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14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Stay away from the beverage packages if possible. might save some money by paying when u really want a drink. Also the art people are like sales vulchers they beg that u should select a picture. stay away.. all else was very good. cabin ... Read More
Stay away from the beverage packages if possible. might save some money by paying when u really want a drink. Also the art people are like sales vulchers they beg that u should select a picture. stay away.. all else was very good. cabin cleanineness was spot on. food was very good. waiter in dining room was very good and prompt. entertainment was good to very good. loved the comedians and liar club shows. rock show was very good . captain was visible and quite funny. excursions . the best was juneau whale watching with glacier viewing. the behind the scenes tour wasnt worth the money. ripoff. the train ride in skagway was really good. crab feast was good butnot enough of wildlife to see. the cafe on 14th floor was clean and service people were cleaning tables rapidly. fair amount of sugar free items avail. room was quiet and partial view was good Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Recently cruised (June 2017 8 days) on the Solstice to Alaska from Seattle, what a wonderful trip, places visited were Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway Victoria, ship organised tours were good also, if a little more expensive than the self ... Read More
Recently cruised (June 2017 8 days) on the Solstice to Alaska from Seattle, what a wonderful trip, places visited were Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway Victoria, ship organised tours were good also, if a little more expensive than the self arranged, special mention has to go to the captain for his light hearted approach and comedy, also the crew were great, food in Cafeteria was excellent with multiple choices, same in the Epernay, food in this restaurant arrived luke warm at best, shows were performed by very young and talented entertainers with variations of different themes through out the cruise, comedians (times two) were excellent giving family and adult sets later in the evening also Brent Nixon a very interesting naturelist, giving comentary on Alaska, coastal bald eagles, brown & grizzly bears, humpback whales and wildlife. Miss Amanda was also enlightning on her various talks Only one gripe the cruise did not visit Anchorage. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My husband and I wanted to travel someplace new and go all out since we were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. When on a Royal Caribbean cruise in July 2016, we booked this 7 night Alaskan cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. We ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to travel someplace new and go all out since we were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. When on a Royal Caribbean cruise in July 2016, we booked this 7 night Alaskan cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. We originally chose this ship because we knew that it was a more contemporary ship and we were drawn to the spa amenities and the wine bar (among other things). The night before the cruise, we stayed at the Hyatt House on 5th Avenue N in downtown Seattle. It was the PERFECT choice as the hotel itself was in a great location with a complimentary hot breakfast, and it was only a $12 cab ride to the pier for 3 people with a ton of luggage. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone staying one, or several, nights in Seattle before or after a cruise! We arrived at Pier 91 at 10:30 AM. The pier was quite crowded as there were two ships in port (Celebrity and Royal Caribbean) and many previous cruise guests were still waiting for transportation while new guests were arriving. We were a little confused as to where we should drop off luggage as the area was not clearly labeled. We asked one pier employee for help and he took us straight to the man who was loading luggage for the Solstice. We double checked that the luggage was indeed going to the Solstice and not the Royal Caribbean ship and when he eased our fears, we left our luggage with him and walked right into the main building. Everything was clearly labeled from here on out and it took us less than 10 minutes to travel through very short lines to receive our Sea Pass card (we took advantage of online check-in a few weeks prior) and walk onto the ship. We were on the ship by 10:45 AM. The ship itself is BEAUTIFUL; very contemporary furnishings and everything was well maintained and kept very clean. We were welcomed onto the ship with a glass of Champagne and proceeded to explore every bit. The layout of each floor was great as all restaurants were located at the aft of the ship; most shopping, the casino, and some bars were located in the middle of the ship; the theater, fitness center and spa, and most bars were located at the front of the ship. There were elevators at numerous points throughout the ship that helped to decrease wait time. We had some drinks and walked all around the ship before going to the Oceanview Café for lunch and it was still quite crowded at 1 PM. Soon after lunch, our stateroom was ready, so we were able to check that out as well! We chose to book an Aqua Class room on the starboard side of the ship, room 1558. Our room was very large for a cruise ship cabin with PLENTY of storage in both the room itself and the bathroom so that we were easily able to store the contents of 2 large suitcases and a suit bag (including toiletries and shoes). All of our suitcases fit neatly under the bed so we had no clutter in the room, allowing us to maneuver with ease. Our bathroom had 1 sink and a large vanity area, as well as a shower with one large shower head and about 4 or 5 small, massaging shower heads that were at different points below the main showerhead. We figured out that we could have all showerheads turned on at once or we could have only the main showerhead turned on (which was most helpful for shaving in the shower!). Our bed was SO comfortable and there was not one night that we had a bad night's sleep! Our balcony was rather large with enough room for a small table with 2 chairs and 2 footrests, while still leaving some room to easily enter and leave the balcony. Our room attendant was Wiji and he was OUTSTANDING!! The service that he provided was second to none and he always met our requests quickly and with a smile! We purposely chose the starboard side of the ship because the itinerary has this side facing land for the first 4 days of the cruise and the views were spectacular! The location of our Aqua Class room allowed for a private staircase to enter the spa and fitness center areas (which we used daily) so that was a perk for us. The only disappointment about the Aqua Class room was that there was no pillow menu as advertised (although Wiji did bring cotton pillows upon request) and the daily snack left a lot to be desired. We are not tea drinkers so we did not drink the tea on a daily basis, but we did enjoy the fresh fruit provided every day. However, there was also a second snack provided mid-day which always consisted of olives (YUCK!) and usually some dip or cheese snack that was not quite appetizing. If this is your only motivation for an Aqua Class room, you may want to choose another room instead. Overall, we felt that dining and service were fantastic! We ate at Blu (another Aqua Class perk that was WELL worth it!) almost daily for breakfast and 4 times for dinner. The food portions were small, which was good in my opinion as I always had room for dessert, but I was never disappointed in a meal. Like the main dining room, the menu changes daily, but there are three "classic" items on the menu each day that can be ordered. The service in Blu was wonderful and we got to know and love the same server and assistant server (Paul and Vikktoriia) as if we were in the main dining room, as well as the hostess (Maria) and the manager (Ante). Every day, the sommelier would approach our table and ask if we would like wine. We learned on the first day that if we said no to wine, we had to order another drink immediately; otherwise, he would collect the wine glasses, walk away, and never return. Even if he provided the first drink, the only time that he would return is if we requested his presence through our server. But that was the only semi-issue that we had in Blu, which wasn't really a big deal in the end. We never made reservations for breakfast or lunch and walked right in on most days, with the exception of the evening that we were in Victoria, which we had to wait a whopping 5 to 7 minutes. Before cruising, we ordered the 3 dinner specialty package and we were SO happy that we did! Our first meal was in Tuscan Grill, where we fell in love with the marinara sauce, but not necessarily the service. It was our least favorite of the specialty restaurants. However, Murano and Silk Harvest did not disappoint and both restaurants were surprising to us for different reasons. We couldn't understand the menu at Murano and most of the items were not foods that we would regularly choose to eat. However, our waiter was super helpful in explaining the food items and helping us to make our choices, and his service surpassed outstanding. The food was delicious and we had a very romantic meal. There were several items that were cooked tableside, which added a nice touch! Silk Harvest was surprising to us because it was restaurant that most reviewers complained about so we weren't expecting much. However, the food is served family style so we had a TON of food and it was all delicious! The family style serving allowed us to try several dishes on the menu and our server would consistently ask if we wanted to try more. The drink service was great as well! It was the only restaurant that we did not have room for dessert and we walked away very pleasantly surprised and pleased! We tried to avoid the Oceanview Café at all costs as it was ALWAYS crowded and tough to find a table. We tried to go when we thought it would not be a "peak" time, and the only time that it was not crowded was at midnight when we went for a late night snack. However, we did like that there was a bar located inside of the buffet, as well as outside seating. We also ate at Mast Grill one afternoon for lunch and had a very tasty burger and fries, as well as the Aqua Spa Café for afternoon snacks; both were a MUCH better alternative to the Oceanview Café. We LOVED Café al Bacio and frequented it in the afternoons for a caramel macchiato and hot chocolate, as well as whatever delectable treats were being offered that day (it changed daily). The service was always amazing as everyone was so happy to help you at all times. The treats are complimentary to all, and since we had the Premium drink package, our coffee and hot chocolate were included. We did not eat at Sushi on 5 since I am pregnant and cannot have raw fish. Otherwise, we probably would have tried it out, even though we only saw a handful of people in there daily; perhaps because it is a la carte. We tried most of the bars onsite and found that the Passport Bar, the Sky Observation Lounge, and the Sunset Bar were hardly ever crowded. Service at all 3 bars was great and the Passport Bar always had a server walking around taking drink orders. There was a server in the Sky Observation Lounge as well, but we must have never sat in a popular area, because my husband would always have to get up to get a drink and then was intercepted by a server on his way to the bar, who would then get his drink. The Sunset Bar was hardly ever crowded because it was so cold for outside for most of the cruise, so we would grab blankets while my husband smoked a cigar and I would chat with Vlad and Barretta at the bar (who were always sure to keep my pina coladas non-alcoholic!). They were our favorite bartenders on the ship as they would go out of their way for both my husband and I, getting us blankets if there were none available or searching for my husband's favorite Alaskan beer if they did not have any at the bar. And finally, in the evenings, we would sometimes go to the Martini Bar, which was typically crowded because the bartenders were so entertaining. We always had fun watching them put on a show and interacting with one another and the guests. There were a lot of activities going on for adults, but it seemed like there wasn't a lot for children. They had a children's club and a teen's club on the ship, but we hardly ever saw or heard of any children's activities. We have no interest in jewelry or art so we did not attend the NUMEROUS activities centered on shopping sales and art presentations, nor did we attend any presentations by Bret Nixon or Miss Amanda. We listened to both of them on the TV one evening and they weren't as interesting to us as other reviewers have made them out to be. We would attend the evening shows quite regularly and were pleased with the comedians, but not so much with the shows. Rock was an incredible disappointment. While the dancing was decent and most of the performers had decent voices, to be incredibly blunt and honest, I have seen better high school musicals before. The apparent talent of the performers was masked by a terrible show. There were SO MANY excellent, well-known songs that could have been performed and instead there were too many songs that were unknown. There was one singer who performed a Red Hot Chili Peppers song as if it were a ballad (which is a huge no-no for my generation). I almost walked out at that point because why anyone, producers or talent, would find that even remotely entertaining is beyond me. Same thing with Euphoria. The acrobats were incredible, but the music mixed in with the acrobatics was not. Moonlighting to Adele, one of the greatest voices of this time, should not be done by anyone and while the girl who sang her song put forth a good effort, it was almost as though I was sitting through karaoke. The song "A Thousand Years" should have been solely instrumental as the performers playing the cello and violin were OUTSTANDING; they brought tears to my ears. Then, the singing began, and it was a duet no less with my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers cover singer who absolutely butchered the song. I hate to be so incredibly harsh, but this was a HUGE disappointment and those who create and produce these shows should really put thought into what will bring out the best in their performers. As mentioned earlier, we frequented the spa and fitness center area on a daily basis. Although we had complimentary access to the Persian Garden as Aqua Class guests, we did not visit it once since my pregnancy would not allow for me to take advantage of their (mostly) heat-based treatments. The fitness center was crowded during the first sea day, and then afterwards, we had no trouble getting a machine after 11 AM. I wanted to take a yoga class or two, but was actually surprised that there was very little education on prenatal exercises and treatments. I had asked a trainer if the yoga instructor offers guidance on alternate poses that may not be safe for pregnant women and he provided me with an answer that made it clear that he had