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91 Celebrity Solstice Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Having sailed on the Solstice for a 7 day getaway cruise back in January 2011, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the same ship later in the year on a different route and compare the voyage. I could sum it up by saying 7 nights ... Read More
Having sailed on the Solstice for a 7 day getaway cruise back in January 2011, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the same ship later in the year on a different route and compare the voyage. I could sum it up by saying 7 nights in the Caribbean was superb, 12 nights in Europe was spectacular. We started out at an excellent hotel in Barcelona I read about on cruise critic. The Hotel Jazz was centrally located; medium in the price scheme, and attention to detail was excellent. Smallish in size (8 floors), but with a sharp rooftop pool, super helpful staff, and because of its central location, easily could navigate Barcelona. Embarkation was one of the easiest I've been through. I had forgotten my luggage tags, guys outside the terminal gladly took care of that in an instant and a smile. Lines moved quickly outside, with less than 10 minutes before was inside the terminal, and less than 45 minutes before I was checked in and boarding the ship. The logistics of moving 2800 passengers and their luggage in a relatively short period always amazes me. One thing I really admire is Celebrity doesn't shortchange its staff for embarkation. Probably 8-10 people outside the terminal ready to take your bags. Another 30-40 inside the terminal available to check you in scan your credit card details/passport and get you your sea pass to board the Solstice. Having been a fan of the Millennium class, and especially the Constellation, still surprised how much I enjoy the Solstice class. It's about a third bigger passenger wise, but still has a way of feeling intimate. You still get the feeling of being a guest rather than a passenger, just by the extra courtesies the staff always provides. Two suggestions I strongly recommend is trying some of the specialty restaurants onboard. My two favorite are Murano and Tuscan Grill. Both excel but for different reasons. Tuscan Grill resonates with the sounds and smells of Italy. We had a group of about 10 dining together and the staff was more than accommodating to let us savor each other dishes as well as allowing us to get a few extra dishes so all could try. In Murano, we reserved the wine room, for the 7 of us, and so it was our own private dining room inside the Murano restaurant itself. Service was terrific although I think our waiter must have been new, as he tried his best to describe the way things were cooked kind of generically rather than knowing the specifics on how they were prepared. Luckily the Maitre D kind of helped in this regard, and kept it up to the quality of a Michelin type service. The main dining room was excellent, can't think of a bad meal I had there. The buffet was good any time of day breakfast, lunch or just a snack (they make the greatest ice cream in the world on Celebrity). I never eat ice cream at home but ate it every day of the cruise. One thing I absolutely adore is the warmth you get from the staff after you travel a few cruises with Celebrity. Last time I had been on Solstice, we had the same Hotel Director onboard as this voyage, and saw her the first day and she greeted me warmly remembering all my details. The second day of the cruise I found a 12 pack of bottled Pepsi in my cabin compliments of the Hotel Director, as she had remembered that I had mentioned last cruise that I didn't drink alcohol, and preferred Pepsi and the ship only carried Coke. When I saw her the next day I thanked her for the gesture (and the Pepsi), and she said she just felt bad she couldn't of had it onboard the first day instead of the second, but they had trouble finding it in Barcelona. Now how's that for attention to detail? Over the past few years I think they have done a very good job with the excursions in regard to quality/value. I think I did 6 excursions off the ship and only found one (Florence/Pisa) to be choppy and kind of lacking structure or a theme. Florence was essentially wasted time where you really didn't have time to do more than walk by things rather than visit them, while the Pisa portion was quite a nice afternoon. Rooms on the Solstice are a nice step up from most lines. A good amount of storage, bathrooms like an upscale hotel. I picked a cabin immediately next to the bridge. It was cool to be able to see the bridge from my balcony, but noise can be a problem at that location during the day as you hear quite a bit of door slamming. At night though it was peaceful, so no complaints. Downside to being next to the bridge is you are not near an elevator, but you take the good with the minor things like that. Two small complaints I had that seemed to be a common theme with other passengers in the room were the television and the telephone. The telephone is backlit so even when its not in use it has a tendency to be rather bright (like a bright night light), that can't be turned off. My remedy was to lay my sea pass card across the face of the illuminated panel to dim it down to negligible. The other small complaint was the remotes for the televisions aren't very food. Last cruise had the same problem and found it rather common complaint at our dinner table, that no ones seemed to work really well. Maybe batteries need to be changed out more? Its funny I had a suite last voyage on Solstice and that remote was also taped up and not working real well. Funny thing is those two minor annoyances were the only complaints I could think of, so gives you an idea on how great the ship and staff really are. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Celebrity Solstice Ship: The ship is excellent in every conceivable way, well laid out with modern equipment fitted to a high standard. The rooms are particularly pleasing with plenty of room to manoeuvre and large very ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice Ship: The ship is excellent in every conceivable way, well laid out with modern equipment fitted to a high standard. The rooms are particularly pleasing with plenty of room to manoeuvre and large very comfortable queen size beds. The kids enjoyed a good sized bunk bed, there is a turn down service each night. The balconies are a good size and a great place to watch the world go by. There is a mini bar which is replenished each day, the cost of drinks being typical of that of a hotel mini bar Food: The two main restaurants included in the standard package are the Ocean View Cafe (where breakfast is also served) which is a self service buffet dining option and the Grand Eperny which is a full service restaurant with a good and varied menu and full waiter service - the food in both of these restaurants was of a very high standard. Lunch is usually also at the Ocean View (this restaurant operates 24hrs) however there is also the Mast Cafe which serves burgers, hot dogs, taco's and the like. There are a number of speciality dining options, all of which have a modest cover charge of $20 - $35 per person all of which are worth the additional expense with the possible exception of the Silk restaurant (Asian Themed), we enjoy Asian food for its aromatic and spicy taste however our experience at this particular restaurant was that the food was bland in the extreme, it was also the one with the poorest service. We ate at the Italian themed restaurant (Tuscan Grille) a couple of times and were very impressed with both food and service - our only complaint being the portions were too big! (we heard this from other guests too) Murano is the "French" themed restaurant and really excels in both quality of food and service, the intimate atmosphere in this restaurant also adds to is appeal. - Murano is very popular and needs booked in advance Staff: The staff were excellent, friendly, attentive and professional. The exception to this was the port excursions desk who were surly, rude and lacked basic knowledge to carry out their role. Overall I could not however fault staff in bars, restaurants or chamber staff Entertainment: There were numerous activities and events each day all of which were detailed in a daily sheet delivered to your room, these included musicians, big bands, magicians, dancers etc - something for everyone including young people and teens. Other facilities: In addition to the Solstice theatre where most of the "shows" would take place, there was celebrity central, a cinema, spa, games area, library, casino, glass making demonstrations, a full lawn area for grass bowls and plenty of shops and cafe / ice cream bars Drinks: There are numerous bars on board and something to suit everyone, prices for drinks are generally reasonable and in line with what you would find in a typical hotel ($5 for a beer $6 for a glass of wine - bottles of wine started at $25 but typically averaged $35 - specialist wines, ports and whisky's were available but prices for these varied enormously) There are various drinks packages available which may or may not be effective. We decided not to take a package and just did a pay-as-you-go. If you were staying on the boat a lot and using the bars during the day, its likely that a package would work for you - typically a "standard" package that would cover beer, wine by the glass and standard spirits (Gin / Vodka etc) would be covered by the $44 per day per person package - this is still of course over $1,000 for 2 people on a 12 day cruise. You could also buy a "premium" package for $54 which covered more expensive drinks (some single malts and cocktails) Shore excursions: All the excursions were in our view seriously overpriced, there were however plenty to choose from and whilst we felt them expensive they were professionally run and of a high standard. Value for money: We reckoned that what you got for your initial booking was good value, it was first class service and not over priced. We did feel however that once on the ship you could easily run up a substantial bill with drinks, ice creams, shuttle busses and very expensive shore trips. We initially paid around £4,000 UK Sterling (say $6000 USD) for a family of four however we paid almost the same again at the end of the trip! Tips and hints: • Bring adaptors for both European and American sockets and you can charge all your gadgets simultaneously. • Book excursions well in advance as these fill up quickly • Book the open dining option which allows you to dine at any time rather than be restricted to a first or second sitting • Use the speciality restaurants, there is a cover charge but its not significant in terms of the increased standard of service and food - particularly Murano where we thought both food and service were unsurpassable • Do the maths in advance to judge whether the drinks packages are likely to work for you (it's a "volume" thing) • If you plan to use any of the speciality restaurants make sure you book a couple of days in advance • Avoid the WiFi - it is desperately slow, hangs a lot and is outrageously expensive. I can understand the complexity of providing a wifi service on a boat at sea however they should either employ better technology to improve the service to justify the cost or drop the charge all together - it really is frustrating. • Soft drinks, water and tea / coffee are available free from the Ocean view restaurant, use this rather than run up a bill for soft drinks from the pool bars etc Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Solstice well its first class from the moment you join to you depart. Cabin 9223 was perfectly proportioned for our need from the LCD to shower room which has more storage places than you can use. The Balcony is more that ... Read More
Solstice well its first class from the moment you join to you depart. Cabin 9223 was perfectly proportioned for our need from the LCD to shower room which has more storage places than you can use. The Balcony is more that adequate for sitting having a drink before dining or sunbathing .As for our stateroom attendant Marcellino he was Simply the best nothing was to much to trouble for him. The bars are numerous from the laid back ensemble lounge to the very popular Martini bar.[watch out for the lemon drop Martinis they are lethal] Entertainment something for every taste as for the entertainment director he was an act in himself. Dinning from the Ocean view Cafe which had every for all dietary needs.  The MDR was just class its self nothing was to much for the waiting staff. The mast bar was very popular during the day for snacks etc.  Also watch out for the specials on sea days wine /champagne reduced as well as beer and the sail away cocktails just divine. If you have any problems speak to Guest relations right away don't leave it to last day or late on , deal within when it happens because Celebrity will resolve it on ship. Also may I add that as our first cruise the social side of cruising alone was worth the trip and made many friends from around the world. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This is my first review, so please be gentle. However, before my cruise I was reading the reviews, hungry for info, so felt it my duty. Our hotel kicking- out time was 12 noon, so we asked them to call us a taxi to ... Read More
This is my first review, so please be gentle. However, before my cruise I was reading the reviews, hungry for info, so felt it my duty. Our hotel kicking- out time was 12 noon, so we asked them to call us a taxi to the port, knowing it was early for embarkation, but not wanting to wander the streets with luggage. On arrival, our luggage was taken and we were shown where to check in. I couldn't believe how quickly we were checked in, there was no line at all for our deck. There was a slight delay at security but we were on board with champagne in hand by 12.40pm. Well done Celebrity. First impressions, WOW, what a gorgeous ship, we weren't disappointed. Loved the glass elevators and never had long to wait for one, even on shore days. Of all the ships we've been on this was definately the nicest and easiest to find your way around. We went to the Oceanview Cafe on deck 14 aft for lunch. I have to say that I usually steer clear of buffet type restaurants, I like to have my food served to me. However, the buffet here is really very good. Well set out with clear signage. Whenever we used the cafe, we didn't encounter long lines at all and always managed to find a clean table. There is waiter service for drinks. Tea and coffee and juice are served at your table at breakfast. The variety and quality of food was very good. Our stateroom was ready at 2pm and again, we were happy with it. We found the bed comfortable and liked the sliding door which meant we could leave it open a little at night for fresh air and to listen to the sea. The storage was ample. There was a vanity unit with 2 American style sockets and 1 European style. After muster (which was tedious) we went to meet with other cruise critic members for the sail away party. We had late dining in the MDR and had requested a table for 2, because, at the end of a long day, we enjoy, just to unwind and have a quiet meal together without having to make polite conversation with people we don't know very well. We were very disappointed overall with the main dining room. The tables were jammed far too close together so that you couldn't help being drawn in to conversations without being rude. We really liked our table neighbours, but, it wasn't what we wanted. I have to say though, that our waiters were very attentive, but we found the food to be often too cool to eat (with the exception of the onion soup which was scalding hot) and the whole thing just wasn't really to our taste. Out of the 12 nights we dined elsewhere 5 times. Murano's is fantastic, not to be missed. We had 2 nights there together, then a further night with CC friends. All brilliant and well worth the supplement. Wouldn't it be nice if the MDR was like Murano's? Tuscan Grill had a lovely friendly ambience, we were given a window table at the rear of the ship and it was lovely. The food however, though nice, isn't a patch on authentic Italian, it just lacks that garlic, basil fresh herbs thing that Italian food has. Nontheless, we liked the restaurant and the service was very attentive. Breakfasts. Well, what we enjoy most of all on a cruise is to enjoy a leisurely breakfast on our balcony, while wearing our bath robes and watching the world go by. We have to say that we were disappointed with the service and the quality of the room service breakfasts for our class of stateroom. I understand that if you pay more for a better "class" you have a bigger choice. The cooked food was terrible and barely warm. Cold croissants! We stopped asking for cooked food and just asked for cereal and danish. The danish were good. However, then they forgot to put water in the tea pot, or they forgot the cups. I say that if you can't do it well, don't offer to do it at all. They could learn from HAL, where even at a lowly level of stateroom, the balcony breakfasts were first class. We started to go to the buffet restaurant and if you got there early it was fine. One morning we went to The Bistro on 5. The service was very good, nice hot tea and coffee and we liked the fresh fruit, however, we found the scrambled egg, bacon and mushroom crepe very dry. Entertainment. This is where people's priorities come into play, because we don't bother much with entertainment, although we did enjoy one band who played by the pool and sang Eagles songs and others like that. Some of our MDR table mates were rushing off to get a good seat for the show, we wandered in to a couple and watched for a few minutes, they were good, but it's not really our thing. We don't play the casinos either. We loved the martini bar for a pre dinner drink and enjoyed the company of others here. It's a great place and the Celebrity champagne is very good. We liked to go to the rear of the ship at 4pm for afternoon tea, an excellent selection of sweet and savoury and take it outside to join in the trivia quiz. Another gripe, and I don't mean this to sound like continuous moaning because we had a great time overall, however, we hated the way there were too few sun loungers to go round on sea days and that they were so cramped together it was ridiculous. We witnessed sunbed wars on several occasions and even a fight. We tended to sunbathe early then go for a late lunch (removing our towels). After lunch if we wanted more sun we headed to the lawn deck where there was always space on the grass. Often we were happy just to go back to our balcony and read and relax. The weather was very hot and we got some wonderful sunsets. I realise this is turning into a novel and I haven't yet touched on the wonderful ports we visited. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We arrived in Barcelona on the day of our sailing, and headed straight from the airport to the pier. There we were greeted by porters, who quickly made luggage tags for us, seeing how Celebrity doesn't ship them to our country. ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona on the day of our sailing, and headed straight from the airport to the pier. There we were greeted by porters, who quickly made luggage tags for us, seeing how Celebrity doesn't ship them to our country. Check-in was quick and easy, and we only had a short wait before they let us on board early. We headed up to the Ocean View buffet and had lunch, seeing how we had been up since 4.am and had nothing to eat on the way. The buffet was not too crowded, and the selection of food types was excellent! We used the buffet for lunch several times, and although the selection never really changed much, the quality of the food was way superior to my experiences with other cruise lines. The pizza was a huge hit with hubby and myself, and some of the free ice cream selection (there were new flavour every day) was delicious. We're not talking Italian gelato-delicious, but absolutely the best free ice cream I've had on a ship so far. The assortment of candy was also appreciated, and we often picked up a bowl on the way to one of the shows. The ship itself is marvelous, with beautifully designed public areas. The Sky Lounge was stunning, and could have been used for more activities than it did on our cruise. The various bars also looked good, from the chilly martini bar to the space-age-crazy Quazar. I know some people prefer the promenade type of midship design like RCI tends to use for its ships, but personally I find this kind of ship prettier. Less shopping mall-like and better use of the space. It also makes each area seem more private and less noisy - it was never too crowded anywhere. The lawn club was an interesting touch, very strange to come across a proper lawn at sea. That being said, the Mediterranean climate must be very harsh for the grass, as it was very dry and didn't feel like the soft, squishy grass I have in my garden. However, it seemed like a great area for sunbathing (for those who enjoy such things) and for families to play the various lawn games. The pool area was extremely crowded on most days, but sailing at max capacity and with 400 children on board I'm not surprised. I don't care much for laying in the sun, but the pool was too busy at times for me. The Solarium pool was less crowded, and such a lovely, relaxing area the Solarium is! I loved the water feature and spent several hours just relaxing and watching it. But the pool was a bit too shallow, and all the pools were too cold to my taste. If I were someone who feels bothered with children and crowds, however, I would have booked the cruise at a different time. Summer holiday + great fares = busy, busy, busy. The entertainment on board was a mixed experience. The one thing that really stands out is the Hot Glass Show, which hubby and I would go see every time after the first one. The three glassblowers on board, Aric, Tom and Bob, did an amazing job both at narrating and communicating with the audience, as well as make stunning pieces of glass. We absolutely loved it! Celebrity would do good to provide some better seats for the show, though, as the benches were rough on those of us who would watch the entire show, sometimes twice a day. We also loved one of the destination speakers, the archaeologist Chris Gregg, who had five talks on various port-related themes, including Pompeii, Rome and Gaudi's Barcelona. The talks were both educating and entertaining, and we felt very lucky to be on that one cruise this summer that he was doing port talks for. We also watched the three production shows in the main theatre, with singers, dancers and acrobats. The latter were extremely impressive, but the singers weren't that spectacular. The dancers mainly did a great job, but I cringed and wanted to hide when they attempted to do Riverdance. Both hubby and I adored the clown Andrew, who did a hilarious excursion skit with one poor audience member. There were other shows, with singers (Claire Maidlin and a Scottish guy) and a flutist doing pop music, none of which were to our taste. In addition there was a jazz band, a woman playing the guitar and singing (Jana Steele, I think, she was very good) and a house band. All in all there was activity all day, but more subdued than the semi-crazy Quest games of other cruise lines. Regarding dinner on board, it was a very, very pleasant surprise. We were in an Aqua Class stateroom, and dined in the AQ-dining room, Blu. Celebrity claims Blu serves a lighter fare, but there was no feel of "diet" or "low fat" to be felt. A four course meal every night, with entree choices always including pasta, fish, fowl, meat or vegetarian. We usually skipped salad/soup, and the two times we didn't, we ended up feeling too full. However, some portions can be very small, like one pasta dish which literally had three pieces of normal sized ravioli. The waiters seem to be aware of this, and asked if we wanted "another one". All in all the waiters were very attentive and friendly, and even if we didn't have an assigned table, we saw familiar faces every day. In fact, we loved Blu so much that we never got around to trying the other speciality restaurants... And we would definitively book Aqua Class again, just because of the restaurant. Blu was also the only place, apart from room service (which is great, by the way! Do try breakfast on the balcony one day,) where you could get an acceptable cup of coffee. The buffet coffee was downright awful, and the Cafe al Bacchio needs to either switch their coffee brand or send the staff on some barista summer school, as it has a very icky aftertaste and was definitively not worth paying extra money for. But apart from that minor detail (however, when it comes to coffee nothing is minor with this lady), we had a great time on the Solstice. The ship was beautiful, the crew friendly and attentive, and apart from the pool on sea days, it never felt crowded. The cabin was clean and had a well designed bathroom, and the balcony was great. The food was overall surprisingly good, and best of all, the itinerary was absolutely amazing. We would do it again tomorrow if we could! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Overall lovely ship with fantastic crew, wonderful service and excellent food. Very port intensive itinerary, Barcelona:Rome:Kotor:Venice:Dubrovnik:Napes:Livorno:Toulon with 3 sea days. After a short flight form Heathrow we ... Read More
Overall lovely ship with fantastic crew, wonderful service and excellent food. Very port intensive itinerary, Barcelona:Rome:Kotor:Venice:Dubrovnik:Napes:Livorno:Toulon with 3 sea days. After a short flight form Heathrow we landed at Barcelona Airport. We had a very long delay at baggage reclaim for our British Airways flight - about an hour, all baggage seemed to be mixed in with other flights. Check in at pier very organised and quick. Dedicated check ins for each category of cabin and Captains Club Status. Independence of the Seas and Costa Serena in port. We had our wrong Captains Club status (we're Elite) printed on our card which was a bit of a nuisance which I comment on later. Day 2 at sea, sailing through the Straight of Bonifacio, between Corsica and Sardinia which are 7 m apart. Nice to see Celebrity still offers towels at the pool without having to swipe your card RCCL style, and also offers sorbet and iced towels during the day. Sun Loungers at a premium after 10am. Pool butlers do place warning cards on lounger but do not on occasion follow through with removal of items as often as they perhaps should. Day 3 Rome We chose the "A Taste of Rome" excursion. Early start and easy journey into Rome on a quiet Sunday morning. Exited the coach in the area of the Vatican. Free time of 3 hrs. Crossed the Tiber and headed for the main sights. Once we found the Piazza Navona we picked up the pedestrianised grid system and found the other main sights very accessible. The guide should have explained this. Had lunch in the Pantheon Square and then wandered back to meet the guide for a tour inside the Vatican. Evening entertainment was Claire Maidin, who works with Simon Cowell as a vocal coach for show contestants. Very professional and entertaining show with a mix of music. Day 4. Sea. Passed through Straights of Messina, between Sicily and Italy nr Palermo. 2nd formal night, with the 3rd being the final sea day. Day 5. Kotor : Montenegro. Rainy start to the day which made the cobbled streets very hazardous. Tender port. Spectacular setting in bay, Shops a bit tacky. Day 6. Venice. Arrival for 5pm. Spectacular sail in past San Marco Square and the Canale Della Guidecca on the starboard side. We were invited to the helipad at the bow for an unforgettable transit of the canal. Celebrity offer a ships shuttle at $22 for 1 day and $36 for 2 days. We disembarked over an hour after arrival to find a horrendously long queue at the pier. Wait was around 45m and they were offering water to the line. Continuous vaparetto struggled to reduce the waiting time, the journey to near San Marco was around 20m from the pier. We returned just as the sun was setting having had a lovely dinner in a trattoria. Day 2 encountered an extremely long walk to the pier for the shuttle which had been relocated from day 1 to allow a Costa ship to berth. We boarded the first one at 8 which was quiet. The distance to pick up this service was disappointing given that it was a Celebrity sold shuttle rather than a local pier one. I have overhead others complain of long lines to return to the ship in the late evening of day 1 and many received refunds. It is something no doubt they will be looking to improve upon in forthcoming cruises. We took a local vaparetto service on day 2 to Murano which was wonderful and well worth a visit on the second day having enjoyed an early morning visit to a very quiet Square, Grand Canal and Rialto. Ship sails away back through same route so it doesn't matter which side your cabin is on, you will see it sailing in or away ! Day 8. Dubrovnik. Docked at Gruz Harbour. Ships shuttle $12 each. Appears local taxis charge 10 euros for same journey. Due to the fact that the ship does not dock until afternoon and it is high tourist season, Dubrovnik was horrendously overcrowded and lost its charm to us. It was too hot ( in the high 90s ) to enjoy it, and walk around the ramparts. Our shuttle took over 45m for a 15m journey as we got delayed in some visiting dignitary transit. The return pick up was disorganised and a free for all to board the buses, amongst other moving coaches and not value for money. Both euros and kunes are equally used. The Bay of Gruz harbour is a pleasant stop if you wish to avoid Dubrovnik. Day 9 : Sea Return through passage between Sicily and Italy. Day 10. Naples. We choose trip to Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii. Excellent guide Guisseppe, 50m jetfoil to Capri from Napels. Then Funicular - 5 mins - to Caprl. Very overcrowded in high season. Then boat to Sorrento for lunch in a very pleasant Trattoria. Drive along coastline to Pompeii. 1 hr guided tour. Day 11. Livorno for Florence. We were very glad to have chosen the Panoramic Florence Tour which was 6 hrs after the long 10 hr trip the previous day. This is a very port intensive cruise and travellers should be aware of the long exhausting days in high temperatures, coaches and ferries are not as well air cond'd as the US. Visited first leather factory then Michelangelo Sq for wonderful views of Florence and the Ponte Vecchio. Then dropped close to the Duomo for free time of around 2 hrs. Easy to walk to the Ponte V. and there are lots of high end retail stores in this area. Hard Rock Cafe too. Tour did what is described and we enjoyed, although others commented on lack of guided tour within the city but this was not in the description anyway. Day 12 Toulon Trip to Aix en Provence. Docked in La Seyne Sur Mer which is quite attractive. Shops offers shuttles to Toulon across the bay which is a naval port. Aix trip dropped us centrally at the fountain in centre with choice of walking tour or free time. Excellent guide Jose. Overall : Select dining - can be inconsistent. We tended to eat around 9 when it was a little less chaotic. The maitre d's are too keen to seat guests at tables that have been hastily cleared and partially reset. As these tables clearly lack the basics of side plates, butter knives or water glasses perhaps it would offer the guests a better experience if they had to wait a few more minutes rather than be seated somewhere not fit for purpose. If you are seated in a block of 8 tables running together, they are very close together and have the feel of a large table. We requested ones with more space and the dining experience was transformed. RCCL My Time Dining on the Brilliance had more space between tables and more opportunities to sit with the same waiters if you so choose. Internet - service very erratic. They seemed to struggle with connections problems on this cruise. I overhead one officer in the I Lounge stating that he had just started the job a week ago and was regretting it already. Given the high charges that customers encountered it could be better. I was very appreciative of my 'free' Elite minutes on this occasion ! Captains Club - given that we had the incorrect status on our card it was a nuisance to have to chase this considering I had already confirmed it would be ok with the UK office. I experienced the same problem on our RCCL cruise in February. It appears their system picks up your status at the point you book your cruise rather than update after each cruise, we had taken 2 since making the booking 14 mths ago. Anyway the Captains Club hostess very efficiently corrected this but it shouldn't happen in the first place. We didn't use Michaels Club for cocktails as it fell too early 5 till 7 each evening. We preferred to be on deck at the Lawn Club at this time of day. On the Independence I loved cocktail time as it has its own bright airy lounge next to the Sky Bar with outside space, something that would be nice to see on the large Solstice Class ships. Shows - loved Claire Maidin and the violinist in the theatre who both received standing ovations. This was our first Celebrity cruise for over 7 years and they still have those little touches that make it special. The officers are extremely friendly and helpful and mingle well. The staff are always smiling and greet you every time. Celebrity is a far better product overall than RCCL given that they are in the same price bracket. The one thing they could improve upon is the music. How about somethings for us younger passengers - The Beach Boys Tribute or The Beatles. Also some rock at the pool. There is still an emphasis on string quartets, big band and funeral elevator music. I would not hesitate to recommend this itinerary and cruise line. 5 star. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
First time on a cruise wasn't too sure what to expect buT OMG we were absolutley blown away. If you can appreciate the finer things in life and you adopt the whole ethos of what cruising is then this is the holiday for you. everything ... Read More
First time on a cruise wasn't too sure what to expect buT OMG we were absolutley blown away. If you can appreciate the finer things in life and you adopt the whole ethos of what cruising is then this is the holiday for you. everything about this cruise was fantastic, the ship was absolutley spotless, the food was out of this world and so was the service from all on board who were charged with making your holiday special. My husband and I travelled with two more couples, we all had a fantastic holiday each of us getting something different out of this cruise, but all of us were of the same opinion excellent. We went ashore in every port, and we booked a trip to Rome, that was very interesting if you are in to culture, but it's just nice to go and see it even if your not. The formal evenings were brilliant, you have to do this it's part of the experience, (for all you i'm not too sure it might be a bit too posh for me people) it's not it's what you make it for yourselves, it's very nice, we had a blast. We had an inside stateroom, I was a bit unsure about being in an inside cabin, but all that changed when we saw it, it was so comfortable they have thought of everything, and to be honest we did'nt spend a lot of time in the room other than to sleep and get ready to go off ship or out at night. We booked a drinks package to suit us and we found that it was the best thing to do for us, you have to weigh up what you think you might drink for the duration of your trip, don't forget this is five star so you will have five star prices. Celebrity were great with our party, one of whom became ill on the trip and could not drink alcohol, having seen the ship's doctor they allowed us to change one of the packages, and re-imbursed the difference for a soft drinks package with no fuss and bother. There is so much to do on the ship, you will never be bored, you can even walk on real grass, watch some beautiful sunsets, just chill, out and thats the name of the game here, chill,chill,chill and enjoy everything that cruising has to offer, can't wait for my next one, I could do this med cruise half a dozen times and see something different every time, it's amazing i'm a definate convert, maybe the Carribean will be next who knows. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was my 4th time on Solstice. It was the first vacation I have ever taken alone-I was a bit nervous, as all other cruises I have been on I have always been 'the other half'... little did I know how many people I would meet, ... Read More
