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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Quick observations and context: We sailed the Pacific NW cruise from Seattle to Astoria, San Francisco, Victoria & Vancouver. We have previously sailed multiple times on the Summit (and like the ship very much). We found the larger ... Read More
Quick observations and context: We sailed the Pacific NW cruise from Seattle to Astoria, San Francisco, Victoria & Vancouver. We have previously sailed multiple times on the Summit (and like the ship very much). We found the larger size and newer design of the Solstice VERY nice. Decks 4 & 5 (where the $$$ is) flows better than on Summit. We noticed the extra width and felt it was a more luxurious and relaxed experience. We also liked having more entertainment "out" in that area vs tucked away in a lounge. MDR was excellent as was (I can't believe I'm saying this) the buffet. We're not buffet people, but found this to be the first we went to where a) the food was fresh and really good, b) laid out clearly and easy to get what you want without standing in a long line, and c) staff was quick to clean/clear, meaning you could actually get a table. Overall - ship was run very well, clean, and felt uncrowded (I don't think they sold out, probably 90%). We would definitely sail on this class again! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The most enjoyable part of our cruise occurred while on a tour from Skagway Port. We disembarked and found Skagway Tours. Though we hesitated to take the 3+ hour tour up to the Yukon, we are extremely glad we did! We had the best guide ... Read More
The most enjoyable part of our cruise occurred while on a tour from Skagway Port. We disembarked and found Skagway Tours. Though we hesitated to take the 3+ hour tour up to the Yukon, we are extremely glad we did! We had the best guide and driver that anyone could hope for: River. This wonderful woman proved to be informative, considerate, helpful, and kind. She made this trip the highlight of our off-ship exploring. Not only did she entertain us with stories of the region but she also provided an ongoing narrative about the way the mountains, rivers, and lakes were formed and continued to exist. She pointed out animals and things to look for and then, when she would spot one, she would stop the bus and we were able to take many pictures and video of these sights. Our most memorable sight was this absolutely gorgeous black bear. He was just strolling along the roadside munching on tasty grasses and shoots. He seemed to not even notice us but continued to graze while thrilling us with his actions. He finally lumbered off into the brush but we remember saying: "Well, that just made every dollar we spent for this trip worth every penny!!" River even stopped along the road to see if a fellow motorist who appeared to be having car difficulty might need some help. She said that up in this remote region, if someone breaks down, it's common practice for another motorist to stop to see if he can help. Who knows when another vehicle will pass by and the motorist may become stranded there. We were very impressed with River's compassion and fellow feeling for others. River slowly toured us through the town of Skagway explaining how it came to be and how it managed to function that far away from everything. We thoroughly enjoyed her stories and insight. We were very privileged to have somehow chosen to take the Skagway Tours bus with River as our driver/guide. Our experience there could not have been better. We will continue to tell our friends and family about our amazing cruise topped off by this absolutely unbelievable experience with River for as long as we live. We will recommend to everyone that they must take this cruise and experience this tour to the Yukon from Skagway, if at all possible. We are certainly hoping to return on the Solstice to Skagway and perhaps explore even further, if possible, especially if we are privileged to have River as our guide. Our on-board experience far exceeded our dreams. We enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere and generous seating on the upper decks. We were able to view the scenery easily from almost any place on board. Our stateroom had a lovely balcony from which we could sit and watch the ocean anytime we wanted, privately and quietly. We appreciated the entire staff aboard the Solstice. Each staff member greeted us with a kind word and a smile no matter where we encountered him or her. The Ocean View Cafe provided excellent cuisine with a great variety of foods to satisfy all our cravings. The seating was adequate and when the weather permitted, we enjoyed the outdoors seating as well. The wait staff in Blu far exceeded our expectations. Especially Orlando, Wayan, and Budi. Not only did they provide excellent service, but they also provided abundant information about all our dining choices; doing so with smiles, laughs, and wonderful stories. The food proved to be superb! Gormet at least! Every dish we ate was scrumptious. Truly a memorable experience each time we dined. We must praise the Staff aboard the Solstice more than anything else as they are the ones who made the entire cruise so enjoyable for us. Celebrity as hired an excellent staff that is determined to be pleasant, joyful, helpful, and kind no matter what a guest may ask or require. Our Stateroom assistant, Mara, was a joy to interact with each and every day. She was sweet and kind. Always cheerful and smiling. We will always remember her. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and would recommend to everyone wanting the cruise- of-a-lifetime, to take this cruise with Celebrity Solstice to Alaska! No words can adequately describe the scenes and vistas your eyes will barely believe you are seeing! Go! Enjoy! It's worth every dollar spent! Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first time sailing on Celebrity, and having sailed on Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean ships over the last 20 years, we found this to be the best ship we’ve ever been on. We stayed at a hotel the night before the ... Read More