absolutely no idea that certain poses were not for pregnant women. The same thing occurred with my massage therapist and esthetician. At first, I almost wasn't even able to have a massage because the therapists thought that 16 weeks was still in the first trimester of pregnancy, which it is not. Then, I was given a completely inaccurate reason why a massage MAY be dangerous for pregnant women in the first trimester (I did my research and discussed this with my doctor ahead of time). My esthetician was much more educated on products that can and cannot be used during pregnancy, but both my massage therapist and my esthetician had me lying flat on my back for an extended period of time, which is NOT good during the second trimester. Perhaps a little more prenatal education is needed, even if I was likely in the minority. As for port excursions, we only had 1 planned through the ship. We decided to explore on our own in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Victoria. In Juneau, we purchased a $60 (for 2 people) round-trip bus ride to the Mendenhall Glacier and were able to hike and see both the glacier and Nugget Falls without any time constraints. My husband did the Klondike Bike Ride in Skagway, which was an excursion through the ship. He loved the excursion since there were only 4 people and they made numerous stops as they biked down the mountain. Luckily, we're ok with being independent explorers because we didn't want to pay the exaggerated prices offered through the cruise ship and the daily planner provided information about each port that was completely useless to us. I understand that this is a luxury cruise line and that it caters to those who are a little more well-to-do and likely have no qualms about spending money on material things. However, having that said, there are some of us average people who are looking for a great experience and some awesome advice on ports, and deals as well. PAGES of information on jewelry sales, where to buy jewelry in ports, etc. does not necessarily appeal to the masses. I had heard in Juneau that the cruise companies own the numerous jewelry stores that line the streets of each port, which is why they are advertised so heavily. Whether this is true or not, I'm unsure, but we found that the further we would travel from the port, the better shops, food stops, and deals we would find. One last thing that surprised us about the ship were the photographers. They were much more pushy than any other ship that we have been on before and this was the biggest disappointment. I understand that they have a job to do, but I absolutely do not care to be TOLD to do something. For example, when I'm having a quiet dinner with my husband, I don't want a photographer approaching my table, interrupting our conversation, and TELLING me to pose a certain way without ever asking if I wanted a picture in the first place. We ended up turning down all photography on the ship because being posed is not our idea of a nice picture; it's rather cheesy in our humble opinion. Sessions and packages are offered for those who enjoy that type of thing. Finally, when the cruise was (sadly) over, disembarkation was extremely simple. In fact, the most difficult part was catching an elevator because most guests did not listen to directions (or just didn't care) and started to head towards their debarkation areas well before it was their time. We chose self-assist so we walked off with our luggage and once we were actually able to get on an elevator, we walked right off the ship and right through customs with no issues. There was a short line for taxis and one that moved very quickly, so we were able to catch a taxi by 7:45 AM and were at the airport by 8:30 AM, in plenty of time for our flight. I would suggest planning wisely for debarkation because due to the massive number of people who were just standing around waiting, I can only imagine that it would become tougher to leave the ship as time went on (not to mention catching a cab, traffic at the port, etc.). In the end, we're definitely happy that we chose the Celebrity Solstice to see Alaska. We had a great time and met a lot of wonderful, hard-working people who simply wanted to please on a daily basis. We would highly recommend this ship for singles, couples, groups of adults, or families with adults. We would not bring our child on this cruise as we did not feel that it was as family friendly as Royal Caribbean. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We had always wanted to do a cruise to Alaska and decided on Celebtity Solstice.. Our experience did not disappoint. Our cabin steward, MARIO, always kept our room looking great… Always had a smile on his face… And was prompt ... Read More
We had always wanted to do a cruise to Alaska and decided on Celebtity Solstice.. Our experience did not disappoint. Our cabin steward, MARIO, always kept our room looking great… Always had a smile on his face… And was prompt for any request that we had. We found the food to be excellent with a great variety to choose from either from the buffet or the main dining room. we did do one specialty dining at the Tuscan Grille… And oh my goodness the fillet mignon I could cut with a butter knife !!! Every morning at the buffet my favorite cook, ALI would do a great job on my omelettes. VICTORIA at the customer service desk was always very helpful and easy to understand. And for sure one of the highlights of our cruise was our CAPTAIN TASOS- personable, funny, and informative. We did a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship and that was not only very interesting and informative but the young third mate GRAHAM was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. We ran into him and LIAM one afternoon on the ship and they were kind enough to spend some time talking to us about the workings of the ship. The staff and personnel were top notch. The only negatives for us on the cruise was sometimes the confusion on the pricing of the drink package, but we think we finally got that figured out. Also on the first day the safety Muster drill needed to be better organized for our section. They were probably about 100 of us standing in a small area and we got overheated and uncomfortable. Plus the 10 minute video needed to be cut down to about three minutes. One criticism about the cruise line is their website is horrible to navigate and find what you're looking for. Also their online survey after the cruise I was unable to complete. It would not allow me to complete and say pages I kept losing the information so I thought I would post here on Cruise critic. Over all our cruise was absolutely fantastic and we were totally cruise with Celebrity again !! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
With the exception of the "obstructive" view from the balcony, this was an excellent cruise. We were with our 2 adult daughters on their first cruise. They had a ball, both on the ship and on the ships tours. Embarkation ... Read More
With the exception of the "obstructive" view from the balcony, this was an excellent cruise. We were with our 2 adult daughters on their first cruise. They had a ball, both on the ship and on the ships tours. Embarkation in Seattle was smooth, but disembarkation was a zoo. Getting off the ship and getting our luggage was fine, but once outside the terminal, it was a mob scene. There was another ship (RCI) in port. This cruise terminal can not handle two ships at once. Not enough space on shore. Otherwise, the cruise was all that you could ask for. The crew were great and the service was excellent. Food in the main dining room was above average. We had one meal in Murano that was sub-par. We ordered the lobster, it was prepared table side. It was tough. The lobster in the main dining room several nights later was far superior. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This was our second cruise to Alaska, our first with Celebrity. The crew and staff were absolutely outstanding, 5+ out of 5. Reynaldo, our stateroom steward, was out of this world. Our state room was always turned down, perfectly clean, ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska, our first with Celebrity. The crew and staff were absolutely outstanding, 5+ out of 5. Reynaldo, our stateroom steward, was out of this world. Our state room was always turned down, perfectly clean, and he found time to make creative animals from towels to amuse our 8 year old. Bobi, a waiter in the Grand Epernay dining room, was another 5+ out of 5. His attention to detail and ability to navigate through a special diet with food allergies was superb. All of the staff was super friendly, and it seemed as if there were more staff than passengers at times, I couldn't walk one deck without seeing a staff member busy working, or cleaning, but with a smile and cheerful disposition. All of the staff get 5 out of 5 stars. The only disappointment from the staff was the breakfast we ordered twice via room service, as we received about 80% of what we had ordered. The food was the biggest disappointment. The buffet food service area is a big open area, but chaotic, you have to be a defensive walker to dodge people coming at all angles. The buffet food was okay, once in a while an individual item would be outstanding (filet mignon, served one time), but then other items would disappoint (i.e. the ranch dressing, the scrambled eggs). The food in the Grand Epernay was also disappointing. For a 2-hour-plus dining experience, the food was only 3 or 3 1/2 out of 5. Bobi did the best with what he had to work with, and the quantity was fine, but the quality was underwhelming. The specialty restaurant Murano was a 5 out of 5 experience, provided you can afford such an experience. One suggestion for Celebrity. Upgrade the toilet paper. Single ply? We're paying too much for a cruise to use material I'd expect to find in a motor home. If your systems can't handle better quality, then upgrade the plumbing! Another suggestion, but this is a design flaw - the "walking path" on Deck 14 is on the same deck as the buffet, so anyone attempting to walk or run anytime near meal hours is constantly dodging people who don't know any other way to get to the buffet. Our child had a great time at the Fun Factory, the entertainment provided for three age groups for children under 13. The entertainment was good, as was the overall cruise experience. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, who can argue with being greeted with a free mimosa upon entering the ship? I definitely recommend Celebrity, and the Solstice, and if you can afford it, definitely get your own balcony when on an Alaskan cruise, there's no better way to see a glacier. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Overall trip was great. Captain was funny and entertaining. Staff and services were great. Food was great as was entertainment. What was bad was the art auction . Stay away from this all they wanted was to sell art to u and never gave ... Read More
Overall trip was great. Captain was funny and entertaining. Staff and services were great. Food was great as was entertainment. What was bad was the art auction . Stay away from this all they wanted was to sell art to u and never gave up attempting. It felt like time share salespeople . A big joke. The glass auction was better and well deserved. But please stay away from the art guys. Also the beverage prices arent cheap. Before u book decide how much u drink and break it down to the cost per drink vs the pkg deal. U might be better off with individual charging vs pkg. If u can afford it dine at the Murano cost is 50 extra per person but worth it.. Also if u want to save on beverage cost get one but use it for two people. At least this way u break even.. Individual pkgs for 1 isnt worth it Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This was our fifth time to Alaska but our first time going there on Solstice and we were going with all our Martini Mates and I can actually say it was a GREAT cruise with only a few blips on the part of the Celebrity. Here's our ... Read More
This was our fifth time to Alaska but our first time going there on Solstice and we were going with all our Martini Mates and I can actually say it was a GREAT cruise with only a few blips on the part of the Celebrity. Here's our review. (If you would like to see this review with photos, check it out here: http://www.jkbellomo.com/Alaska2017/index.html) Embarkation On the morning of embarkation (June 16, 2017) we were all (16 of us) either at our home in Redmond, WA (a Seattle suburb) or at a nearby hotel. At 9:15 we were picked up by a wonderful new shuttle service (new to us) that Mike had found from all the way down in Florida. First, I can't say enough good things about Seattle Express shuttle service. I dealt (via e-mail) with Matt, their manager who was AWESOME! Got back to me with pricing, routing and pretty much every question I asked him in what seems like an instant. His driver was on-time, every time (they took us to the ship, took us back to our place after and then took some Mates to the airport that afternoon). You will find them at https://seattleexpress.com. They also do guided tours so if you are here on a shore day (as opposed to embarking or disembarking) that might be a possibility. We have not done one of their tours but if they are as good at tours as they are dependable, it will be a great tour. I would love to hear from someone who has done a tour with them. Please e-mail me if you have and let me know how they did. They got us to the port in record time and we had been reading on Cruise Critic that getting into the port and getting on board for the first couple of Alaska cruises had been problematic to say the least (we were hearing about hour and a half delays in the waiting lines) but that did NOT happen to us. From the time we drove into the line to unload until we were onboard the ship sipping mimosas was about 40 minutes flat. It was amazing. Our shuttle parked, a porter grabbed all the bags for 16 of us, we headed in, got scanned, got our seapass cards, had our picture taken (that didn't come out very well—more about that later) and were onboard in no time. Onboard Once onboard we hung out for a few minutes in the Martini Bar while I went to check on our main dining room seating. Being a party of 16 we were worried that all our reservations had not been linked and I am glad I checked as they weren't. If you are in the same boat, just go to the main dining room on deck four and there you will hopefully find the wonderful Tiana who was quick to assist me in moving our entire party to a table for 10 and a table for six right next to each other. Each night we took turns sitting at the six top (because to be honest, 10 is too many at a table). Having the same excellent waiter helped with that immensely. After I had taken care of that, a bunch of us headed up to the mostly empty (at that point) buffet for lunch. (More about the food below.) After lunch we were thrilled to hear that our cabins were ready (at about 1:00 pm) so we headed down to drop our carry ons and check the cabins out. We were in 6209, a forward facing hump cabin with bed by the door. Our luggage arrived by 2:30 and then we were off to the muster/lifeboat drill. Our station was the main dining room and since much of the presentation