service breakfast for 7AM and ate on the balcony. We got a tender at 8AM and rented kayaks for four hours and paddled to the Haruru Falls and through the mangroves. We then walked to Paihia and booked ABC tour to the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves. The tour was $40 plus $20 of entrance to the cave per person. It was unique and kids would love it; for me, it was ok. Tauranga I booked RiverJet’s ‘Cruising Overland’ tour with “the Squeeze” option (http://www.riverjet.co.nz/jet-boating/the-squeeze). This tour was in Rotorua and was the highlight of the trip. It was a once in a life time experience. I made a short video. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyUNVGddonU Wellington This day was a wash...literally. It was pouring rain and we needed to do laundry. I pack up everything and headed out in search of a coin operated laundry. I found a laundry about ten blocks up Cuba Street (next to bus drop 1) called The Soap Opera. Loads were $4 each and detergent was found at the Superette across the street. I’d suggest bring enough one dollr coins as the nearby businesses get asked for coins daily. There are some very cool coffee shops on Cuba Street to pass the time. On the way home I stopped at Fork and Brewer and had an amazing Coffee and Fig Stout at the beer-tenders suggestion. If you enjoy craft beers, this was the best place I found on the trip. Akaroa: We were blessed with amazing weather. The boat docks in a very old volcanic cauldron which was the best harbor I’ve ever seen. We were surrounded by high mountains with no wind or clouds. After a bit of a tender wait, we got to the wharf and booked a bay cruise from Coast Up Close. We left the dock at 10AM and saw amazing dolphins, penguins, and fur seals. The owner Tony was great as he shared his knowledge and passion for the area. He has a great website that is worth checking out: http://www.coastupclose.co.nz/ Afterwards, we ate a snack at the Harbour Bar which was a little past the initial grouping of cafes. The fish bites were AMAZING and the beers were solid. I eat a lot of sea food and these blue cod fish bites were really amazing. We were talking about them for days. Dunedin: We took a bus to town and found the Museum, the Cadberry plant, and Speights Brewery. We didn’t take any tours. The museum was the highlight. It not only had early NZ history but a great time capsule displays from early TV, radio, and cooking up to 1980. We spend about two hours there. I didn’t care for the beers at the brewery at all but the food was good. Dusky Sound: WOW. AMAZING. We popped our champagne and had mimosas while watching some of the most spectacular scenery we have every seen. It was similar to Alaska but without the snow (and cold to go with it). We had t-shirt weather and camped out on the balcony and took about 100 pictures! The on-board Naturalist Dirk Younkermann narrated for several hours. He really added to the exceptional experience. Hobart: We booked a private van off the pier with Trevor Glover (0419-556060) to take us around the city. It was a four hour tour and Trevor was exceptional. We saw Mount Wellington, the wildlife reserve, and the city of Richmond. The wildlife reserve was the highlight but I was surprised at Mount Wellington; the weather was ideal. We saw tazy devils, koalas, colorful birds, and fed kangaroos. After the tour we grabbed some oysters at Mullins near the pier which I didn’t care for at all but still loved Tasmania. Sydney: We walked off the ship after breakfast and carried our luggage so we were flexible. We were disembarked within 20 minutes without and issues. We stayed at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. The room was great but beware - there was no lift so getting the luggage to the room was a workout. I really enjoyed the charm of the hotel and the location was good. We did all the top tourist sites in the three days we had. Wining and Dining: 1) Getting a table for two at rear windows of the Tuscan Grill during was a perfect start to us in Auckland! We heard the french restaurant was very good but didn’t experience it ourselves. 2) We had select seating and never had a wait; we are early diners. Great service all around and the food was mostly good. If the food wasn’t suitable, the service made up for it. We typically stopped into the Master Cellar with a picture of the menu for suggestions from the Sommelier on wine parings. The lecturing Sommelier Csaba was truly exceptional. 3) We booked the ‘Wine Connoisseur Dinner’ for $92 each. There was zero wine education and the seating wasn’t optimized. In addition, the menu was the same as our initial visit. While we enjoyed ourselves, I wish we hadn’t selected this event. The events under the lecturing Sommelier control were far better. 4) We did just about all the on-board wine events. The Privee Wine & Cheese Tasting was a replication for the 1973 Paris tasting that put California wines on the map. This was great. There was a lot of old world/new world wine education provided, I also really enjoyed the NZ and Australia wine pairing. The other events were good but those two stood out to me. Things we loved: 1) Celebrity provided an umbrella and binoculars in our room; great touch. 2) The evening canapés; We were always hungry right when they showed up! 3) Our room steward Marlon was great and made sure we had everything we needed for a great day. 4) The itinerary was amazing; every stop offered something new and unique. We are used to cruising in the Caribbean and Mexico so we were surprised that we didn’t get hounded by trinket sellers and aggressive tour operators. That’s about it....we LOVED this cruise! It exceeded our expectations in many ways.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our return voyage on the Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Sydney, as we were on the same ship Sydney to Auckland, back-to-back cruise. We were in the same stateroom on our return journey, which was convenient, not having to unpack ... Read More
This was our return voyage on the Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Sydney, as we were on the same ship Sydney to Auckland, back-to-back cruise. We were in the same stateroom on our return journey, which was convenient, not having to unpack and repack. This was a completely different cruise on the way back to Australia, as we were advised by a delivered letter to our stateroom on 12 December by Captain Yannis Berdos, that an outbreak of the gastrointestinal illness thought to be Norovirus, had occurred on the ship. From thence on, stringent precautions were taken with the cleaning of the ship and handwashing procedures. All books from the library were taken away, the Ocean View Café on deck 14 had no self-service available and all food and drinks were served to guests by staff. All equipment on tables in all eating areas, including specialty restaurants, were taken away (salt and pepper was provided in paper sachets and there were no jams, butters etc. put on tables for self service). Hence, our return journey was slightly soured by this occurrence. We believe that this outbreak was brought on to the ship by new passengers embarking in Auckland as the journey from Sydney to Auckland was "virus free". As for all other aspects of our cruise, staff and quality of meals in Blu Restaurant were all outstanding, as previously discussed in our review of the Sydney-Auckland leg. The only disappointment was having the virus on board the ship for the outstanding days left on the cruise which was 10 days. We noted on our departure off the cruise in Sydney, that a whole sanitizing program was going to be performed for the incoming guests and because of this, embarkment was set back for them. Even though it was sometimes inconvenient, we were impressed by the extent of the cleaning measures taken by the staff to prevent more people being infected by the virus. Luckily, we were not infected with the virus. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I have just returned from a 12 night cruise around New Zealand and back to Sydney. I travelled with a family group of 10 so we were quite a crowd. We have travelled as a family many times before and this cruise was everything we had hoped ... Read More
I have just returned from a 12 night cruise around New Zealand and back to Sydney. I travelled with a family group of 10 so we were quite a crowd. We have travelled as a family many times before and this cruise was everything we had hoped for, The Solstice is a very large ship with a LOT of passengers and crew. Never-the-less, we only felt crowded when trying to dine and I was surprised at how many quiet nooks and crannies could be found when we simply wanted to get away and have a quiet read. The food was extremely good and the service in the dining room was efficient but still very personal. Within a day of boarding the waiters knew all of our names and our personal drink preferences. They always took care of the younger members of our group and made each of us feel very special. The food was rich, varied and tasty and I understand why the average passenger gains 0.5 of a kg per day (the executive chef told us that). We had adjacent balcony cabins on deck 6. I have previously travelled on higher decks but I prefer to be closer to the water also, the rocking of the boat is more obvious the higher up you get. The cabins were scrupulously clean and well fitted out and the stewards very attentive. The balconies were a good size and large enough for 2 comfortable chairs and a table with room to spare. The entertainment was hit and miss. Some of the shows and acts were very amateurish including singing out of tune and dancing out of step. Others were spectacular, especially Solstice's own show. The activities staff were fun and funny and took time to engage with most of the passengers. The lawn was a nice touch but I think the space could have been used better. The art auctions were given far too much emphasis and regularly took over whole bars, rooms and other public spaces, preventing the majority of passengers from using that area. I really resented them blocking windows and seating in some of the large bars where trivia and other more broadly popular activities were also held. I think art auctions on cruise ships are terribly over priced and rely on you getting caught up in the moment, trusting their descriptions and advice and not being able to access the internet to check the truth of what they tell you. Be very weary and do your research before you go. Read some reviews and complaints about Park West Gallery and make up your own mind. Every day for us was fun, interesting and full of food and laughter. Cruising really is the best way for a family group to travel. It was especially easy for my 83 year old mother as she could rest when needed, only had to unpack and repack once but could still be with us all as we travelled. I highly recommend cruising and Celebrity did not let us down.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Celebrity Solstice and its sister ship the Equinox are both great ships that cater to all passengers tastes and pockets. Having been on the Equinox twice, I still prefer it. The Solstice, being older, I believe is now ready for an ... Read More
The Celebrity Solstice and its sister ship the Equinox are both great ships that cater to all passengers tastes and pockets. Having been on the Equinox twice, I still prefer it. The Solstice, being older, I believe is now ready for an overhaul. The service, the food and the staff were all outstanding. Normally< i am quick to criticize cruise ship food, but not this time. Most meals were good to excellent. The staff was polite but friendly. Well trained and eager to please. Concierge class cabins on deck 10 were adequate falling on the side of smallish feel. Furniture still quite serviceable, but showing signs of wear. Door lock was quirky often requiring 2 or 3 attempts before opening The ship itself generally is in good condition, albeit, it is begin to show its age (approx 6 yrs.) and it creaked and rumbled on rough sea days like an old wood vessel. Door to the balcony did not seal properly so wind sounds were heard on rough nights. Ship decor was the most disappointing. It just did not feel elegant, nor attractive. This is particularly true in the theater. Entertainment was so - so, particularly on the music side. Except for an excellent Jazz quartet, the other three lounge bands were just OK. One duet was assigned a Latin music night and it had no experience nor background music. Ball room cha-chas were not exactly what the Latin loving community had in mind. Large number of shore tour choices were offered. But must were significantly more expensive than the same tour purchased from local operators. Example, a very scenic and highly rated 4 hr train ride was offered for US$249. The train ticket could be purchased at the station for the equivalent of US$80. That meant that the 15 minute bus ride to and from the ship costs $169! Embarkation was the usual mass of people with the customary delays. Dis-embarkation was fast and smooth. The public announcements were made by a sensuous but hard to understand female that always lef us scratching our head as to what was being said. Still, I had a great experience and an overall good time Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
I will say Celebrity Solstice is the biggest and in my opinion the best Cruising ship that comes to Australia, having been on other cruise ships in the region, nothing compares to this vessel. Firstly boarding in Auckland was relatively ... Read More
I will say Celebrity Solstice is the biggest and in my opinion the best Cruising ship that comes to Australia, having been on other cruise ships in the region, nothing compares to this vessel. Firstly boarding in Auckland was relatively easy, the staff did a great job it was only soured by people who cannot follow proper instructions and be in readiness for embarkation. However as mentioned Celebrity staff and crew were well organised and I must admit very informative to any questions. Aqua Class was the way we went and this is an excellent choice I would recommend it to anybody, we had cabin 1610 and our friends had 1608, we linked the two balconies together by having the cabin attendants remove the divider, this made our huge verandah even bigger, our cabins while far from being spacious were well designed and good to just relax in when required, the flat screen Apple programmed Samsung flat screen tellies were great, some good free viewing and also the information on them as far as accounts went was fantastic, however I feel the cruising information could be a little more informative like depth of the sea and a couple more cameras for different views around the ship would be a good touch. Housekeeping was exceptional, our two housekeepers were fantastic, great service and unobtrusive Raymondo and Katut were good and we duly rewarded them for their efforts, as we opted out of the automatic gratuities payment, we are firm believers that people who service us directly receive the due rewards and this is why we went this way with our tipping. Nothing was too much trouble, however I would say that perhaps Celebrity should supply the Australian power outputs to their ships, they gave us attachments with a 40 dollar deposit which was quickly returned at the end of the cruise to our account, but it tends to be more of a minor issue that I feel could be fixed. Dining was exceptional, we mainly dined in Blu restaurant as it is complimentary with Aqua Class and the staff and Maitre De were exceptional, Mark and Jose were fantastic waiters, even though on previous cruise ships we have had great service, these guys took it above and beyond and that they were truly super efficient and their recommendations on the menu always turned out to be exceptional, we did dine in all three specialty restaurants Tuscan Grill, food was brilliant and while I will say the extra charge was worth it, Blu restaurant was just as good, next was Murano French inspired dining, this was also magnificent