This was my 4th time on Solstice. It was the first vacation I have ever taken alone-I was a bit nervous, as all other cruises I have been on I have always been 'the other half'... little did I know how many people I would meet, and the amount of fun I would have..I am 28, a chef, and am well travelled..oh yea, and single on a tight budget...haha-so this review could pertain or not to your situation..This itinerary is very port intensive--PLAN ON BEING BUSY! It is not like a Caribbean cruise where its sun and relaxation.. if you want to see the sights, you have to plan and structure your day accordingly..Last summer, I was on Century with someone else..same time of year, with a similar itinerary.. new stops for me were Venice, Kotor and Dubrovnik.. all beautiful. Let me point out some of the positives and negatives:Flying into Barcelona a day early is definately reccomended, no matter if you're travelling solo or with a group. It is good to have a decompression day after flying, and having the opportunity to see BCL is an added benefit-think of it as an extra port day..at your leisure :)I stayed in a 'hostel' type of hotel just for the night- it was cheap, and safe and clean. I spent most of my time exploring the city, and eating..and drinking.. so it was a cheap option to have just to leave your luggage and things, and a bed to sleep in for the night.. maybe not the best family option..but definately for a solo or couple that are adventurous Getting on the ship was seamless and not an issue- i boarded around noon time, and was in my room by 2 or so.. i just wandered, had a drink at the sunset bar and basked in the Spanish sun for a while. A little note on the 'drink card'- Definately worth it, if you plan on spending more than $50/day on drinks coffee's etc.. if you work out the math, and enjoy more than 3 drinks or glasses of wine/day..plus bottled water and special coffees...it's worth the money..and I definatley spent half of what I would have otherwise.. Sail-away was great..we had an organized CC sail away party at Sunset Bar as we pulled out of BCL, and had a lot of people show..it was a great way to meet everyone from the board and figure out who you want to avoid ! lolService on Solstice and Celebrity as a whole has always been top notch, however over the years as newer ships come out with Celebrity, I find they are taking their best employees and putting them on new ships.. not to say the service is lacking at all, but you can definately see the difference between the 'go above and beyond-ers' and the 'meeting guests expectations' employees... i have no complaints at all, though.Cabins are all spacious..i had a closer to aft cabin with balcony this time around..dont know if i would do it again..its far from everything.. the room steward (Zeko) was very detail oriented, and the room stayed impeccible. he was very attentive, and just great..I wasn't 'wowed' by the shows this time around, the entertatinment seemed mediocre..some were the same as in years past, some were different.. the first time I saw the Sostice shows they were amazing.. now they are just 'eh'.. Maybe another example of taking the best to the newest ships, I dont know..The ship band sucked, the guitarist was great..Acapella group was again 'eh'time to step it back up Celebrity! :)Quasar- sucked this time around, they need to promote it more! Good music, neat atmosphere.. DJ was THE WORST people person..had no personality and seemed 'bothered' by having to work..by the end it was fun, busy and hopping, but the first 10 days.. dead.. i did my best to get people in and dancing! Nice- I love EZE, lots of walking, but amazing views..simple to get to by bus..Naples- After Pisa, I did a wine country tour..definately the best time of the cruise..wine and olive oil tastings at different vineyards..small bites of local food here and there..eat a pizza, its the best in the world.Venice- incredible sail in, and sail away..best spot to view is the Lawn Club. GO TO HARRY'S BAR FOR BELLINIS. Very romantic city, not the best place to be alone :(Kotor- Amazing views from the ship, if you are Captains Club be sure to attend this sail away..front of the ship, helipad..an unmatched perspective.Dubrovnik- WALK THE WALL..very athletic..fyi. amazing views, 10 euros (BTW yes everywhere accepts EUROS, no need for KUNA)Pool- yes a bit overcrowded..always an alternative is the solstice deckFood- this was my first time eating int he Main Dining Room (Epernay) and it was fantastic. The amount of food they put out, and the quality is just a daunting task for any kitchen..and they do a really REALLY good job. Service was great, my table was UNFORGETTABLE. Ocean view was always good. I have been to all of the speciality restaurants before, and they all have their pro's and con's..you can read about others' points of view on other reviews..i am a bit biased, being a chef and all.. Overall, the S-Class never fails to exceed expectations.. It's not for everyone- It holds its own as a sophisticated, modern, twist on an already successful brand. Celebrity is in a league of their own, and for the price its a pretty damn good deal. Definately sailing again...where does the wind blow next? We will see..Cheers! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Celebrity Solstice 5/14-5/26/11We just returned from the 5/14/11 Celebrity Solstice 12-night Mediterranean cruise, from Barcelona-Barcelona.First - overall we had a wonderful time!Details:Ship Transfer - we chose to use Celebrity's ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice 5/14-5/26/11We just returned from the 5/14/11 Celebrity Solstice 12-night Mediterranean cruise, from Barcelona-Barcelona.First - overall we had a wonderful time!Details:Ship Transfer - we chose to use Celebrity's transfer service from BCN to the port. Very easy, when you exit customs, go right and the Celebrity staff are there to check you in. They'll take your luggage and when they have enough people, you board the bus for the port, drive-time is about 20 minutes. Luggage was delivered to our staterooms by 3pm.Embarkation - Once we got to the port, check-in was about 5 minutes. No lines to speak of, and very well organized. We had already done our express pass & entered our credit card information online. She handed us our Seapass cards and we went on.We got to the ship about 11:15, and boarding did not begin until 11:30. However, in the terminal they had tables set up for specialty dining, drink packages, and shore excursions. We signed up for the 3 restaurant plan and booked our times for formal nights. They give you you a card with the dates/times, but you also get a reminder at your stateroom the morning of your reservation. We had pre-paid the drink packages, so that was printed on our card (it says PALL). The woman we were traveling with bought hers at the terminal, and they put a sticker on hers.Once the ship was open, we boarded (maybe 10 minutes), and they were offering champagne or mimosas as you entered. There were boarding photo opportunities if you wanted, but very easy to walk past if you did not. We headed immediately to Bistro on 5 and had some lunch. I would HIGHLY recommend this, as the folks I spoke with who went to the buffet advised it was crowded and hard to find a seat. The food at Bistro was wonderful, we were the first people there, and the service was superb.StateroomStaterooms were open at 1:15pm. We were in room 1601 (Aquaclass, port side, hump cabin with large balcony) and the room was also very nice. Plenty of storage if you areorganized, and lots of room under the bed for luggage. Our stateroom attendant was Cyril, and he was always pleasant and helpful - he also got us priority tender tickets for our tender ports, we just had to ask. The balcony was fantastic and we loved hanging out there for sailaways and docking. LOVED the shower with body sprays, and access to the Persian Gardens was a huge bonus. Because our cruise was so port-intensive, and tours involved a LOT of walking, being able to lay on the stone beds and relax muscles was welcome.Muster drill was easy - we went to the dining room and watched a video, no lugging vests, no standing outside.The Celebrity/Cruise Critic party was at 8:30pm on the first day - no way we were going to make that, we were at dinner. We did have a group get-together at the Sunset Bar that was set up through our meet & greet, and that was fun.DiningBlu - Everyone says Blu is 'love it or hate it'. For us? We loved it. The food was wonderful, presentation was beautiful, and they were extremely accommodating. My husband has some severe food allergies, and is a bit picky, but we never heard the word 'no'. There was little he could eat or liked on the appetizer menu, but every night they got him a Caeser salad. Same for desserts - too many things with nuts. But after the first night they always had chocolate chip cookies for him. Unfortunately, I did not getmenu copies, and I'm sorry for that. Standouts for me were a summer roll appetizer we had one night and the filet mignon. I can't remember our waiter's name, but the assistant was Jorielee from the Phillipines, and the team was wonderful. The bottle of sparkling wine left in our room at embarkation was worth $28 against another bottle in Blu.Bistro on 5 - We ate here several times, and enjoyed it every time. Breakfast crepes were delicious!Buffet - Hit or miss. Some things were good, some were ok. Some vegetable dishes were bland and under-seasoned, which was a shame. But it's the buffet, and for what it was, it served. Lots of choices for ice creams and desserts. Seating, especially at breakfast and on sea days, was horrible. The big complaint here was the plates. They were always burning hot when you picked them up - no trays to help carry them.Gelato/Cafe Al Bacio - We were here pretty much every day. Traveling buddy loved the coffees, and I loved the teas (Vienna Cinnamon was my favorite). Great spot to hang out. The Gelato stand there has an upcharge, but the girl running it (Roberta) was without a doubt one of the highlights of our cruise. Always pleasant, very happy to help. She does push the Rum Raisin gelato pretty hard, though. It's her favorite.Mast Grill - Excellent burgers & hot dogs, good fries, and fantastic onion rings. You have to push for onion rings, though - every time we went, they wanted to limit you to a very small portion (like 5 or 6) unless you asked for more. Someone on a review I read complained of unmelted cheese, but asking them to melt it was absolutely no problem.Murano - This was our least favorite of the spcialties. The service was just ok, but the atmosphere was stuffy, which isn't us. Saving grace for me was the venison, which was perfect, and perfectly cooked. We wouldn't go again.Silk Harvest - Better atmosphere, food was very good - the ribs were great, I enjoyed the Pad Thai after I put lots of chili paste in it, it needed heat. I don't eat sushi, but the person we were with said it was very good (she had eel, spicy tuna, and something else I don't remember.) I didn't care for the wok beef, which tasted like it had been curried. Chicken fried rice was ok, but nothing special.Tuscan Grill - By far the best of the restaurants, and we would go again without question. The steaks were very good, as was everything else on the menu. The atmosphere was fun and the staff was very accommodating. Not a bad thing on the menu!Breads throughout the ship were uniformly delicious. Desserts were almost as uniformly disappointing and forgettable. We had a few good ones in Blu (I liked the Grand Marnier and chocolate dessert they had one night) but it was the exception.Shore Excursions/Leaving the shipWe did one Celebrity excursion, in Cannes. We went to Grasse (a perfume factory) and St-Paul-De-Vence, a medieval village. I had wanted to get away from Cannes due to it being the opening weekend of the film festival, and things were very crowded. The excursion staff was very nice, the Grasse factory was a big sales pitch. St-Paul-de-Vence was beautiful, and we spent a lot of time walking around the city.In Italy, we did all our tours with Rome In Limo, and I would HIGHLY recommend them.Getting on & off the ship, whether tendering or walk-off, was a breeze. Announcements of where to go and when to meet were clear, staff was on hand to make things go smoothly, and we never had any issues. Reboarding after being ashore was quick, there was always water, fruit punch, and cold towels available as you were waiting to get back in, as well as a small sitting area if needed, and a canopy if someone had to get out of the sun. I was very impressed with Celebrity in this area (and in almost all service areas).Bars/Lounges/etc.Celler Masters was wonderful, and the sommolier we saw most often (Stevan) was spot on for recommendations. We stopped there just about every night before dinner to pick up a glass to take with us.Martini Bar - We liked this area, and the Almond Joy martinis were often substituted for dessert. The waiters here got to know us, and knew what we wanted as soon as we sat down.Molecular Bar - Pretentious bartender made this area a dud, in our opinion. He was so full of himself (no idea what his name was - I believe he was from Australia or New Zealand), but he clearly thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. I overheard him at one point explaining to a group of passengers that HIS bar was like Bobby Flay's burgers - unique and wonderful - while every other bar on the ship was McDonald's. We were unimpressed with him and the drinks he was making.The biggest complaint I have about the cruise was trying to get a drink. Unless you walked up to the bar, finding a waiter circulating anywhere was a challenge - whether it was the buffet area, the pool area, or in a lounge area. They just didn't seem interested or motivated - and it didn't matter whether you were on a package or buying individually. I never once saw a waiter in the Solarium.EntertainmentWe did not do any shows, but we did watch the Hot Glass show one night. Very interesting and impressive to watch! We did a wine tasting on the lawn that was supposed to be at Sailaway in Venice, but we got held up and so just had to drink wine with no sailaway. It was horrible. The bands on deck were ok, but VERY loud. The captain's daily announcement was ALSO very loud, almost painfully so. We would be playing a game in the card room or trying to read in the library, and the band 9 decks down in the Atrium was so loud it was sometimes impossible to hear yourself think.Someone on our sailing decided to 'borrow' the 2 Scrabble sets for the entirety of the cruise, which I found incredibly rude. Someone else left a note in the card room one day asking them to please call so it could be shared, but my guess is that never happened. People, do NOT remove games from the game room - if you feel you need a certain game all to yourself for the length of your vacation, buy a travel version and bring it with you.Debarkation - Almost as easy as embarkation. Luggage tags & instructions were left in your room the 2nd to the last day, and on the last night, luggage had to be out in the hallway by 11pm. They were collecting constantly, and I know that our luggage was gone within 10 minutes of our putting it out. Before debarkation, we met in the dining room at 7:10am, and waited for them to call our number. We were in Group 11, and we were off the ship by 7:20.Again, no lines, no cattle call, very organized and calm. Our luggage was on the carousel in the terminal, and we were on a taxi to our hotel by 7:35am.There were 3 formal nights on our sailing. The first was on Night 2 - Cannes, the 2nd was on the first at-sea day, Night 6, and the 3rd was on the 2nd at-sea day, Night 11. There were plenty of dark suits & sport jackets, some tuxes, and cocktail dresses to gowns for the ladies.We did decide that 12 days is too long for us on a cruise, we were well ready to come home by the end. We also decided that if we ever want to cruise again, Celebrity is going to be the line of choice. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We arrived in Barcelona on May 12 and stayed at the Hilton Diagonal. I will go onto the port review sections and post more detailed port review there. We took a cab to the cruise dock around 11 on May 14 and check in was very easy and ... Read More