is now on video, that was fine. But let's talk about those videos for a minute. I am sorry to even mention them. There were two. The first was a sing-song piece that looked like it was made for five-year-olds, about washing your hands. The song is still stuck in my head as I type this. My buddy Bob who has a movie of the song sent it to me the other day and stuck it back in there—thanks Bob. We had seen this one before and we still find it childish. Why not just say, "Wash your hands so we don't get norovirus on board." We are all adults except for the kids and their parents can tell them. But the one we hadn't seen almost made us understand why cruise prices are going up. Someone in the marketing department at X must have gotten the idea that to make us listen to directions about lifeboats we needed a Hollywood spy film. That film must have cost a fortune to make. How about having the old lifeboat spiel that worked for at least 20 years and then give us all back $10. It had to have cost that much (not $10 for each person on our cruise but $10 times all the people who cruise X). Ridiculous. We followed the viewing of these cinematic masterpieces with a wonderful sail-away party (under cloudy skies) in the Sunset Bar. We added five new Martini Mates who got their pins and that's a great way to start a cruise. The Good stuff Let's divide the onboard stuff into good and bad. Yes, there was some bad but let's look at the good first. I want to start by saying that Solstice is in great shape. We were on her eighth cruise the year she was launched (2009) and she is pretty much in the same great shape. I will remark that some of the stuff in the cabin could use some upgrading (the TVs are next to unwatchable at their LOW resolution but that's probably because we are all so used to our HD models and why watch TV on a cruise?) but most of the ship was looking good. Service Celebrity continues to provide what we believe is some of the best service in the world. Her crew is second to none and her captain should be proud. Check the dailies by clicking the link at the top of the page to see the ship's officers on page six. We would especially like to single out some great crew members who went above and beyond to make our cruise AWESOME! Our stateroom attendant Jacinto, our waiter, Savio, our assistant waiter Jose, our sommelier Nelson, Valeria in the Ensemble Lounge, Milena in Cafe al Bacio, Tiana in the MDR, Ryan on the activities staff and so many more who were wonderful to us all week long. Activities There was plenty to do. I have scanned all the dailies (the list of things to do for those of you new to cruising) and put them online. Click here to see them. We (a bunch of the Martini Mates) are trivia junkies so we never missed a trivia session. All were pretty good and no one asked who had "discovered" nylon. (Sorry, it's an inside joke.). Lots of great prizes including tee shirts, wrist bands, decks of cards and more. Can you tell we won a bunch. On sea days the sessions were WELL attended but on port days we were often the only ones there, or Bob and Holly were. The gym I used the gym every morning and was VERY impressed with Solstice's gym and the staff who work there. Always clean, open on time and four upright stationary bikes to choose from for me, all in good working order. And as usual, on day one in the morning it was packed at 6:00 am and by morning seven, I was pretty much alone. Shows I should say a word here about the shows after dinner but we aren't big show people when onboard. I think one reason is that we cruise to socialize (we both work in pretty isolated jobs) so we rarely go to the shows. If you want to know more about the shows, check out my buddy Mike Preisman's review by clicking here (it will be up soon if you don't find it). I will say that there was no show on the first night. There was an Alaskan presentation instead. Usually X (how us old cruisers refer to Celebrity) puts on a sample show of the other shows that will be coming that week. We did attend the second night's show, which was a production show called "Broken Strings," It featured a lot of songs I have never heard (yes, I know I am 64) sung by singers who to us and everyone around us in the audience on the upper tier of the showroom were unintelligible. Either they were mumbling or the sound system was going bad. I believe the former to be true. I should add here that another member of our party who was sitting on the main level, LOVED this show so certainly beauty is in eye of the beholder. The only other show we went to was a comic who came aboard in Ketchikan. His name is AJ Jamal and he was hilarious. He was billed as a "clean comic" and he was. But still funny. Everyone with us at the first show thought he was hoot and just cackled but the same friends who had loved the production show hated him. Who knows? Other shows during the week included a different comic (only did a late night/adult show), a Beatles tribute band that others told us was superb, another production show (Sixties music—I should have gone) and a Cirque-type acrobatics show. See the Dailies for a full description of all of these. BTW: If you want to see pics of all the shows check out my buddy Mike Preisman's review at www.thepreismans.com. He takes pics of all the shows. Notes on dress and pax I want to add a little bit about something that surprised us. We were told by officers that this cruise had more than 1500 (out of 2600) first-time cruisers on board. This is pretty usual for an Alaska cruise. It's the reason that our Cruise Critic roll call was so small—those folks haven't discovered Cruise Critic yet. This was pretty evident during most the cruise when those of us with multiple cruises under our belts watched the new folks wandering about with their mouths hanging open with wonder. But what really surprised me was when we got to night number two. X has done away with "formal nights" (which we miss) and replaced them with "Evening Chic" on two nights on a seven night cruise. Five nights call for "Smart Casual." You can see descriptions of these on the first daily. We (our group of 16) were divided on this and ended up with 5 of the men in tuxedos, and three just in shirts or jackets. That was fine with us. Some of us (me included) love dressing up so we went for it. What surprised us on the first "Evening Chic" (or as Paul calls it shabby chic) night was the number of other cruisers in formal attire. We had bit of a different experience on the next "Evening Chic" night but I will leave that for later. It was just nice to see so many people dressed for dinner and later around the ship. At our table, our newest Mate won hands down for classiest formal wear as he is a long-time Chief in the US Navy and still on active duty so he wore his dress uniform and WOW did he look great. That's him with his beautiful bride Holly in the picture. See what I mean? The Food I had heard from a friend who cruised to Alaska on Solstice last summer that the food had not been up to par. That was NOT our experience. We enjoyed almost all the food we ate. In fact, I enjoyed it all but some others in our group had assorted problems with it. More about that later. We ate all but two of our dinners in the Main Dining Room (MDR). Had some great meals there. Seafood, pasta, prime rib and lots of other great stuff. The menu shows two courses (appetizers and entrées) but most people would order an appetizer from that section of the menu and then a soup or salad from the same section. I almost always started with escargot which I love and only eat on ships (it is available every night along with other appies and entrées), followed that with another appetizer or a shrimp cocktail (always available). And then dessert after all that. Every night. No wonder I gained four pounds. I would have gained more but I make it a policy that I never take an elevator on a 16 deck ship so I know I ate a lo and worked off a lot. And they just keep bringing us their outstanding bread (especially the breadsticks)! We ate most lunches in the buffet but did have one at the deck 14 hamburger bar in the sunshine while in Ketchikan and the last day of the cruise we had lunch in the MDR. Breakfast was usually in the buffet which was fine except on the day we were doing glacier viewing and then going on to Juneau. It seemed like everyone went there at one time for both breakfast and lunch which made for a maddeningly slammed buffet. We ended up in the Aqua Spa cafe eating while sitting on the edge of the pool area. We did two dinners in specialty restaurants. All 16 of us went to Murano for a special dinner. It turned out great for eight of us who were sitting at a table where our server turned out to be an old friend of Bob and Holly's which meant we got incredible service while the other table of eight got a server that never came back. Took their orders and disappeared. And Paul (at the other table) had the "made tableside" whole fish which was cold by the time he got it. Sad and very unCelebrity like. On the last night of the cruise about 90% of the ship went into Victoria at 5:30 when we docked. But those of us who stayed behind were all relegated to one part of the dining room on one floor, open seating. We were also disappointed to find out that much of the rest of the ship was closed down as well. Kind of ticked us off that even though we were not going into Victoria, X decided that our cruise was mostly over. We were able to go to the Tuscan Grille for an Italian meal which was neither good nor bad. We enjoyed ourselves because of the company, not the food or the service. Only a few lounges were open after dinner and that was sad. Solstice also still features the Asian cuisine restaurant (Silk Harvest) which I wish they would dump and put in Qsine as they have on all their other S class ships. Ports—Ketchikan I am pretty sure I mentioned before that this was our fifth cruise to Alaska. When you live in Seattle, an Alaskan cruise is one of the few you can do without having to pay to fly. So while we have cruised in Europe, Asia and Down Under, when we want to hit a ship for a quick week at our favorite moving hotel, we do an Alaskan cruise. Besides, neither of us like the Caribbean so that is out for us. The last three (including this one) times we have gone to Alaska, I think we got off the ship a total of an hour (if you don't count Skagway on this trip). For that reason (except for Skagway) we can't give you a lot of info. In Ketchikan we can say that we had AMAZING weather. It was sunny. On four previous cruises, when we did whale watching, flight seeing, etc., it poured rain as it does so often in that town. Like all but 20 days a year. But as my fellow Mate BSeaBob says, "We got a tan, in Ketchikan." So we got off and walked the gang over to Creek Street area since we had bee there before. We got them there and headed back to the ship for a hamburger and a beer out on deck 14 with Bob, Holly, Mike and Carol. Ports—Juneau In Juneau, we had gotten up early to see the glacier so by the time we docked in Juneau we were pretty tired. As Elite Plus members we get a free day in the Persian Garden (steam rooms, hot benches and more, in the spa) so we stayed onboard and did that. Ports—Skagway and some opinion about ports in Alaska. We had not been on a cruise that stopped in Skagway since our first Alaskan Cruise in 2000 so when we got there we were looking forward to getting off and walking around and even though I got talked into a tour with Skagway Alaskan Street Car Company there is something I need to say about the Alaskan ports in general. More about the tour in a minute but I want to say something about all these ports but it was especially notable in Skagway because we had not been there in 17 years. We had seen this happen in Ketchikan and Juneau over the years but we saw it happen gradually so we really didn't notice how bad it had gotten, but since we had 17 years between visits to Skagway we really noticed the change here. The cruise industry has ruined the Alaskan ports. When we first went to Skagway in 2000 it was a nice small town with lots of local business people selling fun and interesting things. You got to talk to actual Alaskans. You didn't see a single Diamonds International, Alaska T-shirt company (with the same products in every town) or any of the many other cruise-attracted businesses who have come to Alaska from the Caribbean and taken over the tourism retail industry. When we were there in 2000 there was one ship with 1500 people on board in port the day we were there. When we arrived this time, there were four ships in port, each with more than that 1500 people. Solstice was the biggest and when we arrived the town doubled in size just from us being there, forget the other three ships. It was just too much. We walked through town and found it hard to stay on the sidewalk and we seemed to be jostled with every step. We did have a chance to visit the Skagway City Museum (a really nice place with clean bathrooms) where we spoke to a local who told us that the Park Service (who owns most of the historic buildings in town) would refurbish a building and when that building went back on the market to rent, the rents had sky-rocketed to a point that the local business people could not afford to rent them. At that point, the Caribbean-like chains swooped in with imported workers who just come for the summer and sleep in trailers, tents and RVs and rented the stores. This is NOT supporting the local economy. This is economic imperialism at its worst. We went out of our way to spend our money at locally owned businesses and we hope you will too. Have a beer and lunch at the local brewery (Skagway Brewing Company—great beer and delicious chili), visit the local museum and take a cool bus tour with Skagway Alaska Street Car Company. I was so disgusted by the time we decided to book this, I just wanted to get back on the ship but my wife, brother and sister-in-law (new mates Steve and Jamie) talked me into this tour and I loved it. Owned and operated by locals, this tour (where you are driven around in big yellow Yellowstone-like buses) was super! Go do it. Look for AB (That's our guide's name). She does an amazing tour. So much fun. She will be there. She lives there. Not only do you get a cool tour but you get so much info about the town and the people and the history that it a tremendous amount of fun and a great value. I have never taken a somewhat political stance in a cruise review before but I want to urge each person reading this if you are new to cruising or been cruising for years, to please BOYCOTT these damn chains. I am sure there are better jewelry stores in the town where you live. Just as I am sure that you can find Alaskan tee shirts at locally owned stores. Please take tours with local tour companies like the one we did. And we know you can find a better lunch than at a chain restaurant. Don't even go inside. Don't get their free stuff. If we stop buying from these companies, they will go away and give Alaska back to Alaskans. In the future, if go to Alaska, I will only patronize local businesses. We hope you do the same. Ports-Victoria, BC Sorry, I can't say very much about this port because we stayed on the ship, ate dinner, packed and went to bed. We live less than 110 miles from Victoria and have been there many times before