This was our first time sailing on Celebrity, and having sailed on Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean ships over the last 20 years, we found this to be the best ship we’ve ever been on. We stayed at a hotel the night before the cruise and chose to book it through the cruise line. This was worthwhile because our luggage was automatically picked up in the room the morning of the cruise. We had a free shuttle to the ship. Our luggage was brought to our stateroom. It was nice not to have to handle luggage that morning. We were fortunate to have good weather through most of the cruise, and Alaska was beautiful and majestic. • This ship is geared to a middle aged crowd. I would say 80% of those on board were in the 35 to 65 age range. There’s very little for children to do on this ship and there were virtually no kids on board, save a few toddlers and infants. • We liked the design of the ship. Everything just feels like it is convenient and it’s not too big, never seemed too crowded. The buffet on at sea days gets really busy but not as bad as other ships. Restaurants and lounges, the Solarium, theater, and shops are all easy to access. • Outstanding multinational crew. All of the staff on this ship were not just friendly, but efficient, and all seemed as though they were happy to be there and wanted to make everyone’s vacation an enjoyable experience. • The main dining room food was the best we’ve ever had on a cruise ship. I was really surprised at the selections and quality. Prime rib, rack of lamb, short ribs, seafood were excellent. “Could I please have 2 lobster tails?” – no problem sir. The shrimp cocktail was great, could we get 3 more – no problem. Can I have asparagus with my meal instead of broccoli? – no problem. This service is common on cruise ships but especially well executed on Soltice. Great freshly baked breads. And the ship’s still water was delicious, better tasting than bottled water. We had Select (anytime) Dining, and we never had to wait long to be seated even though we never called ahead. We chose a table for 2 each meal, usually close to other conversational and engaging diners. • Buffet - Last year we sailed on the RC Anthem of the Seas. Huge ship. Their buffet was basically prison mess hall quality IMO. The buffet food on Soltice was very, very good. Always seemed fresh and well prepared. Service - almost overstaffed, with crew everywhere helping guests get served and seated. Separate servers bringing drinks from the bar were also very attentive to guests. • Balcony stateroom – We liked the layout with the desk near the slider and the bed closer to the bathroom. Everything was in good order and clean, and the bed was very comfortable. Lighting was adequate, although there should have been more outlets available. • Concierge Class – I felt this was worth the extra cost. You get a preferred location on the ship and priority boarding, with a Concierge greeting us before we even reached the counter at check in, giving us his card and phone nbr to assist us if needed. We had confirmed Select Dining but were set up with late seating in error. Our first night I called the Concierge and he had it corrected. There are some additional small amenities for your cabin (no big deal). However, one really nice perk was on “welcome aboard” day Concierge Class passengers can dine in the main dining room with full table service and a regular menu. This avoids being limited to the ship’s buffet with large crowds of people. • Go Best Package - $630 per couple for the 7 day cruise. I think this was, for us, a good value. You get unlimited internet on the ship for 2 devices (I use my laptop on board). We are both drinkers and this includes the Premium drink pkg. Premium wines and alcohol run $10 to $13 per drink normally. So just 4 drinks each per day plus bottled waters made it worthwhile. You also get pre-paid gratuities and $300 ship board credit applicable for excursions, specialty dining, etc. A summer promo also gave us an additional $300 discount. • Luggage Valet Program – something new for us on a cruise. $25/person. You provide a form to C/S with your flight info 2 days prior to arrival back in port. The night before docking flight boarding passes, flight baggage tags, & shuttle transfers along with your departure priority code are delivered to your cabin. Your check in luggage must be left outside your stateroom the night before as usual, but you don’t see you bags again until your flight lands back home. We left the ship at 8am, got right on a shuttle bus to the airport, through security and straight to our departure gate. When our flight arrived back in Burbank CA our bags were quickly available in the baggage area for us. This whole process had me a bit worried, especially when our reserved flight was cancelled & we had to switch to a new flight, but all went well. A great service. Improvements: • In our opinion the specialty restaurants are not worth the extra cost. We ate at Murano the second night ($100). The service was impeccable and a beautiful room. However, the food in the dining room was so good we declined other specialty choices for the rest of the cruise. If the cost were like cruises of old, say $20 to $30/person, it would have been more inviting. • Celebrity did not send us our cruise documents, which should have come to our e-mail. I called our travel agent right before the cruise to follow up. She forwarded them to me, but by then it was too late to get Express Boarding passes on line. Turned out our embarkation process went very smoothly & quickly without it, but that should have been handled more thoroughly. • Celebrity is not alone in closing their main dining rooms for lunch on in-port days. This means there are no table service venues open other than the extra cost sushi restaurant. In Ketchikan we were off then back on the ship before lunch. It would have been nice to have a full service option. • The day we arrived on board we did not get both pcs of our luggage delivered to our stateroom until about 5pm, which was 30 min after the ship sailed. This was disconcerting. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Seattle to Seattle, cruised with family (2 fifty something couples, 70s grandma and 20s granddaughter, and single 50s), 4 cabins in a row, first cruise for all but two of us. We had 1066, 1068, 1070 and 1072. The only thing I would ... Read More
Seattle to Seattle, cruised with family (2 fifty something couples, 70s grandma and 20s granddaughter, and single 50s), 4 cabins in a row, first cruise for all but two of us. We had 1066, 1068, 1070 and 1072. The only thing I would change is to be one deck lower. The 10th deck on Solstice had these large diagonal support posts for the large overhead awning above the top deck, so although they opened the veranda partitions for us, we didn't really have a seamless veranda between rooms. We did a lot of communicating on the veranda, so having to climb through these posts was not great. We will pay attention to that next time. Otherwise, we were mid-ship, the rooms were nice, had plenty of storage and the bathrooms were large enough for 2 of us. First a BIG thank you to everyone who posts on these boards, I read extensively and felt prepared for my first cruise. Here were the best tips we used: 40# magnet hooks to hang hats, lanyards, fleeces, laundry bags, etc... Next time we will bring 10 per room. Brought thin hangers and put the thick wood ones from the cruise above my side of the bed since I can't reach that cubby anyway. Purchased lanyards with plastic holder prior to cruise - indispensable. I don't care if I look like a tourist - I am one, and