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1 Celebrity Solstice Cruise Reviews for Cruises for the Disabled Cruises to South Pacific

Cruise review Review with photos can also be found on following link: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2298377 Celebrity Solstice 26 November 2015 - 8 night South Pacific cruise Introduction - myself and my ... Read More
Cruise review Review with photos can also be found on following link: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2298377 Celebrity Solstice 26 November 2015 - 8 night South Pacific cruise Introduction - myself and my partner, both travel agents in our late 20's / early 30's We cruised Celebrity Solstice for the first time earlier this year after RCI having been our favourite, and we loved celebrity so much we had to come back! We love good food and wine, and this cruise line suits us perfectly. Although the age demographic on the previous cruise did tend to be 50+ that was fine for us as we were looking for a quality cruise line to spend time with each other, with a bit more quiet than RCI with their belly flop competitions, kids facilities etc. DAY 1 We flew from Melbourne and found it very easy to get a taxi to the port as we have done before. Pricing was approx AUD$80 for the one way, similar to the price of the airport transfer with Celebrity once you convert to AUD however we didn't have to wait around for other travelers or other flights, which makes getting to the port feel that much more efficient. On arrival, the ships was docked stern first - which is an often asked question! She can dock either way, however Solstice often docks stern first. Dropping off luggage was a breeze, and we made our way into the overseas passenger terminal. As I am a Select Captains Club member, we had a priority queue which was a relief when we saw the normal queue. Again, check in was super quicksand done in five minutes. Through security they were confiscating all power boards as they have done before, so a reminder not to try and bring one. After security we were straight on to the ship with our glass of bubbles in hand. One thing I did notice different with embarkation was that there was no one taking the embarkation photos. I wasn't planning on buying many photos however this was one I would have bought. That being said, once onboard, there were a number of background displays and photographers ready to take your photo, along with photographers on the decks at sail away, so there were other opportunities for a photo if one wishes. As soon as you board, there is a desk right there for your specialty dining reservations. This is one of the first things we do, secure our bookings. I know that some do like to wait for discounts that can be offered later to dine in the specialty restaurants, however for us, we prefer to book on day 1 for the restaurants we want and pay the full price to make sure we can get into the restaurant on day and time of our choice. On a previous longer Celebrity cruise earlier this year we booked the three night specialty package which we loved for a 12 night cruise. On this shorter cruise, we preferred to book just Tuscan and Murano as we loved the quality of food in the main dining room so much. Silks was great to visit on our last cruise however we're lucky to have some fantastic Asian restaurants in Melbourne so are giving it a miss this time. For those who are thinking value, the three night package definitely is great value as it is only an extra US$9 per person to add on silks if you're already dining at Murano and Tuscan. Before the cruise I had tried to pre book the restaurants online however there was only very limited availability. We knew we wanted to dine in a specialty restaurant the last night (a tradition of ours), and was hoping for Murano however as it wasn't available, we booked Tuscan. When onboard, of course there were a lot more days and times for reservations. I enquirers bout swapping the prebooked Tuscan to another night, and booking / paying for Murano for the last night, however it now appears that once you have made a reservation online, it cannot be changed for a different day or time. Wasn't the end of the world for us, we kept Tuscan for the last night and booked Murano for a night in the middle of the cruise to break it up. With specialty restaurants sorted and confirmed, the next thing we do is check our table allocation in the main dining room. We were booked in the late sitting 8.30pm which suits is perfect as we like to take our time getting back from port and getting ready for dinner, even sneaking in a pre dinner drink. Traveling my partner and I, we like to request a table for two. Everyone is different when they cruise, and for us this really is a down time to spend quality time with each other. Having that table of two means that we can enjoy romantic dinners for two every night, this is a big part of the cruising experience for us. We went to the main dining room where