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18 Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to Australia & New Zealand

This is the second time we have travelled on Celebrity Solstice, and again, we had a faultless experience. We travelled with another couple, so we experienced both the suite and a balcony cabin. Accommodation: The balcony cabin ... Read More
This is the second time we have travelled on Celebrity Solstice, and again, we had a faultless experience. We travelled with another couple, so we experienced both the suite and a balcony cabin. Accommodation: The balcony cabin was big enough, with enough storage space for everything, the bathroom was compact but storage space was good. Everything in the cabin was pristinely clean and well maintained. The suite was excellent, spacious, well maintained and better than the suites we stayed in on 2 other cruise lines last year. Food: We could not fault any of the food, we ate in the buffet and found there to be an excellent selection of various cuisines. We went there a few times as there was a great variety, and we enjoyed everything we ate. Breakfast can be very busy, also lunch, choose your times and there won't be an issue. Again, compared to the other 2 cruise lines we travelled with last year there was no comparison, the other cruise line buffets we ate at were dreadful and we simply couldn't eat there. Interesting to read other reviews where people complain of the food on the Solstice, not sure if they were even on the same ship. Sushi on five was great, we tried a lot of things on the menu and really enjoyed everything we ate. The ramen noodles were the only thing that we found not to be outstanding, however the broth was delicious. Murano is our favourite, and we went there twice, the food is excellent, the ambience and the wait staff there are also excellent. Petit Chef is a new concept which you really have to experience to understand it. It is a set menu with the whole table being animated, and an interactive dinner experience. We all loved it and were pleased we went. Food was also excellent. Crew: Everyone on board was fantastic, nothing was a problem and everyone we encountered was professional, friendly and efficient. Shore excursions: We did our own thing; however, the tendering was extremely efficient and again we were very impressed. The ship: Beautifully maintained, everything is kept looking good, we were surprised as other reviews differed in this respect. Not sure what people are expecting, but we found it excellent. Our friends had not been on a cruise before and loved everything about the ship, service, food etc. We were discussing on our last night what faults we could find, and there were none. There are loads of places to hang out, we spent a lot of our time on the lawn club. Yes, this is real grass on the top deck, lovely to sit on, watch movies, have a drink and just relax. The shows we went to were great, the comedian, the illusionist and the show on the last night was fantastic. This is a well-oiled machine, and anyone with complaints I would seriously wonder what the issue is. We did meet one guy on the cruise who didn't enjoy it, because another passenger didn't greet him in the lift. Wondering if people bring their own issues with them and take it out on the cruise line. Comparing the experience we had with some of the reviews, doesn't corelate at all. As previous, we travelled with 2 other cruise lines last year, been on 3 Celebrity cruises, and would not cruise again with anyone else, as nothing is comparable. The food, the suites, the service, everything is outstanding with Celebrity and the Solstice is a beautiful ship. So will we go again? Absolutely! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We sailed onboard the Solstice to New Zealand form Sydney. Wow what a cruise! It really is for all ages and plenty of things to do for everyone. On the ship itself there was no fault I found, the staff were excellent and the restaurants ... Read More
We sailed onboard the Solstice to New Zealand form Sydney. Wow what a cruise! It really is for all ages and plenty of things to do for everyone. On the ship itself there was no fault I found, the staff were excellent and the restaurants were amazing. We had Christmas Dinner at Tuscan Grille and NYE dinner at Murano. If you get a chance, I would highly suggest going to the specialty restaurants, they were really top-notch quality. Our cabin was a Ocean-View stateroom, however I bid for a Balcony Stateroom and received the upgrade. Travelling with my family, we got to explore such beautiful sights of New Zealand, and we thoroughly enjoyed Celebrity. The entertainment was phenomenal, being a dancer for 17 years, I loved the shows in the theatre, and I would highly recommend anyone to go see, even if you are not one to go to a musical, anyone will love it. I guarantee it! We did only one shore excursion which was the Dunedin Castle Experience where we ate Haggis and drank Whisky - Very entertaining, you have to go, its a must! Well done Celebrity for the amazing trip of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We had the pleasure of taking our fourth cruise on the Celebrity Solstice in Dec 2019; on this occasion Syd-Syd via Noumea and Vanuatu for 9 nights. Sea conditions were superb, didn’t feel like we were at sea. Good for most, some might ... Read More
We had the pleasure of taking our fourth cruise on the Celebrity Solstice in Dec 2019; on this occasion Syd-Syd via Noumea and Vanuatu for 9 nights. Sea conditions were superb, didn’t feel like we were at sea. Good for most, some might have preferred some ‘rock-n-roll’! Without doubt we would recommend this ship to any friend without children, thank God. My comments are however novel more than serious: 1. Breakfast: One should NEVER go to a buffet breakfast on your own. I have experienced this before, but this was ridiculous. My wife wisely loves to have breakfast served to her on our veranda, whilst watching the water ripple past. Just beautiful. My favoured table is up-top, outside in the shade watching the wake disappear over the horizon as I tuck into an American breakfast, magnificent. No forgotten salt or pepper, or hot milk or anything ~ just go and help yourself. On this occasion, I was a wake up to the old tricks, so on my way through to the rear, I picked up my cutlery wrap serviette, cereals, milk, toppings and juice but I couldn’t manage carrying my coffee (I didn’t get an offer to help from any waiter). I found a table in the shade and put it all down together with my baseball cap for ‘protection’ against someone claiming the table as their own. Coffee service is no longer available as all is self-serve, so off I went to get coffee. On my return, the only thing left on my table was my hat! I hadn’t even touched my food or opened the cutlery wrap (who would have thought). I looked around for the attendant without being able to ID the culprit. I asked “what happened” to a bunch of waiters in the galley area, and all I got was blank looks. So, I put my coffee down beside my hat and off I went to renew my cereal choices and a new cutlery wrap. When I returned, you guessed it, all I found was my hat, AGAIN! This time I really blew my lid and people were wondering what on earth was going on. I complained to the group of waiters, looking for the offender, but all I got was a sheepish lady waiter trying to pacify me, asking me to calm down. She tried to explain that their supervisor liked them to be right on top of clearing unused tables. Are you kidding? So, I asked her “what do I have to do to get my food together in one piece, so I can eat it”. I suggested putting the chair up on the table with my food on top and the shirt off my back covering same, but she was not amused. I then told her that I will try again, and NO ONE is to clear this table until I SAY SO! I must have made an impression for that’s how it happened. Later, other helpful travellers with whom I shared this comedy suggested putting my cap over the food, or leaning the chair across the table, but this doesn’t work on floor boards as it slides off, or someone will surely trip over the foot of the chair. Nope, I suggest common sense training that says if a table contains untouched food, cutlery and a hat besides, it STRONGLY suggests that the owner of same WILL return, or he’s jumped overboard in FRUSTRATION. 2. Noise: Apart from your own cabin, it is virtually impossible on this ship to sit anywhere in quiet peace to read or think. The “library” is ludicrously in the central atrium that booms up all sorts of entertainment noise from the lowest deck to the top deck. Once I hid in the Sky Lounge well away from the atrium, where there are comfortable chairs and a lovely view forward, high up and majestic. With 30 mins, a group came to set up for a dance lesson. That was the end of that. Disappointing. Is there a cigar lounge anywhere that may suit? 3. Talking about smoking cigars, there is a location on deck 15 rear, where one can enjoy a quiet smoke. It is Port side, rear with its own bar. I always go there after the show to puff on a cigar (when wind direction allows, otherwise it’s simply a waste of a good cigar), in quiet contemplation of the sky drifting past, and solving the crisis of the world. BUT the recorded music is rap or bee-bop or rock knows what. Not at all conducive to a quiet puff of anything. It should be peaceful, soft, ‘go to sleep’ music for goodness sake, can’t anyone tune in such music to an isolated specific speaker? I cant think of anyone that smokes a cigar at a rock-n-roll venue. Some well-meaning soul pointed out what a filthy habit it was, to which I agreed, but something will kill us all one day, and reminded them that they had 99.8% of the ship, whereas we just wanted this tiny corner for our private indulgence. Happy sailing everyone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our second cruise on Celebrity Solstice and found it most enjoyable with no complaints bar two which I will go into later. Embarkation a breeze. Just board when you want, Dont follow their advisory boarding times. Their a pain if ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Celebrity Solstice and found it most enjoyable with no complaints bar two which I will go into later. Embarkation a breeze. Just board when you want, Dont follow their advisory boarding times. Their a pain if you get a late time. They dont hassle if you turn up early. Everyone was very pleasant. Complaing ONE/ Boat drill was a real pain. They made us stand in a small atrium with virtually no seating so everybody had to stand for 20 minutes so of course we