it was handy. Used reusable plastic baggage tag holders. Only needed one pair of waterproof tennis shoes as my outdoor shoes for Alaska. Glad I listened to seasoned cruisers on this one. Chose Chilkoot Charters for the Skagway train tour. Loved having an assigned seating time for dinner (6 pm), we enjoyed getting to know our servers and sommelier, it enhanced our experience. We purchased for only $100 each the classic beverage package when booking the cruise (it was part of a promotion) and even though my husband doesn't drink alcohol, he drank sodas, seltzer, bottled water and fancy coffees, all of which were included. I drink alcohol and liked that if I wanted a high end wine or fancy martini, I only had to pay the difference of $3 or so. Also loved the Cafe al Bacio for lattes, which were included in the package. I don't think it would have been worth paying the full price of $55/day (plus service charge). This was a great cruise, we felt pampered the entire time by every single person on staff. Hubby was worried about motion sickness, so he wore the patch and no issues. I used Bonine, and no issues. Excursions, all A+++: Ketchikan: Alaska Coastal Expedition: This was the Zodiac boat tour, purchased through Celebrity. We paid $129 each. Worth every penny, great guide, saw a whale, each of us got to pilot the boat. A little rainy, but they provided excellent rain gear. Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter, walk on glacier, 2 hours 15 minutes: Purchased through Celebrity, we paid $379 each. I waited too long to book, had I booked in January, I would have paid $349 each. It went up to $399 on the ship. We LOVED this excursion, and we were fine with only 20-25 minutes on the Glacier. Great guides, we felt safe. Skagway: White Pass Summit Rail, 3 hours 15 minutes: Purchased through Chilkoot Charters, $119 each. Outstanding decision - smaller buses (we did bus up, train back), out guide Jennie was awesome, knowledgeable and funny. The advantage to the small bus was we got to stop in different places and shorter time getting on and off the bus, easier for my Mom with mobility issues. Plus easy to hear our guide Jennie. Sit on the right side of the train on the way down. Naturalist: Brent Nixon - we went to his Humpback Whale talk, it was informative, but he is not really my style of speaker. I am more of a "give me the facts, no nonsense" person, but I will say that most of the crowd really enjoyed his style. He is extremely knowledgable. Entertainment: The production cast was talented, although the first show's "storyline" (Amade) was a little disjointed. The Rock City show was high energy and fun. Two in our group saw the last day comedian Rich Aronovitch and really enjoyed his show. The musicians around the ship were talented, but often the music wasn't really my cup of tea. No big deal though. Fitness: get to the gym early or late, by about 8 AM or after 12 pm, it was pretty crowded. It was cool to see a whale while on the Elliptical machine! We loved it so much, all 7 of us booked a "placeholder" before leaving for our next family cruise. The ship was lovely, there was a lot of different options for food, we enjoyed the main dining room, and did one lunch at Tuscan grill. I will say the food at the Tuscan Grill did seem to be higher quality than in the main dining room. The service from everyone was top notch. The food in the MDR was, in my opinion, better than the food in the buffet. We enjoyed dressing up for the Evening Chic nights. We did Concierge class, and felt it was worth it to us. We liked having lunch in the main dining room the first day. It was a relaxing way to start. I am not really a buffet person - I like having a table that I don't have to wander around to find. It seemed like the couple of times I went to the buffet, it was crowded and hard to find seating for a group of 4 or more. Our assigned concierge was great and had a reception on the heliport leaving Skagway, which was really special. He also arranged for a wheelchair for my Mom to get off the ship within 5 minutes after Guest Relations told her it would be an hour or so since she didn't have an assigned number. Embarkation: We arrived around 10:30 AM by Uber. Normally in Seattle Uber has to drop off a pretty good distance from the ship, but since my Mom has mobility issues, our driver made sure we got dropped off up close. Someone got our bags immediately, and my Mom was put in a wheelchair and the 3 of us were whisked into the ship in minutes. The rest of our crew went through the Concierge line in minutes and we all got on the ship before 11 AM. Disembarkation: We used the Port Valet service (AMAZING!! -boarding passes given to us on the ship and saw our bags again in San Diego) and had a 12:05 flight out of Seattle. Ship docked by 6 AM and I think people were getting of the ship by 7 am, maybe earlier. We had a latte and then got off the ship and into a cab by 7:30 AM. We were to the airport, through security and at our gate by 8:30 AM. We could have made the 10:15 AM flight. I am afraid to try other cruise lines now, this was such a great experience. I can't stress enough how accommodating and wonderful every single Celebrity staff person was to us the entire cruise. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We had booked stateroom 6236 through AAA Miami Valley in October 2017 for $4123 for both of us. The cabin was a deluxe veranda room on the continental deck in the rear center of the ship on the right side (starboard). We opted for a $262 ... Read More
We had booked stateroom 6236 through AAA Miami Valley in October 2017 for $4123 for both of us. The cabin was a deluxe veranda room on the continental deck in the rear center of the ship on the right side (starboard). We opted for a $262 trip insurance that we didn’t use. We had to pay $500 down and the rest by June 24. We chose the prepaid gratuities (~$200 value) and the classic drink upgrade (~$200 value) packages as our free bonuses and also got a $50 shipboard credit. We could have selected the $249 Wi-Fi package instead of one of those. Excursions were optional and extra cost. Choosing to eat in one of the four specialty restaurants would also be an up charge. Choosing expensive top shelf alcohol or wine would also be n extra charge. We signed up for “Select Dining” vs “Traditional”. Select dining allows you to eat in the main restaurant when you want vs having the set seating times of 6:00 or 8:30 pm. Traditional “set time” seating is best for large parties or if you don’t want to wait during peak dinner hours. On the ship, we chose to purchase the ship WIFI service for one device for the entire cruise for $249. We were able to sign on our phones and iPads, one at a time, with reasonable network speed. After we did the Celebrity on-line check in mid-August (we signed up for a 12:30 check from the 10:30 to 2:30 window), AAA was able to print out our travel