and are going back in August to celebrate our anniversary. Most of our party that had never been there before took the ship's tour to Butchart Gardens and if you have never been there before, it is a MUST-SEE! And now the bad stuff—Hey, I'm a Cruise Critic, right? We love Celebrity. We must, we have taken 17 cruises on their ships, we are sorry to report that they had some real problems on this cruise but thankfully they were isolated incidents. For instance, the last day of the cruise we were subjected to the terrible service of a waiter (who is nameless here but was reported to Celebrity) at lunch in the MDR. He was very condescending, in a huge rush (took our plates while we were still eating—literally still putting fork to plate) and worse, insulted a friend who has special dietary needs. He was about two seconds away from me asking to see his superior. He even served one of our Bobs a hot dog that was still frozen in the middle. We continue to be disgusted and disappointed by the music in the Martini Bar. On this cruise not only was it offensive in volume but we were "treated" to a song featuring the racist N word repeated numerous times which we reported to an officer. This music needs to go. PLEASE. At least before dinner at early seating. The average age of the cruisers in the Martini Bar at the same time as us was around 55-70. I am not sure who the thump-thump music is for. How about some Sinatra or maybe Adele, at a low enough level you can hear the people in your party who are sitting next to you. The photo gallery sucks. There is no other way to say it. If you haven't been aboard for a while you will be thrilled to know that they have stopped printing a multitude of photos and hanging them on a wall. The area taken up by where the photos used to hang is now all rip-off art auction (and it is a rip off). Now when they take your photo, they ask your room number, put it in the computer and it is supposed to show it on your TV screen in your cabin. I say supposed to because not one of us (all 16) could access that screen from their cabin. There are also monitors in the current photo gallery which is in this tiny space next to the casino. You swipe your seapass and you get to see every photo you are in (using facial recognition). Well that worked a little better than the cabin TV but we still could not see the two photos that we had taken when we came aboard. In fact, I went to the photo gallery every single day of the cruise and the people working there promised to find it for me. I told them it would be easy. It would be 16 people trying to make stupid faces. I even told them when we came aboard (approximately) and yet they couldn't find it. They did find photos that were not us of a couple kissing and attached it to our room. Then on the last night we had a group shot taken (see it at right) and when we went to look at it, it did not show up on the screens either. We were informed that if there were more than 12 people in a photo, they would only print them and they would not sell them digitally because they were afraid that those in the photo would just share the digital photo. But as we were looking through the actual photos (in a pile behind the cash register) to find ours, we met a guy who had been on our Cruise Critic roll call and we realized he was one half the of kissing couple on embarkation that had shown up on our photo screen. He said they had come on board right behind us and using the number from that photo, one of the guys in the photo studio was finally able to find us (on the last day of the cruise!!) But here's what really ticked me off. When he finally found it, the guy said, "Oh, you should have told me there were 16 people in the photo. We never post those." The thing was, I had. Every single day. This new system is not working. On top of that, while we were there a gentleman came in who had been in a HUGE family photo taken the night before, right before our group. He asked to see the shot which had more than 35 people in it. He asked if it was included on the "digital package" he had purchased which was unlimited digital shots he was in for more than $300 over the entire cruise. They told him that this shot was not included because there were too many people in it and that they could sell him prints at $20 a copy. He said he needed 25 prints and was very upset that it wasn't part of the digital package. Apparently he had never heard of a scanner because he ended up with an additional $600 in prints. Sorry folks, but that is highway robbery. This is just wrong. How much do they need to bleed you in the photo gallery. All this disorganization and their photos are just not that good. Oour group shot has a huge reflection in the glass above our heads. They had a gigantic reflector light set up exactly opposite that piece of glass so every picture they took in that spot that night has that blown out area. Are you kidding me? High school kids could do better and these are supposed to be professionals. Enough said. As I mentioned before, we were also very disappointed that on our last night in Victoria, those of us who chose to stay aboard found many of the bars and lounges closed, our regular dining table not available. This is unfair to those of us that you would like to keep coming back. This was our fifth cruise to Alaska (4 on Celebrity) and we live in the NW and really did not feel the need to get off in Victoria. Lastly we had a VERY disconcerting thing happen in the main dining room on the last "evening chic" night. As I mentioned above, our party had chosen to dress up in tuxes and nice dresses for the ladies (group of 16 seated together). We were fine with the fact that others did not. What we were NOT fine with was the fact that as we were finishing up our dinners a party was escorted to the next table dressed in their cabin's bathrobes. Yes, they had clothes on under them, but when they were next to our table they made some very obnoxious remarks about how did we like their formal dress? The very idea that the maître d' seated this bunch dressed in bathrobes defies our experience with Celebrity. This should NEVER happen. We were insulted by the fact that Celebrity would let it happen. Disembarkation This was the worst part of the cruise. Not because of any problem with getting off the ship. In fact the whole process was one of the best we have ever done. The reason I said it was the worst part of the cruise is that as every cruiser knows, getting off a ship is the worst day of any cruise. We loved every minute of it, have two more X cruises booked and can't wait to go back. Let me sum up This was a great cruise. We had a great time. We were treated well. We loved seeing our friends but there are some things that need to change about Alaskan ports and Celebrity. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We planned this cruise 11 months in advance. We wanted to experience an Alaskan cruise. A suite was booked by an agent on the 12th floor in the middle of the ship. We were so excited because we trusted that the agent booked the ... Read More
We planned this cruise 11 months in advance. We wanted to experience an Alaskan cruise. A suite was booked by an agent on the 12th floor in the middle of the ship. We were so excited because we trusted that the agent booked the "perfect" location for our special trip. Our bad for not reviewing the deck plan prior to the cruise. As soon as we entered our room the noise level was unbearable. 24 hours a day we heard nothing but carts rolling over our room and thousands of foot steps. Sometimes the room actually vibrated due to the noise. Not great when you're from CA! It was so bad that after the first two nights of no sleep (with ear plugs and pillows over our heads) we finally said something to the suite butler and guest relations. They tried to minimize the noise by blocking the area over our room from 10p to 6a. It did not help. We couldn't even take naps. The ship itself is wonderful with great public areas, nice restaurants and an awesome coffee bar - needless to say we spent a lot of our time at the coffee bar trying to stay awake! Dining for suite guests is in a private restaurant with top notch food. Suite guests have the option of ordering from the main menu as well. The service on the ship was outstanding. Really everything about the ship and the cruise itself was wonderful. Had it not been for the cabin situation, this would have been a great experience. The entertainment was adequate. The ensemble shows were nice. The dancers are great. Singing was okay - they did have one amazing female singer in the main showroom. We really enjoyed listening to the music in other parts of the ship as well. It is unfortunate that we had such a terrible experience with regard to the suite. This was a suite that cost us over $7,200! One would wonder why they placed suites under the noisiest part of the ship. We realized that the cruise staff could not reconstruct the ship for our comfort, but there should be some type of warning to people before they spend thousands of dollars to rest and relax! We learned a very expensive and valuable lesson for future cruising. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
The pros, clean ship. Staff constantly cleaning and organizing public area bathrooms very nice and clean. Captain Tasso is cool and safe and the crew does a great job navigating and keeping us safe. I traveled in concierge class. State ... Read More
The pros, clean ship. Staff constantly cleaning and organizing public area bathrooms very nice and clean. Captain Tasso is cool and safe and the crew does a great job navigating and keeping us safe. I traveled in concierge class. State room attendant poor English and hard to communicate , they make a big deal of the pillow menu and then they can't get the pillows, I'm allergic to down and it took 2 days to try to get a hypo allergenic pillow , I asked concierge chief for help to intervene, even then the attendant could not understand because he brought Swedish foam pillow which is fine so I let it go. Nobody smiles all staff are dour. Customer service desk on third floor all from South Africa and they are civil, nothing more. Get room as high up and forward (aft) on ship, very quiet and soundproof I couldn't feel nor hear engines nor other people. 10th floor is fantastic. A balcony is a must to see the stunning Alaska coastline, mountains and glaciers are awe inspiring. The room is cramped but sufficient for 2. Need more hooks to hang coats and sweaters. Umbrella was defective and a rib splintered in my husband hand, the binoculars were broken, hair dryer is from 1989 and you have to hold button down while blow drying because it won't stay on. The spa helpfully sells morrocanoil hair dryers for $200. Totally inappropriate and they try to squeeze every penny out of you. Worthless and broken amenities when they're touted as luxury. One robe in room, not 2. They make billing receipts mistakes and forget to adjust their errors so double check statements at least 2 days before Internet wifi is $249 for the week, spotty and slow but I absolutely needed it, it's a ripoff overall but they can charge what the want as you're a captive audience. Accosted for the upsell at every turn even when you walk by a hallway they try to sell you drink packages and cover charge restaurants and massages it's a nonstop sales pitch throughout your vacation very obnoxious , as soon as you board and you're trying to get oriented to the ship there's a posse of Indian and Turkish waiters turned salesmen harangued us about meal plans and drink plans frankly it's exhausting having to fight this every day. Just raise your fares and leave us alone! Dining room Epernay cramped/noisy /crowded -- entirely Indian crew of waiters rush you out and food is limp and lukewarm, no hot food at all during this trip except for omelette made to order at buffet breakfast. I hate eating with strangers and this was forced upon me every time I went to eat at Epernay, was scolded that it's a "shared dining concept" so I chose to go to buffet all the time because I was sick of the confrontation insisting on asking for a table for 2. Bartenders are uniformly rude and grunt at you, like a babysitter they lecture you-- you can only get one drink a time so you can't get a bottle of water and a soda at the same time, you have to make 2 separate trips preferably to a different bar so they don't give you the stinking eye Premium drink package includes espresso and Arizona iced tea for 22 per day plus 18% tax so it's 181 for the week if you consume a lot of Evian or soda and coffee you'll recover your cost but for one soda it's not worth it. my husband got Evian bottled water every time he passed by a bar and we stashed it in the room and then for day trips we had water Gratuities forced on at 14$ per person for concierge class. you can cancel them and put them as you want for the people who treated you right I declined the gratuity and gave out $20 directly to the staff who mattered to me and were nice to me. I figured there were 3 staff who really deserved it the rest were pretty surly and ignored me. I know the collective staff share in the gratuity but it's not right when some are great and the vast majority are surly and bordering on rude. Stateroom guy puts tiny ball of white paper in door jamb so if you leave it falls and that tells him if the coast is clear to clean room. Foreign brown crew can't understand what body language means or just want to be left in peace. About the cruise a whole, Just note also, I hate fellow traveling Americans --can be so so rude and ugly! A drunk guy accosted me while I was in line for a cheeseburger I told him to go away, sad that drunkards rule these vacations but that isn't celebrity fault just know that your fellow Americans can be jackasses. Ketchikan is cute and friendly the cruise ships dominate the economy but the people were kind tour the tongass rainforest and a totem pole park Juneau is a tourist hell hole 4 cruise ships docked at same time, ugly rainy city, the tramway is worthwhile and vertigo inducing, rain and mist make it difficult to hike or walk, seriously a worthless stop and worth skipping. T shirt shops and tanzanite stores full of obese waddling people who just push and shove their way thru, pure hell, I will avoid Juneau forever Skagway is charming with cute friendly stores, again the tanzanite jewelry stores dominate, the waddling obese and scooter menace tourist is dreadful and these folks shouldn't leave their homes. Got out to tour the Yukon and British Columbia White pass, tormented valley, bridal veil falls, saw a bear! scenery and mountains jaw dropping this is a place I'd like to come back to I won't repeat cruise with celebrity I liked royal Caribbean much more, they leave you alone and don't berate you or constantly upsell. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
This was a family cruise and included 10 members from 10-70. I had a royal suite this time. This was huge. About 3 times as large as a regular cabin with a separate bedroom. It also had a tub,shower, and 2 bathrooms. The other 2 ... Read More