couldnt see the demonstration talk come video. I eventually had to sit down on the floor due to aching back. Their were over 2800 passengers and for some reason lots of asians, americans, canadians british etc.Lots of pushing for drinks package for first couple of days, Got a bit annoying Our cabin 2507 was balcony and very spacious. Bed was great. Good sized bathroom, No complaints there. Cabin steward Rhonda was very nice and polite. Cabin electricity suitable for Aussie appliances but you will need American or British electrical plug adaptor. Ship is huge but easily naviable. Plenty of elevators. Lots of public lounges and other spaces to find quite spot for some quiet time. Ship is gears to mature passengers, not a lot for kids and hardly any at all/ Numerous places to eat. Their is set dinning or select dinning. We choose select dinning. You have to ring them to book time. You can choose size of table from two to eight people. Waiters effecient and ;polite. Their are a number of PAY restaurants. We tried the Tuscan grill the first night and not greatly impressed. We found the main dining room food just as good We found the entire crew very polite and effecient. Tables are cleared immediately. Their is no compulsory tipping but please tip them. These guys work long hours every day for upto 7 months No complaints about crew at all. Two pools. One outside. One inside. Both with spas. Two of the spas have small hoists to help disabled people into them. This ship is disabled friendly. All doors including toilets open automatically [except cabin door] In port ramps are used, no stairs. Staff will help you if required. Quite a few electricl wheelchair people on board. Tendering is not very disabled friendly. You may miss out. Lots of entertainment. I think their were four different groups playing throughout the ship during the day and evening. A lot of the daytime activities were designed to seperate you from your money! The jogging track was only 200 metres round and crowded which was a pain. Good gym if your into that. Smallish library, pretty useless really. The Oceanview buffet is where you have breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want. Multiple stations have various menus such as Asian. Western, Salads. Bread, Desserts. Carvery etc. Except for the Carvery its all self serve. I found some of the meats dry and tough. The Carvery was usually ok. Some desserts were dry as well. It can get very crowded and noisey in this place. We always found a spot out the back deck but can get breezey and cold sometimes. Disembarkation good as we were able to take all our luggage of with us and not wait for them to unload so you can get off immediately. Complaint TWO. Piped music is played throughout most of the public areas. I found this most annoying, In particuar the music at the Oceanview cafe was atrocious and sometimes sounded like a strangling cat. This ship is geared to the mature and seniors but yet the piped music to the oceanview and coffee shop was geared to the young set of which their were hardly any. Both my wife and I couldnt stand it and would eat and get out as quickly as possible. We had this problem last cruise to which I complained but apparently fell on death ears. Now for something really important HYGEINE. Last time on this ship I got the dreaded Noro virus. Confined to cabin for two days and missed a good port. This time we took no chances. Upon entering our room we used sanitised wipes to clean everything. Door handles. Taps, Toilet, TV remote, phone etc/ We did this every couple of days as the cabin attendent cleans 15 rooms so germ transfer is a problem. When you enter any eatery you must use the hand wash dispenser but I noticed some people sneak in without doing so. The most contaminated implement are the food thongs. We used hand wipes after useing them. Also take my advice and do the following. Under no circumstances unless necessary touch handrails or bannisters. Use your knuckle to touch elevator buttons. Even clean your seacard every couple of days. Countless waiters touch them. You may think Im paranoid but I am an ex paramedic and know how easy it is to get contaminated and having the noro virus once was enough for me/ I would have given this ship five stars except for the two complaints noted. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We took a 4-day cruise out of Sydney to Melbourne on 10/11, than stayed on ship for 12-day cruise 10/15 to east coast of Australia and Great Barrier Reef. We are longtime Celebrity cruisers, and were somewhat disappointed with our ... Read More
We took a 4-day cruise out of Sydney to Melbourne on 10/11, than stayed on ship for 12-day cruise 10/15 to east coast of Australia and Great Barrier Reef. We are longtime Celebrity cruisers, and were somewhat disappointed with our transatlantic cruise last Spring on the Celebrity Reflection. But these two cruises fully restored our faith in Celebrity. Excellent and very visible/entertaining captain and crew, impeccable service in main dining room and lunch buffet, as well as in lounges. Food quality and variety were excellent. Entertainment with ship house band and others was varied and outstanding. Most theatre performers were excellent, and there were some very good matinees. Cruise director was energetic and fun, entertaining at a variety of venues during the day and evening.Cabin stewards and size/cleanliness/comfort of our balcony cabin for both cruises were terrific. Ship is in very good condition and well-maintained, even though it’s the oldest of the Solstice-class ships. It’s a mid-size ship (under 3,000), and they managed the tendering at several stops very efficiently. Many of the ship tours for the Barrier Reef are very expensive, and we limited ourselves to a couple, simple city tours (e.g., Melbourne) that were very good and fairly priced. The cities and coastal stops in Australia are beautiful with lots to do—from the exotic to just simple city tours and dining/shopping. Our only real complaint, which is symptomatic of most cruise ships, is the price and quality of drinks/wines, even in drink packages. We had a “classic” as opposed to the “premium” package—didn’t expect the best, but also didn’t expect Celebrity to be serving wines that retail for under $5 in the US (ugh!). And if you don’t specify what liquor you want in your cocktail, they pour the house brand rot-gut. When you’re paying $60 a day, per person, this should not be. Our biggest disappointment, though: having to leave the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Chose this cruise because it was hubby’s bucket list trip to go to Australia and I wanted to go to NZ. Solstice is showing her age a bit...things are just looking a little worn...some holes in our cabin drapes, chairs in the public ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it was hubby’s bucket list trip to go to Australia and I wanted to go to NZ. Solstice is showing her age a bit...things are just looking a little worn...some holes in our cabin drapes, chairs in the public areas are a worn...that type of thing. If you look passed all those types of things then Solstice is still a beautiful ship. Food this time out for me was a bit of a disappointment. Had to send one dinner in the MDR back all together. There was a good mix of choices. They were free with the lobster on the night they served it which hubby was quite happy with. Staff were marvellous, Joaquim our cabin attendant was very good with our request to get the night light in the bathroom fixed and sorting out a different appie plate for us in the afternoon. He was very helpful and pleasant and attentive to all our needs. Martini Bar staff were lovely too. Thank you Alin! MDR staff were wonderful although I gave them such a bad tim*e trying to get them to stop calling me madam...had fun though. Entertainment wasn’t an attraction for us...we previewed the early show after dinner to see if it was something we wanted to see. Over a 16 night sailing I think we only took in maybe 4 shows. There were special ABBA or Queen music nights in Sky Lounge we attended instead. Ports were all good. Excursions for the most part were good. Some narratives were better than others. The Adelaide excursion we went on the commentator sort of stammered and repeated himself. The sound system on the bus wasn’t working right or he wasn’t talking loud enough but half the bus couldn’t hear him. I was quite surprised by the number of people with walking/travelling aides on this cruise. I know I am not a spring chicken but I found it frustrating trying to move freely sometimes because of the number of people with scooters etc. I understand now that the longer the cruise the more chance you have of that happening. So if you are young and want more action.....think on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
First cruise with Celebrity, had previously done 2 Alaskan cruises with HAL. We prefer a more sedate and classy vibe, but the reviews for the analogous HAL cruise ship were poor in comparison. In general I think this cruise is targeted ... Read More