there was a desk setup to enquire and make any changes to your table allocation. We were very excited to find out that we had been assigned a table of two by the window, which was just perfect and even though when dark during dinner, you could still see the water below. Happy that our two main tasks had been completed, we felt ready to head off and start enjoying the cruise. Off to the buffet for a quick bite to eat, by this stage it was 12.30 and all the tables were full except the outdoor ones aft in the sun. We were hungry and took this table, with a million dollar view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Unsure what we felt like, we settled for some beautiful soft pizza right out of the oven and some Indian curries full of flavour. Staterooms were ready at 1pm, and we have a midship balcony on deck 7. Sitting on the balcony, you can see the roof of the lifeboat when you glance downwards however doesn't at all interrupt the view. I'm definitely glad we did spend the littler extra and upgraded form deck 6 balcony as this would have been a very obstructed view. Stateroom is identical to the deck 8 balcony cabin we had last time. Spacious enquire with glass shower door and plenty of space to unpack your toiletries. Large queen bed with a variety of pillows to suit different tastes and a large sofa by the balcony. Again plenty of space to unpack for two adults however would have preferred more standard hangers to hang dresses, shirts, dinner jackets. Plenty of pant clip hangers. We had an early start so it was great to have time for a nap. The suitcases arrived at some point between 1.30pm-4pm, so I unpacked right away. Not having to live out of a suitcase is one of the things I love about cruising. The empty cases fit perfectly under the bed. The three main things we do before we're officially I'm holiday mode - make restaurant reservations, check dinner table, unpack - had been done. Muster drill was at 5pm in the photo gallery and while for us who have cruised before it can feel quite repetitive and I'm sure not the highlight of our day, it was great to be able to see where the emergency exits are in the event of an emergency, especially as some were quite hidden. After the muster drill, as you can imagine, it's a sea of guests waiting to leave. We wanted to grab a seat at the Sunset Bar on starboard side for sail away so we ran up the 7 flights of stairs and were one of the first ones. Sail away wasn't for another hour so while the seats were taken, the area didn't fill up until closer to 6.30pm. By this stage, a cold front was sweeping over Sydney so it was rest to have the lawn blankets for extra warmth. Cocktail in hand, this was the perfect side to watch sail away as we're had the full view of the harbor bridge and the opera house. The buffet was opened at this stage for dinner, so we had a little plate of cheese and sushi which watching us sail from Sydney. This seemed to be a perfect spot for sail away and it certainly got busier with guests setting up picnic blankets on the lawn. Quick showers and getting ready for dinner, we headed off to the main dining room for our 8.30pm window table for two. This was our first thanksgiving dinner and being Australians we weren't sure what to expect, I thought there may have been some "happy thanksgivings" going around or some mention, however I guess being a crowd with mostly non Americans, there wasn't much made of the night other than Turkey on the menu. Service was fantastic by both of our waiters and the sommelier. The sommelier in particular would come refill our glasses without asking. We had the complimentary classic beverage package included at time of booking. Last cruise we upgraded to the premium and we found we definitely got well above our value, so again we upgraded. We found that again already, the package upgrade was worth it for us as we love bring able to order sparkling water, wines and cocktails without looking too much at the prices, They have now changed the menu format in that the left side of the menu has drink recommendations including some great tasting cocktails! And the right side has the top half for starters and the bottom half for entrees. In each section there is also a list of the everyday items that are available each night. There is still no problem with ordering as many starters or entrees as you'd like. One of the things I loved was that some of the traditional cruise starters such as escargots, French onion soup, shrimp cocktail, and crème brûlée for dessert are on the everyday available menu, whereas with some other cruise lines such as P&O Australia and Carnival Australia, these are bought out one a cruise, perhaps for formal nights. It's these little touches that bought us back to Celebrity. Dinner for us was two starters each, thanksgiving turkey for dinner (with a "happy thanksgiving" glass clink, and a crème brûlée to share. Still being tired from the day mixed with perhaps a little sleepiness caused