We arrived in Barcelona on May 12 and stayed at the Hilton Diagonal. I will go onto the port review sections and post more detailed port review there. We took a cab to the cruise dock around 11 on May 14 and check in was very easy and quick. Because we were booked into Aqua Class, we planned to eat most meals in Blu, but I booked the three meal package for variety. We had also prepurchased the premium alcohol beverage packages. We ate lunch at the grill and started enjoying the beverage package while we waiting for the room to be ready! We found the ship very clean and elegant. Our cabin was very nice, functional but not elaborate. We had regular size, a little to the back of mid ship. It was quiet except for occasionally hearing some chair movement above us. We enjoyed the balcony the most when docking and just on sea days. We ate breakfast there on early port days too. Bathroom of the cabin was fine and the shower was great. We had plenty of storage, requested more hangers and got them easily. Pretty much anything we asked for was provided by our excellent cabin steward, Cyril. We ate at each restaurant on the ship and Blu was our hands down favorite. Jesse was our waiter and he was great. Erlich the sommelier was also very good at recommending wines. My only complaint about Blu was that one night we asked to be seated away from the windows because of some sun glare and we were in no mans land for a good while with no food or water or service. The food at Blu was SO good. I love trying different things and this was the place to do it. The portions were just the right size to be able to eat something from each course without being stuffed. My favorite things there were a lamb dish with lamb done 2 ways on the plate, the lobster, the coconut creme brulee, and the rum cake with caramel ice cream. Silk Harvest was our second favorite place. We didn't hate but didn't love Murano or Tuscan Grille. We almost never ate at the buffet except to get a snack or gelato. My husband ate at the Mast Grill and really enjoyed the bar and cigar smoking up top. For drinks, we frequented the Martini Bar. We liked the location and the crowd. The Molecular Bar had some great drinks--the Coming up Roses was fantastic. We also spent lots of time at the Cafe Bacio with frappes every day. I didn't care for the regular coffee on the ship and was very happy to find that with the Premium Beverage package we could get the specialty coffees at the Cafe Bacio or even at the bar as you go into the buffet area. We did not attend shows every night, but did enjoy the ones we saw. I attended the cooking shows and learned a lot and had fun there! The casino was fun--we did Cruise Critic slot pull and broke even. My husband fared better than me and enjoyed a couple of the tournaments. We made minimal use of the spa and Persian Gardens. We did have room service breakfast and it was quite good, but we liked eating in Blu when we had time. We only asked for the afternoon Aqua Cabin snacks a few days and they were fine. We thought the cruise was great and would go again in a minute. Celebrity is our favorite line due to the smoking policy (no smoke smelled on our balcony and no smoke in the casino!) and now the Aqua Class because of Blu. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We were very impressed with the Solstice, which surprised us as we are smaller ship cruiser if we have a choice. This ship is very big and carries a lot of passengers but fells more like a small ship is the way the passengers congregate. ... Read More
We were very impressed with the Solstice, which surprised us as we are smaller ship cruiser if we have a choice. This ship is very big and carries a lot of passengers but fells more like a small ship is the way the passengers congregate. We truly liked the various lounges, pools and entertainment venue and never really felt crowded. The itinerary was outstanding for us as we like lots of ports and choices of activities. The only drawback is that there is no sea day until five days into the cruise. If you have been vacationing before you embark, as we were, then you are very tired and more than ready for that first sea day. The last two sea days are together so you just don't get a lot of rest on this itinerary but so what, right? Embarkation was pretty standard and we were allowed to board the ship around 11:00 but, since rooms were not ready, passengers were invited to use the lounges and buffet. We felt our verandah cabin was quite large, although, again, we usually sail smaller Celebrity ships (Galaxy, Century, Infinity, Azamara, etc.) Very comfortable beds and the bathroom is big with a great glass enclosure instead of a creeping shower curtain. Some cabins have the bed as you enter and the couch/desk near the verandah while others are reversed. There are pros and cons to both but no major issues. We did find the placement of the drawers and shelves to be strange as part of your clothes are in one part of the the room and part are in the other. Our cabin was in aft and, since this ship is so large, there is quite a walk to an elevator. Didn't bother us but heard folks whining a bit. The elevators and atrium are truly nice as there is entertainment and dancing each evening in the main area, rather than hidden away in a top floor lounge. Many people stopped on they way into dinner or the way out, as well as having most of the lounges/bars facing the atrium so music could be heard throughout. Made for nice times in the Martini Bar, Bistro on Five, shopping areas, coffee cafe etc. NOt such a good idea for the library that opens into the atrium but it has fewer books than most ships and we were too busy to care. Sitting outside to read is one of the pleasures of cruising. The crew were attentive and accessible and we felt well served. Dining staff, bar staff, etc. all greet you and pay attention to your preferences. The senior officers are truly around the ship. When we had the early sail into Kotor, an officer was up there chatting with those of us who wanted panorama pictures, rather than those from our balcony. The captain's announcements each day were informative and always ended with a joke. Both the captain and the cruise director performed in the theatre and I even talked with the captain when he came to make his own latte in the cafe. Food was very good. The buffet is a buffet and some things are good and some less so but food choices abound. The burger grill is very good on days when you are at sea or back from land. The Aqua spa cafe has interesting, healthy choices for breakfast and lunch - and always has the best whole fruit that doesn't always appear in the buffet. We had one lunch and two breakfast in the dining room and it was like having a private dining area. Most people don't want to sit down and take the time but the food is good and you end up controlling your portions a bit more. We loved the pannini/crepe place on five, even though we thought we wouldn't bother to pay $5 when there are lots of places to eat. TRY IT. Pananini's are great, salads and soup are very good and the dessert crepes are better than most desserts. You can order as much as you like for one price but they bring everything in courses so it is hot and you can all eat at the same time - rather than having someone off at a buffet station. The only specialty restaurant we went to was the Tuscan Grille and it was wonderful. IT has the best location on the ship with beautiful windows all across the back so select a sail away time (as we did for Dubrovnik) and it is heaven. A crew member told us to order the steaks but ask for the pasta as side dishes (they are listed as entrees) and we did - made for a lot of food but great choices. Eat lightly through the antipasti, maybe skip either soup or salad, then get the pasta sides and desserts after your steak. Wonderful. We had been to Murano's before and find the food very good but just too stuffy an atmosphere for our taste. Entertainment was very good with something for everyone. Loved "Metro Park", the accapella group that performs in different venues each evening. They had a real following and tended to draw a crowd, with in the atrium or the entertainment court. The final show, "Solstice, the show" is a Cirque de Soleil type show that is pretty outstanding to be presented on a moving ship. The three specialty performers got different reactions but were overall good. They are unlikely to be the same on subsequent voyages. The ship's entertainers were some of the best we have seen so, if you like shows, you should try most of them. During formal nights, the shows were at 8:45 and 10:45. On other nights, they were at 7:15 and 9:15. As we were frequently tired from shore activities, there were times we just ate at the Bistro on Five or the buffet and then went to the early show. Celebrity Select dining was full when we requested it - probably because they were so many ports on this itinerary and sail away was frequently 7:00 or later. Since we found late dining too late - we like to get an early start at ports - we chose early seating and it was fine. They were pretty flexible about coming in on time and many people would wander in half an hour late. But we found our desire to be safely back on ship got us there early enough to allow us to make early seating anyway. The fitness center was not crowded, even early in the morning, and well outfitted. They had a notice to limit treadmill/elliptical use to 20 minutes when it was crowded but we never had to do that as they did not fill up so were were able to get our 4 miles or other workouts in. The "track" outside was short and it crowded up easily with different paces so it was hard to run there - plus people used the loungers later in the morning, making it impossible to get around. We do not do ship's tours so I cannot speak to them. The itinerary allowed for lots of options, though. Since we had been to Rome and Florence, we rented cars and went elsewhere for those ports. Went to Cinque Terra and hiked all five villages and went to Orvieto and Civita - both absolutely wonderful trips and driving in Italy was fun. Dubrovnik and Kotor were easily done on your own. Other than thoroughly exploring the old towns and eating great food, we hIked the fort in Kotor and went by ferry to a nature preserve/swimming area in Dubrovnik. Venice was just outstanding and loved having an overnight. It made it so special. We got vaparetto passes for two days and, in addition to lots of walking, we went up and down the Grand Canal many time as well as to the church that sits across from San Marco square. Regarding transportation, Celebrity offers an $8 shuttle in Livorno that will take you back and forth to the city square. We did not use it as we had rented a car that was delivered right to the dock for us. There was a $12 shuttle in Dubrovnik that is pretty much a necessity as you really can't walk to the old town, but it was convenient and we got an early start on walking the walls. CAUTION: This is the only port where the guards check for a picture ID before letting the shuttle out of the port. Some folks had brought only copies of their passport and had to get off and walk back. Our drivers licenses were sufficient, though. In Venice, there is a water shuttle for $18 for one day or $36 for both. It travels only back and forth from the ship and San Marco Square but that worked well for most people. The just explored from there. Since we took the vaparetto's instead, we paid $18 euros for a two day pass and could ride any of the vaparettos but you do need to walk about 1 mile to Piazzola Roma to catch them and they can be crowded during "rush hour". However, riding up and down the Grand Canal is a great overview to the palaces and sights. Up to you. Overall, we were pleased that such a large ship broke up the public areas so it "lived" smaller and more personally. There were some areas we saw but never got to explore because this was such a port intensive cruise. In a different itinerary, it might feel different. But we would definitely sail the Solstice again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
For our first Mediterranean cruise (and our honeymoon!), we could not have asked for anything to be better. The food all across Europe was amazing. The wine was fabulous. Celebrity does a fabulous job, from the service we received in our ... Read More
For our first Mediterranean cruise (and our honeymoon!), we could not have asked for anything to be better. The food all across Europe was amazing. The wine was fabulous. Celebrity does a fabulous job, from the service we received in our suite to the welcoming atmosphere we felt by the captain and senior staff. As a ship the Solstice is beautiful. We found it to be clean, warm, elegant and well-laid out. We had booked this cruise early (at least 9 months in advance). I don't know that we got a very good rate then, but since it was our honeymoon we were ok with it. One month before the cruise, I happened to see a Celebrity sale offering a Guarantee Suite for about $250 more/pp. Our travel agent thought this would be a good value for us and a nice touch. She couldn't have been more right!!! Our room was gorgeous. Service was first-rate. We even had a doorbell! The last night of the cruise, we invited some friends up to share some wine and our butler hooked us up with a platter of shrimp cocktail and another of meat/cheese/crackers. We had breakfast each day in our cabin, the food was great. The itinerary was perfect, as we had a nice blend of ports and things to do, but also a few days at sea to enjoy the ship. Am I gushing yet?? :)So there were a couple things I would do to improve. First, we had Select dining. Love the option of eating when we want to. And we made some great friends by sitting with other people on a couple nights and the others by ourselves. However, the service was somewhat lacking or slow. It simply looked like too many people dining and not enough staff, as it took almost 15 minutes for us to even see the Somelier most nights. Everyone was friendly, just wasn't prompt or attentive as it could have been. Also was disappointed to see that shrimp, crab & lobster were hardly ever served and a sirloin steak was a regular entree rather than a NY Strip or Ribeye, something with a little flavor. This is not the cruise to take if you are looking for significant nightlife. We didn't stay out most nights, but the few we did we found bars closing down at 11:30pm with tons of people still there and bands stopping when people were just starting going. The venues were all very nice, just the programming schedule was a little off. They certainly would have made a lot more money had they stayed open, so I'm not sure why they would close up that early.That's it for the improvements needed - back to the good stuff. Having a suite afforded us Elite level Captain's Club benefits. What a great way to celebrate your honeymoon. I'm sure we looked out of place, in our mid 30s, walking into the daily happy hour with everyone 60+ that had most likely cruised their way into that level. We enjoyed free cappucinos in Michael's Club several mornings and took full advantage of free laundry, etc. The biggest perk though - an invitation to the Captain's table one night for dinner. We ate with the Staff Captain and Chief Safety Officer, along with 3 other couples. What a fine evening, finished off with a nice photo of our table and group. Later in the week we were priveleged to visit the bridge as well.Other things we like - the gym was well appointed and not overly crowded. My wife enjoyed the solarium area, though the hot tubs need to be hotter than 96 degrees. The casino was nice and big, never too crowded, and the staff were great. As this is my first review, I will leave it at that. We had never cruised with Celebrity before (Carnival, Norwegian & Holland America) and they have made two new fans for life. I can't say we'll never cruise another line again, but overall we were very impressed with the ship and the cruise line and will certainly be on it again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was our 17th cruise and as usual we enjoyed. We have already been to all the ports so we did not schedule any tours. Made arrangements at several ports for a taxi that took us to places that we preferred from previous cruises. We went ... Read More
This was our 17th cruise and as usual we enjoyed. We have already been to all the ports so we did not schedule any tours. Made arrangements at several ports for a taxi that took us to places that we preferred from previous cruises. We went to Positano at the Naples Port by taxi. We took the train in to Rome on our own. Had a taxi tour Mdina at Malta. Taxi to Plaka in Athens. Santorini, Mykonos & Kusadasi we just stayed in the port town and enjoyed coffee and lunch while shopping. Much more relaxed cruise as we were not rushing around trying to see everything. We were in Concierge class so enjoyed some perks such as the fresh squeezed orange juice and broad breakfast menu for room service. Room and balcony were same size as regular cabins. Cabin service was not exceptional. Would not book this class ( extra cost) however, we book so late that there was no guarantee of having a non-obstructed view. Food in main dining room seemed a little disappointing. We had some tough meat and less choice. Feel like the ships have lowered their food standards in the dining room. Perhaps better in the "pay extra" dining rooms. Did not go to the specialty dining rooms. Thought the buffet on level 14 was always pretty good for lunch. Had a good selection of pastas, pizza, salads, etc. Never could go hungry. Cafe al Bacio on deck 5 was nice for some good coffee and yummy snacks, cookies and desserts. Rooms were nice. Storage seems a little lacking - need to use the above the bed storage which is a little difficult to reach. The bathroom is very nice - great shower. Lighting in the room is nice with night light for bathroom. Enjoyed balcony (great weather) and very private. Nice t.v. with movies. Went to some shows - not to impressive. Enjoyed Jon Courtenay - great entertainer - plays piano & sings. He was outstanding and got a standing ovation. Husband used the spa for massages - pretty good but expensive. We booked this cruise last minute. We good a great price for this cruise. We did enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Myself and DM sailed on the Solstice on Feb 21st, and we both have nothing but god things to say! We have sailed Carnival and RCI a number of times, and this was our first Celebrity cruise. Right from the beginning it was obvious that X is ... Read More