First cruise with Celebrity, had previously done 2 Alaskan cruises with HAL. We prefer a more sedate and classy vibe, but the reviews for the analogous HAL cruise ship were poor in comparison. In general I think this cruise is targeted towards the livelier of the older crowd. Itinerary was fine. I would've preferred fewer cities and more nature. It's a bit of a tradeoff, though, since it'd be difficult to get rental cars. Didn't do any excursions, just went touring independently. Good: * Crew is excellent. They work so hard and really aim to please. My impression is that they're asked to do a lot. * Handicap accessibility and assistance. My dad is in a wheelchair, and we found no issues getting around or sitting anywhere. The crew were very accommodating. In particular, they were very helpful whenever we tendered. It can be tricky helping someone who can't really walk to step on and off a rocking tender boat, but the crew kept my dad safe at all times and just did a really commendable job. * Food overall. We didn't do any specialty dining. We did Oceanview Cafe buffet for breakfast and lunch. Excellent variety. Quality was good but I can see room for improvement there (some items were verging on stale). We usually did Grand Epernay for dinner, where the meals were higher quality than the buffet, as expected. We did Grand Epernay for lunch once, and it was quite good. * Entertainment overall. * Live music overall. * Gym was well-maintained. Equipment was abundant and clean. Not great: * The library. Maybe we've been spoiled by HAL, but on the Solstice it's just an extra space that was made into a library. Furnished decently enough, but it's small, and exposed to the atrium, meaning it's potentially noisy and with no outside views. Not a single ottoman here (or anywhere on the ship, for that matter, I don't think). No happily falling asleep on accident as you lean back in a comfy chair, reading a book, with the ocean in the background. * There are no quiet and unexposed public spaces on the ship with a view. * Two of the smoking areas are indoor-ish, on the 12th floor by the pools. * Music is constantly pumped everywhere, so you feel like you're always in a shopping mall. I found this to be less than classy. There are likely some areas where there is no music, but I remember far more places where music seemed inappropriate. For example, I remember being in the Sky Lounge (a confusing space in itself - more on that later) on the morning of entering Milford Sound, before sunrise, and for some reason Eye of the Tiger and some other song with "sex pot" in the lyrics were playing loudly. Just really conflicted with the mood you would expect so early in the morning, which should be serene, peaceful, to be gently introduced to the splendor of nature. * Or maybe it was just the choice of music. In general the music aesthetic was as if you put "Lisa Loeb - Stay" into Pandora. Why not some classical instead? * There are way too many bars on this ship, especially in the nicer parts of the ship. I wonder how the friends of Bill W feel about that. Anyway, if there's a nice space, there's a high probability that there's a bar in it to take it down a few notches. Examples: Sky Lounge and the Lawn Club. This ties back to confusing spaces. Sky Lounge is a potentially relaxing part of the ship, yet there's a bar and dance floor in it, effectively removing the relaxation potential. * Lots of up-selling. It's easy to decline but I found this to be tacky, and felt bad for the crew who have to do it. * Port information is not given along with the daily infosheet. You have to visit Guest Relations to get the port's infosheet. It's too easy to take a cynical view of why this is done. * Very expensive laundry service, whereas it's a non-issue on HAL. What we ended up doing was dropping off our laundry at Mall Drycleaning in Wellington (day 8 or 9 of cruise - we had another destination after the end of the cruise) on Johnston St, then picking it up at the end of the day before boarding. It was about 30 NZD for straight wash-dry-fold of about 4 large reusable shopping bags' worth of clothes. That's compared to 50 USD for one small bag on the Solstice only about 4 or 5 days into the cruise. Quibbles: * Not enough turnover on the pizza in Oceanview Cafe led to oftentimes surprising staleness. * Guest Relations crew should feel more OK to say when they don't know something but that they'll try to find the answer we're looking for. * I think it would be OK to call "music trivia" what it really is, which is "name that tune". * There were oftentimes typos and grammatical errors in the daily infosheet. There were also a lot of fluff sales-y phrases, where simple, accurate descriptions would be better. * There was some issue with linking expense accounts to each person in our party. Online, I had assigned everyone in my family to my credit card, but I still had to go to Guest Relations to swipe my card to associate it to each person. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Chose the cruise because of its Itinerary. Celebrity Sandards have fallen very quickly if this ship is an indication of Fleet wide. Library had no more than 200 books most of which were in German. Food Quality and Quantity have also ... Read More
Chose the cruise because of its Itinerary. Celebrity Sandards have fallen very quickly if this ship is an indication of Fleet wide. Library had no more than 200 books most of which were in German. Food Quality and Quantity have also fallen. Where we used to receive 6 shrimp in a shrimp cocktail there are now 4. One night I ordered a steak Diane and it appeared on my plate less than one quarter of an inch thick. Likewise a Salmon filet with no more than 3 bites in total. My biggest complaint however is the use of the atrium area on deck 3 and 4 for very loud activities like dance classes/exercise classes and general dance sessions. This excessive nois affects people seeking quiet enjoyment to read play games, work on the internet or just have a coffee or a drink in one of the bars. Despite numerous complaints to Cruise direcrtor staff and Celebrity Captains Club hostess it continued unabated throughout the cruise. The Observation lounge is the proper place for dancing and dance l;essons while the Gymnasium needs to be used for exxercise classes. This is the first time I have not taken advantage of the Future cruise program as I could not find anything with sufficient incentive for booking on board and after this cruise I am not sure i will be sailing Celeberity in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
My wife and I joined our Bridge Club yearly cruise. A totally new experience for both of us as the last trip we each had on a ship was in the 1950s when we left our country of birth Egypt as refugees. Our expectations were high and I am ... Read More
My wife and I joined our Bridge Club yearly cruise. A totally new experience for both of us as the last trip we each had on a ship was in the 1950s when we left our country of birth Egypt as refugees. Our expectations were high and I am pleased to say, on behalf of my wife too, that we were more then pleased. Our cabin was comfortable, but the service by young Periton was ultimate best. The experience at the Grand Eperney Restaurant was just that a grand experience. Our MD Gilmar made our experience even more grand, he was perfect, and the food that came out of the kitchen was very tasty. May I add that the food experience on deck 14 at the Oceanview restaurant was beyond all expectation. The variety and the excellence of each bar showed a keen endeavour by each cook to out do the other. On the whole, my wife and I would like to thank you as a whole but also as each individual member of the staff that made our mornings start bright with your loud 'good mornings' and always feel at home anywhere on the ship. Thanks to our Captain Tasos Kafetsis for a fantastic cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We've completed 8 cruises. This last cruise on the Solstice was a repeat of our 2013 cruise. We loved the cruise then, and it was just as great this time! The closest we could get to a complaint is the temperatures around the ... Read More
We've completed 8 cruises. This last cruise on the Solstice was a repeat of our 2013 cruise. We loved the cruise then, and it was just as great this time! The closest we could get to a complaint is the temperatures around the ship are a tad low for us - but we live in the tropics in Cairns. Our cabin and balcony were excellent - as usual. Our cabin steward was very attentive, even when our key card failed for the third time, and we appreciated the call from Celebrity two days before sailing to upgrade us. Perhaps a loyalty bonus? The food was occasionally variable, but overall excellent, particularly in Blu restaurant that our upgraded status allowed. The tables were cleverly laid out each for two, but close enough that you could chat with people either side - on not if you preferred. The weather was disappointingly cold, even for the time of year. But all shore visits were most enjoyable and usually the sun came out to take the chill off. The most impressive feature was the shows. Four were of international standard - brilliant, three with trapeze acrobats performing together with the singers and dancers - mind-blowing. All the shows were at least very good. Happily, the sound volume was not too high - a problem for us on several previous cruises. We still reckon the wine is far too expensive, but as we usually have cocktails - often during 'happy hour' - this isn't a problem. We often have sparkling Perrier Water instead of wine with dinner. All the staff were very attentive with genuine helpfulness and no perfunctory chats, not the artificial help some establishments provide - particularly when they are playing for a big tip. Would we repeat the experience? You bet! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
My first cruise was in 1993 and I have loved cruising ever since - I love it so much that I changed careers to become a cruise consultant. CRUISING WITH A DISABILITY I am vision impaired & this was my first cruise on Celebrity ... Read More
My first cruise was in 1993 and I have loved cruising ever since - I love it so much that I changed careers to become a cruise consultant. CRUISING WITH A DISABILITY I am vision impaired & this was my first cruise on Celebrity Solstice and my first international cruise with my guide dog. Taking aside the loads of paperwork which needed to be completed prior to departure, the actual embarkation process was great. We were immediately met my staff & were escorted past all the check in & immigration queues onto the ship. This smooth embarking and disembarking process continued throughout the cruise which was great. I found the Solstice to be easy to navigate. Once my guide dog & I worked out the deck layout, I felt safe & comfortable enough to have my own independence which can sometimes be challenging in unfamiliar places. The Solstice has braille labelling for those who can read braille and electric sliding doors which came in very handy for me and anyone with mobility concerns. This cruise was a great experience & my guide dog was definitely the star of the Solstice, however I did lost count of how many times I had to politely ask that she not be patted as she was on duty and how many times I was asked "where does she go to the toilet". I guess my biggest frustration was trying to liaise with the "Special Needs" department in the USA as there were some miss communications between this department, the ship & myself in regards to my guide dog's toileting & being left un-attended in the cabin arrangements. As I had anticipated some miss-communications, I had printed copies of all correspondence with head office and most of these hick-ups were resolved relatively hassle free. ENTERTAINMENT - The evening entertainment on the Solstice was mostly of high quality & the new Flying show was amazing. I would have liked more activities & music out on the pool deck on our warm days + I think a few more roaming waiters would have been good out on deck. CHILDREN - I would suggest that this ship may not be most suitable for families with young children. Although there were some facilities, I don't think we had more than 20 children on board. This ship is definitely suitable for mature passengers who enjoy a premium product. DINING - I was very impressed with my dining experience. I found the Horizons buffet to be of high quality & clean. We were on the open dining sitting and we were never turned away from the restaurant and asked to come back. The waiters & waitresses were always willing to provide great service & have a chat which was great. STAFF - All the staff were professional & friendly and they were always on hand & willing to assist with a smile at any time. The captain of the Solstice was a breath of fresh air. I don't believe that out of all the cruise ships I have travelled on I have come across a captain who was so engaged and hands on. He was constantly in the public areas speaking with passengers, watching the evening shows and skippering the tenders. He did a fantastic talk to a jam packed theatre on the building of the Solstice and showed genuine care for his passengers and staff. Each morning the ship fell into silence which was followed by great laughter during his daily message from the bridge. On our last day he asked if he could have his photo taken with my beautiful doe - I was so proud!! All in all - I would highly recommend the Celebrity Solstice and. She is a beautiful ship with a great captain and crew to make your cruise a wonderful experience. I am already looking at some of her upcoming itineraries for my next great adventure. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Having cruised only once before with Royal Caribbean, we tried Celebrity Solstice because the timing suited and the ship got great reviews - deservedly! We booked through Vacationstogo.com - they were excellent! We booked an inside ... Read More
Having cruised only once before with Royal Caribbean, we tried Celebrity Solstice because the timing suited and the ship got great reviews - deservedly! We booked through Vacationstogo.com - they were excellent! We booked an inside stateroom because we only sleep in the stateroom and this was true of this cruise too. There was too much to do elsewhere. The shows at night were excellent with a wide variety of sensational acts. Some nights we would have 2 courses to get to the 7pm show then have desert in the Cafe. Other nights we would have the complete meal in the Dinging Room then go to the 9pm show. The food in the main dining room Grand Epernay was well above standard and then we spent one evening at Murano. Murano would equal any 5 star restaurant. Particularly if you are lucky enough to get Ibraham as your waiter. We selected fixed time dining on a table of 6 people so met 2 other couples and got on so well, we looked forward to dinner each evening (I hope they did too). This is not a ship to get bored in. There is everything from the well-stocked library across two levels to a range of bands and singers during the evening and night at various locations across the ship to guided behind-the-scenes tours of various aspects the ship to dancing and shows. There is also the specialty Corning Museum of Glass exhibitions of glass blowing daily which is absolutely fascinating to see. We did not book the ship's shore excursions preferring smaller more intimate tours we booked ourselves so can't comment on these. As members of Cruise Critic, we attended a morning tea hosted by the ship and attended by some of the senior crew where we had the chance to meet some really interesting Cruise Critic members and formed friendships from day 1. I would highly recommend the Celebrity Solstice. There were 2 staff members who were particularly good - Deborah from Guest Services and Ibraham from Murano. Celebrity should be extremely proud to have these staff. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Having done 20 cruises went on a celebrity cruise in April for the first time and will certainly be the last no Laundrette on board, could not bring a travelling iron on-board. Drinks very expensive $12 for a small glass of house wine ( ... Read More
Having done 20 cruises went on a celebrity cruise in April for the first time and will certainly be the last no Laundrette on board, could not bring a travelling iron on-board. Drinks very expensive $12 for a small glass of house wine ( £8 ) had to pay for fresh orange juice. At breakfast. Room service diabolical. First island by tender took nearly 3hours to get off ship, no coordination absolutely chaotic. my wife is party disabled when using tender crew would put wheelchair on tender but would not take it off, so had to see to wheelchair first and then tend to my wife. entertainment for a 18 nights cruise was basically none existent and what was put on show was very poor. The only highlight of this cruise was the food and waiter service. lovely ship shame that celebrity were so penny pinching, I love a drink but celebrity priced me out of there market. wiil definitely give this company a wide birth in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Background This was our 4th New Zealand cruise. We have previously travelled to New Zealand on Celebrity (Millennium), Royal Caribbean (Radiance) and Holland America (Oosterdam). Overall comments The ship is beautiful and very good is ... Read More
Background This was our 4th New Zealand cruise. We have previously travelled to New Zealand on Celebrity (Millennium), Royal Caribbean (Radiance) and Holland America (Oosterdam). Overall comments The ship is beautiful and very good is all areas, however we did find the ship very loud. More of that later as it deserves it own section below. Ports of call Auckland The Bay Of Islands (Pahia and Russell) Tauranga (Mount Manganui) At sea Wellington Akaroa Dunedin (Port Chalmers) Dusky, Doubtful & Milford Sounds (cruising) At sea At sea Hobart At sea Sydney Pre Departure A little bit of history. With just 4 days before our departure we were considering cancelling. On doctor’s orders following complications from a previous amputation, my partner was confined to a wheelchair. Fortunately, the Doctor had recently sailed on Solstice and understood the ease of access for mobility restricted passengers onboard, and agreed to allow us to travel on the basis that we restrict walking and use a wheelchair at all times. Our travel agent then advised the airline, Emirates (for travel from Sydney to Auckland to join the ship) and Celebrity of our wheelchair requirements. Can I just say, the system works well and both Emirates and Celebrity are to be congratulated, with only one major “blip” on Celebrity’s part. (see Tendering section below) Embarkation & airport to ship transfer Check-in for both airline and ship was excellent with priority lines offered to expedite the queues for wheelchair passengers. Also amazing ground staff at Auckland Airport in the baggage claim assisted with the wheelchair whilst I wheeled the luggage. We had airport to ship transfers, so joined the line outside the terminal to check luggage back in and take the bus to the ship. The lady from Celebrity checking off names was stressed and quite “frazzled” and could not find our names on the list. She then asked us to step aside whilst she processed others behind us. Turned out the list was in alphabetical order and the name was the first name on her list. No apology though when I saw the name at the top of the page and pointed to it. There was a significant traffic delay en-route to the ship, so by the time we arrived at the ship it was nearing 4pm. This late in the day the check-in line was almost no existent so within minutes we were aboard and in our cabin (7286 – back of the hump with an extra large deep balcony). We were in the cabin for what only seemed a couple of minutes before the general alarm sounded for Life Boat Muster Drill at 4.45pm. We attended an informal Cruise Critic catch up at the Mast Bar following the life boat drill. Cabin & Bathroom Cabins are modern and nicely decorated. There is ample storage with overhead lockers, and space under the beds for suitcases. The bathrooms are well appointed with glass shower screen (not shower curtains that cling to you), plus plenty of shelve space. Cotton buds and cotton wool supplied, but no tissues (bean counters now apparently expected you to request them with your cabin attendant). Tissues didn’t appear until about 4 days into the cruise and only after we had already bought a box of our own in Tauranga. Cabin attendants – rarely saw either of them, but room maintained well, however they could have had a little more attention to detail on cleanliness. There were finger marks on wardrobe doors and inside balcony doors from previous passengers & they were still not cleaned 12 days later when we left the ship. Strangely, the teak balcony railings were initially missing from several decks in our section of the ship, but on about day 5 the beautifully varnished railings reappeared on Deck 7, but not those decks above or below. This is obviously an ongoing maintenance program onboard as we noticed the very poor condition of some of the railings that are in desperate need of attention. Food OK, this is all very subjective, but for what it is worth here are our comments. We had Select Dining which is held on the upper level of the MDR – Epernay Restaurant (very Kath & Kim name - just missing Tru and Pru... Only the Aussies will get that joke. ) Overall the quality of food was excellent. We also love the opportunity to meet new people at each meal when sharing a table. Additionally, we had several breakfasts and a couple of lunches in Epernay. All excellent. Not sure what ever happened to the sea day Brunch that Celebrity used to hold in the MDR, as was looking forward to that. Oh well, the “bean counters” have been busy. Tuscan Grill – We only had 1 dinner here and loved it. We had a fantastic goat cheese ball salad, wonderful calamari in faux newspaper wrapping and a great filet mignon. The restaurant cover charge is $35.00 pp, but worth it. Bistro on Five – We ate here twice. It has a cover charge of $5.00 pp. Serving specialty fillings on the pancakes and toasted pannini bread sandwiches, it is just what you need sometimes instead of a heavy meal. They also offered a choice of soups and sweet deserts. Just one deterrent, see our comments on the excessive noise level within the restaurant when there is live entertainment from 2 floors down in the atrium. We ended up having to ask them to turn off the “pipped” music coming from the speaker in the ceiling above us in the restaurant so we could hear ourselves think! Oceanview Cafe – I’m not sure where I should start. Overall, the food here I