and well worth the extra charge, my favourite was Silk Harvest, Asian inspired dining, I really enjoyed this and the service also was exceptional, as I mentioned Silk Harvest was my favourite, but of the four of us two stated that Murano was their favourite and the other stated that Tuscan Grill was their favourite, but we all agreed that Blu was brilliant also. The Buffet food was of a good general quality and certainly topped up the tank daily mainly for lunch and the odd breakfast, but as I will mention later the other passengers on this ship, their manners leave a little to be desired when people are scratching to find a place to sit down and eat. The entertainment was of a very good standard, there were a couple of shows we were not interested in, in the main theatre, but generally all the shows we visited were of a good standard and very entertaining, the hot glass show on deck 15 was brilliant and celebrity must be applauded for getting this feature on it's ships, very entertaining and artistic, the lawn area was nice and many a good game of bocce was had with our friends. The bars were good Quasar was good for Karaoke and games during the day and the Ice Cocktail bar was an absolute blast the guys behind the bar are great fun and entertaining once again a mention to Katut and E Katut these guys make the bar a success. The only down side was the Cruise Director and the Entertainment Officer appeared to be very smug and rarely seen, other than on stage in the main theatre on a night and occasionally on the dock on shore days, but other than that very complacent compared to others I have experience on other cruise lines. Venues on the ship which are all of a high quality include the Persian Garden which is complimentary entrance if you are an Aqua Class guest and the steam rooms and adult only solarium with swimming pool were a great attraction which was evident by the amount of people there every day, the Sky Lounge was a great place to relax and wile away the sea days with leisure seating very comfortable, the only disappointment was the Art Auctions that were held there, they took up too much time and restricted the areas for relaxing up there, but I suppose they had to have them some where. We got a classic drinks package and we were happy we did, the fact of not having to worry every time you buy a drink that it will be added to your account, the staff treat you no differently when you have a drinks package, the service is still exceptional, I don't think we drank all that much and may not have spent as much as the drink package cost, but the ease and lack of worry was well worth the cost of the package, however it would be good if Celebrity could come up with a list of what is included and what is not at every venue. Down side, yes there has to be a down side and in this case the weather was not the best, but Celebrity can hardly be blamed for that, nor can they be blamed for the ignorance and sheer stupidity of the passengers who go on their cruises, on the odd occasion when the buffet was packed people would just sit there and talk with no food and sometimes not even a drink in front of them, totally ignoring other passengers looking to sit down to eat their food, there was even one group of arrogant Americans who played cards during a busy lunch rush and even argued with the attendant when he asked them to move their card game to (here's an idea) the card room, provided on deck 10, just sheer arrogance and ignorance, I am sure they wouldn't have appreciated people eating their meals in the card room when they couldn't get a seat to play cards. Cafe al Bacio was where we had our morning and afternoon hot beverages, as this was included in our classic drinks package, this place is devine with ample seating although there could always be more, Svitlana was brilliant, she was always polite and accommodating to any request we had and her usual "you are welcome" after every thanks always made us smile her coffee was briliant and seeing her most days brought a smile to our faces. Shore tour organisation was briliant getting people to the correct place and on time was second to none. We had on one occasion a jet boat trip in Rotorua, the weather was so bad it should have been called off, but it wasn't and we all got soaking wet and freezing cold, it actually spoiled the next trip to Hell's Gate thermal experience because we were all cold a miserable, neither the weather nor the fact that the jet boat adventure going ahead can be blamed on Celebrity, and when I got back to the ship I complained that it should have been called off, Celebrity were very apologetic and reimbursed us for the tour, which I was not expecting, but it was a nice surprise, just one of the many ways in which Celebrity excelled in their customer relations process. One thing I didn't like was their secret little events held for certain passengers like tours of the bridge, engine room and galley, these things should be opened up to more people I think. Because Aqua Class give you priority boarding and departure, I was quite happy surprised that Celebrity apparently flew Australian Border Protection Officers out to the ship 4 days prior to disembarking to fully process us at sea rather than be held up on our arrival in Sydney, another thing that Celebrity do well. In summary very impressed with the cruise line, even to the point that we booked our next cruise with them whilst on the ship and got an amazing deal with great rewards for joining the captains club, so if you are an avid cruiser do yourself a favour and get on the Celebrity Solstice or any Solstice class cruise ship, they are brilliant. Come on April 2016 and the Caribbean - Can't wait.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Celebrity Solstice........ is a beautiful ship. Cabins are so elegant n nice, great size but not enough storage or drawers. Bed is just perfect. Balcony is so spacious n great ! Bathroom is also perfect. Enough storage n there is even a ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice........ is a beautiful ship. Cabins are so elegant n nice, great size but not enough storage or drawers. Bed is just perfect. Balcony is so spacious n great ! Bathroom is also perfect. Enough storage n there is even a night light. No curtains. Shampoo n conditioner were supplied. But no body lotion or shower gel. The ship is very stable! Not as nice n opened Atrium as I was hoping for but still nice. Loads of places to sit around in public areas n u will also find nice cosy places/rooms where u can just sit and enjoy a glass of wine nearly in silence or with nice quite music. Pool area is good. Plenty of beds to sunbake n relax. On deck 14 u also find loads of lounges where u can relax n admire the view with floor to ceiling windows even in the Solarium n deck 12 pool area. A bit windy at time on deck 14-15 . Ocean buffet is ok. Typical buffet food n service. Plenty of seats but can be crowed at rush hours. Public bathrooms are so beautiful. Also there is a bathroom attendant at busy places. Nice touch. Specialty restaurants were good. Murano was not as fancy n great as were told but we loved Tuscan n Silk Harvest very much so n was excellent service . However service is lacking on so many levels. MDR was the most disappointing. Our waiters were so disorganized not remembering what we ordered n what was a water preferences till like the 6th night. Never called us by our names only Madame n Sir although they asked our names. We missed being called by our names. They never remembered that we ask for toothpick at the end of our dinner. Or that we like small spoon for dessert not soup spoon. Oh and they also forgot my birthday although it was registered. Our waiter admitted that he had forgotten n apologized . It was very upsetting. Food was blend n not warm enough n hardly any attention was paid to presentation. Not enough elbow room where were seated. The bread what was served was just sad. No nice bread rolls like on other lines. Menu book was ripped in the middle at the back. looking like it was a vintage peace. Every thing was so disorganized n panicky around our table. Room service as well. Ordered coffee but we never got coffee cups to drink it from. Hot Chocolate but no hot milk not even hot water or cold milk. Missing orders ever time we ordered somethingAt lunch table weren't set properly missing cutlery n salt n pepper. Coffee was not offered at lunch ever! even at breakfast time we had to ask for coffee n meals were brought out disorganized. It seemed that there was too may boss n not enough people who actually did something. No high tea n a very poor brunch they put on which was just same as it was every other lunch. Not enough vegetarians options on the menu n hardly any soup. We had ripped linen for 5 days ripped linen!!!!!!! Asked them to change it for us n they put on another ripped one!!!!! Bumped into the floor supervisor n then we got proper linens. Mirrors stayed dirty for days in the cabin no dusting for days, bench not wiped after breakfast so it was sticky from Orange juice. Only 1 towel animal on 12 night cruise. So we were disappointed in the service as these things should not happen on a 5 plus star hotel/cruise line. Entertainment was also not our cup of tea. Too much classical shows n they were repeated in the theatre. Cruise critic meet n mingle party was a joke. The cruise director introduced a few senior officer n we got some coffee n biscuits. No games or little presents/ruffle. Cruise director Ben was hardly seen n we never saw him interacting with passengers on a daily basis as we have on other cruises. Maria the activity manager a bit more out there but still not that much interaction was seen by us. Also there is a very strong cigarette smoke smell around Molecular bar n Art Gallery. It is just gross. W r non smokers n it was very annoying. Also the way the smoking area was distributed was just strange. As when u walk on the decks on one deck it is on the starboard side n one deck lower it is on the portside. Also smoking should not be allowed near the walking path. I am sorry to say but Celebrity is off from our things to do list for now . We still payed all our gratuities as it had been pre-payed as we always do, but now I do regret that we even left a penny . I should have asked guest relations to take it off me as we were very very disappointed with the service. Celebrity is a 5 plus star cruise line n the service we received was not more the a weak 3 star motel style. I honestly don't think that we will be back on Celebrity ships any time soon as we are just all in disbelief that this is really happen to us. Not to mention that it was my special B'day cruise but forgotten . Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
This was the third cruise for us on the Solstice, and about the 6th with Celebrity. First, despite the recent complaints on the forum, we found no diminution in the quality of the food or the service or in the condition or maintenance of ... Read More
This was the third cruise for us on the Solstice, and about the 6th with Celebrity. First, despite the recent complaints on the forum, we found no diminution in the quality of the food or the service or in the condition or maintenance of the ship. All were up to our previous experiences. The escargot, lobster tail, and prime rib were all on the menu. It was nice to include some regional specialties, like kangaroo and crocodile (tastes like chicken) as well, and there was a small selection of Australian and New Zealand wines available. The quality, presentation, and service in the main dining room continued to be excellent. We did have an assistant waiter who was a magician- he kept disappearing- but our waiter, Zeus, covered for him very nicely. We felt no need to eat at the specialty restaurants. Breakfast and lunch at the buffet were somewhat hectic and crowded, but the variety and quality of the food was fine, except that we didn't see a single grape or fresh berry or banana even once (except for some desserts, which included bananas.) The coffee in the main dining room was undrinkable, but for some reason was considerably better at the buffet. Cafe al Bacio was delightful, as it has always been, and well worth the small surcharge. There were a few areas where you could see some cuts had been made. There were no brunches or ice sculpture extravaganzas in the main dining room, there was a string trio instead of a quartet (a violinist here, an assistant waiter there- it eventually adds up.) However, this is all nit-picky stuff. Our cabin was fairly roomy and kept spotlessly clean, the bed very comfortable and storage space adequate. The only small issue was the removal of the complimentary toiletries the evening before debarkation. The entertainment was variable. The shows were good, the performers very talented. But they were the same shows, with minor variations, that we had seen on our last Solstice cruise, 2 years ago. The presentations by Milos, the naturalist were truly wonderful; the performances by the singing group in the lobby before dinner were truly awful. The songs were fine, the music not punishingly loud, but the quality of their performances were, to us, below professional standards. The public areas seemed more crowded than on previous cruises. This might be because the weather was not especially conducive do sitting outside. Also, the Sky Lounge, which is a lovely and spacious area for sitting and reading, was often unavailable because of the ubiquitous art auctions, while the fairly large area usually taken up by the art stuff lay empty and chairless. The shore excursions were generally quite nice, the descriptions in the brochure again too often inadequate and inaccurate. You would be cautioned about 2 or 3 steps needed to board the bus, but the facts that at tendered ports, you had to descend a flight of stairs to get to the tender, and then ascend the stairs to get back on the ship, and that at other ports the gangways were frequently quite long and steep went unmentioned. The staff seemed as friendly and generally happy as usual, and the ship's officers were often visible and involved with the passengers. The Guest Relations staff was also quite friendly and helpful. The cruise met our expectations, and we would not hesitate to travel with Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I Loved it. We arranged for an accessible Sky Suite in case the accessible Veranda rooms were not big enough and it was fantastic. I did take a look in an accessible veranda room at the end of the cruise and it would have been fine as ... Read More
I Loved it. We arranged for an accessible Sky Suite in case the accessible Veranda rooms were not big enough and it was fantastic. I did take a look in an accessible veranda room at the end of the cruise and it would have been fine as well but hey why not spoil yourself every now and then. The bathroom was huge with hand rails & shower seat and easy to use. Lowered hand basin and hand shower as well. The room had plenty of room to move around and plenty of side access for the bed. Automatic door to get in/out of the suite and the staff were excellent. On Board plenty of facilities for wheelchair eg, toilets etc and a reserved space for WCHR's in the Theatre for the shows. I was a little disappointed that the port of call for Christchurch was Akaroa instead of in town so we couldn't get off but instead we enjoyed the ship for the day instead. We got off in Tauranga, Wellington and Dunedin but stayed on for the tender days. Food was excellent in the Grand Dining room and Oceanview café and we went to Silk harvest, Tuscan and Blue, Bistro on Five and they were stupendous. We had the premium drinks package and it was excellent value. Being a Suite passenger I would have thought they would have been a little more help available to board/deboard but unfortunately we were basically left to our own devices to get on off apart from the service staff pushing us up/down the walkway. Arrival into Sydney was poorly arranged and no assistance with baggage or getting through the queue and finding a cab but I guess from other reviews that is not necessarily Celebrity's issue but more the Sydney Port Authority I guess from what I read it said that we would have received some sort of priority/assistance. I have already booked my next cruise with Celebrity and can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband took me on a cruise to New Zealand to Australia to celebrate my 60th birthday. We are originally from the San Francisco Bay Area of the USA but temporarily living in Singapore due to work. This is our 8th cruise and 3rd with ... Read More