Myself and DM sailed on the Solstice on Feb 21st, and we both have nothing but god things to say! We have sailed Carnival and RCI a number of times, and this was our first Celebrity cruise. Right from the beginning it was obvious that X is a step above the aforementioned mass market lines. I am 24 and DM is 52, and I was a bit concerned about the demographics of the ship. I though maybe I would be bored and there wouldn't be anyone my age. More about that later. Embarkation - We have sailed a few times out of Port Everglades and this was the easiest embarkation we've ever had. The Solstice sails out of the new Oasis terminal so it is well equipped to handle twice as many people. From the time we got to the terminal (around 12:30) to the time we were on the ship was not more than 20 minutes, if that. Our rooms were ready at 1, and after dropping off our carry on bags, we went for lunch and did some exploring to orient ourselves with the important amenities. Our luggage arrived between 4 and 5, during the emergency drill. Cabin - We were in cabin 1604 on the Penthouse deck. As it was "hump" room, we did have a larger balcony, however it is a forward facing balcony so it did get quite windy. The bed was near the window, we didn't really have a preference, but I will agree that the sofa could have been a bit shorter (we didn't use it at all) to give more access to the closet. As well, the above-bed cabinets were great, but had we been 3 people in a room, there wouldn't have been nearly enough space. The Aqua Class shower was pretty good, and the glass doors were really nice. Plenty of storage space in the washroom, even for two women. Food - We ate in Blu 3 nights, MDR 2 nights, Silk Harvest, and Tuscan Grille. I thought Aqua Class was worth it just for Blu, the food was definitely better, the best meals we had the whole week were there. Silk Harvest was OK, the sushi was great, but they neglected to tell us that it was "family style" so 4 of us ended up with enough food for 16 people. Tuscan Grille was very good and the view is incredible. MDR was pretty good, definitely better than Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Service was impeccable, if we ever made an alteration to a dish it was always perfect, and everyone was very nice. The Oceanview Cafe (Lido buffet) was quite good, breakfast had TONS of options, and the pasta station was fantastic. I also has lunch one day at the Bistro on 5 and my Mediterranean crepe was delicious and well worth the $5. I did not try the Mast Grill but it looked very good. Entertainment - Best we've had on a cruise so far. The Solstice Show was amazing, the acrobatics and performers were great. Adam Trent, the magician, was also great, very entertaining and his family was travelling on our cruise so we met him in the nightclub one night and he's a great guy. I was a bit bored with the showtunes production, but every other show was great. There were theme nights and parties (70s night, 60s night, Poolside Latin Dance Party, etc) which were all fun. We really enjoyed Will Foraker, the pianist, and Metro Park, the a cappella group. We saw the comedian who was very amusing, and joined in on trivia and some other activities. I can definitely say I was never bored. Other guests - This was an older crowd, as was expected based on the cruise line and time of year. There were a lot of wheelchairs and walkers. A small handful of children. As a 24 year old, I was definitely concerned that I would be in bed at 10 pm, bored. Turns out I was terribly mistaken. There was a small group of us in our early 20s, (about 15 of us) which was just fine with me. We closed up the club every night and had a great time. Also, because we were such a small group, we were able to get to know each other better and I'm sure we'll stay in touch. For the most part, everyone was very nice. There are always exceptions (such as the lady who was not impressed when we inquired why her and her husband required 3 pool chairs for two people), but said exceptions were few and far between. Ports of Call - Meh. San Juan has a lot of history and I REALLY wanted to do the Segway tour, but it was sold out before we even got on the ship. We ended up doing the old and new city tour and it was just alright. We could have walked around on our own and been equally as satisfied. St Kitts is really stunning, but a number of shore excursions were cancelled due to wind and sea conditions. We walked around the port and admired the scenery, then got back on the ship. St. Maarten we took the water taxi to town ($6 return) and shopped. Nothing incredibly exciting. Miscellaneous - I bought the beer package ($241 for 7 days) and essentially drank for free for the last 3 days. It was well worth it, I never had to sign for drinks and didn't have to be concerned about racking up crazy bar tabs. We brought wine on board but didn't end up drinking all of it. I brought a 1.75 L bottle of wine and my mom brought two 750 mL , and it was more than we needed. I know that a few of the other people I spoke to also brought liquor on board and didn't have a problem with it. I had heard some comments that Celebrity created the Aqua Class as a way to sell the undesirable rooms on board and I can't say I disagree with this. The AQ rooms are located directly beneath the pool and it was definitely not quiet, especially the night of the Latin pool party. DM and I really didn't use the Persian Garden or relaxation room, as they were often crowded and not terribly relaxing. We also asked our (wonderful) stateroom attendant to stop bringing the canapEs, as they were not very appetizing. We went to the buffet when they started serving sushi and brought it back to our room instead. Well I suppose that is all for now, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of ... Read More
We flew to Rome on Monday and spent three nights there. Then we were escorted to the Port of Rome for our ten day trip. The ship is so beautiful. It was the 11th cruise my husband and I have taken and this was the most beautiful ship of all. Our cabin had a balcony, which we have gotten use to inn the last 5 cruises. The staff was excellent. We had wonderful bathrobes waiting in our closet. The bathroom was large and every well accomadated. The nicest one we have found so far. The bed was very comfortable. Overall we loved this ship. The food was excellent. Reviews on this board had us worried about the food. But, it seems they have gotten a new chef from France recently and he did a wonderful job. Each night we were able to have escargot if we wanted it. We had duck, lobster, lamb, prime rib, etc. The portions were huge. The salads were very unique each evening. One thing, you did not get to eat in the dinning room at lunch. That was different for us. But, the buffett was the best I have ever seen. The selections were excellent and I am sure no one went hungry. For the first time ever I did not mind eating at the buffett. The entertainment was no so good. The usual type of entertainment and nothing to rave about. The ports were great. Ephesus was the main attraction. We chose a private tour for that as well and Athens. Used the ship's shore excursions for all other ports. The tours became a little of the same after a while. All of the Greek Islands were basically the same sites. They were beautiful, but after a while the ruins got to all run together in our minds. Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast were my favorite. Things that were not as great as other ships...they seem to no longer make the little animals out of the towels for your room. I noticed this on the last two Princess cruises as well. The photos of you coming on the ship and off were poor. The gladiator and Roman had on tennis shoes. Who wants a picture with the Roman wearing tennis shoes? Not us. There was no meet the Captain personally. He was on the stage at the theatre and spoke to everyone as a group. What's up with that? It use to be so nice to get your picture taken with the captain. No more. And the champagne was awful with no appetizers like you usually have. It was not a party at all. But, I don't want to be negative. The cruise was wonderful. The staff was excellent. The ship is just beautiful. I would go on it again. The ports were great. We had not been to any of them except Rome and Naples and even enjoyed repeating those. I would highly recommend the Solstice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
When debating what to do for our honeymoon, my wife (DW) and I had different ideas. She wanted to relax and I wanted to see Europe. The original plan was to tour Italy or Europe for 2 weeks traveling from city to city by train. We received ... Read More
When debating what to do for our honeymoon, my wife (DW) and I had different ideas. She wanted to relax and I wanted to see Europe. The original plan was to tour Italy or Europe for 2 weeks traveling from city to city by train. We received a cruise postcard in the mail randomly and began researching a cruise. This piqued our interest and we chose Celebrity Solstice based on its itinerary, amenities, and good reviews on Cruise Critic. The cruise departed 2 days after our wedding which allowed us to arrive in Rome on the morning of the cruise, take a Celebrity panoramic tour around the city, and arrive at the ship with time to spare. Getting to Civitavecchia can be a hassle or expensive after a long flight. We decided that the panoramic tour was the best value even though we were worn out after the flight. An espresso upon arrival helped to perk us up. Aqua Class and Concierge Class have separate check-in desks at the port which made checking in very easy. We were very impressed at how spacious and pleasant the cabin was. Though we don't have any other cabin experience, the room was new, the veranda was especially spacious for two people, closet and storage space was more than sufficient, and the bathroom was larger than the one in my first studio apartment. I am a fan of the Hansgrohe bath fixtures and the shower in Aqua Class is refreshing with a rainfall showerhead and 6 jets on a shower panel. The water can be sprayed in different combinations and the shower head can also be adjusted for height. After the cruise we stayed at the Rome InterContinental and I immediately missed the shower on the Solstice. What we liked about the cruise ship: 1. Molecule Bar and its friendly, talented bartenders Liljiana and Daniel. This bar is located on deck 5 in front of the art gallery area. We visted this bar for pre-dinner drinks nightly. They specialize in specialty, balanced, cocktails using freshly squeezed juices and modern techniques. There are 12 cocktails on the menu and I tried every one of them. My favorite was the Tanned Russian and a close second was the Melon Felon. DW enjoyed the Coming up Roses and the Dragonfly (topped with liquid nitrogen for both drama and chilling). This bar was quiet as other passengers seemed either slow to discover it or reluctant to spend $12/drink. Towards the end of the cruise, I switched to Grolsch as one can only handle so much fruitiness. 2. Blu, dining room for Aqua Class passengers only, and our servers Mildred and Myo Ko. Service was exceptionally prompt and more courteous than can be found in most fine restaurants. Simply prepared entrees were much better than when the kitchen attemped adventure. The biggest miss was the lobster with some sort of orange sauce. The lamb and the steak options were always tasty. 3. Eric the Port and Shopping Director. We started watching his presentations on channel 4 and then realized we could view them in person. He was very enthusiastic about the ports and the goods that could be purchased. Eric said that everyone on the cruise would buy a Turkish carpet. I thought this could not be true. We surprised ourselves by buying one at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and 2 in a store in Kusadesi. They really are well made and at prices much better than what could be found in the U.S. I also enjoyed the negotiating game that the rug dealers encourage. 4. The fitness room on deck 12. This room does not seem to get much coverage on any sites, but it is more than sufficient to continue a fitness routine on vacation. There was a good amount of cardio equipment and I never had to wait to use a piece of equipment. The cardio equipment also offers a great view. At the front of the fitness room there is a deck above the of the ship that is barely used. This a great place to be for enjoying the passing scenery and serenity at sea. 5. Our stateroom attendants, Yolanda and Mohammed, were fantastic and always friendly and speedy. Celebrity does a great job of training its people in hospitality or hiring well-suited people. What we did not enjoy about the cruise: 1. Fellow passengers who forget or never knew manners. The Oceanview Cafe on deck 14 is a prime location for rudeness and animal-like behavior. Meals in this room should be avoided. A woman pushed me away from the pastry area with a forearm to the mid-back and no mention of the words pardon or excuse me. The food is prepared for thousands of overeaters. I cannot understand why people load up mountains of average-at-best food onto their plates. As a positive, at the back of the dining room there is a nice outside area with table at the aft of the ship. If you can, stay out of there or visit early in the morning for coffee and cereal. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
The Solstice is a big, beauty kept spotlessly clean by a staff who must be hung and quartered if they don't smile and greet every guest at every possible moment. The cabin was bright, airy, very functional, comfortable and quiet. ... Read More
The Solstice is a big, beauty kept spotlessly clean by a staff who must be hung and quartered if they don't smile and greet every guest at every possible moment. The cabin was bright, airy, very functional, comfortable and quiet. Couldn't ask for more. Balcony was terrif. Can't imagine cruising without one. Public spaces were beautiful, clean and inviting with no crowding, no hassles, no aggravation. Food in buffet was good, but not outstanding. Breads and other baked goods are mediocre at best. Expected variety in dining room to vary regionally based on where we were (Greece, Italy, Turkey), but it never happened. It should. Food quality was good, though. Upgrade restaurant, Murano, was excellent, went twice. Didn't try others since no one we talked to raved about them. Entertainment was average, at best, but our 2000 new friends provided loads of entertainment. All veteran cruisers we spoke with concurred the entertainment was poor. Very diverse crowd, from many nations. No one was particularly obnoxious and most were a pleasure to be around. Solstice seems to have no draw for those under 40 though, and that's a shame. Departing ship at ports was poorly handled by ship crew when tendering and led to problems. Some people didn't get off the ship until mid-afternoon and there were injuries from falls while boarding the tenders. More in ports section, below. Re the ship. Top deck has grass. Our fave spot. Putting green had grass, but not cut to putt on. Bocce area was great fun. Good bar. Really nice place to hang out. Pool deck was really nice, indoor, outdoor, both lovely. Bars all over the ship and all are beauties and comfy. Ship seems to have been designed for wide-bodies-all chairs were ample and comfy. Library is really just a nap room. There are few books and no effort made to provide anything current, no magazines, no newspapers, no travel books, no novels. It's just a pretty room. Shops were nicely stocked and prices seemed reasonable. Casino was pleasant, not crowded and another well-designed room. Concierge class was supposed to get shoe shines-never offered. Supposed to get pillow choices, never offered. Don't believe we got anything extra (except a bottle of champagne) for paying extra for Concierge class. Service: Cabin steward was okay, not great. Did keep the room clean but the attitude seemed lacking. Waiters in dining room were good, efficient and always brought more than asked for, instantly. Ship concierge was marvelous. Didn't take any ship excursions, but feedback from others was not good. Never heard a positive review of ship's excursions. Some told us Solstice was one of the best ever, ship-wise, but lacked entertainment and activities other ships offer. As for us rookie cruisers, we were very pleased. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We hoped to start the cruise stress-free by arriving at Civitavecchia's Hotel Bramante two nights before embarking and it worked. We were collected promptly by a Bramante van driver upon arrival at Rome Airport. The Hotel is ... Read More