can only describe as below par. Don’t get me wrong here, we did have some nice food here but; I just wonder if any of the chefs preparing the food ever actually taste it before the send it from the kitchen. The opportunity to get “hot” food here is almost impossible. By the time you select 1 item, then join the queue at a different food station to select another item, the first item is already cold. The lack of menu change within each section was almost nil. Late Evening snacks never changed. Pizza, pasta, rolls with sandwich filling, sweets & cakes. Travelling with a disabled passenger who is diabetic and on strong medication that requires small snacks at regular intervals with their 6 hourly medications can be a real challenge when suitable food types are not available. No fresh fruit or low fat yoghurt at this time of the day. It would have been nice to get a simple casserole with some plain rice as a late evening option. I was sure there used to be a special midnight buffet served in the cafe during each cruise. I remember on Millennium there was a special buffet served in the “Cosmos” or “Sky Lounge” one evening during the cruise. (bean counters back again) Room Service – We needed to order breakfast every morning for 6.00am so medication could be taken. I can only say how fantastic the room service team were. We received a phone call ahead of delivery every morning and right on time, everytime. (Fruit, yoghurt, cereal, toast and coffee/tea). Aqua Spa Cafe – We only used this one evening when the Ocean View Cafe closed and the Aqua Spa Cafe was used for the late evening snacks. Offering was very basic, and we were surprised to see that they charged for yoghurt, albeit specialty flavours. (bean counters at it again.) Tendering for wheelchair passengers. Upon check-in at Princes’ Wharf in Auckland, we were provided a “Tendering Information” sheet which was applicable to wheelchair passengers. This particular itinerary has 2 tender ports, The Bay of Islands & Akaroa. Having previously been to The Bay of Islands we did not feel the need to leave the ship, however with Akaroa being our favourite port of call, we decided to go ashore. My partner was wheeled to a separate staircase, where he had the option to stay in the wheelchair and use the disabled lift down to the pontoon at water level or walk down the stairs by himself which he opted to do. Crew members carried his foldable wheelchair down to the boarding pontoon. It all worked well, I thought at that point. I was already seated on the tender and they assisted him onto the tender and he sat behind me. I turned to look that his wheelchair was aboard and it was. There was some discussions going on behind us, and as we pulled away from the pontoon I turned to see his wheelchair sitting on the pontoon. I realised that they had off-loaded his wheelchair without letting us know. At this point I started to shout at the tender driver (Marios) to stop and go back for his wheelchair. Fellow passengers could see the situation and also started shouting, but to no avail. Marios simply said they will bring it on the next tender. Yeah right !! To separate a mobility restricted passenger from their transportation means is certainly inexcusable behaviour. Knowing that the jetty at Akaroa has no seating I got particularly agitated as my partner, who is an amputee, is unable to stand for extended periods. The upshot of all this was that once we got to the jetty, we had to sit onboard until the next tender arrived which only slowed up the movement of other passengers wanting to get onboard to return to the ship. The other arriving tender ended up having trouble trying to dock as they had to go to the other side of the jetty, they then had to retrieve the wheelchair before that tender could unload passengers. If we had been told that they were off-loading the wheelchair we would have gotten off and waited for the next tender. As timing would have it, upon our return to the ship later that afternoon, Ian the Cruise Director was lined up to get on the next outgoing tender where I unleashed my fury to him regarding the poor treatment of a disabled passenger being separated from his transportation. As I would expect from him, no apology or follow up. Entertainment & Activities Loud live music conflicts with piped music throughout the ship, particularly from level 3 in the atrium where it drifts up to all floors. No pianist in Michael’s Bar. A real missed opportunity for an intimate recital performance space. Poor string trio. High school level and not able to co-ordinate together. Most of the shows in the Theatre were high quality. Excellent violinist Jane in theatre. Loved the presentations by Dr Milos the onboard nature lecturer. Interesting and provoking historical lectures by Dr Elenor. The glass blowing demonstrations are fantastic. Karaoke – takes place in the Quasar, but the set up seems all wrong with guests entering via a front door where they have to walk in front of the performer and blocking the words on the screen. Staff need to have a better understanding of how to operate the electronic equipment. It’s a shame that they don’t list the songs by song title rather than by performer. You know the song you want to sing, but don’t know who sang it, so you can’t find it. Loud noise throughout ship Bistro on Five- Loud & intrusive noise from level 3 in the atrium was overpowering 2 floors up. We asked staff in restaurant to turn off the “Piped” music so we can talk across the table. Of an evening, loud live music from level 3 atrium can be heard in cabins on the hump (we were on level 7 and could still hear it in our cabin 4 floors up. Entertainers performing in the glass elevators of the atrium and on stairways, very tacky. Guess it works for some passengers. Ambient music around pool on level 12 is over shadowed by loud “piped” music from level 14 Mast Grill Bar especially when the bar on level 14 is closed. There was no such thing as a quiet late night coffee in Cafe al Bacio on level 5. Every time the noise from the live performance on level 3 in the atrium was deafening. I’m sure there are speakers behind the curtains on level 5 to amplify the sound 2 floors up. Good luck if you wanted to read quietly in the Library. It’s open plan to the atrium and all the noise drifts up. Same again with the card room and games area. This ship needs to conduct a total review of the impact of so many varieties of “noise” on its guests. There did not seem to be any area of the ship that was not affected where you could just sit down in total silence and enjoy peace and quiet. Not even in the library. Summary Would we sail again on this ship? Probably not. As nice as the decor, staff and service are, it is just not our style. The ship is loud, loud, loud.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I am a "special needs" passenger so if you, or travel companion, have allergies or sensitivities - this review may help you. Of course the ports were wonderful but I'm not reviewing them below - only the ship. Pros: Because ... Read More
I am a "special needs" passenger so if you, or travel companion, have allergies or sensitivities - this review may help you. Of course the ports were wonderful but I'm not reviewing them below - only the ship. Pros: Because of my disability, our wait to board the ship was quick and relatively easy. (We make a point of waiting for the large bulk of passengers to go through and show at the dock an hour or so before last call. The crowds are thinner then and boarding easier. The same is true for the disembarkation. We either leave with the first off or hold back until the end of disembarkation to leave.) We informed the cruise line of my needs before boarding and they were accommodating. The ship was beautiful. Heavy use of plastics throughout but nice warm décor. Quiet areas were provided and even a trio string quartet and jazz music not just rock and roll. The spa had a quiet area which was accessible to passengers even if you weren’t waiting for a treatment. (You may notice I often mention noise levels – I am very sensitive to noise.) The dining room was large and noisy – like most dining rooms, but a pleasant atmosphere. We were fortunate to be seating next to a window. A special order chef is responsible for preparing food for folks with allergies or special dietary needs. Celebrity is very good about being careful not to cross-contaminate and will work with you to make sure your food contains only ingredients you specify. The Assistant Maitre’d was very friendly and helpful. And the waiter of the next section over was great. He was entertaining, friendly, very helpful and attentive to the guests in his section. Never had we praised someone else’s waiter so highly. Another nice touch was offering local cuisine. Both kangaroo and crocodile were on the menu at different times. The kangaroo was particularly flavorful. The cabin was well laid out and accommodating, the bed comfortable. (Full review under Cabin Review) The crew were friendly and accommodating. The ships officers were available for questions or just to meet, greet and socialize. It was great having them so accessible. There were several activities scheduled with the officers which was refreshing to see. The Chef offered cooking classes which we really enjoyed. Celebrity is very good about not blasting announcements directly into the cabins. So if you are resting you can continue to do so. This ship not only has a lawn but a glass blowing workshop on the top deck. It was windy and cold at times but the crew handed out wool blankets to everyone - really helpful. One nice touch is the way passengers are greeted with towels, water and fruit punch before re-boarding at ports. I like Celebrity because of those small services that make everything better. Neutral: There didn’t seem as many activities as I would expect on a ship with 2,000 passengers but we still managed to keep as busy as we wanted. There were several movies available at no charge on our stateroom television. The ship information channel was not always available though. I learned that we could ask for our cabin to be cleaned with mild detergents verses the standard disinfectants. That could prove helpful on future cruises. (The Housekeeping manager told us this when we mentioned smelling paint solvents in our room – but that was due to the ventilation system sucking in fumes from outside – and it didn’t last but a couple of hours on two different days.) The food quality in the main dining room was inconsistent. Some dishes were fabulous, others – not so much. But you could always order something else or visit the buffet. Like most cabins, there was only one outlet in the main room and one in the bathroom. If you have electronics to charge, bring a power strip. I overheard passengers complain that the pools and Jacuzzi’s weren’t warm enough. I rarely use them but it was obvious that the pools and tubs were frequently empty. I can understand why other reviews mention the glass elevators. If I had a fear of heights, this would have been a problem - or at least an inconvenience. The not so Good: We were met with resistance, even rude behavior when we requested to meet with the Executive Chef so that we could personally discuss my serious food allergies. We learned that this was important because we had terrible, life-threatening problems on Royal Caribbean that could have been prevented by speaking directly with the Chef. The Chef was friendly and we worked out a meal plan. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well. I think they were too careful - not even using salt and pepper to season my steamed vegetables (blah) and stripped down, nearly taste-free entrees. After 5 days of bland, tasteless foods the Assistant Matre’d finally gave the chef who was preparing my meals the boot and brought in another chef. I was happy with the new meals just sorry that it took five days of terrible meals to finally resolve the issue. Some of the dishes were home runs and for that I am most grateful. By the way, the rude behavior of some of the staff was correctly almost immediately when senior staff were informed. We were impressed by how quickly a snear turned into a smile. For example, our waiter hardly spoke a word, never smiled and rarely checked in on us. After we praised the waiter nearby for his service (see Pros above) to the Assistant Maitre’d, our waiter clearly made efforts to smile and interact more with all his guests. The overall ship's design had flaws, for instance: The guest service desk is right next to a band that plays very loud music in the evening so conversing with an agent can involve leaning in and yelling to be heard. Guest Services, the library and other public spaces are flooded with loud music in the evenings because the ship is designed with a central open core. And finally, our cabin (and the suite next door) were subjected to shaking and loud noise from the thrusters. (See Cabin Review) So bottom line: it took some effort but we finally ironed out the kinks and most important, the crew never stopped trying. So thanks Solstice crew, for making it possible for me to travel.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Embarked in Sydney our 1st cruise magnificent site a Circular Quay.Flew from Brisbane that morning and transferred straight to ship.We where held up by Celebrity as husband has a chronic cough due to Asbestosis and had to be interviewed by ... Read More
Embarked in Sydney our 1st cruise magnificent site a Circular Quay.Flew from Brisbane that morning and transferred straight to ship.We where held up by Celebrity as husband has a chronic cough due to Asbestosis and had to be interviewed by medical person who did not know what it was, very irritating and slowed things down. Ship magnificent , very clean and well maintained. Ate at all venues, we had my time dining and had the same table each night we ate there.Food incredibly good with good choices as much as you wanted with fab wait staff.Silk Harvest was not that good was not at all to our taste though service was good. The other specialty restaurants were excellent well worth the extra money. Be prepared to walk long distances this is a big ship, usually congested at lifts which I needed to use as disabled otherwise not too much trouble getting around Plenty to do and shows were extremely good with many Australian entertainers but you had to be early to make sure you get a seat Had a non alcohol package found it good value as it included coffee etc,Drinks were a reasonable price though bottled wine tended to be pricey Plenty of places to sit and relax . We arranged our own port tours where we had trouble locating the tour operator otherwise very good value cheaper than the ships. Being disabled biggest problem was distances as my husband/carer had great trouble pushing my chair and carrying hand luggage no help there.Though crew were amazing at ports in New Zealand getting the chair on and off gang planks in some pretty bad conditions without any complaint, my hat off to them. Would recommend this cruise highly specially mature aged people not wanting a party ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My adult daughter, who happens to be mobility challenged, had a semester off in her university studies and she has always wanted to explore Australia and New Zealand. Being that we are mega cruise fans and love Celebrity as a brand, we ... Read More
My adult daughter, who happens to be mobility challenged, had a semester off in her university studies and she has always wanted to explore Australia and New Zealand. Being that we are mega cruise fans and love Celebrity as a brand, we embarked on a month long odyssey together - she, myself and Celebrity - we booked back to back cruises on the Solstice - the 12 night departing Sydney on January 16 and the 18 night departing Auckland on January 28. I will review the second cruise separately so do look for that. How do I love Celebrity, let me count the ways........we cruised Aqua Class and I cannot recommend Aqua Class more highly. Forget Concierge class, you get nothing for it except a gold Seapass card. But, with Aqua Class, you are able to dine in the very special restaurant Blu - which exists solely for Aqua Class passengers. The food and service are excellent and crucially, you have complete freedom as to when you dine - no need to make a reservation, you just show up anytime it's open and the maitre'd, who after your first or second meal with them will most likely have memorized your cabin number, will show you to a beautifully appointed table - many tables are right at the floor to ceiling windows, but all tables have beautiful ocean views. Also with Aqua Class, you get afternoon canapes in your cabin, flowers in your room, free admittance to the Persian Garden in the spa - but, meh, no biggie to any of those - but Blu, yes, yes - Blu alone is the reason to book Aqua - and the up charge when for Aqua is minimal - the value add is great. And, hey, if you're looking for a non-white Seapass card, yes, with Aqua class, you get an aqua colored card - and people 'in the know' know that it's better to be aqua than gold! Our cabin was beautiful, but, we knew it would be, as this is my fourth (and fifth, with the back to back) cruise with Celebrity. We very much enjoyed our veranda, often enjoying coffee in the mornings on it as we would sail into ports, or wine in the evenings as we would leave a port, or while contemplating a sunset. We had a great view of the navigational bridge, so our veranda also provided a great captain-peeking spot, fun to watch him working while docking. The crew in general, as a whole, and to a man/woman - was extraordinary. The cruise director, Ian, was from our perspective, for us, the best cruise director to date - and why, because he was ubiquitous, omnipresent. He was everywhere. He wasn't an ivory tower cruise director who stayed in his office all day long, emerging only to introduce the acts in the theater - no, he was always around, eager to talk to you directly, to engage one to one, anxious to hear your comments. He was actively involved with the passengers. Now, maybe that made things harder for the activities staff itself, I have no idea at all, but from the passenger perspective, it was great to have him on the front line - he acted as the host of the vessel, making sure as a good host does, that all guests were happy and that their needs and their wants, were met. The activities staff was fun and energetic. Rachel, who ran most of the activities of which we were a part, notably the dance clubs (which later performed onstage at the end of the cruise in the large Solstice Theater, great fun), was super warm and dynamic. All of the staff were eager to engage the engageable, and for the hopelessly non participatory, that was ok, too - but we have always found that the more involved you are, the more fun you have and the Celebrity staff always makes things fun! There are so many things to do on board, that we learned to bring our highlighter from home - every night, when we return to our cabin after dinner, music, the headlining entertainment in the Solstice Theater, the Groove dance party for instance, participating in a gameshow in the Celebrity Central theater, etc and et al, we look forward to going through the next day's schedule which is left on your turned down, chocolate bedecked bed. We check the times of all of the activities, highlight the ones we want to participate in/go to, and listen to any messages that might be left on our cabin voicemail reminding us of any activities that we are participating in that might be rehearsing the next day such as the passenger choir or one of the two performing dance clubs (no skill necessary!) - and anticipate the fun for the next day! Anticipation is half the fun! On shore days, there was lots of staff from the housekeeping department stationed at the disembarkation stations to give assistance to anyone who needed it. We, due my daughter's mobility needs, needed it - and we never had to ask. Every need was anticipated. Going up or down the gangways, through security, onto or off of the tender boats in ports where we had to anchor vs dock at a pier - the housekeeping staff was always there, with smiles and strong arms. I had been concerned as we were two women traveling alone, and my daughter always needs her walker - she can't walk without it - but the staff always helped - whether it was to get her on or off a tender or to use the lift on the stage of the Solstice Theater (as we always like to sit in the front row!) or to escort her to the front of a long re-entry line so that she wouldn't have to stand for an extended period of time - the Celebrity staff was on point, always there, attentive and friendly. As far as shore excursions on this cruise went, we were very pleased. We tend to choose full day excursions that generally visit several local highlights. Lunch is included in these full day excursions and somehow Celebrity always finds amazing spots for lunch - take from your mind any thought of tour buses dumping scores of tourists at some zero star side of the road diner. No, rather, every lunch that we had with every shore excursion was outstanding. Take, for instance, our lunch at the Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens outside of Sydney - the barramundi (native Australian fish) was incredible, all of the dishes were 5 star quality. Or lunch at the Rochford Winery outside of Melbourne, or our lunch at the Mt. Potts Lodge in New Zealand in the Southern Alps or the authentic Maori inspired lunch at Tamaki Pa in Rotorua, New Zealand.......all excellent, and not rushed or 2nd rate in any way. It bothers me actually when I hear people saying bad things about ship sponsored shore excursions as I don't think that the process is fully understood as to what goes on to "produce" these shore excursions - how great a job the company does, especially when one considers how many guests sign up for the excursions. What is crucial to know, is that nearly 100% of the time, though not always, there is a Celebrity escort on board each coach, to critique the excursion, the guide, the coach driver, the destinations themselves. Celebrity contracts with a local tour provider who in turn, contracts with specific tour guides/carriers. In the end, Celebrity is responsible for the shore excursion, and to ensure quality, Celebrity sends an employee as an escort on every tour coach. In Rotorua, New Zealand, we had a driver/guide, meaning that the driver was also the guide. This can work fine, though optimally, each coach has a separate driver and a separate guide. In this case, the driver was an abysmal guide, the worst guide in the history of all guides, ever! Luckily, there were several destinations on this excursion, and each destination was quite excellent and we had guides at each destination. But on board, oh wow, bad news. Luckily, I spoke with our Celebrity escort the next day, and she told me that she made sure that this driver would never work as a part of a Celebrity excursion again - that yes, he could drive for a Celebrity sponsored excursion, but he must always have a separate guide. People complained up and down about this driver (who was a lousy guide!!), and in the end, Celebrity has to answer for this, and they did. I have taken, hmmmmm, at least 30 Celebrity shore excursions and this was the only bad experience that I have had - and remember, the destinations themselves on this day were excellent, it was just that on the bus ride, there was no commentary, no historical context. Entertainment was very good, Celebrity never skimps - very high quality and varied performers. And the shipboard talent, "The Stars of the Solstice", wow! They put on three full scale separate and unique production shows during the cruise - Broadway worthy stuff - excellent! Poolside in the afternoons always has live music/bands, weather permitting; every bar either has a gifted musical performer or bartenders that are performing, such as at the Molecular Bar or the Martini Bar! The only thing that makes getting off the ship bearable is if you have another cruise already booked - and since we had the back to back cruise booked, staying in the same cabin, well, we had no time at all to wait! The cruise ended in Auckland, but of course that is where the next one began. We booked a ship sponsored full day shore excursion in Auckland, so while most of the ship was disembarking for good, we were off to see the rainforest, the gannet colony, have lunch at the Soljans Estate Winery - then back to the ship, back to our cabin, where our belongings were right there where we left them - all set to enjoy the next cruise, 18 nights - more of New Zealand along with lots of ports in the southern half of Australia! Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My daughter and I took this cruise as a back to back cruise with the previous cruise - the 12 night Australia/New Zealand which began in Sydney and ended in Auckland. In our minds, this 18 night cruise which began in Auckland, is a ... Read More
My daughter and I took this cruise as a back to back cruise with the previous cruise - the 12 night Australia/New Zealand which began in Sydney and ended in Auckland. In our minds, this 18 night cruise which began in Auckland, is a continuation of the first, one big long amazing 30 night cruise on the beautiful Celebrity Solstice - but, there were some distinctions to this 2nd cruise, particularly since this was the first time EVER that the Solstice, or any Celebrity ship of the Solstice class, had come to the ports of Adelaide, Esperance or Albany in Australia. You might want to read my review of that cruise, for details about the perks of sailing Aqua Class, if you are interested - the 12 night Sydney to Auckland, which began on January 16, 2013. We are big fans of Aqua Class. In Auckland we went on a full day Celebrity shore excursion, which brought us back to the ship a few hours before the Solstice set sail. The experience of doing a back to back cruise is intoxicating - to see your fellow passengers packing up and having to leave, knowing that you get to continue on - yes, intoxicating! Though, trust me, we got our comeuppance on day 19 when it was our turn to get off the ship. It was particularly hard to leave - first, because we had at that point, been on board for a full 31 days so we got very close to many of the crew, as they do become like your 2nd family, but it was additionally difficult to leave because nearly a full third of the ship was staying on to do the next cruise which was of the top half of the Australian continent - thus, that third of the passengers was doing a full circumnavigation of the continent, pretty exciting for them. We could have done that, but we chose to back to back with the 12 night New Zealand/Australian cruise as we wanted a double dose of New Zealand. There were so many things to see in the New Zealand cities - lots of "Lord of the Rings" excursions, which particularly interested my adult daughter, but also the Maori culture is so rich in New Zealand - there were many Maori cultural centers that we wanted to visit. No offense to Australia, but the excursions there were somewhat redundant - more kangaroos, more koalas, more crocodiles - and so we wanted to spend more time in New Zealand - so green, so hilly, so lush. We very much enjoyed our day in Auckland, visiting the Takapu Refuge Gannet Colony, but especially loving the Rain Forest Express "Water Care" narrow gauge railway, which was built over 100 years ago to service a water supply pipe - gorgeous views, stunning vegetation, and lots of fun in this train that looks like a toy. We had a delicious lunch at the Soljans Estate Winery. Then, back to the Solstice and back to our cabin, the same cabin as in our first cruise - so we never had to pack up - our belongings were right there where we left them. It was a bit strange as there were no familiar faces on board, other than the friendly crew. But, after a day or so, we made new friends and never missed a beat! In Tauranga, New Zealand, we had an excellent shore excursion to the Hobbiton movie set, a must see destination for "Lord of the Rings" fans. The staff there was lovely, making an on the spot accommodation for my mobility challenged daughter - the hills around the hobbit holes were very hard to negotiate, and so one of the employees gave her a private tour on a vehicle called a "mule", which is a very small truck, but larger than a golf cart! Very nice of them to do this! The Kiwis and the Aussies are some of the friendliest, most genuine people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. In Akaroa, we had a fabulous excursion to the Willowbank KoTane Maori Cultural Experience, an excursion which I highly recommend. This is a "one stop shopping" destination - an excellent kiwi breeding program where we saw kiwis in nocturnal settings very close to us; a nature reserve where we had intimate encounters with keas, the large native parrots (and lots of other indigenous animals here, lots!), a full blown multi faceted extended Maori show (opportunities for audience participation!) along with an excellent lunch - plus, a very nice gift shop! Our coach guide took us on an excellent drive through Christchurch where we saw very closely the horrible devastation caused by the February 2011 earthquake. The keas, I have to say, were very interested in my daughter's wheelchair, pecking away at the wheels - hysterical and very memorable! In Dunedin, we took the Royal Otago Tour shore excursion where we loved visiting Larnach Castle, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and the Royal Albatross Colony. The Penguin Reserve is NOT handicapped accessible, AT ALL - there is zero way that someone with a true mobility challenge such as needing a walker, can walk in the penguin blinds, up the paths etc - so, again, we were the happy recipients of the compassion of kind people - my daughter spent the tour time in the penguin hospital where she saw nearly 20 penguins very up close and personal! I wish I had stayed with her! I went on the traditional tour and saw 5 penguins, at a deep distance.......the time of day and the time of year were not optimal to seeing many of the penguins in their natural habitat. But how lovely of the staff at the Penguin Reserve to make sure that my daughter had such an excellent alternative experience. There was quite a bit of fog outside of Dunedin, which was rather exciting as the ship's fog horn sounded for approximately 8 hours - very plaintive to hear. Cruising through Fjorland National Park in southwest New Zealand is something that we will never forget, a once in a lifetime experience although since we did back to back cruises, twice in a lifetime for us, twice in a two week period, in fact! To wake up and have your coffee on your veranda while cruising through Dusky Sound, ahhhhh, that is the life! We were also very lucky that we received an invitation to pass through Milford Sound - the most dramatic of the 3 sounds - Dusky, Doubtful and Milford - on the heliport of the ship. Now that, yes that was indeed a once in a lifetime experience. The prior cruise, we passed through Milford on Deck 12 - the outdoor deck in front of the gym - very dramatic indeed, but a bit crowded. One of our favorite Celebrity shore excursions was out of Sydney to Tobruk Sheep Station, SY78 - excellent authentic lunch, sheep dog herding demonstrations, interactions with the sheep as well as with the sheep dogs and other farm animals; committed friendly staff. They were all so nice to my daughter who like the trooper that she is, wanted to do all of the participatory activities - the staff helped her with all of these, i.e. the whip cracking lesson - the Tobruk employee put his Aussie cowboy hat on her and he helped her hold the whip, and they cracked away, very kind and so memorable for her. On day 2 in Sydney, at