My husband took me on a cruise to New Zealand to Australia to celebrate my 60th birthday. We are originally from the San Francisco Bay Area of the USA but temporarily living in Singapore due to work. This is our 8th cruise and 3rd with Celebrity. We totally enjoyed this cruise. The only issue would be the decline of the quality of food. Service was excellent in all areas except a little lacking with the head waiter. Our assistant waiter was exceptional and saved the show. The Solstice was beautiful, and except for in the buffet area, was very peaceful and you would never know you were on such a large ship. Our cabin, on the 8th level, was roomy and the bathroom wonderful. To make the spacious bathroom a lot of the storage space was taken away. Even with this we felt comfortable and pampered. Going to New Zealand and Australia was a dream come true. We enjoyed each stop and learned so much about the area. We took the Celebrity excursions and enjoyed it. We selected the 6 pm seating in the main dining room and we are so happy we did. Dining with the same people helps you get to know them so much better and we have developed friendships even though we come from all over the world. This the most fun we have had in a long time. Though most shows were mediocre, the One evening Cirq de Sole type show was phenomenal. The violinist was good too. Made up for the other bad shows. The embarkation in Auckland was fine. The debarkation in Sydney a bit strange as we were directed out of the crew quarters and we kept getting lost. Not a great way to end a cruise. We spent 4 days post cruise seeing Sydney. We stayed at the Shangri-la Hotel, which was beautiful and people very friendly, but it sits on top of a hill and to walk around anywhere you have to negotiate this hill. While probably not very hard for most, but I have osteoarthritis of the knees and made going anywhere very difficult. I wish I would have known this prior to booking as I would have selected another hotel. Overall this trip was amazing. We loved the locations and people we met. Made great memories. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We had a wonderful time. The ship was beautiful. food delicious, activities plentiful, the entertainment enjoyable, cabin comfortable, service great, and days on shore and at sea almost perfect. We wish we were on board again! Cabin ... Read More
We had a wonderful time. The ship was beautiful. food delicious, activities plentiful, the entertainment enjoyable, cabin comfortable, service great, and days on shore and at sea almost perfect. We wish we were on board again! Cabin perfect for us. Quite large room and bathroom. Plenty of space for clothes (we took TOO many), safe, drawers, chairs, bathroom light, room under bed for suitcases, VERY quiet, good location for eating, and wonderful service. Not one single complaint! We took this cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary and it lived up to every expectation. We are not big drinkers or dancers or shoppers, but found plenty on board and on shore to keep us occupied!! We did not do any of the shore excursions, but feel we saw and learned a lot on our own by walking and got the real "feel" of each stop. Our favorites on the boat - being outside close to the ocean, interesting talks by Kay, quiet dinners for two on the second floor of the Grand Eperny, daily coffee in the afternoon, working out on the treadmills staring at the ocean in the fitness center, winning at the casino, and the nightly shows which were quite good! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Spent a total of 40 days on the Solstice starting in Auckland and ending in Vancouver. The good news is I didn't gain any weight. The bad news is the the quality of the food. I'm a elite member of celebrity and always loved the ... Read More
Spent a total of 40 days on the Solstice starting in Auckland and ending in Vancouver. The good news is I didn't gain any weight. The bad news is the the quality of the food. I'm a elite member of celebrity and always loved the line because of the food. I don't know what happened but I was definitely disappointed with this cruise. Also felt the wait staff was very rushed and for a cruise line that advertises it meets all your needs even before you knew you had them, it certainly didn't come through with it's promise. Even when we asked for certain things we were often told they weren't available. The ship itself was very clean and the room stewards were wonderful. The public rest rooms usually had a staff member assigned to it. The hand rails were constantly being cleaned which is really good for keeping illness down. But the ship is definitely showing it's age especially in the cabins. The entertainment was average with the exception of the show Solstice which was fabulous. Their enrichment program which I have always loved was not up to par as most of the speakers were boring or not related to the cruise we were on. The ship didn't seem to have a user friendly flow. Having to hang over the balconies to watch shows in the grand foyer was very uncomfortable. For a ship that caters to an older crowd here were only 7 tables dedicated to card playing in a very noisy area of the ship as it did not have an assigned room. On the last leg of the trip from On the last leg from Hawaii to Vancouver the ship changed it's activity director and things improved somewhat. But even with that I think this will be my last time sailing on the Solstice category. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We have always wanted to see New Zealand and this was a magical way to see some of its beauty. The cruise ship itself is 1st class. I cannot fault anything about the cruise, the staff went above and beyond what I expected. Our cabin was ... Read More
We have always wanted to see New Zealand and this was a magical way to see some of its beauty. The cruise ship itself is 1st class. I cannot fault anything about the cruise, the staff went above and beyond what I expected. Our cabin was on the 9th floor and we were looked after by Agun and Ishak wonderfully. The boys at the pool bar were wonderful, Nyoman and Nikki, lovely friendly boys. All the staff are superb. Cintrons zumba classes were great, loved every moment and that shimmy, well. We did find that people seemed to hog the prime sun beds though, leaving belongings on them for hours so no one else can use them. The spa and hairdressers are very expensive I would have liked to spoil myself but found the prices way beyond what I would normally pay Lots of activities for everyone Shore excursions are very expensive Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We have recently returned from an 18 day cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Auckland to Perth. I have recently read several reviews of the previous cruise to ours and cannot believe that our experience can have been so different. We ... Read More
We have recently returned from an 18 day cruise on the Celebrity Solstice from Auckland to Perth. I have recently read several reviews of the previous cruise to ours and cannot believe that our experience can have been so different. We had a great time! We have cruised over 10 times with Cunard, Celebrity, Princess, P&O, Ocean Village, Royal Caribbean and Thomson so have a lot of experience of cruising. As we live in the UK and don’t particularly like long flights we decided to break up the journey by visiting our son in Dubai, stopping in Singapore before flying to Melbourne to see my sister. We used Emirates for all of our flights and found them to be exceptional for food, entertainment and seat pitch even though we were in Economy. The other huge benefit of Emirates is their luggage allowance of 30Kgs each which is essential when spending nearly 5 weeks away from home. We spent 3 days in Frankston, near Melbourne, where we saw kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, an echidna and various birds with the highlight being the penguin parade at Philip Island. We saw over 600 penguins coming on to the beach at sunset – Amazing! We also took a ride on Puffing Billy through the Dandanong Ranges. We arrived in Auckland on the day before embarkation and stayed at the Sky City Hotel. We found this to be an excellent choice both because of the room but also the location of the hotel in central Auckland. We booked a shuttle from the airport to the hotel which left soon after we got out of customs etc. which was a nightmare because 3 A380s landed within 20 minutes. It took 2 hours from landing to getting to the shuttle bus. However the shuttle bus only took 20 minutes to get to the hotel. That evening we walked down to the quay and had dinner in Danny Doolans which I would recommend. 2 meals, 3 pints and 2 glasses of wine were only 48 New Zealand Dollars. The next morning after a hearty breakfast in the hotel we strolled around the quay and saw the Celebrity Solstice for the first time. Most Impressive! We arrived at the Ocean Terminal at about 12.30pm. Chaos ensued – there were no directions of what to do – queue jumping all over the place. The building is not well designed in comparison to all three at Southampton and there was little help from the staff. We eventually got on board after an hour and went to look around the ship. Although I had researched thoroughly and had seen the photographs and reviews posted by the Priesmans – (what a website – Thank you Mike and Carol), we were still surprised at the amount of space on the ship. http://www.thepreismans.com/preinaug_solstice.htm Another source which was also very useful was that posted by Giulio Saggin and Nathalia Rayfield on their blog and on you tube. cometravellingwithus.blogspot.com/2011/11/visitin-our-shores.html‎ www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvIaHReopic We went for lunch to the Ocean View café where we liked the arrangement of the islands and found that as usual provided you found a seat before getting food that there were no problems in this area. As on all cruise ships there are going to be times when the buffet is very busy and we found that we were able to go for a drink and come back later if this was the case. After lunch we found the sunset bar which became a favourite haunt for the 18 days. My wife is a smoker and we found that this ship has several smoking areas which appeared to be enough for people with this habit. Shortly after this there was an announcement that the staterooms were ready. We had booked an inside stateroom 8159 on deck 8. This proved to be an excellent choice. There was a king sized bed with rounded corners, plenty of storage space, a super shower with doors, a comfortable sofa opposite a new flat screen TV. The best stateroom we have ever had in 12 cruises. Our stateroom attendant was Lorna who gave us very good service. We also met her manager Stavros who was also very pleasant. In fact between the two of them we received 6 bottles of bubbly to drink over the course of the cruise. We booked the premium drinks package and took full advantage of it especially at dinner in the Grand Epernay where sommeliers Rudi and Alexandre both recommended wine pairings every evening. I believe that we had some bin ends as well as from the wine list. We thoroughly enjoyed this. I was even able to have a glass or two of Tokay which I had never tasted and had learnt about 40 years ago. Interestingly this was not available until we reached Sydney as a container had been late in Auckland that was due to restock the ship. Incidentally there were also no chocolates on the pillow until Sydney – probably for the same reason. The service in the Grand Epernay where we chose Select Dining was for the most part good but occasional slower when we arrived at 6.30 instead of our normal 7pm. However as dining is a most important factor in our holiday, this was of little consequence. We had several waiter pairings but particularly enjoyed the company of Charlie and Yasser. The menus served were roughly as posted on the Priesmans website Baltic cruise with 4 repeated as it was an 18 day cruise. http://www.thepreismans.com/baltic_2013_menus.htm#main_dining There was plenty of choice as can be seen and all meals were well cooked and hot. We ate one evening in the Ocean view café due to the fact that we were late from a shore excursion and found enough choice there. We also ate breakfast and lunch every day in this café. The breakfast choices were brilliant especially with the egg stations for omelettes, poached eggs and fried eggs any way you wanted them. Canadian, English and American bacon were all available as well. The drinks package that we purchased enabled us to have fresh fruit juice every morning although it was disappointing that there was no fresh grapefruit for the last 4 days. The coffee and tea stations were crowded but temporary areas were also set up. Lunches also had plenty of choices with Mexican, Thai, Indian, Pasta and Pizza stations all cooking fresh food. Other choices daily were a carvery, two different soups and a salad bar. Desserts included a hot sweet daily and there was a station serving cheese as well as an ice cream area. Bar service around the ship was good after the first couple of days when draught beer wasn’t available on the sunset bar. The crew was very good, well trained and friendly bar one man in the ocean view café bar who did not know how to smile. Particularly noticeable were the guest relations team who were the friendliest and most helpful in my experience of cruises. I had to go to this desk on several occasions during the cruise. The first was on embarkation day. Only two of our cases out of three had arrived at the stateroom. After searching through the ship it was still not found. However I found it in the next alcove along our passage. (The alcoves to the doors were not able to be seen in the passage). I also visited on 6 occasions due to my sea pass which opens the stateroom door was not working. However the most helpful action was when I realised that I had lost my mobile in Esperance. They phoned the number and it was answered by one of the guest entertainers who brought it back to the ship with him. Another point that stood out compared to the other cruises that we had taken was the officer availability. Nightly all the officers were around the ship talking to guests. Entertainment was average in our opinion. There were several guest artists including a pianist, guitarist, a rod stewart tribute, an illusionist, an elvis impersonator, a female vocalist, a hypnotist, a trio of tenors, a comedian, an electric violinist and a male vocalist as well as three shows from the Solstice team. Apart from the main theatre other venues were used such as the atrium for these acts. Of these we particularly liked the Celtic Tenors. Also on board were some resident musicians:- The Sea Harmony Trio – Classical Strings, The Dynamic Les DeMerle Jazz Quartet, The Sonic Groove Duo, a party band called Top Notch, a singer/guitarist called Johnny Mantra and a DJ called Jaz. These all played in various venues from the atrium, the Ensemble Lounge, the Sky lounge and on deck during the day. We liked the duo that played a selection of mainly 60s and 70s music. The guy in the duo also did a show in the theatre one afternoon of Neil Diamond songs that was very good. There was a series of lectures in the Beyond the Podium series. These were from Milos the naturalist, Professor Lisa Didier who talked about New Zealand and Australia history and culture and Professor Hadyn Green who talked about Forensic Investigation. They were