We hoped to start the cruise stress-free by arriving at Civitavecchia's Hotel Bramante two nights before embarking and it worked. We were collected promptly by a Bramante van driver upon arrival at Rome Airport. The Hotel is newly-renovated, comfortable and the English-speaking staff is very helpful. A good buffet breakfast (just ask if you want cappuccino or latte instead of American) is the only meal available. The Hotel recommended the Ideale Restaurant, a short walk away, for an excellent seafood and fresh pasta dinner overlooking the sea. It's a half-hour walk or Euro 10 taxi ride to the train station downtown, where we got our Euro 9 pp "BIRG" roundtrip tickets into Rome. Even on Sunday morning, trains were quite frequent and after 45 minutes ride we got off at St Peter's Station and joined the throngs in the Vatican City. BIRG tickets include free travel on Rome public transport but a fine day encouraged us to walk over to the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps etc before catching an afternoon train back to Civitavecchia. EMBARKATION: The Bramante provides a free shuttle service to the ship at hourly intervals. We chose the 11:40 shuttle and Celebrity's service at the dock was so swift that we were on board in a few minutes. THE SHIP: Awesomely huge, striking dEcor throughout the public areas, 12-storey atrium with tree suspended in the center and ample number of glass-sided elevators to serve the 3000- odd passengers. The Library is visible from the elevators, looks cute but in fact is largely for decoration as the collection of books is dismal: seemingly random $1:00 bargains from The Strand Bookstore. Many shelves are out of reach and sofas are placed so they block access even to some one could reach. I suggest a professional librarian be put in charge to select books and organize their placement. The touted ½ acre lawn is lovely and we enjoyed a round of putting. I question, however, whether the novelty of it justifies the inevitable reduction in usable deck space. I haven't examined the deck plans side-by-side but my impression is that the jogging track is shorter than on the Milennium class ships and in general outdoor space is more crowded. We were in a Sky Suite, an extra-large cabin but "Suite" is a misnomer leading one to expect separated spaces as in a hotel. Our butler Idel and steward Lucas provided impeccable service, always with a pleasant word or useful suggestion about the events of the day. Grand Epernay, the main dining room, is attractively decorated but the tables are very close together. We had a table for two. It was easier to talk to the Canadian lady beside me than with my companion across the table. The distance problem is further aggravated by poor chair design. OK to relax in, they aren't upright enough to be comfortable for dining. DINING: The food in Epernay was excellent, plenty of choices and every night something new to try. We always started with escargots that arrived piping hot. Our waiters Andre and Paul were attentive and sommelier Randi was helpful and knows his wines. Bistro on Five was an ideal venue for a different lunch on sea days. Recommended are the daily soups, paninis and, of course, the signature crepes. Recommended also are two specialty restaurants. We booked weeks in advance, as advised on these Boards, to ensure getting the day and time we preferred. Memorable at Toscana (Italian) was the antipasto, veal and sea bass. Murano (French despite the name) had a fabulous goat cheese soufflE starter, lobster bisque, lemon sole, succulent venison, and scrumptious grand marnier soufflE. In both restaurants the service was wonderful and wine selection extensive. Buffets on Deck 14 offered an amazing variety of well-cooked and attractively presented dishes. Imagine six variations on Eggs Benedict! English breakfasts included favorites such as fried bread, English-style bacon, black pudding, the only disappointment being the tasteless sausages. We enjoyed the Indian foods and couldn't end lunch without a tasty ice cream. The layout of food stations was well-conceived so as to keep the traffic moving. Our only horrible eating experience on the ship was a pre-cooked, reheated hamburger with cold slice of cheese at the Mast Bar. ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT: We enjoyed the most recent James Bond movie and some of the entertainers in the Theatre, particularly a Scottish girl who sings and plays the violin and singer Lindsay Hamilton. Good as she is, Lindsay performed on three of the five Celebrity cruises we have taken, so for us her show wasn't all new and we question whether Celebrity needs to expand their pool of talent. Two disappointments: we had heard that Celebrity was committed on 10+ day cruises to at least one classical music performer in the theatre. Not this time. The other surprise was that there were no Enrichment Series lectures on the historical and archeological sites we were to visit. We expected to arrive at each port fully briefed as we did, for instance, on Celebrity Infinity in South America. PORTS OF CALL: Disembarking and tendering went very smoothly in each port in spite of the number of passengers. On this cruise we took no Celebrity shore excursions, preferring to join other CC Members on private tours or strike out on our own. At Santorini, we opted for the cable car up the cliffs to the town rather than a donkey ride or hike and had no delays up or down. We wandered around charming Mikonos and were back on board after two or three hours, like most passengers. As there is so much more to see in Istanbul, we question why the ship delays departure till midnight and as a result doesn't reach Istanbul till after noon the next day. In Istanbul and Ephesus we joined CC folk in vans of six or eight with an Ekol guide and driver. Istanbul appears very "do-able" on your own if time is not an issue as the main sights are not far apart. However, our highly educated Ekol guide Mehmet ensured we made optimum use of our two half days. We wasted no time between sites and his commentary was illuminating and entertaining. It would be tough to do Ephesus on your own. Our Ekol guide Ilkay Candar got us in to the House of the Virgin first then on to Ephesus without delay and his commentary was essential to understanding what we saw. Afterwards he arranged for us a typical Turkish lunch on a terrace overlooking the centre of Sirince village. Having visited Athens before, we could be relaxed about sight-seeing. We walked out of the port in Piraeus and caught a local number 040 bus to Parliament Square/Plaka for one Euro each! Took an hour but we heard that the excursion buses were no quicker and we had a chance to watch regular Athenians heading for work. The new Acropolis Museum (free entry for EU citizens over age 65) is well worth a visit. We had visited Pompei and Amalfi coast before so opted to stay in much-maligned Naples. Noise, graffiti, poverty and frenzied traffic, for sure, but it's a fascinatingly different city with a vibrant personality and lots more to see than can be fitted into one day. We walked to the first official taxi rank outside the port and for E15 rode up to Capodimonte. I was unaware that I'd left my backpack in the taxi till, hearing shouts from behind, I saw our driver scampering after us to return it. Unexpected kindness and honesty in a city noted for petty crime! In a beautiful parkland setting, the Museo contains an extraordinary collection of European paintings, Goya, Titian, Raphael, El Greco etc, well displayed and virtually nobody but local children on school field trips to enjoy them.The churches and monuments like the Palazzo near the port are also well worth visiting. IN SUM:A memorable cruise in style and comfort to delightfully varied ports. The crew did a great job and all our cotacts with them were cordial and professional, including charming Melanie in the travel sales office, who helped us choose our next cruise -- on Azamara Journey. We are keen to compare our experience with one of the largest passenger ships afloat with life on a ship a quarter the size! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was my 25th cruise and I was happy to share it with my husband and several friends. Most of my cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, but I have also sailed on NCL, Princess, MSC, and several cruise lines that no longer ... Read More
This was my 25th cruise and I was happy to share it with my husband and several friends. Most of my cruises have been on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, but I have also sailed on NCL, Princess, MSC, and several cruise lines that no longer exist. Embarkation Embarkation was perfect. We arrived at the pier at noon and were on board Solstice a few minutes later with no wait. The buffet was crowded with diners since it had been open from 11.30. Fortunate for us, since we were a group of six, one of our friends managed to snag an empty table and we each went off to check out the offerings in the buffet. Just after 1:00 they announced that the cabins were ready and about an hour later our bags arrived. Cabin Our Aqua Class cabin was very attractive and filled with many nice touches. On the bed were our Captains Club coupons and a bag with little aromatic spa goodies such as facial mist and lip balm and a pair of spa slippers. I loved the look of the new cabins, and especially liked the bathroom with the sliding shower doors. After unpacking, though, I agreed with those who don't like the storage design. The closet door was too close to my side of the bed, the safe takes up room inside the closet, the shelves next to the bed were small and open (on the other ships these were regular drawers you could use to store some clothes) and the storage shelves are all the way over by the desk near the balcony doors - not convenient for dressing at all. The drawers are also too shallow and there aren't enough of them. There is more storage space above the bed, but for short people like me, that isn't very convenient. By angling the bathroom there is a greater sense of space in the entryway, but I would rather have had a narrow entrance and the closet in the usual spot. (Note: After the initial whining on my part, we enjoyed our lovely cabin for our 11 day cruise and managed to get dressed several times each day without incident!) I thought the balcony chairs with ottomans were a nice addition and were quite comfortable. The towels in the bathroom were beautiful and very soft and the bedding was also luxurious in feel and very attractive. I also liked the leather (or leather look) of the couch and the desk chair - very sleek and modern. Our cabin attendant, Sanjay, came by to introduce himself on the first afternoon while we were unpacking. We asked for an extra towel and a few extra hangers. He quickly brought the towel and many more hangers than we needed. On this and every other occasion, cabin service was excellent. In Aqua Class we had a pitcher of flavored ice tea and bottles of water which are complimentary and were re-supplied each day. We also had a fruit basket, flowers, and champagne in an ice bucket, all of which came with the cabin, and all of which (with the exception of the champagne) were replenished regularly. In addition, I should mention a few other terrific features of the new cabin bathrooms. The shelves are now recessed and have glass doors so there is plenty of excellent storage in the bathroom. The new showers are wonderful... powerful spray from the overhead nozzle and extra water jets to squirt you from several directions... a really nice addition. The Ship I thought the ship was gorgeous. All of the design elements so many cruisers have mentioned turned out to be stunning in person. We spent much of the time admiring the look of the Solstice and the many new ideas incorporated into it. I especially loved the look of the two-story library and the tree that is suspended in the atrium space outside of it.... spectacular! The Solarium was my favorite public area on the ship - lovely blue, cushioned lounges and a lap-style indoor pool. At one end there's huge trellis with a wall of fuchsia flowers... stunning! I also thought the Spa area with gorgeous tiles in the Ladies Dressing Room and the Persian Gardens were very attractive. Each bar and lounge has its own look and ambience. Again, how many superlatives can I use to describe this ship? Another favorite area for me was the coffee lounge area with the stunning and unusual green chairs and sofas. Finally, a word needs to be said about the public bathrooms. One day I actually took a photograph of one of the Ladies Rooms, because they are so attractive... really amazing! I am told the Men's Rooms have the same design, which includes dark wood and unusual deep basins with what looks like etched glass, but is probably some sort of synthetic. Celebrity is still providing real linen towels with which to wipe your hands and has matrons monitoring the high traffic bathrooms. Someone told me about a men's room with gorgeous picture windows looking out to sea, but I can't personally vouch for that. Since my husband never notices a thing, it's possible he was in there, but if so, he didn't provide any confirmation. New and Improved Captain's Club Just before we sailed, Celebrity rolled out its new Captain's Club Program, and I was very happy to see that there are now significant "perks" for Elite cruisers. I love the new CC coupon for the discount on the computer package - finally a significant perk for CC along with the new laundry coupons (one free bag) and one free item dry cleaned. There is now a CC Club card for use in the Captain's Club Lounge in Michael's Club for CC Elite and (on our sailing also Suite guests, but apparently it varies) from 4-6 (with Continental Breakfast in the morning, too). We loved the Concierge Lounge on RCCL, and had high hopes that this would be as nice. On the first day we had to show our special white cards to the barman. There was a list of cocktails (not sure if they made cocktails other than those on the list), but they did have beer for DH. They had two little trays of hors d'oeuvres on the bar... a far cry from the really terrific spread on RCCL, but it was nice that they put out something. What I especially liked is that there were some lovely people there and we enjoyed chatting with them. The CC hostess, Daniella, was excellent and I enjoyed interacting with her all week. She was very good at keeping us informed and handled the situation very well when someone passed out in the CC lounge (and he was up and around by the next day so that was good news, too). Dining After a less than wow first night in Blu, I became a Blu aficionado and loved the food, the service, and the dining experience we had there at night for dinner and in the morning for breakfast. Whether it was a dinner of Corn Fritters, Waldorf Salad, Roast Beef served rare, and Crepes Suzette, or another dinner that started with an appetizer of Escargot and Spaetzle, followed by a Greek Salad and then Osso Bucco wrapped in Prosciutto capped off by Chocolate Cake with Grand Marnier, I loved eating in Blu. Stand-out dishes included Halibut, which was wrapped in Brik pastry accompanied by a Lobster and Corn Chowder base, the Pureed Cauliflower, special-order Profiteroles, Rack of Lamb served with Lamb Shank in a potato crust, and the Short Ribs. Our waiter, Krassimir, was wonderful and we were so well taken care of by the entire Blu staff (including Lorita, Dejan, Emilia, and even Kirk and Mildred - who were not our waiters, but became our friends), that it was difficult to leave Solstice and return to real life! The brunch in the Main Dining Room was nicely done and our lunch in the MDR was also fine, but because the buffet was so terrific, we ate most of our lunches there. This buffet is the best I've ever seen at sea. Everything I ate was delicious and I especially enjoyed the Asian selections. Most days I ate several Curries, Noodles, Roti, Dal, Raita, and whatever items were on offer such as Samosas, Dumplings, Mee Krob, and Spring Rolls. The Buffet choices included: Hot dishes, Barbecue selections, and stations for Mexican food, Indian curries, Carving, Asian Stir Fry, Pastas with sauces, Salad Bar, Sandwiches, Pizza, Burgers and Hot Dogs (the latter two served outside), and, of course desserts and ice cream. As is usual for Celebrity, service in the buffet was excellent. We used room service a few times for breakfast. The call and the food were on time on both occasions and the orders were correct. Entertainment There was some sort of entertainment in the theater every night, sometimes before our late-seating dinner (7:00 p.m. show) and sometimes after. Of the three production shows, the best by far was the last - a "Cirque-light" show called "Solstice," with gymnastics, juggling and aerial acrobatics. We also enjoyed a trumpeter named Gary Guthman, and a comedian and song impressionist named James Stephens III. The various musical groups around the ship were excellent. Since we are a cappella fans, we especially appreciated the group on board (despite their hokey name) "Soul'd Out." I did manage to catch the Hot Glass Show on the last day and enjoyed the opportunity to watch real artisans at work and to listen to the running commentary on what they were doing... quite interesting. My husband would have liked some scholarly enrichment. On offer was some sort of film director, but this was a cruise to the Ancient World and an art historian, archeologist, or historian would have been a much better choice. Itinerary We took this cruise for two reasons - Solstice and the itinerary. A great itinerary combined with mild and mostly sunny mid-November weather combined to deliver a wonderful vacation. Athens, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Mykonos, and Naples are great cruise ports. The one issue I had with this cruise regarding itinerary was the choice by Celebrity to arrive in the Santorini caldera at 2 p.m. on a November afternoon. Given that this was a day on which the sun was scheduled to set at 4:47, getting there at this hour was most unfortunate. Because we had priority tendering (and yes, that was a mess!), we were able to get off the ship quickly and over to Oia while it was still daylight. Most fellow passengers missed Santorini (and its terrific views) in daylight and got drenched when a rainstorm moved in just as the sun set. While the rain couldn't be helped, the schedule should have gotten us there earlier in the day or Celebrity should have substituted another port. The ports themselves, are, of course, all wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed each of them (separate reports are posted in the Ports section). Fellow Cruisers There was a great mix of people on this ship. In addition to Americans from many different states, there were quite a few Asians and Europeans along with Canadians. I don't think I've ever sailed on a ship filled with nicer people. Fellow cruisers were extremely polite (with the exception of priority tendering where it was more or less "every man for himself") and very friendly. Debarkation I really like the way Celebrity does debarkation. We got up in a leisurely way, went to breakfast, and then grabbed our carry-on bags and left the ship in a totally relaxed way. The one problem was that two of our traveling companions found no suitcases in the luggage area. Although our experience was excellent, theirs was horrible so I need to describe what happened. Two pieces of their luggage vanished into thin air - put out the night before and missing in the cruise shed. Were they stolen on the ship... lost somewhere... or stolen from the pier? We'll never know, but they had to do a huge amount of paperwork for both Celebrity and the insurance company. Fortunately, they had bought an excellent insurance policy, so they will receive reimbursement soon (we hope!) Areas In Need of Improvement In addition to the problem with the stop at Santorini, getting onto the ships' servers was often a problem. Although I loved the WIFI in the room and all over the ship, I didn't love getting a "try again in a few minutes" message over and over and over. I usually enjoy eating in the Spa Cafe, but on this ship the offerings were disappointing. I don't know if it's because the space seemed to be smaller or because not all the items available were out (and if so maybe more signage would help?), but we only ate there once and then skipped it for every other meal... much better choices were available elsewhere. The Persian Gardens Spa area didn't seem to be functioning as well as it should. The first time I visited (in the late afternoon)the entire system had shut down and needed to be re-started (cold couches and no steam in the steam room!). On other occasions the couches didn't feel very warm. Over-all Impressions This was our first cruise in Aqua Class and our first on Solstice. On both counts, this was a winner. We loved Aqua Class, loved Blu, and loved Solstice. I'm looking forward to sailing on this ship again in June and to getting to know Equinox and Eclipse. With a few minor glitches, this was a terrific cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