documents that included an express check-in receipt and Celebrity luggage tags with our cabin numbers printed on them. We flew out of Columbus, Ohio on Southwest Airlines taking advantage of their two bags fly free policy. Southwest requires you to check in 24 hours prior to boarding to receive a “boarding position”. This is where you will stand in line to get on the plane. There are no assigned seats. I hit the button online exactly 24 hours prior and was only able to get a position 65 back out of 175. On our return flights I got online about 18 hours prior and got 85th of 175. Kathy and I were able to sit together on all the flights although near the back of plane. August 30 in Seattle, Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, Museum of Pop Culture We returned our rental car to the Sea-Tac airport and used Shuttle Express for a ride ($51 two people, reserved for 7am, but you can show up anytime within 24 hours) to our Homewood Suites (208 Western Ave. West) hotel near the Space Needle. We were lucky to be able to check in to our room at 9:00am instead or placing our bags in storage. We walked the one-mile to the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens and Pop Culture Museum. We purchased City Pass ticket bundles for entry into all three places plus the Seattle Aquarium and a Argosy harbor cruise ($89 per person total). You have nine days to use the five admissions so we planned to visit the remaining two when we returned from the cruise. The Space Needle ride to the top required us to trade our tickets for a “time to return” pass. Since it was not very crowded, our time to return was immediate. Great views from the top as well as a glass floor section that slowly rotates around. The Chihuly Gardens were very impressive and well worth visiting if you are into glass sculptures. We had an excellent although expensive lunch at their Café. The Pop Culture museum was right up our alley with sections on fantasy, science fiction, horror and rock and roll. Lots of props and costumes from movies and television. The temporary exhibit was about Marvel comics and movies. August 31 Set sail from Seattle We used the Homewood Suites shuttle ($7 each person) to get to Pier 91 and our cruise ship. We took the 11:30 shuttle and got there around 11:45 with a 12:30 check in reservation (it didn’t seem to matter what time we had signed up for). The shuttle dropped us at the luggage area where the bags were collected in short order. We walked to an entry queue where our express check in and passport was checked, then another queue for airport type security screening, then a really long queue where we were issued our Seapass ID / credit cards. We got on the ship about 1:00. Several workers stopped us on our way into the ship offering the drink package upgrades but they were not pushy about it. Since we already knew the Classic package offered all sodas. frozen drinks, Captain Morgan rum and Jameson Irish Whiskey, we weren’t interested in the upgrade to premium. We did end up paying an extra $2 for a couple of “premium” fancy drinks during the cruise. The premium drink upgrade cost was $12 a day per person and not worth it for us. We were able to get food immediately at the Spa Café on deck 12 (healthy alternatives, tuna salad, salmon salad etc.). The Oceanview Café (buffet) on deck 14 was also open. Being so close to the spa on the pool deck early was a good thing as the spa people were circulating in the area. Kathy was able to book a massage at her choice of time for the next day (all day at sea). The pool bar was open and also the pool / hot tubs if we had thought to keep our suits with us. There was a mandatory muster drill at 3:30, you report to the station number printed on your seapass card and watch a video on life jackets and what to do in an emergency. Our meeting place was in the Grand Epernay restaurant on deck 5. There were many signs directing traffic to the various stations. The briefing didn’t start until everyone had checked in. The select dining option worked well for us. We walked into the Grand Epernay around 8:00pm the first night, gave our names and cabin numbers and were given a table for four within a few minutes. On our first night we were lucky enough to be sat at table 444 with Ramburn and Nadiia as our wait staff. They were a joy to talk with and really made our meals enjoyable. On the following nights we were asked if we wanted the same wait staff and we always requested Ramburn. One night we had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated (prime time around 7:00) but otherwise it was a short wait. September 1 at sea Clear to partly cloudy all day. Caught the sunrise and sunset at sea. Excellent massage for Kathy at the Canyon Ranch Spa ($209) September 2 in Ketchikan Alaska, Rainforest Canopy and Zip Line excursion ($179 each), shopping for a Totem Pole Our day in the rainiest place in Alaska started out in drizzle and overcast skies. It was a short 5-minute walk into Ketchikan from the ship and we had two hours to shop before meeting our excursion bus on the pier. We had some trouble finding our bus as the excursion ticket said “meet at 9:15 on the pier”. The pier was a mile long with three ships and a long line of buses. After walking up and down the pier, we finally found the person to direct us to the correct bus at the kiosk area nearest our ship. We rode the excursion bus through drizzly Ketchikan on the 30-minute trip to the Rainforest Zipline / Wildlife Sanctuary / Totem Park. The driver narrated on the way, making special mention about how Ketchikan was the rainiest city in Alaska with rainfall measured in feet vs inches. After we arrived at the zipline facility and totem park, we were loaded into a track vehicle that took us up the steep muddy road to the start point. At the start building there were real restrooms. We were outfitted with the zipline harnesses, hard hats and gloves and divided into two groups. My wife and I were in Paul and Emma’s group of eight riders. We got some zipline training and proceeded to the first short (35-ft) test ride. Paul went first on each ride and basically caught us. Emma snapped each of us onto the cable and sent us off then came across last acting like a wild woman. Riding the zipline requires you to step off the platform while steadying yourself holding onto a two-handed handle and letting the harness support you. You use one gloved hand to press down on the overhead cable to brake when Paul started yelling “brake” as you approach the end of the ride. There were seven zip lines of various lengths and three suspension bridges to cross. The light misty rain stopped while were zipping and Paul said we were lucky because the wet cables are faster. You can get up to 50 mph on the longest line if you ball up and keep your weight directly under the attach point. I’m 59, don’t like heights and get a little vertigo looking straight down but