This was a family cruise and included 10 members from 10-70. I had a royal suite this time. This was huge. About 3 times as large as a regular cabin with a separate bedroom. It also had a tub,shower, and 2 bathrooms. The other 2 cabins were Celebrity suites.This is way above my pay grade and was a one time thing. I just happened to get a good deal right before the cruise. I will now go back to my balcony room. We had a table for 10 in the Luminae . Special recognition (and please forgive the spelling) to Nicasio and his assistant Khartina. Excellent and I was impressed that they knew all of our names by the second day. Yan the wine steward was also excellent. The food there was good and changed nightly. The location of this restaurant is on deck 3 . I believe and does not have as good of a view as the other specialty restaurants. Although they are both excellent, I think I prefer the food in the Blu a little better. Specialty restaurants. Since my cabin included unlimited specialty restaurants, I treated all of my grand children to a lunch in them. All 3 were great, but the lunches are not as fancy as the dinners. I was impressed that Goezda from Turkey remembered us from a previous cruise. She over sees the specialty restaurants. Our cabin steward was excellent but I can't come up with his name. Sylvia the Michael's club hostess was excellent Embarkation-great. We were escorted to michaels club. However the traffic into the port was horrible. Dis embankment. We walked off Cons-And this is about all cruises. All of the ports have become tourist traps and cover up the beauty of Alaska. I also think the so called "art sales" are detestable Read Less
40 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Just back from our trip to Alaska on the Solstice and I wanted to share our experience here because so many of the posts I read before our trip were helpful to me! Our family of 5 (DH in his 50s, me in my 40s, 2 kids in their early ... Read More
Just back from our trip to Alaska on the Solstice and I wanted to share our experience here because so many of the posts I read before our trip were helpful to me! Our family of 5 (DH in his 50s, me in my 40s, 2 kids in their early 20s and 1 who is 16) sailed from Seattle on June 9. This trip renewed my hope for cruising. Our only previous cruise--several years ago on Royal Caribbean--was such an unpleasant experience I swore I'd never take another one. On that cruise, we were treated rudely at every turn,forced to sit with a family that didn't speak to us for days at meals, and pushed to buy, buy, buy from the minute we boarded to the moment we got off. On the Solstice, none of those issues came into play. We had a fantastic time and I'd go again tomorrow if I could! Here's a summary of the main points: EMBARKATION: Traffic into and out of Seattle's port is slow going at any time during the day because of the narrow road in /out, but even with that we left our hotel at 10:45 and were on the ship by 12:15. It was all fairly painless and efficient. Be sure to book your transportation in advance and to get your carrier to commit to a pick-up time in advance. There were many guests at our hotel who were just realizing over breakfast that the shuttle was already full until 1:00. NOTE for travelers with disabilities: We brought my son's mobility scooter all the way from Florida only to have it break down on our first day in Seattle. I read about Scootaround.com on these boards and called them the afternoon before our embarkation and they were amazing. I rented a scooter over the phone and it was in the cabin when we arrived and we left it there when we departed. It cost $175 for the week and there was no charge to have it delivered directly to the ship. The scooter was a snug fit in the cabin (not an accessible cabin), but we had no issues with getting it through the doors. It was stable and rugged enough to use in all the ports--highly recommended means of mobility if you are able to get on/off the ship without it (wheelchair service was readily available for both) CABIN: See below for description. We booked 2 C1 concierge rooms, but we did not pay extra for them over the cost of balcony rooms. I got the upgrade to a C2 when cabin prices briefly dropped. As many other reviewers have mentioned, I would definitely not pay extra for this category, but it was nice to have the small perks that came with it at no extra cost. Tip: Bring your own binoculars--the ones that come with these rooms are better than nothing, but they're tiny and not good quality. Also bring a power strip and extra hangers! SHIP: It's beautiful! Clean, classy, laid out in a way that is easy to figure out and remember. Our favorite places on board were the Sunset Bar on deck 15 aft (though sometimes it got too smoky for us), the Sky Lounge on deck 14 forward (perfect place to curl up with a book or just look out the window at the beautiful scenery), the Ensemble Bar (deck 5 aft) for late night drinks, and our own balconies! The one shortcoming is the elevators, which seemed quite slow and sometimes got jammed up when we were arriving in or departing from ports. SERVICE: The service on the Solstice was outstanding. Everyone aims to please and they are overall efficient, accommodating, cheerful and kind. There was a push during the first couple days to get guests to upgrade their drink packages, but other than that the sales efforts were mostly unobtrusive. A lot of little things contributed to the sense we had that we were in good hands--the consistent good cheer and helpfulness of our stateroom attendant, the cocktail waitress who learned my name on the first day and always seemed to be around when I needed something, the crew members who were so quick to help guide my son on his scooter on and off the ship at the ports, the bottles of water crew members were sometimes handing out as we disembarked and the hot chocolate they were waiting with when we came back. The only real exception to the rule was the acupuncturist/masseuse my husband encountered in the spa who took multiple phone calls DURING his treatment--the whole appointment was a disaster and we would NOT recommend the spa at all. DINING AND DRINKS: We booked a package that included the classic drink package for the 4 of us who are of age and a soda/water/coffee package for my 16-year-old son. We also received $300 onboard credit per stateroom. I can't say enough about how easy this made things. I am not a big drinker, but it was wonderful to be able to order wine with dinner or a drink at the show or at sailaway with no hassle. It was also great to have that onboard credit. It eliminated any stress of worrying about how much we might spend on the ship. We honestly had everything we wanted (I even converted some of the OBC to slot credit in the casino) and ended up with just a few dollars charged to our credit card in the end. My husband upgraded his drink package to premium, but the classic was fine for the rest of us. It's worth noting that contrary to some of the older reviews I'd read, Celebrity does have the capability now to charge you the difference between the cost of the drink you ordered and the one covered by your package. The only thing I was wanting that wasn't in my package was Bailey's in my coffee, but it turned out to be only a dollar upcharge. There are menus on most of the bars that help you identify which drinks are included in your package, but if you're not sure, ask your bartender--they know. Most mixed drinks are included with the classic package, but if you call your liquor (rather than taking the speed rack booze) you may get an upcharge. We had flex dining and this was a mixed bag. I thought this meant you can eat whenever you like, but that's not exactly true. Everyone wants to eat between 6:30 and 8, so we could only make reservations for before 6 or after 8. That said, when we did show up and agree to wait for a table, we never waited more than about 30 minutes. We were given a beeper and sat in the martini bar, so it was pretty painless. We had a different waiter team almost every night, but they were all friendly and capable. There was a bit of a language problem with a couple of the assistant waiters, but not enough to cause any serious issues. Every dinner menu included a handful of staples that appeared every day (on our cruise they included Caesar salad, French onion soup, sirloin steak, and grilled salmon) as well as a number of items that change each day. My daughter is a vegetarian and did not have any difficulty finding things to eat. The food was good but not great. We had hoped for crab legs (it was Alaska, after all), but they never served them. They did have lobster on the second formal night and it was wonderful. Dress code was obviously flexible. We saw the full range from jeans and polo shirts to ball gowns. Lots of people did go all out for the formal nights, which gave the whole ship a festive feel. We were limited in how much luggage we could squeeze into our car and on the plane, so I opted for a simple black dress for both formal nights and wore it with different sweaters/wraps/jewelry to dress it up. I was not out of place as underdressed or overdressed. We ate most of our lunches and breakfast at the buffet (or took breakfast food from there back to our cabins). The pizza was better than expected and there was always something decent to eat, but it's a buffet, so don't expect gourmet food. If you get a chance, go one day between 4 and 5 for the afternoon tea--they have finger sandwiches and biscuits and cookies and fresh fruit--it's lovely. I wish we'd discovered it earlier in our cruise! Even though there is a ton of variety to choose from, foods are not very well labelled--and the key designed to indicate which dishes were vegetarian was never filled out. So it was a bit of a guessing game. For lunch you can also go to the Mast Grill. They make burgers (including veggie burgers) and hot dogs with different toppings (like sauteed mushrooms and onions) that seemed better than a lot of the buffet fare. We did not go to any of the specialty restaurants, but we did enjoy Cafe al Baccio for coffee and sometimes pastries in the afternoon. If you have a sweet tooth, note that the desserts in the case at this location are included with your cruise fare (though the coffees are not) and many of those desserts are a big step up from the mostly-whipped-cream confections on the buffet! I made a habit of leaving lunch and walking down the stairs to the Cafe's counter to get dessert :) Room service: I love the idea of room service, but in practice it was more hassle than going up to the buffet to make a plate and bringing it back. We ordered room service for 2 breakfasts and one dinner during the trip, and none of the orders was accurate on arrival. They do make pretty good burgers, sandwiches and fries--handy if you happen to have a 16-year-old with a bottomless appetite like we do! They also seemed willing to accommodate requests for items that are not on the menu (I asked for onion soup from the dining room) but it takes extra time. ENTERTAINMENT: The Solstice has a lot going on every day! We went to several of the nightly shows in the theater. The Rock program and Broken Strings were a little cheesy (would it kill them to throw in a little plot between all those songs strung together?), but the singers, dancers and acrobats are pretty talented. The shows typically run under an hour, so if you can easily see the 7 pm show and then make it to the dining room for a meal at 8 or 8:15. The singers' best show of the week was hands down their Thursday afternoon performance of show tunes. It was clear that this was their wheelhouse, whereas the other shows feel somewhat forced--like they're rushing through them and trying too hard to belt out those songs in a hurry. The ship has a few live music acts that play throughout the ship and a full band that accompanies the shows. That band is pretty great, and if you want to see them really doing their thing, check them out at the Ensemble Lounge when they play there late some nights--it's a much more relaxed, improv-type performance and it's obvious they're digging it. There were a couple comedians during the week, but we didn't see them. The Liars Game show with the captain and the cruise director was pretty funny (adults only!). Karaoke was a blast (lots of participants!) the first night they had it, but subdued later in the week. Trivia was frequently crowded--get there early if you want a drink or a chair! The enrichment program on this ship was great. We loved Miss Amanda's talks about the upcoming ports and also Brent Nixon's discussions of some of the wildlife and scenery. The highlight of this program comes on Monday morning when the ship goes up the Tracy Arm (or in our case the Endicott Arm--not a problem for us as it was spectacular) and Mr. Nixon can be heard in the public areas (and in your stateroom if you put the tv to channel 5) pointing out wildlife (we saw mama seals and their pups!), describing how the terrain was formed, and occasionally reading snippets from John Muir's journal or lines of poetry. It starts REALLY early, like around 4 AM, but we were on our balconies from about 4:30 until after 10:00 just mesmerized by the scenery. We may have been on a cruise ship with thousands of other people, but I thought the experience was as magical and personal as if I'd gone in a canoe! Kudos to Celebrity for putting a focus on educational enrichment on this cruise. You can also tune your tv to channel 5 at 10:15 (double check that time!) each morning to hear the captain's daily address to the passengers. He and the other officers also do several events throughout the week in an effort to be accessible to the passengers (including a standing-room-only talk on how the ship was built). PORTS: SEATTLE: We stayed at the Homewood Suites Downtown (where one suite accommodates a family of 5) and were happy with it. It's about a half mile walk to Seattle Center from there (uphill!), where you can go up in the Space Needle, see the Chihuly Museum, or take a duck tour (very fun!). There's also a monorail from there to Westlake Center just a couple blocks from Pike Market. It's $2 per person each way (cash only) and will save you a mile and a half of walking each way. Not a lot of restaurants close to the hotel, though. KETCHIKAN: We did not schedule an excursion for Ketchikan, but we did take a tour we booked from the pier. I don't remember the name, but it was a red and green trolley parked right as you get off the ship. If you want a tour, it might be better to book ahead. Our guide did take us to a spot where we saw dozens of bald eagles (amazing!) so I don't regret going, but he was proof that you can give anyone a microphone and call him a tour guide--not much prepared info and very lacking in details and even accurate facts! Still, it gave us an overview of the town. Our kids went to the lumberjack show and enjoyed it. We just walked around and shopped a bit on Creek Street and near the pier. JUNEAU: This was an incredible day, starting with the trip up the Endicott Arm to see the Dawes Glacier. After that we had time for naps and showers before arriving in Juneau around 1:30. Celebrity's pier is quite a long walk from town and the shuttle that runs back and forth charges $5 per person each way. You have to stand in one line to get shuttle tickets and a separate line to board--ridiculous and inefficient. If you've booked an excursion through Celebrity, though, there's a bus waiting to take you to your trip and you can skip the shuttle from