by the wines and seasickness tablets (just in case!), we had an early night and a good night’s rest. There was quite a bit of movement overnight due to the extreme heat / cold front sudden swap, but it was a nice feeling being rocked to sleep! We always take sea sickness tablets for the first two or three days. Who knows, without them we may be fine. But we don't want to risk being unwell and missing out, so we take them just in case. With many sea sickness tablets, they are a preventative, not a cure. We were feeling great so who knows if it was because the tablets were working, or maybe we didn't need them. But not a chance we were risking to take! We have also found this cruise to have a much younger demographic. We have seen not too many kids - perhaps fives so far - but also about 10 other young adult couples, and the average adult demographic tends to be 40-50. This is quite different in comparison to last cruise where there was perhaps only five or ten young couples all up. DAY 2 After sleeping like a baby, I woke up at 8am and the ship is still moving quite a bit. A cool sea day, quite cloudy, so it's jeans and a jumper time! Feeling a little off, I headed off to the aqua spa cafe for a light breakfast while my partner slept. Fantastic light offerings here from yogurt parfaits, poached fruit, fresh fruit plate, mini muffins, and savory dishes made to order. Also a great variety of smoothies and juices made to order, and included in the premium package. I took my fresh fruit plate and smoothie back to the balcony, and enjoyed while I started this review :) We had a relatively quiet sea day. Coffees and pastries for morning tea at bacio cafe. I love the variety of pastries on offer, with four different crossings, and beautiful berry filled donuts. Bacio cafe was organised chaos, but they did have a lot of servers on the go so the wait wasn't too long. On deck four, they had displays of the specialty restaurants dishes and menus, as well as some tastings to try, and you could also make reservations if you didn’t already have any. This was a great opportunity to see the dishes so you had an idea of portion size and which dishes looked best. While my partner went to the gym (which he raves about their facilities), I headed off to the shops for their Black Friday sales. To say they were busy is an understatement. The queue to pay was out the door, and the tables were full with discounted clothing, jewellery, watches, accessories etc. I had a brief walk around but didn't stay for long as it was too hard to move. We had lunch in the main dining room as it was a sea day, and this is something we love to do on a cruise. We indulged in a glass of bubbles to start lunch, as it was included in our beverage package and because holidays are about doing things you normally wouldn’t do! Table for two by the window, I had the cheesy mozzarella sticks which burst with melted cheese when cut into, and beautiful tender teriyaki duck breast. There were desserts but we opted to skip a dessert course. This afternoon we booked ourselves in the World Wine Tasting event which we did on a previous cruise and loved. US$24 per person there were 6 white and 6 red tastings from around the world, and you could have unlimited tastings. The sommelier selected some great grape varieties that we wouldn't know much about, to really give us the experience of new wines. This coupled with cheese platters, made for a great afternoon activity on a cool sea day. All wines tasted were available by the bottle for purchase in the restaurants / Cellarmasters, but I think we'll stick with buying by the glass as we do prefer tasting more wines. We headed off to the martini bar for some afternoon martins, which is something we really enjoyed. The lychees and watermelon martinis were our favourites. 6pm and tired we went back to our stateroom and showered, and enjoyed some room service before an early night. DAY 3 Up early and it's a perfect sea day! Smooth seas, bright blue sky and beautiful warm weather. We had a light breakfast from the buffet and I was really impressed with all the offerings. Omelettes and eggs made to order, Asian noodles and congee, variety of bagels and toasts, smoke salmon and mackerel, fresh fruits, lots of bacon, and pancakes and waffles. The weather was just beautiful and the decks were full, but a deck chair could still be found. We had a lovely sea day lunch in the dining room of satay skewers and spaghetti bolognaise and Spanish paella. The afternoon was spent in the solarium which does have those premium padded deck chairs perfect for relaxing. Swim in the pool and spa both comfortable temperatures. Pre dinner tonight we purchased a card for the enematic wine dispensers at Cellarmasters, as you could do a self wine tasting with 8 whites and 8 reds. The wine pour size options were a small tasting from $1-$3 depending on the bottle, to half a glass, to a full glass. We thought this was a great concept but to be honest, the