really enjoyed the rides. I zipped a camera into my jacket and took a few pictures and video from the platforms as we went. We saw a black bear foraging in a stream 100-ft below us. Standing on the 150-ft platforms and having the tree sway slightly was unnerving as was walking across the three narrow (15-in total width) suspension bridges. I’m not sure why Celebrity listed the excursion as “strenuous”. There weren’t any flights of stairs or ladders to climb up or down. Walking the upward portion of the sagging suspension bridges was the only taxing thing, roughly the equivalent of climbing two flights of stairs. Maybe the excitement and adrenalin makes it strenuous. After the last zipline, we repelled down to the ground, turned in our gear and were awarded souvenir medals. We had about 30 minutes until the return bus arrived in which we shopped in the gift shop, purchased our zipline photos (3 at $15 each) and explored the totem displays and animal pens. Rain started falling as we loaded the bus and we drove back in heavy rain. It was our good fortune that the rain stopped by the time we got back to Ketchikan and the rest of the day was sunny and in the 60’s. I’d give the excursion a 5-star rating, the views from the tree tops were spectacular and the rides were exhilarating. Paul and Emma obviously knew / loved their jobs, were great fun and took very good care of us. Later that day back on the ship, Kathy made a glass flower during the Hot Glass Show on the lawn deck 15. The two glass blowers assist volunteers to make flowers, ornaments and other blown items. Your choices start around $60 and are delivered to your cabin after they cool down for two days. You must sign up for a spot and they only work glass while the ship is moving, not while you are in ports. We had clear skies and smooth sea that evening and saw a breath taking sunset and some humpback whales from the Solstice deck on 15. September 3 – Tracy Arm Fjord Catamaran to Dawes Glacier Excursion ($209 each) and Juneau We were up early on a lovely clear morning to have a full breakfast delivered to our room at 6:00am. Each day you can fill out your choices and hang the form on your door the night before. We ate on the balcony as we approached Tracy Arm Fjord. The ship television was broadcasting commentary by the ship naturalist as we entered. Unfortunately, we missed some of the scenery going in as we were assembled and waiting in the Grand Epernay for the catamaran from 7:15 to around 7:45. Once the couple of hundred of us were on board the smaller ship, the Solstice left us behind and proceeded to Juneau. We were able to navigate through the icebergs to within ¼ mile of the Dawes Glacier. The majority of the glacier was a brilliant blue in the sunlight. We saw three calving portions of the glacier hit the water as well as some otters and porpoise in the calm waters. After 45 minutes or so, the catamaran left the glacier area and sailed for two hours back to the Solstice docked in Juneau. During that two hours, we got up close looks at a bus sized iceberg, a couple of glacier in the distance and several waterfalls. There were free hot chocolate, coffee and donut holes available throughout the trip. You could also purchase hamburgers, reindeer dogs ($6) and drinks. I’d also give this excursion a 5-star rating. We don’t know how far the Captain was able to take the Solstice into Tracy Arm Fjord but seeing the glacier up close was worth the extra money. We toured Juneau for a couple of hours but returned to ship for dinner with Ramburn. We didn’t like Juneau as much as Ketchikan, Juneau was much busier and less picturesque. September 4 – Skagway Golden Glass Experience ($199 each) and White Pass Summit Train ($139 each) It was another clear sky day although chilly in the morning when we toured Skagway. Meeting up with D in a well-marked area on the pier for the glass blowing excursion was easy. D was very nice and a pleasure to speak with. We took a short bus ride to the Jewell Glass and Gardens where we met Spenser, the glass instructor. Kathy and I blew a glass ornament, choosing our own colors and design from a large selection. You have the no cost option to add real gold flakes to your globe. The ornament and shipping home were both included with the excursion along with coffee, tea or soft drinks and a plate of pastries. We had time to tour the gift shop and the gardens before returning to the pier. If you like glass blowing, this was a five star excursion due to D and Spenser, but except for the gold flakes, it wasn’t much different than the glass blowing offered on the Solstice. We had been on the fence about signing up for any of the White Pass Summit excursions offered by Celebrity. Train rides up and back were offered along with train one way and bus the other way. At the last minute, we decided to ride the 12:40 train only to the summit and bought tickets around 12:20. This trip takes close to three hours round trip and only stops at the summit long enough for the engine to switch ends then returns, there is no exiting the train. People sitting on the left side of trains swap sides with the right side people on the way down. There are toilets on each train car. They sell a snack box as well as souvenir hats / videos. Several trains run on the same line and some continue to the next stop for people to exit and take a road vehicle. The ride was interesting with some great views but a little too long. I’d give this version of the excursion 4 stars. Frontier Excursions, an independent company, offers an excursion that is train one way and a SUV ride the other with stops for photos and wildlife viewing that is a little less expensive. We would have taken that versions but it wasn’t offered the day we were in Skagway. After the train ride, we only had about 90 minutes to get on a shuttle ($2 each) into town, shop and return. September 5 – at sea The return day at sea was not in the inside passage, so there wasn’t any land close to the ship. We used the day to rest up, watching a couple of the free recent release movies in our cabin and eating all three meals in the Grand Empery restaurant. September 6 at sea and Victoria BC Canada, Butchart Gardens Chinese Lantern Excursion ($89 each) It was another sunny day when we arrived in Victoria about 5:30pm. We walked though the customs building to a well-marked area with all the different excursion buses. No one checked our passports. It was a 45-minute bus ride to the Butchart Gardens, the bus driver gave us narrative on the way (and the way back). We were given our garden admission ticket and a Chinese lantern as we left the bus. We had about 2 and ½ hours to tour the gardens. We chose to eat a sandwich when we arrived. In hindsight we should have eaten on the ship and left more daylight time to tour the gardens. The Butchart Garden were spectacular. We had wondered if things would be in bloom in late summer, but we