all very knowledgeable but we especially enjoyed the forensic science talks. Another useful activity was a series of I pad/ I phone seminars given by the manager of IT lounge. These were well attended by the silver surfers and informative. The manager was also amusing and helpful. Other activities on board included Zumba, Trivia, Art auctions, Corning glass show, bocce, croquet, golf putting, officers v guests, table tennis, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, daily news sheets, destination talks, poker tournaments, executive chef demonstrations, table sales, health and wellness seminars, wine tastings, galley tour, future cruise presentations, pool volleyball, bingo, comedy game shows, films in celebrity central, fun games by the pool, karaoke, dance classes, learn Australian and Kiwi slang, the life story of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and an egg drop challenge. Apart from the films in public areas there was also a large selection of both free to view and pay movies on the TV in the stateroom. In fact we watched Captain Philips which was a free to view. As we were away from home for over 30 days we took advantage of the laundry on board and were very happy with the service of which we received 10% off the bill as we are Classic members of the Captains Club. We also received 10% off the cost of an internet package. We were warned that the Wi-Fi would be slow but it proved to be adequate for our needs. Another interesting fact was that over 800 of our fellow cruisers were going to stay on board at the end of the cruise with a back to back cruise for a further 17 days. They were travelling on to Bali and around the top end of Australia and finishing in Sydney. The ports that we visited were as follows: Bay of Islands – Overcast weather – High 68F We took a Celebrity excursion to the Glow-worm caves and Kauri Forest. This was a very interesting excursion and the driver was very informative and friendly. We also visited some very decorative Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa. We mainly organised our own excursions but in this port we were tendered and we did not want to risk missing the ship. We were right in this particular case because the water was choppy and all the excursions were late starting off. We actually tendered by the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the treaty which was an agreement between the British Crown and Maori was signed in 1840. The anniversary of this event was due the next day and because the Prime Minister of New Zealand was attending there was a high police presence. Tauranga – Partly Cloudy – High 69F We organised an excursion through Cruise Tauranga which proved to be a good choice. We visited a Kiwi fruit plantation, Okere Falls, Te Puia, Government Gardens and Lake Rotorua. At the Kiwi fruit plantation we learnt about the husbandry of the fruit, saw a working orchard, touched the vines and tasted the fruit and some juices. At Okere Falls we took a 30 minute walk through sub-tropical rain forest where we saw the Silver Fern tree. This is New Zealand’s sporting emblem. The walk was to the Kaituna River where we saw a series of spectacular waterfalls where white-water rafting takes place. We then visited Te Puia where we saw a Maori ceremony which was colourful and musical. This was followed by a trip around the geysers at this site. These were spectacular. There were two craft areas where Maoris were carving wood and also weaving. Later we saw the Government gardens with mud pools and smaller geysers. This was followed by beautiful views across Lake Rotorua. This trip was well organised and led by Simon, the owner of the business, who had been a teacher previously. Akaroa - Partly Cloudy – High 68F Although this was also a tender port we organised a tour for 12 noon. Thank goodness. More choppy water and even though we went for the tender at 10am expecting to look around the town, we only got on shore at 11.45pm. Our tour was organised through pohatu penguins for a visit to a sheep farm and penguin colony. We chose another super tour on line. We were escorted with 3 others by Joey, the farmer’s daughter. She drove us over spectacular scenery to Flea Bay where the farm was situated. On the way we stopped at a bay where we saw dolphins. We then had a bush walk before travelling to the farm where we fed sheep, then saw a baby penguin fed. Afterwards we looked in several burrows where the penguins were moulting. After seeing the penguins in Philip Island this was another amazing experience. Dunedin- Cloudy at first – clear later – High 67F In Dunedin we booked a tour through Viator of the Otago peninsula. We drove above the harbour for views over the peninsula. We then drove to Baldwin Street and saw the steepest street in the world. We saw a 61 year old man running up the street. Apparently he does this 30 times a day and has done for over 15 years. After this we stopped at the historic Dunedin Railway Station in the city centre. This was next to Cadbury World which was shut because it was a Saturday. We then drove to the Otago Peninsula, and saw signs of the volcanic activity that shaped this region over the millennia.. We went on a short walk a beautiful beach, where the New Zealand sea lion can often be seen basking in the sunshine. However there was one too far away for us to see. We then drove through the peninsula and returned to the ship by all the bays in the harbour. Milford Sound – Clear – High 79F When we sailed through the sounds Milo, the naturalist, gave a commentary. The weather was beautiful and Milo said that this was the best weather that he had seen in 10 years. This was great for the views but there were only two waterfalls noticeable due to the lack of rain. As we had sailed the Inside passage in Alaska and through the Norwegian fjords we were able to compare. They all are beautiful but we thought that the waterfalls in Norway were dramatic and the wildlife in the Inside passage was more numerous. We sat on the deck with the lawn during the day watching the scenery and were annoyed by many “gnats”. Later we both had over 30 bites each and after research realised that they were sand flies that we knew nothing about. We have had discomfort since and still 26 days later are itching. My wife visited the medical centre about her bites and was given 7 days of anti-histamines without charge. Tasman Sea As we knew this was the second roughest sea in the world and as the previous cruise had a torrid time, we were concerned. No need the Tasman Sea was like a mill pond Sydney – Overcast and then sunny – High 77F The Celebrity Solstice docks in the harbour in between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. This is not only great for views and pictures but also means that it is in the centre of the city. In Sydney we caught the hop on hop off bus which has two circuits. We saw all the main sights including Bondi Beach. This was much smaller than I thought. However I am proud to say that I, as a 68 year old, surfed on Bondi Beach!!! However I must say that was because there was free Wi-Fi and I surfed the web!!!! After the tours of the city we had a walk around an area called the Rocks which are by the docking area. Melbourne – Mostly Cloudy – High 82F As with Sydney we decided to do our own thing and shared a cab from Port Melbourne, with another couple to Federation Square in the centre of the city. Here we visited the Melbourne visitor centre where we purchased tickets for the shuttle at a cost of $5AD each. This was a circular tour of the city and again we saw the majority of the sights. We stopped off at the MCG (where unfortunately England had been thrashed at cricket just after Xmas). There was a corporate game being played and we looked through the gates and saw a couple of overs. As my wife does not like cricket we decided not to do the tour. We did see statues of greats like Sir Don Bradman, Keith Millar and Dennis Lillee as well as a board of Olympic champions from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Aussie rules football is also played in this stadium. After the shuttle we went to the Parliament Building where we witnessed a demonstration. This was to save the Dingo which is being culled by the government. Here we caught the Free Circular tram. A mistake!! There were more sights to see on this route but it was far too crowded for a large part of the journey. Melbourne was invaded by flies during this visit. This made our visit uncomfortable. We were told that due to the bush fire that were taking place in Victoria that the flies had all drifted into the city although others said that this was normal for Melbourne in the summer. Adelaide – Partly Cloudy – Sunny later – High 74F We booked a tour here that was discussed on the Cruise Critic Celebrity Roll Call. It was with a company called Enjoy Adelaide. 20 of us were picked up at the port and taken around the beautiful city. The tour guide/driver Adrian was very good. After the city tour we were taken to Mount Lofty where there were superb views of the city right out to the sea. Afterwards we were driven to Hahndorf, a town that had been founded by Germans in the Barossa Valley. This town is well worth seeing. We then visited two wineries and tasted several wines. These were McGuigan and Grant Burge. At McGuigan we were given a talk as well as tasting 6 wines. At Grant Burge we were able to taste several wines of our choice. During this tour we also saw the biggest Rocking Horse in the world. After a great day we were driven back to the ship. Esperance– Partly Cloudy – Sunny later – High 75F Another tender port where there were delays. This was mainly due to the small jetty available for the tenders. Apparently Esperance only has 6 cruise ship visits a year. We booked the Celebrity Hop on Hop off bus which visited several beaches, a look-out point and the town of Esperance. The driver of the bus was a financial manager of a local company. He also owned a B&B and the local school bus business – talk about a Jack of All Trades! The beaches were beautiful, We spent some time in the town and were amused at the number of cruise passengers who were trying to surf the web with the free Wi-Fi available at two local cafes. It took me half an hour to see 1 e mail. The local library had a queue of people waiting to use their system which was only $1AD for half an hour. The librarian was concerned about the overload. Perth – Sunny – High 35F We booked a tour of Fremantle and Perth before being transferred to the airport for our 3.15pm flight. The reason we booked this was that Celebrity stated that they would only take people on their similar tour that had flights leaving after 3.30pm. Westside Private Charter Stephen Rooney Our driver was Sander We visited the war memorial in Fremantle where there were great views before driving to Fremantle Prison We then visited Cottesloe beach, and saw lots of cockatoos flying in and out of the trees. The beach was relatively quiet as it was early but there were several school trips arriving. The next stop was Hilary’s boat harbour which is a pretty marina with restaurants and shops. There is also a kid’s water park as well as a beach with shallow water. Whilst there, we saw a dolphin swimming underneath and between the moored boats in the harbour. Our final stop was Kings Park above Perth. This was interesting for us because Professor Haydn Green had talked about a body that had been found in this park and the forensics in this case. Sander knew all about this case. It was an impressive park with large areas of perfectly manicured grass. Considering the heat that day and the previous months all credit to the gardening team in this park. Sander took us to two lookout points in this park that had great views across the Swan river and the Central Business District of Perth. We arrived at the airport at 12.15 pm and found several of our fellow cruisers there who had taken the Celebrity tour and had only had a 2 hour tour. These people were catching a 10pm flight and there were very little facilities at Perth airport. We were so pleased that we had booked a private tour. We then flew to Dubai, spent two days there before flying back to Gatwick having had a wonderful cruise, holiday and experiences.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Perth 18 Nights February 3-21, 2014 Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, this cruise being our 17th. Celebrity Solstice launched 2008, is the best and most elegant of the ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Perth 18 Nights February 3-21, 2014 Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, this cruise being our 17th. Celebrity Solstice launched 2008, is the best and most elegant of the cruise ships sailing around New Zealand. Rated No 6 in the world of the large resort ships by Douglas Ward, Berlitz Cruising and Cruise ships rating manual (2013) We sailed on her only last year (March 2013), and returned principally because we like big resort ship cruising, and with the cruise ending in Perth, I was able to stay a few days longer with my sister Kathryn *Keep in mind being regular cruisers we are looking for small points of difference, and some of the comments are very specific. Overall this ship provides a quality experience, excellent dining, excellent entertainment, very nice cabins across the range and also offers lots of personal space, and enormous variety of options. This cruise was excellent, assisted by lovely weather, the only downside for us, was the dreadful and intrusive Gym music and the inability of staff or unwillingness to lower the music level. As regular Gym users on a cruise (1 hour in the early morning and 1 hour late afternoon or evening) to lower the sound to reasonable levels was important, and the same music tape with its incessant bass pounded us into near submission. The surcharge Restaurant the French style Murano, while expensive at $45 per head was a superb experience, the standard of food at all the restaurants was good, and the entertainment range outstanding. A problem for us is a trend of contacting about 10 days into some cruises, a viral infection, which begins with a tickle in the throat, and slowly builds into a cough and light fever? In my case it was with me the whole trip, manageable with throat lozenges and a reduced appetite etc. and on my return to NZ was diagnosed as a viral bacterial infection, with antibiotics prescribed. Worse cough I have had in my adult life. It has occurred to us nearly half a dozen times on our cruises, and I will shortly commence research as to how we can reduce the risk. There are a lot of people in one big space, and with full on air conditioning, I seem vulnerable to air carrying infection. This ship carried 2800 passengers and 1200 crew, a floating town of 4000 people This 18 day cruise included a stop at Albany Western Australia, but on boarding the vessel I discovered this was dropped from the schedule. I had not been advised of this, and to this day don’t know why the itinerary as advertised had changed. We did receive a small tax concession in our onboard account for this port not being visited, but as a courtesy I would like to have been advised of the non-visit, and some explanation, prior to boarding Embarkation-Auckland Ship queue formed at Princess Wharf Auckland. A big crowd, but the process once known to you, becomes easier to handle. About an hour plus wait from joining Queue and onto ship. Great to board at home port, avoid airports at all costs. All in all, a pass mark The ship in general The Celebrity Solstice is a lovely large ship, now 6 yrs. old, and I understand shortly to go for a refit. It appears very clean and polished. Elegant is the word. Americans, Canadians, British and Aussie/NZ made up the passenger list, with virtually no children. 