hubbie and i, both in 50's, flew b.a. LHR to rome as part of a celebrity package.at rome airport celebrity staff clearly indentified themselves immediately, we were on the transfer coach within 15 mins of getting off plane. boarded ... Read More
hubbie and i, both in 50's, flew b.a. LHR to rome as part of a celebrity package.at rome airport celebrity staff clearly indentified themselves immediately, we were on the transfer coach within 15 mins of getting off plane. boarded ship immediately on arrival at port. impressed with transfer / embarkation. ship is gorgeous, sooo comfortable, clean, pleasant staff. balcony cabin very nice.great weather throughout trip (amazing, as end of november). we didn't have a lot of spending money so didn't get the most out of the ports, but it didn't matter because we loved the ship so much we didn't want to get off! the solstice sun deck was our favourite spot with soft chairs and beds and quiet. no uncontrolled kids on this trip that we saw, unlike other trips we've been on, bliss. indoor solarium area was a nice place to relax later in the afternoon when it got cool outside. lots of choices for food, we ate in MDR 5/6 nights, buffet a few nights, and the lovely bistro on 5 one evening, aqua spa cafe offered a limited choice for breakfast and lunch, had a great brunch in the MDR one day, room service very good. captains welcome and captains club party were nice ( free booze ). entertainment was ok. we went to the main theatre (lovely room) each night, but only the solstice show really impressed us, not much alternative entertainment offered once show finished.sky lounge was very nice, but not much atmosphere up there. most people seemed to make an effort to look smart in the evenings, which we liked, a few were determined to show as much flesh as possible in the buffet, which caused me to change seats, as they certainly didn't enhance the appetite! disembarkation came around far too quickly, but was very efficient, off ship and on transfer coach within a few minutes. only downside of trip was total chaos at rome airport, check in desks were not clearly marked, people were in the wrong queue for over an hour, then sent to another queue. security area was not marked, when we did find the queue for it, it was right in the middle of other check in desks,with people not knowing which line to get in, nobody around to direct or help. but fabulous trip on fabulous ship, not cheap, but worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My wife and I enjoyed the Celbrity Solctice from Oct 19 - 30. Here are some comments: Embarkation - incredibly smooth. Took 5 minutes at the most. We were on-board before 12pm and were escorted up to the buffet on deck 14. We then ... Read More
My wife and I enjoyed the Celbrity Solctice from Oct 19 - 30. Here are some comments: Embarkation - incredibly smooth. Took 5 minutes at the most. We were on-board before 12pm and were escorted up to the buffet on deck 14. We then toured the ship, and our room was ready at about 2pm. The ship - amazing! The Solstice is beautiful from top to bottom. Our aqua class cabin was very well laid out. It was more spacious than I expected. The balcony was large, the bathroom was very functional, and the interactive TV was fantastic. The bed was very comfortable and the leather couch is a nice touch. Public spaces on board - also amazing. I should start off by saying that the ship is kept extremely clean. There are always people washing things such as railings and windows. I also appreciated that fact that there were staff at the entrance to every restaurant to dispense hand sanitizer. All of the public spaces are stunning. From the casino and theatre to the restaurants and top decks, there has been alot of work put into the design of the Solstice, and it shows. Staff - extremly friendly. 5 stars all around. Food - As an Aqua class passenger, we ate most of our dinners and several breakfasts at Blu. Blu was truly one of the best parts of the cruise. The food was incredible every single night. All of the courses were presented as works of art. Service was excellent. We ate one of our lunches at the main dining room, and it was average. Also dined at Murano and Silk Harvest. Both of them were good, but I think that Blu was truly our best dining experience onboard. Ports - this is an area that Celebrity could work on. We arrived at Santorini at 2pm. I had lined up early that morning to receive tender ticket # 1. When it came time to leave the ship, they asked for tickets # 1 and 2, which turned into a disaster. Passengers were pushing to try to get to the front of the line. People with tender tickets as high as 28 somehow got let to the front. People were yelling at eachother. The staff should have only asked for tender ticket # 1, and should have been checking the tickets. This really needs to be improved. Same thing happened with a ship excurion in Istanbul, where they asked everyone to meet in the theatre. Other ports seemed to be organized a bit better. The actual visits to Santorini, Mykynos, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Athens, and Naples were wonderful. Shows - we only went to 2 shows. One was a variety singing and dancing show, which was OK. The other was the Solstice show on the last formal night - this one is worth going to see. I have seen Cirque De Solei before, and Solstice the show was just as good, if not better since you are so close to the front. We also attended the hot glass show which was interesting. Embarkation - I think it took 5 minutes to get off the boat and collect our luggage. All in all, this was a fantastic holiday. The upgrade the aqua class was worth it for Blu alone, and the persian gardens were also enjoyable. We will very likely cruise with celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
My husband and I booked the cruise with Celebrity after several referrals from friends who have sailed with them before, one of whom sailed almost the same itinerary on a different ship last year. We booked the cruise for our honeymoon! ... Read More
My husband and I booked the cruise with Celebrity after several referrals from friends who have sailed with them before, one of whom sailed almost the same itinerary on a different ship last year. We booked the cruise for our honeymoon! This was only my 2nd cruise and my husband's 1st and he advised me that I had set the bar high by taking him on the Solstice! We are both 29 years old, and I would say two of what seemed like 20 people on the ship that were under 30 and weren't traveling with their parents ;) I thought this was great though, as I was certainly not looking for a party cruise and we met a lot of very nice people with a wealth of knowledge on the subject of marriage! We flew into Rome a few days before the cruise and checked into the Best Western Art Deco hotel on via Palestro close to the Roma Termini. This hotel was recommended to me by my travel agent and was quite excellent. Clean, safe, in a great location to see the sights, it had towel warmers, free wi-fi and included breakfast. Rome is a beautiful city and we saw as many sights as possible in the two days we had. A small suggestion: if you are buying souvenirs (as I did outside the Colosseum), HAGGLE with the guy or you'll end up paying 36 Euros for a medium-sized plaster statue of Venus like I did :) Ah well, we learn as we go, yes? We decided to take the train from the airport to the Termini (the train station is inside the airport), and also from the Termini to the port of Civitavecchia (CHEE-VEE-TA-VEK-EEE-AH). It was very inexpensive - I think it cost 9.10 Euros total for both of us to get to Civitavecchia, which was about an hour away from the Termini. Once at the pier, the embarkation process was very fast; we arrived at about 4pm and the ship was scheduled to sail at 6 and we were the only people embarking at that moment and I'd be surprised if it took more than 5 minutes before we were walking up the gangway! The Solstice is a beautiful ship; it is very clean and the decor is visually stimulating. The Lawn Club on the top deck was very nice; for someone like myself who is still trying to get accustomed to not seeing any land for lengthy periods of time, it is helpful to walk barefoot in some grass to get you through the sea days :) I did not watch the glass blowing show, as I have seen similar shows before in life in Venice as well as crystal blowing in Halifax. My husband watched one and said it was very interesting. I thought the service was excellent on the Solstice; everyone was always very willing to help and we always felt welcome wherever we went. I must say I was a little put off by some of the reviews I had read before leaving. I had already booked the cruise and so you can imagine my concern when I read about how Celebrity's service has gone downhill, and how some people would never sail with them again blah blah...well perhaps these people should sail exclusively with Cunard from now on, because I'm not sure what all the fuss was about! The only thing that we had a "problem" with, was that I had pre-booked a romance day package, which was to include special breakfast in the stateroom, a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, special robes and slippers and a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants as well as rose petals on the bed at turn-down (hee hee). The only thing they do not mention, is that you need to specify to your stateroom attendant if you want the breakfast ON the romance package day, or the following morning as you have to fill out a special breakfast card the night before. I can tell you, that little detail did not ruin my cruise :) It just seemed as though many of the older passengers had nothing good to say about anything, and as a result, the cruise line's reputation suffered. Most of the people on board were happy though! We ate in the Grand Eparnay dining room every night except for three nights where we had reservations for specialty restaurants. I am a very picky eater and I must say that I was very happy with the meal choices. They have what I like to call the "Safety Menu" available every night, with items like Caesar salad, french onion soup, NY strip steak, glazed herb chicken & mashed, creme brulEe and NY cheesecake etc. for the nights where you weren't feeling adventurous. Otherwise one could expect to see oysters, lamb, frog's legs, filet mignon, lobster ravioli, veal, venison etc etc...the right side of the menu was different every night. Other restaurants and bars we frequented, were the sunset bar at the back of the boat - great views! Bistro on Five was totally worth the 5 dollar a person cover charge (drinks extra of course) as their crepes were AMAZING! I couldn't get past the "Italian", it's the only one I tried as it was so good! Crepe filled with bananas and topped with a squeezed pattern of nutella and crushed green pistachios with whipped cream and raspberry sauce on the side...to die for! We tried the Martini Bar once and I really wish we went more often as the flair-bartending was amazing and the martinis were excellent (I had the French, it's my favourite :)), but there is SO MUCH to do and see on the ship I feel like we will have to sail on the Solstice again, perhaps for our two year anniversary as it will be in the Caribbean as of this spring for 3 or 4 years one of the crew members was telling me. We also went to the Sky bar a couple of times for events that were occurring there (late night dessert buffet etc.) and it was very nice, right at the front of the ship. We spent many late mornings/early afternoons in Cafe al Bacio, as my husband is a coffee person and he really loved their cappuccinos. I would have caffe lattes or darjeeling tea and chocolate chip cookies (I may have a sweet tooth). We also had drinks in the Ensemble lounge while waiting for dinner reservations. The Oceanview Cafe (buffet) was excellent. They had your usual pizza etc. but you could also make your own fajitas and there was an "Indian Curries" section. I can't speak for their dinner selection as we were always in the Grand Eparnay or a specialty restaurant. We went to the Mast Bar once for lunch and had burgers and hot dogs with onion rings and fries as it was nice and sunny outside that day. We tried two of the specialty restaurants, the Tuscan Grill and Murano. We went to Murano twice it was so good! I found the specialty restaurants pricey ($55 per person extra for Tuscan and $65 per person extra for Murano) compared to other cruises (as advised by my parents), but they were very nice and QUIET and relaxing. If you end up with a bottle of wine, as we did often, you could end up spending over $200 extra with tip for your meal. The food at Murano is considered "French Contemporary", and the meat was a much better quality than what you get in the Grand Eparnay...not that you notice at all until you can compare! I had filet mignon as well as lobster, and considering I don't eat seafood (I was trying to be adventurous) it was very tasty! You also get sorbet to cleanse your pallet before your entree, so if you are more accustomed to fine dining, then Murano will find you in familiar territory. Tuscan Grill was also excellent, again the meat was much more tender and that night was after the martini bar if I recall, and I couldn't decide between steak or spaghetti and so I got both :| (yes, you can order more than one entree if you like)...I have actually never been that full in my life and learned my lesson! They also had an excellent dark chocolate fondue for dessert with fruits and marshmallows etc. Other services/activities we participated in: my husband played in a couple of Hold 'Em tournaments (video poker though) and won one of them. I shopped a little bit; the boutiques are pricey and the shops were more mainstream. They often had "sidewalk sales" with various things, watches, pashminas etc. I had my first hot stone massage in the Aqua Spa - FANTASTIC! I think I've formed a new habit with that one. We did not attend any of the nightly shows unfortunately...as it was our honeymoon we really treasured spending time outside on the decks with cocktails during the evenings, or even playing cribbage in the card room. We heard from people who sat around us at dinner that the shows were quite good. Our stateroom was lovely, WAY bigger than the one I stayed in on the Pride of Aloha on NCL back in 2007 (which is more of what you expect on a cruise ship - tiny rooms). Plenty of space, with a nice couch and flat screen TV, the veranda was just lovely with a constant view of the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean and prime views of coming into and leaving ports. The bathroom was great as well, lots of drawers and it was always warm. The beds were very comfortable - I slept like a log. I found I spent a reasonable amount of time in the stateroom as I did not feel cramped at all (doing my nails, watching the History Channel etc.). There was only one half-day from Athens to Naples where it was rough and I found myself in bed for 5 or 6 hours during the day as I was quite ill (even after taking gravol and buying sea bands), but luckily by dinner I was okay. All in all a fantastic trip of a lifetime! I would definitely recommend it to anyone; the Mediterranean is a beautiful area full of ancient history and rich culture and Celebrity made it a most memorable honeymoon for us :) Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
The Ship: What can I say? It's great. We did a Med cruise 2 years ago w/RC Brilliance of the Seas and I thought this ship, the service, the food, etc. were all better (even though I did like the Brilliance). We were in Aqua Class ... Read More