the ship to town. We booked a float plane excursion through the cruise ship. Amazing doesn't begin to cover the views from that plane as we flew over the 80-mile ice field near Juneau. By the time we landed, I'd just run out of words to describe the beautiful things I was seeing. The flight gives you an amazing perspective on it all from above. It cost a small fortune ($229/per person x 5), but I'm so glad we did it. BE SURE TO TAKE A MOTION SICKNESS PILL IF YOU DO THIS EXCURSION AND ARE AT ALL PRONE TO IT! I take Bonine instead of Dramamine--doesn't make me as tired . . . SKAGWAY: This was my favorite port. Skagway is a very small, tidy, adorable town at the base of the mountains. Unlike Juneau, they are there to welcome cruise passengers with transportation down the long pier if you need it. Golf carts zip up and down the pier taking up to 8 people with each pass. There's no charge and we were happy to tip for this service. We booked an excursion with Chilkoot Tours (highly recommend this company and making reservations early). Our guide Jamison was waiting for us right at the end of the pier and drove us up the mountain in a coach bus, stopping several times along the way so we could take pictures and telling us about the history of Skagway. Excellent tour. When we reached the White Pass Summit, he directed us to an assigned car on the historic train (not the last car as mentioned in some other reviews) for the ride down the mountain. The views from the train are breathtaking. Two tips: First, take your motion sickness medicine again because the train rocks and sways from side to side! Second, if you're going downhill, sit on the right side! Most of the views will be out your window. At times the terrain fell away so steeply it felt a bit like a roller coaster rather than a train ride. Terrific port to wrap up 3 days in Alaska that left us exhausted and awed. VICTORIA: We didn't book an excursion in Victoria, but we did walk/scooter into town and back. It's a long walk and it was raining, but we wanted to see the city. I imagine that on a busy, sunny day the inner harbor is gorgeous, but it was kind of gloomy and deserted while we were there. We also walked through Beacon Hill Park, which is beautiful and I'm sure will become even moreso as the weather warms up and more flowers bloom. We saw deer and rabbits, peacocks and turtles just in the 15-20 minutes we were in the park. X-CLUB/KIDS: There were truly passengers of all ages on this cruise, though there were fewer young children than on a Disney or Royal Caribbean ship. I can't speak to the children's program, but my 16-year-old made his way to the XClub after a couple days and found a big group of like-minded kids. XClub activities were mostly loosely organized, but that was perfect for this age group--enough to get them together and let them get comfortable with each other without over-scheduling their days. We frequently saw teens hanging out in the card room on deck 9 from the elevators, too. DISEMBARKATION: This was kind of a mess because of the elevator situation. We finally split up and started getting on UP elevators and riding them to deck 14 and then back down. It became apparent we would never get on together--or in fact at all--if we waited for space in the elevators going down. That was at about 7:20. I don't know if leaving earlier would have helped. We chose to carry our own bags off and were in our pre-arranged shuttle and back at the Homewood Suites by 9 AM. Be warned that if you stay at this hotel and are hoping to get an early check in after disembarking, it's unlikely. They had a long list of guests waiting to check in and even with DH's hhonors gold status, we didn't get a room until after 2:00. We passed a couple hours at the MoPop museum at Seattle Center--interesting exhibits for rock music fans and also for scifi lovers. Thank you to everyone who shares information on this site. Your summaries, trip reviews, and other information were invaluable to me as I planned our vacation! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
OK if someone was to tell you they are going to visit your home town and want you to tell them 5 things to see or do... think about it..........ok now are all 5 things the name of jewelry stores in your town? If not why? On the Solstice ... Read More
OK if someone was to tell you they are going to visit your home town and want you to tell them 5 things to see or do... think about it..........ok now are all 5 things the name of jewelry stores in your town? If not why? On the Solstice their daily guide, map of the town has nothing but jewelry stores they are pimping for, their is noting of historical facts or locations, local sites, just jewelry stores. It has been a while since my last cruise prior to this one, but on my previous cruises once on the ship all you paid for was gambling and alcohol, everything else was no charge. Now I bought a soda card to get sodas at no cost, but a limit of 1 at a time. I requested to have 2 or 3 so I could keep them in my room should I get thirsty during the night, and the reaction I got when I asked for them was shocking. You would have thought I asked for the Crown Jewels, like a diet pepsi was crack cocaine. It seemed like half the onboard activities were centered around selling something, like the art shows selling paintings, occurred several times, art auction, glass blowing show to sell their items. In my previous cruises we had activities for entertainment, I did skeet shooting from the aft of the ship no charge, pool side games no charge, it seemed there was always something to do without being charged to your room card. For such a awesome ship, great rooms, great staff, the potential is there, just stop turning it into a money grabbing barge, if you have too raise the cost then you know from the beginning what it is really going to cost you. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This was my 1st cruise EVER and it happened to be planned around my birthday and my husband and I went with my retired parents. We had rooms next door to each other and veranda staterooms (LOVED having the private balcony). Let me start ... Read More
This was my 1st cruise EVER and it happened to be planned around my birthday and my husband and I went with my retired parents. We had rooms next door to each other and veranda staterooms (LOVED having the private balcony). Let me start by saying that if you get a 'special' invitation to an Art Auction, IGNORE IT and throw it away immediately. They had this 60 pieces within 60 minutes but 2 hours later long past the 60 minutes (supposedly because customers requested more art be auctioned) it was still going and I really felt like I was part of a Time Share presentation. Mind you out of 87 art pieces 'auctioned', 5 actually sold and the rest were a 'pass' said in a low voice and very quickly (because no one wanted this stuff). It was all such a theatrical show though raising bids as if someone was actually bidding when no one was. Supposedly I won an art piece but they wanted $35 for shipping and it was hideous so I said no thanks and refused it. I will never go anywhere near an Art anything again after that horrible experience so consider yourself warned! Now onto the good stuff! The Captain was wonderful, the food was amazing, the views were spectacular and other than the Art crap, we really enjoyed Celebrity. My favorite was the glacier and the 2 360s the Captain did with the ship. We couldn't go to Tracy Arm but the glacier we went to (Dawes Glacier) was absolutely amazing and I have no regrets about it. Even though we enjoyed from our balcony, we couldn't resist the urge to get out of the room and run upstairs to see from the other side as it slowly turned. So many photos of the Dawes Glacier because of how breathtaking it was. This is what I expected, hoped and dreamed an Alaska cruise would produce and I was not disappointed! I must admit we had nothing to compare it to BUT our dinner server Zafir every evening was wonderful always smiling and happy giving us sightseeing tips and where to buy the cheapest T-shirts (HINT: Wait until Skagway to buy your T-shirts should you want them!) We are not drinkers and did NOT buy a drink package and couldn't be happier about it after hearing others complain about it along with reading negative comments here. I actually called ahead of time and learned we were allowed to bring our own sealed packaged water on board with us as carry-on as long as it wasn't the cruise brands so that's exactly what we did instead of paying $3 per bottle of water! We were perfectly happy drinking tap water with ice with every dinner thanks. (what we normally drink anyway). Breakfast and lunch in the Cafe on the 14th floor had other drinks too on tap so there was variety if you tire of water (fruit punch, apple and orange juice and some funky guava mix that was pretty good actually) We had a $50 onboard dining credit so we spent that for 'taste of Alaska' in Tuscon Grill for lunch our 1st full at-sea day which had great views and was very nice but we later learned we could have gotten the same items at the poolside cafe for less $ in less fancy surroundings so I'd suggest that if you are misers and care more about the food vs. the fancy upscale extra pay restaurant! The only tour we did through Celebrity was the Skagway train ride and dog sled tour and it was very enjoyable. Because this tour is so popular, we were warned it sells out so we booked it early and were not disappointed-- we had beautiful sunny clear weather in Skagway so it make this excursion that much more enjoyable. Holding the 3 week old dogsled puppies was fantastic (who doesn't love puppies?) We did the 'lumberjack' show on our own and saved $11 per person this way (its walking distance from the ship anyway in Ketchican). We also did the Mendenhall Glacier tour in Juneau on our own and I believe it was $8 cheaper per person this way as well. Make sure you have extra batteries for your camera (or phone camera if that's your poison) because I did have to swap from taking so much video and photos. My only big complaint about Celebrity was the 2 hours and 10 minutes it took to wait in line before boarding the ship (the embarkation was not smooth or quick) but once aboard, we were able to eat a late lunch in the Cafe on the top floor at 2pm. Leaving meant another hour and half wait in line for the bus to take us back to the airport but at least we were not late for our flight and had time to spare once we were at the airport. A few times in the Cafe for lunch or breakfast there were cold items that were supposed to be warm but with so much variety, I just took something else and didn't let it bother me. The last day breakfast didn't have a favorite staple item I ate every morning (hash browns) so that was disappointing but I guess I should be happy it was only the last morning. The evening shows were entertaining but not exactly the type of shows I would call super spectacular or even off-broadway quality but we were a captive audience and it wasn't so horrible we wanted to leave early either. I just hope you aren't going on this cruise for the cruise show entertainment! Our favorite evenings were the comedian AND the Liars Club should not be missed despite being so late at night because it is well worth attending (just not with the kids as it is Adult content). I know many reviewers here have taken Alaska cruises multiple times but I really do consider this a trip to take once as a bucket list item but now I would actually consider other cruises (perhaps Panama Canal for example). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
Let me start my review by saying I have a special needs grandson and I love animals. There was a dog on board that the owners classified as a service dog. They let everyone pet even the restaurant staff while serving the other guest. The ... Read More
Let me start my review by saying I have a special needs grandson and I love animals. There was a dog on board that the owners classified as a service dog. They let everyone pet even the restaurant staff while serving the other guest. The problem came when the staff didn't wash their hands after. We notice on two different days this occurring with even the restaurant manager doing this the first time with other staff members.We spoke to the hotel manager about it and was assured that it would not happen again. The next day a waiter once again petted the dog and grabbed food and delivered it to people. Third time in we had that waiter and I came down with stomach cramps Needless to say we stopped eating in Bleu. Which was a blessing in disguise because we found a wonderful waiter named Russel. Our room steward was wonderful named Bambang. The captain was the best docking captain we ever had. He was the funniest captain ever. If he retires he can do stand up. There was also a Beatles tribute band that was fabulous. At sea days was pretty bad though with entertainment or something to do and that is with over 20 cruises, Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We originally booked the Hawaii to Vancouver trip, but then decided we didn't want the flight to Hawaii and then home from Vancouver. So we switched to this cruise, so we could fly round trip to Seattle. We went in a day early, ... Read More
We originally booked the Hawaii to Vancouver trip, but then decided we didn't want the flight to Hawaii and then home from Vancouver. So we switched to this cruise, so we could fly round trip to Seattle. We went in a day early, stayed at the Hyatt at Olive & 8 we used Shuttle Express to take us from the airport to Hotel, next day hotel to pier and then pier back to airport - total was $108 for two. Our driver picked us up at 11:15 from the hotel and had us at the pier in 20 minutes, but everyone was directed to the overflow parking lot where we sat for over an hour. Then we were allowed a few cars at a time to go to the drop off point, where we had over an hour going through security and waiting in line to check in. We did not get on the ship until 2:00 and went directly to our Aqua cabin. All personnel were great - except for the service at the bar in the casino, where you could not get served. We ate in Blu and enjoyed every meal. We ate twice in the MDR for lunch and that was good. We had one dinner in Tuscan - excellent. Ketchikan we walked off the ship, did no excursions, Juneau - we did an excursion by our travel agency to Mendenhall Glacier - not impressed after seeing Tracy Arm Fjord Skagway - did Celebrity excursion White Pass train and bus ride back. four hour tour. waste of time and money. should have done the whale watching. Victoria - did not get off the ship -we have been before and didn't want to spend $20 total to take shuttle from ship to downtown. We have done our last 7 cruises with Celebrity, but they do not have itinerary for what we want next, so we will be trying Holland America and then Princess. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was our first cruise to Alaska after a number of Caribbean, Bahamas, Med, etc . This has been on our bucket list for quite some time so we finally went for it! We booked this about a year ago, and maybe 60 days prior to the sailing ... Read More