2800 passengers and 1200 crew, so it’s really a small town or perhaps a floating palace? We are big resort ship cruisers, there is so much variety, formal and informal entertainment, and yet so much space if you wish it to read a book, listen to piano, or lie on a deck chair. Although full, we never felt crowded, at least not until the tender queue, 3 ports required tender facilitation and that does cause delays and frustration. They have it down to a fine art, but it is still a pain. Something to check on when considering different cruises, how many tender operations? Used the Gym fitness machines each day, enjoyed the Casino, and watched a lot of movies. For exercise the Gym was modern and the ship has a nice walking track and table tennis etc. was a regular activity. One of the first things you should do on the first day of the cruise if is to check and see if you have the right color Celebrity Cruise card. We get a hole punched in it, and wear it around neck. Different cards signal different cruise levels, and make sure you have the right one. This cruise card acts as your room key and security card whilst on the ship. It is deactivated as soon as you leave the ship for the last time at the end of the cruise. Celebrity cruises add a US $11.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can negotiate with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for traditional tips are available. Laundry facilities not available on this ship, apart from what you put out and pay for. However we found for most things your smalls and shirts etc., you can do yourself and they dry in the room. Only 2 of us would be more problematic if a family. The Sky Lounge on the 14th floor was a wonder full viewing area with soft chairs, and bar service. At nighttime it is a dance and entertainment area and during the daytime it is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time. Great viewing of the Sounds from this spot The other bars and public seating areas of the Celebrity were excellent, excellent piano playing, duo music, jazz and string quartet-good range of music The library on board is a pleasant space, book choice not as wide as some, and no formal check in and check out. Those that go in early got the best of the books. Card playing room was excellent and well used, and internet facility also Floor shows in the evening in the Solstice theatre were excellent. This is one of the reasons I go on cruises, and the entertainment was first class. Quality Las Vegas singers, and the Dance Company and 4 lead singers were excellent. They did 3 presentations, equal to Conrad Jupiter’s stage show levels. The support entertainers covered a wide range from Jane Choi violinist, Irish tenors, etc. Elvis impersonators to musicians. Overall the formal and club entertainment was very good .Solid range of late release movies showed each day. The quality of formal lectures was interesting including” introduction to each Port” per a Power Point presentation, the day before each stop designated. The Speaking presentations had a forensic theme (Professor Hadyn Green). Miro a naturalist, and Professor Lisa Didler-History all University based and solid content and material all round. Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tasting etc. excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual. Wine tasting events were of great interest to me, and thoroughly enjoyable The weather was superb, but remembers motion sickness is a real issue on NZ/Aussie cruises and up the Pacific Rim area. This can be managed by good planning, patches/tablets if one is prone. The reality is cruises in this part of the world are not calm. Reasonable sea motion swell often occurs, and we were lucky with our wonderful February weather Dining Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room, versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer 2nd sitting times and we had a lovely table for 2 in the Grand Epernay Restaurant. However a bit of luck and organization is required to get a table for 2. There are not many, and as per normal our initial seating setting was at a table for 10. We like our own dining privacy, so a request to the Maître was successful. The Ocean View buffet dining venue with its 12 dining stations was excellent, a wide choice, and great sea views. Specialty Restaurants with a surcharge fee abound French Murano Restaurant at $45 US surcharge pp is dear, but a wonderful food experience. Our main courses, sole and Lobster were cooked the Chef at our table, as was the wonderful flamed Ice Cream Strawberry Crepe. Silver service, waiter inspired dining at its finest. Perhaps the best dining experience I have experienced. The Silk Harvest Asian eatery was $30 pp surcharge was pleasant but that is too pricy, I would have suggested $15 pp surcharge was appropriate. The Tuscan Grill we did not try but it looked great, again the surcharge I think of $25pp is getting to high. Bistro on Five with a $5 surcharge looked excellent, and no argument with that fee. Café Bacio charged for coffees, but the pastries /cakes were free, and no charge for “Grab and run” with the cakes. On a ship like this clarifying what surcharge fees are being charged is not transparent, and this should be more clearly signaled in both signage and through the daily Celebrity today newsletter which all aboard receive Room Service Available 24 hours at no charge but limited menu. Celebrity has cut back on the width of its options for free room service food, and also introduced some items at a fee. Overall good value. Cabin We had an interior stateroom on the 9th floor Room 9170. Roomy and spacious we decided to go the cheaper option, as this trip had many sea days, and we have found the balcony is most useful on a Port intensive trip. Air conditioning was excellent. The design of the cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. Bed was excellent. We picked up a little more noise transference from rooms around us than I expected, not a problem, but more aware this time of not speaking too loud etc. The door configuration on this vessel also requires a hearty bang to close, and you can hear this every time when someone next door goes in and out of their states-room, The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. 32 inch TV screen with lots of programs. The room configuration made it seem very spacious. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower pressure was excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. GYM I have mentioned this already, but further comment is required. The music tapes used were similar or the same, and background music was too loud. Repetitive music mostly with a huge bass beat, and no variety. You can listen to channels per earphones/I pad on the equipment consoles, but this background music was so obtrusive this was not an option. Regular attempts to get staff to lower the music were unsuccessful, very poor customer service by Spa and Gym staff, with little leadership shown. Ports • Auckland: Ship berths right in center of business area and down town. Great City access • Bay of Islands: Tender into Copthorne Hotel Jetty. Great access to Treaty grounds, 30 minute walk to Paihia Shuttle bus available free of charge • Tauranga-Berths right at Mt Maunganui. Great walking access • Akaroa. Tender operation. Into pretty township, all walkable • Dunedin. Port Chalmers, 25 Kilometers out. • Sydney: Berth in the Rocks area. Wonderful location, Opera House view and Harbor Bridge. • Melbourne: Berth at Port Melbourne. Good tram access to City. • Adelaide: Berth Port Adelaide, free shuttle into city Centre about 25K • Esperance. Tender operation. Small rural country town with nice beaches. • Freemantle. 20 k from Perth City. Freemantle nice town PS Jimmy at Guest Relations. Top class, tried his best. 5 star awards Jimmy Alec Waugh: March 2013   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Perth 18 Nights February 3-21, 2014 Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, this cruise being our 17th. Celebrity Solstice launched 2008, is the best and most elegant of the ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Auckland to Perth 18 Nights February 3-21, 2014 Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, this cruise being our 17th. Celebrity Solstice launched 2008, is the best and most elegant of the cruise ships sailing around New Zealand. Rated No 6 in the world of the large resort ships by Douglas Ward, Berlitz Cruising and Cruise ships rating manual (2013) We sailed on her only last year (March 2013), and returned principally because we like big resort ship cruising, and with the cruise ending in Perth, I was able to stay a few days longer with my sister Kathryn *Keep in mind being regular cruisers we are looking for small points of difference, and some of the comments are very specific. Overall this ship provides a quality experience, excellent dining, excellent entertainment, very nice cabins across the range and also offers lots of personal space, and enormous variety of options. This cruise was excellent, assisted by lovely weather, the only downside for us, was the dreadful and intrusive Gym music and the inability of staff or unwillingness to lower the music level. As regular Gym users on a cruise (1 hour in the early morning and 1 hour late afternoon or evening) to lower the sound to reasonable levels was important, and the same music tape with its incessant bass pounded us into near submission. The surcharge Restaurant the French style Murano, while expensive at $45 per head was a superb experience, the standard of food at all the restaurants was good, and the entertainment range outstanding. A problem for us is a trend of contacting about 10 days into some cruises, a viral infection, which begins with a tickle in the throat, and slowly builds into a cough and light fever? In my case it was with me the whole trip, manageable with throat lozenges and a reduced appetite etc. and on my return to NZ was diagnosed as a viral bacterial infection, with antibiotics prescribed. Worse cough I have had in my adult life. It has occurred to us nearly half a dozen times on our cruises, and I will shortly commence research as to how we can reduce the risk. There are a lot of people in one big space, and with full on air conditioning, I seem vulnerable to air carrying infection. This ship carried 2800 passengers and 1200 crew, a floating town of 4000 people This 18 day cruise included a stop at Albany Western Australia, but on boarding the vessel I discovered this was dropped from the schedule. I had not been advised of this, and to this day don’t know why the itinerary as advertised had changed. We did receive a small tax concession in our onboard account for this port not being visited, but as a courtesy I would like to have been advised of the non-visit, and some explanation, prior to boarding Embarkation-Auckland Ship queue formed at Princess Wharf Auckland. A big crowd, but the process once known to you, becomes easier to handle. About an hour plus wait from joining Queue and onto ship. Great to board at home port, avoid airports at all costs. All in all, a pass mark The ship in general The Celebrity Solstice is a lovely large ship, now 6 yrs. old, and I understand shortly to go for a refit. It appears very clean and polished. Elegant is the word. Americans, Canadians, British and Aussie/NZ made up the passenger list, with virtually no children. 2800 passengers and 1200 crew, so it’s really a small town or perhaps a floating palace? We are big resort ship cruisers, there is so much variety, formal and informal entertainment, and yet so much space if you wish it to read a book, listen to piano, or lie on a deck chair. Although full, we never felt crowded, at least not until the tender queue, 3 ports required tender facilitation and that does cause delays and frustration. They have it down to a fine art, but it is still a pain. Something to check on when considering different cruises, how many tender operations? Used the Gym fitness machines each day, enjoyed the Casino, and watched a lot of movies. For exercise the Gym was modern and the ship has a nice walking track and table tennis etc. was a regular activity. One of the first things you should do on the first day of the cruise if is to check and see if you have the right color Celebrity Cruise card. We get a hole punched in it, and wear it around neck. Different cards signal different cruise levels, and make sure you have the right one. This cruise card acts as your room key and security card whilst on the ship. It is deactivated as soon as you leave the ship for the last time at the end of the cruise. Celebrity cruises add a US $11.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can negotiate with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for traditional tips are available. Laundry facilities not available on this ship, apart from what you put out and pay for. However we found for most things your smalls and shirts etc., you can do yourself and they dry in the room. Only 2 of us would be more problematic if a family. The Sky Lounge on the 14th floor was a wonder full viewing area with soft chairs, and bar service. At nighttime it is a dance and entertainment area and during the daytime it is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time. Great viewing of the Sounds from this spot The other bars and public seating areas of the Celebrity were excellent, excellent piano playing, duo music, jazz and string quartet-good range of music The library on board is a pleasant space, book choice not as wide as some, and no formal check in and check out. Those that go in early got the best of the books. Card playing room was excellent and well used, and internet facility also Floor shows in the evening in the Solstice theatre were excellent. This is one of the reasons I go on cruises, and the entertainment was first class. Quality Las Vegas singers, and the Dance Company and 4 lead singers were excellent. They did 3 presentations, equal to Conrad Jupiter’s stage show levels. The support entertainers covered a wide range from Jane Choi violinist, Irish tenors, etc. Elvis impersonators to musicians. Overall the formal and club entertainment was very good .Solid range of late release movies showed each day. The quality of formal lectures was interesting including” introduction to each Port” per a Power Point presentation, the day before each stop designated. The Speaking presentations had a forensic theme (Professor Hadyn Green). Miro a naturalist, and Professor Lisa Didler-History all University based and solid content and material all round. Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tasting etc. excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual. Wine tasting events were of great interest to me, and thoroughly enjoyable The weather was superb, but remembers motion sickness is a real issue on NZ/Aussie cruises and up the Pacific Rim area. This can be managed by good planning, patches/tablets if one is prone. The reality is cruises in this part of the world are not calm. Reasonable sea motion swell often occurs, and we were lucky with our wonderful February weather Dining Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room, versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer 2nd sitting times and we had a lovely table for 2 in the Grand Epernay Restaurant. However a bit of luck and organization is required to get a table for 2. There are not many, and as per normal our initial seating setting was at a table for 10. We like our own dining privacy, so a request to the Maître was successful. The Ocean View buffet dining venue with its 12 dining stations was excellent, a wide choice, and great sea views. Specialty Restaurants with a surcharge fee abound French Murano Restaurant at $45 US surcharge pp is dear, but a wonderful food experience. Our main courses, sole and Lobster were cooked the Chef at our table, as was the wonderful flamed Ice Cream Strawberry Crepe. Silver service, waiter inspired dining at its finest. Perhaps the best dining experience I have experienced. The Silk Harvest Asian eatery was $30 pp surcharge was pleasant but that is too pricy, I would have suggested $15 pp surcharge was appropriate. The Tuscan Grill we did not try but it looked great, again the surcharge I think of $25pp is getting to high. Bistro on Five with a $5 surcharge looked excellent, and no argument with that fee. Café Bacio charged for coffees, but the pastries /cakes were free, and no charge for “Grab and run” with the cakes. On a ship like this clarifying what surcharge fees are being charged is not transparent, and this should be more clearly signaled in both signage and through the daily Celebrity today newsletter which all aboard receive Room Service Available 24 hours at no charge but limited menu. Celebrity has cut back on the width of its options for free room service food, and also introduced some items at a fee. Overall good value. Cabin We had an interior stateroom on the 9th floor Room 9170. Roomy and spacious we decided to go the cheaper option, as this trip had many sea days, and we have found the balcony is most useful on a Port intensive trip. Air conditioning was excellent. The design of the cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. Bed was excellent. We picked up a little more noise transference from rooms around us than I expected, not a problem, but more aware this time of not speaking too loud etc. The door configuration on this vessel also requires a hearty bang to close, and you can hear this every time when someone next door goes in and out of their states-room, The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. 