two wines I tasted I was not a fan of. This tasting is not compatible with any drink packages. We absolutely loved Cellarmasters on our previous cruise however the sommelier really made the experience for us, making recommendations and educating us each night. We haven't really had the opportunity yet to build the rapport with the current sommelier, so hoping our experience will improve throughout the cruise. We were very excited to find molecular bar still in action! There was no sign of world class bar, when asked I was told this would be implemented on Solstice in February. There is half the original menu from old molecular bar plus a few "specials". We were happy with the variety on offer and they were also able to make my favourite - coming up roses - even though it isn't on the menu. Only difference was that they don't stock the rose petal garnish but that was perfect for me. From memory, most cocktails were $15.50 per drink, and therefore covered in the premium alcohol package. Dinner this evening in the main dining room, it was top chef menu night. Food was very good, with tuna tartare, tomato gazpacho and escargots for starters, and perfectly cooked flank steak and confit salmon for mains. Desserts was strawberries & cream with a twist. Early night for a day in port tomorrow! DAY 4 Waking up early and unable to get back to sleep, I headed up to bacio coffee for a pre breakfast tea and donuts. Our arrival is 10am to Lifou which is a little later than previous cruises, but it does mean we're not as rushed. Bacio table service fantastic and really is a nice relaxing place to be at this time of day. The queue for the tender tickets was horrendous, and I imagine so because of the late time arrival, all guests will be ready to go ashore. Whereas with the normal arrivals times of 8am, some guests are still eating / getting ready, so the queues are much shorter. Once we had the ticket, getting on to a tender was quite stress free. We had been to Lifou previously so this time opted for a short stay. Quality over quantity of time is our motto for the ports on this cruise! We waited for our tender ticket to be called while enjoying iced coffees at Café Al Bacio. We found a great shady spot to setup our beach mats, and indulged in some massages on offer. You can't miss them - there are lots of local women offering massages and hair braiding. Cost was 1500CPF South Pacific franks for 20 minutes and well enjoyed. We purchased some drinking coconuts for 300cfp South Pacific francs. The tour operators and local stalls also accepted AUD, but you never know, so we're glad we took local currency. There were a number of local tours on offer, as well as opportunities to walk to the beautiful Baie de Jinek for snorkeling, visiting a lookout or three caves. But as we had been before, we were happy to just relax and enjoy the beach. We spent time having a swim and relaxing on the beach and then headed back to the ship for lunch. One thing I would definitely recommend is reef shoes for this beach, as it is quite sharp with the coral. Quick lunch at the buffet and it was lovely to enjoy a quieter than normal pool deck back on ship. A specialty they had at the buffet today for lunch was a whole tuna which they were using for sashimi. Incredibly fresh and tasty, and I really liked that they changed things up a bit in the buffet. Cheese and bubbles on our balcony, it was a great way to start the night, followed by molecular bar cocktails and wines for the evening show. This evening we watched the hypnotism show which was great and full of laughs. As it was audience participation, you never really know how it will go. We're not much for shows but enjoyed this one and found plenty of seating by arriving 25 minutes early. We had a quick go at the casino, before dinner. We were able to withdraw cash against our onboard account for a 5% fee. We only withdrew $50 so the fee wasn’t a huge deal to us. Dinner was in the main dining room and while we didn't find anything much that stood out from the menu, what we did order was as usual of a high quality and very tasty. One thing I did want to point out with the ensemble bar because it happened twice in one night - once to myself, once to my partner. I went up hoping to get two glasses of bubbles to enjoy on our balcony with our cheese plate. Reading the menu, I asked for two glasses of a particular bubbles, which was the most expensive one they had at $12 a glass. In the same sentence, I asked - is that the best bubbles you have at this bar? Before he could answer, another bar attended already started pouring my glasses. The bartender said yes, unless of course you want to pay extra. I said yes I was happy to pay extra if there is a better one they have off the menu, however as the other attendee had already started pouring, they were hesitant for me to order the premium one. Later, my partner went to order a red wine to take to the show. He also asked for a glass of their best