This was our first cruise to Alaska after a number of Caribbean, Bahamas, Med, etc . This has been on our bucket list for quite some time so we finally went for it! We booked this about a year ago, and maybe 60 days prior to the sailing upgraded from a standard balcony room to Aqua class. We landed in Seattle the day before the cruise and took the Link Light Rail to the Westlake station. We stayed the night before at the Mayflower Inn. The location was outstanding and the hotel was quite nice. We were upgraded for free to a corner suite. We did some sightseeing the day before and the morning of. We decided to try Uber to the port. Mistake number 1. Uber and other private drivers are taken to a staging area, while taxis are sent right up to the port. So much for Seattle being an Uber friendly city. We had our driver leave us and we walked about 2/3 mile by my guess to the terminal. The embarkation process was the worst. San Juan, Barcelona, Bayonne - all smooth and easy compared to Seattle. The lines were horrendous and slow moving. It took us the better part of an hour to get on the ship, and as noted we were in Aqua (and are Elite). This was probably the biggest complaint but by the time we got on the ship, to our room and up to lunch it was all a memory. The cruise itself was amazing. First off, Celebrity had both a Naturalist and a Cultural Historian as guest speakers. They were both excellent - entertaining AND informative. The guest entertainers, especially A Hard Day's Night (Beatle's Tribute band as you have probably guessed). The production shows were hit and miss. The Rock and Roll show was pretty good. The others were a bit bizarre. And Liar's Club as always didn't disappoint. Dining was good. We were well taken care of in Blu for our dinners. The service was efficient mostly but not as personable as we had come to expect. Our biggest complaint was that two of the days breakfast service was really slow. I mean slower than dinner. But the food in general was good in Blue. Oceanview Cafe was hit and miss as always. Mast Grill was quite good. We didn't do specialty restaurants. We really didn't do many of the other activities. Between the ports, the lecturers and entertainers and also relaxing (we are in the process of moving and this came at a really busy time for us!) we just wanted to enjoy the trip. More on the ports will come below. Disembarkation was not too bad. We went through customs quickly. The line for a taxi was pretty long. Both ships in port that day fed one taxi line. But we were at our hotel in Pioneer Square by 9 am. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
My husband and I had tried a Carnival cruise in 2009 and vowed we would never, ever cruise again! However, almost eight years later we decided to give it one more chance. SO GLAD WE DID!!!! We loved Celebrity Solstice and her amazing ... Read More
My husband and I had tried a Carnival cruise in 2009 and vowed we would never, ever cruise again! However, almost eight years later we decided to give it one more chance. SO GLAD WE DID!!!! We loved Celebrity Solstice and her amazing Capt. Tasos. I read over 1600 Cruise Critic reviews before deciding on The Solstice. I must say that I do not know where the negative reviews on the food in the Grand Epernay MDR came from. We had absolutely delicious food each evening and we had breakfast there twice and it was equally delicious. I will try to break down categories (in our opinions): Speciality Dining - MURANO - Absolutely TERRIBLE. Did not like the dark wood paneling, the meals offered and the snobby attitude. Waste of $100 OBCs. TUSCAN GRILLE - Simply FANTASTIC!!! Service was out of this world. We had a table for two beside the window upon our departure from Skagway and were treated to a view of a whale and beautiful sunset. Food was delicious and would highly recommend dining here. OceanView Café - Great! Loved the way The Solstice had different food categories at different stations so you did not have huge lines and everyone kept moving. Plenty of seating and opportunities to meet new people while sharing a table. Room Service - EXCELLENT and arrived exactly when it was supposed to. We used this service for breakfast twice and the food was hot presentation wonderful. I am from the South and they have grits with NO LUMPS and they are smooth and creamy! We did not try the Mast Grill but it was always busy at lunch and afternoons so I am thinking it must have been good! One of our MDR companions said he had a hamburger there and it was great. We met our MDR companions at Michael's Martini Bar one evening before dinner and this is a "must see" to watch the bartender make up 12 or more martinis and hold them on one arm and pour into glasses and somehow each person ends up with the type martini they ordered! Awesome! The onboard presentation we attended were fantastic: The Building of The Solstice - Boring, you say? NOT EVEN! Captain Tasos is great and hilarious. You learned everything about The Solstice's creation while laughing your head off. The Liars Club - A must see!!! Captain Tasos, Cruise Director Damion and another director, Christine, are each given the same word and must convince the audience THEY are telling the real word. The entire Solstice Theater was packed with 1,350 persons and you could probably hear the laughter all over the ship! Brent Nixon - He was awesome! His knowledge of whales, bears and Alaska is mind blowing! So much enthusiasm for his work and it is contagious. He works for National Geographic and is contracted by Celebrity!!! "Miss Amanda" - We saw her historical information on Ketchikan, Skagway and it was wonderful! (She is Brent Nixon's wife!). We watched her info on Victoria on our cabin t.v. The Beatles Review - These four young men were pretty darned good, I thought. Dressed as the real Beatles in their early years with the "mop tops" and suits. Music on The Solstice: Our favorite was the evening so much of the '60's music was played and we stood on one of the decks and looked down onto everyone dancing below in the Grand Atrium. We did not watch any shows with the Celebrity Dancers, but comments ran 50/50 good or so-so. Cannot comment either way. Celebrity honored the military on Memorial Day in the Sky Observatory with champagne and mimosas! The American flag was displayed with flowers on either side of it. Damian, the cruise director and Captain Tasos spoke briefly, and asked for any stories the veterans might want to share. Some stories were VERY MOVING and brought tears to my eyes. Our Cabin - We were on Deck 9 and our cabin attendant, Malcolm was wonderful! He kept it spotless and there was nothing we asked for that was not done. He was awesome. Plenty of room for two 25" suitcases and a 21" suitcase stored underneath the bed, and big Tote bag.in the closet! Our couch was beside the closet; I think if the bed had been there instead---it might have been a tight fit to get to our clothes on the right side of the closet. Enjoyed having a safe in our cabin, but wish it had been placed higher! Lots of storage throughout the cabin; the storage above the bed was greatly appreciated! Bathroom - Great! Even my husband said, "This is a nice bathroom!" Lots of storage cubicles on the right side for toiletries. Liked the fact there was no nasty shower curtain, but a plexi-glass door! (Star Trek looking!) PLENTY of hot water!!! Excellent toiletries in our Concierge class bathroom too. Excellent shower spray too. Room t.v. - Lots of ESPN channels, CNN, Fox, TBS, TNT, On Demand Movies (some free, some not), If you missed some of the Brent Nixon shows or Miss Amanda's shows, you could watch them on your cabin t.v.!!! Capt. Tasos' program on The Solstice was also shown on our t.v. Linens, Robes - Our robes were thick, thick, heavy terry cloth and very warm! Bed linens great and bath towels nice and thick! Balcony - Twice as large as the tiny balcony on Carnival some years ago. Enjoyed it a lot; especially when we saw Dawes Glacier! Captain Tasos - WONDERFUL! He was the absolute star of the cruise. Everyone talked about how funny he was and how they looked forward to his daily PA messages and his "true stories" (always a big whopper!). Very down to earth, friendly captain with his passengers safety always first. We would take another Celebrity cruise in a heartbeat! Thinking about a cruise in the Baltic if The Solstice AND Capt. Tasos do that! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This cruise could not have been better. I know the cruise line had nothing to do with the weather but we had sun shine and beautiful views the whole trip. The staff were as accommodating as they would be pleasant willing to do anything ... Read More
This cruise could not have been better. I know the cruise line had nothing to do with the weather but we had sun shine and beautiful views the whole trip. The staff were as accommodating as they would be pleasant willing to do anything they could for you. The Captain was amazing. We didn't experience any issues even if there were any we didn't notice it. There was a wide variety of food to choose from so no matter what you wanted to eat it was there for you. I loved the Sushi Five restaurant even though it wasn't in my package I splurged and was glad I did. The main dining room's staff and food exceeded our expectations. The Oceanview Buffet loved it every day. Our room person always smiling and answering the numerous questions. Our room a balcony room was comfortable and lovely. The Tracy Arm Fjords & Glacier was one of my personal highlights of the trip. The Captain turning the cruise ship 360 degree's twice so everyone could see the view was amazing. I could not have been happier with this cruise. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Just got back from my 7th cruise; 1st with Celebrity and first to Alaska. Starting off, I, 33, took my parents, 68 and 70, on this cruise to fulfill a dream they've had for 30+ years. They often talked about sailing to Alaska, but ... Read More
Just got back from my 7th cruise; 1st with Celebrity and first to Alaska. Starting off, I, 33, took my parents, 68 and 70, on this cruise to fulfill a dream they've had for 30+ years. They often talked about sailing to Alaska, but something always came up - need new roof, weddings, car expenses, whatever; but after a health scare late last year, I told them, we're going, no matter what. We booked May 26-June2. We live in Virginia Beach, VA and made the plans to travel out to Seattle the day before. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my husband and grade school son could not attend, so some last minute changes, the three of us were in the same cabin, an accessible balcony, 7139. Getting to Seattle was rough- we hit terrible turbulence leaving Norfolk, VA Thursday afternoon, so much so we rerouted our flight over 45 minutes out of the way. We landed in Midway, late of course, and there was a plane at our gate, we waited another 20 minutes, and that was just enough time to have us miss our connecting flight to Seattle. I was a little stressed, but kept a smile up for my parents, as they don't handle stress and change of plans well. We got on the next flight after showing the gate attendants our cruise paperwork. We landed in Seattle at 11pm Pacific time, so 2 am our time, and I went to work for a half day Thursday, so needless to say I was tired. We waited at the airport for nearly an hour waiting for our shuttle to our hotel, Town Place Suites, In Renton. We checked in, my parents had their wheelchair accessible room and I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow in my room. We took Seattle Express Shuttle Company to the port from our hotel. $15pp each way, they were on time and friendly and had great communication with me before the departure day. My google maps app had alerted me that traffic was heavy going to the port - and I didn't pay it much mind. We were picked up at the hotel at 10:30, and went to the port, and got stuck in the worst traffic. We were let off the shuttle around 12:40 and were greeted with confusion and chaos abounding. There were lines everywhere outside the port, people yelling and screaming, and I was shocked at the lack of flow, direction or signage. I accessed the situation, knew what ship we were leaving on (some people in front of us waited 40 minutes in the wrong line, they were sailing on the Freedom of the Seas, who was parked right next to the Solstice) and started that way. We dropped our luggage with the valet - double checked it was going to the Solstice and headed inside. Lines, confusion and disarray proceeded us inside the building as well. Mom is in a wheelchair and I have priority embarkation due to my status with RCI, so we bypassed a good 90 minutes of lines. Even so, we were not onboard our ship until well after 1pm. After speaking with tons of fellow cruisers onboard, we were not alone in our fate at the pier. it was complete chaos and so unorganized. Seattle cruise port - definitely the worst I've ever experienced. Once onboard - breathing a sigh of relief, and head upstairs for lunch. The Oceanview Café (buffet) was very nice. I was impressed with the variety, choices, flow and amount of space. My anxiety was finally starting to wind down as I sipped my first (of many) Peach Bellini. We finished lunch, and the buffet was just starting to get busy, but nothing too terrible, just seats beginning to fill up. We headed to deck 7, room 7139 and we were all pleasantly surprised with how spacious this room was. The accessible cabin was well appointed, plenty of space, and the balcony was great. I had a little bed, that was a chair, and our room steward broke down the chair the first day, and we left it like that all week. It was a single mattress- but still did the job. Everything in the room worked fine, everything looked updated and in well repair. No complaints with the room or location. It was quiet and no wind issues on the balcony. Muster drill was an improvement from RCI - we were in the theater, with the chance to sit down and watch the silly video - think super hero spy movie mixed with information about the muster drill. Sailaway - beautiful sunny day in Seattle - leaving the port was great - we left on time - with some people left behind. We enjoyed exploring the ship - Solstice is amazing, beautiful and an engineering masterpiece. I loved the ship. I jumped in the hot tub before dinner to officially begin my vacation. Dinner - a table for just us - a little disappointed, as we love to meet people and converse over dinner, but not a big deal. We had many laughs and tears together over dinners. Our waiter, Rony was AMAZING! He was great, we say at table 602, near the wine tower in the rear of the dining room on deck 3. The food was great - no complaints - plenty of choices and we all tried new things with mostly great reviews. We had the classic alcohol package for all of us, and we ordered our drinks, but found inconsistencies with bar keeps on what was included on our packages... different bars allowed different cocktails, and others didn't. Still not a big deal - we always found something to drink. "Sunset" was about 9:30pm... pretty cool. We saw whales from the balcony every night. but a bunch this evening was magical, the way the sun was hitting the water, very cool. Brent Nixon did his first of 5 nature talks - it was stellar. He was so passionate and educated about his topics- sampler, bears, humpback whales, orcas and eagles. 