32 inch TV screen with lots of programs. The room configuration made it seem very spacious. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower pressure was excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. GYM I have mentioned this already, but further comment is required. The music tapes used were similar or the same, and background music was too loud. Repetitive music mostly with a huge bass beat, and no variety. You can listen to channels per earphones/I pad on the equipment consoles, but this background music was so obtrusive this was not an option. Regular attempts to get staff to lower the music were unsuccessful, very poor customer service by Spa and Gym staff, with little leadership shown. Ports • Auckland: Ship berths right in center of business area and down town. Great City access • Bay of Islands: Tender into Copthorne Hotel Jetty. Great access to Treaty grounds, 30 minute walk to Paihia Shuttle bus available free of charge • Tauranga-Berths right at Mt Maunganui. Great walking access • Akaroa. Tender operation. Into pretty township, all walkable • Dunedin. Port Chalmers, 25 Kilometers out. The Sounds. Magnificent. Good weather. One of the great world locations • Sydney: Berth in the Rocks area. Wonderful location, Opera House view and Harbor Bridge. • Melbourne: Berth at Port Melbourne. Good tram access to City. • Adelaide: Berth Port Adelaide, free shuttle into city Centre about 25K • Esperance. Tender operation. Small rural country town with nice beaches. • Freemantle. 20 k from Perth City. Freemantle nice town PS Jimmy at Guest Relations. Top class, tried his best. 5 star awards Jimmy Alec Waugh: March 2013   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Three days in Auckland pre-cruise was great. Beautiful, friendly city. The boarding process was hectic and unlike Celebrity boardings in USA. Basically just terribly disorganized. The Ship was beautiful and clean. The food was wonderful. ... Read More
Three days in Auckland pre-cruise was great. Beautiful, friendly city. The boarding process was hectic and unlike Celebrity boardings in USA. Basically just terribly disorganized. The Ship was beautiful and clean. The food was wonderful. Some of the best we've had on our 35 cruises. The basic staff was terrific. The entertainment staff was not up to Celebrity standards. Seemed bored with the passengers. No problem, we made our own fun. Captain Taramas and his Senior staff was outstanding - friendly, helpful, always around the ship. They were often in the public areas eating, having coffee, basically making themselves available to the passengers for questions or just a friendly chat. We've been on Celebrity cruises numerous times and always enjoyed the ships. But, for some reason, we didn't like the layout of the Solstice. It wasn't as convenient as other Celebrity ships we've sailed. Of course, that is only a personal opinion. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
I should preface this review by saying that this was our first time cruising with Celebrity and we chose the cruise for the itinerary and length as well as the convenient dates which worked in well with our other family commitments. We ... Read More
I should preface this review by saying that this was our first time cruising with Celebrity and we chose the cruise for the itinerary and length as well as the convenient dates which worked in well with our other family commitments. We have cruised before most recently on RCL Radiance of The Seas out of Sydney on its NYE cruise in Dec 2012 so we do have some comparisons to draw from our experience. We booked our 14 day NZ/Aus cruise when Celebrity had deals including flights from Sydney to Auckland to meet the ship so that seemed attractive to us and it worked out well. Day of departure and it was a really early start to catch an 08:30am flight out of Sydney to Auckland. The flight was on time and we arrived a little early into Auckland and were met by Celebrity Staff who helped us label our bags (we had printed the bag tags already just had to remove the airline tags and attach the ships ones instead) and took them for transport to the ship. We then waited around 45mins for other passengers to arrive and we were on our coach for transport to the pier for embarkation. As this was post Xmas there was little traffic and we were at the ship in around 30 mins. As this was around 3:30pm there were no lines and only a steady trickle of passengers waiting to board so the customs/immigration etc was smooth as was checkin. So we had our seapass cards and were on the ship in around 15mins. First impressions: An elegant ship, tastefully decorated and friendly helpful crew everywhere to assist us in getting our bearings. Due to our boarding time our cabin was ready so we headed up to deck 10, Concierge Class stateroom 1060 to drop our carry on luggage and then go explore the ship. Not long after we entered our cabin our wonderful cabin steward, Nevis, came and introduced himself and explained he was available at any time if we had issues. Nevis was a gem and kept our cabin in clean and tidy throughout the cruise but whilst we ran into him often in the hallways we never managed to catch him cleaning our room - it became a bit of a running gag with him as we said one day we would manage to catch him - we never did. He always knew when we went out to breakfast or were on a shore tour and in the evening knew when we went to dinner so he could clean the cabin or provide the nightly turn down service. These guys work hard and how they manage the long hours each day I don't know. Cabin was great, larger than we expected and having the bed near the balcony was great. Bathroom would have to be the best of any cruise ship we have been on over the years. The afternoon canapés weren't always great but a nice touch nevertheless. We went and toured the ship to get the lay of the land, so to speak, and were quite impressed with the ease with which you could find the restaurants, entertainment areas and of course the pools. Had a bit of a snack in the oceanview café and then went back to the cabin to see if our luggage had arrived. 1 case was there but not the other. Anyway - unpacked that one and went off to the Passport Bar to have a drink. We also purchase the classic non-alcoholic beverage package which came in very handy for bottled water for shore tours and to get proper coffee throughout the trip. I have no idea what they put in those urns labelled "regular coffee" and it is hot and black - but I wouldn't call it coffee by any stretch of the imagination. Anyway back to the cabin and finally the 2nd suitcase had been delivered so we unpacked that one, stowed the empty bags under the bed and we were all set. Sailaway was at 8pm and we watched this from our balcony and sipped on the complementary sparkling wine provided and met our next door neighbours who were doing the same thing. The weather was a little overcast and cool but it was a great evening to be sailing out of Auckland Harbour. Off to a late dinner (by NZ time anyway but quite reasonable for us as our bodies were still on Aus time). We had My Select dinning and I had booked the first few days via the web so no issues getting in when we wanted. The first night wasn't busy in the dinning room so we had good service and met Nixon and Michael our waiters who would end up looking after us most nights we were in the MDR. Food was quite good but after a few days we had to cut back as having a 4 course meal each night was just overwhelming sometimes. There were nights when the dinning room was busy and one or two nights where we had to line up for a table even though we had a booking but this was not the norm. We ate in Tuscan Grille one evening and that was spectacular. We had a table for two at the rear of the ship near the window for sunset. An experience that can't be beaten and with the fantastic food and wonderful service it was definitely a night to remember. We also ate in Murano on two occasions which was also wonderful and well worth the money although the second time we didn't get as good service as the first. The second night was my birthday and my wife, unbeknown to me, had booked and paid some months earlier, for a birthday cake to be brought to our table for dessert. Didn't happen. However, this is where Celebrity excelled in rectifying the situation. My wife went down to guest services after dinner (again I didn't know what was happening) to ask what had happened. Dana Rey from guest services (a gem herself and a credit to Celebrity) took on the problem straight away. She phoned the kitchen to confirm they had the cake ready, she contacted the Murano staff to find our why they had made the mistake when the arrangements were clearly in our booking that night. Anyway to cut a long story short - next thing we know the cake and a bottle of wine arrived in our cabin and about 10mins later the senior staff from Murano were at our door with a bottle of French Champagne (genuine stuff) and an apology for the mistake. They then got me into the hallway and sang "Happy Birthday". What a great way to make up for their error. We couldn't have been more pleased and Celebrity didn't have to go to these lengths to make it up to us. Wow. Now to the ports. We had booked all our shore tours through the ship so our tickets were in our cabin on embarkation day. Bay of Islands was wonderful and as the weather was fine, warm and sunny I don't think we could have been happier. The Treaty House and Pioneer Villiage was great. Although this was a tender port getting on and off the ship was reasonably quick and efficient. The Celebrity crew had iced water and cold towels for us when we returned to the pier for tendering back to the ship. A nice touch I thought. Tauranga was also great and this was one we were looking forward to as our tour today was to Hobbiton to see some of the Lord of the Rings sets. A great morning and well worth the trip. We were going to wander around the beachfront and shops in the afternoon but rain came in so we ended up going back to the ship. Wellington was interesting, not windy as we had expected, but certainly cool and grey. We went out to Lindale Farm and the Car museum which was interesting then went back in to town to tour around and then ride the cable car (as most everyone was doing that day). Akaroa - we didn't go into Christchurch as we felt it would be too depressing and most people we met who went that day agreed. The unrepaired damage from the earthquakes is still very obvious. As an alternative went on a wildlife harbour cruise and saw lots of dolphins and seals as well as albatross. It was a wonderful morning. We spent the afternoon wandering around Akaroa itself, had proper fish and chips for lunch (yummy) and then went back to the ship. The wind had picked up significantly during the day and as this was also a tender port it was quite rough getting back to the ship and took around 40mins. Later in the day it became worse to the point that the tender boats were making hard work of the trip out to the ship. We ended up leaving 90mins late as a result of this. All in all though a place I would love to come back and visit. Dunedin - cold, cold, cold. Went to Speights brewery which was interesting and we had the chance to pull a few glasses of beer for ourselves which then made the rest of the day slide by. Then out to Lamach Castle for lunch, a haggis ceremony and a tour of the castle. We sat with some Canadians and Americans at lunch and once the plate of haggis arrived to try they seemed really into it until we advised them what Haggis really was. Dusky/Doubtful/Milford Sound - this day started poorly weather wise. Dusky sound was grey, rainy and windy so we didn't really see much. Doubtful sound was better but the standout was Milford sound. The sun had come out and it was a beautiful afternoon to cruise this magnificent fijord. Seals and albatross were abundant and there were some waterfalls apparent but as it had been relatively dry for the few days prior the larger more spectacular falls weren't apparent. Crossing the Tasman to Hobart - well the Tasman lived up to its name. Probably the roughest time I've had on a cruise and even the Solstice, large as she is, couldn't smooth out this trip. One morning after we got out of bed and were showing, dressing etc we heard this loud bang and my wife was thrown across the room (luckily on to the bed), I was in the shower and had to hold on for dear life. We found out later from the Staff engineer that a 15m wave had hit the ship and rose over deck 5 which is 12m above the ocean so a little worrying. Anyway after this all open decks were closed including pools so everyone was stuck inside from this point until early the next morning when we approached Hobart. These two sea days we also found a little boring as the number of activities on the daily list was quite light unless you were into spa treatments, wine and spirit tastings or art auctions. Read a book and watched a movie on TV instead. Hobart - never been before. Want to go back. We had a tour out to historic Richmond and then a wine tasting at one of the local wineries. Great morning. Spent the afternoon wandering around Salamanca markets and Battery point. We certainly filled in the day here. Melbourne - after another sea day, calm and sunny so good to relax by the pool we were in Melbourne. 42C - hot, hot, hot. Too hot. Spent some time in the city and docklands shopping then went back to the ship and the comfort of air-con. Been to Melbourne many times so we weren't too upset. Another perfect sea day and we were back in Sydney for one of the most efficient dis-embarkation experiences ever. As Celebrity had Australian Customs on board during our Tasman crossing there was little to do in Sydney except collect our luggage from the pier where it was grouped according to our pre-defined passenger group and handover the customs form at the exit. We were off the ship and on a train home from Circular Quay in around 15mins. Entertainment - hmmm. The guest performers were excellent. Belinda Marks, as well as an Irish Violinist/vocalist/pianist (can't remember her name) we wonderful. The pair of magicians were average. The Celebrity Performers put on 3 production shows during the cruise - ghostlight, Pulse and Solstice the Show. These are talented guys but of the 3 shows the first was the best and the only one that made sense and at least had some kind of theme/story to hold it all together. The remainder was just a hodge podge of acts to show off individuals. Solstice the show had some fantastic acrobatics and aerial gymnastics but that was it - it just didn't all tie together. The performers in the bars etc were good as well. The only thing I didn't understand was the fact that there was no dedicated pianist on board to play in areas like Michaels Club during the cruise. The first day we met the barman in Michaels Club and asked what kind of entertainment would be in the room during the cruise. He sadly responded that none as no pianist on the cruise. In fact Michaels club was almost empty every time we went past - a vastly under used space. The Captain and Officers were not as visible nor as friendly as we found on RCL and the Captains Daily briefing at 10am was mostly difficult to understand and quite curt at times. An Aussie Cruise Director as well as an Aussie Executive chef made the cruise interesting. I think some of their humour was lost on a lot of the American and Canadian passengers who were in the majority on this cruise. So all in all not a bad cruise but the average age of passengers on this ship I think was 55 and over, with some much older. A little above our age group. Whilst there were some children on board we didn't see many wandering the halls or causing trouble around the pools or in the lifts (as some are want to do). Celebrity do also need to look at refurbishing some of the well worn furniture in areas such as the Passport Bar as some of the chair fabrics are worn and sticky from lots of use and little cleaning. The faux teak deck lino is also worn in places on the decks and verandas from weather and all the cleaning they receive. Would we cruise again with Celebrity - probably not. Prefer RCL I think. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We just returned from our lovely 14 night cruise upon Celebrity Solstice. It's our 3rd cruise, the first without our kids! (we are aged late 40's early 50's). Here is a summary: Embarkation: Pretty easy. The line looked ... Read More