the tour of the Opera House, we were surprised to see how un-handicapped accessible it was! The building was built in the 1970s and yet, unbelievably, elevators were only added 8 years ago. If you are coming to see a performance and you need to have a handicapped parking spot, you actually have to call ahead and reserve a parking spot! Perpetuating the marginalization of people with disabilities, the elevators are far from where you want to actually be, so that you have to separate from the main body of people. To the credit of the staff, we were given what was essentially a private tour, because the tour itself zips back and forth in areas where there is no elevator. Yes, it is a stunning building, but, very odd to me that a building like this, which is a societal focal point, a place for all people to join communally in the pursuit of artistic transcendence - that it was built in the 1970s, not the 1870s or earlier - with no thought to an entire vital segment of the population. People in wheelchairs don't go the opera?? Really?? We took a private excursion in Hobart, Tasmania, expertly and thoughtfully run by Eye See Personalized Tours. The owner and operator, Judy Livingston, is sincerely empathic and worked hard to make sure that my daughter was able to fully participate in all aspects of the tour. We had a fabulous time at the Bonorong animal preserve and a very moving experience at Port Arthur, the largest remaining prison from the convict days. So, this is the point in the cruise when things started to get a bit dicey, due to the high winds, and resultant high seas, which caused us to arrive in Adelaide 3 hours late. The chop was so strong that the day at sea before Adelaide for many of the passengers, was spent in the sick bay or in their rooms. I in fact posted a video online of the huge tree which is onboard the Solstice, suspended in the air in the area of the glass elevators, so that when you ride the elevators, you can see this tree growing out of a huge diamond shaped pot, suspended in the air, the ship creating a mega-terrarium of sorts! Normally, the leaves and the branches on the tree never move, but on this sea day, the leaves and branches were swaying quite dramatically! That was the most telling sign, to me, of the rough seas! Our 3 hour delayed arrival into Adelaide was not a problem for any of us that had booked a ship's shore excursion, which we had. Though we arrived 3 hours late, the captain made up the time at the other end, leaving 3 hours later than originally scheduled, so no time lost in port. Upon approach to Adelaide, despite our delayed arrival, the proverbial welcome mat was rolled out for the Solstice. Seemingly, the entire town turned out on shore and at the port building itself, where a band playing Aussie folk songs was performing for us, and a greeter on a loudspeaker was calling out to us - we had not even docked, we were still well away from the pier! Such a warm welcome! Returning to the problematic issues with Adelaide, besides the delay due to high chop, was that the docking procedure did not go smoothly - remember, I said that this was the VERY FIRST TIME that the Solstice or any ship of it's class, had ever come to this port. The gangway wasn't lining up; after docking preliminarily, the captain had to actually move away from the dock to adjust the ship 45 meters to facilitate the gangway placement - it was fascinating to watch the process from our veranda. The captain and several other officers were in the navigational bridge looking out anxiously - it was clear that they were frustrated and not happy at all! - they and everyone, were doing the best that they could. This was a new situation and all staff - Celebrity staff, and the port staff - acted professionally, calmly, and did all that they could. From our perspective, it was very exciting to be a part of something new, and to see how things go when things don't go exactly as planned. Because of the issues, only one gangway was able to be used - since the ship was late to arrive, and with only one gangway, you can imagine the congestion of everyone wanting to disembark all at the same time - but again, crew comported themselves with aplomb, and once we were in Adelaide, we had a fabulous day, enjoying especially the Cleland Wildlife Park where we actually held a koala. Returning to the ship, because of the gangway issues, only a limited number of guests were allowed on the single gangway at a single time - so again, great congestion. The Adelaide port volunteers (the entire town came out for the Solstice, truly, so warm and welcoming!) saw my daughter get off our tour coach, with her wheelchair, and they immediately spirited her away to the front of the line so that the long line of passengers trying to get back on board was quickly to our rear. I felt badly, but compassion for the physically challenged was front and center - exhibited throughout the cruise by all crew and all port personnel, tour guides, at all times. The captain produced an explanatory video which was played in a loop on Ch. 2 on board, in which he outlined in detail the meteorological details which were causing the high chop. He explained how he needed to avoid even worse problems to our SW, which was part of the reason for the delay in Adelaide, as well as to why the chop was so high, causing many to feel discomfort on board. Details given to the passengers are always very helpful, to keep everyone in the loop, as in the absence of knowledge, hypotheses and mistruths fill in the void, which is never a good thing on a ship! After two sea days, our next port was Esperance. We had to anchor at sea, using the ship's lifeboats as tenders. Unfortunately, again Mother Nature stepped in with very rough waters, making the return tendering process rather complicated - the chop was at times, ferocious, such that the tenders needed quite a bit of extra time to get close, safely, to the ship. The captains of the individual tenders had nerves of steel and proved their excellence as quality maritime officers in the skills that they demonstrated. And for those that are mobility challenged, extra care needed to be taken due to the rough seas at the tender platforms getting back on board - but, again, the incredibly empathic and capable (and strong!) crew proved that all things are possible and everyone returned safely back to the ship, and were, if I may, all the richer for having experienced this exciting adventure! As we approached Albany, our next port of call, 6 prop planes flew over the ship in formation as a welcome. This is a charming town with a lovely center, very sweet. We did an "off the reservation" tour of Whale World - there is an animal sanctuary there that is not a part of the regular tour, which we knew about only through catching a brief reference to it on the ship's shore excursion TV channel, as it is not widely publicized. Again, the compassion of others was crucial - we asked the Celebrity sanctioned tour guide about the animal sanctuary, stating that we might prefer that to the all too realistic detailed tour of the whaling station (not for the faint of heart) - with the cooperation of the Whale World staff, we got a private tour of the sanctuary, experiencing perhaps the best kangaroo and koala encounters of the oh so many that we had, of our entire month long journey. Perth was our final port of call and sadly, the end of our month long cruise on the Solstice! As I said in the beginning, it was very difficult for us to leave as 1/3 of the passengers were staying on for the next cruise, to circumnavigate the continent. Our time though, was sadly at an end and we will forever cherish the memories of our great times on the Solstice! Before it was all over though, we enjoyed a ship's shore excursion into Perth, exploring Kings Park at length. If I am lucky enough to ever come again, I would spend a lot of time in Fremantle, the port town - very charming, modern boutiques in refurbished port buildings, lots of outdoor cafes, all very nice, subtly trendy. Some specifics about our onboard experience include a shout out to our cabin attendant who was quite fabulous - my daughter has a thing for collecting a stuffed animal in noteworthy areas; for instance, when in Australia, she picked up a stuffed kangaroo, in New Zealand she found just the right stuffed kiwi, etc - our cabin attendant joined in the fun by making sure that each animal received it's own chocolate at turndown every night. She also would pose the animals - for instance, one day when we got back to our cabin from a long shore excursion, we gleefully found that she had posed our Mickey Mouse (we had picked him up pre-cruise in DisneyLand) on the desk chair looking out the balcony door, looking through binoculars! And of course, she made excellent towel art - the towel swans, that she somehow managed to also look like hearts at the same time that they looked like swans, with our stuffed kiwi in the middle, flanked by the lamb and the kangaroo - well, there is a large photo of it in our album, oh yes, there is! It's these touches that make you feel like you are at home. Valentine's Day was on board, and in Blu as well as the main dining room and specialty restaurants, every woman was presented with a lovely red rose - a tasteful nod to the day. All of the activities staff were superb - energetic, engaging, enthused! We feel strongly that you get out of a cruise what you put into it. We got involved in the two dance clubs that practiced on every sea day and on the final day of the cruise, performed in the ship talent show - it was great fun and we made many new friends! A particular fun activity for me was volunteering to be one of the three judges on the mock Iron Chef show, where the Executive Chef battled it out in "kitchen stadium" against the Cruise Director! The entertainment was first rate - the "brought in" talent as well as the on board talent provided by the "Stars of the Celebrity Solstice" - and the many musical on board performers, that you could find anywhere and everywhere, from the afternoon through late into the night - all quite wonderful. As I have said in other reviews, the only thing that makes getting off the ship bearable is if you have another cruise booked to look forward to, and yes, yes, we will be on the Celebrity Equinox in April! We will miss the crew of the Solstice, but I trust that we will make many new friends on the TransAtlantic! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Celebrity Solstice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 5.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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