The Ship: What can I say? It's great. We did a Med cruise 2 years ago w/RC Brilliance of the Seas and I thought this ship, the service, the food, etc. were all better (even though I did like the Brilliance). We were in Aqua Class and got to eat at Blu every night. The food there was excellent and because it is somewhat healthier (but still filling)...we didn't gain quite as much weight on this vacation as I was expecting to. Originally, we booked AQ because of the spa and spa amentities, but we ended up likely it mostly for Blu! The spa itself was over-rated if you ask me. The Ports: Rome- We had several days in Rome before the cruise and loved every second of it. We had a full day private tour with Fabrizio Melaragno of All Around Italy Tours. We'd had him as our driver for the Amalfi Coast 2 years ago but we were with a group of other people. This time it was just the 2 of us with him and I can't say enough good things about him. He is really enthusiastic, wants you to know all about Rome, very hard working, etc. My husband wanted an Italian suit and he stayed late in the day with us to make sure we were happy! We also used his company for our transfers from hotel to port, port to airport, etc. He had originally said he would send his driver to get us the last day, but since he considered us friends, he came personally to get us. Again, can't say enough. Sicily- one of my least favorites. Wanted to take the bus to Taormina but by the time we found the station, not enough time to go there and back. Mykonos- great day! Rented an ATV-perfect way to explore the whole island. We saw a ton and even had time for the beach. Athens- We booked a private tour w/Jordan. Jordan sent his associate, Nikolas, to drive us since he was personally booked. Nikolas was great. Had an authentic Greek lunch, saw all the good sites and he took us to get olive oil for cheap at a local grocery store (we had mentioned wanting to bring some home). Kusadasi- One of our favorite ports. Ephesus is amazing. The Terrace Houses are worth it! Booked a private tour w/Ekol Travel, our guide Hakan was fantastic-ask for him! He came with us back in the port later that day and helped bargain w/a local to get us a carpet we really liked. He must have spent an extra hour w/us, helping us buy turkish tea, etc. We did the jeep safari tour and Hakan guided and then our driver was great too. They picked local fruit off the trees (figs, grapes, chestnuts, etc.). Rhodes, Greece- Just walked around the old town. Went back to the ship early afternoon. Santorini- Beautiful! Rented another ATV, saw a lot of the island. Went to a winery. Walked around Oia for a while. Naples- Took the ferry to Sorrento. Sorrento is pretty neat...but the weather wasn't very good so we didn't stay too long. Overall, a great cruise and a fantastic ship. The staff is all very attentive and knowledgeable and the ports were very cool. Would definitely cruise w/Celebrity again (hopefully sometime soon!). Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
If you want to take a cruise, weather it's your first or one of many I can honestly say Celebrity Solstice is a good choice for so many reasons. She is a beautiful ship. Her crew could not do enough for us. Everyone on board, staff, ... Read More
If you want to take a cruise, weather it's your first or one of many I can honestly say Celebrity Solstice is a good choice for so many reasons. She is a beautiful ship. Her crew could not do enough for us. Everyone on board, staff, crew, dancers, waiters, wine steward, room steward - they all made us feel special and welcomed. We sailed from Civitavecchia after staying in Rome for 3 days, I recommend you do the same - you have plenty of time that way to "see Rome." Each port was a lesson in history, we used private tours for most of the ports that we arranged with other Cruise Critic passengers on our thread. The one tour we took through the cruise line, in Turkey, was very nice as well. We saw Athens at dawn on the Acropolis, we bought beautiful earrings for me in Mykonos, we ate at a seaside restaurant in Lindos/Rhodes, our best meal ever in our lifetime was on a cliff side above Positano on the Amalfi Coast. The city of Pompeii was so gripping, to know those people died where they stood in all that ash - and yet, Frank Sinatra sang in one of the ampitheaters there 30 years ago! Santorini Greece took my breath away - take your time and bring your cameras - eat some good Greek food - buy candy and tea there. Sicily was just amazing, we climbed the steepest hills by bus and walked in the beautiful town of Taormina - buy a cannoli there - the delightful Italian pastry was first made here. My husband still talks about how delicious it was! We loved the ship. The martini bar is fun, its base is all frosted so you sit on your stool with you glass on this frozen bar. The bartenders are magic with the tricks and special drinks they make - and so much fun to watch. The ship is elegant. The Solstice will remain in your heart for a very long time. We miss the ship and the wonderful people we met on board. I/we recommend the Solstice to anyone that wants an exciting and beautiful cruise experience. I hope you go! Soon! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Our Solstice experience was perhaps a bit different than indicated in the reviews of "homesweethome" and "SeattleKroozer", as follows: We are seniors from California, USA, who sailed the Solstice 10/9/09 on the ... Read More
Our Solstice experience was perhaps a bit different than indicated in the reviews of "homesweethome" and "SeattleKroozer", as follows: We are seniors from California, USA, who sailed the Solstice 10/9/09 on the Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, spending 4 days in Rome pre-cruise thus fully relaxed. This was my first trip to Europe, not so for my lady. We opted for transfer from our hotel directly to the port with two (new) friends we discovered on Cruise Critic via the Roll Call. With Rome Cabs (highly recommended) the cost was one half the total of 150 Euro and provided relaxing door-to-door service, luggage handling and zero walking, viewed by us as a great value. (Philosophically, in this case, I define "great value" as not having to schlep luggage to the Rome Termini, on to the train, off the train at Civitavecchia, up and down the stairs there and then to the port entrance to hopefully find a bus to the ship all to save about 40 Euro total... and a potential heart attack!) Arriving at the ship at 12:30 our luggage was accommodated and we proceeded to check-in where there was zero queue. We boarded the ship, received a glass of bubbly, were ushered to a waiting elevator and then selected lunch before 12:45. Given 2,850 people booked on this cruise we found that remarkable and a stellar start to our Solstice experience. Shortly after lunch our cabin (6169) was ready on Continental Deck 6. Though listed as obstructed, Class 2C, the balcony is above the lifeboat which only affected the view straight down, a non-issue. Being located between the elevators made access either way convenient and only a deck above the smoking deck made my walk for that habit a short one. We found the cabin spacious for our needs with plenty of storage space, room for our luggage under the bed, the best bathroom yet, wonderful shower, very quiet and complete with other amenities as promised. The bed was heaven! Having designed interior spaces I found this design to be excellent save for one minor gripe. The closet at the end of the couch leaves little room for maneuvering, thus is clumsy to use. We booked early (6:15) seating in the Main Dining Room (MDR) and found that time perfect. We were seated with a terrific couple from Florida (within our age bracket and with similar interests) at a quiet rectangular table next to a window on Deck 4. Adjoining our table were two more couples also of similar age. We all became fast friends. The seating area was spacious, not at all crowded as others have observed. Our servers, Stan Lopuchov and Alan Peros, were beyond skilled and very personable. There was never a need to ask for anything. Every course was preceded with a rearrangement of the proper flatware, a minor point perhaps but it was that good. Juris provided excellent wine service, and wine not consumed was corked and found on the table as we arrived the next night. The cocktail server provided service in a like manner. Yes, I know the meaning of long-winded, but this is worth saying. Almost every night Alan (from Croatia) walked my lady out of the dining room on his arm. It was classy, professional and gentlemanly; adding further to our Solstice experience. The nightly menus provided plenty of options (we are a bit picky), the food was served promptly and always warm or cold as appropriate. Were all of the meals spectacular? No. There were one or two meals rated average at best, with the rest very good to excellent. That is a rating of 36 meals for the four of us. The other four meals were consumed at Murano with our same dinner companions, worth the price and top notch in every respect. Worthy of mention is Bistro on 5, a good value, tried only once for lunch. The Oceanview Cafe (buffet) was excellent in our view, though we only eat a common breakfast and salads for lunch, thus less than picky in this case. We found the service there adequate, not spectacular, and actually enjoyed not having trays (Trays defining a "buffet" perhaps? A common negative comment it seems). We did not try other dining opportunities as the MDR, buffet and those mentioned fully served our needs. The service referenced above and that found throughout the entire ship deserves mention. We found all staff to be professional and very friendly. Another example in Cafe al Bacio was having an afternoon drink and upon returning the following afternoon being greeted with: "Good to see you again. Will you be having the same beverage?" (and she did remember) Only through top-down excellence in management does that occur, thus I complemented management for their effort more than once. Sure, they almost seemed surprised, but that is my nature. Give credit when due, you reap what you sow, etc. It all pays dividends. To be very brief, the entertainment was just fine (some excellent!) depending on your taste, the grass is just peachy if you like it, the Martini Bar is a complete giggle, Sarah (from Wales) gives a great man's haircut if needed, we don't do gym workouts, the internet connection works okay (if you must!) and so on. It's all good. Enjoy what you want and let the rest go. A minor gripe was the lack of ballroom dancing opportunities. When offered in the Sky Lounge it was excellent but not offered to the extent found on our last HAL cruise in June. Perception or truth? Not sure. Miscellanea: We found the two days at sea to be a welcome respite, both of which are formal nights, thus not having a rush for the gals to get gorgeous. Those who served us on a regular basis (Cabin and MDR attendants) easily earned generous tips above the fixed amounts. In these times of significant competition we found Celebrity and the Solstice up to the game. Disembarkation was a breeze. We arranged Celebrity bus transfer to FCO for an 11:20 AM flight to Washington, DC. Leaving the ship at 6:30, preceded by breakfast, allowed plenty of time and the process at FCO was benign. The Italians treated us well. Arriving late in Washington from Rome, having half of the customs stations closed, being treated like cattle in what was a veritable zoo, missing our connection to LAX and all other flights that night, thus having to spend the night in DC is another story. Hundreds of people, citizens or not, suffered the same. I was actually a tad embarrassed by the process on behalf of our country. Welcome to America it was not... Notwithstanding the end game; the overall cruise experience on the Solstice simply exceeded our every expectation. Isn't that fun to say? I can't guarantee our luck with dinner companions, or the table location or the service we received but this ship deserves your serious consideration. Where they put 2,850 people onboard is beyond me, but they were never in our face. Remarkable! Ports Visited: Rome, Italy, 10/5/09 to 10/9/09 As stated, we spent 4 days in Rome pre-cruise, thus not an excursion per se. I found the city's pace and traffic intolerable after those 4 days. It all drove me crazy and diminished my pleasure understanding the incredible history and enjoyment of remarkable art and architecture. An excursion from the ship may correctly be viewed differently. Okay, I am an old (grumpy?) guy from a quiet California beach town. History, art and architecture are good, chaos is not. I will leave it at that! Messina, Sicily, 10/10/09 Through Celebrity we booked the Taormina excursion. A female guide provided excellent information with considerable wit. Well organized and fairly priced at 57 USD each. We lunched at Billy & Billy in the first square (hungry!). Don't expect great English, just point at what you want and enjoy an excellent Greek salad and a cold beer at very modest prices. An adequate WC is available. The village is most interesting, worth the time, and don't miss the local pottery. Not due to the recent weather and horrid mud slides (God bless them) we found the route through Messina from the ship to be filthy. Sorry, but true. The local leadership needs to get those streets cleaned up, at least along the tour bus routes. (My old Chamber of Commerce roots are showing here) Mykonos, Greece, 10/12/09 Ah, Mykonos! The tender ashore was a breeze. As said before, queues were nearly non-existent. How Celebrity does that remains remarkable. We had no excursion, electing to walk about with our dinner companions mentioned previously. The history is worth investigating, the people beyond friendly, English is spoken freely, it is CLEAN, it is beautiful, and the shops are fabulous. One caveat, bring money! Having said that, I did manage to find a nice locally-made necklace for my lady at the neatest shop I have ever seen! WC's are plentiful. On the curious side is that the beaches are claimed to be spectacular. The water was, no doubt. The beaches we saw are darker course sand or gravel unlike where I live. Still, Mykonos was wonderful. Athens, Greece, 10/13/09 We canceled a Celebrity excursion to do a private all-day tour with our new Cruise Critic friends with Athens Cabs for 230 Euro, total price for four, plus 20 more for extending the day. Paul of Athens Cabs arranged to have Tom (his Nephew?) drive us in a (ubiquitous) Mercedes. Fabulous! He suggested an early start at 7:30 from the ship to beat the crowds. Brilliant! We were nearly alone at all the spots, starting with the Acropolis where, when we left, it was a zoo on the way in. This tour was very inclusive and completely flexible. Following a glorious inexpensive lunch suggested by Tom we drove southeast toward Cape Sounion along the interesting coast, finally stopping for coffee and yummy deserts at a beach-side restaurant. Two benefits accrued here. Tom had lived in America for 10 years thus he spoke perfect English and had a huge sense of humor. Second was that he knows the history as would a professor. This was a very special day! Ephesus, Turkey, 10/14/09 Through Celebrity we booked the Ephesian Modus Vivandi excursion, including the Terrace Houses, a must see. A female guide provided excellent information with, once again, considerable wit. Well organized and just a bit pricey at 119 USD. The entrance was a complete zoo only to moderate slightly throughout the tour. The walk is quite long, over very uneven terrain, but all downhill. The WC is at the end of the long walk. Be prepared. The lunch was interesting and adequate in flavor and quantity, though not great (as you might expect). Wine was served gratis. The ubiquitous end-of-tour carpet show (sales pitch!) turned out to be very interesting. If in the market for a beautifully made carpet I believe good values can be had, shipped free (FedEx) without tax to your home (so they claim). To my surprise the port city of Kusadasi was by far the most beautiful (and clean!) city we encountered, together with the drive to Ephesus made for a pleasant trip. As promised, the vendors were very aggressive but we never felt threatened, in all a good time save for the huge crowds (of which we were a part of course!). Rhodes, Greece, 10/15/09 Through Celebrity we booked a last minute excursion. A female guide provided average information without wit. Not well organized and priced at 59 USD each as I recall. The ruins were of moderate interest (I was about ruined-out at this point) after a long bus ride and without a convenient WC. Remarkably, the tour guide suggested we take the long bus ride back to old town Rhodes before hitting a WC. The ladies were stressed! The bus driver fixed that by driving immediately to the coast (just a half mile) where there was a very nice restaurant for a break and refreshments. He saved the day! Back in Rhodes we found the old town and its history of great interest and had a fabulous lunch at Filippos Restaurant. Well, okay, it was Greek Salad and a very cold Mythos beer. We were stuck on that stuff. Be sure to ask for more olives. Yummy! Santorini, Greece, 10/16/09 We had booked an excursion, but canceled and elected to walk about with our two friends. The tender ashore was again a breeze. The queue at the cable car was very moderate and the ride up exhilarating (well, that's one way to put it) (our male friend was scared silly). The town itself is so-so interesting and very pricey. Others who did tours, I believe, had a more fulfilling day. We did a short day, ending near the cable car on a beautiful terrace overlooking the town and bay drinking a cold bottle of guess what and using the convenient WC. Naples, Italy, 10/18/09 Through Celebrity we booked the Exploration of Pompeii excursion. A male guide provided good information with little wit and was a bit hard to understand. Not well organized and priced at 69 USD each. The excursion participants were asked to meet on shore. There was a large crowd with several buses waiting. A Celebrity staffer simply kept shouting "go with the flow, go with the flow." There were no signs and no meaningful communication, thus a bit of chaos. After asking at each bus we found our way. This was the only example of a Celebrity failure. Having said that, and after driving through the ugliest city we saw, Pompeii was simply incredible. Do not miss this opportunity! Other than a fairly rigorous walk at the entrance and many steps leaving, the balance of the site is easy to see. Fascinating! The WC is only at the entrance to the site so be prepared. BTW, a WC can cost half a Euro, everywhere as it did here, so pack some change. Our up-front stop at the Cameo "factory" was interesting (to be kind). Our mandatory "shopping time" at the end of the tour was a waste of time. Not tipping the tour guide provoked a very angry stare. Oh well... Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
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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