1st sea day - I bought a week long pass to the Persian Gardens for $117 after tax and gratuity. I was in the Persian gardens a lot this week. It was my happy place. It opened at 8, and I was there almost everyday at 8. The first sea day it was full at 9. The hot glass show was AWESOME. Just a heads up - they give away at the 1st show only, an object they made on the last weeks cruise. It was so informative and fun to watch. It's a 2 hr long show - come and go as you please, and grab a blanket before you go. Seating gets pretty full as ShowTime approaches. Dining was room service for me for breakfast and the dining room for lunch and dinner - all the food was good, no complaints. Ketchikan was fun - beautiful weather - shorts and t shirts. I saw a bunch of bald eagles from the balcony and seals in the water as well. I booked a float plan flightseeing excursion not through the cruise ship, and it was great. Definitely the best way to see Alaska - every turn was even more beautiful than before. We landed on a lake and were able to get out of the plane - stood on the floats and just listened to the waterfalls. I booked through shoreexcustionsgroup. Highly recommended. The actual town of Ketchikan was really fun - and the shopping is incredible- great prices on jackets (got a reversible embroidered jacket for my husband and son for $19.99 each) We cruised into the Tracy Arm Fjord the morning before Juneau. This was the highlight of my cruise - so beautiful. The mountains drop right into the water. The captain, Captain Tasos was awesome! Of all the cruises I've been on, never has a captain been so interactive, funny and take such pride in his ship. He did such a great job of getting us close to the glacier and into the fjord. He did two 360's so everyone onboard could see the glacier no matter where on the ship they were. Juneau was fun - again, beautiful weather, no shorts, but t shirt and jeans. I booked a whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier excursion through the same shore excursion group. This was a highlight of the trip. We saw so many whales, no breaching, but plenty of tails. So much fun. Dolphin Jet Tours was the name of the actual tour company. I hiked to the Mendenhall glacier by myself, and had plenty of time to see the waterfall and glacier and get back to the tour bus, we were given 70 minutes. It's a 1 mile walk each way, and I am so happy I got out there to see it. Again, highly recommend it. Skagway was our last Alaskan stop. I booked a horseback riding tour on my own, through Alaska shore excursions. The tour was well run and worth the price. The horses were in such great shape (having horses of my own a few years ago). They were healthy, had great looking feet and had shiny coats. The horses were well behaved and well matched with our riding abilities. This was the first day we saw any rain - not terrible , just a little chilly and drizzle. Upon leaving Skagway we cruised through the Inside Passage. I was topside with my normal whale watching crew (people I'd met top side all watching for wildlife) We saw 8-12 whales in the first hour. It was awesome. The photos don't do it justice. I was dressed warm, a few layers with a hat and gloves and I was ok. Celebrity has fleece blankets for onboard use - that was a nice touch. They are available topside in a few sections of the ship. I spent most of my days in the Persain Gardens, topside watching for wildlife, or on the balcony. I didn't spend a lot of time in the public areas - but when I did - they were beautiful. The shops had the normal sales - and the crowds that go with them - one night my mom - with her walker - was nearly toppled over by the hordes trying to get a $20 watch once they opened the sale - we were only trying to get to the Tuscan Grill The Tuscan Grill was wonderful - my travel agency included this for us and wow - it was the best meal we ate all week. The steak was great, the wine paired with our meal was perfect and the salads were just plain yummy. I, and my parents, enjoyed this meal. We saw some dolphins (Dall Porpoises) jumping in the wake of the ship - just magical! Brent Nikon - my favorite Celebrity Life activity. He was so passionate about the topics and fun and funny to listen to. I attended every one of his talks and bought his DVDs. He was great - if I could recommend one thing to attend - it would be his talks. He did presentations in the morning and evenings depending on the day. Victoria was a late port call -we didn't arrive till 5 pm. Since this was our last evening of the cruise :-( I got out, walked around a little and got back onboard to pack. Suitcases out by 10 pm. Disembarkation - very smooth, we had a late flight out of Seattle, so we were scheduled to disembark at 9am. Our group was called at 8:55, found our bags, went through customs and were on our shuttle by 9:10. This was the fastest I've ever made it through customs. I was impressed. Things that stuck out to me - Celebrity Solstice was gorgeous, never felt crowded or cluttered. Each time coming back on board, after security I was greeted with either ice water, hot chocolate, hot cider or hot chicken noodle soup broth - that was a nice touch. The service was great, the rooms were in great shape and larger than I remember on RCI. I can't wait to return to Alaska or Celebrity Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I have cruised on two other cruise lines and decided to try Celebrity this time. Some parts of the experience were impressive and others very disappointing. The embarkation process was smooth, but lengthy. We were not informed of a ... Read More
I have cruised on two other cruise lines and decided to try Celebrity this time. Some parts of the experience were impressive and others very disappointing. The embarkation process was smooth, but lengthy. We were not informed of a specialized embarkation time until two weeks prior to the cruise. As transportation to Seattle was booked far in advance, that left many passengers checking in whenever they arrived rather than at the appointed hour given. This led to long lines. The ship was nice, but not distinguishable from any other cruise ship. The grand atrium is definitely modest compared to other ships. Space appeared to be limited as events occurred in various public areas and bars were often located in the hallway. One difficulty of this is that all passengers would be staring at those participating in a line dancing class or dancing to the DJ at night. We noticed many stores, but none dealing with practical concerns. You could buy 12 different brands of watches, but finding a store that sold a sensible raincoat, poncho or boots (for the rainy northwest weather) or was impossible. Basic sundries like toothpaste and meds were confined to a tiny display in the liquor store. So-any forgotten items could not be replaced. The spa class were in a strange sort of fishbowl with the passengers being able to stare into the heated pool area through the surrounding blue tinted glass. The staff was exceptional. Everyone on board was polite and helpful, usually with smiles on their faces. The port schedule was mostly fine. We were not allowed to sail up the Tracy Arm Fjord (the name of the cruise) which was a bit disappointing. It was totally understandable and appreciated, however, that the captain made this call due to safety concerns about ice in the Tracy Arms Fjord. The stop at Victoria was definitely too short-from 6-11:30 pm. It left little time to do anything substantial. One major complaint upon return to ship -serving chicken broth to returning guests-many of whom may have food allergies or issues. Disappointed in the Juneau excursion. We needed to be tendered in in the pouring rain which rushed the excursion of whale watch/glacier tour. By the point of hiking to the glacier, we were booking it down the paths we were supposed to be exploring and photographing. Dining also had some lows and highs. Most of the meals (with one exception) in the main dining room were good. The Oceanview Cafe and Bar was not so good. The layout was confusing. Some dishes were great, but many simple dishes were awful. Our biggest complaint was at breakfast. There was strange French toast with jelly spread in between slices, rubbery runny scrambled eggs and bland oatmeal. We confined ourselves to hard boiled eggs joking that these could not be messed up. There were ample desserts that mostly looked a lot better than they tasted. The soft serve was a popular option, but you had to wait in line. On other ships, this is truly self serve. Activities on the ship were limited. There was very little to do, The glass show and Behind the Podium speakers were awesome. The guest cultural historian and naturalist were the highlights of all the entertainment aboard. The main nightly productions were just awful. The performers were very talented, but were placed in ridiculous situations in bad costumes. The first show featured music from the past few years and played to an audience mostly of retirement age who had no knowledge of the songs. The second performance with a Mozart slant was the worst show I have ever seen in my life. It was totally nonsensical with paper wigs and smears of white red and black across performers faces as makeup. On that night, every male in my row was asleep. Seemingly at random, an acrobat would perform and wake everyone up. Weird! The third production was supposed to be the greatest hits from the past decades. About eight songs were performed and no one recognized at least two of them. Out of all the greatest hits from the 60's to today, how could they not find a handful of songs that people would recognize? And again-there was random acrobatics and horrible costume choices. So overall, I give the cruise an average rating. Although some parts were average, many were on the extremes of either exceptional or awful. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Went on this cruise as I travelled on the same boat when on the New Zealand Christmas cruise. The boat is well maintained, has good staff, however has a somewhat impersonal feeling and the food in the ocean view buffet is definitely sub ... Read More
Went on this cruise as I travelled on the same boat when on the New Zealand Christmas cruise. The boat is well maintained, has good staff, however has a somewhat impersonal feeling and the food in the ocean view buffet is definitely sub par. The excellent naturalist Brett Nixon gave 4 fabulous talks. His wife, Miss Amanda, the historian is also excellent and gave interesting talks about the ports we were going to. Their Beyond the Podium talks greatly enhanced the cruise for me and if Brett Nixon were going to be onboard I would definitely have a preference towards that ship for future cruises. I booked a 1a cabin, 7286, I was travelling solo. Had previously been in a 2a, cabin 7282 with smaller deck but right out on the hump. 7286 had a much larger deck and also had a deck lounger and table and chair. There is much discussion on cruise critic on the merits of larger decks. I guess if there are two of you and you plan to spend a lot of time on the deck then it's worth the extra money. I've posted a photo of the cabin from shore so you can see the deck I got. However next time I think I'd save my money and even book an obstructed view cabin. I like the central location near lifts and level 7. If the lifts are busy you can take the stairs. Ate mainly at the ocean view buffet. I think you could liken this to flying econmy class. The food on the whole is mediocre. The quality of the food is not there. Tasteless bake beans, unripe tomatoes, eggs with very pale yolks, everything seems to lack flavour. I would put money aside next time to dine half the time in the speciality restaurants. There were lots of Americans and Australians predominantly onboard. I was surprised at how many Australians there were. They must be spending their pension payouts on cruises! Not too many kids - thank goodness. An Australian told me they had booked as there was a half price promotion about 3 months before sailing. So much for booking months ahead. The room attendants keep the ship very well maintained and clean. However there seems to be a lack of middle management around should you want to speak to one. You could go for days without seeing anyone twice. What really made this trip for me and personalized it were the series of four fantastic nature talks by naturalist Brett Nixon. He is so entertaining and he spoke to full houses totally engaging the audience. I'm glad I read good words about him on cruise critic reviews so looked out for his talks. I cannot believe I spoke to some people on board who had not even attended one of his talks!! I would be very interested to know how the park rangers that go on board the Princess cruises measure up against Brett’s talks. We were taken to quite small port towns and usually 3 possibly 4 ships in. Everything is very touristy. Some felt like tourist traps. Just all souvenir shops. And also hard to find s place to eat with so many people in the towns. I think there should have been more cruising around fjords and less going to the towns. Wild life is surprisingly hard to spot, glimpses of whales, only saw 2 eagles and saw no bears! We went up the Endicott arm fjord and saw Dawes glacier as apparently there was too much ice on the Tracy arm. I was somewhat disappointed I didn't see Tracy arm but I guess it couldn't be avoided. Internet was included in my package. It was ok especially at dinner time or early in the morning and late at night, defintely couldn't stream videos! Good in the ports. However on sea days when you really want it it just crapped out completely probably due to overload. I wouldn't have liked to be paying the $229 they want to charge you for the Internet. I did.buy an AT&T prepaid sim for my iPhone in Seattle for $60 and that got me US coverage, 5 gb of data for a month, in ports and also roaming in Canada. I found that quite helpful when in ports as I could look things up. The apple trainer on board held 4 trainings, tips and tricks on the iPad, photos on iOS and iCloud tips. Very good presentations for a $10 charge per session. Entertainment was ok, the Rock City musical was poorly pitched for the average age of the cruiser which I would say was about mid 60-mid 70s. Far too noisy and pop type music. They need more Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller band etc. Lots of retirees and family groups on board. The Whitney Houston tribute show with Ashlie Amber Harris was excellent however. To summarise Brett Nixon the naturalist onboard is the jewel in the crown for Solstice Alaska cruises. He is the point of difference for Celebrity there and greatly enhanced my cruise. He is the only one onboard who personalised the trip for me, he made himself available after his presentations. The captain and crew management are largely invisible and not contactable. Celebrity really need to address that. Also there is absolutely zilch organised for solo travellers. Food quality in the buffet needs improvement, there needs to be more cruising around the fjords, middle management needs to be assigned and visible to your area of the ship. I think I might look to try Oceania or Crystal next time as I’m quite fussy on the food. Read Less
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