cab sav, they gave him a glass of the best in the premium package and when he asked if this was the best they had, they replied and said yes, unless he wanted to pay extra. This was all after pouring. We found in this venue that the attendees were very quick to assume that we wanted the cheapest. While I understand many passengers would want only drinks in their package allowance, it would definitely be worth them taking their time to explain the other options even if they cost extra, for those passengers who are specially asking for a "best" glass of bubbles or wine. DAY 5 Today's visit to Noumea was again a short but lovely one. Again we have visited Noumea previously and seen most of the must to sights that interest us. No tenders were needed which was a great relief to just walk off the ship whenever we were ready. On a previous cruise we visited a beautiful patisserie off the beaten track called Le Autellier Gourmand so decided our visit to Noumea would be back here for brunch. We caught the complimentary ship shuttle to the city centre terminal and then purchased the hop on hop off bus ticket for 1500cpf per person. They also took Aud and credit card, and their ticket desk was located inside the terminal to the back right. The hop on hop off runs every 20/25 minutes and is a great way to see Noumea. Being a Monday, the morning market and aquarium was closed so something to keep in mind depending what day you're arriving to Noumea. At the patisserie, we indulged in a plain baguette, a cheese and olive baguette, croissants, some mini cakes and a macaron. I don't remember how much we spent but would estimate 2000cpf for the two of us, and we were full. It was a fantastic way to experience a local side to Noumea as you are off the beaten track. You would definitely need local currency here. Afterwards we returned to the terminal with the hop on hop off and back to the ship. My partner visited the gym while I took the opportunity to relax on one of the pool deck hammocks with some magazines. There was a P&O ship docked at the cruise ship terminal near Coconut Square. This ship arrived at 3pm and I assume would be staying until late night. I was glad to be back onboard and have done my sightseeing earlier in the day, as the city would have been that much busier with two ships visiting at once. Lunch was a light salad so that we wouldn't get hungry later in the afternoon before having a nice day time nap. Waking up at 4, we had some I cream for the gelataria. The small serve is two scoops in one cup for $5, but the great news is that they can also do two cups of one scoop each for the same price. Yes you can get the complimentary ice cream in the buffet, however we find for a small cost this one to be more creamier and indulgent. The outdoor pool deck and solarium were busy but enough room for swims, and was fantastic to sail out if Noumea while enjoying cocktails in the solarium spa. The solarium on this cruise does have family times allowed 5-7pm and while there were some kids, we didn't find them too loud. This evening we were invited to the senior officers cocktail party held in Cellarmasters. A fantastic selection of canapés and bubbles / wines / cocktails / non alcoholic drinks available. It was great to see the captain and his senior officers. Dinner was Murano and even though we ate light all day, we left Murano completely full! What I loved was that it didn't feel like just another restaurant on a ship. Murano rivals many restaurants on land, with the food and service being a step above. Starting with a scallop amuse bouche, we were able to select two starters each so we had the lobster bisque, pork belly and the scallop Wellington. While the scallop Wellington was lovely, the other two starters definitely stood out. For main, we both had the venison medium rare as per chef recommendation and wow - just amazing. Perfectly complimented with onions, sultanas and spinach, the dish was faultless. For dessert we had the mini samplers which was a great light dessert to share between two, and of course the amazing cheese cart to finish with a selection of beautiful cheeses. The sommelier service was amazing, and an incredible wine list. The great thing about having the premium package was that we ordered wines a little more in price and just paid the difference. Loved Murano even more than the first visit, and would definitely recommend a visit. DAY 6 Isle of pines is our favourite port and we were excited about this one! Tender tickets were needed and as we were there a full day, we didn't rush to get to the island. I picked up breakfast of bacon, hash browns and salmon bagels, and we enjoyed this on the balcony as we watched the tenders. Visit to bacio for a relaxing coffee, before we went back to the room and got ready to go ashore. By this stage it was 11am so no tender tickets were needed! The tender was a little choppy however the crew we're fantastic when instructing you when safe to step on to the