were not disappointed. A 5-star excursion for us as flower fans. The Chinese lantern part was a complete waste of time, not giving enough light to help see and turned out to be just something we had to carry around with us. During the last hour, things were getting pretty dark. We had to skip the Japanese garden section because it was too dark to appreciate. We made sure we had 45 minutes for the gift shop. The driver dropped us back at the pier and again we passed through the customs building without showing anyone our passports. We had filled out custom forms on the ship two days earlier so maybe filing those was enough. September 7 - Disembark in Seattle, Seattle Aquarium, Harbor Cruise We chose to self-embark in Seattle. This option required us to exit the ship before 7:15am and carry our own luggage with us. Our other choice would have us meet up with our luggage at the time and place designated by our cabin (around 8:20 at the theatre deck 5). We got off the ship without much waiting. I had scheduled a Shuttle Express ride ($18 each) to our Hampton Inn hotel (18850 28TH Ave South) in the SEATAC airport area (again 7:00 reservation but show up within 24 hours). We had a 15 minute wait at the very end the pier for our Shuttle Express after we checked in. At the Hampton Inn, we were lucky enough to be able to check into our room at 09:00 instead of leaving our bags in storage. We used the hotel shuttle ($5 tip each) to get to the Angle Lake light rail station. For $6 each we purchased a round trip ride to the West Lake downtown stop near the Seattle Aquarium. The ride took about 30 minutes with 12 stops along the way. It was a short three block walk to the aquarium. We used our City pass tickets for admission. The Aquarium was worth touring especially since we arrived just in time to see the 11:40 Sea Otter feeding. Afterward we used our last city pass ticket to reserve passage on the 12:40 Argosy harbor cruise leaving from the next pier. While waiting, we had lunch at The Fisherman near the giant Ferris wheel that’s on the pier between the aquarium pier and Argosy harbor tour pier. The harbor tour was interesting but not spectacular. We saw the city skyline, a close up view of a sea lion, a navy dry dock and the giant cranes loading 40-ft steel containers. A good dinner at Dave’s Diner within walking distance of the hotel wrapped up our day. September 8 – Fly home We used the Hampton Inn shuttle ($7 each) to get the airport. We were lucky enough to get TSA pre-check and avoided a really long security line. Overall Comments We would definitely recommend the Celebrity Solstice for the inside passage Alaska Cruise. The ship was clean, well maintained and the crew were friendly and helpful. They went to great length to encourage people to wash or sanitize their hands making us feel better about not catching something. Our cabin steward took good care of us without being any bother. Our room was smallish but comfortable with the two beds pushed together to make a queen-size bed. We were able to unpack four suitcases worth of stuff without too much trouble, storing our empty suitcases under our beds. The bathroom was a little cramped but worked well enough. The shower was good with plenty of hot water. We didn’t notice noise from our neighbors much, just some loud talking on the balcony on the first day. The balcony was great. We noticed almost all their cabins have balconies that have two chairs and a table. Our Grand Epernay wait staff of Ramburn and Nadiia was the stand out highlight of our on-ship experiences. We got to try many wonderful foods from a wide variety of choices and always looked forward to the meals. I really don’t know why people would want to pay more for the specialty restaurants. We didn’t sample much of the entertainment options nightly. We attended the port shopping show (mostly advertisement for jewelry shops) on the first day at sea and saw a pretty good comedian on the last day. The variety acts and vocalists didn’t interest us nor did the lounge acts, we spent most of our spare time catching up with our brother and his wife. Having a selection of a dozen recent movie selection on the TV was nice. There were also even more recent movie selections for a $16 charge. The casino was a good size with a good selection of slot machines and table games. I gambled a little most nights and ended up taking home some of their money. The relaxed dress code for chic (formal) night suited us well as we didn’t care to dress up. We posed for a few professional photos and ended up buying three for $20 each (digital download) Spending the day before and the day after in downtown Seattle was really worthwhile for us. It eliminated the stress of missing the cruise or our flight home. The City Pass tickets saved us about 50% on entry costs since we used all five tickets. We were able to avoid driving and parking costs in Seattle by selecting well-located hotels and using the Seattle light rail system. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We take a cruise to Alaska about every other year to celebrate our anniversary. We have cruised Celebrity almost exclusively. We love the crew and the Solstice is our favorite ship. Ever since we discovered Aqua Class we book it just ... Read More
We take a cruise to Alaska about every other year to celebrate our anniversary. We have cruised Celebrity almost exclusively. We love the crew and the Solstice is our favorite ship. Ever since we discovered Aqua Class we book it just for Blu. The food is excellent and the staff is remarkable. The pace is unhurried and you can eat whenever you want. And it's quiet. You can carry on a conversation with the people around you. We drove to the pier this time in our car. The lot was very close to the pier and the shuttle bus was there right away. The drivers were very friendly and helpful with those heavy suitcases we all seem to bring on a cruise. Disembarkation was so easy without worrying about transfers and planes. Celebrity has the best naturalist on board. We have cruised several times with Brent Nixon and look forward to his presentations each time. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Review of Celebrity Solstise Seattle/Ketchikan AK/Juneau AK/Skagway AK/Victoria BC/Seattle August 24, 2018 Day One – Seattle. Arrived on the dock at 9:45 and we were sipping bubbly onboard by 10:15. Very efficient. As we were in ... Read More