We just returned from our lovely 14 night cruise upon Celebrity Solstice. It's our 3rd cruise, the first without our kids! (we are aged late 40's early 50's). Here is a summary: Embarkation: Pretty easy. The line looked long at it seemed a complicated series of things to do but it still only took 45 minutes in total to board the ship. The Ship: Absolutely beautiful! It is big, plenty of space despite being at capacity, spotlessly clean. Everything about this ship is classy. The staff cannot do enough for you, so polite and friendly. Lovely pool areas with plenty of comfortable deck chairs everywhere. I really liked the indoor pool, so peaceful. The only slight complaint is there is not really spectacular a 'grand foyer' area like many other ships have. So when they had some interactive entertainment it was very squashy and difficult to see. Our Cabin: We had an inside cabin, mid-ship on Deck 10. It was a really good price for the inside cabin and no regrets. Very nicely appointed, roomy enough, and the darkness was great for sleeping in! Food: Delicious, but too much! The food is wonderful and the best buffet we have had on a cruise, even had a made to order stir-fry and pasta station. We ate most nights in the main dining room and it was great 99% of the time and it is a really beautiful room. Entertainment: The production shows were better than on previous cruises and most of the individual acts were good. Our favourites were the American comedian and the pianist/cellist. I think that Royal Caribbean were probably a bit more fun and entertaining in the ways they do their Trivia quizzes etc. Perhaps Celebrity cater for a slightly older crowd? Bingo was far too expensive. Ports: New Zealand was very nice and mostly easy to just get off the ship and walk around. We did a tour to Rotorua through No.8 tours and I highly recommend them. We got a bus from Akaroa to Christchurch which was worthwhile-very sad to see the damage from the Earthquake but interesting. Really enjoyed Hobart, it was a shame that Melbourne was having a heat wave! If you have a chance to sail on the Solstice I would definitely recommend it!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
First of all, after reading some recent reviews it was hard to believe we were even on the same ship, to each his own as they say but I did find some statements very hard to swallow... We loved the ship, we loved every aspect of this ... Read More
First of all, after reading some recent reviews it was hard to believe we were even on the same ship, to each his own as they say but I did find some statements very hard to swallow... We loved the ship, we loved every aspect of this beautiful cruise ship, the spotless stateroom, they were cleaning everywhere day and night, the on board service and yes we even loved the food... There were 6 of us travelling we chose Concierge Class and enjoyed the few extras, was it worth it, yes to us it was worth every penny, Solstice delivered and delivered it well... Our Stateroom attendants were a true delight, we did not want for a thing and the Stateroom was always spotless and clean. Our location was aft and we so enjoyed the sunrises and sunsets from this location on deck 9. We would gather for pre dinner drinks every night in the Ensemble Lounge, the waiters were a delight, we were greeted each night by our first names and the drinks were memorised from day one, a simple nod and the drinks were replenished immediately... We did not dine in any of the speciality restaurants, we found Gran Epernay created a lovely atmosphere and our table waiter Ronald delightful, we did not want for a thing, in actual fact the food just kept coming and we enjoyed trying many of their new dishes... For breakfast/lunch we chose the Garden Café on most mornings, great variety of foods, fresh fruit was plentiful service was always with a smile, a nibble on piece of fresh Pizza for a late lunch and yes on some port days it was a little crowded but nothing to really complain about... We enjoyed all the ports, we chose to do our own thing and we were most satisfied, one sort of rough day on the crossing to Hobart but the ship handled it well, Officers were always willing to greet you and we thought Ian was a delight, the man never stops...on board shows and entertainment to suit all tastes and yes maybe some were better than others but it is all about enjoying, relaxing and having a bit of fun... I felt sad to read that some people had had such a dreadful time or found everything to be mediocre, we smiled a lot we respected and acknowledged the crew who do work tirelessly we salute you and thank you Celebrity for delivering us a cruise of a lifetime... We look forward to boarding again in 2015... Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
One of the reasons my wife and i booked a cruise on the Celebrity Soltice was to play poker..We hoped the games available would be reasonable low level stakes.and not tiddlywinks. Perhaps 1-2 nl with min $100 buy in. We new the rake would ... Read More
One of the reasons my wife and i booked a cruise on the Celebrity Soltice was to play poker..We hoped the games available would be reasonable low level stakes.and not tiddlywinks. Perhaps 1-2 nl with min $100 buy in. We new the rake would be high. 10% capped at $15. What we found was 1-2 with a min buy in of $20 and yet there tournament buy in was $60. They play 2-4 out of Alaska. There is two ways to ruin a poker game, High rake and low buy ins. Combine the two and you have a joke. Sack the pit boss. great boat. Ports great Main dining room food really bad . Poor cuts of meat. i had an appetizer. One scollop cut into six slices. That was it. Buffet food. Plenty of variety. I thought the food was good for buffet food. Shows great Entertainment poor . Vegetable sculpture and glass blowing. Give me a break We were the only people in the disco most nights. We are not in the land of the living dead yet so we like to dance. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Background This was our 4th New Zealand cruise. We have previously travelled to New Zealand on Celebrity (Millennium), Royal Caribbean (Radiance) and Holland America (Oosterdam). Overall comments The ship is beautiful and very good is ... Read More
Background This was our 4th New Zealand cruise. We have previously travelled to New Zealand on Celebrity (Millennium), Royal Caribbean (Radiance) and Holland America (Oosterdam). Overall comments The ship is beautiful and very good is all areas, however we did find the ship very loud. More of that later as it deserves it own section below. Ports of call Auckland The Bay Of Islands (Pahia and Russell) Tauranga (Mount Manganui) At sea Wellington Akaroa Dunedin (Port Chalmers) Dusky, Doubtful & Milford Sounds (cruising) At sea At sea Hobart At sea Sydney Pre Departure A little bit of history. With just 4 days before our departure we were considering cancelling. On doctor’s orders following complications from a previous amputation, my partner was confined to a wheelchair. Fortunately, the Doctor had recently sailed on Solstice and understood the ease of access for mobility restricted passengers onboard, and agreed to allow us to travel on the basis that we restrict walking and use a wheelchair at all times. Our travel agent then advised the airline, Emirates (for travel from Sydney to Auckland to join the ship) and Celebrity of our wheelchair requirements. Can I just say, the system works well and both Emirates and Celebrity are to be congratulated, with only one major “blip” on Celebrity’s part. (see Tendering section below) Embarkation & airport to ship transfer Check-in for both airline and ship was excellent with priority lines offered to expedite the queues for wheelchair passengers. Also amazing ground staff at Auckland Airport in the baggage claim assisted with the wheelchair whilst I wheeled the luggage. We had airport to ship transfers, so joined the line outside the terminal to check luggage back in and take the bus to the ship. The lady from Celebrity checking off names was stressed and quite “frazzled” and could not find our names on the list. She then asked us to step aside whilst she processed others behind us. Turned out the list was in alphabetical order and the name was the first name on her list. No apology though when I saw the name at the top of the page and pointed to it. There was a significant traffic delay en-route to the ship, so by the time we arrived at the ship it was nearing 4pm. This late in the day the check-in line was almost no existent so within minutes we were aboard and in our cabin (7286 – back of the hump with an extra large deep balcony). We were in the cabin for what only seemed a couple of minutes before the general alarm sounded for Life Boat Muster Drill at 4.45pm. We attended an informal Cruise Critic catch up at the Mast Bar following the life boat drill. Cabin & Bathroom Cabins are modern and nicely decorated. There is ample storage with overhead lockers, and space under the beds for suitcases. The bathrooms are well appointed with glass shower screen (not shower curtains that cling to you), plus plenty of shelve space. Cotton buds and cotton wool supplied, but no tissues (bean counters now apparently expected you to request them with your cabin attendant). Tissues didn’t appear until about 4 days into the cruise and only after we had already bought a box of our own in Tauranga. Cabin attendants – rarely saw either of them, but room maintained well, however they could have had a little more attention to detail on cleanliness. There were finger marks on wardrobe doors and inside balcony doors from previous passengers & they were still not cleaned 12 days later when we left the ship. Strangely, the teak balcony railings were initially missing from several decks in our section of the ship, but on about day 5 the beautifully varnished railings reappeared on Deck 7, but not those decks above or below. This is obviously an ongoing maintenance program onboard as we noticed the very poor condition of some of the railings that are in desperate need of attention. Food OK, this is all very subjective, but for what it is worth here are our comments. We had Select Dining which is held on the upper level of the MDR – Epernay Restaurant (very Kath & Kim name - just missing Tru and Pru... Only the Aussies will get that joke. ) Overall the quality of food was excellent. We also love the opportunity to meet new people at each meal when sharing a table. Additionally, we had several breakfasts and a couple of lunches in Epernay. All excellent. Not sure what ever happened to the sea day Brunch that Celebrity used to hold in the MDR, as was looking forward to that. Oh well, the “bean counters” have been busy. Tuscan Grill – We only had 1 dinner here and loved it. We had a fantastic goat cheese ball salad, wonderful calamari in faux newspaper wrapping and a great filet mignon. The restaurant cover charge is $35.00 pp, but worth it. Bistro on Five – We ate here twice. It has a cover charge of $5.00 pp. Serving specialty fillings on the pancakes and toasted pannini bread sandwiches, it is just what you need sometimes instead of a heavy meal. They also offered a choice of soups and sweet deserts. Just one deterrent, see our comments on the excessive noise level within the restaurant when there is live entertainment from 2 floors down in the atrium. We ended up having to ask them to turn off the “pipped” music coming from the speaker in the ceiling above us in the restaurant so we could hear ourselves think! Oceanview Cafe – I’m not sure where I should start. Overall, the food here I can only describe as below par. Don’t get me wrong here, we did have some nice food here but; I just wonder if any of the chefs preparing the food ever actually taste it before the send it from the kitchen. The opportunity to get “hot” food here is almost impossible. By the time you select 1 item, then join the queue at a different food station to select another item, the first item is already cold. The lack of menu change within each section was almost nil. Late Evening snacks never changed. Pizza, pasta, rolls with sandwich filling, sweets & cakes. Travelling with a disabled passenger who is diabetic and on strong medication that requires small snacks at regular intervals with their 6 hourly medications can be a real challenge when suitable food types are not available. No fresh fruit or low fat yoghurt at this time of the day. It would have been nice to get a simple casserole with some plain rice as a late evening option. I was sure there used to be a special midnight buffet served in the cafe during each cruise. I remember on Millennium there was a special buffet served in the “Cosmos” or “Sky Lounge” one evening during the cruise. (bean counters back again) Room Service – We needed to order breakfast every morning for 6.00am so medication could be taken. I can only say how fantastic the room service team were. We received a phone call ahead of delivery every morning and right on time, everytime. (Fruit, yoghurt, cereal, toast and coffee/tea). Aqua Spa Cafe – We only used this one evening when the Ocean View Cafe closed and the Aqua Spa Cafe was used for the late evening snacks. Offering was very basic, and we were surprised to see that they charged for yoghurt, albeit specialty flavours. (bean counters at it again.) Tendering for wheelchair passengers. Upon check-in at Princes’ Wharf in Auckland, we were provided a “Tendering Information” sheet which was applicable to wheelchair passengers. This particular itinerary has 2 tender ports, The Bay of Islands & Akaroa. Having previously been to The Bay of Islands we did not feel the need to leave the ship, however with Akaroa being our favourite port of call, we decided to go ashore. My partner was wheeled to a separate staircase, where he had the option to stay in the wheelchair and use the disabled lift down to the pontoon at water level or walk down the stairs by himself which he opted to do. Crew members carried his foldable wheelchair down to the boarding pontoon. It all worked well, I thought at that point. I was already seated on the tender and they assisted him onto the tender and he sat behind me. I turned to look that his wheelchair was aboard and it was. There was some discussions going on behind us, and as we pulled away from the pontoon I turned to see his wheelchair sitting on