tender. There are two main beaches here, the front beach great for swimming and relaxing on the sand, the back beach great for snorkeling. We've been and snorkeled before, so this time we stayed on the front beach and just relaxed. I had bought from home an inflatable donut that I took to both Lifou and Isle Of Pines, and loved just sitting and floating on this, and readying a magazine too! Only cost a few dollars and at the end of the day left it with a very excited little local girl to enjoy. We have done this in previous cruises as well as pool noodles, and they make enjoying the water much easier as you can really just relax. The main souvenir shop they have has been knocked down and they are now building what looks to be some type of food store. There were a number of food and gift shops all along the main road. Gift shops accepted local currency and AUD, with all your normal sort of sarongs and souvenirs. The food shops accepted local currency (not sure about AUD), and sold hot food, baked goods, cans of soft drinks, packet chips and ice cream scoops. I was quite surprised that there was no stalls selling drinking coconuts! While the day wasn't as hot as the previous two ports, we still enjoyed a good part of the day on the island swimming and relaxing on the beach. Going back to the ship, we loved how celebrity always had ice cold hand towels and cool drinks ready for you. These little touches are what we love about this cruise line. As we had skipped lunch while on shore, I grabbed some miso soup and sushi for us to enjoy on our balcony as we sailed away, which would carry us over for dinner. We had martinis at the martini bar, and molecular cocktails before dinner. At our table by the window we were able to see the pilot leave on the pilot boat which was quite exciting. There were some amazing sorters tonight to pick from! We both had the venison carpaccio and clam chowder, however there was also duck confit as well as your regular prawn cocktails, escargots etc. With the entree / main courses, the dishes that are available every night do vary by a dish or two here or there. They had steak in this section so my partner enjoyed and loved that, while I had the chicken Kiev. Mains were simple however done very well. With dessert, we were also offered a dish off the menu - grand marnier soufflé which I jumped at, and my partner had the crème brûlée with is on the always available dessert list. We always have the best intentions so staying up after dinner, but at 10.30pm, we rolled into bed and ready for a sea day. DAY 7 Woke up to a beautiful sea day today, weather looks fantastic! It's a little bumpy but not too bad. I'm not sure if it's just me, but it tends to be the bigger the ship, the more I am feeling the movement! We're always similar deck, midship, balcony cabin and similar time of year to cruise. Our next cruise is on RCI Explorer Of The Seas with the extended family, back to the South Pacific. We love Celebrity and will cruise again on Celebrity in a heartbeat, but RCI Explorer suited better for the next cruise as there is a little one coming along, and some of the passengers like to do more such as rock climbing, flowrider etc. and with their buy 1 get 1 half off sale, it was fantastic value. We tried the main dining room for breakfast today which was good, however they were so busy bing a sea day, it did take a bit of time for our egg orders to come out. When they did arrive, they were cooked to perfection and well enjoyed. Feeling a little unwell, we had a rest in the room until lunch, again in the main dining room. We have always found service to be so amazing here, which is why the start of our lunch was a disappointment. We asked for a table of 2, and were advised that it would be a wait. That was fine with us, we were more than happy to wait for an available table of 2, along with half a dozen other couples, meanwhile letting other passengers who were happy to share a table, pass through. We were looking forward to a quiet lazy lunch and were more than happy to wait. When we were seated, we were handed menus however 20 minutes passed and no one offered us water or came to take our order. They were busy, I understand this, however tables around us who were seated after us, we're attended to. It felt like our table was being overlooked no one was sure who we belonged to. We asked a passing waiter and they said they would return but no luck. My partner went and asked to speak to the maître d, explaining that while we understood they were busy, it was like we were forgotten! The maître d was amazing and took it upon himself to serve us. He promptly took our order, delivery and clearing our meals. For dessert, he noticed we were enjoying a glass of bubbles so he also bought chocolate strawberries for us - noting that they would go perfect with the rest of our bubbles. He certainly went above and beyond for us, and it didn't go unnoticed. We spent the lazy afternoon relaxing by the pool desks