Review of Celebrity Solstise Seattle/Ketchikan AK/Juneau AK/Skagway AK/Victoria BC/Seattle August 24, 2018 Day One – Seattle. Arrived on the dock at 9:45 and we were sipping bubbly onboard by 10:15. Very efficient. As we were in a Concierge Class cabin, we had lunch in the Main Dining Room, the Grand Epernay. The menu was limited, but quite varied considering how few selections there were. Got to our cabin at about 1:15. As others have commented, we were quite disappointed with the storage. The closet is no more than two feet from the bed which means only one person at a time can be in it. The nice wide drawers of the M class are replaced by much smaller drawers in the dresser. The storage over the bed might be fine for six+ footers, but we are not tall enough to effectively use it. We met Davian, our Cabin Steward and he did a marvelous job all week long. I found one of our ‘amenities’, the foot rests to be in the way on such a small balcony. Canapes were nice and delivered each afternoon. We had seen the comedian, Fred, Klett, about two years earlier on the Infinity and we anticipated his show. He did not disappoint. The audience was in stitches and not a hint of profanity. Yes, it can be done. We had late fixed seating and we could not have been happier than we were with Romeo, Elvin and the Sommelier Jelena. They were all fabulous the entire week. A stop at the Martini Bar where they bent over backwards to find my favorite Scotch then off to bed. Day Two – at sea. We ordered coffee and toast from room service. We got the coffee, butter and jam but no toast. Where they expected us to put the butter and jelly – who knows. The delivery person had our order form with him and the toast was, in fact, listed on the form. It arrived about ten minutes later. At breakfast ran into a Brother Mason and we and our wives had a great time talking. We went down to Guest Services to order a robe to replace my wife’s, which had worn out over the years. This never got delivered until we went back down again on the last full day where nobody seemed to know it had been ordered. We picked it up then. ‘Celebrity Chic’ night brought out most women dressed up and very few men following. I wore my full formal kilt and got many comments and every photographer wanting to take our pictures. The first large show was, as were all three of them, a disappointment for us and many others we spoke with. The choreography seemed contrived and virtually all the singing was screamed to us. Very nice meal in the MDR, my Scotch from the Martini Bar and off to bed. Day Three – Ketchikan, AK. I had a fabulous day visiting a cousin I had not seen in over 30 years under sunny skies and low 70’s. An all around perfect day. The show was a ‘Journey’ tribute band. Not our style, but extremely well done. With their lead, they could have easily also done the Stones. Day Four – Tracy Arm Fjord to see the glacier, then off to Juneau, AK. The trip up the fjord was fabulous, dodging small bergs as we went. About ½ mile from the glacier, the Captain did the ‘cruise ship pirouette’ and we went to Juneau. We had a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier, which we really could not see due to fog and rain. We only had one hour which left us barely time to walk to the view, take pictures of the fog, walk back to the Visitor’s Center for a bathroom break and back onto the bus for whale watching. These people really know what they are doing and we saw several. I was lucky enough to get some really good pictures. Back to the ship just in time for the ‘singers and dancers’ and our late seating. Due to many late tour arrivals, the MDR staff was not really set up until people actually arrived, then everything went as smoothly and pleasantly as ever. Day Five – Skagway, AK. Ugly weather. We had (of course) a walking tour of Skagway which included a tour of the former brothel upstairs in the Red Onion Saloon. Very enjoyable and would have been better had we not gotten soaked in spite of umbrellas. Pleasant – and not too expensive(!) – lunch in the Red Onion, a little shopping, then the shuttle back to the ship. The best show of the cruise was a former member of the Lettermen, Mark Preston. He had the audience in the palm of his hand within 30 seconds of hitting the stage and we were all on our feet screaming at the end. Day Six – At sea and ‘Celebrity Chic’. We spent a bit of time in the Casino playing Video Poker and actually quit while ahead a bit. Absolutely LOVE the smoke-free casino! Booked a future cruise for Fall, 2019. Another production number, ‘Rock City’. Loud and louder with screaming vocals. Day Seven – Victoria, BC with 5:30 arrival. We stayed on the ship rather than spending $13.00 (!) for the shuttle to/from the city. Afternoon show with a pretty good comedian. MDR was open seating due to people off the ship. Got seated with our Assistant Waiter, Elvin in charge. Our Chief Waiter was in town. Elvin just as good as Romeo but really missed our Sommelier, Jelena. Friday Morning – We got kicked off the ship. Really though, the disembark was the smoothest we have ever encountered. Again, being Concierge Class, we got to sit in the ‘Silk’ café where we had coffee, tea, juice, sweet rolls, etc. All in all, a great cruise with horrid weather for much of it and too short for us. Our next one will be 14 nights. Please do something, anything with those production numbers. They were, in our opinion and all we spoke with, the worst we have encountered in seven cruises. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Had a wonderful time. Our servers st dinner Gilmar and Dan were out of this world. They were always there to get us what we needed, they were nice and helpful in every way. Mari our cabin attendant on 6 was marvelous . So attentive to ... Read More
Had a wonderful time. Our servers st dinner Gilmar and Dan were out of this world. They were always there to get us what we needed, they were nice and helpful in every way. Mari our cabin attendant on 6 was marvelous . So attentive to us. My husband and I. All of the waiters at Martini bar s d others were good . Great cruise directors. All of the staff were very accommodating . The food and dining were great. Enjoyed meeting the captain and the other crew members . Of course photographers. Were always there to make photos. Great photographer on the 15 floor . We bought the good pictures . I cannot day enough good things snout out dinner servrrs Gilmar and Dan on 3 floor dining. . They were superb. I only wished for my family members. I would have liked for my grandchildren to have gone on this cruise to Alaska. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My husband and I traveled with our mid-20 year old sons and it was the first major cruise for all of us. Quick background if it helps (I scoured this site prior to leaving so it did help to have some basis for a review)): we are all in ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with our mid-20 year old sons and it was the first major cruise for all of us. Quick background if it helps (I scoured this site prior to leaving so it did help to have some basis for a review)): we are all in the hospitality industry and have really high standards in all areas of the business. In addition we are lifelong boaters and currently own 3 boats. For those reasons I was very nervous trying a cruise because we all felt the claustrophobic nature would be too much for what we like. But we all wanted to see Alaska and this seemed like the best way to go. A negative was the embarkation process. It almost had an Ellis Island feeling to it-one long line snaking around the room, like waiting for Space Mountain. It made us all a little nervous because we worried that it was the way the whole week would be. We were in balcony cabins so there was only one boarding area for non-upgraded passengers. We felt that it could be remedied with staggered times/alphabetical lines/refreshments etc. But once we got on the ship, our luggage had already arrived to our room and we headed to the top deck to watch us leave Seattle. I expected a Love Boat confetti parade but none occurred. We just left deftly from the shore and were on our way. ROOMS were spacious and our stewards were wonderful-very stealth in their care. There was plenty of room under the bed for our luggage and over for any items. The closet had a safe and there was a fridge with space for extra food/water. The bathroom was fine-you may want to bring your own shampoo/conditioner but it was provided. The balcony was lovely to sit outside when it was warm or bundle up and go out when it was cool. The room was not luxury really but was always very clean and comfortable. Frankly you shouldn't spend much time there because there is so much going on. FOOD/BEVERAGE were great. We did take the Classic Bev package as one of our two perks (the other being a $150 ship credit but we should have taken the pre-paid gratuities as it worked out to be more). They did ask a few times if we wanted the package but it wasn't too intrusive. It was worth every cent as it included all boxed waters, most liquor/wine/beer and incredible frozen drinks. It definitely paid for itself and was a great perk. We paid for a few martini upgrades but that was it. The servers and bartenders were always so attentive and polite. What a great staff. We opted to only dine in the main areas and were normally very pleased although we did start to refer to the top floor as the Zombie Cafe. The staff did a stellar job in replenishing and cleaning. But the passengers rarely looked out for each other and were only concerned at making sure they filled their plates. Very odd and scary thinking that we could potentially "share" lifeboats with these people. We tried to avoid it by using the main dining room and the burger bar by the pool. When we did go it was at "off" times as best as we could but it was always busy. EXCURSIONS: There were many options, we pre-booked 3 but one was cancelled and they rebooked us in a different one. It wasn't of interest so they switched us with no trouble. We ended up doing a sea plane in Ketchikan, the dog sledding in Juneau and glacier helicopter in Skagway. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to three shows: The Beatles salute, The Journey cover band and the regular current hits show. The times could be adjusted as they either felt too early or too late to do dinner properly but it felt sad that these performers often had many empty seats. It was great to just go and grab whatever seat you wanted and bring a drink in with you. Really nice theater. CASINO: We aren't gamblers per se but went to the blackjack table once and played a slot machine. We lost a total of $10 so not too bad. It didn't seem very busy for the most part so there was always room to play. RETAIL: Don't assume you'll find much in the way of anything you'll want to buy. The less expensive shops were mainly kitschy Alaska shirts/gear which are also everywhere at the ports. The pricier shops had very high end jewelry and not much else. The Tiffany's was fun to look through but do many people really want a $17K bracelet unless they've done well in the casino? There was no sundries type shop for forgotten items either that I could find. The spa shop was normally locked. SPA: The masseuses who did the massages were wonderful. The experience left a lot of opportunity. The location is at the front of the ship and is beautiful. There is a lounge there to wait but the reception team didn't do the "normal" arrival. We were shown the lounge but I had to ask my masseuse for a robe once I was in the service room. I wanted to take a shower afterwards. It was very clean but the only products in the bathroom were a combo shampoo/conditioner and shower gel. There was one hair dryer in the whole ladies room and no product, hair spray, etc. This surprised me as the prices were equivalent or more to an upscale spa. DISEMBARKING: At ports it went very quickly (we didn't even need our passport to get in and out of Canada). Final day a lot of people left early. We chose to carry our own bags and had breakfast in the main (non-zombie) dining room prior to leaving. It took only a few minutes. There are a lot of taxis available. We had ordered an Uber but didn't see the shuttle to the uber area so it was a fairly long walk with luggage. The cost for a large uber to the airport was $70. Would be worth finding out how much a cab would've been. Overall the entire cruise is one we would do all over again. Anyone who complains about it probably complains on all of their vacations. Celebrity isn't perfect but their team does their best to make sure that you have a great trip! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was a great cruise and Captain Tasos was fantastic! He was personable, entertaining, and informative. We would take another cruise with Celebrity just to sail with him again. The ship is just the right size for us. Smaller ships ... Read More
This was a great cruise and Captain Tasos was fantastic! He was personable, entertaining, and informative. We would take another cruise with Celebrity just to sail with him again. The ship is just the right size for us. Smaller ships can get into smaller ports and waterways, but they lack the selection of entertainment and food. The mega ships are just too large and impersonal. We choose this cruise because it was an inside passage cruise and it left from and retuned to Seattle. This was our first cruise in many years and we were very happy with the experience. We had a balcony cabin on the port side that was in great condition and we were well taken care of by our room stewards. If we do this cruise again I'll book a starboard cabin because I found the view to be better on the starboard side. The food was great in the main dining room and the buffet. We never tried any of the specialty restaurants because the food and service was so good in the buffet and main dining room. The entertainment was very good and the activity lectures were outstanding. Brent Nixon, who gave the wildlife lectures, was the best I've ever seen, and Mary Amanda who gave the port historical presentations was also outstanding. We enjoyed this trip so much my wife wanted to go back as soon as we got home! Read Less
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