the pontoon. I realised that they had off-loaded his wheelchair without letting us know. At this point I started to shout at the tender driver (Marios) to stop and go back for his wheelchair. Fellow passengers could see the situation and also started shouting, but to no avail. Marios simply said they will bring it on the next tender. Yeah right !! To separate a mobility restricted passenger from their transportation means is certainly inexcusable behaviour. Knowing that the jetty at Akaroa has no seating I got particularly agitated as my partner, who is an amputee, is unable to stand for extended periods. The upshot of all this was that once we got to the jetty, we had to sit onboard until the next tender arrived which only slowed up the movement of other passengers wanting to get onboard to return to the ship. The other arriving tender ended up having trouble trying to dock as they had to go to the other side of the jetty, they then had to retrieve the wheelchair before that tender could unload passengers. If we had been told that they were off-loading the wheelchair we would have gotten off and waited for the next tender. As timing would have it, upon our return to the ship later that afternoon, Ian the Cruise Director was lined up to get on the next outgoing tender where I unleashed my fury to him regarding the poor treatment of a disabled passenger being separated from his transportation. As I would expect from him, no apology or follow up. Entertainment & Activities Loud live music conflicts with piped music throughout the ship, particularly from level 3 in the atrium where it drifts up to all floors. No pianist in Michael’s Bar. A real missed opportunity for an intimate recital performance space. Poor string trio. High school level and not able to co-ordinate together. Most of the shows in the Theatre were high quality. Excellent violinist Jane in theatre. Loved the presentations by Dr Milos the onboard nature lecturer. Interesting and provoking historical lectures by Dr Elenor. The glass blowing demonstrations are fantastic. Karaoke – takes place in the Quasar, but the set up seems all wrong with guests entering via a front door where they have to walk in front of the performer and blocking the words on the screen. Staff need to have a better understanding of how to operate the electronic equipment. It’s a shame that they don’t list the songs by song title rather than by performer. You know the song you want to sing, but don’t know who sang it, so you can’t find it. Loud noise throughout ship Bistro on Five- Loud & intrusive noise from level 3 in the atrium was overpowering 2 floors up. We asked staff in restaurant to turn off the “Piped” music so we can talk across the table. Of an evening, loud live music from level 3 atrium can be heard in cabins on the hump (we were on level 7 and could still hear it in our cabin 4 floors up. Entertainers performing in the glass elevators of the atrium and on stairways, very tacky. Guess it works for some passengers. Ambient music around pool on level 12 is over shadowed by loud “piped” music from level 14 Mast Grill Bar especially when the bar on level 14 is closed. There was no such thing as a quiet late night coffee in Cafe al Bacio on level 5. Every time the noise from the live performance on level 3 in the atrium was deafening. I’m sure there are speakers behind the curtains on level 5 to amplify the sound 2 floors up. Good luck if you wanted to read quietly in the Library. It’s open plan to the atrium and all the noise drifts up. Same again with the card room and games area. This ship needs to conduct a total review of the impact of so many varieties of “noise” on its guests. There did not seem to be any area of the ship that was not affected where you could just sit down in total silence and enjoy peace and quiet. Not even in the library. Summary Would we sail again on this ship? Probably not. As nice as the decor, staff and service are, it is just not our style. The ship is loud, loud, loud.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
There are enough reviews that detail the physical aspects of this cruise ship so I'll cut straight to the essentials. The very good bits were: attitude and attentiveness of staff, particularly our cabin steward and our dining room ... Read More
There are enough reviews that detail the physical aspects of this cruise ship so I'll cut straight to the essentials. The very good bits were: attitude and attentiveness of staff, particularly our cabin steward and our dining room staff. Almost all other staff seemed to be pleased to be doing their jobs and smiles were easy to come by. Entertainment was usually of a high standard. Beds were very comfortable. Food in all the locations we tried was very good with an interesting range and variety, although I have eaten at better restaurants on shore on occasion. The less good bits were: the atrium that ran from Deck 3 to Deck 14 looked spectacular but sound traveled the entire distance. That was fine if you liked whatever music happened to be playing but It was not easy to find quiet places, even in the library where you would expect quiet. Piped music in other areas of the ship was also intrusive at times. The focus on 'extras' that cost money sometimes seemed irritating.. A centrally located cabin near the computer suite. Handy to lifts and, mostly, not too much problem with noise from the atrium. Excellent cabin staff.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My husband and I have just had the pleasure of a 12 night cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was the longest cruise we have done to date but we have had several short cruises on Princess and Royal Caribbean and without hesitation I ... Read More
My husband and I have just had the pleasure of a 12 night cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. This was the longest cruise we have done to date but we have had several short cruises on Princess and Royal Caribbean and without hesitation I would say that our Celebrity experience was the most amazing. To begin I would like to say how impressed we were with the way the crew and staff conduct themselves. From the Officers and crew to the bar staff we were always made to feel welcome and at home throughout the cruise. It is the first cruise that I have been on where without exception everyone seems happy to be working there. We were in a Celebrity suite # 1235 and it was the most comfortable accommodation we could have asked for. The bedroom was separate from the main cabin and there was ample storage space with a walk-in wardrobe and an additional wardrobe in the foyer,a beautifully decorated bathroom, large modular lounge, televisions in both the bedroom and lounge and a double size balcony with lounge table and chairs. Although located near the atrium we were never aware of any noise emanating from the entertainment in the grand foyer. As a suite guest we were assigned a butler. It was our good fortune to have Arsim as our butler. A very kind, gentle and attentive gentleman nothing was ever a problem and he continually provided us with service beyond our expectations. In regards to the dining on the Solstice we were impressed with the standard of food in both the Grand Epernay dining room, Silk and the Tuscan Grille. As regards the specialty restaurants, it was well worth the cover charge to be able to dine in such wonderful surroundings, with friendly and attentive staff and a comprehensive menu. The presentation of the food was always exquisite and equally matched by the flavours. Unfortunately the only minus was the Oceanview Bistro. Whilst breakfast and lunch always provided a varied and comprehensive selection the dinner menu left a lot to be desired, and it showed by the small patronage. The amenities on the Solstice are many and with the guidance of Ian the Cruise Director there was always something to do, to watch or to participate in. Entertainment was varied and and professional, with many wonderful musicians and singers throughout the ship. The decor of the Solstice is beautiful and we were always finding another bar or lounge in which to sit, relax and watch the passing parade. The ports provided stunning scenery and those that required tender were dealt with in a timely and professional manner with minimum time spent waiting. On return to the ship we were always greeted on the dock with either ice water and cold towels or when it was cold and wet, umbrellas and hot chocolate, superior service! No doubt the success of a cruise is whether you would do it again. By midway through the cruise we had decided that we wanted to cruise with Celebrity again and took advantage of the onboard specials to book another two cruises. Congratulations and thank you Celebrity Solstice we had an unforgettable holiday!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was our 35th cruise and our second with Celebrity What we loved Embarkation in Auckland - a breeze and for the first time entering the Auckland cruise terminal to check-in for a cruise that we have not encountered queues The Ship ... Read More
This was our 35th cruise and our second with Celebrity What we loved Embarkation in Auckland - a breeze and for the first time entering the Auckland cruise terminal to check-in for a cruise that we have not encountered queues The Ship itself - a delight and impeccably maintained The on-board Décor - casually elegant The indoor adults only pool a great spot to relax Our S2 Sky Suite at the back of the ship on deck 12. Extremely comfortable and roomy for the three of us - all adults The sofa bed is the easiest we have ever seen to open or close Well thought out wardrobe space and bathroom with Bvlgari soaps and shampoos The house keeping staff were always smiling and always discreet Murano Restaurant - in a word Fabulous and one of the best dining experiences at sea or on land Blu Restaurant - Being suite guests we were able to have breakfast and dinner in this restaurant which the cruise line and their sales staff undersell - its stunning - with very polished professional staff and beautiful and imaginatively created and presented food with exceptional service Breakfast e.g. Muesli is created for you table side by a waiter The Ocean View Cafe - the best range of buffet food we have seen on a ship for ages and well presented The wait staff are ever present to clear your plate once you had finished a course - my pet hate on premium cruise lines is coming back to my table with e.g my desert to find my finished main meal plate is still sitting where I left it We enjoyed dining in Silk Harvest which served fabulous Asian food The wine list - many reasonably priced wines around the $35 mark upwards Very little and discrete hard selling of e.g. wine packages or spa treatments No queues - a couple of times we had an issue trying to find a table in the Ocean View Café for lunch - the usual law of the jungle rules here Infact we felt, as did many others that the ship was far from full on this cruise although the Reception desk assured us the ship was full. The theatre was full each show evening as was the MDR but we were able to eat in Blu with no issue ( Suite Guests can dine there subject to availability) but the bars were near empty - only twice during the 12 night cruise did the ship come to life with people in the evening Likewise day time the deck areas were sparsely populated What we liked The Suite Butler service - Our butler who was very sweet and well trained but he did miss a few things In suite canapés were not served the first three nights on-board He never offered us a pillow menu If you asked him a question öff script" his English was not good enough to understand what we were asking The two production shows we saw - very good- and also being suite guests having a reserved section in the main theatre on production show nights to ensure we had great seats What we did not like The Main Dining Room (MDR) evening meal service - we had booked Select Dining and dined at 7pm The dining room is on two levels with Select ( i.e make a booking for the time you wish ) being on the top level with your first and second set dining on the main floor below The best tables are those by the balcony looking down into the main dining room floor below Unfortunately most tables for two or four ( and in our case a table for three ) were very close to each other - Our last night on-board they may as well have put us at a table of ten as you were touching elbows with the couples on either side of you and you either had to sit there and ignore them i.e. we would come across as rude or needed to make small talk. Celebrity really does need to address this. The same issue happened onboard Celebrity Century with the tables for two being too close together - it can make for an uncomfortable experience The service in the MDR was also extremely disappointing and if we have been reviewers for Berlitz the ship would have lost a star on the spot On two occasions when we were seated, the table had not been fully set, and each time when we advised it was just three of us the 4th place setting was never removed On the first formal night the service was - to be blunt - sloppy and it was obvious that the waiters in that section were not working as a team On our last night once seated we waited half an hour just to be acknowledged and served water let alone offered a menu It was very apparent that the waiters were waiting for all the tables in their section of Select or anytime dining to be full so they could serve everyone at the same time - not quite what our idea of what anytime dining is like! Celebrity Cruises prides itself on its food and food presentation and the fabulous book Ëxcite the Senses which we bought details the lines different restaurants with photos of dishes and respective menus The photo on page 46 of said book of a 5 star Bananas Foster presentation for the MDR is worlds apart from the 3 star offering of one banana split in two drowning in sauce in a round desert bowl with one scoop of ice-cream plonked on top! The Shore Excursions information - needs tightening and attention to detail in research and spelling Christchurch which we visited was not even mentioned in the shore information for the Port of Akaroa. For those of you who are unaware the Port for Christchurch -Lyttleton -is still closed after the devastating earthquake nearly 3 years ago and ships now anchor off the beautiful village of Akaroa a 90 minute drive from the city Our visit to Christchurch where Neil and I lived 2002-2004 was very emotional and very upsetting - the devastation of the Central Business District is terrible Tasmania was spelt TAZMANIA in bold print the day before arriving in Hobart When I was briefly on-board this ship a year ago Sydney was spelt SIDNEY on the TV screens at the shore excursions desk The printed city map for Hobart we all received in our cabins showed the Ansett Australia airlines office - this airline collapsed in 2001 and has not existed since 2001 The inability to book one Aqua Class cabin to accommodate 3 adults on future cruises as no Aqua Class cabin is configured with a sofa bed - this I do not understand Overall You can see above we can be fussy but as we had paid over $700 a day for this cruise Neil Andrew and I feel we deserve to be and are also great believers in constructive criticism and giving praise where its due Anyway this 12 night cruise rates as the best cruise experience for us thus far - Yes there are issues with the MDR and some other afore mentioned minor niggles which do need to be addressed by the cruise line but the ship overall is exceptional and all the staff are great. Apart from the MDR the dining experiences were amazing We cruise a lot and will be sailing next on Queen Mary 2 in March and have re-booked to sail on Celebrity Solstice in October and - apart from the MDR - is there a theme here - We would agree with the Berlitz Cruise guide ratings of this ship as one of the best large cruise ship experiences you can have   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
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