whichever ere busy but easy to get two deck chairs. We continued our 6pm sushi tradition on the balcony tonight, which was again from the buffet and so very fresh, with a great selection. One thing we did notice was the stateroom tv now also had Australian channels such as 7,9,10 and sbs, as well as the USA channels. The evening was formal night and we love an occasion to dress up. With the generally younger demographic on the cruise this time, some were dressed more casually in almost sun / day dresses, however most made an effort. We visited Cellarmasters for a pre dinner wine and met with the Cellarmaster himself who was fantastic to speak with and shared some humour on different accents from around the world. This was the busiest we had seen cellarmasters which I believe formal night may have bought out the wine drinking side of everyone! We were lucky to get a seat at the bar, and there would have been five sommeliers run off their feet. On the previous cruise they served wine only, however they now also had a selection of beers available. This was our favourite main dining room menu so far, and we were excited. We shared a few starters as we couldn't decide - BBQ smoked oysters, blue cheese soufflé, escargots, chilled pea and mint soup with crab. For mains, we couldn't go past the lobster tail however also our waiter also bought out a leg of lamb dish for us to share, which tasted fantastic accompanied with mint jelly. Desserts I was hoping for bombe Alaska, however it wasn't on the menu. So I went with the crème brûlée which was again fantastic, and my partner a vanilla meringue with cream and fruit which was beautiful. Chatting with our table sommelier, we asked about packages. He said that with the 123GO promo, now 90% of guests have a drink package. Of those 90%, only 15-20% upgrade to premium. I found it surprising that the percentage was so low for the upgraded packages, when taking into account the per day upgrade cost is less than one premium glass of wine, one martini, one molecular cocktail. We are not smokers at all, however we had a Cuban cigar we bought with us to mark the formal night occasion. We headed up the sunset bar to enjoy the cigar, and it was a beautiful relaxing part of the ship we had never explored at night. Quick go at the casino before we headed to bed. We were keen to make the most of tomorrow, our last sea day! DAY 8 We woke up to a bumpy cool sea day today, 4m swells. The deck chairs were mostly packed up so it was going to be a busy day inside today. We had a quick buffet breakfast before I relaxed with some magazines on a hammock, which my partner went to the gym. Lunch was again in the main dining room and arriving right at 12pm we had no trouble getting a table for two by the window. Beautiful lunch of prawns, a seafood pasta and orange sorbet as a nice palate cleanser. This afternoon we had booked the privee wine and cheese tasting event in Cellarmasters. There was just us and another couple, and a fantastic opportunity to sample some more premium wines $100-200 bottle price range and artisan cheeses. The sommelier was fantastic with his extensive knowledge and we really loved this tasting. A quick afternoon nap, and we packed our cases before show and dinner. I wanted to get the packing done early so we could enjoy our night and not have to worry about it later. Cases had to be out by 11pm, but having them out by 6pm, we headed to the molecular bar for our last cocktails for the trip. Tonight's show was our second and a violinist which really surprised us how much we enjoyed the show. We like to end our last dinner with a specialty restaurant which was Tuscan. At 8pm we had a table by the window, with a view of the light up wake which was just stunning. Beautiful antipasto and breads set the tone for the evening. We each ordered the steak tartare which was amazing, shared a Caesar salad prepared table side, and both had the filet mignon which was cooked medium to perfection. For the sides we had the mac and cheese, and steak fries which were a great accompaniment followed up a new twist on Toffee Panacotta for dessert - four tastings of toffee and Panacotta. The sommelier was fantastic, offering some amazing wines to match as well as giving some insight to the grapes. Service could not be faulted. Exhausted, we had an early night in preparation for the next day. DAY 9 Woke up just in time to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge sail past our balcony at 5.30am. The buffet was available until 8.30am for breakfast, and was relatively easy to find a table for 2 here. Full offerings were available, and you could hear the disembarkation groups being called at the buffet. Luggage was easily available, and took 10minutes from the time we were off the ship to have our cases, clear customs and exit the terminal. We were picking up a hire car from Avis at the Marriott, which was only a 10 minute walk away. SUMMARY That was a day by day review, but wanted to end with a summary: The heated topic of drink packages We had the classic package included when we booked however for us it was a no brainer to upgrade to premium as we enjoy sparkling water, and the premium cocktails and wines. We definitely don't drink $1400 worth on a cruise, so a classic or premium package wouldn't work worthwhile for us if we had to purchase a package. Instead we would just buy the a paralleling water / premium cocktails and wine / coffees etc as normal and pay by the glass / drink. While we definitely saw value in upgrading to premium as we prefer premium drinks, I wouldn't see the value for us to purchase a classic package. We had no trouble at all using our package, and liked not having to sign for each drink. Sommeliers were more than happy to offer recommendations to fit within your package, or go above the limit on request. Best thing about the premium package was that we could purchase premium wines or bubbles by the glass, and just pay the price difference. There was also when onboard a new Standard package on offer. This was advertised at Café Al Bacio however it wasn’t clear if this included the specialty teas and coffees. Buffet dining Buffet dining was always busy as is the case with buffets, however found there to be a great variety and food always hot. The pizza station was always popular, and we really enjoyed the sushi station for a pre dinner snack. Our breakfast was normally bagels with smoked salmon and there was always a large variety of bagels and breads on offer, including the famous fried bread. Main dining room dining We found breakfast here to be okay, however didn't find the food that much better than the buffet. Of course, it was great not to have to get your own food and the crowds, but would in future prefer buffet breakfast on celebrity, especially as we often took the food back to our balcony. Sea day lunches were fantastic and a nice quiet way to enjoy lunch. Food quality always amazing, and plenty of variety with a daily changing menu. Dinner here, wow. We loved the main dining room quality and options, and it was always am exceptional experience dining here. The waiters and sommelier always went above and beyond, and we really appreciated the table for two. Menu was amazing, with always something adventurous to try if you wished. The bread basket with whipped butter, hommus and a spring onion dip was a great way to start each night. One recommendation I do have is that if you would like a table for two, to contact celebrity before and make sure there is a request note on your booking, and to follow up as soon as you get onboard. Specialty Restaurants The specialty restaurants were again fantastic value and well worth the extra money for an extra special meal. If you are wanting to try all three, the restaurant packages work out the best value for money. I recommend to prebook before you go or as soon as you are onboard, so you don’t miss out. Ask for the window tables in Tuscan, well worth the view even if it is dark. Bar service Bar service throughout the ship was fantastic and in particular we found the wait at Molecular Bar quite minimal. The only bar that was a bit chaotic was again the pool bar. It seemed that same as last cruise, there was no order as to how they took orders. Entertainment We watched two shows and found them to be of a fantastic standard. I'm sure the other shows would have also been great if they were to our taste. Ports & tendering We had been to the ports before so were not in a rush to disembark. With the later scheduled arrival to Lifou we found the queue quite long for the tender tickets. I understand that will it be difficult to issue tender tickets for so many people however maybe it would have been good to have two allocated areas issuing tender tickets. Other than this, getting on and off the ship was hassle free. My tips - take an inflatable donut for optimum relaxation on the beach - straw beach mats are cheap and I do recommend to take them with you. They are great to use to setup your place on the beach, and keeps your towel sand free and for drying yourself. - reef shoes are a must for Lifou. - in Noumea, have a plan. Whether you are prebooking a ship tour or doing your own thing, have a plan of what you want to see and do, to get the most of your day. - take local currency with you. You don't want to be trying to find an atm at the start of your day on port in Noumea. If you have any questions, big or small, feel free to let me know and I’d love to help! Link to full photo album: http://s1293.photobucket.com/user/LuckiePuris/library/Celebrity%20Solstice%20Cruise%20November%202015 Please feel free to share photos, however I just ask that you please ask for permission to use photos on any pages, blogs or publishing formats, and share credit to Luckiepuris. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
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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